[Ppnews] The Blue Afterwards: Mourning for Marilyn Buck

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 13 13:36:34 EST 2011

The Blue Afterwards: Mourning for Marilyn Buck
by Felix Shafer

You've gone past us now.
beloved comrade:
north american revolutionary
and political prisoner
My sister and friend of these 40 years,
it's over
Marilyn Buck gone
through the wire
out into the last whirlwind.

So begins "The Blue Afterwards: Mourning for 
Marilyn," a beautifully moving essay of 
mourning/remembrance/and reflection by Felix 
Shafer, longtime activist and friend of Marilyn Buck.

Readers/writers say:
What a beautifully touching memorial tribute to Marilyn!!!
i read it last night and was quite moved by the 
insights and your really authentic feeling for 
her life as a woman and revolutionary.
---Jack Hirschman, former poet laureate San Francisco

I felt many things as I made way through it; from 
exhilaration about what has been accomplished 
thus far to sadness about what has not; anger at 
our enemy and pride in being the enemy; sadness 
for those who have transitioned and deep, deep 
grief for the loss of this one of our most 
valuable warriors. You succeeded in evoking her 
spirit and I could feel and hear her as you described her many attributes...
---Curtis J. Austin, historian, professor, author 
of, "Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making 
and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party"

It is quite something. I feel your very personal 
love for her and also appreciate your ability to 
contextualize her in the struggles of her time, 
so many of which she was a part of. Sometimes 
your writing literally lifts itself off the page--so beautiful

---Margaret Randall, writer and poet
Shafer's incomparable meditation on Marilyn Buck 
is both illuminating and passionately astute to 
her heroic project of her uniquely engaged, 
compassionate, and creative politics.
--- David Meltzer, poet and teacher

Felix Shafer’s biographical sketch is so much 
more than just that, his critical analysis of 
Marilyn's Buck liberation trajectory adds unknown 
historical data, with a clear and impassioned eye 
towards showing us her brilliance and grace. This 
is a must read to begin to learn about Marilyn and her enormous legacy.
--- Susan Rosenberg, former political prisoner & 
author of "An American Radical: Political 
Prisoner In My Own Country" due out in March 2011
A few short excerpts follow. The entire essay can 
be found at http://marilynbuck.com/

Felix writes:

With time's increasing distance from her moment 
of death on the afternoon of August 3, 2010, at 
home in Brooklyn New York, the more that I have 
felt impelled to write a cohesive essay about 
Marilyn, the less possible such a project has 
become. She died at 62 years of age, surrounded 
by people who loved and still love her truly. She 
died just twenty days after being released from 
Carswell federal prison in Texas. Marilyn lived 
nearly 30 years behind bars. It was the 
determined effort of Soffiyah Elijah, her 
attorney and close friend of more than a quarter 
century that got her out of that prison system at all.

Her loss leaves a wound that insists she must be 
more than a memory and still so much more than a 
name circulating in the bluest afterwards. If 
writing is one way of holding on to Marilyn, it 
also ramifies a crazed loneliness. Shadows lie 
down in unsayable places. I'm a minor player in 
the story who wants to be scribbling side by side 
with her in a cafe or perched together 
overlooking the Hudson from a side road along the 
Palisades. This work of mourning is fragmentary, 
impossible, subjective, politically unofficial, lovingly
biased, flush with anxieties over 
(mis)representation, hopefully evocative of some 
of the 'multitude' of Marilyns contained within 
her soul, strange and curiously punctuated by 
shifts into reverie and poetic time.

It's my hope that others, who also take her life 
and death personally, will publish rivers of 
articles, reminiscences, essays, tributes, poems, 
in print and online. May the painters paint, the 
ceramicists shape clay, and the doers Do works 
and with her spirit! Will someone come to write a 
book length biography, one capable of fairly 
transmitting Marilyn Buck's many sided 
significance: her character, political 
commitments, creative accomplishment and 
all-too-human failings to people who never knew 
about her life? Is such a work possible about 
someone who lived nearly thirty years behind bars?
Marilyn was a writer, a dialectical materialist, 
a freedom fighter, yoga teacher and Buddhist 
meditator who did not suffer fools gladly. She 
was modest and graceful. Behind the wall she was 
a teacher and a mentor to young women new to 
being locked up. Decade after decade in the drab 
visiting rooms of MCC-NY, DC Jail, Marianna 
Florida, Dublin-Pleasanton California, dressed 
first in her own clothes-then later in mandatory 
uniform khaki-she emanated dignified Marilynness: 
that unforgettable, natural style.
Marilyn came of age in the red-hot crucible of 
the 1960s and '70s when large movements from 
every corner of the earth were on the upsurge, 
challenging capitalist-imperialism with demands 
for revolution. It was an era of overturnings and 
extremes. Marilyn grew up in Texas where racist 
and sexist dominator culture combined the toxic 
violence of america’s segregated south and cowboy 
west. She witnessed racism everyday and, by high 
school and college, grew determined to do 
something to help bring an end to war and white supremacy.
During Marilyn's powerful memorial celebration in 
Oakland, California on November 7, 2010, it was 
revealing to hear members of the Black Panther 
Party tell how her underground skills helped them 
survive the onslaught of Cointelpro. Marilyn's 
tribute in New York was held a week later at the 
Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center (formerly 
the Audubon Ballroom) in Harlem. As nearly 500 
people jammed the room where Malcolm was 
assassinated, a moving message was read from 
political prisoner/pow and freedom fighter Sekou 
Odinga­who was also convicted, in a separate 
trial, for the liberation of Assata:

             She was someone who would give you 
her last without any thought about her own 
welfare. I remember one time when she shared her 
last few dollars with a comrade of ours, and 
later I was in her kitchen and opened her 
refrigerator to find nothing in it and almost no 
food in the house. I told her she had to let 
comrades know when she was in need, and stop 
giving when she didn't have it to give. But she 
never stopped because that's just who she was.
             There have been very few actions to 
liberate PP/POW's and Marilyn was involved with 
more than one. The roles she played were critical 
in not only liberation of POWs, but also in 
making sure they remained free, never thinking 
about the great threat and danger to herself.
Marilyn is one for whom the word revolutionary is 
truly earned and, yet, it's also far short of 
encompassing. She was a woman with probing 
interests in the arts, culture and natural 
sciences. She was a wordsmith who loved to sink 
her hands into the clay, making ceramic art that 
she sent out to people all over the country. 
Marilyn was a prolific writer: well over 300 
poems along with scores of essays and articles, 
which were widely published both inside the U.S. 
and abroad. Her Master's thesis became the 
translation of Christina Peri Rossi's, State of 
Exile, published by City Lights in 2008. She won 
prizes from the international writer's 
organization PEN and published the chapbook, 
Rescue the Word, and the CD, Wild Poppies, in 
which she (via phone recording) joined celebrated poets reading her work.

Note: See her CD: Wild Poppies available from 
Freedom Archives & chapbook: Rescue the Word 
available from Friends of Marilyn Buck at http://marilynbuck.com/)
 From late 2007 to a month before her death 
Marilyn was involved, with a few of us on the 
outside, preparing her selected poems for 
publication. The idea for the book began in 
conversation with Raul Salinas: a great advocate 
of Chicano and Native American resistance, a 
former long term federal prisoner, poet and 
writer who passed away in February 2008. The 
volume, tentatively titled: Inside Shadows is a 
collective labor of love that we all believed 
would widen her readership beyond the label: 
prisoner poet. Together we daydreamed plans for a public launch and readings.

Note: Her poetic collaborators intend to see 
Inside Shadows published sometime in 2011. This 
is one aspect of our continuing collaboration 
with Marilyn. Check http://marilynbuck.com/ for 
this and other important ongoing information.

Again, the above are just a few excerpts from a 
wide-ranging, poetically interwoven memorial 
essay for Marilyn Buck by Felix Shafer entitled 
"The Blue Afterwards: Mourning for Marilyn.” The 
excerpts can’t come close to “doing justice” to 
the entire essay, which can be found at  http://marilynbuck.com/

And to view a short video of Marilyn Buck from 
the Washington, DC Jail in Spring of 1989

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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