I spoke to Brut media about the harmful use of the racial slur “Gypsy” and “gypped.” I see the word used so often in writing, media, brands, and few people know that it refers to the Romani people, and reinforces negatives stereotypes about us like nomadism, curses, thievery, and promiscuity. Many Americans believe that the word Gypsy actually means thief, nomad, curse-thrower, or ‘slut,’ and this erases Romani identity at a crucial time while we are fighting for our rights, and associates the real Romani people with theses stereotypes. I am proud of my Romani heritage and I want people to understand who we are. I’ve written many articles on other aspects of Romani culture, which you can find on my Writing page. If you know someone who uses this word, even if they think they are using it in a positive way, you might like to gently and lovingly educate them on the power of language and the history of this slur. Thanks for watching!
RomArchive, one of my favorite orgs, asked me to write a post for International Romani Day, April 8th. So here is my piece– International Romani Day and the Necessary Integration of Romani Feminism! Very inspired by Carmen Gheorghe and her work with E-Romnja, supporting survivors of domestic violence. So here it is! International Romani Day and the Necessary Integration of Romani Feminism. Many thanks to everyone!
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’m so excited to announce that I will be presenting my essay, “Esmeralda Declines an Interview,” published in The Missouri Review blog at The Romani/Gypsy Arts & Letters Conference at New York University, April 23rd-24th. I’m even more excited to hear and meet my fellow presenters.
A little more about the conference– hope to see you there!
Opre Khetanes IV Concert and Conference on Romani (Gypsy) Musics and Cultures represents a major gathering on the East Coast of scholars of Romani culture and Roma who work as academics, activists, and/or performers. Presentations will be made by established scholars and by graduate students with expertise in Romani studies.In the conference portion of Opre Khetanes IV, Romani/Gypsy Arts and Letters, artists, activists, and scholars in the fields of musicology, anthropology, Romani studies and related disciplines will deliver presentations on subjects related to the representation of Romani people by themselves and/or others.Opre Khetanes IV will also feature a film screening and a panel discussion.The conference is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required.
In the second and final part of my essay “Romani Gypsy Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” over at Kate Lechler’s column “The Expanded Universe” in Fantasy Literature, I discuss Romani writers who write speculative fiction/sci-fi/fantasy/magical realism, and then I explain why these distinctions between realism and magical realism are entirely arbitrary. I also take a look at Romani folklore and trauma narratives and discuss how these elements shape contemporary Romani fiction. In short, I really enjoyed writing this and I hope you enjoy the Romani writers Caren Gussoff Sumption and Rajko Djuric, who I positively gush about in this essay. And if you leave a comment on the essay over at Fantasy Literature, you’ll be entered into a book giveaway! You people like books, right? What could be better for you?
Thanks for reading!
If you don’t know Kate Lechler’s new column “The Expanded Universe” over at Fantasy Literature, you’d best check it out. She thoughtfully features writers and their thoughts on the SciFi Fantasy genres, both the craft and the literary theory of it. One of my favorites is Micah Dean Hicks’ essay on Elite Groups in SFF.
I wrote a 2-parted essay on Romani (Gypsy) Power in SciFi and Fantasy, taking a look at who the Roma are, the role or function that Gypsies play in Fantasy and SciFi and why, and what that means for both art and politics. I’m so thankful to be a part of such a cool publication, and I’m excited for Part II coming up featuring one of my favorite Romani writers of SFF and why I think there is no such thing as magical realism. Stay tuned!
Sometimes I get requests from people to do interviews because they’re writing a Romani (Gypsy) character and want to use the life of a real live Gypsy girl to write her, and I always feel uncomfortable about the idea of divulging my life story for another writer’s creative gain. My friend, Misha Rai, urged me to turn those feelings into an essay, and because Misha’s advice is always brilliant, I did it. And now I’m honored and stunned to have “Esmeralda Declines an Interview” in The Missouri Review blog.
No offense intended to anyone who has asked me to interview with them as research for their book. It’s wonderful that you want to write well-rounded Romani characters, and I’m flattered that you thought of me. If you are struggling to include Romani characters in your work, then my advice to you is this: “If you want to be inclusive, then read and support the writers you want to include. Don’t ask to take our lives for your own gain.” I’m sure your intentions aren’t nefarious and I applaud your efforts to write mindfully. Just be mindful in your research too.
A good resource for you to find Romani writers is ‘ list of Romani Authors. I also have a list of “20 Gypsy Women You Should Be Reading” at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. There are many more places to look, but this is a good start.
Happy reading! And thank you to The Missouri Review and Misha Rai– I love you to bits.
P.S. Check out “Housewives, Mothers” by Misha in The Indiana Review– it’s one of my favorite stories.