As some of you know I’m on the Wordstock advisory council here for Literary Arts, a writing-focused nonprofit based in Oregon. In November, Literary Arts brings local, national, and international writers and readers alike to the Portland Art Museum for a uniquely Portland literary experience. The festival saw over 8,000 visitors last year, and this year we expect to see even more.
While there is an opportunity to visit for literary fans from all over the state and the world, we also have an opportunity to do more. We are empowered to represent the breadth of the literary spectrum by curating different reading shows for this year’s Wordstock Lit Crawl.
If you have an organization that can and should be represented at Wordstock’s Lit Crawl, I urge you to submit as soon as possible. We would love to make this year’s festival and readings the most diverse to date – and like any nonprofit, we can only do that from the ground up.
I just submitted an idea on behalf of the Oregon Writers of Color on the theme of “Reparations” and what life could and would be like for nonwhite creators if they had the same opportunities others do. What ideas do you have?
Check out this beautiful program I designed for PFLAG Portland Black Chapter’s 7th Anniversary and Fundraiser, From Root to Fruit:
7th Anniversary Promo Page 1
7th Anniversary Promo Page 2
7th Anniversary Promo Page 3
7th Anniversary Promo Page 4
I’ve been meaning to start a portfolio with my design work to show folks what I can do – and I finally did it. Check out my new Design and Promotions page to learn more and see my portfolio!
If you or someone you know needs to design a program or event flyer or other print or online materials for your next event or fundraiser, please let me know. I offer sliding scale prices for writers, artists, and nonprofits. Email me for a quote, or check out my Booking Page.
It’s been quite the past month here in Portland and now that it’s almost spring I’m overdue to share some of my latest work. As some of you know, I was the Arobb@ digital blogger in residence at Duke University’s Program for Latino Studios in the Global South for the month of February. The program allowed me to focus my energy on a short set of pieces concerning the nature of femininity, oppression, and race in migrant America. If you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, they shouldn’t take you more than 8 minutes to go through.
March also meant some big changes in my career. I left the Portland Observer and experienced a milestone that many writers will not share – I had my byline lifted by an editor. When I learned that this wasn’t unique to me – that dozens of writers I spoke to spoke of both having their wages withheld and the writing misattributed intentionally, I decided to speak up. I shared a Love Letter To Future Writers at Medium on my experiences and am working still to recover both my wages and create community accountability.
Fortunately, when I left the paper, I found other platforms ready to work with my writing. I am now moving forward on a new beat on decriminalization of marijuana over at Potcast PDX, which is set to be a half hour variety show about cannabis and its unique effects on intersectional communities launching sometime in the next 40 days. I’m setting off to start on one of my first interviews for them today, focusing on what is happening to convicts living with records for a crime that may no longer exist.
Aside from my published pieces in the past month, I have a few readings coming up.Catch me tonight at Death Rattle Hum – Portland Edition, where I’ll be reading alongside local poets Jamondria Harris and Michelle Peñaloza, and wandering poets from Idaho Griffin Birdsong, Diana Forgione, Marshall Harris, Dig Reeder, and Alex Yann. The entire event was put together by local poet and professor Mike Young, who I have really enjoyed working with in the past several months. The reading starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Post 134, 2104 NE Alberta in Portland.
If you can’t make it tonight you’ll have another chance to hear me read this Monday at Powell’s for Smallpressapalooza 2016. The lineup is impressive:
I’m right there in the middle at 8 p.m. and you’ll be able to score copies of No One Remembered Your Name But I Wrote It Down along with everyone else’s chapbooks and small press releases right there after the reading.
It’s January and that means epic new posts on my life because ~new year new me~ right? I won’t bore you with resolutions because the only thing I plan to do differently this year is stop hating myself for falling into comforting human habits, like buying myself lattes when I’m cold or tired. Also, I love January because I love buying stationary and it’s a great excuse to get artsy calendars and motivate yourself to do something meaningful with your life regardless of how difficult that might seem. In 2016, I want to get into graduate school. Let’s see how that goes!
Now here’s some cool news – I’m the new Communications Specialist at PFLAG Portland Black Chapter and I’m ecstatic to help them grow this year. You can read my full interview with them here.
There were all wonderful bylines to have but one of the most exciting announcements I have I’ve saved for last – I am really excited to say today I was contacted by the director of the Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South at Duke University and invited to be their February Arob@ Visiting Resident Blogger. The blog is curated by a different artist, scholar, activist, or public intellectual each month, and past visiting writers include artist Pocholandia – AKA izelvargas.com, novelist Patricia Engel, food journalist Victoria Bouloubasis, and most recently Margarita Azucar. I hope to live up to the wonderful work of my predecessors this February – and if you want to learn more about the blog you can check it out now!
I am booked up this fall and winter with wonderful readings and workshops, and will have dozens of great news stories coming up for general readers. I also have a peace I am working on peace for a Salvadoran anthology that will be translated into Spanish, so please keep supporting me and I will keep supporting our communities and creating free and low-barrier art, literature and essays for people of all mean.
October has been a very busy month for me – between my birthday, helping plan the Wordstock literary festival relaunch and interviewing authors, I’ve been behind in keeping this place updated.
Of the many things I’ve been writing about, Portland’s ongoing rental crisis is at the forefront of my work this fall. City Council recently passed some modest provisions for renters – including an extension to 90-days for no-cause evictions are rent hikes over 5%. I know it’s not enough. I am no stranger to the cruelty of the renters market, and am in a unique position to have seen quite the breadth of it here. Not so long ago, I was a resident of Portland’s illustrious Indigo 12 West apartments in the heart of Uptown. One of the first increasingly-common glass blue highrises I’d seen, my neighbors belonged to celebrity artists and financiers alike – Blazers, actresses, that guy from Portlandia, doctors, pilots, and many, like my husband, software developers and other tech new money. The software developer’s young wife, I was not sure how to navigate the situation, and soon forgot the sorrow of long-ago displacement, that old life of working two jobs for a small one-bedroom in outer southeast.
I watched the rent prices climb – and one day, the man I was married to urged me to find my own place, because I would no longer be welcome with him at the Indigo or among the blue glassy dream of downtown Portland.
I had no idea how bad it would be out there again.
Portland’s summer of evictions crashed around me, with black single women I knew leaving the city faster than any other time I’d seen in my history here. I watched one of my best friends grow heavy with pregnancy alone – asking if anyone had a bed or couch where she could lay her head down. Only a year ago I could have given her my couch in the Indigo – now I was helpless next to her, unsure where I too would go each month or how I would make rent.
While I am still here though, I’m working on two wonderful interviews I had with Reneé Watson and Sandra Cisneros, both of whom are women and authors of color who are reading and headlining this year’s Wordstock literary festival.
Another wonderful story I recently got to work on was the story of Thomas Amanuel, an Eritrean refugee who is stuck in detention limbo. His mother Elsa Mengis has worked tirelessly to bring attention to his plight and hopefully keep him here.
The Center for Intercultural Organizing has done outstanding work advocating for Amanuel and his family, and I think his story is part of the larger narrative going on here: people of color are being pushed out of Portland, whether it’s through rising rents, no cause evictions, predatory lending and bad mortgages, deportation and laws that unfairly target dark-skinned and foreign people – there is something brewing here that needs to be addressed.
I hope I can continue to write for Portland and create content that’s accessible to people of all means and backgrounds, and I hope every update I provide, every story I share, gets to your hands and informs and enlightens you.
And as if that weren’t enough, I’ll sign off with a link to this week’s Notable Portland, my literary events calendar for the local area. I’m most excited to hear North Korean refugee and human rights activist Yeonmi Park at Powell’s on Tuesday night. I hope to see some of you there, or at Basic Rights Oregon’s halloween gala, Ignite! this Friday, where I’ll be volunteering as a social media intern and catching the city’s best costumes and quotes.