Walking with the ancestors this morning at Angelus-Rosedale
THANKS TO everyone involved and to all of those who attended Clockshop’s “Radio Imagination” reading honoring Octavia E. Butler last Saturday night. Our goal was to pay fitting tribute, but by all accounts we conjured her. From teaching herself — “guiding her own hand,” to warring constantly with isolation, to writing herself into being, Butler steered herself through a professional universe that could be as aloof as it was alienating.
She found an opening in a seam and made a place for herself. A roadblock was something to circumvent, just another plot-pont puzzle on a page By articulating her desires, goals and plans — for decades — she built a sure path toward them.
“So be it. See to it!”
It was an honor to be a part of keeping her personal story aloft.
(Photos courtesy Clockshop)
A FEW MONTHS back, I posted a note about being poised to go down a rabbit hole.
I didn’t realize how true that was going to be.
I apologize for the radio silence, but I’ve been working on “Radio Imagination.”
Since the beginning of this year, along with my other usual reporting, writing and city wandering, I’ve been doing weekly research at the Huntington Library, preparing for a big project for Clockshop, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit art organization. Clockshop’s founder, filmmaker Julia Meltzer approached me, and several other writers, artists, academics, to discuss an idea that she’d been fleshing out for sometime.
Her plan was to create a year-long series of events, spanning the city all dedicated to the legacy and impact of San Gabriel Valley-based, science fiction writer, Octavia E. Butler. Going in, I only knew the boldfaced details about Butler and her work, but I was tasked with creating a “posthumous interview.” Though I wasn’t quite sure what that would look or sound like, I liked the places it allowed my brain to go.
A few weeks into the Octavia E. Butler archive at the Huntington Library, I knew it would become less and less clear before it would find focus. She had a big, busy life and there were many possible paths to travel — I just had to trust the process.
I’ve never quite been inside someone’s head the way in which Butler has allowed us to be in hers. She was a avid and honest chronicler of her life — her work, her surroundings, her worries, her triumphs and disasters. Moving through pages of journals, letters, commonplace books, mimics the effect of her whispering to herself as she goes about her tasks. We’re eavesdropping on process, the roundabout road in building narratives — both on the page and in life. Tomorrow four writers, Robin Coste Lewis, Tisa Bryant, Fred Moten and I — will premiere new pieces inspired by our time in the archives, listening to Octavia spin stories about life on so many different planes.
I can’t express what a gift this experience has been.
We are sold out (!) for tomorrow night’s event at Clockshop, but if you want to try to fly standby, those waiting will be admitted if ticket holders do not show. A podcast of the event will be forthcoming so stay tuned.
FOR A COUPLE of months now, I’ve been telling a friend about an ongoing issue I’ve had with one of the baggers at my local market. Not a huge issue, but a head scratcher. Strangeness sunk into the mundane.
A few weeks ago, he refused to sort or bag my purchases. Just walked away, arms folded, head-shaking — to the checker’s chagrin. My friend suggested that I stop spending money in the market — especially since it hadn’t been the first time (this head-shaking incident was just a bit more dramatic than others prior). “That’s why you pay a little more. Avoid that mess.”
Well today, I needed to make a quick neighborhood run. No time for fancy. I head to my old spot. I’m almost out the door with my essentials — my coffee stash, fixings for dinner. I have almost successfully avoided him when, just as I near his checkout lane, he does a quick double take and then pauses to crook his finger in that “come-over-I-have-something-special-&-top-secret-to-share” manner.
So I do.
He asks: “Do you know Mike Jackson?”
I say no. (Not realizing where this is going.)
He says: “Well he’s in heaven. Prince is on his way too, you know.” He winks. Like we’re old friends, sharing some insider 411.
Then comes the smile.
I suppose all this must be his version of a truce.
(image via mashable)
by Gwendolyn Brooks
“We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”
But could a dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms
Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?
We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.
2016 has been cruel.