Listen below to my talk presented at the "Women’s Ancestral Wisdom, Witches, and Spiritual Connections to Nature" panel during the Women Rising! New Visions for a Post-Patriarchal World Conference (San Francisco, CA, October 12-14, 2018).
Remantling Serpent Energies for the Healing of Post-Patriarchal Possibilities for the Body, Intimacy, and Futurities
Many feminist and women’s spirituality scholars have been asking how we may make ourselves more available to an imagination that orients us better to becoming post-patriarchal subjects of post-patriarchal moments.
Centuries of living within societies of domination has left our bodies, nervous systems, wills, and histories with accumulated trauma which, we have found, acts as a limitation upon—or wars upon—the arc of the possible. This trauma must not only be discharged to make us more available to ourselves, our promise, and each other: it must be transformed in a way that the energy released contributes to the liberation of all life. Engaging primarily the traces of serpent reverence found in South Asian religious, folk, and nondominant traditions, my paper suggests that the medicine of snakes holds keys for our safer embodied being, relationships, and resilience. Being in this moving condition of safety orients us to ways of relating that center instead of othering, include instead of excluding, vision and become instead of fearing.
I argue that a partnership with ancient serpent energies can assist with individual, collective, and intergenerational healing. I will be examining oracular traditions as well as findings and claims from complexity theory, neurobiology, and epigenetics to propose a multi-pronged framework of remantling serpent energies to work with us. Which snake practices found in tradition may be reclaimed in keeping with an ethic of care and reciprocity, and which of them need to be decolonized? I explore how to call on and reconnect with serpent energies in a way that rebuilds our ancient solidarity with the Earth, as well as bridges across the borders of coloniality and modernity/rationality.
My thanks to the marvelous Lantern Review for including Ordinary Annals in their September Asian American Poetry Companion, among some beautiful poetry picks—and, for scoping so well the textual ligaments connecting these poems.
I will be reading new and selected poems at Poetry With Prakriti: The Online Edition.
Saturday, September 18, 2021 @ 7pm IST. Register here.
I have a new poem up on The Fabulist today. Read it here.
I received the utterly beautiful copies of my new chapbook ORDINARY ANNALS a few days ago, with the marvelous artwork of Palija Shrestha on the cover and made with love by Rob McLennan and the small but mighty above/ground press.
I wrote these poems moving through uncertainty, anger, grief—as we all were, collectively, in so many different ways, last year. The violence targeting Muslims that broke out in northeast Delhi. State brutality against certain categories of bodies. California fires. Anthropogenic climate change. Lockdowns. Through this period, I was contending with the contingency of my own stay/status in the United States as I applied for a visa. These poems think about the role of the poet and the language of poetry in a world where neither has power, on the face of it, to change the world—yet it is a world in which both language and the poet find themselves complicit. How then might we participate, and what might we enact? Without looking away from this gap where we do not know if our speaking is effective (could it be that we need to fall?), these poems falter towards a ripple, a ground of healing.
With the hope that you might enjoy these poems. To order a copy of the chapbook, send cheques (in Canada, add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at rob_mclennan (at) hotmail.com or the PayPal button here.
In a few months, my full-length poetry collection BRIGHT PARALLEL comes out as well from Copper Coin Press—please stay tuned, community.
I am delighted and honored to have a poem, "Home As We Knew It Is Gone" in Witness: the Red River Book of Poetry of Dissent, a necessary and timely anthology edited by Nabina Das that is just out from Red River Press. The collection includes poems from 250 poets who (re)define the meaning of "dissent," writing from a gamut of experiences.
Once upon a time, there was no difference between a bricklayer and a composer. All work was an offering to the deity, and thus, all work had equal meaning. But in the twentieth century that changed and art came to exist for its own sake.
I am delighted that ORDINARY ANNALS—my new poetry chapbook forthcoming from above/ground press—will have Palija Shrestha's luminous art on its cover. Palija Shrestha is an artist from Kathmandu, Nepal, currently residing in San Francisco. Apprehending a spiritual and political affinity with her work, I reached out to Palija requesting a painting. When she sent this painting to me, she wrote:
"I painted this during the midst of the shelter in place, it is tied to memories with my grandmother who was battling with 4th stage cancer for 4 years and I found that time to be deeply sorrowful and yet enlightening at the same time. It is after I had finished this painting that her soul departed and I found myself thinking about this painting while I was reading your chapbook."
Grateful that this beautiful painting will accompany ORDINARY ANNALS. Also a thanks to Rob McLennan for making this possible!
"I grew up in a tradition where there are simply more dimensions to reality: legends and myths and ancestors and spirits and death," he says. "You can't use Jane Austen to speak about African reality."
"Which brings the question: what is reality? Everyone's reality is different. For different perceptions of reality we need a different language."
Hence the "dream-logic" narrative, which he believes works better.
"We like to think that the world is rational and precise and exactly how we see it, but something erupts in our reality which makes us sense that there's more to the fabric of life," he says. "I'm fascinated by the mysterious element that runs through our lives. Everyone is looking out of the world through their emotion and history. Nobody has an absolute reality."
-- Ben Okri
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