all month I have been writing prose to acknowledge women that have directly influenced my life and perception on living as an artist. this week, I have decided to let these little women that are living in my home to write and express for one another and for women that they want to share information on.
first up is Kyra, the baby. my Taurus. my earth. the negotiator.
I got custody of her when she was one and still in diapers. the day my sister left, Kyra stayed up all night walking around the house looking for her. she cried from room to room looking for her mother. she was not even close to understanding the incredibly tough decision my sister made with leaving her children behind to be raised by her sister. now at almost eight years old, she still can’t be close to understanding. the night time was the toughest because the other kids would go to sleep in preparation for school and she had a routine of staying up with my sister. the first two nights, I sat on the stair steps with her and we looked out at a street lamp through one of the hallway windows. she cried herself to sleep and stared at the street light… I cried too. night three, she was okay.
now Kyra is my right hand gal! she is energetic but keeps me grounded because she asks those “tough” questions. all in my business! (haha) she is my ball of energy from sunrise to sunset. I thought she would grow out of her running from place to place but NO! she still will run from the couch to the television! from her bed to her closet! honestly, it drives me to the edge of the cliff 98% of the time but I wouldn’t have my life any other way. nothing more, nothing less.
she tells me she is going to live next door to me when she grows up so we can be together. she made the principal’s honor roll, made the double dutch jump rope squad, stuck through a whole season of playing soccer and willing to try almost anything her sisters are doing. this little lady keeps me grounded. she has been looking to me since she was one year old… my earth, Kyra.
she is music. she is hip hop. she started free style rapping as a child growing up in washington dc. she has now traveled around the world. she also started her own organization. she is an artist with a lot of talents and worked as the first official hip hop ambassador working with the government. blackman has art as a way to prevent violence against women in the congo and other war-torn countries. the end
some days I feel like jamaica kincaid because I just don’t want to write a book. I want to tell their story just like I witnessed or heard of the occasion, a short story. sometimes funny, sometimes loving and sometimes just plain ‘ole dramatic/angry/sad.
Kincaid is an award winning author of both fiction and non-fiction work. she has authored some of my favorite short story books! her stories are not compelled to drive the story to the methodical structures of writing but to finish the destination of what the characters are feeling. I love her work because it is about “the people” not so much the story. I was living in Washington DC when I first heard of her. I was with a friend who wanted to go in to her book signing and hear what people had to say about her being an “angry writer”. Well, I opted to not go in and I met up with my friend later that day. Fast forward some 8 years later, I come across one of her books at a book store and decide to give her a try. LOVED IT! Kicked myself for not going in and listening to her book signing and becoming a fan of her work back then!
some day’s I feel like jamaica Kincaid because I want to write from an emotional stand point and simply share the human experience without being labored with following the standardized methods. people have referred me as a “serious, revolutionary” writer. I believe I write according to the temperature. yes… some day’s I am simply misunderstood like Kincaid.
“Everything I say is true, and everything I say is not true. You couldn’t admit any of it to a court of law. It would not be good evidence.”- Jamaica Kincaid
there are so many adjectives synonymous with her name. when you think of her pristinely manicured appearance and pout formed lips. or the fiery dance in her eyes that’s the tango or perhaps it’s the Chicago two-step. her acting is like a highly trained opera singer with undisputed range. undisputed. composed of multifariousness, angela bassett.
it’s usually mid summer when I feel like perfectly ripe melon. any melon. the one that is the life of the party and mixed with salad or cut as pretty decoration on a toothpick for some spirits. both will be used with a multitude of adjectives for the salty and sugary mixture of the palates. and I am the desire to entertain the crowd. yes, this is around mid june when I ripen.
angela bassett is not the summer. she is mother nature. meaning she is seasoned with acknowledging her purpose and poignancy, some days I feel like angela bassett when my shine lasts beyond the party or stage lights. an amazing talent and my absolute favorite actress.
tenacious and stout would describe her love for him. or even, whole. this love predates all the great love stories. the kind that makes great movies and transcends love beyond the ordinary. their love defined truth, justice and righteousness.
it was not the contained love in a “faithful” box. in fact, it was not faithful. it evaded being self served and accepted deliverance for another being. it is the reciprocal love that most people say they deserve. There is no complete inscription of their relationship but they all seem to speak that Auset and her love, Ausar, had a legendary love.
The land of Egypt succeeded in enterprise under the leadership of Ausar. He provided laws and education and taught the people the art of agriculture. Auset championed the interest of his reign and they were both highly respected as rulers. When Ausar was murdered by his brother, Auset took to the land of Egypt to gather his body parts as he had been dismembered. She is primarily noted wearing a throne headdress to illustrate her representation of power. Auset is often called the Goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility.
Later in life I’ve realized how important it is to continue to wear my crown even in relationships. It is important to continue to revere my purpose in spite of who I am in a relationship with. This actualization came with maturity as I began to re-define what my societal constraints determined for me.
I have yet to feel safe and supported with my confidence to be an intelligent and sensual woman in a relationship. But when I observe the relationships around me that have survived both people remaining individuals, and not committing to the “relationship”, I know it can be accomplished. Some days I feel like Goddess Auset and breath fire and light for my love to come.
some days I feel like ntozake shange. in the most simple sense of what EVERY artists dreams… to have a timeless piece of art that can transcend across generations.
her award winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf was first produced off broadway in 1975. it moved to broadway and continued to win awards and marked her place in the literary world. some 35 years later, this same play was turned into a movie. timeless art… this play is rich with emotions and complexity. shange’s work is also where I learned the literary style of writing and performing prose. my all time favorite, ellington was not a street.
I always say, ‘I want my art to be able to live without me. To feed my children’s children.’ 39 years after it debuted in new york, her play, ‘for colored girls’ is currently being produced on two different stages in atlanta, ga. some days I feel like ntozake shange and just trust my heart through my pen. trust that this is the piece of art that will transcend time.
some days I feel like elaine brown. I feel like I have the courage to love what feels right. I feel like I can stand in front of whomever/whatever and move past the criticism of my past with a smile. like elaine brown, some days I feel like I can change the world and by doing that sometimes you have to start over.
elaine brown is particularly known for her involvement in the black panther party in Oakland, Ca. while many haven’t had interest enough to read what her contributions and positions were in the party, they seem satisfied with knowing and saying, “she’s an ex-panther.” I had the privilege of meeting her twice and opening for her during a lecture in los angeles a few years ago. she was very emphatic with her intent to tell her side of the story. to make sure we left her with more to say.
she wanted us to know she believed in the black panther party with her entire being. she helped the panthers set up its first Free Breakfast for Children program in Los Angeles in addition to the panthers Free Busing to Prisons Program and the Free Legal Aid Program. she had a progressive intent for her people and herself as a woman/spiritual being. in her book, A Taste of Power, she made mention that she eventually left the panther party because she could no longer tolerate the patriarchy and sexism.
and I remember her speaking of love. I remember her sharing personal photos of her and Huey P. Newton and talking about how much she was in love with him. as I was holding one of the photos, she pointed to him and said, “he was fine wasn’t he?” her entire face smiled.
some days I feel like elaine brown in wanting to be whole. wanting to be accepted as an intelligent and critical thinker as well as a lover. and for all of who I am to be safe enough to share as part of the human experience.
some days I feel like, jada pinkett smith. I think together we would chase storms. we would roll the thunder in a sports utility vehicle and run down the eye of the storm! we would shave our heads and dress up in an evening gown and pose like “on purpose planted sunflowers”. we would yell into mics and blend our blues and hip hop to heavy metal music in front of an audience of thousands!
I can only imagine her quest for rearing independent thinking children. I can only imagine her desire to remain a desire to a handsome and witty man. jada pinkett smith has seemingly lived the way her childhood friend tupac shakur explained, ‘telling the truth before about yourself before someone else does.’ Her choice of work parallels her mindset as she now lends the influence of her spirit to philanthropy work and activism.
I remember watching her give an interview one time and she mentioned she considered herself to be “viciously ambitious”. yes, some days I feel like jada pinkett smith, especially when I feel beyond my skin!
I spilled my heart here.
and in gym during 6th hour.
and in the parking lot of Dairy Queen.
and on the phone when long distance calling cost extra.
and I meant every word I said.
and for you I’d do it again.
for your smile.
for your time.
for the exchange of our secrets.
in the name of love.
Somebody had to do it. And somebody had to re-member. I was there. And it’s not that I want to be given some glory or plaque. I just want artists to know that it wasn’t 1961 when the Los Angeles poetry scene displayed this disproportionately approach to female poets. And now it is so natural for females to get features and travel but not too long ago we were blatantly denied this. And Jaha, Bridget, Rachel and I really changed the perception of when female poets should be allowed to eat.
Did we pave the way? Call it whatever feels good to you. But I know I was there when humiliation and doubt was given to us from our male peers. I was there when the men performers would get paid a different amount than us at the very same show. I was there when our male peers thought the best position for any of us would be next to them in a relationship and when he was denied he campaigned a “she’s gay” rally to save his reputation.
I saw Roni take poetry to the Hollywood comedy clubs.
I saw Sandra, Alice the Poet and MstMuze operate the longest running all female poetry venue in Los Angeles to date.
I saw Deana produce/host sold out poetry shows inside restaurants on Sunset Blvd.
And all I’m saying is, this happened after she/we shared stories and almost cried because we thought we were alone in feeling so indigent for expression. Some days I feel like a skyscraper in the Los Angeles poetry scene. Standing bold, cold and razor sharp with the moods of mother nature, not being erased from the series anytime soon. My love for Jaha, Rachel and Bridget is beyond an ordinary means of measurement. We were there, when it felt like 1961.