Archive for the ‘bianca spriggs’ Category

By Bianca Spriggs


For the past six months, Angel and I have been co-conspirators for a number of projects. We even shot a short film about mermaids this month, called “Waterbody.”

One of the nice things about shooting your own film is that you don’t have to say, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if they had included such and so in the movie?” You just throw  it in. And lately, Angel has turned our crew onto the lure of building blanket forts. We’re all a little obsessed with them right now.  Even our videographer stoked the flames a bit with this clip from a TV series called, Community, where the characters build a gi-normous blanket fort that takes over a college dorm.

So, we decided that we needed a grown ‘n sexy blanket fort in our film. Here’s how you create your new BFF…Best Fort Forever.

Step 1: Do the opposite of the J-Lo song and get off the floor. Part of what’s so great about a BFF is that it feels like having breakfast for dinner. It breaks the rules. You string a bunch of blankets up and sleep on the floor. Problem is, if you’re grown ‘n sexy, you don’t get to wait for Mom ‘n Dad to show up and help you put all those blankets and pillows back where they belong. Skip the hardwood and use your own bed as your blank canvas. You can enjoy your blanket fort a lot longer this way, too.

Step 2: A BFF is different than a bed canopy because pre-made bed canopies are meant to merely suggest encampment. Usually they match, are sheer, and kinda billowy. And they’re not strung up with fishing or clothes line. We want the opposite of suggestion. First thing you need to do, dig up all the tapestries and swathes of fabric you might have packed away. I don’t know, you might have traveled somewhere and couldn’t figure out what to do with that bright jewel-toned sari you just had to have. Now’s the time to pull it out. A BFF is all about the texture. The more varied the layers, the better. Mix up prints and patterns with sheers, silks, and cotton. Don’t have a ton of fabric? Time for a Goodwill run! Use complimentary comforters or quilts on the bed itself and tons of pillows to give it that authentic blanket fort feel.

Step 3: A ladder, some fishing line, a few nails, and some clothes pins walk into a bar. Well, not really, but if you don’t have a poster bed, you’re going to need to hang the fabric from somewhere. String your line from nails fairly high in the wall. You can go circus big top tent, or you can go more intimate camping tent. Adjust the levels however you like. Just get it up high enough so that the edges of the fabric are brushing the surface of the bed. You might want a friend to help. And definitely a ladder. I like the idea of fishing line because it’s almost invisible and sturdy. But clothing line or a hemp rope would probably be better for heavier fabrics and could give your BFF that rustic feel. For a more authentic BFF feel, you can use clothes pins to strategically hold up your fabric from the line. Don’t like the bare wood and spring look? Get fancy! Paint em gold! Or use clothes pins strategically hidden.

Step 4: Lighting is everything. Once you layer your the fabric the way you like it, you want the right lighting otherwise your BFF will look like a BHM (Best Hot Mess). You want someone to walk in your room and say, Ooooooo, not Ewwwww. We used string Christmas lights, icicle style. You can use rope lights, but they get super hot. But here’s where you can get really creative. Blue lights? Pink lights? The world is yours. String them from the top of the BFF, line the headboard, whatever you like! If you’re feeling really froggy, black out your windows with drapery for that occasion so it’s like a slumber party any time of day in your room!

Step 5: That extra special something. Here’s where your own special sauce comes in. I’d tell you the secret ingredient to our BFF which sort of raises the bar for all blanket forts everywhere, but then I’d ruin the surprise in our short film. All I’m gonna say is, “Doncha wish your BFF was hot like ours?”

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak of ours before we all got in there. Happy forting!

Photo courtesy of Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design


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By Bianca Spriggs


Fairly recently, Angel and I were out shopping at a well-known craft store and I took her one by one through an aisle of journals and sketch books. I picked each one up carefully and showed them to her like I’d stumbled upon a trove of precious gems. “I like this one ‘cause it’s red. I like this one ‘cause it’s got perforated pages. And this one ‘cause it’s got a faux alligator skin cover.” And so on and so forth. I was pretty much going through my Lawrence from The Glass Menagerie.  Finally, Angel, who’d been fairly patient, blurted, “If you show me one more empty book of paper….”

One of the things I love about a brand new journal, and I suspect, the lure of an unexplored camera lens, is the untapped potential. You have no idea what you’re going to trap. I mean, you may set out to capture one image and find yourself with something completely unanticipated and all the more pleasurable for that reason.

Angel and I are currently facilitating a program called, “The Swallowtail Project” through the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. Essentially, every week, for at least the next year, we have received funding to go into the federal prison in our city and offer a creative writing workshop to women who are incarcerated there.  On our first day, we were invited to take a look at the quilts a group of the women had made to give away to young children in need:

"Quilt 1," Photo courtesy of Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design

"Quilt 2," Photo courtesy of Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design

For my workshop, I run the creative writing part, Angel documents the workshops with her camera and provides portraits for the women. One or two representatives from KDVA also are present to help aid the women should someone get particularly emotional as they write. Our wish is that over the next year (and beyond, we hope) we’ll have enough material for an exhibit, a documentary, and a publication showcasing these women’s work and their stories.

Because I believe to become a good writers, you must first foster good reading habits, we’ve been giving copies of writing guides and books of poems to the women who have elected to join our workshop. But in addition to the reading materials, we knew up front we’d like to make sure they had their very own spot to focus their writing specifically for the workshop. So, you can imagine, I felt a little like Oprah when I got to announce, “I’ve got JOOOOUUURRRRNNNAALLLLSSSS!”

Simple black journals.

They’re sort of small at 6”x9”. Some are unlined. Some are lined. Some are saddle-stitched, some perfect bound. Every single one of them were blessedly empty when I gave them away. Thirty-two in all. Thirty-two tomes yet to be written. Thirty-two collections of their responses to the writing exercises, their innermost thoughts, daydreams, nightmares, meditations and prayers, wishes, doodles, and scratched-out words. Thirty-two amoebas waiting to evolve. Thirty-two empty books of paper waiting to be filled. And to a journal enthusiast like myself? Well, that, is a beautiful thing. About as beautiful as dozens of hand-stitched quilts hanging from the line, waiting to keep someone who deserves them warm.

"Quilt 3," Photo courtesy of Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design

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By Bianca Spriggs


Hi, folks. I’m Bianca Spriggs. Welcome to my stint as guest blogger for Tidal Basin Review. In my own time, I primarily blog for a local newspaper, and I also sporadically keep up with my own blog, “Best Invention Ever of the Day.” So, I thought, for the month of June, it’d be kind of fun to take my best inventions and bring them to TBR, sort of like a foreign exchange blog. In conjunction with that, to feature the best images possible, I’ve employed the eye and lens of Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design. I hope you enjoy the view from our border state.

It’s June, and for the first time, consistently feeling every bit like summer. If you’ve never been to Kentucky during this season, just imagine wading through vegetable soup that kinda smells like mulch and you get the idea. But what a riveting cornucopia of green the summer brings. It’s the perfect scenery for a road trip.

This past Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, I took a field trip with some of the staff from Pluck! The Affrilachian Journal of Arts and Culture, on a hunt for our ongoing photo essay documenting black folks who are from or who still live in the mountains. We were en route to a place called, Lynch, Kentucky, smack dab in the middle of coal country.

Photo: Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design


It’s a touchy issue around here because most of the people who live in coal country come from a long and strong mining tradition which has existed as the livelihood for many a community. However, the environmental and health issues that arise because of the effects of mining coal are complex and ever-evolving. If you’d like to learn more about the effects of mountaintop removal, I’d suggest starting with this Op/Ed from novelist Silas House.

Lynch is the kind of place where strangers call you, ‘Baby,’ and park your car for you in a tight spot. It’s also a place where you wave to people. And I don’t mean just wave to your friend, I mean you wave to everybody.  By the end of the day, I started to feel like I’d wandered into a Dr. Seuss rhyme scheme: “I wave to people from the car, I wave to people near and far, I wave at people right to left, from the corner church to the porch steps….” It’s amazing how soon you get used to having your hand in the air, a slight smile touching the lips, a “How you doin’?” to the fellas astride their motorcycles, the brothers popping open a beer in front of the grill, the mothers keeping tight eyes on their children. Waving is the most efficient way to feel like part of the community.

And Lynch is a small community. Having dwindled down from a population of 15,000 to something more like eight or nine-hundred, house after house in the valley stands abandoned, and entire streets that used to wind up the mountainside have been reclaimed by the flora and bears and rattlesnakes. People have moved away searching for greener pastures, or they’ve died. But because it’s Memorial Day Weekend, everyone comes home for a quasi-family reunion, goes to church to listen to a sermon by the pastor who’s also Chief of Police, eats BBQ, cleans off the family cemetery plot, plans to go to ‘The Club’ later. There’s plenty of dancing, laughing, and the occasional firing of pistols at empty beer cans to go around, even for the strangers. 

And while I’d gone into the mountains expecting to be more of a passive observer, I suppose I wasn’t expecting to be embraced so fiercely by people who look like they could be my own kin. For someone who hasn’t really kept close with her extended family, it meant a great deal. So we promised we’d come back for a wedding in August. And drop by the official family reunion in September.

So, what does any of this have to do with a classic black Sharpie®? Well. Sometimes you just have to leave a little something of yourself behind with a place that’s just gifted you such resonant memories.

It goes like this. We pulled over for this view:

Photo: Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design


And the railing alongside the highway was covered in tags (and crawling with spider mites). Sweethearts, tourists, people just passing through, seemed to feel a little like we did going home and left messages to whomever would read. What is it about humans that we have to make our mark? Make sure people know we were there? That we want to leave something behind for folks to remember us by? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know we were mighty glad to find a stray Sharpie® in the car so we could do the same.

Happy summer, everyone! It’s gonna be a great month.

Photo: Angel Clark of Parkour! Media Design

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Photo: Rebecca Gayle Howell
Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Bianca Spriggs, is a freelance instructor of composition, literature, and creative writing.  She holds degrees from Transylvania University and the University of Wisconsin. Named as one of the Top 30 Performance Poets by TheRoot.com, Bianca is a recipient of an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and serves as the creator and Artistic Director of the Gypsy Poetry Slam featured annually at the Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Having lived most of her life in Kentucky, Bianca’s poems reflect the trials and triumphs of growing up as a woman of color in a border state. Heralded as “the new standard bearer for the Affrilachian Poets” by founding member, Frank X Walker, Bianca Spriggs is the author of Kaffir Lily (Wind Publications), How Swallowtails Become Dragons (Accents Publishing), and her work may also be found in the anthologies, New Growth: Recent Kentucky Writings, America! What’s My Name? and the journals, Pluck!, Union Station Magazine, Caduceus, Alehouse, Torch, and the Appalachian Heritage Magazine.

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