Jewelle Gomez read poetry and fiction from her acclaimed novel “The Gilda Stories” last Thursday.
“Here and Queer,” a series of literary readings by local queer writers of color, is part of an ongoing effort of the ethnic studies department to bring accomplished and diverse artists from the Bay Area to Mills.
Gomez tackled various social issues including sexuality and war while reading from her work. She introduced us to the first woman she ever came out to and read monologues describing the social atmosphere in the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Her book of poetry, “Oral Traditions,” places a heavy emphasis on socio-political issues and further marks Gomez as an author of cultural criticism.
“The life of a poet is very serendipitous,” said Gomez. “I only write about two poems a year.”
One of her most poignant pieces was a seven part poem which dealt with the Vietnam War.
“It was the first time war was seen on TV,” said Gomez. “It was the first time people of color were in war, and it was the first time people realized that men did horrible things in war.”
Gomez later read various excerpts from her book “The Gilda Stories” based on a black vampire’s journey through time in search of others like her. Gomez places Gilda, the protagonist of her book, in various contexts and places throughout history.
She read from what she describes as a “moment in Gilda’s life,” and traced Gilda’s journey through the mind of a woman unable to dream. In exchange for the blood Gilda takes from the woman’s body, she gives her the ability to dream.
Although Gilda is a blood-thirsty creature and needs human blood to survive, Gomez emphasized that she did not want Gilda to be an evil murderer.
“I didn’t want my hero to be a serial killer,” said Gomez. “So I took away the slaughter part and then sprung the idea of an exchange not a murder.”