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.
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…
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.
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: 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.”
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
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 tweet, instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter, who like our FB page and cite us in your work.
Angie Cruz is founder and editor of Aster(ix) and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. She authored two novels, Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee. She has published short fiction and essays in magazines and journals, including Callaloo, The New York Times, and Kweli. She is currently at work on her third novel.