Few artists in the United States can integrate their interest in the written word with performance art, but such multi-genre projects are a specialty of Ana-Maurine Lara whose “Cantos” project led her to walk the streets of New York City and interact with its denizens.
Her latest project, entitled “Landlines,” will combine her literary talent with a public procession performance, and it promises to be one of the most unique artistic events that will take place this summer in Eugene.
The overarching concept of “Landlines” involves exploring what “home” means to several communities in Eugene.
“I’ve been talking to people who moved to Eugene as well as those who grew up here,” explains Lara. “I’ve been learning about the places of their lives – their relationship to place and how it has been contested at times. So ‘Landlines’ will collect stories from different communities like the Jewish, African-American, Native American, gay-lesbian, and migrant communities. These are communities that reflect parts of who I am. They are communities that I’m connected to.”
Lara’s own heritage reveals a wealth of diversity. She is from a multi-ethnic family, with roots in Africa, Native America, Ireland and the Sephardic Caribbean. Lara was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in East Africa and in New York City. As a young adult, she was heavily involved in the poetry slam circuit in Boston and spent 10 years as a writer and performance artist before she pursued her Ph.D. in African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University.
An award-winning novelist and poet, Lara’s novels include “Erzulie’s Skirt” and “When the Sun Once Again Sang to the People.” Her short stories and poems have been published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines.