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My 22 Most Memorable Moments of 2022


photo credit: Robert Cooper

It's become tradition for me to write this sort of reflection about the year I had as an artist. I started recapturing my most memorable moments in 2018 and have been doing them since. Not going to lie, I almost didn't do one in 2020. I mean it was a rough year for everyone but I'm glad I did it anyway because now I can go back and read what I wrote for all of these past years. And that's exactly what I did. I went back and read all the previous most memorable posts, except for 2018. I have no idea what happened to that one although I'm positive I did one that year. What stood out to me the most is that I didn't quarantine my dreams. All this pivoting I've had to do was dizzying at times. I've definitely had moments of can I actually do this? coursing through my mind. But I refuse to let that stop me. I expect doubt and uncertainty to show up but I'm also choosing to return everyday. My biggest pivots in the last year was investing money into learning how to pivot in a way that I could make work for me. I took online courses and that led to being able to offer new online courses. I learned a lot from them but also I made connections with other folks who were in the midst of their own pivots. This was a year of transition for me. My words at the beginning of the year were "resolute transformation". I held a lot of grief both physically and emotionally in my body. Just making it through physical therapy was an accomplishment for me really. I write these reflections more for myself. To remember. To honor my joy. I hope it encourages you to make a list of your own. Give yourself permission to recall the greatness. Darkness can easily take over the light but even if it's a single flame pressing on into the night, it is worth celebration. And you know what?! There's nothing like going back to review to realize among the moments of physical pain and emotional grief, I had some great creative moments this year! Without further ado, here are my most memorable moments of 2022 in no particular order...


1. Featuring at Busboys & Poets in Washington D.C. was such a release for me. I was still tender from my uncle's funeral in December and injuries from falling down half a flight of stairs without having started physical therapy. I performed two nights and I'm so grateful for the space the audiences held for me on stage.


photo credit: Robert Cooper

2. I got to host and perform at a poetry event at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and just the backstage shenanigans was enough to put this on the list. I loved being in community with the other poets, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long time.


3. I spent half of this year as artist in residence at The Fish Market thanks to the Arts Center of the Capital Region. Needless to say, I've had lots of moments there but to highlight a few:

  • I had a last run of Poetic Vibe, the open mic I started in 2016. A friend of mine called it the golden season. I'm am forever grateful to everyone who has graced the stage or supported in any way whether at Troy Kitchen, on Zoom or this year at The Fish Market!! We had a great run!

  • I put on a show called "Black Bird" and I'm proud of the work I produced but also proud because when I started my residency, I was also in physical therapy twice a week. There were days I couldn't paint for more than 30 minutes because of pain. I learned one of my biggest lessons this year: slowing down and hitting pause doesn't mean it won't get done; it means it'll just happen later than I planned and that's okay. The show exceeded my expectations.

photo credit: Robert Cooper

5. Featuring in Brooklyn for Keep It S.N.A.P.P.Y...All I can say is that this show was packed and I mean PACKED! I think it was the first show since before the pandemic that felt like what I knew before. The energy in there was electric. Shout out to Lyrical Faith for the invitation to feature!


6. Screening of Whitewashed: the racism project at Albany Film Festival! I got to moderate discussion with my fellow actors after the film. Honestly, I think this is the 3rd year in a row that Whitewashed: the racism project has made my list in some way.

photo credit: Robert Cooper

7. Setting up my space to sell at Her Love Collections in Crossgates Mall! I've been vending a long time but this type of space has been a special experience for me. Thank you to everyone who's stopped by the store to make a purchase!


8. One of my favorite events during my residency was the debut of the Social Justice Artist Collective. The energy and artistry was electric! I'm proud to be a founding member and have been able to hold space for art and activism in this way.


9. Striving Artist was my favorite course that I launched this year! I had 2 people registered and it filled me with so much excitement to prepare and to help other artists. I think it really affirmed and solidified this current path I'm on with my programs for 2023.


10. I performed in Bennington, VT. It's a highlight because I think it was the longest show I've done to date and I rocked it! I'm so grateful for the love I got and the enthusiastic invitation to come back. Hope to see you again in 2023 Bennington!


11. Reading at The Mount for Word x Word is also something that's made it to most memorable every year since 2019. It's one of my favorite gigs. I get to be in nature and I get to write a poem inspired by a new sculpture every time.

photo credit: Robert Cooper

12. It was an honor to read a poem at a protest for Lights Out Norlite to combat pollution impacting Cohoes and surrounding areas. I worked on the banner for them as well. Thank you to the folks who came to help paint. If you want to learn more about Lights Out Norlite, go HERE.


13. Organizing this photo with Black Dimensions in Art (BDA) was a such an honor! It was truly a "Great Day in Albany"! Big shout out to all the Black creatives who are making art happen in the Capital Region. How amazing it was to see all of your faces and to gather in this way. Keep creating in 2023! Shine! Shine! Shine!


photo credit: Robert Cooper

14. I was in a play called SIDES this year and there is so much I could say about my experience over the course of 6 months of creating, writing, rehearsing, connecting with the cast and performing the show! Every work I've done with Creative Action Unlimited and Michael Kennedy has been both memorable and challenging. I'm always grateful to be stretched and make meaningful work.


15. I got to feature at The Love Jones Experience at The Russell in Hartford, CT! It was such a dope night! Full house and so much love! I feel so blessed that I get to do this work. Shout out to Tarishi M.I.D.N.I.G.H.T. Shuler for the invite!


16. Speaking of featuring, I got to do a set at the Nuyorican! The last time I featured, it was an empty room and the show was being streamed. This time it was a full house! I think I've really missed that kind of palpable energy when performing poetry to a room and this year felt like a return to that. Shout out to Jive Poetic for the the invite!


photo credit: Robert Cooper

17. Reading at the Albany Institute for History & Art for MHAction who are fighting for affordable housing, economic security and overall quality of life within communities. The panel discussion I participated in and the the encouraging words of Ana Maria Archila were so inspiring.


18. I've been waiting to go back to the Cave Canem retreat since 2020 and this year we were able to return! It was pure magic and what a refueling it was to my spirit to be in community with fellow Black poets to write, to laugh, to cry, to fellowship. Many of the poems I read in my residency show were written during that magical week.


19. One of my biggest moments this year was painting this double-sided mural in Albany which I call "Back to Life". It was a long time in the planning and truly a dream come true. Super grateful to Tony Iadicicco for all the support, Albany Center Gallery, Albany Barn, Park Albany, Downtown Albany BID and New York Department of State for the Downtown Revitalization initiative that made this possible. One day I was taking a lunch break from painting, went to Banh Mi 47 and was pleasantly surprised to see a print of mine hanging on the wall! Then I went back to the wall I was painting outside. PRICELESS.


photo credit: Robert Cooper

20. Hosting the poetry slam at Capital Rep Theater! I remember asking folks in the audience to raise a hand if they'd never been to a slam. Hope their first experience was as fun for them as it was for me to host! Shout out to all the poets and thank you to the Rep for the opportunity.


21. Folks are used to me doing historical reenactments but this time I got to play dress up as Princess Tiana and I didn't even know how much I would love it. Just one of the sweetest things I've done this year. Thank you to Hill City Ice Queens for having be a princess for a day!


22. This list would not be complete without mentioning the moment I received the 2022 Excellence in Arts & Letters Award from the Alumni Association at University at Albany. When I look back at my first year of grad school, I almost didn't make it for reasons that are too long to explain here. What you should know is I don't look like what I been through and getting this was so surreal and humbling. I made it!! And look at me now!!

 

There you have it! But above all else, my dearest memory for this year was a life moment. This year I married the love of my life, Robert Cooper. He's right there by my side through all the moments, light and heavy, good and bad. So grateful for his support, friendship and love. Wherever you are in the world on this New Year's Eve or whenever you read this I hope love finds you, your joy is abundant and light shines bright on you in 2023. Wishing you all a very happy and full new year!!

photo credit: Tafari Melisizwe


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