Tag Archives: poetry

Dark Continent Dubfeed: On Vidhu Aggarwal’s The Trouble with Humpadori

Vidhu Aggarwal The Trouble with Humpadori

The smashing spectacle of Bollywood, the feminine grotesque of Gurlesque mashed with the colors and sounds of sci-fi and fantasy comics—all these obsessions assemble in Vidhu Aggarwal’s electric debut poetry collection, The Trouble with Humpadori (The Great Indian Poetry Collective Press, 2016). Aggarwal’s poetic range includes text art, sound, video and live performance.  Aggarwal, both an artist and Professor of Postcolonial/Transnational Studies, surely embodies a new kind of artist-scholar. In her book, Aggarwal creates the interstellar character Humapadori (“Hump” for short) who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings, a medium sent down from the cosmos. Move over Ziggy Stardust. It’s time for Humpadori’s time to occupy the international stage.

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Love Doesn’t Save Anyone from Themselves: An Interview with Angeli Cabal

Angeli Cabal

I first encountered Angeli Cabal’s work as the co-editor-in-chief of {m}aganda Magazine. My staff and I were blown away by the pieces she submitted–poems critiquing colonialism, Western beauty standards, and the figure of the Filipino woman. I was stunned to see that in addition to being a poet, Cabal is also a visual artist and multi-genre writer who creates sleek, intricate, highly clever illustrations and incredibly heart-wrenching creative essays. In addition, Cabal has been a devoted fanfiction author since age 12 and has garnered an impressive online readership on Tumblr. In 2013, Cabal self-published her first chapbook, True Love and Other Myths, which sold out after the first printing. She went on to publish a second chapbook, The Anatomy of Closed Doors, joining the ranks of  poets and writers who use social media as their vehicle. Cabal’s work is raw, evocative, hands-on, and accessible. She joined me for a conversation where we discussed fanfiction, our immigrant parents, and which three fictional characters she would invite for a session of afternoon tea.

MV: I’m not sure if you’ve read this recent Buzzfeed article about women and fanfiction, but they argue that fanfiction is a central genre for women writers because it allows us to create narratives that are not available in everyday life. Why fanfiction? Why should we keep writing and reading fanfiction? What power does this form of creation give us?

AC: It’s been 14 years since I started writing fanfiction and I’ve never grown out of it. Fanfiction is so much more accessible for me because of world building. In fanfiction, you already have this world created for you so there’s less pressure and you can focus on the narratives you want to tell, particularly characters you want to transform and flesh out. When you have these characters presented to you and you see all the paths and avenues the author could have taken to make them more human, these are awesome opportunities to take. It is also such a supportive community, I can’t even read some of the stuff I wrote back then because it was so horrible but I get reviews that say, “Hey, this is really good, keep it up.” That was so important for me as a young writer because no one else knew I was writing fanfiction. It really encouraged me and is one of the reasons why I still write fanfiction today. Continue reading

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We’re Obsessed With: Astro Poets

Started by “actual living poets” Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov, the new Twitter account Astro Poets is everything anyone could ever want from the internet all in one 140-character space: astrology by poets for everyone.

For those who don’t know, I’m obsessed with both astrology and good writing which is why I can’t get enough of this account. Lasky and Dimitrov are funny, charming and masters of their form. The Twitterverse is so lucky to have these two and I am so lucky to have had a chance to ask them a few questions about their absolutely magical collaboration known as Astro Poets.

Astro Poets cross

Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov

 

Cathy de la Cruz: What made you start the Astro Poets Twitter account?

Dorothea Lasky: The account was started on a whim one night. Alex had put a poll on his Twitter asking his followers whether he should date a Taurus or a Virgo that night. I voted for Taurus and that prompted Alex to ask me if we should start an astrology Twitter account. I said yes and he put a poll up asking people if we should start one and lots of people voted that we should. So we did. We both agreed going into it that the largest goal was to bring people some laughs during what has been a bad year.

Alex Dimitrov: I think we’re both pretty funny people and also we both really get… how do I say this… human nature. We finally decided to share that in a more public way. I mean we both have so much going on in our lives, this is kind of a side project that speaks to the entertainers and prophets in us… but it might turn into other things!

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White Space, Banana Ketchup & Karaoke: A Review of Kimberly Alidio’s After projects the resound

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I was introduced to Kimberly Alidio at Effie Street in Silverlake, Los Angeles, at a quaint reading in the backyard of a professor’s house. I was intrigued by the book Alidio held in her hands—a sky blue volume with a longhaired figure on all fours, seemingly ingesting or expelling pink and orange confetti. Soon I was even more jarred and enthralled by the pieces she read aloud, poems speaking, stuttering, and singing about empire, migration, diaspora, and queerness—subjects I had become familiar with as a queer Filipina American and budding academic. After projects the resound (Black Radish) does not only interrogate these concepts, but transforms them, remakes them, and melds them through reverberating word play, experiments with sound, and even through the strategic use of white space. The final stanza in “All the Pinays are straight, all the queers are Pinoy, but some of us” demonstrates this:

                                                                      I will never not 

want to be violent with you (dare you to say 

this isn’t love, queen)

pray for

her resurrection every easter

  

“I’m just so bored and so pretty and not white” (66)

Although you may need to take a second to comprehend what is occurring, the sleek alliteration of the “w” and “n” sounds in the first two lines allows the poem to roll off your tongue, a slow, accentuated, but nevertheless pleasurable foray into the complexities and obscurities of Pinxy queerness. The enjambments, line breaks, and spaces in between help anchor and pace the reader, allowing us to appreciate the various intonations of sound. These rhetorical, sonic, and spatial devices showed me that I did not need the convenience of clarity to enjoy and appreciate Alidio’s work. Her delightfully playful and musical words and sounds, for me, emulate the witty banter between Pinxys as we process the intersections of Catholicism, queerness, and brownness together in conversation. Continue reading

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Talking with Cheena Marie Lo About A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters

A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters (Commune Editions, 2016) by Cheena Marie Lo is a book of poetry that challenges what “poetry” can be. This text “[attends] to the sorts of mutual aid and possibility that appear in moments of state failure. As such it maps long and complicated equations, moving from Katrina to the prisoners at Riker’s Island as they await Sandy. It understands disaster as a collective system, the state as precarious, and community as necessary” (Commune Editions, 2016). While Lo’s original preoccupation concerned headlines of the past, in light of recent events in Orlando, I feel like this text, unfortunately, continues to be relevant today.

so what about the instinct to survive.

so what about birds and burying beetles.

so what about support and what about struggle.

so what about ants and bees and termites.

so what about the field upon which tender feelings develop
even amidst otherwise most cruel animals.

so what about migration. breeding. autumn.

so what about the numberless lakes of the russian and siberian steppes
and what about aquatic birds, all living in perfect peace—

Geraldine KimMany sections in A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters begin with some sort of carrier word or phrase that is repeated throughout that same section (e.g., “Because Another Tropical Storm is Looming,” with the word “because” or “Poor Marks for His Handling of Federal Response” with the word “poor”). Can you talk a bit about the function of this repetition in regards to the overall project/subject matter?

Cheena Marie Lo: Repetition is something that I use a lot in my writing because it reflects my thought process when I’m trying to figure something out. I have a tendency to relentlessly circle around things in my head. Some of these “carrier” words or phrases were part of the procedures I used when writing this– I lifted instances of “because” or “poor” or other “carriers” in the texts that I was working with. Reducing the materials to these words and phrases that surrounded them illuminated patterns and narratives in the source material. My intention with the repetition was to build and expand these narratives out.

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What To Eat When You’re an Asian American Writer and The New Yorker Is Racist and Scarlett Johansson Is Asian

A Dining/Survival Guide for Those Moments as an Asian American Writer

asian american racism 

While Catching up via Twitter on the Latest Inkling That The New Yorker Might Not Have Enough Asian American or Other Editors of Color to Say, Um, No.
Bittermelon and beef with black bean sauce.1

When You’re with Your Friends After Work and You’ve All Agreed to Cancel Your New Yorker Subscriptions and Instead Subscribe to The New Republic and/or The Atlantic Because, Respectively, Cathy Park Hong and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Dan dan noodles, Sichuan pickled vegetables, steamed chicken with chili sauce, fried lamb with cumin, chongqing diced chicken with chili peppercorn, tears in eyes, hot and spicy crispy prawns (in the shell), and Sichuan spicy ma po tofu.2

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Rah! Rah! Roundup!

rahrahroundup

“Just as the late David Bowie influenced gender-questioning and queer kids during the height of his career, so did Prince, especially for brown kids who relished being different.” RIP Prince <3

Yes, I have been upset with white supremacy and trans-misogyny and classism within the poetry community too. How I choose to deal with it is by creating space for badass writers of color.” — Christopher Soto AKA Loma

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On The Meshes: An Interview with Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

The following is an interview I did with Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, an Oakland-based poet whose recent book of poetry the meshes (Black Radish, 2016) features a complex polyvocal/temporal interpretation/dialogue of and against Maya Deren‘s filmography.

the meshes cover

 

Geraldine Kim: When I was reading the meshes, I noticed multiple layers of gazing or “looking” throughout the text—the gaze of the filmmaker, of the author writing about the filmmaker’s work, etc. “looking resists. looking revises. looking interrogates. looking invents, to be stared at. looking at one another. looking back” (p.31) and “having performed seeing. seeing double. seeing doubles. having performed spectatorship. I describe the lens. the film itself. the both-ness. opposition of becoming. soft focus. caught the light. depth of surfaces. multiplications as limiting” (p. 54). Could you talk a bit more about these layers?

Brittany Billmeyer-Finn: Spectatorship is innate to the process of writing this book. An important part of the process is watching films. It also becomes a source of contention and critique that develops in the four sections of the book; “the poems,” “the essay,” “the play,” and “the annotated bibliography.” Continue reading

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Middle Time: An Interview with Angela Hume

Middle Time

The following post features an interview I had with Angela Hume about her upcoming book of poetry, Middle Time (Omnidawn, 2016). This book breathes intensely between moments of ecology, biology, and temporality. Here’s an excerpt:

p 77

Middle Time, p. 77

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Sex Permeates Everything: The Poetry of Lola Ridge

Long before the dawn of sexting and frank depictions of women’s sexuality in TV shows like Broad City, the candlelit tea-rooms of 1920s Greenwich Village boomed with women’s sex talk. They didn’t call those years “roaring” for nothing. World War I had just ended, as had the terrible flu epidemic. Both were short, and their casualties enormous. What else for the survivors to do but fuck, or at least talk about it? According to Foucault, poetry at the start of the 17th century was the only sex talk there was until two centuries later, when sex scientists like Havelock Ellis began a murmur that turned into the roar of the sex-positive 1920s. When women writers re-discovered sex in the 1920s, poetry was what the wild girls wrote. Bookstores couldn’t keep women’s work in stock, with poems like Mina Loy’s “Love Songs to Joannes” (“Pig Cupid/His rosy snout/Rooting erotic garbage.”) flying off the shelves.

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