ha! I wrote this and then I guess it got stuck in drafts. here's everything I did this spring.
Dear beloved family,
Happy Nawruz/ Spring Equinox 2013! This year feels so full of potential, and it's moving so fast and yet feels slow and mindful to me. I've had Octavia Butler's phrase "wild seed" in my head a lot lately. Everyplace I go, everything I do, I keep feeling and running into these magic connections, wild seeds sprouting with unpredictable futures. Reading cards for a client in a Toronto cafe, I look up and see my friend who, it turns out, is cooking up similar dreams for a queer and trans people of color healing land project to the one me and folks I know are. The world didn't end in 2012 the way some of us thought it might, but for a lot of folks I know, our worlds transformed and ended in other huge ways. And here we are in the afterfuture, figuring out what we're going to make next. And I'm also thinking about imaginal cells- the cells in caterpillars that completely liquify when they are in the cocoon trying to turn into a butterfly. The caterpillar has to turn into this
totally liquid goop on the way to it becoming something completely else. That's the time it feels like we're in, too.
So far for 2013 I've, among other things:
* travelled to Sydney and Melbourne Australia at the invitation of the Sydney Femme Guild, to keynote a conference with Amber Hollibaugh and Jaiden Pony, and to find my grandparents graves (they immigrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in the 70s and were buried there);
* been really excited about, with Cherry Galette, producing Mangos With Chili's first tour since 2009, as well as upcoming shows in the Bay Area, Toronto, Stanford and Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.
* met with other QTPOC arts producers in the Bay Area to talk about the work we're doing, resource sharing and challenges, and how we can build a network of strong QTPOC arts creators and curators
* started meditating
* considered going to my 20th anniversary high school reunion
* and had a month long fibro flare and huge RSI flareup that has made typing hard and made me change a lot of habits.
and a whole lot of other amazing shit that is listed in the events and updates sections below.
Oh yeah- I finally got Mail Chimp and started sending out occasional email updates that aren't me sending 500 emails from my gmail account! Cute templates! Columns! And stuffs. If you don't want to be on this, feel free to hit unsubscribe, but this will only come your way once a season at most. Feel free to pass this around, too.
with love and hope, for real,
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
performances, events and workshops!
I thought I was having a slow spring. I guess I was wrong. Here's some of the amazing readings, performances and workshops where you can find me over the next three months:
Wednesday, March 27, 5:30-7:30 PM, San Francisco Public Library, Latin@ Heritage Room. In conjunction with Women's History Month, Kearny Street Workshop proudly presents Sri Lankan Women in Their Own Words: Six Contemporary Writers in Conversation at the San Francisco Public Library. Women writers from the global Sri Lankan diaspora representing Sinhalese, Tamil, and Burgher ethnicities will read from their body of work,and engage in a panel discussion about craft, process, inspiration, and the role of history and identity in informing their writing. The six writers are Dharini Abeysekera, Nayomi Munaweera (Island of a Thousand Mirrors), Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Love Cake, Consensual Genocide), Seni Seneviratne (Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin, The Heart of It), Pireeni Sundaralingam (Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry), and Arany Uthayakumar (Teen Poet Laureate of Pleasanton).
Kearny Street Workshop (http://www.kearnystreet.org/) is the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the country. Offering classes and workshops, salons and student presentations, as well as professionally curated and produced exhibitions, performances, readings and screenings, KSW makes artists out of community members and community members out of artists. For the past 41 years, KSW has nurtured creative spirit, offered an important platform for new voices to be heard, and connected artists with community. For more information, visithttp://kearnystreet.or (http://kearnystreet.org/) g
Saturday April 6: I'm guest performing with the Heels on Wheels Glitter Roadshow (http://www.heelsonwheelsroadshow.com/) at SoleSpace!
@ 7:30pm [doors] 8:00pm [show]//$5-$15 // All Ages // Wheelchair Accessible; Please Come Fragrance Free!
SoleSpace, 1714 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA, 94612
Heels on Wheels is a queer performance art cabaret of radical extravagance and thought-provoking glamour. Our fearless performers rampage across the femme-inine spectrum serving up poetic theatre, hilarious performance art, and rocknroll you can sink your heels into! The touring artists are: Shomi Noise [NYC], The Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins [SF], Heather Acs [NYC], and Damien Luxe [NYC] + special local guests Meliza Bañales Annah Anti-Palindrome, Kentucky Fried Woman & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha!
FB event: http://www.facebook.com/events/271293946337075/
Thursday April 11- Friday April 12, I'm keynote performing and giving a workshop on transformative justice for Sexual Assault Prevention Month at Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH.
Friday, April 19, I'm the keynote performer at Day of Silence, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.
Saturday, April 20: With Mangos With Chili, I will be performing as part of the keynote performance at the (en)gendering resistance conference at the University of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. http://engenderingresistance.noblogs.org/
Sunday, April 21: MY 38TH BIRTHDAY! And I'm thrilled beyond belief to be spending it performing with Mangos With Chili in our first Toronto performance since 2007!
**2 Nights, 2 Performances, 2 different locations**
$20-$10 dollars, sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds (WE REALLY MEAN IT!!!)
Sunday, April 21 - 8PM - The Tranzac Club 292 Brunswick Avenue (19+, accessible, open bar, and the fabulous Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's Birthday!)
Monday, April 22 - 8PM - The Palmerston Library 560 Palmerston Ave (All ages welcome, childcare available, accessible)
We acknowledge that this event takes place on stolen, unceded and occupied Mississauga of New Credit/ Three Fires Conspiracy Indigenous land and acknowledge that settlers benefit from occupying Indigneous land.
We will have ASL translation!
Featuring performance by:
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
The Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins
Ms. Cherry Galette
Access info about venues:
In order that beloved community members and performers living with chemical injury can attend, please come fragrance free. Good information about how to do this is here:http://www.brownstargirl.org/1/post/2012/03/fragrance-free-femme-of-colour-realness-draft-15.html (http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.brownstargirl.org%2F1%2Fpost%2F2012%2F03%2Ffragrance-free-femme-of-colour-realness-draft-15.html&h=QAQFyGfjS&s=1) . Leaving off cologne, perfume and essential oils for the evening is a great place to start.
ASL is still being finalized, but we have the intention of providing ASL at both shows.
Childcare available Monday evening.
Both venues are fully wheelchair accessible, including bathrooms.
Friday April 26- Sunday April 28, 2013: I'm performing and giving many workshops as part of Evergreen State College's Day of Absence. I'll be giving a rare performance of Grown Woman Show and leading my Warrior Poets, Disability Justice and QTPOC With Disabilities Writing Workshops. ESC, Olympia, WA. Thank you to FIST (Feminists In Solidarity Together) for all the work that made this happen!
May 5, 2013, I'm performing as part of FSALA, the Toronto Festival of Literature and the Arts 2013: (http://www.fsalatoronto.com) www.fsalatoronto.com (http://www.fsalatoronto.com/) , an amazing festival sponsored by my publisher, TSAR Publications, who have been publishing people of color and queer small press literature for a long time.
May 10, 2013, I will be screening a video as part of SPIRIT: A Century of Asian American Activism, as part of the National Asian American Theater Festival, curated by Celeste Chan of Queer Rebels Productions (http://www.queerrebels.com/)
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, as part of the 2013 National Queer Arts Festival, I will be producing and performing in Mangos With Chili Presents Free: Queer, Trans of Color and Two Spirit Visions of Freedom. African American Arts and Cultural Complex, 762 Fulton Street San Francisco, CA.
Just how free can we get? How do we get there? FREE explores the ways Two Spirit, trans* and queer people of color have fought for justice on our own terms throughout history. We'll time travel, visiting with ancestors and future descendants to explore our freedom dreams. Come to a ritual space of conversation and transformation to imagine our beautiful futures. Featuring breathtaking new collaborative performance work by Qwo-Li Driskill and Natro, Cherry Galette, Juba Kalamka and Joshua Merchant, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Fabian Romero and Micha Cardenas, Manish Vaidya, and Anna Martine Whitehead, and video art by Adrienne Maree Brown, Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Julia Roxanne Wallace, and Vanessa Huang (other artists TBA), and a sneak peak at the new film Major, an autobiography of Stonewall warrior and TGJIP founder Miss Major. ASL translated, chemically and physically accessible.
amazing projects I'm involved with!
** organizing and cool shit!!
I'm a member of the BadAss Visionary Healers (http://badassvisionaryhealers.wordpress.com/) , aka the Healing Babes for Justice. Who are we? To quote our mission statement: "We are a 6-person Bay Area-based collective of radical healers who build connections between radical healers in the Bay Area & beyond. We believe in an anti-colonial framework of healing that centers people of color & Indigenous knowledge, the brilliance of disabled bodies, and is all about the queers; sex positive & critical of professionalism & the fee for service model. We work to build a world beyond the medical industrial complex where healing is not for profit or the control of oppressed bodies, but where we transform the impact of generations of abuse, trauma, violence & oppression into/towards justice & healing. We also believe in twerking, good food, good sex, disability justice, that fat is flava and that all bodies deserve some radiantly luscious anti-colonial healing."
Our second seasonal dinner gathered 18 radical healers - 2 on Skype- to talk about Money on Monday, March 19! Notes and resources will be live on our website soon. We are at work on dreaming up a QTPOC healing and arts land project, more gatherings, and are looking forward to participating in the AMC Healing Justice Network Gathering this June.
Speaking of which- I'm helping organize the Healing Together Network Gathering (http://alliedmedia.org/#!/news/2013/02/06/healing-together-network-gathering-seeks-mini-sessions) at part of the 2013 Allied Media Conference (http://amc.alliedmedia.org/) ! As in, a gathering of radical healers at the best conference on the planet! The day-long Healing Together Network Gathering will take place on Thursday, June 20. We will come gather to strategize and develop a network structure that explores the barriers, challenges and dreams we have for a Healing Justice network throughout the continent. This will be a space for all genders and all bodies where participants can build upon last year's conversation and work. Our mission is to explore and strengthen the work that happens at the intersections of health, healing, media and organizing. To submit a session proposal by March 23, go here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1L8Ncsr9lqSu6KSW7HtF4YtpH0fm7p0YzfKn2_mVGDOU/viewform
I'm working with The Icarus Project (http://theicarusproject.net/) , an amazing radical mental health network that just celebrated its 10th anniversary, on how to build racial justice and multiracial and people of color lead organizing around madness.
Mangos With Chili (http://mangoswithchili.wordpress.com/) is currently in the very early stages of planning our fall 2013 tour- our first tour since 2009! We'll be bringing Beloved: A Requiem For Our Dead, our annual show remembering our queer and trans of color ancestors as well as those slain by violence, to audiences along the West Coast, Southwest, and Gulf Coast. Stay tuned to our website (http://mangoswithchili.wordpress.com/) - to be relaunched in May 2013 with updated video, photos and a whole lot else- or Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mangos-with-Chili) for more info, and if you want to bring us, hit us up at email@example.com!
And I'm continuing to provide intuitive counseling services through Brownstargirl Tarot (http://www.brownstargirl.org/brownstargirl-tarot.html) . Since I launched my business more full time in September, I've been honored to offer expanded tarot and numerological services to folks in the Bay and as far away as Germany and the UK. Emailbrownstargirl@gmail.com if you'd like to book a reading. (Thanks to Jacks Ashley McNamara (http://www.ashley-mcnamara.net/) for creating the beautiful design for my business cards and website- book them if you want something pretty for your business!)
As always, please email me if you'd like to book me for a reading or a performance, a workshop on writing, transformative justice or disability justice, a keynote or any damn thing else. I am currently booking my fall/winter 2013-2014 season. I am also working on beginning to teach writing workshops via Google Hangout- keep an eye out!
And finally- it's looking like Dirty River, the memoir I've been working on since 2005, is finally gonna be published real soon. Watch this space for more details!
To friends and folks:
Hi. As many of you know, I have a chronic illness. It means I live with chronic pain. Sometimes the pain is worse; sometimes, it's better. I've had this stuff since 1997, and there is no cure, there's just stuff I do to manage it. Sometimes, I fly or the weather gets cold and damp, and my pain gets worse.
Some things to keep in mind
1. Constantly "forgetting" that this is true for me and expressing surprise at me being sick again, using a cane, etc, is not helpful.
2. Like all sick and disabled folks, I am not either an uplifting inspirational heroine or someone who is a downer because I have that illness thing. I'm a ordinary, extraordinary crip, dealing with impairment and ableism and stuff. I am a complex human being, not a Hallmark card.
3.My relationship to pain is different than yours. I live a lot of my life basically feeling like I have a cold and/or am at level 5 pain on one of those hospital charts, all the time. That is with nutritional choices, aqua-aerobics, herbs, rest, stretching and acupuncture. Hurting and feeling tired is real normal. It also no longer feels "bad" with a capital B the way pain is for a lot of mostly able bodied folks. It's familliar.
Sometimes, I fly in an airplane or drive many hours or the weather and barometric pressure gets crappy and my pain gets real bad. Bad like I feel like I'm hallucinating. Again there are things I do to take care of this, but there is no magic cure.
Some things to keep in mind when I have a pain flare:
Not great responses:
2. Well, that's a drag!
3. OMG! What happened!
4. Uncomfortable silence
5. Looking totally uncomfortable and freaked out.
1. Sorry to hear that! Is there anything I can do? Do you want me to pick you up some food? Give you a ride somewhere? (Even if this shit happens pretty frequently and I seem to have a handle on it, even if I don't ask, even if I say no, I appreciate this. )
2. Oh man, I'm sorry. How bad is it today? (Normalizing it and just asking is cool. Freaking out about OMG YOU ARE IN PAIN isn't so helpful, but acnowledgment is nice.)
3. Offer to come by and do something low key- like watching videos, read in bed together, eating, is great. Often people want to "cancel til I feel better", and while I appreciate this, I'm gonna feel this way every two months til I'm dead, and if we cancelled everything every time I'm hurty, I'm not gonna see anyone. Sick isn't an all or nothing dichotomy for me, with wellness on the other side- it's a way of life. Sometimes I do indeed need alone time to chill, but sometimes, I like it if you come over.
Many of these things may also be true for other chronically ill/in pain/ disabled friends you have. Or they may not. Asking, hey, how can I be in your life in a good way when you're hurting? and listening to what the person says, is always a good way to show up for sick and disabled folks in your life.
This concludes this public service announcement. ;)
PS: Oh yeah- telling me about a magic cure or telling me I should slow down or if I just did X thing everything would be fine also doesn't work so great.
as of september 2010, I'm committing to post one new piece a week (disability and travel may remix this intention.) all this work is shared under a Creative Commons license- credit if you share, no commercial use allowed.
This work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.