Hobart Festival of Women Writers welcomes Alexis Pauline Gumbs
The author of Spill: Scenes of a Black Feminist Fugitivity, Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ research on contemporary black women writers led to the ongoing community school Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and the publishing house BrokenBeautiful Press. She is the co-founder with Sangodare/Julia Roxanne Wallace, her partner, of the Mobile Homecoming Project, an experiential archive devoted to black LGBTQ individuals’ contributions to black culture and life. Gumbs is the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines, was featured in Best American Experimental Writing in 2015, is a Pushcart nominee, and a Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize honoree.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs will give a reading of her work and will teach the writing workshop, Breathe Underwater: Your Manuscript, Memory, and Magic at Festival of Women Writers 2017. This workshop will use individual writing exercises, partner and group work, and intentional breathing to deepen and broaden participants’ relationship to their current writing project and/or writing practice.
Stephanie Nikolopoulos interviews Alexis Pauline Gumbs IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
SN: Your book Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity weaves together poetry and Black feminist literary criticism, creating visceral vignettes about racism and violence against women for the reader to consider. Why was it important to you to create a new way of approaching Black feminist theory?
APG: I see Spill as a libation. A way of calling back the texts, scenes and questions that required Hortense Spillers, Barbara Smith, Akasha Hull, Cheryl Clarke and so many other foremothers to create Black feminist literary theory. They really did transform the world with that work. My generation of Black feminist scholars is faced with a set of opportunities (forged by those foremothers) and challenges that ask us when we want to conform to a set of existing practice and when we want to transform and be transformed by what the rigorous, curious unapologetic love of Black women (which characterizes the Black feminist theoretical tradition) will do to us. So for me, Spill was an opportunity and an invitation to be undone.
SN: Your current projects include: Mobile Homecoming, Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, Black Feminist Film School, and Brilliance Remastered—in addition to your writing. What’s your secret to juggling so many projects? What advice do you have for those of us who are struggling to find time for everything we want to do?
APG: I might not actually be a good person to ask about juggling and balance because I am a recovering workaholic, so I am still figuring that out myself. The reason I don’t feel scattered though is that I see everything I do as pretty much the same thing, activating Black feminist brilliance as transformative collective ceremony. It just takes multiple forms because it’s important to me for it reach all my communities of accountability and practice. And my secret? It’s called 4am. Anything is possible at 4am. Also Asha Bandele told me to write every day first thing, and Zelda Lockhart showed me how. So I write every day, which means my writing always has room and space to grow.
SN: What do you want writers to get from the workshop you’ll be conducting at this year’s Hobart Festival of Women Writers?
APG: I would like the writers who attend my workshop to leave having granted themselves permission to be transformed by their writing journey and by the forms that it takes. Like I said above, most educational spaces for writers teach writers how to conform to certain conventions and norms, and that has its place. But my workshop will be a space for writers to surprise themselves and to transform all of us.
watch and listen to Heavy Swimmers, read by Alexis Pauline Gumbs: Heavy Swimmers
For more information on teacher, scholar, and author Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs visit www.AlexisPauline.com.