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“I will breathe for you too. I am ready to grab your hand and jump through the portal” (Robyn)
here is something about the written word. The letter, the vintage quality of moosums and kokum reciprocity during an ongoing series of world endings that lives here in collective insistence that we remember. Like old recipe cards and their teachings on how we care for the living, we have to learn how to lean into the tastes and textures of the interstice.
We begin here.
We lean in towards provocations, this gathering, this cave made out of old birch skins, and copper – to co-conjure life – to breathe deep enough in the space between that exists as whispers, secrets, places where we hold precious things. We share what little bioluminescence we have to see the glitch/ slipstream spaces of the worlds that we want to see. They are coming. They are here, and they are on their way.
And like good future ancestors, our first gathering is around breath work, an enduring commitment to always remember that the practice of world-endings requires breath, and the abilities to breathe through a burn, for “the anthropocene has produced the pyrocene” (Sarah Haley). Breathe slowly, deep enough – with our little ones. Showing them how to hold their breath when necessary – for those stealth moves that evade visibility – and teach them when to let go. To watch the signs, to feel out the atmospheres with their tentacular celia to reach the point of an elsewhere. To experiment – to gather. Make time for writing, for friendship and each other. Lean into each other’s worries and rehearse, nap, and write. Fall in love with each other’s fractals through refusing the distance between us – remaking the world anew – this is the work.
In this moment, in this gathering they share a survival bundle/a gentle passing of kokum scarf cloth tied with green ribbon, and inside a portal space of radical imaginings of being-in-good-relation. In this round we learn that being-in-good-relation responds to a deep time knowingness; we learn from that scroll kept precious within the Black radical tradition that its synonyms are abolition and solidarity. We are told to stop and breathe from our tummy, and through this, we learn somatic reciprocity honoring the breath that exists between us, and our responsibility to care deeply. We recover fractals, pieces of bone to co-meditate on the praxis of acknowledging each other’s heartbreak; we are told to move with the young ones, to make gifts for them – to know each other’s children and kin. And we learn where to hide the bundle when we are done – as being in good relation is risky. In this gathering we listen; as Andrea points out, our practice of being-in-good-relation exists in the naming of ways in which our unfreedoms fuel each other's. Being in good relation is about believing that breath is a world-making of Black and Indigenous radicalisms. Breath is the kinaesthetic of abolition. Like the Waaahhh in Wahkotowin breath is the life bringer, the making before anything else.
This collection is a score of insistence that we remember, a breath-worlding exercise.
Being in good relation is a project of the interstice, that space of kinstillatory relationality that is the space of accounting for the horrific violences while illuminating life and worlds anew.I am worried about her respiratory cilia too. The breath is a moment of reprieve, an intimate encounter with the space between. These notes feel like an encounter with the between space in their sentient form. The brilliance in these letters render visible that the interstice is not a ‘lost’ space. It is filled with precious moments – the sound of children laughing, breathing as they run alongside you trying to keep up with the moon. Portal jumpings are risky – we never know where we may land. “We readers will remember the way the form of the book weaves moments and millennia, announces agonies of the past and present and insists on the verge of days marked by organizing and creating and waking up and doing it all again” (Hayley). This, the work, takes courage. I watch as your accomplices, your co-conspirators, your kin jump with you. “And of course, jumping through that portal, the portals, asks of us that we assume an element of risk. It demands a certain sacrifice that we cannot know in advance. It demands the end of the safety that some of us have come to know. But safety is already over. And for some of us, it never arrived” (Robyn). These letters are from beloved activist-intellectuals Jade Nixon, Andrea J. Ritchie, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Harsha Walia, William C. Anderson, Sarah Haley, Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Orosio, Leanne Simpson and Robyn Maynard. Grounded in remembering, a necessary breathing together, forms of kin-listening and care - these works were brought into communion to collectively conjure alternative worlds across different intellectual traditions and models of communion and care.
This is a score of coming to know each other and what we remember of the future. Thank you for your commitment to making our worlds more livable for more than just us. We love you.
Karyn Recollet is an urban Nehiyew (Cree). Recollet researches, writes and teaches from her perspective as a Sixties Scoop person landing into relation in Dish With One Spoon Treaty territory, in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.