Interview with poet and artist Christina Springer by JP Howard
I am delighted to share this new folio featuring an interview and three new poems by Christina Springer, a fabulous Alt. Black artist who uses text, performance, video and other visual expressions to share her art. Her new book, The Splooge Factory, was just released by Frayed Edge Press on November 30, 2018. This interview gives us some insights into the seventeen year process for Christina’s book to reach publication. She talks freely with MER VOX about home educating her teenage son, how art and activism intersect in her life and gives us insight into her brilliant and always busy creative process. I am honored to call Christina my Cave Canem sista-poet-friend and encourage you to read her interview, engage with her powerful new poems and support this multi-talented Mama-Poet-Artist and her new book.
MER VOX Online Editor-at-Large
1) Congratulations on your new book! Tell us all about it and the process and time frame from writing to publication. Where can we purchase the book?!
Thank you! Well. whew! The Splooge Factory sauntered along some hither‐thither 17 year journey! I completed the manuscript in 2001. It had a brief life as a collaborative dance‐theater piece with Peter Kirn and produced by Composers Collaborative in New York. Just when everything fell into place for a longer Off‐Broadway run, my son Winston showed up. Complicated pregnancy. New motherhood. And just like that, it took up residence in a dusty corner on my hard drive.
Five years ago I was awarded an Advancing The Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant. In addition to all of my various and sundry projects, I used some of the award to hire an editor to help me make sense of my collected works. Crossing 50 compelled me to make an inventory of my 30 year journey as an artist. I might add that it was will revision time. And since I have an arts executor in my will, with clear responsibilities about archiving, distribution and inheritance of rights, I felt like I should be as orderly as possible. Anyway, in hundreds of poems, she came across The Splooge Factory and urged me to submit it to Frayed Edge Press. It was accepted!
2) How would you describe yourself as a creative person in the world? I know that you are a poet and also a visual artist. Tell us how, if at all, those two worlds collide.
Art, like spirituality, involves discipline and practice. I do my best to make it a regular practice to be disciplined about living artfully. That involves listening. & when Spirit say do, I do. S/he’s never let me down. Not once. Spirit doesn’t care if its a paint tube or a Portobello mushroom. Spirit doesn’t care if it is plaster bandages, colored markers or Adobe Illustrator. Spirit doesn’t care if it is poetic words spoken, spoken word, prayer or closing arguments. Spirit wants what it wants. I humble myself and deliver.
3) You are a fierce Mama to your children and currently home school your teenage son, Winston “The Win.” Can you talk to us about why you chose to home school and how art/activism enters into your role as a home school parent?
I prefer to home educate. As I home educator, I see educational value in basic life skills. Comparative shopping, cooking, sewing are wonderful ways to teach reading, maths and social studies. More importantly, to me, is practicing an inter‐connected life. That’s what I see myself as doing. I teach life. So, I spend a lot of time listening and facilitating the process of self discovery.
I feel it is essential for my Black child to have the time and space to 1) be a child; 2) practice self‐direction; 3) learn how to make a life plan; 4) love learning for its own sake; and 5) commit unequivocally to his own bliss. We balance all of those ideas by using my school motto as a guiding principle “Think also of the comfort and rights of others.”
4) I am a big fan of your political posts on social media. Talk to us about activism, how that enters/intersects with your work and how does it manifest in your creative and/or personal life?
Social media, for me, was a lot like an open journal for me. I don’t know that I am an activist. I know that I am a person living my life, to the best of my ability, in alignment with the principles I most value.
I know that my ancestors whisper in my ears all the time. I know that real resistance is as quiet, invisible and deadly as a gas leak. It is refusal ‐ in whatever manner one is best able ‐ to comply with the system. And the only way that makes a difference is to share how you are doing ‐ whatever it is that you are doing ‐ with the people with whom you are in community.
I try really hard to show up and exist in my life consciously and reverently. To make very real choices. As a Black lesbian poet and artist, Asungi said, “You can no more win a revolution than you can win clean dishes.” I am always doing dishes. I know that I am imperfect. I know that I am always growing and changing. I know that we are eternally evolving. I communicate that also. My activism is a process of constant lifestyle adjustment and the communication of my process.
5) Who are your literary inspirations, either living or ancestors and how do you honor or acknowledge those writers in your own work?
My Holy Trinity is Pat Parker, Audre Lorde and Ntozake Shange. They are who I wanted to be when I grew up, back before I realized that I wanted to be me.
My Divine Duo is Adrienne Kennedy and Octavia Butler who live outside of and within their own time.
Julie Dash and Zeinabu Irene Davis taught me it is okay to write the mind’s eye. That our senses make sense.
Christina Springer is an Alt. Black artist who uses text, performance, video and other visual expressions to communicate what the space between molecules in the air wish for you to know. Cave Canem shaped her voice. Her book, The Splooge Factory was released by Frayed Edge Press in November. Springer resides in Pittsburgh where she home educates her son.