Meet Our Contributors: Q&A with Saida Agostini

Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet and social worker. A Cave Canem fellow, her work has appeared in several publications, including pluck! The Affrilachian Journal of Arts and Culture, Torch Literary Arts, Delaware Poetry Review and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. She is currently working on her first collection, uprisings in a state of joy.

On March 17 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda (pictured right), Agostini read “Harriet Tubman is a Lesbian,” “Great Granny’s Last Night,” and “The Night before HB2’s Passage,” which was published in LPR‘s Winter Issue (available for purchase at this link).

Q: Who are some of your inspirations?

There are so many. I truly love Jacqueline Trimble’s American Happiness–it’s a searing and moving treatise on Black womanhood, family, and the inheritance of trauma. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to interview Joan Cambridge, a powerful Afro-Guyanese activist who has founded a retreat in the Amazon named Yukuriba. Yukuriba has been claimed by Cambridge and a collective of Guyanese women as the conscience of the Amazon. In this moment when so much is being visibly taken away from us–I am moved by the power of these Black women who stand in resistance against the destruction of our ancestral homes.

Q: What are your goals for this next year?

Thanks to a Ruby grant, I was gifted with the opportunity to return back to Guyana (my family’s home) to research my family’s history, travel across the country, and interview storytellers, folklorists, and other artists. In just one month, I met family I never knew existed, returned to my granny’s village and birthplace, Kabakaburi, and painted the grave of my great-grandmother.  My goal now is to figure out how in the world this makes a cohesive story.

Q: What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my first collection of poems inspired by the histories of my grandmothers–it is an attempt to celebrate their work to create an inheritance of liberation for their descendants, and what that work cost them.

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