Opal Palmer Adisa

Oakland, CA

Opal Palmer Adisa refers to herself as Ja-American and is deeply rooted in Jamaican and American cultures. As a writer of all genres, a college professor, photographer and performer, Adisa is concerned about African cultural preservation in the Diaspora, and particularly in the Caribbean region. Her works examine and explore healing from varied perspectives. The work that she will present, The Myalist, explores healing the self and the world through language, song and dance. Adisa sees the myalist as the contemporary griot –historian and storyteller– and it is through her stories, which are her medicine, that she is able to heal herself and those she encounters.


2009 Festival Weekend 2 Artist

“The Myal Healer”
This multi-media poetic piece examines the myal healing practice that was brought with the enslaved Africans from West Africa to Jamaica. Myalism has taken many forms including communication with the ancestors and the use of drums, movement and herbs to extricate and transform illnesses within the body. As a poet and scholar, Adisa’s myal healer is a wordsmith who uses the power of language to draw out and heal those who are afflicted, part of her ongoing work towards healing Jamaica, her motherland.

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Myal, like many African based religion is tied intricately to place, location — the setting and its surrounding fauna/flora play an important role. Myal was initially believed to simple mean “spirit.” The first known recorded observation of a Myal ceremony was in 1774 by Edward Long, who documented the performance of a Myal dance intended […]

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I was in Jamaica a few weeks ago interviewing both academics and healers who are in some way affiliated with Myal or the practice of healing. I also spent time at the African -Caribbean library there pouring over and through literature on Myal and  its evolution. I made several discoveries, and was able to photograph […]

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Upcoming Event
October 24 @ 8:00 pm / Savage Evening

vîv OCT 24-25, FRI-SAT at 8PM   Join the women of vîv for a full-evening presenting work by Kathleen Hermesdorf & Albert Mathias, Bianca Cabrera, and more. vîv began in 2013 with 8 women determined to re-create the underlying conditions and working methods in dance. They are rethinking how to practice together, build community, and […]

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