|Posted by WOMA on March 5, 2012 at 6:30 PM||comments (0)|
My name is Alisha Sommer and this is my womanifesting story. Something inside of me changed with the birth of my daughter. I wanted her to grow up with a strong sense of self. I wanted her to be fearless - to be able to stand up for her beliefs and to not be afraid to express her opinions. I wanted her to know that she is divine - to know that her dreams are worthy of pursuit. However, I needed to believe all of these things for myself.
So I set out on a path of self-recovery. I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and began to write everyday. Through the process of journaling, I remembered all of these dreams that at one time filled my heart, but had been stuffed away, packed up in boxes, and shelved for some indeterminate time.
Every page opened a box, each one containing the same dream that seemed unfamiliar, and yet felt so comfortable, that it could no longer be ignored. I was supposed to be a writer.
Last fall I spent 4 weeks in New Orleans napping, eating cake, laughing with family and watching Alfred Hitchcock every night before bed. I really needed this visit. My body needed it. My mind needed it. My heart needed it.
One Wednesday, I visited the New Orleans Museum of Art. Though housed in a beautiful building, with a nice collection, I was disappointed that a city with such a large black population did not have a significant representation of black artists.
I left the museum frustrated that once again I could not find a reflection of myself. And these feelings of disappointment and confusion have plagued me for the past year. I was so tired of not finding more work by more women who looked like me. After having a conversation with a friend about the need to help women of color gain access and give them exposure, I decided that it was time to act.
Blackberry is born out of my passion to giving others a voice. It will give African-American women a new platform to share their art. Our voice is one that is often silenced. Ignored. Pushed aside. And I am tired of feeling invisible.
This new age of publishing is an opportunity to make our voices heard and it is an opportunity not to be squandered. Our experience is a varied one and by giving our art more exposure we will enrich the entire creative community.
Blackberry is not just the fulfillment of my own dream, but the breath of life into the dreams of other black women.
Submissions for Blackberry www.storiesofsommer.com/blackberry/are now open for the first issue which is set to debut no later than June 2012. My Kickstarter proposal was approved and I will be kicking off my campaign in February 2012. The goal is to raise enough money to fund print and digital editions of the magazine as well as a corresponding website. However, regardless of funding, I hope to see this vision through.
Alisha Sommer is a 20-something mother of three and a writer on a journey to examine the power of her words by sharing stories from the soul. She is a truth-sayer, a soul-whisperer, a seeker. She is a deep thinker, an illuminator and a dreamer. She is an encourager, an inspirer, a word-crafter. And she bares it all at www.AlishaSommer.com
|Posted by WOMA on December 11, 2011 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
I’m thinking of rooms,
A large resemblance of rooms,
All the hours spent in rooms.
Someone has been downstairs
In the kitchen soaking chicken flesh
And skin in a steamy bath,
Vegetable oil seeping into napkins
Thin squares, cubed, six of them
Make another room in which
A baby is sleeping, his skin is full
Of soft, repetitive leaks, licks,
The orange cat is cleaning its fur,
Violent, mechanical head throws
To catch all sides of its coat,
Raspy cartilage of its tongue,
Housed in the dark room of its mouth,
A box of moving images buzzes
So steadily it hums, in a room
With no occupants or time worth record.
I scrape the dead,
from his fatted forehead,
Roll the night’s story
from his eyes,
& set him on the closed toilet seat.
Under his soft weight,
air whistles from the sky
I reach over aged porcelain,
water the bristles
until dripping is rushed to ease
The widening of his binding
strands, raise the boar
above his head of still-closing plates,
Unravel brief fuzzy rivulets, again
& again, and when
all is smooth & shiny,
I part my son’s hair,
just above the left temple
like the older women tell me
It is right to do.
Elegies for New York Avenue poems by Melanie Henderson
ISBN:978-1-59948-330-6, 96 pages
Cover/List price: $14 (Only $12 if purchased from the MSR Online Bookstore)
Release date: November 27, 2011.
Melanie Henderson was born, raised and lives in Washington, DC. She is an alumnus of Howard ('04) and Trinity ('07) Universities. Prior to earning an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, she studied poetry at the Voices Summer Writing Workshops (VONA) in San Francisco, CA. Her paintings, photography and poems have appeared in Drumvoices Revue, Fingernails across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora, jubilat, and Southern Women's Review among others. She was selected as a featured reader for the 2009 Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series and as a recipient of the Larry Neal Writers' Award (DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities). She is the Managing Editor of Tidal Basin Review and the mother of a charming little boy.
|Posted by WOMA on May 12, 2011 at 8:37 AM||comments (0)|
Sisters of call response
and silver spangles
born to sing of love
You let Roma woman bleed
through bell and handclap.
But mama raised good girls,
so you hip dip, two step to the side,
flamenco your hands, and extend your
desire through the line of a fingertip.
what did you know of riding
in cars with boys after the show?
What do good girls know
of shame? of new disgraces?
And sisters left untouched
what can they do
but hum you into living
then carry your blue note
of a body
You were girls together
like Nell and Sula.
What do blood sisters know
of unraveling desire from a lyric,
holding a smile over
faining heartache with a handclap?
Flo, did you grant forgiveness at the grave?
Did they say your name
like Nell said Sula’s?
Oh Lord, Flo then
girl, girl, girlgirlgirl.*
Blue Light Alchemy
(for Michael Jackson)
inside a circle
worn in the floor
into new element
spun into a black
light and gas
a spinning top
lock and pop
your vinyl self
that sweet tenor
into the blur
of a black boy’s
Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis is an associate professor of English and director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Chicago State University. Her first collection of poetry entitled Tougaloo Blues was published by Third World Press. She is also co-editor of Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on AIDS/HIV. She is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow and founding member of the Affrilachian Poets.
|Posted by WOMA on January 8, 2011 at 9:39 PM||comments (0)|
WOMA celebrates the release of PATRICIA SPEARS JONES' poetry collection, PAINKILLER, (Tia Chuca Press). Jones is January's Featured artist for both her poetry and womanifesting spirit that keeps her grounded in community and able to face her truth whether clothed in beauty or anguish.
Jones Poetic Statement:
Painkiller is to me the final book in a trilogy of collections that started with The Weather That Kills (CoffeeHouse, 1995) and Femme du Monde (Tia Chucha, 1996). Of these three collections, the poems in Painkiller are the most emotional and intimate, and yet they are also the most universal as they look at the consequences of love found and lost; passions unleashed; terror from human conduct and the awesome power of natural disaster.
While this is a collection that responds in part to 9-11, many poems were written prior to that event, to the injury to the city and our psychic well-being. Those portents and that injury set the collection’s tone. Painkiller explores one poet’s vision of the city, her friends, her lover, her losses and connects those individual perceptions to a suffering world in turmoil. In the poem “In Like Paradise/Out Like the Blues”, a poem from The Weather That Kills, I wrote “Each of turns to the hunger of stars/and wipes the crumbs from our mouths.” Painkiller is about that feast.
We are at the genesis of a bolero
eyes, lips, thick, kinky dreads
beds, cars, stars
a singer’s words curve
through memory and shadow
rhythms stumble and stop,
come again, the night air a willing audience.
men huddle near a long, brass bar rail,
shoes gleaming, lips smiling, eyes lit
as women, young and old, stroll pass them
on their way to the powder room
las mujeres motion a dream of sand and waves
a Cuba that only the restaurant owner
and his waiters may have truly seen, heard.
late winter, rains slicking the streets of lower Manhattan,
Son Cubano’s portals reveal a theater of nostalgia
the scent of Havana scripts so well.
And we play along
mouths flavored with rum, lime, sugar, our tongues playing
the kisses stolen game as the song phrases
a fierce sadness promised
in the wake of lust’s mercurial ascent
We flee these orchestrated memories
our hands in each others, our mouths hungry for each other.
Our song is bluer, harsher, North American
the rhythms African, yes, as dearly measured in drama and depth.
Our exile is internal. There is little longing
for the good old days when Havana was a mean place
for dark people, but a real fascination
for these songs and their makers.
Your arms cascade a trumpet solo, the piano’s
harmonics thrill my back.
My lips are waiting for yours.
This is our bolero
lovemaking Friday night New York City
Everybody’s from the South.
Amethyst for encouragement
Debbie’s kind, tired voice on telephone
early morning, keeping me alive
thankful, am I
the Japanese beetles are passionately swarming
a mating dance in Virginiagrasses. They bounce against our skin,glinting.
Bergamot, lavender, summer hay perfume my nighttime walk
There is mercy. It comes when needed like a red moonrise.
Obsidian for power
She said you said you were in control of your life.
Oh really, when did I say that
Well you speak with such confidence, she said. I laugh. It seems
as if I have the power to control my sliver of the great cosmic order.
Well, no. But, what little power have I, is hard won and precious. Black.
Carnelian for security
There has not been one moment in my life that was not compromised.
Lack of money or love or grander dreams, perhaps, strange luck. And now
as my body radically changes, I am anchored by strong spirit.What’s up
with the sun?
And when did I turn my cheeks toward heat?
Patricia Spears Jones is an African American poet and playwright. She is author of three poetry collections Painkiller (2010), Femme du Monde (2006) and The Weather That Kills (1994) and editor of Think: Poems About Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat/ (2009) and Ordinary Women: Poetry by New York City Women (1978 ). Her poems are in several anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry; Bowery WomenPoets; broken land: Poems of Brooklyn,and Best American Poetry, 2000. Her arts and cultural criticism can be found in Bomb, The Village Voice, Essence, Black Issues Book Review and www.tribes.org. The internationally renowned theater company Mabou Mines commissioned ‘Mother’, music composed by CarterBurwell and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting, music composed by Lisa Gukin. She is a contributing editor to Bomb Magazine. She received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Goethe Institute and is a fellow at the Black Earth Institute, www.blackearthinstitute.org;and received residencies to Yaddo,VCCA. Bread Loaf, and the Millay Colony. She has read and/or led workshops at PoetsHouse; St. Mark’s Poetry Project; California College of Art; Woodland Pattern, Barnard College; Brandeis University, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University; Naropa University, Columbia College, Pine Manor College, Medgar Evers College and University of Rhode Island. www.psjones.com.
|Posted by WOMA on September 6, 2010 at 7:43 AM||comments (1)|
“Typical day that the black girl sees/comin’ home wantin’ more from a college degree.”
-Nas’ “Black Girl Lost”
crushed zirconium gloss & glory
glides across her lips. she looks
in the mirror, puckers, pops her gum,
knows what would
happen if mama saw her
bounce-bounce song scripts
pinned into rivets of denim
pressed into thighs rockin
two-pocket shorts cause she can
purveyors of pulp nonfiction
sit on regals wit chrome rims
and damn her pelvic metronome
a poet sketches what he imagines
as her fantasies
behind his microphone
he pastes her into fables of blow jobs for hand bags
haphazardly stitches her walk into crack alleys
half-tapes her barely breathing body with bruises
women sit facing the microphone
their pupils spin full circles
the girl is each one of them
when she had the periodic table of elements
next to cut-outs from right on!
she wanted to be a nurse
or just get an a in chemistry quietly
while looking like
doing something she ain’t
Rub brazil nut shampoo
onto palms. Add a little
tea tree oil so the scalp
sighs upon touch.
Rub soap and oil
into his scalp. Watch
eyes close like last night.
Work up the lather.
Rinse each fibrous gleam
til water runs sudsless.
Repeat as desired.
Massage hands with jasmine
oil and shea butter. Apply to
soft tufts rooting their way
out of skin. Remember
the hair needs it most.
Do not fear popping
locks apart, binding
them like old letters,
separating bunches into plaits
so you can play in his kitchen.
Twist at least 9 times
clockwise as if coiling
rungs to God.
“Switch” and “Lock Maintenance” both appear in Arc & Hue (Aquarius Press/Willow Books, 2009).
Tara Betts is a Cave Canem fellow. She teaches creative writing and poetry at Rutgers University. She has read across the U.S. and internationally. Her work was dramatized in Steppenwolf Theater’s “Words on Fire” and adaptations of Fingernails Across a Chalkboard and That Takes Ovaries! Her writing also appears in several journals and anthologies, such as Gathering Ground, Bum Rush the Page, and both Spoken Word Revolution anthologies.
On September 20, 2010--6:30 to 8:30-- MahoganyBooks is celebrating the one year anniversary of Tara's debut poetry collection, Arc & Hue. Tara will read from her acclaimed book and special guests Derrick Weston Brown, Sonya Renee, & Truth Thomas will also read.
U-topia Bar & Grill
1418 U Street NW
|Posted by WOMA on August 31, 2010 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
The porch is now empty after much
womanifesting and storytelling
and sipping and fanning
and swatting and funning
and coming and going
through the screen door.
The mosquitoes have passed out,
so drunk, full of our blood moonshine.
Green-gold fireflies pulse again,
visible against the darkness.
The crickets, hushed by our belly-deep laughter,
rehearse a comeback song.
Then, slowly, night’s moon,
full of herself, as a grand gesture,
releases her pull just enough
so that we may find embrace in our dreams
until we meet again,
here on this wrap-around porch.
Tracy Chiles McGhee
Tracy is the Founder & Executive Director of WOMANIFESTING. She resides in Washington, D.C. and authors the blog "Passionate Self by Tracy." Her works have appeared in Mary Jane Ryals Poetry Corner: Tallahasee Democrat, Aspirations: Mosaic of Thoughts (Althea Dixon), Planetary Stories: Black Earth Institute, BOMB Magazine, Nashville News, Coloring Book: An Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multi-cultural Writers, and Slow Trains Literary Journal.
|Posted by WOMA on July 26, 2010 at 6:14 AM||comments (5)|
By: Meri Culp
Even the pepper’s skin will burn to the touch, Mom, my son says
as he fingers the slim fire, the just-picked red ripeness.
Be careful, he reminds, all kindness, newfound protection,
as I watch him harvest the peppers, red-handed, soon-to-be a man.
I want to tell him of life’s red hot sting,
of his grandmother’s dying request
for me to paint her fingernails chili pepper red,
to unearth from her drawer a favorite lipstick,
Revlon’s Marooned, the color of black/red gardens,
the deep bite of goodbye, an open wound.
I want to say, I know of burning, my son,
how one night, I fell hard into a sunset,
slammed into a slow-blaze burn
of every shade of red,
learned how crimson turns scarlet,
then fades, like nightfall, old chiffon , dusty and pink.
But instead, I heed his advice,
let him sound the warning alarm,
as if I had lived my life in a gentle garden,
in this place I notice is now: my son, me, our red cayennes.
By: Meri Culp
Tangerines and Yams
When you are young,
all is skin and juice:
You carry your basket to bed,
brimming overflow of firmness,
rounded to golden delicious curves,
shining summer sheets, tangled in tangerine,
a plumpearpeach dive,
citrus skimming, thirsting
for lemon, for lime,
for the feel of skin.
I am ripe, you think,
all fruit sassy, fresh,
ready to jump, spring into
into the not-so-still-life
of Erica-Jonged verse,
penned in orange-mango-ed lines,
running off the unmade bed,
coursing down the hall.
But soon, the quick-turn of nectar,
seeps into the grooves,
of life, of garden,
to the place you find yourself,
when you are of a certain age,
sifting through soil,
no longer distracted,
by the dangle of fruit,
unearthing the dusky weight
of rich russet, ponderous yam,
this harvest of irregular shapes,
You carry your brown bag to bed,
rustic offerings, earth-echoed,
your hands lifelined to all things rooted,
muted tenderness, many-eyed, skinned,
vulnerable stew of strength,
this winter mix of finger shadowed
love, here on time’s bed,
here, still burning orange,
this yam-halved sunset,
this red - rooted sky.
Meri Culp has been published in various journals, including Southeast Review, Apalachee Quarterly, BOMB, Painted Bride Quarterly, Nomads, Snug, The Northeast Chronicle, and Sweet: A Literary Confection. Her poems have also appeared online in True/Slant and USA Today and in the anthologies North of Wakulla and Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin's Inauguration Day Hat. Culp is currently working on a collection of stalk vegetable poems--from asparagus to rhubarb--and Gulf oil spill poems.
Meri Culp is SO WOMA.
|Posted by Tracy on February 22, 2010 at 1:39 PM||comments (2)|
Valarie Jean Bailey Tells What WOMA Means to Her
WOMA asked Valerie Jean Bailey, a Fiber Artist living in Clayton, North Carolina, what the Womanifesting Movement means to her as an artist and this was her response:
“Making Fiber Art is my life’s work. When I began the “Pulpit Series” in 2004, it started a spiritual journey that, at the onset, told me I couldn’t travel its path alone. I offered fervent prayer to the Mother Goddess Most High to seek the assistance of my sisters to help heal & empower women through my art. The birth of “Womanifesting” is the answer to my prayer.”
Shrine of the Bottle Tree Flowers by Valerie Jean Bailey
In March 2007, I had an exhibition entitled “Shrine of the Bottle Tree Flowers” The overall concept came from my love of history & folklore. In the olden days, a bottle tree placed in the yard, (commonly made from a dead tree and empty bottles stuck onto the branches by their necks) was thought to keep the “haunts” from entering the house. The bottles would capture and imprison evil before it could do damage. My bottle tree is the antithesis of stopping evil haunts; it actually seeks to release love, strength, and positivity into the universe and every living thing therein. It was created to be is a sacred place for devotion, reflection &redemption. As more of Mother Earth’s people acknowledge the severity and urgency in the struggle to heal our planet, we must understand our own personal involvement in her healing. Facing a “litany of woes” that contribute to the ailmentof the planet, we must recognize that each and every one of us firstly, needs to heal ourselves in order to wage struggle.
As for me, I seek the assistance of women whom I have known in my family, in life, discovered in books and other sources; whose contributions have in their own way influenced my life. All have transitioned to the other side. The Gate Keepers, though, are still in our midst working daily for peace & righteousness. I chose these women from my experience and gathered them together under this “live” tree to help heal & empower women. I wanted healing for myself and for other women to gird us once again in self-respect and unity. I want women, young & old alike, to renew their faith in themselves, to respect their bodies by staying healthy & focused; to believe in a higher power and seek a higher consciousness, to look to the ancestors who made a way out of no way and not only survived, but triumphed. It’s time for women to wake up and take back the night and the day! Take back the day, especially, when laws are being made in courts across the world, which are not favorable to the life & health of women.
The bottles are vessels that contain the positive energy & wisdom of these women who left a legacy of love & power and stand upright to release it into the universe. When you look at their images on the bottles and feel their spirit, “remember” them; recall the contributions they made and how they affect your life today. Remembrance is a sacred act, a most powerful weapon against apathy and fear. “Remember Me,” they ask. Then think about your own mortality, what have you done in this life, and your own destiny. At this “Shrine of the Bottle Tree Flowers” , it is my fervent hope that you will find the love, healing & empowerment that has been sewn into every stitch, every knot, every seam,and conjured up into every bottle.
Then use it to heal Mother Earth.
Thank you Ms. Valerie Jean Bailey for exemplifying WOMA!
For Ms. Bailey's bio and to see more beautiful images from the "Shrine of the Bottle Tree Flowers", please visit here: