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Poet LaTasha Diggs Can Get Major Work Done on Black Feminism in the Dominican Republic…with Your Help

By Harriet Staff


While we sit at our desks (albeit a lovely occupation), the more adventurous among us (that’s one LaTasha Diggs) are hoping to do some research at The Transnational Black Feminist Conference in March. Why, you ask? Diggs explains her campaign right here in this video. “I have been invited to participate in a weeklong, grassroots political/intellectual conference on Black Feminism in the Dominican Republic from March 10-17, 2013,” she writes. “An incredible group of people – artists, activists and scholars will all gather for dialogue, engagement, and reflection.” Why help, you ask? Well, the plight of the non-institutionally affiliated poet is one that needs such boosting, and we totally get it. The details on this project:

¿el impacto?

I really cannot express how badly I want to attend this gathering. With this call I have the chance to reach out and expand my awareness of the African Diaspora in the Dominican Republic. I have an opportunity to work with other women whose work shares some commonality to my own. It will help me focus on the larger themes present in my project Un Momento; gender, race, identity, history, landscape.


Before the journey

In July of 2010, I traveled to Peru to do research for a series of poems, songs, and meditations entitled “Un Momentu.” The project’s central figure is Micaela Bastidas, the revolutionary martyr and wife of rebel leader Tupac Amaru. During my research, I have discovered a handful of documents that describe Bastidas as being of African and Andean mixture. This is what initially sparked my curiosity and how I came to spend six weeks traveling to various parts of Peru. The project looks at ethnic identity during Colonial Peru, the relationships between Africans, Free Blacks and Andeans. It takes into question, what life was for Bastidas as an Afro-Peruana and if she “passed” given the time. In this portion of the work, I am examining the imagined and the factual. The project also looks at identity within contemporary visual arts and how it is capitalized upon or not in the art world.

My six weeks in Peru was life changing and left me with a lot of material and the desire to return to continue my research so that I may tell Micaela’s story and that of the women of Peru who talked to me in the streets in Lima, in small local restaurants in Cuzco, in their homes in EL Carmen and Arequipa, and on a boat upon Lake Titicaca. But while the date to return to Peru is pending, I now have once in a lifetime occasion to learn about women and the role of black feminism in the Dominican Republic.

¿por que?

You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Peru? This event, the first of its kind in Dominican Republic, will be held this year from March 10 to March 17. It invites a small group of women from Latin America, the Caribbean and North America. I cannot explain how much I am honored to be one of the women invited. I cannot explain how much this is a historical undertaking. While the organizers cannot pay my airfare or provide a per diem, the registration fee (dirt cheap) covers all lodging, meals (lunch and dinner), ground transportation to and from workshops, talks, historical tours AND a translator. This is not something to be taken for granted. They understand the importance of making connections and not wanting the interference of US funding mechanisms. They know that the women invited represent of range of artists, scholars, activists, and writers who in and outside of the academic field. This is a grassroots effort.

And for your contribution, you’ll receive:

– Postcards from the Dominican Republic (I will write you personally a little note about my week there)
– Limited edition reprints of chapbooks published between 1996 and 2011
– One of a kind, handmade single strand beaded necklaces (made with a combination of glass, seed and metal beads, and bone…no two are alike!)
– A once in a lifetime music track (only three will be offered) created just for YOU!
– If you’re a lover of words and moving image, a 3-minute text-video piece especially made for YOU (Limit 2). If you’re curious about the videos I’ve created in the past for performances at MoMA PS1 and Brooklyn Museum, you can check them out HERE.

Good luck LaTasha! We look forward to the work (in mind and in material) that’s generated from this opportunity!

Posted in Poetry News on Friday, January 11th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.