Last week, BCP publisher and poet Christina Butcher recorded a podcast episode with our friends at We Art Tacoma, a podcast about the arts in Tacoma, Washington, and the story of the people behind the art.
Listen to the podcast here and enjoy a short conversation between Christina and We Art Tacoma host, Erik Hanberg, about how Blue Cactus Press got started, the literary scene in Tacoma, and who has time for their own creative writing (hint: not Christina).
For those of you unfamiliar with We Art Tacoma and the podcast network it’s a part of, let us fill you in! We Art Tacoma is a part of Channel 253, which has multiple podcasts about Tacoma, featuring conversations on art, civics, journalism and more. Check out more of their podcasts here.
A conversation with authors Yousef Allouzi & Samuel Snoek-Brown about writing, publishing, and co-creating
With the launch of The Bedouinby Yousef Allouzi and There Are No False Alarms by Samuel Snoek-Brown right around the corner, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to give readers a deeper understanding of the how’s and why’s behind the paired chapbooks and their authors. So, we asked Yousef and Sam to chat with us about their writing, the publishing process, and their relationship as writers and co-conspirators. Enjoy, friends!
Yousef Allouzi, “It’s Your Country, Too”
Q: Yousef, your essay centers on heritage and reconnecting with your family, but it also touches on racial profiling and discrimination in the U.S. Will you talk about how those themes intermingle in your writing and personal life?
A: The intermingling of heritage and family with discrimination and racial profiling has always been a part of my life. From the time I was young, I was very aware that being Arab-American was drenched in stigma, whether it be the “t word” (terrorist) or the general portrayal of Arab-Americans in pop culture and television. I lived much of my youth ashamed of my heritage. I liken it to the feeling of being poor. I can remember the first time I visited a kid’s house in a gated community back in Texas. I felt like I shouldn’t be there. No matter how many showers you take, or how expensive the clothes you are wearing, you don’t feel like you belong. So, naturally, I try and let those feelings seep into my writing.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from reading your essay?
A: The American story is a story of diversity. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s your country too. It’s become somewhat of a cliché, but history has a way of repeating itself. Our country has a very fickle relationship with civil rights during conflict, and the fallout of 9/11 was no different.
Mid-March 2020, Washington state. Too anxious to even buy seeds. Too soon to plant seeds outside. I remember what I’d started a few years ago: my desktop garden. The ends of romaine heads, the tops of carrots, the bottoms of baby bok choy. Soon I’ve got trays of vegetable scraps on my work desk.
Daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, I begin to “upcycle” (hoard) the plastic clamshell containers for strawberries, the aluminum trays and clear covers that came with our takeout dinners.