Art as Activism: Crystal Hana Kim interviews Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

  I read Water & Salt very quickly, so immersed was I in Lena Khalaf Tuffaha’s poems and the way she transported the reader from America to Palestine to Syria and Jordan and back again. Water & Salt moves between motherhood, immigration, boundaries, language, and more without ever feeling diffuse or scattered. Through her deft language and imagery, Lena creates a debut collection that invites the reader to question the meaning of home and belonging in a time of unending violence. In our interview, we spoke about her personal and political inspirations, art as activism, and poetry as a means of traveling beyond the familiar confines of our own communities.          -Crystal Hana Kim   Crystal Hana Kim: Congratulations on publishing your first poetry book, Lena! I’d love to delve into these poems with you. In particular, I’m interested in structure, history, identity, and how all of that informs your writing. Let’s start at the beginning. When did you start writing poetry? What informs your poetry now and has that evolved throughout your writing career? Lena Khalaf Tuffaha: I’ve been writing poetry for about twelve years. In college, I still wrote in Arabic, or tried to, and then I began...
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FEELING OUR POSSIBLE VOLUMES: Jenni(f)fer Tamayo interviews Kay Ulanday Barrett

Jenni(f)fer Tamayo talks with poet, performer, and activist Kay Ulanday Barrett about definitions of work/labor in Sick and Disabled Queer People of Color experiences, how different levels of systemic violence impact one’s poetics, writing as embodied spiritual practice and activism, the ethics of performance, and how expansive definitions of care can be a source of resistance in Kay’s new poetry collection, When the Chant Comes (Topside Press)  

On Jordan Rice’s Constellarium and the Transition Poem

  “Say with me, controlled burn,” Jordan Rice writes midway through her debut collection of poetry, Constellarium (Orison Books, 2016). She’s writing about the Columbia Space Shuttle explosion, but the line also serves as a synecdoche for Rice’s writing: tight, evocative lines, burning just below the surface. Rice weaves together complicated themes, but most of the works in the collection circle around the idea of home, locally and globally, the body, and its changes. They’re poems that are about displacement, quarrel, and loss, and finding transness through that. In its control, hers is a book I’ve been waiting on for some time. Many of the poems in the collection are about the author’s experience traversing relationships as an out trans woman. The poems about “transition,” however, resist easy narrative: they’re thorny and nonlinear, infused with a melancholy echoed in the poems’ intentional form. This thorniness is especially interesting in comparison to the collection’s other primary theme of home: how the body is or can become a home, of course, but also the literal act of homecoming to relatives, the speaker’s wife and child, Southern white family lineages that constitute a backdrop to ‘home,’ and the overseas U.S. military interventions that...
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A Lyric Video Essay by Vanessa Angelica Villarreal​

  “Estrellada” is a video poem investigating the boundary between what can be remembered and what is irretrievably lost. Filmed in the poet’s childhood home, it documents the damages of time, illness, and depression to the deteriorating 900 sq foot starter house, a symbol of the American Dream. It imagines the border, and the urgency of her family’s crossing, as also a psychological and generational rupture that widens and widens inside the body and mind of the crossed. The family photos call back to memory and longing, aware of the generational traumas that pushed the family into this country, and the resultant familial loss to brutal circumstances. The poem engages unflinchingly with the affective costs of assimilation, taking a reparative gaze as the photos move forward in time, documenting the poet’s physical and cultural transition, as well as her eventual desertion as the subjects of the photos diminish in number. The poem ends on hospital and alternative school intake photos, marking the beginning of her American self—no longer surrounded by family, she is assimilated, estranged from her people, obviously in mourning, alone in the frame.                             Vanessa...
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Forlorn & Forming Self: Off the Cuff with Jahmal B. Golden

  Mother of Yves, Jahmal B. Golden is iconic in our community of creators in New York City. They are brilliant, creative and out-here, dedicated to bringing femme community together. Among many commitments, Jahmal curates Fox Wedding, a reading and performance series in Brooklyn and has work forthcoming in The New Museum in collaboration with RAGGA NYC. I was thrilled when they offered to share with Apogee­ Journal their collection in advance of its publication. Yves, Ide, Solstice (Easy Village Publishing) chronicles losing at love in triptych-form. It explores the ways in which love (or losing at it) complicates perceptions of self and identity-formation. Yves, Ide, Solstice launches this April and is available for sale online.

Under a Scrupulous Light: An Interview with Sueyeun Juliette Lee

Sueyeun Juliette Lee has produced some of my favorite poetry. Hers is a craft that inspires me to endeavor deeper. She’s a phenomenal poet, whose work I deeply admire and respect, so when she offered to share an excerpt from “Relinquish the Sky” with Apogee Journal for Issue 8, I was ecstatic. Of Lee’s work, Bhanu Kapil says, “ A ‘great disturbance.’ A ‘magnetic delivery.’ Hold your breath in the bathtub: to ‘alter weather patterns.’ To belie: a ‘longing,’ the ‘discrepancy,’ how the light itself accrues a ‘stop-motion’ brilliance in the moment…” Lee’s “Relinquish the Sky” leads with the piece, “Daylight, No Grief”, which begins as a mote of a light permeates across distance from its absolute origin, catalyzing her inquiry. In her piece, Lee approximates origins against lack and the monstering potential of a cultural orphan grief.

Poetry by Kenji C. Liu

Frankenstein + Poem = Frankenpo An invented method through which one or more carefully chosen text bodies are collected, disaggregated, randomized, merged, rearranged, erased, sewn back together, and reanimated with a high voltage jolt.
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