Poetry as Spellcasting
Poems, Essays, and Prompts for Manifesting Liberation and Reclaiming Power
by Tamiko Beyer; Destiny Hemphill; Lisbeth White
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Pub Date 16 May 2023 | Archive Date 16 May 2023
Written for poets, spellcasters, and social justice witches, Poetry as Spellcasting reveals the ways poetry and ritual can, together, move us toward justice and transformation. It asks: If ritualized violence upholds white supremacy, what ritualized acts of liberation can be activated to subvert and reclaim power?
In essays from a diverse group of contributing poets, organizers, and ritual artists, Poetry as Spellcasting helps readers explore, play, and deepen their creativity and intuition as integral tools for self- and communal healing and social change. Each section opens with a poem and includes prompts that invite the reader to engage more deeply with:
- Portals of Inheritance: Ancestral Teachings, Possible Futures opens portals to messages from ancestors and for survival
- Languages of Liberation, Disruption, and Magic explores how poetry and spellcasting allow us to enter into and harness language in active, heightened ways that both reflect reality and manifest alternatives.
- Invoking Radical Imagination leans into the incantatory possibilities of poetry as prayer and poetry as enchantment.
- Sacred Practices: Rituals of Repair and Revision explores writing as ritual, ritual as practice, and practice as doing, drawing connections between the creative practices of poetry and spellwork.
- Lighting Fires, Breaking Chains focuses on the explicitly magical and political nature of poetry as spellcasting.
- Elemental Ecologies, Spiritual Technologies wrestles with concepts of home, colonization, and belonging
Both poetry and occult studies have been historically dominated by white, cishet writers; here, Poetry as Spellcasting reclaims the centrality of queer and BIPOC voices in poetry, magic, and liberatory spellwork.
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“Reading Poetry As Spellcasting, I kept lighting my altar, kept nourishing my body with fragrant oranges as I dreamt, wandered, and envisioned. This is a book for us, for opening up the creative portals toward liberation, one tender prompt at a time. I felt held by these rituals and poems, felt myself move deeply into spaces of collective care. Alongside contributions from luminaries such as Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and Ching-In Chen, the editors invoke magic through heart-igniting reflections and vibrational prompts, beautifully reminding us of our woven power: ‘In this new mythology, you are always whole.’”
—Jane Wong, author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything
“Spellbinding, nourishing, and needed! Poetry as Spellcasting is unbounding and delivers a world of magic, incantations, and poetry for your spirit, skins, and memories to taste, discover, unfold, shed, and tend to the alchemy of our lives. Like rock candy or bubbles to the tongue, swallow and repeat to feel all your senses come alive, initiating a psychic surrender, embodiment, and deepening of why and how poets of color are casting spells for radically transformative, imaginative healing for our prayerful liberatory futures. Listen.”
—Cara Page, cofounder of Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective, founder of Changing Frequencies, and coauthor of Healing Justice Lineages
“Poetry as Spellcasting is both alluring and substantive, gentle yet revolutionary. A provoking collection of poems and essays, this powerful book is sure to evoke inspiration, action, and reflection for readers.”
—Maria Minnis, author of Anti-Racism with the Tarot
“Poetry As Spellcasting is an anthology I have been looking for all my writing life. Have you ever felt something so far from the ‘norm’ you just kept it to yourself? You talk to people with ancient names in a little place behind the eye(s), and you were once sure if anyone ever found out about this place, they would come and take you away, and you’ll never see your mama again. Poetry As Spellcasting lets me know I am not alone in these southern Black ways of being. I keep thinking, what if my mama had this book when she was in high school? What kind of portal could it have been? Poetry As Spellcasting has set a new stage for what an anthology can be and how much it can do.”
—Tyree Daye, author of Cardinal
“Poetry as Spellcasting gathers insightful and courageous provocations to affirm and amplify the world-shaping magics in our language. By our, I mean those of us laboring at the sites where devastation and (re)generation meet. By magics, I mean our capacities for care, transformation, and continuance. I received the spells in this book as gifts of renewal, as a summoning of the elements that activate our intentional presence, here and there, now and ever, among the countless trajectories of a hurting and beloved home-as-it-is-yet-to-be. The voices in this circle call me to pay closer attention, to commit to the discipline of repair, to begin again with grace.”
—Cynthia Dewi Oka, author of Fire Is Not a Country
“Alive, potent, and opening roads for and by multiple voices and beings, Poetry as Spellcasting is as much a work of art as a Spirit guidebook to our collective future. These are processes that embolden our purposes as healers and writers. The quiet space before anything is written lives here, echoes across time calling forth ways in the direction of our necessary un-doing for tomorrow. Grandmas, ritual sites, and plant medicine—all in poetry. Poetry as Spellcasting holds possibilities needed for our future, ways of writing that are not trapped, that go beyond the world as we have known it. Power is encapsulated in its most genuine and raw form. Power towards liberation for all beings. A holy, magical, unknowing that releases us into transcendence. These poem-makers invite all beings to stay, to imagine, to transcend, to transgress, to magic, and to make possible.”
—Marlanda Dekine, author of Thresh & Hold
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