AUTHOR | POET | PLAYWRIGHT | ACTIVIST | EDUCATOR
Winner of the 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize Emerging Artist Award for Literature
Performative Intergenerational Dialogues of a Black Quartet
Qualitative Inquiries on Race, Gender, Sexualities, and Culture
Performative Intergenerational Dialogues of a Black Quartet promotes the importance of intergenerational Black dialogue as a collaborative spirit-making across race, genders, sexualities, and cultures to bridge time and space.
The authors enter this dialogue in a crisis moment: a crisis moment at the confluence of a pandemic, the national political transition of leadership in the United States, the necessary rise of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color activism—in the face of the continued murders of unarmed Black and queer people by police. And as each author mourns the loss of loved ones who have left us through illness, the contiguity of time, or murder, we all hold tight to each other and to memory as an act of keeping them alive in our hearts and actions, remembrance as an act of resistance so that the circle will be unbroken. But they also come together in the spirit of hope, the hope that bleeds the borders between generations of Black teacher-artist-scholars, the hope that we find in each other’s joy and laughter, and the hope that comes when we hear both stories of struggle and strife and stories of celebration and smile that lead to possibilities and potentialities of our collective being and becoming—as a people.
So, the authors offer stories of witness, resistance, and gettin’ ovah, stories that serve as a road map from Black history and heritage to a Black futurity that is mythic and imagined but that can also be actualized and embodied, now. This book will be of interest to scholars, students, and activists in a wide range of disciplines across the social sciences and performance studies.
Authored in partnership with Bryant Keith Alexander, Dominique C. Hill, and Durell M. Callier.
Collaborative Spirit-Writing and Performance in Everyday Black
Collaborative Spirit-Writing and Performance in Everyday Black Lives is about the interconnectedness between collaboration, spirit, and writing. It is also about a dialogic engagement that draws upon shared lived experiences, hopes, and fears of two Black persons: male/female, straight/gay.
This book is structured around a series of textual performances, poems, plays, dialogues, calls and responses, and mediations that serve as claim, ground, warrant, qualifier, rebuttal, and backing in an argument about collaborative spirit-writing for social justice. Each entry provides evidence of encounters of possibility, collated between the authors, for ourselves, for readers, and society from a standpoint of individual and collective struggle. The entries in this Black performance diary are at times independent and interdependent, interspliced and interrogative, interanimating and interstitial. They build arguments about collaboration but always emanate from a place of discontent in a caste system, designed through slavery and maintained until today, that positions Black people in relation to white superiority, terror, and perpetual struggle.
With particular emphasis on the confluence of Race, Racism, Antiracism, Black Lives Matter, the Trump administration, and the Coronavirus pandemic, this book will appeal to students and scholars in Race studies, performance studies, and those who practice qualitative methods as a new way of seeking Black social justice.
This new book serves as compliment and companion to a preceding book, Still Hanging: Using Performance Texts to Deconstructive Racism (Brill | Sense, 2021).
In each book Dr. Alexander and Dr. Weems take hold the social and racial politics of our times to address the lived experiences and observations of two Black teacher-artists-scholars practicing voice and putting their bodies on the line.
Authored in partnership with Bryant Keith Alexander
Still Hanging: Using Performance Texts to Deconstruct Racism
(Brill | Sense Publishers 2021)
The current socio-political climate in the United States sheds a critical, glaring light on the racism and white supremacy which has been part of the fabric of this country since the seventeenth century. Barack Obama’s tenure as president resulted in a major increase in white hate groups, hate crimes, and unrelenting violence against innocent Black men and women by police. In response, people of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, ages and classes have taken to the streets in protest, and increased decades long efforts to organize against racism and for a more empathetic, just, democratic society. Social change about racism must begin with acknowledgement followed by open, focused, critical dialogue.
Authored in partnership with Bryant Keith Alexander
Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues
(Sense Publishers 2015)
This book is a compilation of Weems' work about the Black experience over the last fifteen years. The book intersects with critical race theory because the majority of this work positions race at the center of the experiences of the fictional or fictionalized characters. Embedded in these chapters are the interweaving of personal and ancestral stories, news reports, informal conversations, observations, interviews, and online research expressed in language unapologetically Black, critical, reflexive, and proud.
Read review of Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues
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(Main Street Rag Publishers 2012)
A textured chronicle of the human costs of the house foreclosure crisis in the United States, which dispossessed millions. Weems' poems combine photographic ekphrasis, news headlines, vignettes, lyrics, and object-personifications. They also explore the human cost of widespread greed. Drawing upon her own experiences of home and house-impermanence, Weems creates an unflinchingly detailed chronicle of loss. Merging her voice with the voices of the dispossessed, Weems refuses closure, making elegies of outrage against the terrible silence.
Say It Loud: Poems About James Brown
(Whirlwind Press 2011)
This anthology is a tribute in poems to James Brown and includes work by over 30 poets including Amiri Baraka, Emotion Brown, Katie Daley, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Kelly A. Harris, Tony Medina, Ayodele Nzinga, Michael Oatman, Michelle Rankins, Patricia Smith, Lamont B. Steptoe, George Wallace and Mary Weems. These poems celebrate, memorialize and speak to the legacy of the Godfather of Soul. They share their memories from childhood to adulthood of the man who was influenced by such musical giants as Little Richard, but who laid the physical and musical steps for artists such as Michael Jackson and many current rap and hip-hop musicians today.
Writings of Healing and Resistance
(Peter Lang Publishing 2008)
Writings of Healing and Resistance: Empathy and the Imagination-Intellect is a multi-authored, interdisciplinary journey. It continues the work started in Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect (Peter Lang, 2003) by extending the importance of empathy in developing an action-based social consciousness. The book encompasses a variety of forms: autoethnography, ethnodrama, poetic inquiry, and critical essay, as well as scholars’ work in a number of disciplines including communications, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, educational leadership, African American studies, and cultural foundations.
An Unmistakable Shade of Red and the Obama Chronicles
(Bottom Dog Press 2008)
An Unmistakable Shade of Red and the Obama Chronicles is a collection of Weems' poems where you'll find many moments, moods and insights. Weems both challenges and embraces America in all its turbulence and beauty.
Awake at the End
(Bottom Dog Press 2008)
Awake at the End collects the poetic output of the first three poet laureates of Cleveland Heights (Ohio): Meredith Holmes, Loren Weiss, and Mary E. Weems.
Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect
(Peter Lang Publishing 2003)
Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect argues for re-thinking the thinking process and for urban education reform. Weems’s work lives in the moment of creation. Her imagination-intellect theory chapters frame this book; she posits that the imagination and intellect are inextricably linked; that like Freire’s architect all ideas are first imagined, then intellectually developed in an interconnected process that mirrors the blood’s circulation through the body. The two plays and the collection of poems are rich, layered landscapes of African American culture and meanings. They lend themselves to multi-interpretation, co-performance, and co-ownership by each audience member who engages the work.
Working Hard for the Money:
America's Working Poor in Stories, Poems and Photos
(Bottom Dog Publishing 2002)
Contributors to this book come from all over the U.S., bringing to their writing diverse experiences involving community work or lived experience with social challenge. In her "Recipe for Wanda Coleman" contributor Coleman writes: "Take 18 years in the racist Los Angeles School System during the 50's-60's, add a thatch of hair that always goes back to Africa and a body that bursts all seams, stir in a tablespoon of allergic dermatitis, a pinch of honesty, a cup of chopped integrity and a half pint of Edgar Allen Poe." Contributors include Paul Allen, Mary E. Weems, Larry Smith, A.D. Winans, Victoria Rivas, and more.
White (Wick Poetry Chapbook Series)
(Kent State University Press 1997)
An anthology of energetic poems, which seek to provide a repartee with the difficult urban world of a gentle warrior.