then the phone rings/ no payment possible: debt poems from maroon studies intensive #1

41LiBkt628L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Yesterday was the last day of Brilliance Remastered‘s June class Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black UnBelievability.  I can never repay the participants in this class for their bravery in co-creating it, the honesty they inspired in me and the generosity of what they each shared.   Yesterday we articulated the urgency of how debt and credit emerge in our lives, the false binary between the external enforcements of capitalism and how those enforcement filter into our closest relationships and the depth of incalculable love we are experiencing.  On this morning when we are reckoning with the incalculable loss caused by a murderous attack on Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC it feels even more necessary.   Below are some poems from our process.

and then the phone rings

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black UnBelievability

“We felt it in the way someone saves the best part just for you, and then it’s gone, given, a debt.  They don’t want nothing.  You got to accept it, you got to accept that.  You’re in debt but you can’t give credit because they won’t hold it. Then the phone rings.  It’s the creditors.  Credit keeps track.” -Debt and Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney

 

then the phone rings

it’s the person i owe a bio (and i still don’t know who i am)

 

then the phone rings

it’s me asking myself am i smart enough am i good enough did i plan well enough this month

 

then the phone rings

i need to graduate in order to validate my learning

 

then the phone rings

it’s your future, the one desired for you, foreclosed, all the major appliances missing.  you are going somewhere unknown, but dark

 

then the phone rings

it’s your cousin who needs help but he always lies to you

 

then the phone rings

i have nothing to offer you because i don’t have any money

 

then the phone rings

it’s my partner who needs a place to stay but can’t help pay the rent we can’t afford

 

then the phone rings

my parents need to retire and be taken care of

 

then the phone rings

your family is trying not to resent you for being so happy and so broke

 

then the phone rings

it’s your sister, your niece is hurt, your sister is full of rage, your niece is hurt, your sister’s rage is older than both of them

 

then the phone rings

it’s auntie, she wants to know what it is i could possibly see without a television

 

then the phone rings

and you don’t answer because you didn’t do what you said you would do yet, and you did so many other things

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no payment possible

(debts that cannot be repaid)

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black UnBelievability

“The place of refuge is the place to which you can only owe more, because there is no creditor, no payment possible.”  Debt and Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney

 

i am selling my house back to the bank, but i cannot repay the land i’ve lived on

 

i cannot repay my grandmother’s labor in hospitals and schools

 

the bush tea strangers made to save my grandfather’s life when  he was a child

nearly bleeding to death in the cane fields

 

the teachers who told my mom she was smart and held high expectations for her

 

my teachers waiting while I work it through

 

my mother’s voice telling me I was wonderful before gender in the womb

 

my mother teaching me to dance and cook despite my resistance

 

the many conversations i’ve had with my mother that allowed me to find my voice

 

the experience of watching my father and his siblings dance, reminding me of an unstoppable sense of pride

 

or you for how you don’t understand and you love me anyway

 

and you for how you do understand and don’t mind when i don’t notice

*******

(And) Now it’s time to sign up for July’s class: Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water

July 15-17, 2015  (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This is a webinar intensive for thirsty visionaries who value transnational/intercommunal connections and a planetary scale of transformation.  Transubstantiating the poetry of Audre Lorde, the theoretical work of Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Michelle Wright 
and Katherine McKittrick and the activist legacies of June Jordan and Lydia Gumbs, this webinar is especially necessary for thinkers connecting basic needs to brave visions.

8 spots are available. $150-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

 

From the Abyss: Maroon Studies Poems Inspired by Sylvia Wynter

Yesterday was day 2 of Brilliance Remastered‘s Maroon Studies Intensive #1: Debt and Black Unbelievability.  We let Sylvia Wynter and Gayatri Spivak rock our worlds with their theories of the trickery of global debt and development.  We engaged Sylvia Wynter’s proposition that development is teleological (that the problem of debt is primarily epistemological and only secondarily economic, that we cannot survive on a planet with a project that asks the whole world to emulate the greediest and most wasteful people on the planet aka “the developed”)and what it may have meant for her to present those propositions at a conference of economists trading development strategies for Africa in the 1990s.  We engaged our personal and collective abysses.  We reflected on the primary and secondary and simultaneous aspects of our needs.  We tried to inhabit darkness without reverting to enlightenment.   Here are some poems from our process.

What You Do Not See

41l+vqrif1L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“What you do not see does not exist.”  -Hamidou Kane, Ambigous Adventure (epigraph to Sylvia Wynter’s “Is ‘Development’ a Purely Empirical Concept or also Teleological?: A Perspective from ‘We the Underdeveloped'”)

you do not see

my grandfather’s bleeding feet in the canefields

how my hips know how to stand like my grandmother stood

how my heart remembers my ancestors’ heartbreak

my grandparents’ excitement about their grandchildren who they never met

what surrounds me when I chant and pray in the morning

what got me from the stolen shore back to the sea

what my sister is saying when she calls me and can’t breathe

what my aunt knows when she can’t speak or move

the weight between myself and a student when I tell them I cannot find them more money to attend university

how i could eat plantain every day and not grow weary

the potential living bound up in hear of talking and listening to the one you believe has hurt you the most

how i am healed each time I give and ask for help

all the fingernails I cut off so I could love the shape of my hand

the generous spaces I’ve carved in journal after filled journal to help me through the day

how we look when we don’t see our reflection

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i wish for that opening

“the future citadel…will open its wide windows on the abyss, from which will come great gusts of shadow upon our shriveled bodies, our haggard brows.  With all my soul I wish for this opening.” -Hamidou Kane, Ambiguus Adventure (1963) cited by Wynter

 

i wish for that opening where ancestors come through and have plenty of water to drink while they tell us the stories we need

i wish for that opening where one moment of being seen could fill the grooves of decades of invisibility

i wish for that opening where I can greet my future self and receive her gifts

i wish for that opening where life generating process garners more spotlight than outcome

i wish for that opening where enough is enough already

i wish for that opening where my prayer feels as productive as my work

i wish for that opening where I don’t have to wish

*******************

There is still time to sign up for July’s Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water

Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water: July 15-17, 2015  (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This is a webinar intensive for thirsty visionaries who value transnational/intercommunal connections and a planetary scale of transformation.  Transubstantiating the poetry of Audre Lorde, the theoretical work of Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Michelle Wright 
and Katherine McKittrick and the activist legacies of June Jordan and Lydia Gumbs, this webinar is especially necessary for thinkers connecting basic needs to brave visions.

6 spots remain. $150-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

 

Some Poems About Our Blackness: From Maroon Studies Intensive #1

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Yesterday was the first day of Brilliance Remastered‘s Summer Webinar Series Maroon Studies!!!

Yesterday (oh glorious freedom-redefining day) the participants in Intensive #1: Debt and Black Unbelievability focused on what is at stake in our relationships to blackness write large as the stars and our blackness in particular.  We engaged work on blackness by the geniuses Evie Shockley and Jamaica Kincaid.

We worked through contradiction and expansiveness, we got personal and theoretical and poetic (at the same time) and we created three poems as part of our process of articulating and refracting our thoughts, feelings, impulses and tensions.  Here are our poems!

9780819571403you are

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1 (Debt and Black UnBelievability)

(an ode to our blackness-inspired by Evie Shockley)

 

you are my joy in the morning

and my comfort in the evening

 

you are my open sky on a hard day

and the hard day

 

you are my hope in times of struggle

and the struggle

 

you are my tunnel for freedom

and the freedom

 

you are my bridge over the abyss

and the abyss

 

you are my heartbeat my hips

and my bliss

 

you are my scorching sun

and my shade

 

you are my lie

and my truth

 

you are my mother

and my child

 

you are my connection to my ancestors

and my ancestors

 

you are my dead and lost

and my finding awake

 

you are my sleep without dreams

and the dreams

******************************************************

some folks

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1

(a poem about our blackness—after Evie Shockley)

 

some would say you’re a death sentence

some folks can’t see                      the way you bring me life

 

some would say we are behind

some folks can’t see                         we are on a different plane

 

some would say you’re illegal

some folks can’t see                        justice

 

some would say you are skin and hair

some folks don’t know            you are thick in the air

 

some would say you’re ugly

some folks can’t see                        the swing in your hips

 

some would say you are the opposite of light

some folks can’t manage            a darkness this bright

 

some would say this is all

some folks can’t see                        all is all we need

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Blue Blackness

by the participants in Maroon Studies Intensive #1

(after Jamaica Kincaid’s “Blackness”)

blackness

 

the blackness is not water or food

the blackness is not water or food

it enters the room and sets the mood

 

no other sound except the blackness falling can be heard

no other sound except the blackness falling can be heard

black is the letter the syllable the whole word

 

the blackness cannot bring me joy, but I am often glad in it

the blackness cannot bring me joy, but I am often glad in it

the blackness cannot bring me joy, but I celebrate being made from it

 

i am swallowed up in the blackness so I am one with it

i am swallowed up in the blackness so I am one with it

i am swallowed up in the blackness so that I can create from it

 

though it flows through my veins

though it flows through my veins

blackness is love, making me strange

 

within the blackness then, I have been erased

within the blackness then, I have been erased

through the absence I live in space


At-the-Bottom-of-the-Rivershe

 

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sees my nightmares, my memories, my ancestors and me

 

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sits idly on a shore staring hard at the sea

she sits idly on a shore waiting for Yemaya to appear on waves tumults and beauty

 

she hears the sounds within the sounds common as that is to open spaces

she hears the sounds within the sounds common as that is to open spaces

wondering and dreaming about simultaneous places

 

she hears the sounds within the sounds

she hears the sounds within the sounds

she hugs the heart of the heart deeper within unbound

 

so enamored is she of great beauty and ancestral history

so enamored is she of great beauty and ancestral history

that she forgets her name and sets it free

 

as she stands boldly now one foot in the dark the other in the light

as she stands boldly now one foot in the dark the other in the light

as she stands boldly now ready to transform into a being made of stars and moonlight

*************

And that’s just day 1!!!

If you want to sign up for July’s intensive “Necessary as Water” you can get more information here.

Black blessings,

Sista Docta Lex

 

 

 

Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water (July 2015)


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Maroon Studies Intensive #2: Necessary as Water: 
July 15-17, 2015  (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This is a webinar intensive for thirsty visionaries who value transnational/intercommunal connections and a planetary scale of transformation.  Transubstantiating the poetry of Audre Lorde, the theoretical work of Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Michelle Wright
and Katherine McKittrick and the activist legacies of June Jordan and Lydia Gumbs, this webinar is especially necessary for thinkers connecting basic needs to brave visions.

8 spots are available. $175-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

 

 

Maroon Studies: Summer Intensives (2015)



Nanny_Collage_150rezMaroon Studies: A Brilliance Remastered Summer School Series

Intensive #1: Debt and Black Unbelievability:  June 15-17, 2015 (12pm to 2pm Eastern Time)

This is a webinar intensive for bad credit/bad debt intellectuals committed to unbelievable futures. Engaging ideas of debt, credit and the incredible this webinar draws on texts by Evie Shockley, Fred Moten, Jamaica Kincaid, Sylvia Wynter, Gayatri Spivak and of course our real life experiences of pulling our realities out of thin air.  This is especially necessary for broke and brilliant creatives committed to black life.

This webinar has already happened.  Check out some of the poems we created here:

Some Poems About Our Blackness: 

http://www.alexispauline.com/brillianceremastered/2015/06/16/some-poems-about-our-blackness-from-maroon-studies-intensive-1/

From the Abyss: Poems Inspired by Sylvia Wynter :
 http://www.alexispauline.com/brillianceremastered/2015/06/17/from-the-abyss-maroon-studies-poems-inspired-by-sylvia-wynter/
And Then The Phone Rings/ No Payment Possible:  http://www.alexispauline.com/brillianceremastered/2015/06/18/then-the-phone-rings-no-payment-possible-debt-poems-from-maroon-studies-intensive-1/

*******

Intensive #2: Necessary as Water: July 15-17, 2015  (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This is a webinar intensive for thirsty visionaries who value transnational/intercommunal connections and a planetary scale of transformation.  Transubstantiating the poetry of Audre Lorde, the theoretical work of Jacqui Alexander, Chandra Mohanty, Michelle Wright and Katherine McKittrick and the activist legacies of June Jordan and Lydia Gumbs, this webinar is especially necessary for thinkers connecting basic needs to brave visions.

8 spots are available. $150-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

Intensive #3: Blood, Water and Land August 10-12, 2015 (12pm to 2pm Eastern)

This webinar is for ride or die radicals who live to love the people. Drawing on the legacy of Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, the solidarity journalism of Alexis DeVeaux, the blood ecologies of Jewelle Gomez and Audre Lorde and the salience of spit, saltwater and sangre, we will explore connections, contradictions and discursive possibilities across imperial divisions towards tangible outcomes.

8 spots are available. $150-225 sliding scale (payment plans available).

You can reserve your spot by offering a $50 non-refundable deposit here (please include the name of the webinar in the notes):

It Will Not Always Be This Way: Prophecy Poem or Impermanence After Phillis

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“Frontispiece Remastered” Collage by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Last night after laying our bodies in the street in protest, while advocating and praying for our comrades who had been arrested, while grieving and grieving the loss of black lives, the audacity of state violence, while remembering the police murder of Fred Hampton and honoring the resilience of our beautiful communities, 5 black women gathered in the name of Phillis Wheatley.  230 years ago today Phillis Wheatley/Peters the first Black person to publish a collection of poems in the United States, witness to the American Revolution, acquaintance of a Queen and a President, died free, cold and poor somewhere in Boston.

Our conversation, blessed by the literary and historical expertise of Dr. Tara Bynum, ranged from the possibility of “ordinary” Black life in a context where just being a live and Black is framed as not just extraordinary but abnormal, to speculations of the layered and syncretic spiritual cosmologies present in Wheatley’s work and her correspondence with her friend Obour Tanner, to Morissonian (as in Toni) reflections on the normalcy of evil, to raw honesty about slave-funded academic institutions that continue to enslave black scholars, to just wondering where our friends are and if they are okay.

Inspired by Wheatley’s invocation of the sacred nine in her poetry, we mused a while and generated resources of laughter, love, epic realness, star-knowledge, movement, history, tragedy, song and hymns to share with each other as a reminder that the institutions that harm us are not our only sources of power, we are resources for each other.   Finally we created this poem together out of our outrage at this moment and our faith that our lives and our world can be different.  This is a prophecy poem offering on the date of Phillis Wheatley’s ascension.  May all of our ancestors receive it and join us in transforming life on earth.

Prophecy Poem (impermanence after Phillis)

by the participants in Bright Black Broadcast #3: Phillis Wheatley

 

black bodies disappearing into death, state-sanctioned choke-holds.

it will not always be this way

 

the impossibility of breathing.

it will not always be this way.

 

I listen to my ancestors when they say

it will not always be this way

 

to steady my steps I have to pray

it will not always be this way

 

it cannot always be this way

it will not always be this way

 

it will not always be this way,

i will continue to say

 

it will not always be this way,

as I smile remembering what’s gone is for yesterday

 

liberation is possible – perhaps not today.

it will not always be this way

 

hasten the change, no more lives should pay.

it will not always be this way.

 

y’all must got me f—d up

it will not always be this way

 

you must not know who taught me to pray

it will not always be this way

 

trickster teacher chaos clay

it will not always be this way

 

i’m gonna be here anyway

it will not always be this way

 

it will not always be this way

there is more than one way

 

gather the children and tell them

it will not always be this way

 

remind each other that

it will not always be this way

 

name your babies

it will not always be this way

 

the ancestors promise

it will not always be this way

 

baptize in the name of

it will not always be this way

 

we make joy

because it will not always be this way

 

i was born to love and play

It will not always be this way

 

we will dance into the black light of a brand new day,

it will not always be this way

 

#itwillnotalwaysbethisway

 

If you want your own limited edition print of the “Frontispiece Remastered” collage of Phillis Wheatley you can get on with your next $35 donation to Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind.   Be sure to include “Wheatley Print” and your current address with your donation:  

the vessel: dimensions of freedom (after and with Benjamin Banneker)

Benjamin-Banneker

Last night was the first Brilliance Remastered Bright Black Broadcast and it was miraculous.   Guided by the brilliance of Benjamin Banneker, and some of his enduring texts we engaged the rhetoric of our integrity, the equations of our freedom, the core beliefs that inform our problem solving, the locations of the planets and the trajectories of our own orbits in relationship to creativity, freedom, institutions, work, family and everything else.   At the end of our time together we created our own three part group poem in response to Benjamin Banneker’s “A Mathematical Problem in Verse” a beautiful poem about some drunk people who have plenty of confidence and specificity (take that respectability politics!) as a way of reflecting on the dimensions of our freedom.

the vessel

by the participants in Bright Black Broadcast #1: Benjamin Banneker

(after Benjamin Banneker’s “A Mathematical Problem in Verse”)

 

i. the diametrical proportions of freedom

 

seven answers for every one question

three loves for every one life

one breath for every thousand years

one thousand heartbeats for every one connection

one circle for one change

one thousand stars for every one night sky

 

ii. the depth of freedom

 

deep enough to fill sound

deep enough to dance in technicolor

deep enough to invite the whole family and community in

deep enough to get baptized  in every single day

deep enough to hold our energy

 

iii. freedom capacity

 

it can hold my imperfections

it can hold our pain

it can hold our hands

it can hold our dreams

it can hold the past and the future at the same time

it can hold heart

it can hold space

it can hold light

Bright Black Broadcast #3: Phillis Wheatley

phillis-wheatleyThe Brilliance Remastered Bright Black Broadcast Series is an opportunity for contemporary black intellectuals to glean lessons from black intellectuals during the era of US enslavement.  Anti-blackness and structures of exploitation continue to impact the lives of black intellectuals in the United States.  With guest experts, poetic activities and archival information the intellectuals gathered will support each other in imagining intellectual freedom in our time.

Thursday December 4th at 7pm Eastern Time

Session #3 is dedicated to Phillis Wheatley poet, prodigy and pathmaking intellectual and will occur on the night before the 230th anniversary of her death.   Phillis Wheatley’s brilliance was co-opted and controlled by her “owners” within the context of the institution of slavery and  after she achieved legal freedom (aka without the funding of the slave-owning family that benefited from her brilliance) she died.  The collection of poems she created as a free black woman is lost to posterity.  Honoring Wheatley’s example of shining through the system and taking seriously the difficulties of intellectual practice outside of enslaving institutions this session will be an opportunity for contemporary black intellectuals to imagine the networks of support it takes to live free.

There are 8 spots for this session.  Reserve your spot at eventbrite here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brilliance-remastered-bright-black-broadcast-3-phillis-wheatley-tickets-14080923421

 

Bright Black Broadcast #2: Sojourner Truth

Thursday Nov. 20th at 7pm Eastern Time

Screen shot 2014-10-31 at 8.38.15 PMThe Brilliance Remastered Bright Black Broadcast Series is an opportunity for contemporary black intellectuals to glean lessons from black intellectuals during the era of US enslavement.  Anti-blackness and structures of exploitation continue to impact the lives of black intellectuals in the United States.  With guest experts, poetic activities and archival information the intellectuals gathered will support each other in imagining intellectual freedom in our time.

 

Broadcast #2 is dedicated to Sojourner Truth arguably the first black public intellectual in the United States.  We will look at Truth’s practices as an itinerant intellectual, an artist and a thinker actively working to end slavery and live free as an inspiration and a guide for how contemporary intellectuals can navigate speaking out, survival, sustenance and (not) being for sale in an information economy.

 

Bright Black Broadcast #1: Benjamin Banneker

BannekerThe Brilliance Remastered Bright Black Broadcast Series is an opportunity for contemporary black intellectuals to glean lessons from black intellectuals during the era of US enslavement.  Anti-blackness and structures of exploitation continue to impact the lives of black intellectuals in the United States.  With guest experts, poetic activities and archival information the intellectuals gathered will support each other in imagining intellectual freedom in our time.

Broadcast #1 is in honor of Benjamin Banneker and occurs the week of his birthday.  Looking Banneker’s mathematical, poetic and astronomical work as an oracle for freedom now, this broadcast will invite participants to map the stars differently and claim the power of a bright black universe.

There are 8 spots for live participation.  You can participate in one session or the whole series. Reserve your spot for session #1 on eventbrite here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brilliance-remastered-bright-black-broadcast-1-benjamin-banneker-tickets-14080634557