Let’s Read

 

 

Check out these Mixed Links!

Novels on my list to read:

 

Nina Revoyr, Wingshooters

How have I not posted about this book yet? I think I’ve planing to for so long, that I forgot that I hadn’t actually done it yet. I met Nina Revoyr at last year’s Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival, and she was so nice. She’s got an amazing collection of novels, and I would definitely recommend each one of them! So yes, about Wingshooters:

I love it when a book completely pulls me out of this world and conjures up emotions buried deep within me. Wingshooters  definitely did that with its precise, methodical prose and characters whose voices echoed in my head. This novel follows Michelle (Mikey) as she goes to live with her grandparents in rural Wisconsin. The daughter of a white man and Japanese woman, Mikey sticks out and becomes the target of incessant bullying. The only thing that keeps life bearable is the presence of her grandfather, a man that many in the town greatly respect and fear. Mikey says:

“He taught me how to punch, how to block incoming blows, how to throw rocks back with accuracy and strength. These lessons made my life easier and the irony only strikes me now: it was my grandfather, prejudiced  white man…who taught me how to survive as a child of color in America” (24).

When a black couple moves into town, all of the hate is redirected from Mikey to this couple  – thus beginning the downward spiral of the community. Mikey is sympathetic to their experience, but also afraid that if she shows this compassion, she becomes a target again:

“I did wonder…what it was like for Mr. Garrett. …Did he go home at night and share stories with his wife about how people whom he’d never hurt treated him like he carried the plague? And of course I wondered these things…because I had gone through them myself” (169).

The reader is so close to the narrator’s thoughts that I felt I was breathing with the character.   Revoyr examines race, justice and the limits of community in this novel in a way that is both familiar and fresh, and wholly inspiring.

Of course, check out her website and this video below of her reading at festival:

 

ALSO! Please donate to the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival! June 16 & 17! See you there!

The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings

Matt King has a lot to deal with. His wife Joanie is in a coma after a boating accident, his daughters seem beyond his reach, and he is the heir to a generous amount of land that he must make a decision about with other members of family. Set in Hawaii, the novel tackles family, ancestry, secrets, and resilience.

  • “I run down the hall with my daughter, feeling like I;m in some other country. All around, people speak pidgin English and stare at the two of us like we’re crazy white fools, even though we’re Hawaiian. But we don’t look it, and we don’t count as true or real Hawaiians because we don’t talk right either” (18).

Visit the website here.

Here’s Kaui reading:

Oh yeah, and it’s a movie!

Looking for Submissions

Starting in January, I am hoping to create a more collaborative feel to this blog. I want to open up the conversation to other opinions,  and stories . I am especially interested in fiction and personal essay pieces, but would also read/post other genres. Depending on the number of submissions, these posts would appear biweekly. Please see the new Submissions tab for detailed information. All submissions can be sent to mixedreader@gmail.com. So, send me your our mixed race experience or cross-cultural story. What compels you about being mixed or writing about mixed characters? I’m looking forward to reading and posting new pieces! Send in your work!

Happy Holidays!

Iain Haley Pollock, Spit Back A Boy

         As a fiction writer, reading poetry is always a lesson in sparseness and omission, getting down to the bare necessities of telling a powerful story.  Pollock has many strengths, the first of which is his simple, visceral images. In the poem “Recessive Gene,” Pollock addresses mixed identity through a child who searches for belonging. After being told by other children that they all were Black on the inside he looks for his own internal blackness: “Dad had a pocketknife/ …That afternoon, I stole it./ Alone, behind the locked door/ I tried to scrape, as if fish scales/ the rosy skin from my forearms” (4). In both “The Frog” and “Killadelphia,” the poet uses rhythmic repetition to his advantage, mirroring the pace of city life and the sharp simplicity of childish anger. “Child of the Sun” again plays with race/ identity, and how that interacts with history, colorism. The narrator feels the weight of his difference as determined by other members of the family; how that will affect the way society perceives him. Pollock plays with form in “Longing as Hoppin’ John;” starting with the longest line first, then using shorter and shorter lines until the last line is a single word. My favorite poem of the collection, “Oya in Old City,” tackles history, time, and spirit. This poem ends with another powerful, succinct image : “I flung my almost white self/ into my mother’s embrace- that brown/ embrace I hoped would swallow me whole/ and spit back a boy four shades darker” (19). It is no surprise that this collection won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for 2010. Iain Haley Pollock’s poems hum the blues, exposing deep painful truth as well as celebrating life’s simple pleasures.

 

Here’s a video of Iain Haley Pollock reading:

Check This Site: (1)ne Drop

The (1)ne Drop logo

I stumbled upon the webiste/book/video project (1)ne Drop thanks to some other mixed bloggers, and am impressed by the dialogue they are creating about skin color and identity. (1)ne Drop seeks to ” challenge narrow, yet popular perceptions of what “Blackness” is and what “Blackness” looks like –- if we can recalibrate our lenses to see Blackness as a broader category of identity and experience, perhaps we will be able to see ourselves as part of a larger global community.” The politics of skin color are so important to discuss, especially within the black community. It is a topic that deeply affects my identity and experience as a mixed person. The home page of their website features a beautiful gallery of people who challenge the norm of “what black looks like.” Check out their blog, which has a great post by Rosa Clemente titled Who is Black?”

Also be sure to check out their Facebook page and Kickstarter campaign (which was successful, but still had a few more days open to donate!)

 

The video below from a panel through (1)ne Drop, “Beyond the Brown Paper Bag Test,” and many of the excerpts are available on YouTube. Here’s Rosa Clemente:

Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats

I didn’t pick up this book expecting to find a mixed character; it was a pleasant surprise to encounter Jane Takagi-Little, Ozeki’s determined and curious narrator. Researching for a critical paper, I approached My Year of Meats as a novel of “social responsibility,” managing to incorporate elements of racism, classism, sexism, the globalization of Western culture and the dark side of the meat industry. Ozeki tackles these topics with precise and engaging prose that invites the reader to understand the perspectives of her characters. Jane has a passion for documentaries, yet finds herself as the producer/part-time director for the Japanese network show “This American Wife:” which films American housewives preparing meat-based meals as an example for aspiring Japanese women. Sponsored by the big company BEEF-EX, Jane is pressured to find women who fit a perfect stereotype, though she consistently breaks the mold by filming families that showcase diversity. As she and her crew descend deeper into the meat-loving world, they discover some disturbing practices of the industry that take a very personal turn.

Along the way, Jane navigates her family, love and work lives as a mixed person, facing questions about her own skills and authenticity. Jane has a complicated relationship with her mother who sees her as this big-boned American girl whose values she doesn’t recognize. Jane herself becomes obsessed with the idea of hybridity when she engages in a short-lived relationship with Emil, an African American she meets and pursues. Her boss and coworkers doubt her ability to understand what the Japanese television audience demands because of her American roots. Through it, Jane persists for truth, her narrative intersecting with that of a young woman in Japan, Akiko.

 

  • “Being half, I am evidence that race, too, will become relic. Eventually we’re all going to be brown – sort of. Some days, when I’m feeling grand, I feel brand-new – like a prototype. …Now, oddly, I straddle this blessed, ever-shrinking world” (15).
  • “I am not fat, but my tallness amounts to the same sort of gross affront to nature, at least to my Japanese mother, who comes up to my rib cage. She sees my height as a personal insult and something that should have been avoided. …she gazes skyward and blames the red meat she fed me as a child” (123).
  • “I learned what I needed: a mate who was black, brown or red, to go with my white and yellow. At the very least, I was aiming for three out of five” (151).

Here’s a link to Ozeki’s website to check out this book and her other works.

Quoting: Faith Adiele

Faith Adiele

“[Being biracial] gives you the ability to be a bridge or translate or see different worlds from the inside that our society has not really allowed people to see. Because this country is built on the distinction between the races, White and Black, and because also our Western thinking is so binary and dichotomous that we don’t really have a language like they do in the East to talk about the middle path.  …it’s really the key to healing the country or being able to see these two things that have not been allowed to see each other. I think it’s so rich.” -(From her interview in The Word: Black Writers Talk about the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing by Marita Golden)

Click here to link to Adiele’s website. Adiele is the author of Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun and the co-editor of  Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology.