Anaïs Duplan is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Take This Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016) and a chapbook, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus (Monster House Press, 2017). Their poems and essays have appeared in Hyperallergic, on PBS News Hour, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, Fence, Boston Review, The Journal, and in other publications. Duplan is also an artist and curator who has facilitated exhibitions at the Distillery Gallery, Elastic Arts, Disjecta, the Radical Abacus, Public Space One, and at Mengi in Reykjavík, Iceland. Their visual works have appeared or are forthcoming in group exhibitions at Flux Factory, Thomas Robertello Gallery, Daata Editions, the 13th Baltic Triennial in Lithuania, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in LA. Anaïs is the founder of the Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program for artists of color in Iowa City and is the joint Public Programs Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
My composition is this: I am strange, I am brown. I am a permanent resident alien from 1992 to 2015. In 2015, I am “naturalized.”
At the head of Aristide’s third presidency, in 2001, I move to Havana with my mother. We live in a hotel occupied entirely by other foreign diplomats and wealthy Cuban government officials. There is a pool at the bottom of the stairs. Three years later, we receive threatening letters in the mail urging us to leave Cuba. This is the onset of the 2004 coup d’état in Haiti. The new regime replaces the old cabinet.
I learn to use the word ‘diaspora’ from a Russian immigrant named Dilyara in Seattle’s Chinatown in the year 2012. I also learn the word ‘statelessness.’
A friend, whom I love, dies in the middle of January 2014. Prior to his death, I write poems about estrangement, womanhood, statelessness, and dead animals. After his death, nothing changes, except that now I contemplate what it means to be angry at someone for dying. This is, as far as I’m concerned, a riddle. I try to understand loss. I do this by way of the Afrofuturists and by imagining the Saturnalian people from which the jazz musician Sun Ra claimed to have descended. To be an alien means to be in a permanent state of loss, but to be unsure what you have lost.
In 2016, I launched The Center for Afrofuturist Studies, &c.
agduplan [at] gmail [dot] com