Monday, April 08, 2013

Finding Poems: A Creative Writing Retreat Series by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Finding Poems: A Creative Writing Retreat Series by Alexis Pauline Gumbs*
alexispaulinephoto This set of 6 one-day community writing retreats over a six month period is designed to offer writers at all levels an opportunity to find the poems speaking to them everywhere and to deepen their poetic practice by drawing inspiration from black feminist poets.  Each retreat will be all day on a Saturday in Durham, NC and will include meals, inspiration, nerdy contextualization and loving support from an exuberant educator who has been creating transformative writing space for over 15 years.

1. The Lorde Concordance and Oracle Building (inspired by Audre Lorde)
This first retreat is about queerly finding poems in the alphabet.  Drawing on Alexis’s Lorde Concordance practice, this retreat consists of activities that re-alphabetize poems in order to find new messages, and sometimes the same messages and some times silliness.   Every poem we love is a possible oracle.  Each participant should bring a favorite poem.

pic-eshockley2.  A Thousand Words (inspired by Evie Shockley)
In her Half-Red Sea Evie Shockley has a powerful thousand word poem that performs the never equal relationship between words and imagery.  In this retreat drawing on our own photographs and some chosen by the facilitator we will make our own thousand word poems in conversation with an image that we find meaningful, impossible, sacred or something.
alice+walker+young+standing3. Walking Into Poems (inspired by Alice Walker)
Alice Walker writes everyday planetary poems.  As one of the most explicitly political nature poets ever, the simplicity of her poems has a lot to teach any poet about the relationship between writing about nature, as such, and writing about the healing potential “human nature.”  This retreat will consist of a series of guided walks searching for everyday poems offered by the planet.

hsp4. Poems as Architecture (inspired by June Jordan)
Did you know that acclaimed black feminist poet June Jordan was an architect?   Not only that, she won the Prix de Rome in architecture in the 1970s.    This retreat asks us to find the poems in the built environment around us in conversation with the poems that June Jordan wrote while in Rome (some of her less studied work).  For more by Alexis on June Jordan and the poetics of architecture see:
220px-For_Cornelia5.  Lucille Clifton and the Poems of our Past Lives
Many people do not know that the great poet Lucille Clifton was also in communication with other worlds.  In her archived papers there are several proposed manuscripts of books that talk about her communication with the dead. Based on Lucille Clifton’s dream poems and past life poems this retreat is about looking for the poems in our own dreams, memories and inklings and maybe even our conversations with folks who are no longer on this plane.
5412-310-2176. Finding Poems Underwater (inspired by Marlene Nourbese Philip)
Drawing on excerpts from Marlene Nourbese Philip’s epic, orchestral, heteroglossaic book length poem Zong, written in honor of captured Africans who were intentionally drowned off the coast of Jamaica so a slaver could collect insurance money for their deaths, this retreat is about finding poems underwater, in deep inner space, behind trauma and the unsayable.

In order to make this rare and priceless opportunity accessible and sustainable it will be community funded.  All workshops will take place in Durham, NC.   Community members interested in participating can help with a process through which Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind gains new monthly sustainers of 750 per month (15 sustainers at $50 each, 150 sustainers at $5 or any combination).  People who participate in the sustainer-raiser have first priority in any or all of the 6 retreats. Dates will be set after the success of the community sustainer raiser.  If there is space in any of the retreats community members who have not participated in that process can sign up with a deposit two weeks in advance of the retreat and an offering of something they can afford.   If you would like to be part of the sustainer/raiser project email writerwk1 at mac dot com.

ALEXIS PAULINE GUMBS is a queer black troublemaker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess and has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University.  Alexis was the first scholar to research in the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University and is currently on tour with her interactive oracle project "The Lorde Concordance" a series of ritual mobilizing the life and work of Audre Lorde as a dynamic sacred text. Alexis has also published widely on Caribbean Women's Literature with a special interest in Dionne Brand. Her scholarly work is published in Obsidian, Symbiosis, Macomere, The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Literature, SIGNS, Feminist Collections, The Black Imagination, Mothering and Hip Hop Culture, The Business of Black Power and more. Alexis is the author of an acclaimed collection of poems 101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive and poetic work published in Kweli, Vinyl, Backbone, Everyday Genius, Turning Wheel, UNFold, Makeshift and more. She has several books in progress including a book of poems Good Hair Gone Forever, a scholarly monograph on diaspora and the maternal and an educational resource called the School of Our Lorde. She is also the co-editor of a forthcoming edited collection on legacies of radical mothering called This Bridge Called My Baby. 

Alexis has been living in Durham, NC for almost a decade and has been transformed and enriched by holistic organizing to end gendered violence and to replace it with sustaining transformative love.  Locally she is a founding member of UBUNTU a women of color and survivor-led coalition to end sexual violence, of the Earthseed Collective a black and brown land and spirit reclamation project and the Warrior Healers Organizing Trust, a community accountable foundation practicing organic reparations and transforming blood money into blood relations.  Nationally Alexis is co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Project, an experiential archive project amplifying generations of black LGBTQ brilliance, and intergalactically she is the instigator of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, a multi-media all ages community school based in the wisdom of black feminist literary practice.   Alexis is also a literary scholar with a PhD in English, Africana Studies and Women's Studies from Duke University and a widely published poet and essayist.   Alexis likes to pray by walking, dancing, remembering poems and talking and playing with loved ones.
Alexis was named one of UTNE Reader's 50 Visionaries Transforming the World in 2009, was awarded a Too Sexy for 501-C3 trophy in 2011 and is one of the Advocate's top 40 under 40 features in 2012.
*This idea was made possible by conversations with two of my favorite poets: Samiya Bashir and Faith Holseart.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Been There Lecture #2 Dr. Anjail Ahmad Tuesday, April 16th 7pm ET

The Been There Online Lecture Series is a series of inspired interactive conversations with experienced community accountable scholars offering their lessons learned while navigating multiple institutions and putting their brilliance to work with and in honor of oppressed communities. These lectures are open to scholars, writers, activists and folks in all walks of life ready to be inspired!
Been There Lecture #2  Dr. Anjail Ahmad  Tuesday, April 16th 7pm ET/6 CT/ 5 MT/4 PT
Dr. Ahmad is a poet, educator and activist writing, speaking and teaching in venues throughout the United States. She received her PhD in African American Literature and 20th Century American Poetry from the University of Missouri-Columbia, her MA in Creative Writing from New York University and her BA in Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College.
She is also a blind woman advocating for disability justice in collaboration with a diverse community of disabled activists in Greensboro, NC and a Mobile Homecoming superstar.
Her areas of interest include: African American Literature and Oral Traditions; Twentieth Century American Poetry; The Poetics of Resistance in African American Poetry; Spoken Word and the poetics of Performance; Poetic Entrepreneurship; E-Texts and Publication; Women’s Voices; Social Justice and Disability Rights Advocacy
She has written two books of poetry, is published widely in journals and has won numerous awards. She teaches writing classes at North Carolina A&T State University where she is also Director of Creative Writing. In 2010, she has used her depth of writing knowledge and experience in working with writers to found The Fractured Writer: A Creative Resource for Writers ( She also leads writing and publishing workshops and sees clients in her home office in Greensboro, North Carolina where she offers training, coaching, consulting, and mentorship to groups and individuals of all ages.
As Artistic Director of The Fractured Writer aka The Loving Boot Camp for Writers, she leads writers through the Sunday 5-Week Writing Intensives, a year-long, workshop series designed to support writers through the completion of a writing project.  In her unique approach to creative writing, she offers a blend of spirituality and creative pragmatism to writers seeking to transform their creative ideas  and aspirations into work suitable for publication and performance.
This workshop is free for one-on-one and cohort coaching clients.  Other geniuses are free to sign up for the lecture with an email about your interests to by April 14th and a donation of $20-50 to Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

Monday, April 01, 2013

This Thursday! Black Feminist Film School Presents Experimental Shorts


Hey Durham! Full Frame too expensive? Join Black Feminist Film School as we present some of our favorite experimental shorts including select shorts by Black Feminist Film School co-founder Julia Roxanne Wallace!!!

General Info:

What: Black Feminist Film School Presents Experimental Shorts

Who: Black Feminist Film School (and you hopefully)
Thursday, April 4th - 6pm
Where: Duke University FHI Garage Smith Warehouse Bay 4
114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Durham, NC 27708-0403
General Info:
Films will include:

Water Ritual #1
still from Water Ritual #1
Water Ritual #1 (1979)
Directed by Barbara McCullough
Vanilla Sex (1992)
Directed by Cheryl Dunye
Hairpiece (1984)
Directed by Ayoka Chenzira
and select shorts Directed by Julia Roxanne Wallace
including No Legacy Let Go: A Ritual of Remembrance and Healing (2012)

...and be one of the first to get a chance to get Lex's new book of poems Good Hair Gone Forever.