Posts Tagged ‘cheryl b.’

Protected: Grief. Also, Trying to Find My Awesome Place

October 23, 2012  |  journal entries, miscellany  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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Announcing “My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B.”

June 30, 2012  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment

Topside Press announces the release of “My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B” … I don’t know what else to say.

Contact: Katie Liederman
Media Representative, Topside Press
+1 212 457-5660
[email protected]

“MY AWESOME PLACE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHERYL B” TO BE PUBLISHED BY TOPSIDE SIGNATURE

Official Publication Date October 23, 2012

New York, NY (June 26, 2012) – Topside Press imprint Topside Signature has today announced that October 23, 2012 will be the official release date of My Awesome Place: The Autobiography Of Cheryl B, the highly anticipated book by poet and curator Cheryl Burke based on the manuscript that remained incomplete at the time of the author’s death in 2011. The autobiography offers a rare authentic glimpse into the electrifying arts scene of New York City’s East Village during the vibrant 1990s, through the eyes of the young writer during her rise to prominence as the spoken word artist known as Cheryl B.

In the months following her death, members of Burke’s close-knit writing group, who had met continuously for nine years, worked to compile her drafts, essays and emails into a completed manuscript which was eventually synthesized into its final form by Burke’s close friend, novelist Sarah Schulman. The book’s narrative, from a liminal space between fiction and memoir, tracks her struggle to translate her working class New Jersey roots and define herself as an artist against the backdrop of an unforgiving city, a series of disastrous girlfriends and boyfriends and an intense, intimate relationship with drugs and alcohol. By the time Burke emerged, sober, in 2001, she had witnessed–and made major contributions to– one of the most remarkable artistic transformations that New York City has ever experienced.

“Historians are only just now beginning to deal with the transformations in art and culture that the East Village experienced in the 1990s,” said publisher Tom Léger. “My Awesome Place will quickly earn a place as a seminal text from this turbulent period in American art.”

Cheryl Burke (1972-2011) was a journalist, poet, performer and playwright who came of age in the vibrant 1990s East Village art scene. Her performances at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Bowery Poetry Club, the National Arts Club, P.S. 122, St. Marks Poetry Project established Burke as a young luminary and during her career she performed at venues throughout the US and abroad. Her work was published in Ping Pong, BUST, KGB Bar Lit, Go Magazine, Velvet Park, a dozens of other journals and magazines, and anthologized in Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution (Seal Press, 2007), Reactions 5 (Pen & Inc, 2005), The Milk of Almonds: Italian-American Women Writers on Food & Culture (Feminist Press, 2002), The World in Us (St. Martins Press, 2000), Pills, Thrills, Chills and Heartache (Alyson Books, 2004), His Hands, His Tools, His Sex, His Dress (Haworth Press, 2001), among others. Burke was a graduate of both New York University and The New School. She passed away at the age of 38 from complications related to treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My Awesome Place is her first book.

# # #

Topside Signature is an imprint of Topside Press, and is based in New York City, New York. Topside Signature will publish a select number of superb literary works of exceptional cultural significance to queer and feminist communities. The first title issued will be My Awesome Place and publishers expect to release 2-3 titles per year beginning in 2013.

My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B
By Cheryl Burke
$25.95 (hardcover) / $15.95 (paperback)

Published By:
Topside Signature,
228 Park Avenue South,
New York, NY 10003

Format: Hardcover, paperback
Size: 5.5″x8.5″, 208 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9832422-4-6 (hc) / 978-0-9832422-5-3 (pb)

Date of Publication: October 23, 2012
Distribution arrangements: Ingram

Book Release Party for “My Awesome Place” in NYC

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7pm
Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen Street, New York, New York 10002
Facebook event

The official release event for “My Awesome Place: The Autobiography Of Cheryl B”, the highly anticipated book by poet and curator Cheryl Burke based on the manuscript that remained incomplete at the time of the author’s death in 2011. The autobiography offers a rare authentic glimpse into the electrifying arts scene of New York City’s East Village during the vibrant 1990s, through the eyes of the young writer during her rise to prominence as the spoken word artist known as Cheryl B.

Please join us to celebrate the publication of Cheryl’s first book.

About MY AWESOME PLACE

In the months following her death, members of Burke’s close-knit writing group, who had met continuously for nine years, worked to compile her drafts, essays and emails into a completed manuscript which was eventually synthesized into its final form by Burke’s close friend, novelist Sarah Schulman.

The book’s narrative, from a liminal space between fiction and memoir, tracks her struggle to translate her working class New Jersey roots and define herself as an artist against the backdrop of an unforgiving city, a series of disastrous girlfriends and boyfriends and an intense, intimate relationship with drugs and alcohol. By the time Burke emerged, sober, in 2001, she had witnessed–and made major contributions to– one of the most remarkable artistic transformations that New York City has ever experienced.

Help Syd London Get A New Camera

May 9, 2012  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

If you’ve been lurking around Sugarbutch for a while, you know who Syd London is.

Syd has taken many of the most significant photos of me and my events in the last few years. She is an incredible photographer, hard-working and frequently nearly invisible at events, sneaking in to get just the right shots without interrupting the performers or the vibe of what’s going on (which is not true of all event photographers, just sayin’).

The first shoot that Syd and I did was a solo shoot of me, in slightly industrial Brooklyn, so early in the morning that I look kind of tired in some of the shots. But you probably recognize at least this one:

… because that’s the shot I used as a headshot for a few years. More from that photo shoot are on Syd’s flickr streamI especially like this one.

Then Syd shot me and Cheryl the night that we started Sideshow.

You’ve seen many of these shots, too, because I used them as promo images for the series while it ran for a year and a half. There are many, many more shots of us from that night, together and separately, and the colors are amazing, and Cheryl looks so serious and dark and her usual self, and then sometimes one of us made her laugh and we got this rare shot of her smile. I’m so glad we have some photos of us together. Syd took hundreds of shots that night, and made us both look incredible.

She also snapped a few quick shots of me and Kristen, including this one, which is one of my favorite photographs of us together that we yet have:

And just, wow. I love that photograph.

Syd went on to photograph Sideshow for Time Out New York a couple different times throughout the series. How else would I have these amazing shots, capturing what it was like to be there for the first time? I was so nervous. Cheryl was buzzing around but kept a completely cool head, as she did. Kristen was beautiful and welcoming and warm, as she is.

And Syd captured it all.

Syd went on to photograph the Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference, for which I was on the steering committee, and snapped more shots of me, the conference in general, and Kristen and Cheryl as part of the volunteer committee that baked for the butches.

Syd also got shots of the Sideshow/Queer Memoir Butch Voices Mashup and the Speed Friending/Speed Dating opening night social. I’m on the Butch Voices national board now, have I mentioned that yet? I should make a formal announcement about that, I (we, the board) haven’t yet.

… And then Cheryl was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Syd took the photos of Cheryl’s old fashioned lesbian head shaving ritual, and one of the photos made it into the New York Times “Lives They Lived” series and was featured in the NYT Magazine.

Syd’s shot became Cheryl’s icon on WTF Cancer Diaries.

Kelli & Cheryl had their own shoot before we did the head shaving, so these are some of the last shots of Cheryl with all of her hair.

I love the love in these photographs. They were so good together, and loved each other so well.

Syd went on to photograph Nerd Love, the Valentine’s show that Kelli and Cheryl did together with some friends, as well as Fuck Your Health and Butch Burlesque and Butch It Up and dozens more community events.

And then Cheryl died. And Syd photographed the last Sideshow, just like she’d photographed the first one, except without Cheryl. And Kristen and I tried not to cry all night, and I put Sideshow on hold.

And a month or so later, Syd photographed Cheryl’s memorial.

… and I don’t even know what to say about that. It was a beautiful, important night, and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

So basically, Syd London’s photography tells many the stories of my life for the past two years, from formal headshot photoshoots to community events to private rituals to memories that I am so blessed to cherish in images. I didn’t really realize that I’d be doing an overview of my successes and lows and family, but well, that’s what I’m doing.

The point is, Syd London needs a camera.

She’s been doing all this work borrowing camera equipment, and needs her own in order to continue capturing the community events that she’s been doing for many years, not just the last few that I’ve been working with her. She’s touched many, many lives of artists and activists in this community.

Here’s the video version of this request:

And here’s what Syd has to say about this campaign:

My name is Syd London; I’m a Brooklyn based, self taught, professional photographer and photojournalist. Until photography I struggled since the age of 9 with my soul question; how can I use my life as a tool? Baring witness, documenting and story telling through my photography while working to get those stories out there have become my answer. However, the professional grade tools which enable me to do this work are extremely expensive. I haven’t had my own digital camera since August 2010, when my camera was broken beyond repair. Since then I’ve been working on borrowed and rented equipment. Skyrocketing rental costs make it extremely difficult to continue and impossible to save for the needed equipment. I don’t want to wear my welcome out from relying on the incredible generosity of friends for camera loans. I never know what I’m going to work with or how/if I’m going to get a camera for the next gig. I’m especially concerned about the continuity of my work dedicated to social justice; licenses to these photos are frequently donated to organizations doing social justice work at a grass roots level such as Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Audre Lorde Project and Queers for Economic Justice. A professional grade camera rig of my own would enable me to continue my ongoing documentary about the LGBT community in NYC “Taking Back the Streets” (started in 2007), to continue to donate to magnificent organizations and artists as well as enable me push my work to the next level, something I’m starved for.

If you’ve got any extra money and you’re capable of giving a donation to her campaign, I urge you to do so. For selfish reasons, I want to keep working with Syd, and I want her photographs to keep being amazing. And for more community reasons, I know Syd’s work makes a huge difference, and I know how important it is to have not only a record of our communities, but a way to show us off in the mainstream that is accessible, beautiful, and moving.

Thank you, Syd, for all the incredible work you’ve done. I hope it’ll continue for a long time.

Photos from the Last Sideshow

November 16, 2011  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

After Cheryl died, the reading series she and I co-created took a hiatus. July 2011 was the last performance, and Syd London took amazing photographs.

Readers were Ellis Avery, Samantha Barrow, E Charles Crandall, Kestryl Cael Lowrey, Morgan W., Renair Amin, & Ashley Young.

I think it really captures the vibe of the series … diverse and wide-ranging, joyous and emotional, community building and hook-up space (did you see all those super hot people?!).

I miss doing that every month. I’m hoping to revive it in 2012, but I don’t have all the details worked out yet. Will of course let you all know and shout it from the rooftops when I do.

The Cheryl B. Writer’s Fund

November 10, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

I’m still on the west coast, in San Francisco today at a pretty amazing gay boy hotel with one of my best buddies, exploring the city and getting ready for the workshop this weekend. But this just came into my inbox and I realized I hadn’t mentioned it on the November calendar. If you’re in New York City, I hope you might be able to attend. Wish I could be there.

The Astraea Foundation is putting together a Cheryl B. writers fund and at their 20 year celebration party there will be a small special tribute to her and her work.

Details:

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.

- Audre Lorde, 1991 Lesbian Writers Fund Judge in Poetry

Celebrate the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund’s 20 year legacy.
Hear the new voices of literary history.

Writeous! Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund

Featuring performances by:
R. Erica Doyle
Karma Mayet Johnson
Ana-Maurine Lara
Chinelo Okparanta
Kirya Traber
Lenelle Moïse
& a special presentation honoring the life & work of poet/writer/activist, Cheryl B
Musical Performance by Cocomama
Twirl by DJ RiMarkable

November 11th • 7PM Doors, 8PM Show
Brecht Forum • 451 West Street, New York, NY

BUY TICKETS: $15 Suggested Donation | $25 Guaranteed Seat
Scorpios enter FREE (with appropriate ID). No one turned away for lack of funds. Food and drink available for purchase.

Visit our facebook event to get the latest news about Writeous!

The Brecht Forum is fully accessible through a wheelchair ramp in the rear courtyard. Artist accommodations generously provided by the Brooklyn Apartment

What I Read (For Cheryl)

July 24, 2011  |  journal entries  |  No Comments

Cheryl’s memorial was yesterday. More than two hundred people attended, brought food, and comforted each other, and fifteen people read some of their own thoughts and some of Cheryl’s work.

I hosted the event. It was the hardest reading I’ve ever done. I felt like I called on more of my tantra and energy/space holding abilities more than I used my reading host skills, though both of course were present. In putting together the line-up, I thought a lot about how much Cheryl has taught me about hosting readings, stage presence, how to order it, how to keep it moving, what to say and how to banter between readers. I learned so much in such a short time, she really knew what she was doing.

I had a pretty strict script so as not to babble, which, if you’ve ever seen me host a reading, you know I can tend to do. So here’s the part that I read.

Hello everyone. Thank you for being here at Dixon Place to celebrate Cheryl B.

We’re all here because we knew Cheryl, because she touched us in some way. Some of Cheryl’s accomplishments are listed in the chapbook/program, but we all know that she was widely anthologized, created three reading series in New York City in the last ten years, and performed all over the US, UK and Canada.

I’ve known Cheryl since I moved to New York in 2005. She was one of the first people I met in the literary performance circles. We kept being booked for the same readings, and eventually became friendly, then friends. She read at my chapbook release party in 2007, we started working together in 2009, and then started a reading series, Sideshow: the Queer Literary Carnival, together in 2010. I was there throughout her diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma last November, through the chemo treatment, which I even accompanied her to (once), and through her hospitalization.

What has struck me consistently in thinking about which story to tell about Cheryl here has been the transformation which happened after she was diagnosed. Cheryl had a dark, cynical sense of humor, and was private, often feeling alienated. But when she truly needed help from her friends and her larger community, you all—we—surprised her by offering up our support, our pies, our cars for rides, our wallets for Fresh Direct gift cards, our time, and our prayers.

I saw how much it meant to her that everyone rallied, throwing spelling bee fundraisers, offering research, and sending emails of support. Cheryl opened up and took in that love in a way that I’d never seen her do before.

Kelli told me that at the end, when she and Cheryl were doing some woo-woo aspirations that clearly were Kelli’s idea, Cheryl chose to say “I am thankful for my community,” and she didn’t even roll her eyes.

More than anything else, I’m so glad this event is an opportunity to get all of us together, all of us who loved and cared for Cheryl, and who love and care for Kelli, to look around the room and acknowledge what a community ourpouring of love looks like.

Tonight, you’ll hear some of her work read by some artists, writers, and friends, from Cheryl’s brother, and a few videos of Cheryl herself.

– Readers –

Thank you to all the readers for coming and being here today.

I’d like to conclude by reading one of my favorite poems, which has been a comfort to me lately. You’ll notice it’s not in Cheryl’s style, but I’d like to offer it up as a prayer, in whatever way that means to you.

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Thank you all for being here. Thank you Dixon Place, thank you to the volunteers who helped us set up and will help us clean up, thank you United Stages and Kathleen Warnock for the beautiful program/chapbooks. Thanks to Genne and Bevin for helping to coordinate this event, thank you Kelli for your beautiful heart and friendship, to all of us.

There is a new writer’s fund set up in Cheryl’s name through the Astraea Foundation; you can donate on your way out. When there are more events to raise funds for the Cheryl B. Fund, you can find out about them on wtfcancerdiaries.com.

You are also welcome to take a book from Cheryl’s collection, we have a donation hat next to it if you’d like to contribute.

And please remember to support each other, tonight and ongoing.

Thank you for being here.

The Last Sideshow is Tonight

July 12, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Tuesday, July 12th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Free sex toy giveaway, 8pm. Reading, 8:30pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook

For Cheryl

June 23, 2011  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

There are a few things coming up for Cheryl.

The Last Sideshow, Tuesday, July 12th, at the usual time and place (8pm, The Phoenix, East Village, NYC). Lineup TBA.

A Memorial for Cheryl B (Is For Beautiful): A Celebration of Her Life, Because This Death Stuff Sucks. Saturday, July 23rd, 3pm at Dixon Place, NYC

I still don’t know what to say.

Here are a couple videos of Cheryl reading her work. I have some clips of her from an event of mine a few years back that I want to convert and put on YouTube too, haven’t done that yet. Maybe this weekend.

Hope you can make it to Sideshow or the memorial.

Cheryl B.

June 19, 2011  |  journal entries  |  13 Comments

photo by Syd London

Cheryl B. died yesterday, Saturday morning. I’m not sure what I can say yet. A couple other people are able to be more articulate than me: Sassafras Lowrey at Lambda Literary.org, Kathleen Warnock at Too Many Hats. Edit: Here’s a few more, Anne Elliott on Ass Backwords, Rachel Kramer Bussel on Lusty Lady.

We made a little video for Cheryl at April’s Sideshow.

Sideshow Loves Cheryl from Sinclair Sexsmith on Vimeo.

I’d like to post some videos of her poetry soon. I miss her.

Cheryl’s New Project: WTF Cancer Diaries

November 30, 2010  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

If you attended the last Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival, you were there when my co-host, co-producer, and very good friend Cheryl B. announced that she was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma just recently, in the last month.

So of course, she started a blog: WTF Cancer Diaries.

From her description: “This blog will chronicle my journey of being overeducated, underemployed, with a tumor the size of a cantaloupe in my chest. WTF.”

Kristen and I were over at Cheryl’s place this past Sunday to take part in an “old fashioned lesbian head-shaving ritual,” where Diana Cage wielded the clippers and Syd London took photos, except it wasn’t so much for the “down with the patriarchy!” reasons as it was the whole cancer thing. Though that doesn’t stop Cheryl and and her partner Kelli from spontaneously breaking into faux-slam-poetry: “The man / the man / the man / gave me can / cer / and I say I can / sir …”

That’s just how they roll.

It’s been a scary month, from the diagnosis to the beginnings of chemotherapy. I’ve been scared and concerned for my friend. I don’t know much about cancer, but from what I’ve gathered this type of lymphoma is actually very treatable and most of the time responds quite well to a standardized treatment regimen. I guess of all kinds of cancer to get, this would be one of them. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

It’s one of the reasons Cheryl and I are seeking interns for Sideshow. We’re booking 2011 now (interested? Contact us) and are very excited to keep bringing you some fabulous queer stories, poems, and performances. I have LOVED working with Cheryl this past year on this reading series, it’s brought us closer together, she’s been easy and wonderful to work with and I look forward to continuing the series for a while. It might be a tough six months or so as she goes through treatment, but

The December 14th show is Family Traditions featuring Alysia Angel, Silas Howard, Whitney Porter, Elizabeth Whitney, Heather Gold, & Lea Robinson, and I’m really looking forward to it. That’s a lotta talent in one place. So come—stop by, support Cheryl, see her new shaved head and wig, and read her new site, subscribe, keep up with what’s going on in her cancer saga. And send her prayers, well-wishes, and healing vibes. It can’t hurt.