Jam Lincoln responds to Gabrielle Civil + Call & Response Artists’ workbook, “Experiments in Joy: A Workbook” (Co—Conspirator Press, 2019)


My (our) experiments
gift-wrapped and traveling
with its hip popped –
switching, everyone's mama
named it. To desire joy the way
collapse foresees rest. The truth
did set me (us) freer. Enough
to hold the music in our palms,
to augment the brief moment
of fists obsolete – the grabbing
crevice where
are more than loose branches,
are reaches for re-bloom.
Every juncture is improvised.
Extemporizing the beat beat beat
from one chest to another – We
can dance to that if we hear the
music; if we make the noise
of being alive.

[When one of us slip up,
take for granted,
lie too hard,
curse like a sailor’s secret son,
bend in the wrong direction,
bury the secret in secret,
turn a cheek into a side-eye,
choose the dollar first,
break into our fragments,

I will love my sistren.]

“Experiments in Joy” is a workbook that demands the vibrancy and activity of the qualities that make us most human. It said to me, “I can and will see you, if you choose movement over stagnancy”. Applying my vulnerable imagination to these questions of embodiment, truth, movement, and performance was indeed a call for action. The workbook helped me create 3 new poems, one of which includes personal memories of me, a cousin, and an auntie from long ago. I was able to combine my visual memory with community conversations around persistent love, support, and acceptance, that were particularly derived from the workbook. Not to mention, when shared with my close circle of folks, it also expelled from us dance parties and conversations about gratefulness, about motherhood. The poems above speak to our exploration – our stretch toward joy, which includes challenging the obstacles that have prevented us from reaching a full-capacity relationship with joy.

— Jam Lincoln

[Co—Conspirator Press operates out of the Feminist Center for Creative Work (FCCW). To support FCCW, donate to the organization and/or buy a copy of the workbook]. 

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