Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"The Time Has Come," the Walrus said

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
~"The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found there (1872)

I love this poem. When I graduated from Young Chicago Authors, a senior in high school and the only young Chicago author then who identified herself as a science-fiction and fantasy writer, the Executive Director Bob Boone gave me a box set of Lewis Carroll's famous work. Two volumes of Alice skipping across Wonderland. I still have them of course. I used this poem often with my better half in college...but those are other stories...stories that wait for boiling seas and flying pigs.

Another poem, passed along to me by Nunez Mom years and years ago, is probably more relevant:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The time has come and gone gente. K.Iris has already departed to parts beyond the nether. It is time for Kismet to move on as well.

No worries. If there is anything I've learned to do here it is to stop WAITING to speak up and speak out. As a result, my digital footprint is now gigantor. To pare it down:

You can find my most random thoughts here.
Find me trying to stay alive here.
Tweet me @kismetfour.

And because I truly believe in the the power of radical woman of color publishing, alternative media, transformative writing and witnessing--

Waiting 2 Speak will remain archive of my growth as an intellectual, an artist, a scholar, a student, a community member, and a woman of color.

I hope that any faults and flaws will be forgiven. They are my own. And I hope for myself that I have learned from them and will take what I've learned into future.

Browse, comment, share, etc. I'll still be following along and I look forward to continuing to engage in conversation with you in other times, spaces and places.

Biz familia,


Monday, May 11, 2009

Is Poetry Audiovisual?

I completely missed National Poetry Month (April) but in cleaning out my aggregator I came across this lovely lady Bassey Ikpi (H/T WriteBlack):

Which reminded me of this, passed along to me by Littlest Sis a few weeks ago. Embedding is disabled but her name is Zora Howard, she is performing at the Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam and you can also find here here in this short film by Lisa Russell.

To me these are two interesting and different examples of how poetry can speak. Bassey's poem is powerful spoken. But I would have also liked the time and private space to read it on the page, digest it with my eyes, ruminate and return to this line, or sit back and reflect on how that word fits into the entire stanza and the page. Whereas Zora's poem could possibly be read. But then you lose the power of this little dynamo, the energy of her breath, the movement of her body and the physicality of her "bi-racial hair." Just as reading Bassey on the page you could remove her--slight, black, roundly and delightfully pregnant and singular on the stage--from sight.

If read, the audience/reader stops being confronted with Bassey's body and the immediacy of the poem, the black baby boy soon to be born, recedes. Or at least, our assumption of immediacy--because, of course, that poem could be old, that boy could already be born, he could already be grown, that could actually be a daughter, or it could even be a baby suit which would make it a complete farce and the visual becomes just another prop, a part of the performance of the poem.

If spoken, we lose the opportunity to consider Zora's historical anecdotes. She deserves footnotes.

I love both versions--page and stage.

Still, what do we (the audience) gain and lose in each version? Are there poems that work well in both forms regardless? Are there forms that work better for women (of color) than for men? And how should we (the artist) navigate the intricacies of whichever form we choose?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Because I was born of a matriarchy.....

...because I have bi-racial hair and while Nunez Mom is a non-violent mujer, Nunez Matriarch definitely gave me a swat or two with her chinelas get me to sit for its combing....

...because they are the reason for my being....

Happy Mother's Nunez Mom...and to Cuqui, Premonition who is a momi-to-be (in a matter of days)...and to all the other querida blogging and real world mommies, too many to mention.

(Picture Credit: "Hija de Yemaya y Ochun" by Yasmin Hernandez, a super bad, political, activist, rooted in raices y la tierra Boricua artista. Read about her here and support her site here.)

ETA: Took out the italics on my Puerto Rican. So I guess I'll owe a post about why soon. (Evolving Boricua Latina Caribeana mindset is the short answer...)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Link Love Live: Week of May 6th

I'll start slow and I'll try something new. It's called Link Love Live. Below are some of my favorite links for the week of May 6, 2009 (sorry for the hump day start). All you have to do is keep checking in all week for updates....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama speech at the Time 100 Most Influential People Awards. Grab it here. (JJP)

So there is a link between sexual assault and colonization? Finally acknowledged. (BFP)

Binyavanga Wainaina teaches us How to write about Africa.

"Until," Julie Wallace's Queer Renaissance film-making debut, breaks ground in Atlanta this summer. Read the review by Alexis Pauline Gumbs of BrokenBeautiful Press here.

The best of Vlogging While Black. Pick someone new to subscribe to today. (I'm following TonyaTKO now)

Friday, May 8th, 2009

THIS, a protest by students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, uses space, art, the internet and general youthful insurgency to make a point about the marginalization of people of color at UM's campus. Check out their blog as they work to create safe spaces. Check out BFP's rethinking and support of the protest here.

New Black Man (Mark Anthony Neal) breaks down the power and problem of today's HBCUs as only a man truly in love with them and the black community can.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My favorite vlogger, Jay-Smooth of The Illdoctrine, comments on Asher Roth's adorably racist tweet--yes, I call it racism, and yes a post is coming on what the heck we mean when we call someone, anyone racist and why not using that word may be less helpful than using it--about "nappy headed hoes." Kismet is not the biggest fan of his latest album Asleep in the Bread Isle (ETA: Name change - Because I clearly had the less than legal copy) and not just because of his pseudo-date-rape anthem "I Love College." After all, if I can sway with Weezy every once in awhile I can handle Roth's self-deprecating whiteness. I just honestly wasn't that impressed with the wordflow. Or the beats. Or the concept. Or...yeah, you get the picture.


(ETA: Apparently others have strong opinions on Asher Roth but I think Ian Cohen over at Pitchfork really pust his finger on why I was so underwhelmed--and implies hwy there is so much damn hype over him. Huge H/T to Feministe)

In honor of Mother's Day, Lori Gottlieb considers the less warm-and-fuzzy side of writers writing about their mothers.

What is Social Justice to a Slave?

"For those living with some comfort in the First World, the future no longer exists as a common reference point. Yet for human beings, being sane depends on the acknowledgment of a continuity between the long since dead and those waiting to be born. The richer societies are being increasingly deprived of a temporal dimension essential to any spiritual life." --John Berger, “Foreword: To Try and Understand,” in The Algebra of Infinite Justice, by Arundhati Roy (London: Flamingo, 2002), xvii
In the U.S., we've fallen into the dangerous habit of speaking of slavery and segregation as though the words represent some Time Long Past. Slavery as that Troubling Matter of whips and cotton and bent backs and Roots which is thankfully behind us now. Segregation as those hoses, dogs and embarrassing Southern ignorance we finally got rid of (as though Jim Crow was purely a Mississippi Delta phenomenon and racism existed solely below the Mason-Dixon line).

We hardly speak of chattel slavery as the foundation of our economic system, social inequalities, and political radicalism. Of slaves as the first freedom fighters, activists, and community organizers. Of Freedom Riders as part of the legacy of that activism. Of Rosa and Coretta, Etta and Fannie. And these are the well-known names.

We've moved on to More Important Things. Our histories have become stories have become myths mumbled out of obligation to our predecessors instead of out of a recognition that the ghost of the plantation (and the workshop, and the mill, and the kitchen) sits right over our shoulder. We invoke Ann Nixon Cooper as a symbol of a life lived and then ignore those who question the very role and relevance of what that life might mean. We seat a Sojourner in our Capital and celebrate our journey from slaves to citizens, but ask the welfare queen to put her tiara back on because this stimulus is only for "those who did everything right" and you ran your credit card balance just a little too high.

As the recession deepens, words and statues should accompany public policies that consider a legacy of unequal distribution of resources and acknowledge a history of violence and of resilience. But few economists extend their analysis of the current crisis further back than the last decade. Which means the importance of houses--of land itself--to a long since distressed African-American community is dismissed in the scramble for better credit plans and harder stress tests. Which means that black farmers--yes there are still black farmers--continue to clamor for change they can believe in.

Our forgetting extends with each monument and each moment because we desperately want to believe a page has turned and the past is finally presenting us with a clean slate.

But even our blank sheets of paper are bloodstained.

In the meantime, the past roars in the silence.


The UN Special Focus Report on the demolition of Palestian neighborhoods in East Jersualem begins simply:
"In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and unilaterally
annexed to its territory 70.5 km2 of the occupied area, which
were subsequently integrated within the Jersualem municipality. This annexation contravenes international law..."
Appropriation of land for "green areas," exorbitant legal fees and fines on Palestinan men and women attempting to block the demolition of their homes or plan construction of new ones, and re-re-zonings of pre-1967 neighborhoods all amount to a systematic effort to displace Palestinan landowners.

The report reads like a lesson in 1930s urban redlining. (Or perhaps "predatory lending in reverse").

"In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilise it."

The birth of the Taliban as we know it today.


On June 12, 1967, Chief Justice Warren delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia:
"This case presents a constitutional question never addressed by this Court: whether a statutory scheme adopted by the State of Virginia to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classifications violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. For reasons which seem to us to reflect the central meaning of those constitutional commands, we conclude that these statutes cannot stand consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment."
Overturning the original trial judge's contention that:
"Almight God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with this arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
An uncomfortably familiar argument. And yes...he said malay.


This should not even be up for debate (you're a Jack Bauer kind of girl?)


It is our responsibility to remember, to research, to honor and re-honor our own dead. But the forgetting? That part isn't entirely our fault. Revisionist history is as American as fried chicken and apple pie. Black people in the U.S. manifest the best and worst of what this country has to offer. Its determined hope, drive and ambition for the future. Its self-centered and viral xenophobia. Its radical love and sense of global citizenship. And its selective amnesia to any and all facts that might restate, reshape, reimagine the case--whatever the case of the moment might be.

This existence, with all of its contradictions, has galvanized us but also threaten to tear us apart by blinding us to the truth.

And what is the truth?

What is social justice to a slave?

To struggle on a daily basis--

to love who we wanted when we wanted, to claim family despite the caprice of market prices, to love the land and hate the lash, to love our children and hate their father, to worship fire-breathing gods and goddesses whose power screamed through our skin that we were the chosen ones

--to live "while we are alive" not after we are dead.

It is our responsibility to remember our dead and to shape a politics that honors the struggles
of our ancestors. Only we can teach our children how to move forward because only we best recognize the potholes our labor pains left behind.

We can't learn from our experience if we are consistently forgetting it.

We can move forward human, sane and full-bodied if instead of relying on ideology or the caprice of this theoryexpertcounselorpoliticianacademic who happens to be center stage right now (yes, even Barack; yes, even little ole me) we rely on the whole of our experience in the modern world. All fraught and fragile 400+ years and of it. And conduct ourselves accordingly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008