'Black Punk Now' - An Anthology Sharing Black People's Stories

"Black Punk Now" edited by Chris L. Terry and James Spooner.

Check out these interviews with Monika Estrella Negra, and Alex Smith, who contributed to "Black Punk Now."

What was your inspiration behind your most recent book [essay/short story]?

Monika Estrella Negra: During the pandemic, I lived alone and had a lot of time to think about my life and where I was headed. I was living in Philadelphia, but I knew that it was time for a change. I had slowly begun to distance myself away from "punk" culture, as a means of putting a cease to my self-sabotaging behavior. I lived in West Philadelphia, in "Cobbs Creek," which was around the area where the Move bombing happened in the ‘80s. It's a neighborhood with a lot of history, and this story came about when I learned about the fate of a previous resident of the house I was renting at the time. So, the story in ”Black Punk Now” is a bit autobiographical. 

What does “Reading Rainbow” mean to you?

Being able to relate to the characters and the world presented in the story. Even in speculative work — it is so important for writers to understand the power they have to create stories that resonate with identities and life experiences. Because our community is marginalized, it is often hard to find any sort of media that is cognizant of how different our lives, relationships and general existence is. I believe Reading with Pride is about feeling some sort of spiritual connection. 

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books? 

As for myself, a Black, bisexual woman, I think it is *very* important to discuss the numerous intersections of my life. As I mentioned before — our lives are very different from most, despite some commonalities with hetero communities. The ways in which we have to think about how we present ourselves in public, and at times "switch" our personalities in order to adapt to certain social situations or for work. I also believe that because of our identities, it influences us to see the world from an entirely different perspective, and that bleeds into our normal, everyday life. I think about the ‘90s and how it was very rare to see a queer, Black woman on television or that homophobic slurs were considered to be a gag and were present in so many works. It is so clear that there has been a societal shift, and I do believe that literature, art, and activism are the reasons behind that shift. No matter the medium, marginalized creatives have taken up space and demand representation. Representation is such a weird buzz word, especially because it has been co-opted by those who wish to only tokenize our communities — but, being visible in this crazy world is so impactful. It can inspire those who think that they are invisible or are scared to be their true selves. It can only go up from here! 

Tell us a little more about [your contribution to] the book and why you decided to write it.

Yes! James [Spooner] and Chris [L. Terry] reached out to me about contributing to the anthology and participating in a panel with other rad, Black female organizers in Punk. I felt that Mya/Michelle had come to me at the perfect moment. It is originally an excerpt from my upcoming novella, and James and Chris inviting me to share my work gave me the stamina to keep writing the story. As I mentioned, the excerpt in “Black Punk Now” is almost autobiographical, and I feel that it is a good opportunity for me to share more of my experience in the Punk world. 

What can fans expect from your book?

Creepy stuff. Sad stuff. Happy stuff! I am at the halfway mark, so I hope to have it finished by the end of next year. I am currently a full-time student, so my time to write has become limited. 

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

My novella and continuing my work as a Co-Editor for Decoded Pride, a speculative fiction anthology by LGBTQIA+. You can find out about Decoded via https://www.decodedpride.com.

What was your inspiration behind your most recent book [essay/short story]?

Alex Smith: If you mean the story, “Smoke Again Akhi” in “Black Punk Now,” the punk rock anthology featuring writing from Black punk folks, I think I’d say the inspiration was…hmm…well, I’m more of an “impetus” guy than an “inspiration” person. I think I was thinking about Black people and how often we are all considered this monolithic culture, about how our sexuality is often blocked into categories and not allowed to be spectrum-ized like other cultures. I thought about gentrification and its impact on Black bodily forms and DNA, and how redlining, gentrification and micro/microaggressions helps to draw lines of cultural demarcation by class within the Black community. And then ultimately how all that plays out in a queered context. Plus, like, I really wanted to tell a story about aliens and spaceships and clones and stuff. Black queer people need to be seen in sci-fi context.

What does "Reading Rainbow" mean to you?

Honestly, I’m not familiar with the phrase. I’d say it means having a discerning eye about how queer people are marginalized in literature and fiction and other media, and about being able to point out how we are stereotyped, written poorly, or with deliberate intention to harm our various queer communities. I think I sometimes annoy people with pointing out that certain writers, directors, authors, filmmakers, TV shows, etc., don’t have any gays in their universes. Or that the LGBT people they do have are there to serve the plot or the straight protagonists. It’s not an easy job, but I think it means being able to unearth a critical analysis towards modern media with regard to queer space and queer people being in that space.

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?

I’d say before just, “writing a variety of people” is to get how those people are written correctly. Plain ol’ diversity, however, it’s being defined by some people in a boardroom with a checklist, isn’t really serving anyone. I think it’s important for people to branch out and create worlds where queer and Black and queer Black people exist, but to also remember to highlight own voice works that are already doing this work or who need resources and support to begin this work.

Tell us a little more about [your contribution to] the book and why you decided to write it.

I suppose I answered this in the previous question.

What can fans expect from your book?

Well, I have two major releases in circulation. ARKDUST, a sci-fi/cyberpunk/Afrofuturist/super-hero short story collection. All the stories feature queer Black/POC characters in lead and heroic roles. I’m particularly proud of the piece “What We Want, What We Believe” from this collection, a story that features what I believe to be the first depiction of vogue/ballroom culture in a sci-fi story. And, a work I’m still doing with James Dillenbeck, BLACK VANS, a cyberpunk/super-hero story about queer POC hackers who work for super-heroes in a future Philadelphia overrun by tech-pharma culture. BLACK VANS is special because it features a variety of queer POC men of size, fat gay men in heroic, empowered roles, a community that is drastically under-served in all media, and particularly in sci-fi and fantasy. We’ve done two issues of BLACK VANS and expect to have the final two installments by the end of 2024.

In my work, readers can expect big action set pieces, intense character work, anti-establishment/pro-collective action sentiments, a bit of anarchy, strange concepts, some chaos magic, and a continuing conversation about reconciling technology, wellness, and revolution all through a Black queer lens. And lasers. And unicorns.

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

I’m working on several projects for 2024 and into 2025. I’m self-publishing a book called “cyBEARpunk,” an anthology of sci-fi prose stories that feature large, hirsute gay men (bears) as lead, heroic characters in sci-fi stories. Then I’m working on an Afrofuturist super-hero/solarpunk screenplay that will entirely unfilmable on an indie budget, so I’m going to publish it as a book. Following all of that, I’m working on a space opera novel as the follow-up to ARKDUST, that will feature exclusively queer Black people. And finally, a handful of gay romance sci-fi/fantasy stories that I will be publishing as small run zines called MARZ (MARZ #1 is already available). To keep up with my work, follow @theyarebirds and @alexoteric on Instagram and Twitter.

Monika Estrella Negra (she/her) is a freelance journalist, filmmaker and curator of all things radical in media. Her first short titled “Flesh” is about a Black femme serial killer navigating the Chicago DIY punk scene (of which was included in the ‘Horror Noire’ syllabus). She has directed two additional shorts, ‘They Will Know You By Your Fruit’ and ‘Bitten, A Tragedy’. A writer, a nomadic priestess, spiritual gangster and all-around rabblerouser – Monika has written essays for Syfy Fangrrls, Black Girl Nerds, Grimm Magazine, Black Girls Create, Black Youth Project, Wear Your Voice Magazine, Rue Morgue, Fangoria and is the author of a zine series (Tales From My Crypt). In addition, she is the creator of Audre’s Revenge Film and Black and Brown Punk Show Chicago, Co-Host of Bitches on Comics and Co-Editor for Queer Spec’s Decoded Pride anthology. She resides in Minneapolis.

Alex Smith is a sci-fi writer, artist, musician and cultural/arts critic. He is a recipient of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the curator of the upcoming queer cyberpunk/sci-fi anthology CY-BEAR-PUNK, and author of the sci-fi/cyberpunk/super-hero/Afrofuturist short story collection ARKDUST, published from Rosarium Publishing. Alex dreams of a better world through sight and sound and invites you to beam in and join him. @theyarebirds @alexoteric


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



Got a juicy lead or story idea? Let us know!



Out South Florida

Hello from OutSFL! We hope you'll consider donating to us. Starting a business can be a scary prospect, but with your support so far, we've had tremendous success. Thank you!

donate button