Fortunately, I just turned in my final project for the semester. After I’m done grading papers, I can breathe again. For many of many friends, though, Finals are in full swing – and it’s rough. Here are some links to help get through them all get through the week.
(Stay strong, people.)
So, when I finished watching the final season of The Wire, I knew things would never be the same again. Fortunately, people continue to recognize what an amazing show it was. This article focuses on its ground breaking depiction of gays & lesbians in urban communities.
If you’re a fan of the legendary character Omar, check this out.
If you’re a writer in need of some creative inspiration, Poets & Writers asked some featured authors to talk about whatever inspires them to write – books, art, movies, etc. It’s pretty great.
I’m a big fan of the TED conference. I’m a big fan of Sarah Jones (and her award-winning one woman show Bridge & Tunnel). So, you can only imagine how much I love her lecture at TED. There’s nothing else to say: just watch it.
And finally, if you’re in the mood for some realness, Sandra Cisneros sends the Keep-It-Real-O-Meter off the chart.
I plan on doing mini-reviews of some of these books pretty soon, but for now, here’s a list of a few books I’m reading at the moment.
On These I Stand by Countee Cullen
What I love I about this particular collection is that Cullen selected the poems himself. I’m really enjoying how the poems deal with race, religion, and sexuality. (Homosexuality – as pointed out by the next book on this list.) Unfortunately, this amazing book is out of print. You can probably find it at the library though. I did.
Gay Voices of the Harlem Renaissance by A.B. Christa Schwarz
Talk about an eye opener. Schwarz re-visits the work of familiar authors – Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Bruce Nugent, and Langston Hughes – but discusses their work and their identities as men who loved men. You’ll never think of “The Weary Blues” the same way again!
Best American Essays: 2008 (edited) by Adam Gopnik
It’s always great to see the myriad ways people approach the creative essay. My favorites: “Cracking Open” by Patricia Brieschke and “Buzzards” by Lee Zacharias. These two women are fearless writers.
And here is the final installment of my interview with poet DeLana Dameron. If you want to keep up with her, check out her website.
Do you have any projects in the works that you’d like to tell us about?
I have what I believe is a “finished” collection. I put finished in quotes because I’ve learned working on this book the old truth: nothing is ever finished; it is only abandoned. I call it “Cartographer”. I consider it to be a collection of poems mapping emotional relationships with regards to place, among other things.
I am also being called to really re-dedicate myself to what is really my first book of poems. I can’t give you a working title, but it is largely a collection of poems based on the civilian perspective of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I wrote my History thesis on this, and found myself with all of these narratives and stories swimming around me, that the only thing I could find to do after writing the pages and pages of historical text about it, was to put it in poem form. I call this process translating.
Since this is your first book, I’m sure you’re learned a lot along the way about writing and yourself. Would you mind speaking to that?
Well, I know that I am a control freak. But I learned, perhaps, that my need to “control” things translated different when a collection of poems is printed and people I don’t know or haven’t met can read about myself and family and my beliefs – and I won’t be there to defend it. I found that I could no longer protect my poems. This happened when I signed and handed over my first book (to the cover artist Alexandra Cespedes), and she took it and walked off and I realized that my words – a whole book of words – were really going out into the world, and I had shaped and groomed them all I could up until that point, and I no longer had a hand in who they’d be growing up to be. I pray they’ll find a nice and safe space to land.
Religion and faith play a major role in several of these poems. How do you go about approaching this kind of subject matter?
In thinking of answering this question, I cannot help but hear the old clichéd quote that writes hear when they first start out: Write what you know. When I started writing – or rather, when I decided that the only way to survive was to write – I knew a lot of sadness and I knew a lot of death. I knew the Bible only because I grew up around the Church, but I also knew that I loved to tell stories, so I had from the Bible this deep well of stories that I could use to try and comprehend what I was unable to comprehend. I suspect it is no different than writers turning again and again to classical mythology (of course, too, a religion) to tell these stories.
I know you just went on a book tour. Did anything (or anyone) surprise you during those readings?
I found that I wasn’t exactly ready to talk about my work yet. I wasn’t ready for people to take my words away and formulate their own opinion about them. The thing with reading from a manuscript is that I could control the impression the audience made about my work to a certain extent. Because they only have the poems you show them and the words in the air. Whereas reading from a book, yes, still I can “control” what the audience hears, but I cannot control the poems they’ll read in their homes, that I’ll never read aloud, and the conclusions made.