Reading Queer finalist for 2016 Knight Arts Challenge Grant 

I’m happy to announce that Reading Queer is a finalist for a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge grant along with 68 individuals and organizations using the arts to transform the community. 

“The Miami of today is radically different from the Miami of 2008 when we first launched this challenge. Artists and cultural organizations have pushed this community to seek high levels of excellence, while continuing to experiment with new ideas. Our belief in this city, and our investment in its people, is born out every day in the performance halls, galleries and streets of Miami, and again by the 68 finalists in this year’s challenge,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

Knight Foundation will announce the winning ideas, which will share $2.5 million, on Nov. 28, 2016.

In the meantime, support RQ’s mission to promote & preserve queer literary culture with a small, medium or large donation today. Every dollar we raise powers our mission and transforms the community through the arts. 

Visit www.readingqueer.org/donate to make a donation now. Read more about the KAC here

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org/.

The Invasion of Hoth 

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but go with the chaos and lean into it. Learn from it (even if it feels like it’s going to drown  you). Giving in isn’t giving up.

“The Invasion of Hoth (or where I left my phone)” is an image from The Quarks, a series of micro stories made visible through light.

When I shot this image, it immediately reminded me of Hoth, that hostile ice planet in Star Wars. That planet where nature thrives despite the circumstances.

See more here: http://neildelaflor.format.com

Crisis of Conscience 

Photography calms, especially when I discover beauty in error. These small catastrophes sucker punch the insidious drive for perfection that moves me. “Crisis of Conscience” comes out of the conflict between error & perfection and opens up the possibility of seeing beauty in different manifestations. Recognizing that perfection isn’t an end in itself, but a messy, haphazard process where magic happens along the way. And that’s beautiful.

[The Quarks is a series of micro stories made visible through light.]

See more here: http://neildelaflor.format.com

When we rise, we rise together

Life is exhausting and hectic, but I finally had the opportunity to stay still and work on a new image from the Quarks, which is a series of micro stories made visible through light.

This is an excerpt from “When we rise, we rise together”. The title was inspired by Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2016 DNC.

“When we rise, we rise together” | Photo by Neil de la Flor

See more of my work here > http://neildelaflor.format.com/

Week 3, Day 1: ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort

Egos are fragile. The words we speak and the actions we take impact how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive the world. Sometimes the impact is negligible. Sometimes not.

Today, I convinced one of our creative writing/digital storytelling interns to perform one of her original songs. I had heard her quietly singing off stage behind the black curtains in our temporary home at The Lightbox at The Goldman Warehouse. She’s shy, not shy. She has that kind of voice that fights against her nature to be quiet.

Before her performance, we spoke about our projects and the progress that we’ve made. Progress sometimes means limiting ourselves. Cutting out what we can’t do down to what we can. Time is a creative force that pushes the the  megaphone in our face. Or not. We just have to decide if we’re going to speak or remain silent.

Today, the interns of the creative writing/digital storytelling cohort are finishing their individual projects–a new blog, a series of new blog entries, the first draft of a new novel, a collection of short stories, an audio book, a short documentary film, a performative book of dance poetry.

We won’t finish everything, which is fine. The unfinished will give them something to nag at them when I’m gone–a quiet force in the back of their minds reminding them there’s something left to finish.

My love of (or fascination with) poetry

Herb Sosa interviewed me for Ambiente Magazine.

“Have you ever been at a loss for words? Maybe searched for people that think & express themselves in ways you can relate to, or make you think? Did you think you had to leave the comfort of your beach chair and fly up north to find some Queer culture? Neil de La Flor is changing all that, one word at a time….

Read more of the interview > here.

Week 1, Day 3: ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort

It’s the end of week 1, day 3, of the ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort. It’s been a tough week and it’s hard for me to write about it because I don’t feel equipped to speak, at least not in a meaningful and helpful way. I just want to shout.

When the ArtWorks program began, I wanted my interns to think about crisis and how we can/should respond to it.

Day 1 we read “In Praises of Latin Night at the Queer Club” by Justin Torres. In Torres’ moving response to the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, he wrote, “The only imperative is to be transformed, transfigured in the disco light. To lighten, loosen, see yourself reflected in the beauty of others. You didn’t come here to be a martyr, you came to live, papi. To live, mamacita. To live, hijos. To live, mariposas.”

Since the program began, terrorists have attacked and killed hundreds of people at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, an upscale restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh and a shopping center in Bagdad, where 232 people lost their lives. A half an hour ago, 32 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Balad, Iraq.

Since the program began, 2 black men killed by white cops. Cops acquitted of killing black men. The latest in a seemingly endless stream of black men killed by white cops. Last night, a sniper (or snipers) killed 5 cops from an elevated parking lot in Dallas during a peaceful protest and march against against police violence.

I try to lighten, to loosen, but there’s none of that. Not today. Not in America. Not in the world.

This morning I read a poem written by one of my student interns.

“My disability has been one long ride,” he wrote. “I’ve had it since birth and it still affects me today. I started in a wheelchair, I still remember being five years old, my little siblings fighting over which one of them was going to push me in the chair. I still remember feeling like the biggest kid at circle time in kindergarten because the chair would take up so much space…” (Read the full poem here.)

When I look at the faces of my student interns, I see the faces of those murdered at the nightclub, in Bagdad, in Baton Rouge. In the faces of black men killed by white cops. I see their possible future faces reflected back at me on my  wall. The imperative American culture is death. Mariposas transformed and transfigured, martyred, live on Facebook.

I want my interns to take up so much space. To feel like the biggest kids in the circle. To protect them from the violence that encircles them. From the violence that will come, is coming, for them.