If you were at Power Party Denver, Emerging Women Live 2013, or watched either via Livestream, then you know why we are absolutely, completely and totally thrilled to have the magnificent Dominique Christina – poet, artist, activist, educator, author – joining us again for Emerging Women Live 2014 in NYC.
Watch this quick clip to see what we’re talking about. Even her intro banter flows like a polished poem, gaining momentum and sweeping up the crowd before she reads a single word from her book:
Dominique Christina is a self-described “colored girl with stars for eyes.” She is also the ONLY person to hold two national titles for slam poetry at one time and is the ONLY poet in history to win the Women of the World Poetry Championship twice.
Her first full length poetry book, The Bones, The Breaking, The Balm: A Colored Girl’s Hymnal was released March 3, 2014 (Penmanship NY).
“I’m interested in telling the truth — my truth,” she says. “I’m interested in women recognizing the value of their voices and the urgency of their voices. I want to challenge old ideas.”
“When they ask who you are… tell them you are many mountains moving. Tell them you are wind song. Tell them they should not have to ask. Tell them you do not have to answer.”
She raises her voice to challenge the old ideas of her mother and the ‘legs-crossed/always-appropriate’ women she had as templates for womanhood in this reading from Power Party Denver. Do you relate to her juxtaposition between mother and daughter’s versions of the feminine?
“I thought I was doing woman-ness wrong. That there was something flawed about how I showed up in the world,” Dominique says. But she goes on describe how she discovered later in life that “the business of womanhood – what’s so cool about it – is that it’s in your handwriting. It should not be prescribed.”
“The business of womanhood… it’s in your handwriting. It should not be prescribed.”
A former 1996 Olympic Volleyball player, Dominique has over 10 years experience as a licensed teacher, holding double Masters degrees in Education and English Literature.
She conducts performances/workshops for all over the country for colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and conferences like the LOHAS forum in Boulder, Colorado. She does branding and marketing language for companies like Lotus Wei and Gaia. She is presently across the nation with Denice Frohman as Sister Outsider.
She’s also a mother. An awesome mother. What does a mother like Dominique Christina do when a boy on Twitter attempts to shame girls for menstruating, you might wonder? Then you must watch (or read the transcript below) “The Period Poem.” Period.
Dominique Christina: I have one more poem, in order to stay in time. Let me just say this: it is profane. Now, I have a daughter. She’s 13 years old. She’s taller than I am. She is absolutely persistent in her acts of rebellion against me. Which does not mean she’s a cut-up. It means that she loves pink, loves ruffles, love skirts, is not interested in athletics—all the shit that I’m not! So, for me, that’s rebellious.
All right. When she started her period, we all knew it because she walked out of the bathroom and she looked stricken. I have four children; she’s my only daughter. Three boys, my god. So she walks out of the bathroom, she’s looking stricken, her brothers are confused. And I’m like, “Nashia, what’s up?” She told me she started her period, she was devastated, lip tremble, whole thing.
So her brothers are immediately like, “Oh.” And she had this—she was grieving! And I needed to undermine what to me looked like shame right away. And it was familiar shame, because I remember being in middle school, having started my period and the boys found out, and then, you know, there was some shit.
So I threw her a period party. It was cool. And all my friends came and everyone was dressed in red and all the food was red and all the drinks were red. And we raised the roof to her shedding uterus. It’s true. It’s really true. It’s a good template. Feel free to use it.
And so it was working. It was working. She was operating in the absence of shame. When I was in Austin, Texas, for the Women of the World Poetry Slam this year, I got a screen shot from her. It was a guy on Twitter, and in 140 characters, he almost undermined all that work. So this is my message to him.
So dude on Twitter says, “I was having sex with my girlfriend when she started her period. I dumped that bitch immediately.”
Dear nameless dummy on Twitter: You’re the reason my daughter cried funeral tears when she started her period—the sudden induction into a reality that she would have to negotiate people like you and your disdain for what a woman’s body can do.
Herein begins an anatomy lesson infused with feminist politics because I hate you.
There is a thing called the uterus. It sheds itself every 28 days or so. Or in my case, every 23 days. I’ve always been a rule breaker. But that’s the anatomy part. I digress.
The feminist politic part is that women know how to let things go, know how to let a dying thing leave the body, how to regenerate, how to become new, how to wax and wane, not unlike the moon and tides, both of which influence how you behave. I digress.
Women have vaginas that speak to each other. It’s true. By this I mean, when we’re with our mothers, our sisters, our friends, our partners, our menstrual cycles will actually sync up. My own menstrual cycle is mad influential. Everybody I love knows how to bleed with me. Hold on to that. There’s a metaphor in it.
But when your mother carried you, the ocean in her belly is what made you buoyant, made you possible. You had it under your tongue when you burst through her skin, wet and panting from the heat of her body—the body whose machinery you now mock on social media. That body wrapped you in everything that was miraculous about it and sung you lullabies laced in platelets without which you wouldn’t have no Twitter account at all, stupid. I digress.
See, women know the world better because of the blood that visits some of us. It interrupts our favorite white skirts and shows up at dinner parties unannounced. Blood will do that. Period. And if you are as unprepared as we sometimes are, it can get all over you and leave a forever stain.
So to my daughter: Should anybody be fool enough to mishandle the wild geography of your body, how it rides a red, running current like any good wolf or witch, well then, just bleed. Bleed, girl. Give that blood a biblical name, something of stone and mortar. Name it after Eve’s first rebellion in that garden. Name it after the last little girl to have her genitals mutilated in Kinshasa—that was this morning. Give it as many syllables as there are unreported rape cases. Name the blood something holy, something mighty, something written in hieroglyphs, something that sounds like the end of the world, something with crooked teeth and two fat fists.
Just bleed. Name it. Name it for the raw between legs and for the women who will not be nameless here. Bleed anyhow. Spill your impossible scripture all over the good furniture and then bleed on everything he loves. Period.
And really, what’s left to say after that?! We are so excited to have this fabulous woman join us in NYC for EWlive14. Will you be there getting goosebumps with us?
>>Ready to dive deeper with Dominique and the Emerging Women tribe? Join us at Emerging Women Live 2014 in NYC. Register now!