Why You Should Attend the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium?

If the opportunity ever presents itself that I could write all day long, I would snatch it. For me, writing isn’t about having an outlet to express my thoughts, writing is an act of faith. And, after attending the 3rd Annual Literary Soul Symposium, I asked myself, why haven’t I attended more writing conferences. The Literary Soul Symposium was my first writing conference and it was a cathartic experience. I was able to meet writers, who I respect and follow their work (like Frederick Smith, Toni Newman, and Donta Morrison), and was introduced to new writers.

Booked Los Angeles Book Club (Los Angeles, CA), Brother 2 Brother Book Club, (Houston, TX), Novel-lites Book Club (Washington, DC), and The View of Dallas Book Club (Dallas, TX) hosted the Literary Soul Symposium. Each year the symposium is held in a different city and fortunately, it was held in Los Angeles this year. In The Meantime sponsored the event and provided the space, The Carl Bean House on West Adams Street.

The symposium included a keynote address by Rev. Alfreda Lanoix, mini writing workshops, a riveting speech by Daniel Black (of “A Perfect Peace”), a literary cafe, and a Q&A moderated by the Brother 2 Brother Book Club. Also, there was a mixer at Rockwell in Silver Lake, a spoken word/open mic event, and a brunch.

The highlight of the event was the mini creative writing workshop led by Frederick Smith. In the workshop, Frederick should twenty questions as prompts to generate writing. It allowed me to work on a piece that had circled around in my head. I will definitely return back to that writing exercise. Next year, the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium will be hosted by Novel-lites Book Club in DC. I will definitely be attending and you should too.

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The Importance of Professional Writing Workshops

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Sign Outside of Beyond Baroque; the Piece I Workshopped

My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. In high school, no one, not my counselor or none of my English teachers, told me that I could actually major in English or creative writing. I wrote constantly throughout middle school and high school. I discovered creative writing programs existed long after I graduated from college and wanted to enter into one. My main reason for entering a creative writing program was to enter the professional writing community. Yes, I had freelanced for various newspapers and magazines, but I did not think of myself as a professional writer.

After enrolling in the creative writing program at Otis College, I learned why professional writing workshops are important. Before the program, I edited my work and would look over drafts countless times before submitting my work to literary journals and magazines. I never understood why I did not hear back from them. After entering the program, I realized my problem (well several of them). Punctuation, lack of moving my writing into a more poetic realm, and my characters did not have a beating heart.

Now that I have completed the Writing Workshop at Otis and have created new material, I have craved sitting in a new writing workshop. I discovered the fiction workshop at Beyond Baroque and took copies of my new short story, “White Justice” there. I was worried my piece would not get read, but it was and the workshop leader echoed all the comments that my workshop leaders at Otis have told me – I have the tendency to over-describe and add unnecessary words. I’m not sure if that will ever leave me, but I know I’m going back to Beyond Baroque.

 

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The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Shaded Me, And I Liked It

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Monday mornings typically start with me rolling over and banging my bald head on my cell phone, then checking one or two emails. Last Monday morning, I received a startling email from Instagram. The subject line said, Warning. I almost peed on myself.

“Hi,

We’ve removed or disabled access to something you posted on Instagram because a third party reported that it infringes their intellectual property rights.

We strongly encourage you to review other content you’ve posted to Instagram to make sure that it isn’t in violation of our Terms of Use. Accounts that repeatedly infringe our Terms may be deactivated.”

I responded immediately, but of course, the email bounced back.

In my head, I browsed through my Instagram feed and took note of all the copyrighted images. Almost every other person that I follow has a copyrighted picture of a celebrity, a company logo, or Kermit the frog sipping tea. On my Instagram, about 99.9% of the pictures and videos that I post I have personally taken. Then, I remembered the day before I went to Janelle Monae’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I had posted pictures and video from the concert, which was amazing. I developed a new level of respect for the uniformed artist. Did Janelle report me to Instagram I thought? Then, I thought about the several hundred Janelle Monae concert videos I have watched on YouTube. Song lyrics came to me: Continue reading

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It happened. Reading at the Downtown Los Angeles Library for ALOUD

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Breaking out into a sweat, from running, into the auditorium is how my reading started. I was late for the sound check. Actually, I was the last person to arrive. I sat in my seat in the front row and listened to the first reader read the first five sentences of her piece. Then it hit, it was really happening. I was reading in the ALOUD series at the Downtown Los Angeles Central Library.

I had known about it for about five months and I pushed it to the back of mind. Work (my numerous gigs) came first. Turning in my thesis project for school was a priority as well.

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When I sat in the seat, my nerves tightened and made me question everything I had practiced for my performance. I stood when it was time for my sound check and everything came rushing out.

What follows is from later that day. Continue reading

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Does Makeup Make The Man

B Scott Before and After Makeup

B Scott Before and After Makeup

In 2006, BET broadcast the 3rd season of its reality series, College Hill, and undraped its first ever openly gay personality, Ray Cunningham. Since that season BET has featured Miss Lawrence, from the Real Housewives of Atlanta, on Rip The Runway, but has lacked in airing more out talent. This year the network hired B. Scott to host the televised 106 and Park Pre-show of the 13th annual BET Awards.

Before taping started, BET asked the fashion columnist to put together a potential ensemble to wear. B. Scott requested Chris Brown’s stylist and instead BET asked B. Scott to work with their in-house stylists.

“After a few weeks of sending over mood boards and going over approved looks, we decided on a few options,” said Scott. “All of which were generally more masculine than what I would wear if I were able to decide on my own: blazers, long-sleeved dress shirts, black pants, and loafers.”

“We didn’t know at the time that Los Angeles would be in the middle of a record heat wave, and the options we selected just weren’t weather appropriate. The day before the show I spoke with BET’s style team and we agreed that it was okay to have a more weather appropriate ensemble option.”

The agreed upon ensemble was a sleeveless and button-down, long, black shirt and flowly black pants. A man or a woman could wear the outfit; it is a genderless look.

“Not only was it agreed upon among the stylists, I met with a producer of the show the night before and showed her the ensemble. She said it was acceptable and requested I send over a picture so that she could forward it to whomever she needed to. The picture of the complete outfit was sent over and everything was fine.”

But everything was not fine. After interviewing A.J. Calloway live, Scott said he was “yanked backstage” and told his “look from head to toe wasn’t acceptable.”

“I was returned to my trailer and forced to change into one of the other outfits while other producers waited outside. I changed quickly and returned to set, only to be told that I had been replaced by Adrienne Bailon and wouldn’t be going on at all.”

So what happened between the look being approved and the start of taping?

B. Scott, equally known for his gender bending look and entertaining YouTube videos, has had guest spots on various television shows such as Extra, Hair Battle Spectacular, DTLA, and even BET’s 106 and Park, where he appeared twice and in full gender bender mode. Was it the straightened hair, or the smoky eye makeup, or the high heels that had Scott yanked off air? Eventually, Scott was asked to return on-camera, in the approved and more masculine look: a navy blazer, dark dress shirt, blue slim pants, black loafers, and sans maquillage.

BET issued an official apology via the Associated Press and said:

“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds. The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”

In response to BET’s statement, B. Scott said, “I want a real apology from BET. This was a not a mutual misunderstanding or miscommunication. I pride myself on being very professional.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the fashion columnist has suffered professionally due to his appearance. Scott was asked to step down as a columnist from the website, Concrete Loop, when fans left hundreds of derogatory and negative comments. Most recently, Scott left the FoxxHole, the uncensored radio station, due to an exclusitory environment.

Will BET lose viewers over this wardrobe malfunction? Some loyal Love Muffins, the handle for B. Scott fans, have already started boycotting.

A fan on Scott’s website said, “[BET’s] actions were uncalled for and their poor choices are a reflection of why many of us choose to no longer support the network.”

Another fan said, “I pray Deborah Lee [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET] is made to step down, as this is unacceptable.”

Lee, who has been at BET for 28 years, has been criticized in the past for the network’s less than positive programming and portrayal of young Black people. The juxtaposition of negative portrayals of young Black people and B. Scott is interesting on many levels because B. Scott, a young Black man, is known for his inspirational advice that he provides on his website and on various guest columns. One solution to this problem would be for BET to invite Scott to appear on 106 and Park and have Lee or another network executive to better explain the last minute yank on B. Scott’s ponytail and quickly before the incident morphs into a Paula Deen-outpouring.

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Movie Review: I’m So Excited directed by Pedro Almodovar

Twenty minutes into Pedro Almodovar’s new comedy, I’m So Excited, moviegoers realize that the work is a mise en abyme, in which the inner frame of the story is an exact replica of the outer frame. In the outer frame, Leon, a Peninsula Airline Operator, discovers that his wife Jessica, also a Peninsula Airline worker, has been hiding her newly discovered pregnancy. Before the discovery, Leon (played by Antonio Banderas) sees his wife (Penelope Cruz) in the face of danger, and his immediate reaction later creates a catastrophic situation abroad the plane, he is prepping for take-off, which is leaving from Spain and heading toward Mexico.

“During the 80s, I made a lot of comedies,” Almodovar said in a sit-down interview. “So this was like returning to my roots. I think I just needed to make something lighter. It’s a light, very light comedy.”

The film is a definite departure from his more recent dramatic and critically acclaimed films, Volver, Bad Education, and Talk to Her.

In the inner frame of the story, the splendid hilarity that takes place onboard Peninsula Flight 2549, is amplified through personal phone conversations to loved ones on the ground. In a comedic twist, everyone on the flight, who has not been drugged into a state of twilight sleep, can hear the conversations. Also the spoken dialogue between major characters is condensed, eliminating unneeded details and creating a fast-moving pace.

The major characters in this comedy include: the senior flight attendant who cannot tell a lie, Joserra (played by Javier Cámara); the happily married pilot leading a double life with another man, Alex Acero (played by Antonio De La Torre); a hated and highly-frequented dominatrix, Norma (played by Cecilia Roth); an aging Don Juan-esque actor, Ricardo (played by Guillermo Toledo); and a virgin and delightfully amusing psychic, Bruna (played by Lola Dueñas). Continue reading

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Video Q&A with Emerging LGBT Leader Carolyn Wysinger

The name Ruth Ellis may not be as familiar to you as Harvey Milk, but it should. Ellis, born in 1899, was the oldest living open lesbian and LGBT rights activist. Before she died in 2000, her life was documented in the film project, Living with Pride, directed by Yvonne Welbon. She came out as a lesbian in 1915 and in the 1920s she met Ceciline Franklin. They moved from Springfield, Illinois to Detroit, Michigan in 1937 and lived together for 30 years until Franklin’s death in 1973. During the three decades that they lived together, Ellis became the first American woman to own a printing business in Detroit and her home with Franklin became “a refuge for African-American gays and lesbians.”

Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100 is being screened at the Art Exchange in Long Beach, this Sunday, starting at 5. Emerging LGBT leader, Carolyn Wysinger, is one of the key people responsible for putting together the screening.

Carolyn Wysinger is an activist, writer, and event coordinator, whose goal is to build bridges within the LGBT community. She earned her B.A. in English from California State University, Long Beach and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Organizations that she is involved with include: BUTCHVoices and Black Lesbians United. She is also active in the local Long Beach community as a member of the Leadership Long Beach Class of 2013 as well as a Member-At-Large of the Lambda Democrats.

Qulture writer Victor Yates spoke to Wysinger about the life of Ruth Ellis and Sistah Sinema as well as her community work.

Watch the video above to learn more about Wysinger and go to Qulture.org for more LGBT news and information.

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