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  • Nicole (Johnson) Williams

30. finding synergy

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

synergy – (noun) the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.




As I continue to study this text and mine for meaning in the words chosen by the author, I’m also understanding how the current movement lives in my own body. I must say that in learning the choreography for myself (the first two times I set the piece, I didn’t make the movement for me), I’m finding movement that a) doesn’t feel great/intuitive in my body, and b) doesn’t reflect the intuitive movement style that I’ve been exploring in my improvisational sessions, and c)doesn’t necessarily support the text or intent. I went into the studio this weekend to learn more about the movement. I also took a dive into the rest of the poem, which is annotated below:

  1. I enter old places bearing your shape

  2. Bear – (verb) carry the weight of; support 

  3. Bear – (verb) endure (and ordeal or difficulty) 

  4. Trapped behind the sharp smell of your anger

  5. In a 2015 study, researchers determined that, “Behavioral results indicate that chemosignals of aggression induce an affective/cognitive modulation compatible with an anxiety reaction in the recipients.” I found this to be an interesting connection to this line, as I’m also thinking about the sensory description of the smell of anger. 

  6. And I hear the high pitch of your voice crawling out from my hearts deepest culverts

  7. I wonder about how and why the lines are broken up the way they are. I also wonder why “hearts” has no apostrophe. Is this possessive? 

  8. Culvert – (noun) a tunnel carrying a stream or open drain under a road or railroad 

  9. Compromise is a coffin nail 

  10.  According to Cambridge Dictionary, the final nail in the coffin refers to an event that causes the failure of something that had already started to fail 

  11. rusty as seaweed 

  12. BYJU’S learning website explains rust as the following: … rust is formed from a redox reaction between oxygen and iron in an environment containing water (such as air containing high levels of moisture). The rusting of iron is characterized by the formation of a layer of a red, flaky substance that easily crumbles into a powder.

  13. Again, we see the water theme emerging here, as she talks about something that was doomed to fail from the start 

  14. tiding through an august house

  15. Tide – (verb) drift with or as if with the tide  

  16. more water

  17. August – (adjective) respected and impressive 

  18. My pathways are strewn with old discontents

  19. Strewn – untidily scattered 

  20. Outgrown defenses still sturdy as firebrick

  21. Firebrick – According to VICTAS (a global manufacturer of refractory materials), firebrick is a refractory ceramic material used in lining furnaces, kilns, fireboxes, and fireplaces. A refractory brick is designed mainly to withstand high heat…

***This is where the choreography in this solo begins***

  1. To absolve me at any price

  2. Absolve – (verb) set or declare (someone) free from blame, guilt, or responsibility 

  3. Becoming my mother draped in my fathers bastard ambition

  4. I realize that there is no punctuation in the piece except for at the end of each stanza 

  5. Bastard – (adjective) (or a thing) no longer in its pure or original form; debased 

  6. Growing dark secrets out from between her thighs

  7. Dark secrets” speaks to something full of shame 

  8. From between her thighs” – referencing something she has birthed or can birth; sexuality

  9. And night comes into me like a fever

  10. Night = in a Google search of what “night” can symbolize, some concepts that emerged included: death, darkness of the soul, loss of faith; vulnerability and danger for human physical survival; grief

  11. Symbolism.org had this to say about night: Daytime is related to the masculine, active principle and to the conscious state within mankind. In contrast, nightime is related to the feminine, passive and unconscious principle. Hesiod called night “the mother of the gods” because the Greeks believed that night and darkness preceded the creation of all things. Hence night, like water, is expressive of fertility, potentiality and germination. It is an anticipatory state which promises the coming of day. As J.E. Cirlot notes in A Dictionary of Symbols, within “the tradition of symbology it has the same significance as death and the color black.”

  12. Here, there’s a simultaneous presence of all three (self, mother, and father), acting independently, yet all influencing the author 

  13. While an arrogant woman masquerading as a fish

  14. Arrogant – (adjective) having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities 

  15. Masquerade – (verb) pretend to be someone one is not 

  16. FishPubMed.org describes the psychological meaning of the fish: The symbolic connotations of the fish and its reflection of unconscious processes are seen as mythological vehicles of liberation from sexual repression and concomitant social oppression.

  17. Into the heart we both share like beggars

  18. Imagining how beggars would share a valuable thing… perhaps they’re desperate for it 

  19. On this moment of time

  20. I notice she says “on” instead of “in.” I wonder about this choice 

  21. Where the space ships land

  22. I’m still thinking about this line. I’m not sure how to interpret it yet 

  23. I have died too many deaths that were not mine

  24. This line alludes to the generational traumas that have informed her present reality/view of self 

  25. Here, she’s acknowledging that these “deaths” are not hers to bear and perhaps is taking back some power in denouncing them

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