"The places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through that darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling." -Audre Lorde, "Poetry is not a Luxury"
forego the vanities
your magic hands
burn us shadow home
-Vanessa Huang, May 18, 2013
About this Poem-Print Intervention
On May 2, The FBI announced it was adding Assata Shakur to its "Most Wanted Terrorists" list, adding another $1 million reward to the $1 million bounty already offered by New Jersey.
In response, I penned this poem for Assata, in call and response with her poem, "I believe in living," and with Audre Lorde's poem "For Assata" (from which my poem's title is borrowed), Lorde's always homing essay, "Poetry is not a Luxury," Cheryl Clarke's poem "wearing my cap backwards" (in which she writes, "poets are among the first witches"), and Morgan Bassichis' play "The Witch House".
Inspired by a tree I happened upon over a rainy, thunderous Atlanta weekend, carried by the words and spirit of Assata, Audre, Cheryl, and Morgan, I visioned a two-tone relief print integrating image and text. I carved two linoloeum blocks, tested colors, and made artist proofs for the print I'd love to share with you and yours as we amplify our liberation love frequency in the midst of the state's witch hunt and ever growing climate of terror -- I heard that there are Assata wanted signs all along the New Jersey Turnpike now.
How to Harvest?
To print this poem-print intervention so we can share in our homes and community centers, I need your support and partnership:
- $8* covers the cost of packaging, shipping, and distribution for each print;
- $20* covers an hour of access to printmaking studio, tools, materials, and guidance, as well as gas money to get there (to carve two print blocks, test colors, and make artist proofs);
- $120* honors my love and labor to channel the poem and vision for the print, or to test colors and make the artist proofs;
- $190* covers the cost to print an edition of 25 prints (with interest and support, we can print a larger edition -- see below);
- $220* honors my love and labor to carve and refine one of the two linoleum blocks;
- $295* covers the cost to print an edition of 50 prints (with interest and support, we can print a larger edition -- see below);
- $555* covers the cost to print an edition of 100 prints.
At minimum, this goal of $500 would cover the cost of distribution, studio access and materials to carve and proof the blocks, and the printing of a 25-print edition. If we raise more, it will honor my own time (see above), as well as cover the cost to print a larger edition (see above).*Cost includes estimated Indiegogo and third party fees.
In addition to amplifying our liberation love frequency, you can opt in to receiving these perks:
- Befriend the core integrity of your creative aliveness
- Feed your courage heart to create to the edges of what you’re here to create
- Celebrate influence and lineage with your council of elders
- Map your ecology of accountability and support
- Cultivate a dedicated practice, and honor performance as part of your practice
The series will close with an informal “poemsong swap” and potluck gathering, where you can invite your friends and family to experience a call and response taste of your journey in class. Join us!
For edge walkers, shape shifters, magicians, priestesses, change makers, those who dwell between worlds and genders, and lovers of the great mother. Made with all green and black plants and stones, such as Ladies' Mantle, Ladies' Thumb, Mugwort, Emerald, Green and Black Tourmaline, and more, this powerful elixir can help transform ancient wounds and grief from centuries of oppression, release patterns of shame and self hatred for being different, and create a profound sense of safety so that you can walk the magnificent path you are here to walk.
About my Practice
POET, ARTIST, AND CULTURAL ORGANIZER Vanessa Huang weaves poemsongs with moments of creative aliveness and transformative encounter, color, and texture in call and response with kindred spirits who dream and make worlds where each and all of us are free. A finalist for Poets & Writers’ 2010 California Writers Exchange Award, Vanessa’s poetry and practice inherit teachings from the prison abolition, migrant justice, gender liberation, transformative justice, disability justice, and reproductive justice movements.
Vanessa’s work and writings have conversed through performance and ritual, moving pictures and digital media, letterwriting, handcrafted letterpress prints, and a range of activist media and national print and online publications, including Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011), Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011), and Feminist Studies. Vanessa’s poetry and cultural organizing have stood-sat with courage hearts including California’s prison hunger strikers, Miss Major, Marilyn Buck, Melissa Roxas, Troy Davis, Cece McDonald, and a range of life-affirming collaborations including the Free Shifa campaign in Atlanta, organizing against transphobic violence and discrimination in NYC, Oakland’s first general strike since 1946, and campaigns in Providence to restore food stamps and voting rights for loved ones returning home from prison.
Additional Ways to Amplify our Liberation Love Frequency
- Share this poem (or your own!) and information about what's happening with a neighbor or friend, and host a potluck or event about Assata on your porch or with your membership! (For instance, if you're in Atlanta, RBG is hosting a June 2 day for Assata, teach-in, bike ride, and all!)
- If you haven't already, sign and share this petition on change.org, and check out and follow Alixa Garcia's amazing Arise for Assata Project!
- Join this team, and share the love with your constellation that loves and believes in the safety and wellbeing of Assata and all poets, witches, freedom dreamers, and liberaton workers in this moment! Message me.
- Join us for monthly Poetry is not a Luxury Dharmacasts, first Wednesdays of the month! Let's continue growing our courage hearts.