Podcast #3: May Ayim

The third of our monthly podcasts, produced and presented by Susan Stone.

An episode about the Afro-German poet and activist May Ayim, presented by Dead Ladies Show co-host Katy Derbyshire. Plus Berlin poet Mara Sanaga on how May Ayim influenced her work, and Afro-German life in 2017.

Also available on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Stitcher, and all other podcast purveyors. You can download the transcript here.

Show notes:

Here’s Katy talking about May, in front of May eating a sweet treat now known as a Schokokuss:

DLS13 (7 of 8)

Here’s May Ayim with her grandfather in Ghana…


…the Afro-German peace activist Fasia Jansen with her accordion back in the supersonic seventies…


…and here’s a more recent photo of our studio guest Mara Sanaga:


You can read some of Mara’s poems on her website.

Watch Maria Binder’s German documentary about May Ayim, Hoffnung im Herz.

Read May Ayim in English:
Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out, University of Massachusetts Press, 1991, translated by Anne V. Adams
Blues in Black and White: A Collection of Essays, Poetry, and Conversations, Africa World Press, 2003, translated by Anne V. Adams

And if you read German, we highly recommend this collection of writing by Afro-German women about May Ayim’s legacy:
Sisters and Souls: Inspirationen von May Ayim, Orlanda Verlag, 2016, edited by Natasha A. Kelly.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Thanks for tuning in! Check back in December for Episode 4.


Dead Ladies Show #13

The Dead Ladies Show is a series of entertaining and inspiring presentations on women who achieved amazing things against all odds. Every two months, the show hosts three passionate cheerleaders of too-oft forgotten women, inviting its loyal audience into a sexy séance (of sorts) celebrating these impressive icons, their turbulent lives, and deathless legacies.

Our 13th event showcases three such extraordinary ladies who pushed the boundaries of their times: a poet and Afro-German activist, a pioneering doctor who took a liberal view of female sexuality, and a silent movie star who wowed crowds in a lavish 1917 version of Cleopatra, now lost for all eternity. Our presenters are the award-winning German writer DAVID WAGNER, Dublin/Berlin-based columnist ALIX BERBER, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. And of course our master of ceremonies, FLORIAN DUIJSENS, will ensure the evening’s entertainment runs smoothly. So put on your glad rags and raise a glass with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 26 September, 8pm.

Launching our year of dead Berliners is MAY AYIM, who made our fine city her home in 1984. She was a founding member of the Initiative of Black People in Germany a year later, and published the groundbreaking book Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out soon afterwards. Ayim trained as a speech therapist and taught at university level, but she’s remembered for her work on Afro-German history and her unmasking of racism – and for her moving poetry which explores her own memory and identity and those of others.

ANNA FISCHER-DÜCKELMANN was one of the first women to study medicine, running a clinic for women and children in Dresden for many years. She wrote books on reforming women’s clothing, women’s sexuality, and gynecology, plus a popular illustrated guide to medicine for women. Keeping her maiden name after marriage, Fischer-Dückelmann championed both natural remedies and women’s rights. “Women’s equality,” she wrote, “is the key to a new heavenly realm of love.”

The silent movie actress THEDA BARA rose to become Fox Studios’ biggest star prior to the 1920s, often cast as a vamp. Yet she also played Shakespearean roles like Juliet and Cleopatra. In pre-code Hollywood, she was known for her skimpy costumes and early sex-symbol status. Criticized for her dark roles – from gang moll to Princess Zara of the South Seas – she responded: “I will continue doing vampires as long as people sin.” Although she made more than 40 silent films, very few of them have survived.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!