drea brown’s Residency – Final Blog Post

US-based poet drea brown shares her final blog post about her Fresh Milk residency, which took place from April 19 – May 10, 2017 as part of a new partnership between  Fresh Milk  and the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas in Austin. Although there is a kind of finality in her writing this closing blog, it also comes with the knowledge that her time in Barbados was the start of something special; what she learned and the bonds she formed are sure to bring her back to the island in the future. Read more below:

I’ll begin with a confession. I think it has taken so long to write this final blog because in doing so, I have to admit the world I’ve returned to, full of its own responsibilities, is not a longwinded dream that I will wake from rocking in a chair on porch surrounded by blues and beauty, and the occasional mooing cow.

My last week of Fresh Milk was filled with serenity and laughter, with art and bold amazing voices. I found myself waking with pieces of poems in my mouth that stumbled onto scraps of napkins while coffee brewed. I rambled to Fresh Milk artists/team about all of these imaginings, all of these stories that kept unraveling. I shed layers and layers of fear, and leaned into the encouragement, and openness of those I’d come to cherish and respect.

A few days before leaving Barbados, I went to the Barbados Community College BFA portfolio art show, a major event in town, and walked around with my mouth gaped in a amazement from the intense beauty on those walls, the dismantling of taboo and stereotype, inquiries of identity, music, color, masculinities, sisterhood.  That night, those walls, the sounds, the film shorts, still buzz in my head. I am eagerly anticipating what comes next for the bold emerging artists.

My last evening with Fresh Milk was also the night of artist talks and a gallery walk. Kraig Yearwood’s creations and residency experiments lined the walls and posed in corners. And, I was so inspired by the way he let go, and let his art decide the journey. There was such truth in that, surrendering to the will of the work. I was learning something similar, how to listen, how to see, and let my hands move as they desired. I read from new poems that night, and there were moments where I found myself surprised by the words I’d written, but they needed to be shared. And there is more to come.

I write this knowing I will be back. It feels impossible not to return. There’s more to be done.

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This residency is supported by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies

drea brown’s Residency – Week 1 Blog Post

US-based poet drea brown shares her first blog post about her Fresh Milk residency, which is part of a new partnership between  Fresh Milk  and the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas in Austin. drea’s first week has been a chance for her to exhale, coming directly from the rigours of academia, and allowing her to reconnect with her creative self while delving into Caribbean literature, ancestry and spirituality. Read more below:

When I was awarded this residency at Fresh Milk, there was a thrill that ran through me that there are not yet words to fully describe. But I can tell you about the rush of colours that came with it. There was gold in my chest, flecks of it covering my hands, a red in my palm that was too brilliant to look away from; for days I dreamt of blues I had never seen. And then, a whirlwind of days, an early morning flight, and somehow I walked right out of the halls of academia and back into my poet self, off the plane and into a welcomed rainstorm. Ready or not. It is still all settling in.

This is the end of my first week at Fresh Milk and already it is moving too fast. Each day I have been writing and working to devour a stack of carefully selected books: Caribbean short stories and poems, books about tracing ancestry, about leaning into the spirit, about shadows and ghosts, and making space to hold it all. At night when the sky is black and the cat has crept in and the fireflies are the only outside light, I listen to the deep sigh of horses and give thanks for this opportunity to breathe salt air and spread out in stanzas.

I am grateful. An immense thank you to the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas in Austin, for the continued push, uplift and support in my scholarship and in my art. Thank you Fresh Milk Team, Katherine and Annalee who quietly add to my corner stack of books, who continue to help me open and relax and let go of worry. I am grateful for the Orisha and my Egun, who each day helps me survive and shine.

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This residency is supported by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies

Fresh Milk welcomes drea brown to the platform in partnership with the Warfield Center

Fresh Milk in collaboration with the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin is pleased to launch their first international residency partnership, and welcomes US-based poet drea brown to the platform between April 19 – May 10, 2017.

About drea brown:

Originally from St.Louis, drea brown is currently a PhD candidate in African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin. Her work has appeared in a variety of literary journals most recently Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander and Southern Indiana Review. drea is also the winner of the 2014 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook competition judged by Douglas Kearney. Her chapbook dear girl: a reckoning was released in 2015.

Excerpt from research statement:

My research explores Black women poets’ use of grief and memory as devices to reconstruct cultural histories and subjectivity. I posit this remembering often calls for other ways of knowing that defy Western logic and linearity and instead privilege ideas of the sacred, collapsed notions of time, and lifted veils between worlds of the living and dead. I offer that to take up the task of remembering and revision, black women poets must confront hauntings of a racial and sexualized past that continually imprint on the present. Using a black feminist methodology I apply close readings and formal analysis that take into account lived experience and social, emotional and spiritual climates as conditions of lyric construction. Through this I demonstrate how ghosts in this poetic lineage are not just deceased or missing persons; they represent evidence of injustice and unrest, serving as erasures or reminders of what is not there but should be. Though haunting is frightening, ghosts are not always malicious, and at times are evidence of divine manifestation or future possibility. I position black women’s poetry as sites of haunting that bear indelible markings of grief in memory, arguing that they make a unique contribution to the genre of elegy.

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This residency is supported by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies