Hybrid reading/lecture at RaceCraft: A Symposium, Thursday, October 20

RaceCraft: A Symposium: A[…]* genealogy to the contemporary craft movement

Barbara And Art Culver Center Of Arts, 3834 Main St., Riverside, California 92501

Free and open to the public. Limited seating. To reserve a seat, navigate to: <https://artsblock.ucr.edu/Performance/RaceCraft-symposium

Slow. Sustainable. DIY. Green. Local. Anti-mainstream. These are some of the keywords associated with the contemporary craft movement. Enabled by technology and new media, craft culture has been described as a combination of traditional artisanal craftsmanship, punk culture, and a DIY sensibility. It often positions itself as a response to the problems of globalization, hyper-consumerism and environmental degradation. Crafting is now, in the words of the maker-activist Betsy Greer, “craftivism,” a politically active site of social change.

12 – 12:10 Welcome by Sarita See
12:15 – 1 Presentation by Aram Han Sifuentes
1:15 – 2 Presentation by Marie Lo
2 – 2:30 Coffee Break
2:30 – 3:15 Hybrid reading/lecture/presentation by Vickie Vertiz
3:30 – 4:15 Presentation by Bovey Lee
4:30 – 5:30 Roundtable with all speakers and
Clare Counihan and Jan Christian Bernabe

But has “green” become the new white?

Despite its activist and inclusive ethos, the contemporary craft movement has been dominated by a neoliberal model of middle-class whiteness. Localism and lifestyle choices have become valorized as the primary modes of social change. People of color are often invisible in the craft movement, except as victims of globalization and exploitative labor practices who need to be saved by first world crafters.

RaceCraft explores crafting not as a lifestyle choice but as an effect and response to systemic forms of discrimination. In this context, being “crafty” is not just a DIY attitude and aptitude; it is an enabling subterfuge that doubles as critique, in which the constraints of production are not just aesthetic but also racial. RaceCraft seeks to situate craft within global and local histories of exclusion, colonialism, dispossession and subjugation. We have invited speakers who explore the tensions and fissures of “craft” discourse and that expose its neoliberal underpinnings. Finally, RaceCraft seeks to deepen our current conversations about craft so as to generate new frameworks for thinking about the transformative possibilities of craft, one that takes into consideration, racial justice in relation to “green” modes of sustainability, political activism and community building.

The work of the symposium speakers is featured in the affiliated online exhibition hosted by the Center for Art and Thought, co-curated by Marie Lo and Sarita See and assisted by intern Martina Dorff. To explore the exhibition, navigate to: <http://centerforartandthought.org/work/project/racecraft

Sponsored by: UCR Department of Media and Cultural Studies, Center for Art and Thought, UCR College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), the City of Riverside, & UCR Department of Ethnic Studies. Special thanks to the The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the California Institute of Contemporary Arts ; and Martina Dorff.

*Deletion is the author’s. To fully claim this knowledge around resourcefulness, I insist we affirm these ways of knowing as “geneology” and not “alternative.”

El Monte Forever: A Brief History of Michael Jaime-Becerra

As the third installment of  the  Tropics of Meta series, East of East: Mapping Community Narratives in South El Monte and El Monte, in collaboration with the South El Monte Arts Posse, Vickie Vertiz contributed the essay, “El Monte Forever: A Brief History of Michael Jaime-Becerra.” The project is an  anthology about the diverse histories, communities, and cultures of the California cities of El Monte and South El Monte, created by a wide range of scholars, artists, poets, activists and other community members. Visit the project website to read the essay and other entries.

Vertiz Hosts UC Riverside MFA Reading Series

Join Vickie Vertiz this school year as she hosts UC Riverside’s graduate student reading series. Come hear crisp stories, dangerous poems, and legends about sorrow, robots, and much more.

Featured readers from UCR:
Aleksandr Peterson, Derrick Ortega, Amanda Ruud,  and more.

Special guests: Chad Sweeney, and Cal State San Bernardino MFA students: Tristan Acker, K.L. Straight., Elisha Holt, Isaac Escalera, Heather Reyes, Andrea Fingerson and Ryan Garcia.
+ open mic

Where:

Cellar Door Books 225 Canyon Crest Dr. Suite 30A/B, across from Jammin’ Bread, Riverside, Ca 951-787-7807

When:

Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 7:30-9pm, Free event

Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/666003433421735/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Mark your calendars for future reading dates:

January 16, 2014
Cal State University San Bernardino

March 7, 2014
Skylight Books

May 15, 2014- Second Year Student Final Reading
Culver Art Center

The Next Big Thing- Swallows

First I’d like to thank Arisa White for inviting me to be a part of The Next Big Thing, a blog-tagging project for writers who recently published a book. Arisa’s latest collection, A Penny Saved, is a riveting example of her multi-faceted, brilliant poetry.

What is the title of your book?


Swallows

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


“I’m named after my sister, a ghost for whom our mother makes birthday cakes
Out of Styrofoam discs, a name I make up another life for
every day.”

(from “Tocaya,” the first poem in the collection)

What genre does your book fall under?

Swallows is a collection of narrative poems, a short story in each of them.

Where did the idea come from for the book?


The poems were written over many years and were not conceived together.
When I organized the poems chronologically (as in, when they occurred in my life), I noticed an arc. I saw an abridged hero’s journey that emerged naturally from the work.

Although the poems are mostly autobiographical, I do take some flights of fancy. As a poetry teacher recently told me, “Poetry is nonfiction,” and so this book is as well.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?


It took ten years to complete the poems, and during that time I took classes with Willie Perdomo, Ruth Forman, and Lorna Dee Cervantes to work on many of the poems you’ll find in the book. I’m still making last minute changes to the manuscript.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In college, I took a class organized by a friend called “Women of Color in the United States.” One assignment was to read excerpts from Loving in the War Years. It was then that I found the words I needed as a Chicana to describe the world around me. In this sense, Swallows began after reading that book. When it first came out (and even today), Cherríe’s writing broke through so many social, cultural, and literary barriers. Cherríe has said that she started to write to save her life; writing from the silences in my own life has also saved me, and the poems in this book come from that place.

Who will publish your book?


The publisher is Finishing Line Press in Kentucky. The book is available for pre-sale here and will arrive in mailboxes in May 2013.

What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?


Given that the poems were written over a decade, I did a lot of reading that influenced the writing. Emplumada by Lorna Dee Cervantes stands out because the voice in her poems affirmed the feminism I practiced in my community and in my writing.

Once I was organizing the collection last year for publication, I was further influenced by reading Bring Down the Little Birds by Carmen Gimenez-Smith. This lyric memoir provided a concept that helped arrange my poems into vignettes about enduring grief, remembering being loved by the men in my family, and coming back to myself.

I also have to mention fellow poet Aida Salazar who first turned me on to the VONA writing workshops. Because of her and my writing group with Maya Chinchilla, Aimee Suzara, Lisa Marie Rollins, and Kenji Liu, my writing has grown in leaps and bounds.

And if I’m lucky and my brain grows a garden, I hope to write poems like Arisa White someday.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


The characters in this book include composite versions of my younger brothers, parents, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, and my half-sister whom I’ve never met. If I had my way and could go back in time, to play my parents I would ask Lupe Ontiveros and Charles Bronson who would have been ideal, may they rest in piece.

For the part of my brothers, I would wave a magic wand and create tan, Chicano (read: expressive) versions of Keanu Reeves and Paul Dano. For the exes, Jack Black and Eva Longoria (for that is indeed the community service range of dating I have done).

To play a version of me in the book, Melonie Diaz would bring the sass needed to hold it down. Finally, I’d cast an early Jennifer Lopez to be the half-sister I’ve never met; she deserves the benefit of the doubt.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The poems are funny, incisive, and illustrate how a family remembers that forgiveness is a great
healing salve for grief. And even though this family is Mexican, New Wave, and working class in Los Angeles, all families can relate to that journey.

An excerpt from the first poem of the collection, “Tocaya”:

Victoria – I don’t blame you for not staying
It was pure mean-ugly girls through high school
Throbbing lack in college
But grad school made me a carpenter
I have a Master’s Degree in Leaving
Our lineage proud I will always have a job

This is what I know of your face
A pen mark across your feet in yellowed photos
You in a baby carrier, a marigold tablecloth, our turquoise kitchen
waiting for you to run out of breath

The next writers I tag in this project are:
Lisa Marie Rollins
Kenji Liu
Aimee Suzara
Rachelle Cruz

Look for updates about their recent projects next week!