(l-r) Brian Gilmore, Desiree Cooper, Cole Lavalais, David Haynes and Angela Flournoy
from RIPEN THE PAGE LITERARY MAGAZINE
I am a poet and public interest advocate (lawyer, and now clinical professor of law).
Everyday, I work with words, on the page, and as poets like to say – the stage, in order to impart some truth about the lives we lead and the lives that cross my path each day. I try to make it all art: the law, and the literature, the words.
My pages are articles, reviews, poems, and stories I have been lucky enough to publish in a lot of different places. Then there are also the legal papers I have filed for my clients, most of whom could not afford a lawyer. Mostly though, I write letters. It is what I enjoy writing more than anything: letters.
My stages are numerous as well: poetry venues, writer’s conferences, radio programs, a film, and, of course, courts of law, tribunals, public forums.
I have considered quitting the law. I have also thought that poetry (literature) is useless. It is (and has been), at times, emotionally exhausting to encounter individuals having a difficult time in the legal system and also to write about the troubles of the world in my poetry and in my writings. Yet, I cannot quit. It is what I am, and what I have always been even before I became what I am today.
Read the rest of the article here: THE BEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING
You walk into the coffeehouse and pick a seat beside the thin woman whose beauty is coiled into tight vines of hair. Never seen her here before, you think as you slide into the bench beside her, careful not to get caught looking in her direction.
You take off your coat, power up your laptop, check your cell phone for messages. You coyly lay your trap.
Read the rest of this “flash fiction” here: Sex Coffee
In Cole Lavalais’ debut novel Summer of the Cicadas, Viola “Vi” Moon hopes to leave her experience at a mental health facility behind when she enrolls in a small black college in the south, but the stability she hoped she’d gain fractures more quickly than she anticipated. Vi thinks the best way to regain her sanity is to begin a relationship with Perry, the only son of a black, Southern elite family. When Vi struggles to find her place in school and with Perry, she launches an obsessive search for the father she can’t fully remember or completely forget.
Summer of the Cicadas is a striking debut that challenges the reader to figure out what is real, what is true, and what is now. Lavalais turns the idea of legacy upside when characters are confronted with inheriting family secrets, mental illness, respectability politics, and deception. Who or what haunts us as we try to find ourselves, stuck with family names and histories we didn’t choose? How much of our histories should we hold on to as we prepare for our futures? In a telephone interview, Lavalais talked with me about the stigma of mental illness, diversity issues in publishing, and how black women writers can support each other.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: Cole Lavalais on THE TOAST
FROM SMOKE LONG QUARTERLY
Smoke and Mirrors: An Interview with Dennis Norris II
Your story, “Daddy’s Boy,” devastated me when I first read it, flooded me with discomfort. I had to step away and think about it, come back to it and read it again and then sort through competing emotions: admiration, disgust, sympathy. What sort of effect were you hoping to achieve with this story?
Well first, thank you so much for saying that, and for your kind words regarding “Daddy’s Boy.” This is a really satisfying question to consider because it tells me that as a reader this story asked you to work to receive it. Which is exactly the effect I’m hoping to achieve with everything I write. When I’m reading, the stories and novels that impact me the most allow me to work in partnership with the writer–in a very intimate way–and in that relationship, our combined efforts make the reading experience worthwhile. I hope a reader will return to my work, will need to do so, and will find something new, or deeper, or more challenging with each read, the same way that I do with the stories and novels that I hold most dear. But that means I have to do my part and deliver that story, which as I’m sure you know, is really hard to do.
Read the rest of the interview here: Rion Interviews Dennis
Brian Gilmore (’14, ’15) made the following presentation at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles as part of a panel entitled This Ends Now.
As a poet, and writer in many other genres, politics has never been too far from my writing. By the time I took writing serious and decided to be a writer, the movement for the end to apartheid in South Africa was in full swing and myself and many other students and activists rarely missed an opportunity to join a protest. Those of us who were poets wrote about it all the time and it often consumed our literature and created a personal challenge to write good poetry that we respected but that also spoke to the moment. Ronald Reagan was also President, and he too, became easy inspiration for our political verse considering policies he advocated that denigrated the poor and people of color.
It has never been an issue for me to mix art and politics, and especially, the serious issues as they appear in society. As a black writer, it is impossible to ignore the politics of my time and many writers, Sonia Sanchez, Richard Wright, Haki Madhubuti, John A Williams, and others, provided examples of writers who wrote in a time of crisis, on a variety of issues.
Read the rest of the remarks here: This Ends Now!