Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reading your stuff aloud. Diga Me! On-line Floricanto mid october.

Reading Your Stuff Aloud 
Handling a Manuscript

Michael Sedano

"….The End."

When the editing process achieves its goal, the author signs off on the story with a breath of triumphant relief and a smile. Now, a new opportunity offers itself: presenting the work in a public reading.

“Reading Your Stuff Aloud” is a recurring feature here at La Bloga because Oracy—the ability to express oneself aloud effectively—is often a missing, or ill-developed, competency among writers. Oracy is not a mystery; it’s the work product of planning, preparing, and evaluating one’s oral performance.

Today’s feature looks at a key element of reading your stuff aloud: handling a manuscript. We’re jumping into the middle of the topic. Ni modo. Over the year, La Bloga’s “Reading Your Stuff Aloud” feature will cover most of the issues. Columns are forthcoming on pre-event planning; promotion and marketing; effective practice methods; becoming a student of your own behavior; delivering the piece; following-up and supplementing an event.

The video below illustrates a number of approaches to reading your own stuff while using a manuscript. Using manuscript pages, or a book, is a nonverbal reaffirmation of written words. The physical presence of a manuscript offers a silent reminder that the writer is selling books at this event.

The manuscript won’t make or break a performance. Considered use of the script, however, can add benefits not otherwise obtained. So it’s valuable to consider how you handle a manuscript in your own presentations.

As a communication coach, I prefer memorization.

Memory used to be as valued in Western civilization as expressing solid ideas. In the 3d century BCE, Aristotle taught that the canons of effective public speaking included five interlinked competencies:  finding ideas and evidence; arranging a competent message; crafting enjoyable, appropriate language; delivering the piece to achieve its purpose; and memory, knowing your material by heart and leaving a lasting memory.

Today, invention and arrangement are called critical thinking and taught by philosophers. Style and delivery are seen as “mere” talking or empty decoration. Memory has been forgotten by the academy.

These excerpts of some of the best of a superb group of readings illustrate food for thought. When you view the entire performance you’ll appreciate the context these snippets fail to define adequately. USC’s digital library does not yet have these performances up for distribution. La Bloga will report the availability of video from the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow. 1973’s floricanto, El Festival de Flor y Canto--both video and photographs--are here.

Original video Directed by Jesus Treviño

Veronica Cunningham is reading with good vocal variety and pacing, but avoids making eye contact with her listeners. Veronica’s also stuck in her position behind the lectern because she’s laid down the manuscript. This is a difficult posture because audiences enjoy eye contact and the visual variety when a speaker moves about or gestures from the lectern. As she warmed up to her audience, Veronica grew animated and won over her audience. She finishes to cheers.

Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin holds her manuscript at eye level. This posture lets her keep excellent eye contact with the audience. A short glance up provides the directness of eye contact with little chance of losing her place. Sitting in the audience looking up, however, that paper does get in the way. Chest-high usually functions well, especially with a customized manuscript and good peripheral vision. What do you  think of Vibiana's decision to place multiple poems on a single sheet?

Juan A. Contreras holds his manuscript waist high. Juan’s powerful style and eloquence, as well as his platform control, reflect a seasoned performer comfortable with his inimitable style. Note, he is reading off that page, costing him eye contact. Yet, with his full body commitment to audience and art, Juan’s rapt audience finds much to appreciate and doesn’t know what they’re missing. The point is how much more effective a reader becomes by evaluating one’s implementation of key techniques.

Karen Cordova holds her manuscript at chest level for ready reference. Note her superb eye contact. Karen is not reading but working from memory. The paper is a useful aide-memoire today. Eventually, Karen will find it useful to discard the paper. That manuscript keeps her tied to the lectern, despite a visible desire to step away from the lectern and commit herself wholly to her audience. When a speaker has a bit of apprehension, moving purposefully releases the energy positively. Tied to a lectern unable to move, one’s suffering may reinforce a distaste for the pleasures of public performance.

Olga Garcia has her book and audience in her hands. Her energy level overcomes her manuscript dependence. The regular glances up toward the house is enough eye contact to convert her listeners to participant-observers. Audiences find such experiences immensely satisfying. Feedback in cheers, laughter, people leaning toward the speaker energizes reading with higher degrees of expressiveness. After such a performance, the writer’s reputation glows with positive word-of-mouth.

The "right way" to present a reading is one that produces sales. That’s a metric you learn only as gente line up for the signing part of the reading event. In other words, there's no "right way" because the acid test comes after you’ve sat down. Nor is the manuscript alone critical to the audience’s experience. An effective reading results from executing a plan. After all the parts come together, they produce the result you and your audience get.

The following observations on using manuscripts when you read your stuff aloud will provide food for thought:

Copy good models. When you attend a reading and see an element that worked really well, try it on for size. When you see something you disapprove, look to yourself; do you perform the same way?

Hold that paper up high, especially if you have poor eyesight. Paper. Cell phone screens are punishingly tiny reading manuscripts. Print it out. Hold the text in a portfolio. You don’t want your audience counting pages. If you can’t read without your computer, treat the screen like a piece of paper: magnify the text. If you’re flipping through virtual pages, program hyperlinks. If you’re reading from paper, mark sections with bookmarks plainly numbered.

Prepare a customized reading manuscript. Triple space, 26 point type—or whatever’s comfortable for your vision and reference style. Read from the open book but consider placing a customized manuscript cut to page size inside and read from a more forgiving manuscript.

¡Digame! about Diga Me!

A friend me reclamó because en cristiano there would be no space and different punctuation. Thus, for gente who do not enjoy an intercultural pun, unlike me, take the above as penance.

I know these friends are sure to dig Diga Me! when Diga Me! comes to UCLA's Fowler Museum at month's end, October 29, 2011 3 pm, in fact.

The spoken word event comes in cooperation with Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement. Although listed as a 3 p.m. curtain, guests will want to arrive early to enjoy the already legendary exhibition in the galleries surrounding Diga Me! 

Other than $11 parking, Diga Me! is free.

Per Diga Me! press release:
Sally Shore’s New Short Fiction Series, L.A.'s longest running spoken word series in partnership with the Fowler Museum at UCLA, will present performances of short fiction by Chicano authors from the original presenters at the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto on Saturday, October 29, 2011, 3:00 pm at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. 

The performances will be followed by a panel discussion with the original writers as we explore where L.A.’s Chicano literary movement began and where it is now.  Join us for original short fiction by Ron Arias, Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin, and Alejandro Murguía, three original presenters from the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto, the nation’s first Chicano literary festival. 

Performances by Matt Ferrucci, Marina Gonzalez Palmier and Holger Moncada,Jr. will be followed by a conversation with the writers moderated by Michael Sedano, co-founder of La Bloga.

Late-Breaking News
PALABRA Hits the Streets With Issue 7

PALABRA features outstanding work by an always astonishingly good assembly of artists. Their readings at REDCAT in Disney Hall are reliably cool.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto Mid-October 2011

October 18 issue of La Bloga: Nephtalí de Leon, Dorothy Thomasson Chao, Nancy Aidé González, Rossy Evelin Lima Padilla, Mario Escobar

"Todos Somos Alabama Blues" by Nephtalí de Leon
"Desconocida" by Dorothy Thomasson Chao
"Among the Vines" by Nancy Aidé González
"Icnocuicatl / Canto de tristeza" por Rossy Evelin Lima
"I Have A Poem..." by Mario Escobar

Todos Somos Alabama Blues
(Indios in tennis shoes insurrection!) 
On the eve of Columbus Day, and 2012, Oct, 2011

by Nephtalí de Leon

Alabama blues
where the American dream
is a people nightmare
town of Birmingham
is always in the news
families broken up
new trail of tears
like in times of old
winter's coming cold
the world is watching now
coming down on native skin
bronze colored people
beautiful color canela
we got a cinnamon skin
hey European America
chasing illegals 
go chase your own abuela! 
my people are beautifully brown
bronze copper colored hues
earthy colores de la tierra
look yourself in the mirror
guess whose a native
don´t need no proof
we got news for you 
we´re America
occupied by you !
todos somos Alabama
todos somos Arizona
we´re all color canela
go chase your own abuela!

© Nephtalí
http://Nephtali.Net/email: nephtali3000@hotmail.com


by Dorothy Thomasson Chao

I wrote this after taking part in the Migrant Walk – an annual event which is a 75- mile walk from Sasabe, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona, in solidarity with migrants who make the dangerous journey.  Just prior to our arrival at Three Points, AZ, we learned that four more bodies had been found in the desert.  One, a woman as yet unidentified (desconocida), was found near where we were.  This poem is for her.

In the dark
I lie on my mat in the desert--
Beautiful, savage desert.
Blowing wind, rustling mesquite--
What woke me?
Moving in the scrub near our camp
Flashes of light and a nightbird cry.
Desconocida --
Found in the desert today
Were you a daughter, sister, mother, wife?
Did you think of your family when you died?
Did you think of your home
in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru?
Did you see the flowers, the stars
That I did?
Or did the burning thirst,
The heat of the day
The chill of the night
Call forth the savage side of the desert only?
Did the Border Patrol come with the helicopter
Bouncing and buzzing above you like an angry bee,
And scatter your group on the rocky ground below
Like leaves before the dry desert wind?
Were you pulled along through the cactus by another
Till you could go no further
Then sacrificed --
Left behind for the survival of the group?
Did you grieve the separation from the others
Regret words spoken, unspoken,
Did you wish for the physical closeness of another human
As you died?
Did you see the town lights from your hiding place
Here in a desert wash?
Did your terror keep you still
Even as dehydration and exposure did their work?
Restless spirit,
Victim of global forces beyond your control,
Forgive my complicity!
Come sit with me thru the dark of this night.
Baptize me with your spirit,
Help me to carry your voice forward,
Speak through me
So that neither of our lives will be in vain!

Among the Vines

By Nancy Aidé González

Among the Vines
By Nancy Aidé González
In these green open spaces
filled with chirping finches,
there is a momentum that
swirls – glints
of my mother newly arrived
from Mexico at sixteen,
working in the contoured rows
of the fields
during the summer.

She was surrounded by
the thin skinned
aubergine grapes,
resting upon craggily
old vines
stretching their arms
up toward  the azuline
sky reaching for something,

In these granular fields
my mother’s thin long fingers
picked grapes gingerly,
on misty central valley mornings
until the dusty twilight

From a day’s work
of picking
she earned a
pittance of cents
but those cents
helped  her family
so it had to be

It was here among the
lush grape vines,
that my mother
searched the labyrinths
of her mind
for a way to better her life,
she heard the hopeful
whispers of the wind
and a dreamer was

She dreamt of
learning English
so the American girls
at school would no longer
pull her braids and
call her names,
she dreamed of going
to the university and
learning from hardbound books,
she dreamt of better

The whispers of the wind
among the vines
told her she

© 2011 Nancy Aidé González

Icnocuicatl/ Canto de tristeza

por Rossy Evelin Lima

Hay un tambor que me sigue,
que me hace creer
en lo que se esconde,
en la avalancha
que a mí me esconde.

Esta tierra

a esta tierra voy a regresar
oscepa nican niohualas
Hay un cascabel
que me llama,
hermano del
silencio que me cubre
enemigo esclavo
de lo que descubre.


hay un conujunto
de piedras
que forman el
mosaico de mi vida.


Con flores y cantos
xochitika ye iuan kuikatika

Hay una luz
que me entrega,
luna que canta
siendo yo hija del sol

Me desgarro

Solo he venido a quedar triste
in san niualik no tlamatiko

a esta tierra voy a regresar
oscepa nican niohualas.

I have a poem

by Mario Escobar

I have a poem, a sobbing poem,
a poem of unwanted refugees—nasty poem, nasty century.
this is what I will give you,
yanked from the blood of the past and the present,
dirty century, nasty century. Dark poem.

I’ve cried the tears of those lost in the desert:
the undocumented death. I’ve lived that experience,
among the headless bodies, the cutoff hands, the torture mothers,
the disappear sons and fathers, and the raped daughters.

I’ve jumped the border with my defeated flag,
I’ve knock on your door. I’ve knock on your door
many times, I’ve knocked on your door but
you don’t listen to the pounding of the heart.

I have thousand stories and millions of tears to give you.
Pain knows me too well.

Pain knows those still at bay,
crossing the desert, or jumping the fence.
They will be knocking at your door.
Please answer to your blunders.

I will say no more. Time to leave you alone
with this dirty and nasty poem.
Dirty century.
Nasty century.
Dark century                  

Mario Escobar ©2011


"Todos Somos Alabama Blues" by Nephtalí de Leon
"Desconocida" by Dorothy Thomasson Chao
"Among the Vines" by Nancy Aidé González
"Icnocuicatl/ Canto de tristeza" por Rossy Evelin Lima
"I Have A Poem..." by Mario Escobar

Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet, writer and educator.  She currently lives and works in Lodi, California. Nancy graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in May of 2000.  She has contributed poems to Poets Responding to SB 1070. Her poems, “The Ones That Live On” and “La Pulga” have been published on La Bloga.  Miss González is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group which honors the literary traditions of the Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.

She teaches first-generation, Mexican –American migrant elementary students. She enjoys teaching her students and giving back to her community.  She holds a Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in School Administration from California State University, Stanislaus. Nancy Aidé González is involved in Chicano Organizing & Research in Education (C.O.R.E.) a non-partisan, research and advocacy organization that aims to improve the educational environment of all Chicano/Latino students.   She is currently working on a novel about Chicana women.

Rossy Evelin Lima ha participado en dos antologías poéticas: La Ruta de los Juglares, McAllen, y Letras en el Estuario, Matamoros. Además de haber publicado en revistas locales como Tierra Firme, Gallery, Interstice, Nuevo Santanderino y Panorama. También ha publicado en México en la sección cultural Ojo de Ciclope del periódico Expreso de Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas. En la revista La Pluma del Ganso, Mexico D.F. en la sección Aquí está Usted; en Lenguaraz, revista de la facultad de filosofía y letras de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, quienes dictaminaron a favor de los textos El Río Bravo y Caminante. En España en la revista 3D3 Revista de Creación en Andalucía, en la antología Caminos Inciertos del Centro de Estudios poéticos en Madrid y en la revista internacional Negritud de Atlanta, Georgia.  Recibió el tercer lugar en el Certamen Literario José Arrese en el 2008, mención honoraria por la revista Gallery en el 2009; en su participación en el Segundo Coloquio Estudiantil Sobre la Lengua en la University of Texas Pan-American, su obra poética fue premiada por ser considerada como “La mejor entre las de su área académica.” En el 2010 recibió el Premio Gabriela Mistral por la Sociedad Nacional Honorifica Hispánica. Rossy ha organizado más de 10 eventos poeticos en la Universidad de Texas Pan-American, y organizó el Festival de la Mujer 2011.  En la actualidad es fundadora de la asociación Colectivo Huatsamara, la cual promueve las artes en el Valle del Río Grande y ha impartido tres talleres literarios en Mission, McAllen y San Juan Texas. Sus labores comunitarias incluyen el haber fundado y dirigido el programa Un mar de cultura, en el cual se motivaba a los jóvenes a seguir sus estudios académicos; con este proyecto se les dio información a un aproximado de 250 jóvenes y padres en iglesias, escuelas y centros comunitarios. 

Mario Escobar, the founder of Izote Press, was born in La Union and raised in Morazán, El Salvador. He came to the US at age 12. He is a former child guerrilla fighter who in 2006 attained asylum in this country. He holds a BA in Spanish Literature and Chicanos Studies from UCLA, Diplomado from Universidad de Guadalajara UDG and completed his Masters course work at ASU. He is a Dream activist co-founder of UCLA IDEAS (Improving Dreams Education Access and Success) and currently working on a PhD at University of Maryland College Park.  He is the author of Gritos Interiores a book of poetry responding to California Proposition 187. He was also featured in the UCLA publication Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out. Currently he is finishing his first novel, Paciente 1980, which is expected to be out early 2012. This Salvadoran born but Chicano de Corazon was raised in South Central and East LA and now lives in Maryland with his linda Chicana compañera Karla Escobar-Gutierrez and his three beautiful daughters.


Anonymous said...

Sedano, you're a week too late para mí. I did a presentation last week and made most of the errors you mention, as well as failed to do some of the things you suggested.
La Bloga readers would do well to follow your words that I'm now studying about a public reading--especially the piece about memory.

msedano said...

Rudy, that was last week. The cool thing about one's oracy is that there's always going to be a next reading! Thanks for the endorsement.


Unknown said...

This is one of the most helpful posts I have seen and heard from my blogroll. I would love to repost on my blog and keep the video handy for reference. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

mensajes claro said...

msedano i love your reading , Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Have a nice day.