MY NEW BOOK!

The long -awaited (well, I was on the edge of my seat anyhow) second volume of poems from Book II of my autobiographical trilogy has been published.  Many thanks to Marian Kent of ALL CAPS Publishing!

http://www.amazon.com/What-Goods-View-Charles-tribute/dp/061589609X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383579780&sr=1-1&keywords=mignon+ariel+king

Cover image by Hans Engelman (Dutch, 1981).  Thank you very much to his daughter for letting me use it!  Engelman began painting Black nudes in the ’60s, so there’s no telling when this beautiful sister actually posed for the first sketches and paintings vs. when the artist finished and signed it.

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Last Featured Reading of “The Woods Have Words”

It’s been almost three years of fun since my first book of poems was published.  15 features at a variety of MA venues later, it’s time to let the old order changeth.   This is the final reading/signing of the book (which will be on sale for $10 cash vs. the usual $15).   Stay tuned for publication news on volumes two and three of the poetic trilogy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011, 2-5pm, Brockton Public Library.  FREE 

Commuter rail/bus accessibility.  Check the site for directions and parking info.   Bring a poem for the open mic!

http://gbspa.homestead.com/Calendar.html

Black History Month Series (II)

Q: What does it mean, really, to be a multicultural writer?

A: I write as I live, through all of my valued private and public traditions and experiences…as an American. There’s no pie chart for my cultural percentages, and 9 times out of 10, the Black part is not open for discussion.

Blackness is a state of being shaped by experiences, not just a biological “marker,” so when I say “Black” I am not talking about physical packaging—9 times out of 10. Why is that such a difficult concept for non-Black Americans to get, especially women? Is “woman” just a biological fact or marker for them? When a man relates to a woman’s “femaleness” or refers to her as a woman when that specific fact seems irrelevant to the current human communication or interaction, doesn’t that woman get angry, defensive, feel insulted, maybe think “sexist jerk”?

If so, why do I get labeled an ABW or militant for thinking “race-obsessed jerk” when my race is gratuitously or inappropriately “related to” or referred to? When is it inappropriate for another person to refer to my race? 9 times out of 10 that the person is not one of my oldest and dearest friends, and yes, especially if the person is not a Black American and/or of African descent. It’s a cultural understanding thing, complicated by both historical and present racism. I catch a lot of heat for mentioning my own race, asserting that it “makes a difference,” so all non-me’s should have even stricter racial gag orders than I.

Turning specifically to the question of art, when I apply pen to paper, it is not with the pressure of a monocultural agenda. That is, if I’m in a Black state of mind, my pen writes about race, or culture, or racism. When I’m feeling my “woman-ness”, I write about sex, or gender, or sexism. Major holidays bring out my inner American; that’s when I write about friends and family, or mistletoe and pie, or anti-patriots. Some days, when socio-economic inequities are especially noticeable and infuriating, I write about class prejudice. In other words, I write what I write, with neither boundaries nor pretenses of belonging to any one literary tradition. To write with respect for the past, appreciation for the present, and an eye on the future is perhaps my subconscious, apolitical, multicultural agenda. A reader who possesses a monocultural agenda or monomaniacal obsession with any one part of a writer’s personal features or demographic categories (i.e., with her “markers”) will probably find my work disappointing.

Black History Month Series (I)

In honor of Black History Month and the impending publication of my first collection of poems, which are autobiographical, I will be posting a series of personal essays.

Q: What does it mean to be Black, and multicultural, and a woman writing into the 21st century?

A: It’s a race, class, gender tale of nature versus nurture.

Here in the twenty-first century, on the cusp of publication of my poetry, there is still such an unpleasant focus on the biology and social status of Americans that I am stuck under the label “Black,” which I will gladly keep, and “ghetto girl,” which I reject as racist, sexist, and elitist. For I am not from the ghetto, street, or inner city. My inner child is indeed a girl from the ‘hood, but the term is short for “neighborhood,” and it is for me an internalized term, not one that is merely suggestive of a past or current geographic or socio-economic location/status but also representative of a complex now-woman’s identity.

It means that I am confident, sassy, strong, yet love being a woman: wearing lipstick, skirts, and shiny new shoes if I please; being unashamed to have feelings; keeping secrets or indulging in a bit of harmless gossip; saying thank you when a man swings open a door in front of me rather than being insulted. Any so-called “low-class” woman will tell you, there are more manners in the poor and blue collar men of Dorchester, Eastie, and Roxbury than in the Financial District, Newton, and West End. “Class” to me means that one actually recalls having been raised right, with common manners and sense, respect for both genders, and an old-fashioned notion of decency.

How a child was born and raised and who an adult has chosen and still chooses to be and become—two different things. A truly multicultural artist, like me, embraces nature via self-acceptance and spirituality as well as nurture via accepting the best, most interesting, most compatible people, concepts, pleasures, responsibilities that exist outside of the self. For me, allowing the internal marriage of nature and nurture, of high and low culture, has created an identity. It is bothersome, to say the least, to be answering the same questions about my bookish and artsy self that I was answering twenty-five years ago. At 20, I was a confused and misfit girl, student, living in one tiny area of the world. At 45, I am an educated woman who has discovered, and who constantly stretches the limits of, her current power and her artistic and human potential. Recognition of that fact respects the general process of learning, growing, and maturing in a society that is still less than kind to its minorities and its poor. Artists, Black Americans, and women fall into at least one of those categories.