CULOE DE SONG
“We Speak Love” mix
Poem by Knaan
Michael Gracioppo – Creep (Recondites Blue Train Ride Remix)
Culoe De Song — Journey Of Love feat. Thandi Draai
Francesco Chiocci – Efefa’s Paradigm
Git, Big Brooklyn Red – Higher (Afefe Iku Remix)
Culoe De Song — Exodus
Michael Gracioppo – Creep (Tale Of Us & Vaal Remix)
Sonz Of Afrika – Ubuthakathi (Josiah De Disciple Hand Of God Mix)
Nick Curly – Piano In The Dark (Yoruba Soul Mix)
Culoe De Song — Isondo feat. Khanyo Maphumulo
Culoe De Song — Y.O.U.D
I Am A Citizen
In The Country Of Your Smile
I was looking for myself, confused
By the store-bought maps
None of which led directly to me
All the interstates had curious detours
Some straight through your heart
One or two were back roads
Small moments—no, not mini-malls
But one room country stores
Everything from chicken feed to calico cloth
Candy and pickled pig feet in big glass jars,
A catalogue for ordering from elsewhere
I lay listening to your breathing
My head between your breasts
My lips longing to suck your relaxed nipples
To erectness, that taste moving my tongue
My hands exploring everywhere
An amateur urban planner mapping layouts
For a futuristic city of light and love
You open your thighs and say you need beaches
On the borders and kisses in the nether regions
Plus, you tell me: “you must volunteer to share
All chores, soap and water have no gender
Brooms nor mops have genitals
And if you don’t want to, I don’t want you to
We can agree to disagree but fighting is forbidden
There may be war in the world
But there will be peace in this village
Think about who I am
Before you say what you want us to be”
I paused, I listened, I surrendered
Happy with the terms of agreement
I sincerely pledged allegiance
—kalamu ya salaam
The birth of Lucy Terry, Black abolitionist, poet, and skilled orator, in 1730 is celebrated on this date. Although she was not a lawyer, she argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and won.
Terry was born in Africa, enslaved and stolen from there as an infant, and sold to Ebenezer Wells of Deerfield, MA. She was baptized at 19 in June 1735, during the Great Awakening, and at the age of 20, she was “admitted to the fellowship of the church.” In 1756, Terry married Abijah Prince, a prosperous free black man who purchased her freedom.
Their first child was born the following year, and by 1769, they had five others. In the 1760s, the Prince family moved to Guilford, VT. Lucy was well known for her speaking ability and she used her skills a number of times in defense of her family’s rights and property. In 1785, when a neighboring white family threatened the Princes, Lucy and Abijah appealed to the governor and his council for protection. The council ordered Guilford’s selectmen to defend them. She argued unsuccessfully before the trustees of Williams College for the admission of one of her sons, skillfully citing scripture and law “in an earnest and eloquent speech of three hours.”
Later, when a Colonel Eli Bronson attempted to steal land owned by the Princes, the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. She argued against two of the leading lawyers in the state, one of who later became chief justice of Vermont and she won. Samuel Chase, the presiding justice of the court, said that her argument was better than he’d heard from any Vermont lawyer. Her husband died in 1794, and by 1803, Prince had moved to nearby Sunderland. Prince rode on horseback to visit his grave every year until the year she died.
Although Lucy Terry was a poet, only one of her poems, a ballad called “Bars Fight,” has survived. She is known as the author of the first poem composed by an African-American woman. Lucy Terry Prince was a remarkable woman whose many accomplishments included arguing a case before the Supreme Court. Lucy Prince Terry died in 1821, at the age of 97.
2,000 years of extraordinary achievement
by Jessie Carney Smith
Copyright 1994 Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI
Fight Rape Culture |
Teju Cole Reacts
to the Bill Cosby
The New Yorker recently covered the Bill Cosby rape controversy. The piece, which has since gone viral, features the testimonies of 35 women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault.
If you haven’t read the piece, please do! [read HERE] It will leave you puzzled, saddened, and angry.
A couple of days ago, Teju Cole reacted to the New Yorker piece on Facebook.
His comments, pasted below, draws our attention to the fact that the deadly mixture of rape culture and silence exists to perpetuate a culture where men benefit from violence done to women.
This is not the first time that Cole is speaking against this issue.
For those of you who have read his first novel, Open City, you’d recall that the novel ends with Julius—the main character of the novel— being accused of raping a family friend. The worst part is that Julius seems to have forgotten about it until the girl reminds him many years later.
A culture where men like Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Julius do things to the bodies of women and can still somehow command our respect and admiration is what Cole powerfully speaks against.
Kudos to Cole for telling it like it is.
Last night, reading the accounts by women who had been assaulted by Cosby, I was overcome with sorrow.
Tricky to say anything about this, but silence is simply not an option. This is everybody’s business. But I’ll say some things to the men who are reading.
We men benefit, all of us men benefit, from rape culture. We benefit from the pain it causes women because we sprint ahead obliviously; we benefit from the way it knocks them off circuit and opens space for us; we benefitfrom the way it dehumanizes them so that our own humanity can shine more greatly; and we benefit from the aura of power it gives us as perpetrators or as beneficiaries. And because we benefit, explicitly or implicitly, we are not vociferous enough in our opposition to it.
(This is why, even after everything we know, it is still possible for the New Yorker to put up a long article praising Woody Allen, as they did last week—”The Existential Genius of Late Woody Allen”—praising him from beginning to end, in every line, as though none of that other stuff were relevant, as though it were somehow gauche to acknowledge what he’d done. That’s rape culture for you, at the highest levels: not mere silence, but you have to come out and sing hosannas to the guy.)
We must fight rape culture, even in its allegedly mild manifestations, we must be grieved with the grief of those who commit the crime and those who benefit from a world built on such crimes, we must oppose men who wade in with stupid explanations and caveats and distractions, we must surrender the poisonous sentimentality that makes us believe a “great artist” over a less well-known woman. Indeed, we must be willing to let anyone go—think of any man you admire, any man at all, alive or in history, close to you or far away, and think to yourself that you must be willing to let him go—if such things are true of him too. And understand that such things can be true of any of them, of any of us.
We must be allies in this, in a subsidiary but vital role, to the generations of women who have been fighting it since forever. Why should it be easy? It can’t be. We will have to face even the complication of confronting those few women who are themselves invested in perpetuating rape culture. It will cause us extreme discomfort, but our discomfort will be nothing compared to the pain of being a victim of rape or assault or harassment.
And above all we must listen, to women, and to the significant but vastly smaller number of men who have also been assaulted. So that, gradually, we can collectively begin to slough off this wretched state of affairs in which the first thing someone who has been assaulted thinks is “no one will believe me.”
That’s to men.
And to women: I believe you. And I’m heartbroken about the many ways in which I fail to live up to that belief.
—- This note has since been posted on The New Inquiry.
Image by Kate Haskell via Flickr
I’m finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.
‘Iconic singer/songwriter Bill Withers sits down in conversation with Aloe Blacc for a rare public appearance at the 10th Annual “I Create Music” Expo in Los Angeles. Watch video of the on stage interview as the reclusive musical genius discusses influences, religion, the difference between music and the music industry–and why he refused to cover Elvis Presley.’
No stranger to hyphenated identities, and a globe trotter himself, photographer, writer, blogger, podcast host, Fulbright Scholar and activist Mikael Owunna is a man of many talents. He’s also the mind behind Limit(less), a multimedia project focused on documenting the multi-faceted experiences of first and second generation LGBTQ* Africans living in the Diaspora. The result is the creation of a highly empowering platform that is a stream of incredibly necessary visual and narrated representations of LGBTQ* Africans.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how the Limit(less) project came about, including the significance behind the name and its grammatical structure?
My name is Mikael Owunna and I also go by my Igbo name Chukwuma or “Chuks” for short. I am queer, Nigerian, Swedish and American and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am a photographer and artist. Limit(less) was born first and foremost out of my own journey to understand and accept my own queer and Igbo identities. For much of my life I’ve felt varying degrees of shame over these aspects of my identity and also felt like I could not be “both” African and queer. The virulent homophobia I experienced growing up from other Africans and members of my own family in particular reinforced this for me in incredibly damaging ways. After being “outted” to my parents by another family member I was put through a series of exorcisms on two occasions when I visited Nigeria for Christmas. The shame I felt about my sexuality escalated to another level at that point along with my own feelings of being “pushed away” from all things Nigeria and Nigerian. I rejected all opportunities to learn Igbo. Rejected offers of traditional clothing and more. Living in diaspora exacerbated my rejection of my Igbo identity and all things related to the continent further.
It’s only now, years later that I’m starting to come to terms with all of these aspects of my identity. Limit(less) is a part of this process. Not only has it helped me realize that I am not alone as a queer African immigrant, but it has also shown me how other LGBTQ Africans so boldly live in their truths and synthesize these aspects of their identities which I’ve struggled so much with.
The name of the project is connected to this. There are ostensible “limits” placed on us and our lives as LGBTQ Africans due to the homophobia and transphobia we face both inside and outside of African communities. Despite this, many of us find “limitless” ways to express ourselves and live out full lives. Seeing how the participants in the project do this is a source of personal inspiration for me as I seek out what being “Limitless,” queer and African looks like for me as well.
Being both Queer and African, you are personally connected to this project, beyond it being your work. How important is representation to you in this way?
I feel personally very invested in the project for exactly the reason you have stated. Representation is just so crucial and I launched this project shortly after I came across Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases project at the Carnegie Museum of Art when I was back in Pittsburgh. Seeing that exhibit almost immediately reduced me to tears, as I had not seen any work on queer Africans up until that point in my life. There is so much power in seeing a mirror of yourself or someone similar to you, especially if you think you have felt alone for so long.
As I did research for my project I found more work by queer African photographers and artists, but very little focusing on our experiences in diaspora. I hope that Limit(less) can help fill some of that representational void so that other LGBTQ African immigrants don’t grow up feeling alone like I did.
Limit(less) focuses on the Queer African diaspora. In what ways, if any, do you feel that this project connects with continental Africa and the emerging and expanding global narratives coming from Africans around the world who are similarly seeking to redefine their identities and experiences (through art)?
Our experiences as LGBTQ Africans in diaspora are definitely different (depending on where we live, we have, for example, far more legal protections and rights than in many countries on the African continent) but are also inextricably connected to the experiences on the continent. Homophobia and transphobia in African immigrant communities can be just as bad as in their home countries, especially among first generation immigrants and older people. These communities also have influence “back home” if you will, sending remittances home and more, so we are all connected in one way or another. The work being done by LGBTQ activists on the continent and our work here are similarly connected. Redefining colonial notions of “Africanness” for ourselves and confronting homophobia and transphobia in the global community; all of this is crucial work in the ongoing struggle to decolonize the continent and African communities across the world.
Photography in Africa and the visual documentation of African lives began as something that was constructed through a colonial lens. Photography, visual representation and aesthetics are central to Limit(less). How did these themes and the multimedia documentation formats you make use of become the tools you chose to adopt for this project? Why photography?
Well the answer here may be more simple than one might think. Why photography? Because I’m an artist and photography is my primary medium that I’ve been working in for 6 years now. I do think that there is a special magic to photography, though, which is central to this project. For decades there has been this narrative that being LGBTQ is somehow “un-African,” and this is a legacy of damaging colonial conceptions of black African bodies. For me being able to create a visual that depicts LGBTQ Africans living boldly in their truths and synthesizing their African and LGBTQ identities in a single frame is a source of power that can help debunk this myth. The visual, coupled with the interview responses of the participants, is a powerful way of speaking truth to power against these empty, hateful remarks which erase our lived experiences as LGBTQ Africans.
What are some of the greatest triumphs, challenges or defining moments you’ve had so far during this project? How has Limit(less) evolved since you began?
I’ve been working on this project off and on for over a year and a half and it has been quite the journey. The first few months my biggest challenge was just “finding” people to participate. Up until that point I only knew one other LGBTQ African, my dear friend Odera who was one of the first participants in the project, so finding others took months of work. But once you find some LGBTQ Africans, you realize that the community is absolutely massive. In the US alone, there are at least 30,000 1st and 2nd generation LGBTQ African immigrants, so I was eventually able to overcome this hurdle and do 1-2 hour preliminary interviews with over 30 LGBTQ African immigrants. I learned so much from those conversations and felt community being built in each one as well which was very moving. After that my challenge was fighting myself. I kept telling myself that I “wasn’t ready,” that I “wasn’t good enough” to do this alone, that I need professional collaborators or it would be a disappointment. Self-doubt put the project in a holding pattern for a year. I kept reaching out to other people to help me make the project happen, and collaboration attempt after attempt fell through.
Eventually I realized that I needed to believe in my own talent and work if this was ever going to happen. I started shooting in May and just getting out there, believing in myself and creating has been exhilarating. After years of doubt and denial, I am finally embracing myself as a photographer and artist and my creative output is now the highest it has ever been in my life. Sometimes fighting yourself can be the hardest fight of all when doing an independent project and that was definitely been the case for me.
Defining moments? After a shoot when a participant told me that the shots captured exactly who she saw herself as and becoming in her life. That told me that I was doing something right with the project.
In terms of evolution, the project has changed so incredibly much. Originally I saw it being a sad, depressing video documentary about our tragic experiences that catered to the white gaze. Then I saw it as focusing on our relationships with our families and parents through photos, hand written notes and more. Then I saw it as being a literacy through photography project where I would give each participant a polaroid camera to document their lives. Eventually through my conversations with participants and other photographers I decided to focus the project on each participant themselves and their visual aesthetics in particular. Each shoot pushes my photography and has made me more intentional about storytelling as well. I’m excited to see where the project goes as it is still changing and evolving.
Currently, your project documents queer Africans living in the US. Are there any future plans to expand the project to other parts of the diaspora?
The project documents not just queer Africans but gender non-conforming and trans ones as well, but yep! I am leaving for Trinidad tomorrow actually to shoot 2 LGBTQ Africans there. I am hoping that the project will continue to grow and expand geographically as well. I would really love to shoot in Europe especially given how large the community is there especially in the UK, France, Netherlands and Germany. The project has been completely self funded to date, though, which is a major limiting factor on the geographic scope. Hopefully a big funder drops from the sky and funds a European expansion of the project!
Are there any other Queer African artists whose work you’d recommend people familiarize themselves with?
Yep! There are lots of great Queer African artists who I’d recommend. Photographers and videographers include: Zanele Muholi, Selly Thiam, Sabelo Mlangeni and Rotimi Fani-Kayode. For illustrators, Odera Igbokwe is great and is a friend and participant in Limit(less). Also for great creative writing check out Davina Owombre who writes incredible short stories about queer African life.
The collection includes sandals, dresses, shorts, and accessories from brands such as Adam Lippes, Matthew Williamson, and Cushnie et Ochs, among many others.
Kebede spoke about LemLem, which is now in its eighth year, as well how emerging African designers are changing how the world sees the continent.
THE OUTNET: How does it feel now that LemLem is in its eighth year?
Liya Kebede: “It feels crazy, I can’t believe we’ve been doing it for that long! I feel like we definitely started something – it’s a trend, which is really interesting. People are looking at Africa and that’s really cool – that was kind of the point. All these people who are doing arts and crafts-y things are now looking at this and going, ohhh, interesting. It’s empowered and given ideas to a lot of small brands in Africa, and that was the whole point in a way so it’s really nice.”
THE OUTNET: Did you ever foresee how much of an impact it would have?
Liya Kebede: “I didn’t realize what it could become! I kind of jumped into it and saw a need and then it was, OK, well there’s a solution. It was for kids initially because I thought I’d love my kids to wear something that was handmade in Ethiopia, but then we were designing things that we wanted to wear! And all the moms were saying the same thing too, so now it totally makes sense that it’s a women’s line.”
THE OUTNET: How do you see the line expanding?
Liya Kebede: “We’re still bringing back a bit of the kid’s stuff, and we’re tip-toeing around home and around men’s and it’s been really interesting. Now, we’re sort of following it as opposed to us [pushing it], you know? So we can expand and do this and do that. It’s been really amazing.”
Shop the collection HERE.
Words without Borders has just announced that their partner, Gulf Coast (Journal of Literature and Fine Arts) is now accepting entries for the 2015 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation. In 2015, the focus is prose (fiction and nonfiction) in translation. In 2014, the prize was awarded to Kristin Dykstra for her translations of Cuban writer Marcelo Morales (see more on the writer and translator below).
The deadline for entries is August 31, 2015.
Description: In 2015, the contest is open to prose(fiction and nonfiction) in translation. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. Entry to the contest also includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the issue in which the corresponding prize winners are published.
Guidelines (see additional details in the link below): Send one piece of prose (of up to twenty double-spaced pages) translated into English. Excerpts from longer works are welcome and preference will be given to contemporary work published within the last fifty years. As part of your submission, include the text in its original language, provide a brief synopsis (no more than 200 words) of the work and the author you are translating, and indicate whether you have, and can grant us, permission to publish the original work and the translation.
2014 Winner of the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation (Poetry) Kristin Dykstra is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at St. Michaels College (Vermont). She holds a Phd in English from SUNY at Buffalo. She received a translation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to translate a 2006 collection by Cuban writer Reina María Rodríguez, Catch and Release. Among other collections of contemporary Cuban poetry that Dykstra has translated are two books by Omar Pérez, as well as three collections by Juan Carlos Flores, Ángel Escobar, and Rodríguez. Previously she also worked with Rodríguez on Violet Island and Other Poems (co-translated with Nancy Gates Madsen), an anthology culled from earlier phases of Rodríguez’s career when the poet first rose to international renown, as well as the bilingual edition Time’s Arrest/La detención del tiempo. Dykstra is Professor of English at Illinois State University. She co-edits the magazine Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas/Nueva escritura de las Américas with Gabriel Bernal Granados and Roberto Tejada. She won the prize for her translation of Marcelo Morales Cintero’s El mundo como ser (The World as Presence).
Marcelo Morales Cintero, born in Cuba in 1977, is a member of a generation of writers who came of age in Havana during the island’s “Special Period” of severe post-Soviet economic crisis. His influences range from international literature to readings in history and philosophy. Dedicated to the slow development of his book projects, Morales has earned many of his literary awards for segments of larger works in progress. For example, excerpts that would come together to form his 2006 poetry collection El mundo como objeto won the 2004 poetry prize presented by La Gaceta de Cuba, as well as an honorable mention in the national Julián del Casal prize competition and a coveted finalist position in the international Casa de las Américas competition. Morales is also the author of the poetry collections Cinema (1997, Pinos Nuevos prize) and Materia (winner of the 2008 Julián del Casal prize), among others. His novel La espiral appeared in 2006. Morales edited and introduced Como un huésped de la noche, an anthology of poetry by Roberto Branly, published in 2010.
For more on Gulf Coast Prize and how to enter, see http://gulfcoastmag.org/contests/prize-in-translation?src=WWB
For more information on Morales and Dykstra, see http://intranslation.brooklynrail.org/spanish/excerpts-from-the-visionary-circle-by-marcelo-morales
For best poetry collection published by an Upstate author.
August 31, 2015
There is no entry fee.
(To be announced.)
School of Arts and Sciences
1600 Burrstone Road
Utica, NY 13502
Books may be sent in by author or publisher.
Submitted work must be a book of poems in English, at least 48 pages long, published between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 by a resident of Upstate New York. Collections by more than one author, “collected” or “selected” volumes, collections of translations, self-published works, and vanity press publications are not eligible.
Winner must agree, upon contest entry:
All books entered in competition will be donated to the Utica College library and the Utica Public Library.