Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Poetic Profile: Saida Agostini

1.)How would you describe your poetry?

It’s like me, an intensely goofy, emotional and loving thick brown woman with big hair, tons of flaws and a huge heart (I know that sounds like a country song, but its true).


I never knew what it took to die
if no one closes your lids, your
eyes are scotch taped closed
if your mouth is left open, someone
will come and break your jaw put
your body back together so that
your family can come and see something
they know. the white hot violence it
takes to break your body into something
familiar hide the bed sores hide the shit
anything to pretend the work of dying
never existed shuffled off into a patchwork
of bodies twisted broken and turned into
the humans we wanted them to be. maybe
that’s why no one says much
when bodies of trans women are found
carved all over dark cities chopped into
arms legs and limbs that can’t be made
whole or familiar, but instead strange
leaving only teeth to identify whole
lives by, picking out fillings and extractions
to separate their blood from others
how did they say goodbye? what is
left to bring back home to a cemetery
or resting place—who can close their eyes
hold the body and remember what is familiar
in battle

2) How does poetry fit into your everyday life?

It’s how I stay sane, and remember to breathe. I have gone without writing for a year, and I would never do it again. Working within lgbt and homeless populations, I live with a lot of naked strength, grief, hope, and brutality. Poetry has become a way for me to find what is human, what connects me with everyone else, and remember how to hold on to the world that I dream of. I think poetry has always been a healing force for me, and one that I use in my political and therapeutic work.

3) What poets and/or authors inspire you?

The top list would be Jan Beatty, Yusef Komunyakaa, Joy Harjo, Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Kalisha Buchanon, Sapphire,William Shakespeare (so clichéd I know), and Wanda Coleman.

4) How does the community of Philadelphia play a part in your poetry?

I love Philly! I think that the community is incredibly supportive of the arts, especially in honoring voices of folks not typically heard within the mainstream. In September 2010, I co-produced a queer gender variant production of For Colored Girls, which was sold out, I was overwhelmed by the support and excitement of the community, not only for the production, but the cause itself (the majority of the proceeds went to fund scholarships for LGBT youth). Last year, I was awarded an Arts and Change Grant from the Leeway Foundation, which I am using to develop a therapeutic group grounded in the arts. The energetic reception I have received from community organizations and other artists is deeply affirming of the reality that Philadelphia is committed to utilizing art as a means of social change. (also I really love cheese steaks, and the iced tea that you can get from the Chinese restaurants).

5) What is the last book you have read that you enjoyed? Tell our Big Blue Marble community a little about it.

So I just finished re-reading The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton, a re-telling of old Black folktales. It is one of the most beautiful and magical books I remember from my childhood.

M. Saida Agostini is a Black queer love centered poet, social worker and activist. A featured performer at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philly Queer Lit Festival, More than Words and GenderCrash, her work bridges worlds all at once joyfully erotic, raw and unapologetically present. Wild Witness, her first chapbook was released in 2007, and will release her second chapbook Hunger in

1 comment:

arnold adoff said...

thanks so much for the lovely words about
the people could fly...stay well and warm: arnold adoff