Friday, July 20, 2007

working my rainbows: an introduction to performance studies
installment 1

Here is my first installment in my Introduction to Performance Studies portfolio, titled working my rainbows. You can also view this project at

Happy reading!

for the orisha who order my stepsfor the ancestors who whisper in my ear
for the elders who light my path
for the contemporaries who quicken my breath with brilliance
for the unborn who inspire me to be ever true and ever vigilant



"Gotta Take My Time, Getting This One Together"

"…I'm the Obeah woman from beneath the seaTo get to satan you gotta pass through me'Cause I know the angels name by nameI can eat thunder and drink the rainBeen through enoughYeah they call me Nita and Pices tooThere ain't nothing that I can't doIf I choose to, if you let me…"

-from Obeah Woman by Nina Simone

Folks living in the south meditate on slowness like Miles Davis meditates on a sustained note. Mustard Greens, a delicacy in African diasporic communities, are simmered slowly with garlic, bay leaf, cayenne, onion, and ham hock hours before dinner. Sun tea is brewed in backyards full of hot sun that pierces glass containers pregnant with split lemons, sugar and Lipton tea bags. Gumbo, a Cajun stew, is conjured in coal black cast iron cauldrons nights before festive family gatherings in ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />New Orleans.
Being raised in the southern Texas, usually pronounced as three syllables, taught me how to appreciate the sensuality of unhurried happenings. The humidity rests in the bones and slows the breath to a crawl. A southern Baptist spiritual, wrestled from a sinner's throat, takes what seems like hours to sing. I have known southern lovers who studied every sinew of my body at a snail's pace, leisurely like a sunset, seriously like calculus.
I start here, with a meditation on southernity, space, sensuality and the lyrics of Nina Simone to illustrate how I enter this discipline: as a conjurer, a southern woman, a poet, and an observer and taster of the various flavors of this world. Nina Simone teaches us in her song "Obeah Woman" the power of transcending and transforming one's surroundings to accomplish mystical feats Africana women engage in daily.
Nina sings through a gravel and honey voice the importance of taking time to get things together. In her case, she is getting together God's divine work: controlling the rain, lightning, naming the angels, and fighting Satan on mankind's behalf. I fortunately, have another charge in this life, one no less difficult but different nonetheless. The essays in this portfolio begin to articulate my understanding of how and why people act the way the do in a myriad of situations. Whether in the midst of trauma or ecstasy, intention, motivation, and effect are extremely important to the manner in which behavior is perceived and metabolized.
working my rainbows represents a sustained meditation. This project seeks to critique, analyze, question performances of resistance by means of spiritual activism, intra/intercultural exchange, and social justice work. Further more, the project seeks to think about how performances of resistance inform and impact local communities striving to dismantle systemic institutions that perpetuate a culture of state violence and social oppression.
In writing these essays, several texts anchored my burgeoning understanding of this field. Namely, "Points of Contact between Anthropological and Theatrical Thought," "Stages," "Resistance of the Object," Exhausting Bodies (excerpt), "You are here the DNA of Performance," "Contact Improvisation and Anthropological Analysis," "Docile Bodies," and "Performing Citizenship". These works provide historical and cultural background, map the origins of Performance Studies, and provide differing philosophies and writing approaches employed in the discipline. I am drawn to these essays and excerpts because of how body is implicated as a central to agent of movement. Most importantly, the articles grant the novice a plethora of information in which to analyze how the body is a tool of social resistance. In essence, the articles continue my love affair with the body and the multitude of performances it stages in shifting temporal and spatial paradigms. The scholars' works bring home for me how individuals or whole communities can access the power of the Obeah women as they move to transform, transition, and transcend oppressive situations. Whether literally in dance, or ethereally, in unearthing the past to remix the present in framing a transformative narrative and politic for the future, the articles situate the body in a multitude of happenings which spark a uniquely necessary transformative response.
In compiling working my rainbows, I confronted several obstacles. Some of those obstacles included: difficulty incorporating how particular analysis relates to my larger year-long project, difficulty writing responses to articles with limited knowledge of the field, difficulty employing Womanist tradition of analysis and writing to essays distant from the lyrical and poetic nature of the aforementioned tradition. I experience these obstacles as points of possible access and growth as I work toward a longer project on Nina's Simone's oeuvre and the role of spirituality in social justice movements. I also view these stoppages as areas where I may be able to join Performance Studies, Cultural Studies, and Performing Arts discourses with a much needed voice of the Womanist scholarly tradition. Alice Walker, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, Jayne Cortez, bell hooks, Angela Davis, and Hortense Spillers are a few of voices who serve as my mentors; I am eager to continue in our tradition.
While wrought with difficulties, several successes took place as I compiled this collection. Similarly to writing poetry, I sharpened my abilities to respond to complex, gripping concepts in concise two or three page responses. Additionally, I found that I particularly appreciate the process of responding to film and dance. I could definitely foresee further research of these art forms. I was also reaffirmed in my belief of the importance of the community in the education process. Participating in class lectures assisted the development of clear thoughts about a topic or concept.
All in all, it is incumbent upon me to root my analysis of performance and creation of performance in deciphering its impact on local communities. The papers in working my rainbows assist me in creating everyday scholarship and performance that people can sink their teeth into. After composing these twelve essays I am clearer about how I will position my body in the ongoing conversations comprising this discipline. I am clearer about how I will engage in this Program, as a year long meditation on spirituality, resistance, bodies, movement, and sustained transformation of the present in the creation of a world without sexual violence in the now and ever after.
for sekou:

raised by jack-o-lanterns and parking tickets
dandelion eyelashes part the onyx birthstone

in weary times
our soupy mouths form easy o’s like lake huron
lumbering towards the universal sound
the land of rocking chairs

when poets die
let their henna circle my body seven times and become a new mole

crimson neither stopwatch
nor discount metronome

when poets die
let them be carried through the streets on the lips of harmonics and

Kim Arrington is a singer/song writer/playwrite/poet and all around fly sista. google her and be inspired. www.kimarrington.complease send your sekou poems to me and i will post them where ever i can.ebony

Thursday, July 19, 2007

for sekou sundiata

i know what is means to have miles davis in your skin
to speak like a weeping willow
to resist citizenship
to chew gum like a gourmet meal
i know how to harness a dream
right behind my belly button
and hold it there til it sprouts wings
bears fruit
blows across an ocean like a liberated spore
you asked me the question
is the american dream a dream or a program
and at that moment i knew you were a blessing in my wounds
a libretto for the revolution epic
a hinge for me to hold onto in times of extended prayer
i know why i love my daddy's black taffy laugh
and his eyes like an anthology of sunsets
and his one purple nail that speaks slow around his chin
a chin that drinks the moonlight
i know now sekou you drink the moonlight
let it fill your vaselined cheeks articulate your tongue reawaken your tonsils
you asked me
what is a dream with out education
you asked me what is a dream with out education
youaskedmewhatisadreamwithouteducation liberation resistance love light
youasked me me me mmeeeeeee
maybe its gospel without mahalia
or hip hop without rakim
or jazz without john
or new orleans without the mississippi
or my grandma without the love of her life
or me without poetry
you asked me
what is a dream without education
i say it aint it aint it aint a dream with out the technology of technicolor

may the spirits walk you gently down
and raise a song in your honor
may elegba grant you safe passage
asheooooo asheooooooooo ashe

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

After Denko by Sweet Honey in the Rock

So I am currently going through a birthing process as I complete my first major project for my Performance Studies degree.

As I should, I turned to song a poetry by the women to fortify my body and voice. I spent this weekend writing, and listening to Nina, Sweet Honey, Alice Coltrane and meditating on words actions movement voice history and next steps.

Denko is a Bambara song offered to and by women traveling through the birthing process. I am birthing right now and call on this song for light, wisdom, and strength, and clarity.
Because my professor, Judith Casselberry, is brilliant she played the song today in my class. She didn't know I needed it, but she so knew I did.

I wrote this in class

After Denko/ a meditation on birthing words, light, wisdom

i am here because the rattle of the blues brings down the spirits because gravel in nina's throat loosens teh music in mine

because i don't know my mother's mother's mother's name but she has a song to sing through me

because when i speak i want audre to wink and alice to clap three times

because my body is not a toy or a toilet or a laboratory or an existential dilemma

the spirit quivers in the space where dreams are fertilized and nurtured
move the mountains spirits rattle the webs lose loosen the breath

let the blood warm the skin
there is a riff the sun bakes only this body translates

let us be born
let us be born
let us be born

sweep me up in a ring-shout

i am healed by the rattle fed by the drum


-love and light,


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Got Poetry! We do. Check us out!

Check Durham's Community Writing Intensive online chapbook.

View us at
We will be adding to the chapbook in the next few days to keep coming back,and leave a comment as well.


ebony noelle golden

there is a way to articulate hallelujah

prayer sweated over hot rocks

spirit piercing alien vernaculars

multiplied throats hurling truth

truth hurling multiplied bodies

See hear

grab the dirt
rotate the skull
spit light lighten the step step light
rest in the right then write
like this
1. fight
2. remember
3. resistresistresist
4. rest
5. rise and chop
6. splay and shed
7. bring leave burn
8. repeat
turn slow bring palm to cheek check pulse then repeat
resist repeat resist
where does the body begin

Calendar of Events

  • June 1- Official Launch of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative
  • May 10, 7 pm, Gumbo YaYa @ Roses and Bread Women's Poetry Reading, Performance/Body Insallation, Brecht Forum NYC
  • May 10, all day, Experimental Theatre Final Performances NYU
  • May 7-8, all day, Gumbo YaYa, MA Symposium NYU
  • April 23, 6 pm Gumbo YaYa, -ism Gala NYU
  • March 26, 7 pm, Gumbo Yaya/ or this is why we speak in tongues, Tisch School of the Arts, Forum Series
  • Feb. 7, Brecht Forum, 730, moderating NO! film screening
  • Jan. 4, Common Ground Theatre, 8 pm, performance art night---Holding Space (a love poem for Meghan Williams)
  • Dec. 12, Ripple in Brooklyn, 8 pm, sharing poetic vibes for a jazz/blues show
  • Oct 27, Duke University, 9:45 am, Women Engage Hip-Hop Panel
  • Sept 14, PS @ Tisch, How Much Can the Body Hold
  • Sept 19, Righetous AIM, NC A & T
  • August 31-Sept 2, 75TH Highlander Anniversary
  • Anti-prison Industrial complex performance, Durham, NC
  • April 30 Shout Out, Carrboro, NC
  • April 24 Fingernails Across Chalkboard Reading, Washington, DC
  • April 14 Poetry Month Reading, Durham, NC
  • 3/31 Ringing Ear Reading, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Wednesday 3/21 - 7 pm Miller Morgan Auditorium, Performative Healing and the Work of Ntozake Shange, Lecture