TWERK unveils an identity shaped by popular media and history, code switching and cultural inclusivity. The poems, songs, and myths in this long-awaited first book are as rooted in lyric as in innovation, in Black music as in macaronic satire. TWERK evokes paradox, humor, and vulnerability, and it offers myriad avenues fueled by language, idiom, and vernacular. This book asks only that we imagine America as it has always existed, an Americana beyond the English language.
WARNING: After reading TwERK, you may experience vibrant, dancing colors like when you close your eyes and stare at the crazy shifting shapes behind your eyelids. LaTasha’s brilliant poems vibrate me back to that unbridled youth of boundless madness, love and joy. TwERK testifies that LaTasha is not just a poet but an anthropological myth-making DJ whose words will have your imagination on the dance floor kicking it till your goosebumps start to sweat! This is a must-read for real for real! Oh, did I mention she speaks like 10 different languages?
—Charles Stone III, Drumline, Paid In Full, “Whassup?”
This long-awaited compendium of works by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs will blow your mind with its delirious play of signs, its cultural repurposings and reclaimings, its endlessly spinning polyglot wheel, and its breezy repertoire of ribald, faux-naif cyberfolk myth-science. With dazzling rigor and imagination, Ms. Diggs shares with us a view from Harlem that shines a knowing light on every place in the observable universe. To read thsee works is to feel the world in mid-transformation.
Tweaking parallel languages, rebooting and putting them to (hard, hard) work, TwERK’s non-stop shimmy-shimmy embarks on an animé-iigjag idio-lingual-lectical booty-roll and doesn’t come down until the break of dawn. La Reina de Harlem responds to Lorca’s Big-Apple-opolis heteroglossia with her own inimitable animations, incantations and ululations, twisting tongues so mellifluously that you don’t even realize you’ve been dancing on Saturn with Sun Ra for hours and still could have begged for more. Welcome LaTasha Diggs: this is her many-splendored night out!
From this time forward, TwERK, can refer to a collection of cultural coordinates of a radically transformed Americas. TwERK—is rare poetics, a vine enmeshed onyx slab of gypsum glyphs inscribed. Cut, swirly, and nervy, N. Diggs’ fractal-linguistic urban chronicles deftly snip away at the lingering fears of a fugitive English’s frisky explorations. In her first major work, N. Diggs doesn’t so much “find” culture as she conjures up the new emerging happy peoples herein. Five thousand updates—download now!
Here it is: a dope jam of dictions; a remixed, multicultural, polyphonic dance of vocabularies; a language of high stakes, hi-jinx, and hybridity. TwERK is subversive, vulnerable, and volatile. TwERK twists tongues. TwERK tweaks speech. Reading these amazing poems mostly makes me say, Wow! Open your ears to take this music in, open your mouth to say it out loud. And: Wow!
If the genre Black-American cosmopolitanism exists, Diggs is at the helm. Putting a new twist on an Ezra Pound-like gaze, Diggs approaches Black-American Orientalism with a coy wit and jovial approach that does not absolve – yet joyfully disarms both author and reader. Above all TwERK is a delightful celebration, word-play born out from the rigor that finally speaks our language (even if we don’t know it yet). I’ve been Twerked and contrary to my worst fears, my wife loves the results!
Latasha N. Nevada Diggs reads “damn right it’s betta than yours,” from her collection TwERK, and discusses music and influence and transformation for the Whiting Foundation.
LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs at The Walker Center for Free Verse. Free Verse is copresented by Rain Taxi Review of Books. March 20, 2014.
Writer, vocalist, and sound artist LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is the author of three chapbooks, which include Ichi-Ban and Ni-Ban (MOH Press), Manuel is destroying my bathroom (Belladonna*), and the album Televisíon. Her work has been published in Rattapallax, Black Renaissance Noir, Nocturnes, Fence, Ploughshares, The Black Scholar, P.M.S, LA Review, Jubilat, Everything But the Burden, and Muck Works among others. Her interdisciplinary work has been featured at The Kitchen, Exit Art, MoMA, Recess Activities Inc, Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, and The Whitney. As a vocalist, she has worked with the likes of Vernon Reid, Akilah Oliver, Mike Ladd, Butch Morris, Gabri Christa, Shelley Hirsch, Jason and Alicia Moran, Burnt Sugar, Edwin Torres, Elliot Sharp, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Bernard Lang, DJ Logic, Vijay Iyer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Marc Cary, Towa Tei, and Guillermo E. Brown. She has received several scholarships, residencies, and fellowships; among them include Cave Canem, Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Eben Demarest Trust, Harlem Community Arts Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Laundromat Project, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Barbara Deming Memorial Grant for Women, Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, and Black Earth Institute. As an independent curator and artistic director, LaTasha has presented and directed literary/musical/theatrical events at Symphony Space, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, WBAI, The Schomburg Research Center for Black Culture, BAM Café, Dixon Place, and El Museo del Barrio. A native of Harlem, LaTasha and writer Greg Tate are the founders and editors of yoYO/SO4 Magazine.