SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. We believe that Reproductive Justice is…
A human right. RJ is based on the United Nations’ internationally-accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a comprehensive body of law that details the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of government to protect those rights.
About access, not choice. Mainstream movements have focused on keeping abortion legal as an individual choice. That is necessary, but not enough. Even when abortion is legal, many women of color cannot afford it, or cannot travel hundreds of miles to the nearest clinic. There is no choice where there is no access.
Not just about abortion. Abortion access is critical, and women of color and other marginalized women also often have difficulty accessing: contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support our families, safe homes, and so much more.
I used to more frequently do “here’s what I’m up to” posts, but that feels like a relic of an earlier internet time. Still, there’s a lot happening, so I figured I’d share some info here so it can be in a central place rather than a bunch of random social media posts.
NPR Tiny Desk Concert as part of Fred Again’s set
Check it out! Fred sampled my poem “Love in the Time of Undeath” for the song “Kyle (I Found You)” and the result if gorgeous. It’s the first song in his set, and I even appear as a video ghost performing the poem.
This piece is from my book. Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, But Enough is more-or-less a poetry book (find all the poems/videos we’ve released from it so far here), but it’s written from the perspective of various characters; sometimes, those characters do other things beyond writing and performing poems—they have conversations, get into arguments, tell stories, and participate in panel discussions. In this excerpt, the robot poet Gyre has been invited to be part of a panel discussion; Gyre doesn’t want to, though, so makes their apprentice Nary do it instead.
All Advice is Bad Advice, Including the Advice that All Advice is Bad Advice
The Library of the Road has brought together three professional wordsmiths for a panel discussion on advice for aspiring writers. The three writers, along with a moderator representing the Library, sit on stools inside a communal hall where a few dozen attendees sit on benches. The Library’s traveling collection of texts lines the sides of the hall; a few wanderers browse through the books and scrolls.
There is no light at the end of this tunnel/ so it’s a good thing we brought matches.
I haven’t released any music of my own since 2018’s “War Balloons” with Big Cats (although I did appear on those two Fred Again songs; find them here). Surprise! Here’s something new, a remix of “Matches.”
This is a piece of writing that has meant a lot to me over the years, the closest thing I have to a personal manifesto. It was originally part of a side project, so I’ve pretty much always performed just my own parts solo (often a capella), and had wanted to build a solo version of the song out of that for a long time. I guess good things take time, because Dave Olson is a musician I’ve liked and respected for 20 years (!) now; someone who was part of the very first community of artists that ever nurtured me, and it really feels special to collaborate with him on this song. Hope you like it.
I know you’re not supposed to explain the poem before sharing it. But I also never liked the notion that poetry is a puzzle to be solved. For me, it’s more about expression and communication, so here are a few brief framing notes:
This is a contrapuntal poem. So it’s one poem, set next to a second poem, that can also be read side-by-side as a third poem.
The first part is about BTS, a Korean pop group. If you know, you already know. If you don’t, I share some recommended listening below.
The second part is about Warhammer 40k, a dystopian, ultra-violent, sci-fi series of tabletop games, video games, and novels. The 40k refers to it being set (more-or-less) 40,000 years in the future.
During the first few years of the pandemic, I listened to a lot of BTS and played a lot of the video game series Total War: Warhammer (which isn’t actually set in the 40k universe, but opened the door to that lore for me), and ended up trying to write two poems about these pieces of pop culture that were so helpful to me in very dark times. Eventually, I figured out that I was actually writing one poem—that juxtaposing the most joyful and most nihilistic pop culture I could think of could be a doorway into thinking more deeply about hope and collectivity. The contrapuntal is a weird form, but it just made sense for this concept.
I wrote this before BTS announced that they were going on hiatus in order to begin their mandatory military service. The militaristic imagery in the piece might make it seem like it’s some kind of commentary on that, but it’s not intentional. I could imagine someone writing that poem, but I leave that to more appropriate and talented writers.
I assume that the venn diagram between BTS fans and 40k fans is quite small, and maybe no one will “get” or like this poem. But sometimes you have to write the thing that’s just for you.
A final note on the text: I’ve included the traditional, side-by-side version below, but I’ve ALSO included a separate block of text for the three poems as separate pieces. I did this because as someone who primarily writes in order to perform, there are a few moments in the poem that just kind of “work” better when performed aloud than on the page, especially concerning punctuation and emphasis.
The video is embedded above; here is the image of the poem’s proper layout + text of the poem below it:
Ugly music can be beautiful. A simple song can kindle a complex memory. A living creature gave its skin to that drum.
This is one of the first poems in NOT A LOT OF REASONS TO SING, BUT ENOUGH. Like everything in the book, it’s written in-character. I feel like I always have to add that caveat, since so much spoken word is driven by first-person, poet-as-voice-as-poet approaches (which I don’t think is a good thing or a bad thing; just one approach), and this book definitely doesn’t do that.
Kind of a table-setting piece for the book, a way to do some exposition without just a big info-dump. Beyond the narrative function of the piece, though, it’s also about the importance of… not just art and culture in general, but more specifically: spaces for art and culture to live. So much of this book goes back to the idea of the open mic, the poetry slam, the concert, the mural, the party, the dance, etc. and the role(s) that those spaces play in resisting, disrupting, and dismantling authoritarian impulses, in both the society and the individual.
Here, so many who have earned blood spill only paint. So many who have earned fire seek only respect. So many who have earned cutting the throat of the world want only to see their children grow up happy.
Now, we’re back to our regularly-scheduled program, and Button Poetry just released a brand new video for my poem “To the Informants in the Audience Tonight,” which you can find in my book, “Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, but Enough.”
For those who don’t already know, the book is a sci-fi concept album of a poetry collection, taking place on another world, so there were a lot of opportunities to explore very real-world issues through a different lens. This was one of the last poems I wrote for the book, and it was difficult. This is both a very bitter, angry poem, and a kind of ridiculously hopeful poem. I like the effect of that bitterness and that hope right next to each other, dancing with one another.
I’m writing this before the results are in, so can’t comment on that. What I can comment on, however, is that it’s been really weird to have my poem about voting go viral over the last 48 hours.
If you’re here because of that piece, and are new to my work, welcome! Please feel free to take a look at my about page for some more info on what I do.
Anyway, a big part of the *point* of that poem is that voting is important, and also that voting is insufficient. Voting is a small thing we can do that can make a difference on the margins—and the margins matter—but the work of building a better world is much, much bigger than electoral strategy.
So this is a post with some readings and resources that have been useful to me about that idea of “the day after.” These aren’t deep dives into tactical questions; just some potential places to start, especially for people who haven’t been involved in organizing, activism, or advocacy work before. I hope these can be useful.
I don’t believe in ghosts, but I swear I feel it buzz/ a voicemail from the nothing where something was…
For people who have been following my work, you might recognize this. It’s a new video for an older song. There are already a handful of different musical versions/remixes of this out there (including this one, produced by Big Cats, one of my favorite pieces of music I’ve ever been part of making), but I wanted to have an a capella version too.
You can tell this was shot a few years ago because (1) I don’t have a beard, which I feel like I’ve always had? And (2) I am performing this way too fast. Slow down!
Aside from the fairly straightforward content of the piece, it’s something I use in a lot of writing workshops because it’s… well, if I’m being honest, because it’s short and memorized—but also because it’s a demonstration of a tool we talk about a lot: concrete language. There’s concrete imagery throughout the piece (the water imagery, the cell phone vibrating, the stained glass, the physical feeling of laughing when you know you’re not supposed to, etc.), but specifically, I often use the first four bars as an example of starting a poem or song in a moment, as opposed to starting with an idea or statement.
As I try to always be careful to say, you don’t have to do that, and plenty of great songs and poems don’t do that. But I think opening with a scene/memory/”thing happening” (vs. opening with “here’s what I think about X!”) is a powerful tool, and I find it being used in a lot of writing that is meaningful to me.
I hope this piece can be useful to anyone else going through it. Here’s the full text:
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