“She delves into the language itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And she addresses us with the luster of poetry.”
Those words are from the Nobel Committee that awarded Ms. Morrison her Nobel Prize in Literature on this day in 1993.
Her acceptance speech spoke of ‘spreading like algae because this prize is being distributed to various regions and nations and races.’ Morrison shared this win with women, the mid west, the east coast and African Americans. She is one of the reasons I am in love with pen to pad. Why I love words to dreams. Why I am courageous enough to speak my vernacular.
People do speak highly of my art. And I have been used in some really nice analogies during introductions to stages. And for that, I am thankful for Toni Morrison.
She stood by the bedside of Jordan. A lotus. Feet grown from delta mud. She was creation. Exploded from chaos. A holistic believer.
Ruleville, Mississippi. Crooked state. Chosen land. Eternal cost. Chosen woman. Creased face. Her memory wavers like an untuned church organ.
If you see her. Tell her you remember. Her protected skin that matched night. Unafraid. Sleep patterned to that of bats. Called upon. Like Nut and Shu. To uphold the heavens. Keep young mouths breathing. When tempted to swallow swollen faith. She followed the dust and escaped through the vents.
I’m almost at the finish line. For my first semester in my PhD program that is! (haha) This process is a bit different from my recent MA program. Here I have an assistantship and I don’t have to work full-time. For anyone considering this journey… GET FUNDING FOR YOUR PH.D!!! All of the study habits I garnered for research papers and my thesis I can apply now in an uninterrupted manner. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is better than that.
My plans for this degree are… my own. I’m not a traditional student, meaning I am coming into this after years of being in the business, traveling, performing and speaking. I am not worried or stressed about what to do afterwards. I will keep my options opens but what is non-negotiable is my happiness. I see and I’ve heard what happens to black women in the “ivory tower” and all I can say is… Nikki has options that she will continue to stay in positive and creative graces with.
As I close out this semester, I am getting closer to identifying my key terms and the broader concepts of my research. Virtual learning has been an interesting struggle and working in theatre remotely is strange as all out. But here is to the future Dr. Nikki in Theatre and Performance Studies! First semester is in the BOOKS!
Rejection is a language in itself. Initially it speaks hurt and devastation. Eventually it presents doubt and causes one to stop the process or the detour the journey they are on. Every artist is told something to the tune of, “rejection is a part of the game.” But there are no courses or free therapy sessions to instruct you what do to with the emotions, fear of trying and trauma that tag along with repeated rejection.
What I am witness to now is that the repeated process will produce. Like the watering of a plant, it is done with intent. You touch the soil to check for dampness, to determine how much water is needed for that day. You trim the dead edges of the leaves, you turn the plant to face the sun and eventually the plant grows to it’s potential. While it is done consciously, it is for the plant to stay alive not necessarily to grow. This is the same with artists. The acts of our creativity keep us alive and with that continued process of creating, our art grows.
If I could talk to my 25 year old self, I would tell her to define all of the rejection she will experience in auditions and writing queries on her own terms. I would tell her that it does not mean to perfect the “plan B”, it simply means that was not the right job. Something better suited is coming down the pike through the continued process. I would tell her that what is hers will come specifically designed with her name on it.
So, this message is for me. I am definitely coming full circle with my dreams. I recently enrolled in an acting class to warm my technique back up. I am speaking into existence my return to the theatrical stage and I am beginning my process now.
I am a planner. I organize everything to a fault and sometimes plan the fun out of things 😦 When I move with intention and purpose, I allow myself to live in the moment. Not planning for the next hour, but appreciating where I am at that moment. It’s beautiful when I’m mindful of it. I hope to encourage someone today.
Many people will read this and immediately begin to think from a religious perspective and ignore the transformation that can be experienced from this mantra.
The politics of religion is about mind and crowd control, not freedom or spiritual growth. And perhaps this is where the frustration begins. Instead of viewing the glass as half empty people will view it as constantly starting over.
Those hard times are where you are burning to rise. Where you should allow yourself to come undone. Only to give birth to yourself again. Think differently… think spiritually.
One of the roles of the artist is to re-create life’s perception within a societal context. Some say the conditions of the moment define the creation of art through political, cultural and religious/philosophical terms. With that, there will always be an audience for our voices, so why do we torture ourselves with endless edits and insecurities of not being artistically accepted?
So many of us sit surrounded by genius pieces of art inspired by our immediate communities. Award winning poems and best selling novels. We have garage spaces and storage units full of paintings and sculptures that depict an opulence of emotions. And the fear of our vulnerability being labeled as weak disables us from sharing. And the masses of our culture in the states does not support our profession so we get a “regular job”. And turn our passion into a past time or extra way to make money.
Everyday of the week. In every situation in life. The individual in the position to persuade or that perceived the story will always have an audience that understands and supports them. As artists, we have to identify when in our lives we began to believe no one would appreciate our art and stop this. Because no matter what the discourse is from the expression, it will be perceived by someone that understands and folds our endless nights.