Anne & Nella eraeqoulvrc fyr jaaxcyrit[1] [2]

I’m at this journal launch party and people keep ignoring that I am in the issue of the journal that the party is for but what’s going on here I don’t remember this journal oh i’m dreaming the only person who seems excited about these poems is ch who is passing me in a conga line & the woman behind him looks exactly like Mary J Blige ch was happy I was annoyed then confused then relieved and glad no one in the room seemed to know or care who I was except Sara Jane Stoner who had solicited the work–publishing is not as fun as it used to be it does not feel the same I used to want to celebrate & now it’s like oh look I did it oh look I did it oh look I did it I did it I did it:::: for a long time I was not sure I was going to survive I was not sure that I was any good & I feel an unrelenting drive to succeed to be good enough to earn love///I want people to realize how important it is to pay attention to refuse to become an accomplice<<<Shay burned all of my journals in the backyard she couldn’t read them because I made a code so that the words would be protected & I came home from school to ashes in a trashbin & she grinned she grinned and gloated oh look i did it oh look i did it & I could not cry no I just deadened myself inside I was already dead inside scooped myself out empty empty & she knew that writing was all I wanted to do>>>or maybe it’s that when people disrespect me I do not want to internalize it to be able to say the way people see me is not me the way people treat me is not me people do not even fucking know me it’s like how Tyler in a Good Friday homily said that Jesus was someone so intensely and uniquely living the truth of their identity and that was radical then & it’s still radical now & then I think about how Jive said I had the power to make people face the truth about themselves & then how dark the first season finale of Black Jesus got because it seems like Jesus could just be a homeless mentally ill Black man in Compton but it only looks like that if you refuse to believe he is who he says he is. I’m always trying to be who I say I am and I don’t think I live up to the hype it’s like how Nanami becomes the land god of the shrine in Kamisama Kiss but she doesn’t always trust her power as a land god because she still has the body and thoughts and feelings of a girl in high school & I never thought it was weird that there is no canonical gospel account of Jesus between childhood & the start of their ministry at thirty it takes such a long time to become to be comfortable with who you are and everything else in the world and I know that but I still get frustrated with myself & my body & my feelings///saw the same mother & daughter on the bus I make it to campus on time I’m sweaty or like dewy after I go to the library it rains a little bit I send a few emails then walk with Walser

“Why is it that black women are always writing about trauma?”

I was thirteen when Shay burned my

journals. It was punishment. These were

from bookstores, they were gifts from

friends and mentors. I liked things that

were just for me (I had to share a bed

with X and Kathy). I liked to write in

something beautiful. I liked to write

everyday. I had been journaling for

four years. Suddenly holding a pen,

having paper was grounds for a beating.

Mark had been molesting me for two years.

I did not want him to put his penis inside me

and I was afraid that he would. He said

it was up to me. He had lied, before, when 

he said that it would not happen again.

I never smiled. After a poetry reading

during my sophomore year at Notre Dame,

an upperclassman, a white boy I didn’t know

told me he hoped that I would start writing

something lighter. Humiliation does

not have to be harmful. Hegemony

requests that we suffer without making a sound.

[1] Anne Spencer (Aquarius, 1882-1975) Poet, librarian, activist. Her papers are archived at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.

[2] Nella Larsen (Aries, 1891-1964) Novelist, nurse, librarian. Her letters are archived at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Sade LaNay (fka Murphy) is a poet and artist from Houston, TX. They are the author of Härte (Downstate Legacies) self portrait (Birds of Lace) and Dream Machine (co•im•press). This poem is from their forthcoming collection I love you and I’m not dead (Argos Books). 

Photograph from performance by Leif Holmstrand.