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[Xmca-l] Re: Winn's Exploring the Literate Trajectories of Youth across Time and Space
Dear Maisha, Paul, and esteemed others,
Paul, thanks for kicking off our discussion of the Maisha's MCA article!
As I read it, I respond to a few important things, important to me, anyway. First and foremost is the surging hope and exhilarating rendering of a language practice which falls outside conventional, less accurate renderings of this sophisticated and energetic group (of many other sophisticated and energetic groups) of the human species.
Furthermore, I recognize that the social underpinnings of these writing groups could not but encourage these young writers to stand up and say it with heart in a plurality of feeling and intention that creates many circles, weaving support for one another to move their group in a family of upward movements of being and existence. It's very Vygotskian, as Paul points out, even if Maisha doesn't employ our vocabulary, it's there.
We can recognize it for its family resemblance.
As of late in the LCHC lab, there has been an exciting (at least exciting to me) discussion around the concept of "prefiguration" and Maisha's observations appeared to me a study of prefiguration.
Then I remembered, Virginia Woolf in "A Room of One's Own" discusses that the reason there are more women English writers than other kinds of scientists or artists is because of the economics of writing, compared to being a sculptor in bronze, painter in oils, or other artists, or scientists which require a special education, a studio, a laboratory, materials, and a network of friendly gatekeepers who will steward, cultivate, and promote experienced women thinkers.
I was reminded by the economics of women writing and of prefiguration in Maisha's article because wielding language only requires paper and pen and the time to sit and write. The Black neighborhood bookstore becomes a sacred womb of words, in which young people can speak out to one another as their own small embryos of literacy, with their elders of yore before, sitting over their shoulders listening to pregnant words of youth, even if they sit only as names on the spines of books, all of them protected by bookshelves from the outside invisible forces whose preferences are to increase prison numbers, not literacies. Prefiguration is the young people living and saying and performing to affirm, "We are just like our elders on the spines on the shelves, over our shoulders, listening as we listen to them and connect to them." What a beautiful emblem a Black bookstore is now in my mind, a garden of youthful minds and hearts prefiguring their futures together.
I also consider City Lights in San Francisco, my favorite bookstore on earth, founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poet. I considered how bookstores _should be_ these active _alive_ spots that are popping in wit and poetry readings, debates, and songs, dedicated to the words of being, and of caring.
And more personally, I am also reminiscent of my own creative writing teacher who made us read our embryonic work each week in class, and at the end of the term we published (gave birth to) our work in a cheaply published newsprint 'zine. Then, like guerrilla soldiers by night, we toted our 'zine to every nook and cranny hole-in-the-wall coffee shop and deposited a lovingly rendered stack just inside by the front door, and how liberating it was to paper the world with our words, our meanings.
It was the notion that "We did it." Saying it three ways: emphasis on the "we", then emphasis on the "did," then emphasis on the "it." That feeling was present in Maisha's paper too. The only difference is it is in the present tense "We do this." I loved that.
Now as I write this, I wonder how this connects to our own experiences on this list, sundry thinkers of the world, discussing the workings of the word and their effects and affects upon our own minds and hearts.
I ask: How might we learn from these young writers who forge new identities carefully cut from woven cloths spun from joys of life and lives of joy. Or is this not academic enough?
So that's what I got out of it, for what that is worth, which I hope is more than 2¢.