Tag Archives: Poets

Moving on the Wires: Lucy’s Bone Scrolls Has Landed!!!!


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Lucy’s Bone Scrolls is officially here!!!

Thank you to everyone came to the reading on the 17th and for those who were unable to make it, below you can watch a video of the reading from the night and view pictures! The book is available here for purchase and please write a review.

View pictures from the night at Our World Media!

 

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The M(N)STRY: Phillis Wheatley and Fugitive Imagination


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What happens when an enslaved person is given the tools to express her desire for freedom after being captured? When a young child taken from Senegal to Boston and renamed after the slave ship on which she was brought is then taught to read and write in not her own language and history, but in the language and history of Europeans? You get what the first black person to publish a book of poetry in America, Phillis Wheatley, wrote in “On Imagination.” Written a few years before she was granted her freedom, her poem, filled with allusions to Greek mythology and personifying Imagination as if it is a goddess of fertile creativity, is reminiscent of Fred Moten’s concept of the “fantasy in the hold.” This dream or possibility of movement while still in bondage, while still held back where you currently are. But also the tensions between exploration in a ship (whether on water or space) to other places and being shipped as a commodity. Is it the awe of coming to a new world, or is it violent abduction? Maybe both, like being raptured by a god common in Greco-Roman myths.

Wheatley’s poem portrays Imagination as a powerfully creative guiding spirit that breaks boundaries and hybridizes a particular experience of the world with the alien world it encounters to discover new meaning. Her use of Winter throughout the poem clearly shows her awareness of oppression of her mobility as an enslaved person and imagination is her muse for liberation. At a time (she wrote it in 1773) when Enlightenment principles taught that reason, often attributes to white, hetero-masculine power, governed over all other faculties of human expression, Wheatley celebrates the Imagination as a feminine, fertile power moving as part of a spacecraft traveling beyond limits placed on it. In the quote above and the rest of the same stanza (From star to star the mental optics rove,/Measure the skies, and range the realms above./There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,/Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.), she describes Imagination exploring beyond the sky to different stars and even different worlds in what she calls, “the mental optics.” Remember this is 1773 and she is an enslaved black woman and yet she is imagining traveling in a spaceship. If that isn’t Afrofuturistic and the mind of a Black speculative writer, I don’t know what is.

Imagination, like her, is a genius in bondage and struggles to be free. Imagination was what allowed Wheatley to see and be aware of the fullness of the cosmos and through which she could envision new spaces.

Below is the complete poem:

 

On Imagination

Continue reading The M(N)STRY: Phillis Wheatley and Fugitive Imagination

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”

Moving on the Wires: Lucy’s Bone Scrolls Chapbook!


Hey everyone! I’m sorry I was quiet on here last month. Due to illness, work and some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to do much posting. But I wanted to share for National Poetry Month the chapbook I made for the DIY chapbook challenge.

For my, chapbook, Lucy’s Bone Scrolls: The AF Mystery School, I wrote several poems inspired by the New School Afrofuturism conference last year.  I used parchment paper and chenille sticks/pipe cleaners to create the book because I wanted to give it a kind of scrapbook kind of look.

Check out some photos of the project below and I will be showcasing it live at the Women Writers in Bloom Five-Year anniversary event this month. If you are in NYC and want to come, I welcome you to do so; the wonderful poet Mariahadessa Ekere Talle will be the feature!

Sometime in the near future, I will publish the chapbook as an e-book, so stay tuned for that! Also, as I promised last month, I will premiere my Space:Queens segment next week!

Lucille and the Sphinx
This the cover picture. It is a cropped version of the 1961 Louis and Lucille Armstrong in Egypt picture. The image of Lucille sitting under the sphinx and next to the pyramid was striking to me and I felt it fit well with the theme of my chapbook.

Continue reading Moving on the Wires: Lucy’s Bone Scrolls Chapbook!

Modern Griots Interviews: Boshia Rae-Jean


Boshia Twitter Profile

I recently met Boshia at the Little Miss Creative event in New York City where she recited her poem, “I Have a Galaxy in Me:”

“These organs are not only my make up but they make up my galaxy/I am a goddess of the galaxy that reproduces life/This is why I believe in me because/I have a galaxy in me.”

I asked to do an interview with her and here it is below, where she discusses her style, her organization, WeInfinity, and her goals to reinvent Hip-Hop to include more women’s voices:

1) How do you define yourself – your personality, style, the creative work you do?

I would define myself as being outgoing, whimsical, passionate, humble. As for my style I would defiantly say cultural, earthy, and purposeful. On the creative end, I’m constantly evolving that which is unique to me constantly and manifesting what’s already been created for us.

2) How did you start your organization, WeInfinity, and what was your motivation for starting it? What is the main meaning behind WeInfinity and its logo that you want to share with others? What upcoming plans do you have for WeInfinity?

Continue reading Modern Griots Interviews: Boshia Rae-Jean

Modern Griots Reviews: Aja Monet’s “Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers”


Last weekend, spoken word poet Aja Monet debuted her works from her upcoming collection, Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers, at Kraine Theater, and it was an intimate exploration of Monet’s own personal stories and those stories extending out beyond herself to the cities of new York and Chicago, Paris, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

Monet’s stage set up for the intimate atmosphere — a room of her own filled with her belongings — a chest box filled with family pictures, albums and other items, behind it a table alter of sorts, old street signs (a deli and no standing anytime), wall posters and photographs of James Baldwin and Zora Neal Hurston along with an African-styled mask drawing, on the floor various album covers and posters, a step ladder filled with books and a typewriter on top and an old wooden chair. With this and the jazz soundtrack, the audience situated into Monet’s innerverse.

Continue reading Modern Griots Reviews: Aja Monet’s “Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers”

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Langston and Lucille’s Magic of Simple


This month, I attended two poetry events, David Mills’ dramatic performance of Langston Hughes’ works and Elizabeth Alexander’s conversation on Lucille Clifton’s mystical, shaman-like poetry, reminded me that so much magic can condensed into few and sometimes simple words; they made magic out of the ordinary. Below are some poems from Hughes and Clifton as well as notes from Alexander’s lecture and the exhibition at the Poet’s House, which will close in March.

Hughes:

Hughes was often criticized by modernist poets who saw his poems as old-fashioned or lacking the supposed complexity of modern poetry. But Hughes was not writing for them, who were usually white male critics; he was writing for the people he came from and you see it in his short works, plays and poetry, including standardizing the form of blues poetry. The veneer of simplicity and rhyming sentimentality often hid within his work a complexity of culture and wisdom that was often not respected or seen in high-regard, if at all.

“Sun is his grave,/Moon is, stars are,/Space is his grave.” – “Lumumba’s Grave”

“Drum”

Bear in mind
that death is a drum
beating on forever,
till the last worms come
to answer its call,
till the last stars fall,
until the last atom
is no atom at all,
until time is past
and there is no air
and space itself
is nothing, nowhere.
Death is a drum,
a signal drum,
calling life
to come!
Come!
Come!

Continue reading Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Langston and Lucille’s Magic of Simple