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keep burning

On the creative power of language, inspired by Menena Cottin's "The black book of colors."

Illustration by Leila Kazeminejad (Co-Editor-in-Chief, The Continuist) IG: @kazemoneyjad

By Reb McGinn (she/her, IG: @rebmcginn,

The black book of colors by Menena Cottin is a remarkable piece of work. When I first heard of it, I was stunned at its complexity. To be able to describe colour in a way that gives a blind and visually impaired person the chance to experience the life-changing effects of colour is god-like.

I had butterflies in my stomach when I read about the colour yellow being like the taste of mustard and the feeling of a duckling’s feathers across your skin. These words made me feel so empowered. To think that something as complex as colour could be described so well in just words… These two worlds, visual and written, are woven together by the thread of experience.

I marvel at the possibility of being so skilled in my own writing. To confuse my readers’ senses when they consume my words.

Throughout the pandemic, I used writing as my means to explore when my body could not.

When the days got darker and emptier, I lit them with my pen. Sometimes, it seems as though the words flowing out of me have a mind of their own; forming phrases and ideas before I complete my thoughts. Othertimes, the crisp blank page taunts me, revealing its wild side. No matter how many times I try to tame it, there is always another one waiting for me.

I always write with black pen. The contrast is pleasing. I also use space in my writing to make a point and physically separate my ideas.

I feel cruel to isolate my words when I know how traumatic it feels. Although I make sure that my words are the darkness being surrounded by light…

… because I know how it feels to be a light slowly burning out.


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