april 4, 2024 Volume 003
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I don't know about you but I am ready for summer. It's raining out as I write this note and all I can think about is the amazing, spicy mangosteen salad at Tong, that briefly transported me back to warm island vibes. A few us of feasted here before heading to the Priya Ragu show earlier this week and wow, the dishes were all great. It's not a new spot but definitely add it to your list if you're in the Bushwick area. And speaking of restaurants, anyone been to Kanyakumari yet? A fairly new South Indian spot in Union Square. I've added it to my list to check out. I always have food on my mind. 😌
I'll keep my note short this week but please be sure to read through the newsletter as we're giving away two poetry books in celebration of National Poetry Month. Also, it's been a minute since we did a book giveaway! If you're curious, you can browse our hashtag #LilithNYCxBookClub for all our past author spotlights and giveaways.
Shoes On. Eyes Open. 
weekly highlight—
My highlight this past weekend was visiting my friend's parents home in Long Island and seeing how her mother has built an incredible indoor germination setup in her living room (last photo^). What I love about immigrant parents is their ability to bring a bit of “back home” to where ever they are in the world. In this case, all the beautiful vegetation and flora in their backyards, no matter how small or large the space. Immigrant backyards in Queens put CSAs to shame and in the summers I always enjoy the exchange of fruits and vegetables across neighborhood homes ranging from grapes, fresh figs, heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, persimmons, and perhaps too much bitter melon. 🍆🍓🍒🍇🥦🥒🥕🥬
I don't think folks stop and appreciate the effects and benefits of these green spaces in an otherwise concrete jungle. I read recently that the city of Medellín has successfully reduced the average temperatures of the city by two degrees through their Green Corridor initiative. But I would think overall mental health has likely improved for its population as well. Imagine if immigrant parents and their green thumbs were in charge of cultivating green spaces throughout the city? Y'all are not ready for their impact! 🌿🌱
In the same vein, this piece in T Magazine explores the work of the Brazilian landscape architect Isabel Duprat, who is deeply influenced by Roberto Burle Marx, the landscape architect who shaped Brazil's architecture and public spaces since the 1930s. (Early Lilith followers may remember this post we shared on him a few years back - the photo always make me smile!) 
Interestingly, much of Duprat's gorgeous garden projects are privately commissioned for residential projects. In São Paulo, she says, “when leaves fall, people hate it. When flowers [drop on their windshields], they hate it. [But] we destroy the Amazon and no one does anything about it.” The connection, for her, is clear: By living without green space and locking ourselves in climate-controlled buildings, we disrupt the cycles of death and rebirth that shape our world.
Click thru if only for the photos of her gorgeous gardens!
Fatimah Asghar is a queer, Pakistani, Kashmiri, Muslim American poet, novelist, and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls. Their latest book When We Were Sisters was published in October 2022 and was longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2022.
Orphaned as a child, Fatimah Asghar grapples with coming of age and navigating questions of sexuality and race without the guidance of a mother or father. These poems at once bear anguish, joy, vulnerability, and compassion, while also exploring the many facets of violence: how it persists within us, how it is inherited across generations, and how it manifests itself in our relationships. In experimental forms and language both lyrical and raw, Asghar seamlessly braids together marginalized people’s histories with her own understanding of identity, place, and belonging.
Safia Elhillo, Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and an Arab American Book Award, Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House, 2022), and the novel in verse Home Is Not A Country (Make Me A World/Random House, 2021), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and received a Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor. 
In Girls That Never Die, award-winning poet Safia Elhillo reinvents the epic to explore Muslim girlhood and shame, the dangers of being a woman, and the myriad violences enacted and imagined against women's bodies. Drawing from her own life and family histories, as well as cultural myths and news stories about honor killings and genital mutilation, she interlaces the everyday traumas of growing up a girl under patriarchy with magical realist imaginings of rebellion, autonomy, and power. 
During one of my walks around the neighborhood, I stopped by The World's Borough Bookstore (in Jackson Heights, in case you haven't been!) wanting to pick up some books for myself and to do a little giveaway for the newsletter. I came across If They Come For Us and Girls That Never Die, both poetry books with stunning covers. Unbeknownst to me, until the lovely shop owner Adrián informed me, it was National Poetry Month, which made the books the perfect choice for this week's giveaway! 
It was actually my first time coming across Safia Elhillo's work. The cover with Hassan Hajjaj's work immediately caught my eye, as I had attended his ‘Kesh Angels show nearly a decade ago at a small gallery in Tribeca. When I got home that afternoon, I took to google to learn more about Safia and came across an interview where Fatimah Asghar and Safia were in conversation about the significance of Hajjaj’s work and the importance of centering Muslim femmes. The two have even co-edited a book of poems, titled Halal If You Hear Me, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3
Onto the giveaway details: 
Please reply to this email with any thoughts, feedback, or suggestions for this newsletter by 6pm EST on Monday, April 8th. We're not looking for anything long, just a quick pulse on how you're feeling about it: Are you enjoying it? Is it too long? Are there any topics you'd like us to explore or discuss? 
We'll pick two winners at random and will reach out by Tuesday, April 9th to ask for shipping details. Good luck and hope you enjoy these works! :)
     This initiative is led by Conservation International Aotearoa and is focused on delivering Iwi/Māori-led ocean solutions. 🐳
     Insightful read on the community’s social and economic marginalization and the affects of climate change as it relates to their livelihoods
     The Dean Collection is on view thru July at the Brooklyn Museum
     Fascinating read on damaged subsea internet cables in the Red Sea
     The blossoms looked gorgeous at Prospect Park last year! 🌸
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Death of an Artist, which launched Fall 2022, explores the possible role and involvement of sculptor Carl Andre in the death of his wife, the Cuban artist, Ana Mendieta. I came to learn of Ana Mendieta a few years back through a friend who showed me photos of her work as we were browsing the MoMA one afternoon. Her name didn't pop up in my orbit again until January 2024, when I read a tweet that linked to Carl Andre's obituary and where most comments were calling out his involvement in Mendieta's death. Others simply responded with Where is Ana Mendieta? Donde esta Ana Mendieta?”, a nod to NYU's 2010 symposium of the same name, commemorating the 25th anniversary of her death. This inevitably led me to down a rabbit hole to learn more where I then stumbled upon this podcast.  
Beyond the typical true crime nature of the podcast, this series sheds light on the overwhelming white supremacist culture that is alive and well in the art world and how racism even played a role in the murder trial. Defense lawyers painted Ana Mendieta as a “tempestuous and hot-headed Latina” and even used the spiritual nature of her work against her - her work deeply influenced by Afro-Cuban rituals, Catholicism, the divine femme goddesses of Santeria, and overall themes of death and mortality. 
Was the famous sculptor Carl Andre involved in the death of his up-and-coming artist wife Ana Mendieta? For over 35 years, accusations of murder shrouded one of the art world’s most storied couples.

They were a textbook case of opposites attract. Andre was famous, rich, white, and within the small coterie of the art world, powerful. Mendieta was a Cuban refugee, a diminutive woman, working at the edge of the Avant Garde. Just months after their wedding, Andre called 911 saying they had a fight and Mendieta “went out the window” of their 34th floor apartment.
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