writing to know, knowing thru being, being for writing... this is me, writing about the one thing i know, which is myself... and even that is sometimes a mystery...

Monday, June 05, 2006

relationships and a reverence for the material: secrets long kept, revealed to be forgotten

i got a happy and confused message from my parents today after my yoga class, informing me that i won the Barbara E. Nicholson prize from the women's studies department at miami university for best undergraduate essay in gender studies. i won for my submission of "in(v)ertion," a choreopoem i wrote for my feminist theatre class final fall semester 2005.

this was, of course, a surprise to me as well, as i have never won any major prizes for my creative writing before, and felt sure one of my other submissions, all analytical essays and queer theory explications, would be the better bets. i wasn't even sure i could win this, as i knew some of my peers in the gender/sexuality in literature class i was taking were going to be entering as well.

i thot that when june came around without any word i had surely been another essay discarded in the pile of submissions.

but, there was something existentially validating in hearing my parents so proud of me. and so surprised! i guess they hadn't realized before that their daughter was a decent writer, tho they often like to remind me that my writing is good enough to put me thru law school (which, btw, i am NOT fond of).

it's kinda shitty that it took some outside recognition and cash to make this apparent to them, and that i have to use this materiality to wield as a shield or evidence for my passions.

but at least it's a step in the right direction?


what's more, the greatest thing about this feat, to me, is the fact of the work itself. i wrote this piece in one long, violent flushing, during thanksgiving break of 05.

i was going thru a hard time, and there were all these wonderful books and literatures and poetry swimming in my mind. and this theatre class had taught me something new about that hard-to-achieve connection between art and artifice, body and mind, theory and practice, performance and performativity, creation and destruction and creativity and rebirth and dance and song and poetry. and speaking my mind. thru my body.

i remember penning the first stanzas, as the poem began to take shape in my head, a giant undertaking trying to give shape to all the pieces in my head, and i was sitting naked on my bed after a shower, just catching a long string of thoughts as they were leaving my lips, and i was dripping water and salty tears onto blue liquid ink in a bound notebook.

so anyway, i was going thru this transformation of my perception of my self and my body and the interactions of these and others.

and then, there was the relationship.

a relationship that changed a lot of things for me and had a profound effect on the formation of a year. it broke me, it made me, it built me up, it let me fall, it let me fail, it failed, and then it soared and sprouted and blossomed and grew, then wilted, expanded, exploded, tore open and cracked sidewalks, then overgrew, overtook, overcame, ...and then it was just over.

and it has been a perfect circle, a profound arc, a demonstration of gravity, of physics, the physical, the inevitable. an action with a reaction, an allegory for an inability to overcome laws of nature, of human nature, or perhaps just humanity.

and i realize i am getting vague now, so let me return to the point: the point is, this relationship meant a lot to me. it still does, perhaps. but mostly now just as an inspiration, a well of desperation and loneliness, a reminder of struggles i have efforted and labored to put to paper and movement, to share in a way of begging understanding.

you see, with my parents, this poem represents an acknowledgment of creative accomplishment. their pride and happy congratulations signifies the outward world's willingness to accept something i have contributed for consideration and discussion.

but for me, this work was a labor of love, an act of redemption, of forgiveness, of salvation, preservation, acknowledgement, a coming to terms, a comfort, a coming...

and for my other, my lacanian other, the one to whom this whole thing was dedicated, the inspiration and the artist's poison, it is all the voice and madness never communicated forthright. it was all the painful brimming storminess that you interpreted as silence. it is all the secrets i kept inside, all i was afraid to say, all that i was afraid would be true in their articulation. there's a scary acknowledgment in the power of the word. and in my overcoming of the word, have become it.

so let the silence end. the awkward painful silences that were burying the conversations we would never have, the ephemera and the viscera, torn out and exposed to rot and disappear again, stained ether vapors ascending. the weight is lifting...

it needed to be said, if only to help me record a relationship that would otherwise be forgotten, as i actively try now to forget (but not forgive). like retracing an odyssic journey, or a crime from forensic evidence, it is a map of clues, of memories,

--of fragments, shored against these ruins.

O swallow, swallow--

the title fragment of this prize-winning work can be found in the post i made on the trollpotty reader, called in(v)ertion.

or, check out the original version, which first appeared here, and the initial responses from readers.

this is, however, only one of three parts, the others being "death" and "(re)birth," consecutively. these are not online, but can be sent or posted upon request.


  • At 4:08 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger The ZenFo Pro said…

    Hey Awesome shit chica!!!

    Keep kickin literary ass!

  • At 4:21 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    thanks, friend...

    it's not even that i won, but that this work i poured my soul into was actually acknowledged as a true work of literature/poetry...

    THAT, and the fact that it signifies a kind of closure to all the pain and torture, and that it's a triumphant end, well,

    i'm speechless, for once.

  • At 10:54 PM, June 06, 2006, Anonymous cooper said…

    I came here from Zenrpo's site.

    That is an awesome piece of work.

    I would like to link to it on a blogpost at some time in the near future unless you have some objections.

  • At 11:08 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    hey, cooper.
    i've been reading your blog too. nice work!

    it's great to see other empowered and deep-thinking women out there in the blogosphere, and another my age! that's totally cool.

    yeah, i'd be honored if you'd post it.


  • At 2:34 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Ray "Raedien" Devine said…

    That is aboslutely the only way I am ever happy with anything I write, when it comes out practically without "me" merely that which fuels me suddenly fueling itself leaving me satisfied, both empty and full from the experience.

  • At 5:47 PM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    ooo, nice way of putting it ray.

    thanks for stopping by, it's really good to hear from you, and to see that someone is still reading this thing...



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