STRE E T T EAM Ily a A rb a tm a n Alan a - l yn n B er glu n d B ritt Curti s Anto ni a d e l C am po Alis ha F un kh ou s e r Julian Guy Aleja nd ra Her n รกn de z C h รก v e z B rigd o n M a r k w ar d Sophia Pierce Austin Pratt Thoma s S ni de r Madeleine Williams
a letter from THE HOLLAND PROJECT Hello readers! Thank you for taking an interest in our coverage of the Nevada Humanities’ 2018 Nevada Literary Crawl which occurred across Midtown Reno on September 15th. This year’s theme, “Opening a New World”, struck a chord with us as it championed the voices of authors from diverse backgrounds and marginalized communties. Over 100 authors came together to discuss topics around community building, activism, regionalism, identity, and so much more. So with the help of our friends at KWNK 97.7FM we assembled an incredible street team of artists, DJs, activists, and students to divide-and-conquer the wide range of panels at the Crawl. This zine is the culmination of that coverage including recaps and author interviews alongside some special continued reading and music suggestions by our reporters. We hope you find the following insightful and inspiring and we hope to see you at the Crawl next year! Regards,
Your Friends at HP
TABLE OF CONTENTS INTERVIEW WITH GABBY RIVERA............................4-5 ARID WEST................................................................8-9 FED UP!.................................................................10-11 THE BELIEVER & NONFICTION PUBLISHING........12-13 INTERVIEW WITH GUILLERMO REYES & YOSIMAR REYES.................................................14-17 SONGWRITING WITH FINE MOTOR...................20-21 ONE DEGREE OF SEPARATION............................22-23 THE MEADOW......................................................24-25 DEEP WEST VIDEO...............................................26-27 PERMANENT MIDNIGHT.......................................28-29 HE/SHE/THEY/ME......................................30-31 IN OUR OWN BACKYARD...................................34-35 UNSHELTERED..................................................36-37 THANK YOUâ€™S AND CREDITS......................................38
GABBY RIVERA and Inspiring Radical Creativity Interview with Sophia Pierce Gabby Rivera is the first Latina to write for Marvel Comics and is the author of the acclaimed young adult novel “Juliet Takes A Breath”. Gabby delivered an inspiring keynote at the Lit Crawl illustrating how the tools authors use to create a better story are the same tools we can use to improve our most vulnerable communities. Afterward, Sophia met with Gabby for questions and some tips for young writers... During your talk you focused on the idea of joy as action and survival. I feel like many young people especially use angst, rage, and their frustrations to propel their art or activism. So how do they learn to access that joy and harness it? That is a super real question. There is a culture of expecting pain from artists and suffering, expecting folks to tap into their darkest place as if that is the only place where creativity and storytelling can fluorish. Listen, yes, be angsty. I have always been a pretty angry, dyke-y, feminist: I’m mad that everyone wants everyone to be skinny, I’m mad that everyone wants everyone you to be straight. All those things. So be mad, but also remember that you are allowed to find joy because if all you do is utilize anger and angst you will exhaust yourself. And joy is the jokes at your homegirl’s crib or at the bbq, joy is your grandmother giving you a hug, joy is all that tenderness and goofiness that you have when you feel like nobody else is watching. And those are the best places right? That’s where the magic, the joy, and the power of survival lives. Off of that, centering your own experiences in your art can be difficult and painful. How do you currently or in the past balance that yourself? And how do you avoid creative burnout? Since forever women have been the core support groups. The New York City Latina Writers Group was one of my main supports in my 20’s, early, just trying to figure out my world. When we write, we dig into our guts, we find the yucky parts, the parts we’re confused about, the amazing parts and we throw it all onto the page or the canvas. So it’s real important to have community that you can reach out to, like your older mentor at your art school or your aunt who does her own work. People that you trust to make sure that you’re always connected and that you’re always getting yourself pulled back in by the folks around you. ...so build community.
Listen to the full interview on KWNK here: https://kwnkradio.org
INTERVIEW Awesome, thank you. Based on your experiences as a young author and becoming published, do you have any advice for young creative people right now and what steps to take? And how to make sure that even if they’re writing these stories or creating the artwork, how to get it seen and heard? Everyone’s journey towards publication or having their art recognized or taken in by large groups of folks, everyone’s journey is different. A very simple way to make sure your dreams manifest is to complete a work. We have tons of ideas, they are firing off, but if you have like 40 unfinished paintings, there’s never gonna be that one that people can point to and say, “Hey, you did that”. So that’s the real power of it. Complete a work, believe in it, tell everyone you know and love about the work, shout it from the rooftops, read it on the corner, put it in the coffee shop. Hustle your work the way that you want people to hustle it for you later. You really gotta jump in there! A lot of people are like “Oh, I’m not good at social media” and you don’t even need that. My whole thing is that there is an expectation that people want to write for certain audiences or there’s gotta be a certain type of successful and it’s like “Yo, just have fun”. Literally you make art and write stories that make your people laugh, your mom laugh. Foster that and build that, be confident in your work because you share it with people who love you. Right. Like hustling your own work and then going back to what you said about fostering community: hustle your friends’ work too. Yeah! Listen, New York Latina Writers Group would just throw salons, we would go kick it at Alisia’s house in Harlem and we would write together. Then sometimes she would throw events at open mic spots in the city and we would go do that. And then boom: this one writer met an editor and then now somebody else is getting their thing published. That’s the most supportive way to do it. A lot of folks are constantly trying to apply for these nameless, faceless grants and you should, but that rejection is really tough and it can make you not want to work. So when you’re working with your friends and it’s fun, that’s the spirit, the vibe. ●
More information about Gabby Rivera and “Juliet Takes a Breath” is available online on Gabby’s website: http://gabbyrivera.com/
Gabby Rivera and Felicia Perez at the “Inspiring Radical Creativity” Keynote Panel
A RID Covered by Austin Pratt
The panel “Arid West” met on the outside patio of the bar Pignic in the late afternoon as the warm wind quickly picked up, and the harsh white light set behind the panelists and into the eyes of those in attendance; about fifteen spunky older-boomers, and about fifteen possibly grad student writers. Reno author Mark Maynard read first; a short story from the forthcoming anthology This Side of the Divide: Contemporary Stories of the American West from Baobab Press, the publishing arm of Reno’s Sundance Books. “Last Call at the Smokestack Club” is an icy, gritty step into the suspicion and politics of a small coal company-town in an unforgiving Wyoming winter when crime and murder approach the local bar. Following Maynard, author Claire Vaye Watkins, noting that she was bored of reading from her acclaimed most recent novel Gold Fame Citrus, instead pondered about the nature of boom-and-bust economics in Nevada and the West; how the anxiety of 2018 feels like the 2007 housing bubble again, and if there aren’t other ways to be that are outside of that pendulum. “That’s a really highbrow intro for an essay about hot dogs”, she laughed, and jumped into her 2013 essay “In the Shadow of John Ascuaga’s Nugget”, a meditation on the Great Recession in Nevada set to the mise-en-scène of the Sparks Farmer’s Market, with the accompanying and expected cast of comi-tragic characters, and the polished turd of artisanal hotdogs. The following Q&A was both lively and deep. Someone asked the panelists about regionalism in writing—if it was somehow limited or provincial. Maynard and Watkins both emphasized that every American Literature is a regionalist literature. Watkins declared, “It’s really important to encounter stories of where you are from,” noting early 20th century Sierra Nevada author Mary Austin, and Marc Reisner’s seminal Cadillac Desert as examples of influential work for her. “You’re not nowhere”.
W E ST WEST Continuing the conversation on place and perspective, Maynard and Watkins both expressed a deep love and admiration of the West, careful to surrender to the sublime. “Do you live in a place that wants you to live or that wants you to die?,” Watkins warned, provoking a curious but otherwise lighthearted final observation from one of the spunky boomers. “Your writing is really dark.” “Have you ever been to Pahrump?”, Watkins laughed without pause. And then like a rattlesnake getting two more rapid bites in: “Have you ever been to the Clown Motel in Tonopah for a high school volleyball game? Have you ever had a sexual experience in the Clown Motel?” As if the author most often cited as the daughter of a man in Charles Manson’s Family would have to calibrate darkness for us.
CON T . R E ADI NG – M a r k M a y n a rd C l a i r e V a ye Wa t ki n s
FED UP. NAGS:
THE EMOTIONAL LABOR PLAYLIST LADYTRON - NAG NAG NAG THE COSMOPOLITANS (HOW TO KEEP YOUR) HUSBAND HAPPY DELTA 5 - TRY LE TIGRE - GONE B4 YR HOME POISON GIRLS - OLD TARTS SONG AU PAIRS - IT’S OBVIOUS JILL KROESEN - I AM NOT SEEING THAT YOU ARE HERE THE G.T.’S - BOYS HAVE FEELINGS TOO THE B-52’S - COMMUNICATE JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS - NAG
We compiled most of this playlist on Spotify, listen here: NAGS Playlist
— Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward By Gemma Hartley Covered by Antonia del Campo When Nevada writer Gemma Hartley wrote an essay last fall in Harper’s Bazaar called ‘Women Aren’t Nags—We’re Just Fed Up’, she didn’t expect the amount of attention it would receive. The article went viral, opening a national conversation about the emotional and often invisible work that women do. “It had been building for a long time,” Gemma says, “this idea that there is this imbalance, even in really progressive relationships. I considered my relationship incredibly equal, but then I noticed there was this mental and emotional work that I was doing that my husband was not.” The essay became the starting point for her upcoming book ‘Fed UP.— Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward’, which dives deeper into the mental and emotional labor that women do behind the scenes at home, at work, and in the world. It looks at culture, years of socialization, gender roles, and what we can do to create balanced relationships. “When we are talking about women being nags, what we are really talking about is women not being heard the first time.” As Gemma admits, it will be a long learning process, but now we have the language to do the educating. And, in the end, it will benefit everyone. Gemma’s book will be out in November.
More information about Gemma Hartley and her new book is available on Gemma’s website: http://www.gemmahartley.com
THE B E L I E VE R & Covered by Ilya Arbatman At Daniel Gumbiner and Niela Orr’s panel on “The Believer and NonFiction Publishing,” the first question of the Q&A was about belief: to the woman who was curious about the magazine’s name, believing in something seemed so unpopular in the embattled and cynical intellectual landscape of 2018, that she came to Daniel and Niela’s workshop based on the name alone (she had never heard of the magazine). Niela explained that an earlier working name had been The Optimist, but the founders had decided they needed something more open-ended. Daniel explained that, to him, it meant believing in the power of words to make a real impact on the person reading them. Listening to Daniel and Niela share their stories and talk about their work on the magazine, I felt that this belief was not just a catch-phrase for them. Niela, who co-edits the interviews published in The Believer, clearly loves to write and has been a contributor to The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Baffler and many other on- and off-line publications. Her approach, and by extension the magazine’s, is characterized by an openness to find substance wherever it may be hiding. As Daniel, who is managing editor of The Believer, explained in a follow-up conversation after the panel, the editors, in deciding on subject matter and direction, generally just follow their noses. If something interests them, they pursue it and see what happens. The result is an eclectic and open-minded publication that brings together poetry, history, comics, music and cultural criticism, and, in doing so, blurs the lines between genres, styles and voices.
The Believer intentionally seeks out writers who go out into the world. Admittedly, this criterion is a bit vague, but it makes perfect sense in the context of a non-fiction publication that prioritizes cultural relevance. Since 2017, The Believer has been published by the Black Mountain Institute, an international literary center based at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that, along with other programs, hosts a City of Asylum Fellowship that “provides safe haven for writers whose voices are muffled by censorship, or who are living with the threat of imprisonment or assassination.” When I asked Daniel and Niela about the influence Las Vegas has on the magazine - what it’s like to work on non-fiction in a city of dreams and images -- they both agreed that there is a unique freedom there, a lack of parameters or boundaries that can liberate writers to experiment or just to think without self-censorship.
NON- FIC TIO N P UBLISH I N G Before I let them crawl on to the next event, I asked Daniel and Niela to tell me about any works of non-fiction they read early on that particularly inspired them to believe in the power of words. They both paused and thought for a couple of minutes. Daniel answered that the first thing that came to mind was “Ticket to the Fair,” a journalistic essay by David Foster Wallace where (in the writer’s own words), he “gorges himself on corn dogs, gapes at terrifying rides, acquaints himself with the odor of pigs, exchanges unpleasantries with tattooed carnies, and admires the loveliness of cows.” Wallace’s essay had impressed Daniel with its vividness and simple realism, with words that come to life. Niela answered that she had been moved deeply by The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a book that she felt articulated so eloquently and passionately the truth of the human rights struggles of Malcolm’s - and our - time. She had also been inspired, as a politically active young person, by Che Guevara’s diaries, particularly his assertion that if you wanted to be a good revolutionary, the most important thing you had to do was read — you had to be a good reader, you had to consume everything.
CONTINUED READING – NIELA ORR for The Baffler “So You’ve Been Punched in the Nuts” DAVID FOSTER WALLACE for Harper’s “Ticket to the Fair” ZAINA ARAFAT for The Believer “Our Arab”
GUILLERMO REYES and YOSIMAR REYES on Queer LatinX Voices by Alejandra Hernández Chávez Guillermo Reyes and Yosimar Reyes are writers and performance artists writing from queer immigrant perspectives. During their panel, “Playwriting and Performance: Queer LatinX Voices in Print and On Stage”, Reyes and Reyes read from new and old works and discussed their creative processes. Alejandra and KWNK caught up with them afterwards...
Guerillmo, I wanted to ask you about your involvement with theater and drama as a means to express yourself and talk about your identity. What was your initial involvement with theater and how did you find that spark? I think I’ve been theatrical since I was a child, so I feel like I’ve somehow been “acting out” a lot of stories that pertain to our family life. But also becauce I’m an immigrant from Chile originally, I think part of that was the learning process of learning English and learning to adapt to a culture. I feel like that was one of things that gave me a sense of voice. I had stories to tell. I had family back in Chile, but I also met a lot of people obviously in the United States and there’s so many stories of so many people that I felt needed to be expressed. I wasn’t originally thinking of myself only as a playwright...I would write short stories, poems, screenplays, I would write a bit of everything. But theater is something that helped me express myself because it was more accessible in the sense that there were more opportunities available to me in L.A. especially when I was young and I needed the space you might say. Whereas film always felt very distant and it felt it was very much out of reach. So I get the feeling that I went with something that opened its doors to me. And so that felt just about right to be able to express some aspects of my background, my history, my family background, and then the various stories that I constantly kept finding just by talking to people like that friend of mine that I talked about in the monologue. That’s not completely biographical in the sense that it’s exaggerated , it’s comedic, but in a sense that’s what inspired the story is his landing in LA in the middle of the riots. And so stories like that inspire me and that’s what I want to be able to express.
Listen to the full interview on KWNK here: https://kwnkradio.org 14
I’m Mexican and I feel that within the LatinX culture that I know from my country, theater is more accepted, but it is also something that relies a lot in social class. I think it is something that is a little inaccessible to people who are of a lower status. Was it more of an introduction that you had to this kind of media once you arrived here? Or what is the status of playwriting and theater in Chile? G: Yeah, you’re right. In Chile I’m not sure I ever really went to the theater there, there might of been a traveling theater that came to our neighborhood and I saw a play. But for the most part it was movies because we lived right next to a movie theater so I watched hundreds of movies. So I love the movies and I still do. But in LA there are so many small theaters especially in the 90’s a lot of small theaters all over the city were available for young writers to be able to put on a play. So it felt like even though the professional theaters are more inaccessible because they are class related, and they appeal to a different demographic, the smaller theaters were able to do that for me. And there was a lot of Latino theater also that was developing in Los Angeles and other cities so I felt that was what became accessible to me. Even to this day I find that the professional theater can be very difficult for Latino writers, but you make your own way and you break down the doors wherever you can. And for me that was what was accessible. But yes, theater itself can be a very class oriented art form. And they way it’s taught, because now I teach at a University, it can seem very elitist to a lot of people. But then we have other options, people who are trying to bring in Latino and other voices into the theater and giving opportunities to other types of writers. So I do think that is changing. Yes definitely. I can see that. Do you feel like your experience as a queer brown man would’ve been different, do you think you would have found a different medium or would’ve been a different type of artist if you landed other places in the US besides Los Angeles? Or do you feel the community in Los Angeles really helped you get to a place where you found theater, playwriting, and short stories? G: I think it was helpful to be in LA definitely because of the way the theater was functioning at the time. Doesn’t function like that today, in fact, it’s gotten worse because it’s gotten more expensive to have small theaters and a lot of small productions have become more expensive because the Actor’s Union requires you to pay actors a certain minimum when in the 90’s it was still possible to put on a play with zero budget. And that has changed. However, I still hear about people having those experiences, Yosimar will tell you about his, that allow for other voices to be heard. So I will say yes, Los Angeles was very helpful that way. It also has a very international community so that people from all over the place are living there and it’s not so exotic to be from South America, it’s normal.
Yosimar, I actually follow and see some of your online content. And I was wondering: I think your very outspoken in a very correct sense about the narrative that people carry for people who are either documented or who are undocumented or consider them Dreamers, because people can fall on both sides of the spectrum and not consider themselves either one of those things, so, what is something that you wish people would stop asking you as a queer DACA recipient? Y: I think I should make a list! Yeah, I do a lot of interviews and when Trump rescinded. DACA I was doing interviews because everyone wanted a Dreamer perspective. It felt very much like Pokemon Go like “I gotta catch another undocu”. So a lot of questions were based on fear and what I’m trying to do within my work now is if you’re interviewing an undocumented person, why would you want to base your narrative on fear? Why can’t we explore something different? Why can’t we talk about something else other than this, right? And I like to remind people that being undocumented is not an identity, it’s a social condition. It’s something strategic just like poverty. It was something that was created to keep a group marginalized, and there is a direct benefit to having 11 million undocumented people in this country. But that does not mean that we don’t have agency, that we’re not capable of embodying joy, that we’re not capable of being messy, or we’re not capable of falling in love. So I want to debunk this idea that we are these tragic sad creatures, that we need saving, and actually paint a whole picture. Like, no actually, we’re living full lives despite the adversities we’re facing. And once Trump got elected people were like, “Oh my god nobody likes undocumented people”. When us, we’ve known it’s been like this since we got here. Right. You talked about in your brief segment about embodying trauma and kind of using that to form your medium and what you’re writing. Can you talk a little more about that and how you really tap into that? Y: Yeah! So for so long I was in my writing classes and felt like that I couldn’t write about things I’ve experienced so I had to create these other story lines. But then I thought about and, beyond identity politics of being a queer brown Mexican man, a good story connects you. That’s why you read Shakespeare, “Like oh my god I connect to that”, or that’s why you read other writers that might not be from your background. Because they’re so universal. Every human being knows what it means to fall in love, what it means to feel joy. You know we have these things that trigger everybody. So for me, it was more how to create a body of work that is specific to my experience and the traumas that I’ve lived through that connect me deeper to a greater audience. Like, everybody knows what a sense of loss feels like. So that’s why I say, “Oh, write about your traumas” because I think as writers we are conditioned to go find the story when often times it’s just sitting next to you. You just gotta write about that. And you know eventually I’m gonna get bored writing about my neighbors and my family and I’m gonna explore other things. But right now for the moment being this is what is speaking to me and resonating for me. And it just so happens that I’m writing up against these major narratives that exist in the country about who we are. And I think the work that I’m doing is relevant but eventually I’ll have to move onto something else.
Yosimar Reyes reading at “Playwriting and Performance: Queer Latinx Voices in Print and On Stage”
Guillermo Reyes reading at “Playwriting and Performance: Queer Latinx Voices in Print and On Stage”
A question to both of you: this panel was centered around how Queer Latinx identity influences writing and playwriting, and it’s something to note that yourselves and moderator Dr. Perez are gay males, do you feel that the narrative in the Queer Latinx community is held by men, or do you think that there is equal space for queer female identifying Latinx people? Y: Well it’s interesting because when I was coming up I kinda wanted to have books that also reflected me as a boy and experiencing the world. The first people that I came to read were all these powerful badass chicana lesbians that had this body of work that was influencing academic thought and I related to that. But at the same time I was like, who are the queer male writers that are telling our stories? And one of the things to note is that Latinos don’t get published at all. I can name five books right now that came out this year that were by Latinos or that are getting major or gaining kind of notoriety. We’re not getting published at that rate. So it creates a scarcity of knowledge, and if you’re not self-producing it yourself then you most likely won’t be able to get that. So right now what I’m trying to contribute is giving another perspective. What I think is beautiful now about queerness is that it’s expansive, it’s not so binary anymore. It’s so beautiful to see people who are like, “I don’t identify with none of that” and I’m creating my own body of work that I can embody multigenders, I can be multiple sexualities and it’s not so binary. So I think it’s gonna be interesting how it grows and I just hope to contribute something to help inspire other little queerdos like me. G: Well I think that obviously the opportunity to work at a certain space isn’t always open to our communities in general, so we have to work together. When I finished my MFA and went back to LA, there was a queer Latino collective that was working very hard that I was a part of to bring in variety of voices. Marga Gomez came in to do a workshop the same year I was doing “The Man on the Verge” and we got a chance to talk to her about how the way in general queer latinas have to work to not only break through as women but also as queer latina women. Within our communities we have to struggle very hard to do all of that, and it seems like we have to come together constantly in some sort of collective way to bring those voices together. Now I must say, I worked for the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts during that time, which was a theater run by three Latinas. That was very exciting because they did plays in English and in Spanish. And that helped me understand a lot of what was going on in the Latina community at the time in regards to using the Spanish language in theater and also in plays that were being written, produced, and directed by women. That was an education in and of itself. Because I think we all have a lot to learn from each other. Muchas gracias to both of you. I could sit here for hours and pick your brains. I think it’s really astounding, especially as a queer Latinx female who lives in Northern Nevada where we don’t have as much representation, to see a panel which is really relatable and really resonates with myself and with others in my community. So thank you for taking the time to be here in Reno. ●
SO RIT I SONG N GW WRIT
Dan and Casey of Fine Motor
ING ING with
FINE MOTOR Covered by Brigdon Markward Songwriting can be a weird and very personal process. Whether you’re writing abstract poems about your surroundings or slinging angst-ballads about the one that got away; it’s not an experience you typically share with others, let alone a bunch of strangers in a classroom. Somehow Casey and Dan, who front local indie-rockers Fine Motor, were able to transcend the awkwardness and uncomfortable nature of this process. We started by comparing the similarity in structure between Nirvana’s In Bloom and Beyonce’s Single Ladies (To our surprise, the two were nearly identical). We then dove into what makes up the differences in the Chorus, Verse, and Bridge of a song; and as abstract as they can be, the class managed to write a song together (sorta). We compiled the most fitting Verses, Chorus, and Bridge written by the class and sang them together to an instrumental version of You Don’t Know How it Feels by Tom Petty. The fact Casey and Dan managed to get us to work together and make anything is an accomplishment within itself, but the song turned out somewhat cohesive and collectively, we didn’t sound that bad.
C ON T I N U E D L I S T E N I N G – Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels”
O NE DEGREE O F Covered by Julian Guy I walk into Ceol Pub for the first time, hoping to be as invisible as possible coming in through the back. Of course, a warmly lit stage is tucked right next to the back exit and everyone is clapping. I grab the first seat to the stage right and order a not so hoppy IPA. There is nothing people enjoy more than a good story, and I am settled in to hear one. After some introductions, Emilie Mardock unwraps the mic chord and begins The Folk and The Lore’s storytelling event, One Degree of Separation, which aims to show people how close our lives really are. “In high school I really, desperately wanted to get laid,” Mardock says. She tells us about her introduction to the movie Road House, watching it with her dream boy who was “everything my mom would have hated” and who fell asleep halfway in. Quoting Patrick Swayze’s “Pain don’t hurt,” Mardock begins to explain how Road House brought her through unmedicated childbirth. “Pain is unknowing. Pain doesn’t know. It is the honey badger of your life,” Mardock says. Scott Hernandez takes the stage and tells us how after a disastrous trip to Vegas they stop with some friends at a brothel. Hernandez gets a tour of the facility with Dixie, a 23 year-old working woman from the Florida panhandle. Hernandez explains that Dixie, with five children she doesn’t see, and a mere two hours off a month, would spend her free time, “sitting out with a shotgun under the stars protecting the kittens from the coyotes.” Be it unmedicated childbirth or a separation from your children, pain really can be the honey badger that connects us all. The Folk and The Lore then invite audience members to share their stories, illustrating how in a community as small as Reno, there is only one degree separating our lives from anyone else’s. We hear a story from Matt Johnson of the same brothel, where on their way back from protesting nuclear waste dumping in Nevada, Johnson realizes they don’t have the gas, or the money, to get back to Reno and must call their mother from the brothel pay phone. Kasey Christensen talks about the struggles of being a perfectionist parent with an “extremely opinionated” baby, and Gayle Brandeis describes how after the loss of loved ones, it “seems like Reno is crawling with dopplegangers of my dead parents.”
SEP A RAT I O N
with THE FOLK AND THE LORE
The Folk and The Lore, a Reno-based storytelling group, reminds us, that listening to our neighbor’s stories is an act of connection and empathy. “When you know your neighbors’ stories, you [are] more connected to your community,” Jessi Lemay, founder of The Folk and The Lore said. “Those stories will become your own lore.” Anyone who is interested in joining The Folk and The Lore as a storyteller can reach out to Jessi through their email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Folk and The Lore’s next event, Wild Women, is happening on October 20, 2018. Anyone is welcome to join and tell their Wild Women story.
C ON T . L IS T E NI NG + R E ADING – Okkervil River’s song Red which captures an emotional narrative that falls in line with many of the stories told The poem “Wishing Well” by Gregory Pardlo and Kim Addonizio’s book of poetry “Tell Me” both take readers through relatable narratives that show us we are not so different from each other.
TTHE HE ME Covered by Antonia del Campo
The Meadow is the annual literary arts journal published every spring by Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, and this event featured local contributors reading from new and old works. One of the featured artists was Jo-Lynn Heusser, who said “I didn’t know I could write poetry, what inspired me was my english teacher telling me that I write like an english major.” Since that time, two years ago, Jo-Lynn has been writing poetry that is personal, raw and cathartic. Here is one of the poems she shared with us, an ode to the memory of losing a pet…
Poet Jo-Lynn Heusser
E AD O W Tumor in Mouth by JO-LYNN HEUSSER My aging queen, your stinking, And toothless mouth greets the gelatinous Shrimp flavored pate I gently coax Into your mouth. When your purr, and gentle Kneading hides beneath mounds of bloodied White sheets I administer your relief. I cradle your once lithe and feline dexterity, Now bone, and dull shedding tortoise shell static Clinging to my lips coated in Vaseline. I wipe diligently, with overpriced, odorless, And biodegradable wipes the parts Of you that you can no longer reach, And for this we are both grateful. Bastet upon my lap, youâ€™ll soon rest A dusty box upon a shelf next to seashells And books Iâ€™ll never read.
DEE E ST DEEPP W WE ST
Film stills from films by Talliah Hanchour, Terry Howard, and Gage Johson all screened at the Lit Crawl Panel
VI DE O VI DE O with the
Western Folklife Center Covered by Alana-lynn Berglund
Located in Elko, Nevada, the Western Folklife Center’s programming highights and preserves the culture of the American West. The nonprofit organizes the well established National Cowboy Poetry Gathering each winter and presents educational exhibitions dedicated to traditional artists and art forms year round. Their presentation at the 2018 Nevada Literary Crawl focused on a slightly newer program that is giving voice to the often unheard stories of the rural West. Deep West Video arms high school students with video equipment and a production team for a mission to tell their stories. The filmmakers live and attend school on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation which is about 2 hours north of Elko and straddles the stateline between Nevada and Idaho. A curated selection of six videos were screened for the audience, with all six filmmakers in attendance too. The videos showed the students really owning their culture whether it be Pow Wow Dancing, singing songs in native language, beading for traditional costume, or telling stories that have been passed down through the generations. Two of the videos told the story of a community running club formed after a tragic suicide and how the Duck Valley residents are combating loss and despair with positivity and improving health. It’s true that I never would have heard theses stories of an isolated community in the deep west, so I was very moved by the words of the students (who all narrated their mini-documentaries by the way). I’ll admit I was a little bummed when each student answered “No” to the question, “Do any of you want to be filmmakers in the future?” But the program isn’t so much about the art of filmmaking as it is about collaborating with your peers and foregrounding your voice. I recommend watching videos from throughout the years of Deep West Video which are available online at www.westernfolklife.org
P ERMAN E N T Covered by Austin Pratt The panel “Permanent Midnight”, named after Jerry Stahl’s 1995 memoir of addiction as a screenwriter for ALF and Twin Peaks, featured three highrising contemporary writers and poets reading work surrounding pain, drug abuse, and loss. Poet William Brewer began first, reading three poems from his 2017 debut collection I Know Your Kind, winner of the National Poetry Series. A native of West Virginia, Brewer’s writing is an open-eyed look through the grief and rage at the epicenter of the opioid crisis. The first poem read, also the opening poem of his collection, “Oxyana, West Virginia”, comes from regional slang for the town of Oceana, destroyed by addiction. Building dizzying images, emotions, statistics (24 dead in one day), and economics, the poem serves as a witness of what Brewer describes as an intentional spiritual attack on Americans by big Pharma. Next, Claire Vaye Watkins, a current Shearing Fellow at Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas, read her essay “Some Houses (Various Stages of Dissolve)” originally published in the 2017 anthology Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. The text of “Some Houses” is partitioned nonlinearly by various houses and locations significant to Watkins life; a shack on BLM land, the fifth-wheel home of a teenage lover’s family. Through a combination of painterly images with a distanced objectivity of her own life—each new section of the punctuated structure seems to multiply the gravity of addiction, poverty, and death, as encountered and processed by children in the desert, and by those same grown-up children years later. Lastly, read Daniel Gumbiner, whose debut novel The Boatbuilder had just been long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction the previous day. The novel follows a young man, Berg, with a nasty painkiller addiction who decides on an apprenticeship with a reclusive boatbuilder in Northern California. Gumbiner read an excerpt; a comical yet insightful scene where Berg begins to adapt to rural life, having to responsibly attend to a bloody attack on the farm chickens by a coyote. In perhaps a metaphor for his own changing relationship to his escape from pain and reality; Berg makes the decision to care for, instead of mercy kill, a wounded chicken.
M I D N I GHT C ON T . RE A DI N G â€“ Wi l l i a m B r ew er Cl a i r e V a ye Wa t ki n s D a ni e l G u mb i n er
HE/SHE/T One of the last panels of the day, “He/She/They/Me”, brought together four queer artists to share stories about growing up or navigating life every day life in a cis-centric world. It’s no secret that queer perspectives in literature are significantly underpublished and that a lack of senstivity towards non-binary and trans indentifying persons is still unacceptably high. So ending the Lit Crawl hearing from these bright, new voices that are hopefully on their way to being published was inspiring. I caught up later with one of the authors Naseem Jamnia who is a nonbinary writer of Iranian descent working towards their MFA in creative writing at UNR. Naseem’s story is fascinating, hailing from Chicago with a background in neuroscience and already holding a Master’s degree in Biology. Creative writing has always been a part of their life, but it wasn’t until the 2016 election that Naseem felt like it was time to put a pause on science and pursue writing for youth as a form of activism. In the panel and in our later KWNK interview, Naseem explained that it wasn’t until age 21 that they finally saw themselves on the page, specifically in Marjane Satrapi’s memoir Persepolis. That experience is absent for so many young people of color, queer youth, and young people with disabilities. So for Naseem it’s extremely important to write for their teen self and offer the opportunity to identify with a story to a much greater audience.
Something that also came up in the panel was the idea of writing for characters of backgrounds completely different than yours, specifically across gender and racial lines. The question came from the audience. I explained to Naseem how this question actually made me nervous as sometimes these discussions escalate very quickly in a negative way. But fortunately it did not escalate and the authors were given the floor to offer up some excellent advice. Empathy is the big take-away, but also seriously asking yourself as a writer, “Is this my story to tell?” In my opinion, this practice should not end with writing but should apply across all art forms. Painters and musicians get ding-ed all the time for not being sensitive and rebel in some pretty unsavory ways. As Naseem explained to me, it’s not necessarily about “staying in your lane” as it is knowing that when it comes to some stories, you can’t authentically tell them unless you’re a part of the community the stories are about. Writing inclusively is incredibly important, but always do your research and hire some sensitivity writers for insight.
THEY/ME Covered by Alana Berglund
In conclusion, I really think you should listen to my interview with Naseem Jamnia which will air on KWNK and be available online. And certainly not because Iâ€™m there, but because Naseem offers up a lot of great advice for artists and is a resource for things in queer lit to look forward to and celebrate.
Lit Crawl interviews are available on KWNKâ€™s blog at kwnkradio.org/blog
C ON T . READI NG P a n e l i s t s : Br an dy Bu r g ess, Clai re McCul l y, B e n Ro g e r s, a n d N aseem J a m ni a. Disc o v e r n ew v oices in q u eer ki d l i t by fo llo win g t h e #n ovel 19 on soc i al med i a
Anonymous “Literary Love Notes” printed by the Black Rock Press
IN O U R O W N
B AC K Y A R D Covered by Brigdon Markward The panel “In Your Own Backyard” mixed together influential voices with that of those most affected by the issue of gun violence, and touched on the sensitivities of school shootings in a way that aimed to reach those most numb, and perhaps desensitized to the subject. The talk was led by New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins, and playwright Rachel Lopez; incorporating three high-school aged actors. My background info preceeding was a little sparse (no one’s fault, but my own. I should have done the reading), but I was surprised to be hearing from authors who I was familiar with, and had no idea lived in Reno. The talk started by touching on Lopez’ play, “In Your Own Backyard”, and how it interprets the horror of school shootings in a way that’s more relevant now than ever. In between talks, the actors began taking turns reciting monologues from Lopez’ work. After the first monologue, Hopkins read some selections from a new work of hers, diving into a personified version of death, and touching on human lust and romanticized violence. After another monologue, Hopkins touched on the machismo and idea of gun ownership, and how it encourages domestic violence. As the talk began wrapping up, we heard from the actors and their personal fear of school shootings, opening up the conversation. You could feel the audience relax a little bit, as the overall feeling of the talk came down from intense and uncomfortable points, into a plateau, taking the massive and intimidating subjects back to a more digestible level. I left a little rattled, which I think was the intention. With a weird kind of feeling in my stomach, I called a buddy I hadn’t spoken to in a while to talk about a new album that came out and tell him I missed him. With how commonplace gun violence and school shootings have become, it’s easy to tune news of out. “In Your Own Backyard” brought the intensity of the subject to a place where we could all workshop through the feelings together.
C ON T I N U E D L I S T E N I N G – Slothrust’s “Peach” 35
U NS HE L T E RE D: Covered by Ilya Arbatman One of the reasons I moved to Reno in 2015 is because living a normal, low-key life had become nearly impossible in the Bay Area, as far as rents and cost of living went. To someone that had grown accustomed to paying exorbitant prices for mediocre living quarters, Reno had for years seemed magical: $1000 a month for a two story, three bedroom house with a yard and a basement? Soon after relocating, I discovered to my disappointment and chagrin that I was unknowingly an early participant in an economic shift that has changed the face of this city over the three short years I’ve lived here. When the rent at our old place got raised 20% from one year to the next, I was pissed off but, luckily, Rosie and I could afford it, so we grumbled and groaned and paid up. Just across the street from us, however, in the sidewalk park alongside the freeway, were many people who could not. How broken are things when an economic “boom” necessarily entails more people living on the street? I’ve always found the best way to make sense of issues that don’t is to listen to those who are caught up in them. ACTIONN - Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada - a local social justice coalition, has formed a Speaker’s Bureau to raise “awareness and understanding around the issues of housing and homelessness.” There is so much judgement and prejudice when it comes to poverty, but beneath that lie anxiety and discomfort and just plain ignorance. How often have you heard (or yourself thought) that a homeless person either deserved or wanted to be exactly where they were? And how often was this thought or opinion followed up by actually hearing that person’s story? In what other situation would you feel comfortable making such a broad and significant judgement with absolutely zero information? At “Unsheltered: Left Behind by the Boom,” I had the privilege of hearing some actual stories from the lives of people who know firsthand the price that Reno is paying for the current so-called boom.
Aria Overli, a community organizer with ACTIONN, introduced the panel with her own story of growing up low-income and of the toll that took on her and her family. Donald Griffin and Wendy Wigglesworth, the panelists, read deeply personal poems they had written about their lives and experiences in and out of homelessness. They were direct and composed given the gravity and emotional nature of what they were sharing; death, shame, “lost and forgotten souls,” love of Reno, solidarity through it all. In one poem, they re-enacted a hypothetical interrogation in which someone grills a struggling homeless person with a barrage of “Anyone can find a job” and “I don’t see why you can’t...” To each question that implies that
L e ft B ehi nd b y the Bo om homeless people just aren’t trying hard enough, there is a clear and simple answer illustrating how quickly obstacles can avalanche when you live on the street. In response to, “I found a job in three days” the poem explains, “I was homeless for a lot longer than three days, I had no car, no friends with a car, no phone, no money. I had to wake up at sun-up, find somewhere to stash my stuff, then worry about food, then clothes that were clean enough for someone to even think about hiring me...and if that even worked it was a matter of getting there. Did I mention I was also having to find the will and motivation to even get up? Let alone the drive to stand up when I do wake up, knowing for a fact that when I get there, half the people and places I go are just going to say, ‘No’.” Aria emphasized that, in ACTIONN’s understanding of the housing crisis, there is no lack of generosity - on the contrary, the people of Reno are extremely generous with their time and their money - but rather a lack of justice and of a sane and humanitarian housing policy. According to ACTIONN, Nevada “ranks dead last in the country in providing affordable housing to low-income families.” Aria told us that ACTIONN’s current focus is to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund in order to in invest in low-income housing. These kinds of flexible funds exist in over 780 other communities around the country. Money could easily be allocated from small car registration fees if three people from the Washoe County Commission agree to establish such a fund. Again, the crucial issue is empathy and understanding, out of which comes a sense of responsibility towards those affected by changes we all take part in. It’s not a question of fault or blame. We all live here, so we are all in this together. Those of us who are in a position to ignore the stories of others - and how we may be involved in those stories, whether directly or through inaction - also have the opportunity to listen, and to act on what we learn. In Wendy’s words, “Maybe the textbook definition of down in the dumps, hit bottom or hopeless is different for everybody. Maybe everybody’s ‘down in the dumps’ is received differently. Appreciate the the lesson that is now in front of you, take the best away, acknowledge what you can learn, and share it. Maybe it will help another who is in a bad spot in life. Maybe it can help someone smile. I don’t know, it seems like the right thing to do.”
THANK YOUâ€™S! Thank you to Stephanie Gibson, Nevada Humanities, and all participating authors! Big shout out to our Street Team for their contributions and KWNK Community Radio. Cover art and illustrations by Madeleine Williams Photographs by our reporters and Alisha Funkhouser Zine compiled by Alana-lynn Berglund
Holland Project and KWNK 97.7FM Community Radio teamed up to cover various panels at the 2018 Nevada Literary Crawl produced by Nevada Human...
Published on Oct 14, 2018
Holland Project and KWNK 97.7FM Community Radio teamed up to cover various panels at the 2018 Nevada Literary Crawl produced by Nevada Human...