#ArtLitPhx: Native Voices: Heard at Changing Hands

Artlitphx changing handsNative Voices: Heard at Changing Hands

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HEARD MUSEUM

Demian DinéYazhi´- Ancestral Memory: Poems 2009-2016
7PM SATURDAY, JUNE 9

Location: Phoenix

The Heard Museum and Changing Hands Bookstore present an evening of poems and stories with artist and poet Demian DinéYazhi´.

Ancestral Memory: Poems 2009-2016 is the poetry debut of transdisciplinary artist Demian DinéYazhi´. Dedicated to their ancestors, this collection of poetry highlights a selection of Demian’s poems from 2009-2016; Tribal Memory: Post-Apocalyptic Landscape Representation & Indigenous Survivance, and 12 additional poems excavate ancestral trauma(s) as a means to acknowledge and heal familial ties to Indigenous culture, tradition, and settler colonial violence. DinéYazhi’ tackles issues of alienation, desire, and memory; matrilineal reverence and Indigenous uprising; and navigating Western Queer subcultures while being confronted by the continual threat of death as faced by Indigenous, Queer, non-masculine, and marginalized communities in a post-colonial heteropatriarchal society.

Following in the footsteps of Queer poets like Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, Ancestral Memory is a self-published poetry book. Indigenous peoples have been cast as radical and wild counterparts to their disharmonious European colonizers, while our perspectives and voices have been tossed into the romanticized depths of poetry. Because of this, as well as a long history of creation and adaptation, DinéYazhi´’s stance to self-publish is a political statement of maintaining autonomy without the jurisdiction or approval from Western-trained editors, publishers, or critics.

Ancestral Memory was printed by Pur Dubois Press in the ancestral lands of the Multnomah/Chinook with supplementary support from Potlatch Funds.

PARKING / LIGHT RAIL

  • Don’t want to drive? Take the Light Rail! It lets off at the Central Avenue/Camelback Park-and-Ride, which has hundreds of free parking spaces across the street from Changing Hands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Demian DinéYazhi’ is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. Born and raised in the “Indian Capital of the World,” Gallup, New Mexico, Diné Yazhi’ is a transdisciplinary warrior whose work is an archivalization and exploration of memory formation, landscape representation, HIV/AIDS-related art and activism, gender / sexuality, and indigenous survivance. Demian has exhibited work nationally and internationally, in addition to having his artwork and writing published over the last few years. In 2010 he founded the Indigenous artist/activist/warrior collective, R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment. heterogeneoushomosexual.tumblr.com

Guest Post, Robert Detman: The Necessity of Writing (and Reading)

guest postThe Necessity of Writing (and Reading)

The need to write can be as essential and sustaining as any healthy addiction. With the commitment comes the inevitable desire to send the work out into the world to be published, perhaps in search of literary glory, or merely in the hope of finding corroboration that what one has written is worthwhile.

Writing is such a compulsion that it justifies itself; I often find myself returning to work that is years old, which nags at me, insisting that I give it another read. The energy in the prose sustains and reasserts the imperative of its creation. Because of the number and variety of these drafts, and how they occasionally mix genres, I never know when–or if–I’ll return to them to try to revise again.

At an AWP panel in Tampa this year, “How to Fail: On Abandoning a Manuscript, and Not”, the writers assembled discussed why or why not one might give up on a piece of writing. The consensus seemed to be that writers don’t easily give up on their work. This may be why William Faulkner advised us to kill our darlings—no one is going to do it for us. If success is only gauged by publication, most writers are serial failures. Yet writers who would never abandon their work seem to have hit upon a truth that lies at the heart of all writing: Only the writer herself can determine if a piece succeeds or fails. And perhaps the inherent stubbornness and persistence it takes to be a published writer means we do not give up projects so easily, or even when we should.

What does one hope to accomplish with this persistent—yet intermittent—revisiting, and revising, of past work? We’re likely not just doing it for its own sake. We can perhaps see a progression in the drafts, that there is more there than we might have recognized in previous drafts; there must have been something there all along. Whatever kernels of truth there are in the work, are worth looking at again. As well, it must increase the chances of publishing if we can make use of the material we have. For myself, it often feels right to reconsider an abandoned piece, as I’m aware that I don’t usually work on something I don’t intend to try to publish. And of course, it’s not always true that what I write gets published, but I understand what it takes. It also makes me aware that writing and revision seems to never end.

Though it’s possibly true that what the writer gets out of producing a piece of writing is not nearly the same as what the reader gets from it, could the need to write have any correlation to what a reader may feel drawn to in the writing? In his groundbreaking 1994 book The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, Sven Birkerts pairs the activity of reading and that of writing as, in essence, one and the same, of existing in a kind of symbiosis in the eye and mind of the beholder—that is, whomever is reading or writing it. Reading and writing could be the proverbial chicken or egg conundrum: which came first?

In relation to other arts, writing may be no less hard won in its creation than painting, or music, or film and drama. Yet these other arts are experienced by their audience with varying degrees of passivity. It’s even possible to experience them obliviously. In fact, it would be possible to experience these works and not engage with them at all. I would guess that not everyone who seeks out cultural artifacts is fully “on” in their presence. The same cannot be said of writing. Reading is a voluntary act of volition, which requires one to fully engage with it. It is almost useless to read passively.

Generally, when I read, I’m looking to be surprised, wowed, or otherwise blown away. I crave that unique experience, which occurs when a narrative is so seamlessly accomplished that it manages to defy precedent. I look for this in fiction, and most often this sustained experience is achieved in novels. Not surprisingly, it’s usually these goals that I aspire to when I write.

I have the compulsion and habit of writing in multiple genres. People argue and make justifications for the superiority of one genre over another. Still, it’s all writing. Lately, I’ve been focused on poetry. Having written poetry for years, I undertook recently to study with an award-winning poet, and I’m encouraged. I read and write poetry with a sense of rediscovery, almost as if working muscles I didn’t know I had. I can sense I’m breaking ground for myself, which is an exciting part of the experiment that is my writing vocation.

My interest in writing across genres—and not being defined by any one—stems from restlessness, and that genre hopping is fed by my frequently broad reading. This restlessness may also just be a way of shaking myself from complacency, keeping fresh what is in front of me. I use writing toward whatever ends my mind craves. Poetry, for me, is the purview of feeling and emotion, and playing with language. Although the same might be said of fiction, I believe fiction is driven by the play of characters. The characters of fiction become real to me, and I become their caretaker. These characters are perhaps stand-ins for my own interests, and I use them to explore motive and action. There is frequently a spiritual depth to this work.

What fiction offers to a reader is story and a possibility of an empathetic identification with the characters in the work. Fiction projects a simulacrum of emotion we might feel, safely in the realm of language. We are safe because it’s only feelings we are “trying on” temporarily. We may be emotionally invested, but we are in our own heads. There are few repercussions. It can also engage the reader in the way that narrative seeks to find resolution. Narrative, which is telling a story, is inherently a form of entertainment.

Nonfiction, of the type you are currently reading, is driven by a desire to clarify my thinking, or to codify an experience. Nonfiction can be intellect driven work. I find that writing in a journal, for example, is essentially the deliberative framing of my thinking. The goal is often to find the energy in a piece with the momentum of a thesis, for an essay or blog.

When I write, I give myself license to not always have a clear objective. Writing is to wrestle and struggle with the unknown. To write to whatever end occurs to me is a search for the objective in the subjective. All of this is a way of trying to explain the motivation to write, the necessity of it. I can’t be sure I am providing for a reader what I look for in writing, but I hope in some way that I’m close.

As much as I am a writer, I am a reader, and vice versa. It seems almost strange to say it, but I really read to learn how I can write better. How to pull off—using an imprecise expression—the tricks that I find in exemplary work that upends precedent. This is not to say I don’t also read for joy, and frisson, and to get a sense of my place in the world. But at the crux of it all is the desire—the necessity–to write, and to hopefully impart that desire to an eager reader.

#ArtLitPhx: Untidy Secrets Storytelling- Young, Dumb, and Broke

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★★★UNTIDY SECRETS STORYTELLING★★★
Untidy Secrets Storytelling is a monthly storytelling and zine swap event. Each month a new theme is selected from song lyrics. Storytellers interpret the theme in interesting and unexpected ways.

The theme for this months storytelling is: “Young, Dumb, and Broke”

Storytellers this month are:
Jessie Balli
Paulina Rios
More TBA

We’ll be collecting cash donations for Saving One Life this month.
★★★

This event is all ages and BYOB (though storytelling will have adult themes). Ash Avenue Comics & Books has some chairs available at first come first serve basis but feel free to bring your own chair or stand. Please contact Sarah Maria Rainier if you need a chair(s) reserved.

★★★

Untidy Secrets Storytelling’s goal is to encourage literature through unusual and interesting means (storytelling, small press, self publishing, zines, and more). If you’re a writer, bring your printed work to swap and connect with others. If you’re a storyteller come out and connect with other storytellers and writers.

If you’re interested in telling a story at this event or future Untidy Secrets event, contact Sarah Maria Rainier or message the Untidy Secrets Storytelling page. See you there!

Authors Talk: Margaret Young

Margaret YoungToday we are glad to feature poet Margaret Young as our Authors Talk series contributor. Margaret offers thoughts on her poems, “September Diary, Dreams and Walking” and “Moving On.” She identifies her mother’s absence as well as images and ideas of nature and its non-human elements as recurring characters in both poems. Margaret concludes her talk by discussing the challenge of writing about living family so directly and inviting her father’s poetry into her own work.

Margaret’s poems appear in Issue 14 of Superstition Review.

 

Authors Talk: Jen Knox

Jen KnoxToday we are pleased to feature Jen Knox as our Authors Talk series contributor. Jen talks about her contributions to Superstition Review and what she, as a reader, looks for in a strong short story. Jen also says that the why and how she writes ultimately boils down to character and her desire to understand the human condition from different purviews. She ends her talk by offering advice to burgeoning fiction writers.

Disengaged” by Jen Knox can be read in Issue 4 of Superstition Review, as well as “West on N Road” in Issue 14.

Guest Post, Angie Macri: The Gifts We Give Our Children

My oldest daughter confessed she wanted to study writing in college. I say confess because she struggled with feeling guilty, as if she was supposed to choose something better. I had never encouraged her to pursue this path. “But Mom,” she said, “I grew up drawing between the lines of your poems.” And this was true; all four of my children used my drafts as scrap paper to fashion airplanes, to experiment with shape and color, to publish household newspapers.

In the farmhouse where we moved when I was four, my father built one room full of books, floor to ceiling. It was little—you could touch both walls when you stood in the middle—but it seemed a kingdom. I never realized how hard reading was for my father. He marked up his books, underlining, circling, drawing arrows, writing questions or key words in the margins. I know now this was the way for a first-generation American who never read anything but comic books as he was growing up, who wasn’t taught to read or write critically because it wasn’t thought necessary, to engage the text.

My mother, a reading specialist, never read for pleasure, except with children or when she was studying how to help people learn to read. My oldest child, my daughter, read easy as breathing. My second child, my oldest son, didn’t. My mother gave me a crash course in Reading Recovery, a white board with markers, and a jar of alphabet tiles so we could explore language in a way he liked, with his hands. He and I spent hours in the recliner after school, taking turns reading with each other. He turned a corner thanks to a book my mother gave us, the first of the Henry and Mudge series, where he met a child who felt lost sometimes. The other night, as he was struggling to finish To Kill a Mockingbird for his pre-AP English class, I asked, “Would you like me to read a few chapters to you?” To my surprise, he said yes, and he listened, just like before, suddenly all eyes, what seemed a jumble brought clear.

My first two children becoming young adults leads me to look at the second two with even more wonder. My second son, in the seventh grade, just scored a 32 on the science and English portions of the ACT. He wants to be a writer. For him, writing seems an adventure, a puzzle to put together, but I suspect that like his oldest sister, he sees it as a way to change the world. The youngest, almost nine, began reading her older siblings’ books as a way to connect with them. Calvin and Hobbes, Magic Tree House, 39 Clues, Harry Potter, Alex Rider, from these, she designs her own games. But her favorite is any kind of mythology, old stories that try to help us understand the human condition. “Mom,” she asked, “what would you do if Zeus was after you?”

What I wanted for my children was for their world to be better than the one I grew up in. But we aren’t working on eradicating the biases in our systems. We aren’t focusing as a whole on curing diseases or developing new technology that is more conscious of our environment. Instead, our society yearns to regain a glory and a simple time that never existed. We feel so afraid that we try to achieve invulnerability rather than realizing that we all, as mortal creatures, are vulnerable, and that this gives us a common ground from which we might truly see each other and move forward together.

What I have given my children, I hope, is what my parents gave me, a kind of faith they can return to no matter what the world is. That in the beginning, was the word. That little books hold big ideas. That writing has revolutionized the world before, and can again. That literacy brings loving and thoughtful voices into our lives especially when love or thought seems far away. That stories encourage, with the weight of what that means: stories don’t make a problem go away, but they can inspire you for what you must face.

I hope that in time, my children know I tried to change the world for the better for them as best I could, when I worked outside of the house as a teacher, in the choices I made as I raised them, in each piece I wrote. I kept writing and reading to explore, to realize, to defy, and to advocate as I believe we are intended, with love for each other. I took a chance and joined the chorus of voices, in large part because I loved my children. This one word, love, arches over chaos. Love, a simple commandment so hard to keep, is our salvation.

Guest Post, Jenny Ferguson: On Facing Rejection

A particular kind of rejection exists, and while all rejection burns at some level there’s a point in a writer’s life when the people they have surrounded themselves with, their community and their friends and their rivals and their lovers, start to rise on stars so fast and brightly sharp, that rejection for this writer who has been left behind, down here on the earth, becomes something new, something beyond.

I’d like to try to characterize that kind of rejection here, so we can better understand it. So we can better learn to live with it.

***

We wanted to let you know that it made it further in our reading than many submissions do and though we won’t be publishing it at this time, we do hope that you’ll send us work again.

This thing I’ve created, boiled down to it, it, it, a compliment that bee stings. I’m only a little allergic, only want to take a little Benadryl nap.

***

Oh my gosh this is so strange—I was just writing you a long response to your piece! Well, congratulations! I’m glad it’ll be in print. Can you tell me where? Two of my reviewers who read it were very enthusiastic and I know would like to be able to see it.

In a recent job interview, I was asked about my dream publications and presses. I tried to explain to these lovely people—generous and kind writers and thinkers themselves, people who understand both the academic job market and the world of publishing thoroughly—that in my life as a professional writer I was smacking my forehead repeatedly against a maybe metaphorical, maybe not, ceiling. In the Dean’s conference room, I used my hands and gestured a lot, trying to indicate that my career as a writer is full of possibilities. My gestures were supposed to say something like, Given time, I’ll find new ceilings to smash.

But maybe I’m not hitting this maybe metaphorical, maybe not, ceiling right now at all. If I were, I should be breaking through—simply by force of repetitive strain against metaphor, against a hard surface. Instead, I’m collecting rejection notices, collecting new writerly scars.

But that voice, it’s rejection doubt, slimy like the crap left in my lungs since H3N2 took me down two weeks ago. As creators, we need to learn to hear that voice for what it is, for what it does to our minds and hearts—and our art.

Perhaps, the original metaphor stands. I’m close, tapping at the plaster, forming hairline fractures I know exist only because of the dust I find in my teeth and hair.

***

I got a chance to read into this today, and while it’s a really strong project (truly, I think you’re such a talented writer!), I’m afraid it’s not a perfect fit for me. That said, I think someone else is going to snap you up with this one. But if that’s not the case, please do keep trying me! I continue to feel very confident that there’s success in your future.

Gritty chalk like substance on my tongue. And it doesn’t matter how much water I drink, how many times I brush my teeth, it binds, invisible.

Form rejections hurt. Because someone pressed a button. Someone clicked decline or nope or not-for-us-at-this-time or haha-they-thought-they-were-good-enough. And that click, it didn’t take much time on the part of the clicker. It happens. And then, for the clicker it’s over.

For the writer, it’s a new email notification after an already too hard day. Or it’s three rejections in a row. Or it’s a week of rejections. Or it’s the flu and one really painful slap to your writer’s heart.

But I’ve digressed…

***

This other kind of rejection is personal. It’s personalized. It’s a balm meant for that soon-to-be-wound. Words we’re supposed to cherish, to pin up on our walls or Pinterest boards, to ease the pain of this hurt—and the ones to come.

But maybe we’ve never talked about how that balm is salt, how salt grates against raw skin, how the burn travels on neurons, lingers, stays, imprints on a part of us that’s critical to the art we practice, how salt kills grass.

Maybe we’ve never talked about how kindness can be unkind.

As practicing writers we will always be rejected. It will never stop. Editors and readers and agents and bookstore clerks who don’t believe you’re the person who wrote the book you’re asking if you can autograph. Even TwitterBots will reject us. That’s a simple fact of what we face as writers.

As humans we will always be rejected. Learning how to process it is part of learning how to live. The moment we think we’ve found the last ceiling, the moment we stop learning, stop hurting, stop bouncing back, stop trying to get rejected, the moment these things happen I believe we’re no longer alive.

Rejection is the litmus test. Around my writer’s desk, metaphorically of course, you’ll find little strips of used filter paper stained by water-soluble dye made from lichens. Around your space, I hope you find this too and recognize the beat of your heart, the oxygen that animates what you are in this life.