Tag Archives: #feminism

learning audacity

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(my autographed copy of “The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”)

I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni through the poem, “Ego Tripping”

“I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission”

“I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels”

I was maybe a senior in high school when I found Giovanni through this poem at my local library. And I remember the embarrassed feeling I got after I read the poem. I thought…”who is this woman bragging on herself?” “who does she think she is to be referencing herself a Queen and being the mother to Hannibal and Noah?” I remember it felt great but it was also foreign. I almost didn’t want to be caught reading it.

What I realize now is that may have been my first time being introduced to an African American feminine narrative.
The poem wasn’t about doors or boats from Robert Frost.
The poem wasn’t about hope and feathers from Emily Dickinson.
It wasn’t the blues from Langston Hughes.
It wasn’t Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton or Paul Lawrence Dunbar…
or my beloved Maya Angelou and her Caged Bird…

Nikki Giovanni was the first time I read an African American woman refer to herself as beautiful and being directly connected to all things beautiful in the art world of poetry.

I remembering sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle at the library and reading the poems in her book and imagining a Tennessee cloud looking like cotton candy… women being judged for the length of their Sunday school dresses… summer love… and even to this day when someone mentions her name… it makes me smile and remember meeting her in the library that afternoon.

When I walked across the Pettus Bridge in Selma for the 50th anniversary earlier this year, Rev. Al Sharpton said something in a sermon that struck a cord with me. He said, “We praise our dead and condemn the living.” It made me want to acknowledge everyone that has served as inspiration to me before they left this planet!

So today, I acknowledge Nikki Giovanni! I speak her name for inspiring me and making me feel so embarrassingly, wonderful and warm about myself one afternoon at the library ūüôā The audacity of learning from poetry!

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“Send her Father a card / her Mother a bundt cake”

She in Texas / South Dakota
She in Alabama / South Carolina
Empty beds / abandoned hairbrushes
unused minutes
a forgotten body
Somebody #SayHerName

“Reverse Opinions” a poem for Rebel Yell

You call me angry
But you, have a million ways to hate me
So this isn’t anger / this is my confused face.

these lines on my forehead are
glass ceilings / eulogies / sexism and sermons
these lines are 400 year old collection notices
these lines are me not wanting to compete for every corner of my existence
this isn’t anger.
this is proper placement privilege
this is / been here    done that    and steady grinding
this is you mistaking me swallowing whole fruit for breasts
this is my lipstick protecting my smile when I kiss the moon at night
it’s not magical all days
sometimes I can‚Äôt abracadabra away feeling‚Ķ ‚Äúother‚ÄĚ
sometimes it’s real survival tactics needed
these lines remind me where I hid bail money
where I’m safe to unbraid my fears and wash my past
this is an emotion you can’t repeat
cause you damn sure duplicate everything else about me
but this isn’t anger.
this is for my pushed back knuckles from
fighting traffic, hunting for low gas prices, scrimmaging through too ripe produce in my local grocery store,  you know / regular stuff
this isn’t anger
this is me demanding you stop displaying to the world there are exceptions to me being human
being woman / being protected /  be-ing loving / be-ing loved.
this is I don’t want the crime solved 30 years from now when the killer is probably in my breathing space

I’m not supposed to be offended when you call me angry?
But you,   -have a million ways to hate me
this isn’t anger.
this is my stay ready face. – by Nikki Skies for “Rebel Yell” on BET.com
rebelyellowbckground

20 observances i’m taking into 2016

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:

  1. The power of blogging. РBlogging 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. There is a desperate need for black book stores for all of the above reasons.
  7. There is a desperate need for African American book review groups/circles for all the above reasons. (Story Sellers Book Reviews coming soon!)
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

BIBLIOGRAPHY for Cal State LA! THANK YOU

Thank you to the Cross Cultural Center at Cal State Los Angeles for allowing me to share my artistic journey with writing my novel, The Town Dance.   I was pleased to meet with the students and encourage all the writers in the room.

As I discussed while I was there, as a writer, it is imperative to maintain an active bibliography.  Reading is the BEST writing prompt to keep you active.  Your bibliography should keep you abreast of the writers in your genre and in tune with what your audience is interested in.  Keep in mind, it does not have to be novels you are reading.  It can be a book of poetry, your favorite magazine or reading through your favorite blog.

In regards to our conversation today, I want to share more of the books and authors that were vital resources and tools as I wrote The Town Dance and some literary works I re-visit to study for my writing journey:

Absolutely anything by SONIA SANCHEZ, BELL HOOKS

“Homeade Love” by J. California Cooper

“In Search of Our Mother’s Garden by Alice Walker

“Black Feminist Thought” by Patricia Ann Collins

“Salt” by Nayyirah Waheed

“But Some of Us Are Brave: All The Women are White, All the Blacks are Men; Black Women’s Studies by Aksasha Gloria Hall

In addition, the organizations I referenced were RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape).

If you weren’t able to pick up a copy of The Town Dance¬†you can do so here ūüôā¬† Thank you again and keep reading and writing!

Speak on Love,

Nikki Skies

New Author Listing

Greetings All!

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!

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