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Be a part of Migritude's journey.
No contribution is too small - or too large. $2 buys coffee for a volunteer. $15 rents a rehearsal studio for an hour. $100 covers 2 hours of lighting / tech / set design. $500 helps fly Shailja to international festivals!!

You can also make a tax-deductible donation by check. Please email for details.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Big News

Photo: Jan Mangan, Bioneers

Coming from Kaya Press, in October:


The Full, Fabulous, Lavishly Illustrated, Unexpurgated, With Back Story, Interviews, Making Of, and More,


Pulitzer-prize winner Junot Diaz, on Kaya:

The most consistent, intelligent, wide-ranging, committed press I know - Kaya is an example of how to turn "small" books into literary arrows that shoot straight and true into the heart of our culture and (of course) ourselves.

Kaya Press, on Migritude, The Book:

This US debut of internationally acclaimed poet and performance artist Shailja Patel, dodges categories and confounds expectations. Part poetic memoir, part political history, part performance tour-de-force, MIGRITUDE weaves together family history, reportage, and monologues of violence, colonization, and love, to create an achingly beautiful portrait of women’s lives and migrant journeys undertaken under the boot print of Empire.

The North American book tour for Migritude will take me to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver. Get on Kaya's mailing list, and mine, to hear when we come your way!

In addition to the bookstore readings, I would love to appear on local radio shows, speak in museums, universities, community spaces. If you'd like to bring me to your campus or organization, please contact me or Kaya's marketing manager, Claire Light,

I'm also available to do university seminars and performances in Fall 2010 and late spring of 2011.

Finally, if you'd like to review Migritude for your blog, do an interview for a publication, or know a journalist or broadcaster who would be interested in covering the book - let me know! And I would be incredibly appreciative of leads to major national magazines and media - print and broadcast.

But most importantly, buy the book. Love the book. Rave about the book to your friends, family, book club, colleagues, students, teachers, lovers......Everyone Needs Migritude.

Coming Up

Tomorrow, I perform at Hold The Light For Haiti and Chile in Oakland.

On Saturday, I feature at the Indivisible Reading in San Francisco.

On May 15th, I'll be at the Turin International Book Fair in Italy, performing from 16.00 - 17.30.

On May 17th, I'll perform in Nairobi, at the Godown Arts Centre, to mark International Day Against Homophobia. The event will run from 10.30am to 4.30pm, includes lunch, and is free and open to all. In addition to my solo set, the performances will include a staging of a play, developed in collaboration with Kenyan activists and theatre artists, from the sketch I wrote for the February issue of The Africa Report, Caught In The Act.

In June, I'll be back in Sweden for Rework The World. I'll lead a session called Rework The Word, on finding new language for a transformative economy. It's scheduled for 8.30 - 9.30am on June 4th.

To hear what I'm up to after that, join my mailing list.

End of a Chapter

The gods of technology have decreed a turn in the road of my 5-year conversation with you, aka My Blog.

This blog is set up to publish via FTP, as is my Calendar. My blog program will stop supporting FTP on May 1st. I've had a couple of tech consultants look into migrating the Blog and Calendar to other domains, and the process is ridiculously complicated and time-consuming. I'm planning a total re-design of this website in the next couple of months, and have never been really happy with Blogger anyway. So I may separate my blog altogether from Therefore, it doesn't make sense to invest money in migrating the Blog and Calendar right now.

So this blog will cease to publish on May 1st.

As of now, I haven't set up an alternative blog. I've been asking myself, as I re-evaluate priorities, whether I want to continue to put time and energy into a blog.

I love the connection, immediacy, and intimacy of blogging. But I'm also feeling the urge to get my thoughts out into mainstream media, through op-eds, reviews, and essays. In theory, I could do both. In practice, I find that blogging dissipates my motivation to craft and pitch pieces to journals and newspapers. And can take my focus away from completing creative projects.

I leave for Kenya in a few days time, and will be on the road for the next six weeks. So I'll use that time to test how not blogging affects my progress on my main projects.

To stay in touch with where I am and what I'm doing - and to hear if I set up a new blog! - please join my mailing list.

I'll continue to welcome your emails at Knowing my work speaks to you, and nourishes you, is the most incredible gift to me. So even if I don't always have the bandwith to respond, please know that your emails are always read and appreciated.

Thank you, always, for being on this journey with me.

Where I've been

As faithful readers of this blog have pointed out, I have been less than regular in posting in the past month.

One reason has been physical. I've had recurring and intensifying shoulder pain, which kept me off the computer. Bodywork from my favourite healers, Jan Dederick and Leland Thunes, helped enormously. But the pain kept coming back. This week, a wonderfully generous friend gave me the gift of a session with applied kinesiologist, Dr. Mitchell Corwin, which was nothing short of miraculous. He diagnosed the problem as bicipital tendonitis, discovered a number of other exacerbating muscular strains and distortions, and (fingers crossed) addressed them all. Yaay Neural Organization Work!

The other reason has been work. I've been ridiculously busy, to the point of overwhelm, since I got back from Sundance. Each day, I'm confronted with the fact that I have more projects on my plate than I can handle, even working 16-hour days. So my top priority right now is re-evaluating my priorities. Making difficult choices about where I really want to put my time and my energy. And even more difficult choices about what to drop. Learning and practising the skill of saying No.

All tips and advice will be gratefully received :-)

Bookends To A Breakthrough

I can’t say enough about the motivating power of having a team available to read fresh pages each day and give me immediate feedback on them. I described it to a fellow playwright as “the best creative aphrodisiac for a writer.”

The Sundance Insider Newsletter just came out, carrying a front-page interview with me on my recent experience of workshopping Bwagamoyo at the Sundance Theatre Lab.

Read the rest.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


from an incredibly productive blog hiatus.

The Sundance theatre lab was amazing. I wrote up a storm, laughed even more than I wrote, was inspired even more than I laughed....all thanks to the brilliant Bwagamoyo Sundance team of Liesl Tommy (director), Owiso Odera (actor), Shirley Fishman (dramaturge), and Christine Lemme (stage manager).

I'm now catching up on the backlog, and trying to hone in on priorities for the rest of the year. I notice I'm ravenous for social networking again - posting madly on listserves, and having to ration my FB and twitter time.

Today is the four-year anniversary of Ellen Kuzwayo's death. Here's the obituary I wrote for her - Bigger Than Fear.

Monday, March 08, 2010


Photo: Cato Lein. Backstage at the Stockholm International Poetry Festival

The commission deliberated for eight hours.

The ruling was just delivered.

For the health of the book, the play, the body, the order and balance of my life in general, I'm taking a 30-day hiatus from all social media and blogging.

Check back here mid-April for tales from the Realms of Silence, and juicy upcoming gigs. And join my mailing list to get the monthly scoop on what I'm up to and where.

Thank you for reading, supporting, and sharing. Power to all your voices.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Steve Martin:
Sad sagging misogynist. Get a new gag writer. Whore jokes are so pre-millenium.

Monique. Monique. Monique.

Gabourey. Gabourey. Gabourey.

Show Us The Women.

Truly bummed that The Most Dangerous Man In America, a film made with the blood, guts and faith of brilliant friends and community, didn't win Best Documentary.

Every male actor:

Get with the program. Rock some skin and muscle. Bare a shoulder. Flash a pec or two (waxed and polished, of course). Give us some collarbone and hip line. Fire your stylists and go to African and Asian designers for your look next year.

Kathryn Bigelow:

I'd like to thank the Iraqi people for putting up with 250,000 bombs, 5 million deaths and counting, invasion of your country, theft of your resources, pillaging of your economy, destruction of your water & electricity supply, annihilation of your infrastructure, blitzing of your medical, educational & transport systems, pulverizing of 5000 years of your history & culture - all so I could make this movie.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sundance Team

I've won the lottery on Bwagamoyo's Sundance team.

My director, Liesl Tommy, has won extensive critical acclaim for her work both on and off Broadway, and is currently directing the 2009 Pulitzer Prize drama, "Ruined", for West Coast runs.

Dramaturge Shirley Fishman has championed award-winning political theatre for over 2 decades, from New York's legendary Public Theater to La Jolla Playhouse, where she is now Director of Play Development.

Actor Owiso Odera most recently lit up the screen on the CBS TV series, "Three Rivers".

Migritude and Kaya

Ever had a full-spectrum sensory experience with a book?

Tactile, olfactory, visual, auditory, lingual?

What delights me about publishing Migritude with Kaya Press is Kaya's equal commitment to both literary excellence and the bookness of books. Kaya does book as fetish object (thank you, Claire Light). Creates a deeply satisfying intertextuality of content with shape, design, colour, texture. Kaya makes the kind of books you savour with your eyes, inhale, stroke with fingertips. Might even lick.

Working on the Migritude manuscript for Kaya demands a different kind of performance from me. Challenges me to deliver verbal potency that matches the exquisite material poetics of the pages, pleasure for pleasure.

Enough about my private life. Pulitzer Prize winner, Junot Diaz, calls Kaya books:

literary arrows that shoot straight and true to the heart of our culture, and (of course) ourselves.

Migritude will be published in October 2010. You can join Kaya's mailing list to hear about Migritude readings and events near you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

UK Screening

in March, of the documentary I narrated:

Burden Of Peace: Women Speak In the Aftermath of Kenya's Post-Election Crisis

It will screen on Tuesday 2 March at 7pm, as part of the Oxford Brookes University Human Rights Film Festival.

The screening is to be followed by a Q&A session with Firoze Manji, editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News, and takes place at the Vaults and Gardens, Radcliffe Square, Oxford, OX1 4AH.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bwagamoyo goes to Sundance

It's official now.

The LA Times says so.

The announcement is up on the Sundance site.

The casting call is out on Playbill.

The butterflies are official now as well. Pretty soon they'll be large enough to ride, like dragons, if I can just coax them out of my body.

US Supreme Court - New Robes

Thanks to Firoze Manji for forwarding - and Political Humor for capturing.
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