“damali has a story for everything.”
A friend once said this about me. I am not sure if he meant it as a compliment or a criticism. Either way, it is true. As an author and speaker, the real stories of my life are central to all I do. Two audience members recently said "damali is the most real person I have ever met." and "I had so many epiphanies during her visit." I used to wonder why I had experienced so many rich, varied, and often difficult things in my lifetime, now I know why.
Every moment in time is a portal.
I hope to turn my reader into the quiet person in the corner who, even when no one is telling them anything, sees everything. As the youngest child in a family of secrets, I spent many hours perched just out of sight on staircases, in hallways, and at the edge of doorways listening. The gap between what I heard and what was acted out face-to-face fascinated me. The unspoken feelings, wounds, truths, and circumstances showed me the rich internal landscape that each person carries with them into each interaction of their lives. We ache to confess these realities to those around us, but often fail. The stories I tell and the characters I create help us to feel these aches and make these confessions.
My storytelling in fiction and memoir often portrays a sense of disconnection and emotional isolation. Relationships are distorted– muddied by distrust or blown-out by the glow of idealism. Feelings become companions in lieu of being able to connect with the material world. Though they are guarded to the world, my characters are completely unguarded to the reader. They trust the reader with the entirety of their internal reality, no matter how explicit, damning, or embarrassing.
Looking through this intimate window, my readers have a choice about their own lives. Will they guard their own internal landscapes or lay themselves bare for others to see?
Why a cup of tea?
Tea has always been a part of my creative process. It punctuates my days with a pause like a luscious comma. As a visual artist I loved having people to my studio for a cup of tea. Now I love sharing the concept of a cup of tea with my readers. I hope that my stories give you a moment to pause, or the feeling of a warm cup of tea making its way from your hands to your belly.
Here's my media-style bio:
damali ayo and her work have been featured in over 100 publications world-wide including Harpers, the Village Voice, Salon.com, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Redbook Magazine and Book TV. She has been a frequent guest commentator and essayist on public radio. damali is a dynamic personality who brings energy, inspiration, and positivity wherever she goes.
An expert story-teller, damali’s books and presentations offer humor, insight, and creativity and make our culture's toughest topics manageable and fun. How to Rent a Negro was acclaimed as "one of the most trenchant and amusing commentaries on contemporary race relations." It was granted a 2005 Honorable Mention in the Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. Obamistan! Land without Racism: Your Guide to the New America debunks the myth of a post-race world. Her writing and art have engaged issues including the creative process, spirituality, chronic illness, sexual assault, healing, music, and trash.
damali’s new memoir takes its readers on a journey through a year of reclaiming her own femininity and the unexpected impact that had on her life. Through her trademark humor, bolstered by a remarkably vulnerable and open telling of her story, damali shows the reader that life is an ongoing process of growth and evolution.
damali ayo information packet (download/pdf)