*Love and gratitude to Mama for this photograph, to Daddy for this moment and to Daniel Alexander Jones for sparking my interest in binary star systems and also modeling so gracefully the transfer and redistribution of light. “Sista Docta” Alexis Pauline Gumbs is well-versed in the intersections of harm. who guide beside me. astronomy ☰ Back to top. But that feeling of longing and reaching, of loving and becoming, I wonder if even this whole universe is but an index for that uncontainable energy. My heart is not a muscle. I continue to love you enough to feel the pain of wanting all of this to be different. More… News & Interviews. Such a natural response to all this sun and sand in my eyes. By Alexis Pauline Gumbs on October 29, 2012. And now, with all the lessons I am learning now, especially the visceral emotional lessons of grief, all I want is to look into my father’s face. Rare opportunities where loved ones have off of work and time travel to the context of favorite foods tinged with disbelief, dressed in a lie we don’t believe in but still use and live inside of in the supposed absence of a better story. on autopilot, and where did it land generate light like a helmet But looking back at this picture I imagine that whatever my Dad is saying to me to me in this moment is a message for right now, when I am in the mode of darkness, not a clear path but a mysterious part of the journey that ultimately has the most gifts, (pagan appropriation and capitalist harnessing of generosity aside). Much respect back and forth…, Copyright © 2019 Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity , also published by Duke University Press; coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines; and the founder and director of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, an educational program based in Durham, North Carolina. who designate exactly me. What attention would we give our food, where would we pause to eat, who would we eat near if food was to our bodies what breath is to our spirits? and walk and not fall through, write it like rice Spoiler alert, he did not create a financial structure that left us all independently wealthy, though I think he tried. If I can really be with the dark parts of myself, the underground, the shadowed aspects of my life and my journey I will learn so much more, love myself deeper, rest enough to grow in invisible ways. There is so much grief. then vehicles that transport gas Now sing. But knowing that my ancestors and all the no longer embodied can only come be part of this celebration on earth if I create one, a celebration, a portal for their love to stream through for me but also beyond me to you and all of us makes me realize that the work of celebration is crucial. who teach … And also I imagine that I am the sun, I am the sand that confronts us. These two archangel ancestors especially, that supports me to move into a future so bright I can’t describe it. Of course the blood pumping valve, central metronome of my breathing is a muscle. Which may be why until today I was afraid to say what I know. At the peak of the Leonids meteor shower. She is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity and the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. It is a completely clear no. what alexis wrote made me think of our mindfulness practice of focusing on breath, paying notice when it has remained unnoticed for so long. How your impact moves through air. thank you so much. Who does that? Is it death or birth. A passageway, variously constricted or open. Share. Thanksgiving is literally the commemoration of a time when in the name of their so-called freedom a group of people ignored the consequences of the illness they carried with genocidal results. the downfall of drummed up debt worldwide And my words and my actions throughout the day are mostly as awkward as this face , calling forth a tear membrane memory. The concluding volume in a poetic trilogy, Alexis Pauline Gumbs's Dub: Finding Ceremony takes inspiration from theorist Sylvia Wynter, dub poetry, and ocean life to offer a catalog of possible methods for remembering, healing, listening, and living otherwise. Another form of writing, near a wall that will not stop being a wall. I want to honor the people, the elements the energy that continually gives me this gift I am calling life. sear like prophecy on our hearts, For Romham Gallacher This set of poems is inspired by Toni Morrison, June Jordan, Marlene Nourbese Philip and many more.” For Chanelle Gallant To send you off to sleep dreaming of the earth and liberation (or welcome you awake, if you read this in the morning), I’m deeply glad to share poems from the incredible activist, organizer, poet, teacher, culture-maker, and “community accountable scholar” (her own lovely phrase), Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Every time we reach this dark time of the year it is a challenge for me to distinguish my mammal memory that it is time to hibernate from a feeling of depression, and even workaholic shame that all the things I wish I could get done before the end of the capitalist year drag through me like mud. Alexis Pauline Gumbs: “I am a queer black troublemaker and a black feminist love evangelist in Durham, North Carolina. Seriously. I enjoyed reading these three poems.Are there others available? It grows toxic if I keep it around after it has already offered its gift. I am ready to unlearn my life as an earned achievement and to accept it as a gift. You beautiful being full of air, on a planet made of salt. What all of us who have survived the death of loved one must know. Today I am embracing the brightness of ancestral presence and guidance, especially when life changes at a rate where I really don’t know what I’m looking at. pressure of wishes, i ate french fries I want you to know how much I love you. And so I celebrate my father, I celebrate myself as his daughter. Arts & Literature; Blackness; Poetry; Queer; Join the Scalawag family Join Southerners from Clarksdale to Danville who are chipping in $5 a month to continue and strengthen our work. What do you need to release? In her poem “Father Son and Holy Ghost” Audre Lorde writes about why she has not yet gone to her father’s grave. and the heirloom seed-bomb airlift All of our relationships are. Today. i’ve always had a tumultuous relationship with food, specifically, i have had periods of home-cooked deliciousness and many more periods of brightly packaged poison. The thing about getting into the water is that at first you feel the boundaries of your skin differently than you could in air. What I see in my face is the innocence of not knowing how the pendulum swings and the joy of my father’s silliness. when something is imagined in ways that i had not yet seen, it seeps through me far and wide. The moment of this picture was not my first experience of the ocean, but it was an early one. In the poem, published in her first collection “The First Cities” she mourns and remembers her father, but most of all she reveals her fear of how death has made him “changeless.” It is that changelessness that terrifies her. And it is not what I paint on my chest that matters. Share. When I look at this picture right now, missing my father and reaching to find him beyond embodied form, missing my Nana who I see over video chat and cannot touch for who knows how long, I feel so bound. Again. Yes. How supportive the ocean actually is to my life. Every sunrise I meet my father again. Where love flows through, or at least leaks out. The healing blessing component of the dance ceremony seeks to harness the cosmic power of the meteor and the storm, spinning participants in a circle counter-clockwise. is the table we build by sharing, train our tongues to be trans I think what explains my relationship to theory and poetry right now is that I am a West Indian poet and theorist, which to me means that in that tradition, in my work poetry and theory will tend to converge. My heart was never a muscle. Issue 29.2 features poetry by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, who is a Black feminist love evangelist of Afro-Caribbean ascendance who lives in Durham, North Carolina. almost out of gas, tires pattern bald There is some good news I would love to celebrate with him. With open pores all over the surface of your life. Between the corporate credit computer crash The concluding volume in a poetic trilogy, Alexis Pauline Gumbs's Dub: Finding Ceremony takes inspiration from theorist Sylvia Wynter, dub poetry, and ocean life to offer a catalog of possible methods for remembering, healing, listening, and living otherwise. Am I looking out of the frame into this barely imaginable future? The prayer of your perfect … The portal of every pore cleared. It is every blessed breath. I come back to our collectively favorite Nikki Giovanni proclamation: “Black love is Black wealth.” And now I can hear through the love of my father (who by they way bought us Nikki Giovanni’s poetry for children) the deeper meaning in the words “you deserve to float.” Not as capitalist entitlement, but as a return to the ocean, the sun and the galaxies beyond. And openness is a form of strength. Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer Black feminist love evangelist who lives in Durham, North Carolina. Wearing a VERY similar outfit to me in this picture and also reaching. Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a poet, activist, and educator based in Durham, North Carolina. But still I have the experience some days of consuming food that is filling without being nourishing. And so we poison the water and the air. who rise under me. This is part of what I am learning through loss. What faces do we make to brace for the brightness of sun, the razor sharp wind of sand. While with every new accomplishment I feel the longing for his witness, the sound of his voice in celebration, the hug, the words of pride and affirmation, I am grateful for the undeniable presence of his energy with me and in the world through those same moments. This is a subversive legacy. who radiate across me. Her work in this lifetime is to facilitate infinite, unstoppable ancestral love in practice. Amongst the moons and stars as usual. Gumbs holds a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. By each of you the moment you forget to pretend these poems are not yours. Of the love that’s there behind all of it. A few weeks ago with the help of my first computerized telescope (a gift from Sangodare) and the advice of my youngest brother Seneca about the rare proximity of Mars, I saw one of the moons of Mars. I love you. Sun rise. Career. But at some point the temperature balances, especially in the calm water of Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla which some people like to call “God’s bathtub.” Do you have those moments, were all of a sudden you feel the boundaries of yourself? It is not predicated on my excellence as a seeing being. Twitter Feed. in the mines when we eat our words It was always a hole. Joy is contagious seems like a strange thing to say during a pandemic. The poet is known for weaving the past, present, and future together—from environmental issues to the transatlantic slave trade—and offering up possibilities for caring for one another in the face of widespread harm. Oceans of it. There is some hard news I know he would empathize with. as I drove myself [1] The name of a Taino dance of healing that continues in Cuban spiritismo communities to this day as the Cordon. The work that I do in the world, the spirit work of black feminist love, is supported financially and spiritually by a community of people known and unknown to me who make themselves fellow travelers in my journey by so many shapes of saying yes. This poem wants to say there is something before that, that we remember through knowing each other as love and possible love. Advance praise for Undrowned: “Alexis Pauline Gumbs pushes us out of our comfort zone and into the sea, where other species are moving and mothering in ways that can teach us how to survive. A rushing towards, a leaning down inspiring a solar smile from the girl with the computer in her hands. by alexis pauline gumbs. Change and more change beyond that. Or how everything that made us reminds us that it will reclaim us. don’t have gas to run Joy moves through us. Just like about a third of my food comes from loved ones who I know and the majority comes from people who are offering their energy from far away in such an intimately relevant way. This year the time travel will not be visiting a childhood neighborhood or eating familiar foods inconsistent with my current dietary practices. Turn to her when you long to be reminded of how connected and resilient we all are. Until it's every breath I breathe. This salt-water writing feels like fire coming through. how would our whole selves shift? These sleeves of air. Every day. Binary star systems orbit each other, offer light to each other and then something happens. But what comes through. Burn through it. That when a loved one dies, what was an earthly relationship becomes a cosmic relationship. What can we keep? Each of the poems below is dedicated to someone who has tangibly supported my work to study with black feminist elders and to take sacred journeys to places of spiritual significance in the history and legacy of black feminist brilliance. I don’t know exactly why my mom decided to take a series of portraits of me and my dad in the dark near these trees during our first joint birthday party, I’ll ask. The best offering I have to give my ancestors is my joy. spell it like cauldron, these are the years And you too. I wonder if you know how much you weigh. But you can see it in the picture, the way joy spreads, the way our connection to each other’s joy teaches us that joy, like any energy, is not individually held but already shared. Pout of a girl who knows that she is loved. What if food was to daily practice what breath is to meditation? Dad still in the throes of his Saturn return, that time when all the lessons you have been able to avoid in your life come at you in a form that you cannot ignore. Maybe it is. Alexis Pauline Gumbs describes herself as a queer Black troublemaker, Black feminist love evangelist, educator, poet, and time-traveler. Redding is the way our flesh becomes warning intimate limit forces us to learn lessons bigger than us, like what happens to air. If there is not a better story, let there be a poem that breaks through the story of what is to touch what could be. And then there are my mother’s photographs, my face close to my father’s face and both of us nearsighted. My father passed away the October my first single-authored book came out. What I see in my own face in this picture is the discomfort of feeling a boundary between myself and the rest of creation when I remember a moment not too long before this picture when I didn’t experience a boundary at all. Poetry from Jericho Brown, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, & Taylor Johnson “It’s like we’re holding hands at the edge of a white silence, with which we are to make music of our being here.” by Alysia Harris December 1, 2020 December 3, 2020 Alexis Pauline Gumbs is an American writer, independent scholar, poet, activist and educator based in Durham, North Carolina. Thank you for being with us! I am remembering this moment when I was about the size of my father’s lungs. Books by Alexis Pauline Gumbs . May I open my heart to fresh sadnesses with even more gifts another day. Poetry from Jericho Brown, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, & Taylor Johnson. https://www.akpress.org/undrowned.html#pubday #praisethelorde. She is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, M Archive: After the End of the World, and Dub: Finding Ceremony. Table of Contents Back to Top It is an act of vulnerability. Of course they deserve to breathe easy and to know that life-supporting love is their divine gift to receive, not a scarce exception they have to learn. You deserve to float. Thanksgiving has meant conversations to have and not have. i have also always had the intention for the former to be my practice but my habit of 20 years is that of the latter. So not single authored after all. Sounds to Me Like A Promise: On Survival (After Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years by Dagmaar Schultz) “I love the word survival, it always sounds to me like a promise. I received this poem as an ancestral message from my father. What attention would we give our food, where would we pause to eat, who would we eat near if food was to our bodies what breath is to our spirits? The through line, the grounding place to return to the present reality, the passage way for being. I am like this ant-hill of human beings, continuing to invest in materials that do not affirm my being out of habit and convenience. 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