Poetry by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs
February 7, 2023 • 6 x 8 • 112 pages • 978-1-56689-661-0
Part poetry collection, part soundscape, Village uses dark humor and keen observation to explore the roots of memory, grief, and estrangement.
In propulsive and formally inventive verse, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs examines how trauma reshapes lineage, language, and choice, disrupting attempts at reconciliation across generations. Questioning who is deemed worthy of public memorialization, Diggs raises new monuments, tears down classist tropes, offers detailed instructions for her own international funeral celebrations, and makes visible the hidden labors of care and place. From corners in Harlem through North Carolina back roads, Diggs complicates the concept of “survivor,” getting to the truth of living in the dystopia of poverty.
About the Author
A writer, vocalist and performance/sound artist, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs is the author of TwERK (Belladonna, 2013). Diggs has presented and performed at California Institute of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, The Museum of Modern Art, and Walker Art Center and at festivals including: Explore the North Festival, Leeuwarden, Netherlands; Hekayeh Festival, Abu Dhabi; International Poetry Festival of Copenhagen; Ocean Space, Venice; International Poetry Festival of Romania; Question of Will, Slovakia; Poesiefestival, Berlin; and the 2015 Venice Biennale. As an independent curator, artistic director, and producer, Diggs has presented events for BAMCafé, Black Rock Coalition, El Museo del Barrio, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and the David Rubenstein Atrium. Diggs has received a 2020 George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship, a 2020 C.D. Wright Award for Poetry from the Foundation of Contemporary Art, a Whiting Award (2016) and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship (2015), as well as grants and fellowships from Cave Canem, Creative Capital, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, among others. She lives in Harlem and teaches part-time at Brooklyn College and Stetson University.
Praise for Village
“Diggs has found ways to sing out through hardship. . . . This is a dazzling and impressive work.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Part instruction manual, part celebration, part dance party, part garden tour, Village refuses compartmentalization, demanding engaged and engaging ways of looking at and talking about difficult shared experiences. . . . In English, Portuguese, Tsalagi, Māori, Arabic, Yoruba, and more. These poems by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs reveal the richly diverse ecosystem of what a limited imagination might sideline as a ‘marginalized’ life.” —Camille Dungy, Orion Magazine
“LaTasha out here singing in tongues again, and I gotta sing her praises. This Village is a family history, a biomythography, a sensory tsunami: a documentary poetics composed in the languages Diggs needed to get at her truth, all of them getting stretched, chopped, spat, crooned, and retuned to a lower frequency. Hard, tender, witty, and elegiac, these fully populated poems are portraits of the human condition—and the conditions that shape and haunt some humans more than others.” —Evie Shockley
“Buzzing with song-sound, poetic music, multiple languages, mad word love, intergenerational multiplicities of wisdom and harm, constant rearrangement of and searching for formal expansion that can channel all of it into shapes that keep moving, all these lives on the line, proposals and testimony and lists and saved documents—Village is a vast, searing, funny, and ultimately incredible book.” —Anselm Berrigan
“In Diggs’s hands, under her bone plectrum, which seems plucked from the Milky Way at night, sound becomes pliant, extensive, ecstatic, specific, omnilinguistic, sluicing, and moody. Sound reveals and conceals its faces, calls for and sends away its devotees, entails a velvety fabric that can be seamed, stitched, furled, unfurled, burnt till it converts to sight and smell, melts, wicks out. Scatters. Swerves to the verge. The term virtuosic seems too mean and stingy for the magnitude of Diggs’s star.” —Joyelle McSweeney
Praise for LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs
“I want to write nearby. . . . LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, who recombines Black slang, Japanese, Spanish, Chamorro, and Tagalog into a remastered Afrofuturist song.” —Cathy Park Hong
“More poets are dissecting the personal and shared experience of a post-global United States battered from decades of war and polarizing politics, contesting the offhand and sometimes facile liberal humanism in poems meant to address racial difference. LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs’s TwERK is a multilingual performance of linguistic personae.” —Carmen Giménez Smith, Boston Review
“Diggs is a language connoisseur. . . . [She] navigates Standard English and African American Vernacular English (AAVE) with ease, weaving Japanese, Cherokee, and Quechua into her work to bring to the surface issues of forced migration and the surviving remnants of colonization.” —Ashia Ajani, Sierra Club
“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
“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 these works is to feel the world in mid-transformation.” —Vijay Iyer
“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!” —Maria Damon
“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!” —Rodrigo Toscano
“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!” —Terrance Hayes
“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!” —Mike Ladd