Nepantla celebrates queer poets of color


A diverse lineup of established and up-and-coming queer poets of color will be taking over the Loft Literary Center on Saturday for a reading co-hosted by Graywolf Press and Coffee House Press. The event will celebrate the launch of the second edition of the poetry e-journal Nepantla. The evening features performances by five poets, including Anaïs Deal-Márquez, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Erin Sharkey, and Danez Smith.   

An Aztec word that describes the space between things, "nepantla" is a term that was embraced by a number of Chicano and Latino feminist writers, including scholar Gloria Anzaldúa, to talk about people living in conflict between different cultures. Nepantla launched last year, in collaboration with Lamda Literary, and is headed up by editor Christopher Soto. Nepantla has set up different regional and representative chairs around the country to ensure greater access to their journal, including representatives from transgender and gender non-conforming communities, incarcerated people of color, youth, and more.

“We are also one of the few journals who still pay their poets,” Soto says, adding that they don’t charge a submission fee.

One of the goals of the event is to “put black poets in conversation with Indigenous and Latino poets, coming from that place of inclusiveness as opposed to a place of being separate,” Justin Phillip Reed, who is curating Saturday’s gathering. “We’re trying to kind of build a network so we can have conversations about things affecting all of us.”

Reed hopes that the event will be a chance to build community, and not just a reading. “We are really trying to meet people, to bridge some gaps that need to be built.” 

One of the more well-known poets to be reading is Danez Smith, who has recently gained a lot of attention in the area. “He’s a really forceful reader,” says Reed. “And he’s fun to be around.” His work focuses on violence against young black men, and autobiographical bits about being young, black, and queer. Smith authored the award-winning [insert] Boy, and has a book coming out soon with Graywolf Press.

Danez Smith

Danez Smith

"[The rest of the reading will be] a pretty diverse event thematically,” Reed says, “with a focus on queer people of color, and identity themes that arise out of that.”


Nepantla reading

Saturday, August 15, at 7 p.m.

Loft Literary Center

1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis

$5-$15 suggested donation