in desire line
Britta B.

            the room                      a roomy brew              blew
                                                                                                big breath,
                                                                                                magnetic breath, fixed

            route twine zuh

in tuh                           enter
                                                room, roots re-routing
                        with     hiss     his

who is storied?
who houses
whose hiss

            ark uhk
                                    ack now  edges
                                                                                    bridges, brackets,

                                                            green dot

                        a  n  d                                                              i  m  a  g  i  n  e

                                                            i merge in
                                                                                    airy loops
                                                                        arcs, archives
            hives count
                                    co unite
                                                            night, knit
                                                                                                                        of minutes

dis       cursive im        media  see

in tuh   in time             intimate

                                                                                    crucial             kru-shawl        crushing

it          tee       bitty
                                                nodal   it tee
know edge
crah-sh                                    knee
                                                                                                                        noiseless natal

words                                                              notional wave
                                                            vain, way vine
                                                waving wayward

                                                                                                the field
                                                            fusing social nets
                                                                                                                        or may             not
            muh-teeuh-ree materialize
            wring-wring reggae
            egz-egz egz-ah
                                                            examined dub breath
                        in the roomy brew
                                                                                                doubled, tripled, four-footed

            before your turn
lick your finger before you turn
that page, pay attentive mind-eye
perk that wet ear
we tear, we tare-uh terrorize
we time the distance from now
to the direction of the algorithms’ rhythm
reap, reap
repeat              &
reinforce          an
uneven pahp-pahp p-power nets this history
this history      hid       this hidden history
this history      troubled                       this troubled victory
ah reckon a rekard verse
a voyage raced, a racial thirst
bullet points coerced, from chambers to lobbies
a magazine copied
                                                knee-scrapes on pavement
                                                                                                tuh-ko              tuh-ko tuh-ko-zjuheee
                        tuh-ko-tuh-ko zjuheee-zjuheee
                                                            photocopy machine inna Regent Park
            ark uhk
now  edges           Regentrification Park
                                                                                                            who houses whose hiss


            you can see we were just babies
we were just babies
when we were displaced
from apartment complexes
to act like community theatre props & prospects
they called us model citizens, they called us billboard posters
sampled our presence’s presence, called our history living
a living history – who is history?
The battle to unmute the access
& audience
                                                to audio
                                                to un-lack
boxes & boxes
emerge in imagine
                                    airy loops
arcs, archives
archives back
archives lean, archives arrive
                                    without suitcases
without asked
auspicious grasp of master maintenance
art halls between white walls
on the other side of this art, this art
troubles, this troubled art
rabbles crucial kru-shawl know edge
not without politics
                                                                        this makes you tired, man
                                                                                                                        just ignore it
                                                                        well, it can’t be ignored

contralto silk, staccato static, different granularities doing stuff

            Lillian doing her stuff
                        Clifton doing his stuff
                                    Devon doing his stuff
                                                                                                                        Clive going back

spending hours remembering the sense & in tuh
                                                                                    intimacy of poor quality cassettes
we would not have recorded, resisted
                                                                                    egz-ah existed
if we didn’t have this afro-political mission
but this history hard eh
carve the cues, queues, questions & articles
stippled in Chocolate City News
that what segregated
what that segregation meant on the block:
green dots
                                                                        blacks from whites like telephone cords

            little Toronto, the apartheid city
            took three buses to get to my house on Weston Rd.
            Clive would
signal some kind of respect, some risk —
            instead of a down payment on a house,
                                                                                    bought & built home studio equipment first

no one could afford
no one could participate
no one could build
                        nobody had a studio,
already we had a studio &
somebody who supported our vision our verse
to Vinyl, Voicespondence

we were made visible
we knot know edge
we knot stumble upon some shade
we knot stumble upon some stank-eye
we & some invite
we & some access
we & some supportive conversation
                                                about new generations n’ new gatherings
we & some presence challenging:
                                                            what culture, what Canadian?
we & some sleeves rolled up
move across lines
                        out-lines cultural & racial side-lines
                        woo wroo ear-th          throo through rhyme books & hooks
beyond buh-row-row bureaucracy into friendships
                                                                        & chinooks
                                                                                                magnetic breath, big breath
                                                                                    a roomy brew
                                                            our hardtimes heads’ riddim
                                                            our hiss hoarse hustlin’
                                                                        drum drum
                                                                        drum beat
                                                                        heart beat
                                                                        pulse beat

                                                there, we are               doing stuff
                                                                        Lillian doing stuff
                                                                                    Clive, Felicity, Britta doing stuff
                                                            decades later, more i merge
                                                it          tee       bitty
                                                                                    nodal   it tee
                                                Dub Street
                                                            holding historic routes & shining
                                                                                                o u t     t o        o u r  f u t u r e s


Britta B. is a Toronto-based spoken word performer, teaching artist, emcee, and voice actor. Most recently, Britta was recognized as a 2020 Finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award.

She is an alumna of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Spoken Word Residency and a 2018 Toronto Arts Council Leaders Lab Fellow. Her works have featured in print, in sound, and onstage across North America in notable spheres such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, CBC Arts: Poetic License, The Walrus Talks, TEDx, and The Stephen Lewis Foundation.

As an artist-educator, Britta facilitates artist-training seminars, poetry workshops, and social justice programs in partnership with organizations like JAYU (pronounced JAH-YOU), Poetry In Voice, Prologue Performing Arts, and League of Canadian Poets. Britta is currently a Creative Writing MFA candidate at the University of Guelph. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

See also

Making a Network of Relations Visible

Making a Network of Relations Visible
6 Aug 2021

Question: Joy Xiang

Question: Joy Xiang
Access to Print response
30 Apr 2021

Access to Print

Access to Print
30 Apr 2021

marginalia: Faith Paré

marginalia: Faith Paré

Setting a Tone

Setting a Tone
26 Mar 2021

in desire lines: Britta B.

in desire lines: Britta B.
Riddim an' Resistance
26 Feb 2021

A Lit Fuse: Klive Walker

A Lit Fuse: Klive Walker
Riddim an' Resistance
26 Feb 2021

Riddim an’ Resistance

Riddim an’ Resistance
26 Feb 2021

Desire Lines

Desire Lines
oral history project
Feb - Aug 2021




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