a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
We want to dedicate this issue to:
Jayne Cortez, fearless poet, advocate and humanitarian
People worldwide who have lost their lives to Covid-19
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, RayShard Brooks
and countless others who have lost their lives to police violence
The call for Works of Resistance, Resilience went out five days after the shooting of George Floyd, while we as a country were already deeply immersed in the Covid-19 pandemic. As we close this issue, Jacob Blake lays handcuffed to his hospital bed, paralyzed with seven wounds as a result of close-range gunshots from a police officer. Protests have erupted across Kenosha, Wisconsin and other cities. Since the murder of George Floyd, May 25, 2020, police shootings of unarmed Black citizens have continued across this nation. Black lives and Black bodies matter and are as valuable as all others in this world.
The themes for this issue were chosen to reflect the urgent and dangerous developments of 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has attacked the health and economic stability of millions in the USA and has taken thousands of American lives, leaving trails of grief, fear and anxiety across the country. Uprisings in protest of police killings of Black people in the USA have exploded all over the country and have focused attention on systemic violence and injustice and the lack of accountability of law enforcement. We called for work that explores our capacity to resist oppressive forces, our resilience in the face of bleak, life-threatening developments, our capacity for regeneration after natural and man-made catastrophe as well as the impulse to move in search of a better life.
We want to thank those writers, poets and artists who responded to the call for Works of Resistance, Resilience. We had one of the largest number of submissions for About Place Journal with an astonishing 638 submissions, many of them of outstanding quality. We are excited that writers, poets and artists from all over the world responded to the call for Works of Resistance, Resilience. In this issue you will find writers from Arizona, the Philippines, Lagos, Iran, Jamaica, Brooklyn and beyond. In the call for work we made a reference to the Akan principle of Aya which means the ability to overcome great adversity. With additional research we learned a different meaning of Aya which is: I am not afraid of you. Both meanings are closely aligned with the Works of Resistance, Resilience issue themes.
This issue comes to press less than a month before the U.S. Presidential election. As we all know the election outcomes are not guaranteed. This is a time of profound reckoning and we encourage everyone who can to vote and to consider what civic engagement or activism they can do after the election.
Jacqueline extends appreciation and thanks to her Assistant Editors, Ifeona Fulani and Vida James, who together read all the first round of submissions for the issue. Special thanks to Vida for facilitating the editing of the fiction submissions. Jacqueline read all the poetry submissions and the second round of fiction submissions. Together we selected the art and video submissions. From the beginning we agreed that we would only select the work that we loved. We all learned a great deal from reading all these submissions and from discussing them amongst ourselves over the course of three months. We were fortunate that though our own work spans a range of genres, we share many values, which minimized the difficulty of making final selections.
We invite you to spend some quality time with the Works of Resistance, Resilience issue of About Place Journal. The best way to read this issue is to select one or two sections at a time and go for it. You will be glad you did. We have a fine gathering of both established and emerging writers and artists. Many of the poets and writers in this issue have either three poems spread across various themes and sections or within their individual section. A few writers have both prose and poetry. We hope the work in this issue illuminates the concerns reflected by our choice of themes and that the issue challenges, intrigues and delights readers.
Yours in Struggle and Power,
Jacqueline, Ifeona, Vida
Jacqueline Johnson is a multi-disciplined artist creating in poetry, fiction writing and fiber arts. Recent exhibitions include Yours for Race and Country: Reflections on the Life of Colonel Charles Young at the National Afro-American Museum. She is the author of A Woman’s Season, on Main Street Rag Press, and A Gathering of Mother Tongues, published by White Pine Press, and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in “Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era,” Routledge 2020, The Slow Down, American Public Media, October 16, 2019 and “Pank: Health and Healing Folio,” 2019. Works in progress include: “The Privilege of Memory,” and “How to Stop a Hurricane,” a collection of short stories, and “This America,” a poetry collection. She is a graduate of New York University and the City University of New York. A native of Philadelphia, PA., she resides in Brooklyn, New York. She has work forthcoming in Show Us Your Papers, on Main Street Rag press and The Langston Hughes Review. She is a 2018–2021 Black Earth Institute fellow.
Ifeona Fulani is author of a collection of short stories titled Ten Days in Jamaica (2012), a novel, Seasons of Dust (1997) and stories published in The New Daughters of Africa anthology, the Beacon’s Best anthology series, in Small Axe, and in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noir. She is a Clinical Professor of Liberal Studies at New York University; her research interests include Caribbean, African and Black British literatures and cultures and her recent scholarly publications include an edited volume of essays, Archipelagos of Sound: Transnational Caribbeanities, Women and Music (University of West Indies Press, 2012) as well as articles published in Atlantic Studies, Caribbean Quarterly, Frontiers: A journal of Women’s Studies, Small Axe and Anthurium.
Vida James is a Nuyorican social worker from Brooklyn, NY, where she supported immigrant and homeless youth. She is a Delaney Fellow at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst MFA for Poets & Writers. She is a 2018 VONA/Voices fellow and has work appearing or forthcoming in New England Review, Epiphany and PANK. She is working on a collection of short stories and a novel.