Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lucille Clifton Sunday ShapeShifter Rebirth BroadcastL Birthday Edition

This week…in honor of Lucille Clifton’s first birthday since her transition to starshine I offer the first of a series of weekly Sunday Rebirth Broadcasts in honor of Lucille Clifton! Today’s exercise is based on her powerful survival poem “won’t you celebrate with me.”

Lucille Clifton Sunday ShapeShifter Rebirth Broadcast: Birthday Edition from Alexis Gumbs on Vimeo.

This series of broadcasts is part of the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School:

In honor of the great poet Lucille Clifton, who was also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a mother, an artist and self-identified Amazon warrior through her poetry, the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School is especially designed for families that are committed to ending childhood sexual abuse and all forms of gendered violence. Informed by Generation 5 and the regional plan of the Atlanta Transformative Justice Collaborative, the ShapeShifter Survival School is part of a holistic process of ending child sexual abuse by creating healing community.

for more details on the 4 components of the ShapeShifter Survival School look here:

And finally…no one delivers this poem better than Ms. Lucille herself.

Happy Birthday Lucille Clifton: Announcing the Shapeshifter Survival School

Introducing the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School in Durham, NC!!!!

In honor of the great poet Lucille Clifton, who was also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a mother, an artist and self-identified Amazon warrior through her poetry, the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival School is especially designed for families that are committed to ending childhood sexual abuse and all forms of gendered violence. Informed by Generation 5 and the regional plan of the Atlanta Transformative Justice Collaborative, the ShapeShifter Survival School is part of a holistic process of ending child sexual abuse by creating healing community.

The ShapeShifter Survival School has 4 components:

Lucille Clifton Sunday Rebirth Broadcasts: Every Sunday starting on Lucille Clifton's birthday (June 27th) and going until November 7th Lex will video broadcast a poem by Lucille Clifton and a survival reflection/activity.

ShapeShifter Poetry Intensive for Parents (Saturday August 21st 10am-5pm) CHILDCARE AND MEALS PROVIDED (email if you want to do childcare or donate food or photocopies!)

For all parents and caregivers and survivors of sexual violence who are committed to ending child sexual abuse this poetry intensive will allow participants to reflect on Lucille Clifton's ShapeShifter series and other poems that deal directly with her experience as a survivor of child sexual abuse and to write and share their own poetry of healing and transformation.

Suggested donation: $25-100 (monetary and in-kind donations welcome at any point in the process...we encourage asking for donations from your families of origin and communities as a way to share your vision with them of creating a world free from child sexual abuse)

On Tuesday August 24th participants and allies will reconvene over tea to check-in in a loving affirming space and to make handmade ShapeShifter booklets as a fundraiser for the continued work of the ShapeShifter Survival School .

On Wednesday September 15th we will have another check-in about the process of sharing this work and bringing up the topic of child sexual abuse in our communities.

Everett Anderson Storytime Week! (Monday September 20-Wednesday September 22) (ALL AGES INCLUSIVE DONATIONS WELCOME!)

Lucille Clifton wrote a series of books called the "Everett Anderson Books" for her children and other children that discuss difficult issues, including the loss of a loved one, internalized racism and sexism and witnessing abuse as child. With dinner and cookies and milk we will read these stories together and do a series of activities designed to help us create ways of sharing difficult and important stories across generations in our communities. We believe that sharing stories, truthtelling, is a key practice towards ending child sexual abuse and all cycles of violence in our communities.

All Souls ShapeShifter Story Making Day (Sunday Oct 31st 11am-6pm) (ALL AGES INCLUSIVE...SWEET DONATIONS WELCOME!)

Replete with costumes, candy and storymaking stations this will be a chance for us to make our own collaborative illustrated community story about transformation, facing what scares us and creating a world free from child sexual abuse and all gendered violence. Our beautiful story and our beautiful process of creating together will be a resource for us and for superheroes everywhere.

Applications for the poetry intensive coming soon! Email to express interest in participating, donating a scholarship or donating food, money, photocopies, DV tapes and other forms of love!!!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Notes From Kansas: by MobileHomeComing Interviewee Angela Denise Davis


*Note: We are thrilled to be practicing intergenerational love and we are learning from the best. This piece is a beautiful reflection by MobileHomeComing Interviewee Angela Denise Davis about FINDING her mother's garden.

I know there is a poem in this somewhere. It almost got lost this evening when my mother did a final spray over her garden and did not notice that my laptop was on the patio table.

My mother’s back yard is full of flavor: an old kitchen, ceiling fan turned sideways on a patio column, a black mailbox that peeks from the grapevines, an umbrella on the deck that leans to kiss the umbrella on the patio, and a striped snake whose presence is the reason for a container of mothballs on the table. I wish I had a camera.

Her back yard is her sanctuary. I find shelter in a chair that is snuggled by a palm plant and a family of pots – terra cotta, green plastic, clay, metal, and those invented out of found objects.

She is out there in the morning and in the late evening when the sun is less brutal than at mid-day.

I watched this evening as she cut down wandering vines and swept the patio clean. My father will have work to do tomorrow. I ask if I should put the cut greenery in the garden trash can.

“No,” she says.

“Mama, dad ain’t gonna like seeing this stuff on his fresh cut lawn,” I tell her.

She just replies with a chuckle that he needs to see all the work he should have done. She said he would never recognize her work if she didn’t leave the pile in the yard. She is right, of course. My father says she works too hard, but he enjoys the creation of vines structure and spirit as much as she does.

I listen as the water from the faucet trickles into a bucket she has slid under the attached hose.

“I don’t like to waste water,” she informs me and I take the bucket into her garden. The Marigolds did not get rain last night. They will thrive in their homes made of the holes in the cement blocks that line her rows of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and okra.

There is always work to do in this space my mother has created. This evening she wants to place hooks on the beams of her patio roof.

“Who does this when I am not here, Mama?” I ask with the answer already in my head.

“Oh, your dad,” she says. I know that she does not always have the patience to wait for him, though. Tonight, I make sure that she does not over exert herself and reach for the drill in her hand.

I step on the small, metal stool and place the drill over my head, reaching as high as I can. Three hooks later, we place the ferns and other potted plants just beneath the lattice covered with wild vines. She tells me that anyone from Alabama or Mississippi would know the name of the mass of greenery that hangs from the patio roof like a blanket of leaves. I tell her that I will ask Mary Anne about the vine which my mother thinks may be named Ms. Astor.

The night was closing fast around us, but I would not go in the house until my mother was trailing behind me. I knew that she could always find more work to do before calling it quits. She will be 70 years-old next January. She has more work in this life than she will ever finish.

“We’ll get the rest in the morning,” I tell her.

This week has been full of heart work. We have grieved the loss of her niece, my cousin. It has been a loss that has made our distance more regretful. Here, in her green world we seem to be finding our way back home to each other. We are two women working on reconciliation. Perhaps, we are planting new ways of being mother and daughter. I hope so, but do not invest too much time in expecting what the harvest of these days will bring. I am simply satisfied with the knowledge that we have planted something new between us here in her back yard even though there is more work for tomorrow.

-Angela Denise Davis

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

making a slight change in our lives

this is a speech/presentation given by my heroine, a palestinian woman/mother who lives in a village in the south hebron hills and organizes women from six neighboring villages in a women’s co-operative. she is a leader and for me one of the most amazing organizers i have ever met. she is the woman who sparked my vision for revolutionary motherhood. her fierceness, perception, vision, sense of humor, and commitment to her community’s life is my inspiration.

(in this she mentions some of my favorite people from the village, hafez, nasser, her husband, and saber. these three men will always hold a special place in my heart for how much they taught me and supported me .)

shukran ktir to joy for posting this.

I want to speak to you about the position of the women in At-Tuwani village. First of all, women in this village suffer from very conservative cultural traditions. In regards to education, which is a right of women to have, unfortunately most of the women in At-Tuwani are illiterate. They have only managed to study through third grade. The role of the women is to work on the fields with the men and to have children and care for them. Five years ago, we gathered the women and decided we needed to make a slight change to our lives.

You should that know that women have rights and even though women’s rights have not been meet, we have decided to form a women’s cooperative. Even though, when we meet and decide what we wanted to do, we still had to consult with the men of the village. At first, they objected very strongly and they said, “Your role is just to care for your homes and your children, and to work in the fields.” We did not accept their rejection and therefore we had to think of activities to do, things that do not get in the way of the traditions and the culture that we live in. So we agreed, as most of the women are quite skilled in embroidery, even though they were not taught it but are skilled because many generations of tradition, we could use that as a starting point.

We came up with the idea of doing embroidery work to improve the economy of the village because of the settlers and the settlements around us and the way they confiscate our land and attack our homes and flocks. All of these was effecting the women of the village and our children. So we had to again bring it to the men of the village because of we had some support, but not a majority. The most important support for me was from my husband, Hafez, and Saber, the mayor of the village.


Now many girls are able to finish high school and there are three girls in university.


The women here feel that they have two types of nonviolent resistance: one is against the occupation and one about men. For example, at first the men objected to our work, but slowly they came to see it differently. I see this as our victory. We did it without posing difficulties or causing problems in family or separations in marriages. Gradually, the idea grew.

In terms of the rest of the village, another example of our nonviolent resistance is the building of the school. Initially, the Israeli government forbid it and the Israeli army was arresting the teachers as they were coming to build the school. Despite that, we continued with it. The teachers and the architect would work on the building in the evening and the women would work in the day to make the cement for the school. Whenever the military used to come to see if there were men working on the site, they would see only women. So, they would just pass by. First we built three classrooms. Then we built another nine and now our children have access to further education.

When the Israeli army said that the school was under demolition order, we said ,“Fine. You can do that. We will rebuild it.” The same happened with the mosque up the hill. They demolished it and we rebuilt it. The same thing happened when we built the clinic. The men would work at night when the army was not watching carefully and during the day the women would work.

Now we also have nonviolent resistance about electricity. When Tony Blaire visited Tuwani he said “We have to bring electricity to Tuwani.” The Israeli authorities informed Tony Blaire that it was not forbidden for them to get electricity. The electric company started to work to put up the pylons and the power lines, but then they were forced to stop and haven’t started again. On a winter day in December, we noticed that that was a lot of activity at the bottom of the road, while they were putting up the electric pylons. The whole village went down to the main road and saw that the army had brought bulldozers and police and everything necessary to take down the pylons. They said that they wanted to enter the rest of the village to take all of the pylons. The mayor of the village told us to block the road with stones. The military whenever they saw a man from the village wanting to speak with them, they were ready to arrest them. So the women said to the men, “You stay at home where you are so you are not arrested and we will go in front of the military and deal with them.” It was a very cold, rainy winter day. All of the women went down in front of the army jeeps, arm in arm, with our children in front of us, and forbid the army from entering the village. The commander order the soldiers to throw tear gas to frighten the women away. They were also revving the engines of the jeeps to scare us, but we said “We’re really cold! The warmth from the jeep is good!” Then they opened the door of the jeeps and we were surprised to see many female Israeli soldiers with their army gear. They were ordered to face the women of the village. The military women came towards us. They were ordered to start beating us. We said, “Come on! We’re ready! We’re not wearing the gear that you’re wearing. All we are asking for is our rights and all we are asking for is electricity.” One of the women soldiers guested to the commander, saying “No.” Then she returned for the jeep. The women of the started saying to woman soldiers, “Come, are you afraid? Are you afraid to talk with us? Come and talk with us!” But I said that I believe that they returned to the jeep because they knew what they were doing was wrong and that we weren’t asking for much. The soldiers took down two pylons but they weren’t able to enter the village to remove the rest of them. God willing, we will be continue our struggle to get electricity. Whether by solar power or by something else, we will continue

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Poetry is Not a Luxury: The Remix (by School of Our Lorde Poetry Webinar Participants)

(Lex's wardrobe provided by Ammoliscious and sister-comrade Leah Burke)


After reading and discussing Audre Lorde's "Poetry is Not a Luxury" the participants in the School of Our Lorde Poetry Webinar collaboratively created these two poems about what poetry IS and what it IS NOT!!!! Much love to Monchel, Chantal, Rosa and Leana for being badass cyber cypher warriors!!!!


poetry is not a mask

poetry is not a commercial

poetry is not homogeneous

poetry is not an excuse

poetry is not perverse

poetry is not linear

poetry is not just for white guys with nothing better to do

poetry is not canonized

not a classroom unit

poetry is not a bunch/of line breaks/in random/places

not a grade

poetry is not taught or learned--it's the language we were born with

not death without a birth

poetry is not inhibited

poetry is not brought to you by hallmark

a competition

poetry [will] not be televised

not a "10"

poetry is not about meter

poetry is not an accessory in a psuedo-revolutionary lifestyle

poetry is not oppressive

poetry is not convenient

poetry is not always easy

poetry is not boxable

not a bindi on a dreadlocked white girl's forehead at a powwow

poetry is not the destination -- it is the journey

poetry is not standard english

poetry is not patchouli


poetry is my son's smile

my fingers walking across his belly and squirming back

poetry is a heartbeat


poetry is what i say to my reflection when i think no one is listening

poetry is a place to live

poetry is goosebumps!

poetry is breath

poetry is prayer

poetry is a breath of fresh air

poetry is italian ice on a 90-degree day


poetry is your hand in mine

poetry is laughing out loud :P


poetry is an ecosystem


poetry is painful but not in vain

poetry is a lifeline

poetry is family

poetry is an open heart

poetry is a safe space

poetry is knowing when you've met The One (or The Ones)

poetry is an exorcism

poetry is jabberwocky

poetry is knowing when you've met yourself

poetry is a new spelling of my name and everything else

poetry is the sound of sitting still

the sounds of getting up

poetry is raw

sdrawkcab si yrteop

poetry is forwards

poetry is a yes followed by an oh yes!

poetry is circular

poetry is everpresent

poetry is old

is silent when we're not listening, but still persistently there

poetry is about to happen

poetry is our only hope

poetry is wanted and feared

poetry is your skin knitting itself back together

poetry is omnipresent

poetry is an open door

this language is beautiful

poetry is love

poetry is stinky funky lust

poetry is knowing when to stop

and start again

poetry is what makes you say "aww" when you see a little kid

poetry is putting into words what had no words before

poetry is putting into words what never existed before

poetry is what my heart is saying to my hand

poetry is constantly naming what is so it doesn't get lost

poetry is mothering myself

poetry is how my mom calls my cell phone whenever i say (or type) the word “mother”

poetry is calling for my attention

to join the School of Our Lorde Poetry Webinar email