and then the phone rings/no payment possible: maroon poems on debt

18 06 2015

41LiBkt628L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Yesterday was the last day of Brilliance Remastered‘s June class Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black UnBelievability.  I can never repay the participants in this class for their bravery in co-creating it, the honesty they inspired in me and the generosity of what they each shared.   Yesterday we articulated the urgency of how debt and credit emerge in our lives, the false binary between the external enforcements of capitalism and how those enforcement filter into our closest relationships and the depth of incalculable love we are experiencing.   Below are some poems from our process.

(And) Now it’s time to sign up for July’s class: Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water

July 15-17, 2015  (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This is a webinar intensive for thirsty visionaries who value transnational/intercommunal connections and a planetary scale of transformation.  Transubstantiating the poetry of Audre Lorde, the theoretical work of Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Michelle Wright 
and Katherine McKittrick and the activist legacies of June Jordan and Lydia Gumbs, this webinar is especially necessary for thinkers connecting basic needs to brave visions.

8 spots are available. $150-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

and then the phone rings

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black UnBelievability

“We felt it in the way someone saves the best part just for you, and then it’s gone, given, a debt.  They don’t want nothing.  You got to accept it, you got to accept that.  You’re in debt but you can’t give credit because they won’t hold it. Then the phone rings.  It’s the creditors.  Credit keeps track.” -Debt and Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney

then the phone rings

it’s the person i owe a bio (and i still don’t know who i am)

then the phone rings

it’s me asking myself am i smart enough am i good enough did i plan well enough this month

 

then the phone rings

i need to graduate in order to validate my learning

 

then the phone rings

it’s your future, the one desired for you, foreclosed, all the major appliances missing.  you are going somewhere unknown, but dark

then the phone rings

it’s your cousin who needs help but he always lies to you

then the phone rings

i have nothing to offer you because i don’t have any money

then the phone rings

it’s my partner who needs a place to stay but can’t help pay the rent we can’t afford

then the phone rings

my parents need to retire and be taken care of

then the phone rings

your family is trying not to resent you for being so happy and so broke

then the phone rings

it’s your sister, your niece is hurt, your sister is full of rage, your niece is hurt, your sister’s rage is older than both of them

then the phone rings

it’s auntie, she wants to know what it is i could possibly see without a television

then the phone rings

and you don’t answer because you didn’t do what you said you would do yet, and you did so many other things

gannetcolonies

no payment possible

(debts that cannot be repaid)

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black UnBelievability

“The place of refuge is the place to which you can only owe more, because there is no creditor, no payment possible.”  Debt and Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney

i am selling my house back to the bank, but i cannot repay the land i’ve lived on

i cannot repay my grandmother’s labor in hospitals and schools

the bush tea strangers made to save my grandfather’s life when  he was a child

nearly bleeding to death in the cane fields

the teachers who told my mom she was smart and held high expectations for her

my teachers waiting while I work it through

my mother’s voice telling me I was wonderful before gender in the womb

my mother teaching me to dance and cook despite my resistance

the many conversations i’ve had with my mother that allowed me to find my voice

the experience of watching my father and his siblings dance, reminding me of an unstoppable sense of pride

or you for how you don’t understand and you love me anyway

and you for how you do understand and don’t mind when i don’t notice





From the Abyss: Maroon Studies Poems Inspired by Sylvia Wynter

17 06 2015

Yesterday was day 2 of Brilliance Remastered‘s Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black Unbelievability.  We let Sylvia Wynter and Gayatri Spivak rock our worlds with their theories of the trickery of global debt and development.  We engaged Sylvia Wynter’s proposition that development is teleological (that the problem of debt is primarily epistemological and only secondarily economic, that we cannot survive on a planet with a project that asks the whole world to emulate the greediest and most wasteful people on the planet aka “the developed”)and what it may have meant for her to present those propositions at a conference of economists trading development strategies for Africa in the 1990s.  We engaged our personal and collective abysses.  We reflected on the primary and secondary and simultaneous aspects of our needs.  We tried to inhabit darkness without reverting to enlightenment.   Here are some poems from our process.

What You Do Not See

41l+vqrif1L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“What you do not see does not exist.”  -Hamidou Kane, Ambigous Adventure (epigraph to Sylvia Wynter’s “Is ‘Development’ a Purely Empirical Concept or also Teleological?: A Perspective from ‘We the Underdeveloped'”)

you do not see

my grandfather’s bleeding feet in the canefields

how my hips know how to stand like my grandmother stood

how my heart remembers my ancestors’ heartbreak

my grandparents’ excitement about their grandchildren who they never met

what surrounds me when I chant and pray in the morning

what got me from the stolen shore back to the sea

what my sister is saying when she calls me and can’t breathe

what my aunt knows when she can’t speak or move

the weight between myself and a student when I tell them I cannot find them more money to attend university

how i could eat plantain every day and not grow weary

the potential living bound up in hear of talking and listening to the one you believe has hurt you the most

how i am healed each time I give and ask for help

all the fingernails I cut off so I could love the shape of my hand

the generous spaces I’ve carved in journal after filled journal to help me through the day

how we look when we don’t see our reflection

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i wish for that opening

“the future citadel…will open its wide windows on the abyss, from which will come great gusts of shadow upon our shriveled bodies, our haggard brows.  With all my soul I wish for this opening.” -Hamidou Kane, Ambiguus Adventure (1963) cited by Wynter

i wish for that opening where ancestors come through and have plenty of water to drink while they tell us the stories we need

i wish for that opening where one moment of being seen could fill the grooves of decades of invisibility

i wish for that opening where I can greet my future self and receive her gifts

i wish for that opening where life generating process garners more spotlight than outcome

i wish for that opening where enough is enough already

i wish for that opening where my prayer feels as productive as my work

i wish for that opening where I don’t have to wish

*******************

There is still time to sign up for July’s Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water

Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water: July 15-17, 2015  (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This is a webinar intensive for thirsty visionaries who value transnational/intercommunal connections and a planetary scale of transformation.  Transubstantiating the poetry of Audre Lorde, the theoretical work of Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Michelle Wright 
and Katherine McKittrick and the activist legacies of June Jordan and Lydia Gumbs, this webinar is especially necessary for thinkers connecting basic needs to brave visions.

6 spots remain. $150-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):





Some Poems About Our Blackness: From Day One of Maroon Studies Intensive #1

17 06 2015

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Yesterday was the first day of Brilliance Remastered‘s Summer Webinar Series Maroon Studies!!!

Yesterday (oh glorious freedom-redefining day) the participants in Intensive #1: Debt and Black Unbelievability focused on what is at stake in our relationships to blackness write large as the stars and our blackness in particular.  We engaged work on blackness by the geniuses Evie Shockley and Jamaica Kincaid.

We worked through contradiction and expansiveness, we got personal and theoretical and poetic (at the same time) and we created three poems as part of our process of articulating and refracting our thoughts, feelings, impulses and tensions.  Here are our poems!

9780819571403you are

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1 (Debt and Black UnBelievability)

(an ode to our blackness-inspired by Evie Shockley)

you are my joy in the morning

and my comfort in the evening

you are my open sky on a hard day

and the hard day

you are my hope in times of struggle

and the struggle

you are my tunnel for freedom

and the freedom

you are my bridge over the abyss

and the abyss

you are my heartbeat my hips

and my bliss

you are my scorching sun

and my shade

you are my lie

and my truth

you are my mother

and my child

you are my connection to my ancestors

and my ancestors

you are my dead and lost

and my finding awake

you are my sleep without dreams

and the dreams

******************************************************

some folks

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1

(a poem about our blackness—after Evie Shockley)

some would say you’re a death sentence

some folks can’t see                      the way you bring me life

some would say we are behind

some folks can’t see                         we are on a different plane

some would say you’re illegal

some folks can’t see                        justice

some would say you are skin and hair

some folks don’t know            you are thick in the air

some would say you’re ugly

some folks can’t see                        the swing in your hips

some would say you are the opposite of light

some folks can’t manage            a darkness this bright

some would say this is all

some folks can’t see                        all is all we need

cover-art

Blue Blackness

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1

(after Jamaica Kincaid’s “Blackness”)

blackness

the blackness is not water or food

the blackness is not water or food

it enters the room and sets the mood

no other sound except the blackness falling can be heard

no other sound except the blackness falling can be heard

black is the letter the syllable the whole word

the blackness cannot bring me joy, but I am often glad in it

the blackness cannot bring me joy, but I am often glad in it

the blackness cannot bring me joy, but I celebrate being made from it

i am swallowed up in the blackness so I am one with it

i am swallowed up in the blackness so I am one with it

i am swallowed up in the blackness so that I can create from it

though it flows through my veins

though it flows through my veins

blackness is love, making me strange

within the blackness then, I have been erased

within the blackness then, I have been erased

through the absence I live in space

At-the-Bottom-of-the-Rivershe

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sees my nightmares, my memories, my ancestors and me

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sits idly on a shore waiting for Yemaya to appear on waves tumults and beauty

she hears the sounds within the sounds common as that is to open spaces

she hears the sounds within the sounds common as that is to open spaces

wondering and dreaming about simultaneous places

she hears the sounds within the sounds

she hears the sounds within the sounds

she hugs the heart of the heart deeper within unbound

so enamored is she of great beauty and ancestral history

so enamored is she of great beauty and ancestral history

that she forgets her name and sets it free

as she stands boldly now one foot in the dark the other in the light

as she stands boldly now one foot in the dark the other in the light

as she stands boldly now ready to transform into a being made of stars and moonlight

*************

And that’s just day 1!!!

If you want to sign up for July’s intensive “Necessary as Water” you can get more information here.

Black blessings,

Sista Docta Lex





My People Are Free: A Group Poem by Harriet Tubman and her Given and Chosen Family!

8 06 2015

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This weekend I had the joy and honor of attending the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference in Cambridge, Maryland aka Harriet Tubman’s hometown.  The gathering, which is in its sixth year, is more like a family reunion for the Harriet Tubman’s relatives and those of us who have chosen (through our continuous practices of researching and honoring her legacy) to become family in a different way.

Janell Hobson, the convener of 2013’s Harriet Tubman Symposium in Albany and the editor of the special issue of Meridians on Harriet Tumban invited me to join her at the conference and I invited Combahee Pilgrimage co-coordinators Julia Roxanne Wallace (Sangodare) and Zachari Curtis and Combahee Pilgrim Ladan to come too.  We were graciously hosted by Blain Snipstal who is currently farming the land where Harriet Tubman led her first escape.  Touching the witness tree (a grand tulip poplar that was on the land when the escape happen and now towers over the the other trees to tell the story) and visiting the place where Tubman was born and other places where she lived in the area was a sacred experience.  Meeting her family members and the descendants of her other community members in her close knit community in Eastern Shore and finding routes (spelling intentional) of my own family history in that community was miraculous.  I feel like I know something about freedom, family, risk, time and space that I didn’t know when arrived.

On Saturday during the last session of the conference I led an activity that drew on Harriet Tubman’s prophetic dream in 1862 where she saw the (still unfolding) freedom of her people.   We wrote group poem comprised of related haikus based on the mantra that Tubman is said to have chanted all day after her freedom dream:  “My people are free.”  If Harriet Tubman could talk about freedom in the present tense while posters around the country marked her as a “fugitive slave” then we can robustly and specifically speak freedom in this moment when anti-blackness and state violence ring off the sidewalks, pools, patios, and streets of this land.   Here is the poem we came up with!  If you want listen to a meditation based on the mantra “my people are free” featuring the original 21 Combahee pilgrims and I check out the Black Feminist Breathing Chorus here: http://blackfeministbreathing.tumblr.com/  And if you want to support Dark Sciences, a retreat for people of color dreamers coming up in August you can donate here or here:

if you donate $35 or more this week I will send you a print of “Shapeshift” my collage for Harriet Tubman!  Enjoy the poem!

Harriet_My_People_Are_Free_Collage-300rez

My People Are Free

a poem by the participants in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference including Tina, Julia, Ladan, Blain, Zachari, Alexis, Kami, Aisha, Katryna, Deborah, Ashaki Binta, Janell, Robin, Kim, Don and more!

my people are free

to live a life to the full

overflowing now

*

my people are free

our lives never trump our love

love is life force, see

*

my people are free

in this moment of truth and

solidarity

*

my people are free

ancestor bones shift, rise, kiss

heels of progeny

*

my people are free

circles; wind and wine freely

children dance safely

*

my people are free

we feed faith new food now and

it goes down so good

*

my people are free

revolution came for us

women led the way

*

my people are free

protected secure women

are no longer robbed

*

my people are free

we breathe and build in colors

the spirit feeds us

*

my people are free

we all help nurture the seeds

of our own true selves

*

my people are free

let anything come that can

take flight, you and me

*

my people are free

dreaming loving creating

for now is the time

*

my people are free

light shining through every door

rejoice my people!

*

my people are free

be dancing laughing loving

my people are free

*

dreams come true like that

because we love each other

my people are free

*

minds no longer bound

joyful hearts in everyone

my people are free

*

my vision is clear

I live within a higher truth

my people are free

**************

Again if you want to support Dark Sciences, a retreat for people of color dreamers coming up in August you can donate here or here:

if you donate $35 or more this week I will send you a print of “Shapeshift” my collage for Harriet Tubman!





Mothering is a Practice (It Can Be): A Poem from the Revolutionary Walkers

17 05 2015

Originally posted on Revolutionary Mothering:

IMG_20150516_191518Yesterday’s sweet journey with the other participants of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind‘s In Search of Our Mothers: A Revolutionary Garden Walk

was a blessing!  Duke Gardens looked especially womanist (which is to say, purple) and alive with allium flowers, birds and beautiful people of color in fancy clothes.

Together, inspired by specific excerpts of Alice Walker’s ground-nurturing essay “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” and by her poetic definition of womanism, we reconsecrated a fountain, meditated in public, walked by ourselves humming and singing, walked together talking and created a group poem inspired by Alice Walker’s revolutionary proposition in her essay “Democratic Motherism” (in the book The World Will Follow Joy) that “Mothering is an instinct, yes, but it is also a practice.  It can be learned.”

Here is our verbtastic poem, reflecting on mothering as a practice.  Oh! And we created this poem together standing…

View original 348 more words





Revolutionary Web Conversation #1 and the Upcoming Conversations!

12 05 2015

1_9781629631103Yesterday’s conversation between Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Mai’a Williams about Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines was everything! It went everywhere!  If you missed it you can watch it here:

Also! There are more conversations coming up!

See Lex in conversation with:

Conversation #2:

Cynthia Oka (contributor to Revolutionary Mothering and power poet and activist) on May 17th at 1pm Eastern

Watch live or later here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Mdod9mRsNg

Conversation #3:

China Martens (co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering and powerhouse mama author and organizer)  May 18th at 1pm Eastern

Watch live or later here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC5936nnbxw





Today: Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines Web Conversation #1

11 05 2015
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Photo by sister-editor China Martens

Tune in today for a long distance kitchen table conversation with Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Mai’a Williams (two of the three co-editors of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines) in a one on one conversation on moving from the shorelines to the frontlines, mothering, the revolutionary mothering zine, transnational fairy godmothering and more.

Tune in to our video conversation live, or after the fact here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJy7Djn_6bc

See you soon!

Love,

Lex and Mai’a








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