Thinking Its Presence: The Racial Imaginary: Race & Creative Writing — Baraka poems//Poetics of Anguish, Gender & Variant Constructions//Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation Dismantle reading


Now in its second year, Thinking Its Presence: Race, Literary Study, and Creative Writing examines innovative creative writing and scholarship that re-thinks the complex and inseparable links between literary forms and the racialized thinking, processes, and histories that have shaped this country since its founding. The conference brings together the discipline and teaching of creative writing with perspectives from critical race theory, poetics, performance studies, literary theory, literary history, ethnic literatures, and Native American and Indigenous studies. We intend to foster a dynamic exchange among creative writers and scholars. To that end, the conference will include readings, panels devoted to scholarship, and panels devoted to critical discussion of pedagogies and institutional practices.

The title of this conference comes from scholar Dorothy Wang’s book Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2013). Wang’s book makes the larger case “that aesthetic forms are inseparable from social, political, and historical contexts when it comes to the writing and reception of poetry.”

I’ll be participating in three events at the conference:

1) Amiri Baraka: Responding to an SOS: A Conversation with Paul Vangelisti (Friday, March 13, 3:45pm – 5:00pm, UC 333)

I’ll be reading some Baraka poems with Ed Pavlic & Metta Sama during a conversation with Randall Horton & Paul Vangelisti

2) On the Poetics of Anguish, Gender, and Variant Constructions (Saturday, March 14, 11-12:50pm, UC Theatre)

Soham Patel, Ching-In Chen, Bhanu Jacasta Kapil & MG Roberts

Can violence, the bifurcation/trifurcation of gender, and the line speak to impossibilities of saying and arrival? Is monstrosity’s fluidity and multiplicity contained in a poetry’s body? Do the pathways of grammar, our variant/queer/violent/diasporic sentences/lines/sounds–reflect the risks and failures of our experiments? In this conversation, Ching-In Chen, Bhanu Kapil, Soham Patel and Mg Roberts investigate gender and its constant relation to a non-resolution and to anguish by exploring the self’s push against structures of possibility, grammar, and the body itself.

3) Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation Reading (Saturday, March 14, 3:45-5pm, UC Theatre)

Rae Paris, Ching-In Chen, Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela & Kenji Liu

The VONA/Voices Writing Workshop, founded by Elmaz Abinader, Junot Díaz, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones in 1999, is the only workshop in the U.S. dedicated to the aesthetics of writers of color. In 2014, Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela of Thread Makes Blanket Press published Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop. Dismantle brings together voices of writers of color from VONA
workshops across the years, alumni and faculty. Join us as we read writing from the anthology, and as we talk about the important role of Thread Makes Blanket Press in publishing.

The first ever VONA/Voices anthology, Dismantle, includes creative work from established and new authors who have either taught at VONA, or are alumni of the program. In spring 2014 the New York Times re-published a version of Junot Díaz’s introduction in Dismantle in which he discusses his experience in his predominantly White MFA program. While many of us have been having conversations about the overwhelming Whiteness of MFA programs (faculty, students, curriculum), Díaz’s essay encouraged a larger conversation about the overall lack of racial and ethnic diversity in
these programs. Dismantle’s importance in bringing together the voices of writers of color, and in highlighting the work of VONA/Voices of Our Nation and Thread Makes Blanket Press cannot be underestimated.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: