Last week on La Bloga-Tuesday, I featured a group of poets reading their stuff on the Los Angeles subway and Hollywood sidewalk, Poesia Para La Gente: Poetry Underground. The event marked yet another success in Poesia para la gente's commitment to bringing poetry to public spaces. It's the kind of thing that adds vibrancy to a city's cultural life, and it doesn't cost the city a dime.
As with any major event, follow up from organizers and participants inevitably brings more good news. That news includes release of the video from videographer Kevin Lynn and his KLLVideo Productions.
Puro good news is poet Sean Hill's guest columnist sharing a poet's-eye view of the event. And, in a capstone of good news, organizer Jessica Ceballos sends a note from Isabel Hirama, the beatboxer who joined Sean Hill in the MacArthur Park reading.
• Michael Sedano
So I brought bubbles.
by Sean Hill
|Sean Hill at Union Station|
To a poetry event where I knew (1) bubbles would be allowed and (2) just in case of any trouble...I got bubbles.
Case in point: baby crying. Sitting across from me as the second round of poetry started. We're sitting on our first subway ride and this child is about to erupt bigger. This is a job for BUBBLES! Disaster immediately averted as she now laughs and screams too loudly in happiness, but the poet was on the far side of the train. I continue to blow bubbles for her happiness until my lungs begin asthmatic actions.
|Yago S. Cura reads on the Red Line platform.|
It was time for me to share a poem and I do, her friends I just introduced myself to look in wonder and delight realizing they just became a part of something so alive with all these poets sharing so openly, lovingly, and sincerely with strangers...who now become friends.
|Sean Hill reads underground between Union Station and Hollywood & Highland|
I ask Jessica Ceballos, our Ultima Momma Bear and Adventure Guide. I met Jessica first at the Last Bookstore where she invited me to feature at The Bluebird Poetry Reading she has at Avenue 50, beautiful venue, fun people, elegant vibe. Jessica approves of Isabel, the bubble blowing lady who can beatbox, and says sure, once we get up top.
Steps and steps and more steps later, which are usually easily taken, pretty strenuous at the moment since I have a cane for the time being, torn MCL (whatever that is) in my knee from doing "the Matrix" move in a b-boy-ish battle at a fundraiser for a human right's campaign for the Filipino people. The ligament was a worthy sacrifice.
|Jeffrey Alan Rocklin reads while departing passenger looks on.|
I don't know what's going to happen next. That's the beauty of being human and being an artist. I tell a quick synopsis of how Isabel Hirama and I met on the train and I intro her as a beatboxing college go'er visiting LA for the first time from outta town. She is welcomed quickly...she smiles widely...I give her the "start when you're ready" look...and BAM.
Beatboxing bursts out of her body like a one woman team of acapella artists! Fluidly, crsip, and clean, I freestyle poetically something about infinity, sharing our love and craft, and something about hoping a bird doesn't poop on us. Yes, it all made sense somehow, trust me...it did.
|Ryan Nance reads for the videographer, Jessica Ceballos surveys the car, Yago Cura focuses.|
I look at things in the big picture alot...and honestly...if everyone joined an open mic for a day out of nowhere: world peace.
I aim high. Sometimes I think I'm joking when I say things like that...sometimes I don't.
What Jessica Ceballos did was get a bunch of poets together to cannonball with love into the pool we call Los Angeles. What Isabel Hirama did was not only get soaked by the wave we made...but she smiled, wiped the water off her eyes, and dived in to make her own splash.
If everyone did what Isabel did...world peace.
Beatboxing Visitor's View - Isabel Hirama
Isabel Hirama, via Jessica Ceballos sends along this message from Taiwan.
Coming across Poesia Para la Gente on my first afternoon in LA completely made my day. As soon as I noticed the bubbles drifting through the metro car, I knew we had stumbled upon an adventure. My friends and I were mesmerized by their poetry performances and delighted by the way the group welcomed us. When I left LA I wished #pplg could travel with me and bring a little bit of magic to the sidewalks/subways/parks of cities everywhere!
the day I met you guys inspired me to write a poem as I was falling asleep that night so thank you
First Day in LA
Immensely tired, intensely tired
Not tried and trialed, just spent and inspired
Fell in love with this city - walk me down the aisle!
Now stretch into slumber...I sleepily smile
|Poet VLM lugged his keyboard|
On-line Floricanto for the Ninth of July
Avotcja, Victor Avila, Frank De Jesus Acosta, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Raul Sanchez
“Poetic Homage to Rafael Manrique Como Un Picaflor Aromático
(For Rafael Manriquez Silva 3/27/1947-6/26/2013)” by Avotcja
“Imago” by Victor Avila
“Stanzas of Solitude” by Frank De Jesus Acosta
“Gabe’s Search” by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
“Salsa Verde” by Raul Sanchez
Poetic Homage to Rafael Manrique Como Un Picaflor Aromático
(For Rafael Manriquez Silva 3/27/1947-6/26/2013)
Rafa… nuestro Picaflor
The clock has stopped,
but I still hear your voice
“Reloj no marques la hora”
Your unmistakable voice
Un encanto andino
Like Chilean Pebre
Spicing up an otherwise spiceless world
Our Chilean Song Bird has joined the Ancestors
Y te estraño
I miss you
& the understated intense promise of justicia in your voice
Tu … un océano de cantos
Your world of Song & your fanatical love of Song
Poetic Songs that never seemed to stop coming
Tu … biblioteca eterna de la palabra poetica
Ay Rafa … tu voz
Como un rayo de la esperanza
Our melodic medicine in a world gone mad
Una estampa indestructible
Proud & unmistakable like Chilean hot sauce
Pebre vocalizado … un sabor inolvidable
A ‘one of a kind’ kind of sound
Escrito en el viento
Una estampa sempiterna
Singing to me
Your mischievous voice
Dancing through our dreams
Spicing up our lives like Chilean hot sauce
Ay Rafa … encantador Chileno
Te escucho en cada brisa
Singing to my Soul
La belleza de tu voz
Singing … singing … singing to me
Singing to all of us
“Reloj no marques la hora”
Copyright © Avotcja
by Victor Avila
She casts her magic
over sunburnt stones.
Dry dust then rain
she chants her spell.
My heart, a desert-
a ghost of the soul-
discovers a well
with water brimmed.
She speaks a language
trees and animals know.
Her clothes, a shawl,
spun by afternoon sun.
She walks unheard
through adobe walls
to face the west
as the sun goes down.
I imagine she comes
every night while we sleep
and drinks from a well
we thought only ours.
For it's her that raises
the ladle to our lips
to quench a thrist
that by ourselves...
We can never quell.
Copyright 2013 Victor Avila. All rights reserved.
Stanzas of Solitude
by Frank De Jesus Acosta
In my solitude, I discovered the healing nature of silence…In the space of silence I discovered peace with my solitude… Rather than walking blindly through my day, I will seek out the resounding beauty that waits in whisper before me.
Solitude and loneliness…The razors edge of romantic hearts…The blood of the poet’s pen…Elegies paint a veil between life & dreams, passion & pain… In tranquility and inner tempest I write… Only prayers finding the heart of God know distinction
Today I will embrace the quiet of solitude that I may hear the true sacred song of my heart. in sacred whispers before me.
Prayer by: Frank de Jesus Acosta
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
Gabe, raised in the bosom
of a large extended family,
A loving family, in Morenci,
visited Mamá Teresita
And Tata every Sunday,
Along with all of us, his primos.
Morenci, our home,
Our haven from the world,
Was not where our destiny lay,
Unless we worked the mine.
We all left to seek our fortune
Just as long as it wasn’t mining
Or working for a company
That owned the town.
As a teenager,
Just out of high school,
Gabe joined the Army,
Trained as a medic/lvn,
went to Vietnam,
Experienced the horrors
Of war first hand.
He, like each of us
In our own way,
Searched for Morenci,
A town no longer there,
A family broken apart
Scattered, no longer in touch.
Gabe married, fathered a son,
But happiness eluded him.
Haunted by vivid memories
Of a war fought in vain,
Its soldiers not respected,
The marriage ended in divorce.
Gabe met and married Debbie.
He found his Morenci in San Elizario.
Debbie’s extended family
Replaced his own Díaz family.
Two towns, very different,
Yet much the same.
He made a new life for himself,
Created his own Morenci,
Raised his three girls,
Imparted the values he
Acquired in Morenci.
Gabe is gone now,
But not forgotten,
A loving husband, father,
And friend, a tribute to
Copyright 2013 Elena Díaz Bjorkquist. All rights reserved.
I’m a writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Arizona. I write about Morenci where I was born. I’m the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon and co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by my writers collective Sowing the Seeds.
As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, I’ve performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci for twelve years. In 2012 I received the Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of my work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities. I was nominated for Tucson Poet Laureate in 2012 and am one of the moderators of the Facebook page Poets Responding to SB 1070.
My website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.
by Raul Sanchez
Independence Day, a day to celebrate and share our amalgamation into the Fondue Pot. Speaking of food, for my contribution to the upcoming gathering, I decided to make Salsa Verde the way my Sweet Mother used to make it. Here is how she made it. Enjoy!
on comal stove top
pungent air permeated
swells of flavor
tomatillos turned yellow
with dark burnt spots
time for her hands to grind
tomatillos, chiles with mortar
salt chunks, garlic, clove
fresh cilantro, crushing, crushing
blending, turning mortar churning
delicious salsa on molcajete
steamy spicy smell
tickled my nose
eaten on tortillas, tostadas
my tongue on fire
give me more.
I’ll wash it down with Tequila
gift from the gods
made on molcajete
(Poem previously published in the Raven Chronicles, Summer edition, available at Open Books on 45th Ave. in Seattle)