[-empyre-] Decolonial Poetry & Play in the Pacific
LeConte J Dill
ljd9 at nyu.edu
Thu Oct 24 15:30:25 AEDT 2019
Thank you for the invitation to join in on this discussion, Margaret!!
And thanks for kicking things off, Craig.
My poetry is inspired by the voices of Black female ancestors, Black girls
and women that are known and unknown to me, and Black girls from the
future. In my poetry, I've come to realize that I'm creating narrative maps
of Black girls’ and women’s journeys towards safe and healthy landing
Some of my poetry teachers and mentors have encouraged me to dance more and
play more in my writing and on the page (and stage). One of my comrades
recently donned me the "Play Priestess"--I encourage selfcare
and squadcare, naps, breaks, beach time, dancing, and joyfulness in life,
in general, and also in my creative and "academic" writing.
One way that I've played is by merging my identities, knowledges, and
practices as both a poet and a public health professor. For most of my
life, I kept these "crafts" separate. When I started my doctoral program, I
knew that I had to bring them together for my own sanity because I'm only
one person afterall. Almost a decade ago, Margaret witnessed me attempting
this playing in C.S. Giscombe's poetry class at Berkeley. Health-inspired
poetry...poetry-inspired health research...Both/And. So you might find me
teaching MFA students about the themes of chronic and infectious disease,
social support, and healing in Sonia Sanchez's "Does Your House Have
Lions?," or asking MPH students to write an "I Come From" poem for
first-day-of-class introductions (and to not begin their poem with "I'm not
a poet"). This playing always engages me with young people, folks of color,
people who have filled countless journals but don't call themselves
"writers," and folks who name writing as one of their coping mechanisms.
Special shout-out to my #weareallpoets squad in Jo'burg who showed me how
to play with our words all the way in the Motherland:
*LeConté J. Dill, DrPH, MPH**Director of Public Health Practice*
*Clinical Associate Professor,*
*Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences*
*College of Global Public Health*
*New York University*
*665 Broadway, 11th Floor*
*New York, NY 10012*
*Email: ljd9 at nyu.edu <ljd9 at nyu.edu>*
*Phone: (212) 992-6087*
On Thu, Oct 24, 2019 at 12:09 AM Craig Perez <csperez at hawaii.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks so much, Margaret!
> Yes, playing with the space of the page is an important part of my poetry.
> Iʻve written before about articulating an "oceanic poetics" in which I see
> words as islands, sentences as archipelagoes, and the space as oceanic with
> rhythmic currents and unseen depths of meaning. I write more about this
> I also think about the page as a kind of mapping. In the Pacific, as
> elsewhere, there's a long history of colonial mappings that reduce our
> islands & ocean to territorialized spaces. So in my work I try to play
> (subvert, re-imagine, de-territorialize) colonial maps.
> Yes, I also work as an editor & publisher. I have co-edited four
> anthologies of Pacific islander literature and I co-founded Ala Press, the
> only press in the US dedicated to Pacific literature (we have published
> around 10 books thus far). It's nice to think of this labor as creating a
> space (anthology or collection) for other voices to gather and inter-play.
> For those interested, here is the press: www.alapress.org
> and here is one anthology that I co-edited that just came out this year:
> On Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 6:12 AM Margaret Rhee <mrheeloy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Thank you Craig for your message, and for participating. Such a honor to
>> engage with your work and continue the thread on poetry, activism, and
>> decolonial play. I've always been moved by your collaborative work across
>> mediums such as poem-videos and visual art, and your work on the page in
>> your collections too. I've inserted an excerpt from your first collection
>> from unincorporated territory [hatcha] that to me, exemplifies the play on
>> the page, that is all at once decolonial and experimental in terms of the
>> It's incredible to think of land, the ocean, and the poem in this way. It
>> certainly reminds me of Maria's play with poetry and of Jerry's work on
>> environments too. I wonder if you can speak more to your work in the visual
>> and when thinking about oceans, land, environments, and poetics?
>> I've also been moved in your collaborations as a publisher of Pacific and
>> POC poetry in your practice. I wonder if you can speak more to this work of
>> fostering Pacific poetry, and social justice movements through poetry
>> readings and publishing as an activist practice? Always moved by your
>> interventions, and excited to hear from others for this week.
>> "The Page Transformed" Interview with Craig Santos Perez:
>> [image: image.png]
>> On Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 12:36 PM Craig Perez <csperez at hawaii.edu> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Hafa adai and Aloha!
>>> Thanks, Margaret, for the invitation to join this exciting discussion.
>>> My poetry focuses on my home island of Guahan (Guam), my current home of
>>> Hawaiʻi, and the larger Pacific and our diasporas. Thematically, I address
>>> issues of decolonization, demilitarization, environmental justice, food
>>> sovereignty, political self-determination, and migration. Four of my books
>>> have been published thus far, with my fifth forthcoming next year (you can
>>> see my books here at my website: www.craigsantosperez.com
>>> When I think about "play" in my work, I think about my use of playful
>>> techniques/aesthetics, including collage, polyphony, satire, humor, gossip,
>>> the carnivalesque, and metanarratives.
>>> I enjoy thinking of collaboration as a kind of inter-play. The two main
>>> collaborations I have done have been with Hawaiian artists/writers. One art
>>> installation called "defence" can be found here:
>>> A poem-video, called "praise song for oceania" can be found here:
>>> Lastly, I have found that creating a space of creative play at activist
>>> events have been very fruitful. I have organized many poetry writing spaces
>>> and creative writing workshops at different kinds of protest marches,
>>> activist festivals, cultural events, and more for people to express
>>> themselves. I have also hosted poetry reading and open mics at activist
>>> events, teach-ins, etc. I believe making these kinds spaces are vital for
>>> social justice movements to keep things playful (engaging, fun,
>>> pleasurable, expressive, creative, etc).
>>> I look forward to learning from everyone one.
>>> Dr. Craig Santos Perez
>>> Interim Director of Creative Writing
>>> Associate Professor, English Department
>>> Affiliate Faculty, Center for Pacific Islands Studies
>>> & The Indigenous Politics Program
>>> University of Hawai'i, Mānoa
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.
>> College Fellow in Digital Practice (2018 - 2019)
>> Department of English
>> Harvard University
>> Assistant Professor in Media Theory (2019)
>> Department of Media Study
>> SUNY Buffalo
> Dr. Craig Santos Perez
> Interim Director of Creative Writing
> Associate Professor, English Department
> Affiliate Faculty, Center for Pacific Islands Studies
> & The Indigenous Politics Program
> University of Hawai'i, Mānoa
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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