• Maurisa Li-A-Ping

The PdS Black Voices Series Presents: MAURISA LI-A-PING


all in a days work

12am i close my eyes

but dont no sleep visit

1am - i worry

‘bout girls from east new york

who don’t got no mama

who i think i can fix

‘bout girls from the bronx

who go grocery shopping in my body

some come with list

some wipe the shelves clean

2am - 4am i cry a hurricane,

3am this flood is both my nightmare and lullaby

4am i dream,

5am ‘bout freedom,

6am ‘bout joy,

‘bout a day when i can unclench my jaw

7am - 4pm a nigga got me fucked up

8am another one

9am another one

10am a bitch tries to touch my hair

11am a bitch succeeds

12pm - 2pm i dont slap her

i play solange, i ground my spirit

2pm my paycheck is a joke

almost invisible, almost gone,

almost

3pm i tell my supervisor, im tired

they say, where they do that at?

4pm i text my sista-frand: girl im not press, im not beat truly

5pm - 7pm i want to break but, cannot

got a mama to call

to let her know im good, though i aint

for her to let me know she good, though she aint

8pm our tears make dinner

my pain some kind of seasoning for the fried chicken

these niggas dog

9pm i still want to break, i still tired, still aint rising,

but still ain’t still, still, grindin’

10pm - my sista-frand go to jail for some shit she aint do

i close my eyes

almost

break , but

11pm i got homework

my professor ask me to rewrite a paper

to include my citations

i cite myself

she said who said it, i say i did

she say who else?

i…

almost invisible, almost gone

12am -

will niggas check for us/ after death?

for Coniqua Johnson aka Co

girl!

aint nobody checkin for me

zamn Bish you too

aint nobody checkin for me either

niggas dead aint shit

no actually tho

you seen that bodycon dress online with the low v neck

i can’t wear no bra for that

ok i see you tryna be a zaddy

what you think some high waisted pants gone do for my waistline

i been eatin less, tryna make myself small

let a nigga kno i can hold space for them

bet they come runnin then

or maybe with them bomb ass shoes for bogo at the mall

you kno Black Women always the half off

never gettin paid what we deserve

you aint sayin nothin but a word

did you see the halter top with the back out on sale

i figure i could lay on my stomach and be a bridge for humanity or whateva

seein how everythin is done the backs of Black Women

Co! they got this all black romper

it’s a lil baggie though, kinda like…a body bag

like the one they put Sandra in

Aiyana

Eleanor

Rekia

...

wait till you see this shit sis

…you gone be dyin!

girl, you think niggas check for you after death

or nah?

A few good words with Maurisa

BVS: The end of “all in a day’s work,” (“my professor ask me to rewrite a paper / to include my citations / i cite myself / she said who said it, i say i did / she say / who else?”), struck me in a particular soft part of my solar plexus—we are punished for sounding “too smart” (smarter or more capable than the perceived station in life that our blackness relegates us to) and we are punished for not sounding smart enough (using AAVE like “sista-frand”). Can you talk a little bit about your choices (joys or pains) in language(s)?

MLAP: I remember when I first started writing essays for school, my teacher told me that I shouldn’t write how I speak. Later in graduate school, I spent a great deal of time looking up academic jargon to include in my papers and presentations. These two memories, along with many others, conveyed to me that my tongue was inferior. At one point I was forgetting childhood slang and that was an unbearable grief in which I made a deliberate choice to write just as I speak. This choice brings me great joy. Language can be very harmful, and it can also be a tool to validate a culture and community. Writing in AAVE feels like a clapback in which I get to affirm my kin and village. It is also a way for me to document the language of the time. I think of the line, “i text my sista-frand: girl im not press…” maybe both sista-frand and press will evolve to mean something different in 2029.

BVS: Tell us a little bit about how it feels to be writing in the particular socio-political moment as a black woman? What (or who) do you feel drawn to write to (or away from)?

MLAP: The current socio-political climate feels as it has always felt. I have a greater sense of awareness and more language to name my experiences, but the hardships of being a Black Queer Womxn have not changed a great deal. My body has always known the trauma of invisibility and writing constantly feels like a gift I cannot afford to take for granted. I use poetry to write myself and other Black Queer Womxn into existence. I am documenting our joy, love, laughter, and sorrow. I say look, we (have) live(d) and here is my truth from our mouth.

With his memoir, Heavy, Kiese Laymon taught me the importance of not only writing for my people but also to them. When writing to and for Black Queer Womxn I get to unapologetically shift our voices, inside jokes, and bond from the margins to the center. Writing to Black Queer Womxn feels like an act of resistance that isn’t usually easy, but always necessary. It is a way to be in community for our collective liberation.

BVS: I know that American culture has kind of branded self-care as going out to brunch and getting your nails done, but I wonder how you employ self-care in your literary life? Is there anything writer or work that you turn to center/uplift/recharge yourself?

MLAP: Sometimes people think that writing poetry is a form of self-care and I can’t help but laugh. I do not write poems as self-care because poetry is not always stress-free and joyful. I do however journal almost every day. If I am not journaling, you could always catch me watching artist interviews on YouTube. It’s so important to meet the artist behind the art. Sometimes I glorify people who I admire and forget that they are human just like me. Self-care can also be as simple as turning off my analytical brain and reading a book for pure pleasure. Nikky Finney said, “…you have to move around as a writer, you can’t stay home, you gotta move…and you’ve got to go out in search of who you are.” So, I do my best to get outside, travel and engage with the human world.

Some poems I turn to for refuge are "A Litany for Survival," by Audre Lorde, "won't you celebrate with me," by Lucille Clifton, "a note on the body," by Danez Smith, "How to Triumph Like a Girl," by Ada Limon, "black girl magic," by Mahogany L. Browne and so many more.

Maurisa Li-A-Ping is a storyteller, educator, and performer raised by a village of Black women in Brooklyn, New York. Maurisa utilizes poetry to document the experiences of Black Queer Womxn. She has touched stages at the World-Famous Apollo Theater, United Nations, Poetic License Festival, Barclays Center and more. Her commitment to her craft and scholarship has allowed her to present and perform at NASPA’s 100th Annual Conference, the ACPA Convention, the Herman C. Hudson Symposium, The National Conference on Student Leadership, and various

other venues. Maurisa's dedication to her craft has led her to receive national honors from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, their Alumni Microgrant , a Pushcart nomination and publication with Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as publication with Wusgood Mag , The National Institute for Transformative Equity, Lunch Ticket,

and more. She currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island.


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