giovanni singleton, a former debutant and native of Richmond, VA, is a fan of figs and Greek-style yogurt, and a collector of bookmarks. She is also founding editor of nocturnes (re)view, a journal dedicated to innovative and experimental work of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces.
D. Scot Miller is a Bay Area writer, visual artist, teacher, curator and a regular contributor to The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Mosaic Magazine and others. He sits on the board of directors of nocturnes (re)view
singleton will read from her recently completed manuscript, ascension, which is informed by the music and life of Alice Coltrane.
D. Scot will read from his manuscript, cool, and selections of his novel, Knot Frum Hear, both of which are very sexy.
Open mic following.
D. Scott Miller: In what ways does truth - however you define it - enter into your work?
giovanni singleton: Not sure if truth of my own making/definition enters into my work. Such has proven to be a rather nasty stumbling block in previous writing endeavors. The work, I feel, brings a certain truth along with it. And it isn't always pleasant, reasonable, recognizable, or even coherent to me. Honesty and trust are perhaps more my domain.
DSM:Reading your work, particularly ascension, I'm struck by the dream-like nature of your imagery. How do dreams play within your work? How do you capture the ethereal quality of a dream or translate it into something accessible to the reader?
gs: Those are good questions. Tough. I often find playing in the back of my mind the lyrics of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, the last line of which is "Life is but a dream." What I am interested in are ways in which it might be possible to give "dream" and "reality" equal weight and measure. Neither is elevated above the other. I'd like to see/think of them as being both plausible and implausible. I am reminded of the Lankavatara Sutra's words "Things are not as they seem nor or they otherwise." This then dismantles the dualistic relationship between dream and reality. I like that open field. Dreams can be useful when not appended to Hope and Fear which again makes for a field that's open. I think an ethereal quality is somewhat necessary in order to deal with struggle and with its cessation. Impermanence as well as a connection/recognition of something greater than the "I" is also in the language of dream or the ethereal. No real in unreal. No real in real either.
DSM: Boundaries (between artist and subject, reader and writer, subject and object, object and other) sometimes seem to disappear in your larger pieces. Is this intentional or just a by-product of your process?
gs: In most instances in a life, good boundaries are important. Mind the fence. However, it is a big relief when the veil drops away and reveals the interconnectedness that holds the universe together. I wasn't aware that working on larger/longer pieces allowed for this to happen but I suppose it does. It's the removal of excess. Spaciousness is amazing canvas, I think. Erasable too.
As a participating artist in the current AAWAA show at SOMArts, I was asked to write a dedication. The artists were asked to answer "who inspires you? and how"
My earliest desire to be an artist was wanting to emulate my father. To be like him was to draw him back to me.
I have favorite famous artists- Wifredo Lam, Louise Bourgeois, Picasso, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor-
but the people who inspire me most are the people I know.
I want to live like Paulette Baker, focus like Danny Cao, care like Targol Mesbah, dream like Kaisik Wong, swim like Jade Brooks with the patience of Walter Kitundu, the fire of Ali Dadgar, the thoughtfulness of Peter Maravelis, the tirelessness of Douglas Ewart, the joy of Carei Thomas and the intuition of Paul Yamazaki. I want to paint the music of David Boyce and the poetry of D. Scot Miller.
I am nourished by the brilliance and loving support of my family of friends. Those above, James Earle, Gary Stenger, Julie Lindow, Shashari Kiburi, Elaine Kahn, Juan Fernandez, Tad Coughenour, and of course...my mother.