MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: Shanta Lee Gander

GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA by Shanta Lee Gander

 

Hi Shanta,

Thanks for joining us today! Please let us know: at this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

First, please read Syna-ghetto-sthesia An Exhibition by Shanta Lee Gander

Shanta Lee Gander on her personal favorite:

This is an interesting question because it is not only hard to choose, I am still working on looking at my work as “good enough.” Perhaps an odd thing to admit out loud, but as an artist – I am also a photographer as well and write in other genres – I find my work to be perfectly imperfect in different states and stages of finish. Some things are more finished or “complete” than others. While some things I have decided to let them stay as they are while constantly seeing what could have been better.

I feel like that is just the overall cycle of life. If I am to pick which one of my poems I feel the most drawn to at this moment, it would have to be, “Syna-ghetto-sthesia: An Exhibition.” I wrote this a bit ago and it was the first time that I actually started engaging with the place where I grew up without shame but as an artifact within the process of creating and making art. When people ask me where I am from, I often say Connecticut clear and without a mumble. But if there is a further question of where, or if I am just volunteering saying, “I grew up in Hartford,” there are edges and notes of shame underneath my voice. I think for the construction of this book, before I ever knew it was a book, I decided to engage the urbanscape as a place of possibility within my poetry. It was something, previous to this, that was easier to do in prose. The urbandscape didn’t have to just be in places like New York, but other places where the urban offered a lot of flavors of the surreal, fantastic, the ridiculous, alongside all of the other things about the place that still cause my face to twist in disdain.

Creating the past and the place that I have so many complex feelings about into an exhibition space on the page allowed me to enter it a different way. Again, it was not expected in terms how how this came to be and when it did, it was almost as if the place itself – the apartment building that did burn down in late 2019 while my parents were still living there – was instructing and inviting me to see it, in habit it in a different way.

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Shanta Lee Gander

BIO

Shanta Lee Gander is a writer, photographer, journalist whose work has been featured in The Massachusetts Review, PRISM, ITERANT Literary Magazine, Palette Poetry, BLAVITY, DAME Magazine, The Crisis Magazine, Rebelle Society, on the Ms. Magazine Blog, and on a former radio segment Ponder This. Shanta Lee’s photojournalism has been featured on Vermont Public Radio (VPR.org) and her investigative reporting has been in The Commons weekly newspaper covering Windham County, VT. Shanta Lee is the 2020 recipient of the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts and 2020 and named as Diode Editions full-length book contest winner for her debut poetry compilation, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues. Her contributing work on an investigative journalism piece for The Commons received several New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) awards for her journalism work. Shanta Lee gives lectures on the life of Lucy Terry Prince (c. 1730-1821) — considered the first known African-American poet in English literature — as a member of the Vermont and New Hampshire Humanities Council Speakers Bureaus. She is the 2020 gubernatorial appointee to the Vermont Humanities Council’s board of directors and has a solo photography show, Dark Goddess, being featured in the Manchester, VT gallery, Southern Vermont Arts Center in August 2021.

Shanta Lee is an MFA candidate in Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has an MBA from the University of Hartford and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality from Trinity College. To see more of Shanta Lee’s work, visit Shantaleegander.com.

 

GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues is available at Diode Editions. Also at Bookshop

 

In other news:

I’ll be visiting the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle next week! Please join us AND bring a poem to share during the open mic. See the link below:

Kelly Fordon.flyer.6.23.2021

BILL HARRIS

harris picture

Bill Harris, Art by Nicole Macdonald from her Detroit Portrait Series

Today on the blog, Bill Harris and I will be talking about his story, “That First Year the Business Was Wood,” from his award-winning Wayne State University Press collection, I Got to Keep Moving.

Bill Harris is a Wayne State University emeritus professor of English. He is a playwright, poet, and arts critic. His plays have been produced nationwide and he has published books of plays, poetry, and reappraisals of American history. He received the 2011 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist award. http://www.billharriswrites.com.

It’s best to read the story before listening to our discussion so we don’t spoil the ending for you. Just click on this link below:

That First Year the Business Was Wood from I GOT TO KEEP MOVING

 

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“I Got to Keep Moving” is available from Pages Bookshop here or Wayne State University Press here or Bookshop here or Amazon here.

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I plan to continue discussing stories through the fall. Please let me know if you have a new book of short stories out so we can talk about it!

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I HAVE THE ANSWER: MARKETING HELP NEEDED! 

I Have the Answer has been out since April 11th. It was hard to market or even think about a new book this past spring, and if you are so inclined, I would love your help.

There are two main ways:

  1. Write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews at these places make a big difference and help drive sales. My hope is that people read the reviews and then purchase the book from their local indie bookstore like Pages Bookshop in Detroit!
  2. If you have already read and enjoyed the book, please let your friends know on social media with either a picture or just a suggestion that they might want to buy the book. Here’s a link to WSUPress for more information: https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/i-have-answer Please use the hashtag with #IHAVETHEANSWER and please tag @WSUPress and @kfor24. 

 

I recorded a podcast last week for Without Books and if you haven’t heard of them, I highly recommend the short messages they record by authors reminding us all about the importance of books.

Stay safe and well.

Love,

Kelly

 

Featured Poet: Vievee Francis

I asked my friend and teacher, Vievee Francis, if she would contribute to this blog, and she asked me to pick out my favorite poem (of hers) and post it, so here we go. Vievee is brilliant and there are many poems I could pick, but I am drawn to this one at this moment in time because of the line:

What does it mean/to silence another?

Given to Rust

Every time I open my mouth my teeth reveal

more than I mean to. I can’t stop tonguing them, my teeth.

Almost giddy to know they’re still there (my mother lost hers)

but I am embarrassed nonetheless that even they aren’t

pretty. Still, I did once like my voice, the way it moved

through the gap in my teeth like birdsong in the morning,

like the slow swirl of a creek at dusk. Just yesterday

a woman closed her eyes as I read aloud, and

said she wanted to sleep in the sound of it, my voice.

I can still sing some. Early cancer didn’t stop the compulsion

to sing but

there’s gravel now. An undercurrent

that also reveals me. Time and disaster. A heavy landslide

down the mountain. When you stopped speaking to me

what you really wanted was for me to stop speaking to you. To

stifle the sound of my voice. I know.

Didn’t want the quicksilver of it in your ear.

What does it mean

to silence another? It means I ruminate on the hit

of rain against the tin roof of childhood, how I could listen

all day until the water rusted its way in. And there I was

putting a pan over here and a pot over there to catch it.

Hear Vievee Francis reading this poem

Bio: Vievee Francis is the author of Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Horse in the Dark (Northwestern University Press, 2012), and Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press, 2016), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry. She is an associate professor at Dartmouth College and an associate editor for Callaloo.

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780810132436