Subscribe: blackgirl on mars: notes on a life in copenhagen
Preview: blackgirl on mars: notes on a life in copenhagen

blackgirl on mars: notes on a life in copenhagen (or how my alienation brings me closer to people).

a guide for earthlings. the official website of original thought, window gardens, subversive plots. featuring words, yarn & beats by brooklyn born trinidadian-american writer lesley-ann brown, aka the lab

Updated: 2018-02-18T04:44:11.811-08:00


A Poem for Lesley-Ann by Ayun


Say It Loud! Poetry Collective (from left to right: Brown, Qwin, Ayun, Teju, Sabita, Zanubia & Julia)To think of smiling asa simple act of stretching ones mouthso as to show contentmentthat releases the drawn in lines of a frown that was etched onto your browis never enough.Life drew the lines on your face,with each bout of sorrowand of joy,that lights up the brown of your dark face.And the dark face that hosts solemn eyes protestwhat the world has determined you would be.You carry an eternity of sorrows,and still you laughLike the old black peoplefrom the country I am from,From deep within your chest,the echoes of that forgotten time,from before you were born but existed roll out from your bellyand form a soundof dry branches beating against each otheron warm days where the wind blows and whispers all our names.You can never only smile. There is, always, too muchin a smile that remembers,always,the perfect and the worst.So when you smile,and the smile rests comfortably in you dark face, remember, always,that the sound of branches beating against each otheron warm days,escapes from your mouth.[...]

Pre-order Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black woman to her European Son


Available from May 15th, 2018 

A Trinidadian-American writer and activist explores motherhood, migration, identity, nationhood and how it relates to land, imprisonment, and genocide for Black and Indigenous peoples. 

Having moved to Copenhagen, Denmark from Brooklyn over 18 years ago, Brown attempts to contextualise her and her son's existence in a post-colonial and supposedly post-racial world where the very machine of so-called progress has been premised upon the demise of her lineage. Through these letters, Brown writes the past into the present - penned from the country that has been declared "The Happiest Place in the World" - creating a vision that is a necessary alternative to the dystopian one currently being bought and sold.

You can pre-order here: 

In the UK: You can order here
In the US: You can order here 

Vegan Oxtails


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

Faith Ringgold: The Ancestors Came


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

From Youtube: Cecile Emeke’s film celebrates the life of artist and writer Faith Ringgold and the influence of her childhood in Harlem on her work.Faith Ringgold’s posters All Power to the People (1970) and United States of Attica (1971-2) are currently on display in the Tate Modern exhibition Soul of A Nation: Art in the Name of Black Power.

Roi Kwabena "Cascadura"


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

La Vaughn Belle & Tiphanie Yanique: Alternative Histories


frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%">
from Soundcloud: As a part of the exhibition ”Blind Spots” in The Black Diamond in Copenhagen, writer Tiphanie Yanique and artist La Vaughn Belle were invited in to talk about creativity, images and alternative histories in their works of art. In conversation with art historian Temi Odumosu they discuss these topics. The conversation took place on the 1st of June 2017.

The Spirit of Tengri


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

Musings from Copenhagen


Say it loud! poetry collective's last reading at Copenhagen's Main Library
which was fire. featuring Ayun (Angola)
Julia (Mozambique, Denmark), Zanubia (Somalia, Denmark) & myself. So proud of these poets. 

I'm so thankful for my life - and the many opportunities that I continue to attract. I've deactivated my Facebook account as it's not conducive (for me, anyway!) to have it while I finish up the first draft of my book Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black mother to her European Son and I've had a few folks reach out, worried, "Lesley! Are you okay?" they ask, "I don't see your posts anymore!" It's sweet whenever I hear this - I've always had a complicated relationship with Facebook but it wasn't always like that. In the beginning, Facebook was the shizzle.  But like all good things, it got so pimped out by capitalism. Le sigh.  Also, my algorithms compute to political doom, because my newsfeed was just feeding me back my dystopian view of the world.  Talk about thoughts manifesting  itself. Magic is real, yo.

Part of the process of writing this book has meant going through my dozens of journals - an olympian feat in and of itself. This reflection is humbling - it has revealed to me how fast I tend to move. My animal totem lately is the turtle- I need to slow down. I've also included some more healthy habits into my life and enjoying more quiet. The other day I visited a friend who lives on one of Denmark's many islands, and it was so beautiful. No matter how old I am I will always be fascinated by nature and the Danish countryside, like all other parts of the world where nature is left to her own devices, is remarkable. I look forward to spending more time with her and getting my hands in the dirt. Farming and writing, yeah- that's my next step... 

In the meantime I've found an amazing apartment and am enjoying having a space that I can stay for a minute. I live in a great neighbourhood and would you believe that it's just as quiet as when I lived on the boat? Yeah. So nice. There are so many gorgeous buildings where I live - the architecture in Copenhagen is breathtaking and there are so many options to take walks -- I can walk over to the water and see the Little Mermaid, I can walk around the lakes, I can walk to Fælledparken -- and the weather has been perfect lately. 

Wishing you healing and inspiration, 

Flight to Denmark


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">



When we talk about Sankofa - reaching to the past for the information needed to take us into the future, what becomes most evident in even the most cursory glance of global indigenous cultures, is the importance of non-binary sexuality, or what is often referred to as "two spirit". We learn that our brothers and sisters who did not fit into the extreme polarised constructs of "male" and "female" actually occupied positions of great importance in the societies in which they lived. I came across Xochipilli today - may his spirit inspire the world. from Wiki:Xochipilli [ʃu˕ːt͡ʃiˈpiɬːi] was the god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song in Aztec mythology. His name contains the Nahuatl words xochitl ("flower") and pilli (either "prince" or "child"), and hence means "flower prince". As the patron of writing and painting, he was called Chicomexochitl the "Seven-flower," but he could also be referred to as Macuilxochitl "Five-flower." His wife was the human girl Mayahuel[citation needed], and his twin sister was Xochiquetzal. As one of the gods responsible for fertility and agricultural produce, he was also associated with Tlaloc (god of rain), and Cinteotl (god of maize).[citation needed] Xochipilli corresponds to the Tonsured Maize God among the Classic Mayas.Xochipilli was also the patron of both homosexuals and male prostitutes, a role possibly resulting from his being absorbed from the Tolteccivilization.[1] He, among other gods, was depicted wearing a talisman known as an oyohualli, which was a teardrop-shaped pendant crafted out of mother-of-pearl.[2][...]


The Future


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

The Original Holocaust.


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">


Brook Stephenson


Today I saw someone who looked just like Brook Stephenson (February 21st, 1974- August 29, 2015) at the busiest train station in Copenhagen, Nørreport Station. He looked so much like Brook, I considered asking him if I could take a picture with him. I decided not to - but seeing this doppelgänger reminded me how much I missed this friend, supporter and literary peer. I found some pictures of Brook today - from when I returned to the States, just to be at his Rhode Island Writer's Colony - an act that fortified me in ways I am still unpacking.[...]

Graphic Design at the Scandinavian Design High School


Just found these images from about a couple of years ago when the above mentioned school used my text for a graphic design exercise.  Click on the first image & then you'll get a slideshow! [...]

Harbour Life


Calypso Rose, Calypso Queen


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

Nate Parker and the birthing of a truly new nation: an exercise in potential healing.


This whole world is in need of some healing. I am so sad about this. But I see an opportunity. I see an opportunity for Nate Parker to truly show that he understands the severity of the situation. How? By supporting victims of sexual violence. As stats go - sexual violence and Black womanhood unfortunately, have a long history (read: slavery. I could go on here, but I won't.) Most women currently imprisoned in the US have had a history of sexual violence. This is not about the fact that he got off and so is "innocent"- this could have easily been the case even if he wasn't innocent. It would be great if courts worked that way. But we know better. This is about a young woman whose life after the attack took the usual road of self-destruction many victims of sexual violence exhibit. We need to all honor her life, and the millions others, who have lived and continue to live with the debilitating effects of sexual violence. This conversation needs to be shifted - instead of Parker using his energy to shy away or even deny it - and so the life of this women and the experience of so many women the world over - he ought to be advised to embrace this and be like, "You know what? I understand that this is an issue. And I am willing to commit to its healing." In this way, in my eyes, he will continue, with integrity, towards that path of fulfilling his role as a community leader. The path to liberation is no longer about binaries: black, white; left, right; innocent, guilty. The path to liberation requires new ways of thinking.  And I believe Nate Parker has what it takes. Or at least I hope he does. 

Country- the map to liberation


The life of a warrior writer is not easy. Its success lies in the messages I spin between this world and me. Here is my last performance, my debut of  'C O U N T R Y - the map to liberation': a word performance in Duisburg for the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research. 

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

In London


Introducing Zanubia Omar.


As many of you know - I've been teaching for many years. Nothing however, can ever compare to my four years at a small private school in Copenhagen - where I taught for 4 years. I miss the kids everyday - BUT every so often I have moments like this: a feeling of pride as they step into the future, fulfilling what they have so longed for. Such a former student is Zanubia Omar. Zanubia was in my first ever homeroom class- and that class - man, we had a ball. We went to Amsterdam together and I had a couple of the best years of my life teaching this class of motley kids whose background hails from Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq...I could go on, but trust me when I tell you the representation was not only broad, but soo enriching. I learned so much from these kids. Here's a taste of Zanubia's writing - published on Exile - which is an initiative started by Farhiya Khalid, a Somali writer here in Denmark.
Somalis make up the biggest group of people of African descent here in Denmark. It is with so much love that I invite you to read the words of Zanubia

A Love Letter to the People


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">The people of Copenhagen turned out to support Black Lives Matter movement and demand for total stop on war against Black People with powerful speech and songs from the African Diaspora in Copenhagen. See the turn out at the protest from 18:07 to 18:20 Last Thursday on July 14th, 2016 I was invited to speak at the Black Lives Matter protest demonstration here in Copenhagen. The event was arranged quickly and quite efficiently by Mary Consulate Namagambe  and Sade Johnson.  I know both women through the activism and events which they are both very active in either arranging and/or supporting for people of African descent here in Denmark. There was about 500 people who showed up to this beautiful demonstration. There were people who I knew from way back like photographer David Morrow (who also hails from the States), former colleagues and students. There were new friends, like Aka Mørch Pedersen- a young lady from Greenland with whom I have been having fascinating conversations with regarding her Inuit culture and her own writing and art.  There was Nazila Kivi - a literary critic at one of the largest papers in  Denmark and also an editor at Friktion magazine for gender, body and culture. Kivi, whose background is in Iran - writes from spaces other than the mainstream. Eritrean artist Miriam Firesewra Berhane Haile was also there among countless others who all came out to show their support for the BLM protest demonstration. Unfortunately, although I spent a lot of time preparing my speech - I inadvertently had left it at home! Here is the speech that I was meant to read:Thank you Sade and Mary and others who have taken the time to organize this event and for those of you who have contributed time and money.  Organizing events is no easy task and I am moved by the speed and enthusiasm in which this initiative has been met with and for the great solidarity expressed with BLM. If you want to know the health of the human race, look at how people of African descent are treated. A year & one day ago, Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell.  She was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Let me just start with the recognition that certainly things are not as bad here as they are in the U.S. But there’s a road that has been paved for these occurrences to happen there – and if we are not too careful, we can go down this road too.  Militarization of the police & violations of our personal freedoms are something that is already part of the post-9/11 narrative. Part of this road means not reckoning with history.  One of the tenents of the BLM movement is to critique the system. My name is Lesley-Ann Brown and I am originally from Brooklyn, New York. Some of you may know me as a teacher – whether I have taught you or your children.  Others may know me from my blog, or my poetry.  I’ve studied a lot of history and work as an educator and write sometimes. I studied writing and literature at the New School for Social Research, with a focus on Race & Representation. I have been blessed to work with many children who although they were born here have ye[...]

Human vs. Thing: Reflections on Theory and Practice


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">"We are talking theoretically. I am very angry. Are we going to talk theoretically, while people are dying?" -- Napuli Paul LangaIt's been a few weeks now since BE.BOP 2016 was held both in Berlin and here in Copenhagen and it's almost impossible for me to cover the deep and engaging content that I was privy too. There is one presentation however, which I feel to be timely, given the recent goings-on not only in my own life, but in the world at large. The presentation was by Napuli Paul Langa, the featured activist in the film, Napuli's Tree by Yoel Diaz Vazquez. The film captures the events of April 2014, when activists in 14 German cities organized protests, marches and creative actions in response to the "Refugee crisis."BE.BOP 2016 Black Europe Body Politics: Call &Response catalogue reads, "In an act of contemporary marronage, refugee and activist Napuli Langa took action by climbing a sycamore tree on Oranienplatz.  She remained there for five days, without food and defying the wind and weather in order to challenge the racist German asylum practices. Napili's protest which calls to mind the maroons' refuge to the mountains, stimulated a critical revision of numerous violent practices of German asylum policies, many of which are being re-thought and adapted. This vidoeart project honors Napuli Langa's spirit and vision by mirroring in the actual sycamore tree occupied by this Black warrior for 5 days, the struggles of today's colonially, equal to countless maroon rebellions." Napoli Paul Langa speaks at Be.Bop 2016 w/Gbenakpon E. Christel Gbaguidi looking onphoto courtesy of Miguel GomezDuring the presentation in Berlin, Napuli Paul Langa declared, “No one talks about Africa in the right way.” Her presence and words spoke about the particular violence towards Black people and who is arming/fueling this violence.  She spoke about the criminality that has been embedded in Blackness. “Where do we go?” She asked. “To another planet?” Was her guess, determined by the refugee narrative here in Europe thus far. Now let me remind you, dear reader of the unfortunate incident that took place on June 1st, 2016 in Berlin. Quartz Africa reports: Kenyan author and outspoken gay rights advocate Binyavanga Wainaina took to Facebooktoday (June 1) to detail an attack he says he suffered at the hands of a taxi driver in Berlin. In his characteristic stream-of-consciousness style, the author of One Day I will Write About This Place and the famous essay “How to Write About Africa” says he came to blows with a cabbie before a flight to Tanzania to see his “inlove.” while we gathered at BE.BOP 2016, in the very city where we congregated, where there were some of the world’s best minds in areas of decoloniality, arts, performance – a Kenyan writer was attacked while in Berlin while being on one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. Do Things Talk? New Materialism meets with Decoloniality Last Thursday I was invited to recite a poem for an event arranged by Dr. Olivia Rutazibwa, Postdoc Fellow, University of Portsmouth and Dr. Pol Bargues-Pedreny, Researcher, Institute for Development and Peace at the Centre for G[...]