Its Clap back season and " Mela" is here for it
My mother calls me 'mal habla'. Her Spanish tells me what I feel doesn't have the right words. That I say the wrong things. A monster inside my mouth, that I speak in a crude tongue. Tells me I don't know how to be soft, and I wonder how much of myself is scared to come out of hiding. Melania-Luisa Marte
Last Friday, January 25th, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Melania-Luisa Marte for a Q&A about her book Mela, el feminismo, and her writing process. Word Up Bookstore in Washington Heights was the perfect place for Melania to debut her afro-caribbean collection of poetry/spokenword and micro narratives.
Melania-Luisa Marte is a young Dominican-American mujerona/writer born in New York City, raised on the Lower East Side and later moved to Texas where she currently resides. She is a slam poet, and a mujerista, out here supporting and rooting for all womanhood. However, she doesn’t approve of the tactics employed by the ‘cancellation’ culture where we immediately X someone out for their transgressions; not allowing them the time to educate themselves, to grow and to do better. While on the topic of cancellation, I couldnt avoid asking her thoughts on one public figure that has social media in an uproar. Gina Rodriguez’ has managed to anger so many with her anti-black comments, despite her many other contributions to media as a Latina, should we cancel her out? Melania responded: “No, she needs to educate herself and she’s going to get that education by our response to her comments.”
Speaking of Mela, this book is a collection of poetry mixed with personal narratives that speak to those who insist on placing the author in a Box. Mela is a “poetic clapback”, within its pages you will find the sharpest response to anyone who thinks the author is going to take your nonsense and just sit with it. Mela is here to check you and “ponerte un hasta aqui,” why? because as Melania herself expressed numerous times “estoy jaaaarta“
But for real, we get you Melania, its exhausting to be both soft and tough, tender and apathetic, straddling these emotions can be taxing. Despite the toll it takes on her, Melania’s stance wont waiver. She wont stand for anyone questioning her value. In her poetry she reminds you that women can both birth you with the all the love in the world and annihilate you just as swiftly if the situation calls for it. She’s not about to guard her words and cautiously walk around your feelings, instead she’s going to make room to hold you accountable for your poor behavior.
Dont get me wrong, the words found in Mela are not only those of unflinching comebacks, you will also find odes to her parents, perhaps her way of trying to decipher how two humans can remain with one another, when el machismo has deteriorated that which could have otherwise been #relationshipgoals. She also le tira pulla at her exes, reminding them of the effect they had on her and the everlasting ones she’s left on them. Like, dont get it twisted you will remember her.
I dont want to give too much away but Mela is complete with clapbacks, odes, chants, and most definitely some shade, but also a sweetness that will make you purchase another copy of the book as a gift for your girl.
The Ultimate clap back: MAD
Images from our time with Melania
Angela is the author of I Have No Room For the Broken an autobiographical collection of poetry on love, heartbreak and moving on, available via Amazon and currently being translated into Spanish. In 2017, her book was written into monologue form which participated in the “One Catches Light Festival” in Brooklyn, NY and the Uptown Arts Stroll 2017, in Upper Manhattan with six shows of the monologue. Angy’s writing has been featured on www.thelivesofmen.com and www.wendyanguloproctions.com, and recently published in Péinate: Hair Battles Between Latina Mothers and Daughters. Currently, Angy is preparing to attend AWP 2019 in March where she will participate on a panel entitled “Neither From Here or There: Writers Search for Belonging and Place.” You may connect with Angy via Instagram.com/angysgotit.