Black Schizoanalysis and Yahwon’s Nomadic Tale: A Brief Review and Analysis of “teaching gold-mah how to heal herself”

Does gold-mah learn to heal herself? This is the question that hauntingly shadows the entirety of the brief story told in Bilphena Yahwon’s first book entitled teaching gold-mah how to heal herself. To say that this story and the questions that it raises comes right on time would be an understatement, especially as it finds itself adding a literary voice to the much-needed commentary on the notion of “self-care” in black/African American social justice circles. Additionally, Yahwon’s beautifully written, eloquently rich story of the African immigrant experience in the US adds an interesting dimension to the nature of the African identity once it comes in contact with the hyper-militarized, patriarchal anti-black police-state of the United States. In other words, more than asking simply, “How does gold-mah heal herself,” Yahwon asks more inquisitively, “Who is this gold-mah that needs healing,” touching on subjects of blackness, gender (non)conformity, love, and language.

This question of healing, Yahwon treads carefully around throughout the entirety of the story, never revealing explicitly what exactly gold-mah must do in order to heal herself, only conjecturing that it is the poetic process itself, a meta-commentary on the process of storytelling, that has become her chosen methodology of healing. As Yahwon writes:

my relationship with my poetry can be quite violent at times you see. it wants out. i want in. it wants to be told. i want it quiet.

so we go about this back and forth thing. where nights are sleepless and days are spent with certain words pushing themselves out of my finger nails. and i, frustrated, walk away from my keyboard. from my pen.

you see, my poetry can be quite intrusive . . . but it means well. these stories, these memories are festering. they are explosives. they need to be cleaned out.

and so, like any relationship. we compromise. that compromise are the words you are reading in this book.[1]

The fact that this methodology of healing is called “violent” and “intrusive” leaves the reader with an uneasy disposition as to not only what constitutes the nature of black healing, but a skepticism towards what methods are useful to that healing. In fact, this statement even calls into question the possibility of a healthy black healing itself. Following then, in a Fanonian register, gold-mah’s poetry emerges, “After having driven [her]self to the limit of self-destruction,” it is then, a “leap, whether deliberately or impetuously, into the ‘black hole’ from which will come ‘the great Negro cry with such force that the pillars of the world will be shaken.”[2] This violent poetic therapy, this lyrically dangerous compromise that Yahwon alludes to in this passage is the schizoanalytic character of Yahwon’s story. gold-mah heals herself in a destructive compromise, a disastrous excavation of explosive memories and festering stories. To heal for gold-mah is to, “Destroy. Destroy.”[3]

That Yahwon’s story is a schizoanalysis of the African immigrant experience is evident in the hypertextual, nomadic structure (or unstructure) of the narrative as the narrator attempts to adventure psychically upon each pages towards self-care. The story flows from one tale to the next through poems, journal entries, brief lyrics essays, one-liner pages, and epistles following no formal linearality tied together only by the common theme of African deterritorialization (“to the immigrant children who had to split themselves in two. one self for home. the other self for the country they laid in.”[4]), a revolutionary gender (non)conformity that through a defiant parental antagonism verges on the Anti-Oedipal (“the hair was the last thing she had to cling to with hopes that this wolf of a daughter would return to her sheep ways. but shearing a sheep is important to its survival, now isn’t it”[5]), and a rhizomatic desire for the multiple in linguistic expression and the formation of storytelling. It is a story that it is filled with a “movement that comes from without, that does not begin on the page (nor the preceding pages), that is not bounded by the frame of the book; it is entirely different from the imaginary movement of representation or the abstract movement of concepts that habitually take place among words and within the mind of the reader.”[6] It is a story dedicated with wholesale devotion to the “scouring of the [African immigrant] unconscious”[7] and to the scission away from the structures that disable black healing.

teaching gold-mah how to heal herself begins and ends nowhere and everywhere. Every page resonates with a deep sense of finality, and a conflicting sense of a grand introduction. And although ultimately, the process of writing, the schizoanalytic process of writing, reinscribes the violent structures it seeks to destroy, what Yahwon produces is nevertheless a profound enunciation of womanism’s proclivity towards care and love-of-thyself as a revolutionary act. In 78-pages of fire, fury, precision, and beauty Yahwon may not have answered if or if not gold-mah heals herself, but she does remind us in exemplary fashion that gold-mah’s poetry, like the black/African woman’s body is, “not for everyone.”

TO PURCHASE “teaching gold-man how to heal herself click here

[1] Bilphena Yahwon, “teaching gold-mah how to heal herself.”(Self Published: Createspace), 10.

[2] Frantz Fanon, “Black Skin, White Masks.” Translated from the French by Charles Lam Markmann (Grove Press, Inc.), 199.

[3] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Penguin Books, 2009) reprint edition, 311

[4] Bilphena Yahwon, “teaching gold-mah how to heal herself.”(Self Published: Createspace), 1

[5]Ibid, 20

[6] Deleuze quote found here: http://csmt.uchicago.edu/annotations/deleuzenomad.htm

[7] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Penguin Books, 2009) reprint edition, 311

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