Undisciplined Archives: Dreaming Across Black Geographies

Subscribe to the Arrow Journal to download this Issue.


Already a subscriber? Sign in

Only interested in this issue? Click here to purchase a PDF


Issue Contents

Journal Editor’s Introduction: An Antidote and A Map: Narrative Cartographies for Black Dreamers
shah noor hussein, Managing Editor

Guest Editor’s Introduction: We Were Dreamt: Reflections on Black Dreaming as a Liberatory Practice
Naya Jones

Sleeping in Kwame’s Room: Crocodile Dreams of Freedom from a Summer Return to Kumasi
Anthony Kwame Harrison
In this genre-defying piece—positioned somewhere between personal essay, family biography, and historical research paper—I reflect on my first time returning to my city of birth, Kumasi, Ghana (the capital of Ashanti) in summer 1995. For one magical summer, I stayed with Peggy Appiah, a dear family friend and the mother of my namesake. A series of dreams I had while in Ghana frame a wandering circuitous account of my experiences with people, animals, and place. Key themes surround: Ghanaian Independence in the context of Pan-Africanism; the meaning of dreams in the Akan/Ashanti world(view); family, home, and allegiance both within and outside of Ashanti society; and the capacity of proverbs, stories, and, above all else, dreams to animate new modes of freedom and liberation among individuals and collective groups. Kewords: Ashanti, Dreams, Ghana Independence, Kumasi, Nation, Pan-Africanism

Smiling a Million Times | Poetry
Tyrell Blacquemoss

Dreaming Through Submergence
Morgan P. Vickers
This essay reimagines the drowned Black towns of the twentieth century as unsinkable havens—surviving submergence, learning from terraqueous maroons, and building underwater worlds to sustain Black life and Black futurity. In the early twentieth century, white-led state and federal institutions submerged dozens of Black communities in the name of “progress.” Yet, despite lying dozens of feet beneath the waters of artificial reservoirs, the drowned towns, and the people who inhabited them, refuse to sink. I interrogate what it means for communities to “land” themselves in the face of unstable, fluid, and impermanent terrains, and further ask: How can the wisdom of our ancestors in the face of such cataclysmic loss shape how we regard and survive the losses of our own era? And how can we go forth, to (re)build a world in the wake of a watery grave, and to imagine the possibilities in an ungrounded future? Keywords: drowned towns, Black futures, dispossession, Black ecologies, depth

Dancing with Ocean
Jessica Lemire
In this invitation to dance with Ocean I begin by defining dance as the connecting points—convergences—between and amongst more-than-human bodies. It is the oscillating entanglements through and between bodies, where movement has flow and rhythm. In working with this expanded understanding of dance, I acknowledge that it is not only humans who dance. Here, dance is as methodological as it is theoretical, as conceptual as it is corporeal. Through my own lens as an African American woman living on First Nations land in Australia, I explore the relationalities of Ocean. Writing for us, the diaspora, I draw on dreaming and Call-and-Response to guide us into a dance with Ocean; inviting you to slow down and dream up the feelings and connections that water evokes. This sensuous practice invites you to dance with bodies of water, and to reveal the embodied and ancestral knowledge held within. Keywords: ocean, dance, more-than-human relationality, dreaming, sensuality, ancestors

I Wear My Sunglasses to Dream: Nope, Black Dreaming, and Grains of Grief
Francesca Sobande
This meditation on Jordan Peele’s Nope considers its cinematic depiction of Black dreaming, (inward) gazing, and grains of grief. Focusing on different visual and storytelling components of Nope, I outline how the film portrays Black interiority and looking relations with care, creativity, and candor. Reflecting on the promises of moviegoing, how Nope moved me, and contemplative inquiry informed by my own experiences, I discuss what Black dreaming and grief can mean and involve beyond a spectacularizing societal gaze and prescriptively assumed rituals of loss. Shaped by poignant writing and works on Black dreaming, epistemologies, grief, cosmos, and constellations, I ruminate on how such dreaming and grief emerges in the everydayness of life and on the screens of cinemas. Overall, engaging Nope’s exploration of the power of looking at and looking away from something or someone, I ponder over the relationship between shade(s) (aka sunglasses), (day)dreaming, and grieving. Keywords: ancestral, Black dreaming, film, grief, love, Nope

Gather (entsitewahwe’nón:ni) | Poetry
Saleem Hue Penny

Freedom Lessons Woven Through Ancestral Dreaming and Music
Stephanie R. Burns
Dreaming—asleep or awake—is a chance for us to connect with our ancestors and the spiritual realm. Our lives are like colorful threads that the ancestors can weave together for collective healing. By recording our dreams and following their guidance, we can move through timelines, identify patterns, learn how to heal from them, find our voice, and witness how beautifully our threads are united. In this essay, I share my journey and elaborate on how ancestral dreaming, an artist’s music, and life experiences led me to discover freedom and its lessons. Keywords: ancestral dreaming, dawn richard, new orleans, second line, freedom, healing

I Dream Fish, Teeth, Ancestors, and Bears | Poetry
Aries Jordan

Groundmother: Planted to Celebrate a Life Well Lived | Poetry
Sienna L. M.

Black Girls are Flowers that Deserve to Bloom: Dream Maps and Love Spells
Derrika Hunt
Black Girls are Flowers that Deserve to Bloom is an experimental, creatively written piece that takes dream maps seriously as a methodology. Drawing on the work of storytellers and artists, like that of Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Toni Morrison, this piece crafts a set of dream maps that emerge as a hybrid poem-manifesto that dreams/feels Black girls as metaphorical flowers worthy of blooming. Written as a salve for my own heart, the dream maps I make here are a homage to Black girlhood, and a way of making sense of Black girl life in a world that seems to demand our deaths. I honor Black girl life in the flesh and in transition as I place the names of ‘Black girls who became ancestors too soon’ between tender word-spells. In tribute to Black girls and Black girlhood, I utilize dreams and dream-mapping to conjure what it might feel like for Black girls to exist in another world– one that nurtures them as free and blooming, uninterrupted beings.

Breonna’s Dream | Poetry
Bushmama Africa

The Geography of Her Dream: For Breonna | Poetry
shah noor hussein

Artwork by Star Barker, Jennifer Steverson, and authors