Thursday, October 31, 2013

Good Hair Gone Forever: Poems by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Happy Halloween!  What is scarier than the freedom of black hair growing out of bright black brains? Muwhahaha. My Halloween gift to all of you is the kindle/tablet/online version of my chapbook GOOD HAIR GONE FOREVER dedicated to a young trickster ancestor whose spirit is with me especially on Halloween: Jurina Vincent-Lee.

My shero namesake Alexis De Veaux took time out to write these words about the collection:
"The poems of GOOD HAIR GONE FOREVER wreak with the sensate badass-ness of a sure nuff trouble maker, a twenty-first century afroheaded trickster black woman who spits nappyness and breathes mirrors. Read the signs: this is a dangerous free. No hemming and hawing allowed."  -Alexis De VeauxAuthor of Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde and An Enchanted Hair Tale

You can see a video of the poem BEWARE here:

School's In (Beware) from Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On Our Way: People of Color Building Community Across Panic (CFP for POC Caucus at SEWSA)

POC Caucus: Call for Papers SEWSA 2014

On Our Way:  People of Color Building Community Across Panic

History is not kind to us
we restitch it with living
past memory   forward
into desire
into the panic   articulation
of want   without having
or even the promise of getting.

And I dream of our coming together
encircled  driven
not only by love
but by lust for a working tomorrow
the flights of this journey
mapless   uncertain
and necessary as water.

-Audre Lorde
 “On My Way Out I Passed Over You and the Verrazano Bridge”

This People of Color Caucus Session of SEWSA is devoted to mobilizing our research to arrive at strategies for building community for feminist scholars of color across the situations of tokenism, differential privilege and different oppressions and institutional isolation.   This panel discussion is an opportunity to present a part of what you have discovered in your academic inquiry in the service of a targeted conversation about tangible strategies for scholars of color engaged in feminist research and teaching.   Three or four scholars will ground our facilitated discussion with brief presentations on a topic of their research relevant to the task of effective community building among feminist scholars of color.  Each presentation should speak explicitly to how the research can enable community building in praxis.  Relevant topics include but are not limited to:

·      Community building models/lessons/problems from contemporary or historical feminist organizations and or people of color organizations
·      Rigorous analyses of texts/films/media by or about feminists of color
·      Qualitative or quantitative studies that include feminist scholars of color as respondents
·      Community building models/lessons/problems from historical feminist figures, women or queer people of color or allies
·      Comparative studies of community building in social movements and or academic spaces
·      Institutional critique or analyses of women’s studies, ethnic studies and/or service learning
·      Educational studies of popular education or community based research models
·      Activities or case studies from contemporary community building projects
·      Best practices from existing projects that support or build community among feminist scholars of color
·      Autoethnographic or personal narratives that can inform intersectional community building

Abstracts should not exceed 300 words and be submitted, along with a 100-word bio, complete with author’s name and institutional affiliation, by October 25, 2013 to: the POC Caucus Chair, Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, at with the subject line: “SEWSA POC 2014.”  SEWSA 2014 will take place at UNC Wilmington March 27-29th, 2014.

101 Things that are NOT True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive

What does a black feminist who spends her time lifting up the legacies of obscure black feminist geniuses do about her complicated feelings about hypervisible famous black women like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey?
These poems.

"Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s book of list poems, One Hundred and One Things That Are Not True About The Most Famous Black Women Alive, then, is an intervention into black women’s relationships with the list form, with truth-telling, with public personages, and with each other."  Sarah Mantilla Griffin  (See full review here)

"The theme of flight is an important one for Gumbs and places her work in conversation with writers, including Toni Morrison, who have explored the trope of the flying African.  As they provide spaces for flights of the mind, for escape, for rising above, or simply for elevating and expanding our perceptions of whom these women could be, the poems enliven what were essentially static public figures."  Sarah Mantilla Griffin  (See full review here)

101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive from Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Vimeo.

"These powerful poems punctuate the necessity and significance of the interior lives of famous black women, reminding us that like us (everyday folk) they have feelings, families, concerns, and emotional requirements.  In what can be described as love poems, 101 Things captures the humanity and versatility of lives the media sells us as one-dimensional.  Dr. Gumbs’ poems allow us to imagine, ever so briefly, what it might be like to be a black woman whose strongblackwoman mantle is put on display for the world to see, interrogate, and try to define.  She offers our larger-than-life women back to us as a reflection of ourselves:  vulnerable, regular, and seeking/needing/deserving sister love and protection." Crunk Feminist Collective's Robin Boylorn  

Here is a conversation about the meditation of LOVE that is this book with Crunk Feminist Collectives R. Boylorn.

And here is a fun video I made with excerpts of the poems this morning.

101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive Excerpts from Alexis Pauline Gumbs on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Emergency Broadcast: Youth Activism Workbook

Hey y'all! In honor of the way I met my sister comrade Maia Williams (it's her birthday!!!!) and the transformative discussion at last month's Emergency Theologies Parable Potluck
I am REPUBLISHING a digital version of a 47 page youth activism workbook zine that I published when I had one day of liberated access to a copy machine in my early 20s.
Enjoy! All proceeds go towards curriculum building for Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind programming in Durham!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lucille Clifton and the Poems of Our Past Lives: October Finding Poems Retreat

 Saturday October 19th 10am-4pm
Durham, NC  (registered participants will get the location info!)
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.
Sign up here:
Offer your retreat fee here at a rate you can afford.  (Keep in mind comparable one day retreats cost about $155.00)

Glad to be in community with you in this lifetime!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Durham Poems: From the Finding Poems Retreat Participants

On September 28th an eclectic group of poets gathered for session 4 of the Finding Poems Series.  We were inspired by June Jordan's architectextual poems and by the powerful video conferenced-in sharing of environmental justice scholar Cheryl J. Fish to engage the spatial realities and legacies of Durham in a poetic way.  We wrote many poems that day but here is our group poem/group of poems for Durham.

And you can listen to it here:

Durham Poem #34
Durham, don't dig down deep
Beg barter and plea, Baby
For transformation you are not willing to have as your birthday wish, Honey

Durham Poem #9
whirlwind my heart you dirty city
you tobacco dust you slave lust trust
you breathing devil     land

Durham Poem #23
Durham, Durham
The beats of the hearts the angers the terrors the smiles
Dance Durham

Durham Poem #24
the pompeii
in durham, traffic slower
than my blood flow
during morning prayer, a man
ask me for food, or change
in front of mcdonalds,
i extend a banana,
he refuses, i continue
singing.  i belong here.

Durham Poem #25 (26, 27, 28...)
the first year i shivered.  who knew there could be snow down here
making broken oak litter
the two next i plumped + grew + crossed under electrical wires to a turtle river.
and coming for fourth year, three thunderstorms have
drenched me here: the drops are so much bigger than
at home
new home, you got warm tapioca pearls,  got aloe blood, got muscadine guts coming from the sky.

Durham Poem #31
Not West Virginia

Durham Poem #4
There is a man waving a gun next to the Bull
We're to hide inside, as they kill him; watch him die till morning
As a city with its history tattooed on your sidewalks, I wonder how you might caption your present.

Durham Poem #202
This elastic place-when I breath it
I'm learning new shades; if I remember to keep my lungs open
Here-I am becoming more comfortable with complex color patterns and asking for hugs when I need one.

For more information or to sign up for the upcoming October 19th Finding Poems Retreat Lucille Clifton and the Poems of Our Past Lives contact Lex via the Finding Poems Page:

To sign up for Lex's Nov. 2nd workshop at LaVenson Press Studios  "Blue Airmail Letters: The Impossible Poem Home" sign up here: