After the fall storm
comes a rainbow and the smiles
stay / don’t hide from us
Laugh at what they taught
hear my verbs and protect us
be father to all.
Stop gambling your seeds
for a night to feel human
let divineness shine.
Open / not enter
love your womb and its’ future
don’t be forgotten.
I preserve my world
in journals so my children
can eat without me.
moon face full of stars.
little woman / soft voice with cursive connotations.
and universe hugging
woman of literature.
my love for her is beyond words.
adoring / fond / attached like a new lover.
even though she is associated with the black arts movement, she is one of those artists who have walked through hip hop with us. her words have survived the linguistic flips and inspire/challenge writers today. she joined blues music with her poetic styles of tanka and haiku. she is the key of b sharp.
she is award winning and legendary and highly sought after for lecturing on women’s rights and literary topics.
I am writing this as if everyone knows where she was born and who she was married to and how many books she has, etc. if you don’t know… look her up and land in love with poetry and prose. over. and over. again.
sonia sanchez, one of the reasons I have realized/actualized I must write.
“It is not enough to be a woman writer. It is imperative that we are women writers who write about other women, responsibly. Otherwise, we’ll continue to write rebuttals on misrepresentation or the utter absence of our literary presence.”
Recently I returned to the city that grew my art, Los Angeles, California. It is not the city I was born and reared in, however; it is the city that I consider home. Where I grew into a woman and an artist.
Not expecting anyone to write my story, a few years back I had the audacity to write a piece of Los Angeles poetry HERstory that was not talked about. What prompts this post is, during my recent visit to Los Angeles when I spoke about this information in front of a crowd, I was asked to be mindful and tell the “whole story” of LA women in poetry. Interestingly enough, I’ve never seen the “whole story” written by my male comrades nor during my visit did I hear any conversations that announced the “whole story” of women in poetry. The four day span I was in Los Angeles, when “the good ‘ole days” conversations came up, there was a repeated rundown of the male figures that were prominent in the foundational game but the women were harmoniously absent from the listings.
Continue reading Keeping My Nose This Time
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.
Artists can be inspired by the simple things. The sudden swarm of birds on branches to a nostalgic smell of perfume or cologne. When I abandon concerns of the world, I am able to be inspired by almost anything because my senses are without judgement and I can apply optimism to everything! Perhaps this was the process Lorraine Hansberry encountered when she created the timeless theatrical masterpiece, A Raisin in the Sun.
She was inspired by the poem entitled, Harlem, by Langston Hughes. This was one of the first poems I memorized and one of the first I made my nephews memorize! This poem inspired her to write the play that put her in the history books. With her play, Raisin in the Sun, she became the first African American woman to write a play performed on Broadway and the youngest and fifth woman to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. The success of this play led to it being translated in 35 different languages and inspired the talented Nina Simone to write her song, To Be Young, Gifted and Black. After Hansberry’s death, her husband was inspired to adapt a remaining collection of her work into a play with the same name of Simone’s song.
Art is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy… The origin of art derives from the antiquity of documenting life or scribing so it is not surprising that this string of inspirations are connected. Some days I feel like Lorraine Hansberry when I pick up a pen and begin to write after hearing a song or note on from a saxophone or analogy from a poem. I get inspired by people and situations around me and of course I hope I will leave inspiration to others.
Well, 2015 is wrapping up here folks and there are some things I want to share along my many discoveries and self reflections. Here we go:
- The power of blogging. – Blogging has to be better than buying a website these days! Blogging is like your own personal newspaper or public journal that links you to like minds. The connections I have met on wordpress have culminated into several speaking engagements and book sales around the world. Unlike social media sites, a blog requires work. You have to put in a decent and consistent amount of writing time and you must network with the audience you are trying to reach. Building this comradery can yield amazing results! Your Facebook friends/followers WILL NOT SUPPORT your work on a level that allows you to pay a bill or two.
- The saying, “Write what scares you” is true. – You take a chance with ordering a new dish at a restaurant. You take a chance in new relationships. So take a chance with writing the stories you are afraid to be linked to. The subject matter of my novel, The Town Dance, has frightened me for years. At readings, I speak about what I had to confront on a personal level for me to write characters with depth and meaning. Characters that ‘belonged’ in the story and not just placed there to move the chapters forward. The Town Dance has had an amazing year! In addition, my play, Hope’s Return, handles the subject matter of women in the military, a crime committed on base, the government cover-up and a small town African American family dealing with the mental illness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I took a chance with this material and it has paid off as big as I had imagined in my dreams.
- I like living in Atlanta. I must admit, it took over six years for it to happen but there are a lot of opportunities in the arts. Perhaps in the sense that there is still work that needs to be done for diversity within nationalities, gender and age. (then again, that’s probably everywhere!) The art funding is definitely geared toward younger poets who are taught slam poetry and older Caucasian writers. The quote, “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re art”, took me a looooong time to accept that. But over the past 13-15 months I have grown to like Atlanta.
- Acknowledgement of women writers still needs to be written in art and historical culture/documentation. Even the critical and independent male thinking minds are blind to this, or conveniently accept this part of patriarchy. A recent example I saw of this, there was a Black Lives Matter banner created that spelled out the names of the victims fallen from murder by the hands of the police and only one woman was listed. Instead of researching women to include, the list repeated with the male names.
- African American art is viewed as sociology or psychology instead of art. Instead of being asked on various creative decisions I made for my art, I was asked questions like, “is this due to your community?” “is this a result of your upbringing?” After reading more on the basic history of African American literature in western culture, the sensitivity of critique or criticism is still not where it should be as the literary giants before me have written the same observances.
- There is a desperate need for black book stores for all of the above reasons.
- There is a desperate need for African American book review groups/circles for all the above reasons. (Story Sellers Book Reviews coming soon!)
- The personal positivity movement has turned into a sensationalistic movement that is cultivating a strew of motivational speakers and life coaches. It is imperative for people to understand that avoiding or becoming addicted to a fantasy life of no turmoil stunts growth. In addition, naming life’s detours ‘negativity’ instead of lessons and self reflection stops/halts life.
- Ph.D’s do not hold the same creed they once did. Experience and activism can get you on the same panel discussions as PhD’s and persons in academia. In fact, trust is built through personal testimony versus book study (new age wave expectations); same as travel expert equals trusted experience. I believe their in depth studies are still imperative but the panels and workshops I observed over the past year in regards to art activism and community social activism had very few PhDs.
- The poetry audience is gone. No matter where I traveled, the audience was a unanimous crowd of other poets. The study of poetry 101 has been replaced with being a champion or being on a ‘winning team’. Poetry is seen as entertainment instead of art. In my opinion, the communication aspect is absent from the art form and it is a strategic political move.
Continue reading 20 observances i’m taking into 2016
I mainly use this blog for my poetry. Every so often I use it for blogs about family, etc but mainly I express my art that is poetry here. I have been, and will return, to a huge poetic presence for my blog during the creation of She Chronicles (March) and When We Arrived (April).
I am a full time artist so I have to write, perform, submit for festivals, sell books, facilitate workshops, speak on literacy, etc. I have tried other jobs and honestly… I didn’t give my all. I didn’t commit nor did I care as much as I do when I am creating art. So forgive me for not being as present as I have been in the past… I’ve been writing!
As you know, I wrote a novel that is doing AMAZING! I have book signings lined up for it. I wrote a play that was 1 of 40 chosen from a selection of 332. It will be produced November of this year which now gives me the title of Professional Playwright. And now I have compiled a book of poetry and prose entitled, “yardwork” that is available now in paperback and available for pre-order on Kindle. “yardwork” is a compilation of writings from mid 2009 to now. And I hope you will grab a copy and enjoy 🙂
I saw this today and had to share it with my wordpress family! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 🙂
It is great to be included in a listing with other authors! Check it out:
Women of the African Diaspora
Black Female Authors
Get your copy of my new novel, The Town Dance, today!
Purchase an Autographed Copy!
Purchase from Amazon
Purchase the Kindle Edition
One of my favorite all time poets is Haki Madhubuti. The genesis of this post came from a conversation I had with Nikki Skies where we both discussed how much Madhubuti’s work meant to each of us. Aside from being one of the most prolific poets in American letters over the last 50 years, Madhubuti is a Professor, editor, activist and publisher. Considered one of the most prominent writers from the Black Arts Movement, Madhubuti has also published books by Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Sterling Plumpp, Pearl Cleage, Dudley Randall, Marc Lamont Hill and Mumia Abu Jamal. He founded Third World Press in Chicago in 1967 and they continue to produce books to this day.
For most of Madhubuti’s literary life he has been associated with Chicago. Originally known as Don L. Lee, he changed his name in 1974. Madhubuti has won more awards then there’s space to list. In addition to three honorary doctorates, fellowships from organizations like the National Endowments of the Arts and National Endowments of the Humanities, Madhubuti was named Chicagoan of the Year from “Chicago Magazine” in 2007. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa.
Continue reading The Necessity of Haki Madhubuti -Guest Post by Mike Sonksen