Friday, May 09, 2014

Going the Extra Mile

Melinda Palacio
Driving to Phoenix

The past two weeks have proven anything but dull. I ended poetry Month with a presentation at UCSB's College of Creative Studies on Wednesday, April 30. I arrived at the building a little early and thought the audience would be slim, given the beach weather. 

A man in charge of filming each presenter asked me to test out the podium. From the stage's vantage, I was sure glad my two friends had accompanied me. For a while, I thought that Emma and Susan might be the only ones in the audience, but little by little, the auditorium began to fill up. Speaking to the creative writing students was a special treat because many in attendance have a keen interest in writing and some have already published books of their own.
beach view from UCSB
The questions from the students were very thoughtful. I could tell they were very engaged in my presentation of prose and poetry. Even more exciting was the feedback I received via email and twitter from students who expressed their gratitude for my reading. It was humbling to hear that my talk was inspirational to this group of student authors and poets. 
Obliq Gallery
The next day, May 1st, I drove to Phoenix for Ekphrasis: Sacred Stories of the Southwest, a pairing of original poetry and artwork, hosted by Larry and Sandra Ortega at Obliq Art and Gallery. Curator, Karen S. Cordova, organized the show with artists and poets from as far away as Hawaii. 

I first met Karen Cordova when Michael Sedano invited me to be part of the Festival de Flor Y Canto, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow at USC, September 2010. Karen was very diligent about giving the poets plenty of time to respond to the artwork. In order for the artwork, poems, and labels to be positioned and displayed, the poems needed to be framed and sent to the gallery weeks before the show.
Melinda Palacio and Karen Cordova
I chose The Turntable by Ruben Gonzales from Phoenix. His piece is, you guessed it, a turntable made from found objects and recycled bicycle gears. 

One of the best moments from the show was seeing Ruben's face light up as he read my poem in response to his artwork. Gone were all the misgivings I had had of traveling 500 miles to read one poem. The rough winds made the trip more treacherous than usual. There were a few times when I felt my car being pushed out of my lane by forceful winds.
Ruben Gonzales reads the poem in response to his Turntable, pictured above
By the time I arrived in Phoenix, I was a nervous wreck, but my mood quickly bent to elation when I received news that I was among the finalists for the Rita Dove Poetry Award through Salem College's Center for Women Writers. The winning award went to Joseph Bathanti. As it turns out the judge, Veronica Golos, is the acquisitions editor for 3TaosPress and the publisher, Andrea Watson, was among the poets in the show. She presented a poem based on Reefka's Schneider's La Confluencia de Fé. The variety of poetry and art was stunning and none of the SRO audience wanted the evening to end. Moments like these make going the extra miles worth it. 

Upcoming Events:

Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural holds its 9th Annual Celebrating Words Festival, May 17 at Ritchie Valens Park in Pacoima, 1pm to 7pm


msedano said...

i am happy you and karen met and have this collaboration. i've been reading about karen's ekphrasis event thinking how cool that event was to be.

Mona AlvaradoFrazier said...

Just started reading about Ekphrasis events, looks very cool. A great marriage of the arts. I wish I could attend the Flor y Canto, but out of state that weekend.