.between the forest + the trees.— Volume 2, Issue 2

In the ark + the ocean we were remade

and in that remaking 

we remade ourselves

we took flight 

deep into the lands

among the rivers + valleys

to exist and thrive 

where no weak-ass captor could

between the forest + the trees

 

between the forest + the trees 

exists a liminal place of endless possibilities and freedoms

a oneness 

with the elemental essence of all life

that no crooked eyes can ever see

or capture 

 

This call is dedicated to all our so-called “fugitive” ancestors–the Maroons who never accepted slavery as their (or our) reality. May their courage, wisdom and fearless spirit forever guide how we choose to move with, and seek refuge in, the ephemeral nature of the Earth. 

_________

 

In the face of captivity, many of our African ancestors fought and fled into the wilderness. They disappeared into the landscapes by becoming one with the forests, swamps, rivers, and marshes. Our elders allowed their bodies, minds and spirits to blend with their surroundings and camouflage into the cover of the Earth. 

 

We were there, but not there, existing but not seen; able to experience life beyond the reach of the whips and the chains.

    

In this age of transparency, visibility has become a currency of modern life. To see and be seen has become a prerequisite of proving our existence in this modern world. It has become confirmation of self in the blinding light of modernity. But, this moment of hypervisibility and exposure is also a moment of immense censorship and control. This intimate loss of the discrete, the unseen, the unknown, the ephemeral has stunted the radical possibilities of organizing and moving differently in a world predicated on absolute surveillance, control and dominion.

    

When our movements, thoughts, hopes, dreams, actions are known. recorded. commodified. tracked. for all eyes to see, package, share, and retweet, we are turned into a commodity and unwittingly surrender our autonomy, freedom and free will. It is precisely because we know we are being watched that we get got by a system seeking to consume and commodify every aspect of our collective being for its cannibalistic desires. 

    

In this trap of transparency, we are kept blind, captured and held slave to a way of life that preys on our being. This, our fugitive and maroon ancestors knew very well—there is no hope for transformation of predatory systems whose existence is predicated on the death and dismemberment of people and the planet. We, like them, must move on a different frequency and vibration—we must have the courage to leap into the unknown with all our heart, because it is in the presence of the unknown that the truest expressions of and essence of life become possible.

 

Root/work invites you to engage the possibilities that lie in the discrete opacity of the wilderness of our existence. This is a call to contemplate our movements + actions in the search for liberation and freedom. How do we organize, engage, and exist in ways that don’t re-inscribe the traps and traumas of modernity? How do we resist and refuse the capture, commodification and capitalization of Black life and Black bodies? This special issue is an invitation to bathe in the ephemeral nature of the forests as we attempt to breathe (new) life into the movements of Black people in places predicated on enslavement and capture.

 

As we attempt to unearth the power and possibilities of going unseen in the 21st century, we invite you to submit papers, poems, meditations, writings and other creative forms that explore the areas listed below:

 

TRAILBLAZING: On making a way out of no way

  • Stories on the people, moment/s, experience/s that light your path to freedom

  • In whose footsteps do you follow? Why?

  • Where has the path of our ancestors lead you?

 

RHYTHMS OF THE WILD: On the call + response of freedom

  • reflections of the songs, dances and heartbeats that sets you free. 

  • What are the sounds of Black | Nature? Of freedom in the forest? 

  • What are commitments to undoing? Unlearning? Of creating newness? 

  • Maps + freedom songs

 

READING THE LEAVES: On the teachings + wisdom of our ancestors

  • predictions of the futures

  • cultivating alternative ways of being, knowing and acting

  • signs in (and of) nature

 

RUSTLING OF THE TREES: On crypsis + camouflage

  • Speaking in tongues

  • whispers of the wind

  • Coded language 

  • advice

 

ÒRÌṢÀS | ORISHAS: On the spirits + forces of nature

  • Grounding the spirit

  • Lessons from: Candomblé, Dugu, Hoodoo, Ifá, Kélé, Rastafari, Santería, Sansé, Voodoo/ Vudú/ Vodou, and so on

  • Healer, Rebel, Trickster, Divinity, Creator and so on—what Orisha helps us cultivate and co-create life and navigate the unknowable? 

  • What ancestral spirits help you dance in the wake? 

 

DARK MATTER: On the unknown and uncaptured

  • We invite the community to offer reflections, works of art, and other testimonies about maroonage that move us beyond the paradigms of capture and enslavement.

 

here we are

transplanted seeds

blown onto strange shores 

forced to bare strange fruit

on strange lands

 

here we are 

an entire Black forest

    the fruits 

    the seeds 

    the saplings

    the trees

    the heartbeat and rivers

    of more than 500 years of refusal

    of more than 500 years of resistance

 

between the forest + the trees

we be

free

 

This issue is a meditation dedicated to the power of remaining imperceptible to a system that would rather feast on our flesh. 

________

 

For written entries, we ask that writers submit original pieces of work up to 10,000 words in length. (we prefer original pieces, but we are open to hosting work from journals that allow for concurrent submissions)

 

Suggested Lifeline: January 1, 2023