Hello Beautiful People!
I write to you all from Rio again. I apologize for the sluggish blogging. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, conducting research for my senior thesis, and delving into the rich history of black gay poetry of the 1970s. But enough with the excuses, I’m back and excited to share with you again. To follow up with my last entry, I did finish a piece for the For Colored Boys project. I submitted a series of poems on the subjects of gay teen suicides and the hardships of male-to-male relationships within a society still unable to cope with men uninhibitedly loving one another. Unfortunately, the publishers have decided to only print short essays for the sake of “reader accessibility.” Hoping to distribute the material otherwise, I’ve submitted my poems to Lambda Literary Journal. I really challenged myself as a writer and storyteller, sharing heavy emotion, hoping that it might relate to someone in a needed way. In any case, I will keep you updated on this project. I hope it will be well received, and I nonetheless look forward to the publication of Keith Boykin’s For Colored Boys. The children need us right now, and we need each other. Let us support one another through grief and honest narrative. Please keep your ears accessible and hearts open to those in need of sharing their stories. It often means more than we can immediately imagine.
Today, however, I’d like to share rather random thoughts that surfaced while reading Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, and introduce a new project. I just started Morrison's A Mercy today, and I fell in love. The writing in A Mercy is so poignant and even chilling. Morrison’s ability to recreate, inhabit, and resurrect experiences that might have otherwise remained untold is simply extraordinary. And this brings me to my topic for today.
Even if only for a few minutes at a time, literature allows us to imagine a reality outside of our familar skin. It pushes the boundaries of our carefully constructed notions of “normalcy” and communicates thoughts that might otherwise be rejected, or even worse, forgotten. Having submersed into an alternative reality, the possibility for what I call “unadulterated humanity” arises—that is, the possibility for a unique connection with the unknown, forged in the absence of political and social preconceptions. It can be raw and non-discriminatory; it often defies “groupthink” mentality. I love opening a book to become someone else. Reading yourself into another reality is one thing, but creating these types of works (I Imagine) is certainly a greater challenge.
Writing as someone else, assuming another identity, might seem problematic and voyeuristic. On this subject, I find myself battling questions not easily answered: Will someone find this offensive? Is it unethical for me to craft a story not based on my own lived experiences? I don’t really know the answers. But I’ve decided to take a risk. I believe that ethical writing is honest writing, writing that does its best to remain true to the character. In Playing in the Dark Toni Morrison writes, “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”
I’ve started writing a piece that is based on a family narrative; a delicate story that may have gone untold had it not been for a few beers and a desperate need for the storyteller to confess what he believed were tragedies and sins. As all humans should, I listened carefully. And I’ve recreated this experience in a short story. For now it is called "Chromosome 21." It is based on a stoic, rather lonesome 29 year-old Mexican immigrant named "Nacho" who struggles with accepting his son's medical condition. The narrative details his experience as he finds himself "illegally" crossing the border to reunite with his family after being deported. I’ll share more as the story builds upon itself, and I invite you to comment, criticize, and perhaps even add to the vignette. Tomorrow (by the end of the day) I will be posting a few paragraphs of this work. I hope you enjoy. Please come back and see!