I was able to attend an event with Writer’s League of Texas discussing Black Chameleon: Memory, Womanhood, and Myth by Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton.
Black Chameleon is Deborah’s first memoir. She expressed how for so long she lived in stanzas and lines being a poet first. With this memoir, she was trying to figure out how to hold integrity on the page. She realized in her life that things don’t translate to a page and so she wanted to see where poetry enters and exits in prose.
She explained how she had started collecting stories of her life for almost a year but found that something wasn’t working. She began thinking about the mythology of Black American women and questioning what her origin would be. She expressed how she felt African mythology didn’t explain her and how the American context didn’t feel right. So, diving into and creating mythology was a space for her to explain, give context, and figure out how she and her family became who they are. After she wrote her first myth, she finally felt seen.
She tapped into culture and reframed it into herself, which brought her joy. She gave what her people needed, mythology for themselves, to explain why they are who they are, while implementing Black and South culture.
It was very interesting and insightful to hear her explain how she wanted to feel intentional with her existence, instead of a byproduct of someone stealing her from her home and bringing her people to new lands.
Her goal was to immortalize herself in a tale. Create stories that never die. Give herself over to a tradition that will never be forgotten since she knows her people always feel like a forgotten people. She needed a space of belonging to work side by side with her memories. A new understanding of who she was in this world. And so, she created it.