Artist Statement and Bio
Jamayka Young is a multidisciplinary mythmaker with a primary focus on poetry, illustration, and performance. With a degree in Black Studies and in Creative Writing from Stanford, their art explores themes of heritage, Black American identity, displacement and land, grief work, and homebuilding. They are heavily influenced by Black American folklore and spiritual practice and mythmaking as practice. They are currently working on a collection of poetry and accompanying short film, Children of the Atlantic, that explores collective and public mourning and the physical and psychological displacement of Black Americans as a people existing in perpetual precarity in relation to land and home, all of which serves as an offering to their ancestors, blood and collective.
Working in the legacy of Audre Lorde, my project, children of the atlantic. , biomythologizes my life, making the local and the personal grand enough to serve as collective myth by way of a collection of poetry that serves as an offering to the ancestors both collective and personal, as well as a short film, which depicts of my practice of wailing work, or public mourning, acting to combat the theft of Black American mourning and grief since the creation of our people, reifying our origin story of the Atlantic ocean as the point of chaos from which we lept, the mother who gave a violent birth to us as a people, wailing into the sea as a child sobs into the lap of their mother. The Atlantic serves a dual purpose, as it is also the body of the ancestors. Those who chose the sea over slavery, who were pushed, who were thrown into gulfs, rivers, and streams, who were left in the dirt, all were consumed into the water cycle, the physical particles of their flesh raining down on us, recollecting in the ocean. In this way, the mourning is also to and for them, grieving so they may rest, sobbing loud enough that they find their way back, lightening the weight they have carried and passed on for generations, praising and raising the dead.
children of the atlantic.
for those who chose the sea.
i think god is hiding in the sand
my dad yells into the phone when he can’t hear the person on the other end
i scream at every wave
the only place i know will hold me is the sea
i submerge my body in the Atlantic
i count your breaths like rosary
i want to go home so badly
my mouth fills with saltwater.
poem for the space behind the radiator that i can not clean.
little world hidden in plain sight
where the dust is king
they don’t hide in the corner
they know the feathers cannot find them here
i play pretend a dance number sound like the
hmmm hmmmm click click hmmm of 68 degrees in january
the dust know how to throw down in their own land of copper wire drunk on slow gas leak
this look like free.
i want to go home.
501 sassafras run.
it’s friday and my Mama is frying tilapia
it's friday and Shannon from upstairs is knocking on the door tupperware in one hand, baby in the other
it's friday and Beet smokes weed on the front steps
and i think this is what cigars smell like
it's friday and the girls are outside turning double dutch
with telephone cords
and singing songs about roaches
its friday and cousin Pudgy is teaching us to switch
and we throw our hips around like trees in a hurricane
it's friday and the boys cracked open the fire hydrant
and we run barefoot through storm water
every head is accounted for
no mama stays up waiting
it's friday and we go to bed full.