Red Hen Recommends, Author Edition: Mask. Social distance. No party.
Yu-Han Chao, author of Sex & Taipei City
I’m a Red Hen author and a hospital nurse who also does some contact tracing for public health. I won’t pretend to be an expert or try to tell you what to do with your life, but if you care about the future of the human race, please help us.
Yes, you–Dear Reader–can personally save the world.
All you have to do is stay at home as much as possible, wear a mask when you leave your home, maintain a 6 feet distance from other people if you can, and not host or attend that upcoming 4th of July block party in your neighborhood.
I would rather not see you and your loved ones in a rubber-banded stack of “4th of July party outbreak” positive case files and have to call all of you about isolation or quarantine, and worry when someone cannot answer the phone because they are already in a hospital. I would love to support you in the hospital if you need medical attention for any number of health matters (please do come in if you need help), but would rather not see you or any of your loved ones come in with difficulty breathing and end up having to be transferred to the ICU and placed on a breathing machine, especially if it is preventable. And it is preventable. Not 100% preventable, but preventable in the way that if you skip that party or wear a mask consistently, you might save someone’s grandma or baby or mother, father, sister, or cousin, through the butterfly effect. We could discuss the R number or exponential algorithms on a graph, but I think most of us understand the subtlety of the butterfly effect better. One small action by you can change the fate of the universe.
You can do this. You can change the world. Mask. Social distance. No party.
Feel free to check out my story collection, too, which has nothing to do with health topics or the rona. Your act of purchasing any Red Hen book will have the butterfly effect of supporting Red Hen’s amazing staff and diverse authors, and hopefully help us all stay in print for another year (and what a year it has been)!
Author of Sex & Taipei City
Matty Layne Glasgow, author of deciduous qween
I spent the first weekend of February driving through the Midwest for a couple of readings with one of my mentors, Deb Marquart, and her two floppy-eared pups. At our last stop in Madison, Deb bestowed upon me Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Donna Haraway’s most recent book on reconfiguring our relationship with the Earth and all its inhabitants. In short, Haraway abandons the hip, human-centric term of our era—the Anthropocene—for a vision grounded in multiplicity known as the Chthulucene. A process integral to the Chthulucene is sym-poiesis, or making-with, because, as Haraway explains, “Nothing makes itself.”
Perhaps nothing renders the interconnectivity of our world and our time, of the Chthulucene itself, in starker relief than a pandemic—both in how a virus spreads and what we lose when we isolate ourselves physically from one another and the outside world. The current pandemic is certainly among the many crises we face in our epoch, in addition to multispecies extinctions, genocides, and exterminations, which Haraway describes as urgencies. She prefers the term urgency to emergency because it avoids the implication of apocalypse and all its mythologies. Still, we live in an epoch of urgency, and these crises alter the way we experience time itself.
Since reading Miller Oberman’s The Unstill Ones last fall—an exquisite poetry collection that explores queer temporality and translation—I’ve grown increasingly interested in and fascinated by the queering of time and space. Perhaps this interest in alternative understandings and experiences of time and space is what makes Haraway’s work so fascinating for me these days. Haraway writes “Urgencies have other temporalities, and these times are ours. These are the times we must think; these are the times of urgencies that need stories.” For Haraway, these are stories of trees and symbioses, of diners and restaurateurs alike. For today, I’ll add poems and poets to the list, too.
I feel the urgency of our epoch in so much fine queer poetry today. In recent months I’ve turned to poets who inspire me through their rendering of queer temporalities, environments, and histories. Their respective collections embrace racial justice, queer ecology, multiplicity, desire, and an interconnectivity inherent to making-with:
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Red Channel in the Rupture by Amber Flora Thomas
Next up on my reading list are Roy Guzmán’s debut Catrachos and Eduardo Corral’s forthcoming Guillotine.
Wishing y’all a queerly joyous Pride. Stay with the trouble. Make kin. And remember, the first Pride was a protest. If we can imagine a system that is not grounded in white supremacy and toxic masculinity, we can make it—together.
June 19 – Juneteenth
Douglas Manuel, author of Testify
As we wait for justice for Rayshard Brooks, as we wait for justice for Tony McDade, as we wait for justice for George Floyd, as we wait for justice for Breonna Taylor, as we wait for justice for Ahmaud Arbery, as we wait for justice for all those slain since 1619, (The list is a long scroll that I’d like to unfurl across the country from sea to shining sea.) as we wait for more funding for BIPOC communities instead of more funding for the police departments, as we wait for white folks to recognize our humanity or at least not kill us so casually with hands in their pockets or by shooting us in the back, I am thinking about all those slaves in Texas working the land, longing for freedom, and only thinking it would come in an afterlife. So much of our history here in this country is about waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. But that’s not the whole story. We’ve been resisting. We’ve been revolting. We’ve been raging. We’ve been yelling. We’ve been demanding. We’ve been punching power with the truth. We’ve been marching. We’ve been in these streets since Crispus Attucks. We have survived.
So this Juneteenth, as I wear red, eat barbecue, watermelon, and red velvet cake, and sip my red pop, I will revisit Ralph Ellison’s novel and know that we will never have to wait for some white man to tell us that we’re free again. This Juneteenth, I will remember those slaves who were working, not waiting, and do some work myself to ensure that we not only survive but also thrive. And I kindly demand that you do the same.
Continue reading “Red Hen Recommends: Authors Edition!”
Four Black writers talk back on solidarity, history, representation, freedom, justice, and how to support sustainable transformation in our literary communities.
Dana Johnson, Moderator
We at Red Hen are outraged at the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many Black Americans before them senselessly killed at the hands of law enforcement officers paid to protect and serve.
The untreated symptoms of systemic racism are an embarrassment to a country that prides itself on principles of freedom and equality. To ensure lasting change, we must examine our own biases, face the ugly truths of racial injustice, and actively change the world in which we live in, be it through donations to anti-racist organizations, calling your local politicians, or voting with your ballots and wallets.
We have thought carefully about how to occupy space on social media to support the cause during this time. With the exception of two publication announcements, this week we will exclusively celebrate and amplify the incredible work of Black authors and poets.
As James Baldwin said in No Name in the Street, “Well, if one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected—those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most!—and listens to their testimony.”
In solidarity, the staff of Red Hen Press wish all our friends love, peace, justice, and a country in which racial injustice is no longer tolerated.
We see you. We hear you. We are with you.
Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull
Co-founders of Red Hen Press
We hope this finds you and yours healthy and safe.
Red Hen Press remains, as ever, dedicated to helping our communities, local and global, through the power of literature. We have been monitoring the situation and made the decision last week to pause our internship program and have staff members work remotely as part of our response to the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, all workshops, readings, and events that were scheduled by Red Hen through the end of April are being shifted to virtual platforms or postponed. We will continue to follow any guidelines, recommendations, or mandates as set forth by the CDC and our local, state, and federal governments so we can do our part to help flatten the curve and lessen the spread of the virus.
Though we may be working from our own individual Hen Houses right now, the Red Hen Press team continues, tirelessly, to bring untold, moving, and necessary stories to you. We will weather this storm together and are coming up with new and innovative ways to bring our authors to you. We’re also keeping an eye on the amazing opportunities and supportive communities that have come together during our time of social distancing to ensure that though we are physically apart, we are never far from each others’ hearts.
As we hatch our plans, stay tuned for virtual reading announcements and book sales while we continue our work of providing literature and events to the community:
Check out our Red Hen Recommends blog for updates, virtual events, and recommendations on books and activities while you practice your social distancing. We’ll update this every other day with new recs, tips, and sales!