Aries Jordan--The way it was ain't how it got to be!
By Jasmin Conner
Aries Jordan expresses herself through a variety of creative avenues, and Academy of da Corner Reader’s Theatre is one of them. Aries made a decision to be an advocate for young people, describing herself simply but powerfully as a young writer with a lot to say. Her writing talent emerged at the tender age of nine after taking a creative writing class. She wrote a book of poetry. In those beginnings she discovered writing was therapeutic. She says, “It was a way of escaping reality without leaving.”
Now she’s writing in an effort to give a voice to those who otherwise wouldn’t be heard. She is a liaison between the youth and elders, believing that these two populations need one another. She feels that wisdom of the elders and the freshness of the youth perspective belong together. Aries refuses to accept that the way it was is the way it has to be. Her conviction is firm that the way it is, does not dictate what will be.
Saturday March 19th she will be performing a monologue from Eve Ensler’s play Vagina Monologues. The play was created to bring awareness to violence against women. Seeing it performed in college gave Aries added power to her own life perspective.
While growing up in her household, sex was a taboo topic, but she was inspired seeing women on stage talking openly about it. Aries is performing a monologue about a woman who grows to appreciate and love her vagina. The piece compliments a poem Aries wrote titled Letter to the Elders which says:
Look at them girls dating dem no good boys!
You aint never show us what a lasting relationship looks like
You told me you don't know who my daddy was
Got 10 aunts with no man
Am I destined for the same fate?”
Aries is firm in her belief that honest and open conversation about female sexuality and femininity will have a positive result, and that if young girls are taught to respect and love their bodies, they will attract romantic partners who love them, mind, body, and soul.
This monologue serves as a woman’s rite of passage in which she is stepping out of girlhood, and crossing the threshold into womanhood. Let this transition be smooth. Let our little sisters thrive, and embrace who and what they are: women. Let Aries Jordan have her say.
by Jasmin Conner, Minister of Information,
First Poet's Church
For the Women
poetry, drama and dialogue
honoring woman's history month
Saturday, March 19, 3-6pm
Joyce Gordon Gallery
406 14th Street, Oakland
Free but donations accepted
Sponsored by Bay Area Black Authors, Post Newspaper Group, Center of Hope, Academy of da Corner Reader's Theatre, San Francisco Recovery Theatre, Lower Bottom Playaz, First Poet's Church of the Latter Day Egyptian Revisionists, Black Chauncey Bailey Project.
Ayodele Nzinga, Renaissance Woman
By Jasmin Conner
The Joyce Gordon Gallery will host a reading by thewomen poets . Academy of da Corner Reader’s Theatre will perform alo with authors Jerri Lange, Aries Jordan, Tureada Mikell, Jasmin Conner and Phavia Kujichagulia, Singer Mechelle LaChaux will also perform.
Featured artist is Ayodele Nzinga, poet, playwright, actress, producer and director of West Oakland's Lower Bottom Playaz. Ayo is considered one of the premier theatre persons in the Bay Area. In her own words she is, “a renaissance woman with something to say in every medium she can,” whether poetry, drama, directing, producing. In spite of raising seven children as a single mother, Ayo acquired a Masters of Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts and is currently a PhD candidate. She will be perform ’s play Bathroom Graffiti Queen which she has adapted into an one woman show.
The play is about woman’s exploration of sexuality, femininity, and who we are as people. Ayodele describes her character, Queen, as “Complex, wounded and perhaps broken. Yet she has a driving force to fix the world, and finds a way to go on. She has a purpose in life. She’s following her own cause.”
This speaks to every woman. We are taught from infancy that we have the responsibility to uphold and keep everyone around us on course. We are expected to disregard our personal struggles/issues in favor of the greater need, as if our personal needs are without merit. We are expected to take care of our families and community, and once that job is done, we can then take care of self. And that job is never done.
Bathroom Graffiti Queen is thus a womanhood rite of passage. Playwrights Marvin X (Ayo’s mentor since 1980 when she directed his play In the Name of Love and later his classic One Day in the Life, 1997-2002) and Ishmael Reed give high praise to Ayo’s dramatic talent.Marvin says, "Her acting is orgasmic!She enjoys herself on stage as much as the audience."
As a womanhood rite of passage, Ayodele expressed great enthusiasm for Opal Palmer Adisa’s play,“Society becomes unraveled because of the treatment of women. We reach a level of tolerance. We get used to the statistics that every six minutes a woman is beaten. Entertainment offers a disguise. People come to a play to be entertained but the audience will be different when they leave the theatre. The play directs attention to the condition of women globally, but in particular to my sistahs here in North America.”
My interview allowed me to to hear the juicy insights of Ayodele Nzinga’s expressions. In anticipation of the performance, I’m inspired by the far reach of our role as women.
Jasmin Conner is a poet, novelist and member of Bay Area Black Authors, also a student at Marvin X's Academy of da Corner. She is Minister of Information, First Poet's Church.