P / P Reading List: {TERSE. Journal’s} Literary Arsenal

A new reading list from our friends at TERSE. Journal

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When I was traveling a couple of years ago, I sent about a quarter of my library to my mother’s house in the Rocky Mountain region. My books sat in her guestroom for a year before I called her and inquired about have them sent back to me.

I’m back to writing full time after a brief stint of teaching, and with the attainment of many writing and reporting assignments, I feel naked without my collection to help me sort through and research to hone the basis of my thesis and tones for my essays, screenplays, and stories.

Whether I’m writing about a Black women jazz musician, an ethereal novella or writing an essay to assist other writers in finding methods to smooth their literary paths, I’ve known since I was a girl that a robust library of diverse books (that only you can curate via your own tastes and literary needs) is essential to growing into a successful writer.

When I received the full list of books that are patiently waiting to be reunited with my eager and voracious fingers, palms and eyes, I thought it would be good to share some of the books I own and love.

Not many people get to see my process. I wanted to take a bit of the veil down between myself and other readers and writers to ensure that we, in even the smallest of ways, stay connected. Continue reading

P / P Presents: Our New Sister Site, Feminist Jazz Review

We’re excited to share the new beginnings with our sister blog, Feminist Jazz Review. Born out of P / P and FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s column for Jazz Right Now, Feminist Jazz Review will feature articles focused on femme jazz composers, producers, instrumentalists, and singers.

Read Feminist Jazz Review here.

P / P Prose: Going From Here

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Oh, it has been a somber and sobering time. Disease is ravishing the lives of many and the stoicism of the white global class is facing a reckoning brought on by the catalyst of a brave martyr – who has succumbed to the brutality of Black reality as countless have before him.

We all know the recap. We all know what is to be conversed about, debated and potentially dismantled over the course of many moons.

I have concerned myself with much, but I have tried to move as carefully as possible. I have been doing my best to care for my health, I have been managing to keep up with deadlines and appear as refined as much as I deem appropriate.

I don’t have a lot on my mind right now.

I have much to do but all I can think about is how to move forward beyond this very minute.

Going from here.

Where I go is a consequence of my thoughts and decisions but in the micro moments I interplay between rest and a manageable pace.

My heart skips beats now. It’s never done that before. I can’t drink more than two cups of coffee a day because my body is on alert. I want it to be calm. I want to reassure my heart that it is safe. I don’t think it’s worried about love. I think it’s being attacked by those who don’t know what love and yet find it pertinent to demand attention that my heart doesn’t want to give. It’s being violated.

Such is life.

On the other hand, my heart is going out across the Universe. It’s working overtime. I’m going to eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise twice a day to nurse it, to feed it. It takes small, incremental fixes and patience, self love.

We’ll be fine. Going from here.

Safety, Consciousness and COVID-19

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The global consciousness has been fraught since the beginning to time. Nonetheless, today in 2020, we are all faced with decisions we are not prepared to make. I would like to be a voice of encouragement to take every step with thoughtfulness and the responsibility of working together and within ourselves to make the best decisions for the greater good.

We are in a digital age of instant commentary and quick reactions, so we will have to relearn how to take time while simultaneously being open to a constant stream of information.

We at Publik / Private are safe and remotely run. We have not had any events on the docket for the last several weeks and my personal lecture opportunities have been postponed.

I will also practice as much social distancing as I can. I am part of a close knit community and cooperative.  We have all met with one another a couple of days ago to collectively plan for the future.

Make sure you have food, clean water and a positive outlook that this pandemic will be contained within the next few weeks as we all respect the observance and advice of biological professionals.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Publik / Private and our protocol, feel free to reach out.

Thank you for reading. We’re all in this together.

Jordannah Elizabeth

Executive Director

Publik / Private

P / P Reading List: 8 Books for General Self-Education

I find it to be fateful that I lost my teaching job a couple of weeks ago. I had been eager to get back to writing full time, which, in turn would allow me to pull Publik / Private out of its forced hiatus. There are so many hours in a day, and I was at full capacity taking a few college courses and teaching part time. I could not write as much as I desired and Publik / Private had to take a backseat to my daily affairs for a number of months.

Nevertheless, all of that is behind me now and I am at ease. I am not in dire straights or frantic because I saved accordingly for such a time as this.

Almost immediately after I got notice about the job, I headed to the bookstore to re-up on material. I still frequent the library as well. My logic has always been, if you are going to write, you have to read. It’s the only method I understand when it comes to producing a lot of work for a foreseeable future.

I’ve chosen 8 books out of the dozen I have acquired over the past 6 months. They are for my self-education. Some of the books teach me how to work on my craft of writing, others educate me on feminism and masculinity, and some are classic collections. They are my Source of Self-Regard, and a list that I think is worth sharing. Moreover, it’s been ages since I’ve written a reading list, which is a practice I did often in the past. Continue reading

P / P Interview: Justin Simien Talks Inspiration and Black Identity in Horror Genre

Publik / Private Founder, Jordannah Elizabeth and Justin Simien at Sundance Film Festival 2020

Editor’s Note: We want to send warm appreciation to Sundance Institute and the Press Inclusion Initiative for inviting me to Sundance Film Festival. I took the opportunity seriously and was able to engage in some very engaging conversations with the world’s leading Black independent filmmakers and writers. Justin Simien is one of those people. This interview with Justin was one of the highlights of the festival for me. The world premiere of his upcoming film, Bad Hair brought a very complex and scary examination of the Black female identified experience in modern American culture. After witnessing and genuinely appreciating the success of Dear White People, I wanted to talk to Justin about his thought process, and the creative and aesthetic reasoning behind the creation of his new horror film.

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Filmmaker, Justin Simien made waves with his debut film Dear White People in 2014 after winning the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the Sundance Film Festival. The comedy that chronicles the experiences of Black colleges students attending a predominantly white, Ivy League college went on to become a Netflix original series, making Justin a successful television writer. This year. Simien returned to Sundance Film Festival 2020 with the world premiere of his complex horror/comedy film entitled Bad Hair.

Bad Hair takes place in Los Angeles in the 1980s, when New Jack Swing was taking over the airwaves in Black culture and ushered a new hair technique called the “weave”. When lead actress Elle Lorraine (Anna) is pressured by her boss played by Vanessa Williams to straighten her natural hair. After she is made over by an evil hair stylist played by Laverne Cox, a nightmare of her hellish weave unfolds.

Acted by an impressive ensemble cast which includes, Lena Waithe, Kelly Rowland, Usher, Blair Underwood and James Van Der Beek, this film tackles several different intercultural issues that Black woman face like good hair vs. bad hair, colorism, professional discrimination, generational oppression and slave folklore.

Justin Simien sat down with Publik / Private 48 hours after the sold out premiere of Bad Hair in Park City, Utah Sundance Film Festival 2020. He talks about the complicity of Black identity in film, including his own, which horror films influenced Bad Hair and how Black woman play a leading role in his cinematic endeavors.

After having success in comedy/drama, what made you pursue making a complex Black horror film?

[Bad Hair] does a lot and is trying to present a lot. So, I wanted people to come to it from their own subjective experiences. When you’re coming to something like Sundance, the conventional wisdom is like, “Drop it. See what the people say and what they do.” 

Did your initial inspiration for this film come upon you the same way as Dear White People did?

I think so. I think the same thing that makes me scared is the same thing that makes me want to do something. I feel like what I can’t help as a filmmaker is to go to the spaces that feel unexplored and edgy. If you look at classical psychological thrillers or horror movies, which of course, are white because that’s the dominant society, but if you look at Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, Body Snatchers or The Shining, the actual thrills of the movies are fun but the things that keep me up at night are the things that the films are saying about life.

I feel like Rosemary’s Baby is about the vulnerability of a woman who has the responsibility of giving life and literally keeping the species together. But while she’s in the most vulnerable stage of a woman’s life, giving birth, she is at the whim of all of these men. And The Shining, which is a film I’ll never stop watching, means something new to me the more I watch it. That’s really something powerful that this genre can take on these deeper topics, but they do it subconsciously. They do it to you in a sneaky way. They interrogate society and popular opinions through the guise of a thrill ride. I thought it would be really interesting to do that, but to take it to a Black place. Black people traditionally have not been able to make movies like this. And if we do, we’re not able to make it at a big scale. Continue reading

P / P Master Class Six: Handwriting Sharpens Your Creative Talent

JE’s personal handwriting and notebook.

I have been publishing excerpts from Shakespeare on Publik / Private for a reason. I believe handwriting and transcribing texts is the best way to morph your raw creative talent into a disciplined, patient way towards long form writing. 

Carry two notebooks and three pens everywhere you go.

One notebook should be for journaling, story and lyrical ideas. The other notebook should be for handwriting schedules and practical life notes (accounting, grocery list and important contacts). Carry three pens because at least one isn’t going to function well after being jostled around in your backpack, laptop bag or purse.

When you sit down to work, write in your notebook before you use your computer.

Writing in your notebooks will allow you to learn to have the discipline to not depend on your computer for every task you have in life. If you have your calendar and all your writing ideas solely on your laptop or in the cloud, you will not be able to access your work if you don’t have a device on you. I’ve seen creative and professionals and writers have their computers malfunction, leaving them without a way to work. Don’t put yourself in this position. Continue reading

P / P Excerpts: The First Words of Love’s Labour’s Lost & Romeo and Juliet

Photo credit, left: fanpop,center: bfi.org.uk, right: shakespearetavern

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ROMEO AND JULIET

PROLOGUE

Enter CHORUS

CHORUS.

 

Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny.

   Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

   A pair of star-crost lovers take their life;

Whose misadventured piteous overthrows

   Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.

The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,

   And the continuance of their parents’ rage,

Which, but their children’s end, naught could re-

   Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; [move,

The which if you with patient ears attend,

What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

[Exit.

 

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LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST

ACT I. SCENE I

Narrative.  A park with a palace in it.

Enter the KING, BEROWNE, LONGAVILLE, and 

DUMAINE

KING. Continue reading

P / P Master Class Five: Deep Work

Photo Credit: The 6 Productivity Strategies to Integrate Deep Work into Your Professional Lives

I learned the term Deep Work from my older brother. He gets up every morning, exercises and listens to informational and motivational videos on how to create wealth and work more efficiently. I was impressed by his morning routine when he came to town to visit.1

He got up at about 9 am, while I got up between 6 and 8 am. My routine is somewhat similar to my brother’s. I get up, make my bed, make coffee, clean my apartment (a task I consider exercise) and begin to write. He has protein shakes in the morning, I cook eggs and salmon or something healthy.

The one thing that differs between me and my brother’s routine is that he is a bit more of a positive thinker because he listens to affirmations every day. I, during the time he came to visit me, was fairly depressed. Even though we both have our own way of doing things, it all sits under the umbrella of “non distraction,” ie Deep Work.

Our emotional states don’t keep us from staying on track when it comes to having a focused beginning of the day that makes our work schedules run smoothly. There is a level of isolation that comes with Deep Work. Weeding out distractions from social media, social conflicts, unproductive work processes and conversations is extremely important for life/work efficiency.

 

The term Deep Work is defined in depth in the book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

When I heard the audiobook of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World playing through the door of my guest room where my brother was I was staying, I had to knock on the door and inquire about the book. My brother explained a bit about it while he was doing jumping jacks.I felt like the book was speaking to me. I’ve always done deep work, but never realized it was such a rare way of working in the modern age.

P / P Master Class Five: Deep Work

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Don’t Think of Deep Work as a Privileged Pursuit

It’s okay if you don’t have the money to rent a cabin in some remote place to focus on your novel.  There are quiet rooms in most public libraries, afforded work spaces you can rent in your own city and disciplined practices like working early or late at night to avoid the hustle and bustle of your home and neighborhoods.

You don’t have to have money to find solace, but you will have to make changes and pursue it. Continue reading

P / P Excerpt: King Richard II with Commentary

Photo Credit: Prisoners of Eternity

“Richard II: The Boy who would be King”

[P / P Edit One] Editor’s Note: In my life, Shakespeare’s writing is essential when it comes to building, training and understand the root of writing the key element of a story. It is not about color, origin, race of creed, it is about learning how to be a great Western writer. It is also great to simply be spectator of Shakespeare’s plays and how they influenced the world. There is nothing wrong with that. But as I worked on manuscripts over the years, Shakespeare’s output and collection of writing has crept up and returned again and again, becoming a foundation when I begin to write in a voice and language that has a breadth, emotional width and situational range.

Should my and everyone’s work be inspired by Shakespeare? Of course not, anyone can pick and choose when they are ready to delve into the poet and playwright’s work and furthermore, choose what style they want to use when researching and reading to prepare to personally write long form.

Below is a passage from King Richard II. It jumped out at me and challenged me as I have been transcribing passages by hand from the play for the last couple of months. It was challenging because this passage is long and the book is pocket sized, so the type it very small. It took concentration to complete. This is the first time I have typed a transcription from Richard the II.

King Richard is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

King Richard II

Act V

[Scene V. Pomfret Castle.]

Enter Richard alone.

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Richard. I have been studying how I may compare

This prison where I live unto the world;

And for because the world is populous,

And here it is not a creature but myself,

I cannot do it. Yet I’ll hammer it out:

My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,

My soul soul the father, and these two begat

A generation of still-breeding thoughts;

And these same thoughts people this little world,

In humors like the people of this world,

For no thought is contented. The better sort,

As thoughts of things divine are intermixed

With scruples, and do set the world itself

Against the word, as thus: “Come, little ones”; Continue reading