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Posts tagged ‘Black Writers Workspace’

What is Black Joy?

Written by Michelle D. Jackson

Michelle Jackson, founder of the Black Writers Workspace (BWW), and poets Leonora Martelly and Cameron Sykes share what Black Joy means to them.

For those who may not understand why I love the phrase ‘Black Joy,’ it is essential to remember that the harrowing realities of slavery, poverty, discrimination, lynchings, and police brutality have stained the Black experience in America. To reverse the impact and to maintain our crown, I find joy, peace, acceptance, and laughter in moments shaded by cultural acts of pride. Simple pride. Fierce pride. It doesn’t matter because I know that where Black joy exists, pain diminishes, and authenticity thrives.

Black joy is happiness. It is when you walk into your grandma’s house, smell the warm buttery flavor of a sweet potato casserole browning in the oven, unbutton your jeans and get ready to eat all day long.

Black joy is empowering. It is a spades game where slamming cards on the table rattles from every corner of the room, and boastful pride permeates the air you breathe.

Black joy is acceptance. It is sharing your truth with your tribe, crying tears of reflection, and screaming in the face of inequality with no judgment.

Black joy is unity. It is never knowing your homeboy’s real name because calling him by his nickname is how you honor the strength of your bond.

Black joy is winning. It is a celebration for being ‘the first’ yet refusing to settle with one accomplishment because Black excellence is a way of life, not an isolated incident.

Black joy is honoring what makes our blackness pure magic.

In celebration of Black joy, the Black Writers Workspace, an online community of writers and avid readers, featured poets sharing original work about the black experience. Poet, author, and community activists Leonora Martelly’s work Black Girl Joy illustrates her love of blackness, authenticity, and sisterhood. Click to listen:

IG: @whois.leonora

Poet Cameron Sykes’s poem, Black Boy Joy, serenades Black men with an inspirational song about joy, pain, faith, and brotherhood. Click to hear him recite his work:

IG: @storiesbyprophet

Honoring Black joy is not about dishonoring the joy of any other race. Instead, it is our way of celebrating what makes us unique and extraordinary. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to follow the Black Writers Workspace.

To connect with Michelle D. Jackson IG: @jackson.Michelle, FB: authormichelledjackson or email events@prsolutionsllc.org.

THE DOOR: A TRIBUTE TO MY FATHER, MATTHEW SMITH, SR.

A BLACK WRITERS WORKSPACE POETRY COLLABORATIVE

Prelude by Michelle D. Jackson

Located in New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (Birmingham, AL)

On Friday, January 28, 2022, my father died.

During his funeral, as I sat staring at his regal bronze casket covered with an American flag, I noticed a beautiful metal door in the church with a three-circle emblem representing the Holy Trinity. Mesmerized by its design, I began to wonder about the door of eternal life my father had now entered. This door represented the pathway from earth to heaven.

Somewhere in the heavenly clouds was my father, a man in his late eighties who survived poverty as a young boy and blatant racism in the south—a complicated man whose love shined through even in the harshest times. I did not always understand him, but I knew and loved his strength, courage, and unspoken belief in forgiveness.

The door that stood before me represented his path to a final resting place, a course we will all one day endure. It was this door that had the last word on his life. Yet, poetic in how its silence spoke to the numbness of my heart, I knew that once he walked through it, my father would receive his heavenly reward for a life well-lived. 

With the help of my friends on the Black Writers Workspace, we crafted separate parts of a story, my story, our story of grief, loss, and the journey from this world to eternal life. Through the beautiful and heartfelt poetic words of writers everywhere, they helped me share my pain, and I am forever grateful. Here’s our collaborative work:

THE DOOR

by The Black Writers Workspace

I.

Entering another day without you

Broken but strong

Your laughter a beautiful memory

Lasting a lifetime long

Remembering how you loved me

Rarely spoken but always felt

Remembering your dreams for me

Tackling the world as it’s dealt

My first Valentine

The man who loved me most

The warrior in my mind

when this life’s beyond reproach

The meals we shared

The smiles we gave

The slightest touch of your hand

Your love pierced my little girl heart

Your love is where I stand

You are, and will always be,

the fire in my belly

The fight in my step

The man who made me, me

The guy who accepted his missteps

A daddy indeed

A rebel

A soldier

A fearless heart

A powerhouse

A complicated soul

The door will never keep you

For your life is still ashore

But the door will let you rest

Share your greatness on high

Remind your earthly family of you

Propel us toward the sky

Sleep, daddy, sleep.

You deserve to rest

You’ll never be forgotten

Your soul is at its best

Michelle Jackson

II.

Entering another day without you,

Consumed with all I’ve lost.

You’ve always taught me to win,

Eventually, I will, but at what cost.

Nothing can prepare us for the sea,

After we pass the door of no return.

Without your covering, who will we be,

Who knows, yet we must learn.

A day at a time is what they say,

When I don’t know what day it is.

With doors closing all around me,

I feel as helpless as a lost little kid.

Even when that door slammed shut,

Inside of me, I still felt your light.

I’ll try to breathe deep to find small bits of peace,

remembering you, day by day & night by night.

Barnard Sims

III.

On solid foundation

framed in love

hung in place delicately hinged

like the wings of a dove

You’ve Always been wide open to me

But today you are sealed tight

And nothing seems right

As I stand here on the threshold of your memory

Thoughts race

My heart flutters to keep pace

Anticipating the turn of the knob

Unopened yet somehow

“un-closed”

In the middle of the end

My silent tears give away to sobs

Lawanda Baker


IV.

Thro’ it we into life are usher’d

Squalling and kicking lustily

Bringing joy to the hitherto bother’d

And thro’ the door out of life

We exit

Lying still and pale and rigidly

After our course of life is run

Leaving sadness and pain behind as we go

Never to return

David Donald

V.

This is the door of forevermore.

On the other side I’m expected to say good-bye to the first man who loved me.

I’m grateful he got to guide me through this crazy awesome journey.

When I leave the room and that door closes, I will not be the same.

I am not prepared for the heartache, the grief and pain.

So please remind me to think of the good and push away the bad.

Remind me of the times when I wasn’t so sad.

Show me a penny, a red robin or rainbow.

Remind me your energy will always flow.

This way I don’t have to say goodbye, instead I’m reminded

You are by my side.

Now, I can close the door to forevermore.

Gina Johnson

VI.

Some people look at a closed door as an end.

But the door doesn’t just close. It opens too.

On this side of the doorway, I saw you Daddy and knew

I would never see you in the form I was used to.

Laughing, telling jokes and being the life of the party.

But as you stood at the doorway, you knew once you crossed over,

you would have to make your presence known in other ways.

So now, I hear you in my sister’s laughter, I see you in my brother’s face

and I feel you every time I go home to visit family.

The doorway isn’t just the end, it’s a different beginning.

Angela Jackson Muhammad

VII.

Open. Open. Open. Please door just open
Let me have one last hug or one last glance
Just one small moment
Just one final chance.

I wasn’t ready for you not to be here
Even though I knew it was now your time
My mind says it’s going to be OK
But every part of me knows it’s lying

This door is the only thing between us now
Separating two hearts that should always be together
But as detached as I may feel right now
I know your love and memories shall last forever

I know this door is forever closed
No matter how much I cry
Life will be forever different without you
But with each day, I know I’ll get by

I will live life grateful for the time we did have
Never to forget your life, laughter, or love
Wait for me on the other side of that door
So when it opens, all I hear is, “Welcome”

Tamecka Knight

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