ConsenSIS – “The Score”

Preserving the past and the past literary legacy of Black women and femme poets in Philadelphia, ConsenSIS presents “The Score” at Philadelphia’s Johnson House.

This coming Saturday, October 8th, I will join a group of powerful Black women and femme poets to celebrate the bonds and the beauty of sisterhood. We will all dress in orange, write, and move to the sounds of a new musical score. Through a multidisciplinary, multi-event undertaking, and funded by a grant from Monument Lab, ConsenSIS has created a series of experiences featuring Black women and femme writers, for Black women and femme writers.

In this broad and bold initiative, created by Yolanda Wisher and Trapeta Mayson, Black women and femme poets in the Philadelphia area are defining the history and scope of our community, independent of the definitions and expectations of others.

Wisher and Mayson met 25 years ago at a poetry reading and have built a supportive friendship that spans their personal and professional lives. They want to support others in finding those same supportive, uplifting, creative connections.

“We’re focusing on Black women and Black femme poets and how they have been underacknowledged and disregarded,” Mayson told me. “So, we are reimagining this idea of monuments and really thinking about what is the best way to memorialize Black women and femme poets?”

After surveying close to 100 Black women and femme poets in the Philadelphia area, Wisher, Mayson and their creative team curated a series of events to meet the needs of a creative population that has a herstory of being overlooked. Each event has been different and beautiful in its own way, and the next event will be an evocative sensory experience on Saturday, October 8 at the Johnson House in Germantown that will be a collective listening experience as well as a forum for sharing and sisterhood.

Yolanda Wisher and Trapeta Mayson

At the invitation of ConsenSIS, artist and composer Kendrah Butler Waters has created an original soundscape that will be unveiled at an intimate gathering to a collective of Black women and femme poets dressed in the color orange.

Of the event, Wisher told me, “It will be a listening party, and a listening experience, but it’s going to be active listening. So, we’re going to invite people to move with the score. We’re going to invite people to vocalize with the score. There are things built into the piece that invites call-and-response, and we’re also going to ask people to write in response to the score. ‘Cause, that’s what we do. There are going to be multiple ways that we will be listening. But, hopefully, it’ll be very deep, in all of those different ways.”

How could the event not be deep? The unveiling and the in-person experience will take place at the Johnson House, a representative station on the Underground Railroad, on the 29th anniversary of the day Toni Morrison became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and will feature the work of the world-renowned composer and creator Kendrah Butler Waters with a light menu provided by Our Mothers’ Kitchens.

If you identify as a Black woman or femme poet and want a communal, interactive listening experience, register via Eventbrite for this free event. Attendance is limited, so be sure to sign up in advance. Then, come to the Johnson House from 11 am to 1 pm on October 8th, dressed in orange and ready to experience the richness of sisterhood.

For those that can not make the event live, or do not identify as a Black woman or femme poet or writer, be sure to check out the ConsenSIS website after the 8th to find out how you can experience the sound monument in other ways, or at a later date.


Images: Naomieh Jovin

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