Sunday, May 27, 2007

Span: How to Live (forever)

Salt of the Earth (film-1953)
Black Voice: Popular Paper of Black Unity and Freedom Party (1972-1985)
Anti-Apartheid Movement Women’s Committee Newsletter (1981-1985)
Common Differences: Conflicts in Black and White Feminist Perspectives by Gloria Joseph and Jill Lewis, 1981
Black and Immigrant Women Speak Out II: Women Count, Count Women’s Work (June 16-17, 1984)
As A Black Woman, Maud Sulter, 1985
Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britian, Beverly Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe
Watchers and Seekers: Creative Writing by Black Women, ed Rhonda Cobham and Merle Collins, (London 1987, New York 1988)
Motherlands: Black Women’s Writing from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia, ed Susheila Nasta, 1991 London , 1992 US
The Atlantic Sound, Caryl Phillps, 2000
A Distant Shore, Caryl Phillips, 2003
Transnational America, Inderpal Grewal , 2005
Heroes, NBC (2006-)

I've always been drawn to superheroes. Maybe I identify with the need to create a secret identity, so the real superpowers can be safe. Maybe I know what it feels like to protect your loved ones from a realness that's as much a burden as it is a miracle. Maybe it's the tights. Either way my, since my sister and I watched a whole season of the NBC TV show heroes (derivative from X-Men, with the sexy-science scare validity of the human genome project) I have been thinking about superheroes. I don't think that I am a more evolved version of my ancestors (if anything the opposite), but (inspired by the cheerleader whose body recovers from everything, and whose mind recovers from an attempted rape murder that her classmate inflicts on her) there is something that I have to change.
Maybe Barbara Smith was speaking on an evolutionary scale when she said that she wanted to see if was possible to be a black lesbian and live to tell about it. If so, I am speaking on an evolutionary scale now, when I say, I want to use my one life to prove that there is such a thing as a black girl braced against the word a real superwoman (despite Michele Wallace) who lives this way (to be elaborated shortly) and keeps on living. For Olive Morris, bad-ass flat-squatting bookshop-opening back-upping superwoman who faced sexual violence for resisting other people's arrests, dead from cancer at 27 but alive now because we travel through time. For Claudia Jones internationalist booklist-giving, carnival-founding, young socialist party newsletter-editing Mcarthy-flouting superhero who made walls fall and built gardens with three magic words "black. people. everywhere." dead at 49 from a heart-busting stroke, but alive now because we travel through time (and because Carole Boyce Davies insists). For June, for Audre, for Nellie, for Barbara, for every blackwoman genuis fighting or sending remittances to cancer and heart disease as we speak, there must be some way to save the day.
What kind of magic is required, what is the spell, where is the secret switch that does both things (on heroes we have the mother who splits herself into two to defend herself from sexual abuse...evidently watching NBC fiction is better than watching NBC "news" for those of us who would say NO to sexual violence..but I digress). Where is the magic book and when we find it which parts should we say outloud? Which parts should we write over? What is the time travel tool that I (maker and taker of books) can weild? My real question is what is the relationship between the anthology...used and reused tool of black women in struggle to imagine that they might live forever, to reach backwards into existence...and the archive...attempted and denied and opening in 2007...and the letter to be found. And what can my relationship to all of these things be such that Olive Morris never dies AND such that it doesn't cost me cancer to break open this hostile protal in a deadly institution and hold her?
In other words: WHAT WILL OUR (S)HERO(ES) DO NEXT?
Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

for gil

for gil
(an almost gigan created at the Poetry by the People Community Writing Intensive)

we cannot write a eulogy for you
period becomes ellipsis

like battered prophecy in vien
tomorrow claws our collective back
money knocks teeth forward holes

soul on shiver smack on cage
choke hold every stolen page

rage to proof that lines do make us bleed
and you were in our heartbeats all along

slice the forearm skin right off the news
we cannot write this eulogy for you

soul on shiver smack on cage
you steal the present into final stage
we memorize your face a fading blue

and we would quit, breathe water, heal for you
but you remain to make us beg the task