P / P Introspective: When Access Is Denied to Race Women & Intellectual Black Girls

By: Jordannah Elizabeth

Shirley Graham Du Bois

Last time I wrote about denial, I wrote a piece here on Publik / Private entitled, “When Justice is Denied” because of a fateful meeting with Baltimore community organizer, Sheila Gaskins. She gave me a quote by Frederick Douglass, which I hand wrote in my notebook and expanded upon it in my post.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about being smart, and a lot about being poor. The moment I set out on my own when I was a teenager, I never had much. I am by nature a pretty simple person. One thing I’ve always managed to have was a guitar and a small collection of clothing, but not much more. These days, I’ve settled in a bit more, signing a lease and I’ve begun to build a nice collection of books which live under the moniker, “Publik / Private Library” where I allow friends to borrow or keep books for free. I have some vinyl records, some simple but aesthetically pleasing furniture and a very small collection of vegetables and organic oatmeal to eat.

That sounds nice right? It is. But it’s hard to maintain while I work as a freelance teacher and writer. My checks are often late and very small. I’m asked to travel often and am lucky if my travel is covered, but room and board many times is up to me. I keep a hairstyle that is low maintenance and inexpensive to thanks to my generous and understanding hair stylist, who struggles and works hard herself as a single mother of four.

I’ve been thinking about success, but I’ve also been thinking about denial.

The word, “no” is a part of life. But as an intellectual Black woman who often teaches for free, offers courses that are free to the public and has lived minimally for many years, the word “no” is more complicated. We get into realms of access, equality, of kindness and respect towards Black women who work closely with their communities. We have to consider what is appropriate in regards to giving back to us for our free literal and emotional labor. Continue reading

Publik / Private Free Writing Workshop: Conscious Self Assertion & Black Women’s Identity

Photo Credit: Galore, Photography & Creative Direction By Prince + Jacob

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“Conscious Self Assertion & Black Women’s Identity: Writing Workshop”

Register Here

July 15, 2017 & July 29th 

Fred Lazarus IV Center, 131 W North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201

Publik / Private Presents:Conscious Self Assertion and Black Women’s Identity will be a writing course on Black women’s existential experience with interpersonal interactions and how systemic pushback affects their self identity. When Black women and women of color make bids and investments in their relationships and environments, many times they are met with accusations of aggressive behavior. I’d like to take “Aggressive” back and call it, “Conscious Self Assertion” bringing self esteem and persistence into Black women’s relationships with the world.

Through discussion and writing, we can learn more about our own self images and how we think the world see us. Later, we can discuss and write about our assertion of presence of the world and how to withstand societal pushback.

P / P Penned: FEMINIST JAZZ REVIEW: THE ECSTATIC MUSIC OF ALICE COLTRANE TURIYASANGITANANDA

Written  By: Jordannah Elizabeth

Originally penned for Jazz Right Now

One thing I am working on these days, in my personal life and in my writing life is to not be presumptuous. Without admitting that presumption is an overwhelmingly prevalent trait in my personality and work, I believe it is not only important to listen, but to go back and check myself – to go back and check the “facts.”  So, before I proclaimed that the Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda record and debut world music compilation from David Byrne’s Luaka Bop Records, Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda sounded almost completely different than her previous works, I went back and listened to the catalog of her music that was available on Spotify.

I listened to the first few minutes of each record and audibly examined 17 of her albums, including her Carlos Santana collaboration record, Illuminations. The only album that very loosely resembled this newly issued collection of works was the 1976 album, Radha-Krsna Nama Sankirtana which embodied the singing of a chorus of voices.

Upon hearing the silky voice singing on the lead single and track two from the new album, World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, “Om Shanti,” I asked myself if Alice was the voice singing. I second guessed myself, I was slightly confused, but her honey dipped, alto voice sounded like her face, her demeanor. Obviously, because of my young age, I’ve never had the pleasure to meet or see Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda perform live, but her presence, her music and style has been with me for some time, and the voice seemed to fit. Upon reading the background on the album on Luaka Bop’s website, my question was answered: this is the first collection of recordings that features Alice’s voice. Fascinating. Continue reading

P / P Introspective: Loving vs. The Law

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

lovings

On June 12, 1967  The United States Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriage in the United States of America.

While leading a graduate level writing course on self identity in Black women in Baltimore, MD, one of my attendees confessed that in her personal understanding, and after living in Mississippi for several years, Baltimore was in many ways more racist than Mississippi. She expressed that White and Black people were very comfortable around each other there, and there wasn’t an underlying tension that she experienced in Baltimore.

I was not surprised to hear this. I personally found the racial segregation in the city to be profound. I moved around often as a teenager and young woman and spent extensive time in cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which seemed to be utopias even as the white artist and technology class continued to overwhelm the comfort of people of color in those cities, no one ever blinked an eye, questioned or combated my involvement in interracial relationships until I moved to Baltimore. There, I was treated as if I had been brainwashed or was under a deep generational curse for bonding with people intimately who were outside of my race. Continue reading

P / P Poetry: “Theme 4 Inglish” (Da B-Mix)

Written By: Slangston Hughes

Photo credit: Pen Station

I’ve written this before, and I’ll write it again: I don’t know much, but I hope to understand one or two things before my life is complete. One thing I hope I understand is poetry. I hope writers like the Baltimore based poet, Slangston Hughes finds solace in the fact that there are people who still connect with poetry and still support it for the sake of the art form. We at Publik / Private believe it is a necessary form of art and communication, so we’re pleased to share a piece from Hughes.  -je

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Slangston Hughes is a National Slam Champion based out of Baltimore, Maryland. He’s a decorated performer winning many competitions and awards across the country. Hughes also gives back to the community as the Director of Youth Poetry at Dew More Baltimore and lead coach of the world champion Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team. Slangston Hughes was the first ever Word War grand slam champion in 2008 (Baltimore) and the 2010 Baltimore Crown Awards “Poet of the Year” recipient. His work has been published in the Poets ‘ America anthology via the Kratz Creative Writing Center. Slangston published his first collaborative literary work “Writers’ Alchemy with prosaist Devlon E. Waddell as part of E.M.B.O.D.Y. In addition Slangston is the founder of Speak Out: Slammageddon. Slangston was also a member of the Slammageddon Baltimore slam team that won the 2016 National Poetry Slam.

The Baltimore release of his book, “Slanguage Arts & Griot Glimpses (Black Jesus Edition): Poems 2002 – 2017” will officially be released at Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore City on Saturday, May 13th. Support independent writers:

“Theme 4 Inglish”(Da B-Mix)

“I Gotta Write”

“I gotta write, I have to write, these lines are my life”

“Go home
and write a page tonight
and let that page come out of you
then, it will be true”

so this is me right?
this is me write

what you see is what you get
stand on stages and let therapeutic phrases operate like mirrors
facing the faces of the people
you think this is entertainment
and I’m just up here regurgitating
out my soul for kicks
and that what I spit is simply for snaps and oohs
pounds and cd sales

cause sometimes, sometimes
it’s hard to tell if their looking at the poet or the performer
the artist or the human
using pain like notes to music
and they say that the blues is the best way
to turn
hurt into harmony

so follow me, yea “follow me
into a solo that you can picture like a photo”
that I took of myself Continue reading

P / P Quote: When Justice is Denied

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

I met playwright and activist, Sheila Gaskins for the first time last weekend. I only knew her through social media and from a couple of letters she wrote me via email when I was working to combat racism at a local publication in Baltimore by demanding a Black editor be hired at an all white paper. Shelia sent a letter of support and told me a simple and popular little saying that always makes me think of her when I become exasperated with my socio political circumstances. She told me, “Be the change you want to see.”

When I finally ran into her at a coffee shop, we chatted for a bit. I told her of some of my woes of feeling a bit isolated in my work – a Black woman pent on immersing herself in studying feminist existentialism, writing folk music and practicing “conscious self assertion” (I made that up). Sheila listened, insisted on buying a copy of my new book, “The Warmest Low” and then gave me a  quote she’d handwritten in her notebook.

Here is the quote:

“When justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, when ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither person nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass

A historical rumination on “the safe space”? Hmm.

Thank you, Sheila.

With love,

Jordannah

P / P Poetry: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Written By: Meccamorphosis

Editor’s Note: Last year, Ms. Meccamorphosis (Mecca Verdell) leaned over to me while sitting at a nearby table at a coffee shop and quietly asked if she could get my thoughts on an idea she was working on. I had just finished an interview for an article and my interviewee had just walked away from my table. I told her I would do my best to answer her question. She said to me, “If you could think of the seven layers of hell for a Black woman, what would they be?” She was doing a piece similar to Dante’s Inferno on the reality of the Black woman. I rattled off my seven layers the best I could, and the rest is history. 

That summer Mecca went on to win the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam  and will soon be competing for Baltimore’s Youth Poet Laureate. I am in awe of Mecca, I’m a big fan and wanted to share her poem, Not All Heroes Wear Capes. -je

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Not all heroes wear capes
Some wear nooses,
Loosened, but ready
To drag dead weight
Hanging behind them
My mom carried enough
To sound like rattles
For her loss babies Continue reading

P / P Books: Early Spring Reading List

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

Spring has finally sprung. It took a while. For weeks I was waking up in the middle of the night, removing and adding my sweater to my body as the temperature remained unpredictable, showing itself to be bitter cold, then pleasantly bearable at the drop of a hat throughout March and half of April. I will soon put away my space heater and replace my comforter with lighter sheets, and more importantly, I’ll be taking a personal Spring hiatus to catch up on a few things I don’t do enough: sleep and read.

There are three books I’ve been quietly obsessing over: “Modernity and Self- Identity“, “Vulnerability in Resistance” and “The Sabotage Manuals“. I even forced myself to pay full retail price for all of these books in local bookshops, which added up to what would be equal to the price of a new pair of durable shoes or two weeks of groceries, but there are some things that move me to invest. I had been reading “Modernity and Self-Identity” and “Vulnerability in Resistance” by borrowing them in and reading the books in a local bookshop for weeks, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to mark these books, consume them and carry them around until they looked worn and studied.

I have been thinking a lot about emotional availability, vulnerability and social existence in regards to service and interpersonal relationships. I honestly cannot say I am personally the most emotional person I know – moody? A bit indecisive? Yes, but not emotional. I am a realist and I have to work with my emotions, which at times get clogged up for weeks to the point where I have to take time out to sit and interact with them until they ooze out in a manner that allows me to feel like an appropriately balanced human being. Continue reading

Premiere: Publik / Private Small Press

Publik / Private Small Press Presents:

The premiere of author, Jordannah Elizabeth‘s new book,
“The Warmest Low (Chapbook One) Limited Edition Two”
(listen to the music that accompanies the book here)

will take place at

Publications and Multiples Fair VIII (PMF VIII)
in Baltimore, MD.

at
Baltimore Design School

April 1st and 2nd

Jordannah will be signing books on April 1st at 2 pm.

For more information on how to order the book contact

P / P Writer to Writer Series: Roxane Gay

Written By: Jordannah Elizabeth

Every time something important happens to me, I’m sleep deprived. I got the word that author and feminist, Roxane Gay would be speaking in Baltimore the day of the event, and in the haze of my busy schedule, sleep deprivation and lack of financial abundance, I had to make a quick and conscious decision to do what I had to do to attend the reading of her new book, Difficult Women.  

I asked a couple of sisters if they wanted to drive to the event, but ended up having to take a car a few miles out of the city (or my personal pedestrian perception of city lines) because the convenient location of the downtown library had been changed to The Church of the Redeemer. The church was tucked behind a roundabout driveway in a quaint in a part of town on North Charles St. I cannot describe the area in depth because I was lost in my own thoughts on the way to the event.

I could barely afford the fare at that time, but I felt I had to invest in a Black woman who took the time to travel the world to inspire Black feminists and progressive women. Most most importantly, Roxane Gay speaks about intersections of reality that tend to make people feel uncomfortable and enlightened at the same time.

As feminists, we should invest in one another. As Black women, we should speak and encourage one another.

I sat in the second row of the church, which was filled with mostly white attendees. I turned by body around in my seat and grazed the room with my eyes, looking at the faces of the sprinkle of women of color in the room. I was a bit saddened to not see anyone I knew except for my friend who worked at Enoch Pratt and was managing the event, which didn’t make seeing her any less pleasing, I just wished more sisters were able to attend as listeners and explorers.

After Gay read excerpts from three short stories in Difficult Women, she opened the floor up for questions from the audience. Of course, I was the first person to raise my hand after realizing no one in the room wanted to be the first to speak.

Continue reading