Creative Fire in Difference: A Manifesto
Hello! My name is Marika. I am a Professor of World Literature at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, USA. I was born in Southern Italy and moved to the UK to pursue an M.A. in Gender, Society and Culture and later a Ph.D. in Literature from the Caribbean Diaspora, both at the University of London, UK.
I teach and research 20th century and contemporary postcolonial literature, particularly by migrant and diasporic writers, and speculative fiction of the uncanny, magic realism, and Afrofuturism, focusing on the strategies of resistance and ‘opacity’ (E. Glissant) employed by transnational artists and writers to challenge Western imaginaries of otherness, and create syncretic, radical spaces for themselves and their art.
I write trans-genre performative poetic collages, imbued with criticality and intercultural wit, which often create a dialogue with the authors and scholars I have interviewed ( from bell hooks to Wangechi Mutu), and draw from my experience teaching with and learning from my students.
Outside Massart, I lead creative workshops on intercultural understanding for educators and creatives. They are designed to build the interpersonal skills of curious observation, deep listening and self-reflection necessary for encountering oneself and others with dignity, specificity, complexity and with compassion. I particularly welcome the opportunity to work with creatives who straddle languages, cultures, and complex personal histories.
I am the organizer of Creative Counterpoints at MassArt, an annual series in its fifth year, devoted to the intersections of narratives of creativity and difference as investigated by visual artists, writers, public intellectuals, and other culture makers.
Two beliefs (tested on my own skin) guide my work as an educator, creative, and workshop designer and facilitator:
1. Everything around us can become raw material for our creativity, and it can feed it.
The more we trust our ability to sit, write, journal, walk quietly, the more these practices become our safe spaces, and we become responsible for honoring and protecting them.
2. The most authentic and transformative creative expression happens in the "inter" - the contact zones where our inner world grazes - and at times crashes against - the external world with its codes, conventions, demands, and possibilities. Any creative habit helps us sustain the "fire" of these contact zones, channel this fire, and use it productively.
Any encounter with values, experiences, narratives, cultures, writing styles, and personal aspirations that are not our own brings up the best and worst of ourselves. This is exactly where we come up against that "fire". Over and over. As we peel off our resistance to that fire that differences ignite in us, we begin to hone our most authentic creative voices and we put it in service of larger causes and the world itself.
I welcome you to Uprooted/Translated. It is still a work in progress, but you will find here many manifestations of these two values.