Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Bonita Walker: Filmaker, Lust-Dealer, Web-Designer
there is a soft buzz
a langorous grace
an open ease
with a beret
shadowing her eyes
and playful faith
there is a deep cushion
in your throat
supporting some words
that just woke up
and found themselves
I want the first word of that essay title to look like its cousin-word casual while it really says causal (like that thing that makes us alternately pause and move...for the cause), but I don't want you to know that ( i want it). Bonita causes without even looking like she's finished blinking. I have been blessed to know Bonita for what feels like 20 years but can only technically be going on 7 years. I met Bonita at the same moment that I fell in love with the International Black Youth Summit in Memphis Tennessee. One or the other was a bonus, because at some points Bonita has herself been the IBYS, has generated it like she was a less dangerous Dr. Frankenstein or a more dangers EMT Specialist. Bonita now forever retired from the lame game of advertising after a 5 month purgatory stint is about to go back to school at the Clinton School of Public Service in Arkansas. This listening session with Bonita came at the end of a training retreat for the new leadership of the IBYS and exploded into a three at once listening session to some other divas that I should schedule listening sessions with soon: Deborah Thomas, founder of Break the Chains and Adrienne Coddett, co-founder of Three Dreads and Baldhead. Power.
So some of the words on the collage then came from Bonita and some of them came from Deborah and some of them came from Adrienne perfectly exemplifying the way that these three women have gotten far beyond ownership in their complimentary and often collaborative (with each other and with lucky lucky me) uses of self/community expression. So there was food, there were dreadlocks in rollers, there was a bathrobe, there were more than two conversations happening at any given time and there was me scribbling, eavesdropping and asking questions.
The litany of phrases that I want to emphsize are:
"You shouldn't have a hard time..."
"I want you to just hear where I'm coming from" (both written on a library reciept for pedro almodovar's Bad Education)
"There's what we like to do and then there's what people actually need"
"I see the freedom in it but I also see...
"well I think the ones YOU hang out with are not dumb...
"which is empowerment through laughter..."
"Why does that fly... (all written on a yellow "statement" reciept)
"a hustler. if you could see this woman you would not be surprised" (on a movie stub from the pursuit of happiness."
Also framing the background for this conversation is the jacket from an airplane ticket that reads "forget your playlist. put your passport on shuffle." and a postcard for Alissa Hinton's series of collages and composites entitled "art of transformation". This is all appropriate (and will all be appropriated into the psuedo theory of what I am about to say next) because Bonita is a woman who makes beauty, art and contagious transformation out of whatever is lying around...and makes lying around into a seductive dance of its own most days. What I learned from listeningn in Harlem on that Sunday evening before catching a plane home is that words, like the women who use them best (!) will not be captured, will only be held when they want to be held, will not hold back and will paint everything that moves into their presence with their asking tone of more making. They speak possibility into each other, they ask why not something else and they predict some knowing, they predict unpredictable response they conjure and conjure an impossible readiness.
So what I learned in this listening is something else of needing more and something unpredictable, like "i am ready."