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Art is an embedding. When we create, inspired or troubled by the world, we testify to the truth of being a part of a much longer, deeper vibrant narrative. The complexity inherent in the story of living is great, and more than one medium is needed in its telling. The story must be sung, danced, painted, and carved. The story must be spun with words.
The experiences into which Black Southern artists dipped their brushes and plucked their strings were never still, never static. Cultural practitioners and inventors both then and now know that Blackness is constantly on the move, fugitive and fuguing. "No Such Thing as A Still Life"—A Southern Collection of Black Ekphrasis features poems with origins deeply embedded in the materiality and sonic aesthetics of Black visual artists and musicians creating in the South.
Like Blackness itself, these poems were not created ex-nihilo. A rich materiality is our mother. The fabric of Blackness, its grammars, traumas, its poverty and joy and collective resonances so often deemed nothing by the white gaze, are and have never been no-thing. The poets and writers included in this series practice conjure, repurposement, and re-creation to discover the yet-embedded meanings vibrating the deep.
LaShonda Morgan at Ashland Plantation
after the photograph in black and white by Chandra McCormick, 1986, south of Geismar, Louisiana
When past talks to present, it asks, "Have you seen the little black girl in the wormhole?" She is then and now locked in a great puzzle
trapped in the land of cotton and sugar or oil, peering between wooden slats, wet-eyed. She could be either place, on Duncan Kenner's Ashland Plantation, 1860, or whatever still stood in Ascension Parish,1986, one dot in a budding Cancer Alley.
All we see are her eight little fingers on a darkened weathered plank boxed into slave cabin or barn, how should we know
A little girl should tire
posing that long. No one sees how
she shifts behind the wall.
Maybe she worries the splinters in her fingers,
awaits fresh air.