As some of you might personally be able to attest, it’s been a serious challenge attempting to write anything these past few months. On the one hand, it feels frivolous to write about make-believe people in make-believe scenarios while actual human beings are dying preventable deaths all around us (be they at the hands of police and federal agents or in the grips of COVID-19). On the other hand, to write about the here-and-now happenings of our world seems an equally impossible task: what positive use could such a document be in this moment when it’s already so easy to get trapped in a negative feedback loop of bad news compounding upon bad news? Since mid-March, these concerns have kept me from completing (and, in many cases, starting) so much of the work I so desperately want to create.
Yet in the midst of this dystopian summer, I found a workaround addressing both these challenges. This past June, for the first time in my life, I began keeping a daily journal—composed in formally identical declarative sentences—as a record, not only the events of the world that were on and affecting my mind, but also my domestic observations of home, of family, the creatures in my yard, the blooms erupting throughout the garden. In a season of isolation and upheaval, it in many ways helped to keep my brain from total dissolution into quaking depression. And now, with that months’ record now complete, I am launching a Kickstarter campaign in support of the limited publication of June of 2020: a quarantine journal, with all profits being donated to Black Girl in Maine, a social-justice blog founded by writer, educator, and activist Shay Stewart-Bouley. While my skill has always been the construction of narratives that allow the reader to feel what it’s like to experience the characters’ experiences, Shay’s talent lies in taking the complex abstractions of social justice and explaining them in a way that is not only immediate and concrete, but also grounded in the experiences of both herself and her audience (in other words, she takes the cultural phenomenon at large and makes it directly relevant to you and your life). She has an ability that I lack. So I’m using my abilities to help support her and her work.
If this sounds like the sort of literature-for-a-cause you’re natively interested in, please consider contributing to this campaign. There are various reward levels, from hardbound to paperback to e-book editions of the journal, so even if you can only chip in five dollars, you’ll nevertheless receive some token of gratitude in return. Each book will be signed, numbered, and limited to the exact number of contributors to this campaign (meaning if only four people are in for the hardbound edition, only four hardbound copies will ever be printed). In addition, we’ll be making personalized video-readings for certain reward levels, as well as (and this one makes me really excited) staging a COVID-safe live reading in the garden where so much of the journal’s grounding meditation takes place.
For the sake of total transparency, the Kickstarter page also includes rough breakdowns of how each contribution will be divided and allocated depending on the reward level, and in case there’s any worry or doubt: every cent that does not go into the production of June of 2020 will be passed on to Black Girl in Maine (which is to say, I will not profit from this campaign at all).
To learn more about Black Girl in Maine and the work of Shay Stewart-Bouley, please visit blackgirlinmaine.com (and be sure to watch her TEDx Talk “Inequality, Injustice…Infection”). If you have any questions or concerns about the project, please do not hesitate in reaching out to me. And since Kickstarter runs on an all-or-nothing model (meaning if I do not reach my funding goal by midnight on August 21st, the entire enterprise is a bust), please share this with anyone you think might be interested.