Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

Reborn: Heartbreak, Healing and Archive Fertility

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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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