“On Fools, Nakedness and ‘Challenging Octavio Paz to a Swordfight in a Mexican Park”: A Conversation with Nelly Rosario and Sheila Maldonado” on Her Kind from VIDA: Women in Literary Arts
reading “Dealers & Flowers” at 2:39 on this here Episode 4 of what I believe is called Pretty LIT, a musicopoetic labor of (Erika Jo) Brown (and B. J.) Love
Thank you to Conrad Wells, sleepy poet in the cubicle in front of me, for tagging me for this. Also shout to Kamilah Aisha Moon who tagged me as my birthweek began but I was lost in my stars not paying attention to a thing.
What is the working title of the book?
It has been a fully employed title for at least a year now. one-bedroom solo. All lowercase, yup.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
From all the poetry workshops I took and all the poems and lines in my journals and on my computer and on post-its and napkins and backs of envelopes, and the poems I wrote when I was little and lines I doodled during class or downtime from a job and most of all, from my father who loved words so much and passed away not too long ago and me finally getting the idea that time is ridiculous and quicker than all of us and it is time to put words out in the world.
The book was somewhat organized into sections, music and language, home and pop culture, some kind of spirituality, city and identity, and there were titles to some of these like “Skeptical Mystic” and “Restless Native” but all these themes were overlapping and just worked better to me looser, boundaries and tones shifting.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
America Ferrara a.k.a. Ugly Betty cuz she is a fine actress who also happens to be Honduran and adorable, and me (see one-bedroom solo: the movie in this here media section) who is not as cuddly but have my moments.
Other actors, hmmm. My mama could be played by Judi Dench cuz I was watching Exotic Marigold Hotel the other day and there was a resemblance. I would have to have open auditions for the cast of friends. I would want a Dave Chappelle/Rita Indiana/Wanda Sykes type for my friends.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
“I sat at water’s edge and smoked a vowel / the way my ancients used to write a star”
– “Water Way” pg. 76
“do I have a tilde / for a moustache” – “you Spanish?” pg. 5
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’ll say three to four years cuz that could be but secretly it might have been ten.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
All of the writers and artists who are my friends, real and imaginary, all of whom I want to talk back to and stay in conversation with for as long as I can. I named as many of the real people as possible in the acknowledgments of the book to which one reader responded, “People of color and their long-ass acknowledgments.”
Here I will name my imaginary artist friends who I pretend to talk to across time and space, Roberto Bolaño, Björk, Nicanor Parra, William Carlos Williams, Pedro Pietri, Langston Hughes, Claribel Alegría, A Tribe Called Quest, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin. I will stop at ten for now.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It is really soft to the touch. Like my skin.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is published by a little press, Fly by Night, part of A Gathering of the Tribes, all still there on the border of the East Village and Lower East Side, holding on for dear life.
My tagged writers (and one filmmaker) for next Wednesday are:
reading “future tense (minor tribe: 2012) and “At the Meer in Harlem”
more fine video work by the mighty ndlela nkobi