Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

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Spilling Spill: Chapter 4-How She Survived Until Then

“…and/or the impossible and enduring presence of black women and girls.”

978-0-8223-6272-2_prIt is about one month until my book Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity comes out.  I am so excited! I can’t wait.  So I’m NOT waiting.  I am spilling it now!  You can read the whole first chapter here: https://www.dukeupress.edu/Booksellers/pubMaterialsDetail.php?productid=4518

 

Spill is not an easy book to describe, so I saw creating the meta-data, aka the abstracts and keywords that online databases and libraries use to search for books, as its own poetic exercise.  I am sharing the abstracts one chapter at a time here on my blog.  If you haven’t seen the posts over the past few weeks, here they are:

Spill:  The Abstract

Chapter: 1: How She Knew

Chapter 2: How She Spelled It

Chapter 3: How She Left

Chapter 4: How She Survived Until Then offers theories of how Black girls and women have continued to exist in violent and repressive contexts including domestic abuse, verbal abuse, the Atlanta Child Murders, depression, infertility, colorism, prison, a capitalist educational system, kidnapping, private school, public school, charter schools and iron deficiency.   This survival draws on the technologies of eating dirt, permaculture, gardening, birth control, abortion, capoeira and other forms of resilience. The survival in this chapter is in conversation with Ntozake Shange’s Betsey Brown, Toni Cade Bambara’s Those Bones are not My Child, Tayari Jones’s Leaving Atlanta and Aimee Cox’s Shapeshifters. The survival that happens here should be interesting to people who care about education, mass incarceration, masculinity, rape culture, the disposability of black women, depression, human trafficking, profanity and/or the impossible and enduring presence of black women and girls.

Keywords:

Atlanta Child Murders

black girls

Toni Cade Bambara

Resilience

Education

******

You can pre-order Spill here.

Educators…order a desk copy or exam copy of Spill for a course you are teaching here.

If you are interested in writing about Spill or interviewing me about it please contact Laura Sells at Duke University Press—–lsell@dukeupress.edu

If you are interested in hosting an event contact Chad Royal at Duke University Press— chad.royal@dukeupress.edu.


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To the Mothership: Alternate Universes from Apocalyptic Archivists

mothership

Between here and Charlotte sits Kannapolis, North Carolina, earthly birthplace of Parliament Funkadelic’s George Clinton.  He was born in Kannapolis and was raised in Plainfield, NJ (my own earthly birthplace.)

This morning I am drawing on the mothership connection, that studied and instinctive response to repeated and predictable state violence that has caused George Clinton and other geniuses to envision and activate technologies of escape.   Earlier this month as I prepared to talk about Alice Walker’s invocation of Mother-ship, in her “Democratic Womanism” and “Democratic Motherism” pieces in The World Will Follow Joy with the visionary apocalyptic archivists who participated in the Last is a Verb Webinar I received a gift in the mail from my irreplaceable namesake, author, Alexis De Veaux.  It was a Parliament Funkadelic t-shirt she bought at Afropunk.  On the back it says

‘Citizens Of The Universe/Recording Angels/We Have Returned To Claim The Pyramids/Partying On the Mothership/ I AM THE MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION’

Alexis Alexis MOTHERSHIP Mother-ship Plainfield Plainfield North Carolina North Carolina. Oh North Carolina.   I am collecting coincidences because systemic violence against black life cannot be the only pattern.   I seek a generative pattern, renewable fuel, to keep basing my daily decisions on Black love.

This past Sunday my grandfather (my mom’s dad) passed away.  On the same day my father-in-love (my partner’s dad) had a major stroke.  And I noticed (maybe because I was attuned to it by grief) that the fathers of several of my friends died too.  And then Keith Scott a father doing what my father does (sits and reads) was blown into eternity.  Charlotte, where my father-in-love lays half-paralyzed recovering from a stroke, exploded into what it already was, a place where only banks are safe, where Black life is a threat, where property is prophecy, where body turns to stone.  What happens when our fathers return to the mothership?  Alice Walker wants all of us to return to the mothership we are already on.  She is asking for Mother-ship as a rigorous responsibility to generate live instead of destroying it that she says is our sacred pre-existing contract with mother earth.

Next week our next webinar Soul Talk: Legacies of Black Feminist Magic remembers that exhausted from responding to the murder of 12 women in Boston within 3 months, the Atlanta Child Murders, the KKK attack in Greensboro, the US invasions of Grenada and Nicaragua and the rise of Ronald Reagan to the presidency Black women like Akasha Hull, Toni Cade Bambara, Sonia Sanchez, Lucille Clifton, Alexis De Veaux, Dolores Kendrick, Michele Gibbs and Alice Walker decided to take their magic seriously. Using ancestral listening, divination, channeling, astrology, dream analysis and other methods they created a precedent for those of us who are committed to radical internal and external transformation.  It is definitely time to take our tendencies for space travel, inter-dimensional wisdom and out of this world presence seriously.

How do I balance my mothership desires for escape from these wretched patterns with my mothership commitment to breath life into even this space, especially this space?  I have been drawing on this poem co-written by the archivists in the webinar for orientation when I ask myself “where” and “how”?  What is the trajectory of the drastic change that I and we need at this time?  This poem has been grounding and space-making for me this past week.  And I pass it on to you with love.

The Mother-ship Connection

 

By the participants in Last is a Verb: Archiving After the end of the World

 

To our mother’s gardens.

To the sacred pyramids.

To bliss.

To wellness.

To breathing easily.

To wholeness.

To balance.

To your hearts desire.

To abundance.

To vulnerability.

To trust.

To intimacy.

To willingness.

To sweet remembering.

To fullness.

To evolutionary love.

To forgiveness.

To the place where self-recrimination is no more.

To the place where practicing the art of discernment is effortless.

To respect.

To inner peace.

To home.

To being enough!

To complete connection with all beings.

To safety in this life and the next.

To the future our egun so boldly envisioned for us.

To confidence.

To self-love.

To the world stage.

To iridescent caves.

To our own bone marrow.

To joyful discipline.

To the first and forever dancing ground.

To the blessing place at the bottom of the ocean.

To the best place.

To the sound of joyful heartbeats.

To the sound of drums.

To the song of the first birth.

To the end of patriarchy.

To the abyss-womb.

To the intergalactic intergenerational way-station.

To the dark place where love is first and lasts.

To the vision of the third eye.

To our Truth(s)

To starseed.

To beyond the milky way.

To the new day.

To the ancient future.

To our daughters.

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Reborn: Heartbreak, Healing and Archive Fertility

Fannie Lou Hamer photo by Louis Draper

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo by Louis Draper)

On the second day of this past weekend’s Last is a Verb: Archiving After the End of the World Intensive we faced the heartbreak of apocalyptic archiving. We wrote and talked about how much it hurts for the insurgent worlds of our people to end, how much it hurts when the material we see as sacred is undervalued by the institutions where we work, how much it hurts to see the systemic violences that make our archiving necessary reproduced in the destinies of those archives.  And how necessary our heartbreak, our full and burning witness is to the world we deserve.   June Jordan’s heartbreak poems about a devastating break up (the correspondence related to which she has sealed in her own archival papers for the next hundred years) guided us to go deep and emerge in flames.    We activated our phoenix subjectivity and thought about what we burn and what we would keep about our whole society.  We reminded ourselves how much we wanted to be as transformative and agile and undeniable as fire.

June Jordan’s mentor and mother-figure Fannie Lou Hamer who was also a researcher whose freedom practice and political vision was informed by her own research and interpretation of slave ledgers and the songs passed down from her enslaved grandmother, guided us to remember the nutrients in the ashes and to add our own seeds to a homemade field of love (like the one June Jordan write about in her tribute poem to Fannie Lou Hamer.)  So out of heartbreak, we were reborn.  (Did I mention that one of our brilliant participants actually has the same birthday as Fannie Lou Hamer?)  We co-midwived each other into a field of possibility shaped by, but beyond our critiques of the fields where we do our work.   This is our rebirth poem.

*If you want some space for visionary rebirth come to next week’s Love is Lifeforce: A Writing Workshop in Honor of Queer Mothering at the LGBTQ Center in Durham or the next Brilliance Remastered Intensive  Soul Talk: Legacies of Black Feminist Magic at the end of the month!

 

After the Fire: Reborn

 

by the participants in the Last is a Verb: Archiving After the End of the World Intensive Webinar

 

reborn as a black woman

reborn as an obeah woman

reborn as a healer

reborn as a witch

reborn flying

reborn as a breeze

reborn as sweat that tastes like tears that taste like honey

reborn as ravens

reborn as fire

reborn as a vessel

reborn as any means necessary

reborn as parhesia

reborn in song

reborn with wings

reborn with arms stretched wide

reborn as the words of the spell

reborn as sacred guardians of the land

reborn in time to hold Fannie Lou’s hand

reborn with the knowledge held in all the tree roots

reborn with all the tools necessary for survival

reborn as a writer-artist-healer-visionary

reborn as a peacemaker

reborn as an unapologetic public intellectual

reborn as an autonomous black feminist archive at a kitchen table near you

reborn with the power to read books through osmosis

reborn with perfect pitch

reborn with stories to share and all the right times to share them

reborn in love

reborn with an infectious laugh

reborn with space for everyone in my laughing belly

reborn with an infinitely wide heart

reborn into a whole and healthy world

reborn knowing how magical, brilliant and amazing we are

reborn as a full black lily

reborn as legion

reborn with swords

reborn knowing who we were in the last life

reborn loving ourselves without reservation

reborn without limits

reborn without fear

reborn with no regrets

reborn with a strong body of which I am proud

reborn with the strength to stand tall in front of a crowd

reborn without worry about what other people think of me

reborn with a permeable membrane around the heart chakra

reborn with the patience and knowledge of the ocean

reborn with salt water and honey on our lips

reborn singing an old song

reborn with the urgency and purposefulness of the birds

reborn younger but with the knowledge that I have now

reborn remembering to ask all the questions

reborn in whale sounds held and sung for generations

reborn with all the stories from our unknown mothers

reborn being able to hear what people are actually saying when they speak

reborn being able to activate anyone’s oldest truest purpose with one touch

reborn with the strength of John Henry

reborn with the bravery of Harriet Tubman

reborn with the courage and groundedness of Angela Davis

reborn well, rested and ready

reborn with an irrepressible joy

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Spilling Spill: Chapter 3- How She Left

978-0-8223-6272-2_pr“the end of the world and/or the contingent freedom of Black women.”

It is about 6 weeks until my book Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity leaves my imagination and lands in your hands.  I am so excited!  Spill is not an easy book to describe, so I saw creating the meta-data, aka the abstracts and keywords that online databases and libraries use to search for books, as its own poetic exercise.  I am sharing the abstracts one chapter at a time here on my blog.  If you haven’t seen the posts over the past few weeks, here they are:

Spill:  The Abstract

Chapter: 1: How She Knew

Chapter 2: How She Spelled It

Chapter 3: How She Left presents scenes of departure or escape occurring in the context of domestic violence, slavery, revolutionary arson, mental illness and the underground railroad. The black women departing or escaping use superpowers and everyday technologies to enact their departures and they bump up against indecision, racism, sexism, self-doubt, inherited narratives, mother/daughter drama, surveillance technologies, nicknames and poverty, or they don’t. The scenes provide a gendered exploration of itinerancy as potential and dilemma. Harriet Tubman’s life is a referential text here, as is the revolutionary action of the New Jewel Movement in Grenada, Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. This discussion would be relevant to people interested in surviving domestic violence, escaping slavery, photographs and the photographic, the end of the world and/or the contingent freedom of black women.

Keywords:

domestic violence

freedom

Underground Railroad

Gloria Naylor

Zora Neale Hurston

******

You can pre-order Spill here.

Educators…order a desk copy or exam copy of Spill for a course you are teaching here.

If you are interested in writing about Spill or interviewing me about it please contact Laura Sells at Duke University Press—–lsell@dukeupress.edu

If you are interested in hosting an event contact Chad Royal at Duke University Press— chad.royal@dukeupress.edu.

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Possible Worlds: A Poem from Apocalyptic Archivists

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-9-59-49-amscreen-shot-2016-09-12-at-9-59-41-amscreen-shot-2016-09-12-at-9-59-27-am

 

 

This weekend’s Last is a Verb: Archiving After the End of the World Intensive was MIRACULOUS. Seven star-seeking, memory-keeping geniuses activated ancestral love, brave knowing and revolutionary vulnerability towards clarity and action about the world we want to keep, the systemic and internal patterns we want to destroy and the possibilities implied by the archive of our being.  Does that sound deep? It was.  We dug deep and emerged dirty and resplendent, like the planet.

On our first day together we engaged Audre Lorde’s theories of survival, Octavia Butler’s examination of Ooloi as an archivist gender for remembering and recreating life in infinite contexts, offered each other the archives held and lost by our own names and our relationships to our names, and the knowing held and kept in our physical bodies.  And that was just the first day.   I will be sharing blog posts for the res of the week about what else we did, but for now, we want to offer a poem we created by thinking about what knowledges and longings we have archived so deeply in our bodies, minds and hearts that we could create whole worlds out of them, in the tradition of the Oankali Ooloi.

If you want to be sure to know about upcoming intensives, webinars and workshops add your email to the Brilliance Remastered Brain Trust list here: http://eepurl.com/bsb6rj

Possible Worlds: (From the Archives of Our Being)

 

By the Last is a Verb: Archiving After the End of the World Participants

I could build a world of running away.

I could build a world of talking back.

I could build a world made from the joy found in my great grandmother’s smile.

I could build a world of my grandmother’s laughter. Her idioms. Her broken French.

I could build a world of that look mama gives sometimes.

I could build a world of great grandma’s teacakes and yardbird for dinner.

I could build a world of women waking early to bake bread.

I could build a world of answered letters and congratulatory cards.

I could build a world of Black feminists asking about each other’s daughters.

I could build a world of books and time to read them.

I could build a world of love.

I could build a world of yes.

I could build a world of mutual acceptance.

I could build a world of bad typing and supernatural syntax.

I could build a world of painless hands.

I could build a world of middle-aged flabby acceptance.

I could build a world of sacred drumming as the background rhythm to everything.

I could build a world of gifts my brother picked up off the ground.

I could build a world of everyone sleeping peacefully always.

I could build a world of dreams from rocks kept under pillows.

I could build a world of love singing first thing in the morning.

I could build a world of weightless floating.

I could build a world of flower filled baths.

I could build a world of tears cried at graduations.

I could build a world of self-possessed strutting in the best way.

I could build a world of the presence of horses, everywhere.

I could build a world of desire remaking escape.

I could build a world of prayers heard and questions celebrated.

I could build a world of listening as medicine.

I could build a world of healing breaths.

I could build a world of laughing out loud, often.

I could build a world of cherished surprise.

I could build a world of pleasure made of honey and cinnamon.

I could make a world of black feminist poetics.

I could build a world of worlds burnt down.

I could build a world of worlds remade.

I could build a world without borders.

I could build a world where words come easy.

I could build a world where black joy flows in abundance.

I could build a world where the cure for jealousy is adoration.

I could build a world where a powerful woman is valued and never feared.

I could build a world where Black women believe they are enough.

I could build a world where mothers can find time to rest.

I could build a world where shame doesn’t exist.

I could build a world where Love is Love is Love is.

I could build a world where double chins are fine.

I could build a world where no one is surprised when young people shine.

I could build a world where you do not have to have money to live well.

I could build a world where playing is everyone’s job, sometimes.

I could build a world where there is enough clean water for everyone.

I could build a world where we breathe saltwater so no one drowns and no one is alone.

I could build a world where greed is dissolved.

I could build a world where housing is for people, not for profit.

I could build a world where everyone knows where home is.

I could build a world where everyone’s story is heard.

I could build a world where people regularly share about our conversations with the land.

I could build a world where everyone knows cooperation and love are the true qualities of humanness.

I could build a world where there are no prisons.

I could build a world where ‘divide and conquer’ is impossible.

I could build a world where art is not extra.

I could build a world where darkness is not the metaphor for everything evil.

I could build a world where healing with sound and color is an everyday occurrence.

*******

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Spilling Spill-Chapter 2: How She Spelled It

978-0-8223-6272-2_prThe things black women write and how they write them. (The spells themselves and the black women who enact them…)

It’s about 7 weeks until the release of my book Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity and I am so excited to share it with you! As the website says:

“In Spill, self-described queer Black troublemaker and Black feminist love evangelist, Alexis Pauline Gumbs presents a commanding collection of scenes depicting fugitive Black women and girls seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism. In this poetic work inspired by Hortense Spillers, Gumbs offers an alternative approach to Black feminist literary criticism, historiography, and the interactive practice of relating to the words of Black feminist thinkers. Gumbs not only speaks to the spiritual, bodily, and otherworldly experience of Black women, but also allows readers to imagine new possibilities for poetry as a portal for understanding and deepening feminist theory.”

I have decided to share the chapter abstracts with you one at a time.  Spill is not an easy book to describe, so I saw creating the meta-data, the abstracts and keywords that online databases and libraries use to search for books, as its own poetic exercise.  Here are the abstract and keywords for…

Chapter 2: How She Spelled It

This chapter presents scenes of articulation, the enactment of spells in the context of: sanding the floor, poisoning someone, prophecy, cutting oneself etc. The scenes take place in the presence of the historical existence of Kitchen Table Press and the Moynihan Report.   The spells are evidence of spiritualism and folk religion and emerge alongside the persistence of overwhelming violence and silence. The spells themselves and the black women who enact them would be of interest to people who care about digestion, resilience, slave resistance, revenge, domestic workers, unpaid reproductive labor, muteness, naming, the name of the mother, self-mutilation and/or the things black women write and how they write them.

Keywords:

language

naming

spells

Kitchen Table Press

Moynihan Report

*

You can pre-order Spill here.

Educators…order a desk copy or exam copy of Spill for a course you are teaching here.

If you are interested in writing about Spill or interviewing me about it please contact Laura Sells at Duke University Press—–lsell@dukeupress.edu

If you are interested in hosting an event contact Chad Royal at Duke University Press— chad.royal@dukeupress.edu

And if you missed them here are:

Abstract and Keywords for the Whole Book

Abstract and Keywords for Chapter 1

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My Name is My Own: Black Survivors Releasing and Reclaiming

June_Jordan_Collage_APG_lex

Last night a trans-atlantic group of self-identified black woman, femme and/or gender-non conforming survivors gathered digitally for My Name is My Own, a resilience and renewal session.

Guided by June Jordan’s “Poem About My Rights,” we opened ourselves up to “all of it disclosed by the stars and the silence…”and invited the ancient wisdom of our ancestors and our own knowing into the space in celebration of the wise darkness of this phase of the moon.

We asked ourselves “what in the hell is everyone being so reasonable about?” and gave ourselves permission to be angry and honest about the impact of violence and even the ways that we are violent with ourselves when we force ourselves to be reasonable in unreasonable circumstances.  In preparation for the coming new moon we released our acceptance of the unacceptable…with breathing, with fire, with water, with flushed toilets.

We got specific about what Jordan calls our “simple daily and nightly self-determination” and celebrated the sacredness of our care practices, our joys, the rituals that hold us here, the soil that makes the world we deserve possible.  We reveled in the truth that despite everything we have filled our lives with love in infinite small and large ways.

And finally we reclaimed our names in a group poem to share with you!  I recommend reading and repeating this poem out loud. It feels amazing. If you have the opportunity to read this with a group of black women/femme/gnc survivors it will align your chakras, fix your computer and heal your soul.

*If you want a chance to gather together check out next week’s Brilliance Remastered online intensive Last is a Verb: Archiving After the End of the World or Nobody Mean More to Me Than You, the Brilliance Remastered Fall Retreat in Durham, NC in October.

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My Name is…My My My 

 

“my name is my own my own my own”

-June Jordan “Poem About My Rights”

 

 

my name is

creation

creation

creation.

 

my name is

an answered prayer

an answered prayer

an answered prayer

 

my name is

so sincere

so sincere

so sincere.

 

my name is

making space

making space

making space

 

my name is

here

here

here.

 

my name is

my choice

my choice

my choice.

 

my name is

my truth

my truth

my truth.

 

my name is

yes

yes

yes.

 

my name is

louder

louder

louder.

 

my name is

taking back power

taking back power

taking back power.

 

my name is

my yes to the spirit

my yes to the spirit

my yes to the spirit.

 

my name is

openhearted

openhearted

openhearted.

 

my name is

love

love

LOVE.

 

my name is

a hundred ways to kiss the ground

a hundred ways to kiss the ground

a hundred ways to kiss the ground

 

my name is

gratitude

gratitude

gratitude

 

my name is

the precious sound of their prayers

the precious sound of their prayers

the precious sound of their prayers

 

my name is

grasping at the root

grasping at the root

grasping at the root

 

my name is

forgiveness

forgiveness

forgiveness.

 

my name is

letting go

letting go

letting go.

 

my name is

all the gentleness that i’ve ever wanted

all the gentleness that i’ve ever wanted

all the gentleness that i’ve ever wanted

 

my name is

the red in the colorado twilight

the red in the colorado twilight

the red in the colorado twilight

 

my name

is a healing song

is a healing song

is a healing song

 

my name is

a dance of joy

a dance of joy

a dance of joy

 

my name is

the power of black feminism

the power of black feminism

the power of black feminism

 

my name is

Africa

Africa

Africa.

 

my name is

a word written in your heart

a word written in your heart

a word written in your heart

 

my name is

all of you

all of you

all of you.

 

my name is

come with me

come with me

come with me

 

my name is

all of us ever

all of us ever

all of forever.

 

my name is

the loudest high five

the loudest high five

the loudest high five.

 

my name is

got that right

got that right

got that right.

 

my name is

sho nuff

sho nuff

sho nuff.

 

my name is

say that

say that

say that.