Hope Is Work by Crossing Limits

I nna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un, To God, we belong and to God, we shall return.  We are devastated by the attacks that targeted Muslim congregants during communal prayer in Christchurch,New Zealand. To honor their lives and to stand against xenophobia, Anti-Muslim rhetoric and all forms of hate and oppression, we ask that you turn your grief into wisdom. That you make an effort to learn about every human being killed and injured, and the living family members who must learn to carry the heaviness of this loss. We ask that you create safe spaces, that you check on your loved ones, friends and strangers. That you use your words to lift up this darkness until there is light. If you have not cried, find a place to mourn. For every tear is holy and capable of transforming the heart and the divisiveness that has become a part of our daily lives. Let there be change and resolute action. Let us find the collective strength to remove the hold of history, so that we may truly learn what it means to love thy neighbor. Remain hopeful in these moments but note that hope is not a magical word. Hope requires a transformation of the heart, hope requires work; the kind of work that demands that we learn from every tragedy and recommit ourselves to work harder until there is sustainable change.  In parting, we share the words of poet   Rashida James-Saadiya   whose poem   Heirloom   reminds us that we are living history and the lines that divide us will be broken when we work, love, cry and heal together.  Love. Change. Peace.  Crossing Limits  ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————  Somewhere there are tears and bombs  rupturing the beauty of sacred land  Somewhere there are boats  filled with people carrying nothing  except for the gift of breath  Somewhere there are fathers using every inch of their bodies  to pull their children across borders,  for the comfort of safety  Somewhere the sun has left its place  and there is only my Grandmother  For when the sky is full of darkness and the world is asleep  She sits alone and prays  “Ya Allah, surely you're the best of weavers. Weave a song among us. A joyous song of love upon our lips, so that we may leave the sorrows of this world, for the mercy of your wisdom. By the setting of the stars, all souls are wanderers in search of the true purpose of their feet. Please show us the way. Help us to walk with certainty despite the spread of darkness. Verily it is by your labor and mercy that we exist, though the world may injure our bodies. It is you, who preserves the soul. Remind us. Help us to turn the soil with our hands, to plant something better. To mend all that is broken, to purify our hands in oceans made of compassion and infinite love. Ya Allah! Give us more than we deserve.”   For somewhere there are broken hearts  waiting for a new song, a joyous song  one that removes sorrow from bones  one that will transform our bodies into vessels  capable of healing the wounds of this world

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un, To God, we belong and to God, we shall return.

We are devastated by the attacks that targeted Muslim congregants during communal prayer in Christchurch,New Zealand. To honor their lives and to stand against xenophobia, Anti-Muslim rhetoric and all forms of hate and oppression, we ask that you turn your grief into wisdom. That you make an effort to learn about every human being killed and injured, and the living family members who must learn to carry the heaviness of this loss. We ask that you create safe spaces, that you check on your loved ones, friends and strangers. That you use your words to lift up this darkness until there is light. If you have not cried, find a place to mourn. For every tear is holy and capable of transforming the heart and the divisiveness that has become a part of our daily lives. Let there be change and resolute action. Let us find the collective strength to remove the hold of history, so that we may truly learn what it means to love thy neighbor. Remain hopeful in these moments but note that hope is not a magical word. Hope requires a transformation of the heart, hope requires work; the kind of work that demands that we learn from every tragedy and recommit ourselves to work harder until there is sustainable change.

In parting, we share the words of poet Rashida James-Saadiya whose poem Heirloom reminds us that we are living history and the lines that divide us will be broken when we work, love, cry and heal together.

Love. Change. Peace.

Crossing Limits

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Somewhere there are tears and bombs

rupturing the beauty of sacred land

Somewhere there are boats

filled with people carrying nothing

except for the gift of breath

Somewhere there are fathers using every inch of their bodies

to pull their children across borders,

for the comfort of safety

Somewhere the sun has left its place

and there is only my Grandmother

For when the sky is full of darkness and the world is asleep

She sits alone and prays

“Ya Allah, surely you're the best of weavers. Weave a song among us. A joyous song of love upon our lips, so that we may leave the sorrows of this world, for the mercy of your wisdom. By the setting of the stars, all souls are wanderers in search of the true purpose of their feet. Please show us the way. Help us to walk with certainty despite the spread of darkness. Verily it is by your labor and mercy that we exist, though the world may injure our bodies. It is you, who preserves the soul. Remind us. Help us to turn the soil with our hands, to plant something better. To mend all that is broken, to purify our hands in oceans made of compassion and infinite love. Ya Allah! Give us more than we deserve.”


For somewhere there are broken hearts

waiting for a new song, a joyous song

one that removes sorrow from bones

one that will transform our bodies into vessels

capable of healing the wounds of this world


We mourn together by Crossing Limits

Crossing Limits is devastated by the violent attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a rampage targeting Jewish congregants. To honor their lives and to stand against violence and hate, we share the words of poet Kamand Kojouri.

She eloquently reminds us of our shared humanity by condemning divisiveness that seeks only give us reasons to be afraid of each other and acts of unity. We believe in the power of words and thus we share this poem as an affirmation and reminder to project our collective voice, to gather our prayers, to use our bodies to work towards reshaping all that is unjust and inhumane in this world.


As we mourn, let’s be resolved to rise up together in rebuilding this land into one where tenderness and safety are valued, and uphold the natural rights of all human beings no matter where they exist or pray in the world.


Love, Change, Peace,

Crossing Limits

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They want us to be afraid.

They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes.

They want us to barricade our doors

and hide our children.

Their aim is to make us fear life itself!

They want us to hate.

They want us to hate 'the other'.

They want us to practice aggression

and perfect antagonism.

Their aim is to divide us all!

They want us to be inhuman.

They want us to throw out our kindness.

They want us to bury our love

and burn our hope.

Their aim is to take all our light!

They think their bricked walls

will separate us.

They think their damned bombs

will defeat us.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand

that my soul and your soul are old friends.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand

that when they cut you I bleed.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand

that we will never be afraid,

we will never hate

and we will never be silent

for life is ours!”

Kamand Kojouri



















Call For Visual Submissions by Crossing Limits

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Common Threads: Faith, Activism and the Art of Healing| is an interactive, multimedia exhibit inspired by Audre Lorde’s belief that “we are all in the process of becoming.”

Our task is simply to amplify the voices of women by highlighting the use of faith as a tool for spiritual illumination as well as a principal instrument towards social justice. We will collectively reflect on the complexities of womanhood, the deconstruction of myths, and the embodiment of joy as an act of self-care and resistance. How does faith fortify your spirit?

How do you heal? We invite visual submissions from women including painting, drawing, sculptures, mixed media, and digital art that trace the intersections between faith, activism, wellness, and womanhood.

Send submission and a brief bio (or inquiries) by Monday, July 8, 2018, to Rashida James-Saadiya @ crossinglimitspoetry@gmail.com

This exhibit is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 

ENTRY GUIDELINES & INFORMATION:

  • Artists may enter up to two pieces (except film, video or installation) for consideration. There is no submission fee.

  • Two-dimensional work must be gallery ready (mounted and framed, with a wire on the back). Three-dimensional work must come with clear instructions for presentation.

  • All works should be produced within the past two years and created by female artists

  • Work for sale may also be included.

  • Once work has been selected, there will be no changes made to submissions.

  • All works must have attachedinformation: name,phone number, email address, title, medium and price (if applicable). If no price is indicated, work will be marked “Not for Sale” by default

  • Exhibitors are expected to transport their work to and from the gallery.

    JURORS: All jurors for this exhibit are accomplished artists and art professionals who will select work based on vision and technical creativity.

Crossing Limits is an multi-faith art organization established in 1998 to promote solidarity amongst varying faith and cultural traditions. Our mission is centered upon celebrating and utilizing art as a sacred tool to nurture collective peace. Art is a vehicle for individual expression, and a tool for honest dialogue through which we can promote deeper understanding and allyship in service towards a more just, equitable and compassionate society. We believe in the power of art and the principle that human-to-human interaction can transform the world.

For more information, contact: crossinglimitspoetry@gmail.com| www.crossinglimits.org

Submit all work via email at: crossinglimitspoetry@gmail.com

Deadline: July 8, 2018 (no application fee)

Notification of Acceptance:(via email) Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018

Exhibit Location Details:

The Gallery at Main

4400 Forbes Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Gallery Hours:

Monday through Thursday 10am-8pm

Friday through Sunday 10 am- 5pm

Gallery Contact:

412-708-8064 Exhibition Dates:

October 8th-31st, 2018

 

Finding Anne’s Paradise: A Brief Reflection on Nature Poetry and the Power of Sacred Spaces by Crossing Limits

There is a long tradition of Black poets exploring personal connections to the natural world, utilizing the written word as medium for constructing histories both personal and collective.  In many American “nature poems”, Black bodies have existed solely as workers, a series of backdrops removed from the beauty and complexities of nature. Trees in the American South are reminders of a history deeply intertwined with forced migration and labor. These same trees are also rooted in memories of home. Anne Spencer, a gardener, and wordsmith, absent from many contemporary discussions celebrating Black poetics, once said "I write about some of the things I love. But have no civilized articulation for the things I hate."

Anne Spencer was born Annie Bethel Scales Bannister in 1882 on a farm in Henry County, Virginia. Her father was born enslaved, while her mother is believed to be the child of a free black woman and a wealthy Virginia aristocrat. In 1893, seeking formal education for her daughter, eleven-year-old Anne was enrolled in the Virginia Theological Seminary and College. Spencer, who was barely literate upon enrollment, would graduate six years later as valedictorian of her class. While in school, Anne met Edward Spencer, a fellow student who would become her companion, an entrepreneur and Lynchburg’s first parcel postman.

A noted poet, civil rights activist, educator, and lover of nature, Spencer published her first poem in The Crisis, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) - the foremost civil rights organization in the United States. Alain Locke, known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance, highlighted her poem “Lady, Lady,” in his influential collection “The New Negro.” Spencer was the first African-American woman to be featured in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. It's believed that she may have penned 1,000 poems over seven decades, but fewer than 30 were published. Spencer was a poetic graffiti artist, writing everywhere and on anything - walls, ledgers, playbills, even shoe boxes. Her work and life read like a reliable compass that honoured nature, women’s rights and spirituality. Anne Spencer planted flowers on top of everything ugly, consistently interacting with the natural world, a dimension that demands attention and care. Her story is a human search for beauty in a complicated world - a search that requires sunlight, water, and love to fully bloom.

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"We have a lovely home - one that money did not buy -  it was born and evolved slowly out of our passionate, poverty-stricken agony to own our own home,  our happiness."

- Anne Spencer

Portrait of writer Anne B. Spencer in her wedding dress, 1900. From an archive collected by James Weldon and Carl Van Vechten.


Edward Spencer, her devoted companion laboured diligently to give his wife a safe sanctuary. In 1903, he built her a two-story home created with scavenged materials. In the 1920s, an adjacent lot was purchased that doubled the length of their garden. He used this additional land, to build a writing cottage, named “EdanKraal,” combining the names Edward, Anne, and kraal; the Afrikaans word for enclosure or corral. In this sacred space, she could bask in flowers and creativity, often working into the wee hours of the morning.

In 1924, Spencer was hired as a librarian at Dunbar High School, the only library branch open to people of colour. She spent much of her time writing and serving on committees to improve the legal, social, and economic aspects of Black citizens. During this time, Spencer also helped to establish the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP and lead a campaign to hire Black educators and improve the academic advancements of schools designated for students of colour. Spencer was an outspoken advocate for the rights of all human beings, using her home and garden as a lighthouse, a safe space for those affected by social oppression.

Poets, artists, and activists came to stay, write and recharge in the Spencer home. Their home became a salon for creatives, intellectuals and travelers who found hospitality when laws of segregation barred them from public hotels. Guests included James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and other luminaries. During a recent visit to Anne Spencer’s home, which is now a living museum and historical landmark recognized by the city of Lynchburg, Va., I became fascinated with how homes have historically offered protection and support for artists of colour. I thought about how racism and segregation have necessitated the development of sacred spaces. Why would the Spencers imagine and create a different place for themselves? Moreover, what is there to learn from the sheer imagery of Black writers, artists and activists gathering to paint the natural world with poetry? What form of self-love and rebellion occurs when black bodies sit gracefully in a garden bought and toiled with their own hands? Anne Spencer was audacious enough to create intentional happiness, despite systemic oppression lurking at her window. Her legacy is one of love, community, and creative perseverance.

Writers are consistently unpacking what is broken and what is beautiful. Sacred spaces allow us time to breathe, to unlock the hidden parts of ourselves so that we may exist fully in liberation. Elevating our ability to be creative, while supporting mental and spiritual wellness. Spencer’s home is a reminder that supportive spaces for laughter, good food, and powerful dreaming are all part of the creative process. I like to imagine that if I existed during this era, full of imagination and poems, there would be space for me to rest up, to create, to reclaim my relationship with the land, to carve out intentional joy. True wisdom is when we take the pen and tell our stories firsthand. At the core, it is when we empower each other to speak out loud that we ourselves become empowered. Anne Spencer’s journey is a grand reminder that reconnecting with the beauty of the natural world, and inviting others to do so, can only lead to reconnecting with the beauty within ourselves.