Category Archives: activism

I’d Be Lying by Rachel Nix


Print by Bright Room Studio on Etsy

I’d Be Lying

if I said I wasn’t nervous. My sister, concerned:

I’m afraid Christians may hurt my son.
I’ve been up all night trying to decide if we should go
.


When I say Christian, I don’t mean Christian; I mean
those who say amen when it isn’t right.

Is it more important to be seen, to show ourselves in the light – 

where darkness protrudes to swallow good? Should we cower,

allow those who holler hatred to mark us apathetic?

All this worry, all this fear, all to decide: is it safe to hold a candle
in the park to mourn people we know in a way only our empathy allows?


The argument: was it a Muslim or should we blame the gun?

I know that people are afraid – not so much of what they do not understand,
but that which they cannot control.



There are no Muslims in my town – little diversity at all.

I do not fear those who do not exist here. I fear those who do,

those who outnumber me and those who lean on falsehoods;

I fear their guns and their tempers,
their blind hatred and their snap reactions.

I know those who are victim to a misshapen faith do not understand
love as it is: without preconceptions.

I know those who fight for this generation’s musket do not know

they are the ammunition for the weapon they believe protects them,

the weapon used to kill their neighbors.

They do not know that with every belly-ache argument
to hold on to these guns they pull a trigger; someone dies.

They do not know intolerance is genocide.
They shout: sinner, abomination—
not knowing the heaviness of words, of slurs.

They define: bleeding-heart liberal;
not knowing the truth of it.

They do not know this fear:
watching folks bleed to be remembered as human.

This is:

a baseball game / a grocery store / a first date / a dog park / America / a marriage
ceremony / lunch with friends / an argument at work / the internet / a public restroom /
church / business as usual / a quick walk down the block / prom / Orlando / home /
where you want to be / a bar / a safe place / Pride Month / a dance floor / war / a funeral /

a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral /
a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral / a funeral.




Rachel Nix

Rachel Nix is a native of Northwest Alabama, where pine trees outnumber people and she likes it. She is the Poetry Editor at cahoodaloodaling, Associate Editor at Pankhearst, and aunt to a little boy who’ll never be taught to hurt or hate. She can be followed at @rachelnix_poet on Twitter.



Another Rape Poem: A List of Poems That Break the Silence on Sexual Assault + Rape Culture

Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault, sexual violence.

I’ve been thinking a lot about rape poems, how people basically view them as a trope of the genre at this point, how almost every poet I know has one—whether they use the R-word or not, whether it’s about them or a friend or just the culture we live in. I have one in my second book. For the longest time, I felt guilty about writing another one. Like I’d already used up my opportunity, like if I didn’t have something particularly new to say about the topic, then I shouldn’t bother bringing it up again. But for the last month, it’s been almost all I could write about. Some months are just like that. You know how you can’t shake things, sometimes? I put that poem in my book because I didn’t want to see feedback about it on the internet. I didn’t want to see the tags or the comments. But, man, it’s 2016. People are rallying behind Kesha, Biden is speaking out about sexual violence, Gaga is performing about it on the Oscars. Still, when I posted a new piece about rape on my blog last week, it took about about ten minutes for someone to tag it with “you should have just said yes.”

Those first nine minutes felt great though; so here are roughly twenty-five minutes on catharsis, validation, healing, and social commentary. Here’s another rape poem:


“Another Rape Poem” by Brenna Twohy

“I am tired of hearing rape poems the same way soldiers are tired of hearing their own guns go off. Believe me, we all wish the war was over. But friend, you are staring out at a world on fire complaining about how ugly you think the ashes are. The poems are not the problem.”



“American Rape Culture” by Desireé Dallagiacomo & FreeQuency

“In less than forty years, rape has gone from ‘punishable by death’ to ‘qualifier’: rape joke, rape song, rape scene. From birth, American Culture teaches children what gender they will be: perpetrator or victim.”



“Piñata” by Pages Matam

“To the man on the bus I overheard in conversation tell a woman, presumably a friend, ‘you are too ugly to be raped.’ Dear man on the bus, tell the one in five women of this country that they are beautiful, their four counterparts spared torment, ugly.”


<
“Say No” by Megan Falley & Olivia Gatwood

“Somewhere, a girl is told that if she doesn’t want to hear the song about rape, don’t listen to it; but it follows her in the supermarket, the gym, the girls’ clothing aisle and now she knows all the words.”



“Go Away” by Hieu Minh Nguyen & Ollie Schminkey

“You are asking me if my sexuality is a side effect. You are asking me where I came from. You are asking what made me this way. I do not need a diagnosis. I do not need an origin story. I do not need to explain my existence. I was not made this way. My rapist is not a god.”



“People You May Know” by Kevin Kantor

“Two police officers told me that I must give his act a name or it didn’t happen, that obviously I could have fought back. Which is to say, no one comes running for young boys who cry rape. When I told my brother, he also asked me why I didn’t fight back. Adam, I am. Right now. I promise.”



“One Color” by Neil Hilborn & Ollie Schminkey

“We teach that rape is always a man in an alley. Always a clenched jaw and a closed fist. Always a stained white shirt. But I never used my pepper spray. I never had to worry about an uncle or a locker room. Do not confuse one story for all stories.”



“Paper Dolls” by Sierra DeMulder

“Nothing was stolen from you. Your body is not a hand-me-down and there is nothing that sits inside you holding your worth. No locket that can be seen or touched, fucked from your stomach to be left on the concrete.”



Contributing Editor


Trista Mateer is a writer and poet living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She believes in lipstick, black tea, and owning more books than she can ever possibly read. Known for her eponymous blog, she is also the author of two collections of poetry.


Cypher (Explicit)

Cipher:

n. a message written in a secret code
v. convert ordinary language into code; “We should encode the message for security reasons” (The Free Dictionary)


Cypher:

n. Anything cyclical. If your freestyling, you rap in a cypher (one after the other). Interrupting another man will break that cypher (unless he’s next in line and the dude behind him is falling off).[…] Never break the damn cipher (Urban Dictionary)

People of color are more likely to be blinded by police lights than spotlight. We’re more likely to turn up dead Saturday night than just turn up. There are three things that made me want to make this post. First, that I needed to pull together a portfolio and these videos remind me that poetry doesn’t just come to you through page and mic, but in everything you come in contact with if you listen hard enough. Second, Zola’s twitter story about sex trafficking, attempted suicide, and violence going viral. And how, while it’s hilarious and well-written, it’s a perfect reflection of how people of color talk about trauma as if it’s an everyday occurrence, because it is. Third, this is a language I understand very well. It’s the exact opposite of Chen Chen’s The School of Fury. My family raised us on words, on quick quips and wit, on beats that thunder so loud our hearts’ teeth chatter. Listening to cyphers feels like coming home and in a world that wants us gone, it’s one of the safest, most powerful feelings I’ll ever get. Despite a world that demands our silence, these artists speak their truth and speak it loud, and in this post, I want us all to listen.

Broader Than Broadway: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs, and Black Thought


This is the one that got me falling down the rabbit hole. My sister and I are huge fans of theatre but most of the people we know laughed it off, called us Oreos for loving such “whiteness”. Watching this cypher made theatre an “us” thing, a black people can have this too thing, a speaking up isn’t just for white people thing and that’s real important.


The Cypher: Tech N9ne, B.O.B., Kendrick Lamar and Machine Gun Kelly

“If you ain’t reppin for your people
then you shuckin and jivin”


(click here to watch on YouTube)


BET Hip-Hop Awards 2014 Cypher: Mook, Arsonal, Calicoe, Couture, and Plus Loaded Lux

“So they through me to the lions’ pit,
I came back with the lion
Taught it how to sit”


(click here to watch on YouTube)


2012 Ruff Ryder Cypher: DMX, Eve, Cassidy, and Murda Mook

“I do this for my chicks that don’t rest
Don’t stop until you the best”


(click here to watch on YouTube)


The Cypher 1.0: Cortez, DNA, Ms Fit, Da Don


(click here to watch on YouTube)


2014 BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher: Goodz, T Rex, Tsu Surfer, & Rain 910


(click here to watch on YouTube)


BET Hip Hop Awards 2014 Cypher: David Banner, Treach, Vic Mensa, Snow tha Product, and King Los

My jaw literally dropped during this one.


(click here to watch on YouTube)

 


Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.


Stuff I Read When the Days Aren’t Going So Good


Illustration by Kailey Lang

I’ve been having a tough time recently (and I’m really bad about honoring events on the day they happen, but this also ties into National Suicide Awareness Day, so watch out for triggers) and these are some poems that help.

♥❤♥

A Good Day

by Kait Rokowsi



♥❤♥

Instead of Killing Yourself

by Derrick Brown



♥❤♥

There is the Worst and Then There is More

by Clementine von Radics



♥❤♥

won’t you celebrate with me

by Lucille Clifton



♥❤♥

It Ends or It Doesn’t

by Caitlyn Siehl

 


Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.


Three to Watch: Women of Color Speak Out on the Importance of Mental Health



The following are three amazing women who have taken the darkness of mental health and highlighted it through the power of poetry. This is a serious issue that is not being discussed—in a county where nearly 15 million Americans, one in 10 adults, experience depression each year. Women experience depression at roughly twice the rate of men, regardless of race or ethnic background, and only an estimated 12 percent of African American women seek help and/or treatment, as it is viewed as a personal weakness or not a health problem.*

Here are three women breaking the stigma, speaking out and shining a light on it. Let them be a reminder that you are not alone.

1. Taylor Steele: Falling Slowly

…but depression isn’t beautiful,

isn’t romance.

A man once told me

he found my going to therapy

sexy

I said ‘I will fight you.’


2. Angelique Palmer: What to Wear to your Standing Appointment With Your Shrink After the Two Most Horribly Challenging Weeks of Your Life So as Not to Get Committed to the Nearest Mental Facility As A Danger To Yourself and Others—A Love Poem







…It is the 20 year old remix that says

you hate the person that you are becoming.

Black reminds you of a time you wanted to

erase, cloak invisible, disappear.

Do not invisible.

Do not disappear.

Do not wear black.


3. Tonya Ingram: I am Twenty-Two





…I am a Gryffindor

who begins attacking the normal part of my body

for never seeing The Notebook.

The butterfly rash across the bridge of the nose

is depression.



*statistics from www.nami.org



resources:



National Alliance of Mental Health:
(for help in answering questions regarding symptoms of mental illness, treatment, local support groups, legal resources, etc.)

1800-950-6264

Monday-Friday 10am-6pm EST

www.nami.org

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255

www.suicidepreventionhotline.org


These are 24 hour resources. If you feel like you need to speak to someone, please know that you are not alone and there are people willing to walk with you in this fight. Depression is real and can be treated. You are not broken. You are a beautiful survival story waiting to break open. 



Contributing Editor


SaraEve Fermin is a performance poet and epilepsy advocate from New Jersey. An East Coast heart jumping circus trains, she is the editor-in-chief of Wicked Banshee Press. Nowadays can be found volunteering at National Poetry Slam Events. She is a Women of the World Poetry Slam Competitor and her work can be found in GERM Magazine, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Free Verse Magazine and Transcendence among others. Her second book of poetry, The View From The Top of the Ferris Wheel, will be published by Emphat!c Press in 2015. She believes in the power of foxes and self publishing.


6 Poems About Body Image


from “Ana” by Sierra DeMulder



Ana” by Sierra DeMulder



The Beauty Radius” by Yena Sharma Purmasir (begins at 21:54)



Beach Bodies” by David Faganya and Gabe Barralaga



Dear Ursula” by Melissa May



Shrinking Women” by Lily Myers



Stretch Marks” by Caitlyn Siehl



Contributing Editor


Trista Mateer is a writer and poet living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She believes in lipstick, black tea, and owning more books than she can ever possibly read. Known for her eponymous blog, she is also the author of two collections of poetry.


Poetry As Church


(source)

Tomorrow is Independence Day and after the past couple of weeks (really couple of forevers), it’s paradoxical to celebrate freedom when a lot of us aren’t sure when we walk out the door, that we will make it home alive, if we make it home at all. It’s a strange thing to mourn while others celebrate around you. I don’t go to church often, but I went after the Charleston massacre, on Father’s Day to my local AME church, and it reminded me that this is a space where contradicting truths can stop fighting and just be. In this space, you can be thankful for the good that has happened and still mourn the lives that have been lost and know that one doesn’t cancel out the other. This post is in the format of my church service’s program. There’s nothing about needing to believe in anything but the power of words here. It’s a place where, at least for a little while, you can mourn and celebrate and anything and everything in between. Thank you for reading.

Today’s Focus is answering Richard Siken’s question as posed in his poem, Snow and Dirty Rain:

“Do we simply stare at what’s horrible and forgive it?”

“The answer you find is that the only place where a dark child can be free is in their mind–and even then, not all of us.” – Maurice Tracy

Let’s look into that a little further.


Proclamation of Faith: A clear declaration of belief

“When our worlds are rocked by terror, support can steady us, and sometimes save us.” – from Show Up, White America: The Opposite Of Support Is Silence

The only way to get through this is together, through community. That’s why we put this post together.


Invocation: Petitioning or Supplication for Aid

“To unravel a torment, you must begin somewhere.” – Louise Bourgeois


Praise Music Selections

“No one can escape suffering, but some can speak through it.” – James Kerr


(Black Privilege by Crystal Valentine)



(Ask a Black Dude by Gabriel Green)



(Whistling Vivaldi by McKendy Fils-Aime)



(Target by Anthony Ragler)



(Open Letter to Black People in Horror Movies by Omar Holmon and Anthony Ragler)



(Angry Black Woman by Porsha O.)



(Grief by Julian Randall)



(Dark Skin by Tova Charles)



(Da Rules by Marvin Hodges, Em Allison, and Saidu Tejan-Thomas)

Lessons and Readings
Written word to empower and educate

  1. alternate names for black boys by Danez Smith
  2. Citizen: An American Lyric
  3. Your White Friends Cannot Save You by Hari Ziyad
  4. Writing Race the Day After Charleston by Naomi Munaweera
  5. That Transformative Dark Thing by Alexis Gumbs
  6. After Charleston to be Young, Black, Gifted, and Alive by Maurice Tracy
  7. Poetry is not a Luxury: Poetry as Power by Kiki Nicole
  8. Poetry is not a Luxury: Poetry as Survival by Kristina Haynes
  9. Poetry as Grief by Clifton Gachagua
  10. Revolutionary Hope: A Conversation between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde

Tithes: Pay or Give (Attention)

  1. Reverse Racism by Aamer Rahman (Fear of a Brown Planet)

Invitation to Worship
Resources to expand on and celebrate Black Voices

  1. Winter Tangerine Review’s Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Edition
  2. Black Poets Speak Out Tumblr
  3. Open letter to White Poets by Danez Smith
  4. Huffington Post Black Voices
  5. for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntzozake Shange
  6. The Black Poets: A New Anthology edited by Dudley Randall
  7. The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop edited by Kevin Covall, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall

Benediction: The Utterance or Bestowing of a Blessing
Final Words

Charleston Shooting: Speaking the Unspeakable, Thinking the Unthinkable by Charles P. Pierce

“We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.” – Sandra Cisneros on Writing

“We must resist. We must refuse to disappear.” – Margaret Atwood

I cannot answer the question of whether we forgive or not. I, right now, am in no place to forgive anyone without causing harm to myself. But I can tell you this: we are not meant to just stare at the horrible. We are called to act. And that comes in many forms: talking, listening, healing, creating. Poetry can heal. Poetry can be activism.

Please resist. Don’t let yourself disappear.


Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.


Sway This Way | Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine | Review


Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
160 pgs | Graywolf Press, 2014


I read Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine by the flashlight of my phone in a dark parking garage ten minutes after I bought it. Here’s why:

I. The Texture


The texture is beautiful and the font is simple and important, perfect for scribbling notes and writing reactions in the margins.

II. The Pictures


The pictures, half of them I don’t understand, and I think that’s the point. There’s no caption under them and you’ve got to create your own understanding of them, almost like they are there for pause but that pause is not meant to be quiet.

III. The Cover


The cover is purely definitive of Zora Neale Hurston’s quote from How It Feels to Be Colored Me: “I feel most colored when thrown against a sharp white background”.[1]

The cover is a black hoodie cut off at the neck (a head post execution) against a pure white background. The hoodies, he’s looking at you, looking at me, he’s not letting us look away. He knows we’ve looked away long enough, denied truth long enough. We’ve ignored him and it in life and tried to in death but this cover is like the murdered asked the Grim Reaper to let them come back from death so that they could haunt the living right.

IV. The Content.


Citizen reads as one of the most terrifying landscapes in the world.

The Bolton Skid in Yorkshire[2] looks innocent enough when it starts out but as you move upstream, it literally turns into one of the most deadly places in the world. No one has ever come out of it alive.

The more you read Citizen, the further you tread into the black (did she mean blood?) stained pages, the more you think that you can handle this, that you can swim out onto the other side. But then, somewhere around page all of them, the focus goes from the personal to the public and then mixing them so that you don’t even know which is which and the microaggressions they’ve told you to forget turn into breaking news headlines, and you lose your footing, you lose your place, and you’re pulled under, exposed to a truth so powerful you cannot deny it any longer, you can no longer un-know it.

Before you know it, the book has swallowed you up whole. You cannot come back.

You are not meant to come back.

V. The Reaction


I’ve been carrying this book around for a week. I wish there was a way I could sew it onto the door to my heart. I wish there was a way I could inject the words into my bloodstream because you always forget the important things when you need them most. It feels as if these are the only ways you cannot forget this book. You need this armed with you every time you walk out that door, every time you log on to the internet and these are the only ways you think you could never forget this book. This book is more than necessary, more than vital, but I can’t think of a word that covers all of that yet.

I’ve been told go into work that helps people with the hope that your job will no longer be needed, but knowing that it’s a long time coming, if ever. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine is a series of poems, a collection of truths, that are written in the hopes that we won’t need them anymore, but knowing full well that time isn’t coming soon. But the only way to get to where we won’t need these truths anymore is to heal and write in the time that we do. So Rankine does the impossible: she writes, she heals.

You won’t come back from this book, but you will come out better.



Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.


19 Poems to Combat The Stigma Around Mental Health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Words Dance decided to take some advice from Neil Hilborn (as found in the first video) and do two things to create a platform to start conversations around the subject. The first part follows “Listen” with spoken word poets and the second part follows “Speak Up” with written word poems.

About Poetry & Mental Illness


Neil Hilborn, “OCD” Slam Poetry and Mental Health Awareness (includes the OCD poem)


Rachel McKibbens, Poetry as Therapy

Spoken Word


Sabrina Benaim, “Explaining Depression to My Mother”


Shane Koyzcan, “To This Day”


Anis Mojgani, “Shake the Dust”


Dan Roman, “Living With Depression”


Catalina Ferro, “Anxiety Group”

Written

“After Lavender Season
by Ginny Wiehardt
(Editor’s note is helpful)

“Piano Teeth”
by Caitlyn Siehl

“So You Want to Kill Yourself”
by Meggie Royer

“Nosedive”
by Donna-Marie Riley

Poetry Suite
by Stevie Edwards

Poetry Suite
by Jeanann Verlee

“The Language of the World”
by Nick Narbutas

“A Prayer”
by Caitlyn Siehl



♥ Do you have a fav that we didn’t list? Have you written a poem that we could include? Click on over to our Facebook page & let us know in the comments with a link or by copy/pasting yours. We’re looking forward to what you share. ♥


Contributing Editor

Alexis Smithers is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.