What do you have planned for your event in Atlanta?
In Atlanta, I'll be visiting a monthly reading and performance series at Charis. They call it the open "no mic." I'm excited to be invited to offer my work in call and response with what others are working on.
Most people—even those who are involved in both activism and poetry—often think of those as two very distinct realms. What sort of potential do you see in bringing them together?
For me, it's always been difficult to see one without the other. For a long time, I was just focused on the activism and organizing, and at that time I was also staffing a non-profit full-time, heavily involved in prisoner's rights campaigns here in California. It didn't have the spaciousness to allow me to give the poems the attention they needed. When I was able to create more space for poetry it was very difficult to divorce it from political action. It felt really natural to continue to be in dialogue with those bodies of work and people. I don't know how I would create the work without those lines of communication.
I was interested to read on your website that your tour, which starts in Atlanta and goes on to North Carolina and New York, will result in a short film.
I thought it would be fitting to interview some of my old friends who I've met through my political work over the years. I'll be asking them what's continued to feed their lives and their practices and their hearts as they do the work of prison abolition, reproductive justice, or social justice more generally: What's kept them alive and what's kept them working. There's growing awareness of the challenges of doing social justice work through non-profits: people are starting to talk about the "non-profit industrial complex." We're trying to figure out how do we work within this tool that the government has allowed us to use. I'll be interviewing people about their work along the way. I'll weave it together with some singing, maybe some poetry. It's been invited to screen for the first time at a cabaret of queer and transgendered artists.
Vanessa Huang will read her work and host an open "no-mic" at Charis Books in Little Five Points on Thursday, August 16, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
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