Wus Good At This Table?

“Don’t feel bad if you can’t sing along/ Just be glad you’ve got the whole world” – F.U.B.U.

 

Let me be clear, I wouldn’t even be writing about Solange if it wasn’t for Beyoncé. I say this with no shade intended, as I am not an actual member of the Beyhive nor am I one of those ignants that hinge Solange’s success on her sister’s coat tails. It is simply that I don’t particularly care for soprano voices. It takes a special tone to keep me diggin the voice once it stays hitting an A above middle C (or in Alicia Key’s case, attempting to hit that A #ShadeIntended). When A Seat At the Table dropped, I was more hyped for you than with you, nahmean? I’m thrilled when them Knowles women succeed. So I’ma be real and say I first heard Solange sing when she was on SNL. And I only checked that joint out cause that sweet Insta video of Tina and Beyoncé picking her up afterward.

Reminded me of my own sisters.

Then I saw a video about the history of that hair crown Solange rocked the fuck outta. And then I watched the performance. Real.

 

So when Heffa-in-Charge Siaara Freeman said bitch you a music editor why don’t you review an album the rest of the world has heard or like do your job in any kinda way really,* I was like, oh word? What about that Rihanna joint and she was like that was a year ago sis and then Interview Magazine had Beyoncé interview her own sister and I remembered I hadn’t actually checked out the album as a whole, so here’s my review of A Seat At The Table.

 

First thing’s first, Solange is an Artist.

She would have been an artist no matter the family, no matter what her big sis got up to; she’d be in the basement mixing tracks or a Garage Band prodigy or in the underground clubs sitting in on jam sessions. In fact, I am almost 100!!! that she’s done those things exactly. A Seat At the Table plays and dances with so many genres and gives not one nary a single fuck about making a banger. There are no bangers on this album.

This shit was for us, but most importantly, this shit was for her.

She is exactly Black girl fly about the privilege to work as an artist and create what the fuck she felt she wanted to create. Overall, the album is reminiscent of Badu’s Worldwide Underground or Jill Scott’s first volume because you can put it on and enjoy from beginning to end without actively listening. You find yourself wandering your house, washing your draws or whatnot humming “don’t touch…mah…haaaaiiiiirrrr…” without really thinking about it. Maybe it’s just me.

 

What Solange is not, is a polished craftswoman. Beyonce has got perfectly executed, highly produced and polished everything. She reigns, at a remove from the common mortal. Solange welcomes, beckoning you join in as a full part. She is allowed to play and experiment, to show an inexact creator, as you see in the rough a cappella interlude with Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews, “I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It.” Feeling triumphs over precision always in what feels like a brilliant move to further distance herself from any easy comparison with her sister.

It seems clear that they love and respect each other for what they themselves are not.

In a society endlessly fascinated with celebrity life and perceived beef and patriarchal “catfight” bullshit, what we know is that these sisters got each other’s back. First. Huh, Jay?

 

This is the joint to drop when you put out the bottles and the house party is kicking off. As people come in, it’s easy to talk about and over, to enjoy while eyeing prospects; it’s mellow. Then the drum gets a little funkier, the bass drops harder and you look across the Solo cups and see someone you don’t know mouthing the same words and y’all smile. E’erbody ignores the interludes since that first listen-through (though they actively serve as the connecting through-line that enriches the simple lyrics). By the time “Scales” comes on, enough people have arrived that its time to switch it out to something a little more turnt. But thank you, Sol-Angel, for laying the good vibe.

 

*Siaara will claim it didn’t go like this and that she gently suggested Solange’s album and that may be true but also we speak Slytherin so you never know.


Amber Flame is a honey-beige black unicorn. Does all the things. Queer, here, still ain’t used to it but stays breathing. Works as The Hand‬ of This Week in Blackness and other hustles. Regular dandyfemme/prettyboi except when incognegro.

Is

About

It.

Review of ‘Dirty. Mouth. Kiss.’ by Taylor Steele

Anatomy
Artist: Ashley Tenn:
Ashley Tenn is a doodler and watercolor painter who wasn’t really supposed to be either of those things. She earned her BFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at Emerson College in Boston and has been hiding out at a local book store ever since. Find more of her work at
IG: a10nn

This book is me saying

“fuck it, I’mma let the ugly out’

Because aint that shit beautiful

In its unrelenting need to be heard?

Aint I? – Taylor Steele

 

This final passage from the dedication page of Taylor Steele’s Dirty Mouth Kiss not only advances the thesis of the book but also puts the onus on the reader to confront the grill of each poem, to look at how the content and structure of the poems mutate, disfigure and reapply new faces, dance in hell/after death.

Taylor dares you to die, to coax or tickle or yank your demons out and blow their faces off with sawed off, close-range, messy precision.

In the poem Anatomy, Taylor names herself through disassembly, starting the poem with tangible, recognizable parts and then redefining the meaning of “parts of the body”, referring to her body as library then weapon then finally a unifying but fractured summation “When I first learned about my body/ I learned it in parts/Learned it in broken”.  The ability to deconstruct trauma and spit out a diagnosis of self is a repeating process in this collection.  In that way, it mimics or creates a therapy through the spilling of memory.  

Taylor shares specific accounts in the poem I Remember where she speaks about essentially being shaken down by a neighborhood friend: “and there was born my first ultimatum/she told me I had to give her my dollar/or she’d stop being my friend”. The encounter ends with a negotiation “…she was the one/who was always dirty/so I gave it to her. angrily. /she saw that I was angry and still smiled.”  What part of the body relents and which part silently screams ‘get out of here with that bullshit!!’?  

The repression of that burning, screaming voice is further described in Another Work Email Weeks Before My Last Day in the lines “boss man asks without asking for me to do a thing that is not actually my job/and my gut calls for the army, is never tired of the fight/but I am” Then I wonder if repression and relent are bad words or if they are just closed doors that eventually lead to an opening.  Can you heal yourself by sinking into yourself even if yourself is a misshapen, dangerous outcast to the world.?

Ode to Medusa focuses this question, forcefully removes all eyes that look with the intent of taming or forcing a black woman to conform to a specific way of being.   

“You gift me each snake’s name/They lick my fingers, wrap each one with their slit tongues. /A care my hands have never known.”

these lines display a christening, the imparting of love from one shunned image to another, a love that allows for the unleashing of an unashamed identity.

When I got to the end of this Dirty Mouth Kiss a litany of descriptors flooded my brain: this book is a liberation song/a love letter to all people figuring it out/be ok with any emotion you feel, say it, out loud/the people who have hurt you are characters you can control/Your body is yours, Your scars are yours, Your story is yours but also someone else’s and that is power/Taylor Steele is one of the most necessary writers I have encountered, she poured all of herself into this work that is  a balm and a cool breeze that makes you want to praise, lift up your hands and expose all of yourself to whoever, without caring. “Now all of my doors are open.” – Review by Kirwyn Sutherland

CLICK HERE TO BUY Dirty. Mouth. Kiss. by Taylor Steele
The Press: Pizza Pi Press:
we’re a small DIY operation based out of boston, with arms in illinois & nyc. under our umbrella, we have a literary magazine, a chapbook series, and an anthology series. our editorial team is made up of poc & lgbtq+ creatives who are committed to amplifying the voices of marginalized artists. community is our most sacred pillar. we’re also very dedicated to pizza.

‘Brown Girls’ Interview with Fatimah Asghar

Interviewer: Ajanae Dawkins

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, performer, educator and writer.  Her work has appeared in many journals, including  POETRY Magazine, Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed Reader, The Margins, The Offing, Academy of American Poets and many others.  Her work has been featured on new outlets like PBS, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and others. In 2011 she created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-genocidal countries. She is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow. Her chapbook After came out on Yes Yes Books fall 2015. She is the writer of Brown Girls, a web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Currently she is an MFA candidate at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan.


Q: What role does friendship between women of color play in your web series, both in the fictional characters and in the women who are creating / producing the show? 

Friendship is at the heart of everything about this show. The show is based on my friendship with my best friend– I tried really hard to get the texture of our friendship down, and to show the ways that we ride for each other always. Friendship is huge behind the screens too– Sam Bailey (the director of Brown Girls) and I are really good friends. We couldn’t have this series without our friendship and our mutual trust of each other. Sam is an amazing artist and person, I feel like I’m constantly in awe of her.

Q: What has the creation of this show taught you about the necessity of relationships between queer women of color?

I created the show to reflect the relationships that I have with different women of color in my life. I’ve gotten so much from those relationships. I think this show, particularly its reception so far, has taught me that so many people feel the same way. I think that’s a beautiful realization.

Q: What are your favorite things to do with your best friend(s) and how have your favorite moments with your best friends influenced your writing of the show?

Really I just love to sit around and talk shit with my friends. And be silly and act a mess. I think thats one of the best things about friendships– they are people that you feel safe being messy around. You can be totally unfiltered and stupid. That’s great, because it allows you so many possibilities of freedom. This show is nothing if not messy. All the characters here are navigating their own messy ass lives, and how they can be themselves but still be functioning citizens of the world.

Q: Right now (and always) being a queer woman of color means being unsafe at the intersection of marginalized identities. How does creating work like this make the representation of brown girls joy, a weapon against those who look to oppress you?

I’m all about weaponizing joy through art. I think that joy and love are often our strongest weapons. As queer women of color we deal with so much shit everyday, so many people trying to rid us of our humanity. With this show I just wanted to carve out a small space of joy in resistance to that– to show black and brown people talking about mundane things like pink eye and stuff. I wanted to show that we are human, we who have complicated intersecting identities that America pretends to ignore. We are here, we exist. 


A Brief interview with founder Siaara Freeman and Truth teller extraordinaire, Nedah

 

Siaara Freeman:

why this almost as perfect as you?

ok, can i get a quick interview with you about it

just like three questions

?

Nedah Oyin:

Go ‘head..

Also 😊😊😊

Siaara Freeman: so when you wrote this, around how many times did it get shared and what demographic did most of the sharing?

Nedah Oyin:i don’t know how much it got shared, the original post went viral and several reposts went viral, and at least one article was written on it and several blogs picked it up from there.. one post i saw had tens of thousands of shares.. the folks who shared it the most, and who responded directly to me the most, were black women..

Siaara Freeman: that part

thats what i knew—good

also, who responded with the most anger?

i have went viral a few times so i know how ones inbox looks after that

what was the best and worst responsehow did you feel was it like

lol ???–or overwhelmed —or proud? Cus like f**k you, but they hear me, soooo??

Nedah Oyin: black men responded to me with anger the most,.. there were two or three of them in my inbox calling me all kinds of black bitches and saying i was racist.. i did see some black women come for me too, on shares and posts i got tagged in..it felt pretty ‘meh’ because i drag regularly, but it was sobering that it struck an instant chord in THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of people.. overnight it had gone completely viral.. literally overnight..

Siaara Freeman: its like you wake up and its snowing visibility? Amirite? its pretty bad ass. what exactly prompted the postoutside of the obvious ?

Nedah Oyin: a white woman kept posting on a black woman’s page that she wished she had our strength and refused to stop repeating it when several black women told her what she was saying was offensive and inappropriate.. i got a message in my inbox and went and peeped the thread and had a ‘hell nah’ moment and went off..

Siaara Freeman: I AM NOT SURPRISEDBECKY TRIED IT so, how did it feel being facebook punishedwhat were you thoughts? did you know who reported you? why do you think you were reported?

Nedah Oyin: I get banned a lot.. I was on this page because I was on a thirty day ban on my personal page.. I stay saying some slick shit about oppressive folks and getting reported.. I also have no idea who did it, just that it happened the night I went viral.. I was reported cuz ninjas be salty, I guess.. white people don’t like to associate themselves with anything having to do with whiteness itself and some black people have deep Stockholm syndrome..

Siaara Freeman: oh, i do agree with this entirely, what would you tell the person who reported you, if you could tell them anything?

Nedah Oyin: I don’t know honestly.. it would depend on who it was.. it’s layers to it, different people have different motivations.. but ‘stop snitching’ first and foremost.. lol.