Rachel Ellis Neyra is a poet-theorist and a teacher. A Cancer sun, Capricorn moon, she grew up between the U.S. Deep South and southeastern Florida. Currently, she’s an Assistant Professor of English at Wesleyan University. In the past, she has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Stony Brook University, where she earned her Ph.D. in English and wrote her dissertation about a Poetics of the Americas. She reads and writes about: Latina/o/x Studies; African Diasporic, Black, Caribbean, and Latina/o/x Poetics, Performance, Music, and Visual Art; Third Cinema; Film, Literary, Queer, and Translation Theories.
Ren is based in New York, and was recently living in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and writing her academic book manuscript, Cry Bomba: Listening to Brown Poetics, in residency at Beta Local. Cry Bomba thinks with Latina/o/x and Black literature, music, cinema, and multi-media performances that deviate from the promise of freedom and the American dream, and flicker with insurrection.
With Jamaican art writer and independent curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson and Puerto Rican artist Sofia Gallisá Muriente, Ren co-designed and contributed to a collaborative book, Caribbean Cautionary Tales Volume 1 (La Impresora Press, San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 2017). With feminist sociologist Mary Ebeling, Ren is working on a collection of essays about debt, public emotions, and tourism in Puerto Rico.
In her writing, teaching, listening, and meanderings, Ren is into thoughtful articulations and movements against a politics of assimilation, progress, straightening, whitening, and “finishing oneself.” How many variations on funky, hoarse, and glittering radicalisms can we imagine in a world that makes bodies and words weary, but wanting to feel otherwise?
(Photo: Kelly Acevedo)