Aster(ix) Newsletter – February 2017

Carolee Schneemann, “‘Interior Scroll” (1975)
IN 1975 CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN performed “Interior Scroll”: she entered a performance space, undressed, climbed on top of a table to read her book Cézanne: She Was a Great Painter, and after a number of gestures pulled a small paper scroll from her vagina to read aloud.
“I didn’t want to pull a scroll out of my vagina and read it in public,” said Schneemann. “But the culture’s terror of my making overt what it wished to suppress fueled the image; it was essential to demonstrate this lived action about ‘vulvic space’ against the abstraction of the female body and its loss of meaning.”
We are inspired by Schneemann’s performance in this politically charged moment. What is the role of the writer/artist, and how do we speak to what is happening now? How do we use our spheres of influence to enact transformation? How do we slow down what feels like the inevitable, so that we have time to not just make reactionary work, but also proactive work that imprints and roots us in strength for the long haul? 
We lean on community, joining conversations around the dinner table, over Facebook, in the writings of others. We get excited about work that gets naked and pushes back at the edges/borders/boxes forced upon women of color. 
This month, check out how writers, scholars and artists reveal, reread, re-envision difficult women, bad (ass) women, nasty women y malcriadas. Unscroll the new essay by Adriana Ramírez, and poems by Michelle Valladares, Khadijah Queen, and Karen An-hwei Lee. Heal with “Remedios” by Vanita Reddy, Gabrielle Civil, and Lucia Hierro; a novel excerpt by Champa Bilkawesh; and a book review by Sue Rainsfield. Plus interviews with Mary Gaitskill and Maria Helena Viramontes. If you would like to further support Aster(ix), we encourage you to subscribe to the journal!
With love,
Aster(ix) Journal
Read On
What We Love Poetry: Three Poems  | Khadijah Queen
I never met Bill Cosby but I met Beverly Johnson at Magic Mountain with my dad & my sister one summer in the mid-1980s & she had on an oversized cardigan & jeans casual but lovely my dad chatted her up while we rode the Colossus with her daughter he said he asked for her number & she politely declined…
What We Love Poetry: On Eschatological Radio Angels Flying in the Troposphere | Karen An-Hwei Lee
Millennial engineers of faltering air, not eschatological radio angels tighten struts, bolts, and cantilevers of eternal design. Angels guard antique equipment, invented in principle by our original architect, logophile, and alpha-omega abba.
Poetry: The World We Choose, The World We Love | Michelle Yasmine Valladares
by finger-thick slats, use
fingers, Kissing fingers
for te amo— te echo de menos.
REMEDIOS: Mediocrity is the space waiting to be filled by eccentricity | Lucia Hierro

REMEDIOS: The Uses of Anger | Vanita Reddy
Like many of you, I’ve felt so much anger–rage even–over the last week. I keep thinking about Audre Lorde’s writing about anger in “The Uses of Anger” (1981) for so many reasons. It so eloquently addresses shared anger within both the context of white nationalist populism AND the uncritical liberal appeals of “we are all immigrants” and to “good Muslims” and “respectable” minority citizen-subjects in the name of opposing Trump’s anti-immigrant/anti-refugee/anti-Muslim policies. 
REMEDIOS: Breaking the Frame: Dreaming Into the Urgent Now | Gabrielle Civil
After years of high profile, extra-judicial killings of black people, I was struck by how much action and reaction seemed to follow a strict script. State Violence —> Non-Indictment —> Outcry/ Demonstration —> Greater Militarization —> Protest / Vigil —> Reset/ Do It All Again. This script has framed the nature of our work as artists and the nature of our lives as citizens. This frame needs to be broken.
Fiction: Love Song of a Dance | Champa Bilwakesh
Amidst the harsh disparagement of the dance tradition, a few reviews appeared that spoke with a quiet clarity.  “A true protégé for Mallika,” one journal said, giving a thoughtful critique after a performance.  Sowmya brought the journal home and read it out to Mallika, but their measly praise only angered her.  
On Being a Difficult Woman: Roxane Gay, Salma Hayek, Jessica Williams, and Radical Discomfort | Adriana Ramírez
When I was sixteen years old, the National Hispanic Institute nominated me to attend a week-long, national summit on youth smoking prevention. When I arrived, an organizer told me that of the 100 youth picked nationally, I was the only Latina. She said, “We needed someone with your voice.”.
Review: White-eye Bird – The Vegetarian by Han Kang | Sue Rainsford
Han Kang’s The Vegetarian is a slim book, consistently hypnotic and surreal. This is partly because Yeong-hye, the eponymous vegetarian, spends the novel’s duration in a trance-like state. In short, the dream-logic that moves the book, its motives and outcomes, becomes hard to predict. 
Interview: The Excavation of Identity as a Political Act: A Conversation with Helena Maria Viramontes | Sampsonia Way
“But several months ago, there was one posting that I do remember that said, This is exactly why there should be more ethnic studies, courses, more alternative literatures, as part of the mainstream in order to expose, to educate. How else but literature can you feel that empathy? It’s the true power of transformation.” 
Interview: One’s Body is an Animal: A Conversation with Mary Gaitskill | Sampsonia Way
“Twenty years ago, when I first heard conversations about how you must write stories about Latino people for Latino audiences, and that you must give positive role models and positive characters, I thought that was the stupidest thing in the world. I thought, “That’s ridiculous, how could people need that?” But then I got to know this little Latino girl and through watching television and movies with her, I could see how important it was for her.”
Upcoming Events
Visit us at AWP in Washington DC on February 8-12 in the book fair at table 755-T. We will be selling copies of What We Love and we would love to also meet you in person.
Join us for a reading with Maaza Mengiste & Geeta Kothari  as part of the Aster(ix) Reading Series at Aphabet City/ City of Asylum in Pittsburgh, PA. February 16, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. FREE Event

Maaza Mengiste‘s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor.

Geeta Kothari is the nonfiction editor of The Kenyon Review. She is a two-time recipient of the fellowship in literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the editor of ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters. 

Show Your Shelf Some Love and BUY Fall Issue 2016What We Love
Aster(ix): What We Love compiles some of the most exciting poetry and prose by twenty one writers from all over the world: Dia Felix, Khadijah Queen, Amy Sara Carroll, Magda Kapa, Leila Christine Nadir, Laura Sims, Saudamini Deo, Saretta Morgan, Miranda Mellis, Karen An-hwei Lee, Chika Unigwe, Angela Karee, Kim Dana Kupperman, Janeil Page, Janelle Poe, Aurora Masum-Javed, Sarah Vap, Marlin M. Jenkins, Marie Ndiaye, Mahwash Shoaib and Vahni Capildeo.

This product is a paperback book.

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As usual, many of you know Aster(ix) is a work of puro amor devoted to writers, artists, thinkers and activists committed to social change. It runs on crazy midnight-oil kind of energy and thrives on word-of-mouth. So thank you to all of you who tweetinstagram, and subscribe to our newsletter, who like our FB page and cite us in your work. 

Image Credits: Photo by Anthony McCall

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