Sheree "Lovemestiza" Brown, local herbalist and poet, has been working on her first book of poetry for years. Finally, she's ready to release it into the world.
“I want this to stand on its own as a body of work that is a reflection of me and all of those years culminating to a turning point,” Brown says. “I definitely have turned the corner from this book, and there are certain parts of me that are different from the woman that wrote this book. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with letting this work stand on its own, letting it breathe, letting it be, because I just feel like it needs to be out.”
Her book, titled lovemestiza, reflects on her life's journey up until now. It is divided into four parts, each revealing a different piece of her evolution. She chronicles her ancestry, her struggle with depression, motherhood and how she became an herbalist.
One trait her book focuses on is "the shadow," which she learned was not something to fear, as she worked through depression and a sense of disconnect from her own body.
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“It was in the darkness that I found gifts,” she says. “At some point, when you awaken to the illusion that darkness is all scary, I actually found that I felt very held in the darkness. I liken that experience to ... you know, being in our mother’s womb in darkness. So I very much so felt held and protected by the people surrounding me at those times and all of the gifts and connections I found within myself and beyond myself in that time.”
During challenging periods of her life, friends offered her different plant-based elixirs that aided in her healing. Throughout the book, she includes different recipes that reflect plants she was connected to at particular points during her journey.
Rose was one plant that she cultivated a relationship with during tumultuous times.“Not only did I need the heart-opening aspects of rose, but I also needed the thorns of rose, of learning to create boundaries within myself and out of myself in relation to the world," she says. "You need the rose’s sweetness and openness, but you also need that boundary medicine, and that’s something the rose can give.”
The more connected someone is to the spirit of a particular plant, the more powerful that plant's medicinal impact will be, she says.
“My journey looks like exploring my Mexican ancestry and my African-American ancestry,” she says. “I know that I have Native American ancestry as well. So trying to make sense of all those ancestors, I feel very connected to the plants of the Southwest. This is my home, and so you start finding which plants come from certain regions and work with those and connect with the plants of the land in which you were born on. I feel like it’s very much so just as much an ancestral journey as [medicine].”
Similar to her work with plants, writing poetry has been a source of clarity and understanding for her.
“When you’re writing consistently, your journals become your confidant,” Brown says. “They’re the things that are listening to you the most.”
She likens writing to offering a prayer.
“I find [myself] asking to connect to something if I’m having an issue,” she says. “I’ve had a few moments where I was getting a connection, and you get that voice in your head: ‘Write. Write this down right now.' And I’ll keep going, and it almost doesn’t feel like my words. It feels like a grandma talking to me, 'Get out of your head, Sheree. We have this message for you. It’s time to heal. You’re going to be fine.’”
For the release of her book, Brown and her partner, fellow artist and cohost of the Brown Genius podcast, Adrian Molina, who performs as Molina Speaks, are inviting their community to participate in ritual. Molina will premiere his first, full-length feature film Root.
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To create a sacred space for their art, they will have a mandatory phone check for audience members and no alcohol. Why? To help people be fully present and get out of their heads and into their hearts, Brown explains.
Brown and Molina influence each other as artists, and Brown is excited to see the completed pieces stand on their own, side by side.
“So much of my poetry book is about him, myself and our journey,” she says. “I have cameos in the film. But these two bodies of work, for as much as they have influenced each other, they’re very different, and they stand on their own. In some ways, we wanted to do this together, to ceremoniously wrap up those experiences and to have these two beautiful reflections, because both of our pieces are dialoguing with each other…I’m excited to see how they speak to each other standing next to each other.”
Invitation to Ritual: Sheree “Lovemestiza” Brown and Molina Speaks, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 31, McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, 720-865-4220.