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 to do what we can. Time is a creative force that pushes the the  megaphone on. Or not.

Today, they’re finishing their projects–a series of new blog entries, the first draft of a new novel, two short stories, an audio book, a short documentary film, a performative book of dance poetry.

We won’t finsish everything, which is fine. The unfinished will give them a nag, 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.

 

Week 1: Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling Cohort

It’s day 1, week 1 of the 2016 ArtWorks Creative Writing/Digital Storytelling cohort. The cohort consists of 11 student interns (selected from the visual and performing arts cooperatives) interested in telling their stories in digital format. From blogging to creating short documentary films, each intern will design their own innovative project. We will meet for 3 hour sessions 3 days a week over the next 4 weeks. During that period, they’ll bring their projects to life.

So far, I’m already impressed with the interns. Many of them are actively publishing their original stories on digital storytelling apps. Some are already blogging. I’m excited. Let’s see what happens.

For now, here’s a collaborative story we all wrote today called, “The Exquisite Story”. This exercise works like this. 1. sit in a circle  2. each writer begins a story by writing the first line 3. everyone then passes the story they started to the right 4. add one more line 5. repeat steps 3-4 until the story returns to the person who began the first line 6. add a title 6. perform.

Here’s the story I started:

1,001 Oceans 

Once upon a chicken, there was a goat who lived in a boat that had a black hat on its head.  It was a blind goat oblivious to the world around it. He lived in a large farm stretched out across acres of land with strange animals from all over the world. But not just the world–the universe. Like a 3-horned unicorn. It was so pretty I never seen an animal that looked so gorgeous. I couldn’t even see them as meat, they were people. I fell asleep and dreamed of oceans. Waves hitting my feet. Sand under my butt. I cried.

 

 

Out of darkness, light: Queer film series launches with ‘Before Night Falls’

For KnightBlog, I wrote about the old independent film center Alliance Cinema (South Beach), my first encounter with Javier Bardem and its connection to Queer Screens: LGBTQ Film Series, a new film series co-presented by Reading Queer and O Cinema. It was a difficult, but formative period of my life. The Alliance Cinema made coming out in the early 1990s and the horrors of the AIDS epidemic palpable. It was the first time I felt I had a community, that I fit in, that I mattered even though I was always the one kind of hiding in a dark corner.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “In the 1990s, the Alliance Cinema was the pulse of South Beach–a center for independent film culture and, most importantly for me, a safe space for a burgeoning queer community. It’s where I met Javier Bardem….

In that dark, single-screen, six-row theater, I felt safe watching films that revealed the multitudes of being and becoming queer, with my community sitting next to me. It would pull me out of darkness more than once.”

Read more > here.


Before_Night_Falls_poster-1Raised in the Oriente Province of Cuba in the 1940s, Arenas began his life-long love of the sea and water. Leaving home as a young adolescent, he moves to Havana where he finds himself swept up in the revolutionary spirit and joins a circle of writers and artists. His first novel, “Singing from the Well,” is published in Cuba, but as Castro’s oppressive regime gathers force, Arenas’ homosexuality and political writing make him a target. After being falsely accused of molestation, Arenas is arrested and imprisoned at El Morro. Eventually released from prison after dehumanizing treatment, Arenas flees Cuba in the 1980 Mariel Harbor boatlift. After moving to New York with his friend Lazaro Gomez Carilles, Arenas’ hopes for a new life are destroyed by AIDS, and he dies in 1993, at the age of 45.

Seeing you in us: An interview with TransArt program manager Aryah Lester

I interviewed Aryah Lester for Knight Blog. Here’s an excerpt:

“Aryah Lester is a force for change, breaking down the barriers to acceptance faced by transgender and gender nonconforming people. With her fierce dedication to art and advocacy, she is methodically melting away our society’s stifling and deadly obsession with conformity. Change isn’t easy, and neither is acceptance, but it’s possible and necessary.” Read more > here.

 

Fundraiser for victims of Pulse attack

Reading Queer in collaboration with O Cinema, Pridelines, Aqua Foundation, Miami Jewish Film Festival and the MIFO LGBT Film Festival present the academy awarding winning film MILK in honor of the victims of the Orlando attack. 100% of all funds collected will be donated directly to the Equality Florida fund.

Buy tickets > here http://www.o-cinema.org/event/milk/ 

Thursday, June 23rd @ 8pm at O Cinema Miami Beach.