Last week (Nov. 12-14), I had the honor of presenting my work at Words Beats & Life, Inc. Teach-In held at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in DC. As unapologetic advocates for the transformative power of hip-hop culture in all its forms, WBL creates arts based educational experiences that equip youth, arts managers, teaching artists and scholars (LIKE ME!) to move from theory to practice. I first came across WBL when I was looking for a journal to place my work in 2011. They published one of my first peer reviewed articles on Street Literature, and followed it up by accepting my work on Mexican Hip Hop into their Teach-In and Journal in 2013. That was also the year I meet my collaborator, Jason Nichols, who has worked with me on two forthcoming Hip Hop projects, the WBL Special Issue on Hip Hop in Brazil, which I am guest editing (forthcoming Dec. 2015) and La Verdad: The Reader of Hip Hop Latinidades, and edited volume with Ohio State University Press, due out in Fall 2016.
As a result of all the wonderful academic hip hop inspiration WBL has given me, my dissertation work this last week was at a bit of a standstill after completing my third chapter. Last year I submitted three book proposals thinking I had little chance of signing one. Last May, in a single week, three presses came back with three different book contracts. It's a blessing I would never complain about, especially after going through a traumatic breakup with my ex-fiance. Instead of being overwhelmed, I took it as a sign I was moving in the right direction. But like in that relationship, I still struggle to put myself, or my own work first. The two edited volumes, I put even in front of my own poetry book, which is still behind my dissertation. Deadlines are deadlines, and I can't let down the more than 50 authors at this point who have entrusted me with their work.
But still, a pact is a pact. Even if it is with an anonymous public. I said I would produce so much every week and I will. I've outlined the next chapter and written 3 pages singles spaced so far. Still a little behind, but I will double my focus this week. That means at least 12 pages this week. That means my baby, my diss, you are #1 this week. Everyone else, wait till I catch up next week.
xoxo - La Doctor to be Meli
Did I mention I had my first job market interview!!!
1. WBL Flyer for this years Teach-In
2. The Amazing Zuzuka Poderosa, Brazilian-BK CariocaBass artist who joined the panel.
3. The Full Brazil PANEL: Bryce Henson, Phd Candidate University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Zuzuka; Me; Mikal Amin, hip hop educator, and badass MC & Poet.
Melissa Castillo-Garsow is a Mexican American poet, fiction writer, scholar, hip hop head, former journalist, current essayist & editor working on a lot of cool stuff. She proudly lives in East Harlem. Learn more about her here.