What is chevere?
I can't help but think of Chevere as being somehow akin to Celia Cruz yelling "¡Azúcar!," so I guess what's Chevere about poetry is that it's the opportunity to more fully articulate that joyful sound ... Or needle into any sort of articulation. It's as potentially immediate and arresting as that exclamation.
In terms of my own poem, I think it's less exclamatory and more about a bright, internal hope. Chevere, and Cubans in general, are pretty optimistic, and I think that the poem's protagonist -though distraught and distracted - goes to the shaman because, at the end of the day, she's hopeful that the problem can be resolved. She's got faith, at least in him.
If you were sent to space to paint or write, which three books would you take with you?
100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire.
Tell us about your current series.
My current series is actually of silverpoint drawings of my grandmother and brother, incorporating the identity of the warrior by using swords with my grandmother, and Taino war motifs and conquistador helmets with my brother.
If you could throw a dinner party for 5 artists (or poets), dead or alive, who would they be, and what would you feed them? What would you ask them?
Maria Callas, Dolly Parton (neither Dolly nor Maria visual artists but artists in their own right), Cecilia Beaux, Gertrude Stein (she was a poet as well as a famous art collector), and Carmen Herrera. I don’t cook so I’d make them cocktails instead. I’d ask them whether perseverance within their art or love of their art was more important in their careers, or whether or not they’re one and the same.
Who would you like to have sit for you for a portrait?
My mother. She refuses, and I may have to get her drunk to do it.
Describe an abstract painting in the form of a Haiku.
Dorothy Hood, tear
Strips of paint soaked with crimson
Cursive salt spray tears.
Lauren Amalia Redding (b. 1987, Naples, Florida) is an artist and writer living and working in Astoria, Queens, New York. She received her B.A. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and her M.F.A. from the New York Academy of Art in New York, New York. Her poems have also been published by the Pen + Brush in Manhattan, and she is anticipating a solo show at Menduiña Schneider Gallery in Los Angeles in 2017. She primarily creates silverpoint drawings paying homage to her mother’s Cuban family.