Gratitude to several artists and organizations in the Bay: Shannon Holbrook, who designed and co-organized the AfroSurreal Writers reading at Litquake’s Litcrawl. Thank you to James Warner and Nick of Litcrawl for including us; thank you to The Laundry, The Laundry’s Maria, David, and Kyle, and The Mission Local for supporting us. We’re also honored to have been part of the Living Room Light Exchange’s October presentations; we’re thanking curators Liat Berdugo and Elias Vargas and everyone in attendance..Thank you to the Oakland Public Library and much love to the Golden Gate Library (which just held their centennial/block party, pictures below),
Namrata Poddar’s interview with Tiphanie Yanique is intelligent and a definite must-read–also check out some of the beautiful work in The Fourth River, including interviews with Cornelius Eady, Danez Smith, and Adriana Ramirez. (The Fourth River was kind enough to include us in their Tributaries section in 2017.)
Exciting news: the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop has received an NEA grant for our planned digital projections with Pro Arts/The Great Wall; ASWW Founding Member/Co-Director Thaddeus Howze is one of the most-read Quora writers for a second year (check out The World According to Superheroes, his essay series); the talented Norma Smith, who read in our second reading/workshop was featured on Easy Street (thank you editor Camille Griep!); our first reading and workshop is on p. 97 of Clockwise Cat (thank you Alison Ross!):
On March 9, 2017, the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop held their first creativity and intuition reading and workshop. Clairvoyant Tarot Reader and fiction writer Alia Curtis provided a workshop on understanding one’s psychic and intuitive abilities.
(Alia Curtis: photo credit Susan Boytorf)
The workshop was followed by a reading with writers Lyndsey Ellis, Nazelah Jamison, Raina J. León, and Arisa White and held at Nomadic Press Uptown. The roundtable was moderated by Audrey T. Williams, with additional questions from Dera R. Williams and curated by Rochelle Spencer. This event was sponsored by Nomadic Press and Pro Arts Gallery. (The second reading creativity and intuition reading series was held at Nomadic Press Uptown; the third reading and creativity reading series was held at Chapter 510 and The Department of Make Believe. The second and third reading series were curated by Audrey T. Williams and Dera R. Williams.)
Audrey: We’ve been discussing how all forms of creativity are deeply intuitive. Audre Lorde has said that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, so what tools do you then turn to in your creative work? What is your writing process? Do other creative practices inform your work?
Lyndsey: I use dance a lot. I’ve never considered myself intuitive. Still, I’m always trying to get out of my head, and my process is very fluid. I go with the flow–and consider music a gift.
Arisa: Dance has a kind of wildness, that sense of play. In childhood, with my siblings, we’d play with each other and dismantle pain by being in artistic collaboration.
Alia: I try to do Tai Chi and Chi Gong Breathing is an important aspect of Tai Chi. It balances your body chemistry and relaxes you giving you a better handle on stress and ensuring better health.
Raina: I do a lot of sleeping–I use dreams to help get me started. I also talk to Siri in the car. I use the dictating function on the phone and ask questions–how are the characters related?
Many thanks to Clockwise Cat, which will feature an interview with Alia Curtis, Lyndsey Ellis, Nazelah Jamison, Raina Leon, and Arisa White from our Creativity and Intuition Reading Series #1. Look for it in Issue #38, which editor Alison Ross says will run sometime in October. Much love to Weird Sister and editor-in-chief Marisa Crawford, for encouraging and supporting us. And we’re grateful to EasyStreet Magazine and editor Camille Griep, which will publish an interview with Norma Smith, who was part of our Creativity and Intuition Reading Series #2, curated by Audrey T. Williams and Dera R. Williams. We are also at work on an interview with Tureeda Mikell, who was also part of the Creativity and Intuition Reading Series #2.
Logo Designed by Thaddeus Howze
Group Discussion, featuring Johnnie Davis of Serenity House
Alia Curtis and Arisa White
The writers who have read with us will make you think seriously about what it means to write and create. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for being so committed to your art.
We are beyond grateful to all the writers and artists who participated in the exhibition June 2-June 29 at Pro Arts. Thank you for your creativity, thank you for your generosity and your support of other artists. We have video, directed by Alton Ray, a media student at Laney College. We also have pictures with Johnnie Davis, Author and Director of Serenity House, and James David Lee, creator of The Reading Room, who spoke at the curator’s talk on June 22.
Dera R. Williams is the Director of the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop’s Time Capsule Project and arranged for a series of interviews with Oakland residents about the Great Migration through StoryCorps. Dera is in the process of compiling a book about growing up in Oakland. You can learn more about Dera’s work here and view pictures from the Time Capsule project below. All images were photographed at Pro Arts Gallery.
And here’s an interview with Amos White, recipient of our award for Excellence in AfroSurreal Writing and Art:
Interview with Amos White, haiku poet and artistic producer
AfroSurreal Writers of the East Bay
EcoArts Festival, 2017
Q: What role does the environment play in your writing or your activism?
White: The natural environment is essential to all my work, as is the built environment: the immediate environmental conditions, whether it’s raining, a cutting wind, damp and foggy; to the societal environment, from tapping the day’s zeitgeist to following the current events to the source of the page.
My haiku is sustained and nourished with its reliance on the space found within and from the environment, even when it is written as a humanistic senryu.
grin back at terror–
write like the gladiator
down through the last breath
Q: What writers, artists, or activists do you admire–and why?
White: Some of the people I admire as writers, artist or activist include Taj James who maintains a successful living legacy of social justice activism and a voice that inspires progressives in California and across the nation. Rebecca Solnit is a courageous, prolific author and activist who is quick and on point when speaking truth to power. Linda Sarsour stands like an oak as a true champion for women and Muslim’s rights and equal treatment under the law and in society. Kamau Bell delivers comedic social commentary that cleaves our biased assumptions and leaves us smiling, yet learned. Dr. Chip Thomas has saved lives in and saved minds. His outspoken artwork spans the northern Arizona highways and landscapes adorning otherwise unseen building with images that speak of the Native American experience. Tongo Eisen Martin braves nothing yet his poetry endures within us like everyman’s anthem long after his sonorous tones leave us. Colin Kaepernick is an American hero and patriot who risked his career and popular celebrity status as a leading American football player when he stood up for the equal application of all American’s civil and human rights as protected by The Constitution by taking a knee in protest to the disproportionate injustices of police and state sanctioned killings of unarmed black men and women and children, and people of color in America. Lupita Nyong’o who’s stunning cinematic performances pale in comparison to her pride and outspoken champion of excellence and grace in the content of one’s character regardless of the color of their skin. Van Jones for his strong social justice and economic justice work and voice in representing people of color and underserved Americans. Kamasi Washington whose original brand of jazz music artistically reinterprets both the genre and ourselves within the context of modern times.Barbara Lee was the first and the only member of Congress to oppose the Iraq War in retaliation to the 9/11 attacks and has never wavered from representing the higher ideals of liberty, justice, freedom and truth for all Americans. Claudia Rankine produces literary artifacts that stretch the imagination and embolden even the uninspired soul. Spike Leefor his persistent creativity that raises critical societal issues that challenge the status quo thru a uniquely African American lens. Bernie Sanders for his dogged determinism to be the solution of the people, for the people and by the people, that awoke our nation’s moral conscience.
Q: What is one thing people should understand about your art or your activism?
White: The authenticity of my actions and experience are an ever evolving act, a struggle to consciously become more fully aware of my existence as it is linked to and an influence upon others in our collective movement towards liberation.