Sekina, Viola Davis & Hattie McDaniel Make a Dadaist Film circa 1863 [2023 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize Featured Finalist]





Three vulva-shaped spaceships hover above an otherwise-empty plantation. From the middle of each spaceship, a hatch opens, and we see three women in space suits descend. These are SEKINA (20s, African, big mouth not fit for anywhere), carrying a boom box; HATTIE (20s, African, big attitude not fit for America); and VIOLA (20s, African, big ’fro not fit for Hollywood). They plant their feet on the ground & move cautiously through the field. Sekina stares into the camera for a moment, as if looking at something offscreen. But she is not. She is looking beyond the screen. She is breaking the fourth wall.

(to the camera)

We make no sense & that’s the point. Last century, I was caught in Louisiana with a smoked rib between my teeth. It belonged to a missing patroller. How was I supposed to know he needed it down in the dirt? They found his charred remains here & there: a leg in Mississippi, a thigh in Ozama, his dick somewhere in the Niger. What can I say, I travel fast. Lightspeed lady, my macabre myth precedes my making. I wake up with a pool of (my?) blood around my belly. I wasn’t supposed to be here & I mean that both ways.

Viola finds a golden statue somewhere in the field and waves it at the other women.

(to the camera)

I wasn’t supposed to be here & Rhett Butler wasn’t having that. But it’s true. The air here is fucking up my immunity. My maidsuit is a hazmat. My nigger English is some oral therapy. I want my children to know the blues only as birdsong. Not the soundtrack to the melancholy of their lives. Who am I kidding? You probably know how this story ends. You probably know how I end. You probably know I don’t end.

Sekina finds a jar of Glossine, waves it at the other women.

(to the camera)

It never ends. They don’t recognize me without the snot. I come free with the tragedy. They all come here for my black bottom. My Hottentot Venus magic. That jigaboo jungle fever. They think my hair is all wild roots & then some. They think I’m most beautiful when I cry for my man to come home. A nigger-faced banshee at her own funeral. A black face in blackface. Which is to say I’m fire & blood & flesh & bone, but the color is the only thing that makes the news. Ain’t that something? Ain’t that America?

The MUSIC STOPS. The three women stand still, looking at something offscreen. They look terrified. A bright, white light washes over them.  We no longer see them, the screen enveloped in white. But we hear the loud, thunderous voice of a woman presenting our outro, her voice constricted like an announcer on a vintage radio, she manages to pierce through the white noise:


“. . . a need to be in an atmosphere that is free, that is open, that is striving for truth and not somebody else dictating to you how to do your thing which you know how to do better than anybody else . . . I wanna do this the way I wanna do it. I wanna determine my own destiny. I wanna determine how I am to speak. I wanna be me. I wanna be human . . . we dress a certain way, we walk a certain way, we talk a certain way, we create a certain way . . . in a different, unique, specific way that is personally ours . . .” 

The white disappears and we see the women again. The loud voice is gone. All three women take a collective deep breath. And smile.




Kanyinsola Olorunnisola is a multi-disciplinary experimentalist of Yoruba descent. He has received the AWP Intro Journals Award for Creative Nonfiction, the Don F. Hendrie Jr. Prize in Fiction, the OutWrite Chapbook Prize, a Speculative Literary Foundation’s Diverse Writers Grant, and a Truman Capote Scholarship, among others. He’s published two chapbooks: Shakespeares in the Ghetto (Neon Hemlock, 2023) and In My Country, We’re All Crossdressers (Praxis, 2018). He is an MFA student at the University of Alabama.