Wednesday, June 30, 2010

not. by Audre Lorde

This morning I have been reading from "The Black Unicorn" by Audre Lorde...really struck this morning by how several of the poems in that collection end with a powerful statement of what is NOT

the black unicorn is not

I am
and not white.

I am
the sun and moon and forever hungry
the sharpened edge
where day and night shall meet
and not be

I have died too many deaths
that were not mine.

for the embattled
there is no place
that cannot be
nor is.

what you know
can hurt
but what you do
not know
can kill.

freed from constancy
this house
will not stand

May I owe nothing
that I cannot repay.

and of course...

we were never meant to survive.

So this morning I am thinking about the clarity of negativity. Of expressing what is not. Or what is, in its absence necessary to make present as a critical clarity, shaping what is.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lucille Clifton Sunday ShapeShifter Rebirth BroadcastL Birthday Edition

This week…in honor of Lucille Clifton’s first birthday since her transition to starshine I offer the first of a series of weekly Sunday Rebirth Broadcasts in honor of Lucille Clifton! Today’s exercise is based on her powerful survival poem “won’t you celebrate with me.”

Lucille Clifton Sunday ShapeShifter Rebirth Broadcast: Birthday Edition from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

This series of broadcasts is part of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School:

In honor of the great poet Lucille Clifton, who was also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a mother, an artist and self-identified Amazon warrior through her poetry, the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School is especially designed for families that are committed to ending childhood sexual abuse and all forms of gendered violence. Informed by Generation 5 and the regional plan of the Atlanta Transformative Justice Collaborative, the ShapeShifter Survival School is part of a holistic process of ending child sexual abuse by creating healing community.

for more details on the 4 components of the ShapeShifter Survival School look here:

And finally…no one delivers this poem better than Ms. Lucille herself.

Happy Birthday Lucille Clifton: Announcing the Shapeshifter Survival School

Introducing the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School in Durham, NC!!!!

In honor of the great poet Lucille Clifton, who was also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a mother, an artist and self-identified Amazon warrior through her poetry, the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School is especially designed for families that are committed to ending childhood sexual abuse and all forms of gendered violence. Informed by Generation 5 and the regional plan of the Atlanta Transformative Justice Collaborative, the ShapeShifter Survival School is part of a holistic process of ending child sexual abuse by creating healing community.

The ShapeShifter Survival School has 4 components:

Lucille Clifton Sunday Rebirth Broadcasts: Every Sunday starting on Lucille Clifton's birthday (June 27th) and going until November 7th Lex will video broadcast a poem by Lucille Clifton and a survival reflection/activity.

ShapeShifter Poetry Intensive for Parents (Saturday August 21st 10am-5pm) CHILDCARE AND MEALS PROVIDED (email if you want to do childcare or donate food or photocopies!)

For all parents and caregivers and survivors of sexual violence who are committed to ending child sexual abuse this poetry intensive will allow participants to reflect on Lucille Clifton's ShapeShifter series and other poems that deal directly with her experience as a survivor of child sexual abuse and to write and share their own poetry of healing and transformation.

Suggested donation: $25-100 (monetary and in-kind donations welcome at any point in the process...we encourage asking for donations from your families of origin and communities as a way to share your vision with them of creating a world free from child sexual abuse)

On Tuesday August 24th participants and allies will reconvene over tea to check-in in a loving affirming space and to make handmade ShapeShifter booklets as a fundraiser for the continued work of the ShapeShifter Survival School .

On Wednesday September 15th we will have another check-in about the process of sharing this work and bringing up the topic of child sexual abuse in our communities.

Everett Anderson Storytime Week! (Monday September 20-Wednesday September 22) (ALL AGES INCLUSIVE DONATIONS WELCOME!)

Lucille Clifton wrote a series of books called the "Everett Anderson Books" for her children and other children that discuss difficult issues, including the loss of a loved one, internalized racism and sexism and witnessing abuse as child. With dinner and cookies and milk we will read these stories together and do a series of activities designed to help us create ways of sharing difficult and important stories across generations in our communities. We believe that sharing stories, truthtelling, is a key practice towards ending child sexual abuse and all cycles of violence in our communities.

All Souls ShapeShifter Story Making Day (Sunday Oct 31st 11am-6pm) (ALL AGES INCLUSIVE...SWEET DONATIONS WELCOME!)

Replete with costumes, candy and storymaking stations this will be a chance for us to make our own collaborative illustrated community story about transformation, facing what scares us and creating a world free from child sexual abuse and all gendered violence. Our beautiful story and our beautiful process of creating together will be a resource for us and for superheroes everywhere.

Applications for the poetry intensive coming soon! Email to express interest in participating, donating a scholarship or donating food, money, photocopies, DV tapes and other forms of love!!!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Notes From Kansas: by MobileHomeComing Interviewee Angela Denise Davis

*Note: We are thrilled to be practicing intergenerational love and we are learning from the best. This piece is a beautiful reflection by MobileHomeComing Interviewee Angela Denise Davis about FINDING her mother's garden.

I know there is a poem in this somewhere. It almost got lost this evening when my mother did a final spray over her garden and did not notice that my laptop was on the patio table.

My mother’s back yard is full of flavor: an old kitchen, ceiling fan turned sideways on a patio column, a black mailbox that peeks from the grapevines, an umbrella on the deck that leans to kiss the umbrella on the patio, and a striped snake whose presence is the reason for a container of mothballs on the table. I wish I had a camera.

Her back yard is her sanctuary. I find shelter in a chair that is snuggled by a palm plant and a family of pots – terra cotta, green plastic, clay, metal, and those invented out of found objects.

She is out there in the morning and in the late evening when the sun is less brutal than at mid-day.

I watched this evening as she cut down wandering vines and swept the patio clean. My father will have work to do tomorrow. I ask if I should put the cut greenery in the garden trash can.

“No,” she says.

“Mama, dad ain’t gonna like seeing this stuff on his fresh cut lawn,” I tell her.

She just replies with a chuckle that he needs to see all the work he should have done. She said he would never recognize her work if she didn’t leave the pile in the yard. She is right, of course. My father says she works too hard, but he enjoys the creation of vines structure and spirit as much as she does.

I listen as the water from the faucet trickles into a bucket she has slid under the attached hose.

“I don’t like to waste water,” she informs me and I take the bucket into her garden. The Marigolds did not get rain last night. They will thrive in their homes made of the holes in the cement blocks that line her rows of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and okra.

There is always work to do in this space my mother has created. This evening she wants to place hooks on the beams of her patio roof.

“Who does this when I am not here, Mama?” I ask with the answer already in my head.

“Oh, your dad,” she says. I know that she does not always have the patience to wait for him, though. Tonight, I make sure that she does not over exert herself and reach for the drill in her hand.

I step on the small, metal stool and place the drill over my head, reaching as high as I can. Three hooks later, we place the ferns and other potted plants just beneath the lattice covered with wild vines. She tells me that anyone from Alabama or Mississippi would know the name of the mass of greenery that hangs from the patio roof like a blanket of leaves. I tell her that I will ask Mary Anne about the vine which my mother thinks may be named Ms. Astor.

The night was closing fast around us, but I would not go in the house until my mother was trailing behind me. I knew that she could always find more work to do before calling it quits. She will be 70 years-old next January. She has more work in this life than she will ever finish.

“We’ll get the rest in the morning,” I tell her.

This week has been full of heart work. We have grieved the loss of her niece, my cousin. It has been a loss that has made our distance more regretful. Here, in her green world we seem to be finding our way back home to each other. We are two women working on reconciliation. Perhaps, we are planting new ways of being mother and daughter. I hope so, but do not invest too much time in expecting what the harvest of these days will bring. I am simply satisfied with the knowledge that we have planted something new between us here in her back yard even though there is more work for tomorrow.

-Angela Denise Davis

Friday, June 25, 2010

Calling all LA Family: A Black Herstory Month Conspiracy

at the  Furious Flower Poetry Center!

For everyone who has been asking whether the MobileHomeComing is coming out to Los Angeles...

YES!!! It is 100% crucial to us to come out to LA to build with our sunkissed elders and awesome collaborators who are already doing great work to document the oral herstories of lesbians of color and doing groundbreaking research on queer black elders (shouts out to Maylei, Alice and Mignon!!)

Our plan is to come out this February and YOU CAN HELP! Since February is the Academic Industrial Complex's FAV time to bring brilliant Black speakers to campus AND is also the miraculous month of Audre Lorde's birth we have devised a simple CONSPIRACY for you
to participate in!

BRING LEX to SPEAK on YOUR CAMPUS in FEBRUARY and that way your bosses can cover the expenses of Lex and Julia driving the RV cross country to do this crucial work in the city of angelic contradiction and surrounding environs!!!

More info on bringing Lex to speak here:

What do you think? Are you with us!
Let us know!
lex and julia


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mourning/Mourning: Sojourner the RV is Having a Harriet Tubman Moment

Mourning/Morning: A MobileHomeComing Poem of Healing from J.Roxanne on Vimeo.

Greetings Family...
So our Revolutionary Vehicle is having a Harriet Tubman moment. Remember the story of how Harriet Tubman took a blow to the head? And she was laid out in the immediate moment, BUT she also started to see the revolutionary visions that led her to become a superhero for freedom? Well our beloved, beautiful purple and turquoise revolutionary MobileHomeComing is having a Harriet Tubman moment. But right now she's in a bit of a coma. On the way to infinite superpowers and the journey to freedom...injustice rears its head.

Yesterday morning injustice hit us in the form of an unfortunate person who is in an unjust economic position that causes him to break in to vehicles and steal radios. He broke into the Revolutionary Vehicle and stole the radio and Julia's keyboard (for some reason he didn't take any of the priceless Black feminist books that I had in there). Fate would have it that he was still in the act of stealing when Julia got into the RV to move it down the driveway for us to pack it up to head to Nashville early that morning. Julia said she would just get back out of the vehicle but the person pointed something at her and threatened her and (using her already existing superpowers) Julia jumped from the moving vehicle, which continued to roll down the driveway and into the street and then crashed into the neighbor's trashcan and we ran back into the house. We called on some of our beloved comrades (Deepali, Carlton and Kari) and within minutes they came to the house to help us. (A police officer also briefly stopped by and was not very helpful. He seemed to just want to make sure that Julia and I actually owned the RV and had not stolen it. He also left us and the RV in the middle of the street, blocking the entire roadway. Two thumbs down for the police.) Deepali, Carlton, Kari and a neighbor actually moved our 20 foot RV with the force of their love to the side of the street and lifted our spirits and reminded us that as a community we are already and will always be unstoppable.
The Revolutionary Vehicle is having a Harriet Tubman moment. Her radiator, condenser, engine fan and front lights are busted and she bled out all her anti-freeze it looks like it will take about $3000 to get her drivable again. :(
Cherished MobileHomeComing family member and Yoruba priestess Ifalade Tashia Asanti brought us words of peace and strength when we told her that we would not be able to make to the event she had planned for us in Louisville, Kentucky. She let us know that this event as scary as it was, was an act of protection. We were NOT supposed to be on the road that day. We rented (and transformed) this car to be our RRV (Rental Revolutionary Vehicle) for our delayed journey to Detroit.

We believe that we will always be exactly where we need to be and that our journey is divinely ordered so we are regrouping with the support of all of the loved ones who have called and visited to give their blessings to us and to remind us our journey, our movement and our collective future is bigger and brighter than anything we can imagine.

We have made a video about what happened and how we are feeling about it. We are already grateful for being part of this victory. If you can donate it would be very helpful...and if you can spread the word to other supportive people we would appreciate that as well.
Make a donation to  the A Black Queer Mobile Homecoming - An  Immersive Archive

We love you and we can't wait to see you...with the Sojourner the Revolutionary Vehicle intact and back in effect.
love always,
Alexis and Julia

Eternal Summer Reading List

Hello loved ones!

Yesterday as we drove from Atlanta to London, Kentucky on the MobileHomeComing Journey I started to wax nostalgic about summer reading. Clearly I have been reading all year long since I was 2, but there was something about the booklet we used to get from school with recommended summer reading and the trip to the library to get the books and the excitement that though school was over books would always always be with me. Now that I have my PhD receipt in hand and it is officially Eternally Summer AND I've just returned crates and crates of books to Duke University Library...I want to reinstitute summer reading for all of us (and especially for all of you that have been asking me for booklists)!


So the theme of this Summer Reading List is....SPIRIT (and no I wasn't on the cheerleading squad) as you get ready for a soon-coming publication Spirit Vol. 2 of the Little Black (Feminist) Book series...get a head start on some of the reading that has given me access to Black Feminism as a spiritual practice and an everyday healing and inspiring walk.

Books that I have read:

(please feel free to donate one or more of these to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Lending Library via this wishlist:


Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred (Perverse Modernities) by M. Jacqui Alexander

Zami, Audre Lorde


At the Full and Change of the Moon, Dionne Brand

The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara

The Salt Roads, Nalo Hopkinson

Sula, Toni Morrison


The World is Round, Nikky Finney

Gospel, Samiya Bashir

The Book of Light, Lucille Clifton

AND A non-fiction book that I haven't read yet that I REALLY want to read: (please feel free to donate this to the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Lending Library via this wishlist:

by Angel Kyodo Williams

Have the best summer ever. May it never end.



Thursday, June 10, 2010

How do you spell a very long scream?

And Sometimes Why

Poem against the speechlessness of oil spills and flotilla attacks.



Ask Audre

ask Audre angel above


ask about ash

about aid

about asking

about anything

Ask about anguish

and Atlas

about anger at atoms

about artillery

about acid

about animals

about ache


about authoring abundance

about awe

about awful

Ask Asha

Ask Angela

Ask Assata

about apocalypse

ask about after


after about


At answer



Ask again

At apocalypse

ask again.


Early egg

every easy enterprise

each Edenic endeavor

eager executive execution

eats everything

express ending

each ending eats earth



entertain excellence

explain energy

each essence ending

empty economy

emergency everytime

each empty eagle egg

eats everything

ending earth




ill innoculate

itching intern

idiot industry

icon inside ice

inside interest

international impasse

impossible island

inside innocence



i ignore

i invade

i invoke

i incite

i identify

i imitate

i isolate

i inflame

i inhabit

i implode


indefinite ice incident


inches inside ideals

ink in iris

inches inside

ices over

indian ink






i itch

i inch

ice isn’t infinite

is it


o owl

o otter

o oak

o oyster

o ozone

o Oya

o Oshun

o Okefenokee

ordain order

o offshore oil

o oil orgy

o ornament oscillation


our own out

ooze out our only

onto our own

off our only orbit



oil over

our only


oil options

over olive oil

over our oath

oil over opening ownership

oil over opening our one oath

oil over our opening

our objection


o Omar

o Oprah

o Omran

o Obama

o Obsidian ocean

our own occident

over offering



our own one


over our only ocean



use up until until

up up

US uses us

use us up until

up up up

urgent useless us

up up up up

united us unties us up

up until u ululate

unless u unsettle

usher us up

urgent ugly uncle

umbilical up

use us until

up up up




up until up up

until up up up up

u up up up

up up




Monday, June 07, 2010



After Audre Lorde’s Suffer the Children

Pity us

We have broken the sky

And now who will protect our eyes

Who desert ourselves and you in storm and consequence.

Empty our skin

In the absence of future olives

We who let fear bulldoze your roots

rending even the hope of branch

Our mouths dry into suffering

Thin slingshot shadow sliced lips

shape of how silent cowardice

etches our children into sun.

Who pay taxes into tanks

Turning doubt into lead

Will wait in vain for cleansing from the clouds

And where will we start digging

What love will we find buried

What legend beneath the skin of the unnameable polity


Those who love you remember what children are

The sweetness we would kill

Lest face ourselves

The knowledge we would squash again Soweto

Have we yet wept for who we could have been

Tears replace the rain

warriors build rock altars to their youth

but however many pearls the dead sea offers

Our feet will mourn the insights we have trampled

our eyes stay open

filling with dust.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Poetry is Not a Luxury: The Remix (by School of Our Lorde Poetry Webinar Participants)

(Lex's wardrobe provided by Ammoliscious and sister-comrade Leah Burke)


After reading and discussing Audre Lorde's "Poetry is Not a Luxury" the participants in the School of Our Lorde Poetry Webinar collaboratively created these two poems about what poetry IS and what it IS NOT!!!! Much love to Monchel, Chantal, Rosa and Leana for being badass cyber cypher warriors!!!!


poetry is not a mask

poetry is not a commercial

poetry is not homogeneous

poetry is not an excuse

poetry is not perverse

poetry is not linear

poetry is not just for white guys with nothing better to do

poetry is not canonized

not a classroom unit

poetry is not a bunch/of line breaks/in random/places

not a grade

poetry is not taught or learned--it's the language we were born with

not death without a birth

poetry is not inhibited

poetry is not brought to you by hallmark

a competition

poetry [will] not be televised

not a "10"

poetry is not about meter

poetry is not an accessory in a psuedo-revolutionary lifestyle

poetry is not oppressive

poetry is not convenient

poetry is not always easy

poetry is not boxable

not a bindi on a dreadlocked white girl's forehead at a powwow

poetry is not the destination -- it is the journey

poetry is not standard english

poetry is not patchouli


poetry is my son's smile

my fingers walking across his belly and squirming back

poetry is a heartbeat


poetry is what i say to my reflection when i think no one is listening

poetry is a place to live

poetry is goosebumps!

poetry is breath

poetry is prayer

poetry is a breath of fresh air

poetry is italian ice on a 90-degree day


poetry is your hand in mine

poetry is laughing out loud :P


poetry is an ecosystem


poetry is painful but not in vain

poetry is a lifeline

poetry is family

poetry is an open heart

poetry is a safe space

poetry is knowing when you've met The One (or The Ones)

poetry is an exorcism

poetry is jabberwocky

poetry is knowing when you've met yourself

poetry is a new spelling of my name and everything else

poetry is the sound of sitting still

the sounds of getting up

poetry is raw

sdrawkcab si yrteop

poetry is forwards

poetry is a yes followed by an oh yes!

poetry is circular

poetry is everpresent

poetry is old

is silent when we're not listening, but still persistently there

poetry is about to happen

poetry is our only hope

poetry is wanted and feared

poetry is your skin knitting itself back together

poetry is omnipresent

poetry is an open door

this language is beautiful

poetry is love

poetry is stinky funky lust

poetry is knowing when to stop

and start again

poetry is what makes you say "aww" when you see a little kid

poetry is putting into words what had no words before

poetry is putting into words what never existed before

poetry is what my heart is saying to my hand

poetry is constantly naming what is so it doesn't get lost

poetry is mothering myself

poetry is how my mom calls my cell phone whenever i say (or type) the word “mother”

poetry is calling for my attention

to join the School of Our Lorde Poetry Webinar email

Friday, June 04, 2010

MobileHomeComing Update: We Got the RV!!!

We got our Revolutionary Vehicle!!!!!

Dear Family,
With your support Julia and Alexis have actually obtained the RV (Revolutionary Vehicle) that will transport us to you and all of our far flung loved ones to document the resilience and brilliance of Black queer folks across generations!

lex and julia

Watch this video about how we got it!

RV Adoption! from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

It's never too late to help us out with gas money and living-on-the-road costs! Donate or become a monthly sustainer today!

Click below on the amount that feels generously doable to you to sign up for an automatic monthly donation (you do not have to sign up for a paypal account):

Become a monthly sustainer

For a one time motivation donation click below!

Make a donation to the A Black Queer Mobile Homecoming - An     Immersive Archive

1) Click DONATE.
2) Enter an Amount.
3) Click Continue.
(or login to your paypal account).
4) Follow instructions to finish your transaction. You're Done!