Flash Fiction Draft – Women in the Kitchen

I wrote this during a generative workshop in April 2020 with the Writers Club NY, led by facilitator Andreas Joshua. This is the only thing I have written during this COVID-19 debacle in the US.

I am not going to overthink it. Just going to post it. THIS IS A DRAFT, y’all. And that was my scared ass ego talking. Ha!

Enjoy this flash draft I wrote thinking of the women I watched in the kitchen and what comfort looks like when you’re alone.

You haven’t slept in a day or two. Not well anyway. Not even after the
warmth of kava tea, not even after meditation and binaural beats, not even
after a toke or two of some hybrid that compelled you to eat five pieces of
pecan brownies and drink all of your Riesling.

But today, you want to be with yourself, like really be with yourself, and
not the way you are right now. Right now, there’s a lot going on. Right now,
alone is this gaping hole of endless sameness, of never ending helplessness, of anxiety. That’s what is keeping you up. You feel neglected, like a plant in need of water, of sunlight. You feel wilted. Thirsty for care. Too exhausted to sleep.

Spirit decides that a proper nourishment, something kind for yourself, a
real meal, something of a comfort you haven’t felt in weeks. You decide in the market that you’re making arroz con gandules. You laugh at your craving for the most Boricua of rice dishes and buy some rotisserie pollo, and a container of potato salad from the deli in the market. Perfect.

When you get home, you pull out your caldero and start with your mother’s
sofrito. Pure gold. It sizzles there in the pot, jewels of alcaparrada
simmering there in that gold, like a treasure unearthed. The smell is
intoxicating, rich with garlic, herbaceous with recao, savory. It makes you
miss her. It makes you think you should call her more.

The scent reminds you of women in the kitchen, laughing over ice cold
Coronas with thin slices of lime plugged in at the top of the neck so every sip had citrus. A loud group, they stood in their small kitchens steamy with those ubiquitous pots of cooking rice, coffee brewing for the tipsy. You smile with them, you a soft sliver of a child, a young baby thang. You dance and twirl for them and they giggle and call you pretty and gift you bits of tocino from the rice.

You pop open a Corona with the thought of them, ice cold from the fridge,
shove a chunk of lime into the neck and swig. The foundation of your memories always begin in the kitchen around laughing women and fragrant meals. You stir the tocino with the sofrito and olives in your own caldero now with your grandmother’s metal cucharon. Gandules, washed grains of rice, and water all leave your hands as if not just by memory but from the part of you that has become one of those women, making meals to comfort and soothe the sandpaper of their survival. It comes from the part of you that is still the sweet baby girl that runs into their hugs and learns salsa on squares of linoleum. 

The waiting is where the soul is. The love always erupts in the kitchen when
the rice is on the stove doing its thing. How inviting the kitchen would be
with those women swirling about, their smiles like sun glinting off water.
Their chancletas shuffled on the floor and El Gran Combo is tinny on the radio. And the way they danced and laughed, the way they held each other, the way their eyes looked while they prepared pastelillos and ensalada con bacalao.

But that rice. Consistent, timed, perfected. Crown jewel of the matriarchs.

When you finally eat your arroz con gandules that night, it is a shot of
soul that you needed. Admittedly, it is not as good as your grandmother’s. Or your mother’s. You make a note to call your mother so she can laugh at you a little bit. But still, each grain of it is a memory cultivated in you, a kind of love that blossoms from a steaming plate of food, and you know you are not alone anymore. Spirit reminds you that you never had been.

That night, you sleep undisturbed, satiated, like a kid on a pile of coats
during a party.

End of Summer Boricongo Book Gang Instagram Giveaway

If you haven’t seen the latest from the Boricongo Book Gang, make sure you check it out. New Book Choices have been posted for this month and a special giveaway.

So far, these are the prizes you can win:

-A FREE Virtual 3-Card Tarot Reading From @KikaReadsTarot

-A handmade crocheted peacock feather bookmark

-Stickers/Pins From @TheKakeKlub

-Sticker from @elisabetvelasquezpoetry

-FIVE (5) Prose Books Written By Writers of Color including:
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende •Love by Toni Morrison •The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin •Frida by Bárbara Mujica •Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

  • ADDED to the Prizes: — A Sensory Map Session with @amandapoints (our first featured creative for “Dame un Chin”) Art piece will be made available to winner after session. — FOUR (4) additional prose books including Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai, Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, and The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

More prizes may be announced during the week until the winner is announced.

Winner announced on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 9:00 pm EST

Want to enter to win? Just go to Instagram (or click on the photo below) and follow the directions to enter.

Dame Un Chin: Amanda Points

I decided to use some of this blog space to introduce you to people that I think are awesome and creative. Using the Latinx slang, Dame Un Chin, which basically means “Gimme a Little,” I chose to ask just five questions, the same for every creative interviewed. Just to give you all a little info and motivate you to look them and their work up.

I am hoping to do one interview like this every month.

For the inaugural post, I decided to interview my godsister, Amanda Everich, (IG: @amandapoints), who uses spirit, senses, and emotion to create unique and one of kind visual art pieces that she calls “sensory maps.”

@AmandaPoints surrounded by pieces of her art

Why this art form? 
As a Black artist from the Bronx, I feel like I am constantly creating worlds, exploring stories and looking for new ways to build with community. My main art practice is called “sensory maps”, which are exploratory, abstract maps based on lessons from people, places and senses. I’ve been developing this practice of “sensory maps” as a tool of decolonizing my awareness/experience in spaces and to archive people’s stories to empower personal revolution that can feed collective revolution. I think of people, places and senses as maps of resources, guidance and growth. I create these visual mappings to show examples of the worlds we inspire in those around us, archive this information so people can learn from each other’s experiences and create space to support people as the experts of their own journeys. Through gently following my curiosities, working with the land and using art to heal/connect as a teacher, this practice came to me by realizing my sensitivities could be a tool. Most, if not all, of the maps I grew up learning from were made by oppressive or problematic sources, I create these maps to reimagine what a map can be, to make maps about and for the people.

“Jennelle” — Sensory Map Created by @AmandaPoints

What has told you no and has failed in deterring you?
Wow, well, there are so many systems of oppression and hate in place to stop me but I can’t control those. So I thought of myself, my past selves that I had to outgrow to keep becoming more than these systems want me to become. I can’t change these entire systems but I can change how I move to take care of myself and how I build with community against them. Saying yes to exploring the world around me, the never-ending layers of healing myself, the expansion of asking questions, creating spaces of freedom and being in collaboration with community has been empowering for me to grow past self doubt.

What has told you yes and fostered growth in your work? 
I think there is ancestral knowledge inside of us that can be accessed through practices of creation, play and being with the land. I have grown and changed so much through teaching (learning from) children, farming the land and giving myself permission to explore creative practices. My current virtual exhibition of maps, “I Am Because We Are” is honoring how we are all made up of the people, places, sensations and lessons from the communities around us. When I look back on my life, I can trace major shifts in my journey to specific people and places that contributed to my growth by connecting me to spirit, the land, myself and how to be in service to community such as @lavoyawoodstherapy, @cheapgarlic and @proyectoagroecologicocampesino

“Yo-Yo” — Sensory Map Created by @AmandaPoints

What are three things you wish you had known when first starting? 
Fuck capitalism. You dont have to feel guilty for resting, healing and slowing down. They are a part of the creative process, of every process. These are access points of creation and feeling alive.

Build and collaborate with the people around you. Let creating, sharing resources and your curiosities connect you to other people. Lift each other up in your discoveries and creations.

Building new worlds of collective care and recovering ancestral knowledge is not going to be perfect, sometimes it’s gonna be messy as hell, but let it be human, exploratory, helpful, honest and intentional.

“Amanda” –Sensory Map Created by @AmandaPoints

What’s coming up for you?
My virtual exhibition is out on my website now, my next art sale is coming up the week of October 18-24, this fall I’m so honored to be co-facilitating Activation Residency’s Respite As Resistance retreat and I’ve got a few other collaborations coming out that can be found on my instagram @amandapoints.

Peeking in to Say Hi

Hey, so y’all missed me?

It has been so long since I’ve written a post on this blog. I don’t know exactly why but here we are. What have I been doing since we last spoke?

Growing up. Getting wiser. Paying bills. Coping with anxiety. Learning. Always learning.

I am not going to dive into all of the muck and the jewels of the past couple of years. That’s not why I’ve decided to begin writing this blog again. I can’t promise I will always be consistent. I can promise I will peek in again. I can promise I will post as much as I can when I can.

My life is going to change and I can’t call it yet. I have no idea where I will be or what I will become in the next few months, let alone year. I can only say that for an anxious person, this is the most calm about uncertainty that I have ever been. I’m doing the best that I can to be better than I was the day before. I’m doing the best I can to keep my head above water. I have faith things will work out the way they need to. I will be okay.

Sometimes the Universe has to make you uncomfortable for you to wake up.

Things I have been doing since we last spoke:

  • I am still developing and editing Fried Eggs and Rice: An Anthology by Writers of Color on Food. I have a group of talented and fantastic writers who have the patience of saints. I admittedly, have avoided all creative work during COVID-19 (which is why I think the Universe was like… oh hell naw, get moving girl!). This project is super important to me and I know it will be successful.
  • Of course, I am still running the Boricongo Book Gang , an online book club that focuses on the works of writers of color.
  • I have become obsessed with the flash fiction form and have a few pieces I have been needling on (though this is another facet of my creative work I have been avoiding since COVID-19 hit the U.S.). I might start posting some of that work here. Let’s see.
  • I will be facilitating some workshops and webinars in the near future. I ain’t letting the cat outta the bag until things are secured, but that’s the plan. Working on it. Stay tuned.
  • Though all the ickies of imposter syndrome has hindered me in the past, at the encouragement of my sister-friends and at the divine nudging of the Universe, I have begun AIR Edits, a platform with my editing rates and I have been able to clearly define my editing style. I am not the typical editor and I don’t want to be.
  • I will be sporadically posting 5-question interviews with creatives called “Dame Un Chin.” These will be the same five questions: Why [insert artform/genre]? What has told you no and has failed in deterring you? What has told you yes and fostered growth in your work? What are three things you wish you had known when first starting? What’s coming up for you? This is a goal and not a definite. Let’s see. Comment if you’d like to see this happen.

All of this in the middle of working full-time and trying to survive through a global pandemic and a shit show of a country. We’ve ALL been coping (or avoiding) to deal with all the things. I hold mad space for that. I am trying to hold space for myself.

My mid-year vision board says in bold print “Stop beating yourself up.” So with that being said, I won’t doubt this can happen and happen well. I can only move forward and do.

Also….. make sure y’all vote this year please. PLEASE.

I Was Interviewed by BRILLA’s Maria Rodriguez!!!

How exciting this was for me! I am very proud of the creative work that I am doing and how it is essentially connected to literacy, my greatest passion.

I am honored to not only have been interviewed but to also collaborate with Maria Rodriguez aka BKWRITA and founder of BRILLA (Broadening Representation in LatinX Literature & Art).

Peep the interview below!

Angelique Imani Rodriguez is Booked and Busy in the Bronx

In addition to the interview, my online book club, the Boricongo Book Gang, has collaborated with BRILLA Media for an EPIC Instagram giveaway.

Check out our Instagram pages for more details on how you can enter to win: @theboricongobookgang @brillamediaSpecial thank you to the contributors of this giveaway @cafeconlibros_bk @sistersuptown @wordupbooks @astoriabookshop and @rae.paintings (1)

It’s been a LONG time…

Hi all–

I know…I have been hella lackadaisical about posting here, but I wanted to put you on to some updates on what I actually have been up to in the interim:

  1. I told myself at the start of 2018 that I would submit more and I have! I am editing some of the drafts of the essays I have posted here and will delete posts as I finish working on them. Side note: I am not open for emailed notes, so pretty please refrain from hitting me up with your notes on these drafts. I have an amazing writing circle (or coven..ha!) and I am a huge believer in the idea that too many cooks in the kitchen ends up in meals that don’t get made. Feel me? I got this.
  2. My last post was for a call for submissions for an anthology of writers and chefs of color on food. If you are interested in submitting, I have extended the deadline and am still accepting submissions! See previous post or email breakingbreadanthology@gmail.com for more details.
  3. I am always running the Boricongo Book Gang, my online book club that focuses on the works of writers of color. I have just recently created an Instagram for the book club and am partnering with Maria Rodriguez, poet and founder of BRILLA (Broadening Representation in LatinX Literature & Art) for an epic September 2018 giveaway. If you aren’t yet, please follow @theboricongobookgang and @brillamedia for soon-to-be-posted details on how to enter to win and join the group for awesome books while being introduced to amazing writers of color. Trust me, you will NOT want to miss out. Please note going forward, I will be posting more about the book club as well on this blog.
  4. I have fallen in love with flash prose, y’all. Flash prose are pieces that are each 1,000 words or less. I submitted to the Writing Our Lives/Tin House collaboration (which is still open for submissions for Writing Our Lives alumni…check it out!). The submission was a real challenge for me but I legit have fallen in love with the genre. Reminiscent of Cisnero’s “The House on Mango Street” and the work of Eduardo Galeano, the genre allows my inner poet to play around a bit and creates the need to really know and understand the power of diction. That being said, I am scribbling and scribbling away piece after piece. Its coming out of my pores, y’all! Ha!
  5. Lastly, I am currently researching for a project that is pure magic and that excites me so much. I want it to come into fruition a bit more before I talk thoroughly about it, but needless to say….STAY TUNED, MI GENTE!

So much going on, mi gente….with lots of living, laughing, and loving in between.

I want to thank those who have kept up with my writing and with me. Your support and encouragement mean so much to me.

Look, Mami! I’m a Published Writer!

Hi, all!

First off:

Thank you all for reading and following and commenting. It means so much to me to see support for what I do. Very cool positive reinforcement. Thank you to all those keeping up with my #52Essays2017 posts.

Secondly:

Just had an essay posted on Core Temp Arts, described on their Facebook page as “CORE TEMP ARTS is the creation of Karly Beaumont, an emerging podcaster, photographer and filmmaker. A one stop shop where all our creative endeavors live. Whether through photographs, podcasting or in films CoreTempArts looks to dive in and create work that showcases the passion, beauty and ridiculousness in the ordinary.”

The essay that I wrote is called:

“You Are Not About This App Life: The Ins and Outs of Online Dating Apps.”

capture

Check it out among the other cool ass shit on the site. Comment, share, and tell me if you liked it! ❤

Poetry Porn

I recently had the honor of performing at an amazing art event for my solar sister, Rhonda Rae.  She asked me to perform the piece for this show because I , apparently am one of the women who has inspired her. I was blown away by that. To be an artist is a constant struggle with yourself…asking if you’re making an impact or if anyone is even paying attention. Rhonda reminded me that not only did she pay attention, but she loved me. That’s dope and it was an HONOR to perform at her event.

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I chose one of her art pieces as inspiration for the poem I wanted to perform. I haven’t written poetry in AGES, y’all. And I certainly hadn’t performed any in YEARS. But the piece she showed me (which sadly, I don’t own….yet…LOL), inspired me on a lot of levels.

img_20160910_203919

The piece is called “Solar Sister” and the first thing I thought of when I saw this piece is “God, I LOVE yellow.” LOL. Nah. The picture I have posted does it NO justice. There are deep layers of color here, streaks of ochre amidst canary yellow, a thin strip of yellow beads resembling a scar, the shimmer of a golden circle. I LOVE this piece and it got me thinking of the sun and it’s power and the solar chakra, the chakra of will power and control. I thought of Oshun, the orisha of beauty and art and fresh water…how she is stunning but not one to fuck around with. I thought of my mother and my grandmother and the way they asserted their power, how they reminded people they were not the ones to fuck with. I thought of how I asserted that power. I thought of the source of that power and where its roots are.

Out of that inspiration, came this piece. Thank you, Rhonda for allowing me to grace the stage at your event. Thank you for nudging me to write poetry again. Thank you for your inspiration and kindness and love.

SIDE NOTE: Rhonda is having her closing event for Resilience: Across the Spectrum THIS SATURDAY, October 8th, 2016 from 3pm-8pm at MorePointsBX, 527 Faile Street, Bronx, NY 10474. Come through and show some love. I’ll be there collecting books for an event of my own (post on that coming soon). 

Where the Belly Meets the Root

Inside of me, deep down,
where the belly meets the root,
is a sunstone woman…
una guerrera….
She is slow to blaze,
speaking honey then flames…
her roar consumes like backdraft when she goes unheeded.

She stood on the shoulders
of a canary silk dress years before she was mine…
His hand spoke,
plancha hot on the back of her neck….
“You go this way because I say so.
Your sunshine curves over melao
and I can’t control the looks men give you when you wear butter on your thighs…
sweet witch who talks to wisps of spirits in the ether.
Don’t talk to them…
they’ll tell you the truth about me…
I’m not the man you think I am…
But I’ll stomp out the embers you think you got burning.
Fuck sunshine,
you wear what I say.
You talk when I say.
You fuck when I say.
Now walk.”

She left scorched earth across his face
that night when she fought back.

Arrogant Icarus…
You walk the surface of the sun and she’ll burn you.

Years before she sat in my belly,
she whittled the curve of shoulder blades that pressed into iron car doors..
Serpentine hand over throat made of heat,
Fingertips rise to cover lips, it hisses…
“Why you acting like that? All hot under the collar….
Just shut the fuck up…
You know you want this.”
Palms sear when she burns him,
scratches skin so clear the welts rise like flames…
“Don’t. Fucking. Touch. My. Face. Cabron.
I don’t want SHIT from you!”

Gifted to me at birth,
this warrior woman sat,
where the belly meets the root….
and knew all along that hands would try to smother her again….
Is her shine so much they have to contain it?
Is her fire so uncontrollable they fear for their lives?
Are they so fragile they can not see she lights up the world?
So, she warned me….
of hands that soon sat heavy on my thighs, squeezing,
“I’ll take your honey, Sunshine.
And I’ll strip you down to beams of light…
because your fire is mine.”

I played them dust,
whispered embers in their ears,
left them standing in their ashes…
soot underfoot they are charcoal memory in my rearview mirror.
Let me remind you that even the fire tastes sweet.

Un incendio en esa mujer, they say.
A fire in her belly,
Just look at her eyes.
Woman who cannot be doused…
She is fuel…
flicker, flame, fire…
furious at attempts to stamp her out…
She reminds them all…
you can’t control a wildfire for long.