Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Autry Summer Kickoff. liz gonzález On-line Floricanto. Rose Poets Unusual Places

liz gonzález On-line Floricanto: Autry After Hours
Michael Sedano

Autry After Hours from the gente at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park adds razacentric programming to the region’s busy menu of summer fare. The museum has leveraged its ongoing PST:LA/LA exhibit featuring La Raza Newspaper to fashion a series of three low-cost events featuring raza poetry and other arte.

The launch event is a well-attended mid-week social gathering fearuing a floricanto with poets liz gonzález and Luis J. Rodriguez. Music and interactive art-making come with the $5.00 admission. Parking at the Autry is free. The May 16 event is Las Mujeres, and the June wrap-up is Viva el Arte. More information here.

Staff opened the gates at 630 for a 7 p.m. opening reading by  gonzález. That’s an early enough hour that energy-depleted tipos like me are able to catch the opening hour. Throngs arrived in large numbers, clearly CPT isn’t what it once was. Equally clearly, the Autry's P.R. team is on the ball.

The Autry devoted significant resources to La Raza. There's an ISSUU Captions Catalog (link) showing the ample layout of gallery space compartmented into rooms named after six themes. In The Body room, performance artist Artemisa Clark holds several reams of typing paper in her arms, reading from the coroner’s inquest into the police and sheriff killings of Lin Ward, Angel Diaz, and Ruben Salazar.

Performance Art is a hard row to hoe. I looked for documentation on the performance and went wanting. Clark, if this is she in the foto, reads in the room while people come and go speaking of the fotos, noting the few spoken words they catch, turning to a foto and sharing, “my grandma was there.” The performance is all the love song this artist gets. That, and the reduced muscle strain the more pages she sheds.

Next After Hours will need better signage. A hand-printed sign tacked to a wall lists the readers. Near the appointed hour, with little fanfare, liz gonzáles takes the spotlight.

Quickly people seize one of the twenty stools. Standing listeners gather, positioning themselves to see and hear, clustering to allow passersby and at least one photographer to wind around to find an open space.

Bringing the exhibit’s “previously inaccessible” fotos to public, the museum claims these fotos speak to “the joint roles of photography and activism in the ongoing struggle for human rights across the globe.” Except at the Autry, where “No Photos” rendered the exhibit property protected from independent photographers. Tonight, the “no photos” rule is abandoned.

For background on the “inaccessible” history, see these two La Bloga columns.

liz gonzález Illuminates Autry After Dark

La Bloga is happy to share poems liz gonzález read for her Autry audience. The poems come from gonzález' forthcoming July publication, Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds: Poems y Cuentos New and Selected (Los Nietos Press July 2018) (link)

The Summer Before 9th Grade
By liz gonzález

Before I lassoed my first tongue-kiss
and my longhaired boyfriend ignored me
in science class the next day,
before I ran for Valentine’s Queen
against my ex-best-friend
and we broke out flailing Chihuahua claws,
yanking hair, yelping cuss words
in front of the principal’s office,
I woke to the trill of tin bells,
strapped on two-inch suede platforms,
clonked four and a half long blocks
through heat waves rising from the sidewalks,
held down my neon orange and lime
miniskirt and climbed the bus
headed for San Bernardino Main Library.

The click and slide of card catalogs
played funkier grooves
than Tower of Power ’s “ Bump City.”
Crackling book spines
engraved with golden curlicues
excited me more than a boy girl pool party.
I couldn't wait to plunge the crinkled pages inside.
All morning, I squeezed hard backs
between Dewey Decimal neighbors,
helped text hunters explore shelves.
Whenever the mean librarian couldn't see me
behind the oversized section,
I snuck a read.

On scorching afternoon rides home,
books pointing out of my backpack
like a fisherman's net after a good day's catch,
I made a pit stop at Esperanza Market
on Mount Vernon Avenue where the butcher
wrapped-up a pickled pigs' foot for me.
With my legs sweat-stuck to the plastic bench seat,
I gnawed that pata to the bone,
cooled off with Robert Frost’s poems.
The bus slanted up Fifth Street to Foothill
while I dove deep into songs of tinkling brooks
and leafless woods until my stop
at the bench on Meridian Avenue.

Poetic Response to La Raza exhibit, Autry Museum, 2018 (In-progress)
By liz gonzález

I. Another Report on TV about Chicanos Protesting

Chicanos, Mama and Grandma spit,
like it’s a dirty word. They’re an embarrassment
to our people. I stop playing with my Barbies
and scoot closer to the screen. Teenage girls,
brown like me, are marching on a main street.
They look like soldiers in their khaki uniform jackets—
utility belts cinched at the waist, pockets above
and below. Brown berets tipped to the right.
They stand straight, straight faced—tough.
Their cat eye make-up, styled dark hair,
three-inch chunk heeled boots add to their power.
An army of Brown girls.

I want to be like them
when I grow up—strong and cool.
I don’t understand what
they’re fighting against or for,
but I know they’re right.

II. Protest Signs and Headlines
Then and Today Selected

III. What We Do When We’re Not Working for Social Justice and Equity

We tear up the rented dance floor at our cousin’s backyard party while Brown

We help paint the community mural on the wall at the corner market while Brown

We groove at Saturday jams at the band shell in the park while Brown

We race bikes up a steep street after school while Brown

We live La Vida Jota at the Chicana / Chicano Conference while Brown

We scarf down tamales, con carne or vegan—nopal is vegan—at our girlfriend’s kitchen table while Brown

We visit the La Raza exhibit at the Autry with our old friend from MEChA while Brown

We make love while Brown

We drop by the Chicana owned bookstore on the way home from work while Brown

We attend the college graduation of a DACA client that our immigration law practice helped out while Brown

We slow dance with our honey at our 50th wedding anniversary party at the VFW hall while Brown

We check out the Chicano Poet Laureate’s reading at an arts event while Brown

We hang out at the Latinx craft brewery with our Black, Indigenous, Asian, and White friends while Brown

We breathe while Brown

We love while Brown
Live while Brown
Love while Brown
Live while Brown
Viva La Raza!

liz gonzález, a fourth generation Southern Californian, grew up in the San Bernardino Valley. She is the author of Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds: Poems y Cuentos New and Selected, forthcoming from Los Nietos Press (July 2018). Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have been published widely. Her work will appear in or recently appeared in Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Inlandia: San Bernardino, City of Los Angeles 2017 Latino Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide, Voices from Leimert Park Anthology Redux, The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond.

Her recent awards include a 2017 Residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, a 2017 Arts Council for Long Beach Professional Development Microgrant, and a 2016 Incite / Insight Award from the Arts Council for Long Beach.

She directs Uptown Word & Arts, promoting literacy and arts, is a member of Macondo Writers Workshop, serves on the Macondo 2018 ad hoc advisory board, and is a creative writing instructor at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. lizgonzalez.com

Pasadena Rose Poets: Poetry In Unusual Places

 Toni Mosley, Gerda Govine Ituarte
Pasadena Rose Poets bring poetry to unusual places. Sometimes those places turn out to be unusually hard to find parking. That was the situation one recent Wednesday noon when Pasadena’s City Council opened its Chambers to Gerda Govine Ituarte and the Pasadena Rose Poets (link). The group observed National Poetry Month in the picturesque site.

The luxurious space has become familiar ground to the Rose Poets, who read a poem to open every council meeting. One elected remarked on the body’s calmed civic engagements since the poetry started.

Despite the delayed start, sporadic interruptions greeted a poet, apologetic parkers stressed at their arrival because poetry is important and they missed out. The long walk on a hot day, and having to negotiate a film crew blocking most entries added to the relief of sinking into an upholstered cushion in the cool.

Parking ticket revenue is like poetry to the city. Important, to the point the meters have strict enforcement by roaming bicycle time minders. My meter was soon up so I had to abandon my chair between readers. I hope the poets weren’t too dismayed by the shrinking audience.

Govine reports a video in progress of all four “unusual” readings. La Bloga will share its location when the video becomes available. Visit the Rose Poets Facebook page for current information.

Special Guest Toni Mosley

Carla Sameth

Gerda Govine Ituarte

No comments: