If you got an email about #RealGypsyWarrior…

I apologize a million times. The trick to running a class blog and a separate blog is that, ideally, you should realize which one you’re logged into at the time of posting. Those of you who read this, especially my students, are probably not at all surprised that I do activist work in my spare time, and #RealGypsyWarrior is one of my side-projects, which I meant to post about in my other blog but accidentally posted here. Which maybe wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the title of it didn’t start out, “Alright bitches…” Alas, it did, and instead of finding it mortifying I’m choosing to find it funny and I hope that all of you (most especially my students) know that I wouldn’t refer to you as “bitches,” but if I did, it would be in the most loving and tongue-in-cheek way possible. I hope no one was offended and I’m very sorry if you were. And if you’re interested in the social media campaign I mentioned, it’s about Romani representation, and you can read about it here.

And while I’m talking at you, here’s a comic to honor having class at the art museum tomorrow 





Image source: http://imgur.com/a/Xqita


I found all of these gems of the Lolo Diklo Facebook page— “like” for more about current Romani news, activism, arts, and culture.

1. A Travelling girl’s story: the struggle against eviction and her kickstarter to fund her education. Her video shows what it’s like to be a Traveller girl in England trying to better herself in spite of the daily persecution that Travellers and Roma face.


2. Romedia Foundation led a summer camp workshop for young Roma from Szendrőlád (a small settlement in North-Western Hungary) in the summer of 2012, as part of the “Youth in Action: Strenghtening the Voice of Roma Youth” project. The summer camp was organized by the Bhim Rao Association. The workshop held by Romedia had as its aim to bring to life different film creations, developed and carried out entirely by the young Roma participants, numbering approximately 30 teenagers. The workshop held by Romedia had as its aim to bring to life different film creations, developed and carried out entirely by the young Roma participants, numbering approximately 30 Roma teenagers.
Copyrights: Romedia Foundation

3. Pablo Vega is a Spanish Romani film-maker. His love of cinematography grew in time and he eventually started his own production company called “DIKA” which in Romanes means “SEE”.
His first documentary is called “Romnia” in which he documented the life of four Roma women living in Huesca aiming to reflect another reality of Roma women, breaking the stereotypes so often present in society. Women who have struggled to get where they are trough education, women of different ages portraying similar realities.

See his impressive works’ showreel, followed by an exclusive interview for the Romedia Foundation

4. Spanish-Romani radio programs on an array of fascinating topics! Gitanos – Valencia, sede de la exposición’Vidas Gitanas’



“IN the light of the Romani situation in present day Europe, the history of the Romani language- Romanès, as we call it- may not seem like an especially important issue. Arguing about whether or not this language has a history of being written down might seem less important still. Yet the claim that the Romani language has never been written down until very recent times remains untrue, and this claim is dangerous for precisely the reasons that people assume it to be correct….”

by Damian Le Bas

for the rest of the fascinating article on the history of written Rromanes: http://romediafoundation.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/the-written-romani-language-never-say-never/

For more like this, “Like” Lolo Diklo: Romani against Racism on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lolo-Diklo-Romani-Against-Racism/134328566635942


An array of fascinating videos, radio programs, and articles!

Forced sterilization: Europe is still torturing Romani women

jessica reidy

For the story, read “FORCED STERILIZATION OF ROMANI WOMEN – A PERSISTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION” on the Romedia Foundation blog http://romediafoundation.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/forced-sterilization-of-romani-women-a-persisting-human-rights-violation/

Forced sterilization is still happening to Romani women. This would not happen if governments saw Roma as people instead of pestilence. This injustice certainly casts as pall on all those “sexy Gypsy” stereotypes. It doesn’t help matters when the media misrepresents Romani women as hypersexualized animals/objects. For more on this, read Ian Hancock’s article “The ‘Gypsy’ stereotype and the sexualization of Romani women.”

The only way to fight this is to speak up, demand justice, and make damn sure that no one forgets.

“While human rights can be violated by individuals or by institutions, they can only be defended by institutions. The European Court of Human Rights does not deal with single individuals who have committed crimes. Rather, it focuses on why the government in question could not take action…

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Blog 8: Ekphrastic Poetry– poems inspired by visual art by Romani people

Romani art is an overlooked treasure. Of course a culture so rich with symbolism, song, lore, and history would produce incredible art! So few people understand that “Gypsies” are a real ethnic group with cultures and sub-cultures, tribes/groups, spirituality, cuisine, music, dance, folk stories, dress, and on and on, so naturally we don’t hear a lot about the contemporary Romani arts scene. And as Roma are an underrepresented oppressed minority, the opportunities for Romani artists are few and many assimilated Roma are not safe to disclose their ethnicity. The Romani human rights crisis has been called “Europe’s shame” by Amnesty International and the UN. But it’s not just Europe.

“With a population of 10 to 12 million, the Roma are one of the largest and most disadvantaged minorities in Europe. Six million live in the EU.

Hundreds of thousands of Roma have been forced to live in informal settlements and camps, often without heating, water or sanitation; tens of thousands are forcibly evicted from their homes every year.

Thousands of Romani children are placed in segregated schools and receive a substandard education.

Roma are often denied access to jobs and quality health care. They are victims of racially motivated violence and are often left unprotected by the police and without access to justice.

This is not a coincidence. It is the result of widespread discrimination and racism…” http://www.amnesty.org/en/roma

But thank goodness that the Roma persevere and that Roma and Romani allies speak out against injustice. Art gives voice to the voiceless, to cultures and generations, to nations and people united through symbols, stories, history, union, and discord.

Ekphrastic poerty is poetry written about/inspired by a work of art, so as you can imagine, this week’s poem is to be written about a piece of visual art created by a Romani person. Your poem can respond to any aspect of the artwork– maybe you want to recreate the color scheme and mood of the painting, or maybe you want to create an extended metaphor using the artwork’s symbols. Consider how culture, rituals, politics, and beliefs play in the piece too.

In your blog post, due Thursday, I’d like you to analyze the artwork you’ve selected using the elements and principles of art and specific examples. Read the artwork like you would a poem. You can also use this your analysis to discuss what you want to write your poem about and why. Make sure to include an image of the artwork you’ve chosen, the title and the artist’s name, and a link to the work. The artwork that you choose to analyze in your blog response is the same artwork that you’ll use to write your ekphrastic poem. Likewise, the artist’s name and the work’s title should appear in your poem’s title or subtitle so the reader understands the context and references.To get you started on analysis, consider this: what are the patterns? How does the artist use artistic elements and principles? What are their effects? What does the paining depict? What are the symbols used? 300 words or more.

For example, the poem we read today, “The Gypsy from India” by the Romani poet Nicolas Jimenez Gonzalez in Roads of the Roma, referenced dogs. When analyzing the poem, it’s important to know that dogs are considered marimé (ritually unclean) by most Romani groups.

“Marimé taboos extend to animals as well, from the edibility of certain types of meat to pet ownership. Romaniya prohibits cruelty to animals and they may only be killed for food. The German Sinti consider eating horse flesh a serious offense, as do other tribes. The exclusion of horse meat has more to do with respect than to marime, the horse has been so important to the Roma’s mobility and survival in the past.

Dogs and cats are considered polluted because of their unclean living habits. Roma consider cats particularly unclean because they lick their paws after burying their feces. The critical concern, as with dogs licking themselves, is that the uncleanliness of the external world may defile the purity of the inner self if it is permitted to enter the body through the mouth. Cats are also a sign of impending death to many tribes. If a cat sets foot in a house, trailer, or automobile, a purification ceremony may be required. Dogs are also unclean, but to a lesser extent. Dogs are tolerated outside the house because of their value as watchdogs.” http://www.reocities.com/~patrin/beliefs.htm#Taboos

So whether you’re analyzing a poem, story, or painting, make sure that you take the initiative to look up what elements of the artwork might mean to Romani people, while bearing in mind that Romani culture is in no way homogeneous. On Wednesday we’re having class at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts on 530 W Call St (so go straight there for class) and learning more about visual analysis, so you’ll have a chance to practice before the blog is due.

Again, this week’s blog is due Thursday instead of the usual Friday because on Friday I’m going to make a blog art show slideshow out of all the pieces the class selects.

Some links to Romani artists:

Here is a list of links to Romani artists’ names, works, and/or websites, as well as some other helpful resources:

http://www.romaniworld.com/artill.htm links to artworks by Romani artists

http://balval.pagesperso-orange.fr/ Marcel Hognon, Manouche sculptor

http://balval.pagesperso-orange.fr/ Mona, Manouche painter

http://www.romacult.org/en/catalog/2071/ a list of names of Romani artists that you can Google for images and information

http://www.rommuz.cz/en Museum of Roma Culture, Brno, Czech Republic

http://thegypsychronicles.net/romaartists-aspx/ Click on the artist that you want to learn more about

http://lolodiklo.blogspot.com/2011/02/art-by-romani-women-in-hungary.html Art by Romani women

http://lowegallery.com/artists/index-scrollbar.php?artist=lita-cabellut Lita Cabellut, Romani painter from Barcelona

http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/how-to/from-theory-to-practice/formal-visual-analysis.aspx Elements and Principles of art

Feel free to branch out and do more research to find a piece of art not listed here. The most important thing is that you find a work by a Romani artist that inspires you.


Lita Cabellut, “Billie Holiday,” 2013. Mixed Media on canvas.

Keep an eye out for Lita Cabellut’s artwork in the next issue of The Southeast Review


Documentaries we watched in class

Here are some excellent documentaries (that count as academic sources for your paper) about Romani culture, representations of masculinity in media, and representations of women in media, respectively.

Romanipen: The Gipsy Identity http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/4488/Romanipen–the-Gipsy-Identity

Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity https://www.google.com/search?q=tough+guise+full+documentary&oq=tough+guise&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j69i60j0j5.5307j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Miss Representation http://film.missrepresentation.org/shop/product/details/488/netflix



Image source: Romanipen from www.cultureunplugged.com

Because I said I would post these things and then didn’t: on-topic articles and stories I wrote

Pieces on Romani fashion and the politics of “dressing Gypsy”:

Gypsy Soul: Romani Fashion and the Politics of Dressing Gypsy accompanying Real Gypsy Looks photo shoot in Quail Bell Magazine


“Free Spirits” poem and photo tale in Quail Bell Magazine

Piece on racial profiling:

“Romani Looks, Romani Blood, Romani Challenges: Blond Gypsy Angels” in Quail Bell Magazine

Short story (if you want to read it, you can make an account with Narrative— it’s free & they won’t spam you)

Pushcart nominated “We Rise Up” Short Story of the Week, Narrative Magazine

Blog 7: Ars Poetica

We start the poetry unit! Writing ars poetica means that you use poetry to explore, define, or articulate the nature or function of poetry itself. It’s poetry on poetry. It can also be a poem about or inspired by a specific poem. So your job this week is to select a poem from Roads of the Roma: a PEN Anthology of Threatened Literature (Etd: Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, and Rajko Djuricthat inspires you and write a poem in response to it. You can use a line from the inspiration poem in your own poem, you could use a line as an epigraph, you could use a metaphor from the poem, write it in the style of that poem– there’s a lot you can do. Make sure to make it clear who you’ve been inspired by.

For example:

Title of poem, after Papusza’s “Extracts from untitled verse”


Body of the poem

lines of your poetry

“I have been left alone

like a fallen tree”


It’s clear who you’re quoting because of the title and the quotation marks. 


Title of your poem

        “I have been left alone/ like a fallen tree.” Papusza, “Extracts from untitled verse”

Body of your poem

lines of your poetry. etc.


A subtitle or an epigraph are other ways to attribute credit and make clear which lines are yours and which are the other poet’s. The style you use depends on the kind of poem you write.  Make sure to include the translator if there is one.

For this unit we’re writing four poems total– check the CPS for the assignment details. You are allowed to write one form poem and/or poem with consistent rhyme, but the other three must be unrhymed free verse. If you prefer to write all four as unrhymed free verse that’s fine. This week, you’ll write a twenty line (minimum) ars poetica poem to workshop in class on Friday.

For Wednesday’s class, read Papusza’s “Excerpts from untitled verse” and be ready to discuss it. She’s one of the most important Romani poets in history, considered the mother of Romani poetry. 

For Friday’s class, bring 3 hard copies of your ars poetica poem for workshop

For your blog, you need to analyze the poem you chose in 300 words or more and explain what this poem says or makes you think about the nature of poetry. The poem itself might not be about the nature of poetry, but in keeping with the ars poetic theme, try to pick something that inspires you to think that way about it. Due Friday.

Pointers for analysis:

1. What is happening in the poem?

2. What is/are the main metaphor(s)?

3. What are the poetic techniques the poet uses and what is their effect?

4. What kind of imagery and sensory description does the poet use?

5. What is the tone or mood of the poem?

6. Are there any religious, spiritual, literary, or cultural references? What are they? What do they mean in the poem?

7. And if there’s a word, name, or phrase you don’t understand or know, for goodness’ sake, look it up! You’ll understand the poem a lot better if you know all the words.



Bronislawa Wajs ‘Papusza’. Image source: www.societadelleletterate.it