Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm at Cave Canem!! It's my first night and I'm so excited I can barely contain myself. After brief and emotional introductions, we all scurried to our relative places of interest. Some of us to work on poems, others to hang out and talk, others to start the party. I just worked on a couple of poems. They're flowing freely because it's been a couple of days since I last wrote. I'm also working on a short story while I'm here to turn in.

The group of folks here is absolutely amazing. And the faculty is as well. I can't wait to say more, but for now, I'm off to write so I can then go - you know - party.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

I just received word about a series of articles being published by the Miami Herald on Afro Latinos. The title of the series is A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans.

So, I read through all of the articles that are currently up. The last one goes up this coming Sunday. The articles are somewhat simplistic, and definitely based on a U.S. lens on race and racial identity. Specifically, in their insinuation that we are (just now) going through a cultural and civil-rights awakening. What would you call the Haitian Revolution? And the struggles of garifunas along the Central American coasts for the last 500 years? And the struggles of indigenous first nations populations to maintain land? And the quilombos and other maroon communities THROUGHOUT Latin America? And Salsa and other music? Anyway...that's just my critique of articles that I was all to happy to read as well- -even as I muttered allowed.

In an article I wrote on Afro-Latina identity earlier this year, what I point out is that policies on race in Latin America, beginning before the Black Codes in French and Spanish colonies, but becoming solidified and extended through that process, actually put Blackness and Indigenous-ness at the center of criollo identity. Without a one-drop rule to segregate people into black and white, what you have is a society that is constantly defined by color/caste complexities that are based on African-ness and Indigenous-ness. For many folks from the U.S., it is difficult to understand how race functions within a Latin American context outside of the one-drop rule, and so it is difficult to understand the complexities of race in a context where everyone (or the majority) are folks of color.

And it's not so simple. Blackness is both a category of slavery and colonialism and a marker of resistance to slavery and colonialism. It depends on how the identity develops - and what it depends on are narratives of nationality, citizenship and political/social/economic participation. The Black Codes are primary policies influencing racial identity and relationships, but these were followed up by other state-enforced policies after the development of the nation state. So, while in the D.R. we did not have Jim Crow laws, we did have laws regulating identity. Plantation economy was at the heart of social-political-economic colonial relations during the rise of the nation-state, rather than the Western expanionism that defined U.S. colonialism. That is not to say that there were no designs on "expansion" among other colonial powers, but in the era of the nation state following the liberation movements of Latin America, U.S. expansionism has come to define a particular cultural/social/political reality that differentiates this country from the others in this hemisphere.

Therefore, the mere fact that one does or does not identify as "Black" specifically in Latin American contexts does not necessarily indicate self-hate or a denial of Africanity or Indigeneity. But a U.S. writer claiming that it is so does indicate a limitation in the analysis and understanding of how race formed outside the U.S.

Again, this is not to deny that racism does exist. It exists. And in really painful ways, as clearly illustrated in the articles in this series. And what it exists for is to maintain economic and political inequality.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The interview I conducted of Samira Abbassy, the Iranian born British painter, is now up online at A Gathering of the Tribes magazine. We conducted the interview in January 2006, and I'm so psyched to see it up. She's an awesome painter and has really beautiful work. A Gathering of the Tribes magazine is also full of interesting reviews, features and interviews.

Also in this issue, A Talk with Amiri Baraka, a review of the Global Feminisms show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Word and Spark: Ishle Yi Park and Kaya Press Poets at the Asian American Writers' Workshop, and an interview with Samia Halaby.

Check it out!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I just got word from Chandra Stapleton - the producer of Eddie, the movie - that Frameline will be premiering this Saturday in San Francisco at the Frameline 31 Film Festival. It's going to be at the Castro Theatre. How awesome! If you're in S.F. you should go check it out. It's part of the Girls Shorts.

Also, I'm heading out east next week. In part to see folks at home, but I'll also be able to see D'Lo's show Ramblations. So that's where you'll catch me next week. It's going to be at the Flea Theatre, as part of the Asian-American Theatre Festival.

Then off to Cave Canem in Pennsylvania!

Sharon Bridgforth's show love conjure/blues is up this weekend, as is The New American Talent Show (it's featuring Wura-Natasha Ogunji's work - she's the artist who did the artwork for Erzulie's Skirt book cover).

My writing on the body project is going well. I'm moving right along and having a great time.


Monday, June 11, 2007

It's been a hectic couple of weeks. On Friday, we had an awesome event at Bolm Studio #2 - a poetry reading and open mic. Some folks read poetry, others did monologues and it was one person's first read in a long time (maybe first read at an open mic?). We had fun.

This past weekend, besides watching lots of films, W. and I made one for my poem: "A Dream in Five Movements".

It's a rough cut, given that it was my first go at this. And I had fun. I might get more into this.

This week is Sharon Bridgforth's opening of love conjure/blues text installation. It's all very exciting.

Friday, June 01, 2007

So, the Lambda winners were announced last night. Congratulations to all the folks who won! Yay. I was not a winner this time around, but I am honored that I was a finalist.

On another note, A Gathering of Tribes magazine will be publishing an interview I did with artist Samira Abbassy on their webzine (sometime next week). And, Torch just opened up their call for submissions. Rock on. Submit. Submit. Submit!

There are some other great calls for submissions:

AIDS Project Los Angeles is publishing a new journal: NOW - "from writers and artists who envision new and insightful ways to talk about the black queer bodies, women’s health, the house ball scene in relationship to HIV/AIDS, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on cultural production in the black LGBT community for the last 25 years." The contact email: NOWjournal2008@

And Sinister Wisdom #74 is a call to Latina lesbians: "
Chicana/Latina/Latin American lesbians living all over the world areinvited to submit material. We want to know how our sisters define whatlesbian activism means to them in whatever way they see fit."

But rather than me list all of the submissions that I'm hearing about right here, I'll list the places where I find out about them.

Poets & Writers Magazine
Fiction Factor
Fire and Ink (Writers Resources)
Lambda Literary Foundation Resource Center

That's all folks!