Miguel Ángel Vargas translates my VIDA list of “20 ‘Gypsy’ Women You Should Be Reading” to Spanish for Bitácora Gitana!

MathildeVonThiele

My great-great grandmother, Mathilde Von Thiele

I’m so excited to introduce you to Miguel Ángel Vargas, Romani theatre producer, politician, translator, and all-around power house. He started this blog, Bitácora Gitana http://www.gitanos.org/bitacoragitana/, featuring Romani authors, artists, professionals, and community organizers, and I’m so honored that he decided to translate my essay “Twenty ‘Gypsy’ Women You Should Be Reading” into Spanish for the site, and just in time for International Women’s Day. The essay first appeared in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, in English, and details Romani literacy and authorship, my own journey through story telling, and the work and accomplishments of twenty outstanding Romani women writers. So here’s another way to celebrate international women today– read a gitana!

VIDA’s 33 Life-Changing Books for International Women’s Day in Lit Hub (guess mine!)

I’m so excited to share this Lit Hub piece that the volunteers of VIDA collaboratively concocted in honor of International Women’s Day. http://lithub.com/33-life-changing-books-in-honor-of-international-womens-day/ Read and celebrate!

Here’s mine!

roads-of-roma-coverRoads of the Roma: an Anthology of Gypsy Writers by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, Rajko Đurić, eds.

Jessica Reidy, Web Acquisitions Editor: Though I didn’t discover this book until grad school—on my own steam—it changed my life: before this anthology, I didn’t know that women like me could write. I discovered Romani writers Papusza, Luminița Mihai Cioabă, Mariella Mehr, Paola Schöpf, Margita Reiznerová, and more, which led me to writing and teaching poetry, fiction, and non-fiction about my heritage and culture.

Honored to have my Romani (Gypsy) political poetry in the Political Punch anthology!

political punch

Pre-order your copy here!

I am so honored to appear on the list of glittering contributors to this anthology
Political Punch: Contemporary Poems on the Politics of Identity, released by Sundress Publications. My two poems dealing with Romani (Gypsy) subjugation and spirituality, “Murder and Tradition” and “Transfiguration of the Black Madonna” were part of the “Political Punch” series that the book was born of, originally curated by Fox Frazier-Foley and published in The Infoxicated Corner of The The Poetry Blog. Both the original series and the anthology of the same namesake, Political Punch, feature a number of political poems addressing various aspects of identity, including gender, sexuality, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and beyond by a diverse array of poets.  The need for this series was in direct response to critic Juan Vidal, and Frazier-Foley explains why in her preface.

 

On September 5, 2014, NPR ran an essay by critic Juan Vidal titled, “Where Have All the Poets Gone?” which suggested that American poets no longer write political work. Because I find this assessment of contemporary American letters to be very incomplete, I wanted to take the opportunity to create a dialogue on the subject by curating a series of compelling political poems from contemporary American poets. I christened this series “Political Punch” as an affectionate reflection on the cocktail of poets who decided to honor me with their participation in my little Infoxicated Corner; it was intended to celebrate the glorious mix of poetics, voices, and life experiences all being shaken and stirred into a sense of community and conversation, being distilled into burning gulps of experience for the reader. Leaving aside all the boozed-up metaphors, it was also intended to celebrate my experience of American letters, in all their willingness and ability to pack a political punch.

And now you can pre-order the anthology here and steep yourself in pages of contemporary political poetry!

I want to give a big, heart-soaked thank you to the anthology’s editors, Fox Frazier-Foley and Erin Elizabeth Smith, who worked so hard to collect and feature all of these poets, and to my fellow contributors who have written such marvelous and important work. I feel very lucky to be among them.

Contributors include Kenzie Allen, Jasmine An, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Ahi Baraka, Anne Barngrover, Jennifer Bartlett, Scott Bear Don’t Walk, Erin Belieu, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Jennifer Jackson Berry, Callista Buchen, Cortney Larmar Charleston, Sarah A. Chavez, Chen Chen, Alicia Cole, CA Conrad, Oliver De La Paz, Emile DeWeaver, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Amber Flame, Lisa A. Flowers, Yolanda J. Franklin, Jennie Frost, Carmen Gimenez-Smith, Arielle Greenberg , M. Ayodele Heath, Sara Henning, Jeb Herrin, Elizabeth Hoover, Mark Irwin, Allison Joseph, Bhanu Kapil, Vandana Khanna, Ayisha Knight-Shaw, EJ Koh, Kristin LaTour, Kenji C. Liu, Timothy Liu, M. Mack, Shahé Mankerian, Shane McCrae, Freesia McKee, Lynn Melnick, Philip Metres, Hoa Nguyen, Jennifer Perrine, Saba Syed Razvi, Jessica Reidy, Lois Roma-Deeley, Danny A. Romero, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Danielle Sellers, Glenn Shaheen, Raena Shirali, Karen Skolfield, Christopher Soto, aka Loma, Anna B. Sutton, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Emma Trelles, Donna Vorreyer, Jim Warner, Ginny Wiedhardt, Hanif Willis-Abdurraquib, and Emily Jungmin Yoon.

HOT DAMN!

Here are my poems from the Political Punch series/anthology:

“Transfiguration of the Black Madonna: Gypsy Goddess; Gypsy Saint”

(Excerpted from the novel-in-progress, Zenith)
Black Madonna, full of snakes, let your crescent down. Wield the sickle, rush the milk, and salt the serpents’ mouths. Golden bangles, black milk snakes—these adorn your arms. Blue sky cloth cut for (you) Sarah, Sarah Black, Madonna Shadow, cut for goddess saint of wanderers, cut predestined, cut of chaos, cut the star palm bowls. Slip the feathers under scales and reform the body whole. You were a slave who sailed the chasm, sailed the sea and sun. Persecution sprang a river from the monster: milk, and spit, and blood. In the monster lived a woman and the woman’s soul—you wore her face and wore her tresses spun from black snake gold—golden teeth and golden brow, golden tail and root. The milk snakes split their nests and fled and now your mouth is ruined. There is no birth, there is no death, there’s only mutant growth, and milk snakes dyeing Sarah’s skin with heaps and heaps of gold. There is no sickle, there is no moon, there is no blood or salt. There’s only Sarah sailing through the dream in which she’s caught.

***

“Murder and Tradition”

Violetta and Cristina, Gypsy girls
selling jewelry on the strand
were led into the sea, and screamed
until they drowned. Waves rolled the bodies in;
lifeguards laid them on bright towels
in the sand. 70 indifferent bathers ate sandwiches,
unwrapped their sweets, chatted, sipped
soft drinks beside the sopping corpses
on Torregaveta beach, near the “Gypsy camps”
in Naples, torched the previous week.

Those Gypsy girls would not have swum
where modesty forbade, but Italian authorities
waved off the darker plots, blamed the Gypsies
instead, the way they often do—
for centuries it’s been the light
by which gadjé strike their match,
soak handkerchiefs in kerosene, lob the bottles at grieving families
and thus disperse their need.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Luna Luna Magazine Re-launch, and my poetry

vintageHappy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of the holiday, here’s a straight-talking fish smoking a cigarette and expressing her emotional needs. I hope you, dear reader, are having a few beautiful moments with yourself, the true beloved. Luna Luna Magazine has this great collection of Victorian Valentine’s Day cards and vintage postcard erotica. Got to love that.

I’m a little late to the party, but Luna Luna Magazine‘s new address is http://www.lunalunamagazine.com and it is even more marvelous than before, as above, so below, and the eternal dance of dark and light, many blessings to you. And I’m so excited that a few moons ago Luna Luna re-released my poems “In the Oven,” “Night and Night,” and “Gulls Calling Over Corcaigh” on their new site, too, so now you can read them here. Quail Bell Magazine also reprinted them when they were first released. Thank you to both awesome magazines for the support! Head’s up/trigger warning, all three deal heavily with sexual trauma and child abuse. Why am I posting them on Valentine’s Day, particularly when the re-launch happened ages ago and today is supposed to be happy and dedicated to love? No idea! It’s just happening. The cosmos is chaos.

I will say this, of the holiday. I’m thinking a lot about my little tattoo– a bird that’s standing on the Rromanes verb “VOLI” meaning “to love.” I got this tattoo, on this day years ago, because I wanted to remember that love is an action. What we do is love, and to love, we must act lovingly. Thank you to my friends and readers who have treated me with love and kindness through messages and actions this year. I hope you all are treated with the utmost care and respect because you deserve the best.

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My little bird VOLI tattoo wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day

Jessica Reidy & Rosebud Ben-Oni reading for Poor Mouth Poetry 11/11

An Beal Bocht

An Beal Bocht

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.

Bios~

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.

Fresh off the press! Issue 32.2 of The Southeast Review

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Cover art by Alexa Torre

The Southeast Review issue 32.2 is out and available for purchase! It’s chock full of gorgeous poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. I’m the current Art Editor, and I’m so in love with the artwork in this in issue. Alexa Torre’s exquisitely beautiful photography captures the liminal space between contemporary and traditional Mexican culture, and Julia Gfrörer’s dark mermaid comics tantalize and chill you to the bone. Order your copy today!

What is Literary Activism? A chorus of voices answers in The Poetry Foundation

Activism-quote-by-Alice-WalkerAmy King, WNBA Award Winner, member of VIDA Executive Committee, and Women’s National Book Award winner, has now asked us all “What is Literary Activism?” and then answered it for the Poetry Foundation, but the coolest thing in the world about Amy is that she takes all of her actions seriously. Her angle is that literary activism is about inclusivity and visibility. So what does she do? She asks a diverse array of writers to answer the question along with her. I am so honored to be among them talking about the necessity of Romani literary activism, because as far as I’m concerned, the very act of writing is activism  for Roma. So read Amy, and read Samiya Bashir, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Ana Božičević, Emily Brandt, Ken Chen, Melissa Febos, Suzi F. Garcia, Eunsong Kim, Jason Koo, Lynn Melnick, Shane McCrae, Laura Mullen, Héctor Ramírez, Metta Sáma, Melissa Studdard, and Arisa White!

Write your activism, baby! Opre Roma!

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My story “Why the Pyres are Unlit” in Drunken Boat’s Romani Folio

Drunken Boat has a special Romani Folio and I feel so honored to be included in it alongside Qristina Zavačková Cummings, Sydnee Wagner, Glenda Bailey-Mershon, Tamara Demetro, Allison Williams, and many others! It’s very cool to have a lit journal spotlight Romani writers in this way. Definitely take the time to check out all the wonderful writers in this issue. My short story “Why the Pyres are Unlit” came out of my first fiction workshop of my MFA with Robert Olen Butler, so a big thanks to him and everyone in that Fall 2011 class for helping me get it into shape.

And also in Drunken Boat, not in the Romani Folio but in the poetry section, is Brandon Lewis’s poem “On Solitude.” Another excellent read! While you’re at it, take a look at Brandon and Elissa Lewis’s poetry and drawing collaboration “Projected Lives” in Quail Bell Magazine— so beautiful.

Romani Folio Cover

Drunken Boat’s Romani Folio Cover

I’m reading at the New York City Poetry Festival for Quail Bell Magazine, July 25th at 2:30 PM

I’m absolutely delighted to read for Quail Bell Magazine at the New York City Poetry Festival. Check out our Facebook event and come join us if you can. We’d be so honored by your presence. Put on a shawl and your best, smug writer-face and just kick back into the weird and imaginative quailings. I’ll be reading trauma poetry and poetry grown out of the Romani (Gypsy) tradition, and it feels especially cool to be reading on my 29th birthday. There’s a metaphor in there. Don’t feel like figuring out for what. What am I, a poet? Pssh.
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