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Rebellious Joy Resource Guide

Curator’s Note:

What is rebellious joy? Who gets to practice joy? Who can afford to express it? What is the distinction between rebellious joy and the capitalist co-opted self-care movement? How can rebellious joy be a tool for decolonization? We hope this rebellious joy resource guide might serve as a starting point to answering these questions. Additionally, we hope these resources will continue and extend the rebellious joy conversation catalyzed by our Rebellious Joy Issue contributors. 

To create this guide, we asked Seventh Wave staff, residents, contributors, and community what it means to be rebelliously joyful, what rebellious joy means to them, and what books, artwork, movies, and more they recommend as starting points for learning about rebellious joy within a creative context. This guide is a curation of our community’s responses, selected and annotated by our poetry managing editor, Emilie Menzel.

The resources within approach rebellious joy from various angles, including: claiming community connection, fighting grind culture, embracing physical pleasure, sustaining activism, imagining the future in the face of oppression, fighting for the right to beauty, and claiming the right to take up space. These resources are active and social context conscientious. 

Here are our community gathered suggestions for learning about rebellious joy, organized by genre: 

  • Fiction Books
  • Poetry Books
  • Nonfiction Books
  • Art and Performances
  • Projects and Organizations
  • TV Shows
  • Movies
  • Podcasts
  • Social Media
  • Music Playlist

Fiction Books

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha

What is more rebelliously joyful than daring to imagine a future, particularly when the present is so keen on denying you and your community that right? Octavia’s Brood is a collection of speculative fiction short stories that explores the role of science fiction in envisioning and catalyzing social change. Through the fantastical, these stories ask us to consider the reach of possibility for change in our communities, how purposeful imagining can propel social progress.

Luster, Raven Leilani
Recommended by April Yee (Issue 13 Contributor)

Luster follows the story of Edie, a twenty-something navigating the art, joy, anger, and hungering of living in Bushwick as a Black woman. Luster is a sharp, darkly witty, sensorially rich and sensual novel that asks us to consider “how do we even know what we want? How do we know we’re ready to take it?” (quote source)

Beloved, Toni Morrison
Recommended by Teri Vela (TSW Contributing Editor)

Toni Morrison’s entire rich portfolio could easily be used as an example of rebellious joy writing. In particular, Morrison’s novels are remarkable for this subject in their ability to examine and honor grief beside joy, their understanding  of grief and joy’s intertwined relationship. In Beloved, a formerly enslaved mother considers the limits of rebellious joy through her relationship with the ghost of her child. 

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter
Recommended by Swastika Jajoo (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

The bird in the rebirth myth is classically the phoenix, but in Grief Is the Thing With Feathers, think crow. This novella of vignettes begins with the sadness of a lost loved one—a father’s wife and two sons’ mother. At first the grief is consuming, but with time, fable, and fantasy, the family finds reimagination and comfort in a strange avian character.

There There, Tommy Orange
Recommended by Rashaan Meneses (Issue 11 Bainbridge Resident)

Sometimes, rebellious joy is a defiance to continue, to take up space, to exist. Interweaving essays and fiction, There There tells the story of “twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.” This novel records in piercing honestly the physical and psychological effects of the United States’ systemic erasure of Native land, homes, families, and traditions. These interwoven perspectives build a defiant record of “a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism.” (quotes source)

A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki
Recommended by Alysia Gonzales (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

A Tale for the Time Being tells the intertwined, time-turbulent stories of Nao (a teenager in Tokyo who has decided to end her life), Nao’s great grandmother (a 100+ year old Buddhist nun), and Ruth (a Japanese-American novelist in British Columbia). Through humor, time play, and metafiction, Ozeki’s novel explores understandings of home, identity, and family.

Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones tells the story of a family twelve days before Hurricane Katrina. As readers, we see the family’s experiences with the backdrop of the impending, history shaking storm, and yet Jesmyn Ward is able to render the small daily life joys and pains of the family powerful, important, rebelliously present and urgent. A family navigates sibling fights, love troubles, mothers, teen pregnancy, boyhood, and storms with equal tenderness. Ward’s novels are lyrical fiction at its finest, her characters so emotionally seen they could walk off the page. 

Poetry Books

Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz
Natalie Diaz recommended by Rachel Edelman (Issue 13 Contributor)

“Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic.” (source)

Odes to Lithium, Shira Erlichman
Recommended by Sarah Nielson (TSW Interviews Editor)

“Shira Erlichman pens a love letter to Lithium, her medication for Bipolar Disorder. With inventiveness, compassion, and humor, she thrusts us into a world of unconventional praise. From an unexpected encounter with her grandmother’s ghost, to a bubble bath with Bjӧrk, to her plumber’s confession that he, too, has Bipolar, Erlichman buoyantly topples stigma against the mentally ill. These are necessary odes to self-acceptance, resilience, and the jagged path toward healing. With startling language, and accompanied by her bold drawings and collages, she gives us a sparkling, original view into what makes us human.” (source)

Japanese Death Poems, compiled by Yoel Hoffmann
Recommended by Swastika Jajoo (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

“Although the consciousness of death is, in most cultures, very much a part of life, this is perhaps nowhere more true than in Japan, where the approach of death has given rise to a centuries-old tradition of writing jisei, or the “death poem.” Such a poem is often written in the very last moments of the poet’s life. Hundreds of Japanese death poems, many with a commentary describing the circumstances of the poet’s death, have been translated into English here, the vast majority of them for the first time.” (source)

The Black Unicorn, Audre Lorde

What guide to rebellious joy resources would be complete without mention of Audre Lorde? Lorde’s language, as described by Adrienne Rich, is “catalytic passion.” Like Lorde’s essays, the poems in The Black Unicorn use firm repetition and lyric as windows into quotidian life. Lorde’s poetry is piercingly persistent in both its frankness and in its insistence on the natural coexistence of grief and joy.

The Rest of Love, Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips recommended by Miguel Barretto García (Issue 13 Contributor)

“Carl Phillips examines the conflict between belief and disbelief, and our will to believe: Aren’t we always trying, Phillips asks, to contain or to stave off facing up to, even briefly, the hard truths we’re nevertheless attracted to? Phillips’s signature terse line and syntax enact this constant tension between abandon and control; following his impeccable interior logic, passionately austere (Rita Dove, The Washington Post Book World), Phillips plumbs the myths we make and return to in the name of desire-physical, emotional, and spiritual.” (source)

Letters to a Young Brown Girl, Barbara Jane Reyes
Recommended by Rashaan Meneses (Issue 11 Bainbridge Resident)

“The Brown Girl of these poems is fed up with being shushed, with being constantly told how foreign and unattractive and unwanted she is. She’s flipping tables and throwing chairs. She’s raising her voice. She’s keeping a sharp focus on the violences committed against her every day, and she’s writing through the depths of her “otherness” to find beauty and even grace amidst her rage. Simultaneously looking into the mirror and out into the world, Reyes exposes the sensitive nerve-endings of life under patriarchy as a visible immigrant woman of color as she reaches towards her unflinching center.” (source)

Homie, Danez Smith
Danez Smith recommended by Miguel Barretto García (Issue 13 Contributor)

“Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living. But then the phone lights up, or a shout comes up to the window, and family—blood and chosen—arrives with just the right food and some redemption.” (source).

Nonfiction Books

Pleasure Activism, adrienne maree brown
Recommended by kiki nicole (Rebellious Joy Community Member)

In Pleasure Activism, activist and enchanting visionary adrienne maree brown polls her community about how pleasurable experiences are acts of rebellion against systems of oppression. The essays within this collection range from pleasurable topics like science fiction to sexual empowerment to drugs—any and all experiences that help people find a way to persist and remain present, pleasure that others tell you is forbidden.  This might be the handbook for rebellious joy. 

The Book of Delights, Ross Gay
Recommended by Joyce Chen (TSW Executive Director), Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor), and April Yee (Issue 13 Contributor); Ross Gay recommended by Rachel Edelman (Issue 13 Contributor) and Teri Vela (TSW Contributing Editor) 

When our community thinks rebellious joy, we think Ross Gay. More than any other book, this beloved collection of essays was recommended as “an obvious entry” by multiple contributors and editors. The Book of Delights is the poet’s first nonfiction collection. These lyrical essays are a catalog of the “small joys we often overlook in our busy lives,” joy within gardens and friendships, within the context of oppression and complexity of “living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves.” (quotes source

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals, Saidiya Hartman
Recommended by kiki nicole (Rebellious Joy Community Member)

In Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Saidiya Hartman’s scholarship reconstructs public memory of “the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.” Hartman chronicles the complex relationship between freedom and desire for young Black women at this time, giving credit to how these women bravely redefined intimacy and kinship to shape a tremendous cultural movement. (quote source)

We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan, Lou Sullivan, edited by Ellis Martin and Zack Ozma

“We Both Laughed In Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan narrates the inner life of a gay man moving through the shifting social, political, and medical mores of the second half of the 20th century. Sullivan kept comprehensive journals from age 11 until his AIDS-related death at 39. Sensual, lascivious, challenging, quotidian and poetic, the diaries complicate and disrupt normative trans narratives. Entries from twenty-four diaries reveal Sullivan’s self-articulation and the complexity of a fascinating and courageous figure.” (source)

World of Wonders, Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Recommended by Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor)

“As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted—no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape—she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance.” (source)

The Body Is Not an Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor
Recommended by Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor)

“Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength.” (source)

The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy, Karen Walrond (forthcoming Fall 2021)
Recommended by Grace Hwang Lynch (Issue 13 Contributor)

Advocacy work takes an amazing amount of energy and perseverance, and sustaining such practice over years can be tremendously difficult. In The Lightmaker’s Manifesto, forthcoming this Fall, leadership coach, lawyer, photographer, and activist Karen Walrond offers approaches to activism that harness joy and avoid burnout. This book includes action-based exercises, plus conversations with contemporary activist leaders.

Art and Performances

Bad Gyal Cassiee
Recommended by Natachi Mez (Issue 13 Featured Artist and Contributor)

Bad Gyal Cassiee is a dancer, director, choreographer, and instructor of Afro dance. She shares Afro dance tutorials and Afro dance masterclasses filled with jubilant movement. The tutorials and classes are in French, but are simple to mirror and include English subtitles.

Black Imagination Project, Natasha Marin
Recommended by Rachel Edelman (Issue 13 Contributor)

The Black Imagination Project is a collaborative online exhibition and art experience space curated by conceptual artist Natasha Marin created “to center and amplify the resonance of … intersectional Black voices.” Each digital exhibition centers on a theme within the topic of Black expression, and includes contributions from a community of artists. Past exhibitions include “Ritual Objects,” “The g(l)istening,” and “Sites of Power.” The Black Imagination Project is the digital expansion of the book Black Imagination: Black Voices on Black Futures, which we also highly recommend.

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay and Bon Iver collaboration
Ross Gay recommended by Rachel Edelman (Issue 13 Contributor), Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor), and Teri Vela (TSW Contributing Editor)

In this video, Gay reads the titular, long poem from his collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude against the backdrop of Bon Iver’s atmospheric soundtrack. The poem itself is winding and conversational, open in its explorational listing of gratitudes within the contexts of gardens, friendships, and grief. Throughout, Ross Gay’s voice is soothing and clear. We recommend listening to this on repeat.

This Croc Will Die in 100 Days, Yuuki Kikuchi
Recommended by Swastika Jajoo (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

This endearing Japanese Twitter comic was created and released by Yuuki Kikuchi over the course of, surprise, 100 days. In the story, we the reader know the sweet anthropomorphic crocodile will die in 100 days (and are reminded of it with each day’s comic, courtesy of a death countdown), but the crocodile doesn’t know. The irony is that the unsuspecting croc’s life is full of small joys—waving to a child, ordering a futon, eating oranges—and within the context of an impending end, the joys become rebellious. 

hitRECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Recommended by Joyce Chen (TSW Executive Director)

hitRECord is a collaborative, creative platform founded by none other than actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The website allows users to upload “records” of creative projects (think records as in documentation rather than music) in order to find other artists interested in collaborating on the project. Other users can then “remix” these records. For example, they can remix an illustration into an animation, add music to a short film, etc. hitRECord is rebelliously joyful in that it approaches creativity (a practice often depicted as individualistic and isolating) as a community-built and community-building activity. 

Museo Frida Kahlo: La Casa Azul
Frida Kahlo recommended by Rashaan Meneses (Issue 11 Bainbridge Resident)

Few artists have captured the contemporary imagination as fully as painter Frida Kahlo. Her surrealist, folk-art portraits assert their presence through the context of chronic pain, femininity, and Chicana identity, not despite it. Thanks to the power of the internet, you can now take a virtual tour of La Casa Azul, the home in which Kahlo lived most of her life. The vibrant blue house is filled with paintings by Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as well as personal effects, folk art, photographs, and documents.  

Chapter and Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin, Meshell Ndegeocello
Recommended by Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor)

Chapter and Verse is an interactive ritual toolkit for justice inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, meant to offer visitors “a call for revolution” and “a gift during turbulent times.” Call a mysterious phone number to hear an unexpected assortment of meditations, songs, and atmospheric instructions; watch audiovisual testimonial responses to Baldwin; or enjoy printable broadsides created from Baldwin’s words and calls to action.

Projects and Organizations

Embodied Social Justice Summit

We know that traumatic experiences stay with us for years through the physical body. Social justice work, then, needs to include an understanding of how we liberate the trauma from our physical selves as well as from our communities, social structures, and thought patterns. That’s where the Embodied Social Justice Summit comes in. Researchers involved with the summit explore how somatics, movement, and body work intersect with activism. 

The Free Black Women’s Library

“The Free Black Women’s Library is a social art project, interactive installation and book collection that celebrates the brilliance, diversity and imagination of Black women writers. The library features a precious collection of 3000 books written by Black women, this collection also includes comic books, zines, journal, books on tape and other literary ephemera. The library provides monthly free gatherings that come with workshops, film screenings, book discussions, literary games, author features and radical conversations. The library provides an inclusive and loving space for reading, writing, resting, learning, creating and connecting. It is a community hub, love letter and resource.” (source)

Global Network of Sex Work Projects
Recommended by Avi-Yona Israel (TSW Director of Advocacy)

The Global Network of Sex Work Projects is an organization that advocates for the voices and rights of sex workers around the world. The project fights for the legalization of sex work, as well as for social acceptance of sex work as work, of sex workers and sex workers’ communities.

The Nap Ministry
Recommended by Bianca Ng (TSW Artist in Residence), kiki nicole (Rebellious Joy Community Member), and Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor)

The Nap Ministry works from the philosophy that “Rest is Resistance,” particularly within the context of racial and social justice. Founder of The Nap Ministry Tricia Hersey advocates that rest can be a form of reparations and a path toward community healing, and that The Nap Ministry draws inspiration from the Black Liberation Theology, Womanism/Womanist Theology, Afro Futurism, Reparations Theory, Somatics, and Community Organizing movements. The project uses performance art, sleep-ins, blogs, and social media to educate the community about systems of inequity that create and foster sleep deprivation.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
Recommended by Avi-Yona Israel (TSW Director of Advocacy)

A key theme of rebellious joy is physical pleasure, i.e. sexual freedom. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a group of 140+ organizations (including many mental health and law organizations) joined by the promise to advocate for sexual freedom and sexual autonomy, for consenting adults to be able to have sex when and how they please. The NCSF advocates particularly for BDSM, Swing, and Polyamory communities.

Orion Magazine

Orion Magazine shares “writing and art that explore the connection between nature and culture” and invites readers into a community of caring for the planet.” Orion distinctively brings together creative and analytical conversations about ecology, sharing interviews, book reviews, essays, poetry, and artwork. Each issue of Orion also includes a broadside of a poem. Rebellious joy favorites Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Ross Gay are both contributing editors. (quote source)

The Unplug Collective
Recommended by Natachi Mez (Issue 13 Featured Artist and Contributor)

Founded by Amanda Taylor and Zara Harding in 2019, The Unplug Collective offers a platform for Black women and gender-expansive people to discuss and share their personal stories about their experiences with body discrimination and mental health. Stories are shared through powerful written blog posts and photo series. Be sure to also check out the Unplug Collective’s social media presence for educational information about Black women and gender-expansive community and community history. 

TV Shows

I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel
Recommended by Joyce Chen (TSW Executive Director)

I May Destroy You is a semi-autobiographical tv show about finding joy after and amidst the trauma of sexual assault. The show follows London Twitter star and author Arabella (played by the director and writer of the show, Michaela Coel) as she seeks to remember and then grapple with the events of her rape. The characters and plot are twisting, dryly humorous, and hungry for empathy. 

Broad City, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson
Recommended by Alysia Gonzales (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

“[Broad City is] created by and stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer as 20-something best friends who are trying to navigate life in New York, despite that their adventures always seem to lead down unexpected and bizarre paths. They have very little money, but they are survivors who aren’t afraid to throw themselves into sticky situations, no matter how messy the end results may be.” (source)

Tuca & Bertie, Lisa Hanawalt

This delightfully witty, playful adult animation is directed by the production designer and producer of BoJack Horseman, Lisa Hanawalt. Like its predecessor BoJack, it takes place in a vibrant / semi-disillusioned town of anthropomorphic / hybrid / quick and wry cartoon animals. Unlike BoJack, Tuca & Bertie centers around female friendships—that between Tuca the Toucan (aka Tiffany Haddish) and Bertie the Bird, erm, Song Thrush (aka Ali Wong). Whereas BoJack leans bleak and bleaker, Tuca & Bertie maintains optimism as Tuca and Bertie navigate relationships, sex, sexism, and identity doubts. Tuca & Bertie is an absolute delight—a hilarious, heart-breaking, pull-you-back-up ode to the endurance of adult female friendships.  

RuPaul’s Drag Race, Nick Murray
Recommended by Teri Vela (TSW Contributing Editor)

This celebrated drag queen competition has been running for 13 seasons and is still going strong. The charismatic and endearing drag queen RuPaul hosts and judges, giving the season’s nine competitors challenges that test key drag queen skills (e.g. lip syncing, comedy, makeup, dance) and overall runway presentation. Fierce, campy, relishingly queer, i.e.: rebelliously joyful. 

Legendary, Rik Reinholdtsen

Legendary shines a spotlight (reality-tv-dance-competition-style) on the Black, Latin-American, queer and trans community of ball culture. Ball culture, as emphasized in the show, features ball competitions: events in which teams (called houses) face off one another in dance, lip-sync, model walk, and vogue showdowns. Hosted by Deshaun Wesley, indieWire calls it a “fantasia of ingenuity and beautiful queer culture.”

Pen15, Sam Zvibleman

“This comedy series depicts middle school as it really happened. Comics Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play versions of themselves as teenage outcasts in the year 2000, during a time when the best day of your life can turn into the worst with the stroke of a gel pen. Adult Maya and Anna—as their younger selves—are surrounded by actual teenagers as they re-experience some of the ups and downs of middle school life. They get a lot of unexpected attention on the first day of school and later face the temptation to do drugs.” (source)

Chef’s Table
Recommended by Joyce Chen (TSW Executive Director)

For many of us, having to cook dinner after a day of working in American grind culture can be more than overwhelming. It’s a gift, then, to have a chance to see cooking through the eyes of somebody who sees the activity as joyful. Chef’s Table is a documentary series that focuses on the stories and styles of famous chefs. Each episode focuses on a single individual with an almost meditative pace. Chef’s Table episodes are both colorful, deeply calming, and rebelliously joyful. 

Movies and Documentaries

State of Pride, Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein
Recommended by Ella Shapiro (TSW Writing Fellow)

In commemoration of the fifty-year anniversary of Stonewall, this YouTube documentary examines the impact and meaning of the pride movement. The directors Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein, known for their Oscar-winning documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, choose Raymond Braun as the host to frame stories from queer communities in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Tuscaloosa. 

Milford Graves: Full Mantis, Jake Meginsky and Neil Cloaca Young
Recommended by Natachi Mez (Issue 13 Featured Artist and Contributor)

This documentary offers a portrait of the mesmerizing creative prodigy and avant-garde jazz percussionist Milford Graves. The film is largely narrated by Graves himself—his percussion demonstrations, musings about the “swing” genre, and glimpses of his teaching in action. The production is composed of footage shot over 15 years, and one of the directors, Jake Meginsky, is one of Graves’ own students.

Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli animated films as a whole could be recommended as rebellious joy material. Like many of Miyazaki’s productions, this one explores Japanese folktale motifs within the context of environmentalism—humans’ push against nature and nature’s push back. In Princess Mononoke, “the protagonist, young Ashitaka – infected by an animal attack, seeks a cure from the deer-like god Shishigami.” In his search, he encounters Princess Monoke, a wild, fierce, and resilient young woman living with a community of wolves. (quote source)

Tiny: A Story About Living Small, Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller

There are many communities already involved in rebellious joy, and one of those is the tiny home movement. In this documentary, we see Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller build one such tiny home on a flatbed trailer. It’s cozy, eco friendly, and only 120 square feet big. 

The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Joe Talbot
Recommended by Alysia Gonzales (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

This semi-autobiographical film follows Jimmie and his best friend as he tries to recover his childhood home—an old victorian in a now deeply gentrified San Francisco, which Jimmie claims was built by his grandfather. The story explores the complexities of family history, adult male friendship, and racially divided community. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is heartbreaking, but rebelliously joyful in Jimmie’s insistence on home and home’s memory.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin
Recommended by Alysia Gonzales (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

The Associated Press calls it “sheer poetry on screen: an explosion of joy.” The Guardian describes it as “a ripe and gamey piece of what you might call Apocalyptic Southern Gothic.” This surrealist, dystopian drama tells the story of young Hushpuppy. When her father falls ill, nature mysteriously seems to follow. This film is rebellious joy in its emotionally honest and beautifully fantastical rendition of an impoverished family living in an isolated bend of the Mississippi River Delta. 

Nomadland, Chloé Zhao

This dramatic film is the story of a woman in her sixties who loses her job, home, and partner within the course of the Great Recession. She begins living in her van, crops her hair short, and starts travelling through communities in the American West. The production is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by journalist Jessica Bruder.


The Poet Salon, Gabrielle Bates, Luther Hughes, and Dujie Tahat
Recommended by Lauren Mallett (Issue 13 Contributor)

The Poet Salon is a conversational poetry podcast hosted by the delightful trio of talented poets Gabrielle Bates (a previous Seventh Wave contributor!), Luther Hughes, and Dujie Tahat. Each episode, a contemporary poet is invited to talk poetry with the group over a signature cocktail. A great source of tasty drink recipes and poetry inspo. Episodes are released monthly in pairs: one episode an extended conversation (an hour to an hour and a half long) and the other the writer reading their work (about 20 minutes long).

VS, Franny Choi and Danez Smith
Recommended by Miguel Barretto García (Issue 13 Contributor), Lauren Mallett (Issue 13 Contributor), and Teri Vela (TSW Contributing Editor)  

Clearly the Seventh Wave community associates poetry podcasts with rebellious joy. VS is a bi-weekly hour-long podcast hosted by Dark Noise Collective members and friends Danez Smith and Franny Choi. Each episode features an extended conversation with a contemporary poet about the writers’ muses, touchstones, and inspirations. The poets also read briefly from their recent work. The production is created as a project of the Poetry Foundation. 

Small, Big Wins, Harsh
Recommended by Swastika Jajoo (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

In this relatively new podcast, host Harsh interviews “people who heard a voice within, felt its insistence, and gave it form and meaning.” The intention of these interviews is to give people space to share their accomplishments, how they overcame a problem significant to them. To outsiders, these wins may appear insignificant, but the outsider’s perspective is unimportant here. Episodes are usually an hour to an hour and a half long. (quote source)

Still Processing, Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham
Recommended by Rachel Edelman (Issue 13 Contributor) and Jennifer Perrine (Issue 13 Contributor) 

How do the books, movies, shows, and music we’re consuming shape our experiences of life? The hosts of Still Processing—journalist and film critic Wesley Morris and journalist and culture writer Jenna Wortham—are still figuring it out. Each week, they gather to talk about culture, broadly, for about an hour. “That means television, film, books, music — but also the culture of work, dating, the internet and how those all fit together.” (quote source)

Good Ancestor, Layla F. Saad
Recommended by Sarah Ali (Issue 13 Editorial Resident)

In Good Ancestor, anti-racism educator and author of Me and White Supremacy Layla F. Saad interviews change-makers and culture-shapers, aka the good ancestors. Recent guests include Xicana medicine woman and decolonial healer Dr. Rocío Rosales Meza and climate justice and antiracism activist Mikaela Loach. Episodes are released weekly and are usually 60-80 minutes long.

On Being, Krista Tippett
Recommended by Rachel Edelman (Issue 13 Contributor) and Natachi Mez (Issue 13 Featured Artist and Contributor)

This widely loved podcast, hosted by the thoughtful and calming Krista Tippett, explores belief, spirituality, and philosophies of living within the context of the 21st century. On Being taps into these subjects through interviews with contemporary (and generally famous) authors, artists, and luminaries. Episodes are released weekly and generally run about an hour long. On the subject of rebellious joy, we particularly recommend Tippett’s interview with Seventh Wave contributor favorite Ocean Vuong. 

The Moth
Recommended by Ella Shapiro (TSW Writing Fellow)

It is an act of rebellious joy to tell your own story, to speak your version of truth when others don’t want it told. The Moth is a prime example of this philosophy in action. The podcast features audio of individuals telling stories of their lived experiences to a live audience. The Moth shares hour-long, themed episodes each week. Recent topics include money, self-image, beauty, love, and reckoning.

Social Media

Recommended by Natachi Mez (Issue 13 Featured Artist and Contributor)

ALOK is a gender non-conforming writer, performer, and fashionista working to degender the fashion and beauty industries. In addition to authoring multiple books, they actively share resources via their social presence: mini “book reports” on the history of gender identity and gender roles, conversations with degendering fashion advocates, and artistic fashion self-portraits. 

Rachel Cargle
Recommended by Lauren Mallett (Issue 13 Contributor)

Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, activist, and lecturer, and she’s at the helm of many a rebellious joy project. She curates The Great Unlearn, a monthly syllabus that uplifts the work of academics of color. She’s the founder of The Loveland Foundation, an organization established to making mental health resources available for Black women and girls. AND, she runs Elizabeth’s Bookshop and Writing Centre, which amplifies and celebrates marginalized authors. Follow her social presences for excellent life advice, reading recs, and selfies. 

Lifestyle Blog by Akwaeke Emezi
Recommended by kiki nicole (Rebellious Joy Community Member)

Not only are Akwaeke Emezi’s novels and young adult fiction books emblematic of rebellious joy—so is their home Shiny the Godhouse. Here, ivy climbs the mustard yellow walls, monarch butterflies rest in hands, and gardens birth pawpaw fruit, zucchinis, and birds of paradise. Here, Akwaeke’s ogbanje joy emanates in a world that tries to stamp it down.

Shira Erlichman
Recommended by Sarah Ali (Issue 13 Editorial Resident) and Sarah Nielson (TSW Interviews Editor)

Shira Erlichman’s social presence is kind of peak rebellious joy. Her twitter threads are the best sort of poems—the friend at your shoulder telling you to keep going. Her insta’s full of dance videos. She’s an advocate for mental health, gay pride, and her bae Angel Nafis’ smiles. And if that’s not enough, she’s also the founder of the portable creativity school In Surreal Life.     

Good News by Good Good Good

The news cycle thrives on bad news, and there’s certainly plenty to be had. Still, in order for us to maintain energy to keep finding these systems that tether us, we need sources of hope. Good News gathers these daily slivers of hope, reminding us that there are good people doing good work, even though it often goes unrecognized.

Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia

You’ve heard of Dear Abby, but what about Ask Baba Yaga? In this advice column (available in Instagram and book form), playful poet Taisia Kitaiskaia harnesses the curling, inventive voice of Baba Yaga (renowned witch of Slavic folklore) to offer answers to everyday life questions. To the person in their 20s seeking direction, Baba Yaga suggests crawling under the bed to find those dusty firebird feathers and salvage their glint. To the person looking to find their way into the revolution, Baba Yaga says “Pull yr Intellect from yr body like the spine from a fish.” The responses feel rebelliously joyful in their playful, honest approaches to a world that pressures us to grind forward with rigid modes of thinking. 

Amelia Hruby
Recommended by Bianca Ng (TSW Artist in Residence)

Amelia Hruby is practicing radical self love, and she’s making it happen through some amazing underwear selfies. Underwear selfies plus body-positive community, plus feminist declarations on resistance and abolition, plus rootedness, rest, and listening. Her social presence is community oriented, intentional, and full of resources for “rejecting patriarchal, white supremacist, ableist, heteronormative expectations for our bodies and our lives” (source).

Rebellious Joy Music Playlist

Because words are meant to be read, but also listened to: