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Past Events

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton in Conversation with Joaquin Zihuatanejo

Deep Vellum

Join Deep Vellum Books for an evening of reading and conversation in celebration of Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, author of the new memoir Black Chameleon (Henry Holt and Co.). At this special event, Mouton will be in conversation with Dallas Poet Laureate Joaquin Zihuatanejo.

About the Book

In the literary tradition of Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped, this debut memoir confronts both the challenges and joys of growing up Black and making your own truth.

Growing up as a Black girl in America, Deborah Mouton felt alienated from the stories she learned in class. She yearned for stories she felt connected to—true ones of course—but also fables and mythologies that could help explain both the world and her place in it. What she encountered was almost always written by white writers who prospered in a time when human beings were treated as chattel, such as the Greek and Roman myths, which felt as dusty and foreign as ancient ruins. When she sought myths written by Black authors, they were rooted too far in the past, a continent away.

Mouton writes, “The phrases of my mother and grandmother began to seem less colloquial and more tied to stories that had been lost along the way. . . . Mythmaking isn’t a lie. It is our moment to take the privilege of our own creativity to fill in the gaps that colonization has stolen from us. It is us choosing to write the tales that our children pull strength from. It is hijacking history for the ignorance in its closets. This, a truth that must start with the women.”

Mouton’s memoir Black Chameleon is a song of praise and an elegy for Black womanhood. With a poet’s gift for lyricism and poignancy, Mouton reflects on her childhood as the daughter of a preacher and a harsh but loving mother, living in the world as a Black woman whose love is all too often coupled with danger, and finally learning to be a mother to another Black girl in America. Of the moment yet timeless, playful but incendiary, Mouton has staked out new territory in the memoir form.

About the Presenters

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally-known, writer, director, performer, critic and the first Black Poet Laureate of Houston, TX. She is the author of the 2019 poetry collection Newsworthy, which was a finalist for the The Writer's League of Texas Book Award and Honorable Mention in the Summerlee Book Prize. Her poems have garnered her a Pushcart nomination and been translated into multiple languages. She has been a contributing writer for Glamour, Texas Monthly, Muzzle, and ESPN's The Undefeated. Her work ranges from writing stageplays and librettos for operas such as Marian's Song to storytelling through film. She currently resides in Houston, TX.

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a Chicano/Latinx poet and the author of Occupy Whiteness, forthcoming in 2023 from Deep Vellum, as well as Arsonist (Anhinga Press, 2018), winner of the Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. The winner of the 2008 Individual World Poetry Slam and the 2009 European World Cup of Poetry Slam, he will serve as the inaugural poet laureate of Dallas from 2022 to 2024.

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