Maria Eliza Hamilton Bispo de Jesus Abegunde is an egungun (ancestral) priestess in the Yoruba Orisa tradition and Reiki Master with a focus on the recovery of ancestral memory from the Earth and human body. Her ongoing research is on embodied memory of the Middle Passage and slave trade for African Americans and black Brasilians.
She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Wishful Thinking. Excerpts of her award-winning novel-in-progress, The Ariran’s Last Life, have been published in Best African American Fiction 2010, The Kenyon Review, Margin Magazine, Warplands, and Best African American Fiction. Excerpts from her memoir, Arroyo, detailing the retracing of the Middle Passage routes by sailing from Puerto Rico to Brasil, have been published in nocturnes.
Abegunde has received fellowships from Norcroft, Sacatar (Brasil), and Ragdale foundations. She has received awards from the Poetry Center of Chicago Discovery Award series, Illinois Arts Council, and the Chicago Cultural Center.
Her poems have been anthologized in Gathering Ground, Beyond the Frontier: African American Poetry for the 21st Century, Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places, I Feel A Little Jumpy Around You, and Catch the Fire. Her poetry has also been published in journals and literary magazines, including Lorraine and James, Wicked Alice, Janes Stories, and rhino.
She is co-founder of Jane’s Stories Press and Foundation. JSPF offers workshops and retreats on writing and publishing for women. She is the co-editor of Jane’s Stories III.
She has taught poetry workshops for the Chicago public libraries, Evanston School District 65, and various community organizations throughout the country, with a focus on the reading and writing of poetry as a meditative act. Abegunde has also been a panelist at various conferences, including the Gwendolyn Brooks’ conference for writers and AWP.
Between 2001-2009, she was the libation pourer for the UNESCO Transatlantic Slave Trade Route-USA Project. She has also been a research associate for the Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission. She has presented her work on slavery and memory at ASWAD (the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora).
She is currently pursuing a PhD in African and African American Diaspora Studies at Indiana University.
Prime Directive #1
©2004, M. Eliza Hamilton Abégúndé
Do not let the smell of your own feces distract you.
Roll the toilet paper tightly after each use and discard
in the thin blue bags Dete changes every Monday.
Roll your tampons and sanitaries into the black bags
you have brought – so afraid someone will find them,
and pick the dried blood into a stew.
Do not chase the lizards around the wall. Let them rest.
All night they have listened to your breathing,
the sobbing you haven’t heard yet, the heaving your body
prepares for by tightening muscles, damming oxygen
into tight spaces that explode into your brain
siphoning your dreams.
Do not let the sight of starving horses drive you insane.
When you see them, convince yourself that someone takes
care of them, that they eat the garbage because they don’t
like the grass, that they are sentient but not human. Look
away when the next one rolls his head towards you. Cross
the road when he follows you to sniff out your hand.
Do not let hot water run down your back for five minutes.
Wash yourself as if the hibiscus watches you during a drought.
If you need more, go to the ocean outside your door.
Scrub yourself raw under a trickle, forget you are American,
forget your own name, forget you are afraid of mosquitoes.
Remember why you chose to be born here.
Crossing the Middle Passage, WFHB - Interchange (Slavery; Trauma, Memory, Healing)
Healing Mind and Body, WFHB - Interchange (Trauma, Memory, Healing)
Best African American Fiction 2010
Beyond the Frontier: African American Fiction for the 21st Century
Let Spirit Speak!
Uzodinma Iweala, beasts of no nation
Mary Doria Russell, Children of God
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow
Frances de Pontes Peebles, The Seamstress
Diverse, innovative and multi-genre, Opal Palmer Adisa is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane-sap and the oceanic breeze of Jamaica. Charismatic and informed, Adisa’s concerns span the gamut from children to the environment, and as such there is hardly any topic that she has not written about either in poetry, prose or essay. A highly sought-after motivational speaker, Opal Palmer Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, Europe, South Africa, South American, and the Caribbean. An award-winning poet and prose writer Dr. Adisa has twelve titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), proclaimed by Rick Ayers as one of the most motivational works for young adults.
Adisa has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as Bi-national Fulbright Institute (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil), McColl Center for Visual Art (North Carolina) and Headlines Center for the Arts (California, USA). Opal Palmer Adisa's work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker (Color Purple), who described her work as "solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love."
As an accomplished storyteller of African & Caribbean tales, Adisa follows in the tradition of the African "griot" weaving history and culture to entertain and inform about the intricacies and wonders of life. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places and things, and her melodious voice, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates.
An impassioned teacher and literary critic, Dr. Adisa is a full professor of Creative Writing, Literature & Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts. She has taught both graduate and undergraduate students at several universities including, Stanford University and University of California, Berkley & San Francisco State University. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 200 journals, anthologies and other publications, including Essence Magazine (December 2005 & February 2006) She has also conducted writing and storytelling workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches and community centers, as well as in prisons and juvenile centers. Moreover,
Dr. Adisa is a gifted diversity trainer, working with various institutions to engage them in issue of inclusion and fairness.
Dr. Opal Palmer Adisa is a vivacious, multi-talented speaker who will enthrall and mesmerize you.
Her work has been recognized in the form of many awards and honors, among them, Nomination as Poet Laureate for the State of California in 2002.
I Name Me Name (poetry collection), Peepal Tree Press, 2008
Until Judgment Comes (short story collection), 2006
Eros Muse (poetry and essays), Africa World Press, 2006
Caribbean Passion (poetry collection) Peepal Tree Press, 2004
The Tongue Is a Drum (poetry/jazz CD with Devorah Major), 2002
Leaf-of-Life (poetry collection) Jukebox Press, 2000
It Begins With Tears (fiction novel) Heinemann, 1997
Tamarind and Mango Women (poetry collection) 1992
Fierce Love (poetry/jazz recording with Devorah Major),1992.
Traveling Women (short story collection), 1989
Bake-Face and Other Guava Stories (short story collection), 1986
Pina, The Many-Eyed Fruit (children’s book) 1985
(for lloyd walcott)
he came into
with furrowed brows
seeking in his sister
he never had
this man my uncle
like my mother
no ready smile
no burnt cork skin
just a tentative artist
who knew the smell
of the kitchen
the feel of a knife
that unfolds a cabbage
as well as acrylic brushes
it wasn’t his desire
to prepare food
for the rich to savour
or to take on a wife
or sire sons & a daughter
who might need his support
all he really wanted
was to paint the landscape
so others might notice it
sketch tubby women
languishing under domesticity
carve gods from wood
and be an artist
Bake-Face And Other Guava Stories, Mango Press (short stories)
Caribbean Passion, Peepal Tree Press (poetry)
Eros Muse, Africa World Press (poetry & essays)
I Name Me Name, Peepal Tree Press (poetry, prose)
It Begins With Tears, Heinemman Press (novel)
Until Judgment Comes, Peepal Tree Press (stories)
M. Saida Agostini is a poet, clinician and youth worker. She has been awarded grants and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Leeway Arts Foundation. She is currently working on a chapbook and one woman show.
here is the fact: I fuck women and
you hate it, bred your own silly reclaimed blues
so deep all anyone can hear is the silence your
song leaves behind. in this story you are the heart
sick father and me, the fucked up fat daughter you
cannot leave behind, with a mouth so wide and
foul you tremble at what my tongue will create next.
believe me when I say that I have loved you so hard
that I have hated my lovers for you, dreamt of how
I could cut out a new skin where we all live and we
forget the violence and shattered glass, and only see
the father I believed in, and the daughter you wanted.
those days are past and I am left after thirty years breathless
with an ache in my side for more then what our blood has
ever given me. granny told me when I came out, I would
get aids and die. you told me I killed your heart, and mummy
pretended to have cancer. I won’t
fight anymore, I have seen the terror of battle, and this
decay can’t live on in me. the father I wanted died. you
are what I have, love what pieces you can.
Fear and TremblingAfter Kierkegaard
And there are many ways to come undone
– some more exquisite than others. Ask Eve,
she will tell you apple-lust unwrapped her
left her cold and with a word for shiver.
Lot’s wife is witness that a backward glance
is enough – nostalgia pillared her. But,
I imagine the somewhat greater deeds:
the Red Sea unstitched like a turquoise braid;
the lion’s den, its many hungry mouths;
Isaac’s bewildered screams: why, daddy, why?
And what terrible choice to peel back doubt
like a bandage, without question or lack
to say Here am I, to renounce relief:
step in, seize the knife, and to know belief.
Dawn in the Kaatskills, Longshore Press (Poetry)
Growing Up Girl
The Movable Nest
Shirlette Ammons' most recent collection of poetry, Matching Skin featuring The John Anonymous EP was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2008. first collection entitled Stumphole: Aunthology of Backwoods Blood was published by Big Drum Press in 2002. Her work has appeared in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, What Your Momma Never Tod You: True Stories About Love and Sex, The Asheville Revielw and The Journal of the Academy of American Poets amongst other publications. She has recieved a John Hope Franklin Grant for Documentary Studies, The Ebony Harlem Award for Literary Achievement, as well as Emerging Artist Grants from the Durham Arts COuncil and the United Arts Council. She is also vocalist for the hip hop rock band Mosadi Music whose debut album, The Window, was released in 2006 and songwriter and vocalist for the fusion electronic duo, Jon Anonymous. Shirlette resides in Durham, North Carolina.
History Makes Concessions for White Boys At the Food Lion,
this cute one hangs and guts
the pot-bellied pork;
I suppose his kisses salt and slime
Like Spam gelatin swathing my tongue
as I lipsynced good vibrations
like Mark Walberg wasn’t just
a white boy in dropped boxers
protesting the mullet
I remember his face now,
he and his girlfriend mashed like Juicy Fruit
in that big ass, dixie-flagged, Ford f-150
me, a member of the yellow school bus clique,
sitting, suffocating, three-deep in a pleathered seat;
Mexican, Black, Po White Trash, Cousins of Cousins
muddled like the fuzz between pecan trees
and A.M. radio stations;
her hands, gold nugget promise rings,
engaged his stringy hair;
as his dual mufflers fumed down Highway 403,
racial divide scoured the windshields
of our wheeled, county property
He steps outside between slaughterings
to smoke a red-boxed Marlboro.
I notice his bangs have grown out;
he stares as if my locks carry remnants
of barrettes and blurred bus numbers;
we nod and smile, an understood country greeting;
I figure he and his girlfriend still coast cramped,
the same way public transportation taught us
to squeeze tight in our assigned seats
in case the white boy’s pick-up broke down
Why else would we make room for a passengerwho never needed a ride?
Matching Skin feat The John Anonymous EP, Carolina Wren Press (Poetry/Music)
Stumphole: Aunthology of Backwoods Blood, Big Drum Press (Poetry)
The Window, Mosadi Music (Hip Hop Rock Soul)
The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South
What Your Mama Never Told You: True Stories About Love & Sex
Gustavo Adolfo Aybar is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he received his MA in Romance Languages & Literature. As a scholar he’s presented at the University of Florida, and has upcoming publications by ABC-CLIO and Salem Press. He is a Cave Canem fellow, and as a member of the Latino Writer's Collective, his work can be found in their anthology, Primera Pagina: Poetry from the Latino Heartland (Scapegoat Press, 2008). Other publications include: Harvest of New Millennium 3.1 & 4.1; Black Magnolias Literary Journal, Jan. 2010; NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture 19-1 Fall 2010; Oranges & Sardines Dec. 2009; and presentmagazine.com where he was a Poet-In-Residence all of 2010. For access to more information, poetry and videos visit www.gustavoadolfoaybar.com.
The Only Thing I Have
For my grandfather Jose Francisco Aybar
And this is how I remember him:
with a business card plus two pictures,
which I place side by side, next to my own.
With slick black hair, mine curls into question marks;
thick, full eye brows; a rounded chin like lemon rind;
with lips like cracks creeping into the wall
of his mouth and a suggested smile
also like mine—through eyes dizzied with love
The similarities melt into something
undiscovered and unknown.
The card: Mecánico Perito en Reparaciones
de Maquinas de Coser, indicates a life seasoned
by levers, foot controls and the wild buzz
of needles. The work is guaranteed, unlike
the card. It will never guess it is a broken promise.
It will never know
it is the only thing I have that he has touched.
Morir Soñando, Present Magazine (Poetry)
Primera Pagina: Poetry from the Latino Heartland (Scapegoat Press, 2008)
The Wind Shifts, Editor Francisco Aragón
Heart's Migration, Linda Rodríguez
My Sweet Unconditional, Ariel Rebello
El deseo postergado, Mario Bojórquez
Breakfast with Thom Gunn, Randall Mann
The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho
Stories from the Latino Heartland, The Latino Writers Collective
Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins
Easy Rawlins Mystery Series, Walter Mosley
Amor, curiosidad, prozac y dudas, Lucia Etxebarria