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Snapshot of an Artist - Revolutionary Poetics

Various Authors
Date Published: 
June 1, 2010

I always tell people that at the end of the day, I don't consider myself either a poet or a writer as much as a healer. The mechanics of grammar bore me. I am much more interested in transmuting healing energy to ear, page, and creating something that can be sensed whether it's on a page or on CD. My desire is to share spirit in a multitude of forms that free.
-Yolo Akili

Yolo Akili is a queer feminist organizer, a founder of the southern Gay Men's collective Sweet Tea and a trainer with Men Stopping Violence.

My commitment is growing the capacity of people and communities to love themselves and each other from the inside out through facilitating transformational spaces; I do so in various communities, some of which are work, some are play...and through all of it I am writing, documenting our collective changes in poetry and song, in action, in how I lead and primarily in how I follow...I free myself writing our stories for us now and for future generations.
-Adrienne Maree Brown

Adrienne Maree Brown is the former director of the Ruckus Society and a key organizer of the US Social Forum.

So you're at a poetry reading when the poet at the mic speaks their last syllable with such decisiveness that everyone goes "mmm!" and applauds, and you're snapping your fingers absentmindedly, thinking, "I have no idea what that was about," and the next time you ride your bike before sunrise, or take notes at a meeting, or weep with grief for those who didn't survive, something in you continues to echo, "I have no idea, I have no idea." And one morning you're shocked to notice the lettuce in your garden that grew from a seed that had no idea what it would become or how it would get there, and you find that whatever moves this body, whatever moves your tender heart, whatever moves this movement, at the end of all things, you have no idea what it is, and, come to think of it, neither do I, and there's nothing at all the matter with this. We could welcome the mystery and let it guide our hands, snapping our fingers with all gratitude for what we have no idea about.
-Kriti Sharma

Kriti Sharma is a co-founder of UBUNTU (a women of color survivor led coalition to end gendered violence) and a biologist in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

My poetry gives me unstoppable strength to stand tall and fearless and move the earth towards being free of sexual violence.
-Lynn Walker

Lynne Walter works with the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault and is a participant in the School of Our Lorde.

I do not create art for art's sake. Working from my self-defined AfroLezfemcentric framework, my goal with my poetry/cultural work is to bring progressively radical ideas, images, perspectives, and voices from the margins to the center with the plan to make radical/compassionate/loving/spirit-filled/peace-filled revolution irresistible.
-Aishah Shahidah

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is a feminist activist, poet, and filmmaker. She is the creator of the groundbreaking film NO! about rape in the Black community.

Poetry and community organizing for me are journeys to nourish body and spirit, practice humanized relationships and move mountains of man-made violence-neither is a luxury and both are midwives of prophesy, vision, and possibility in reclaiming a piece of time and space whose centre is mine to hold, define, grow, and take responsibility for with those I choose, and who have chosen me, as kindred.
-Cynthia Oka

Cynthia Oka is a poet and a feminist indigenous rights organizer in Vancouver. Recently Cynthia was involved in the mobilization against the Olympics and is creating space for single mothers of color in her organizing community

Poetry speaks from my deepest transformative self, which is social and which is fed by my community of which I am somewhat a lapsed member, but poetry is feeding the roots.
-Faith Holsaert

At 19 Faith Holsaert worked as a SNCC field secretary in southwest Georgia. Following SNCC's mandate that white activists work within the white community, she lived, worked, and raised her children in the WV coalfields. She continues to be active in lesbian and women's, antiwar, and justice struggles. She is a fiction writer

In light cast by full moon and springtime sun glare, I see our poetry as constantly aligning (a planetary orbit) with the work we are doing to create this community together (shovels and wheelbarrows, kneading bread, making bright crayon messes with little folk, dancing)-here in the languages we teach each other, words like push back, like naming ourselves and our genders with our own sounds, languages of respect, think wind words, like breath and the courage to speak in new tongues, these vocabularies like tools and thick iron armor, where the loudest voice is spirit.
-Jade M. Brooks

Jade M. Brooks is Jericho's older sister, a queer activist with Triangle Coalition to End the Occupation and a participant in the School of Our Lorde.

The poetic allows Queer Renaissance to use old technology like prayer and new media technology like HD films to illuminate and name what is not as though it were. Creating the world anew, making a new world possible in our hearts and minds with poetry.
-Julia Roxanne Wallace

Julia Wallace is the founder of Queer Renaissance, creating safe space and new media for queer people of color and allies.

When I am weak I need words to support the bones of my ideals that are snapping in two and the spirit that is flagging; my love for poetry and my love for my community are one and the same thing, because poetry feeds our community when food is not an option. It whispers to us that we deserve the dreams that possess our minds and I teach English in order to teach our people and myself how to feed ourselves in a world that often wants us to starve.
-Kelley Akhiemokhali

Kelley Akhiemokhali is a radical teacher in Brooklyn, New York.

My first poem was written 23 years ago about love, and nothing's changed since then, except the subject has expanded to love of justice, liberation, family history, radical letter writing, and grassrooted feminisms, which prioritizes transformation of communities through transformation of the self.
-Lisa Factora-Borchers

Lisa Factora-Borchers is a feminist activist, blogger, and a new mom!

Poetry played a huge role in my understanding the need to move beyond rights-based organizing...It created room to talk about trauma and ways that my communities could create new and old ways to love, transform and build with each other.
-Stacey Milbern

Stacey Milbern is a disability rights organizer in Fayettville, North Carolina.