Friday, March 18, 2011

Spotlight on Rafael F.J. Alvarado

Rafael F. J. Alvarado has made poetry his home and community since he was a teenager. Some may remember his earlier days as an angry youth with a drinking problem. However, beneath the once angry veneer is a sober man in his mid forties who has built a life around poetry. His best friend and business partner, S. A. Griffin, says he first met a much younger Rafael who interrupted him on stage. Griffin told Rafael to shut up and listen and the rest resulted in a thirty-plus-year friendship and partnership of H.I.P. Hollywood Institute of Poetics.

Of his role as poetry promoter, Rafael says he got lucky. “Early on I started meeting all these great poets,” he said. “My whole thing is trying to bring people together and share ideas. I thank God that I get to talk to people who have influenced me.” In a recent interview with Margaret Randall on the World Wide Word Radio Network, one of his ten ongoing radio shows, he shares his deep respect for Randall’s work. Randall casually stated that she has been around for a long time and is not surprised that her poetic arm has reached out to so many. Rafael’s show, The Moe Green Discussion, has already featured such luminaries as Nikki Giovanni, Luis J. Rodriguez, Martín Espada, and Robert Pinksy, to name a few.

Rafael works for poets and poetry regardless of not making money. His discussion with Randall touched on his admiration for the non-commercialization of poetry. “Everything about poetry to me is beautiful,” he said when pressed to talk about his dedication to the art. He is proud of the fact he can lend a hand at well established poetry readings, such as Beyond Baroque, the World Stage, and Avenue 50 La Palabra, as well as start new venues himself, such as online radio shows, the reading series at Stories Books and La Paloma Room, and off-the-cuff venues such as the anniversary reading of Ginsberg’s, “Howl,” and a prison poetry panel he is taking to high schools. Also through his publishing venture, Noble Swine Press, he’s published two poets Corrie Greathouse and Michael O’Keefe. Noble Swine Press does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. He says he only publishes poets he likes.

The Hollywood native’s love for poetry is somewhat hard-wired and genetic. His granduncle, Luis Cardoza y Aragon, was a renowned Guatemalan poet and his grandmother, Laura Cardoza Muller, was also a published poet. When asked about his commitment to poetry, Rafael says he just likes learning.

“Everything should be growing. I learned to channel my anger into writing and promoting people. Shows make me feel good about myself. I’m putting something out there I respect.”

The radio shows are fun for Rafael because he learns about poets’ craft and he gets free books. His own poetry collection, A Thousand Unridden White Horses, is forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press (that is as soon as he dials back from promoting and finishes the manuscript).

In the meantime, catch Rafael’s numerous poetry interviews on the World Wide Word Radio Network. Tonight, March 18, Margaret Randal reads at Beyond Baroque with V. B. Price. Listen to Rafael's past radio show with Margaret Randall and catch some current and upcoming poetry shows. Also, forthcoming, the World Wide Word Radio Network’s 4-year anniversary reading, hosted by Rafael Alvarado and S.A. Griffin, a free event at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd, at 4pm, Saturday, April 9.

A Thousand Unridden White Horses

by Rafael Francisco Jose Alvarado

for corrie

she wants prince charming

she is of a fairytale heart

how do I tell her

prince charming died in the sixties

the sex revolution

easy access

made men worse than they already were

so the few who had that right heart

never understood

what it is to care

for a woman

with an open heart

who doesn't want much

just honest eyes

that don't lie

there, are a thousand unridden white horses

waiting to be found

how do I to tell her

that sometimes men fall short

don't have the balls to love

passed lukewarm affection

when a woman dresses up to make you smile

and you don't notice

you don't deserve her touch

how do I say

Prince Charming is somewhere

inside a man

trying to grow up

Mil caballos blancos nunca jineteados

Rafael Francisco Jose Alvarado. Traducción de Alicia Partnoy

para corrie

Ella quiere al príncipe azul

ella de corazón de cuentos de hada

el príncipe azul se murió en los sesenta

revolución sexual

fácil acceso

que hizo al hombre peor de lo que era

y los pocos de recto corazón

nunca entendieron

cómo cuidar a una mujer

de corazón abierto

que no quiere mucho

más que ojos honestos

que no mientan

allí, mil caballos blancos nunca jineteados

ser hallados esperan

cómo le digo

que a veces los hombres se quedan cortos

que no tienen cojones para amar

más allá del tibio afecto

cuando la mujer se pone linda para tu sonrisa

y ni cuenta te das

no mereces que te toque

cómo le digo

que el Príncipe Azul

está en algún lugar

intentando crecer.


msedano said...

rafael has to be the hardest working person in poetry in el lay. la palabra at ave50 and that howl reading are, respectively, an ongoing pleasure, the other a lifetime's memory that i wish could become annual.


Stuart Strum said...

If anything can be said of Rafael, it is that he is not a cynic. His directness and honesty make his an authentic voice in a town known for its love of guile and manipulation. A true asset to our community as an artist and facilitator.

Anonymous said...

Is this Poetry?
All he knows to do is fuck married women

I look at her

take in the


I married

I use

to look at the


I dated

for hours

to bury

something to memory

back then

I knew

I wasnt a keeper

I was


just wanting

years I stop wanting

slept with married women


you cant get hurt

if your not going anywhere


whats different

I look at her

realize no more long looks for memory

just for me


like the morning now

her eyes closed

I wonder

when the road changed