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Your Spot on the Wall: An Introduction to Graffiti
Los Angeles Review of Books
WHERE ARE YOUR WORDS welcome? Where do you have permission to scribble, scrawl, romanticize, speculate, brag, retaliate, and narrate your own stories, visions, and ideas? Where can you find your space where you are not being examined, criticized, politicized, exoticized, or fetishized? For writers of color, those spaces are few and far between. Marginalized in the mainstream, outnumbered in the classroom, we are constantly confronted with pervasive feelings of censorship and exceptionalism.
Excerpted from Graffiti‘s “Your Spot on the Wall,” by Elmaz Abinader. Read more.
My Life is a Tapestry
I imagine myself to be a tapestry, attached to a magical loom, holding tension in a warp of threads, running lengthwise, perpetually expanding. I am a collection of strings, constantly woven and entangled in a woof, running crosswise. I am ever-growing, made up of countless fibers, glorious and rich, dyed in many colors, crafting one vibrant story after the next, vivid and complex, a narrative so intricate it would take a lifetime to track every fibrous thread and try to unweave them all.
Excerpted from Graffiti‘s “My Life is a Tapestry,” by Ramy El-Etreby. Read more.
Demystifying the Writer’s Fear of Failure
Writing well is hard. All writers know this. So why don’t we talk about it more? But we do, I hear you groan. All writers do is complain. Well, true. But it’s also true that most of that complaining comes after said writer has achieved some modicum of success. The back pages of the Best American Short Stories anthologies, for example, are replete with different versions of one tale told over and over: facing constant rejection, a writer wrestles with the prospect of giving up, then a phone call comes at the last minute, telling her that everything she’s ever dreamed of is suddenly about to take place.
Excerpted from Graffiti‘s “On Writing” by Sarah LaBrie. Read more.
Kissed a Girl
Spring break in LA is one long day at Magic Mountain. My friend Moses parks his 1985 Caprice Classic next to our chain-link gate. The engine clicks off and the Led Zeppelin guitar goes quiet. He brought Eva, Rudy, and my boyfriend Beto to pick me up. We’ll be on roller coasters if only we can get out of the alley I live in. From the family bedroom, I hear all four doors close. Rudy jokes with Amá. She’s letting them into our cement yard. Then, no more laughing.
Excerpted from Graffiti’s “Winning Prizes for Just Living,” by Vickie Vértiz. Read more.
Another Chicago Magazine
My mother called me about five years back, one month into my master’s program in New Jersey, right before I was about to head into class. “Listen,” she said. “I need to tell you something, but I don’t want you to worry.”
Excerpted from Graffiti‘s “Sister” by Kanika Punwani. Read more.
What to Read When You Want to Escape the White Gaze
Three years ago, when the country took a socio-political turn that many of us had not been expecting, we, a group of writers of color, created a safe space of creative play for ourselves. Out of our collective frustrations with what the literary world and the world at large were asking of us, we created the artists-of-color collective POC United, and launched an anthology series. Our inaugural collection is Graffiti, released in October from Aunt Lute Books. We focused on short stories, essays, and poems, all by writers of color, and we built a multi-genre text removed from the white gaze, that centers neither whiteness nor anti-whiteness. This work helped us feel as if we truly were united, heard, and understood by one another.
Now that Graffiti is out in the world and we are ramping up to create the next installment in our series, we asked some of our contributors to join us in recommending books that allow us to remain grounded in work that does not consider the white gaze.