Constant Reader

Poet Natasha Marin Captures a Commonality in Her Decade-Long Project

With ‘Red Lineage,’ the Seattle artist has invited an unending parade of agendas, ideologies, and beliefs. The results are unique and unifying.

Here’s a poem called “Red Lineage”:

My name is Vulnerable Red.

My mother’s name is Staunch Red.

My father’s name is Red-Eye Red.

I come from a people known for flagrance

& survival.

Remember me.

Here is another poem called “Red Lineage”:

My name is Tumbleweed Red.

My mother’s name is No Time For You Red.

My father’s name is Juvenile Red.

I come from a people known for giving up but I

never will.

Remember me.

“Red Lineage” is a poem told in variations, written by many poets. In some, the mother’s name is Sea Red or Bad to the Bone Red and the father’s name is Mountain Red or Murder Red. In others, the people are known for “originality and truth” or “starting fires and depravity.” They all want to be remembered.

In the videos of “Red Lineage” posted to redlineage.com, people usually stand in front of a red background, often in ornate costumes, and read their variations of the poems. They submit under anonymous names like “Jessica A.” or “TW.” Participants are encouraged to type their own “Red Lineage” poems into a form, with blank spaces just waiting to be filled in, Mad Libs-style. You can go and fill out as many as you like right now, if you want. “Red Lineage” was founded by Seattle poet Natasha Marin as a ritual/performance-art piece. The project takes on many different aspects: sound collage, dance, video, all connecting themes of parenting and legacy and the color red.

By using a simple poem that can withstand infinite variations as the container for the project, Marin is allowing an unending parade of agendas and ideologies and beliefs to funnel through “Red Lineage.” The poem is always changing, but something ineffable survives every modification, no matter what a particular poet brings to the framework. You’ll find echoes, strings connecting poems, a thematic influence that seems to run deeper than words or even thoughts: Perhaps the meaning springs from somewhere inside our blood?

This Thursday, Marin presents “Red Lineage” as part of a show called REMEMBER ME at Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar on Capitol Hill, digging deep into a multimedia archive collected over a decade. That’s a lot of contributors—and a lot of mothers and fathers and memories. From her women-only Read and Bleed series to her Miko Kuro’s Midnight Tea events to her People of Color Salons, Marin’s work is all about community and inclusion; in a city whose art scene erases people of color with alarming regularity, she empowers and uplifts people of color, women of color, artists with disabilities, and other neglected populations. In some ways, REMEMBER ME feels like the purest extension of Marin’s work. She’s sharing a common tongue with people, inviting them to speak for themselves, and demanding that everyone notice—and, yes, remember them. Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar, 1508 11th Ave., 709-9797, vermillionseattle.com. Free. All ages. 6-9 p.m. Opens Thursday, July 14.

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