“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined, and heard my cry.”
9/6: the book of Mother
9/18: the book of Oral
10/2: the book of The Compound
10/16: the book of Munna
11/13: the book of My Baby Brother
11/27: the book of Uncle Ronnie
12/11: the book of Her Habeus Corpus
12/18: the book of My Sweet Lord
1/1/2017: the book of This Sinner Self
Happy New Year 2016- ladies, gents, and otherwise disposed.
Here’s how this is going to shake down: every other Sunday — starting in September of 2016 — I’ll be posting a “book” of 33 Instagrams.
At twelve, my grandfather climbed into his Prayer Tower and said he’d die if he didn’t get $8 million; I was a gay kid living on a Pentecostal compound with an autographed photo of Ronald Reagan on my desk. At eighteen I left most of that behind, rarely looking back.
This is a serial project enlisting my own reporting, photography, and memory to take one last look at that not-quite-yet-buried life: between September & January, I’ll be posting a 300-post Instagram account of this story — 9 books of 33 Instagrams each — and that’ll be all she wrote.
Recently, Harvard’s Nieman Storyboard profiled this project in their “Why Is This So Good?” series; @thebirdiejean has also been excerpted in three publications: The Revealer published an excerpt from Book IV; The Virginia Quarterly Review, from Book V; The Guardian, from Book VI.
special thanks to:
David Duncan — for masterminding how to make this series visibly lisible
Tanja Hollander — for being the kind of photog mentor I could text at 3 a.m.
Sarah Szabo — for agreeing to run around ORU in a tuxedo
Nick Weaver — for agreeing to run around ORU in a dress
Jeff Sharlet + Neil Shea for teaching me the glory of the Instaessay
Jim Burroway and Matthew Sitman for helping me with the trickier parts
— this project is dedicated to my children
and to my Uncle Ronnie, may he rest in peace—