Body Talk

The training, racing, and creative process…is a triumph over the physical and psychic conditions just outside the parameters of control which would censor and stilt performance.

In Key Ballah’s collection Preparing My Daughter For Rain she writes: “Be kind to your body; it will speak for or against you one day.” It is a conversation we must all have with our bodies eventually.

For me, it resonates in the way I train for marathons. The training season (and actual performance) is full of abuse of the body. Abuse?  you say.  Who signs up for that?

Abuse as in “excessive use or treatment.” Abuse because training makes it difficult to be “nice” to the body since the athlete has to challenge it via excessive use or treatment. A runner hopes that her treatment of her body will make it perform on race day, an event of more physical and emotional demands that conversely bring the athlete fulfillment; in the performance the body “speaks for or against you.”

The training and racing process, but likely so can any physical practice of the same ilk (dance, yoga, cycling, swimming) can be a metaphor for the body in creative practice. The creative process does not expect gentleness but thrives from the respect of a challenge; expects a pain response to substantiate that the challenge is being met and converts that response into fulfillment of some greater end. It is a triumph over the physical and psychic conditions just outside the parameters of control which would censor and stilt performance.

So here’s where I get interested in the metaphor or the body involved in that practice (y’all could’ve guessed that from my work on the body’s performance of trauma).  Lately, for mostly personal reasons and because my writer voice is yelling in my ear, I’ve become very interested in the vulnerability of the body and how we are confronted with it and/or confront it for ourselves.  Every body is fragile yet resilient in its fragility; lest life.

I can say that the Universe is trying to tell me something about where I’m going with this–articles and poems all up in my newsfeed;  life events and my own body–but has not decided to tell me what that something is.  When and if I find out, I’ll share with y’all.  In the meantime I’ll share some of the stuff that has come through my newsfeed and nightstand, all “yo girl” like I don’t have other stuff to do.  (Yes, my writer voice is loud, multi-lingual, and all kinds of extra).


“To have your body understood as vulnerable is a privilege that should be a right.”
Leslie Jamison – Rape, Race, and the Jogger
“Your body is a gracious land. Show it mercy.”
Key Ballah – Preparing My Daughter For Rain
“Your body wasn’t meant to be loved on occasion. it was made to be loved…with warm hands…everyday with dedication.”
Key Ballah – Preparing My Daughter For Rain

“nothing more than the hunger, the desire to know the body in all its savage beauty.” Chris Abani – The Secret History of Las Vegas

“This body scrapes and falls Then gets back up again and again.”
Camisha Jones – Ode to the Chronically Ill Body

“The slave is violently uprooted from his milieu.  He is desocialized and depersonalized…The process of social negation..involves the paradox of introducing him as a nonbeing.”  Orlando Patterson – Authority, Alienation, and Social Death

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