Media & Community

Cheryl in the Media

In this Youtube video,  I am interviewed about the value of a Fulbright teaching and research experience in Finland, which changed my life in many ways and influenced my teaching back in New York. I taught a seminar in environmental justice issues in literature and film at University of Tampere and also began to learn about  film by Sami people, the indigenous people of Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.

  In this YouTube video, I am interviewed about my experience as a writing
fellow at Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument in Washington state during the Pulse Gathering of Scientists in July, 2010 to mark the 30th anniversary of the last large eruption.  The experience of spending time in the "blast zone" of the volcano, and seeing the changes that have occurred over time evoked experiences of September 11, 2001, for me as I live and work a few blocks from Ground Zero of the World Trade Center .

Interview on with
about my research on June Jordan and Buckminster Fuller, and various influences and projects


Dan: What are some things you’ve been interested in lately?

Cheryl: I’m looking at environmental justice work through film and literature, and how some of the narratives by women are informed by their concern for the body and the body politic. I am interested in the film Toxic Trespass, by the Canadian filmmaker Bari Cohen, which shows how children have elevated levels of chemicals in their blood and how they are trying to raise awareness of unbridled industrial toxicity and auto emissions. Also I published an essay recently in the journal MELUS about Ruth Ozeki's novel My Year of Meats, and Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold's documentary Blue Vinyl.

Dan: How did you work Ozecki’s novel and Gold’s film into that essay?

Cheryl: In both works, there is a DES daughter at the heart of the story, and having been exposed to a chemical their mothers took while pregnant with them caused their own medical disorders. Both bring that sense of awareness of how toxicities cross many borders, bodily and societal and scientific, and obviously spatial. Both also draw on their ethnic traditions and sense of injustice to ask hard questions and challenge the status quo, and both use humor to delight us even as they tell us of troubling policies.

Dan: How did you find out about June Jordan’s poetry? What are some things that you really like about her writings?

Cheryl: I knew some of her poetry -- "Poem about My Rights," for instance is one of her poems that I’ve been teaching for a while. It is powerful, eloquent, angry, far-reaching, loving. She has extensive political outreach and transnational concerns, but when I started to read her essays, and the letters and other works in her archive, I was blown away. June was brilliant and so engaged with so many issues and ideas, and she was so open to people from many backgrounds. She was a truly gifted artist and friend who would ask hard questions. I feel like we are only at the beginning of understanding this woman's power, talent, and beauty.

Dan: How did you first find out about Buckminster Fuller? What do you like about his work?

Cheryl: I once dated a man who was a fanatic Bucky Fuller disciple. I was attracted to Bucky's ideas about synergy and using design to promote sustainable living, to eradicate poverty through innovation, and his far reach to others around the world. Bucky's poems are also fun.

Dan: What would you say are some things that you noticed about June Jordan and Buckminster Fuller’s friendship? What would you say are some ways by which they were ahead of their time?

Cheryl: Their friendship was surprisingly generous, expansive, and exciting. Both Bucky and June were global citizens before globalization became widespread; they are the internet and hypertext before it exists.

Dan: What would you say are some other things that they have in common?

Cheryl: They are always present, always have their minds into multiple actions and cross-pollinations to generate relations between humans, nature, and environments; they find the emblematic correspondence in thought, action, spirit, and place. In that way, Bucky is like his great, great, great (I forget how many greats) aunt, the Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller, who was so brilliant and misunderstood as a women of ideas in the 19th century. I also am a scholar of Margaret Fuller, and have published two essays about her.