I’m happy to share that “Madness is Remembering,” my essay awarded the Penelope Nivens Award by the Center for Women Writers and Elissa Washuta last year, is now in the Summer 2017 issue of Prairie Schooner. The essay is about love, cyclical violence, Romani (“Gypsy”) culture, inherited trauma, and survival. I’ll be in there alongside writer and friend Brenda Peynado, so make sure to check out her story too! The summer print issue will be available to order soon!
Devin Kelly, Carly Dashiell & Jessica Reidy (NYC)
April 12 @ 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT
Join us at the infamous KGB Bar, tucked in The Red Room, for some poetry as part of the At The Inkwell Series. Click here for more information. I’m delighted to be a part of this. Come revel in the odd compulsion to express the human condition!
This photo is part of a series by the photographer Aurora Rose de Crosta. More on this later. She and John took many portraits, and I chose this as my favorite and answered this short interview to go along with it. Check out Aurora’s and John’s work at www.auroraandjohn.com. They are a beautiful and talented pair who I am so honored to have worked with.
1). Why did you choose the outfit you did? What about it represents you the most?
I chose this outfit because it’s one of my favorite dresses to wear when I dance. I like to perform a combination of Romani dance and Bellydance, but actually the dress is a Mexican wedding dress from the 1970’s from my favorite vintage store, The Odd Showroom, which was operated by the artist Amity Joy. I am a writer, perhaps first and foremost, but my grandmother taught me her Romani (“Gypsy”) family trades fortune telling, dance, and healing. The word “Gypsy” is a racial slur and reduces us to stereotypes, a dangerous thing in the midst of the current Romani human rights crisis. We are more than fortune tellers and dancers– I am also an English professor, writer, artist, editor, and activist– but these old trades, born of persecution in the centuries after our ancestors left India in the great diaspora, live on too.
2). Do you in general like being photographed? Why?
Yes and no. I did some very small-time modeling when I was young, and I suppose I got used to it, and now I’m a professional art model and have my image rendered in a number of mediums over and over again. If you believe in astrology, I am on the Cancer/Leo cusp (a touch deeper into Leo), and I suppose my relationship with having my picture taken reflects this. I don’t actually know anything about astrology though. I like being a part of an artist’s work, but sometimes it’s hard to look at my own image.
3). How did you feel during the shoot?
Aurora and John were so kind and creative and gave me loving direction while encouraging my own spontaneity. What a joy to work with! Deniz Ataman did my makeup, and she made me feel so glamorous. I loved that we shot in my bedroom too– the whole thing felt so intimate and sweet, and I felt supported in being myself, in all my odd multitudes.
4). Why did you choose the photo you chose?
I am a writer, and I fancy that in this photo I have a crazy face like Jean of Arc in Jules Bastien-Lepage (1879) painting (my paternal grandfather’s favorite), when the angels are telling her what her calling is. When I was a child, I believed that writing was my purpose, and it gave me a reason to live with a fire that I flattered myself by likening to Jean of Arc’s fire. I still might believe that.
5). Were there any particular images you hated? Why?
Anything remotely unflattering I will always hate because my vanity runs wide and deep.
Violet Crumlish, dubbed the ‘Lady Diana of Travelers’, lost her battle with bowel cancer earlier this week. Her remains were flown to Ireland and she will be laid to rest in County Armagh, the place where she was born.
About a month earlier, thousands of travelers from around the world had already visited Mrs. Crumlish, when she was confined in a local hospital. Owen, one of her sons, estimated that approximately 9,000 people went to Bristol just to see her before she passed.
Aside from her family, the ‘Gypsy queen’ is considered a mother by many within the traveler community. Jimmy, another son, remarked, “She was a lovely caring woman. She would never see anyone wronged or harmed, her door was always open to everyone no matter who you were. She was completely non-judgmental.”
More people are still expected to pay their final respects. All ferries to Ireland from England and the rest of Europe are booked up in the coming days as travelers want to say goodbye to their ‘Gypsy’ mother.
The wake is held in a funeral home along Falls Road, Belfast, and a royal send off is being prepared. The hearse carrying Mrs. Crumlish will be drawn by a white horse to St. Peter’s Church in Lurgan for the Requiem Mass. The procession will also include 10 black limousines.
For her burial, a red carpet will be rolled out at St. Colman’s cemetery. Furthermore, white doves will be set free at the graveside. It’s a final act that will certainly be fit for a queen.
“Gypsy” is a catch-all word that to refers to Roma, Sinti, and other groups related to the Roma, as well as Travelers who are ethnically distinct from the aforementioned groups. The word ‘Gypsy’ is often used as a slur, however, some Roma, Sinti, and Travelers reclaim the word as an act of empowerment, like Violet Crumlish. There are various “Gypsy” cultures all around the world and their presence is well-known everywhere due to their diasporic roots and rich history. Although heavily linked to the word ‘travel’, a lot of many Travelers are settled, including the late Mrs. Crumlish who was married to her husband for 44-years and had settled in Bristol, which she referred to as their home.
Travellers, Roma, and Sinti have long been associated with all sorts of arts, music, singing,
and dancing. So much so that even in recent years, the “Gypsy” community has reached television shows in many different forms. There have been many who’ve used Mrs. Crumlish’s inspiration to seek worldwide acclaim on talent shows. The X-Factor, the reality talent show. The X-Factor, the reality talent show which also has several associated gaming titles, has been the avenue for gypsy singers like Cher Lloyd and Olivia Ayres. Moreover, we’ve previously talked about the September 2 GAMBAZine wherein Romani and Sinti (Gypsy) dance and literature were showcased.
This goes to show that ‘Gypsies” love for tradition and culture never wanes. There are still many traveling groups who perform regularly for large crowds. However, the community was recently brought to a temporary standstill with the news of the ‘Traveler Queen’s’ journey to her next life.
April 3rd is the first monthly Yoga and Writing Workshop, The Bridge Between Writing & Yoga, with me and Elissa Lewis at Sacred Sounds Yoga in lovely Greenwich Village, NYC! Come stretch, meditate, write, and explore with us on first Sunday of every month, 1:30-4:00 PM.
Register here: http://www.sacredsoundsyoga.com/workshops/
Our description from the website–
This monthly workshop, held on the first Sunday of every month, conjures the bridge between yoga and writing. Yoga and meditation practice peels back the layers of experience, allowing you to note the movements of the mind and body. This kind of mindfulness roots you to the present and returns you to your authentic voice. As writers, we must know our own voices first in order to know the voices of our characters and speakers.Transcendentalists, Surrealists, Beats, and many other writing collectives all used meditation, dreams, and/or other states of altered consciousness to support their creative work. Expect to be taken on a journey.
Elissa, artist and 500-hour certified yoga teacher, will guide you using yin and restorative yoga, using gravity to unwind tension in the deep muscles. She will interrupt your daily routine through mindfulness meditation and breathwork. Jessica, writing professor, 200-hour certified Kripalu yoga teacher, and Romani (‘Gypsy’) tarot/palm reader and healer, will stir you to write from that place of enriched-awareness, using writing exercises to help you navigate the action of a piece, sensory details, cliche-shattering metaphor, and character/speaker development.
This workshop is intended for all writers and yogis from all backgrounds and levels of experience, from playwrights to sci-fi enthusiasts, feminist poets to romance novelists, memoirists to academics– we welcome everyone. We only ask that you come with an open heart and an open mind. We are fostering a community of mutual respect and a safe space to share the words you create in class and an opportunity to receive constructive feedback from your instructors and peers.
Cost: $30 in advance / $35 on day of
Nomadic Press is hosting a very cool “Difficult Poetry” Reading at the Christopher Stout Gallery in NYC, and I’m honored to be among these difficult poets. I’ll be reading some work on the subject of Romani women’s experiences. Come join us, talk tough, and then kick back in a beautiful place!
Here’s the event invite, and our event description:
Four kick-ass poets will explore difficult topics through the power of words surrounded by subversive art at Christopher Stout Gallery, New York. We invite you to come, listen, think and discuss. Wine will be served.
Nomadic Press supports and provides venues for artwork across all media and disciplines by both emerging and established artists. Nomadic Press’s goal is to guide writers and artists through a supportive and connective process and to offer each artist the opportunity to have his or her work(s) presented in carefully edited and curated publications and events. We strive to juxtapose myriad voices and visions in ways that are surprising and complementary.
Christopher Stout Gallery, New York is a contemporary art gallery in East Williamsburg showing subversive and difficult work by New York City artists. We delight in serving as a platform for discourse on work that is challenging to authority paradigms, feminist, queer, anti-establishment, hyper-aggressive, mystic, and/or joyously sexual.
Stephanie Valente lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is a Young Adult novelist, short fiction writer, poet, editor, content & social media strategist. In short, she wears many hats. Especially if they have feathers. She is the Founder & Chief Editor of Alt Bride, Fashion Editor at Greenpointers, Associate Editor at Yes, Poetry, and Social Media Manager & Columnist at Luna Luna Magazine.
Some of her writing has appeared in Bust Magazine, Electric Cereal, Prick of the Spindle, The 22 Magazine, Danse Macabre, Uphook Press, Literary Orphans, Nano Fiction, and more.
She has provided content strategy, copy, blogging, editing, & social media for per’fekt cosmetics, Anna Sui, Agent Provocateur, Patricia Field, Hue, Montagne Jeunesse, Bust Magazine, Kensie, Web100, Oasap, Quiz, Popsugar, among others.
In her spare time, Stephanie volunteers with rescue dogs and animal shelters.
Brian Sheffield is a poet from California currently living in Brooklyn. Brian’s life is one of constant movement and his poetry attempts to capture, confront, and gain a better understanding of the personal and political implications of said movement. He is always attempting to grow into a better and loving global citizen and, in order to do so, finds that he must question and combat his own privilege along with the prescribed roles of everybody he meets. He studied poetry, literature, and radical philosophy in California while teaching Creative Writing, Critical Thinking, and marginal writing in various public and private schools and universities. He is the author of several self-produced chapbooks, including [UNTITLED], S I N ( G ) , and Songs From Heaven’s Crooked Teeth. He has been published or featured in many local, national, and international magazines and journals — most recently, the Outcryer, Before Passing by Great Weather for MEDIA, Palabras Luminosas, and two issues by NYSAI Press.
Quinton is originally from North Carolina and raised in Harlem. He’s a poet, rapper, performer and artist of various types. He often goes by the name of Que Cee or by my company name, WolfSet Productions. His influence comes from many people and things, including rappers like Jay-Z, Eminem, Peedi Crakk, Pre-record deal 50 Cent, Mos Def, Kanye West, Graph, Cam’Ron, and many of my friends whom are artists.
Jessica Reidy worked on her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and holds a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, The Missouri Review, and other journals. She’s the Acquisitions Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats, Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, and works as an adjunct professor and a freelance editor and writer. She also teaches yoga and works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. Visit her online at www.jessicareidy.com.
I can’t wait to start my new Aromatherapy Yoga class at Family of Light Holistic Center in Brooklyn. Thursday nights, 7:30-9:00, I’ll be guiding the class through asana, meditation, breathwork, and the senses using doTERRA essential oils for a relaxing and invigorating practice. I’m so excited to be part of this gorgeous community of healers, yoga practitioners, and artists. I’m also excited to say that I’m available for private yoga lessons, readings (tarot, tea leaf, and palm), energy healing (traditional Romani and Reiki Master fusion), and creative consulting.
I’m so excited to be reading alongside Rosebud Ben-Oni for Poor Mouth Poetry at An Beal Bocht in the Bronx, and you can read with us! There’s an open mic sign-up after our reading, first-come, first-serve. So whether you want to kick-back and listen to some poems, or get up on stage yourself, we would really love to see you there. The event starts at 8 PM on Wednesday November 11th.
Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a graduate of the Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater in NYC. She is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013) and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Bayou, Puerto del Sol, among others. She blogs at The Kenyon Review. Find her Facebook, Twitter and at 7TrainLove.org
Jessica Reidy worked on her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and holds a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, The Missouri Review, and other journals. She’s Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats, Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, and works as an adjunct professor and a freelance editor and writer. She also teaches yoga and works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. Visit her online atwww.jessicareidy.com.
So delighted and honored to say that my poem “Transfiguration of the Black Madonna: Gypsy Goddess, Gypsy Saint” was nominated by The Infoxicated Corner of The The Poetry Blog for Best of the Net. Check out the other nominees here!
On behalf of The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, Viktor Pachas and I went to The New York Fringe Festival to see Alex Mahgoub’s critically-acclaimed one-person show, “Baba,” chronicling the true story of his father’s murder and life after the trauma. We were so glad we attended– the play skillfully navigates the tangle of loss, identity, masculinity, and sexuality, and then we were fortunate enough to score an interview with Alex on film, thanks to Alex’s generosity and Viktor’s videography expertise. It was so great to talk about the overarching themes of his performance, and Alex was full of life and intelligent things to say. Check out our review, “Baba’s Ghost,” and the video interview with Alex here, plus some wonderful pictures of Alex and his Baba. Alex also has a book in the works, #SelfieGeneration, so be on the lookout for that.
This was my first collaborative review, and what a lovely experience. Viktor and I make a pretty good team. I feel like if you can write something with another person without killing each other, that’s a win, and if you actually enjoy the process, that’s like a kitten crossing the finish line at an ice cream marathon. If you’re not familiar with him already, here’s Viktor’s impressive bio:
Viktor Pachas is a freelance videographer, illustrator, Spanish translator, and musician. Viktor produces videos for Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats and workshops, and is a contributor for their blog. After finishing his studies in Molecular Cell Biology at UConn, he began producing promotional videos for Singapore General Hospital in cooperation with Duke University/NUS while working as a Circadian Research Assistant. Studying Flamenco Guitar and performing in Granada, Spain, he made videos to market a chain of hostels in Andalusia and Morocco. Recently, Viktor shot material in Paris for David Shields’ upcoming movie Black Planet produced by James Franco. He currently lives in New York City and is an instructor for Outward Bound and Global Works. He performs solo as a singer/songwriter and is a drummer for A Thousand Ships when performing in the New England region. Viktor is currently working on illustrating a comic strip based on his travels.
You can listen to his music here: https://victorpachas.bandcamp.com/