Not in Portland? Keep an eye out here and on my social media pages for a LIVESTREAM link!
Thinking today about the messages sent to black bodies in America.
Don't miss this special episode of the powerful poetry podcast, ALL UP IN YOUR EARS, in memory of and to benefit the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
You can hear an sound version of my poem, "A Small Matter of Engineering," closing out the episode along with beautiful and breathtaking poems from thirty LGBTQ poets. See the full list, timestamped so you can find your favorite poem/poet for a re-listen anytime, below.
Thanks to francine j. harris, Kaveh Akbar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, and Jonathan Farmer for putting together this important episode. I am proud and honored to be a part of it. Follow to ALL UP IN YOUR EARS on Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes for more great podcasts!
SPECIAL EPISODE: A Celebration of Queer Voices, featuring guest contributions from Reginald Harris (2:56), Ari Banias (4:10), Jericho Brown (5:38), Fatimah Asghar (7:30), Kazim Ali (9:33), Roberto Montes (10:32), Maureen Seaton (13:41), C. Dale Young (14:54), Ife-Chudeni Oputa (17:54), Danez Smith (18:47), Jayme Ringleb (19:58), Casey Rocheteau (23:11), Michael Klein (27:57), Cam Awkward-Rich (30:41), Natalie Diaz (32:23), Alex Dimitrov (34:33), Hannah Ensor (37:35), Eduardo C. Corral (38:28), Adam Fitzgerald (39:13), Crystal Boson (40:55), Tommye Blount (41:35), Carl Phillips (43:35), Oliver Bendorf (44:41), Gala Mukomolova (46:55), Jameson Fitzpatrick (48:32), Franny Choi (51:15), Lillian-Yvonne Bertram (52:56), Derrick Austin (57:40), Aricka Foreman (59:15), Richie Hofmann (1:01:30), Shira Erlichman (1:02:19), Duriel E. Harris (1:03:56), sam sax (1:07:48), Arisa White (1:09:31), Samiya Bashir (1:10:55). Visit www.AllUpInYourEars.com to find more info on our contributors and a link to donate to the Pulse Victim’s Fund (gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund).
So I was at the Literary Arts office today talking to Jennifer Gurney, Program Manager for the Delve Readers Seminars, when I realized that the lovely poet Cindy Williams-Gutierrez' write-up of our January seminar on Claudia Rankine was posted. It's pretty sweet, and offers a bit of an unofficial syllabi for the seminar. Check it out! Here's an excerpt:
Under the guiding hand of Samiya Bashir, we arrived at each session with a question, we began each session with a free-write in response to a quote from the text, and we participated in open dialogue in a space made safe by Samiya’s respect and gratitude for each participant’s contributions. Silence—patiently holding the space open—proved to be as important as offering prompts, posing questions, and revealing layers of meaning.
The relevance of this seminar was unparalleled. In a time marked by discussions of reparations for slavery, protests for Black Lives Matter, and an election smeared by the bigotry of GOP candidates, the profound dialogue that occurred on six wintry Monday evenings at Literary Arts felt like a conversation of national import. We were offered the rare opportunity to come to this conversation in the true Socratic sense of discovering, unraveling, deepening our own thoughts by approaching Rankine’s work ready to be changed: “…what alerts, alters” (p. 57, paraphrasing Myung Mi Kim).
I am grateful for the outstanding group of women who came together for six weeks of wrestling with the difficult questions of race and culture, especially in the midst of our current dangerous season on those issues. It was a beautiful group and a beautiful period.
So this summer was my first teaching at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Thanks again to Anne Waldman who brought me in for a truly magical week. Thanks to the crew of women and genderqueer folks who signed up to study with me. What beautiful bravery during such a difficult week. We mourned for those lost in Orlando. We mourned for the deep loss our culture sustains and allows to continue. We dug deep made work to metabolize that loss, to alchemize that loss into something more golden, some sort of light.
One week. 97 degrees nearly every day. Out in the sunshine. Poeming. Considering Indra's Net. Considering the Hive Mind. Considering our bodies in this world. What a gift. What hard work. What a beautiful thing to build.
Click through to see images of my students and their work, as well as me reading or something :)
On day one at Naropa I participated in the Opening Panel where we each presented work toward a conversation about the convening question. This year the Summer Writing Program theme is "Indra's Net" and the idea for the first week was "Hive Mind."
From the week's description:
From the vernaculars of social media to the transformative possibilities of artistic exchange, we’ll explore density, migration, diversity within collectivities, and networks of connections. Where do we find our imaginational selves amid all the swarming discourses? The life of the mind is distraction, is speed, the rhizome is our form of feeling now, but we also feel the curse of our “media selves,” mediated along and through the networks of capital. How do we work with these materials, their particular densities, and the situations out of which they emerge? And the call to be a “citizen” therein?
Yet to swarm also means to leave the home and form a new body. We know nearly all these movements, migrations, and displacements are not undertaken in liberty, but rather are forced by war, by famine, and economic immiseration, and by political repression; in 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reckoned more than forty-six million people––the internally displaced, the stateless, refugees, and other asylum seekers––under its concern, and this year has only seen this swarming of human persons intensify. Refusing absolutely the reactionary discourses that further insist on false borders, and the identities that they reify, how can we build a sufficient welcome through writing? How can writing lead us to that new body?
We’ll yet ask the original questions: where are your dreams, and where do you live in your poetry, as we write towards what Will Alexander has called “the life of euphoric solar trees.”
So, me? I made a mixtape. You can s/hear it here.
I'm just trawling around Portland investigating space for a secret poetry installation project.
Wanna know what it is? Stay tuned... ;-)
Move along... nothing to see here. Or is there?
I am deeply grateful for the sister artists who came out for the sharing and feedback session of M A P S :: a cartography in progress. The beautiful setting, their generous attention, and helpful feedback and connections were a highlight of a wonderful visit.
Grateful thanks to Impact Hub, the Omi Gallery, and organizer Ashara Ekundayo for inviting me down to offer the first of this season's Sweetwater Sessions. What love.
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Writer’s Center is showcasing the work of Poet Lore contributors. Their final installment includes a brief Q&A with author Samiya Bashir about “John Henry’s First Real Swing—” from her sonnet sequence entitled "Coronagraphy" (Poet Lore 107 3/4).
Stuck: something here about black folks—all of us no matter our gender, our shade, our size—finding ourselves together-and-apart in a cycle of oppression that fits us all a bit differently. Throughout these poems, John Henry and Polly Ann find themselves in quicksand of like origin. Their experience is unique to each of them, but both are being pulled under.
Notice: an aberrant incandescence wobble back and forth between and within them. Polly Ann is the tougher of the two in many ways no matter that John Henry is physically stronger. Both show off sharp foresight.
Wonder: can/will any foresight save them/us? Polly Ann opens the final sonnet with what might be read as echo, reformed and differently born: “I can tell our futures too. Listen here — ” She might/may/must be read as something entirely else too.
Feel: all of that difference. John Henry’s perspective is overpowering and close-up, hot and large compared to Polly Ann’s. He is legend, as you note, and she is footnote.
But: and here the form itself serves as coronagraph progressively eclipsing the direct light of legend, blinding as that can be, so we may see all that stands alongside.
Balance: must necessarily shift for us to see and embody. Beside the glare of “tall tale,” real lives are at stake. Polly Ann’s life is real. Her concerns are real—pedestrian-seeming even—but that’s life.
“Lift and drop. Lift and drop. Lift and — ” one finds fewer songs written about the moments after the dash. That’s what we celebrate, too. When resolved into chore, into overcoming; when focused into the longtime scale of life after loss (after loss) we more clearly see so much of what we fight to protect, of what and how we survive, of what we work to change in order to better fit our bodies and our spirits.
Our common world.
Its unrelenting horror.
Somehow, all around us, trees
blossom, fruit, and green.
A silent plea--
I keep confusing March with May.
I'm clearly ready for the cold to give way for the clouds to give way for sun.
My yard trees have tinytiny leaves now.
My skin remains tropical, even after all these centuries.
Come on air, join me.
No big deal, I just thought you should know that.
Also: It was raining.
Also: It was sunny.
Also: my day started in a fight with the state and ended in a birthday song for a friend.
Also: that's a lie, my day isn't over yet. I'm ending it with a book.
Now you know.
New videos posted for the almost-spring! Go on 'head to the Watch Me Work page to see them all. Here's a little taste:
To find out more about #BlackPoetsSpeakOut, check out the fantastic roundup of a selection of videos (it just keeps growing, so follow the hashtag and the Tumblr to stay up to date) done by Cultural Front: A notebook on literary art, digital humanities, and emerging ideas.
So this weekend I attended Line Up! an evening of kick-ass international performance, sound, and video art. My peeps brought groundbreaking black art right on down to my SE Portland neighborhood. Thanks lovelies! What'd I catch?
London-based dancer/choreographer Zinzi Minott was in town and brought me to my feet with a performance of urgency that left British police tape pouring from her body and slithering from the stage. Sharita Towne came through with the debut of video piece that left us all sitting in awe and contemplation of the raw psycho-sexual race fetish that we'd just experienced. The evening opened with a deep throated, experimental sound piece by Amenta Abioto and closed with Dead Thoroughbred--sidony o'neal & keyon gaskin--a peri-conceptual, dis-experimental, a-nihilist, post-ratchet, deceptive non-band band.
After the show I was chatting and shit-shooting with the other assorted artists and spectators as one does and who do I come across? Portland's own sharpshooting photo and video artist Sika Stanton that's who! And she brought gifts including these images from last year's GLOVES OFF: on Black contemporary/experimental/abstract arts and audiences, September 12, 2015. Conceived by Portland artists Sharita Towne and keyon gaskin, in collaboration with BCC: BrownHall (Black Creative Collective), GLOVES OFF took the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA)'s world renown TBA Festival on a black led, black centered conversation on Black contemporary, experimental, and abstract arts and audiences.
What did we do? Well, we set the room a'spin and it's too bad if you missed it. But you can take a peek at what Sika captured and imagine. No no no no... imagine harder:
These dudes made a pretty sweet one. Although I'm thinking a bit more robot, a little more swank, and a lot less videocapture. I prefer to travel in smooth, sweet peace.
I Need A Magic Carpet!
Might a magic carpet count as a robot? Might the worlds robotics experts find their way toward the making of magic carpets?
How about just one for me? I want one.
I don't mean this sexually. Although now that I think about it...
Still: Today in transportation needs I'm going to ask for my name to be listed next to Magic Carpet. Sounds like a better ride than Uber/Lyft/Bus... any old day to me.
“Hello fellow human being in a sea of egos!”
Hey! Two new videos in two days, I must have finally finished vacuuming!
Check out this beautiful night at Casa Libre en la Solana, in Tucson, Arizona, when I read some poems from my forthcoming book, Field Theories, invited Aishah Sabatini Sloan to join me in conversation with her beautiful essay "One American Goes to See '30 Americans,'" based on her experience at the "30 Americans" exhibit at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Aishah also co-read Samiya's poem "Universe as infant: fatter than expected, and kind of lumpy."
“…this is how I feel when I hear Samiya read and perform her work," said Kristen Nelson with such beauty and kindness. "It’s like something has been shut off and she reopens a new sense into the world.”
Like it? Watch it again any time @ WHAT TO SEE. And why not go ahead and like it at Vimeo or YouTube, and while you're at it go ahead and share it. The world isn't hurting from too much poetry, I figure.
A few things I've recently heard that stuck:
- “This is the story of how I began again,” Jennifer Casale
- “Sometimes impossible situations take a little longer,” I don’t remember who said this. Do you?
- “What we love others will love and we will show them how,” William Wordsworth
- “The thing about the monarchy is the waste of a tightly bound narrative. It's redundant. Lack of genetic input keeps the story so so old, again: murder. Again: greed. Again: the exception to prove the rule.” –I dunno this one might have been me.
- "Chant pray wail moan protest repeat," JP Howard
- “The night has a thousand eyes,” Eleanor Roosevelt
- "You had to be in the howl of it to taste it," Rickey delaurentiis
- "But...we're NOT shocked, really. We knew what was gonna happen. [But we are considered unreliable witnesses]," Bettina Judd
- "You might witness but you didn't tell or you were a snitch, you may have seen but you didn't see," Tai Freedom Ford
- "I consider 'human' to be a very violent word: it never considered us. We were a surprise to the word human," Phillip Williams
- “How Can you tell if your spirit is high or low? Do you ask somebody?” Kenan Banks
Past lists are worth keeping I figure. There is always much to which I'd like to return.
Yeah. Hearing poems is a good thing. GO FORTH THEN! And check out my a newly posted reading I gave last fall in Seattle, Washington. Introduced by Jane Wong and Josh Fomon who said, "This is the kind of writing that grabs my attention and engages me to experience language in new, wonderful ways." Check it out here, as well as on my WHAT TO SEE page.
Like it? Go ahead and click through to YouTube and like the damned thing then! And feel free to share it. They're poems. Poems are good.