Karineh Mahdessian, who hosted, welcomes Thelma T. Reyna to La Palabra
La Bloga friend and Latinopia book reviewer Thelma T. Reyna put on a reading that became a reading your stuff aloud clinic during Reyna’s Sunday reading at La Palabra, one of two poetry series sponsored by Avenue 50 Studio.
It was an all-around effective presentation. Holding the text and walking held the packed gallery’s nearly full attention and encouraged the poet’s use of eye contact and interaction with seated guests. Reyna’s oral interpretation shines as a model for readers in three basics of oral expression: making pace fit the words, developing a meaning-based rhythm, vocalics and projection so audiences can hear and understand.
Thelma Reyna keeps gestures up high.
Poets struggle against the written rhythms of their words as laid down in short lines on paper. Anapests and dactyls. One line is pretty much the same as the next, short phrases, one or two ideas, pocas palabras. Poets read such lines infected with that grammatical pattern of repetitive five- and seven-word clauses, the beat on the same measure almost every single time for thirty lines. A drumbeat of monotony is poor motivation for a listener to seek out more.
Poet Thelma T. Reyna respects her words, she lets ideas and images speak for themselves. Her reading escapes the tight syllabic emphasis of soft-soft-accent-soft-soft-accent, breathe, repeat to the end of the line.
Regardless of what word ends a line of poetry or metrical scan, Reyna reads the words within the thought or image, emphasis falling subtly on key words. Pairs of things and things that come in three abound in Reyna’s poems. She reads the dysjunction into one’s ears.
The packed house, presence of familia and colleagues, a photographer in the front row, all contribute to add stress to the situation. In such events, many readers rush through their work, swallowing words, becoming inaudible if not inarticulate. And it doesn’t take much rushing to make unrecognizable sounds. Reyna did not allow the moment to speed up her pace.
Pronunciation and enunciation happen at instantaneous speed. The lips move, the mouth opens the lungs push out air, the tongue forms the sound and you hear what you hear. Reyna speaks at a word-respecting rate, allows each word its aural space, loud enough even when street noise competed. She pronounces each syllable fully until the word emerges into the flow of concatenating syllables. And the audience doesn’t sit there asking “what did she just say?”
Reyna’s time on stage followed La Palabra’s Open Mic feature. Readers exhibited a wide range of comfort and skill in front of an audience. Poets shared touching heartfelt pieces for a parent, one played harmonica and sang his words. Three poets, Joe Kennedy, Jeffrey Alan Rochlin, and Vachine
Top: Flor, Maria Ruiz. Bottom: Aaron Higaweda, Abram Gomez
provided remarkable readings. Vachine and Rochlin shared thoughtful, powerful works that their presentation enhanced, while Kennedy’s intense reading of his edgy stream-of-consciousness noir poetry would be enhanced with eye contact. Kennedy's rapid-fire pace works, for him. Rochlin committed a cardinal sin of an open mic. Given two poems, he declared he would do a third. And it was not a knockout. If you’re going to do that, knock it out of the park, at least change the pace, do a funny one, mejor, do an hommage to a miglior fabbro, mentiendes?
Joe Kennedy, Jeffrey Alan Rochlin, Vachine
Following an assortment of community poets raises the spirit of the featured poet to be reading with her gente after an hour's open mic. Reyna would have won a larger piece of our hearts had she made the painful decision to cut a few titles, move the unpublished pieces earlier in the program, then end the reading on a life affirming poem, like the “she still has it” piece, or the being pregnant poem. That one is a knockout.
Thelma Reyna takes questions
After the lively Q&A session, Thelma called me out as a speech coach who’d listened to her read and offered an observation. Today’s column reflects the goals Thelma set for her La Palabra audience: Pace, say each word as itself, slow down. Rhythm, read the ideas and structure, not the meter. Projection, sustained breathing control produces the volume and pitch you want.
Thelma Reyna, Painting by Margaret Garcia
Real Estate Ad: Home for Sale. Charming hilltop with maximum view and solitude. Adobe dome horno and xeriscape just two of limitless small delights on this one-owner 60s bargain.
Real Estate Agent: You can knock that thing down and put in a spa.
I am away at Santa Barbara when my dad tells me he is building an horno to replace the pit barbeque. And he does. With help from an older friend, dad digs and sifts the red land of his yard, uses local rye grass augmented with Live Oak Canyon cow pies and makes adobe block. He plasters the outside with finely sifted mud.
A few days in advance of a barbacoa, my dad starts pulling leña for the horno. He prefers orange wood for its smoke and long-burning hardness, and because he'd been an orange-picker. Chamizo and stone fruit wood go in, too. No eucalyptus nor elm. Starting with the biggest limbs on the bottom, he stacks the firewood so the nearest at hand will be the first-to-burn twigs that kindle the fire.
Hours before sunrise dad starts a few twigs with newspaper to get a fire crackling. He feeds larger and longer lengths of wood until the growing flames fill the horno and it pulses with fire. Twenty minutes later, the flames ebbing to hot glowing orange, dad builds a new fire. When a fiery foot-deep heap of radiating coals fills the horno's floor, we set out for the kitchen. Smoke escaping myriad cracks in el horno glows in the day's first light.
The previous day, my mother rubs the huge beef roast with dried chile powders, then sets it to marinate in citrus juices and her own mixture of garlic, spices, salt, and herbs. While the boys are outside starting the fire, Mom works the kitchen, wrapping the carne in banana leaves and aluminum foil. With the roast on a rack in the bottom of a tina, she drapes wet burlap bags across the tina, lays down several layers of tinfoil which she crimps to the rim.
I shovel clear a spot in the middle of the horno, tossing the coals and ash to the back. We slide the tina into the middle of the horno. Dad fits the wet hatch cover to the opening and we mud over the entire surface with gloved hands. At 600 p.m. with a whoosh of aromatic steam, we crack open the hatch and it is time to eat.
After dinner, the familia huddles near the open hatch to stay warm. People play guitars and sing. They take requests. They sing together, sound gritos. Primos and sisters reminisce about lumbres in other days, stories overheard in other campos, heard from voices no one here has ever heard. Kids peek in from the dark periphery where chavalitas chavalitos lurk, taking in their story, inhaling the legends and names of their family, catching warm gusts of alma from around the horno.
Real Estate Agent: Oh, I'm sure the former owner will share recipes with you.
Exploiting an Opportunity, or an Opportunistic Exploitation?
I felt the poet’s once-in-a-lifetime effervescent jubilation when I read his news: the California poet landed a college booking across country.
Then an email. “I can’t afford the trip. Any amount will help.” The organization will reimburse expenses, the poet tells me, but he doesn’t have money to get there.
I advise him to go to the organization and ask them to go through channels and secure an advance. Failing that, and absent some rich, generous friends, this poet will have to pass on the job because he cannot afford to get there. How disappointing that something that sounded like a fabulous opportunity turns out to be only a definite maybe.
Something is fishy in the state of Florida--the practice is probably endemic across higher ed.--that this is how its universities train students to run organizations in today's economy. Policies in play reflect outmoded practices for modern arts marketing, particularly for hiring emerging artists whose natural audience is college and university students.
Movers and shakers in student organizations need to understand economics peculiar to emerging artists and clear institutional hurdles. Such organizations may even be the sole route open to poets of their own generation finding audiences. Unless they can not pay in advance.
Student leaders need to take meetings, do press releases, convince administrators and bean counters of the appropriateness of cash advances. No one needs cash advances more than an emerging artist, yet the university rules insist on treating emerging artists like a poet travelling on the academic dime, spend then reimburse.
I’ll wager the university President’s office has funds to correct this student organization’s mis-step; or the English Department, or the MFA program can partner and co-sponsor the reading. I’ll wager also that a determined student committee can wend a request through the bureaucracy of their institution, and learn important lessons about organizational communication, blazing trails, and accountability.
I would be overjoyed if a southern California organization steps forward and fronts this poet the thousand dollars a trip like this should cost. He should have comfortable accommodations; not be sleeping on the floor of a student apartment, sneaking into the dining commons for meals, making baloney sandwiches in the car.
I don’t have the poet’s approval to share his plight. Click here if you're an angel. I’ll forward your email.
Email bag • Internet radio
Glut of Raza Writers Not Flowing Past Gatekeepers
"We have more than enough Latina Latino writers." Wait for the punchline. "What we need are raza book acquisitions editors."
That is the premise of a useful internet radio talk between La Bloga friend Marcela Landres and Jeff Rivera. Landres, hersel a former acquisitions editor, co-founded Las Comadres and Los Compadres Writers Conference, coming to the New York area in the Fall.
The radio talk, Why We Need More Latino Acquisition Editors is not for people looking to become writers. The talk focuses on the completed novel's most crucial obstacle--getting book-ready work into the business of publishing.
|Marcela Landres drives home her point in a seminar at the National Latino Writers Conference in 2012.|
What that looks like is landing a meeting with an individual paid to be "a perpetual graduate student, always reading always learning," in Landres' words. The gatekeeper who brings some writers inside, and keeps out everyone else.
Be that acquisitions editor, Landres suggests. It's the publishing equivalent of being a starving artist, except the pay is better. A helpful lifeskill, Landres emphasizes, is knowing how to be poor. Learning to enjoy working in big publishing offers pluses and minuses for Latina Latino workers. Landres has broadcast time only to outline some consequences of employment in book companies. For a fictive insight, Elizabeth Nunez' novel, Boundaries, sets a passionate publishing professional's plan to open the doors, against the demands of competitive book publishing values.
The central premise of Why We Need More Latino Acquisition Editors is a view only raza editors will open the doors for more published Latina Latino writing. Not even a raza editor will give a break to a book just because the writer and editor are both Chicanas. Landres hammers home the point that talent alone does not get a book into print. The book and the writer have to be ready to go to print.
Listen at the link to gather details on readiness from Marcela Landres in Why We Need More Latino Acquisition Editors. Let this link load into memory and be patient with this large file, here.
Marcela Landres' most exigent argument points to gente's reading habits: people love to read raza literature but they don't buy what they read. What does it tell a publisher that Fulana de Tal has a million readers but sells only 100,000 copies?
Crawling to Los Angeles to be Born
La Bloga friend and spoken word OG Sally Shore has entered final planning for the debut in Los Angeles of Lit Crawl. Here's hope raza poetry and literary communities heeded Sally's call to register for performance space at what's sure to be a memorable showcase for new and emerging writers. Sally's heads-up:
Lit Crawl L.A.: NoHo hits the streets of the NoHo Arts District, Wednesday, October 23, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Lit Crawl L.A.: No Ho is an evening of thrilling readings with the best of L.A.’s writers in a sampling of some of the greatest ongoing readings series and multiple literary genres spanning fiction to poetry from throughout Los Angeles County. Multiple literary genres will be represented spanning fiction to poetry, including presentations by Los Angeles Review of Books, Black Clock magazine, Beyond Baroque, The World Stage, Red Hen Press, GetLit Ignite, The New Short Fiction Series, Tongue and Groove, and more.
Participating venues include The Federal Bar, Bow and Truss, Skinny’s Lounge, Pitfire Pizza, Republic of Pie, Bob’s Espresso Bar and other hip NoHo venues, with a closing fundraiser party at The Hesby. Audiences will wine and dine their way through the NoHo Arts District walking route, with two rounds of readings held in each participating venue between from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The evening’s final celebration fundraiser will take place at The Hesby, NoHo Arts District’s newest lifestyle residential complex, from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Lit Crawl LA: NoHo, a project of the EMERGE fiscal sponsorship program of The Pasadena Arts Council and the Litquake Foundation, is presented in cooperation with the NoHo Business Improvement District.
Lit Crawl is a literary pub crawl founded by Litquake, San Francisco’s Literary Festival. Often referred to as “literary mayhem at its very finest,” the concept encourages a broad and often sophisticated gamut of literary expression and has been successfully franchised to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin and Iowa City, with London, England also coming on in 2013. Each location organizes its own version of the Crawl, one that reflects the unique literary makeup and talents of their city.
On-line Floricanto At the End of August 2013
Josh Healey, Sherry Peralta Trujillo Carbajal, Tara Evonne Trudell, Francisco X. Alarcón, Jeff Cannon/Alfonso Maciel Sr. trans.
"A Dream Detained (after Langston Hughes)" By Josh Healey
"Brown" by Sherry Peralta Trujillo Carbajal
"Woman of Experience" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Tanka To The Bloody Hands Indifferent To Human Plight / Tanka A Las Manos Sangrientas Indiferentes Al Dolor Humano" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Liberating Jeweled Tears / Lágrimas enjoyadas liberadoras" by Jeff Cannon; Spanish translation by Alfonso Maciel, Sr.
A Dream Detained (after Langston Hughes)
For the Dream Defenders, occupying the Florida state capitol, for Trayvon Martin and racial justice.And the #Dream9 immigrant activists, who were detained at theborder and won their freedom
what happens to a dream detained?
does it wilt like a rose
in the Arizona sun?
does it sink into the ocean
as water fills its lungs?
or does it fight to come home,
cross borders and spread hope
until it has won?
this is not a weak dream
a beach margarita dream
a suburban house and two car garage dream
this is an American dream
call it Aztlán
call it the hood
call it the walled-off ghetto
of Beverly Hills
we call it home
so bring them home
bring our youth back to us safe and breathing
with a bag of Skittles and a smile
I have a dream
that one day Martin Luther King
will not be misquoted
by Bill O’Reilly on national TV
fake colorblind fallacies
affirming misplaced actions
tel lme, what is so conservative
about killing a young black boy
walking home to watch
the all-star game with his dad?
where are the family values
in deporting the only mother
a teenage girl has ever known?
her name is Mia, she loves to skate
and write and come to my workshops
but there is only one poem she wants to write
these days and it is gone, shipped to Tijuana
like unwanted merchandise
America, when did you stop dreaming?
where are your open arms
that reached for the stars and imagined?
you sing Lennon’s lyrics
then shoot him in Central Park
blame it on a black man in a hoodie
and go on with your day
America, whose ground are you standing on?
this dream is black
and black is beautiful
so this dream is fucking gorgeous
and young and brown
and white, too, if you’re down
to get dirty and and listen first
and never bring tofu
to the meeting ever again
like ever. for real.
because this is a feast
for the Dreamers and the Defenders
enchiladas and shrimp gumbo
soul food with pico de gallo
this is the new America
same as the old America
can you taste it, Arizona?
you can’t eat fake ass Taco Bell forever
if no one is there to serve your chalupa
how will your picket fences stay so white
if no one is there to paint them?
and Sheriff Arpaio, mi amigo,
who is going to take care of you
in your nursing home next year?
better learn some Spanglish
if you want something more
than jello for desayuno
that’s why we are here
true education at its best
starts with the students
bold youth with old souls
who know their history
enough to repeat it, remix it
into something fresh and free
what happens to a nightmare ignored?
does it hide
and shrink from the sun?
does it race
to pick up the gun?
does it sit back
and watch the throne?
or does it sit in
and make itself known?
take over the palace
shout loud and strong
and beautiful, a butterfly
shedding its cocoon
how does a nightmare become a dream?
lay your head down, America
get nice and comfortable
close your eyes
and tell us what you see
Josh Healey is an award-winning writer, performer, and creative activist.
Fusing his distinct storytelling style with a subversive humor and fiery love for justice, Healey has been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and is a regular performer on NPR’s Snap Judgment.
He has performed and led workshops at UC-Berkeley, Harvard, and over 200 colleges, high schools, & conferences across the country. Find out more at joshhealey.org
Of the earth. The dirt that when mixed with straw and water and when added to walls made of logs, formed the foundation of the adobe home of my mother. The dirt of land worked on by my ancestors who were sheepherders, farmers, loggers, and copper miners.
Of the wood. The wood that formed the rulers used by school teachers and principals to smack the hands of my father who forgot that he could not speak in his native language while at school. The wood that was chopped for warmth even by my grandmother in her 80’s, wearing a dress and an old, thinning coat. The wood of the outhouse that was used because indoor plumbing was too expensive for the widow, my grandmother, left to raise her young children alone.
Of the food. The food that was not always abundant but that fed a large family. A poor man’s diet of pinto beans, potatoes, and tortillas made of corn and wheat.
Of the hands. The hands darkened by many long hours working in the sun, the hands that provided, that comforted, that helped, that held the new babies and the hands of the children, that taught, and that disciplined when the children were out of line.
Of the eyes. The eyes that showed fear for the children living in a world that did not always understand, pride in children who succeeded when many doubted, and love, always love.
Of the graves. The final resting place of my grandmother and ancestors who believed in hard work and in God, and who did their best to ensure a place of love, safety, comfort, and pride for their families.
Her older son, Christopher, is a 4th generation copper miner who also resides in Morenci with his fiancée and children.
Family has always been important to Sherry because her maternal grandmother, Pablita R. Peralta, lived with her family growing up, and taught her the values passed on by many generations, especially the importance of family, God, and hard work.
Woman of Experience
Tara Evonne Trudell
based on societal
on how to act
like a lady
to be dainty
in my expression
low voice delivery
with my kundalini
since day one
never really there
from the start
woman at heart
what’s going on
too many years
not wanting me
tres leche cake
y chili colorado
on my path
my needs and wants
to the surface
to get back
It is through this expression of art, combined with her passion for poetry that she is able to express fearlessness of spirit for her family, people, community, social awareness, and most importantly her love of earth.
TANKA TO THE BLOODY HANDS
INDIFFERENT TO HUMAN PLIGHT
o blind, deaf, mute
heartless bloody hands—
cause of so many
deaths of crossers
by the Southern border
© Francisco X. Alarcón
July 2, 2013
TANKA A LAS MANOS SANGRIENTAS
INDIFERENTES AL DOLOR HUMANO
oh manos ciegas
sordas, mudas, sangrientas
causa de tantas muertes
en la frontera al Sur
© Francisco X. Alarcón
2 de julio de 2013
He created the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070
LIBERATING JEWELED TEARS
may your words fall jeweled tears
wash those around your feet with wisdom for bold standing
courage to march with every breathe against ancient tyrannies
those fiery stars ascending to destroy beauty with their demon eyes
then descend with full bellies faint embers hidden in the dark
the ones chained to sickness orbiting round and round
slyly waiting to burst over each new generation chained to the place
learning forgets experience
cast a greater shadow
more ferocious than the one before
may your words from humble throne stream down to form firm hands
strong as mained rivers splashing free to lift creation's sore blood
to speak where it left off
let heart wisdom gently flow over faces, chests
let its moisture sink deep
awaken bones to release from sleep the history they carry
the stories they bear
for compassion to walk the earth protected
keep alive the original task
the only labor for heart drenched eyes and hands
ears and lips, entire holy bodies
to give with earth touch kind
affection liberated from fear
care released from prisoned silence
so the shaman's dream does not die
the elder's cry finds salvation
aware the gorgeous seed sprouts up secure
dances love's authority
dances unconditioned care wide-eyed, ever mindful
to confront what small perversions
still creep in jungle shadows
behind slender warm armed light
LÁGRIMAS ENJOYADAS LIBERADORAS
por Jeff Cannon, traducción al español por Alfonso Maciel Sr.
que las lágrimas enjoyadas de tus palabras caigan
lavando aquellas alrededor de tus pies con sabiduría para mantenerse firmes
valor para marchar con cada aliento contra antiguas tiranías
esas fulgurantes estrellas que ascienden destruyendo la belleza con sus ojos demoniacos
luego descienden con oscuros rescoldos ocultos en su vientre ahíto
los encadenados al mal girando y girando en sus órbitas,
esperando taimadamente estallar sobre cada nueva generación
encadenados al lugar donde el aprendizaje olvida la experiencia
proyectan una sombra mayor
más feroz que la de más antes
que tus palabras desde el humilde trono fluyan a formar manos firmes
fuertes como ríos con crestas como crines salpicando libres
para elevar el decir de la sangre llagada de la creación
para que hable ahí donde se quedó
que la sabiduría del corazón suavemente fluya sobre los rostros
pechos, que su humedad penetre profundamente
despierte huesos para liberarlos del sueño de la historia que acarrean
las historias que cargan por compasión
caminar la tierra protegidos
mantener viva la misión original
la única tarea para los ojos empapados de corazón, orejas y labios,
santos cuerpos enteros
a dar con el amable toque de tierra
afecto libre de temor
cariño liberado del aprisionante silencio
para que no muera el sueño del chamán
el clamor de los viejos encuentra salvación
sabiendo que la maravillosa semilla germina segura
danza la autoridad del amor
danza incondicional y pasmada
a confrontar aquellas pequeñas perversiones
que aún reptan en selváticas sombras
tras esbelta y cálida luz armada
Jeff Cannon is the author of three books of poetry: Finding the Father at Table and Eros: Faces of Love (2010, published by Xlibris Corporation), Intimate Witness: The Carol Poems by Goose River Press, 2008, a testament to his wife’s courageous journey with cancer.
He first appeared in the anthology celebrating parenthood, My Hearts First Steps in 2004. He has been a featured poet at Manchester Community College, CT and at local Worcester poetry venues as well as in New Hampshire. From 2007-2008, he was the spoken word component with singer song writers John Small and Lydia Fortune as part of Small, Fortune and Cannon. He was published in Goose River Anthology: 2009 and started at that time to write monthly essays and poetry for the “Sturbridge Times” of Sturbridge MA. He is the father of two daughters, retired and “can’t stop writing” although he does not read out as much as he would prefer.
Alfonso Maciel (translator). Born in September 7, 1944 in Tamazula de Gordiano, Jal., México.
Moved with my family to Guadalajara in 1950 and then to San Francisco, Calif. in 1964. First worked as a warehouseman in The City, where I helped organize the workplace as a Teamster Shop.
Member of Local 2 Foodservice/Hotel Employees Union.
As one of the founders of the Mission Cultural Center (now MCCLA), I organized and run the Graphics Dept., now Misión Gráfica. Later served as Director of the Center and organized the non-profit Friends of the MCC as its fundraising arm and governing body. Went to serve as Director of the SF Arts Commission's Neighborhood Arts Program where I oversaw the City's separation from programming matters at four Cultural Centers, while maintaining housekeeping responsibilities.
Served for many years in the Community Arts Distribution Committee of the Zellerbach Family Fund; As advisor to the W.A. Gerbode, Columbia, and San Francisco Foundations in matters of Community Arts. Several times as Panelist of various programs of the California Arts Council. Served in the Editorial Committees of Editorial Pocho-Che, El Pulgarcito and Gaceta Sandinista. Started A. Maciel Printing in 1984, even today the only printing shop certified by the SF Dept. of the Environment as a "Green" shop. It also is a Union Shop. Living in retirement in Cuautla, Morelos, México for approximately 2 years I am active in the local arts and culture communities. Self described as allergic to official disciplines, I also call myself a "Furiously committed Latino Anti-imperialist".