Turning Paper into Food: Alchemy from the Spill Webinar Participants!

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Last night Brilliance Remastered‘s Spill Webinar for sustainable strategies to build an intellectual life that exceeds the boundaries of the academic industrial complex continued. We worked with our dreams (as in intentions) and our dreams (as in the layered picture show that happens while we are asleep) as resources informing each other.  We looked at what is at stake ancestrally in the way we structure our intellectual lives.  We claimed our power as alchemists to turn what we have into what we need by bringing our transformative questions to the table.   This is the poem that we created together to describe the changes we are here to see through to reality.

turning paper into food

by the participants in the Spill Webinar


how do we turn fear into love?

how do we turn worry into wishes?

how do we turn attention into attunement?


how do we turn hope into happiness?

how do we turn concern into courage?

how do we turn care into creativity?


how do we turn today into a portal?

how do we turn our bodies into magic?

how do we turn shame into a wholehearted embrace?

how do we turn walls into bridges?


how do we turn thought into action?

how do we turn caterpillars into butterflies?

how do we turn promises into pages?

how do we turn bravery into blessings?


how do we turn fixity into movement?

how do we turn jobs into journeys?

how do we turn one into we?


how do we turn the ocean into words?

how do we turn words into the ocean?


how do we turn markets into communities of accountability?

how do we turn gatekeepers into prophets?


how do we turn training into underground railroad stations?

how do we turn survival into a promise?


how do we turn proof into possibility?

how do we turn righting into writing?

how do we turn teaching into truth telling?


how do we turn interventions into invitations?

how do we turn novelty into knowing?

how do we turn talking into drumcall beating hearts?


how do we turn boxes into breathing?

how do we turn birth into being?


*note: if you be asking yourself these same questions…you must be a Brilliance Remastered kindred spirit.  Put yourself on the email list right here.


My Best Idea Yet: Quirky Conceptions from the Spill Webinar Participants

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 6.32.22 AMLast night was the first session of Brilliance Remastered’s newest and most experimental webinar intensive: SPILL.  We experimented with sinking in, visualizing what we are immersed in, releasing, remembering the ground, examining lit candles that have already burned out on altars to our fears and more!   The participants in the Spill webinar are going deep together and designing alternative intellectual projects and they are bringing along what Audre Lorde calls “the non-european consciousness” (some other people call it the subconscious mind) to transform everything.   All of the activities in the Spill Webinar are based on an oracle text of freedom scenes I wrote, drawn from Hortense Spillers’ asides in the crucial literary critical text Black, White and In Color.  Our closing group poem last night draws on the phrase “quirkiness of conception” from her introduction to her enduring book of essays.   What if you were having your best idea yet all day long?

quirkiness of conception

(excerpt from Spill by Alexis Pauline Gumbs)

the first time i thought of you, you were swimming, towards you, through me.  first time i thought i was drowning in a world that needed you in it or it would disappear. first time i knew you existed the rest of the history of the world popped like a bubble unready unworthy and my body wanted only future, only you.   the first time i felt you move we were deep underwater under something built to keep us under and i couldn’t see anything but i understood there was something above everything.  above everything despite everything i would find fresh air and breathe again.  above everything despite everything i would free you.  my best idea yet.

my best idea yet

by the participants in the Spill Webinar


waking up when i wake up, my best idea yet

letting happiness lead, my best idea yet

daring to hope, my best idea yet

curious my best idea yet

seeking spirit guidance, my best idea yet

believing in believing, my best idea yet

experimenting with being present, my best idea yet


loving this being, my best idea yet

appreciating being alive and in this body, my best idea yet

listening to my body, my best idea yet

full belly breathing, my best idea yet

being well, my best idea yet


sitting on the floor, my best idea yet

dancing, my best idea yet

praying before responding to emails about money, my best idea yet

listening to the whispers of ancestors, my best idea yet

choosing, my best idea yet


touching the water, my best idea yet

hugging my loved ones, my best idea yet

nurturing intimacy, my best idea yet

allowing myself to be understood or mysterious my best idea yet

honoring my brilliance and everyone else’s my best idea yet

surrendering to the creative processes, my best idea yet


writing what I want to write, my best idea yet

teaching who I want to teach, my best idea yet

learning, still, my best idea yet

cultivating my ability to stay if i want to, my best idea yet

leaving if I want to, my best idea yet


making time for pleasure, my best idea yet

going to sleep when I am tired, my best idea yet

Quality of Light Webinar: The Poetics of Entering Graduate School

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“The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives.”

― Audre Lorde

7pm Weds Oct 29th

This is an informational webinar with Alexis Pauline Gumbs especially for people who are applying or considering applying to graduate school THIS WINTER.   Our conversation will include the crucial aspects of:

  • remembering your purpose for going to graduate school and your accountability to the communities you love
  • distinguishing YOUR application from the record number of applications graduate schools are receiving this cycle
  • the steps to identifying an intellectual community you WANT to be part of for the next phase of your life

Reserve your spot for free or with a donation here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/quality-of-light-webinar-the-poetics-of-entering-graduate-school-tickets-13783497813

Sista Docta Alexis Pauline Gumbs was admitted to several of the best graduate programs in her field with full funding.   She chose to get her PhD in English with certificates in African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University.  She was able to deepen her relationship to the intellectual traditions that informed her and the communities that created her during her time in graduate school by fostering meaningful and supportive relationships with her faculty mentors, student colleagues and local community.   Today, she balances writing influential  intellectual work on black feminism and Caribbean women’s writing with public scholarship and the ongoing creation of her own intergenerational and intergalactic educational initiatives Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and The Mobile Homecoming Project.

The Spill Intensive: Exceeding the Boundaries of the University System (October 20-24)

The Spill Intensive: Sustainable Strategies for Exceeding the Boundaries of the Academic Industrial Complex   Webinar October 20th-24th 9pm EST

Rodney Ewing, My Country Needs Me by Hortense Spillers
Rodney Ewing, My Country Needs Me by Hortense Spillers

Coming out of the insights of the recent Shape of My Impact back to school webinar, The Spill Intensive is an experimental space for those visionaries who want to honor the ways their inspiration, spiritual imperatives and accountability to oppressed communities EXCEED the boundaries of the University system.

Using an innovative curriculum based on Sista Docta Alexis Pauline’s decade of work on the brilliant excess of the language practice of black feminist literary critic Hortense Spillers, the Spill Intensive invites 9 webinar participants to

  • inhabit scenes of stolen freedom
  • interrogate internalized capitalist default practices
  • and activate practices that make tangible space in our lives and in the world for the unruly brilliance that our ancestors and our communities demand!

The intensive will meet online every night for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 9pm EST Oct 20th-24th. Fee: $200  Reserve your spot with an email to brillianceremastered@gmail.com explaining what you hope to get out of the course and your $50 deposit:

Sounds Like a Promise: From the Shape of My Impact Webinar


Last night community accountable intellectuals from all over the United States and also from northern Haiti came together to discuss survival and the academic industrial complex.  The conversation was rich, rigorous, honest and brave and included the participation of many of our beloved given and chosen ancestors.  At the end of our time together we created this poem, riffing off on of Audre Lorde’s unpublished definitions of survival that we offer right now towards your broadened, abundant ancestor-activated survival of the institutions and possibilities you are navigating right now.

Sounds Like a Promise

a group poem by the participants in the Shape of My Impact Webinar

“I love the word survival, it always sounds to me like a promise.  It makes me wonder sometimes though, how do I define the shape of my impact upon this earth?”

 –reflection cut from an early draft of “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred and Anger” by Audre Lorde (Audre Lorde Papers, Spelman College Archive)

health and joy sound like a promise

freedom sounds like a promise

courage sounds like a promise


the future sounds like a promise

reproduction and birth sounds like a promise


being here and being well sounds like a promise

a university that loves me like the universe sounds like a promise

survival sounds like a promise


my body sounds like a promise

black love sounds a promise

healthcare sounds like a promise


hearing you sounds like a promise

loving you sounds like a promise


time with the earth sounds like a promise

evolving perspective sounds like a promise

ancestors sound like a promise

the orisha are a promise


our community is a promise

kinship is a promise


being celebrated while you can still enjoy it sounds like a promise

my truth reflected back to me with love sounds like a promise


saying yes and no sounds like a promise

the broadness of my vision sounds like a promise

defiance sounds like a promise


worth keeping

The Shape of My Impact: Virtual Conversation about Survival and the Academic Industrial Complex

zp_audre-lorde-in-berlin_1984_photograph-c2a9-dagmar-schultz “I love the word survival, it always sounds to me like a promise.  It makes me wonder sometimes though, how do I define the shape of my impact upon this earth?” –

reflection cut from an early draft of “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred and Anger” by Audre Lorde (Audre Lorde Papers, Spelman College Archive)

Shape of My Impact Conversation 

Wednesday Sept, 17th 7pm-9pm EDT


This Back to School Brilliance Remastered Webinar is an opportunity for community accountable scholars to support each other and access resources designed to helps us all activate our brilliance in collaboration with the communities we love. This discussion will center on Brilliance Remastered founder Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s article on survival and the academic industrial complex entitled “The Shape of My Impact” and published at The Feminist Wire in October 2012.  ”The Shape of My Impact” has circulated over the past two years and has resonated with many community accountable scholars.   Recently, several community accountable scholars have reached out about a space to discuss the issues that the article raises.    This is that space!

The article is available here:  http://thefeministwire.com/2012/10/the-shape-of-my-impact/

Come join online or via phone to talk about how draw on the insights of earlier generations of community accountable scholars to navigate the academic industrial complex and how to support each other as we deal with the realities of the neoliberalization of the university.   This dialogue will be facilitated by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and is the perfect place for anyone who is interested in building subversive intellectual community and talking about strategies for living the dream.  Register for free or with a donation at eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brilliance-remastered-broadcast-the-shape-of-my-impact-tickets-13111269159

Alexis Gumbs

Back to School!!!! Breathing and Brilliance


Greetings loved ones!
It’s already that time when the intellectual cycle restarts us!  Congratulations to all of you starting new scholastic adventures, re-engaging multi-year degree expectations, sending little ones off to school, teaching at all levels or navigating your first fall without structured educational space!  I am so excited for you and for what this season of your brilliance means for ALL OF US.  In celebration,  I want to offer three resources for your continued brillliance:

1.  Black Feminist Breathing!

This summer more than a thousand people participated in a digital Black Feminist Breathing Chorus with guided medtations and beautiful images that I designed in honor of the brilliant Black ancestors who have made my intellectual practice of Black Feminist Love Evangelism possible!

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 10.04.22 AMI recently made ALL THE MEDITATIONS available as downloads so they can motivate you through the hard moments and help you celebrate the legacy of brilliance that lifts us all up!

Donations of $25-100 give you eternal access to the streaming meditations on the site and donations of 101 or more give you access to streaming AND downloads of the meditations as audio files.  Sustainers of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind are already using the meditations in their classrooms and for their ongoing community work!  Shout out to the Black Girl Project who used our Anna Julia Cooper meditation at their recent board retreat!

If you would like to get eternal access to the meditations streaming and downloaded to use for your personal upliftment or to share with your organization or students you can become a monthly sustainer of the Eternal Summer of Black Feminist Mind at a level that feels generously sustainable to you.

2. Brilliance Remastered One-on-One Reboots!


Whether you want to start one-on-one coaching for this semester with me or you just want advice on taking one aspect of your community accountable intellectual work to the next level, now is a great time to schedule a phone consultation with me!

Phone consultations about one-on-one Brilliance Remastered coaching, joining a coaching cohort or writing feedback are $25 for 30 minutes.

Phone consultations or video conference sessions for specific advice about applications, programs, projects, next steps, campus activism etc. are $50 for 1-hour.  (During Fall 2014 I will be conducting special online office hours on Wednesdays 10am-2pm EST free for existing participants and at the regular hour or half hourly rates for new folks!)

All phone consultations offer concrete next steps and all fees go directly to Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.

3. Bright Thunder Brain Trust Network

And if you just want to be the first to know about upcoming webinars and resources for community accountable intellectuals sign up for the email list!

To be added to the Brilliance Remastered network list (aka Bright Thunder Brain Trust) sign up below (I will never send more than 4 emails a month):



Mentoring is More Than A Notion

dedicated to Cheryll Y. Greene

10151199_10101184226627142_1065609381_nI once heard someone say that the measure of a good teacher is whether the children of the student, the students of the student, the neighbors and friends of the student know her name.  It was an honor to lead a Brilliance Remastered workshop yesterday about mentorship in remembrance of one of my greatest mentors and chosen mothers: the editor, poet, rabblerouser, teacher, oral historian, archivist, visionary queen Cheryll Y. Greene.

On the Barnard lawn just across the street from the building where I first met Cheryll, we shared our gratitude for the mentors we have and have had.  We mapped our community accountability and talked about the mentors we don’t often acknowledge and the mentoring relationships we need to nurture more.  We did role plays about overcoming the vulnerability of seeking mentoring relationships with people we find to be intimidatingly awesome. We talked about the impact of mentorship, the ways that our mentors can change the way we carry ourselves, the ways we live in our bodies even when they are not physically near us.  I am grateful that Cheryll’s presence, her wit, her advice, her critique and her no-nonsense focus have become a part of my being.   And together in Cheryll’s honor and for our collective clarity we created a poem based on a classic phrase that Cheryll often used to describe the indescribable.  Whether talking about the unstoppable brilliance of Black people, the realities of single motherhood, the intricacies of moving ideas from brains into tangible print, Cheryll would take a deep breath and shake her head saying, “It’s more than a notion.”

The impact of Cheryll Greene and all of our mentors and each of us as we mentor each other is more than a fleeting thought, more than a strategy for advancement, more the sum of the pieces of advice we need, more much much much more than a notion.

Mentoring is More Than a Notion

by the participants in the 2014 Barnard MMUF Workshop

in honor of Cheryll Y. Greene


real talk is more than a notion

eye contact is more than a notion

a smile is more than a notion

nodding your head is more than a notion

being present is more than a notion

asking for help is more than a notion


owning my fabulous is more than a notion

keeping in touch is more than a notion

heeding advice is more than a notion


cooperation is more than a notion

having your back is more than a notion

your gut is more than a notion

saying thank you is more than a notion


making time for tea is more than a notion

deep sighs are more than a notion

silence in conversation is more than a notion

tenderness is more than a notion


we are more

we are more than a notion


*Learn more about transformative workshops from Brilliance Remastered here.

Daydreaming is a Renewable Resource: MMUF Summer Workshop 2014

Exhale.  Collage by Alexis Pauline Gumbs for Toni Cade Bambara.

Exhale. Collage by Alexis Pauline Gumbs for Toni Cade Bambara.

Yesterday I had the honor of facilitating a workshop on wellness called “You Sure?: Cultivating a Deep Well of Resilience and Brilliance for Graduate School and Beyond” for a cohort of brilliant emerging community accountable scholars at Barnard College at Columbia University (my alma mater!)   We used poetic activities to get past the “what is your project?” paradigm and to share what renews us, what wakes us up, and who makes us possible.   We also talked about the 4 p’s of navigating wellness in academic institutions (wouldn’t you love to know what those are :)

Toni Cade Bambara was the guiding ancestor-intellectual for our process and we drew both on her enduring question from The Salteaters about deciding whether we want to be well and on her story about her mother encouraging her to do the important work of daydreaming.  This poem is from our closing group activity designed to share with you what renews us for our ongoing intellectual adventures. 

daydreaming is a renewable resource

(after and with Toni Cade Bambara)


Screen shot 2014-06-07 at 4.07.25 AMby the 2014 Mellon Fellows and their graduate student mentees during the “You Sure?: Cultivating a Deep Well of Resilience and Brilliance for Graduate School and Beyond” workshop at Barnard College.


love is a renewable resource

strength is a renewable resource

courage is a renewable resource


laughter is a renewable resource

listening to children is a renewable resource

conversations with old people are a renewable resource

hugs are a renewable resource


breath is a renewable resource

laying on the floor is a renewable resource

closing ones eyes is a renewable resource

sitting in darkness is a renewable resource

sleep is a renewable resource


forgiving is a renewable resource

being with others is a renewable resource

deep conditioning my hair is a renewable resource


finding and re-finding balance is a renewable resource

pain and recovery are renewable resources


petting cats is a renewable resource

smelling flowers is a renewable resource


sunshine is a renewable resource

creativity is a renewable resource

trying new things is a renewable resource

music is a renewable resource


a good meal is a renewable resource

a good meal with good people (indigestion notwithstanding) is a renewable resource


chocolate is a renewable resource

color, patterns and textures are renewable resources

holding babies (and being able to give them back) is a renewable resource


going back home (wherever that may be) is a renewable resource

singing is a renewable resource

hope is a renewable resource

daydreaming is a renewable resource




Bring Alexis to your campus to facilitate a Brilliance Remastered Workshop


Enough: Affirmations that Sustain Sistorians!


Last night was the LAST NIGHT of the Brilliance Remastered Sistorian Webinar.  I’m not ashamed to say I teared up.  Also I kinda sang Boys II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye.”  None of us wanted to get offline.  It was truly a ‘you hang up, no you hang up’ situation.  I am so grateful for this space and to each of the amazing sistorians who participated.   As part of our process of moving forward affirmed and empowered to continue to act on the insights we came to together we collected quotations from geniuses (from Gwendolyn Brooks to Rob Base) to carry with us…post in our offices, keep in our wallets and to turn to as mantras when we need them.   We hope they can affirm you too!!

“I am who I am, doing what I came to do.” Audre Lorde (Eye to Eye: Black Women Hatred and Anger)

“for we are the last of the loud, nevertheless live. conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.” –Gwendolyn Brooks “The Second Sermon on the Warpland”

“come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
–Lucille Clifton

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde

“I love myself enough to be who I am.” Essex Hemphill

“I have hopes for myself.” Gwendolyn Brooks (Interview in Sturdy Black Bridges)

“Black women are inherently valuable.” -Combahee River Collective Statement

“I have everything I need within myself.” -Rah Goddess

“I got an idea that I want to share. You don’t like it? So what. I don’t care.” Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock (It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right—especially useful in a racist academic/activist workplace)

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

“Anyone working to resist white supremacy has to be a visionary..”  Bekezela Mguni

For more affirmations check out this post we love from Crunk Feminist Collective’s Robin Boylorn: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2012/10/25/overcoming-a-stigma-tism-an-affirmation-for-blackgirls-who-have-considered-suicide-when-closed-eyes-are-enuf/

Want to sign up for the October Webinar—Bright Black: Ending Slavery in Contemporary Black Intellectual Practice?  There are a few days left to get on board! Sign up here.