Tag Archives: Poet

02Feb/21

Relationship between Poetry and the Body

Poetic Introduction – What is A Poem, But a Body?

If poetry is yet another body, then we are blessed. 
What else gets to create, envision, become, and shed more than one body?
A cat may have 9 lives, but we have as many lives as we have pens to paper; 
as we have scattered fleeting thoughts; 
as we have silence. 

What a true blessing it is playing, 
holding a moment still and alchemizing it into whatever we like: 
truth, lies, darkness, light, expression, secrets, life, death,
everything and nothing.

- Sadie Jay
A poem comes from emotion. Emotions are felt in the body. The body is the starting place of the poem, whether you write about the body or not. 

A poem is a container, just like the body. Because the black body is so highly politicized, Black poetry is highly politicized. 

What a poem presents is one thing and when you look more closely it shows itself in another light. Poetry is reflection; a way to understand yourself. 

- Dannie Ruth (excerpt from a cento with lines from Omotara James)

How We Found Poetry

Growing up, I was fascinated with sound, letters, and making words. I loved learning new words and their meanings and the many ways they could be used, reshaped, and used again. 

In the fourth grade, I began studying Latin and continued for many years. Although Latin is a ‘dead’ language, it has given itself to so many other languages. Ninety percent of English words are derived from Latin, while French, Portuguese, and Spanish are direct offspring. 

Ancestors are like Latin; dead bodies in this realm, yet they keep giving to the living. 

As a child, I learned to grieve and often found comfort in writing poetry and journaling. I’ve kept most of my composition notebooks and journals from then until now—pages and pages of me at different life stages. 

At a certain point, writing poetry became a hobby, something I would do when I was bored in class. Sometimes just coming up with lines. Noting words or phrases that were spoken that day. Depending on the class, I would manage to pay attention and play with words and worlds on my page. Writing allowed me to be somewhere else.

– Dannie Ruth

My relationship to poetry sparked in elementary school with my observation that the “trees danced in the wind.”

My fourth-grade teacher seemed so genuinely pleased by my answer that I kept a relatively positive association to poetry, even through the “write a sonnet in iambic pentameter” days of high school.

Poetry became a more focused interest during the quarantine. I started connecting to my body more through movement and dance. I looked to other black women and their life experiences.

From there, I realized people who had an intimate connection to their bodies could access their truth and express it in ways that felt inaccessible to me. Poetry has given me ease in expression.

– Sadie Jay
poetry and the body 
Image with pink and blue gradient background with white text that reads: 
"Write after a shower. Write on the toilet. Write after an argument. Write in and about liminal spaces. Writing can be cleansing. Revisit your writing. Keep adding layers or scrap everything and start all over again."

Try out this writing prompt!

Choose a photo, image, or piece of art. Write a description without naming any objects in the photo.

Ekphrasis & The Body Cave Canem Fall Workshop

I found Cave Canem during my time in The New School’s Creative Writing MFA Program. Their mission is to cultivate African American poets’ artistic and professional growth by offering fellowships, workshops, prizes, and host readings.

Finding them was a relief because it became challenging being one of the few Black poets in my program. Cave Canem is pouring into Black poets who elevate the canon.

– Dannie Ruth

I came across Cave Canem while searching for online poetry workshops. Although I consider myself still very much a novice in writing poetry, I felt a strong desire to explore. 

Among the many transitions that happened last year, I abruptly moved from Brooklyn back to my small beach town in Florida. I had come to my first writer’s block. 

Every week I was encouraged to write and connect. This consistency was calming as my world was in flux.

– Sadie Jay

We had the opportunity to attend a ten-week workshop, facilitated by Omotara James, titled Ekphrasis & The Body. Ekphrasis is a response to a piece of art, and the art does not have to be visual. We make ekphrastic responses daily (memes, comments, shade!). When a piece of art moves us, we usually experience it viscerally before we process it intellectually. In other words, we experience art in the body. The body not only houses these experiences but contains every memory that has shaped us: individually and collectively.

We completed the workshop and are now left to consider: (1) the way poetry can enact itself, (2) our duty as poets to research, explore and respond to the artwork and our respective worlds, and (3) how to cultivate a deeper understanding of our own bodies and the poems that come from us.

We must take time to unpack poetry as it relates to the body fully. Write and connect with us as we engage in this process. Whether you consider yourself a novice or experienced poet, check out the Spring Workshops offer by Cave Canem. A lottery now chooses community workshops, and participants receive a stipend of $250 upon completion. Submitting can’t hurt.

07Jul/16
vENv

vENv is Spreading Love Through His Words

We were introduced to vENv at the always dope Sehiii (“Pronounced Say-Hi, don’t forget the third eye”) in Brooklyn, NY. “Simply put, Victor ‘vENv’ Arumemi is a creator. A multi-hyphenate (I promise, it’s a real word) who believes in the power and purpose of bringing the things that lie within the imagination to life. Whatever the medium may be, art is all around us and it should be embraced and experienced by every soul, starting with yours.” Watch the videos below for a sneak peek into vENv’s artistry. Check out his instagram @venvthetrbldhrt and soundcloud for whole shebang!
image2a
Photos by Tyrell Gittens
@unscripted_moments

09Dec/15
Messiah Ramkissoon

Messiah Ramkissoon | Poet, Artist, Activist

Messiah RamkissoonThe Twenty-First Century has indeed been full of trying times. Despite tons of intentional division and propaganda imagery, there has also been a banding together and a notion that we, as a people, must foster our own growth and progression. It is said that in the midst of turmoil, the air is ripe for the likes of a prophet; one who can ingest the struggle and obstacles of the time, and in return paint a portrait of a prosperous future. It is no easy task to be able to rise from police brutality, genocide and institutionalized racism, while still being able to see Nirvana and rouse others to do so as well. Insert: Messiah Ramkissoon.

A spoken word artist by way of Trinidad, this young man has accepted elevating the collective as his life calling. He started writing as a young child, and with the support of his family he has honed his skills. Idolizing the likes of Muhammad Ali, he has chosen to also use his skills to improve the world we live in. Thrice a ‘champion’ of Showtime at the Apollo, he contributes his successes to consistency. Much as his name suggests, his efforts truly reflect his desire to enlighten and uplift.

En lieu of enlightenment, he has gifted us with his latest work, a mixtape named ‘The Reminder’. A grail of sorts, Messiah intends for his work to ‘restore awareness’ to where we have been, where we are, and where we need to focus our efforts for the future. He addresses everything from recalling the loss of our civil rights heroes to rallying pride and unity in combat of recurring oppressive forces. In his own words from the mixtape, “As a collective, we are much more effective/ Kill the social contraceptive/ To live and let live is the ultimate incentive.”

When it comes to uplifting the collective, Messiah takes an approach even more personal. He has dedicated much of the past 8 years to prison outreach in Washington, DC, Baltimore and NYC. Coming face to face with our incarcerated males, he chooses to stand in where, often enough, there has been no one. A major part of the process is in fact within his ability to articulate conversation. In giving the young men a platform to express and reflect upon all aspects of self, true progress is made. His worlds often tie together. On ‘The Reminder’ he has dedicated a track to the late 16 year old Kalief Browder, who took his own life following wrongful imprisonment. In another case, a young man by the name of Asad Giles spent two and a half years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Upon his release, Messiah continued to provide support and resources. Asad is now employed and due to start school in 2016. He says of his philanthropy, “My goal is to empower each young brother I encounter… not only making change but taking the… example back to our own to duplicate this process of progress.”

An Artist in his own right, Messiah has not only chosen a life of dedication, but it seems to have chosen him. “I would like to leave a legacy as someone who loved his people, was passionate about his work, exuded excellence with each opportunity and [was] fearless… Fearless enough to accept any challenge which may arise on the road to providing true liberation and a better lifestyle for the babies! That would suffice.” Ashe, Messiah, Ashe.

Show him your support by following Messiah on IG & TW at @AllMessiah and www.facebook.com/messiah.ramkissoon. Visit his website, www.AllMessiah.com, for more on Messiah’s endeavors! Shine on King!

Written by Lola Valentine
Photo by NayMarie Photography