DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland

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$19.95  $18.35
Equidistance Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 0.53 X 9.0 inches | 0.76 pounds
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About the Author

Judy Juanita's poetry collection, Manhattan my ass, you're in Oakland, won the American Book Award 2021 from the Before Columbus Foundation, Her poetry has been published in Konch, 13th Moon, Asili, Drumvoices, Glint, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Poetry, Painted Bride Quarterly, Lips, Crab Orchard Review, Croton Review and Obsidian II. Her poem Bling was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. Her semi-autobiographical novel, Virgin Soul, is about a young woman who joins the Black Panther Party in the 60s (Viking, 2013). Her collection of essays, DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland [EquiDistance, 2016], examines race, gender, politics and spirituality, as experienced by a black activist and self-described feminist foot soldier. It won distinguished finalist in OSU's 2016 Non/Fiction Prize, and favorable reviews in Kirkus and KONCH. Her essay, The Gun as Performance Poem, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. Her plays have been produced in the San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, L.A. and NYC. Theodicy, about two black men who accidentally fall into the river of death, was first runner-up in the Eileen Heckart Senior Drama Competition at OSU. A former Poet-in-the-Schools in New Jersey, she teaches writing at Laney College in Oakland. Winner of the Tartt Fiction Prize at the University of West Alabama, her short story collection, The High Price of Freeways, will be published by Livingston Press in 2022.


from Karen Kevorkian, poet, Lizard Dreams: Judy Juanita's essay collection surveys the heady time when the Black Panther Party, "30 black men, armed to the teeth and dressed in the signature berets and leather jackets," spoke more loudly than any verbal description of the BPP ever could. The canonical phrase "off the pigs" was similarly efficient, adding to Juanita's early lessons in the effective economies of image and language, and no doubt having more than a little to do with her longstanding dedication to writing poetry. Instructed that poetry had absolutely no commodity value, she set herself to acquiring fluency in playwriting and literary fiction, to which her performed plays and published novel testify. This portrait of the artist as a young black woman sees her exposed to the coded bullshit of writing workshops and the merciless hierarchizing that occurs in any group of writers. Admirably, she asks herself what is to be learned, how her work might benefit. She refuses, with stunning clearheadedness, to personalize casual dismissals and indifference, and notes that women artists "were hard working, self-sacrificing, generous, often defiantly unhappy and did their own shitwork." She writes, "I concluded early on that being an artist was damaging to one's own life and to loved ones." The question became for her, as for so many artists, how to live a balanced life AND pursue writing. And did I mention that along the way she worked at stand-up comedy? And has considered opinions about the sexuality of black men and her lack of interest in the chick lit and gangsta lit that characterize a segment of writing by black authors? What a woman. What a life.