Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

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After Brightest Star…So Far: A Dream Memoir about POC Collective Organizing and Land

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Dear Dreamers,

We pretend that we are living in a time of best practices.   Of strategic progress based on generations of progress. Sometimes even our progressive conferences sound like corporate commercials. About how it is better.   And if it is worse it is urgently fundably worse. (Sub)Prime for the better connected better thinkers that we are.

I don’t think that we are living in a time of best practices. We are living in a time of beautiful failures.   Of transformative break-ups.   Of mistakes that really seemed like the best thing. Of spills that cannot be ignored anymore.   And maybe we always have been.

In “Poetry is Not a Luxury” the great black feminist lesbian warrior poet Audre Lorde encourages us to stop thinking that our thoughts will save us, stop pretending that we can figure it all out. That we are smarter than we ever have been. That we are smarter everyday. She encourages us to trust the darkness of dreams. Which are strong and dark because they have survived.

What if as a species we are less smart than we have ever been.   What if everything we thought we knew is falling apart around us, and that’s a good thing. What if the rate of our unlearning is so exponential that we actually get to live in the deep dark world of our dreams, and the news can stop feeling like a traumatic intergenerational version of déjà vu.

I thought I was “progressive” but I have never felt more backwards. I have never reached more desperately for the oldest most outdated parts of myself. In my dreams I see the moment that the universe was born and when I meditate I realize that moment isn’t over. I just think it is.   And my thoughts cannot save me.EPSON MFP image

So I wanted to share my dreams with you. The technology I am using to know less every morning. And I wanted to share my failure with you.   The time I wrote 35 dream love poems every single day to a POC land collective I helped found and ended up having to leave. (Spoiler.) This poetic video memoir is dedicated to Earthseed, the idea and the project and the loss. And it is in conversation with Octavia Butler the whole time.

I will be recording and posting videos versions of the dream poems I wrote last summer with prompts for you and ways for you to share. 

I hope this can be interactive. And that your experiences help me know even less. I am sure I am not the only person who has been completely transformed by love and loss in this work. May this be deep space for us to share about our dreams. And how it didn’t work out.

And how we are still dreaming. After brightest star.

Love before and after everything,

                                                        Alexis

To see all of the videos go to alexispauline.com/afterbrighteststar

Take. Root.: After Brightest Star Poem #1 from Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Vimeo.

Take. Root. “The destiny of Earthseed / is to take root among the stars.” -Octavia Butler

On Octavia Butler’s birthday I am sharing the first in installment of my dream memoir. 35 poems I wrote last summer in conversation with Octavia Butler’s Earthseed verses and dedicated to Earthseed, a people of color land collective based in Durham, NC. Today’s prompt is “How do you take root?” (Is the emphasis on “take”?) What is your relationship to land and community. What are the politics of where you live and how? What have you learned from failures and setbacks of renting, buying, collectively owning, splitting up shared stuff after break ups of relationships or collectives? Reply in the comments or send me an email at brokenbeautifulpress at gmail dot com!

And dreams are collective resources! Support the Dark Sciences People of Color Dream Retreat happening in Austin, TX this August. More info below:

www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-dark-sciences-a-people-of-color-dream-retreat/

Own Drummer: After Brightest Star Poem #2 from Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Vimeo.

This is poem number 2 of my dream memoir about love, land, failure and POC collective organizing. It is inspired by Octavia Butler’s Earthseed verse “All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change. God is change.” Turn the volume all the way up!

I would love to hear your thoughts on change and touch and land. How do we deal with the lasting truth of change when so much of what we are organizing for as POC has to do with forms of stability that have been taken from us by displacement and violence? Have you ever made choices in your organizing that have to do with just not wanting to have to change everything again (move to a new place? leave a job? challenge a community you have helped build?)

As always, infinite love. And if you want to support the Dark Sciences: People of Color Dream Retreat you can donate here:

http://www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-dark-sciences-a-people-of-color-dream-retreat/

Donate $101+ for a one on one dream conversation with me and $15+ for a pdf of this dream memoir.

Poem #3 Green: After Brightest Star from Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Vimeo.

“A gift of god may sear unready fingers.”-Octavia Butler

This poem is about what it means to receive gifts that we are not ready to handle. What does it mean to be over-prepared for the worst case scenario and under-prepared for the best case scenario? In your collective organizing have you ever been overwhelmed by an influx of resources? What has sudden abundance taught you about the existing or lacking structures of your collectives? Have you ever tried to offer a resource that your community wasn’t ready to receive?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. And if you want to have some indepth conversations about resources, water, wide distances and love sign up for Maroon Studies Session 2: Necessary as Water through Brilliance Remastered: http://www.alexispauline.com/brillianceremastered/2015/06/16/maroon-studies-intensive-2-necessary-as-water/

And we would love it if you donated to the scholarship fund for Dark Sciences: People of Color Dream Retreat:
http://www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-dark-sciences-a-people-of-color-dream-retreat/

BR (1)


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Sign up by July 6th: Maroon Studies Webinar Intensive #2: Necessary as Water

Nanny_Collage_150rezMaroon 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. $175-225 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):

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Sneak Preview of After Brightest Star: Video Dream Memoir launching tomorrow

EPSON MFP imageDear Dreamers,

We pretend that we are living in a time of best practices.   Of strategic progress based on generations of progress. Sometimes even our progressive conferences sound like corporate commercials. About how it is better.   And if it is worse it is urgently fundably worse. (Sub)Prime for the better connected better thinkers that we are.

I don’t think that we are living in a time of best practices. We are living in a time of beautiful failures.   Of transformative break-ups.   Of mistakes that really seemed like the best thing. Of spills that cannot be ignored anymore.   And maybe we always have been.

In “Poetry is Not a Luxury” the great black feminist lesbian warrior poet Audre Lorde encourages us to stop thinking that our thoughts will save us, stop pretending that we can figure it all out. That we are smarter than we ever have been. That we are smarter everyday. She encourages us to trust the darkness of dreams. Which are strong and dark because they have survived.

What if as a species we are less smart than we have ever been.   What if everything we thought we knew is falling apart around us, and that’s a good thing. What if the rate of our unlearning is so exponential that we actually get to live in the deep dark world of our dreams, and the news can stop feeling like a traumatic intergenerational version of déjà vu.

I thought I was “progressive” but I have never felt more backwards. I have never reached more desperately for the oldest most outdated parts of myself. In my dreams I see the moment that the universe was born and when I meditate I realize that moment isn’t over. I just think it is.   And my thoughts cannot save me.

EPSON MFP image

So I wanted to share my dreams with you. The technology I am using to know less every morning. And I wanted to share my failure with you.   The time I wrote 35 dream love poems every single day to a POC land collective I helped found and ended up having to leave. (Spoiler.) This poetic video memoir is dedicated to Earthseed, the idea and the project and the tragedy. And it is in conversation with Octavia Butler the whole time.

I will be recording and posting videos versions of the dream poems I wrote last summer with prompts for you and ways for you to share. 

I hope this can be interactive. And that your experiences help me know even less. I am sure I am not the only person who has been completely transformed by love and loss in this work. May this be deep space for us to share about our dreams. And how it didn’t work out.

And how we are still dreaming. After brightest star.

Love before and after everything,

                                                        Alexis

After Brightest Star: A Dream Memoir for the movement launches tomorrow at alexispauline.com/afterbrighteststar

*collages by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

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

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

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From the Abyss: Maroon Studies Poems Inspired by Sylvia Wynter

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):

BR (1)


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Some Poems About Our Blackness: From Day One of the Maroon Studies Intensive (Debt and Black Unbelievability)

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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

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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

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