Publik / Private at Baltimore Book Festival 2017

Publik / Private will be hosting two panels at Baltimore Book Festival 2017

Black Existentialism Lends to Dystopian Afrofuturism
Friday, September 22, at 5:00pm
At the CityLit Stage

With so much emphasis on the Black body – police brutality, photographically dense explorations of the inner city, stories of reformed criminals, death and loss within plot lines of Empire inundating American culture, the exploration of Black consciousness, and the navigation of the Black perception of life has been nearly nonexistent in media.

Authors Jordannah Elizabeth, Jason Harris, and Olufunmike Woods (Olu Butterfly) will speak about Black consciousness and existentialism in writing and how it lends to dystopian stories and plot lines in Afrofuturism. The discussion will explore why Black consciousness, perception and relationship with the Western world should always be relevant in conversations in literature.


Black Voices in Music Criticism Are Essential w/ Greg Tate
Sunday, September 24, at 4:45pm
At Red Emma’s Radical Book Fair Pavilion

The panel would consist of renowned authors and music critics/scholars, Greg Tate, Laina Dawes and Rashida Braggs, who will share their perspective on commentary on Black music criticism, how they were able to succeed and create space for themselves, Black music in mainstream and alternative white media and how their work navigates the segregation of Western Contemporary music history. Jordannah Elizabeth will serve as moderator.

“Many prominent Black music critics and editors tend to go nearly anonymous to their general readership. If you do choose to pursue this career path — which, to be very honest, is arduous and full of rejection — share your entire being with your readers: Use your image, your thoughts, and your craft to inspire and equip other Black writers and readers to embrace literary and cultural criticism. This will ensure that Black voices will be expected — not just yearned for — in white alternative and mainstream music media.” -jordannah elizabeth, Black Voices Are Essential In Music Criticism Continue reading

Trauma and Fluidity

Image by: Miguel A. García

Being different is a reality that I’ve lived for as long as I can remember. I’ve always waded through my vivid imagination, my mind full of stories of rockstars, fairy tales, travel and poetic adventures. Because I had such an engrossing inner life, I never really thought to much about my outer appearance. Of course, I dressed and bathed, and interacted in school, but ideas of my gender in regards to the way I dressed and behaved was not a prominent concern. By the time, I was 19 years old, my friends began to call me “queer”, not because of my sexual preference, but because I was unique and couldn’t be put into a box. My LGTBQ friends and I were like peas in a pod, and for the first time in my life, because queer seemed to fit so well with my free flowing – and what I later learned was genderfluid experience, I accepted who I was by being aligned with those terms.

All in all, no term can define one’s experience in full, and of course, a gender assignment cannot define my story of survival, but being queer, gender fluid, and more importantly, “Jordannah” has helped me understand that my work in life is to live without limitations and rigid definition.

Nonetheless, what should be understand as I write as survivor or sexual abuse is that even though my body survived, my identity struggles with how deeply I want to be entangled with my survivorhood. My brain is permanently damaged due to trauma and nearly a decade after the abuse, I still work to train it how to proportionately react to emotional stressors, conflict and intimate relationships. How does a fluid gender identity cohabit with the brain of a survivor?

Continue reading

P / P Introspective: Why I Light Candles

You must understand, when you’re born and raised in Baltimore, there’s a certain type of paranoia you experience when you’re in the dark. Yes, it could be because of violence, it could be of abuse and drugs, but over in my neighborhood where middle class families, college students and 30+ artists all mingle peacefully with the homeless, my paranoia more or less has to do with invasion of my privacy.

Don’t get me wrong, a little over a year ago, five blocks down the street, my neighborhood did insight the worries of needles on the sidewalk and the safety of the prostitutes I would hear being beaten in the downstairs apartment, but yes, in my current home, during this season, I only worry about 5-0…and now that I write it, I guess no matter where you live in Baltimore, being Black and from this small, complex City, our fears are all the same.

My partner had to go back into my apartment to look for something after we’d been mingling on my porch. After a couple of minutes, I followed him in and, I saw him shining a flashlight over my desk. He found the item he was looking for on my lounge chair, after I turned the light, and when we stepped back out onto my porch to chat, I asked him accusingly, “This is the second time you were looking around my desk…” He replied, “What are you hiding on your desk?” I replied, “I think you’re five-0.” Continue reading

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

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


“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.


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


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


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,


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