Poet Rio Cortez on 'Afropioneerism' and Black settlers out west
Author Rio Cortez coined the terms ‘Afropioneerism’ and ‘Afrofronteirism’ to describe her new collection of poetry.
“Golden Ax” explores her family’s history as some of the first Black settlers of Utah, drawing on genealogical research and her own upbringing.
Cortez spoke to Shondaland:
For me, Afropioneerism is using the same language that’s used in Utah all the time about Mormon religious pioneers who came to this state. It’s used as a way to talk about transgressing a brand-new frontier, a brand-new horizon, an experience. There were Black people involved in that movement, and it’s a way of explicitly acknowledging that Black people were part of that. With Afrofrontierism, I’m riffing on Afro-futurism in a way. It’s about Black people breaching new frontiers, new horizons, and doing what they’ve always done, which is creating something brand new.
“Golden Ax” was recently long-listed for the National Book Award in poetry. We talk to Cortez about her new collection, breaking new ground and excavating her family history.
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