Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Juan Gabriel ¡Presente! La Palabra Reading at Avenue 50 Studio

Note: La Bloga friend Gregg Barrios composed this poem upon the sudden death of renowned entertainer, Juan Gabriel. Gregg notes, "He never wanted to crossover and sing in English. He preferred to sing and speak in the language of his raices."

Barrios is in process of composing an extended tribute to the Mexicano singer. Gregg developed a long appreciation for JuanGa over the years. Barrios is one of the few Chicano journalists who actually gained Juan Gabriel's confidence and did several interviews with him for El Heraldo de Mexico y Mas magazine.

POEMA  [a un amor que nunca llego hacer amiga]
By Gregg Barrios

Para Alberto Aguilera / Juan Gabriel QEPD

nunca estaré feliz

pero hubo un momento
cuando yo te quería
entonces todo lo sentía
cuando eras toda mi vida
que ahora termino

en algo triste y gris.

nuestro amor iba comenzar
nuestra vida, ahora perdida
para que te voy a engañar
fui el cobarde en no decírtelo
siempre me hacías muy feliz
pero en vez de gritártelo
tome el papel de un infeliz.

nunca quise ser el solitario

¿por qué no me sacudiste con cariño
para matar el ladrón melancolía

que dejo estas cenizas de amor?

fui el único que te quiso

soy el único sin tu amor

viviré mi vida triste y gris

la paloma a mi corazón no aviso
solo fue la palabra que me condeno
ya ni besos pueden despertarme

ya no pido ningún perdón

ya no tengo nada de que olvidarme
porque solo estoy, solo estoy

sin ti, mi corazón.

Avenue 50 Studio Hosts August La Palabra Reading 
Michael Sedano

The fourth Sunday of the month, except during the winter holidays, La Palabra Hosted by Karineh Mahdessian, convenes at 2 p.m. in the galleries at Avenue 50 Studio in Los Angeles' Highland Park community.

August 28th's reading was a heartfelt occasion whose emotions and prime aesthetic motives completely fulfilled the gente who joined the circle. An Open Mic session kicks off the afternoon, followed by four featured readers, including Maya Washington, Natalie Graham,  Cynthia Alessandra Briano, Devi Laskar.

Open Mic

La Palabra Hosted by Karineh Mahdessian reliably brings unique experiences with spoken word and good people. Today, poets come from Orange County, from Northern California, from the far Westside of the LA basin. 

Although the audience mostly arrives deliberately, serendipity plays a role when passersby look into the gallery and, hearing people reading, tiptoe inside. A welcome smile points the visitor to an open chair. 

Friends, familia, locals join in, and with a handful of regulars, constitute the enthusiastically warm audience. One regular, the unofficial official snack maker, Albie Preciado, had a malfunctioning oven that explains his absence today. He'd planned to bake a luscious goodie, even hinted at a gluten-free version. For the September affair, Preciado declares "I'll do my best to find something appropriately delicious to bake."

Eschewing conventional one-to-many seating, Mahdessian forms seating into a circle with central wide open space allowing performers to use the area to their heart's content. Most stand in place, a few remain in their seat. Today, only Elisabeth Adwin Edwards utilizes the entire room.

Merna Dyer Skinner's gentle dog lay patiently throughout the performance. Stella Archer, middle foto, makes her debut reading in public. Amanda Wang felt comfortable sitting and sharing an identity poem.

Joseph Rios sat at the far end of the circle, while Elisabeth Adwin Edwards stood and moved about to make eye contact with the full circle. Joe Kennedy read from a novel-in-process. Edwards' touching poem gave voice to a daughter's coming to terms with a dying mother.  Poetry heals. 

Featured Readers

Maya Washington, Natalie Graham,  Cynthia Alessandra Briano, Devi Laskar, Karineh Mahdessian
The poets today elect to read round-robin style. Natalie Graham leads off. Following Graham,  clockwise, Devi Laskar reads, then Cynthia Alessandra Briano, and coming full circle, Maya Washington reads a piece. Then the cycle begins again.

The readers begin with a tribute, reading work by other poets. Illustrating the importance of flexibility and adaptation, poets changed their planned program to read a piece that reflects the moment and complements  the previous reading. 

Boisterous applause greets news that Natalie J. Graham’s manuscript, Begin with a Failed Body, is selected for the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Natalie will receive $1,000, publication by The University of Georgia Press in fall 2017, complimentary copies of the book, and a feature reading in New York City.

Lasker reads a personal poem about a violent raid she endured at the hands of her local police. The moment is unnerving in the context of regularly disclosed police beatings and murders from coast to coast, and the complete helplessness of victims to do anything but bleed or endure. After the reading, the audience is happy to take a breath.

Cynthia Alessandra Briano stands and gestures freely. Briano's fluid eloquence adds a welcome dimension to her performance. I discover after the reading she is a speech and debate teacher. Public speaking class is among the very best ways for poets and writers to gain confidence and poise reading their own stuff. Those who can, teach.

Maya Washington, like Graham, reads from her chair. She exhibits a strong persona to go along with a strong poetic voice. The audience is satisfied with the wonderful readings, especially because all of the poets utilize a natural reading style. None adopt "the voice" that often diminishes a poet's oral and presentational effectiveness. Clearly these artists have keen awareness of their art. The natural voice technique illustrates respect for the labor each devotes to crafting literature.

Plan to be in Highland Park on September 25th to enjoy work by  Gerda Govine Ituarte, Carla Sameth, Gale Cohen and Maria Elena Fernandez.

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