HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT wins 2017 New England Poetry Club award!

hhsgo_blue_We’re thrilled to announce that Krysten Hill’s chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, is the winner of the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award from New England Poetry Club!

From Sara Backer, this year’s judge:

What struck me most were poems from Krysten Hill’s How Her Spirit Got Out: whether she’s recording a sister’s reaction to the shooting of her 12-year-old brother or the wreckage of a sweet potato pie, her words are fierce and fearless. Hill confronts us with the dangerous reality of the lives of black women, who may “go missing” because “they knew if they didn’t leave, they’d kill/ what they couldn’t afford to nurture” or go missing in another way when they hear a writing workshop leader ask “Is there any way/ you can write this poem/ from his perspective?” Hill’s words are precise and potent, and each time you read them, her poems mean more.

If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of How Her Spirit Got Out, there’s no time like the present!

And if you’re in the Boston area, you can hear Krysten read tonight at 7 at Porter Square Books for the release party of Simone John’s debut collection, Testify!

Simone John and Krysten Hill in Gramma Poetry

hhsgo_blue_A few months ago, Simone John (author of the forthcoming collection, Testify) spoke to our own Krysten Hill about How Her Spirit Got Out.

As we continue to face so much malice and racism from the current administration in Washington, we’re finding it’s increasingly important to heed these artists’ words:

SJ : You and I have talked about how it feels like there’s something in the air right now for black creatives and makers. Like the atmosphere is charged. What’s your take on the situation? What does that look like, to you, in the poetry world?

KH : We talked about how black creatives and makers have always been doing work to document the time with a hard eye. Nikki Giovanni and Audre Lorde both document their truth and love for their community, while using their voices to shape the future of their community. For me, they’ve also reflected how creativity and imagination are essential to shaping the future. I’ve seen this future-work in poets like Danez Smith and Porsha O that are part of a rich tradition of poets that unabashedly speak to the realities of the black experience. I see this in young poets I teach and other youth poets in the Boston community. In all of their work I see and feel a continuous revolution against the damaging forces of racism, misogyny, and queerphobia. For me, poetry has always been a space for active resistance, testimony, learning, and unlearning.

As I develop my identity as an artist, I find myself seeking artistic spaces that are talking to each other and crying with each other and showing up for each other in a way that makes ferocious art possible. Personally, one way that I survived 2016 was through communities and intimate friend spaces invested in conversations about social justice and witnessing. I made decisions to leave spaces in Boston that were too cliquish or that allowed hate speech and discrimination to happen under the guise of “free speech.” At times, this made for a lonely creative life. Productive creative spaces build people up and welcome in strangers so that they can make brave art together. I’ve seen this life-changing work in spaces like the House Slam at The Haley House Bakery Café and in organizations like The Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective (MassLEAP) and Whole Soul Health in Boston. Even when I can’t make it out to events, I see how these spaces affect and transform my students and community and promote healthy practices for creatives. This atmosphere is what I’m responding to and finding courage in as an artist.

Read the full interview at Gramma Poetry.

And we’re not the only ones taking solace in Krysten’s words.

Janice Worthen at Small Press Distribution praised HHSGO as an SPD staff pick:

Jill McDonough calls this sharp little collection “a middle finger tucked in the hip pocket of your favorite dress.” A middle finger, yes, and a fist held up, black and beautiful… But these poems are also hands held, palms out, hands cuffed behind, flesh that can’t stop the bullet, tears mixing with blood as the calendar turns. They are the voice that rises even as it breaks, radiant with power, “beautiful / and frightening / and free.” Hill writes “we told to be silent / about our magic…our wild I spawning / this flourish without their approval.” But the words, the ghosts, will get out: “Gonna learn how to speak because silence / is father to son to mama to brother to / sister to cousin to friend to rape and / they ain’t gonna tell us what we remember anymore.” This is a collection to be carried along, yes, and spoken aloud.”

We’re heartened to see Krysten’s work finding its audience. Check out the full list at SPD and order your copy of HHSGO today.

Boston Cultural Council grant + two readings at Brookline Booksmith!

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If you didn’t know, Aforementioned Productions is based in Boston. We’ve lived in a few cities now (Boston, New York, Baltimore), and Boston has our heart. So, late last year, we had immense pleasure of receiving news that we’ve received an organizational grant from the Boston Cultural Council for 2017. It covers a small portion (5%) of our operating costs, but it still feels rewarding to be recognized by this city that has meant so much to us.

The best part of that grant is that we’ll get to spend it on all the great authors and performers whose work we want to support, like Krysten Hill, whose galvanizing new chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, is already in its third printing. She’ll be reading next month at Brookline Booksmith with Ben Berman, so if you’re in Boston, and you missed her release party and her inspiring reading at the Boston Public Library for the GB Writers Resist event in January, you won’t want to miss this event!

Also, because we love the crew at the Booksmith, we’re especially excited to announce that they’ll be hosting our marathon reading of It Can’t Happen Here! So, please join us for an event of literary resistance when the fine crew at Brookline Booksmith will be hosting us overnight, March 31 at 7pm-April 1 at noon (ish). Readers include AP founders Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff, as well as Shuchi Saraswat, Josh Cook, Catherine Parnell, Kurt Klopmeier, Karen Locasio, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Aaron Devine, Maria Hugger, Julia Kennedy, Sam Cha, Simeon Berry, and more! This event is free and open to the public, and will involve resistance, subversive classic literature, a table of books you’re going to want to buy, plus free cupcakes (and probably wine). So, join us at Brookline Booksmith at the end of next month and stay up all night while we read Lewis’s sharp-sighted and sharp-tongued classic about one journalist’s fight against fascist America.

And if you need another reason, check out this promo image, designed by our ringleader and AP co-founder, Carissa Halston:

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Events, old and new!

Clockwise from upper left: Amanda Torres, Brionne Janae, Krysten Hill, and Simone John.

The brilliant poets who read for the HHSGO release party. Clockwise from upper left: Amanda Torres, Brionne Janae, Krysten Hill, and Simone John

If you weren’t able to make it to the How Her Spirit Got Out release party, first of all, we missed you. But secondly, you missed out. Obviously, we’re very familiar with the content of Krysten’s book. But it means so much to hear her read these poems. She shone and showed us all how absolutely necessary her work is. And Simone John, Brionne Janae, and Amanda Torres wowed us again and again.

And if you weren’t able to make it to the Boston Public Library for the first Greater Boston Writers Resist event, Krysten read there as well, and the whole room cheered her on. You can watch a video of her reading, courtesy of WGBH’s Forum Network.

And, if you’re in the Boston area and still haven’t had a chance to catch Krysten reading, you’re in luck! She’ll be at the following events in the upcoming months:

Friday, Jan 27 – 7pm
Belt It Out reading series
Courtside Lounge
Cambridge, MA

Thursday, Mar 16 – 7pm
Reading with Ben Berman
Brookline Booksmith
Brookline, MA

Poets and Pints reading series
Aeronaut (hosted by Porter Square Books)
Somerville, MA
(Date and time to be announced!)

And15940868_10154049971290689_3850647147929325445_n if you’re going to this year’s AWP conference, we’ll be there with you. From February 8-11, we’ll be in Washington, DC for the book fair and the readings. You can find us at table 431-T where we’ll be giving away writerly and readerly gifts, and there will be an assortment of AP editors and contributors managing the table. Stop by to meet co-founding editors, Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff, as well as Krysten Hill, and possibly other assorted AP writers. And don’t forget to come to the tap room at The Black Squirrel on Friday, Feb 10 for our AWP offsite reading, featuring Joanna Ruocco, Krysten Hill, Dolan Morgan, Tracy Dimond, and Elizabeth Wade! Lovingly hosted by apt EIC, Carissa Halston, who designed that poster with the idea that she was the lady and the tiger, and she’d be roaring these writers’ names.

And if you are in town for AWP, you can pick up a copy of our latest print issue of apt, featuring longform stories and poems from Doug Paul Case, Sonja Condit, Gregory Crosby, Krysten Hill, and Joanna Ruocco! We just got copies today, and we can’t wait for you to see them! Here’s a peek in advance. And for those of you who aren’t making the trek, you can of course order copies online.

And, finally, as co-sponsors of Greater Boston Writers Resist, we’re enraged at the latest news from Washington, but that’s been the case since late October. Nonetheless, we’re looking forward to seeing so many of our friends in DC, and to stand beside them on Saturday, February 11 to hold a vigil for free speech. Our EIC, Carissa Halston, wrote an impassioned plea to save the First Amendment in her editor’s note for the latest issue of apt. She wrote it in November, just as the censorship was beginning. And now, with the gag order on climate change, and threats to any White House staff who speak to members of the press, this is a violation of our freedom of speech and our freedom of the press. Violations to the Constitution. It hasn’t even been a week.

Which is to say, DC friends, Baltimore friends, Virginia friends…we’ll see you very soon and we’ll be protesting as loudly and as hard as we can.

HHSGO release party this Friday!

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Please join us at Lir on Friday, January 13, at 7pm to celebrate the release of Krysten Hill’s debut chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out!

Featuring readings from Brionne James, Simone John, Amanda Torres, and Krysten Hill! Hosted by Carissa Halston.

ABOUT THE BOOK
How Her Spirit Got Out is a lively, urgent song. Answering the writers whose voices raised her, Hill calls on Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, and Zora Neale Hurston to help her navigate the complicated landscape of selfhood. Hill’s speaker, wise and direct, open yet elusive, also sings for the women who brought her up: her aunt, her grandmother, and her mother. These spirits who’ve guided her life and taught her through example how black women persevere, have given her the means to bear witness to an age of racial violence. With intensity, audacity, and a darkly comic wit, Hill grapples with the question of how to fight “a city that knows you’re unarmed,” rendering each poem as a weapon and a shield, and using both for self-defense.

This event is free and open to the public.

RSVP at Facebook

 

READER BIOS

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Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry on stage at The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Blacksmith House, Cantab Lounge, Merrimack College, U35 Reading Series, Mr. Hip Presents, and many others. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in B O D Y, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, apt, Amethyst Arsenic, Damfino Press, ROAR, and Write on the DOT. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. She is the author of a chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, now available from Aforementioned Productions.
(author photo credit: Jonathan Beckley)

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Simone John’s poetry brings her to classrooms, community events, and campuses to read and lead discussions. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, with an emphasis on racial identity studies and documentary poetics. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wildness, The Pitkin Review, Public Pool, and The Writer in the World. Testify, Simone’s first full-length collection, is forthcoming from Octopus Books in 2017.

 

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Brionne Janae is a Southern California native who came to Boston to get an MFA at Emerson College. While in California, Brionne received her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley where she was a Student Teacher Poet in the Poetry for the People movement. Brionne is currently an instructor at Bunker Hill Community College. Her work as a poet has been published or is forthcoming in Plume, Apogee Journal, Toe Good Poetry, Redivider, Fjords Review, and others. Brionne is the winner of the 2014 Muriel Craft Bailey Contest from the Comstock Review judged by Kwame Dawes, and her first manuscript was selected by Michael Ryan for Emerson College’s Best Thesis Award.

 

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Amanda Torres is a mexicana writer, singer, teacher, and organizer. She’s received several awards for her writing and performance, including the Union League Civic Arts Foundation Award for Fiction and the National Brave New Voices Slam Competition. She founded the first Youth Advisory Council at Young Chicago Authors and co-founded L@s Eloter@s, a socially engaged Latino/a writing teachers collective. Amanda serves as the Festival Director for the Louder Than A Bomb Teen Poetry Slam, and co-founded Mass LEAP, the youth spoken word programming arm of MassPoetry where she currently serves as Program Director. Please give a warm welcome to Amanda Torres.

 

WRRR reflection, How Her Spirit Got Out, and apt 7

Readers, we’ve been subsumed by all the post-election news and the scary prospects for our country. We’re trying to find ways to hold our officials accountable for their choices in representing us, and making their voices reflect ours.

But, ultimately, the incoming administration is proving they don’t care about the integrity of a free press or free speech, so we’re going to have to get louder in our support of our ideals and our support of the work of writers whose voices are integral in reminding us what’s at stake: honesty, choice, truth, and our trust in communication.

Last month, we produced White Rabbit Red Rabbit at OBERON. The show was well received, garnering 4 out of 5 stars from Boston Events Insider. From Gwen Walsh’s review: “Jen Taschereau, whose amiable demeanor effectively put the audience at ease during a story which was driven by an oscillation between tension and playfulness…[displayed] true commitment to the act… I can’t stop thinking about this play.”

I (the ever-shifting pronouns–I here is Carissa, as always) have spent the past month thinking about Nassim Soleimanpour’s play. I performed it the first night, then watched Jen and Sam Cha perform is the subsequent evenings. Every night, audience members told me they felt the material was unfortunately timely, in light of the election, which had taken place the week prior. Every night, I watched the play and thought about how careful Soleimanpour was in choosing his words and crafting his metaphors. He told us, in the script, how careful he had to be. I’d originally scheduled the production as a potential vent following the election, as a combination cautionary tale for what we’d avoided and method of girding ourselves for the backlash (because I thought Clinton would win, but I was also aware that violence was coming either way).

But there we sat, too late for caution and its lessons.

Still, I’m thankful for the opportunity to perform and produce the work. Soleimanpour’s methods of coy address gives me hope for methods and means of retaining some semblance of free speech, even as it’s being threatened. And I’m so grateful to Jen and Sam for their bravery, especially in context.

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Other writing that’s buoying me through this wreck is Krysten Hill’s How Her Spirit Got Out, which is finally—wait for it—out, just this week. I’m so proud of Krysten and her collection. She asks the hard questions we need to pose to ourselves and our officials right now, and gives us possible solutions for how black women, indeed any women of color, can navigate a society that makes them feel simultaneously abandoned, controlled, fetishized, and disrespected. And Krysten approaches the work from multiple angles, meaning the book is as funny as it is serious, as artful as it is frank, as much an ode as it is an instruction.  And disarming throughout. Short version: everyone should read this book.

And, rounding out AP news, the seventh print annual of apt is now available to preorder. The issue features work by Joanna Ruocco, Krysten Hill, Sonja Condit, Doug Paul Case, and Gregory Crosby. Many of these long stories and poems speak to the various ways women are discounted and downplayed, and how they counterbalance that disadvantage, which has always been important to me, but especially now.

Since it’s mid-December, this is the time when I would reflect on this past year and mention all the things we’re looking forward to next year, but while 2016 has been a year for the metaphorical books, they’re not any I’d like to read, and though I’d prefer to savor time rather than waste it, the quicker we can reverse the damage of these upcoming years, the better off we’ll be. So, here’s to next year, but more so, all the years that will follow, especially those when we rise again.

New praise for Krysten Hill’s HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT!

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Krysten Hill’s incendiary debut, How Her Spirit Got Out, is on its way next month! It’s garnered praise from Jill McDonough, and now from Boston’s Poet Laureate, Danielle Legros Georges!

“Krysten Hill’s poems grab you by the throat and pull you into dark rooms and dark selves. The poems know that ‘the world is full of weapons’ and poisonous legacies that pursue and haunt us—and become knives themselves, daring to carve deep silence into sound and image, into resurrection. These poems exude at once vulnerability, rawness, and lucid beauty.”

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, there’s no time like the present!

Head over to the presale page and check out the incentives, including variant covers, original poems by Krysten, and an option to get all of AP’s chapbooks in one shot!

December 13 can’t come soon enough!

Help support Aforementioned

Last Friday, Oct 7, we—Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff; cofounders, editors, and publishers of Aforementioned Productions—were in a car accident. The car was a rental (we were going to a friend’s wedding), and while we have collision insurance, we don’t have liability insurance.

Neither of us have been to the hospital, though we both sustained minor injuries. But one of the reasons we didn’t go to the ER is we honestly can’t afford it. We pay for our insurance entirely on our own (that is, not through an employer).

And we pay for Aforementioned the same way. With the exception of preorders, we pay for everything on our own. We’ve worked for free for eleven years, and we’ve lost money every year. We produced 24 online issues of apt in the first five years, and five years of weekly content after that. Five years of Literary Firsts. Nine books over six years. Hundreds of writers’ work: edited, proofread, designed, packaged, published, hosted, curated. For free.

We know we’re not alone in this. We know how it goes: non-profits are labors of love.

The problem is we suddenly can’t afford ours.

And the fact is: we are Aforementioned. If we run into a financial problem, it makes it nearly impossible to continue funding AP.

Since starting in 2005, we’ve never asked for financial assistance. We’ve never had a fundraiser. We’ve always paid for whatever we needed on our own. Over and above donating thousands of free hours, we’ve paid for web hosting, printing books, paying apt contributors, shipping materials and shipping costs, business cards, advertisements, book release parties, attending trade conferences, exhibiting at book fairs, travel and lodging for both, etc.

At this point, we’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars into AP. And despite that investment, it’s still really difficult even asking for help. We wouldn’t do it if we thought we could avoid it. But right now, we need your support. We need help paying for the projects we’ve committed to producing in the next three months.

Namely, a very large expense: we’re producing a limited run of White Rabbit Red Rabbit at Oberon in November. The show will cost more than $4500 to produce.

We’re also publishing Krysten Hill’s monumental debut, How Her Spirit Got Out, in December. And in January, we’re putting out the seventh print annual of apt.

These are expenses we had accounted for—until last Friday.

To be clear, these projects are going to happen regardless of how much money we raise, but the truth is that future projects are in jeopardy because of the car accident.

We don’t want Aforementioned’s successes to be contingent on our financial situation. We’re looking into possible ways to secure financial stability once we get out of this rough patch, but in the meantime, if you have the means to help out, we’d really appreciate your support.

 

HOW CAN I HELP?

If you’re in the Boston area, the best way you can support us is by buying a ticket to see White Rabbit Red Rabbit. The show is running Nov 14, Nov 15, and Nov 16. Tickets are $20-$30. And if you need a reason to see the show, just check out the press and the cast.

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HOW CAN I HELP IF I’M NOT IN BOSTON?

If you’re not in Boston (or can’t make the show), you can still support us in four ways:

1/You can send us a tax-deductible donation via GoFundMe! No matter how small (honestly), we appreciate every donation. And if you’re really committed to helping us out, you can even set up a recurring payment.

 

2/You can preorder Krysten Hill’s urgent, necessary debut, How Her Spirit Got Out, which Jill McDonough praised: “These poems are a middle finger tucked into the hip pocket of your favorite dress.”

 

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3/You can subscribe to apt: three years for just $30! And issue 7 is shaping up to be great–with work by Joanna Ruocco, Sonja Condit, Gregory Crosby, and more!

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4/You can buy back issues of apt or any of our critically acclaimed, award-winning books!

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I DON’T HAVE A LOT OF TIME. CAN YOU JUST GIVE ME THE SHORT VERSION?

If you’ve ever enjoyed any of our books, or a story or poem or essay at apt, if you’ve ever attended a Literary Firsts reading, or one of our book release parties, if you’ve ever come to one of our events and had a really great time, we hope you’ll support us now that we need it most.

And if you’ve already ordered a book or bought a ticket to WRRR, thank you. We couldn’t continue running AP without your help.

With immense gratitude,

Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff
Co-Founders/Editors
Aforementioned Productions

Presale for HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT!

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We’ve been hard at work prepping Krysten Hill’s debut chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, for publication this DecemberAnd we’re thrilled to say the book is now available for preorder!

How Her Spirit Got Out is a lively, urgent song. Answering the writers whose voices raised her, Hill calls on Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, and Zora Neale Hurston to help her navigate the complicated landscape of selfhood. Hill’s speaker, wise and direct, open yet elusive, also sings for the women who brought her up: her aunt, her grandmother, and her mother. These spirits who’ve guided her life and taught her through example how black women persevere, have given her the means to bear witness to an age of racial violence. With intensity, audacity, and a darkly comic wit, Hill grapples with the question of how to fight “a city that knows you’re unarmed,” rendering each poem as a weapon and a shield, and using both for self-defense.

And some praise from the amazing Jill McDonough:

“Necessary and powerful….these poems are a middle finger tucked in the hip pocket of your favorite dress.”

And as always for our presales, we’ve got options and incentives for every budget: bundles that include broadsides, additional books (like issues of apt and chapbooks by Gillian Devereux and Michael Lynch), and copies of HHSGO with variant jewel-tone covers; poems written specifically for you; and, just in case you happen to be deeply committed to literary investments, you can also take a literary tour with Krysten to Sylvia Plath’s birthplace, Audre Lorde’s archive, and the Zora Neale Hurston house.

But most important: Krysten’s book comes with each incentive. So, check out the presale and order your copy today—this book is going to leave you breathless.

HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT, Liam Day at BBF, and a staged Aforementioned Production

Friends, it’s finally summer! We’re reading as much as we can, working on apt 7 (which is going to be astounding—fiction by Joanna Ruocco and Sonja Condit; poetry by Doug Paul Case and Gregory Crosby!), and planning a slew of upcoming projects!

Among them:

Krysten Hill’s debut poetry collection, How Her Spirit Got Out

This is going to be such an important book. As our EIC, Carissa Halston, mentioned recently at Entropy magazine: Hill “questions all the ways black women’s bodies are commodified, used, and disregarded. There’s a great amount of urgency in [her] work, not only for its political relevance, but because she renders each poem as a weapon or a shield and uses both for self-defense.”

It’ll be on shelves this December, pre-sale coming soon!

Liam Day at the Boston Book Festival

Afforded Permanence was a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award in poetry last year, so we’re so proud to have him representing AP (and AP) and the Massachusetts Poetry Fest at the Boston Book Festival this year!

Liam will be reading in Copley Square on Saturday, October 15. Keep your eyes peeled for the official schedule at the BBF site.

An exciting, nearly announced theatrical event

We’re so excited to produce a limited run of an experimental play—but we have to wait a bit longer before we can officially announce it.

But we want to give you a glimpse, so here’s what we can say so far. It’s a one-person show with a revolving cast, and it’ll feature our co-founders, Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff, alongside AP stalwart Jennifer O’Connor. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Jen perform, get ready, Boston: she’s a delight.

Be on the lookout for more info soon, on stage this fall!