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We're Not Done

I have a t-shirt I wear when I need comfort. It belonged to Frankie Torres, and I stole in from him when we were 16. The shirt says, “We’re Not Done!” celebrating an undefeated season of the Pelham Pelicans.  Frankie was my high school into college boyfriend, and the only cis-gendered man I’ve ever loved completely.
Recently a very close friend referred to me as a lesbian, tried to convince me to own that label. We are close enough friends that we can talk about these things in love and humor. This is not an insult; it just does not fit. Yes, I have loved women. Yes, I have loved men. Yes, I have loved people who identify as both or neither. I use the word "queer" as my identity now, and often wonder what other imperfect word I’ll find in another ten years.
Frankie was a football player, and I was a cheerleader. True story. He was smart enough to be jealous of the girls I had crushes on, and I used to threaten to cut the girls who had crushes on him. There were a lot of girls that had crushes on Frankie. He saw me completely. We were babies. He lied to me about having a twin brother, and I forgave him. I refused to marry him and went to college instead; he forgave me. We taught each other how to have sex with complete inhibition, love, connection, exploration, and satisfaction. I held him when he needed to be held. He held me even when I did not know I needed to be held. We were friends and lovers and family, depending on other relationships in our lives, until he died in 2010. He still has not visited me in dreams. He is the only person I love that is dead that has not visited me in dreams.
Frankie, Sandy, Jake, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Vera, Cousin Mary, Jonah. October makes me think of my dead. The veil gets thinner this time of year. I think of Frankie every day. I talk about him all of the time. I miss my friend. We're not done.
I could not go to his funeral in New York, because I had just returned from a trip to the East Coast, where my sister and I had to turn off the machines on my brain-dead father. True story, and also a lie.
Death, it is with us all of the time, isn’t it? Love, too.
My mom and friends told me that Frankie’s little sister brought photos of us to the wake and placed them on his casket.
It is not true that I didn’t go because I couldn’t afford it. I said that, but it is not true. I could have borrowed the money from a friend or my mom. It is not true that I didn’t go because I had grad school writing deadlines. I didn’t go because when my mom called J and asked her to tell me that Frankie was dead, and J found me and told me he was dead, I could not handle it. I could not stop throwing up. I left my body for a few minutes mumbling incoherent things to J.
I could not see your dead body, Frankie. Your strong, beautiful, alive, vibrant self wearing this t-shirt. We’re not done. And then, your dead body in a casket. I really needed you to stay alive for me. But you can visit now. I understand you are dead now.
My cat passed away a few weeks ago. My familiar, my companion, my friend of 15 years. If you’ve ever been to a poetry reading at Casa Libre, you saw his tuxedoed body in the library listening, out front like a sentinel guarding, or staring up at you with his bright green eyes demanding a snack. Jonah got me through Frankie’s death and so many other losses. I cannot write at length about him yet, but I wanted you to know that he is gone.
We’re not done.
Kristen Nelson
Executive Director & Founder
Casa Libre en la Solana


Please take a look at the event listings to the right for classes and workshops. We want to be transparent about who we are featuring here at Casa Libre. Although we recognize that statistics are not always the best way to do this, it is one way to take a snapshot. If you have any questions about how these statistics were compiled, please contact me atcasakeepers@casalibre.org. Mostly these labels are based on how writers self-identify, and we identify emerging writers as having one published full-length book or less. The Fair Weather Reading Series for our 2015-2016 year is:

74% Female Identified /16% Gender Non-Conforming/ 
10% Male Identified

74% Queer (LGBTQ)/ 26% Straight

47% People of Color/ 53% White

50% Emerging Writers/ 50% Established Writers

We are keeping track of these statistics, so we can continue to diversify the Fair Weather Reading Series and celebrate the work of underrepresented groups in the literary community. We aren't perfect, but we're getting there. 

Read an archive of past newsletters here

Please watch this 5 minute video celebrating the first 10 years of Casa Libre's programming and community:

Casa Libre- 10 years and counting on Vimeo.


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Make a secure online donation to Casa Libre through PayPal
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3/1 Hannah's Hothouse: A Casa Libre Fundraiser at La Cocina
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10/31 The Meat on the Bones: a writing workshop with Lidia Yuknavitch
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12/19 Restorative Poetics-Writing Humanity: a writing workshop with Samiya Bashir
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2/20 Surviving As Choose Your Own Adventure Novel-Writing Your Queer/Trans/ People of Color/ Disabled/ Femme Survival Stories: a writing workshop with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
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10/31 Fair Weather Reading Series w/ Lidia Yuknavitch & Aisha Sabatini Sloan
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11/21 Fair Weather Reading Series w/ Roger Bonair-Agard & Logan Phillips
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12/19 Fair Weather Reading Series Samiya Bashir & Jen Casale
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1/16 Fair Weather Reading Series w/ Joshua Jennifer Espinoza & Hannah Ensor
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2/20 Fair Weather Reading Series w/ Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha & Danielle Cadena Deulen
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3/19 Fair Weather Reading Series w/ Teresa Carmody & TC Tolbert
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4/23 Fair Weather Reading Series w/ Selah Saterstrom, Lisa Birman, & Elizabeth Frankie Rollins
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May Fair Weather Reading Series w/Annie Guthrie & TBA
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June Fair Weather Reading Series w/Melissa Buzzeo & TBA
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