Reading Queer Literary Festival 2017

2017 marks the third iteration of the Reading Queer Literary Festival, which I co-founded in 2014. This year, Reading Queer partnered with the Miami Book Fair, The Olympia Theater and O Cinema Wynwood to create a series of queer-centric cultural programming for South Florida.

I’m incredibly excited that Chen Chen (Long listed for the 2017 National Book Award – Poetry), t’ai freedom ford, sam sax, Danez Smith (Short Listed for the 2017 National Book Award -Poetry), Yrsa Daley-Ward and Steph Burt will  join the festival. O Cinema Wynwood & RQ will also screen BPM (Beats Per Minute), which won the Grand Prix at Festival de Cannes. This will be the first in a series of queer brunch & film screenings.

I’ve posted the entire schedule of events below or you can check out the events here.


SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: READING QUEER LITERARY FESTIVAL 2017 


EVENT: MIAMI BOOK FAIR, READING QUEER & OLYMPIA THEATER PRESENT: IN THE LOBBY LOUNGE…PARIS IS STILL BURNING

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15TH | THE OLYMPIA | 174 E. FLAGLER STREET | @ 6:00 PM | 

Featuring t’ai freedom ford, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Chen Chen and sam sax.

Inspired by the legendary documentary film Paris is Burning and the queer counterculture it documents, Paris is Still Burning (Wednesday, November 15, Olympia Theater) showcases some of the most prominent contemporary queer poets of color whose work reveals and explores various forms of social, racial, and economic injustice: t’ai freedom ford, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Chen Chen. The reading will be followed by a mini “ball”— a mix between a drag pageant and a queer performance competition — featuring members of South Florida’s own ballroom scene competing in four different categories: runway, vogue, arms control and best dressed. This last category will be open for the entire audience to participate.

**Paris Is Still Burning was originally produced by Patricia Smith at AWP 2015, Minneapolis.

Special thank you to our programming partner, Reading Queer, and to Paris is Still Burning producing partner, The Olympia Theater, Downtown Miami’s Historic Performing Arts Center. Sponsored by Miami Dade County, Culture Builds Florida, Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority.

Wednesday, November 16th 2017. Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Location: Olympia Theater. 174 E. Flagler Street. Miami, FL 33131. *NOTE: doors open at 6:00 pm. Event will start promptly at 6:30 pm.  Parking: free. Simply head to the MDC garage, building 7. Simply RSVP below. Free & open to the public.



EVENT: POETS WHO WRITE TOWARD FREEDOM 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH | MIAMI BOOK FAIR | ROOM 6100 (BLDG 6, 1ST FLOOR) | 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Featuring Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Aja Monet Shivanee Ramlochan. 

Poet Gustavo Adolfo Aybar explores baseball in his poetry collection, We Seek Asylum, as an allegorical meditation on the battle for the soul of the Dominican Republic. Actor, writer, and poet Yrsa Daley-Ward’s collection, bone, details her experiences as a first-generation black British woman working through abuse, vulnerability, and redemption. Poet and performer Aja Monet’s My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter is an ode to mothers, daughters, sisters tackling gentrification, genocide, and grief. In Everyone Knows I Am A Haunting, Shivanee Ramlochan’s crosses boundaries of genre, gender, and religion with such figures as Trinidad’s Duenne, the Hindu god Kali, and Milton’s Lilith. Free & open to the public.



EVENT:FOUR GROUNDBREAKING QUEER POETS

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH | MIAMI BOOK FAIR | ROOM 6100 (BLDG 6, 1ST FLOOR) | 2:30 PM  –  3:45 PM

Featuring Steph Burt, Chen Chen, t’ai freedom ford and Danez Smith 

Harvard professor and literary critic Steph Burt explores Stephanie poems about Stephen’s female self, asking who we are, how we become ourselves, and why we make art in Advice from the Lights. Chen Chen’s debut, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Future Possibilities, investigates inherited forms of love and family from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. how to get over by t’ai freedom ford is part instruction manual, part prayer, part testimony rendering with utter realness the trajectory of getting over anything. Danez Smith imagines an afterlife for black men where suspicion, violence, and the dangers experienced in body and blood are replaced by safety, love, and longevity. Free & open to the public.



EVENT: QUEER SCREENS BRUNCH FEATURING BPM (Beats Per Minute)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH | O CINEMA WYNWOOD | 90 NW 29TH STREET |  TIME TBA.

In Paris in the early 1990s, a group of activists go to battle for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold, invasive actions. The organization is ACT UP, and its members, many of them gay and HIV-positive, embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency. Amid rallies, protests, fierce debates and ecstatic dance parties, the newcomer Nathan falls in love with Sean, the group’s radical firebrand, and their passion sparks against the shadow of mortality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.

“At the end, with Sean’s condition scarily deteriorating, the raw and riveting BPM musters the emotional power to floor you.” —Rolling Stone. 

“BPM…got the best kind of mixed reaction at its first press screening at the Cannes Film Festival last May. While some in the audience found it absolutely stunning, others just settled for very, very good. (The film won the Jury Grand Prize and was named France’s official entry in the foreign-language-film race for this year’s Oscars.)” —The Wrap. 

Rotten Tomatoes Rating.

Purchase tickets here. (Link will be activated soon.)



PARTICIPATING AUTHORS



Author: Steph Burt
Most Current Book: Advice from the Lights 
Publisher: Greywolf Press

Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. His essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense (Graywolf Press, 2009) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other works include The Art of the Sonnet (Harvard University Press, 2010), Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (University of Virginia Press, 2009), The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2007), Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf, 2006), Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden (University Press, 2005), Randall Jarrell and His Age (Columbia University Press, 2002), and Popular Music (Center for Literary Publishing, 1999). His latest collection of poems, Belmont, was published by Graywolf Press in 2013. Burt grew up around Washington, DC and received an A.B from Harvard in 1994 and a Ph.D. in English from Yale in 2000. He taught at Macalester College for several years before becoming a Professor of English at Harvard University. He lives in the suburbs of Boston with his spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children.



Author: Chen Chen
Most Current Book: When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities 
Publisher: Boa Edtions

About When I Grow Up…: In this ferocious and tender debut, award-winning poet Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family – the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes – all from Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Holding all accountable, this collection fully embraces the loss, grief, and abundant joy that come with charting one’s own path in identity, life, and love.

CHEN CHEN was born in Xiamen, China, and grew up in Massachusetts. His work has appeared in two chapbooks and in such publications as Poetry, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Best of the Net, and The Best American Poetry. The recipient of the 2016 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, he has been awarded fellowships from Kundiman, the Saltonstall Foundation, and Lambda Literary. He earned his BA at Hampshire College and his MFA at Syracuse University. He lives in Lubbock, Texas, where he is pursuing a PhD at Texas Tech University.

Media: Favorite Poem Project: “To Autumn” by John Keats”.



Author: t’ai freedom ford
Most Current Book: how to get over
Publisher: Red Hen Press

Book Blurb: how to get over is part instruction manual, part prayer, part testimony. It attempts to solve the reader’s problems (by telling them how to get over), while simultaneously creating them – troubling the waters with witness and blues. ford’s poems witness via a series of “past life portraits” that navigate personal space as well as the imagined persona. These portraits conjure the blues via the imagined lives of the inanimate (a whip, a machete), the historic (a Negro burial ground, Harriet Tubman, The Red Summer), the iconic (Pecola Breedlove, Richard Pryor, Rodney King). At the same time, these portraits focus on the past lives of the author and grapple with themes including sexuality, sexual abuse, and substance abuse.

t’ai freedom ford is a New York City high school English teacher, Cave Canem Fellow, and Pushcart Prize nominee. In 2014, she was the winner of The Feminist Wire’s inaugural poetry contest judged by Evie Shocklee. She is a 2015 Center for Fiction Fellow and a 2015-16 Emerge-Surface-Be Fellow sponsored by The Poetry Project. t’ai lives in Brooklyn, but hangs out digitally at: shesaidword.com



Author: sam sax
Most Current Book: Madness
Publisher: Penguin Books

About Madness: In this ­­­powerful debut collection, sam sax explores and explodes the linkages between desire, addiction, and the history of mental health. These brave, formally dexterous poems examine antiquated diagnoses and procedures from hysteria to lobotomy; offer meditations on risky sex; and take up the poet’s personal and family histories as mental health patients and practitioners. Ultimately, Madness attempts to build a queer lineage out of inherited language and cultural artifacts; these poems trouble the static categories of sanity, heterosexuality, masculinity, normality, and health. sax’s innovative collection embodies the strange and disjunctive workings of the mind as it grapples to make sense of the world around it.

sam sax is a queer jewish educator & writer. He’s the author of Madness (Penguin 2017) the winner of The National Poetry Series selected by Terrance Hayes. His second book Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) is the Winner of the 2017 James Laughlin Award from The Academy of American Poems. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & The MacDowell Colony. He’s the two time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion & author of four chapbooks. He’s the winner of the 2016 Iowa Review Award, the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, The American Literary Review Prize, & his poems have appeared in The Academy of American Poets, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Tin House + other journals. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press.



Danez

 

Author: Danez Smith
Most Current Book: Don’t Call Us Dead
Publisher: Greywolf Press

About Don’t Call Us Dead: Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality – the dangers experienced in skin, body and blood – and a diagnosis of HIV positive. Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America – where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.

DANEZ SMITH is a Black, queer, poz writer, and internationally touring performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017). Danez is also the author of two chapbooks, hands on your knees (2013, Penmanship Books) and black movie (2015, Button Poetry), winner of the Button Poetry Prize. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. Danez’s work has been featured widely, including on The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Blavity, PBS NewsHour, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They are a 2-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, 3-time Rustbelt Poetry Slam Champion, and a founding member of the Dark Noise Collective. Danez is represented by Beotis Creative.

**Danez was just short-listed for the National Book Award. 

Media:



Author: Yrsa Daley-Ward
Most Current Book: Bone
Publisher: Pegasus Books

Book Blurb: From the celebrated poet Yrsa Daley-Ward, a poignant collection of poems about the heart, life, and the inner self. Bone. Visceral. Close to. Stark. The poems in Yrsa Daley-Ward’s collection bone are exactly that: reflections on a particular life honed to their essence—so clear and pared-down, they become universal. From navigating the oft competing worlds of religion and desire, to balancing society’s expectations with the raw experience of being a woman in the world; from detailing the experiences of growing up as a first generation black British woman, to working through situations of dependence and abuse; from finding solace in the echoing caverns of depression and loss, to exploring the vulnerability and redemption in falling in love, each of the raw and immediate poems in Daley-Ward’s bone resonate to the core of what it means to be human.

Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles.



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Miami New Times interviews Neil de la Flor about Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos

Miami New Times interviews Neil de la Flor about Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos, a new anthology he co-editedwith  Maureen Seaton. 

Excerpt: “As Miami’s cultural landscape boomed in the past decade — with the influx of major art fairs, new museums, and local galleries opening in up-and-coming neighborhoods — the city’s queer culture was in flux. Reading Queer, a Knight Foundation-sponsored cultural organization, is looking to change that fact by highlighting voices from a community that remains fractured between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Recently, the group announced a publication deal for a paperback anthology of poetry from local bards and internationally recognized queer writers.”

“’I think it’s the first Miami-based anthology of queer voices,” says founder Neil de la Flor, who has also contributed to New Times. ‘Poetry has had a resurgence because of the political climate and the need to huddle together and connect. Queer writers have an ever greater need to reach each other through every means,’ he says, including social media and poetry.'”

“Thanks to Reading Queer, Miami’s LGBTQ community has had a forum that gives voice to underrepresented stories. It’s badly needed in a city whose queer culture was split in two after the gentrification of South Beach.”

Read the full article here

Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos

I’m happy to announce the forthcoming anthology Reading Queer: Poetry In A Time of Chaos, (Anhinga Press, 2018), which brings together fifty LGBTQ poets in the spirit and solidarity of poetry at its finest and fiercest. 

Pre-order now @ http://www.anhingapress.org/poetry/reading-queer-poetry-in-a-time-of-chaos

Edited by Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton, Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos is vulnerable, sexy, heartbreaking, revolutionary. It’s poetry that pushes against and beyond boundaries in both form and content.

Featuring: Thalo Kersey, Aaron Smith, Bryan Borland, Caridad Moro-Fronlier, Cathleen Chambless, Celeste Gainey, cin salach, Collin Kelley, Eduardo C. Corral, Elizabeth Bradfield, Ellen Bass, Farah Milagros Yamini, Gem Blackthorn, Gerry Gomez Pearlberg, Gregg Shapiro, Holly Iglesias, James Allen Hall, Jan Becker, Jason Schneiderman, Jen Benka, Jim Elledge, JV Portela, Joseph O. Legaspi, JP Howard, Julie Marie Wade, Julie R. Enzer, Justin Torres, Kevin Simmonds, L. Lamar Wilson, Lori Anderson, Megan Volpert, Meredith Camel, Phillip B. Williams, Qwo-Li Driskill, Ruben Quesada, sam sax, Samiya Bashir, Samuel Ace, Seth Pennington, Shane Allison, Stacey Waite, Stephanie Lane Sutton, Stephen S. Mills, Tara Burke, Ching-In Chen, Nicholas Wong, tc tolbert and Valerie Wetlaufer.

To receive notice of publication, subscribe here.

Ensure that queer voices are never silenced. Donate today and support the launch of Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos. The Knight Foundation will match every dollar that you donate today (up to $70,000). Example: Donate $50 and the Knight Foundation wil match your $50 giving Reading Queer a total donation of $100. 

Double your impact today. Donate nowreadingqueer.org/donate.


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/.

Reading Queer Awarded $70,000 Knight Arts Challenge Grant Miami

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awards Reading Queer a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge Miami (KACM) grant, a community-wide initiative funding the best ideas for the arts in South Florida. This is the second KACM grant awarded to Reading Queer since 2013.

“The KACM grant will strengthen Reading Queer and its mission to foster and promote queer literary culture in South Florida by expanding the annual RQ Literary Festival, which is the first and only queer centric literary festival of its kind in the region, with a series of main stage performances, writing workshops and literary installations,” said Neil de la Flor, Executive Director of Reading Queer. “With the aim of advancing the careers of emerging and established queer-identified writers, Reading Queer will also expand the RQ Writing Academy and collaborate with The Betsy Hotel-South Beach to launch the week-long RQ Writers in Residence program.”

With rapidly changing conceptions of gender and sexuality and a historical moment defined by racialized forms of violence against various marginalized groups of queer-identified people, Reading Queer empowers and provides a safe space for aspiring, emerging and established queer writers to create and share their work with the community. Reading Queer serves as both respite and resource to amplify queer voices and effect change.

We need your financial support to continue our work in the community. The Knight Foundation will match it dollar for dollar up to $70,000.

Donate now: readingqueer.org/donate.


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/.

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/.

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.

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.