Q: Where do you currently live/reside? The Bronx, NYC
Q: How do you self-identify? BLACK PUERTO RIQUENA from The Boogie.
Affiliations: Dream Director at The Future Project
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired the poem above?
I know many a corn ball ass dude but it goes deeper than that. Often times in my past, I found that cultivating romantic relationships with honesty seemed easier for me than for the folks that I chose to engage with. In particular, I kept having to have the same conversation with said person and with myself over and over and over again until I eventually put my foot down .I decided that we was either going to keep it 100 or that the relationship had to cease. The poem was kinda like me amping myself up and sticking to my stance.
Q: How did you get your writing/performing start?
I’ve been writing poetry since middle school. A teacher gifted me a copy of “Smoking Lovely” and it was over. I then attended LaGuardia High School where performing became a powerful tool of expression and freedom that followed me into the entirety of my adult life. If you let my family tell it, they’d probably bug out about the time my cousins and I swore we were doing something in our family band known as “The Martoral Trio.” By known, I meant our Grandparents and our Uncles ;)
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
A combination of Joan Didion and your Titi Nina’s journal entries.
Q: How does your identity shape or influence your work, writing process, or writing life?
The intersectionalities of my identity have had a HUGE influence on my art and my writing. The particular traumas and joys of being black, puerto rican, a woman, and a new yorker are constant themes throughout my poems. I really am fascinated with narrative and the various forms in which writers choose to bring their stories to page.
Q: Can you tell us about a time you think your identity (Afro-Latinidad/Afro-Caribbeanness) helped or hindered your writing or writing career?
I know that this developing sense of language and identity has helped me form community with folks across the Diaspora. This is a notion that I cannot deny nor musn’t forget to be grateful for. Often, we are told that writing is a solitary process (in many ways it is), having a sense of language around the interdependencies of Black Culture within the context of Latinidad is powerful and necessary
Q: Tell me about your new book/current project:
Im currently focused on creating art and curating my pieces. I’m having so much fun relishing and indulging in my words without the pressures that are associated with sharing. While I have really enjoyed this time in my own critique, I am honored and hyped to share that I’ll be debuting some new pieces THIS June at the JACK Theater in Brooklyn as part of the OYE! Group's Ghetto Hors D'oeuvres stage series.
Q: What else are you working on or what future projects do you have in mind?
Podcasts, THE book, some think pieces and short stories are also in the works. I’m excited to return to Santo Domingo this year to visit venues and build community with Dominican artists.
Q: What have been some of the highlights/defining moments of your writing/performing career?
In December 2015, I debuted my first one woman show in NYC. It was the first time I had compiled all of my poems I had ever written up into that point into a thematic narrative that was engaging and theatrical. This was a huge moment of empowerment for me because I was able to realize that the stage and the page served similar purpose. That I did not need to fit into a label but that my writing was vast and had room to grow and reach multiple audiences. I also am SUPER DUPER OD GRATEFUL for my VONA Summer 2016 family. That particular community of Poets and Writers has and will continue to change my life.
Q: Who are some of your biggest influences and/or mentors?
Audre Lorde, Nancy Mercado, Willie Perdomo, Foxy Brown, Barbara Martoral (Mom), Gladys Cruz (Grandmother), Carmen Ramirez (Grandmother), my sisters, my homies, and my young people.
Q: What’s the one piece of advice you would give new writers/performers?
Your voice has already saved you time and time again. Trust in it to save others.
Q: Who/what are you reading now?
D. Watkins’ The Cook Up : A Crack Memoir and Alia Malek’s The Home that was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria
Q: What’s your favorite platano dish/recipe?
Damn….Pastelon, Pasteles, Tostones with ajo (mashed from a pilon- don’t bring me no paste or no diced garlic) and maduros with ANY sort of protein.
Q: What else should we know about you?
I am here for the Liberation of Black people about the Diaspora. I am constantly trying to check my privilege. I can be easily bribed with tacos. I AM SO PROUD OF US!
Fun Fact 1: I am an AVID and PROUD Potter fan...fight me. Everyone knows the series is HIGH KEY about Hermione anyway
Fun Fact 2: I am confident enough to publicly declare that the kid CAN THROW DOWN ON SOME pasteles ok? Im talking about everything...mashing the Yautia or platano, the meat prep, the oil extraction process, the cutting of the hoja leaf, the folding AND the tying. Im out here yo.