Here we go again...

I've just been welcomed back to Muslim name = pointless travel drama. Again. Security made me go through the long line, though I was cleared for the short line. Security held me after the scanner for 30 minutes. My bag. For NOTHING. Unpacked everything and ran it separately. While being assholes - no real reason except their reason. Knowing my flight was going to leave. Then, knowing, slowly putting everything BEHIND everyone else's bags, waiting for more bags to go behind. Then made my stuff, unpacked, sit there. I couldn't take it even though it had cleared. At the final surly reply that I was free to go, I ran. Got to the gate at 7m before take off. Woman didn't want to let me on because it closes at 6m before take off. She got angry (at me) when I told her about what's just happened with security. Thank GOD a black woman came out and said she'd take me back because it WASN'T officially closed yet, despite the angry white gate woman's protestations. Thank goodness for this sister.


Please goodness let us have each other's backs through this madness.


For real. 🙌🏾



Thinking of the Water Protectors

Tell me you can watch this video and not feel it in your whole body. Tell me this family love between people, earth, animals doesn't unclick every true thing you know beneath this cloak of western culture we wear. Tell me--someone tell me--how those armed and militarized men and women old and young can stand there and not know they're wrong. Can know they're wrong and keep on standing there, armed and violent, anyway. Tell me how this history repeats and repeats and repeats and we are supposed to move through our days, especially as educators, pretending this is not real. Not happening. Not the regurgitated reflux of centuries old manifest destiny genocidal blasphemy. Tell me how you don't see that when they kill the water, they kill all of us. They even kill themselves. Tell me how many killings it takes for this to stop. Is it yours? Theirs? Tell me you'll watch video after video of the murder of black men women and children but you won't watch this. Tell me the people can stand and speak and cheer and cry, the wild buffalo themselves can make a stand, the earth itself can send emissary after emissary and you can still remain unmoved. Tell me these things, friend, and I will kneel on this beautiful dirt and pray for all of us.


Today in: studying creative writing with Samiya

For my Somatic Writing: Memoir class, I took my students to be with the Belmont Goats. Together with them we wrote, we petted, we followed and were followed, we were supremely in our bodies, we interacted with the bodies and horns and teeth of our new friends. Also: we met a chicken. 

I can't wait to see next week what they've done with what they wrote today! Very exciting. (Insert goat scream!)

 "I felt most safe when..." 

"I felt most safe when..." 

 "I felt most seen when..." 

"I felt most seen when..." 

 Writing through memory and desire...with goats!

Writing through memory and desire...with goats!

 Letting ourselves be cuddled. Be friended. Be vulnerable in the outdoors. Be chewed upon. 

Letting ourselves be cuddled. Be friended. Be vulnerable in the outdoors. Be chewed upon. 


In Conversation: Blackness as Field

Poet Claudia Rankine beautifully encapsulates Field Theories cover artist Toyin Ojih Odutola's work in a new article for Aperture, "A New Grammar for Blackness":

Blackness, for her, is not only her subject; it is also her question. The space of blackness is itself the subject of her portraits. Historically, in a narrow read, blackness becomes unilaterally a signifier of race. But in Odutola’s work, race is there or it is not there, but its presence is never without our perceptions and projections. Blackness on the level of the line simply fills the terrain of the body with blackness.
 Toyin Ojih Odutola, Above all else make it look effortless, 2012. Pen ink, marker, and varnish on paper. © the artist and courtesy  Jack Shainman Gallery , New York

Toyin Ojih Odutola, Above all else make it look effortless, 2012. Pen ink, marker, and varnish on paper. © the artist and courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Odutola’s portraits explore how to desegregate blackness from a fixed racial position and open it out to all the mythology, missteps, racism, beauty, and life that is held by the term, while still landing it within the free space of bodies. She engages blackness as a field of tonality. [emphasis mine]

Read the rest of Rankine's Aperture article here.

See Odutola's cover image for Field Theories, plus find out more about the project, here.

:: COMING SPRING 2017 ::

Samiya Bashir      |        FIELD THEORIES      |       Nightboat Books

These poems span lyric, narrative, dramatic, and multi-media experience, engaging their containers while pushing against their constraints

Field Theories wends its way through quantum mechanics, chicken wings and Newports, love and a shoulder’s chill, melding blackbody theory (idealized perfect absorption, as opposed to the whitebody’s idealized reflection) with real live Black bodies. 

“These poems resonate as code rising from caverns of the unexpected. When listening to their seeming irregularity one thinks of Dolphy's work where seeming fracture exists as portal to luminosity.” –Will Alexander

Albert Murray said, “the second law of thermodynamics ain’t nothing but the blues.” So what is the blue of how we treat each other, ourselves, of what this world does to us, of what we do to this shared world? Woven through experimental lyrics is a heroic crown of sonnets that wonders about love and intent, identity and hybridity, and how we embody these interstices and for what reasons and to what ends.

“To read Samiya Bashir’s poetry is to be pulled up by a force so intense and magnetic as to constitute a new field of action: dark matter and radiation, witness and redaction, and the pendulum of time and history, swinging, swinging. I am reminded of Melvin Tolson’s description of the night on which that legendary steel-driver John Henry was born: 'an ax of lightning split the sky.' This book splits the sky right open, swinging like a melody, swinging like a boxer, swinging on each elemental and freighted word to beat the devil.” –D.A. Powell

cover image: Lonely Chamber (T.O.), 2011, Toyin Ojih Odutola

"I melt dead air."

Samiya Bashir's FIELD THEORIES areola's PICA's Time Based Art Festival.

Portland, Ore. 16.9.16 :: Beneath the fractured light of a harvest moon eclipse, black|bodies descend into PICA's Time Based Art Festival and radiate poetry/light.

The poem: "Paleontology" from Field Theories (Nightboat Books, 2017) -- read it online at The Offing.

The film:  FIELD THEORIES -one-

movement by keyon gaskin + filmed with Roland Dahwen Wu & Patua Films || Field Theories wends its way through quantum mechanics to chicken wings and Newports, love and a shoulder's chill, melding blackbody theory (idealized perfect absorption, as opposed to the whitebody's idealized reflection) with real live Black bodies.

The Co-Conspirators:  I'm grateful for everyone who helped with the descent:  Natalie Figueroa + Sidony O'Neal + Sharita Townsend + Derrais Carter + Keyon Gaskin + Intisar Abioto + Sika Stanton + Victor Cazares + Sameer Khan

Watch out for a new film each month through March 2017 -- descending into a city near you. ;-)

PODCAST: Five Local Writers on Place, Poetry, and Old Portland

What a great time doing this podcast with Anis Mojgani, Elyse Fenton, and the whole crew. Check it out below, download the whole conversation or hear it on SoundCloud!

 Portland Monthly Magazine: Fiction writers  Margaret Malone  and  David Shafer  are joined by poets Samiya Bashir,  Anis Mojgani , and  Elyse Fenton  to read their work and talk about Portland as inspiration.

Portland Monthly Magazine: Fiction writers Margaret Malone and David Shafer are joined by poets Samiya Bashir, Anis Mojgani, and Elyse Fenton to read their work and talk about Portland as inspiration.

This summer, we gave three of Portland’s top writers—Margaret Malone, PEN/Hemingway finalist for her short story collection People Like You; David Shafer, author of 2014’s techno-thriller Whiskey Tango Foxtrot; and Diana Abu-Jaber, author most recently of the memoir Life Without a Recipe—a challenge: write a short story set in the Pacific Northwest, to the prompt “That summer...” 

Here, Malone and Shafer read the stories that resulted—“The Buried Forest” and “Night Air,” respectively—and talk about place as inspiration, writing from the opposite gender, and ’90s-era Portland. Then, we hear from poets Samiya Bashir, Anis Mojgani, and Elyse Fenton, who drew inspiration from all over, from the Vaux’s swifts at Chapman Elementary School to a bear in a tree in Northeast Portland. 

Download the Long Play on iTunes.

Audio production by Samala Coffey

Oh, goody.

Sometimes you can't sleep until you get something out of your body. Seeing this, promoted so lovingly across social media, left me in just that space. So in honor and service of my body (my black woman's body which is so regularly taught by commission and omission to be undeserving of honor and service), I must let this out of it. And then let it rest.

Eddie Murphy (yes he's a problematic human...let's not pretend there is a dearth of those) has of late shown moving talent as a dramatic actor. The idea of "this will revive his career" (as some studio promotion language suggests) is problematic for many reasons but let's just go with one: why should this kind of story be what does it? How many generations of black actors must go through this?

I see this and can't help but think -- would it KILL the industry to cast the family as black too? Just ONCE?! (Without it having to be a "black movie" (code for strange or foreign, also code for "only (of interest : relevance to) black") rather than a "family movie" (code for white, "normal," "universal" etc.) or...whatever.) Then maybe the idea of a story about "finding family where one least expects it" might have some semblance of teeth and a fresh, new (to big screens) perspective rather than the same old "mysterious & magical negro" storyline.

And why does this black man have no family? No community at all? In 19wheneverbeforetheinternet? Really? Black folks are just islands waiting to be saved by saving and serving white folks and getting out of it their ... Gratitude?

It's not even that the story itself (which might have been written without race, and then "gifted" Murphy with casting and reimagining of the role, I don't know) is not moving or tear jerking. It's the tiresome repetition of it. Sure, it's nice that this is an honorable black man. But what we must do to be considered honorable...when is it too much? And how outrageously honorable must we be to be "acceptable"? "Loved"? "Identified with"? "Marketable"? (haha)To tell our stories and have them writ large across the culture? 

And when do suffering black mothers and their smart, tortured daughters get imagined with some savior who comes with unreciprocated love, affection, financial support, etc. just because they're human and nice and beautiful and deserve it. When do we get imagined at all, for what it's worth? When do women stop needing to be savedthankgod by some random dude anyway? Vulnerability is real, saviorism is not our only response. In fact, it's barely a realistic response.

It just get me...tired...sometimes. There is so much creativity all around us, but the absolute insistence (there's something very "all lives matter" about this to me) on retreading these "feel good" Driving Miss Daisy storylines when there is so much more to work with in this big, vibrant, culturally rich society that is only one of many all over the world can be very dispiriting.

I know there are better, realer, and even (imagine it!)  non-white-centered stories all around us that can make, sustain, elevate out of orbit the careers of writers, actors, filmmakers, audiences, little girls, little boys, grown folks and people everywhere of every everything. I've seen them. I'm related to them. They're my family. They're my neighbors. They're camping out by this river because they're homeless. They're camping out by that river because they enjoy a night out of the city under the stars. They're everywhere. They're just the tip of the iceberg.

And once again they're erased. And this same same story get drilled in so we'll stay erased. Better yet -- when do we accept that it's being drilled in so that we'll all remember our place. When do we say stop? Say: No. Say: Look around. We haven't even begun to tell the story of who we are.

It's. About. To go. Down.

Get ready.

 The House of Redbone -- with Samiya Bashir, Sharon Bridgforth, G. Winston James, and Ana Maurine Lara PLUS founder and publisher Lisa C. Moore. Still bringin' it after all these years... 

The House of Redbone -- with Samiya Bashir, Sharon Bridgforth, G. Winston James, and Ana Maurine Lara PLUS founder and publisher Lisa C. Moore. Still bringin' it after all these years... 

Yeah, so among the like waymany things that went down in the last week or so is this: apparently I'm gonna be on three different amazing ass panels/readings at ‪#‎AWP17‬ this year. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs featured this badass one today.

What else am I doing? A GAWDAM STUNNER with Rosamond KingDuriel Estelle HarrisErica Hunt, and Latasha Diggs called "Beyond the Spoken Word: Black Poets in and on Performance" (omgyes).

PLUS "Writing the Dual Self: Opening Spaces for Hybrid Identities" with Phil MetresTomas Q. Morin, Thrity Umrigar, and Mike Croley.

Oh yeah, and I'll also have a new book coming out. Sweet. Plus it's in Chocolate City so...somebody buy me a drink or something? Let's hug. This is gonna be good.

|  a poem  |

forthcoming in ink-on-tree


by Samiya Bashir

Nightboat Books

Spring 2016


Howdy! I hope to see you all tonight at Valentines for Pure Surface! 

Still, I know that you're not all in Portland so worry not! 

I've chosen to LIVESTREAM tonight's show -- a composition of sound, image, poetry, and borrowed language with Me, Julie Perini, Rosana Ybarra, Emma Goldman, Fannie Lou Hamer, and various Talking Heads from the 2016 Democratic National Convention -- via PERISCOPE! 

Don't miss the broadcast! sign on to Periscope and follow me @scryptkeeper -- the show starts LIVE at 7pm PDT / 10pm EDT.

 See you there! @scryptkeeper

See you there! @scryptkeeper