Collaborative Spirit-Writing and Performance in Everyday Black Lives is about the interconnectedness between collaboration, spirit, and writing. It is also about a dialogic engagement that draws upon shared lived experiences, hopes, and fears of two Black persons: male/female, straight/gay.
This book is structured around a series of textual performances, poems, plays, dialogues, calls and responses, and mediations that serve as claim, ground, warrant, qualifier, rebuttal, and backing in an argument about collaborative spirit-writing for social justice. Each entry provides evidence of encounters of possibility, collated between the authors, for ourselves, for readers, and society from a standpoint of individual and collective struggle. The entries in this Black performance diary are at times independent and interdependent, interspliced and interrogative, interanimating and interstitial. They build arguments about collaboration but always emanate from a place of discontent in a caste system, designed through slavery and maintained until today, that positions Black people in relation to white superiority, terror, and perpetual struggle.
With particular emphasis on the confluence of Race, Racism, Antiracism, Black Lives Matter, the Trump administration, and the Coronavirus pandemic, this book will appeal to students and scholars in Race studies, performance studies, and those who practice qualitative methods as a new way of seeking Black social justice.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Collaborative Spirit-Writing 2. Exploring Self with/for Others 3. Spirit-Writing: Creating from the Collective/Collaborative Vibe 4. Suggestions to Further Engage with This Book; Section I: Introduction to Revolution 5. The Revolution Will Be Televised (with Apologies to Gil Scott-Heron) 6. Freedom 7. "Common Sense" and "Oh Freedom" 8. The Devolution of Gil Scott-Heron 9. Dreamscapes and Escapedreams: An Autoethnography through the Art of Jerry Weems Section II: Introduction to Resistance 10. Unprecedented Times (January 6, 2021), or: The Insurrection Was Televised and New Normal (January 6, 2021) 11. Cultural Capita(o)l 12. 119 13. Black Trauma; Section III: Introduction to Reimagining 14. Talkin’ on a 20 Dolla Bill 15. Lagniappe 16. I Am a Woman of Prayer 17. O’ for my Grand/Mother 18. O! Say Can You See?; Section IV: Introduction to Reparations 19. The Payback 20. Say It: Or Reparations My Ass!; Section V: Introduction to Redemption 21. Black Notes 22. Black, Black Notes – 2-24-2021 23. Tale End and Spirits-Free 24. 3-4-2021 Early A.M. Dream
Bryant Keith Alexander is a professor and Dean in the College of Communication and Fine Arts, and an Interim Dean in the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University, USA. He is author or co-editor of five previous books.
Mary E. Weems is a poet, playwright, scholar, and author of 14 books including Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues, and five chapbooks. Weems was awarded a 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize for her full-length drama MEAT and has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Weems may be reached at www.maryeweems.org.
"When I finished reading this book, I did not want it to end. It is a passionate book of artistry and politics in the service of merciful and thriving Black futures. It is a book that is evidence of the inseparability of justice and beauty. The poetics and authenticity of the personal make it a captivating read where deep, complex learning is transformed into clarity, intimacy, and pleasure. Histories and cultural heroes are taken up here and re-examined. Art is shown as both a day-to-day reference and source of witnessing. Here, we remember that the joy of spiritual and performative writing is simultaneously and grandly enlightening. The reader enters a potpourri of spiritualities, both secular and sacred, both subaltern and soaring. The reader enters the alchemy and divinity of collaboration as a heartfelt offering toward the common good." -- D. Soyini Madison, Professor Emeritus, Department of Performance Studies, Northwestern University, USA
"Powerful and poetic, this major new work by two of the leading performance scholars in the field engages in a performative praxis of doing collaborative spirit-writing. Situated within and against the rhythms of everyday Black life in the United States, Alexander and Weems offer the act of spirit-writing as a means through which to experience, resist, and reimagine the historical present. Their rich, multi-layered, and lyrical writing emotionally grabs the reader and takes them on a journey of discovery through family histories, cultural milestones, and generational change. This is a must-read text for anyone looking to write their way into and out of our fractured -- though perhaps still hopeful -- social, cultural, and political futures." -- Michael D. Giardina, Professor of Physical Culture & Qualitative Inquiry, Florida State University; Director, International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, USA
"Come to Collaborative Spirit Writing because you cannot fully think and feel your way through our current reckoning with U.S. structural anti-Blackness without it. Stay, and return again and again, to accompany two brilliant Black scholar-artists through an uncompromising, lyrical, and rigorously activist autoethnographic journey from "Dedication" through "Revolution," "Resistance," and "Reparations," to "Redemption." This is critical race theory delivered in ferociously poetic and intimate dialogues: at once keenly political and deeply spiritual. You will be informed, shaken, challenged, taught, schooled, moved, and – most importantly – changed." -- Judith Hamera, Professor, Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University, USA
"Collaborative Spirit-Writing and Performance in Everyday Black Lives is a formidable conjuring of our past and present struggles, aspirations, and politics towards collective liberation. Alexander and Weems offer us a powerful dialogical performance between Black art and lived experience that meticulously navigates rather than negate difference. In doing so, they illuminate how collaborative spirit-writing and performance are potent tools to construct emergent modes of relation and relating against and beyond the Western episteme." -- Bryce Henson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Texas A&M University, USA