Category Archives: mississippi

a Prose for Fannie Lou Hamer’s

fannielouhamer2

 

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.

Continue reading a Prose for Fannie Lou Hamer’s

The Making of Mississippi Window Cracks

(the prologue to Mississippi Window Cracks written in 2006)

A few years ago I decided that after all the books and movies I had read and seen related to the civil rights struggles and the state called Mississippi, it was time to take a visit.  I arranged to spend a few days in Jackson, Mississippi, with a colleague of mine so I could walk the land that enveloped the energy of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Margaret Walker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Emmett Till and the streets of the infamous “Freedom Summers”.  My time there was filled with meeting civil rights heroes that are still alive, pouring libation on slave plantations, visiting museums and other historic sites, relaxing on the porch fanning flies until the sunset, and of course the southern cuisine.

One morning, my friend declared she knew the best place in town for a good bowl of grits.  Upon arriving at the cozy, corner diner downtown, she turned the car off and told me to put a crack in the window.  I told her that living in Los Angeles, people really didn’t do that but I remember it from growing up in Kansas City, Mo. Effortlessly, she rolled a crack in the driver’s side window.  I followed hastily already tasting the buttery grits in my mouth.  She turned and looked at me then spoke with hesitance in her voice.

“What’s that?”, she asked.

“What’s what?”

“I thought you were going to put a crack in the window.”

“I did.”

“That’s a crack?,” she asked sarcastically.

Now feeling totally self conscious I affirmed, “Yeah, this is the kind of window crack I used to do in the summertime in Kansas City.”

“Well this ain’t Missouri, this is Mississippi!  You better put a bigger crack in that window as hott as it is out here!”

I gave the handle on the window a few more turns to open it up.

She encouraged me, “A little more.”

I carefully cranked it until I gained her nod of approval, “Like this?”

“Yeah!  Now that there is a Mississippi window crack!”

The funny part about this story is how serious it got!  It was almost a borderline argument.  But as we walked in the diner, we laughed and joked how that would be a good title for a poem and who was going to write it first.  Well, here is my book of short stories that chronicle the tales fed to me through the trees, music, and people I met during my time spend in Jackson.  Instead of vacationing in the Bahamas or Paris, take a visit down in the deep south to a part of history, your history, our history.  You ever heard the saying, “There’s the United States and then there’s Mississippi?”  It’s the truth!  Go feel it for yourself!

with love,

nikki skies

PS – The grits were delicious!

Mississippi Window Crack

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Book reading/signing! Meet Me There!

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When We Arrived presents: Educator/Poet Jolivette Anderson-Douoning

 

It’s not one story I can share because it is comprised of many directions.  Our story is a path of stones.  Some strategically placed and others tossed aside, not abandoned but hopefully forgotten amid the seasons’ change.  This is more than a friendship… this is a sisterhood relationship.  From “ridin” up on boyfriends (I’m not giving details but we could’ve been arrested!), to our mutual love for the antiquity of Africa, to calling each other to listen to new poems, to stories on love and love lost and rearing children.

We are time travelers.  She carries fire (Leo).  I hold the water (Cancer).  Her energy is bold and forthcoming and she gives it to you whether you want it or not.  My energy is quiet yet inquisitive and I’m going to make you work for it.  Despite her boldness, she’s really soft on the outside and only gets tough when pushed against the wall.  Despite me being quiet, I’m hard on the outside but once I let you in I’m all heart.  You see, this is more than a friendship.  And even though we pass no judgment on the other, we don’t allow slip passes either!  She makes me sleep in the bed I make and I make her eat the pie she bought.  We hold each other accountable and responsible.  This is a divine arrangement.  Jolivette and I, are on purpose.  My sister that time travels with me through this art thing we love and serve.

She is Shreveport and home gardens /with okra and dandelions
and southern charm and red dirt
with education first and self second
church all day Sunday /yes ma’am yes sir…

JOLIVETTE ANDERSON-DOUONING

jolibiopic

What question do you have for poetry? 

Poetry, how is it that you seduce me and save me within the same moment leaving me with no room to move.  Why are you so demanding?

What is the responsibility of a poet for literature?

The poet uses words to create an intellectual rhythm that can stimulate the brain to direct the body to move towards an action, towards solutions to problems, or towards joy and healing.  The poet is ALWAYS responsible to the humanity of the individual and the group.

The poet must write and speak their poetry.  The words on the page must be displayed in a way that allows the reader to find the rhythm, feel the mood, hear the tone and interpret the intent of the poet.

BIO

Jolivette Anderson-Douoning is an Interdisciplinary scholar whose research is grounded in the Humanities and Applied Professions disciplines. 
Also known as Jolivette Anderson ‘the poet warrior’, she is a Race and Culture Educator who uses “Third Space Theory” to develop teaching and learning experiences that facilitate greater understandings of Black cultural existence and experience in the United States.
She is a Phd student and research assistant in American Studies / Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University. Her current research examines the purpose and relevancy of Black Cultural Centers between 1965 to 1995 and interrogates the future of BCC in a post – Obama United States of America.
She has four recordings of poetry and prose: Love and Revolution UndergroundAt the End of a Rope in MississippiJolivette Live: A Bluesy Funk Life Cycle, and She Energy.
For bookings and additional information thepoetwarrior@icloud.com or DrJolly2015@gmail.com 

and then there is you to re-member

I imagine their parents already knew.  Perhaps laid their best suit on their beds preparing for the funeral services.  They had been missing June 21st and today was August 4th when they received the official news.  But I have to imagine their parents knew their spirits had already flown.

There are the five little girls in Alabama that everyone knows about.

And then there are the three men from Mississippi…

mississippi missing photo

and then there is you to re-member.

Re-member the cause James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner died for the next time you get your local county voting precinct card in the mail.  Re-member them the next time you hear mention of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. 

Their families still remember their birthdays, their favorite meals, their favorite colors.  I imagine their parents knew the Most High came for them before the first shot or first punch.  And then there is you to re-member they (none of the thousands that fought for civil rights!) should not die in vain.

burial site

 

Freedom Summer 50 Years Later

I’m sure it related to them wanting to feel human. Or perhaps be recognized for breath. That stuff that holds shoulders high and chins parallel to horizons. Yearning for something opposite of sleeping with one eye open. The word next to God was “freedom”. If we re-member correctly, it still should be.

On the heels of so many other campaigns such as Little Rock’s desegregation of schools. After the world saw the body of Emmett Till. After the Montgomery bus boycott. After the sit-in’s in Greensboro and Nashville. After the Birmingham bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church and the infamous March on Washington. Stood Mississippi… gotdamn. The campaign known as Freedom Summer began the planning phases in February of 1964. It continued the original demonstration designed by the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee that organized a mock “Freedom Vote” to illustrate the will of Black Mississippians to vote who had a 5% voting rate for African Americans over the age of 18. (The lowest in the country.) Freedom Summer campaigned an attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi and also organize Freedom Houses, Freedom Schools, and resource centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population.

freedom summer

Continue reading Freedom Summer 50 Years Later