Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fotos y Canto: Hitched & Holy Grounds Return. Beginnings & Endings For La Palabra.

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Hitched at Holy Grounds Celebrates Macondo Writers and Two Book Releases!
Michael Sedano

Hitched  is a quarterly reading series, created and engagingly hosted by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo. Notable for Bermejo's pairing of intriguing voices, Hitched might feature seasoned with emerging writers, people working in complementary styles, writers with contrasting approaches. Bermejo always finds a delighting facet in her guests' poetry and prose.

For December, the event paired two writers bringing debut books to light, Vickie Vertiz's collection, Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut (University of Arizona Press) and Joseph Rios's collection, Shadowboxing (Omnidawn)! In addition, all the writers were Macondistas, including liz gonzalez, Alex Espinoza, Tisha Reichle, Sarah Rafael García. With Saturday's reading, Hitched reaches its seventh year. In Los Angeles, that's an institution. That Macondo writers workshop has been an institution since Day One.

For years--since December 2010--Hitched was a feature on the remote westside, at Beyond Baroque in Venice. When Bermjeo relocated the series to the eastside, Hitched got forcibly interrupted after a car crashed through the El Sereno front door of host, Holy Grounds Coffee & Tea.

The December 9 Hitched marked the return of Holy Grounds and Hitched. The owners of the venue donate their comfortable paved garden. The sound system provides clean audio adding no discernible artifacts. Readers Saturday showed how to use the two-step stage and microphone to advantage.

That microphone, however, complicates a photographer's quest for a perfect portrait of an artist reading aloud. A listener's brain can render the mic invisible, or at least irrelevant to enjoying the work. The camera is a dumb instrument that sees whatever comes between the lens and the speaker's face.

Technology adds dimensions to a reader's considerations that can enhance a presentation, or let it be a "more of the same" experience for audiences. There's no such thing as a "bad job" but there are infinite ways to be good, better, the best you've done. Knowing your tools makes writers better readers.

Cardiod microphones are a reader’s best worst friend. They solve a lot of issues. A coffee house patio, for example, demands projection, vocal power to draw in those people on their laptops, be meaningful to the ones who came to hear you, help them hear over those laughs coming from somewhere.

When there's amplification, a lot of noise and clarity issues get solved. Hitched at the resurrected Holy Grounds Coffee & Tea demonstrates the worst and best of  a microphone’s nature for writers reading to a live audience.

Two theories come into play when a reader sees a microphone on the bare stage. There's the mic theory and the speaker theory.

Mic theory is pura technology. Imagine a soap bubble coming out of the end of a pipe. The walls of the bubble begin at the pipe and swell spherically away from the pipe, to the sides and larger to the front.

The pipe is the microphone. The bubble is the microphone’s sensitivity to hear words clearly. The microphone hears above and below itself, to the side as well. Think of the bubble. A speaker need not direct one’s mouth to the mic for the mic to hear the words. If someone shouts “speak up,” angle the mic on the stand, or turn up the amplifier volume.

Speaker theory is pura complicada. Boiled down, directness counts. This means eye contact, gesture, presentation of self, handling text, memory, anxiety, voice and diction, expressiveness, variety, just to begin. Complicated, yes, but sabes que? You learned these when you acquired language and speech. Practice.

For microphone purposes, speakers will want to do as Joseph Rios, and be tall and project with a good voice. If not, lower the mic to chin level, stand a step off center from the stand. The bubble will reach out for your voice, even as you swivel your head making eye contact with people.

Or, one can do as Vicky Vertiz, who holds the mic in one hand, her book in the other.

Alex and Sarah took advantage of the two-step podium. They took the high ground. The end of the mic--the pipe with the bubble--is at chin level, well within the sensitivity bubble. The mic at mouth level will be too high to allow both a satisfying view of the reader's expressive face and good audio capture.

All bets are off if the reader buries her his face in the text.

Speaker bios provided by Hitched.

liz gonzalez 

liz gonzález's poetry, fiction, and memoirs have been published widely. Her work will appear in or recently appeared in City of Los Angeles 2017 Latino Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide, Inlandia: San Bernardino, Litbreak Magazine, Askew Poetry Journal, and Cultural Weekly, and in the anthologies Voices from Leimert Park Anthology Redux, The Coiled Serpent, and Wide Awake. Her recent awards include a 2017 Residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and a 2017 Arts Council for Long Beach Professional Development Microgrant. She grew up in the San Bernardino Valley and lives in North Long Beach with her fur-buddies Chacho, a Chihuahua mix and Espresso, a tortie cat, and her partner Jorge Martin, a sound artist. She directs Uptown Word & Arts and is a member of Macondo Writers Workshop. She is a writing consultant and coach, a facilitator of free community creative writing workshops, and a creative writing instructor through the UCLA

Tisha Reichl

Tisha Reichle is a Chicana Feminist and former Rodeo Queen. Originally from a trailer on a dirt road, she moved to Los Angeles to study Sociology, Communications, and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA. While engaging high school students with socially conscious literature, she completed her single-subject English credential at Cal State Dominguez Hills and earned an MFA at Antioch University. Her stories have appeared most recently in The Acentos Review, The Lunch Ticket, and Ghost Town. She is an AROHO Retreat alum, a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, Las Dos Brujas, and an organizing member of Women Who Submit. She is currently a Wallis Annenberg Fellow at USC where she will eventually earn a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature.

Joseph Rios

Alex Espinoza

Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico to parents from the state of Michoacán and raised in suburban Los Angeles. In high school and afterwards, he worked a series of retail jobs, selling everything from eggs and milk to used appliances, custom furniture, rock T-shirts, and body jewelry. After graduating from the University of California-Riverside, he went on to earn an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, Still Water Saints, was published by Random House in 2007 and was named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. The book was released simultaneously in Spanish, under the title Los santos de Agua Mansa, California, translated by Lilliana Valenzuela.

Sarah Rafael García is a writer, community educator and traveler. Since publishing Las Niñas (Floricanto Press 2008), she founded Barrio Writers and LibroMobile. Her writing appears in LATINO Magazine, Contrapuntos III, The Acentos Review, among others. She is a Macondo Fellow and editor for the Barrio Writers and pariahs anthologies. In 2016, she was awarded for SanTana’s Fairy Tales (Raspa Magazine 2017), which was supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, through a grant supporting the Artist-in-Residence initiative at Grand Central Art Center. Most recently, García is supported by Community Engagement for LibroMobile, a literary project aimed to cultivate diversity through literature. Her works and lifestyle promote community empowerment, cultural awareness and collaboration.

Vickie Vertiz

Vickie Vértiz was born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles. A Lucille Clifton Scholar at the Community of Writers, she was also the 2016 Poetry Center Fellow at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Her writing can be found in Huizache, Nepantla, and in The Coiled Serpent from Tia Chucha Press. Her second collection of poetry, Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut, is available now from the University of Arizona Press, Camino del Sol series.

Hitched Celebrates Macondo Writers and Two Book Releases

UC Irvine Shuttering Magulandia

There seemed to be lots of time to get down to deepest Orange County, to Irvine to catch Magulandia and now that's less true. There's no time at all, in fact, to take in the show whole. After December 12, only the central University Art Gallery portion welcomes visitors until December 16. Click here for details on the final days of Magulandia at UCI.

If you were waiting for the exhibit to come down to buy that Magu sculpture, now's the time to make your offer. Have you picked out a place for it in the front room?

Beginnings & Endings at Avenue 50 and La Palabra

Karineh Mahdessian restrained the tears that refused restraint so the tears flowed as she disclosed news to a supportive crowd that today wraps her service hosting the immensely important and popular reading series, La Palabra at Avenue 50 Studio in Northeast Los Angeles. The December 10 meeting wraps the series for 2017.

Avenue 50 Studio has yet to announce January's host. Mahdessian will be in the audience. Joining her will be Don Newton and Laura Luisa Longoria, Luivette Resto, Jessica Ceballos y Campbell, the stellar lineup of hosts emeriti.

For this final celebration, Karineh invited her parents, shown in the heart of the group portrait. Numerous others who've featured or open mic'd through the years joined the readers in the circle of readers.

Circles have no beginning and no ending, a circle circles continuously. That's the logic of a La Palabra reading, The Circle. Today's circle doubled down, taking a round-robin format. Readers take the floor inspired by a previous reader or a moment's duende. 

Mahdessian launches the day with a tribute reading, Maya Angelou's "And Still I Rise."

Thank you, Karineh for making La Palabra take wing. All that energy. Invite the features. Curate the event. MC the Open Mic. Set up chairs. Bring refreshments. Clean up afterwards. Recruit Albie Preciado to be the official baker of fabulously imaginative treats. Make time to make time to make it happen. Cry when it works so well. Cry when things happen having nothing to do with La Palabra but are life, love, happiness. Like poetry. Like everything.

Mission Accomplished! Fun, Poetry, Gente, Love, Value. Karineh Mahdessian, órale.

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