Will Holden-Wingate, Kenny Eheman, Owen Drometer
Project Submission for BGHRA 2023
Black German Art and Resistance
Afro-German poetry has expressed a variety of narratives, ranging from the quest for identity, trauma, and resistance against the oppressive forces. Although there are many Afro-German writers that focus on themes of love, societal critique, and empowerment, the academic conversation surrounding Afro-German poetry primarily highlights stories of suffering. When taught in an academic setting, Afro-German poetry studies often center around the works of prominent poet May Ayim.
Born in Hamburg, Germany in 1960, Ayim was raised by a Ghanaian family before being forced into adoption by a white German family. Throughout her childhood and later life she dealt with physical violence from her parents, coping with her identity as an illegitimate child, and alienation from the cultures that surrounded her. These themes began to show in her work and studies, and Ayim’s notability began to grow within the poetry community. While at the University of Regensburg, her thesis on “Afro-Germans: Their Cultural and Social History on the Background of Social Change” helped establish an identity and sense of community for Afro-Germans.
Audre Lorde, seeking to create a strong and loving community for Afro-Germans, recruited May Ayim, along with other activists and writers Katharine Oguntoye and Dagmar Schultz, to help define what it means to be Afro-German. Beyond her role as a founder of the term Afro-Germanism, Ayim’s most famous poems include afro-german I, afro-german II, and blues in black and white gained her lasting acclaim in the poetry community. Her significant role and beautiful work explains why her narrative dominates the conversation surrounding Afro-German poetry, but to truly foster a sense of connection and love, other names must be praised for their work.