Film programming

Presenters: Ernest Hardy and Tisa Bryant

Rare short films, cult classics of Black queer cinema, documentaries, and a cinematic mix-tape of Internet sensations, shorts, and gifs comprise the programming of the Fire & Ink IV: Witness 2015 film program. The carefully curated lineup celebrates the work and images of black LGBT folk as well as the politics and aesthetics forged and captured by black LGBT cultural workers and their supporters. Includes a lot of surprises.


Sneak peek: Women and the Word: The Revival Movie

Through poetry, concert footage and candid conversations, Women and the Word: The Revival Movie chronicles the journey of five strangers who toured the country with nothing in common except the word. The documentary features interviews with leading black feminist thinkers including Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Farah Tanis and Kim Katrin Milan, as well as literary luminaries Nikky Finney and Alexis de Veaux. Women and the Word: The Revival Movie attempts to name what it means to be black, to be woman, to be queer, to be.


Bathini [Zulu: “What Are They Saying?”]

Exhibitor/presenter: Zanele Muholi


I must be willing to tell what I’ve seen.

I must bear witness.

I must transgress

— bell hooks, Art on My Mind: Visual Politics (1995)

Bathini is an exhibition of photographs and the introduction of Zanele Muholi’s photo book, Faces and Phases (2006-2014), which present life stories that celebrate and commemorate the lives of black lesbians at the height of ongoing violent hate crimes (“curative” rapes and murders) in South Africa. Muholi’s work is aimed at increasing the exposure and visibility of us, as her/history makers who continue to contribute toward women’s struggles in South African townships and communities. Bathini expresses our existence and ability to exert our presence in a country filled with hate crimes and other prejudices, capturing images of Muholi’s community in order to contribute toward a more democratic and representative South African female homosexual history.


Pink Ice Presents: Welcome to Detroit Open Mic

Presenter: Kimberly Jones/Pink Ice Promotions

Join host JY Obadele for an evening with some of Detroit’s top poets, featuring T Miller and D.S. Sence. Sound by EchoVerse’s own André Royster. Specially invited guests include Kalimah Locmama Johnson, Invincible, Torrena Dye, John Trimble, Keontaye, Mychael Noir and Lori Beth Coolidge. Later, meet up with your favorite poets at the afterglow. Welcome to Detroit!


M A P S :: a cartography in progress

Presenter: Samiya Bashir

M A P S :: a cartography in progress engages the unbroken soul in perpetual (re)creation through sound, image and umph, through light and language, image and breath and fractured narrative reshaped and remade from Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah’s Maps (the first novel in Farah’s Blood in the Sun trilogy). “When will children stop wanting?” asks young Askar, the central character in Maps. “[W]hen will they accomplish something not as children but as beings?” With M A P S, Bashir creates a poetry of emergence which resists a resolution of Askar’s questions and pulls instead toward a next generation of questions in continuum.


Witness: The Next Generation of Black Theatre

Presenters: Azure Osborne-Lee and Nia Witherspoon

Award-winning playwrights Azure D. Osborne-Lee and Nia O. Witherspoon present excerpts from their new work for the stage, with actor Anyanwu. Osborne-Lee’s work tends toward the magical and is more often than not set in some version of the American South. Always about black folks and inherently queer, Osborne-Lee’s newest work explores the outer limits of the possibilities of theatre. Witherspoon’s work explores themes of the erotic, violence and spirit, imagined through African-diaspora ways of knowing and told in theatrical jazz. This reading presents selected scenes from Witherspoon’s oeuvre, sharing the experience of black queer ritual.


sash & trim

Presenter: Djola Branner

Inspired by autobiography, sash & trim dramatizes one black family’s migration from the South, and the coming of age of one black, gay man as he attempts to reconcile his father’s legacy. Was the first man in his life a philandering husband and father, a romantic singer/songwriter, or both? This session will include a 15-minute talkback about the process of writing and staging autobiographical material.


Waiting for Giovanni

Presenter: Jewelle Gomez

Waiting for Giovanni, a two-act dream play, imagines a split second in the mind of author and activist Jimmy Baldwin. Under the shadow of an emotionally abusive past Jimmy reconsiders the 1957 American publication of his second novel about an ill-fated, love affair in Paris. With the U.S. in turmoil, especially after the murder of Emmett Till, how important can a book like this be? But Jimmy must write it despite threats to his own career and love affair.