Tuesday, February 28, 2006

props, big ups, shout-outs, hollerin’… whatever… it’s all love!

the universe feels like a good place to be these days, i'm happy to report. i feel so completely honored/privileged to be a part of and witness some really amazing communities or artists. there are events coming up that feature them (eh-hem, me include) and in this blog, they take center stage. these are events you cannot miss. i repeat… you cannot miss! i promise, they will be worth more than the moments you give to them. i truly can't give adequate words to the artists involved in them. so, i’ll let you see for yourselves. get a pen and paper, date book, palm pilot, calendar, or make serious mental notes.

here we go…

AWP is coming to austin which brings with it a fierce torrent of poets and writers (toi derricotte/marilyn nelson/walter mosley/patricia smith/terrance hayes/tyhimba jess/afaa michael weaver/honorée fanonne jeffers/camille dunge/tim seibels and on and on and on...). check out the website for all the haps.

because there will be so many cave canem women in town, amanda johnston spearheaded the effort to get us space to do our own thang too. so let’s get the formalities outta the way… press release-ish jargon…

sistas aloud! cave canem poets featured at benefit reading for the national women's alliance.

march 10, 2006
7:00 p.m.
st. edward's university - jones auditorium
3001 s. congress ave. austin, tx 78704
$10 public $5 with student or seu i.d .

austin, tx - the gibbous moon collective in partnership with the seu students of african heritage association (saha) bring you sistas aloud! - a poetry reading featuring cave canem poets to benefit the national women's alliance on march 10, 2006. featured cave canem poets are: jacqueline johnson, raina j. leon, jarita davis, ramica bingham, stephanie pruitt, amanda johnston, shia shabazz, natasha marin, tara betts (hbo def poet), toni asante lightfoot (hbo def poet), and special guest, cave canem faculty member, patricia smith (hbo def poet.)
link to download flier:

about cave canem: cave canem is committed to the discovery and cultivation of new voices in african american poetry. in 1996 poets and teachers toi derricotte and cornelious eady began a weeklong summer workshop/retreat designed to counter the under-representation and isolation of african american poets in writers' workshops and literary programs. from the beginning, cave canem has offered a safe haven for black poets - whether schooled in mfa programs or poetry slams - to come togehter to work on their craft and engage others in critical debate. more at www.cavecanempoets.org

about nwa : the national women's allaince is a community-driven, national advocacy organization dedicated to ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls of color. more at

ok, so i’m geeked about this ‘cuz as you may know, last summer (2005), i graduated from cave canem (c-c-x). so every moment hereafter spent in the company of my cc family is time i will devour like choxie. and whether you get in the first time you apply or the tenth, in my mind, cc is a compulsory stop on our journey as black poets. where else could you sit in a workshop on “how to live a successful writing life” with fellow participant walter mosley? or swim in sun and smiles of toi derricotte? dance in the infectious laughter of cornelius eady? wrap your arms around some of the country’s (dare i say world’s) most accomplished and admired poets before meals, after merengue? cc was the space where i first realized how much life work i had to do, what my art really meant to me, and how critical it was to my survival for me to aggressively pursue my path as an artist. (thank you nikky finney and audre lorde for the times i am tongue tied.)

gibbous moon collective was conceived when amanda johnston, natasha marin, and i (all cc fellows) found out we were all living in austin. it’s a hot, beautiful brew, man.

speaking of fire and beauty, the austin project (TAP, not to be confused with the Theater Action Project, a brilliant and very necessary theater arts-in-schools program) is also in full swing again, preparing for our performances on april 8th and 9th (more details as performance time nears). TAP never comes around soon enough, i tell ya. this year there are more women among us. big love to mothers of TAP, sharon bridgforth and Iya Omi Osun Olomo (dr. joni jones), and to all de women folks… collecting air into lungsamanda/ alissa/ ana/ bianca/ courtney/ d’lo/ dulani/ erica/ flo/ jacqueline/ kristen/ krissy/ lisa/ rosalee/ theresa/ vicki… whew! (googles of kisses to all of the TAP-alicious women not joining us this year.)

almost done... i shared this past weekend with fellow aspiring screenwriters at the dead of winter workshops and retreat, sponsored by the austin screenwriters group (ASG). ASG meets every 1st and 3rd saturday of the month at book people where we read and critique screenplays. For those interested in screenwriting, this is a great way to get started and engage/access people at all levels, in all areas of filmmaking. (congratulations to laura on winning the contest this weekend and a HUGE thank you to bonnie orr and bob carstensen and caesar/ kirk/ jennifer/ laura/ randy/ suzie/ wendy for your critiques, advice, suggestions, camaraderie, inspiration.

finally, i GOTTA send props, big ups, shout outs, love, hollerin’… whatever… to other poets and peeps around town doing the damn thang (all the soldiers carrying the torch for neosoul, ivan miller [congrats to you and d. brown on the new book], xenogia, austin slam team, the kings of poetry, and e'rybody else), finding breath and giving life to words.

in this moment, i acknowledge... I am blessed!


Monday, February 20, 2006

how does the saying go?

my older sister once quoted... "adulthood is merely recovery from your childhood." (?) or something like that. that’s true in the best case scenarios. worst case... we never recover. so then what? not to mention the dilemmas of adulthood that promise to keep you at insanity’s edge. the undelivered promises of loving relationships. raising God-loving children in cruel crux of capitalism. does anyone know of a 21-day, outpatient recovery program for divorce? (if so, can you send me the hotline number?) it seems my life has, in recent times, been a journey riddled in my own recovery or being actively engaged in someone else’s, which feels no less consuming. i am trying not to become exhausted by the ever-changing direction of wind but even the most finely finished flags fray at the edges. i am steadfast in prayer that the people i love will continue to buy me beef bacon and wish me beautiful mornings. i am counting the seconds, minutes, hours… until my heart finds solace in the mere act of beating… until my lungs fill with enough air for a long-overdue exhale... until i can recover the self (or create a self, considering she probably never really existed) who can wholly and unconditionally give and receive love. man, i am really trying not to go into a soliloquy about what is or is not possible based on what experiences we have, what we’ve been exposed to, who our examples are, etc.; or about having as much mercy and compassion for ourselves as we might find for other people as we experience our own healing and growth but that soapbox of rhetoric starts to sound like charlie brown’s teacher after a while. (wha-waaa-whaaa-wa-wa-wa…) i thank Allah (in the beautiful melancholy that is moments like these) that i am a writer. otherwise it would eat away at every fiber of slightly bloated body, and where would be the example of living in that? so here’s to recovery and more recovery and still more recovery.

ok, so one piece of my own healing is happening in my submission process. i actually got another submission off this last week (woooohoooo!). so i am one anticipated rejection closer to greatness. (and rejection recovery!)

finally, for those of you wonderful eough and supportive enough and with time enough on your hands to have offered your critiques and suggestions for the last poem posted, i offer the final version of the poem below. i re-titled it (more fittingly, i think) and took many of you up on your suggestions. it’s funny, as i started incorporating your comments and advice, the story became something other than what i intended. anyway, i think this version keeps the feeling of what i wanted from the initial poem. i hope you like it. (if you don’t, well… write your own poem. I’M KIDDING! i love y’all.)

on toward recovery…
for-evah, for always, for love…


when she asks again
how i can tell for sure
he is her dad

when she argues
she was conceived
in my body
not his

she grew
in my belly
not his

she fed
on my breast
not his

she called first
my name
not his

i will tell her
my spine tingled
the exact moment
he gave her
the slant of her eyes
the lankiness of her legs
the fresco of her skin
the slope of her nose
the pout of her lips and
the wit that inspires
her incessant

©2006 by Shia Shabazz