springing new horizons, anticipating a steaming summer
"I bit sweet power to the core. How can I say what it was like? The taste! The taste undid my eyes And led me far from the gardens planted for a child To wildernesses deeper than any master’s call." --- from "Eve Remembering" by Toni Morrison
Hello garden visitors, it’s been a minute. Emerging from a much needed spring break, I have been deep in preparation for book launch mode: Heirloom blooms in four days! Just this past Wednesday I read with my dear friend Irene Vazquez and an author I admire immensely, Karisma Price at Brooklyn Rail; earlier I visited Medicine for Nightmares, a Latine owned bookstore in the Mission, for the first time. I have been getting my hands in the soil at the schools sites and we welcomed our first round of oyster mushrooms!
You may notice that my newsletter has a new title! I recently returned to the work of Monica M. White, author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, and was reminded how she truly is the OG garden griot. While I still consider myself an eco-griot, and this space my virtual garden, I’ve been thinking about what it means to engage in acts of retributive warfare against a society that has a monopoly on violence. Last week, a rewatch of guerilla gardener Ron Finley’s TEDTalk and my job’s collaboration with Dragon Spunk & Calibird Pollinator Sanctuary reinvigorated the urgency of now, the material means we have to repair, reflect and survive, the possibilities of long term organizing. We are on many levels, engaged in battle.
Somehow the sun makes taking on this fight even more possible. We are making native seed dispersals, remediating toxic soil, singing love songs, eating fresh fruit. We are basking in the emergence of a new future.
Ecotage is sabotage for ecological reasons. This phrase was popularized in the 1970s by a group called Environmental Action (the founders of Earth Day) whos ideas were solicited for the 1972 paperback Ecotage! Grappling with the overwhelming whiteness of early environmental spaces and how that titrates into modern day exclusion and appropriation, I see this space as an offshoot of this environmentalism, and a way to highlight the ways in which the descendants of Africans have been participating in acts of “ecotage” in the Western world (and of course, beyond) for centuries. As Toni Morrison once said, “I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central. l claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was.”
In her forthcoming Selfhood booklet, multidisciplinary artist Aqueene Wilson writes “they may see us as a threat, but if only they knew that [Black women] are watering the world.” I sip my rose scented cold brew while my skin sips in glimpses of sun. It is a few weeks past the spring equinox, and I am brimming with possibility. I pray more frequently these days. Our desire for a world beyond this one is evident in our refusal to cope with the current conditions — in our direct dissent. We are watering, and our possibilities are blooming.
So much exciting news to share!
Heirloom is still AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER! Now you can order directly from me on my website.
I will be having a virtual launch party on April 20th! All are welcome to join — in order to access the zoom link please see the below form to fill out:
I will also be having an in person launch at Tamarack Oakland! COVID is still very much a reality and given that this is a small, indoor venue, masks are required (and will be provided). Register at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heirloom-book-release-and-poetry-reading-tickets-596435764427
Spring filled up FAST! But Heirloom is still going on tour! Do you, your organization or your class need support in climate communications, ecopoetics, culturally informed enviro education and/or Black eco-literature? I am booking guest speaking engagements, gigs and readings (both virtual and in person) for early summer into late fall ~ contact me at my website ashiaajani.com