updates, musings & poems 
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poems and politics and Fresh Prince, oh my 

I don’t know about y’all, but these days I’m spending roughly 75% of time hiding from the political three-ring circus playing out in the U.S. I feel like I'm being trolled IRL every. single. day. Kid Fury may have put it best when he said picking between Hilary and Trump is like choosing between "a Komodo dragon and a liar, and you guess which is which." Trumpers are daydreaming about building a wall and doubling down on our borders. Hilary stans are brow beating those who are discontented at the thought of America's fave white feminist imperialist icon moving back to Pennsylvania Ave. Luckily I have minimal contact with Trump's pathetic corner of the internet, so I'm spared most of the rhetoric. Unfortunately that leaves me in the Clinton crosshairs.

Low key, I've been thinking about the parallels between my feelings about Taylor Swift and my feelings about Hilary. For starters, they've both ascended to Darth Susan status in their respective fields. Plus I think there's an analogy to be made about how Taylor is to Bey what Hillary is to Bernie (read: the undeserving recipient of an accolade she barely earned), but I’ll leave that alone. I just hope all the people taking to their keyboards to praise Hilary are still feeling politically active on November 9th. Who will be organizing in the streets and in their communities after the election? Whose concern for equity and justice extends beyond the ballot box? I was in the streets before this election cycle and I'll be in the streets after, so folks can miss me with the neoliberal bullshit. In the meantime, I'm going incognegro. I just downloaded every episode of Fresh Prince and Martin so I can hibernate in 90s black sitcom heaven. If you’re looking for me between now and November, I’ll be in Bel-Air with the only Hill I know I can trust.

#manforgetit #yohomestoBelAir                               

After the rant: 

  • Peep This Poet with something old and something new, ft poems from Essex Hemphill and Safia Elhillo that are both timeless and timely
  • #CauseISlay Goal Check In revisiting the goals from my Year in Review to make sure I'm in #Formation
  • Summer Listening Guide with some forever faves, plus a couple artists me + my squad are checking for at AfroPunk this summer

Peace + Power,

Peep This Poet

Essex Hemphill

A poet and performer known for his political edge, Essex Hemphill openly addressed race, identity, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and the family in his work, voicing issues central to the African American gay community. Hemphill died of complications from AIDS in 1995. Read the whole bio here

Cordon Negro (excerpt)

Each morning I open my eyes is a miracle.
The blessing of opening them
is temporary on any given day
I could be taken out.
I could go off.
I could forget to be careful.
Even my brothers, hunted, hunt me.
I am the only one who values my life
and sometimes I don’t give a damn.
My love life can kill me.
I’m faced daily with choosing violence
or a demeanor that saves every other life
but my own.

full text here
Safia Elhillo
Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, a Cave Canem fellow and poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly: a journal of black expression, she received an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. In addition to appearing in several journals and anthologies including “The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop,” her work has been translated into Arabic and Greek

self-portrait in case of disappearance

i am afraid that everyone died & it did not fix
the world      this was meant to be the afterlife
to the burning countries our mothers left behind
girls with fathers gone or gone missing
sistered to dark boys marked to die      & our own
bodies scarved & arranged in rows on prayer mats
we go missing too      & who mourns us   who
falls into the gap we leave in the world

find more poems here


Okay ladies, now let's get in formation...

Somehow it's August, but it feels like Beyoncé issued her call to arms just yesterday. (Which reminds me: is it time to revisit Lemonade for viewing #5?) I meant to follow up with a 6 month check in on my 2016 goals, but June got away from me. Better late than never, right? Here's what I'm checking off my list:
  • Do four poetry readings: By last count, I was up to six! Status: #slayed
  • Attend AfroPunk Paris: Perfect start to a lit summer. Status: #slayed
  • Publish my chapbook: It's no longer a word doc on my macbook! Collateral has a spine and available online. Status: #slayed
  • Facilitate a workshop at a conference: I've given workshops for a few gatherings this year. The one I'm most excited about is coming up next month: NBWSs Next Generation Women of Color Summit, The summit isn't until September 17th, but I'm claiming its success in advance. In the last update I mentioned that I'm developing pre-work resources around themes in my workshop, Keys to Success: Life Design and Liberation.  I'll be rolling that out later this month so homies who can't attend the conference can still level up. I'm already designing a follow up workshop that addresses developing concrete goals and success metrics (like this right here). Stay tuned!  Status: #slayed

Some of my goals have shifted since January.  Here are two that I've picked up along the way: 
  • Run a half-marathon: Every time I've wanted to train for a half marathon, something has gotten in the way. First it was a shitty car accident that fractured my pelvis a few years ago. Then I was living out of a suitcase for two-ish years traveling the world. When the opportunity arose to run the BAA Half-Marathon through my job I knew I had to try to make it happen. My goal is the same as it was when we ran the mile in grade school--cross the finish line and try not to be last. Unlike the trauma of public school Presidential Fitness awards, this run serves a larger purpose: supporting Sole Train, the incredible running program created through the Trinity Boston Foundation. My goal is to raise $300 with the support of my community. If 22 homies gave $13.10 (a dollar for every mile) I'd be done in a day. AND I'd have 22 new reasons to stick to it and finish this race. If you're in a position to donate, click here. If not, share this link and send me good vibes! Status: slay-in-progress, check back October 16.
  • Read 26 books: I started a reading challenge earlier this year and I've already surpassed target! Scroll down to see the covers of some books I've read this year. Click the image to see a link to my Goodreads page for the rest of the titles. Status: #slayed

Summer Listening Guide

Artist: Earl Sweatshirt's album I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside *Afropunk Fave
Soundtrack for: Unapologetically inhabiting your black millennial nihilistic angst. Perfect for watching the world as you know it collapse from the comfort of the indoors.
Start with: Grief, Faucet
Bonus: Homeboy is prolific. Get a glimpse of his process in this interview he did with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley for the podcast Mic Check (one of my top 5 fave epis of all time). Click here.  

Artist: Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book
Soundtrack for: Getting a hit of those black church feels when you need to be reminded that there is good in the world
Start with: I love every single track tbh. Finish Line/Drown makes me cry almost every time tho
Bonus: If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and listen to everything on #10Day and Acid Rap. Also peep this interview he did with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 to talk about Coloring Book.

Artist: Sango, producer and #blackexcellence beat connoisseur *Afropunk Fave
Soundtrack for: Working on your crossfade at a party, preferably a day party on a beach or rooftop. (Flower crown sold separately.) 
Start with: this FIRE remix to Ginuwine's "You Owe Me"
Bonus: Head to his soundcloud for more wavy jams. You're welcome. 

Artist: Bilal
Soundtrack for: Grown and sexy summer cocktail parties, black ass family BBQs, POC yoga playlists... just about everything really. Great second course for everyone who couldn't get enough of his BET Awards Prince tribute 
Start with: Hollywood, Sometimes
Bonus: Listen to his entire unreleased album Love For Sale on youtube
Copyright © 2016 simone ivory john, All rights reserved.

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