Constance Collier-Mercado is an experimental Writer, Artist, and Founder of The CultSTATUS Arts Haven. In line with her rich family history, she is forever in search of all the culture she can get - specifically, all the Black culture she can get.
I'm a Geechee Girl at Heart ...
... but I am also a wanderer. I make due with hand-me-down stories of white-gold rice and marshland farmers while my mother holds closer connection to the true Geechee culture of her native Charleston. Likewise, my father is intimately aware of his history among a people who rise from the Upper Delta waters of Northern Mississippi. I inherited merely their stubborn willful nature.
I struggle to reconcile the contradictions that come with family roots spread across Mississippi, North & South Carolina, Chicago, the Bronx, and my current work in Atlanta. At times, I question if I even have the right to call myself Geechee. Meanwhile, I love the freedom of not being tied down to any one place or thing.
Born in Chicago and raised in the Bronx, her work examines the nuanced layers found within Black dialectical, multilingual, and equivocal spaces - those literal and imagined intersections between sensory, mystic, and social identities - to include cultures of abuse, empowerment, and dis/ABILITY.
Her words have been published in FIYAH Literary Magazine, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, The Auburn Avenue, Kweli Journal, The Believer, and elsewhere. An excerpt from her grief play Chelsea’s Dream: Embracing Yellow premiered as a unanimous selection at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival and she produced a one-woman spoken word homage to The Last Poets at the 2016 Festival. She has also curated two AfroFutures Syllabus events: Hoo-Doula/Voo-Doula, which was hosted at the Auburn Avenue Research Library, and Black Sun/Black Son as a live Twitter chat. Hoo-Doula/Voo-Doula has since become a monthly AfroFutures book club in Southwest Atlanta.
This tension informs much of my multidisciplinary work, including my writing. I write to document a culture in motion – maroon space, ritual, altar circle, gospel, protest, house party, beauty salon, spades table, potluck – my art is always an exercise in contradiction. This philosophy extends itself to both my explicit familial connections and those more ancestral. I believe that my personal conflicts are not unlike the African American attempt at wholeness across global diaspora. When faced with issues of family estrangement, loss, grief, spiritual brokenness, disability/chronic illness, survived homelessness, and ever new cycles of self-becoming, I remind myself that I am a melting pot of equivocation as are we all.
We are Gumbo. We are Jollof. We are Okra Stew. We are Peppersoup.
We are Quimbombó. We are Moqueca Baiana.
Recently named the 2019 Jack Jones Literary Arts Octavia Butler Fellow in Fiction, Constance is also an alumnus of the 2017 Home School Claremont Conference, two Live to Write workshops, the 2018 VQR Writer's Conference, and the 2018 Hurston/Wright Foundation Writer's Week. She lives and works in Atlanta where she is writing a speculative novel and a first volume of poetry which depicts the divinity and kinetic energy of The Kinfolk. In her free time she can be found obsessing over the fact that she has no free time.