Movement IV: I was counting T-cells on the shores of cyberspace and feeling some despair.... I have miscegenated and mutated, tolerated and assimilated and yet I remain the same in the eyes of those who would fear and despise me. I stand at the threshold of cyberspace and wonder, is it possible that I am unwelcome here, too?
I felt that the closest way that I could get to Essex, aside from reading through his body of work, would be to talk to his closest friends, collaborators, and peers. I’ve created a sound portrait and a moment for his closest friends and peers to welcome, praise, and remember him as they knew him. Each person has been asked to simply “to tell me what knew of Essex then and what you know of him now”. These audio excerpts are situated next to a rare portrait of Essex taken in 1982 and provided by his close friend and photographer Sharon Farmer to use exclusively for this project. Conversations conducted in person were recorded with in ear microphones to allow the listener to feel as though they are in the room with the person speaking.
*photo of Essex Hemphill courtesy Sharon Farmer, copyright 1982
Featuring excerpts from conversations with;
Charles Nero interviewed in Lewiston, Maine, Barbara Smith in Albany, NY via phone, ABilly S. Jones-Henin in Washington, D.C., Valerie Papaya Mann in Washington, D.C., Ron Simmons in Washington, DC via phone, Wayson Jones in Prince George's County, MD, Michelle Parkerson in Washington, D.C., Sharon Farmer in Washington, D.C.,Joyce Wellman in Washington, D.C., Christopher Prince in Washington, D.C., Grace Cavalieri in Annapolis, MD, E. Ethelbert Miller in Washington, D.C., Christopher Prince in Washington, D.C, Aishah Shahidah Simmons in Philadelphia, PA, Tyrone Smith in Philadelphia, PA, Dorothy Beam (recorded at Essex Hemphill Dec. 95’ Memorial Service in Philadelphia, PA, audio recording courtesy Aishah Shahidah Simmons),
Heavy Corners read by Essex Hemphill, Community Journal Radio Show - Hosted by Denise Jones, March 1995
To Some Supposed Brothers read by Essex Hemphill, Community Journal Radio Show - Hosted by Denise Jones, March 1995
Essex speaks, Community Journal Radio Show - Hosted by Denise Jones, March 1995
Tiona McClodden reading from Vital Signs; XXXVIII, 1993