Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Special Interest: Race & Ethnicity panels @ Split This Rock 2014

To help you plan your festival schedule, we broke down panels, workshops, and group readings by special interest. Check out those dealing with race and ethnicity below!

Race & Ethnicity

    Thursday 3/27:

11:30am-1pm – Charles Sumner School, Rm 300
We’d Like to Have Words with You: A Poetry Reading and Conversation with Two Generations of VONA/Voices Writers
Elmaz Abinader, Ruth Forman, Cynthia Dewi Oka, Andrea Walls

The Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices) has been nurturing and supporting emerging writers of color for fourteen years. We find that our workshop participants grow not only from the workshops we offer but also from discussions and interactions within the VONA/Voices Community. The conversations that span subjects from craft to living the life of a writer, from bilingual texts to publishing, are essential to prepare writers of color to enter the literary terrain. This themed reading attempts to duplicate some of that interaction, combining a reading with discussion involving faculty and former students.

2-3:30pm – Charles Sumner School, Rm 300
Affrilachia: Affrilachian Poets on Identity, Place & Landscape
Ellen Hagan, Bianca Spriggs, Shayla Lawson, Gerald L. Coleman,
Randall Horton, Mitchell L.H Douglas, Kelly Norman Ellis, Keith
S. Wilson, Norman Jordan, Crystal Good

The Affrilachian Poets is a multi-cultural writing collective representing the Appalachian region, a mountain range stretching over thirteen states along the East Coast. Since 1991, the Affrilachian Poets have been writing together, defying the persistent stereotype of a racially homogenized rural region. They continue to reveal relationships that link identity to familial roots, socio-economic stratification and cultural influence, and an inherent connection to the land. This reading will feature current members of the Affrilachian Poets sharing their new work, with a Q&A session at the end.

4-5:30pm – Charles Sumner School, Rm 101
Touching and Naming the Roots of This Tree: Seeds for Multicultural/Multilingual Narrative Poems
María Luisa Arroyo

As poets with roots here and in other countries or cultures, we must continue to write narrative poems that authentically reflect the complexity of our own identities and journeys, even as we call the United States home. Part of this complexity stems from the need to write narrative poems that code-switch between languages and/or are written in one's mother tongue(s). When we do so and when we factor in race, ethnicity, class, gender, language, and identity, we capture more fully the experiences we, our living relatives, and our ancestors have and have had. Please bring an object of personal meaning (a photo, a newspaper clipping, a factory ID, etc.) to you and/or to a family member, living or deceased, as a writing prompt for yourself and others. The workshop leader is a multi-linguist (English, Spanish, German, and conversational Farsi) who invites participants to own your own languages and dialects as you write and read aloud your first drafts.

    Friday 3/28:

11:30am-1pm -  Human Rights Campaign, Rm 105A
Gathering Forces: A Living Anthology of Black LGBTQ Poetry
Tisa Bryant, Reginald Harris, John Keene, Kevin Simmonds

We will perform and discuss selected works by notable black LGBTQ poets from the Harlem Renaissance era to the 1990s (e.g., Ai, Essex Hemphill, Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Claude McKay, Pat Parker, Reginald Shepherd). Discussion will consider the poets, their choices, experiments, ideas, contexts, and structures. The session will conclude with a Q&A that addresses the key role that black LGBTQ authors have, and continue to play, in expanding our sense of the possibilities of literature and the arts, (re)shaping canons and transforming contemporary politics via the poetic.

11:30am – 1pm – Charles Sumner School, Rm 102
Voices from the Latino Heartland: A Reading of Identity & Displacement by the Latino Writers Collective
Miguel M. Morales, José Faus, Maria Vasquez Boyd, Gabriela Ybarra Lemmons

Middle of the Map-Latino Writers Collective members will read and discuss the challenges and success of writing from the heartland, maintaining diversity of culture, and examining issues of displacement. Members capture individual experiences as political or social commentary, reflective, semi-autobiographical, humorous, or entertaining. Their craft reveals and examines the many facets of this unique cultural identity that includes class, gender roles, sexual identity, and immigration status.

                   2-3:30pm – Charles Sumner School, Rm 300   
Calling Whiteness to Account
Ailish Hopper, Joy Katz, Rachel Richardson, Sarah Browning

Four white writers, all with recent or in-progress work that engages race, discuss how whiteness “happens” in writing (often without a writer realizing it) and how they attempt to challenge and disrupt that "happening" while making art. How do white poets acknowledge our privilege while also calling it to account? How do we identify and move past (while even occasionally harnessing) fear, self-consciousness, self-censorship, and guilt? Panelists share their approaches to the complexity of crossing the color line and to sensing where empathy—or, apparent empathy—ends and patience, vigorous observation, and even humor and wildness, come in. The conversation is open to people of all races and ethnicities who want to talk about the intersection of race, responsibility, and the demands of art.

4-5:30pm – Wilderness Society Conference Room
Arte Poética II: The Politics of Publishing En Español in the United States of America
José R. Ballesteros, Mario A. Escobar, Jesús Vázquez-Mendoza, Carlos Parada Ayala

A reading and roundtable discussion by owners, editors, and poets representing independently owned US literary presses that publish in Spanish in the US. The panel will begin with a brief reading showcasing recent work published by US-based Spanish language literary presses. It will include a roundtable discussion (in English) of the political implications of publishing in Spanish within the US. Special attention will be given to the empowering role promoting writing in Spanish via publication can and must play within marginalized US-Latino populations.

    Saturday 3/29:

                   9:30-11am – Wilderness Society Conference Room
Learning Race Through Writing Race: A Workshop for White Poets and Others
                   Martha Collins, Susan Tichy

This workshop will give poets who have just begun to write about race (or just begun to think about it) a chance to consider ways of approaching racial subjects in poems. Facilitated by two white poets who have themselves written a great deal about race, the workshop is open to everyone. We will examine published poems that deal with racial subjects from a variety of perspectives (including the personal and the historical), and use a variety of poetic strategies; we will also consider some poems by white poets that are “unintentionally” racial. We will then invite participants to write down responses to a series of questions that will help them to see themselves and their experiences in racialized terms and to suggest ways of approaching those experiences in writing. In the time that remains, participants will share these answers, which we hope might become starting points for poems.

                   11:30am-1pm – Beacon Hotel, Beacon Room
New Vietnamese Poetry: A Group Reading & Discussion
Cathy Linh Che, Paul Tran, Ocean Vuong

The Vietnam War continues to inform public discourse, scholarship, and national policies on race, empire, and the struggle for human rights. This layered roundtable and reading will excavate voices from the diaspora’s exiled. Three Vietnamese American poets will share their work and lead a discussion on the Vietnam War and its legacies in new Vietnamese poetry, exploring death, ghosts, belonging, displacement, memory, debt, intergenerational trauma, and sexual assault. It will examine how poetry and spoken word recover the history of marginalized peoples and the war's connection to U.S. colonialism throughout the world. Sponsored by Kundiman, an organization dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian American poetry.

11:30am-1pm -  Human Rights Campaign, Rm 105A
A Bridge Across Our Fears: Poetry in Service of Racial Solidarity
Franny Choi, Danez Smith

Throughout history, communities of color have been pitted, intentionally, against one another. True change can only begin when our communities stand in solidarity, meeting these divisive forces with the same intentionality and mindfulness. Poetry, as the site of radical reimagining as well as deep introspection, offers a particularly rich space to discover and build points of racial solidarity. Members of the multi/inter-racial Dark Noise Collective lead participants through writing exercises that aim to uncover common ground, finding strength in the differences among our lived experiences of oppression. Workshop leaders will also speak on their experience constructing a cross-cultural poetry cooperative whose goal is to leverage our shared language(s) to challenge dominant structures of power. Though our focus will primarily be racial solidarity, we invite participants to speak and write on their experiences creating solidarity across other points of difference.

2-3:30pm -  Human Rights Campaign, Rm105A
Poetry & the New Black Masculinity
Kevin Simmonds, Danez Smith, Ross Gay, Pages Matam, Tim Seibles

Black masculinity in America is expressed variously and its range encompasses assertions and disruptions often missing from mainstream imagery and reportage. The work of contemporary black male poets--traditional and radical, genre-defiant, funny, sobering and bracingly inclusive--reflects this fluid and multitudinous range. Panelists will share their poetry and discuss themes and conventions emanating from their own social, artistic, and political narratives.

2-3:30pm – Wilderness Society Conference Room
Scars of History – Luso Poetry of Witness
Millicent Borges Accardi, Amy Sayre Baptista, Nancy Vieira Couto, PaulA Neves

Although often misunderstood and marginalized Portuguese (Luso) culture still bears the scars of history: from the Inquisition's forced migration of Sephardic Jews and subsequent persecution of crypto-Jews and New Christians, to the reign of Salazar, to the 1974 Carnation Revolution. Portugal faces the threat of erasure by dominant Western culture that reduces it to a non-place, which in turn is reflected in the reduced portrayal on maps, or the complete elimination of Portuguese Islands. This round table will accordingly present poetry of witness by Portuguese and Portuguese-American writers and a discussion of the legacy of these cultural ruptures.

2-3:30pm – Human Rights Campaign, Rm 105B
        Struggle, Resilience & Transformation: Queer Arabs in the Diaspora
           Amir Rabiyah, Amirah Mizrahi, Janine Mogannam, Andrea Assaf

As queer Arabs / Arab Americans, many people and institutions attempt to speak for us. The act of sharing our stories, as they are and as our full selves, becomes provocative. When your identity itself is provocative (not necessarily intending to create political work, but by simply being a politicized body), what does it mean to write poetry and “witness” from that position? As people with a broad spectrum of identities within the Arab community, including different religions, nationalities, and migration stories, we often move through society with parts of ourselves made hyper-visible, and others invisible. What happens to us when we compartmentalize aspects of our identities in order to gain acceptance? How do we continue to create transformative work in the context of intersecting systemic oppressions? Join us as we share our poetry and invite the audience to engage these questions and more, through creative writing and dialogue.

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