Monday, September 04, 2017

Interview of Jose Carrillo



Interview of Jose Carrillo by Xánath Caraza


Who is Jose Carrillo?

Citizenship: I'm a USA citizen with Mexican-roots.
Born: Durango Mexico 1932
Education: Bachelor's in Drama, minors: creative writing, counseling
Politics: Socialist-Humanitarian
Religion: None. Follow the Tao
ID Tags: Actor, Jazz Musician, Writer, Artivist, Gramps.
Family: Parents: Dionicio & Carmen Carrillo; four brothers.
Residence: Seattle, WA, Bitter Lake neighborhood.
Hobbies: graphics, draw, calligraphy, photography, write songs.
Beliefs: Morality is kindness. Honesty, Transparency, Accountability. Love and Art will conquer hate.
Currently reading: THOMAS JEFFERSON; An Intimate History, Fawn M. Brodie; also, trilingual poetry books, in English, Spanish, Nahuatl.
Favorite Composers: Archangelo Corelli, J. S. Bach, Wayne Shorter, Stephen Sondheim.


How do you define yourself as actor, musician, performance poet?

A semi-retired, multi-skilled actor with poetic, musical, political sensibilities. At 84, all artistic resources devoted to support of Latino/a artists and arts in the Northwest community with a focus on multi-lingual productions, multi-cultural values.



What or who guided you through your first experiences in the arts?

I learned to read English via Marvel comic books. I had two uncles who inspired me, as a boy, to make music: One named 'Joe' Hernandez, a WWII vet, who paid for my first music lessons; played his boogie-woogie records for me on his new Juke Box-size player.  The other was Julian Ramirez fresh from Durango; I liked to sit close to him thrilled with his guitar strums, his voice singing out rancheras, corridos, boleros,with gritos/shouts.

Big Swing Dance Bands became such a rage during WWII that they appeared in “stage shows” in movie houses. My Golden Gate Theater on Market Street was where I first saw jazz players, such as Benny Goodman with Gene Krupa on drums, Woody Herman, Harry James, all the greats. 
Poetry occurred to me, got to me, through the sound of the human voice in prayer:  as a child, first in Spanish when, after a death in the family, groups of family women would gather to kneel, chant together the lovely, low sounds of prayers.
In my ‘teens I loved the lyrics of popular, sentimental and nonsense songs of Broadway and Hollywood. What hooked me on poetry was the poem, 'How do I love thee?' of Elizabeth Browning. It came in the mail from a girl I liked a lot. Although this sweetheart, Margarita, was eventually the one that got away, I haven't stopped reading/writing poetry ever since.

At Balboa High, I played sax in the Blue Boys dance band, and appeared in my first play in a minor role in a British comedy. The drama teacher, Mrs. Anna May Dicksen took an interest in me and became my mentor. I now have, in my possession, a BA in theater & an acting resume' of 60 years of work in community theater. I've been privileged to perform and speak the lines of the world's greatest playwrights and poets, including Paz, Neruda, Ibsen, Shakespeare, Shaw.
 In 1969, played Cardinal Pandulph in Shakespeare’s King John, Summer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

 Also in the 60’s, created 'The Busted, Disgusted, and Can't Be Trusted Troupe' with a show we put together:  The Woody Guthrie Story, a music-bio. It was based on Woody’s book, Bound for Glory, and featured several of his children’s songs. The Troupe offered it as a free community service to progressive community groups in California. We opened at La Peña in Berkeley, CA.

Later, at La Peña, a Chileno cultural center, I produced a cantata on the text of Pablo Neruda’s Joaquin Murieta which toured in the Bay Area for non-profits, no charge.



Could you describe your activities as actor- musician- performance poet-activist?

The arts skills and experience I had developed over the early years in San Francisco I brought to Seattle in 1987 when I came up to help one of my daughters take care of Olivia, my first granddaughter.
I became active in the Seattle arts scene, performed music and poetry on a local NPR station, created an audio recording with radio host, Lisa Levy, a tribute to Pablo Neruda/ 100 Love Sonnets; enrolled in Early Childhood Development classes at North Seattle Community College, and joined Ruben Sierra's Seattle Group Theater, a multi-ethnic group.

At the Group Theater, I met and worked with actress, Ms. Olga Sanchez; in time, we developed an association that eventually saw creative results: We co-founded Teatro Latino, a troupe, which featured ritual theater and plays for children and libraries; we also co-founded La Casa De Artes, to support arts, artists and produce events. 
One such was a tribute to Mexican poet, Nobel laureate, Octavio Paz, a staged reading of his selected poetry which was seen by students from the Yakima valley. Directed by Olga.

During this time in the 90's Olga was attending meetings of Los Norteños Writers to which she invited me.

Author, Kathleen Alcala, is a co-founder of Los Norteños Writers in Seattle, mid-90s, with the mission to support, encourage, and showcase the work of Latino/a writers of the Northwest through public readings, workshops and mentoring. The goal of Los Norteños is to create entertaining, multi-cultural events, readings, bilingual publications, and provide a forum for writers to learn from each other.

Los Norteños Group has provided me with many opportunities to write, perform, produce events, manage a web page, and contribute to the current webpage in facebook.

The most recent, 2/28/17 performance was the Los Norteños /Raven Chronicles production of, 'Bridges Not Walls'- an experimental reading in the Juan Alonso-Rodriguez Art Gallery in Pioneer Square.
 Carmelo Gonzalez and I read his poetry in Spanish with my English translations.

My most recent lead acting role was in 2013-14 with Seattle ESE TEATRO in author -director, Rose Cano's “Don Quixote...” an updated version of Cervantes for a staged-reading tour of homeless shelters. I played him as a homeless- alcoholic- schizophrenic- monolingual poet. Sancho Panza, his interpreter and side kick was played by Benito Vasquez.

I was one of the Raven Chronicle’s 50 POETS AGAINST HATE reading, performed in the Seattle Central Library early last year, 2016. Jorge Vilchiz, and I read his poem, Jaguar Mexicano/ Mexican Jaguar, a cautionary message to the young people of Mexico.

I continue to support local efforts for a thriving Cuba. I've performed music and poetry in support of the release of detained Cuban 5 brothers, and a few times with Pastors for Peace events.



What is a day of creative writing like for you?

With poetry, I am unscheduled and undisciplined. I share anything I write with anyone interested, no charge. My method is just to keep a poetry SKETCHBOOOK, in which I write in or place scraps of notes for future poems; when my muse comes calling, I look over my collection and find something to develop. I make audio recordings to test quality. I believe a poem of mine is never finished. With other styles of writing I do schedule to meet deadlines.


Do you have any favorite poems?

In the current world of dangerous, uncontrolled USA and Mexican political corruption, I go mostly for poems with dramatic impact, poems that indicate social awareness, but with musical lines, strong rhythms & images- forceful messages-urgency:

The following is mine:
Time Marches/ El tiempo en marcha

Sixty-five million years ago
 the dinosaurs ate all the plants
 then each other
 for big extinction number five.
 number six is on its way:
 the money vultures circled above
 will in a blink of time
 devour all that is left of us.

Hace muchos años, seis ciento y cinco milliones 
Cuando los dinosaurios se comieron todas las plantas
Entonces uno al otro
Cumpliendo un gran Extinción número Cinco.
Ahora se está cumpliendo el número Seis
Los zopilotes del dinero hacen un circulo en el cielo
Esperan el paso de un guiño de tiempo
Antes de devorar los pocos vestigious de nosotros.


El cantaro roto/ Broken Water Jar, Octavio Paz.

Hay que dormir con los ojos abiertos, hay que soñar con
las manos
We must sleep with open eyes, we must dream
with our hands,
soñemos sueños activos de río buscando su cauce,
sueños de sol soñando sus mundos
We must dream the dreams of a river seeking its course,
of the sun dreaming its worlds;
hay que soñar en voz alta, hay que cantar hasta que el canto
eche raices, tronco, ramas, pajaros, astros
we must dream aloud, we must sing till the song
puts forth roots, trunk, branches, birds, stars,
cantar hasta que el sueño engendre y brote del costado del
dormido la espiga roja de la resurrección;
we must sing till the dream engenders in the sleeper's flank the
red wheat-ear of resurrection


Jaguar mexicano by Jorge Vilchiz, my translation.
Excerpt:  final stanza:

¡Grita, Mexico!
Que no se convierta en enigma
lo que ha sucedido en Ayotzinapa,
grita, que te escuchen las mentes malignas
y los que traicionan la patria.
Grita, como grita mi pluma que plasma,
que le escribe a mi pueblo, al jaguar mexicano
estas letras empíricas,
aprendidas en los barrios polvosos de Iztapalapa.

Scream, Mexico!
So that what has happened in Ayotzinapa
doesn't become an enigma.
Scream, so you can be heard by malignant minds
and those who betray their country.
Scream the way my pen does that insists
that I write to my people, to the Mexican jaguar
these practical words,
learned in the dusty neighborhoods of Iztapalapa.


AFFIRMATION by Assata Shakur

I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
I believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs.
And I believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
and sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
I believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.

I believe in life.
And I have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight,
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted.

I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind
in one easy lesson.
I have walked on cut glass.
I have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference.

I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy.
And, if I know anything at all,
it's that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.
It can be broken down.
I believe in living.
I believe in birth.
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.

And I believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home
to port.

(Note: Assata Shakur, former Black Panther, is living in exile in Cuba after escaping USA prison,
sentenced for murder of a highway policeman in a shooting on a New Jersey Highway.
It was a he said-she said trial.)



What project are you working on?

I’m finishing a chapbook of recent work. Its title is, in jazz talk, MUCH LATER POEMS. The first poem is:

POEM: FOR SUSUKI

I am water
You are water
I am air
You are air
The earth feeds me
The earth feeds you
Let's be kind to
the water
the air
the earth
each other.



What else would you like to share?

I'm very proud of my daughters, Lee & Denise,
granddaughters, Olivia & Una
all leading creative, fulfilling lives,
Lee is a dancer, works as an editorial assistant for a Seattle Writer;
Denise is a lead graphic artist for a national retailer;
Olivia is a dancer and family counselor in CA
Una is a popular fashion photographer-producer in NYC



Jose Carrillo, 84, actor, musician, poet was born in Mexico, grew up in San Francisco.  Attended SF State College; studied theater with Jules Irving, Herbert Blau; became member of their Actor’s Workshop; attended most of the school’s Poetry Center events, studied with poet, Stan Rice; life-long experience in community theater, and music.  Moved from SF to Seattle in 1987; member of Seattle Los Norteños Writers. Single, lives in Seattle, peacefully alone in a senior complex with the name, Four Freedoms House.

1 comment:

Jeff Mangles said...

Jose Carrillo is ab idol in Brazil too. I found an amazing review on one of his films. It's on my watch list now.
Jeff - scientist, researcher of medical research papers on Nursing.