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We're Not Ready for This: An Interview with Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker is a prolific NYC-based poet, activist, and museum education director. Her debut collection Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night is forthcoming from Switchback Books in 2015, and her poems “Negro Sunshine” and “Their Grandmothers Never Did the Laundry” appear in the latest issue of Apogee Journal. Morgan chatted with fellow Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn resident and Apogee Editor-at-large Melody Nixon about race, gender and politics in the poetry world today. Melody Nixon [MN]: You wrote a Facebook post about working on this interview and all the truths you’re laying down, and you said, “No one’s ready. Not even me.” What did you mean? Morgan Parker [MP]: I think we’re all very accustomed to speaking and listening to bullshit. It’s the American way. It’s easy to avoid being candid about certain topics in mixed company. Your questions were so upfront and big, which is what I appreciate about Apogee in general, but I know a lot of people don’t want to hear it. Some people would rather hear me talk about Beyoncé or The Real World or brunch than the direct realities of my struggle as a Black woman. They want a “break” from hearing about race politics from...
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Nepantla: an Interview with Christopher Soto

Christopher Soto is the founder and curator of Nepantla, a new online journal featuring the writing of Queer Poets of Color. Nepantla offers not only a new creative space for poetry to thrive, but a new way to look at what a literary  community can be. The Journal will go live next month, and Apogee Journal and Columbia’s Our Word are thrilled to be collaborating on the launch reading September 4th. Cecca Ochoa (CO): How did Nepantla come about? Christopher Soto (CS): I was talking trash with Jameson Fitzpatrick about white supremacy and the New York queer literary scene. He gave me the idea to start a QPOC journal and then introduced me to William Johnson at Lambda, who helped me get the project started. The first thing Nepantla hosted was a dinner at NYU. We invited all the Queer Poets of Color that we knew in NYC and sat to discuss our community’s needs. Shout out to everyone who attended our first dinner: Rigoberto Gonzalez, Eduardo C. Corral, r. erica doyle, Pamela Sneed, Timothy Liu, Cheryl Boyce Taylor, Juliet P. Howard, Charif Shanahan, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Rickey Laurentiis, Alok Vaid-Menon, Janani Bala, Jerome Murphy, Tommy Pico, Eden...
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Spotlight on Issue 3: Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta’s story, “Ife Adigo Market—1978” appears in Issue 3 of Apogee Journal. Her first story collection, Happiness, Like Water, was released in 2013, and was selected as one of The Guardian’s Best African Fiction of 2013. Chinelo and I corresponded about politics in writing, immigration, and the discomfort of labels. Zinzi Clemmons: Your story in Issue 3, “Ife Adigo Market—1978”, describes the changes that occur in a Nigerian town that coincide with the arrival of white people—ndi ochas. Can you describe the events that inspired this story? Chinelo Okparanta: The story was inspired by an event that happened to my mom when she was a girl. She, too, had fallen ill and had nearly gone blind when she was young. The story was also inspired by some of my time back home in Nigeria, periods in which there were questions surrounding the quality of medicines being sold there. Knock-off items exist everywhere, but the issue of counterfeit medicines was especially problematic during that time. “Ife Adigo Market” illustrates the battle between old world and new world and the confusion over the better way to go: the native doctors or the new medicines. There’s a sort of hopelessness but also...
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