Last Thursday night, December 15th, Weird Sister joined Hyperallergic, Well-Read Black Girl, The Creative Independent, Lenny, VIDA, and many other arts organizations for ART AFTER TRUMP at Housing Works Bookstore. The night featured over 150 artists of all disciplines responding to the questions posed by the event organizers: “As an artist, how are you reacting to this uncertain future? What do you want to say or do?” Performances ranged from poems and essay excerpts to letters, speeches, and songs—you can listen to full audio from the event over on The Creative Independent. Below are the pieces that Weird Sister’s five performers—Merve Kayan, Christopher Soto/Loma, Naomi Extra, Cathy de la Cruz, and myself—shared that night:
“In 1961, Fannie Lou Hamer went to the hospital to have a cyst removed and left with a hysterectomy. Forced hysterectomies on black and brown women were a common practice in Mississippi. One of many victims of gendered racial violence, Hamer’s body, as both woman and black was under siege by the state. Still, she fought. In 1963, Hamer and a fierce set of lesser known black women—June Johnson, Anelle Ponder, Dorothy Height—used their voices to fight against voter suppression and more broadly, the Trumps of their time.
I refuse to think of Trump as a threat located in a single body. I resist this as a mode of organizing and as a political stance. As a black woman in America, I reject anti Trumpness as a galvanizing energy in fighting oppression. It is contrary to my lived experience. It is contrary to the political work of black women radicals like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, and Ella Baker who fought against multiple forms of oppression. Who fought for women’s rights, labor rights, and civil rights. As a black feminist, I locate myself as part of a long history of fighting against the Trump-like terrors that have plagued poor people, women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for centuries.
In this moment I say, don’t look away. Look into history. The Trumps are a pastime, a legacy, a national treasure of sorts. Trump’s America is America laid bare. In this moment, I say let us ground ourselves in the radical practice of empathy, of listening to those voices that have been silenced. Let us take to task the lasting legacy of racism and white supremacy. Let us sacrifice our privilege for the sake of intimacy. Intimacy is on fire. The battlefield is in the day to day, it is in the closeness of bodies and breath. It is in vocality, advocacy. Love.”
– Naomi Extra
“Sir! I want to write poems with flowers in them
“I am going to be a black princess,
That’s when my life will start”
Sir you frown when I write poems with flowers in them
But little do you know, behind floral curtains
I hide my shattered body.
I sit in the dark. I don’t turn on the lights.
The alarm clock goes off until the springs wind down.
I remember a painful lovemaking.
This is the redundant glistening at the edge of a knife.
For years now, I am an illicit rain holding itself behind the clouds
If I was to rain, I would cost you.
Sir, I’m a basement girl.
My cellar knows no emperor but solitude
Lately I’ve been feeling unbreakable like those plastic vases
But I’m afraid. Soon
With your Size 10 shoes, you’ll be stepping on children playing outside
Sir! That’s not a good idea.
I say “It got dark”
I throw breadcrumbs for the birds
They eat shattered glass
In my dream: puzzle pieces of all colors
in a bowl full of water
I want to tell you, but you’re not listening.
No, I don’t think I can wait for the morning
People should tell about their dreams as soon as possible.
Sir! My spirit was fourteen years old
It aged on the coldness of a stone table.
They gave prosthetic legs to my spirit white and slender.
I squeaked all over town
They whistled even at my artificial legs
Right then inside me,
Unarmed forces made of flowers were taken under siege
“The orgasm squeaks” was playing in the theaters.
I tried to run. It didn’t work.
Sir that’s why I find it
Good for my soul to write poems with flowers in them.
I never forget a film
Many times I took shelter in the never ending nights of movie theaters
I cried a lot when I saw “Sophie’s Choice”.
If they made a movie about kissing gouramis
I bet I would remember that too.
How can one forget the sound of winding wheels inside its body ?
I am used to remembering afterall
Sir I am a “hoarder”.
Sir, the great ships are no more
And no more big sails
Now I feel like burning big sheets of paper.
There, a black seabird went under water
It was lost for some time
Even if it emerges thinking it swallowed the world
Dying is not a very big word Sir, is it?
I know I smell as bitter as marigolds.
But could you ever imagine the beauty of a penniless love
Cooking sunny side eggs on the wood stove?
One rose would then say to another
No, I’m just kidding
Roses have lately grown mute, Sir.”
– by Didem Madak (2001); translated by Merve Kayan from Turkish
“I expected the show to be fun and nostalgic. When I realized it would be happening two days after the election, I thought it would be a sweetly celebratory experience to ring in the election of our first female president, imperfect as she would have been.
I took for granted that Hillary would win—that my friends and I lived in a country where we could comfortably celebrate and also critique our first woman president while dancing to the feminist music we grew up on, while hoping for a more feminist future. Kathleen Hanna’s music shaped my understanding of art as feminist vision and protest—it gave me a sense of purpose and hope.
When Kathleen Hanna came onstage, wearing a black-and-white leotard lined with sequins, I thought of the matching “Stop Bush” outfits that Le Tigre had worn the last time I saw them live, in 2004—fashion as protest, music as protest, art as protest.”
– Marisa Crawford, from “The Julie Ruin At Irving Plaza, Two Days After The Election” (read the full piece on BUST here).
“For Art After Trump, I gave a one card tarot card reading to the audience members at Housing Works. I asked the tarot deck, ‘How will being an artist be beneficial for us during the Trump presidency?’ I pulled the ‘Suppression’ card which felt very fitting.”
From the tarot: ‘The figure on this card is quite literally “all tied up in knots”. His light still shines within, but he has repressed his own vitality trying to meet so many demands and expectations. He has given up all his own power and vision in return for being accepted by the very same forces that have imprisoned him. The danger of suppressing one’s natural energy in this way is apparent in the cracks of a volcanic eruption about to take place around the edges of the image.
The real message of the card is to find a healing outlet for this potential explosion.'”
– Cathy de la Cruz
“In this windowless room // where he poured acid & stole money // arrest us all
In this windowless room [shut like the gut of an ox] arrest us all
Gored & gorge are words to describe a wound Gorgeous // the opening
Of a blade inside his chest Gorgeous // black galaxies, growing”
– Christopher Soto/Loma, from “In Support of Violence” (read the full piece in Tinhouse here)