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2015 Featured Project Assistance Grant Recipient:

Tia Blassingame


Settled: African American Sediment or Constant Middle Passage (2015) 
by Tia Blassingame of Primrose Press

Edition of 6, longstitch, bound in goatskin leather. letterpress printed on Nepalese lokta paper, original and concrete poetry

The disruptive and mournful effects that death or kidnapping, abuse or assault can have upon an individual
or a community can transcend the borders of distance and time. The humiliation and confusion felt by a newly enslaved child in the 18th century may not be dissimilar from that felt by a similarly hued child in the 21st century. Both would be exposed to violence and constant threat.

During the 1764-5 voyage of the Sally, the Brown Family slaving ship, from West Africa to the West Indies, 109 out of 196 slaves died due to suicide, disease, starvation, and injuries inflicted during a failed slave insurrection. Using the line items from the ship’s account book that noted their death, I attempt to embody them by repeating that brief notation.

Poems and concrete poems were created in response to contemporary incidents from the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Akai Gurley, the kidnapping of a child, Relisha Rudd. Each loss is mourned; each absence felt. All are connected. We came over on the same ships. Today as yesterday, we are stuck in this constant middle passage.

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