the monumental misrememberings, by mimi tempestt.

by Mar 2, 2021Interviews

Mimi Tempestt (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist, poet, and daughter of California. She has a MA in Literature from Mills College, and is currently a doctoral student in the Creative/Critical PhD in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her debut collection of poems, the monumental misrememberings, is published with Co-Conspirator Press (2020). She was chosen for Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices for poetry in 2021, and is currently a creative fellow at The Ruby in San Francisco. Her works can be found in Foglifter, Chaparral Press, Interim Poetics, and Honey Literary.

Poetry Editor Michal “MJ” Jones discussed the monumental misrememberings with poet, writer, and artist Mimi Tempestt.

This book begins with a question – where did all the Black girls go? – What led you to answer this question? What haunts you about this question and its answers?

 

The question is definitely haunting, and it’s one that came out of a series of conversations with some of my closest friends: a group of Black femmes, who seemed to be trading horror stories about things they read or heard or even experienced. So that question was formulated from those interactions. But the question in the book, for me, feels more like a mirror. We know where all the Black girls went and are going, we just don’t want to admit that to ourselves, because it’s easier to forget.

 

Can you share about the journey of creating this book – compiling all of its poems, visuals, diagrams, etc. How did you pull together your different artistic creation processes for this final product? 

 

I didn’t intend to write this book (at first). The book chose to write itself through me. The names, stories, and faces of most of the Black women and girls came from a heavily researched archive that I created for over a year. I would collect articles, pictures, urban legends/oral histories, essays, statistics, etc. And from there, their voices began to trickle through me, in addition to my own stories and histories. I was heavily influenced by Giovanni Singleton’s american letters, and I had the privilege of working with Truong Tran, who encouraged my failures and successes in creating my own process, and it all came through in this body of work. I also believe visuals, diagrams, symbols, and memes have a way of facilitating variant meanings that aren’t readily available to readers. I like my readers to dance a bit when engaging with my work. I enjoy abstract thinking and conceptual contemporary art (It’s a form that I wish to grow within and master), and tried to work that in with this project.

 

There is so much in this work about naming/renaming, erasure, and claiming of Black girlhood and womanhood. What are you naming yourself? What narratives that you have been told about yourself are you re-writing?

 

That’s a good question. I’m turning 30 in 4 months, so that question has been coming up for me a lot lately. This is going to sound wild, I anticipate that some readers will tsk at this answer, but at my core, I am god. I’m one of many many many expressions of this universe. I’m also Mimi Tempestt, who I have always said is a concept: An experiment, a performance. I’m a Black daughter. I’m a big sister. I’m a friend. A lover. An artist. A writer. A teacher. A student. 

 

I’m a dope ass Black woman. 

But at the end of the day, I’m just Mia. I spend most of my time by myself, figuring out ways to express my love for living, out loud. 

 

What do you find yourself “working on” during these times? (This can be interpreted widely – what you’re working on artistically, spiritually, etc.)

 

The tentative title of my current working project is:

 

a series of untitled poems on metapoetics in nigga theory 

or 

(on white voyeurism and the luxury of writing about not a damn thing) 

or 

(how to pick up the pen when you know a nigga prolly-likely got shot by a pig today) 

or 

(this ain’t a collection of poems, i’m just spitting my mind’s fuck down the river of god)

 

The readers of this interview can do with that title what they will.

Thank you to Mimi Tempestt! You can order the monumental misremembering here.

 

 

 

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Wow! We had the best time at this past Sunday's reading with the San Francisco Public Library Thank you so much to our fantastic readers—@emo.ocean (Lio Min), @real_james_cagney, @charliejaneanders, and Lydia Elias—for sharing their incredible writing and starting a warm dialogue on the importance of queer spaces.We'd also like to give a huge shoutout to the amazing folks who helped make our event as accessible as possible! Thank you to our ASL interpreters Heidi Woelbling and Benny Llamas, and to our live-captioner Jen Schuck. We're so grateful for your hard work!Keep an eye out for a recording of this event on the SFPL Youtube page! We'll announce when it's ready. Until then, please go follow and support these writers and their work!Image Description: A screenshot of a Zoom room with Lio Min, James Cagney, Lydia Elias, and Charlie Jane Anders. They are all smiling and listening to each other. There is some closed captioning towards the bottom, that says "I'm really struck by how much vulnerability you all shared. As a writer, I'm curious how you know when you're ready to put a story to the page?" End description. ... See MoreSee Less
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Our virtual reading with the San Francisco Public Library is tomorrow! Join us at 2PM PT for Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling.This fantastic event will feature James Cagney, Lio Min, Charlie Jane Anders, and Lydia Elias! RSVP here: on.sfpl.org/foglifterFoglifter is excited to collaborate with @sfpubliclibrary for Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling! Join us on Sunday, September 25th at 2PM PT for a virtual reading with @charliejaneanders, @emo.ocean, @real_james_cagney, Lydia Elias. In mainstream society, when we hear the word "generations" we may immediately presume biological progeniture. In the Queer/trans community, however, generations can refer to chosen family, drag mothers, drag dads, ball houses, aesthetic legacies, just to name a few. In either context, generations suggest an era. Foglifter has invited four writers—Charlie Jane Anders, James Cagney, Lydia Elias, and Lio Min—who span generations to illustrate their "era" and the power of queer/trans literature. Live-captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. RSVP here: on.sfpl.org/foglifterSee you then! Image Description: This is an invitation for the reading, “Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling,” presented by the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center & Foglifter Journal and Press. This free and virtual reading will take place on Sunday, September 25th at 2PM PT. The photos of James Cagney, Lio Min, Charlie Jane Anders, and Lydia Elias are in the middle of the graphic. The SFPL and Foglifter logos are on the bottom. This background has a colorful gradient of pastel hues and various shapes and swirls, with a square containing all of the text and photos in the middle. ... See MoreSee Less
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WWS Around Town: This Saturday join this workshop with traci kato-kiriyama (@traciakemi) at @BBLitArts from 12pm-4pm.

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