29 Days of Beautiful

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During the month of February, I posted poems every day written by queer black writers of color. In addition, I coupled these pieces with visual works by 29 different queer black artist. 

This project was created to represent the wonderful works of the black queer community. It is also to educate all those who believe that queer black people are incapable of creating something beautiful. It is an exhibit allowing queer black artist to see works from people like themselves. Sometimes we forget how it important it is for people, both young and old, to see themselves in something they love. But, it is extremely important. 

February is Black History Month, however, in this month, queer black artist are usually looked over. During the month of February, queer black inspirationals are silenced and never acknowledged. But, not this time. 29 Days of Beautiful is here to acknowledge the silenced; give light to the wonderful works they have created. 

I would like to thank all those who participated, shared, liked, and read these great pieces. And to the artist who agreed to have their works represent pieces, I am truly grateful. 

– Luther Hughes


 

29 Days of Beautiful began on Feb. 1st and ended on Feb. 29th. You can experience the project below: 

February 1: I, Too by Langston Hughes; The Last Goodbye by Rai McKinley

February 2: We House by Britteney Black Rose Kapri; artwork by Duke Virginia 

February 3: Take Your Coffee Black by Jayy Dodd; Coffee by Baby Teeth

February 4: Power by Audre Lord; They Shot At Us by Darryl Terrell

February 5: Black Object’s Deportment; pharoah by polyzentricks, Model: Sal the Director

February 6: After We Drank the Table by Aziza Barnes; artwork by coriama couture

February 7: Body Chronicle by Justin Phillip Reed; artwork by Toxicrocket

February 8: Poem About My Rights by June Jordan; artwork by Lola Ogbara

February 9: Invocation of the Sacrosanct by Jonah Mixon-Webster; For Greg by Tr3zVision

February 10: sift by francine j. harris; Madison by Davis Blackwell

February 11: Sonnet with a Cut Wrist and Flies by Phillip B. Williams; chirophobia by Luther Hughes

February 12: some said you were the splitting image of evil by t’ai freedom ford; model: Mayah Daniels

February 13: little red by avery r. young; photography by MyArtYourEyes, model: Aaron M.

February 14: Blackbody Curve by Samiya Bashir; from Scottie Diaries by Carlos Jones, model: Scottie

February 15: Heartbeats by Melvin Dixon; Self-Portrait by Riley Darryl

February 16: Gravity by Angel Nafis; artwork by sideshowsherri

February 17: Brother in Arms by Carl Phillips; from Chains by Rai McKinley

February 18: from proxy by R. Erica Doyle; out and about by Justin Carpenter

February 19: Sweet Boys by Derrick Austin; shabby by Jaylen Strong

February 20: Bone by Dawn Lundy Martin; exchange by Luther Hughes

February 21: Commitments by Essex Hemphill; Cyberton by Kidd Ford

February 22: Walking to Arawak Road by Alexis Pauline Gumbs; artwork by Eddy LeRoy Jr.

February 23: It Could Happen to Anyone: A Letter to a Boy by L. Lamar Wilson; Lava ma blanco by Jesús Hilario-Reyes Performance

February 24: They Clapped by Nikki Giovanni; artwork by rockedfeller

February 25: Normal by Reginald Harris; Street Tears by Muhxleek

February 26: Joice Heth Catalogues the Skin by Bettina Judd; my sad tutu by courtwedd

February 27: What Returns by Cameron Awkward-Rich; Bad Blood by Brandon Syre

February 28: Between Heaven and the Most Southern Place on Earth by Aricka Foreman; 99 red balloons by Forrest.CC

February 29: You Are Not Christ by Rickey Laurentiis; photography by eliasthecreative, model: desidollaaz

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You Are Not Christ by Rickey Laurentiis

desidollaaz
photography by eliasthecreatieve | model: desidollaaz

For the drowning, yes, there is always panic.
Or peace. Your body behaving finally by instinct
alone. Crossing out wonder. Crossing out
a need to know. You only feel you need to live.
That you deserve it. Even here. Even as your chest
fills with a strange new air, you will not ask
what this means. Like prey caught in the wolf’s teeth,
but you are not the lamb. You are what’s in the lamb
that keeps it kicking. Let it.
Originally published in The Collagist. Republished in Poetry
See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.

Between Heaven and the Most Southern Place on Earth by Aricka Foreman

99 red balloons
99 red balloons | Forrest.CC

 

for William Foreman Sr. and Emmett Till

I watch my grandfather’s morning fingers slip each button
in then out slotted cotton, sleeves starched to gleam.

Effortless magnolia of a man swaying throughout the house,
limbs bending to his own wind, pooling cologne into his palms,

blessing the edges of jaw, arch of neck, having remembered less
beautiful preparations of the body.  Delta men know how precious

it is to age into the darkness of their own wine, and when his mouth
widens around darling, I’m so surprised, it’s not the promise of

what a baptism might wash away, but what the 1955 Tallahatchie
River did not. Sometimes I forget which man lives inside my memory,

whose hands lifted me as close to the stars as his shoulders could
reach, making up constellations that didn’t ladle the night. I push

against my waking years later to him curled beneath the kitchen
table, folded over and swatting away snakes only he could see,

his howling out writhing from blows his uncle’s ghost unleashed
when he was a boy too young to understand why his shade of

gorgeous made people violently uneasy. There are no love songs
for Sunflower, Yazoo, or Money boys to sing to themselves, too few

moments to take in their reflections. They learn to make threading
ritual, pulling a string of slow breaths between buffing black

shoes until they catch every fleck of light. When my grandfather pours
into his overcoat I am young and full of possibility, not realizing the ease

in which he can return home before his musk fades from the front door.

 

aricka foreman
Aricka Foreman

See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.

What Returns by Cameron Awkward-Rich

bad blood
Bad Blood | Brandon Syre | br8nd0n.tumblr.com

 

So now winter is a place you visit,
but don’t belong to.     You pass the time

in a room that isn’t childhood, but
does that matter?     Your mother

is still down the hall, and you are still
watching men on screen break

into other men, and the once snow-field
of your body becomes a flood that ruins
you each night.

     You thought you were finished
with desire. And what a relief. To not want

to reach outside your skin. To touch
what isn’t yours, or anything at all.

To not be a tongue in a glass jar
in an ocean.     But the pills make you
dream in oceans.

You wake up crusted with someone
else’s salt.     You become a boy

who touches the backs of stranger’s
necks in public, in love with the soft
of his own throat.

This makes every man on the train
into something that could kill you.

Don’t worry, that’s a good thing.
It means you got on the train.

It means you still have a body.

Cameron_AwkwardRich
Cameron Awkward-Rich

 

Originally published in The Bakery

See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.

Joice Heth Catalogues the Skin by Bettina Judd

my sad tutu
my sad tutu | courtwedd

 

Hello, World!

 

from patient.

Body has a way of moving on
without you. When the mind says
hold on, I finally got something right 
body goes on, marks time.

Time and skin are my business.

Skin rarely lets me remember the good
so I make good memories for it.
One line for when I got born
grins across my belly
another crosses it    knows
what the skin has stretched to hold

I prayed for it
in the back of my knee
smooth now    hallowed
to the touch.

 

bettina judd
Bettina Judd

See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.

Normal by Reginald Harris

street tears
Street Tears | Muhxleek | muhxleek.tumblr.com

 

for Shara McCallum

walk long enough
with a pebble in your shoe
and walking with a pebble becomes
normal

you no longer notice
the discomfort          the limp is just
another thing to live with
pain just another fact of life

until someone you haven’t seen for a time
asks      Why are you limping
and you remember
Oh yes, that’s right –
I have a pebble in my shoe

and then what do you do
take it out       leave it in because
you are used to its dull and constant ache
do not want to learn how to walk properly again

live long enough
with war
and it becomes
normal

men and women you don’t know –
someone else’s children –
fly off the edges of the map
to places you were never taught existed

photos of the dead close out
nightly news programs           a familiar tag-
line as the anchor signs off
until tomorrow

images of troops march across
a strange topography    the sound of guns
going off in places so distant
you hardly notice             one barely hears a noise

until someone says
We’ve been at war my entire adult life
and you remember
Oh, yes, that’s right –
there IS a war still going on

And then what do you do?

 

reginald harris
Reginald Harris

Originally published in Split This Rock

See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.

They Clapped by Nikki Giovanni

they clapped when we landed
thinking africa was just an extension
of the black world
they smiled as we taxied home to be met
black to black face not understanding africans lack   
color prejudice
they rushed to declare
cigarettes, money, allegiance to the mother land
not knowing despite having read fanon and davenport   
hearing all of j.h. clarke’s lectures, supporting
nkrumah in ghana and nigeria in the war that there was once   
a tribe called afro-americans that populated the whole   
of africa
they stopped running when they learned the packages   
on the women’s heads were heavy and that babies didn’t   
cry and disease is uncomfortable and that villages are fun   
only because you knew the feel of good leather on good   
pavement
they cried when they saw mercedes benz were as common   
in lagos as volkswagens are in berlin
they shook their heads when they understood there was no   
difference between the french and the english and the americans
and the afro-americans or the tribe next door or the country   
across the border
they were exasperated when they heard sly and the family stone
in francophone africa and they finally smiled when little boys
who spoke no western tongue said “james brown” with reverence
they brought out their cameras and bought out africa’s drums
when they finally realized that they are strangers all over
and love is only and always about the lover not the beloved   
they marveled at the beauty of the people and the richness   
of the land knowing they could never possess either

 

they clapped when they took off   
for home despite the dead   
dream they saw a free future
See all the pieces from 29 Days of Beautiful here.