Friday, October 28, 2011

Love is Lifeforce: June Jordan and the Horizon of Education

Greetings loved ones!  I'd love to see you at the second installment of the Survival Series: Black Feminism for the Future at Stanford L. Warren Library!

Tuesday, November 1 · 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Stanford L. Warren Library
1201 Fayetteville Street
Durham, NC

In this the second part in the "Survival Series: Black Feminism for the Future" this lecture draws on author June Jordan's essay “The Creative Spirit in Children’s Literature” which explains that “love is lifeforce” and describes the intergenerational work of nurturing the spirits of children as the most sacred work that adults can do. In a time when the education budgets for Durham schools are under attack and the Wake County schools are actively resegregating, Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs will present a multi-faceted vision for educational justice in our times.

Monday, October 24, 2011

“We Are More Loved Than We Know”: Masculinity, Feminism and the Love that Will Save Our Lives

June Jordan teaches that: “Love is lifeforce.”  And the healing power of love has saved my life more than once.  In the name of this truth I affirm the arrival of Freeing Ourselves: A Guide to Health and Self Love for Brown Bois, a recent resource published by the Brown Boi Leadership project and written by masculine of center queer people of color and their allies.
I think of this resource guide as a chapter that should have been, but never would have been in Our Bodies Ourselves or even in Jambalaya.   A resource that my partner, who identifies as a Black feminist boi and a gender queer artist, and our children one day will probably not read cover to cover chronologically like I did, but will flip through, looking at affirming and beautiful photography, reading stories of how people we know and strangers survived trauma, transformation and the oppression of the medical industrial complex.    They will browse it for a list of self-advocating questions before finding a health care provider.   We will look at for options of how we want to get pregnant, what health issues we should look out for at different ages, how one gender affirming surgery differs from another one.   Freeing Ourselves is a non-linear invocation of a community of people with different needs, at different stages of life, with different approaches to their own wellness and wholeness who will interact with this book from where they are at, and then differently again at another moment.  It is a tiny, audience-specific, audience-accountable encyclopedia.
“We are working towards profound social change, knowing that there are no disposable people or communities.   We all need to be here.”
– Brown Boi Health Manifesto by Prentis Hemphill (119)

Read the entire review here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Way Home (Gratitude Poem #33)

Way Home

For Lea Salas

After Audre Lorde’s “Lunar Eclipse”

from here the moon is a spotlight
wearing stockings
an unfocused yes

but you are driving gloves
and self-reflexive chisme
purple and passionate
yoga mat pushed aside
to make room for baggage
and the dirt and grass we drag along

you are the taut string
for the tiny tin can parade
of arriving almost safe as self

you are dyke chivalry
and the words “of course”
you are the truth in headlights dear

you are the way home.

So many people have given me rides to and from the airport in Durham in sweet disregard for their discontent at how often I leave the city I love.   If I were them I would refuse.  Shut it down.  Teach me a lesson called "stay at home."  But until they reach that consensus I will just be grateful and remain faithful to promise to always come back.    Lea is the person who has given me the most rides to and from the airport in this phase of life, and in particular she is the person who gave me the rides to and from the airport that framed my trip to St. Croix.   I love being in the car with Lea, hearing the scrumptious updates on her life, love and adventures and spilling the first splashed of my excitement to be home.   Thank you Lea for being the way.  For being the truth.  For bringing me home.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Land (Gratitude Poem #32)


For Chanelle Gallant

After Audre Lorde’s“Peace on Earth”

a star fell last night
as I drove myself
almost out of gas
to the grease slicked doorstep
of exhaustion

and where did it land
heaven drop
pressure of wishes

did you see it

i ate french fries
and absently sketched
a veggie fuel rocket engine
a self-contained compost toilet
an ethical escape

and told myself
a falling star is not a bomb

tires pattern bald
from skating the edge
of not enough
on autopilot

what atmospheric freeze
must crack
before I wake up.

Chanelle Gallant who are you? Dream come true? Star I wished on as a kid? Whoever you are I am so thankful for your support and love. Not only did you donate to the specific cause of my journey to connect with my chosen ancestors and black feminist family, you even convinced another friend who doesn't know me to do the same! I think on nights like last night where dance class is cancelled and sleep deprivation and really bad food is making me feel like an unsustainable gas-fueled society, I will remember you. And your sweet action and the fact that there is something bright somewhere, spreading glitter in motion, spreading love along the way. Gallant indeed. Who needs a knight in shining armor when there are stars like Chanelle landing on earth when you least expect them.

So much love to you Chanelle. May everything you touch near or from afar be as blessed as I feel right now.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Flight (Gratitude Poem #31)


For Romham Gallacher

After Audre Lorde’s “Depreciation”

First the banks
then the river run right
through the treasury
then vehicles that transport gas
don’t have gas to run
no more.

Between the corporate credit computer crash
the downfall of drummed up dept worldwide
and the heirloom seed-bomb airlift
there is plenty to eat
and nowhere to hide.

I don't know Romham Gallacher from Adam.  So it is a big deal that a perfect stranger, who happens to have heard about my work from a person they respect was one of the first people to make a financial contribution to my trip to St. Croix.  The note on paypal said, "My friend Chanelle alerted me to your chip in. I've not much to offer, but every penny counts! Best of luck on getting to St. Croix!"

I'm actually not sure who Chanelle is either. 

The donations that loved ones from all parts of my life have given towards this trip have overwhelmed me with gratitude.  I am so lucky to be loved by so many people, and for so long, and with such tangibility and grace.   But this donation, from someone who I do not know and who decided because of their love for their own friend and their belief that it was the right thing to do, to make a donation and send luck and positive energy my way overwhelms me with hope.   It is not always clear to me that I live in a world in which strangers wish a wayward queer Black girl best of luck.  In which they hope I succeed.  In which they believe I deserve to commune with my ancestors and elders whether or not I can personally, individually, financially afford it.   Romham's gift is an affirmation of that truth, and it builds my faith in the world that we deserve.  It reminds me that our love is stronger than the systems that separate us.  

So this poem is for Romham.  Whoever you are.  Towards the world that we believe in.  And deserve.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Full (Gratitude Poem #30)


For Ms. Helga

After Audre Lorde’s “Kitchen Linoleum”

The moon
who is watching
and the crystal
who is waiting
will shake off their whiteness
evolve past transparency
will monthly
towards your joy.

Ms. Helga Emde is a healer and counselor who works with children who are survivors of abuse at the Women's Coalition of St. Croix.  The Women's Coalition of St. Croix has existed for more than 30 years and was founded by women who after an inspiring talk by Audre Lorde at the University of St. Croix (at the time the College of St. Croix) began to share their experiences of domestic violence and sexual assault.  According to Dr. Gloria Joseph, one member of the community stood and said, what should we do with all of this energy and all of these stories?  And Audre Lorde responded Get a pencil and a piece of paper and write your names and information down so you can meet again.  The women did meet again and ultimately founded this organization which has had a long lasting impact on St. Croix and which also provided an amazingly aligned workplace for Ms. Helga, who actually organized Audre Lorde's first poetry reading in Frankfurt Germany in 1987, when she moved to St. Croix from Frankfurt 10 years ago.

Ms. Helga claims not to know many young lesbians.  "You are the future my dear!" she exclaimed the first day I met her.   I know that it was no small thing for Ms. Helga who had never met me before to open up the home she and Dr. Joseph share to a strange young visitor with early morning yoga, dance and ocean rituals for 2 weeks.  I am so grateful for Ms. Helga's hospitality.   I learned so much from watching her gather her crystals to be energized by the full moon, helping to put up storm shutters in anticipation of tropical storm Maria at meeting her enthusiastic colleagues at the Women's Coalition in the midst of their transition out of a burned down building.  It is an honor to affirm Ms. Helga and her healing.

P.S.  You can read more about Ms. Helga in her own (translated) words in the anthology Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out.

Monday, October 03, 2011

What (Gratitude Poem #29)


For Julia

After Audre Lorde’s “Change”

what sweat baptism
what tilt of equity
what requiem for who I was you make
thrust trust onto shore
preached practiced pressed
here waves bring salt
savor and save
wounds bring their own salvation

and name it never
name it home
name it necessary healing

name it you

Julia Roxanne Wallace.  You are the gift that keeps on giving.  I am so grateful to you for insisting that I follow my spirit and take this trip to St. Croix even when I felt like I didn't have the time to spare and wouldn't be able to raise the money.  I am grateful to you for saying that spending our first-date anniversary with Audre in St. Croix was an affirmation to our love and for reminding me that we'll have many many many more first-date anniversaries to spend together.   Thank you for being abundant in your love for me and teaching me to live abundantly guided by love.   By the time I've posted this poem I'll already have another love poem for you.  Thank you for assuring that I will always have that central motivation for poetry: a love that transcends words.