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an ode to #theculture 

Squad, I keep waiting for a break from the cray, but the hits just keep coming. I’m managing to stay out of the fray though—the only election coverage I’ve seen is this Dirty Dancing spoof and this Mary J. Blige clip, and that’s perfectly fine with me.
Despite the insane political climate and the pervasive fear of police violence, black culture is THRIVING y’all. While the larger dialogue around race seems focused on getting white America up to speed on 400 years of racially oppressive history, #theculture is making leaps and bounds forward. The narrative is shifting to reflect what black people have always known to be true: there is no one way to be black. No single story or aesthetic for black writers, artists, designers, musicians or directors. We finally get to see the plurality of our experiences represented instead of the cardboard stereotypes we’ve been relegated to in order to make other people comfortable.
Some of the black and brown subcultures that were cultivated online are surfacing in the mainstream. I’m thinking about how AfroPunk Fest was born in the chat rooms of the early aughts, and how Issa Rae’s new HBO show Insecure started as a web series my homies and I would crowd around our 13” MacBooks to watch.  We’re no longer waiting weeks (or months) for 8 minute webisodes to validate our experiences. Black people are making media, mainstream and indie, to display our lives in all their complexity.  Not only is this a great time to be a black creative/maker, black women are out here killing. the. game. So this update is an ode to #theculture, and the black women out here stuntin. Scroll down for:
  • Peep This Poet ft. recent award winner Angel Nafis and Krysten Hill, a name you should know
  • #TheCulture Listening Guide with new releases from talented music artists
  • #TheCulture Commentary with podcasts created for and by black women to represent this cultural moment
  • #WashPoppin w/ updates with news on what’s new at the hive, including my revamped website, a new poetry journal I’m working on, and a hive hustle event you don’t want to miss

Keep slaying,

Peep This Poet

Angel Nafis

If you haven’t read Angel Nafis’s work, you’re about to hear a lot more about her. She's 🔥🔥🔥  and she's been out here #ifyoudontknownowyouknow. It was recently announced that she’s a 2016 recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, an award for American poets aged 21-30. So dope to see talented WOC getting recognized by big poetry institutions. Peep an excerpt from her work below, click here for the full poem.

After Carrie Mae Weems’s “The Kitchen Table Series”

Can you throw this away Maybe you should hire more Black staff
Where are you really from You’re not busy are you You look ethnic today
Where’s the African American section Can you turn the music down
Fasterfasterfaster Let me see those eyes Beautiful If you were mine
I’d never let you leave the house It’s like you went straight to Africa
to get this one Is that your hair I mean your real hair Blackass
Your gums are black You Black You stink You need a perm
I don’t mean to be

Krysten Hill
The only thing better than a glow up is a squad glow up. That’s why I’m so pumped that Krysten Hill, a talented Boston-based poet (and dear sisterfriend) is dropping her chapbook in December. Earlier this year she received the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Now she’s gearing up for the release of How Her Spirit Got Out, coming out in December from Aforementioned Productions. As Jill McDonough said in her blurb, “Krysten Hill’s necessary and powerful first collection, How Her Spirit Got Out, is crowded with our family: a father who piles ‘too much food onto my plate,’ ‘black women who go missing,’ ‘a braided clan of women / who held their tongues with their teeth,’ a mama with ‘a voice/that could reach / like an arm and snatch you / from any room of the house.’ ” Krysten’s poems are populated by people both familiar and familial. Pre-order your copy here. Peep an excerpt from her work below, then click here to find out the poem ends.

On a Scale of One to Ten

I don’t know how to count
the times my father showed me how
men hide their love, how mercy can be
contained in quiet gestures. How many times did
he pile too much food onto my plate, or
pick an eyelash from my cheek
asking me to make a wish?

#TheCulture Listening Guide

"Forever" by Noname
Telefone is the long awaited debut solo project of Chicago MC Noname. One of my lil homies told me has a crush on Noname’s flow. I told him that’s a totally legit kind of crush, and once you listen to this you’ll hear why. Her lyrics are literate and clever, and the production is pitch-perfect for her vibe. Casket Pretty is my new nihilist go-to when the world bums me out. (Luckily its under 2 minutes long, so my wallowing time is limited.) Forever brings me back up with sing song lines like, “They don’t want to see us shine, shine/Bullets on my time, time/But fuck it, I’ll live forever.” Watch the video for Forever above. Peep this dope interview she did with the Fader here.
"I Promise" 
Y’all remember my uber-talented lil homie from my Young & Gettin It workshop? (She had that fire track I mentioned in the April update.) After a long summer of grinding, she finally released her EP, Justifying thy Soul. It’s so dope to watch her find her style and refine her work. For this project she’s mainly on her singer songwriter steez. While I (selfishly) would love an EP of straight bars, I can’t deny that she’s putting in work (work work work work) on her grind right now. And it’s dope to see her weave her faith into her writing—something I talked about in workshop when Chance dropped Coloring Book. Her lyrics explore the themes of survival and being stronger than you think. Peep her single I Promise above. If you have a few bucks to spare, consider purchasing her EP on iTunes here. It’s a small price to pay ($5) to encourage the work of a talented scrappy youth.
"Don't Touch My Hair" by Solange
If you haven’t heard the new Solo album by now, you’re fucking up. I’m not tryna be shady or shame-y, but there’s no other way to say it. She has the number one album in the country.  She has collaborators from across the hip hop/R&B spectrum, including Q Tip, Tweet, Andre 3000, Kelela, Sampha, Weezy, and so many more. This is an album for black people, particularly black women. She said so herself in the track F.U.B.U.:  This shit is for us. I’ve always loved Solange because she’s not a pop artist, and she’s not tryna be. This album is for black girls who can appreciate a little synth and Pat Benetar-esque guitar chords. This is for black girls who grew up listening to 90s R&B and dancing to funk at family cookouts. Junie makes me wanna lace up some skates and hit Chez Vous. (Boston squad! Let’s make this happen.) I’m ready to rock to this album at every kickback for the foreseeable future. Kaytranada already blessed us with a Cranes in the Sky remix so we can take this to the club. In the video for Don’t Touch My Hair Solange breaks out the black auntie holy ghost dance (universally recognized by black folk everywhere). That’s the move you bust out when you need to testify, and that’s exactly what Solo is doing on this album: testifying. Peep the video (directed by her talented husband) above. Click any of the links below for more commentary on how/why this album is a game changer.

#TheCulture Commentary

Another Round w/ Rachel Wilkerson

On this epi of Another Round, the brilliant Rachel Wilkerson Miller dropped a ton of knowledge about organization, self-care and the all-important complete sentence: “no.” Click here to listen to the podcast. If you don’t have time to listen, click here for ten important self-care takeaways from this conversation.

Sooo Many White Guys w/ Roxane Gay

Sooo Many White Guys is one of my fave new podcasts. For the uninitiated here’s the premise: Phoebe Robinson is sick of being the token black woman in an ocean of white dude comedians. So in her new podcast, Phoebe’s calling the shots. She's talking to performers, musicians, actors and authors who are killing it in their fields—and who aren’t straight up white guys!  In this epi, writer, professor and noted bad feminist Roxane Gay schools Phoebe on how to drink wine and write a killer memoir. This interview gave me liiiiife. Listen here.
Call Your Girlfriend w/  Doreen St. Félix

In this episode of Call Your Girlfriend, Aminatou chats IRL with Doreen St. Félix, brilliant MTV News writer and co-host of the podcast Speed Dial to discuss black excellence, the beautiful upcoming film, Moonlight, their real ages, and the many TV shows they're watching this fall. Click here to listen



Team, I finally leveled up and updated my website! Part of me didn’t want to mention it until the mobile version was finished and everything was perfect (#virgorisingproblems), but the desktop version is so flossy I couldn’t wait. Keep an eye out for the (equally fleeky) mobile version coming soon. Also: if anyone is looking for a hella-talented WOC graphic designer with affordable rates, let me know! She does big and small projects (like the Whole Soul Health logo she designed a few years back), and I highly recommend her for both!

Hive Hustle Presents: the #BossUp Brunch Series

{NEXT SATURDAY} #BossUpBrunch Part I: October 22, 11:30am-2:30pm

Are you trying to live in alignment but don’t know where to begin?  Do you have a lofty goal in mind but can’t see a way forward? This workshop will give you clarity about what you want to do, how it fits into your values, and how to get there. Discussion topics include:

  • Criteria for setting concrete, achievable goals

  • How to determine your first steps

  • How to create rituals that support you in your goals

  • How to reroute when your plans change

Goal Setting and Go Getting includes an all levels hour-long yoga class, light brunch and time to mingle with other folks attending. No worries if you don’t have a goal in mind-- we’ll do some generative activities to get you started. A pre-work guide will be sent a week before the workshop to frame the discussion and jumpstart your thinking. Tickets are available for $25-$35. Capacity is limited and tickets are on the move, so buy yours soon! Find more information at, or check out the facebook event here

If the sliding scale range is out of your reach but you'd still like to participate, we have a limited number of work study scholarships available. If interested, please email with "#BossUpBrunch Scholarship" in the subject. 

Introducing: Gramma Poetry 

I've joined the staff of Gramma Poetry as a contributing editor! Gramma Poetry is an independent press that publishes a diverse array of poetry, both online and in print. Gramma seeks to broaden its audience and to be poetry ambassadors by collaborating with people and organizations in other art mediums. Daily Gramma is an online content series, and welcomes submissions year-round. Please follow the guidelines on Submittable. Gramma Books publishes full-length titles, with an open reading period held in March. In addition to soliciting and editing poems, I'll be working behind the scenes on interviews, podcasts, and other types of content. Check out for fresh poems Monday-Friday, and stay tuned for some dope collabs I've got cookin!
PS: Miss a newsletter? Find the archive --> here
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Copyright © 2016 simone ivory john, All rights reserved.

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