Michelle Cliff (1946-2016) was a remarkable writer who claimed many identities she was taught to despise: Lesbian, Black, Woman, Jamaican.
She wrote powerful novels, essays, stories, and poems that make us rethink what it means to love, to hope, and to have community. She also carved space for same-sex loving and diverse sexualities in the Caribbean by representing our desires fiercely and by being deeply rooted in place. She continues to inspire us to write our stories, our sense of self, in fire.
A theory in the flesh means one where the physical realities of our lives – our skin color, the land or concrete we grew up on, our sexual longings ― all fuse to create a politic born out of necessity.
― “Claiming An Identity They Taught Me To Despise”
Who can say how many lives have been saved by books?
― Everything Is Now: New and Collected Stories
It was Zoe, and Zoe alone, I thought of. She snapped into my mind, and I remembered no one else. Through the greens and blues of the riverbank. The flame of the red hibiscus in front of my grandmother’s house.
― If I Could Write This In Fire
We are pleased to present this collection of “Tributes to Michelle Cliff” that we call “Write It In Fire” as a direct response to her call for all of us to write and right ourselves, our stories, our places, our identities with fierceness and fire.
Write It In Fire honors Michelle Cliff with prose, poetry, and images of visual art and performance. Some of these tributes includes personal interactions with her, while others are from people who never met Cliff but have interacted deeply with her work. We wanted to celebrate her life in this collection (called love, hope, and community) because she inspired so many of us to engage and create with love and hope for a Caribbean community that would include those of us who live on the margins (of race, class, gender, sex, and sexuality). Many of us read and saw ourselves in her fiction and poetry for the first time. Indeed, some of us were saved by her words, her books, her fire.
Angelique V. Nixon & Rosamond S. King
Co-Directors of the Caribbean IRN
Write It In Fire: Tributes to Michelle Cliff
- Antonia McDonald, “A Tribute to Michelle Cliff” (Prose)
- Cheryl Boyce Taylor, “Saints Singing Pretty”; “What Her Hands Brought”; “When my White Lady Friend…”; “For The Chibok Girls” (Poetry)
- Alexis DeVeaux & Sokari Ekine, “Breath Erotic” (Visual Story)
- Rosamond S. King, “Tiney Winey” (Performance Art – still shots)
- Ana Maurine-Lara, “Gazing across time at myself” & “Diary of Two Black Girls…” (Poetry)
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs, “The First” (Prose)
- Anique Jordan, “Blue Birth Beloved” (Still Performance)
- Katherine Agyeman-Agard, “The River” (Prose)
- Angelique V. Nixon, “Troubling Identities” (Video – Digital Collage Art & Poetry)
- Gabrielle Civil, “...hewn & forged…” (Performance Art – still shots)
- Monique Roffey, “Fever Diary” (Short Fiction)
- Shanice Smith, “Women are the Currency of the Day” (Artwork – Digital Art & Photography)
- Shaunee Morgan, “Summer” (Poem)