In 2003, visual artist Regina José Galindo walked from the constitutional Court to the National Palace in Guatemala, leaving traces of her footprints after dipping her feet in human blood. This performance was in memory of the victims of Guatemala’s armed conflict. The performance was also a rejection of the presidential candidacy of Efraín Ríos Montt, a genocidal and pro coup ex-military. In an interview, Galindo says, “I cursed the system that rules us. How was it possible that a character as dark as this would have such power with which to bend everything to his will?” The result is one of her most celebrated and impactful works, “¿Quién puede borrar las huellas?”
We are inspired by Galindo’s creative impulse to make art in a moment of duress. Let our own charged political moment also be an opportunity to make something beautiful, to strengthen our communities, to work together to rewrite the narratives imposed on us.
In this spirit, Asteri(x) calls for us to reimagine our reality and work to transform it by making and supporting more ART. This month, we are thrilled to publish an essay by Ada Limón, a short story by Sarah Rifky, a microeditorial by Radhuyah Ayobami, poems by Rosamond S. King, and drawings by Joanna Commandaros. Also featured are interviews with Irina Reyn, Idra Novey, Achy Obejas and Aurora Arias, all part of our partnership with City of Asylum/ Sampsonia Way.
Microeditorial: for the black girls | Radhiyah Ayobami
for the black girls whose lives don’t look good on paper, for those with food stamps and babies daddies who ain’t thinking about no marriage. for the sundaughter black girls with lovers, toe rings and wild purple hair.
Call Me Soft | Sarah Rifky
On a warm August night in Brussels, a curator, Orient, of feminist inclination, dressed up in an Egyptian belly dance costume, swaying her hips and breasts to Umm Kulthum’s epic song of a thousand and one nights. This act of seduction was intended for an audience of One. One was a man, a curator.
Two Drawings In Response to Viramontes’ Novel, Cemetery Boys | Joanna Commandaros
While listening to Helena Maria Viramontes read from her book, Cemetery Boys at Alphabet City/City of Asylum I spontaneously took out my sketchbook and started picking out words. It was the night of the elections. We were all anxious about it and Helena’s words were energetically powerful. These drawings, prompted by her words, became a type of meditation, a kind of stream of consciousness drawings.
Literature as Conversation: A Q&A with Idra Novey | Joshua Graber
“Wright was a powerful example, for me, of somebody who came from the area where I grew up: western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, who took what he knew growing up in the Rust Belt and fused it with the surrealism he immersed himself in as a translator of Vallejo. He took the technique of making the familiar strange to create a better fate for the women working in the brothel in his home town.”
The Writer’s Block Transcripts: A Q&A with Aurora Arias and Achy Obejas | Sampsonia Way
“Cuba is a part of me. I can’t rid myself of Cuba. It’s as if I were to get rid of my arm, it’s impossible. I think when someone gets to a topic from the outside it’s different, one can live perfectly without it. It doesn’t carry the same weight; nor do they torture themselves with it as much. The fact that I was born in Cuba affects everything.”
Writing Ambition: Irina Reyn on Portraying Unsatisfied Women | Caitlyn Christensen
“By putting the contemporary and historical stories next to each other, I did want to highlight the fact that we haven’t come such a long way as far as women being able to take the power they deserve. We are still living in a culture in which everything has to be negotiated, justified, to family and partners and bosses. We are much more uncomfortable with this idea of women in power than we think.”
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. Save the Date: Aster(ix) party/ Reading on Feb 10, 6-8:30 p.m. Location: TBA.
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.