updates, musings & poems 
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As a black man, I've paid too much for American to be able to abandon it. – James Baldwin, in conversation with Nikki Giovanni
I’ve been steeping myself in the work of my black literary forbearers to keep from slipping into a panic (which is tempting, given the state of the world today).  I’m trying to be a good steward of my energy. Tryna keep up the mental and physical calisthenics necessary to be ready for whatever comes next. Che and I have been talking about saying grace again. For the first decade of my life, grace felt like an obstacle between me and a plate of Hamburger Helper. Or a function of growing up in a black family, like having lots of aunties and play cousins. Now it looks like an anchor, or a source of fuel. It feels important to build in moments to pause and reflect, especially amidst the national and international anxiety of this political moment. The tyrannical 24 hour news cycle isn’t built to give you breathing room, so you’ve got to make that space yourself. What could that look like in your life? Whatever your grace is, I invite you to put it in your How to Survive the Rapture tool kit. We’re gonna need all the help we can get. 

After the jump: 
  • [Belated] 2016 Year In Review: Forgot to include this last month! (Best viewed on a desktop btw—the mobile version is in the works, but not top priority.)
  • Peep This Poet with Warsan Shire's haunting poem about home—important to consider given the national rhetoric about borders and bans and walls. Also, info on the first two poetry titles in Gramma’s catalogue!
  • Imma Read: New hive mind segment (named for the 2012 Zebra Katz banger)  featuring a couple things I'm reading. Let me know if you pick them up. Let’s talk about books! 
  • Black Girl Bestie Anthems: Because the only thing keeping me from losing my shit is my squad
  • Upcoming Events so you know where we’re at this month

[Belated] 2016 Year In Review

Click here to view

Peep This Poet

Warsan Shire
no one would leave home unless home
chased you, fire under feet,
hot blood in your belly.
it’s not something you ever thought about
doing, and so when you did –
you carried the anthem under your breath,
waiting until the airport toilet
to tear up the passport and swallow,
each mouthful of paper making it clear that
you would not be going back.
you have to understand,
no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.
[full text here]

Ugly Time by Sarah Galvin
[pre-order here]

In Ugly Time, developers are transforming Sarah Galvin’s hometown into a white-washed, glass box jungle. She’s barely making rent. Her girlfriend just threw her heart in the garbage. Sex with strangers she meets on the internet is great and then empty and then great and then empty again. In a series of hilarious, tender, hyperreal poems, Galvin explores the paradox of trying to settle down—even for just a second—in a state of permanent impermanence.

Community Garden for Lonely Girls
[pre-order here]

Christine Shan Shan Hou’s newest collection of poems, Community Garden for Lonely Girls depicts a journey that traverses imagined histories and various states of consciousness. In Hou’s poems, “the now moves with such glacial intensity”—folkloric myth and cultural detail are weaved together in animated modulation. These poems assert that desire for the unknown is pertinent to understanding one’s identity and survival: “I know I could die, but if / I could be anything // I would be an aquarium full of / colorful fish and deep // breathing, / You know // like nude and / without age.” Like a feminist spiritual quest or the act of a messenger delivering consequential information to a participant community, Hou’s poems shape shift while simultaneously evoking its changeability.
Imma Read: Books I'm Reading 📚 

This book is as mind-blowing as it is expensive. (Shout out to the Boston Public Library for holding me down when I'm too broke to afford my obscure book taste.)  Get a copy from your local lib or read about it here


Necessary reading right now. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy from Haymarket while it's on sale here. Peep #DaGawd Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor talking about the book in an interview here.
Black Girl Bestie Anthems
The Classic: Best Friend by Tokyo Vanity
The British Banger: Skwod by Nadia Rose
The Pre-Fight Pump Up: We Gon Ride by Dreezy ft. Gucci Mane
The Throwback: What About Your Friends by TLC

Upcoming Events, Etc

[REGISTER NOW] Beyond the Vision Board: Building Systems for Success
Saturday, Feb 18, 2-4PM @ Make Shift

You've made your vision board. You've got dope pics to symbolize your squad goals, bod goals, and job goals. You've got inspirational quotes from your faves and foremothers. Now what? In this workshop we'll talk about systems and strategies to get you from visualization to actualization. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Planning Walls: what they are, why you need one, and how your vision board fits

  • In-depth discussion of organizational rituals

  • Criteria for identifying actionable goals

  • Tips for how to prioritize when you're juggling multiple projects

    To get more info and reserve your spot, visit the facebook event or click here.


Friday, February 10, 6:30pm-7:30pm @ 549 Columbus Ave 

Share the event + bring your squad!
[THIS SATURDAY] Poetry Reading @ AWP in DC

Saturday, February 11, 7-11pm @ 2118 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

If you'll be at AWP in DC this week, hit me up! Visit me at Octopus/Gramma book table or come see me read at this offsite event on Saturday night. The line up is cray, including dope poets like: Sawako Nakayasu, Anthony Madrid Paul Killebrew, Rae Armantrout, Harmony Holiday, Christine Shan Shan Hou, Sarah Galvin, Anastacia Renee, Dan Hoy, Brooke Ellsworth AND MORE. More info on fb here.

[NEXT MONDAY] Black Liberation Organizing Meeting

Monday, February 13, 6:-8:30pm @ 549 Columbus Ave 

Deets here!
PS: Miss a newsletter? Find the archive --> here
PPS: Wanna sign up so you don't miss the next one? Click here.
Copyright © 2017 simone ivory john, All rights reserved.

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