Anthony Davis eludes tacklers, speeding around the corner toward the goal line. The Notre Dame linebacker gets the angle on Davis and meets him near the sideline. Hwump! It is the desperate defender's only big hit of the game, sending Davis full speed into the LA Times' photographer. The collision launches the thin woman in the tan pantsuit off her feet, impelling her ten feet back to the asphalt-and-rubber track where she lands in a heap. Her Nikon bounces along until it lands twenty feet to her right behind the End Zone. We photographers rush to the Nikon to see it has survived the hit.
That moment comes back to me in a flash when I hear the distinct sound of lens bouncing against steel floor of Metro rolling stock. The abashed lensman remarks it is only a couple hundred dollars of Nikon lens. Now, if he'd dropped the $5000 D800 body, that would have been another story. Here’s what we would have missed.
Riding the Red Line toward the heart of Hollywood is also another story for passengers finding themselves sharing space with the boisterous poets and photographers who fill one end of the 75 foot long subway car as it accelerates away from Union Station.
Poesía para la gente went underground on June's final Sunday. Organizer Jessica Ceballos' inspiration for reading poetry in public spaces came to life with a passionate intensity embodying the conviction that poetry matters, that poetry belongs out in the open, not exclusively within the covers of chapbooks, loose-leaf binders, literary ephemera, and public readings attended by the other poets on the list.
The event comes off magnificently! Jessica Ceballos and co-producer Ryan Nance issued their call for poets less than a month earlier and find themselves wrapped up in the energy and excitement that has some train riders looking on curiously. Some interact with poets, call-and-response, heckling, laughing, shaking their heads that gente would commit poetry in public places like this for all to see and hear.
|Conney Williams performs for the camera.|
|Jeffrey Alan Rochlin|
The poet crew comes with its own built-in diversity, an intercultural cross-section of the city of La, a mirror for the faces of passengers looking on, a spectacle for passing tourists when the itinerant poets, like Orpheuses ascending from the bowels of the MTA, become part of the frenetic scene at the corner of Hollywood and Highland.
|Cue Offenbach. Orpheuses ascending. One looks back.|
Jessica Ceballos in green dress realizes the event has taken on a life of its own.
“Yes,” the sole occupant of a manufactured granite bench affirms, asking if I know the organizers. I introduce myself and, suffering from chronic anomia, promptly forget her name. I quiz her about her work, what she’s chosen to share. She discloses she’s never read her work in public. I urge her let today be your day, and she nods agreement but I see the apprehension in her eyes.
The reading starts with a shouted introduction. The first readers match their presentation to the setting; they fill their space, gesture with body and face and vocalics, and get the juices flowing. Kaya hangs back from the gaggle who crowd the readers, eager to laugh and cheer their comrades.
|Jeffrey Alan Rochlin reads as the crowd closes in.|
They are agents of change in so many ways. Rolland Vasin, who performs as Vachine, observes, “Because Poesia Para La Gente threw down on Sunday, the Universe shifted a bit toward Goodness today.”
|Ryan Nance, Yago Cura, Devereau Chumrau, Conney Williams|
|Yago S. Cura|
|Kaya Amoroto makes a fist to relieve the pressure that builds as she prepares to do her first public reading.|
For one woman the change brought a once-in-a-lifetime change: she read in public for the first time. Now there’s no going back. But, as with any communication apprehensive person, taking that first step onto the stage comes gradually.
I make eye contact with Kaya and signal with a head nod to take a spot. No, she smiles and steps back. I approach, offer my hand to lead her to the emcee. She doesn’t take it but walks with me and I introduce her to Jessica Ceballos. Personalizing the experience should infuse Kaya Amoroto with the confidence to get up there and read. Kaya appears more relaxed, integrates into the throng, but doesn’t claim an open mic.
We hop on a Red Line car and poetry turns the ride into diverting perfection. I note Kaya holds a scrap of yellow paper. Eye contact again, I smile and nod, she smiles and shakes her head. A poet closes a piece and the interval reaches out and grabs Kaya by the tongue. She jumps to her feet and of the sudden, there’s Kaya Amoroto, projecting energetically to the passengers, turning toward the other poets, strolling the aisle using the space, slam style and fully engaged. I am happy for her and her face is triumphant when Jessica calls out “that was her first time reading in public!”
|Kaya Amoroto stands and delivers.|
|Kaya Amoroto holds on while taking command of her space.|
Another beauteous moment arrives when the group lands at MacArthur Park. The ride, the crowd, the poetry infects a group of youngsters. They interrupt their itinerary and, Ceballos recalls, the kids are “hanging out with us at our MacArthur Park stop. Sean made an announcement that he would be joined by a beat boxer …next thing you know, Sean is doing a duet with Isabel Hirama, in the middle of the park!” Scofflaw Sean and the kids had been blowing bubbles on the train and the poetic relationship emerged. Ceballos recalls, “just as suddenly, Isabel & Co. were back on the train to continue their trip to their original destination.”
|Ryan Nance, a co-organizer with Jessica Ceballos.|
|Tourists hitch a step when they see Ryan Nance making poetry happen in Hollywood.|
|Karineh Mahdessian adds to the excitement of the walk of stars.|
|Karineh Mahdessian's tee shirt reads "poet". Indeed.|
But I didn’t see any of that. After Hollywood and Highland, I split. On the train back to Union Station I recognize one of the featured poets, Yago Cura. We platicar and chat, he introduces me to la esposa, Amanda, explaining they have to get back to the babysitter. I don’t take their foto we’re so engaged in our chaticar.
He pulls out a copy of “Postcard Feat” published in 2007 by Cura and C.S. Carrier. It’s an issue of Hinchas de Poesia, a beautiful color codex paying tribute to postcards, poetry, and the United States Post Office as a quintessentially Unitedstatesian institution, and the decline of mail versus the ascendancy of paperless thought.
Yago asks if I like futból and I confess to being a Cementero but don’t really follow it. Yago does. He pulls out another number of his literary journal, Hinchas de Poesia. It’s the soccer issue, “Odas a Futbolistas,” every piece a tribute to a footballer, written by Cura or his collaborator Chaz Folgar. Cura shares also his hand-made folleto “Ode to Wayne Rooney by Yago S. Cura.” Cura really likes Rooney, writing “He plays like an ambitious intern at the Patent Office where plans for a Goalie Death Ray are discussed by querulous agents.” I also carry off the train Cura’s own collection, “Californiando.”
|Yago S. Cura's Hinchas de Poesía and other ideas.|
Email Cura vai hinchasdepoesia.com for information on Hinchas de Poesia. I did not know what the title meant, I thought of Ricardo Sánchez’ “Mis ojos hinchados,” but Yago explains an hincha is like a sports fanatic, except for poetry. Given where we had been, hinchas de poesia says in a nutshell what happened on the underground that day.
Poesia Para La Gente is a program of the Avenue 50 Studio's monthly La Palabra Poetry. The program has been made possible by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.
Ceballos already has plans in the works for the next Poesía para la gente poetry in public spaces event. La Bloga will share details when information arrives. Jessica's Bluebird Reading Series has its next event Sunday, July 14, 2013, 2:00pm - 4:00pm at Avenue 50 Studio, Inc.
Ave Atque Vale, Pocho2
Back in November 2011, La Bloga published an epitaph for the Chicana Chicano precursor to today's fully burgeoned social media ambiente, Pocho2.
Monday, wrapping up a seven year existence, Pocho2 formally closed its portal and disappeared into the ether. Hail and farewell, Pocho2.
Pocho3 has sprung into existence as a still-embryonic Facebook group with a secret membership. Old Pochos from the original Cyber Cholo Chat Room, created by world-renowned cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz before he was famous, or Pocho2 hangers-on, looking to get into Pocho3, click here.
Gemini Ink Kick-off Event Friday July 5
San Anto's leading literary cultural resource, Gemini Ink, plans a summer full of activities and learning. Visit their website for details on the kick-off event and the schedule of classes.
On-line Floricanto for Two July Thirteen
John Martinez , Francisco X. Alarcon, Javier Pacheco, Bernal Esme, Nancy Reza
"Abuelo Rosendo" by John Martinez
"Tanka for El Charro de Oro" by Francisco X. Alarcon
"down under and back [a poem about integrating the hardness and the light]" by Javier Pacheco
"Tonto Yo" by Esmeralda Bernal
"The Walk" by Nancy Reza
What was in those bible thumbs?
What did he see
In that rice paper?
Words like tiny ants
Like small grains
Of black sand
It was power,
That’s what it was.
Power to protect
In a Country
That didn't love him,
And their children,
A Country that wanted
Of a Country
They took from him
But he ground
At their ice plant anyway,
A lawn sprinkler
So that he could
Sit at his table,
Niche in Spanish,
The white faces
He did it for his Raquel,
For his family,
The forgiving sky
And every prayer
With his shut down eyes,
Left him and lingered
Like a cloud above us,
An angel in white and grey
When we were hot
It rained on us,
When we were cold
He lit the pilot
And called us in
I watched him
Over the years,
A confused state
On his chair,
In front of Telemundo,
Blazing those European legs
And he had that forever smile,
As I combed his hair
Like I did as a child,
He dozed off
Under the calendar,
Crooked on the wall
(c) John Martinez 2013
All Rights Reserved
Tanka for El Charro de Oro
Francisco X. Alarcón
for Sebastien de la Cruz
yes, keep on singing,
bringing blooming tunes to all—
your golden voice dons
the true American Dream
in great mariachi outfits
© Francisco X. Alarcón
June 13, 2013
Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070.
Down Under and Back
This gracious host
isn’t feeling so well;
down in the dumps,
loss of appetite
lack of normal sleep
day ‘n night blahs
descending to underworld
where nothing is sacred
very little held dear
coping mechanisms jammed
when gravity gives way
to the sudden free-fall of ego/elevator
weighted in anguish and fear
swept by dark undercurrents
stifling dreams of heaven
base hardness smothering the soul
awash in inner agitation
blocked energy flow
arousal turrets closed
distorted cellular growth
mental distress loops
of stored-up humiliations
feelings of being slighted
derisive social neglect
brooding indifference that boils over
into anger and its triggers unhinged
theatrics of tantrums
diatribes and blaming;
its the inflated ego
too attached to this fading world
severing mystic cords
of memory, justice and
the transition from time
that inner eternity
afflicting forces may ultimately lead me
to understand maya (illusion)
the mindfulness of
coalesced inner seasons,
planting good seeds
tending to a blooming heart;
in the pivotal shift
that reconstitutes life’s focus
personifying the heroic exemplar
in self-renewing promise
raising the spirit aloft
freed from polarities
the corrosive space,
in the negativity
of dark shadows
embracing the wondrous present
is the ground of oneness
coincidence of all opposites
integrating coexisting counterparts
in transpersonal unity
the harmony of the spheres
soul work serenity
leading the cosmic dance
both feet lacing rhythms
a befriending love that
defines unifying purpose:
the peak experience
of magical grace
at the door of divinity.
He is a S.F. Bay Area performance poet, pianist, composer, arranger, with an M.A. in Music (UCLA 1986) and PhD in Ethnomusicology (UCLA 1994).
He is pianist for Broken English (Santa Cruz), directs his own ensemble, Orquesta Pacheco, and performs Jazz on occasion with the Pacheco Trio.
johnny depp 6/23/2013
Tonto Yo bows deeply in reverence
to johnny depp, he has defended us
bricolage, bricolage, bricolage
heavy bricks of definition
Tonto is now a dumb white man
and Tonto Yo bows down
grateful the results
are neatly stacked
profit for depp’s pocket
what a great man,
great white father
© Esmeralda Bernal 6/23/2013 All Rights Reserved
Esmeralda Bernal resides in Phoenix, Arizona. Her poetry has appeared in La Bloga, HaLapid, Yellow Medicine Review, Nahualliandoing Dos: An Anthology in Nahuatl, Espanol and English, and recently in the San Gabriel Quarterly Review: Issue 58/ Spring 2013.
As you prepare to what's ahead, don’t hesitate to glance back
from time to time.
The journey may have seemed as though it had no end
but its only just begun.
By criticism or encouragement; by barriers or a helping hand;
by oppression or by being driven you have crossed that line.
The line where your dreams meet reality,
the crossing from a team of many to a team of one.
As child-hood friends are called individually,
as friends walk before you, some after you
As your mind races back and visits every back-to-school moment,
every rally, every class room;
As you suspensely wait to hear your name,
you will walk across as you aspired to do.