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Warrior, Get Up!

Alexis Pauline Gumb
Date Published: 


By Alixa and Naima of Climbing PoeTree


“Us. Birthing the world everyday.” —Alixa and Naima

Listen once. This is about a body, healing and growing through rage. Listen twice. This is about our planet ravaged and wakening. Listen three times and remember that the past meets the future right here in the sound of your breathing. Listen again.

Ammunition, the debut album from Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman, the dancing, sewing, singing, rhyming, painting, theorizing duo that makes up Climbing Poetree is meant to be used. This album is a reminder and a toolbox, consistent with the group’s lived belief that art can and must transform lives.

Speaking from a grounded, but visionary center where ancestors speak and futures bloom, this album enacts the struggle of birth, the bloodlines of freedom, and the bassline of hope. This album makes a radical and inclusive reproductive justice analysis audible, lush, vivid and compelling, revealing a world where sexual and physical violence against women, the mining of the earth’s resources, the police state, and global economic violence are the same act. In this world, past genocides are as present as stage fright, lust and love.

“Ancestors Watching,” featuring Bryon Bainn, which is now also a music video produced by Warrington Hudlin, is a rhythmic reminder that the real ammunition for present-day struggles comes from the energy and watchfulness of the ancestors who survive through us despite everything. The track sounds like what a railroad gang would sing if it were hovering in outerspace linking together stars or what finding a way to keep going feels like on a cosmic scale.

Huge props to Alixa and Naima for creating the first poetry CD I have heard that is able to insist on the birth, survival and eternity of people of color, while maintaining a queer ethos and eros. On the exuberantly sexy track “Between Us,” the duo explains that women of color loving women of color is creative healing made loud and whole, which is suddenly the same thing as an earth at home with itself painting futures everywhere.

Wounded places

And some of that love is tough. “Diamond” gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. This track is gravelly and rough with the use of muscles that we didn’t know were strong. It is a study of what it means to lead and fight from our most wounded places. “I was 13 and he raped me, you’re 25 and he hits you,” comes before a rousing and insistent shout that we, survivors of gendered violence are warriors, simply for surviving. And now it is time to get up to face the “Goliath” of a system and to teach it “who David was.” My heart explodes into new versions of fierce every time I hear them demand of me, “Warrior, get UP!”

Get this CD. Listen to it over and over again. Play it for your students, your parents, your comrades. Give it to loved ones who are overcoming trauma. Dedicate a different song to someone everyday. Tell your local community and college radio stations to play it. Invite Alixa and Naima to come help you transform your hometown.

But more importantly, remember who you are. This is an album made by warriors for warriors. Get up!