The Stories of Devil-girl is a novella which I recorded on a double CD set and released shortly before the war in Iraq broke out in 2003. It works at the crossroads of poetry and prose, and of autobiography and fiction, perhaps also of the brutal and the magical. I began writing it in 1989, perhaps pushed into it by my work then with young adults, 16-24 years old—dropouts, as they were called—at The Young Adult Learning Academy in East Harlem. I understand how thoroughly my students, whom I admit I generally adored and who taught me profound lessons, were demonized; the ills of society, as well as their own, were blamed on them even before birth. They got to be statistics before they ever let out a yowl or a giggle or a song.
I’d been cursed, too, the losses and tragedies and struggles of the parents heaped on the heads of the children. A familiar story for many people worldwide. Hence, the birth of Devil-girl. I am not sure when that name for her, for me, came about, but long before the writing began.
Now, the thing is, writing this helped me to move more fully into prose, into fiction, into the development of the voice of character and narrator, into allowing the developing point-of-view to grow through a series of short prose pieces, without, I think, leaving all of the music and compression of the poetic behind.
I know that there are writers out there who are struggling with works of mixed genre, or in between genres; works that are intensely personal and intensely political; stories of their own lives which leaped into the lives of others, and into a shock of fiction they hadn’t expected; and stories they felt to be complete inventions which somehow arrived back at the doorstep of their own lives. I know that writers are silenced by some of what they have experienced and witnessed, and that sometimes the only voice that can speak what they know is an outrageous one. You know, that inappropriate–liable to get smacked—speaking as if drunk voice—but so stone cold serious a voice, that it even scares the writer.
Maybe, to mess with George Clinton’s supreme advice, free your voice, and your mind will follow…
At any rate, if you are working at the crossroads of poetry and prose, or of autobiography and fiction; if you find your work coming forward in mixed genres (which might be just how it needs to be written); or if you have struggled or are struggling with difficult material and are birthing a wild narrative voice, please write a comment here below and share something of your experience, ask a question or share some answers.
So, to go back to the beginning, I will be bringing back the full recording of The Stories of Devil-girl and making it available for purchase as a download for your MP3 or other listening devices, your computer, or to be burned onto CDs. Details will be available on the forthcoming Devil-girl page, where you will also find links to some excerpts of the recording at no cost.
There’s more. Supporting good literature, in this case, will also mean supporting extremely worthy work in the world!
I will have listed, on the Devil-girl page, 2 organizations that do extraordinary work to improve the lives of women and children, with a link to their websites. A percentage of the proceeds from each purchase of the download of Devil-girl will go to Women for Women International http://www.womenforwomen.org/ , which helps women survivors of war build their lives, working with them in comprehensive ways, involving everything from economic development, health programs for people with HIV/AIDS, and education as to their rights, and the Somaly Mam Foundation http://www.somaly.org/, which works to combat trafficking in women and children for sex slavery, and to assist those rescued to rebuild their lives. (By the way, Somaly Mam, co-founder of AFESIP and President of AFESIP Cambodia in Phnom Penh, has also written her autobiography, The Road to Innocence.)
Somaly Mam is one of the CNN Heroes; you can see a video of her at http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/specials/2007/06/29/heroes.somaly.man.pt1.cnn
Some more details about The Stories of Devil-girl. The original cover for the CDs, which you will see on the forthcoming Devil-girl page, was designed and illustrated by Teri Micco, an extraordinary painter and graphic artist in New Mexico, who took some of the material bits and pieces and images of my life to make a cover that is durable art. A painting by Gary Jefferson in New Mexico was one of the elements also present in the many many layers Teri created to make the stunning cover. Teri also helped to edit the manuscript, and gave profound feedback which helped to shape it.
At, any rate, it’s time for Devil-girl to be heard again. More on this in a while.