[-empyre-] Decolonial Poetry & Play in the Pacific

Margaret Rhee mrheeloy at gmail.com
Fri Oct 25 09:13:36 AEDT 2019

Thank you LeConte and Craig, this is really beautiful, and truly a honor to
engage with both of your work.

I've always been informed by both your work and presence, and grateful for
hybrid scholars and artists in my life, who make things possible.
I feel so much that community is such an important part of not only
activist practices,  but poetic practice too. I really love this
and wish we could be in IRL to talk about these things sometime soon.

I know Maria and Gabriela had some issues with the listserve access, and
Ill forward their posts shortly.

Craig, I love how you articulate playing with space of the page, and an
"oceanic poetics" in "words as islands, sentences as archipelagoes, and the
space as oceanic." It really teaches us to view the page and the poem in
such different and meaningful ways. It's an important intervention, and
seeing the page as a canvas, or map (remapping).  It does remind me also of
Maria's work with paper dresses, she paints on, and the deep attention to
form, that is a decolonial intervention.

For your poetry, I've always been so moved by this play as a subversion of
the page and remapping of colonial maps. I'm excited to read further about
the new Oceania and the history of colonization.

I also love thinking about the ocean. It reminds me of the resonance with
Kale's work on oceans and seafaring and Filipino migrants sailors.

In terms of your work as a publisher, which I've admired greatly over the
years, and our collaboration on Kundiman chapbook was such a special
experience. It reminds me of how poets and cultural workers of color also
support the publication and distribution of the poetry as well. Your work
with Ala Press is so dynamic in how it intervenes in what we understand as
arts and letters and how not only are you intervening as an artist, but
also support other artists in a collective activism.

If you had a moment, I'd love to hear more about how this developed as your
practice? Did you always see publishing and community work, as integral to
the poetic intervention you make on the page? I'm always grateful to be in

I'm thinking now of LeConte's anthology publication of her work with Black
youth in Oakland, and her many interventions with poetry, and
participatory action research in public health. It's beautiful to think of
the voices of Black female ancestors and Black girls from the future in
terms of your practice, and such a honor to engage. I love this how you
discuss remapping LeConte and about the "narrative maps of Black girls’ and
women’s journeys towards safe and healthy landing places" which resonates
with Craig's work too. It's all deeply moving and an intervention of the
poem and remapping of the page.

It's fun and incredible that you are also deemed the "Play Priestess" (!!)

I had initially thought of your incredible poetry and community based
research in public health, but it makes sense, and how to include play, and
intervene in our fabric of life to enjoy and play in our creative and
academic writing lives.

This play can and should extend into our lives and not only adherence to
the structures of the institutions in which we reside.

I was fortunate to meet you in Cecil's workshop, and later with Cecil and
Craig too. I'm wondering if you can talk more about experimentalism and the
legacy of Black poetry and who has informed your work, and practice?
it's so exciting to learn about your teaching that has also crossed
boundaries of health in the MFA and working with MPH students about poetry.

I wonder if you were always able to find this hybrid practice, or did you
experience any administrative hurdles in being able to teach across
programs and approaches? It's an inspiring to think about and it is buoying
to know that the students can learn from both MPH and MFA content.

I know that I also feel blessed in my department to teach artists about
theory, and that there are not many places that also see the value of art.

I'm wondering if you both experience this when working with students?
I guess I'm thinking of mentoring here after teaching.

Do your students (especially grad students) take on this practice (of
play)? How do you teach this? I guess I think often of models, like both of
your work and presence, which helped teach me these possibilities too.

Now in the role as a teacher, I'm often wondering how I help my students
think in hybrid embodied ways. And the stakes for artists of color to
create these spaces and roles not only for ourselves but for others. I
would like to think I have students who also would want this practice
and openness, and yet the structures often make it impossible.

I'm also thinking about the role of collaboration in both of your work, and
how is this part of your play, and practice? Thank you both again for your
interventions, and all that you do.

On Thu, Oct 24, 2019 at 12:30 AM LeConte J Dill <ljd9 at nyu.edu> wrote:

> 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
> places.
> 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:
> https://weareallpoets2015.wordpress.com/
> Take care,
> LeConte
> *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*
> *https://publichealth.nyu.edu/faculty/leconte-dill
> <https://publichealth.nyu.edu/faculty/leconte-dill> *
> 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 here:
>> https://www.academia.edu/30082881/_On_Writing_from_the_New_Oceania_The_Ottawa_Poetry_Newsletter_2016_
>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.academia.edu_30082881_-5FOn-5FWriting-5Ffrom-5Fthe-5FNew-5FOceania-5FThe-5FOttawa-5FPoetry-5FNewsletter-5F2016-5F&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=syO_oPYgWZHgiupvSQ9OchcSozLh83MYX7OUcz41xC0&e=>
>> .
>> 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
>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.alapress.org&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=1kpdtti3ri_b5KQVYQGXZIK2anBTnmxJ2mdCZesVhJU&e=>
>> and here is one anthology that I co-edited that just came out this year:
>> https://www.amazon.com/Effigies-Allison-Adelle-Hedge-Coke/dp/1784631833/
>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.amazon.com_Effigies-2DAllison-2DAdelle-2DHedge-2DCoke_dp_1784631833_&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=31-FHHdUKdLFKyxvl2av9zwTDZFQldh63p7r_73A_yg&e=>
>> .
>> Cheers,
>> Craig
>> 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
>>> visual.
>>> 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.
>>> warmly,
>>> Margaret
>>> ---
>>> "The Page Transformed" Interview with Craig Santos Perez:
>>> http://www.lanternreview.com/blog/2010/03/12/the-page-transformed-a-conversation-with-craig-santos-perez/
>>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.lanternreview.com_blog_2010_03_12_the-2Dpage-2Dtransformed-2Da-2Dconversation-2Dwith-2Dcraig-2Dsantos-2Dperez_&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=02UIJauJAxTRdfUM_k_wQZawkBOffqyAwW7U9U94trw&e=>
>>> [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
>>>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.craigsantosperez.com&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=3gU3S9tccCpTBj6pKAWLoMO85dKmfvWg2pOubavMNsk&e=>).
>>>> 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:
>>>> http://craigsantosperez.com/defence/
>>>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__craigsantosperez.com_defence_&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=U2vVLlez_DumNG_xXVtFUrPtmV0K4umN1fnHxBbmQwA&e=>.
>>>> A poem-video, called "praise song for oceania" can be found here:
>>>> http://craigsantosperez.com/praise-song-oceania/
>>>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__craigsantosperez.com_praise-2Dsong-2Doceania_&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=SU17xJlzU25bs_N-Cz1ftgYvcHHNd5J4ICWmRbrdbWw&e=>
>>>> .
>>>> 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.
>>>> Cheers,
>>>> Craig
>>>> --
>>>> 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
>>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__empyre.library.cornell.edu&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=Rfefd_eCpqpOLb-fNBdAfgjLmrtf2C8xDZzKeTw2lOk&e=>
>>> --
>>> 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
>> http://craigsantosperez.com/
>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__craigsantosperez.com_&d=DwMFaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=PQNxp9KQfv-_Pd9URUCThHVrRcC3viMPV3iko9xuJbs&e=>
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__empyre.library.cornell.edu&d=DwICAg&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=7orC5lGIdGAnr6U_9qaZ1w&m=n3YxeShUWhYEzynfSGtjN4Ejwq5LcF3yuOaKzIt04Lk&s=Rfefd_eCpqpOLb-fNBdAfgjLmrtf2C8xDZzKeTw2lOk&e=


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
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