It was a packed room for our panel at LA Harbor College on Tuesday, April 25th discussing the importance of multicultural representation in speculative literature that afternoon. I had driven down four hours from Merced, California and my duties as a Visiting Artist in order to speak with the students and faculty on the subject of science fiction being for everyone.
Held in Tech 110, I was presenting with Stephanie Brown, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Jaymee Goh, Gregg Castro and Steven Barnes. It was a great line-up with some touching comments that drew on diverse fields of knowledge and experience, from the work and influence of Nnedi Okorafor and Octavia Butler, to the way readers and writers have been brought into the world of science fiction not only in the US but around the world, with a strong highlight on the appeal of steampunk and afrofuturism.
During my portion of the panel I focused on a discussion of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and had the honor of previous SFPA president Deborah Kolodji in attendance as well as fellow SFPA member and community builder Denise Dumars facilitating the conversation, particularly in regards to Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. To demonstrate the potential of what speculative poetry can do, I read two examples from our international membership for the audience: "How to Train your Velociraptors" by Rohinton Daruwala and "El superhéroe se ha ahorcado" by Campos Ricardo Burgos Lopez, translated by Fred W. Bergmann. We definitely got the point across, based on the conversations I had afterwards with everyone.
My thanks to everyone who made this wonderful afternoon possible!