Derica Shields

Love Letter for Seven SpeakersCell Project Space, 27 July 2019

Between the summers of 2017 and 2019, I interviewed seven Black people living in London about surving the welfare state for a book-length oral history project titled A Heavy Nonpresence, published in 2021 by Triple Canopy. The commission required I write an introduction that I struggled to complete because I was at war with the distancing or explanatory norms of the introductory essay. In Love Letter for Seven Speakers, I was able to make work that privileged the voice over the page, and personal history over official records or the kinds of argumentation I was doing as I completed my introduction. Love Song for Seven Speakers became a reading under pink light, in which I could situate myself among a circle of near and far peers, friends, and teachers.

Sound design & editing
Shenece Oretha

Ivori-Kai Bryan
S*an D. Henry-Smith
Derica Shields

Texts & Talks Referenced

Dahabo‘ A Heavy Nonpresence, ed. Derica Shields, Triple Canopy, 2021

Sarah & Ruby‘ A Heavy Nonpresence, ed. Derica Shields, Triple Canopy, 2021

Writing Against Tyranny and Toward Liberation by Dionne Brand, Barnard College, New York City, 25 April 2017

The Heart of the Race by Beverly Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe, 1985

Lessons From the Damned: Class Struggle in the Black Community, by The Damned, 1973

The displaced tenants paying the true cost of an inhumane housing policy by Dawn Foster, The Guardian, 2 December 2016

Make a Way Out of No Way by Saidiya Hartman and Fred Moten, Arika, Glasgow, 27 September 2014

Frontiers: Interview with Audre Lorde by Jackie Kay and Pratibha Parmar in Charting the Journey: Writings by Black and Third World Women, 1988

The Psychological Impact of Austerity: A Briefing Paper by Psychologists for Social Change, 2016

Public presentation by Assata Shakur, World Youth Festival, Havana, Cuba, 3 August 1997

Refrain from ‘War‘ by Bob Marley, sung by The I-Threes, Amandla: Festival of Unity, Boston, Massachusetts, 21 July 1979

Welfare is a Women’s Issue by Johnnie Tillmon, Ms Magazine, 1972