Portrait by Aurora Rose and John

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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.

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Joan of Arc, Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1879, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

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Upcoming literary & Gypsy dance performance at GAMBAZine 9/2

I’m so happy to share the stage with these artists and writers who I admire so much. During this performance on September 2nd at Hell Phone (starts at 8!), I’ll be performing a different piece from the Summer Writes performance, but this one will also include a cocktail of Romani (“Gypsy”) dance and literature. If you can make it, I can assure you that it will be an evening of diverse artists bringing and baring themselves to the stage. We hope to see you there! And if you would like to perform at these monthly events, you should get in touch with GAMBAZine too! Check out the full lineup and Facebook Invite below.

*Readers will know how much I like reclaiming the word “Gypsy,” so do’t be alarmed by this act of linguistic empowerment.

The Island of GAMBAZini presents monthly night of curated literary and musical performances from diverse and independent artists. This particular event is meant to inspire your inner island. What would you share in your freest moment? What magical creatures exists within you? When you are nude and experiencing the heat of nature what do you think about? Skinny dipping at night under a full moon with an endless amount of ocean surrounding you – what do you reflect on?
Feel free to wear island inspired attire – mermaids, unicorns and plant life welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1229950513703913/

Performers Include
Deniz Ataman
Chris Carr
Clairette Durand-Gasselin
Harriet Halsey
Tatiana Lima
Jessica Reidy
Brian Sheffield
Joseph Alexander Garel
Ms. Reign
Craig Kite
Lisa Marie Basile
B. Perdomo
Ruby Brunton & Deirdre Coyle

*Photo by Eat the Cake NYC*

Hot art and Literature at Summer Writes 7/23

Come, this Saturday, to a magical rite of art and literature, a veritable carnival. I’ll be taking the stage with a performance that’s half-literature, half-dance, and not appropriate for children. So even if you hate my style, my little sliver of the evening will be racy and weird, and that might be worth something to you. Best of all, many artists will be performing, and they are all fantastic and I’m lucky to be among them.To learn more about this incredibly fun night and the artists, see below.

“This Saturday Dallas Athent, Christian Niedan, Melissa Hunter Gurney and Christoph are bringing Nomadic Press, Brooklyn Wildlife and GAMBA Magazine together for a late afternoon and evening of art and celebration. Summer Writes which will start promptly at 5pm and run till 8 in the backyard of The Hollows, an artist residency at 151 Bedford Ave in Williamsburg run by Pırıl & Friends, promotes independence and diversity within the arts with acoustic music, readings and electronic sounds by Jon Eckhaus Directly after this the celebration continues with Danielle and Vanessa at Hell Phone where Brooklyn Wildlife will be hosting a listening party for Crimdella (Mandella Brathwaite of Black God Pantheon’s) new EP Bury Me in Gold Vol. 1 produced by MNDCFT.
What does this mean? It means you get free art by 20+ diverse and independent writers and musicians. It means you get to have free wine and whiskey at happy hour and then come to hell phone for delicious French food to sooth your buzz and carry you into the evening. It means you get a sneak peak at one of New York Cities prolific rappers newest projects. It means you will meet new artists and new friends. It means you will get to see artists like Stanford Reid, Maayan Oppenheim, Brian Sheffield, Craig Kite, Jessica Reidy, Christine Stoddard, Chris Campanioni and Nathaniel Kressen. It means you will have a phenomenal Saturday – so – don’t miss it and bring those inspired by the arts to enjoy it with you.
Can’t wait to see you soon! RSVP on event links below
https://www.facebook.com/events/1333040806713992/
https://www.facebook.com/events/831494326974241/

 

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If you enjoy angry, literary stripping, come see me. Photo Credit: Oscar Fuertes

 

Yoga & Writing Workshop with Jessica Reidy & Elissa Lewis

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Photo by Victor Pachas

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–

8201840972_babf8b525b_mThis 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

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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

Viktor Pachas and I Review Alex Mahgoub’s Play “Baba,” Plus Interview!

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The poster for “Baba”

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:

viktorViktor 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/

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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