Good Hair Gone Forever: Poems by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

31 10 2013

Happy Halloween!  What is scarier than the freedom of black hair growing out of bright black brains? Muwhahaha. My Halloween gift to all of you is the kindle/tablet/online version of my chapbook GOOD HAIR GONE FOREVER.

My shero namesake Alexis De Veaux took time out to write these words about the collection:

“The poems of GOOD HAIR GONE FOREVER wreak with the sensate badass-ness of a sure nuff trouble maker, a twenty-first century afroheaded trickster black woman who spits nappyness and breathes mirrors. Read the signs: this is a dangerous free. No hemming and hawing allowed.”  -Alexis De Veaux, Author of Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde and An Enchanted Hair Tale

Download it here:

You can see a video the poem BEWARE here:

101 Things that Are NOT True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive

16 10 2013

What does a black feminist who spends her time lifting up the legacies of obscure black feminist geniuses do about her complicated feelings about hypervisible famous black women like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey?

These poems.

“Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s book of list poems, One Hundred and One Things That Are Not True About The Most Famous Black Women Alive, then, is an intervention into black women’s relationships with the list form, with truth-telling, with public personages, and with each other.”  Sarah Mantilla Griffin  (See full review here)

“The theme of flight is an important one for Gumbs and places her work in conversation with writers, including Toni Morrison, who have explored the trope of the flying African.  As they provide spaces for flights of the mind, for escape, for rising above, or simply for elevating and expanding our perceptions of whom these women could be, the poems enliven what were essentially static public figures.”  Sarah Mantilla Griffin  (See full review here)

Here is a conversation about the meditation of LOVE that is this book with Crunk Feminist Collectives R. Boylorn.

And here is a fun video I made with excerpts of the poems this morning.

Emergency Broadcast: A Youth Activism Workbook

15 10 2013

Hey y’all! In honor of the way I met my sister comrade Maia Williams (it’s her birthday!!!!) and the transformative discussion at last month’s Emergency Theologies Parable Potluck

I am REPUBLISHING a digital version of a 47 page youth activism workbook zine that I published when I had one day of liberated access to a copy machine in my early 20s.

Enjoy! All proceeds go towards curriculum building for Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind programming in Durham!

Lucille Clifton and the Poems of Our Past Lives: October Finding Poems Retreat

12 10 2013

 Saturday October 19th 10am-4pm

Durham, NC  (registered participants will get the location info!)

Many people do not know that the great poet Lucille Clifton was also in communication with other worlds.  In her archived papers there are several proposed manuscripts of books that talk about her communication with the dead. Based on Lucille Clifton’s dream poems and past life poems this retreat is about looking for the poems in our own dreams, memories and inklings and maybe even our conversations with folks who are no longer on this plane.


Sign up here:
Offer your retreat fee here at a rate you can afford.  (Keep in mind comparable one day retreats cost about $155.00)


Glad to be in community with you in this lifetime!


Durham Poems from the Finding Poems Participants

2 10 2013

Durham_Mag_Cover-222x300On September 28th an eclectic group of poets gathered for session 4 of the Finding Poems Series.  We were inspired by June Jordan’s architectextual poems and by the powerful video conferenced-in sharing of environmental justice scholar Cheryl J. Fish to engage the spatial realities and legacies of Durham in a poetic way.  We wrote many poems that day but here is our group poem/group of poems for Durham.

And you can listen to it here:

Durham Poem #34

Durham, don’t dig down deep

Beg barter and plea, Baby

For transformation you are not willing to have as your birthday wish, Honey

Durham Poem #9

whirlwind my heart you dirty city

you tobacco dust you slave lust trust

you breathing devil     land

Durham Poem #23

Durham, Durham

The beats of the hearts the angers the terrors the smiles

Dance Durham

Durham Poem #24

the pompeii

in durham, traffic slower

than my blood flow

during morning prayer, a man

ask me for food, or change

in front of mcdonalds,

i extend a banana,

he refuses, i continue

singing.  i belong here.

Durham Poem #25 (26, 27, 28…)

the first year i shivered.  who knew there could be snow down here

making broken oak litter

the two next i plumped + grew + crossed under electrical wires to a turtle river.

and coming for fourth year, three thunderstorms have

drenched me here: the drops are so much bigger than

at home

new home, you got warm tapioca pearls,  got aloe blood, got muscadine guts coming from the sky.

Durham Poem #31


Not West Virginia


Durham Poem #4

There is a man waving a gun next to the Bull

We’re to hide inside, as they kill him; watch him die till morning

As a city with its history tattooed on your sidewalks, I wonder how you might caption your present.

Durham Poem #202

This elastic place-when I breath it

I’m learning new shades; if I remember to keep my lungs open

Here-I am becoming more comfortable with complex color patterns and asking for hugs when I need one.

Enough: Affirmations that Sustain Sistorians

27 09 2013


Last night was the LAST NIGHT of the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar.  I’m not ashamed to say I teared up.  Also I kinda sang Boys II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye.”  None of us wanted to get offline.  It was truly a ‘you hang up, no you hang up’ situation.  I am so grateful for this space and to each of the amazing sistorians who participated.   As part of our process of moving forward affirmed and empowered to continue to act on the insights we came to together we collected quotations from geniuses (from Gwendolyn Brooks to Rob Base) to carry with us…post in our offices, keep in our wallets and to turn to as mantras when we need them.   We hope they can affirm you too!!

“I am who I am, doing what I came to do.” Audre Lorde (Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger)

“for we are the last of the loud, nevertheless live. conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.” –Gwendolyn Brooks “The Second Sermon on the Warpland”

“come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
–Lucille Clifton

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

“I love myself enough to be who I am.” Essex Hemphill

“I have hopes for myself.” Gwendolyn Brooks (Interview in Sturdy Black Bridges)

“Black women are inherently valuable.” -Combahee River Collective Statement

“I have everything I need within myself.” -Rah Goddess

“I got an idea that I want to share. You don’t like it? So what. I don’t care.” Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock (It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right—especially useful in a racist academic/activist workplace)

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

“Anyone working to resist white supremacy has to be a visionary..”  Bekezela Mguni

For more affirmations check out this post we love from Crunk Feminist Collective’s Robin Boylorn:

Want to sign up for the October Webinar—Bright Black: Ending Slavery in Contemporary Black Intellectual Practice?  There are a few days left to get on board! Sign up here.


When In Rome (Finding Poems): An All Day Retreat on June Jordan’s Architectural Poems

21 09 2013


10am-4pm Saturday September 28th, 2013

Durham, NC

Join Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind for an all day retreat inspired by the poetry June Jordan wrote while on her Architecture fellowship in Rome!   (This retreat also includes a walking meditation on the architectural structure of LGBTQ parades complete with box lunches!  We know June wouldn’t want to miss it!) We will also have a video guest appearance by Cheryl J. Fish, the first scholar to publish in June Jordan’s architectural work!!!

Sign up and share food preferences:   

Offer your retreat fee here at a rate you can afford.  (Keep in mind comparable one day retreats cost about $155.00)


Did you know that acclaimed black feminist poet June Jordan was an architect?   Not only that, she won the Prix de Rome in architecture in the 1970s.    This retreat asks us to find the poems in the built environment around us in conversation with the poems that June Jordan wrote while in Rome (some of her less studied work).  For more by Alexis on June Jordan and the poetics of architecture see:

On the Finding Poems Series:  This set of 6 one-day community writing retreats over a six month period is designed to offer writers at all levels an opportunity to find the poems speaking to them everywhere and to deepen their poetic practice by drawing inspiration from black feminist poets.  Each retreat will be all day on a Saturday and will include meals, inspiration, nerdy contextualization and loving support from an exuberant educator who has been creating transformative writing space for over 15 years.


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