All posts by Aker

Owner of Futuristically Ancient. Literary Director at Queens Book Festival. Writer. Poet. Afrofuturistic Mythologist. Afro-Caribbean in Queens. Life Explorer. Contact me: futureancientblog [at] gmail [dot] com

M.G. Recap: The Legacy of Octavia Butler


51svc6qifblAs a speculative fiction author, Octavia Butler broke new grounds in the genre, going beyond the patriarchal Eurocentric and white supremacist framework of a lot of early speculative fiction. In her novels, she explored underrepresented topics like the continuing impact of American slavery and racism on black bodies and minds and larger society, and the seeds of late capitalism leading to dystopia. She also gave us stories from the perspective of black people, specifically black women (herself being a black woman writer), something that was rare in these genres.

Last Sunday, I attended Brooklyn Book Festival and the panel, “The Legacy of Octavia Butler,” featuring author Ytasha Womack (Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy), author Daniel Jose Older (Shadowshaper), artist John Jennings (Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation) and author Ben Winters (Underground Airlines). Each panelist talked about the mega influence of Butler on their work and what was possible to write about and focus on in speculative fiction. Like me, all the panelists wished they found out about her work earlier because her work validated them and the truths of our histories and realities in ways other novels in the same genre did not. As Jennings expressed, Butler’s skill was destabilizing the stereotypes and categories that we place on ourselves and others; she was centered on exploring the liminal spaces and identities. Butler herself didn’t fit the stereotypes of a typical black woman — she was reclusive and reserved, and she was willing to go into and engage with spaces that others did not dare.

Continue reading M.G. Recap: The Legacy of Octavia Butler

“Space:Queens”: First Fridays at JCAL


Last Friday, I went to Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning’s First Friday event where they showcase creative artists who participate in their one month residency program. Below are the three visual artists (Jason Lalor, Steven Sivells and Joyce Sanchez Espinoza) and works they showcased:

Multi-disciplinary artist Jason Lalor’s BlackBody Radiation

“In physics, a blackbody is an idealized body which absorbs the electromagnetic radiation it encounters and emits it as a spectrum of light; the body itself is revealed only through this spectrum. Similarly, the black and brown communities from which rap poetics emerged remain invisible to the pop culture it fuels. Nonetheless, the poetics – blackbody radiation – allow for the creation of new experiential worlds for its practitioners and audience.”

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The My-Stery: Spooky Entanglement — When Black Contribution Is Obscured


The other day as I was looking for some Basquiat inspiration, I came across this article about his artistic influences, “John-Michel Basquiat: The Afrofuturistic and His Art: Part I – Cosmic Slop and George Clinton’s Afro-Futurism. One part struck me the most, especially we discuss appropriation and often the lack of social credit given to black influencers:

Art historians gush over his white artistic influences: Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly and Franz Kline figure prominently. No argument here. The western art tradition, jealously guarded by a ‘high art’ priesthood, had to justify Basquiat’s membership. Basquiat, no dummy, wanted fame.

Celebrity required cultural legitimacy, an artistic heritage defined by the western art canon. His first dealer, Annina Nosei, helped to fashion his art pedigree (fig. 2). Basquiat was complicit in this action. “Picasso” writes Dick Hebridge, could afford to leave the marketing and manufacturing of the iconic self to future generations.” Not so for Basquiat. His blackness remained an issue. Luca Marensi writes: “The use of some imagery, specifically black or African, leaves no trace that would allow an uninformed viewer to suppose the painter is black.”

Continue reading The My-Stery: Spooky Entanglement — When Black Contribution Is Obscured

Modern Griots Recap: Poetic Fragments from “Black Magic: Afro Pasts/Futures”


Yesterday was the anniversary of Nat Turner’s rebellion, and with the growing controversy surrounding the film due to Nate Parker’s rape trial from 17 years ago, my desire to watch the film has been mostly vaporized. But last weekend as I went through my photos, I came across Delphine Fawundu’s “Mende Woman on Nat Turner Plantation” and the other artworks exhibited at the Black Magic: Afro Pasts/Futures exhibition in May. Looking at the art again inspired a new set of poems from me (in addition to Beloved, which I read in full last week). Read the poetry and take a look at some of the art below:

This collection of poems is called, Black: Where Past and Future Become One; Where Magic Is Birthed.

Continue reading Modern Griots Recap: Poetic Fragments from “Black Magic: Afro Pasts/Futures”

“Space:Queens”: Lacresha Berry


Lacresha Berry
Photo by Kim-Julie Hansen (@kimjuliehansen)

As I currently work on my fantasy novel based in Queens and inspired by the Underground Railroad (two of the characters are based on Harriet Tubman and William Still), I look forward to featuring others who are continuing to share the legacy of our ancestors and heroes who fought for freedom and for us to be here in this moment today.

 

One of those people is Lacresha Berry, a local Queens-based educator, singer-songwriter and playwright. Currently, she is writing a one-woman show about Harriet Tubman and t-shirt line for Air Tubman. Continue reading to find out more about her and her previous and upcoming work within the community.

 

“I just felt it was important to understand our histories in context to the larger global community and tell stories that haven’t been told. Instead of complaining about not being taught these things, I wanted to create a conversation that there are black Kentuckians. We exist and we helped to shape the state that it is today. We contributed to country music, blues and bluegrass.”

 

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Lacresha Berry and I’m an artist—educator, artivist, singer-songwriter, playwright, actress, and sometimes lyricist. I was raised in the great state of Kentucky. I came to NYC—actually this month, in 2003. So, I guess you can say I’m a New Yorker now. Well, at least I live the life of one. I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BA in theatre. I came to NYC for grad school at NYU. At the time, I was really into costume design and got accepted at Tisch for Costume Design for Stage and Film. I ended going for about a year and began full time teaching in 2005 after stints of being a sub and after-school teacher.

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Moving on the Wires: Baby I’m Back and With Some News!


Hey everyone! I finally have downtime after the Queens Book Festival last Sunday, so I wanted to give you some updates and reminders about projects and other housekeeping stuff:

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“Self-Portrait” by Jean-Michel Basquiat

*Did you know I am on PATREON! I updated my page recently and you can visit my page here to find out about what I am working on currently. Please consider becoming one of my patrons, any amount is appreciated!

*Speaking of which, I also began a project called J. Expressions Bookshop! It is an initiative to support and promote authors and writers in Southeast Queens and to promote the need for more bookstores in Queens, especially in this area. If you are an author, writer, book artist, book lover and want  to collaborate, you can visit my website for more information and my instagram page.

*By the way, if you are in the Southeast Queens area, there is a new meetup writing group, Springfield Gardens Poetry/Writing, which will include workshops and will “explore world building for fantasy, sci-Fi, and paranormal.” The first meeting is August 26th!

*I designed a basic logo for Space:Queens! It’s Basquiat-inspired, but I’m not unveiling it yet. Stay tuned to see what it looks like!

*Space:Queens will return next week with Lacresha Berry!

 

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“Space:Queens”: Poetic Inventions Workshop


Hey everyone! I have exciting news! On June 26th from 2:30-5pm, I will be facilitating a workshop at the Lewis Latimer House Museum!

If you are not aware, Lewis Latimer was a 19th-early 20th century African-American self-taught inventor and draftsman, who worked with Thomas Edison and was greatly involved in the development of the light bulb, specifically in the production of carbon filaments. He lived in the same house in Flushing, Queens, which was later moved to location it is now and was turned into a museum. Not only was Latimer an inventor, but he also was a poet, playwright and painter. He was truly a polymath!

My workshop will explore the intersections between writing, invention and social change, three areas important to Latimer; we will analyze his poetry (and also a poem inspired by one of his poems); and attendees will be given prompts to write their own poetry. If you are in NYC and are interested, please RSVP at the email in the flyer!

I hope to see you there!IMG_0442