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In Yakari Gabriel’s First Poetry Book, The Afro-Dominicana Encourages Us To Own Our Truth

Poetry has an almost magical ability to make what once seemed like isolating truths about oneself into shared realities among groups of people. In her first published book, Afro-Dominican Aruban poet Yakari Gabriel accomplishes this mystically, writing in a way that is relatable and invites the reader to review their world by offering intimate insights into her own.

“Cold Coffee Vol 1” reads like one of those late-night talks you and a good friend have. The ones where time is forgotten, life is just this room and the person you’re sitting with, and your heart is more open than you ever experienced before in your life. That’s because Gabriel infuses her personal experiences with universal episodes, such as love, pain, loss and learning, to create art that is relatable to many.

At the age of four, Gabriel’s family emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Aruba – an immigration experience that differs from most Dominicans, who often migrate to the United States or Spain. In her TEDxOranjestadWomen talk, Gabriel touches on the discrimination she experienced while in Aruba, disclosing that it has impacted the way she exists in the world.

“I think my immigration experience shows up when there’s something I really want to do or say, and I get insecure about my voice. Like I know I need to say something — I used to work for the newspaper for quite a bit and did the opinion page — but then there is always a voice in the back of my head that knows it won’t matter solely because it comes from me,” she told FIERCE.

These moments, coupled with the slow-growing public discourse about Dominican women artists, sometimes leave her feeling almost invisible.

(Courtesy of Yakari Gabriel)

“I’m like, ‘hey, dominicana en Aruba, estudiando en Holanda, speaking four languages, and they look at me like I’m an alien. Dominicanas have so little visibility already, to ask to be seen outside the popular conversation — conversations that usually center major U.S. cities — sometimes feel like asking for too much,” she continued.

The truth of the matter is there is enough space for all of our expressions, and through “Cold Coffee Vol 1,” Gabriel is inserting hers into the canon.  

After two years of going back and forth on the idea, Gabriel published her book in November 2017  — but only after securing that she’d have the full rights over it.

“The book was published in a way that everything belongs to me,” she said. “If I had to give up my rights to such intimate parts of me, I would have never ever done it.

By retaining the rights to her work, Gabriel was able to open up as much, and as little, as she liked, with the confidence that others, who may not have had her best interest, wouldn’t be able to control her tone or manipulate her experiences.

“Cold Coffee Vol 1,” just 85 pages long, includes 41 of Gabriel’s poems. Most of the pieces and thoughts are short and easy to read, but what they may not have in length they carry in impact. Topics like love, lust, pain and intergenerational trauma are presented in a way that leave readers pensive and reflective.

(Courtesy of Yakari Gabriel)

In “Forgiveness,” Gabriel speaks honestly about the physical harm her mother put her through when expecting nothing short of greatness. “When I was smaller, my mother’s palms always knew how to find my face,” the poem starts, indicating immediately that her relationship with her mom was one riddled with physical and verbal harm — a dynamic we don’t often read about among immigrant mothers and their children despite its present reality.

“We need a broader discussion in the world about the dynamics of the relationship between mother’s and daughters. We heard a lot about women and their daddy issues but never about the mother wound, which, in my opinion, hits even harder than daddy issues,” she told us.

In “Courage,” the writer touches on generational trauma, the passing down of painful experiences and jarring lived realities from earlier generations to those that come after them. “My whole life I’ve been questioning why my mother was so cruel to me,” Gabriel writes, offering possible answers to her query by documenting some of the most traumatic experiences of her mother’s life, like experiencing parental abuse, witnessing the death of her siblings and hearing her own mother’s dying words, “valor Rubia, valor.”

Part of Gabriel’s mother’s valor was immigrating to Aruba — a move that also brought the budding writer new possibilities of her own.

“If my mother had stayed in the Dominican Republic, I’m sure there would still have been love between us. But it’s her courage to leave, that saved us and now we have a better life, filled with better opportunities,” she writes in the closing line of the poem.

For Gabriel, one of those prospects was publishing her poetry book.

(Courtesy of Yakari Gabriel)

“[It’s] amazing, but it was also scary. People can literally take a tangible piece of me home now. It’s wild,” she said of being a published author.

Through the book, young Afro-Latinas are able to relate to Gabriel’s experiences, thoughts and poems and also learn that standing and living firmly in one’s truth and convictions is one of the most authentic ways to pursue your goals and achieve your dreams.

And when they complete the brisk addictive read, their thirst for more can be quenched by the news that Gabriel is already working on “Cold Coffee Volume 2.”

“Volume 2 is more unapologetic than Volume 1. It also shares much longer thoughts and insights than Volume 1, where most of the poems were short. Volume 2 is really a punch in the face, even to myself,” she said.

While Gabriel’s experiences may not be applicable to everyone, she hopes that her work can be relatable and that it encourages readers to be more truthful about their own lives.

“If we were all less ashamed to share our struggles, we would realize how un-unique we are,” she said.

Cold Coffee Volume 1 is available now and can be purchased on Amazon. Follow Gabriel on Instagram at @yakarigabriel.  

Read: Poetry’s Been Called An Outdated Pastime, But These Latinas Are Breathing New Life Into The Art

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

Fans of magical realism rejoice. On Wednesday, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and will be turning the literary masterpiece into a Spanish-language series.

This is the first time the 1967 novel, considered “one of the most significant works of the 20th Century,” will be adapted for screen. For years, the author, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights, believing the story could not be done justice through a two-hour project, according to Deadline.

Rodrigo Garcia and Gonzalo García Barcha, García Márquez’s sons, who are serving as executive producers on the show, believe a series is an appropriate approach to the book.

“For decades, our father was reluctant to sell the film rights to Cien Años de Soledad. He believed that it could not be made under the time constraints of a feature film, or that producing it in a language other than Spanish would not do it justice,” Rodrigo Garcia told BuzzFeed News, adding that the “current golden age of series,” with “the level of talented writing and directing, the cinematic quality of content,” changed the family’s mind.

“The time could not be better to bring an adaptation to the extraordinary global viewership that Netflix provides,” he continued.

The series will be filmed in Colombia.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the story of the multi-generational Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia founded Macondo, a fictional town in the South American country.

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.

In a statement, Francisco Ramos, Netflix’s vice president of Spanish-language content, said, “We know our members around the world love watching Spanish-language films and series and we feel this will be a perfect match of project and our platform.”

He’s right. Since announcing the adaptation, fans of the magical realism novel have been celebrating the news.

There’s no word yet on when the series will debut and who will star in it.

Read: This Film About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is At The Center Of The Most Expensive Sundance Documentary Deal Of All Time

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10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

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10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

It’s Black History Month, a time to uplift and celebrate the historic events and people of African descent who have contributed to culture, achieved excellence and sparked social and political change. But it’s also a moment for reflection, of honestly evaluating how much — and how little — has changed for the African diaspora throughout the US, Latin America and beyond.

Confronting the everyday violence, discrimination, disadvantages and inequality Black individuals have and continue to endure, while necessary, could be enraging and upsetting, and makes self-care practices all the more necessary.

This year, whether you’re celebrating the beauty, resilience and magia of blackness with a Black History Month party or well-deserved care day, music can always add to the occasion. Here, a mix of Spanish and English songs by Afro-Latinas and for Black women that unapologetically declare self-love and engage in self-worship to add to any Black joy playlist for the month of February and all the days that follow it.

1. Celebrate being a daughter of “La Diaspora” with Nitty Scott.

When the Afro-Boricua rapper dropped Creature in 2017, she gifted Black women, particularly Black Latinx femmes, with a full project that saw, understood and exalted their existence. None of the bangers on the LP did this as intentionally as the song and short film “La Diaspora.”

2. Make your voice and joy heard with Christina Milian’s “Say I”

When the cubana teamed with Young Jeezy to drop this 2009 bop, she encouraged women to “do what you want to do. Don’t let nobody tell you what you’re supposed to do.” And that’s some pretty liberating ishh.

3. Some might call you “CRZY,” but Kehlani wants you to embrace the term.

Confidently dancing to the beat of your own drum, especially as a woman of color, is neither expected nor welcomed, largely because it makes it more difficult for white supremacy to thrive. With “CRZY,” the part-Mexican R&B songstress encourages femmes to embrace and reclaim the slights people throw at you for being a radiant, go-getting mami.

4. And Calma Carmona’s “I Got Life” shows that there is so much to be joyous about.

In her Spanglish rendition of Nina Simone’s “I Ain’t Got No … I Got Life,” the Puerto Rican soul singer declares all the beauty she has, from her voice, to her hair, to her smile to her life, in a world that told her she has nothing.

5. Something else you have: “Tumbao.”

In la reina de salsa’s multi-generational hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” the late cubana Celia Cruz reminds Black women of that unfading, indescribable, swing and swag that Black women carry with them in every space they occupy.

6. Prefer an English joint? Cardi B will also remind you how “Bad” you are.

With “She Bad,” featuring YG, the Dominican-Trinidadian rapper engages in self-worship and encourages other Black women to feel themselves and own their sexuality without apprehension or apologies.

7. ‘Cause Like Maluca told you, you’re “la mami del block.”

In the Dominican singer-rapper’s mega bop “El Tigeraso,” Maluca makes the indisputable claim that Afro-Latinas have it all: “tengo fly, tengo party, tengo una sabrosura.”

8. And like Farina says, not everyone is deserving of your greatness.

In “la nena fina’s” urbano-pop jam “Mucho Pa’ Ti,” the colombiana raps what everyone knows: She, and you, are too much — too poppin’, too powerful, too radiant — for the unworthy.

9. Now that you’re reminded of who you are, enter every space like Melii walked into the club in her music video for “Icey.”

With sparkly, high-heeled white boots, a laced v-neck bodysuit, some tiny red shades and confidence that entraps you, dominicana-cubana Melii knows her value — as a woman and an artist — and watching or listening to how self-assured she is will undoubtedly rub off on you.

10. ‘Cause at the end of the day, you’re a “Million Dollar Girl” like Trina.

Like the Dominican-Bahamian rapper, alongside Keri Hilson and Diddy, told you in 2010: “Baby if I want it, I got it / ‘Cause I’ll be gettin’ some more / ‘Cause I’m a million dollar girl, for sure.”

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