Friday, April 29, 2011

Poetry Matters: Free Foley

by Melinda Palacio

When I lived in Chandler, Arizona, I started freelancing for newspapers and magazines. The biggest problem I had was someone grumbling that they didn’t say what I quoted. I recorded all my interviews and could prove my quotes and sources. I only experienced minor downsides of being a freelance writer and not having a badge with my picture on it or a boss telling me which stories to cover and when. Nothing like what James Foley must be experiencing. Foley, on his own accord, entered Libya and wrote stories and shot video footage, some of which ended up on the CBS evening news. He began by embedding himself with the National Guard and selling stories to Indiana hometown newspapers of the National Guard troops he befriended. His connections led him to continue freelancing in Afghanistan. Last month, he and three other journalists were arrested in Tripoli.

James Foley (USA), Clare Gillis (USA), Manu Brabo (Spain), and Anton Hammerl (South Africa) have been detained in Tripoli for 25 days and counting. The capture of these four journalists would have been forgotten had it not been for La Bloga’s poet friends: Luivette Resto and Yago Cura, who are organizing a poetry reading for their friend James Foley. Yago and Luivette went to college with Jim Foley. As graduate students in Massachusetts, the three were heavily influenced by Martín Espada.

As a poet, Yago feels that his work is similar to that of a journalist, “We speak for people who cannot speak,” he said. Yago was moved to help his friend and the three other international journalists by raising awareness and enlisting other local poets to partake in a poetry reading at Avenue 50 studio, Saturday May 7, from 6pm to 8pm. Next Saturday’s event features readings by Luivette Resto, Yago Cura, Rafael Alvarado, Billy Burgos, Dennis Cruz, S.A. Griffin, Jeff Rochlin and Annette Cruz.There are many other Free Foley events.

Yago Cura, like Luivette Resto, is a poet from New York. He admits that there’s little that ties James to California, but the more people who hear of his friend’s plight, the better. Although Clinton has asked for the release of the journalists detained in Tripoli, everyday day they are detained makes their detention that much harder for the journalists and their families.

Free Foley Poetry Reading, Avenue 50 Studio, May 7, 6pm.

The public is invited to Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center for a celebration of Latino L.A. art and performance on April 30, 2011 at 7pm with a screening of Eloy Take Two (Oregel Films), a documentary celebrating the work of L.A. based muralist and musician, Eloy Torrez, best known for the Victor Clothing Company mural, The Pope of Broadway—a tribute to the legendary Mexican-American actor, Anthony Quinn—a cultural fixture of Downtown since 1984.

This cultural event will include poetry from some of L.A.’s most notable Latino literary voices including acclaimed author Luis J. Rodriguez, Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC 89.3 education and arts reporter, Gloria Edina Alvarez, La Excusa/The Excuse, and Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, as well as live music by Eloy Torrez. Following the screening the audience will be treated to a Q&A with Torrez and the filmmaker, Roberto S. Oregel as hosted by Mat Gleason, $15.

On Saturday, April 30, from 2-5 pm, Sandra Cisneros will be at Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural.


On Sunday, May 1, the Paloma Room Poets at 6pm, 624 Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90540. Host Rolando Ortiz.

On Tuesday, May 3, Mehnaz Turner reads at the Cobalt Café, 22047 Sherman Way, Canoga Park at 9pm.


Where I’ll be reading this week:

April 29, the Contemporary Arts Forum in Downtown Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo for the poetry month grand finale, 7pm.

May 3, Pasadena City College’s CC lounge. Poetic Interval: Poems in Spanish, English and Spanglish, 6 pm.

May 7, Connecting Cultures at Beyond Baroque, 681 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 4pm.

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