Saturday, August 27, 2011

Some thoughts and some very good news

The month is almost over, and me with two posts. What can I say? A lot has been on my mind.

Tonight I went to see Andrea Gibson perform at Mills. I missed her when she came through College Park on the Salt Lines tour, so this was my first time seeing her. She spit her poetry on the stage on the campus green, with students camped out on the lawn. Andrea is worth the hype. Powerful. Chilling. Warm and positive. Reminded me why I got interested in spoken word in the first place. Her delivery is very reserved, so the listener can focus on her wordcraft. She not only performed her poems, but explained a bit of the thought process behind them, and how she's rewritten some as time goes by to reflect her changing politics. What I found cool is that, well, Mills gave her the rock star treatment. Advertisements everywhere, what I can only assume was a nice honorarium culled from my $50000, a large and receptive crowd. This is good and bad, as Andrea herself pointed out: she feels that people who disagree with her views should be listening to her poetry, and she inevitably finds herself reading to the echo chamber most of the time. But anyway, to see Mills pull out all the stops for a poet was super.

There was also something cool and unifying about seeing so many of my fellow students in one place together. As a 27-year-old black man, I sometimes feel alienated in a space designed for and populated almost entirely by middle to upper-class white women, most of whom I never interact with. The stratospheric tuition also adds to the feeling that this is just a place I go to get a piece of paper. I feel far more distanced here than in my previous college endeavors, College Park (where I connected with other people through our art) and Pitt (where we all loved alcohol). It was nice to just groove with my fellow students to this artist who we all enjoy. However fleeting those moments are, they're good for the spirit.

So is Andrea's work. Positivity is something I've had in low supply lately, and there's a stream in her work about the beauty of life. Can't sweat the small stuff.

My work on The Motley and Plume Players has stalled. Mostly because outside word drama has been on my mind so much. Instead of sitting down and typing, I find myself picking up bits and pieces every day. A phrase here, a word there. All of which I hope to explode onto the page, whenever I sit down and start typing. Checking out of the writing process usually means that now's a good time to shake up the narrative, blow something up or kill off a character. Anyways, I'm working on the crucial middle portion of the story, in which the characters go on a romantic vacation.

I've decided that Motley & Plume will be my thesis. It was originally going to be another project, but in order to get this novel in shape I absolutely NEED my thesis director Micheline Marcom to go at it with the red pen. Micheline is an incredible writer and teacher and everybody wants her for their director. I know how lucky I am.

Still time to donate to the Motley & Plume Kickstarter: Oh my god we're so close!

Now is as good a time to mention...I GOT NOMINATED FOR THE 2010 CARL BRANDON AWARD! Both of them! To paraphrase the message they sent:

"The Jack Daniels Sessions EP by Elwin Cotman, published by Six Gallery Press, has been nominated for the 2010 CBS Parallax Award (for an outstanding speculative fiction work by a self-identified writer of color) and the 2010 CBS Kindred Award (for an outstanding speculative fiction work dealing with race, ethnicity, and culture). Carl Brandon Society awards include a $1000 cash prize. The awards will be announced by the end of 2011."

Yay! Carl Brandon is a prestigious organization dedicated to supporting and promoting speculative writers of color. These awards have been bestowed upon some of the greats. If I win, I'd be standing with Walter Mosley and Nnedi Okorafor, among others.This nomination makes me feel content, and proud. Not just for me, but Dan, Nathan and Rachel, who also worked so hard on this spectacular book. Here's the CBS page:

I was contacted recently by Diesel Books to come and pick up my consignment copies. I sold two of four. So I spend an hour waiting for the predictably late Oakland public transit, ride over there, grab some money and the two books. This is the first time I've had to reclaim unsold merchandise. As I handle most consignments myself, I'm sure it won't be the last. Simply knowing I sold two books is pretty amazing. It's interesting to me, knowing I got nominated for this major award and still having to personally pick up unsold merch. A very weird, cool place to be in. Anyways, hey two people who bought my book! I appreciate you!

More updates soon. I promise. But don't hold me to it.

1 comment:

  1. Dang, way to go on that Kickstarter! Congrats to you & Christ (& Christine).