A porch sit is a lyrical dialogue with loved ones and the environment you call home, a good ol' southern tradition of intimate talk and storytelling. Commemorating the publication of Ra Malika Imhotep's gossypiin, this Bay Area porch sit will feature Imhotep along with Rev. Marvin K. White and Alan Peleaz Lopez for an evening of poetry, laughter, and healing gossip.
Ra Malika Imhotep is a Black feminist writer and performance artist from Atlanta, Georgia currently completing a PhD in African Diaspora Studies and New Media Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. As a scholar and cultural worker, Ra is invested in exploring relationships between queer Black femininities, Black vernacular cultures, and the performance of labor. As a steward of Black Studies and Black feminist thought, Ra dreams, organizes, and facilitates spaces of critical reflection and embodied spiritual-political education. Ra is co-author of The Black Feminist Study Theory Atlas and author of gossypiin (Red Hen Press, Spring 2022).
Marvin K. White, MDiv, is currently serving as the Full-time Minister of Celebration at GLIDE Church in San Francisco. He is a graduate of The Pacific School of Religion, where he earned a MDiv. He is the author of four collections of poetry: Our Name Be Witness; Status; and the two Lammy-nominated collections last rights and nothin’ ugly fly. He was named one of YBCA's "100" in 2019. He is articulating a vision of social, prophetic and creative justice through his work as a poet, artist, teacher, collaborator, preacher, cake baker, and Facebook Statustician.
Alan Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous poet, installation and adornment artist from Oaxaca, México. Their work attends to the quotidian realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, the Black condition in Latin America, and the intimate kinship units that trans and nonbinary people build in the face of violence. Their debut visual poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), was a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award. They are also the author of the chapbook to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press, 2020). Alan has also been organizing with undocumented migrants in the United States for over ten years and firmly believes that art is a portal into the future. They have held fellowships and art practice residencies from the Museum of the African Diaspora, Brown University, UC Berkeley, VONA/ Voices, Submittable, and CultureStrike. More at www.alanpelaez.com
This harvest of poems is inspired by the plant medicine latent in Gossypium Herbeceum, or Cotton Root Bark, which was used by enslaved Black women to induce labor, cure reproductive ailments and end unwanted pregnancies. Through an arrangement of stories, secrets and memories experienced, read, heard, reimagined and remixed, gossypiin reckons with a peculiar yet commonplace inheritance of violation, survival and self-possession. In this way, Ra Malika Imhotep invites us to lean in and listen good as the text interrupts the narrative silence around sexual harm, sickness, and the marks they make on black femme subjectivity.
Within these pages, the poet is joined by a “sticky trickster-self” named Lil Cotton Flower who tells of their own origins and endings in the Black vernacular traditions of the griot and the gossip. Interspersed throughout the collection, Black feminist wisdoms and warnings meld with the poets own yearnings and Lil Cotton Flower’s tall tales.
Gossypiin is an offering towards the holding and healing of Black beings that exceed the confines of their own bodies.