© 2022 KGOU
KGOU_Header_72dpi-01_0.jpg
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Poet Rio Cortez on 'Afropioneerism' and Black settlers out west

Author Rio Cortez's new collection of poems explores Black settlement of the West.
Author Rio Cortez's new collection of poems explores Black settlement of the 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.

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Avery Kleinman
More News
Support nonprofit, public service journalism you trust. Give now.