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Archives: Marta Rose

Marta Asks Me About My First Time

Marta Asks Me About My First Time

<iMarta asks:  You’ve expressed a great deal of openness with what we are calling “cultural trespass,” with authors writing across lines that can sometimes feel dangerous — race, class, gender, sexuality, etc., even when writers don’t always “get it right.”  Have you always felt this way? Or was there a time when those boundaries around voice and identity felt more rigid to you, like boundaries you needed to protect?

For better or worse I came of age before the heyday of cultural studies.  Even the youngest among the professors at “progressive” Macalester College was strictly old school in his approach to literature; with the exception of a brief foray into Native Son during my senior year in high school,  it’s likely across my entire “formal” education that any work I read by a person of color I read because I chose to and not because I was assigned to.  Good, bad or indifferent, representations—in any media—of people who looked like me or lived the kind of life I lived were few and far between.  Culture, therefore, was mostly lived experience.  It was the eclectic music on the stereo and a family field trip to see the touring Pearl Baily production of “Hello, Dolly” and Nikki Giovanni on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson—as well as her first books of poetry delivered by my cousin who was in graduate school at Yale.

I Ask Marta About Cultural Trespass

I Ask Marta About Cultural Trespass

So, Marta: When or how did you first come to be aware of the various sensitivities around “cultural trespass” (as it were)?

In college in the 1980’s I was reading a lot of black women writers and poets – do you remember But Some of Us Are Brave:  All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men: Black Women’s Studies edited by Gloria T. Hull and Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith? And This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua?  For some reason, it all resonated for me so deeply.

Here’s part of The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Rushin that still sticks in my brain when a whole lot of other stuff I learned in college is long gone:

Welcome to Our Lawn

Welcome to Our Lawn

While I was sick as a Ricky Gervais joke during the January 2014 residency for the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College (I have NEVER been more invisible) I was able to rise from my bed to deliver a class I called “Would You Like to See My Cat Mammy?  Looking at Other People and Their Stuff.”

Here is a description of that class:

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