Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind


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that is all: final words from the beginning

tyson-mic-dropLast month’s cosmic online Brilliance Remastered Intensive “Begin: Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist” was on some Alpha and Omega intensity.  Yes.  Because of the Solstice.  Yes. Because it was during Octavia Butler’s birthday.  Yes. Because it invoked the recent afro-futurist issue of Obsidian. And also because we committed to be reborn and renewed.  We created a chorus of affirmations for each other out of our deepest and most nagging fears. And we emerged from the intensive with some clarity we want to share with you.   So we are offering our final poem to you.   Once again, it works best out-loud. It works even better out-loud with a group of people repeating the refrain.   But if it’s the middle of the week and you are already ready to drop the mic, this is the poem for you either way.

P.S. Sign up closes FRIDAY for next week’s online intensive “Become Turquoise: Intergenerational Accountability” you can find out more or sign up here.

that is all

by the participants in Begin: Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist

“it meant that life was precious and could spill. it meant spirit was sticky and could stay.

and actually that was all i was trying to say.”

-from “Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Obsidian Vol 42 Speculating Futures

that is all

by the participants in Begin: Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist

let play move through you like prayer

that is all i was trying to say

all truth comes out in the cipher

that is all i was trying to say

we didn’t arrive here all greedy

that is all i was trying to say

we have three billion years of knowing in our bones

that is all i was trying to say

the function of all our organs is love

that is all i was trying to say

water your spirit regularly

that is all i was trying to say

trust your heart

that is all i was trying to say

you always get to keep yourself

that is all i was trying to say

redevelopment for whom?

that is all i was trying to say

home is where the homies are

that is all i was trying to say

the ancestors have instructions for revolutionary social change

that is all i was trying to say

love is the reason and the remedy

that is all i was trying to say

love wins

that is all i was trying to say

magic momentum movement manifestation

that is all i was trying to say

black feminism lives

that is all i was trying to say

black girls keep making art even when no one gets it

that is all i was trying to say

listen to sly and the family stone and all will be revealed

that is all i was trying to say

you already earned the stars

that is all i was trying to say

if you allowed your brilliance to shine it would power the world

that is all i was trying to say

Mama Octavia said “but there are other suns”

that is all i was trying to say

we can’t not deal with emotions in trying to make a revolution

that is all i was trying to say

there is so much more beneath the commodification

that is all i was trying to say

vanilla, sugar, rice and breathing are brown

that is all i was trying to say

poems and pyrex are both containers. fill them up. pass them around.

that is all i was trying to say

there is enough food and poetry for everyone

that is all i was trying to say

let prayer move through you like play

that is all i was trying to say


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begin: a renewal poem

bigstockphoto_Reading_On_The_Beach_589631Last month I had the honor of facilitating the online intensive Begin: Seven Possible Futures for Black Feminist Artists and what do you know?  We were all being reborn.  Was it the demand of the Summer Solstice? Was it the moon in Cancer?  Was it Octavia Butler’s birthday?  Maybe it was all of that.   Or maybe that’s just the nature of showing up. We are all at the end of something important, and at the beginning of something that makes us vulnerable.  What a joy and a resource to support each other in that.  During the intensive, I revealed that I am at the beginning of a relationship to my creative practice that requires MUCH more trust.  I am at the end of series of patterns that have led to me to believe that I had to make everything happen by myself.   Some of us were at the ends and beginnings of relationships, new career paths, transformed relationships to community, embodiments of love.  What about you?

We know this Summer is transformative for you because you have reached the end of something that used to seem to work just fine and you are opening yourself up to something possible, based in your beliefs, that may also be challenging and scary.  So today, we offer the poem that we created to guide ourselves through our process.  And if you want to join us for this month’s online intensive:  Become Turquoise: On Intergenerational Accountability, there are still some spots left.  The intensive is July 24-25 3-6pm eastern.  Sign up here by Friday (July 21st).

Enjoy the poem.  It works best out loud.

Love,

Sista Docta Lex

“this is the dark water of renewal. offering only one message:  begin.”-

“Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Obsidian

begin

by the participants in Begin: Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist

prayers unlocked and loaded

begin

early morning everything

begin

shining alchemical desires

begin

connection to the earth, connection to the sun

begin

knowing happens in the dark

begin

black body radiance all love all directions

begin

harvesting goodness from the shadows

begin

harnessing ancestral magic

begin

unhesitant confident musings

begin

root work, root chakra, root vegetables

begin

reciprocal relationship with my creative self

begin

purple crown energy clearing

begin

love as lifeforce simply sustained

begin

green heart chakra lights

begin

peacefully profound precise presence

begin

quenching confidence. radiant being

begin

being breathing becoming

begin


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Full Moon Recipes for Creative Renewal

June_Jordan_Collage_APG_lex

“Though the world forgets me I will say YES and NO.”

-June Jordan

On July 9th, June Jordan’s birthday and the full moon in Cancer ten creative spirits gathered in love.  We reminded each other that NO is a love word and that YES is sacred.

IMG-5367Our Sunday dinner gathering was based on Sista Docta Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s recent publication in Obsidian “Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist” from the recent Speculating Futures: Black Imagination and the Arts issue of Obsidian.

obsidian

We gathered ourselves from as far as Brooklyn and Winston Salem.  We washed each other’s hands in flower water.   We fed each other with food and life-learned lessons. We wrote words on mirrors and walls.  We sang about love as lifeforce and the light of the generations before us.  We asked questions about breathing and forgetting. We redesigned our homes and our writing desks. We reminded the youngest person there a few too many times that June Jordan went to Barnard. We called on loved ones far beyond the room.  We created an eternal-life serum by finding the chemical connections between the lessons we have learned so far.  We thought about how we could share this intimate space with the beloved all over the world.   That’s you!

We invite you to start with a deep breath and a question.  What have you been breathing besides air?

We have been breathing tasks, grief, hope, forgiveness, resistance, grind, patience, worry, uncertainty, truth, intuition, self, fragile, light, trust, support&love, good grease&increase, creativity, capability and curiosity about who we’ve been.

What have you been breathing?  Whisper it to yourself or write it down.

When we started talking we realized we had a lot of lessons among us that felt like answered prayers in the room and that might serve you on your journey to keep breathing and creating:

Here they are!

Recipe #1

wake

listen

work

relax

hear

speak

allow

accept

life

live

Reminder

Be around people who see your fabulousness, who are thrilled, but not surprised by your brilliance.

7 Steps

by Julia Roxanne Wallace (Sangodare)

  1. Make a list of 7 things you want, but only after taking 7 deep breaths with your eyes closed.
  2. Look at the list and eliminate all material and physical items and ask what is underneath that item. (E.g. If you wrote “a mcmansion” –> “home everywhere I go.”  If you wrote “a Tesla” –> “peaceful, beautiful and life-giving transportation.”  If you wrote “a husband/wife” maybe “divine love filled relationship etc.”
  3. Make sure you have 7 things.
  4. Turn the list into 7 questions that begin with “Why…”  (E.g. Why is it so easy to have divine love filled relationships? Or a romantic relationship?  Or “Why do I have home everywhere I go?”
  5. Repeat the questions for 1 week.
  6. Listen to, read, write and say the questions every morning and every night.
  7. Be who you are.  One divine tranifestation of love.

In other words

Follow desire

see the shadow

Love the shadow

and set it aside

 

See your desire

turning to face you

present and loving you

ask it why

every day

in every way.

 

Be love–

the object of

your desire. 

 

Recipe for Revolutionary Love Cornbread

by Michelle Lanier

*corn milled in the land of an ancestor

*egg from a happy hen

*2 kinds of leavening for 2 uprising souls

*cool spring water

*oil and milk of coconut

*and honey

 

nana’s recipe for a good getting up morning

by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

*keep the book in reach

*start with a word

*pray for those you love

*pray for those who infuriate you

*pray for people you barely know at all

*pray for the loved, maddening, and as-yet-unknown parts of yourself

*repeat

 

recipe for keeping on going when you want to give up

  1. take one step.  curl your toes deeply into the soil
  2. uncurl your toes and wiggle them wildly
  3. take another step
  4.  repeat steps 1, 2, and 3!

 

Another Reminder:  Collaborating on life together makes family at home.

 

Recipe for the Where and What of You

by Michelle Lanier

Just flow…then…

Be still as chrysalis. Then break free again and again…then

…celebrate your gorgeous wings…then repeat.

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

Please feel free to share your own recipes in the comments.  And if you want to participate in a collective process with renewal but you don’t live in Durham, sign up for July’s upcoming online intensive Becoming Turquoise: Intergenerational Accountability 

Mon and Tues July 24 & 25 3-6pm Eastern

This intensive is designed for those of us who are ready to deepen the practice of dedicated art-making, intellectual work, activist work and community building. Who is your work dedicated to? If your work is accountable to multiple generations, how do you generate practice, measures and resources that sustain that work in the moment?  Based on “Xuihatl: Becoming Turquoise” a poem by Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Imaniman (a recent anthology of poetry in honor of Gloria Anzaldua), this intensive is for old souls and young elders whose work would not be imaginable without deep relationships of longing and accountability to the very old and the very young, the dead and the not yet born.  We will use individual and collective poetry, stone and crystal work and meditation and conversation to deepen and resource our intergenerational work.  The course is limited to 9 participants.  Sign up here.

 


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Water in the Desert: Sign Up is Open for Our Summer Online Intensives

Water in the Desert: Brilliance Remastered Summer Intensives 2017

obsidianBegin: Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist: Weds and Thurs June 21st and 22nd 3-6pm Eastern

In apocalyptic times all futurists are artists.  This is for those of us creating despite everything.  Whether you are a self-identified “artist” or a self identified “black feminist” or a person identifying as some other creative force, some other version of black love you are welcome.  Based on Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s piece “7 Possible Futures” in the most recent issue of Obsidian ( which is an excerpt from her forthcoming book M Archive: After the End of the World), this is a space for us to activate a creative approach to our futures.  To face the apocalypse capitalism has created with exactly the tools capitalism can’t value.  This online intensive will use meditation, individual and collective art-making and a plethora of black feminist references (especially to Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing) to offer insight and energy towards your creative future.  The course is limited to 7 participants.

Reserve your spot with your $50 deposit towards the sliding scale ($150-250) fee here, and email brillianceremastered@gmail.com with your intentions for the course by June 18th.

Becoming Turquoise: Intergenerational Accountability  Mon and Tues July 24 & 25 3-6pm Eastern

9781879960930

This intensive is designed for those of us who are ready to deepen the practice of dedicated art-making, intellectual work, activist work and community building. Who is your work dedicated to? If your work is accountable to multiple generations, how do you generate practice, measures and resources that sustain that work in the moment?  Based on “Xuihatl: Becoming Turquoise” a poem by Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Imaniman (a recent anthology of poetry in honor of Gloria Anzaldua), this online intensive is for old souls and young elders whose work would not be imaginable without deep relationships of longing and accountability to the very old and the very young, the dead and the not yet born.  We will use individual and collective poetry, stone and crystal work and meditation and conversation to deepen and resource our intergenerational work.  The course is limited to 9 participants.

Reserve your spot with your $50 deposit towards the sliding scale ($150-250) fee here, and email brillianceremastered@gmail.com with your intentions for the course by July 18th.

When Wind and Water Got You: Place, Purpose, Past and Presence: Weds and Thurs August 23 & 24th 3-6pm Eastern

ecotonemapresize

This intensive is for those us listening for place.  Are you listening for signs to guide you as you decide the place you want to live?  Are you listening for guidance on your place in our intersecting movements? Are you seeking more creative and spiritual technologies to use as you listen to the place you love, the place you live, the place that you are from?  Drawing on a forthcoming experimental map and series of vignettes by Alexis Pauline Gumbs in issue 23 of Ecotone Magazine (the vignettes are excerpted from her forthcoming book Dub: Finding Ceremony which draws on the work of the theorist Sylvia Wynter) we will use individual and collective mapping, poetry and meditation to face displacement, place ourselves newly and open our senses to what place is teaching us right now.  The course is online and is limited to 8 participants.

Reserve your spot with your $50 deposit towards the sliding scale ($150-250) fee here, and email brillianceremastered@gmail.com with your intentions for the course by August 18th.


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East Berlin: An Oracle from Audre Lorde

5ab655e9615f266f4579275b9f630879You are wondering whether or not you will have to punch a Nazi.  You are wondering how these Nazi’s got so much political power in the United States.   As always, turn to the Lorde.  Audre Lorde responded to Nazi violence in the streets and in the legislature in Germany at the end of her life with protest and passion.  This is an alphabetized oracle (proper nouns mostly excluded) from her poem “East Berlin.”

For a longer article that contextualizes this within my research on Audre Lorde see my piece over at Bitch Media: https://bitchmedia.org/article/andre-lordes-abcs-fighting-facism

To activate the oracle think of your question for this political moment.  Choose a letter of the alphabet that you associate with that question and scroll down to the relevant letter.  Meditate on the words, create your own poem prompted by them, do what feels right to you.  If your letter has no words in this poem, make your own poem comprised of words starting only with that letter.

 

A

 

 

along

accents

already

at

and

approaching

 

B

 

 

be

Black

blood

by

 

C

 

cement

campcots

candles

chasm

 

 

D

 

dangerous

death

disillusion

dreams

differing

defeat

 

E

 

 

F

 

feels

for

first

from

 

G

 

got

 

H

 

hustle

hatreds

half-cooked

hand-held

hitting

hour

hitting

hollowness

 

I

 

it

in

intersecting

in

in

in

is

in

 

J

 

K

 

L

 

light

laurels

lie

 

M

 

many

my

misplaced

miles

 

N

 

now

never

neon

new

November

 

O

 

on

other

of

only

 

P

 

pays

price

 

Q

 

R

 

reported

rung

rank

 

S

 

sad

suicides

siege

shrieks

streets

stomped

skinheads

scant

still

 

T

 

to

that

tattered

through

tallies

to

two-year-old

their

their

triumph

tasks

 

U

 

upon

 

V

 

visions

volcanic

vision

 

W

 

woman

who

wink

Wall

wall

where

wed

 

X

 

Y

 

Z

 

 

zoo


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Just B: A Blessing Oracle Towards Profound Presence

soraya-jean-louis-mcelroy-memory-seas-blue-bellow-650px

“Memory Seas” by Soraya Jean-Louis McElory

This is a blessing oracle generated out of this week’s Just B: Creative Presence as Praxis Workshop  at Western Washington University inspired by the short story “BlueBellow” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and the image “Memory Seas” by Soraya Jean-Louis McElory.  You can read or listen to the story and study the image here: strangehorizons.com/fiction/bluebellow/

To use this oracle think about whatever is keeping you from being profoundly present in the current moment, in the movement, in your relationships, in your creative practice.  What is your challenge to being fully present right now?
Think about that question and then click on “find your blessing” in the description:  https://justboracle.tumblr.com/
Alexis Pauline Gumbs

 

 

 

 


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The Erotics of Activism

16649540_10102974922019222_503531793795443873_nToday by an epic double-snowstorm change of plans, I was blessed to be at a workshop by Alexis De Veaux, called “The Erotics of Activism,” at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center in Bellingham, Washington.   As always, Alexis De Veaux is a gift from the divine.  This workshop healed my relationship to the word activism which I had all but rejected.   Prompted by Alexis’s perfect questions, this is what I wrote today:

I am a diligent lover of my own hands, their shape and possibility.  I am learning to honr my hands by leaving them open for great parts of the day.  I am the hands my ancestors use to continue their work in this world. I am holding onto many things too tightly and it harms the health of my hands.  I am more and less than these hands, unless these hands are also stars and fins.  I love these hands by holding, touching and letting go.  I learned long ago that sometimes I have to sit on my hands and count my breaths in order to silence the overwhelm, in order to hear my sacred instructions for what to do with these hands.

My definition of the erotic is that feeling where purpose fills me up and I am at the first moment of creation and every moment of creation after that and it is all one moment and I am creation, breathing, through these hands.

I define activism as do what spirit say do in honor of my love for the people.  I define activism as move the heavens.  Use your hands.