Uncategorized

      What does genre mean to you and how does it build/unbuild your work?   If genre is anything like law, circumscribed and reinforced by social belief in their sanctity, then I believe we have an obligation to make it useful to us while also knowing how to strategically transgress it. People like […]

Read more →

I wanted to belong — but I didn’t want to dress like everyone else. Down Eastern Avenue, I passed television repair shops thick with dust; pawnshops, biker bars; a Taco Bell. In 1990s southeast Los Angeles, this is what people wore: teased bangs; discount jeans; T-shirts with kittens and phrases in puffy letters: “Someone in […]

Read more →

When Elizabeth asked me to take over editing for Jaded Ibis’ essay blog, Scarlet, I was thrilled not only to be able to participate in a press that I believe is publishing vital work, but also because it allowed for me to think about what kind of world I’d like to build within the framework […]

Read more →

I want to write about tierra, which means soil or earth to my people, maybe dirt, or land, which, in turn, means something very precise and precious. By writing, I tell the world I am a brown man. Where I am from. What I am. Not boxes to mark some form, but blood knowledge, what […]

Read more →

Every year it was the same. The then Milwaukee Sentinel printed the pictures of all their summer interns who worked at the paper. The pictures were divided into two categories: Interns Minority Interns Each year, my picture, with the worst lighting imaginable, was displayed under the minority banner. I hated that term: minority intern. It […]

Read more →

Several years ago during my first semester in graduate school, some of my classmates and I went out to a local watering hole after a rather tedious writing workshop. Which, by the way, was nothing new. I found my graduate writing workshops consistently difficult, not because I couldn’t take critique, but the focus of the […]

Read more →

Disclaimer One: The intended audience for this talk is mainly white writers, so I use the dreaded royal ‘We’. I understand none of the We in this room are a monolith, but pronouns save time—and time is short. Disclaimer Two: While these remarks focus on race specifically, many of the same or similar points could […]

Read more →

There has never been a consensus or even a plurality agreement among writers who identify as Black about the aesthetics of our creative work. Or, whether there is such a thing as black writing. Or what makes the African American literary canon cohere. Or what constitutes pandering to an audience. We have never agreed on […]

Read more →

In 2014, I spoke on a panel called “Crossing (Imagined) Borders: Research, Writing, and the Challenges of the 21st Century,” at the Writing Research Across Borders annual conference in Paris. My paper concerned the ways I’d heard and seen English used while I taught in Liberia – everything from conversations with palm-wine tappers and

Read more →

When I was 10 in 1969, without permission, I went and had my hot combed hair washed and cut into a round, nappy afro. When I arrived home in the afternoon, allegedly coming from a friend’s house around the corner, my mother slapped her hand over her mouth and cried. She was horrified. I left […]

Read more →