Friday, May 27, 2011

Journey Well, Gil Scott Heron

Gil Scott-Heron 
(April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011)

Mo' WisCon 35 - Opening Ceremonies, Mermaids, and Such

Fine beautiful people, it is nonstop here at WisCon, nonstop, so I'm taking a few minutes of solitary time before heading to the *rest* of the evening's scheduled programming!

This includes bustin' a move or two at the Carl Brandon Society's party, crashing the Consuite since I haven't managed to *get there* since we arrived (good grief, and how is this possible?), and heading to Pan Morigan's voice workshop, before hiding in a corner so I can write. Whew!

Here are some highlights from the day, totally random, as the day's early festivities are fading fast and folks get ready (aka - massive partymakin') for the real throw down -- the actual programming -- begins bright and early tomorrow morning.

Random Things from WisCon 35:

GoH Nisi Shawl is a mermaid from a Mid-Western town...
GoH Nisi's sister looks fabulous in Michael Jackson's glittery glove!

There are at least *55* self-identified people of color at this year's con (not counting the children and teens) - Wow!

The POC Dinner is a wonderful tradition, thank you!

THE SALT ROADS by Nalo Hopkinson was inspired in part by African fractals (thanks, Ian!)

Orange Mike brings joy to the world...

WisCon planners (and attendees) think of damn near everything!  ("Show Your Lips" signs and swirly, ringing talking sticks)

Victor Raymond is now forever known as "He Who Gets Things Done!"

Margaritas and The Angry Black Woman are an AWESOME mix!

Mary Anne Mohanraj is incredibly humble--this woman can build an institution in her sleep and still not miss a beat

Remember the hip "Librarian" doll?  Well, two fab folks have inspired me to add "Bookseller" and "Woman Scientist" to the collection... 

Michaelangelo's has decent keylime pie, but there is a Cold Stone on State Street...there is a Cold Stone on State Street...

My daughter rocks.  'Nuff said.

WisCon 35 - Celebrating Guest of Honor Nisi Shawl

We're in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin now for the 35th annual WisCon - The world's leading feminist science fiction convention!  This year's GoH is writer Nisi Shawl (FILTER HOUSE).  I first met Nisi in 1999 when I was a writer in the six-week Clarion West workshop in Seattle.  Our instructors for the workshop were Nancy Kress, Greg Bear, Octavia Butler, Howard Waldrop, editor Gordon Van Gelder, and Gwyneth Jones.  Talk about awesome--the experience was life-changing in a number of ways.  It was at Clarion West where I met what would become my main writing group, the Beyon'Dusa Women Artist's Group, and it is at Clarion where I finished editing the first volume of Dark Matter (and no, I did not sleep, none of us did!).  I lost ten pounds I needed *to keep* then, ate sushi for the first time (Greg Bear coaxed Trent Walters and I to finally give it a try, yum, thanks!), and I experienced my first real earthquake.  I still can remember the mild panic I felt when I realized that *we* were actually moving, as in, the 8th floor of the college dorm we were in, and in fact, the entire city.  Staring in horror at Mt. Ranier through the window, I knew the summer would be more than memorable and more than a little scary.  It was both, and well worth the coast-to-coast trek from New York.  In fact, fellow writers had traveled from much further--writer Margo Lanagan arrived from Australia and years later I can still remember works from each of the 17 writers gathered there.  With earthquakes, no sleep, cabin fever, and the usual ball of nerves a diverse group of writers can bring together, it was one strange, exhilarating brew.  Nisi and David were there to see it all.

So you can imagine how delighted I am to be able to see and greet some of these folk at WisCon this year, meet new folks and friends, and to help celebrate Nisi's body of work and contributions to the genre.  Today she is dressed in white  and wearing a fabulous glittering tiara.  She's all star-dusty diva now and I'm loving the joy coming off her. She will read and discuss her work throughout the weekend, and do all the good stuff GoH's do with grace and a good sense of humor.

I'll post pictures once I get all the hell yeahs and approvals, in the meanwhile visit the WisCon 35 website for more info:

WisCon 35: May 26-30, 2011

The Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin

I'll be moderating and participating in a few panels this weekend.  Here are a few of those (only a handful of the zillion available to attendees on at least three different programming tracks-- 1) writing, readers, publishing  2) academics and scholarly research/discussions 3) all things fandom -- and explorations of how race, class, sex, and identity impact the genre are interwoven throughout

Yearning from the Threshold: Magic Realism & Diaspora Literature

TRACK: Reading, Viewing, and Critiquing Science Fiction (Power, Privilege, and Oppression)
Description Those who write about diaspora create from the threshold, from the border. Magical realism—with its crossing of many borders, including the border between magic and reality—allows the writer to celebrate the myths and folklore of home, even as the story echoes the experience of being ex-centric, out of the mainstream, and on the threshold. Join us for a conversation about the ways that the displaced writer (whether immigrant, ex-pat, diaspora, or refugee) uses magical realist fiction to explore the idea of marginality.
Location Senate B
Schedule Sat, 10:00–11:15 am
Panelists M: Mary Anne Mohanraj. Hiromi Goto, Nisi Shawl, Sheree Renée Thomas, Ibi Aanu Zoboi  

Why We Do What We Do: WisCon's Statement of Principles
Track(s) Fandom as a Way of Life (Power, Privilege, and Oppression)
Description WisCon's planning committee (concom) recently created a Statement of Principles to guide our work:  In the statement, we make a commitment to a broad definition of feminism. What does it mean to be a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention? Come add your voice to the conversation. We want your feedback and suggestions.
Location Conference 4
Schedule Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm 

Panelists M: Sheree Renée Thomas. Jeanne Gomoll, Cat Hanna, Debbie Notkin, Victor Raymond                      

FRAGMENTS: Poets and Artists of the South and Southwest

Fragments: Poets and Artists of the South and Southwest

What exactly is ekphrasis?

Defined as “the response of one art form to another”, ekphrasis often involves poetry responding to a medium of art.

On Friday, October 7, 2011, David Hinske, longtime Memphis resident who currently lives and paints in Taos, New Mexico, and Andrea L. Watson, award-winning poet and performance artist, bring an ekphrasis event to Harrington Brown Art Gallery, 5179 Wheelis Drive, in east Memphis, at 7:00 p.m.

Harrington Brown, a contemporary art gallery, is perfect for this type of event in that it describes itself as “committed to educating the community to the value and truth of creativity.”

A year in the making, Fragments: Poets and Artists of the South and Southwest features 24 artists and poets who were challenged to respond to only a fragment of art or writing, without having the entire work in context.

The twists in this show are twofold—six of the twelve poets offer fragments of their poetry to the artists with whom they are paired while the other poets receive fragments of artwork. Not only that: Poets and artists of the South are paired with kindred spirits of the Southwest. This provides the added dynamic of all participants working outside their usual comfort zones.

During the evening, poets will perform their work and artists will discuss the process of creating for the new show. Audience members are encouraged to pose questions at the end of the evening.

Fragments is the 13th show to come out of Taos centering around the communication between art and poetry. The inaugural show, Braided Lives: A Collaboration Between Artists and Poets, sponsored by Taos Institute of Arts, traveled to Denver, Berkeley, and San Francisco.

Other ekphrasis events include Interwoven Illuminations,conceived of by artist Hinske, which was based on the telephone tag game: The concept was to alternate a work of art with a poem so that each poet or artist viewed and responded to only a preceding work. In 2009, the unique show, Threaded Lives, challenged poets to interpret fiber art in the forms of weaving, Shibori, knitting, beading, or quilting. The S.R.O. show, Frida. Fractured, sponsored by J Fine Art Gallery in Taos in 2010, centered on the life, art, and suffering of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as interpreted by artists and writers from across the United States.  

Curator Andrea Watson explained that these “happenings” are more than merely one-evening events: “For me, the beauty of such ekphrasis experiences is in the extraordinary communication between the genres of the Humanities. Artists and poets, who initially do not know one another and often work hundreds of miles apart, collaborate to produce works that are extraordinary because of the coming together of two lives. This braiding of lives reminds us that friendships are born from people celebrating the best in themselves and others, communicating about the nature of the world through their art and writing.”

Curators: David Hinske and Andrea L. Watson

Southern artists: Roy Tamboli, Elizabeth Alley, Lurlynn Franklin, Lisa Tribo,  Mary Long-Postal, and Thomasin Durgin

Southwest artists: David Hinske, Barbara Zaring, Chuck Zimmer, Abby Salsbury, Dean Pulver, and Carolyn Hinske

Southern poets: Bill Brown, Blas Falconer, Scott Wiggerman, Richard Jackson, Sheree Renée Thomas, and David Meischen

Southwest poets: Andrea L. Watson, Dora McQuaid, Veronica Golos, Leslie Ullman, Madelyn Garner, and Karen Cordova