Friday, August 31, 2007

fluid and focused~~~a poem about welcomed blood


cycling around the full moon- august 28, 2007



there is a tickle behind flesh and vein

there is a twinge deep in the rounded darkness

there is a swoosh of beginning and the welcomed release

there is indeed a release

there is a trickle a gush a remaining spirit

a pinch an opening and cool ice cream from chisled infinite fingers

and warm palms on the back of knees and an extra kiss when he expects a cramp

there are many extra kisses

there is a warm bath a scalp cooled by florida water

and coconut oil all over everything
From: Creative Writing @ A&T

Re: The North Carolina A&T State University Lyceum Series Presents

Date: August 30, 2007

For more information contact: Dr. Anjail Rashida Ahmad, Director, Creative Writing @ A&T Telephone: (336) 334-7771, ext. 2370; Email:arahmad@ncat.edu

For Immediate Release:
The North Carolina A&T State University Lyceum Series and the Creative Writing Program in English Presents:

"Sankofa: Secure Your Future~Culturally Engage Your Past."

Featuring: Righteous AIM Spoken Word Performance Troupe

Amaris Howard – Out of Hampton – Aggie Grad ‘04
Poet/Freedom Fighter/Activist

D. Noble Out of G’boro, formerly of The Collective
Poet/Essayist/Activist

Ebony Golden – Out of New York by way of Durham & Houston and DC
Poet/Dancer/Choreographer

3 of America’s hottest, most committed, award winning spoken word poets working on college campuses today. They’ve been featured on Def Jam, Nubian News, For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide…and have toured in DC, Atlanta, Houston & Phoenix.

Their mission is Dedicated to uplifting and empowering individuals and communities through creative expression, social change, and the divine spirit through the arts.

Wednesday, September 19, 7:00 pm, NC A&T Harrison Auditorium ()Corner of Nocho & Bluford Streets. Doors open at 6:30 pm

(Also performing: The Donfolie Dancers & NC A&T Spoken Word Troupe: Poetic Insurgents)

Righteous AIM will conduct several interdisciplinary workshops Tuesday, September 18) with A&T faculty and students. These will be interactive experiences in which participants will explore different examples of self-expression as illustrated by certain genres of the black literary canon. For instance, Claude Brown’s Man Child and the Promise Land and Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X will be discussed as precursors of the hip-hop movement and other contemporary modules for exploring ideas of Black womanhood and the Black male sensibility as expressed toward Black women.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

working my rainbows (performance studies essay)

Unpacking the Crawl or Another Look at Global Positioning

By maneuvering through Manhattan in a kinesthetic position of lowness, Pope.L poignantly engages with ideas of mobility, space, agency, and identity which grow out of repeated experiences of state violence. In doing so, Pope.L’s crawls provide a lens through which viewers experience a performance of lack which contextualizes and complicates the ontological dilemma of black masculinity. His crawls ask viewers to intimately engage with the muck and the mess flung as everyday trauma against the bodies of black men. In a way, this performance of lack demands that participants revel in lowness, or at least imagine such a position, as if a ton of bricks were strapped to her back.

But what does Pope.L want to stir and agitate in the bodies of the co-participants who view and perform his project on lowness and lack? As Pope.L crawls and crawls one can not refrain from thinking about how long his crawls will persist before the subjugated body revolts against the prescribed position in society. Why doesn’t Pope.L finally just stand up as an assertion of visibility, verticality, and mobility? Why isn’t there a point of self-actualization in this performance piece when Pope.L creatively re-imagines the future positioning of the black male body on the rough and uneven terrain he crawls over?

These questions are concerned with action and agency denied to black men. Literally the curb-high view the crawl inhibits what the crawler can see ahead of him. Maybe Pope.L wants us to consider the dismal possibilities for the future of black men who can not see a block down the street, in this prostrate position. It is possible he wants us to think about how this quasi-blindness is inextricably linked to black men’s possibility for future self-efficacy. In essence, Pope.L wants us to imagine the historical and current context of embodied immobility that black men experienced in the past as well as here and now.

Lepecki tells us, “Pope.L tackles the question of presence by positing as its condition of possibility the stumble of being and not being never fully belonging to itself,” (93). Pope.L’s crawls are a choreopolitcal statement aimed at activating the community in hopes to unearth collective responses to this physical and societal problem. He reminds his audience of the important role the community performs in shifting the paradigm that makes the position of lowness a daily reality for black men. Did any of the crawl participants reach down to offer Pope.L help off the ground? Did anyone on the street speak up or speak out or help the brother off the ground?

One could assume that this crawl is symbolic of the subjugated positions of other oppressed people in society. Moreover, the crawls remind us of the tendency towards numbness and immobility in the face of repeated trauma. Pope.L’s crawls provide the visual by which communities can remember or experience the space of lack; however, he does not ask us what we are going to do to change this reality. One could only hope that by experiencing this global positioning participants and performers creatively work to dismantle the infrastructure that makes this dance possible.

working my rainbows

working my rainbows (another performance studies essay)


I am still entering this field, the following meditation is another essay that represents my introduction to performance studies.

peace,

e



Fire Breath: asha bandale's

the subtle art of breathing

As a "performative" Healing Text


for Dr. Betty A. Sims & her daughter


one day

one day

i'm gonna be more than a survivor

i'm gonna be a celebrant inside myself


a party girl in my own soul

i'll take myself out to fancy restaurants

bring me roses


and afterwards

i'll make love to myself


and in the heat of passion

call out my own name

asha asha


-from asha bandale's

the subtle art of breathing




asha bandele's poem, the subtle art of breathing, examines the intersecting performances of violence and healing as experienced by Africana women. The poem unfolds around a single, archetypal, persona who questions her healing journey in the face of sexual assault, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Written as free verse, asha bandale utilizes a healing poetics Audre Lorde conjures in Need: a Chorale for Black Women's Voices, to offer a stereoscopic exploration of breath and poetry as "performative" healing for Africana women.

~~~

Sunday mornings find me prostrate, on my back, with a lavender-scented pillow blanketing my eyes. As remnants of myrrh incense tickle my nose, my yoga instructor urges me to lengthen the space between inhales and exhales. She invites me to consider what healing manifests through deep, conscious breathing. I hear her, almost distant, as if under water saying, "imagine your Kundalini life-force warming your whole body, now breathe."

~~~

Readers enter asha's poem as the speaker indulges in daily soap operas, which she heavily criticizes because of her "politically conscious" appearance. Nevertheless, the speaker's soap opera addiction symbolizes the exploration of the characters "staged" experience with violence and the space and time needed to deconstruct such experiences. The character's relationship with soap operas represents her attempt, not unlike the women in my family, to find respite while solving the problems of "…the fictionalized chaos/ of somebody else's life…" asha writes,

"but this is not a poem about soap operas

it's just that i cannot find another way to begin--"


To begin what, the troubleshooting process of solving the really real chaos this character experiences? The process of turning the gaze inward to mine, with mindfulness, tools like breath, as creative and personal ways to jump-start the spirit and move the body towards healing? It is possible the character cannot find a way to envision her life without the physiological effects of contemporary and historical violence(s). What is more, the character might not realize, in the face of consistent trauma, the metaphysical and physical rewards of actualized healing through breath; the subtle art addresses a myriad of possibilities.

~~~

Where does breath hide in the face of violence? My yoga instructor teaches that we choose to hold in our muscles, tissues, and joints stories of our individual and collective trauma. She instructs us to use breath and asana to release traumatic and violent episodes from our connective tissues. She does not encourage us to ignore these body narratives but instead to recognize their significance in our past and their relevance to our futures.

~~~

As such, the persona asha evokes in the subtle art assesses how instances with, "the various sundry crises/ in [her] life" enliven and enrich subsequent experiences with pain and healing. asha explores this struggle in the following lines,

"there are people who have

accused me of refusing joy


and blanketing the sun

but then there are people who

know as i know

even as we laugh

we cannot ignore


the wincing in our eyes…"

The aforementioned lines illumine the difficult journey the speaker, along with Africana women, travels in pursuit of healing from historical and contemporary violence. The speaker asserts notion that violence/trauma and joy cannot live in the same venue. This excerpt also addresses a broader audience who may believe the speaker is behaving in a manner that supports "victimhood" and she is solely responsible for correcting her "wincing" experiences.

~~~

One Sunday I practiced Kemetic breath in addition to my regular yoga asana. Kemetic breath insists the body create new patterns of storing and releasing air. I covered one nostril at a time, inhaled and exhaled, taking care to alternate nostrils. At first, the practice caused dizziness, and disorientation, but soon I welcomed this new and creative approach to "down-loading" energy from the universe. In the poem, asha presences her bond, all be it through instances of violence and healing, with the speaker.

~~~

She continues,

"…I know this space of mourning

is not mine to occupy


but i cannot leave

since your life reads like


the details of my life

which is why i must know


how come you are dead

but i am alive


yet we both were young black female

and fighting histories of drugs

violence separation loss…"


These lines invite the speaker and the audience to consider themselves as more than repositories for violence and trauma. asha reminds her audience that in the wake of trauma and subsequent internalized violence due to the intersection of race, class, gender and the patriarchal structures that support such culture, they are more than a collage of "violent marriages, newports, and suicide attempts." These lines move the persona and the audience to recontextualize instances of violence and encourage the persona, as well as the audience, to re-imagine life as a kaleidoscopic journey that entails boundless and beautiful interactions with the "self" and moreover, support consistent engagement with breath and healing.

the subtle art of breathing's theme centers around diverse approaches to healing. In the first fives pages of text, images and metaphors belabor and resist breath, which signify one aspect of actualizing the healing process, the state of anxiety, confusion or apprehension about how to transition from the place of victim to the place of victor. For example,

"…in anchorage today

a 30 year old black woman

was found in her apartment

dead of an overdose.."


and


"…there is no space to be second best

or needy


in a country trying to swallow up the earth

from the inside out


they incinerate their own children here



i have seen them scraping their own


8 year olds into garbage bags or compactors…"


These excerpts utilize kinesthetic, tactile imagery to invoke the audience's understanding, viscerally and visually, about relationships with "self" in the presence of pain. It is almost impossible to read these lines without some hesitation of breath. However, the poet does not leave her audience or the poem's speaker to sit with these globes of pain and remembered traumas left undigested.

~~~

Fire breath. My teacher occasionally begins our Sunday-morning asana with a series of fire breaths that warm the body before sun and moon salutations. I particularly enjoy fire breath. Filling my lungs with breath and stretching my arms to their fullest extent, then forcefully bringing them down and releasing every bit of stagnant energy from my lungs. It's like a steam bath for every cell of my body. Usually, as I practice fire breaths, I think of any trauma or pain I have chosen to let reside in my body as I pull my elbows along side my ribs and force my lungs clean. I visualize releasing those traumas and watching them evaporate into thin air.

~~~

As the poem concludes, asha's choice of diction and imagery encourages the healing effects of fire breath. The final stanzas offer images of self-love, dance, and passion that fill the space formerly shared with meditations on and interactions with violence. In these lines, asha exercises mantra like repetition that delivers the persona of "falling in love" with herself and the beauty and complexity there in. Asha writes,


"…this a poem that wants to warn

breathing is a difficult and subtle art

this is a poem to say simply i understand

after three attempts i understand, girl, i do

but this is also a poem willing to assert itself and

say i'm glad, even proud, that i'm a survivor…"


These lines erase the speaker's idea that she is alone in her experiences with violence or healing. Now the speaker recognizes as trauma and violence pepper her life experiences so do creative options for healing illuminate her path.

asha bandale's poem is a performative healing text that elucidates the violence, fear, shame, and confusion that make many Africana women impervious to healing accoutrement required to live effulgent lives. The poem delivers intimate monologue, critical and imagistic analysis of personal and community trauma; and of key import, highlights a journeying process that languages, through voice and movement, self-love as a model for healing. The speaker reveals, "then i'm gonna up and marry myself/ does that sound crazy?" The speaker asks this question because she now understands she must be intensely in love with herself and to the outside world this maybe seen as insanity. Possibly the speaker now believes the superficial education American culture indoctrinates its citizens to believe is love is really an institution acted out on the bodies of Africana women as a means of perpetuating historical and contemporary structures of violence and more over, a world in which women cannot voice, move and journey toward healing. This text recontextualizes recognizable traditional symbols of love (i. e. the institution of marriage, "sensual dancing", and passionate lovemaking") as symbols of healing and intimacy that empower, enrich and connote an intensely intimate relationship with "self". Ultimately when asha writes, "…i'll make love to myself/ and in the heat of passion/ call out my own name…" she challenges her readers to invite breath as model for continued healing and renewal in the face violence.
i dare not call this your anniversary (for new orleans)



for the city that rests at the bottom of a wellworn boot

for the city that was home before shreveport

for the city that swallows sunshine and sings out sunshine

for the city that taught me to "wobble" and "catch a wall"

for the city that made me reappreciate my southnern songified speech

for the city that is a welcomed hurricane

for the city that gave me a "westbank boo"

for the city that is my favorite phase of the moon

for the city that crawls into your skin like sweat

for the city that makes me wish i grew up second lining

for the city that makes me dance with an umbrella everytime i can

for the city that is a distant home my tongue and fingertips remember

i dare not call this your anniversary i call this a time to reflect on you new orleans i call this a time to think about how you created this world i call this a time to lift your name in song in poem in dance in prayer

cause you are indeed a holy place new orleans a portal where many ancestors entered this realm you are indeed a holy place and no amount of water or ignorance or the invisibility of your children can wash away your legacy

i dare not call this your anniversary cause i have celebrated with your daughters and have whispered to my departed relatives on the shores of your rivers and lakes

if you happen to catch me new orleans on some corner in the french quarter with the hem of my skirt between two fingers know i am dancing for you new orleans and every coin i catch is in your honor

if you happen to catch me new orleans cookin a gumbo outside in the 9th ward know i am feeding your babies new orleans bowl by bowl serving you up like fresh air

i dare not call this your anniversary cause i know how you party how you mourn and how you sit silent and wait for new day to shine

Saturday, August 18, 2007

high)ku~~~a blog about my peru trip

"I Am Wary of Need That Tastes Like Destruction": The Politics of Visibility in Afro-Peruvian Performance and Culture



Audre Lorde reminds us in her poem "Need: A Chorale for Black Women's Voices" of the danger associated with unhealthy, violent relationships and the need for love and connection. I should note, that Lorde's chorale piece was in response to a series of violent acts, specifically murders, against black women. If anyone is interested in reading the piece shoot me a message and I will email it to you. rde is an important entrance to this conversation on the politics of visibility in afro-peruvian performance and culture becuase her work helps us think about sustained performances of oppression and how such performances effect the actualization of individual agency and the politics of this actualization.

These issues have been heavy rotation for the past few weeks. I have been engaging in workshops, lecutres, performances that leave me asking quite plainly where are the black people? I see our artistic practices, which is a type of visibility. I see African features on the bodies of people who do not identify as afro-peruana. I see representations of traditional African religions and spiritual practices, but I don't see many black people. So this is of course a serious problem.

In my conversations, I am learning about the intense and intricately woven history of black people in Peru. Of course there is a legacy of slavery, but I is different from the practices of slavery in the United States. Of course there is a marginilazation of of african people, as most of us live on the outskirts of the large cities, mainly Lima. And do to the history of slavery and geography you will not find many or any black people in Cuzco (due to the altitude) or the Amazon (due to slavery). So most black people are relegated to the outskirts of lima and the coastal areas (where we could thrive on plantation and survive because of similar living conditions that exist in w. africa).

So there is an absence of black bodies, black thought, and black social and artistic movements in peru. Peru has never had a civil rights movement, an uprising or revolution by the black communities. Very few Afro-peruanas attend college in the country and according to a afro-peruana scholar almost no afro-peruanas have attained economic advancement. So literally as I walk (or hobble due to a serious dance accident) or ride around Lima I do not see any black faces.

Peruana scholars speak about the large amount of mixing and passing that happens in the country because of the oppression. so those afro-peruanas who can pass do pass. i must say this is a generalization and i have not spoken directly to someone of afro-peruana descent so all of this is arguable, but i think we could look at the legacy of passing in the united states to draw parallels and analysis based on the politics of skin color that pollutes our own history.

Whether any or all of this is arguable there is an absence.

How do you analyze a disappeared body? The chalk outline is just the frontier. the boundary. The edge. I cannot say it is a beginning? But it does open a question. How does one craft a poem for the imagined presence? Can a poem speak to this truth? Can a poem color in a history? a body? a face that looks like home and tomorrow? How do I search out of absence? How do I search out of absence? How do I search out absence? and find warmth and sunshine and a skin that nods yes to this quest for legacy. An opening is not a beginning. maybe it is the moment before that calls us to take our places at the mark, get set, ready, go.....

So i am looking for blackness in lima with a crew of radical performers and theorists. we are keeping blackness a focus in all of these lectures and performances. two brothas from brazil and a sista from dc and myself are making our desire to see black bodies loud and present. we have chosen not to continue the absence our afro-peruana sisters and brothers are experiencing daily. there are with us and we are thinking and talking about them/us at every turn, every moment of this experience.

so because performance and politics are really one thing, we can look to performance as a way of complicating this already complicated issue. Kimba Fa, a lunch at Rustica, a viewing of Los Musicos Ambulantes, and a mask making workshop all inform my ideas about how performance create both visibility and invisibility for black people.

(to be continued)

ebony
working my rainbows~~entering performance studies installment

So it is Better to Speak:
Audre Lorde and the Perlocutionary Speech Act

Austin teaches that the perlocutionary act is a method for employing speech for the sole purpose of affecting change. He writes, "Saying something will often, or even normally, produce certain consequential effects upon the feelings, thoughts, or actions of the audience, or of the speaker, or of other persons: and it may be done with the design, intention, or purpose of producing them" (101). This explanation speaks to how perlocutionary speech is methodically implored to incite a cerebral and visceral change in the audience who partakes in the performance of such an act. One should consider experiencing the radical speeches of the Womanist liberation movement, such and the Combahee River Collective Statement or the writings of Elaine Brown, as examples of such texts. Influential writers, such as Audre Lorde, cast her "words as weapons" as invocations for a sensibility shift, but moreover, a call to direct action to "do" something to alter and dismantle the systematic oppression of Black women during the 1970's.

Austin provides an example of the perlocutionary act in his eighth lecture. He writes, "He persuaded me to shoot her" (102). This example illustrates the two key elements of the perlocutionary act: the statement and the presence of a desired effect. In this basic case one
views the statement and performance through the inclusion of the act of persuading the listening party. One should also notice the desired effect of the speech act as the shooting and possible death of the victim of this violent act.

This explanation provides the much needed backdrop for understanding how Audre Lorde wields the perlocutionary speech act, in her poem "Litany for Survival". In the poem she incites Black women to speak against sexual violence, homophobia, oppression and the culture of silence that encapsulates these issues. The first three stanzas of this poem present a multitude of situations that have historically silenced Black women. She writes, "for those of us who love in doorways/ coming and going…who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice". It is important to note that this silencing is not just a silencing of voice, but also the silencing of action. Perhaps Lorde provides this litany to remind women of their shared trauma. It is possible that this litany serves as a galvanizing tool to agitate the audience and stir the emotions so that when she exclaims, "So it is better to speak…," the audience is prepared to thoroughly absorb these words for the purpose of acting against oppression in their communities.

In Lorde's successful recitation of this poem she leaps beyond the intent to write and share a poem. She performs the act she incites in her audience and by doing so provides a template for how women can use speech to resist oppression. In short, Lorde's speech act, "…successfully achieves or consummates or brings off" (106), the desired effect she encourages her audience members to practice. Austin encourages his readers to consider the successful completion and consequences of perlocutionary speech acts. The trajectory of the Womanist movement and the prevalence of Lorde's oeuvre in contemporary social justice work shows and proves the successful completion and far reaching consequences of her speech act.
(high)ku a blog about peru
Current mood: anxious

tomorrow there will be sun


your sunless skies are gray
like a traveled beard like confederate slacks
like jazz wrung spiritless your skies are indeed sunless

one of your daughters tells me you own two seasons
the sun season and the sunless season my skin is hungry
for a teaspoon of light for a glimpse of sun against my neck

tomorrow there will be sun even for a moment
the ball of fire will force through the shadows and
greet us like the militant being he is arching our direction

south home now tickling our scalps from heaven

there is no apperance today or yesterday or tomorrow
you have collapsed time and space with your absence
and lima a city kissing the coast is left to sweep the dust and ash

Friday, August 03, 2007

how a crack becomes a riff
for nina,
1.
in the hollow of your moan
there is blackness there is blackness
and a grunt that sparks genuis in your daughters
in the reach of your eyes
there is god there is god
and redemption for all your daughters
in the bend of your fingers
there are ripples there are ripples
that trouble the earth and the spirit
you complicate emptiness with your blackness
you complicate song with your rasp
you complicate sound like a stereophonic volcano
and bring light and bring light
2.
your mama called you eunice
your mama called you eunice kathleen waymon
your daughters call you
3.
salvation
a lover called you little girl a lover called you little girl
your daughters call you salvation
4.
your voice is an offering like palm oil like "hard candy" like ripe coconut
like white flowers like river water and sweet bread
5.
those who know your song know religion is resistance
know a crack is a potential riff and moan is a moan
alright yall,
so imma try not to kirk out as i blog about me'shell ndegeocello visiting my class today. imma try. but just in case you been living under a rock and don't know who she is, you need to get hip and google and buy and worship at the altar that is her dope ass music.
in true ebony fashion, i gotta poem. i gotta poem. i don't believe in qualifiers but i must say the poem just shares a tanch of what she so freely taught us in our 2 and half hour lecture.
in the midst~~~~for fly ass me'shell ndegeocello
1.
the grain of your voice rubbed against vinyl is prayer
is a ridge (like a ridge in your bottom lip) where i oil up and tan
cause blackness is just a beginning and the edge is where i jump to life
2.
you say i am the offspring of an obsolete machine
so i guess me'shell i ain't got nothing to prove me standing here in all my black woman self all dripping with spirit and legacy and rips that healed and ripped and healed and warm hands say i aint got nothing to prove
3.
you say capitalism is the new religion of the masses
so i guess me'shell jesus gotta come back and set this shit straight cause we need a shift to let our people go we need a movement we can breathe through
4.
you say perchance blindness is but dark thought overcome by the light
and the light is a burgeoning entity that sends eyelashes to the tops of cheeks it shocks the back of the throat as it rolls up the spine it doubletimes doubletimed breath my sweet jesus my jesus i heard that you could save me light travels the blood to the ankles and freezes freezes the walk the thought and the pulse
5.
the star beneath your eye is a mantra is an unforgotten sutra an all night orgasm
like this audible memoir speaking all voices but just yours an evangalestic waltz in the higher chakras metronomic sonic swosh the star beneath your eye is a space where marriage can be savior and a whore a whore a whoreawhoreawhoreawhore
never got to open her p*s(y
6.
post script
a black girl soon to swirl around in her mamas belly writes me'shell a love note and places it in her mamas dreams she does not know other girl babies are writing too together the me'shell love notes make a b.i.b.l.e. read it as a sonogram of your destiny
7.
post script script
dear me'shell
thank you for teaching me that obama and hillary aint as fly as shirley (chilsom that is) and that my skin is written in a rich musical register and that tears open a space for self-construction and that a bass guitar can ask a question as loud as a protest and that thewomanistheonlyavenueofdeliverance and that harriet (tubman that is) was wise to walk her children to canada
truly delivered,
ebony
8.
in your silence you ask how can i be a guided missile meticulous in my craft a reserve of seeping energy a seducer of liberation a bringer of light a choir of hearts clapping hallelujahs in warm air
a poem for abbey lincoln

speak/ easy

for abbey lincoln

you know a horn reaches past the body past the ache past the secret past the silence like the guitar reaches past the scream past the flat line past the flourish like a name reaches

past the ancestors past the ovary past the egg and the water past the light like a remix reaches past its originary entrance

your voice reaches back it is a sankofa neck nodding the ancestors through folding me into myself like the ripples of a deep and wide ocean folding me into myself like flour enveloping sugar in an orange ceramic bowl

your voice reaches back it is a skin-so-soft hand with perfectly polished red nails it reaches
back it is a recipe recorded on tear stained tissue it reaches back it is a small curdled note
worn honey thin it reaches back like a turtle's dream

you remind me what muh deah said about being fast what my mama showed me bout being fast what india arie sung about being fast you remind me and i am thankful that I carry a

little bit of a swing on a sunday porch with me you remind me to reach past the creak past the crack past the slow heart beat and the fading eyes

you remind me to meditate on purple petals and tangerine dusks and that
moving slowly is not really bad/ moving slowly you see/ the wonders of the deep/ just waiting there for me
peace family,
last night i was blessed to learn of an new orleans ancestor called sista gertrude. i was introduced to her through a multimedia presentation which included a sound set by King Brit (holla) a band from Philly/New Orleans and a projectionist (anonymous, but dope). Not only did i enjoy the visuals but i enjoyed learning about the revolutionary-spiritualist sista gertrude.
this is all so important as i am writing about spiritual resistance and in the work of nina simone right now, specificially how traditional african spirituality in jazz is a performance of womanist resistance models.
take a look at www.summerstage.com for free concerts in the Central Park they got stuff going onn all the time. take a look at http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/5aa/5aa94.htm for more information about sista gertrude. take a look below for a poem about her.
peace and love, e-bone
Here is a picture of Sister Gertrude Morgan found at NPR's website
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4864538

packing list/ the recipe for soulsaving
~~~for sista gertrude morgan
polished cackling cymbals
tambourine
nurses cap white and washed with the holy ghost
packet of oils (sexy reds popping oranges deep purples) and brushes
mason jar of holy water
the holy book
the living bread and the sweet wine
a pinch of alabama clay
a voice like a holiness steel guitar
a map of the city
running shoes white laces
21st chapter of revelations
bride's veil
saving hands saving grace handsandgrace
keys to the holy city
a milk crate
eyes in the bodies of searching spirits
a bowl of mustard greens
a slow stroll to the battle field
the smell of old liquor and flat grins
an unrhymed rhythm when jesus comes
a home for the children and the delivered
two train tickets west
the teachings of our mothers and fathers never put on the shelf
nina simone in barbados, 1974. all hail the priestess!!!

this was during the time she recorded "it is finished" and more specifically "obeah woman". obeah a traditional congo spirituality is practiced throughout the caribbean. obeah is particulary important to understanding one of the key approaches to resistance in ninas work as a musician and civil rights leader. through her practice of obeah, and her deep pentacostal upbringing nina was able to move in the world as a conjure woman, a creator, an artist, and a revolutionary. all hail the high priestess!!!

here is a another poem in honor of studying and hopefully continuing her legacy~~~~

conjure woman, soul woman
for nina

nina
they say you have stolen shadows
say you have cast the babyspirits out in nocturnal limbo
that you make them wander
in search of womb
in search of milk
in search of the space between heaven and hell where each step is a breathsqueeze
they say you keep a sachet of boneshavings crescent city spit
and motherlanddust under your slip
and you blew
the eyebrows clean off a man's forehead
for cutting his eyes at you
they say you could have been a street preacher
but you couldn't keep your legs closed
or pray just to our lord jesus
but i know a woman who carries your face
and she aint nothing but sanctified
and she speak sweet like i heard you speak
and her fingers too are wands that stir heaven
and she too can hold night in her skin and sing it to her children at the break of dawn
nina
they really don't know how you got the blood and the lightening in your tone
they really don't know how you swung back this lifetime without wings
they really don't know how you birthed us with out light so
they call you witch when obeah woman is your name
they call you mystery when you are everywhere like dew
they call you magician when magician you are
they call you alien when you are mama
they call you alien when you are tuned to their hearts
obeah is your name

i do know you can bend time
and siphon your way through space
i have heard you do it
stretching through speakers at me
stretching through speakers at me
just when i get tired of shouting freedom
writing freedom birthing freedom

i have heard you do it
and have been redeemed


www.high-priestess.com
another poem for nina Current mood: calm
nina simone in barbados, 1974. all hail the priestess!!!

this was during the time she recorded "it is finished" and more specifically "obeah woman". obeah a traditional congo spirituality is practiced throughout the caribbean. obeah is particulary important to understanding one of the key approaches to resistance in ninas work as a musician and civil rights leader. through her practice of obeah, and her deep pentacostal upbringing nina was able to move in the world as a conjure woman, a creator, an artist, and a revolutionary. all hail the high priestess!!!

here is a another poem in honor of studying and hopefully continuing her legacy~~~~

conjure woman, soul woman
for nina

nina
they say you have stolen shadows
say you have cast the babyspirits out in nocturnal limbo
that you make them wander
in search of womb
in search of milk
in search of the space between heaven and hell where each step is a breathsqueeze
they say you keep a sachet of boneshavings crescent city spit
and motherlanddust under your slip
and you blew
the eyebrows clean off a man's forehead
for cutting his eyes at you
they say you could have been a street preacher
but you couldn't keep your legs closed
or pray just to our lord jesus
but i know a woman who carries your face
and she aint nothing but sanctified
and she speak sweet like i heard you speak
and her fingers too are wands that stir heaven
and she too can hold night in her skin and sing it to her children at the break of dawn
nina
they really don't know how you got the blood and the lightening in your tone
they really don't know how you swung back this lifetime without wings
they really don't know how you birthed us with out light so
they call you witch when obeah woman is your name
they call you mystery when you are everywhere like dew
they call you magician when magician you are
they call you alien when you are mama
they call you alien when you are tuned to their hearts
obeah is your name

i do know you can bend time
and siphon your way through space
i have heard you do it
stretching through speakers at me
stretching through speakers at me
just when i get tired of shouting freedom
writing freedom birthing freedom

i have heard you do it
and have been redeemed


www.high-priestess.com
full moon blood ~~~~~july 29, 2007, a poem
full moon blood, july, 29, 2007

my blood has caught the full moon again
the juju has set in my skin
i am ready to shake away this month's offspring
into the world like electrified fruit
there is a voodoo remix happening
in my tubes and box for me to leave at the crossroads
power

the spinach and basil bath power
the rosemary and the florida water power
the metal and the dirt power the slow stream to life
power the slow red stream to life power the pouting definition
and the reservoir of flesh power the scaled harmony
and the sloughed fear power the small bead of expectancy power
the legacy and the rampage power power resting on the rim of tomorrow
a poem in praise of remembering~~~~~

In Womanist Spirituality and Popular Music we watched a film called "The Language you Cry In" which chronicles reunited family through the story of a Mende funeral dirge. Interestingly, the song was sung before the slave trade and through the middle passage was transplanted to plantations and passed down by some enslaved African. The film documents a family who through keeping this song alive today is able to trace thier lineage back to Sierra Leon, where the song is still sung though rarely. Please view the film and share your thoughts about it with me here. take a look at the poem which unpacks some of my feelings and physical responses to the work.

a poem in praise of remembering~~~for the mende and the power of song

mendegeechemendegeeche
i know i am home
mendegeechemendegeeche
no longer spirit roams

more generations of mende than i can count
carry the same song in their mouths
carry the same sticky red rice in their mouths
fan and smash rice as children
dig out irrigations with the same dark hands

more generations of mende women than i can count
spread white clay on dry skin
keep an eye on rivergraves
swing in the new spirits
and carry the departed across the water

mendegeechemendegeeche
i know i am homemendegeechemende
no longer spirit roams
more generations of mende than i can count
go back with their tongues
their songs like a bread trail to the village
go back with their cries
their tears streaming clay away from skin
washing up ancestors
go back with their eyes
eyes that surge forth spirit as only eyes can

more generations of mende than i can count
know an offering eaten by the babies is an offering well spent
these strong lean bodies fed by the ancestors
to take the story into tomorrow

more generations of mende than i can count
know their legacy is carried in their cells
in knees that worship ancestors
know their legacy is carried in the heads humbly bowed
know their legacy is carried in working the spirit
like mending the threads of a fishing net

mendegeechemendegeeche
i know i am home
mendegeechemende
no longer spirit roams

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

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