ART AT THE INTERSECTIONS: Translation Between Mediums, an interview with workshop lead Safiyya “Saff” Bintali

Tiny Spoon: What inspired you to host this particular workshop?

Safiyya Bintali: I have always been very interested in how work is “translated” from one medium to another, especially as someone who works in different art forms (comics, illustration, and writing). What really sparked my inspiration for hosting this, though, was during a graphic novels seminar I was taking; as a part of our Persepolis unit, we watched and discussed the comic/movie adaptations.

Tiny Spoon: What does translation mean to you?

Safiyya Bintali: It’s a way of exploring a concept in all the ways it can be expressed. It’s a way of seeing how each medium impacts the telling and how each medium needs to tell something in a certain way with its own unique characteristics and concepts. It’s a way of not only learning about a concept on a deeper level, but all the ways different artistic disciplines can intertwine in its telling.

Tiny Spoon: Does translation appear in your own creative practice? Can you describe it?

Safiyya Bintali: As an illustrator, I translate the words of writers to images; this is especially interesting in my practice, as I illustrate on contract and not my own personal work. Getting the opportunity to work with authors and see how they interpret the ideal translation of passages/stories and how these translations can differ from my own put into perspective how “thinking in different mediums” works.
Recently, though, I’ve taken to translating my own shorter pieces into comics. Doing my own work in this
sense allowed me more creative freedom, but also allowed me to see what needs to be taken into
consideration when translating from one medium to another, and how important it is to consider them in
the optimal telling of the story.

Tiny Spoon: What are you most excited about, regarding the workshop?

Safiyya Bintali: Getting to teach it and hear the ideas flow during discussion! As a huge Bradbury fan, I am especially excited about the discussion surrounding “There Will Come Soft Rains.”

Tiny Spoon: What do you hope fellow workshop attendees gain from it?

Safiyya Bintali: I hope attendees get a chance to better understand the concept of “inter-medium translation”, as well as what to consider when translating their own work. I hope they also gain an inspiration to begin translating some of their work as an exploratory process!


Join us for Safiyya’s workshop Art at the Intersections: Translating Between Mediums!

One piece of art can be “translated” into many mediums–from plays to poems, novel excerpts to comics, story to dance. By translating our work, we can more deeply connect with the intersections of our creative self and explore new ways to adapt our work into new forms. This 2-day workshop series will be both informative and a creative practice. We will absorb and discuss other “translations” in media, such as the poem-short story-mini film translations of “There Will Come Soft Rains” (Bradbury/Teasdale) or comic-animated film translation of “Persepolis” (Satrapi), and later explore the ways we can adapt our own work. Participants can bring pre-existing work to “translate”, or bring a fresh new script/painting/anything they wish to the table to begin their journey into inter-medium translation.

Register now at https://tinyspoon.org/art-at-the-intersections-translating-between-mediums/!

ART AT THE INTERSECTIONS: Spotlight on Fall Resident Safiyya “Saff” Bintali

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you? Do you follow any rituals or creative exercises to spark your writing process?

Safiyya Bintali: It’s hard to define a “clear process” for me, personally. Rather, I have a couple of practices that help me create various types of work. Among these is keeping a commonplace book, where I note down passages, poems, quotes, dialogue, whatever sparks something—it’s especially helpful during writer’s block. Going back to my favorite authors/artists and doing my own studies on their work also help me better ground myself in the work and, in turn, inspire me to continue my own.

One more thing: considering a theatre concept defined in Richard Schechner’s book Performance Theory, “event time”, which is defined as “…[an] activity … [that] has a set sequence and all the steps of that sequence must be completed no matter how long (or short) the elapsed clock time” (6). I’m not anti-outline or anti-structure when it comes to constructing a story, but sometimes what really works is putting saying what needs to be said at the forefront of the process rather than length, chapters, or other logistics. It’s completing the whole “steps of the sequence” (story), no matter the way you present it in the end.

Tiny Spoon: What inspired you to begin and maintain these practices?

Safiyya Bintali: Two words: they worked!

Tiny Spoon: Does your writing intersect with other creative practices?


Safiyya Bintali: I like to adapt my work or portions thereof in other mediums, usually visual art. I adapted one of my short stories into a comic before to explore the process.

Tiny Spoon: If your work was a song, what would it be?

Safiyya Bintali: Tough question! I’m not sure cumulatively, but I remember writing a story in middle school that never saw the light of day with characters based off some lyrics in Greg Laswell’s Comes and Goes. I always liked that song a lot.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends who have been influential to your work?

Safiyya Bintali: So many! I’ve had some excellent creative mentors who have greatly influenced and helped me improve upon my work, for which I am grateful. My thesis chair, Dr. Chapman; my art mentor, Professor Jean Munson; my graphic novels professor, Dr. Gauthier; and my English mentor, Professor Brokaw have especially been supportive and I appreciate them so much. Throughout my high school years and still now, I was also very inspired by the animator/artist @memedokies.

Tiny Spoon: What is on your reading list this season?

Safiyya Bintali: Mainly some graphic works:
– Stretch Marks: A Psychologic Autobiography by Jean Munson
– Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison/Dave McKean
– My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 2 (hopefully!) by Emil Ferris

And some texts I want to reread or explore:
– Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
– Octavia Butler’s Patternist series
– and reread P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories—always a great time!

Tiny Spoon: Can you share your philosophy on sustaining creative communities?

Safiyya Bintali: Successful creative communities work together to ensure communication and support that builds one another up and helps one another improve. It is also not built on competition or outdoing one another, but working towards individual goals together, and encouraging one another to do so.

Tiny Spoon: What advice would you give to emerging writers?

Safiyya Bintali: Don’t throw out or delete your old work—it is a part of the journey, and honestly, it’s kind of fun reading it later, even if you question what you were thinking at the time. Oh, and take chances! It’s not easy putting your work out there, but by building up the confidence and continuing to create, you will find a way to share your work in the best way possible.

Safiyya Bintali: Also, don’t feel as if those who are already established/practicing an art are unapproachable. You will find some of the most inspiring and incredible mentors, friends, and fellow artists by reaching out. Connections like that can carry you.

Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Safiyya Bintali: Maybe a fun fact. One of the more recent additions to my commonplace book is the poem “Chess” by Rosario Castellanos. It’s very fun to imagine, but also a very thought-provoking read. Definitely worth a read!

Tiny Spoon: What projects are you working on? Can we find you at any upcoming events, etc.?

Safiyya Bintali: My YA novel, One Last Month! This is a part of my thesis, so I am excited to finish it, especially as I have been working on it for quite some time and the characters are very close to me at this point.

Safiyya Bintali: Whenever I have more time, I was thinking of adapting a short story collection I did into small comics. They surround three decades in American history, centering in on a car definitive of the decade, with the car acting as somewhat of a symbol of the “ideal” of the times and the way things really are. Writing it was fun. Now, drawing those cars…that’s another story. So, that’s on the backburner for now.

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do? (website, social media, etc., if you wish to share it) 

Safiyya Bintali: My work can be found on my website, safiyyabintali.com


Join us for Safiyya’s workshop Art at the Intersections: Translating Between Mediums!

One piece of art can be “translated” into many mediums–from plays to poems, novel excerpts to comics, story to dance. By translating our work, we can more deeply connect with the intersections of our creative self and explore new ways to adapt our work into new forms. This 2-day workshop series will be both informative and a creative practice. We will absorb and discuss other “translations” in media, such as the poem-short story-mini film translations of “There Will Come Soft Rains” (Bradbury/Teasdale) or comic-animated film translation of “Persepolis” (Satrapi), and later explore the ways we can adapt our own work. Participants can bring pre-existing work to “translate”, or bring a fresh new script/painting/anything they wish to the table to begin their journey into inter-medium translation.

Register now at https://tinyspoon.org/art-at-the-intersections-translating-between-mediums/!

Interview with Aerik Francis, Spring Tiny Resident

We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general? Do you follow any rituals or creative exercises to spark your writing process?

I had two poems appear in the Memory issue of Tiny Spoon, and both of those poems were inspired by thinking whimsically about everyday life. One poem was inspired by a moody portrait of my cousin, and the other was inspired by thinking about how sensory experiences contain the living memories of my family/ancestors. I ask myself questions, like what would it look like and mean to place all those sensations together. For “Remembering: Redux” what if I placed my passed on family members in the same poem– what sensory elements introduce them to the poem? At the end of that poem, there is a nod to a Frantz Fanon quote I’ve always admired, the final lines of Black Skin, White Masks. So another part of my inspiration is reading and being inspired into a kind of conversation with the authors. 

What inspired you to begin and maintain these practices?

Towards a former career path, I read a lot of political theory and critical theory. I would find that they inspired thoughts and words, but that it rarely came out as neat and clean prose. When I leaned into those ideas as poetry instead of just as messy prose, it opened up how I could interact with what I was reading and thinking. It also made it easier to apply those ideas back to my everyday life. So it’s the same boring but true advice most writers have: read more and use the reading to get inspired to write. It’s never consistent, but I try my best to maintain a regular reading schedule, which in turn maintains a regular writing schedule.

Does your writing intersect with other creative practices?

Absolutely! As a poet, I try my best to operate as a musician. I am very interested in multi-media work and it is another reason why I love poetry: it is very amenable to many formats. My extended play project SYZYGY started out as poems and became music and short films. Also I have plans for my chapbook BODYELECTRONIC to have an experimental audio component to it as well. Even my paintings and visual art has found its way back into my poetry, with a few of my paintings now as cover art for poetry projects.

If your work was a song, what would it be?

Such a hard question, just one song!? I feel like my answer would change everyday. So today, my answer is Jupiter by Kelela. There is such a feeling, such a gravity to that song for some reason, that eclipses even the lyrics in sentiment. But the lyrics too– simultaneously, it feels like I’m eavesdropping on an intimate phone call and also being comforted by a close friend. I hope my work can evoke those kinds of feelings, regardless of what the words are. And that the words can maintain an air of mystery and intrigue, while also being comforting and familiar.

Are there any artists/ heroines/  idols/ friends who have been influential to your work?

So many! I gotta name my favorite musicians, of course, so Kelela, FKA twigs, Sevdaliza, Kllo, Jamie Woon, Purity Ring. Too many wonderful poets to name also, but poets like Liza Sparks, Beca Baca, Ashia Ajani, Hakeem Furious, C. Louise Williams – all of them friends but also talented poets who have impacted my craft and poetics greatly! Also, importantly, shoutout to my sister Alisha who was the first to teach me that creativity breeds more creativity. 

Are there any natural entities that move your work?

I don’t explicitly consider myself an eco-poet; however, nature, and especially a dire concern for the human damage upon nature, is always entering my poetry in one way or another. I focus on the body as an entry way into these discussions, as conversations about the body tend towards the environmental conditions and elements. So all kinds of natural entities move my work, always!

What is on your reading list this season?

There are always so many good books coming out, again too many to name. So I’ll share my current library book haul (I’ve started all of the books but am still working through each one): The Renunciations by Donika Kelly; Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis; Gumbo Ya Ya by Aurielle Marie; Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets; Heed the Hollow by Malcolm Tariq; and Exiles of Eden by Ladan Osman 

Can you share your philosophy on sustaining creative communities?

Probably the most important thing is to show up! Show up for your friends, attend their events and pay for their merch. Try to show up to events and meetings as often as you feel capable– and get involved, take on roles and positions. We have more power than we think we do– we can start our own open mics, our own publications, our own organizations. But also, there are always so many people already doing the work we want to do– partner up with other artists and organizations and work together to achieve those shared goals. The ultimate philosophy is simple: You shine, I shine, we all shine. 

What advice would you give to emerging writers?

Similar to the last answer. Just show up. Start now. There is always more to improve and more to learn, but the reality is that you truly are enough now. Start where you are and build up with the folks around you, build upward with your friends.

Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Not to be a walking comercial, but just check out my work! There is a growing archive on my website phaentompoet.com . I write all sorts of poems, so if one isn’t for you, perhaps another might be! I have a chapbook out as well as a few music projects and single poems. Let me know what you think!

What projects are you working on? Can we find you at any upcoming events, etc.?

For folks in Denver, after the Sunday workshop in the evening, I am a featured performer in a fantastic lineup of a wonderful poetry and music show. Listen to Your Skin is teaming up with Jazzetry for their first in-person event on April 24th at 7pm at RIVER. I have full-length poetry collection manuscripts I’m working on. One is titled BODYPOLITIC and the other is titled ubiquities . Most pressingly, for my chapbook BODYELECTRONIC (which is out now!) I’m trying to put together an experimental audio experience as well as a set of events to celebrate its release. Stay posted on my social media for more info about that. 

Where can people learn more about what you do?

You can find me everywhere @phaentompoet or via my website phaentompoet.com

More about Aerik Francis and our Tiny Residency can be found at https://tinyspoon.org/2022-tiny-residents/.

Human//Body: SPOTLIGHT ON AERIK FRANCIS, SPRING TINY RESIDENT

_Facial Recognition_ by Aerik “phaentompoet” Francis

iHave doubted my smile–
if it existed in the face
of those mouthing

of my ubiquitous grin.
but iDo know when
my smile smiles– feeling

the evidence in its departure.
here, it wasn’t the picturesque
Los Angeles January Sun,

but a removal of a tether’s
never questioned presence.
such a wonderful good-bye

greeting a lucky camera.
happy, it seems, visited
me in spontaneous burst.

my personal captured volta–
iCan hear a cackling Yes
so loud iForget the sound

was always an exclaimed No
so closed-eyed, so mouth-wide,
so smiled it blurred–

––This work was first published by Mixed Mag

phaentompoet aka Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet & teaching artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal and a coordinator with Slam Nuba. Aerik recently released an EP of poetry-songs called SYZYGY (available now on bandcamp), and they have a chapbook titled BODYELECTRONIC forthcoming April 2022 from Trouble Department Press. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at their website phaentompoet.com. Find them on IG/TW/youtube/soundcloud @phaentompoet

Learn more about Aerik’s upcoming workshop HUMAN//BODY: BODY POLITICS & BODY POETICS.

Workshop Intentions: AERIK FRANCIS, SPRING TINY RESIDENT

I want to approach this workshop openly and simply: Each session we will come together and read poems and talk about them and write our own poems. That’s it! That’s the basic gist with the added twist of thinking about and engaging our bodies in relation to the poems and the writing. The workshop is another opportunity to practice craft and connect with other artists interested in doing the same. The workshop’s themes will hopefully allow us to more critically consider our own bodies and what our relationship to them is in practice as well as in our writing.

What do our bodies need right now? How can our writing work towards fulfilling those needs?

I hope the workshop can generate thought and answers towards those questions. The body is always communicating, so the question always comes back to if we are paying close attention. Hopefully at the end of this workshop participants will write new poems and meet new people. But above all of that, I hope this workshop inspires new relationships with bodies, our own and otherwise. 

phaentompoet aka Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet & teaching artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal and a coordinator with Slam Nuba. Aerik recently released an EP of poetry-songs called SYZYGY (available now on bandcamp), and they have a chapbook titled BODYELECTRONIC forthcoming April 2022 from Trouble Department Press. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at their website phaentompoet.com. Find them on IG/TW/youtube/soundcloud @phaentompoet

Learn more about Aerik’s upcoming workshop HUMAN//BODY: BODY POLITICS & BODY POETICS.

Finding the Body [Poetic]: Spotlight on Aerik Francis, Spring Tiny Resident

_Growing & Positioning Systems (GPS)_

Aerik Francis

“I’m going look for my body yeah/ I’ll be back real soon”

-Solange Knowles

what is in [this] finite wonder      full body     but a map

to a home that itches & improvises?

our heads, our hair      each     keys & paths

to ourselves, layered membrane.

digits five & five tend body expanses

teeming in memory & texture.

read tomography in touch & GPS trust

gut bubbles as butterfly & cardinal.

 

each sense a direction & each scent a message

desperate to caress trajectory into flesh like lotion.

 

hair braided bosque & shea into compass rose

crowned in code & cartography, wrapped in

emerald satin. ruby stitched skin blanketed

in pimpled topography & thimbleless thumbs. 

armed & equipped barber razor, nocturnal buzzing

grid to scalp to shadow fade legendary:

 

line-up spans forehead prime meridian,

edges sprout curl & coordinate formation.

 

dry dandruff flakes fall as bread crumb trails

as routes to roots & bare fruit.

 

as is lymph node, as erogenous

zones, as knee caps & finger

 

tips along dermal margins & purple bruises

desperate to impress each & every location:

 

the bounce & the grease – the crusting

decay of busting bud & zit. the cysts

 

benign reminders of cycles sublime. what are sweat & tears

but drops of pin? but salt circles? but clepsydra water clocks?

 

And us but vessels                 who keep losing

our ways, only finding fresh And                  intimate questions

––This work was first published by Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review

phaentompoet aka Aerik Francis is a Queer Black & Latinx poet & teaching artist based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal and a coordinator with Slam Nuba. Aerik recently released an EP of poetry-songs called SYZYGY (available now on bandcamp), and they have a chapbook titled BODYELECTRONIC forthcoming April 2022 from Trouble Department Press. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at their website phaentompoet.com. Find them on IG/TW/youtube/soundcloud @phaentompoet

Learn more about Aerik’s upcoming workshop HUMAN//BODY: BODY POLITICS & BODY POETICS.