Spotlight /

June 2021

Crafting Narratives with Dena Igusti

Dena is a queer non-binary Indonesian Muslim writer and multimedia artist born and raised in Queens, New York. They are the author of Cut Woman (Game Over Books, 2020) and I Need This To Not Swallow Me Alive (Gingerbug Press, 2021). They have received two play commissions at Players Theatre and Center At West Park in New York City, and they are currently a 2021 Playwright-in-Residence for Rogue Theater Festival. Their choreopoem, Cut Woman was featured at Prelude Festival last year. They are the co-founder of Asian multidisciplinary arts collective Uncommon;You and multimedia platform called Short Line Review. Dena holds many awards and titles including being a United Nations #TOGETHERBAND Global Ambassador for their work in advocacy and gender equality. Dena's work has been featured in many journals and publications, and they have performed at venues like The Brooklyn Museum, The Apollo Theater, the 2018 Teen Vogue Summit, and several international venues.

Key Takeaways

01 What and how we navigate things will always flow and change

In speaking about what they hope people take away from their poetry collection, Cut Woman, Dena explains how the notion of permanence doesn’t exist, there are no set stages, and that the things we navigate seep into each other.

02 The art you create does not have to represent everything you are

In writing and creating art, one of the challenges Dena overcame was realizing that although their work may be interpreted and perceived in different ways by an audience, one does not have to accommodate who they are in order to fit those perceptions.

03 Take care of the narrative you create when your voice is the one speaking for others

When creating a narrative as an artist, Dena learned that they have a particular responsibility to make sure that they were not limiting other people’s stories and all the nuances that make them who they are.

04 When experiencing writer's block, take the opportunity to connect back to your surroundings

Writer’s block is often feared by the writer, but it can also become an opportunity to connect with your environment and explore why there might be a block in the first place.

05 See more in the ‘mundane’

Where ‘mundane’ everyday occurrences may be overlooked, Dena finds a way to approach them with wonder and let it spark their inspiration in writing.

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