Tag Archives: Art

Interview with Diary of a Natural Gal

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For my Diary of a Natural Gal Style Files interview, I worked with an amazing crew to shoot the pictures. The photographer was Garen Hagobian and the stylist was Rico Cherry. I can’t wait to post the full interview here. Here is an excerpt:

Kisha Roby: I would describe your style as sultry school boy, where do you draw inspiration?

Victor Yates: Is that a good thing (laughs)? I use to only wear black and gray. That’s it. Then my best friend started picking out clothes for me that I wouldn’t normally wear. I went from school boy realness to wearing cowboy boots, with khaki linen cut off shorts, and shirts and sweaters from the 80’s. I love 80’s Adidas shorts, vintage designer clothes, and conversation pieces. Today so many things inspire me. I like patterns, textures, and bold colors and mixing things together that the average person might think is strange. Since moving to Los Angeles my thrift store obsession has grown. Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland are my top thrift stores in L.A. But out here thrift stores are like coffee shops.

Kisha Roby: When did your passion for writing begin? What is your ultimate dream for your writing career?

Victor Yates: I started writing poetry at 14, after reading Maya Angelou’s work. I loved libraries and would read a lot. Also, my mother loved books and she would buy books for me as well. I remember trying to read The Firm, by John Grisham, and not being able to understand it. I hope to write quality fiction books and venture into short stories and writing plays.

Photographer: Garen Hagobian
Website: http://www.motonicausa.com/photo.html
Number: 323-459-6100

Stylist: Rico Cherry
Email: rico243@yahoo dot com

Interviewer: Kisha Roby for Diary of a Natural Gal

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Review of Laura Mullen’s Enduring Freedom

The book: Enduring Freedom: A Little Book of Mechanical Brides
Publisher: Otis Books/Seismicity Editions

Dum dum de dum, here comes the bride … collection, forty-one to be exact within Laura Mullen’s Enduring Freedom. If little touches, slender silk ribbons, nosegays, dragee, place setting, escort cards, are what ties a wedding together with a knot, the bride herself, in assorted milk-white chocolate-colored fabric and beads, ties together the collection of poems.

The title, Enduring Freedom, hints at Mullen’s sarcasm on how weddings are treated as an event in quotations worthy of being breaking news that triumphs war and economic hardship. But also breaks down the interworking of how different women react leading up to the ta-da moment and the potentially negative boomerang effect of lists and living outside one’s means.

Stylistically, Mullen utilizes prose poems and the familiar worried bride archetype as a way to allow readers to see the bride through a less than personal camera lens. The bride is displayed like vintage Barbie’s or dime-store knock offs in glass cases, pinned down, labeled with her scientific name, like Bride of Detail, Bride of a Thousand Flaws, or Be Creative Bride, laid out flat, and spread out to see what she looks like when dry.

What is Mullen trying to accomplish with Enduring Freedom? Should there be a moratorium on all weddings until further notice? What is the purpose of a traditional wedding? To show the public how much money went into the little things and not for rent or mortgage or some other bill.

Bandschnalle Einsatzmedaille der Bundeswehr En...

Enduring Freedom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mullen inserts those ideas into the background of her carved prose poems like small buttercream cake portions and drops the bride figurine minus the groom on top, in a refreshing context that helps the poet to preach quietly without shouting, considering we are in a church.

Despite the dizzying effect of white on white, tulle, chiffon, lace, crepe, and organza, Enduring Freedom is an aesthetic assembly line of wonder that feels fresh and not frozen and thawed out from the common place.

Buy Enduring Freedom here.

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black artsy event: los angeles: tonight: 5/19/11: spit – urban mic night @ the kickback lounge

Yolo Akili Performing Are We The Boys We Want

Come out LA and snap yo fingers.

SPIT, an urban open mic night is happening tonight at The Kickback Lounge in LA from 7-10.

The special featured guest is Dorothy Randall Gray, noted author, lecturer, and spoken word artist. Gray’s book, “Soul Between The Lines” will be available for sale. She conducts transformational writing workshops at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Jair “The Literary Masturbator” of Oakland will be performing as well. Jair’s book, “Touch…Poems and other writing of Love, Erotica & Sensuality” will be available for sale as well. He also has a spoken word CD available “Confessions of a Literary Masturbator.” With royalties from “Touch” Jair donated money to help poet and spoken word artist Yolo Akili produce his one man show. Sign up ends at 7:30 to get onstage. The event is sponsored by In The Meantime.

Stage Microphone TTV

Keith Bloomfield via Flickr

Event Information:

Where: The Kickback Lounge, 4067 W. Pico Blvd. LA CA 90019 (Parking at the Catch One)

Date: Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time: 7:00p.m. Networking/ 8:00p.m.-10:00p.m. Showtime (Participants must be signed up by 7:30p.m.)

Price: Free/Donation at the door

For more information on Dorothy Randall Gray go to her facebook page and for more information on Jair “The Literary Masturbator” go to his website.

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Starting Over: My journey as a writer

Maya Angelou Reading Still I Rise

Reading Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise made me want to be a poet at 14. I wrote silly poems, kept in a 3-ring binder, and read them to anyone who listened. By the time I started college, at 18, majoring in English (Poetry, Creative Writing, or Journalism) wasn’t an option. Computer Science was an option. Why I don’t know? I knew how to surf the web so I guess I thought Computer Science was the perfect major. Intro to Computer Science was the class I dropped fastest in college. The class was taught by an African man with a thick accent. For the first twenty minutes of class I thought he was teaching Swahili. After class I tried to read the book. It was like reading a foreign language. Circuits. Performing simple calculations. Systems. Programming. Those words were Swahili, meaningless to me. I went into panic mode. What major do I choose now? I chose Psychology. Psychology equals research and writing. I had papers due every week. My earliest lessons in “how-to write” came from my psychology instructors. One lesson that has always stayed with me is “Give Them What They Need” or make every word deliberate and on purpose.

Le film TV, réalisé par M. Mugler

Copyright rsepulveda

It wasn’t until after graduating from college that I thought about writing as a potential career. I was living in Ann Arbor, working at a library, submerging myself in reading “good fiction” and “good authors.” Shelving books one day on the third floor I discovered the “How To Write” section. I pulled one off the bookshelf. Two years later I started writing The Taste of Scars.

A “good job” moved me from Ann Arbor to Jacksonville. I got the opportunity to teach part-time at a career college and slowly walked away from the “good job.” A year in I was promoted to full-time and never went back to the “good job.”

Fast forward a year. My boss and I at the career college got into a heated argument. She told me she was changing my position from full-time to part-time. I told her thanks but no thanks and verbally submitted my two weeks notice. Not even two hours later I was unemployed. Since that day (up until March 2011) I devoted almost every waking hour to editing my book. I started to see life differently. Every hour I was at work, doing work that didn’t make me happy, I lost an hour to do what really made me happy, writing.

To all the high school seniors graduating this year. Don’t major in computer science because you think it’ll pay the bills. Major in life. Found out what really makes you happy. I took me a long time to figure that out.

Recommended Reading:

I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsBiographies & Memoirs by Ethnicity & Nationality)

Gather Together in My NameAfrican-American & Black Biographies & Memoirs)

Nikon D3100 14.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom LensDigital SLRs)

Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething’s Guide to Seeking AdventureHealth, Mind & Body Books)

Work Your Way Around the World: A Fresh and Fully Up-to-Date Guide for the Modern Working TravellerJob Hunting & Career Guides)

Read the poem that changed my life below.

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Filed under poetry, The Written Word

Caster Semenya and IAAF approves new rules on hyperandrogenism

IAAF’s new rules and regulations for all international competitions went into effect May 1.

800m Women Final – World Championship Berlin 2009

The name Caster Semenya caused war in my office. After saying Semenya looked like her ex-boyfriend my co-worker, a black female, said Semenya looked like a cute monkey. I told her we black people cannot call other black people cute monkeys or monkey anything. For the next three months my co-worker would make “Lion King” references out of the blue and fell out on the floor laughing.

Semenya, a South African middle distance runner, won the women’s 800-meters at the 2009 World Championships held in Berlin. Her time 1:55.45 made her the fifth fastest women in the world. The current record holder is Jarmila Kratochvílová from Czechoslovakia. Women in the 2009 championship protested Semenya’s win raising questions about cheating and potential steroid use because of her lean, muscular frame.

When the story broke Semenya’s gender was questioned. Many comments on blogs read like “she looks like a man” and “it’s not fair for a man to run against women.” The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) required her to take a gender test then publicized the results.

Caster Semenya’s Mom interviewed

The results revealed she was a woman, a special woman. Semenya doesn’t have a “womb or ovaries,” she has undescended or internal testes, and her testosterone levels are more than three times higher than those of a normal female,” according to the gender test.

Semenya’s story is reminiscent of Samukeliso Sithole’s story. Samukeliso Sithole, a Zimbabwean athlete, won several gold medals in women’s events. In 2005 Sithole was arrested and charged with impersonating a female. At her court appearance Sithole insisted she was “born with both male and female sexual organs and a traditional healer had made the penis disappear but it had since regrown. The penis returned because the healer had not been fully paid for his services (see Born This Way (Special Edition)).”

Semenya’s Homecoming After Her Win

“Six witnesses, including two doctors, told the court that the athlete was not a hermaphrodite, after which he admitted to being a man. He was jailed for four years in 2005, but was released in December 2007 after serving part of his jail term, for good behavior.”

Caster Semenya during World Championships Athl...

Image via Wikipedia

The bigger question is gender. If someone believes they are female are they female? Though the stories are similar they’re very different. Caster Semenya’s birth certificate says female. Gender tests show she’s technically both female and male however Samukeliso Sithole was born a man and identifies as female.

According to IAAF Semenya could be allowed to compete against women however Sithole could not. “Females in question” will be allowed to compete provided they have “androgen levels below the male range (measured by reference to testosterone levels in serum)” or if their “androgen levels are within the male range but offer no competitive advantage from having such high levels.”

Additional Reading:

  1. Middlesex: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club)Family Saga Genre Fiction)
  2. Doing Gender in Media, Art and Culture
  3. Black Venus: Sexualized Savages, Primal Fears, and Primitive Narratives in FrenchMovie History & Criticism Books)
  4. Further Adventures of The Dialectic of Sex: Critical Essays on Shulamith Firestone (Breaking Feminist Waves)
  5. Transgender Warriors : Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis RodmanTransgender Books)
  6. A Transgender Diary – Special Edition


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happy endings and mic stands

hot java is a community coffee house in long beach’s gay ghetto at broadway and junipero. across the street from the coffee house is bixby park, a notorious park where gay men cruise (i accidentally found out it’s a cruising park). a sign is posted to prevent cruising. inside hot java you’ll see a lot of gay men and lesbians and hipsters and straights, of course. i went the first saturday of the month for the sanctuary open mic night. a poetry, spoken word, and music event. it’s hosted by two lesbians but straight-friendly. i met a poet by the name of husseldiva and a woman with brown locks whose name i can’t remember. the woman with brown locks suggested i get up on stage at the next open mic night. i’m debating if i should go. i have until may 6 to decide.

what piece would i do? my poems are typically short and really open mic/spoken word type/Def Poetry Jam pieces.

An Unfinished Zeta-Jones

Image by forklift via Flickr

somehow this reminded me of catherine zeta jones. she’s been admitted to a mental health unit for bipolar.I read she was stressed out over her husband, michael douglas’ cancer battle. that sounds more like stress and not bipolar. whatever it is sounds serious though.

it’s the stressful times that has inspired me and made my work real. when i was trying to get over the last guy i was dating i was editing chapter 4 of my new book, the taste of scars. i used everything i was feeling with him to make the characters made relatable. i achieved with memory and imagination. creative souls, that’s often, what we have to go on.

to all the crazies out there stay crazy and create.

which gets back to my original question what piece should i do? maybe i’ll write something about Catherine Zeta Jones, at least i’ll tell people it’s about her when really it’ll be about me.




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sadness become him

london love ball by ellis scott

london love ball by ellis scott

blogging is such a bore sometimes. it feels too much like a journal. but journals are not connected to the internet. what i love about blogging is the connection. to be connected to people. here at this blog i didn’t feel like i was connected so i stopped writing.

what i forgot was how this blog made me start back writing poetry. my favorite poem on here is unfinished. i have more to write (and edit before i publish it).

i’ll start treating this (blog) more like a journal. a place to collect my thoughts. a place to make my writing better. a place to write everyday every other day frequently.

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