And Still To Sleep by Terra Oliveira
And Still To Sleep is a collection of poems, prose, and black and white photography which touch on the impact and personal aftermath of transience, houselessness, and working under exploitative conditions. By untangling the weight of memory, And Still To Sleep weaves lucid recollections of past events throughout the wholeness and divinity of presence.
“In Terra Oliveira’s collection And Still To Sleep, the past is not gone; it is alive in language and memories. Oliveira gives an intimate look at a time of hunger, immense love, labor exploitation, dedication, uncertainty, effects of addiction, and houselessness. The period we are looking into is one of challenge, but in Oliveira’s remembering, there is an infallible resiliency. Perseverance is about feeling one’s feet on the ground, even when the terrain is shifting. These poems take us through a whole cycle of change, and yet what never disappears is Oliveira’s commitment to themselves. And Still To Sleep is the work of someone looking across the wild non-linear expanse of time, and sensing the interconnectivity of it all. Ancestral trauma is also woven throughout this narrative; the thread of remembering is constant. There is a pulse of connection with all that is in the world; just as there is a beat, a rhythm in this writing. The poem The Way reads like a song—whisper it to yourself and you will find yourself humming it, your foot tapping along to the musicality of the words. This collection is an acknowledgment of the rhythm constantly beating through life, on and on; the poems a place to both tangibly ground oneself and to become lost in the transfixing dance of non-presence.” — Lora Mathis, author of Instinct To Ruin
“Terra Oliveira’s latest work And Still To Sleep is a journey through hours and seasons, through soft mists, a meditation on the mundane and mystical. There is a careful use of presence and place, both in the photos and the written pieces, that remind us of the ways we inhabit different spaces and how they reflect our own consciousness. It evokes a melancholy suffused with hope, a persistent optimism through trauma and pain. Oliveira’s poetry, photography, and prose bind together to create a tender picture of grief, but also a divine healing.” — Catherine Garbinsky, author of All Spells Are Strong Here (Ghost City Press)
“And Still To Sleep encapsulates a multimedia story of healing in a way I’ve never seen before. Terra Oliveira is a tender poet, utilizing landscape photography to further process a toxic bond from the inside out. Oliveira turns outward in order to turn inward; they uncover the renewal of their spirit from the vibrations of Earth—trees, herbs. Their own heartbeat. They uncover purpose as place, and place as self, no matter the distance between the two. They grow roots that lead back to themself and continue to stretch into the next sunrise and the next and the next. And Still To Sleep leads us through a necessary journey through memory and resilience, stillness and self-compassion. A lesson in presence. A migration towards love.” — Kiki Nicole, poet
Terra Oliveira is a Philadelphia-based writer, the founder and editor of Recenter Press, and a youth program facilitator at The Free Library of Philadelphia. They are the author of poetry and visual art books And Still To Sleep (2018), An Old Blue Light (2017), and Processes: A Meditation (2017), and their work has been published in Hooligan Magazine, Prolit Magazine, and more. In April 2016, Oliveira participated in the Hope Villa Artist Residency in the Western Ghats of India, and they were the Artist-In-Residence at The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu at The Great Wall of China in March of 2017. Born and raised in the Bay Area, they received their B.A. in documentary film production from San Francisco State University in May 2014, where their work received the Student Film Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (CAAMFest) in Spring 2014.
In addition to their creative work, Oliveira is an organizer for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and a co-facilitator of bi-weekly nonviolent communication workshops. In the years since completing their degree, Oliveira has also had numerous stays and live / work exchanges at monasteries, meditation centers, ashrams, eco-villages, summer camps, farms, and intentional communities in California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, China, India, and Nepal. As a dedicated student and practitioner of numerous creative, spiritual, and revolutionary disciplines, these intensive retreats combined with serious study and political praxis are in direct relationship with Oliveira’s work. Central to their life is their home, their partnership, and family and friends, especially auntie-hood.
You can keep up with them on Instagram @terraoliveira_.
Written and photographed by Terra Oliveira. Author photo by Nicholas Sese. 30 pages. Black & White. Published by Recenter Press in December 2018.