January 13, 2013 is when I fell in love with Writ Large Press, it was the morning after Billy Burgos’s launch party at Beyond Baroque - thank you Billy, for the introduction! Most of you know that story, if not ask me in private! I then began to love all things Writ Large. I followed them and their doings, and then we'd hang and scheme for nights at Spring Street. We laughed, loved, hated, and cried together, and we shared similar beliefs on what “books" mean to us, the people who write them, and the communities they serve (and don't serve).
Then, Writ Large invited Poesia Para La Gente to participate in LAB•FEST in 2013, and the book fests in 2013 and 2014. And then #90for90 happened and I was formally invited to join this amazingness, whom I'd already grown to love. And so it began. And it was because of Peter, Chiwan, and Judy, and our little community that I learned how to navigate and process this thing called publishing, and all that it encompasses, and all that our lives encompassed over the past three years. And these past three years have been a lot: good, great, difficult, and everything, so I’m forever grateful in finding forever friends-like-family in those three amazing people. And yeah, I’m also grateful for being able to work on books by brilliant writers who also happen to be good people, like Wendy C. Ortiz, Rachel McLeod Kaminer, Ashaki M. Jackson, Mike Sonksen, and Teka Lark. And it was through Writ Large that I met some of the folx that I'll be fortunate to call friends for the rest of my life. Plus, have I mentioned how awesome it was to be a part of all of those events we put together, on that spectrum of what we see as being literary!? It’s been a fun/wild ride for sure!
But sadly, and happily, life brings us surprises. For instance, three years ago I had no idea I’d ever be married again, (and to someone so wonderful), but more importantly seven years ago when I began this journey, I had no idea I'd find this kind of fullness in my life. But I worked hard at letting me be me. This is how I found the friends I have now, the beautiful people in my life, that I love so much. This is also how I found it in myself to return to school, to return to the work I’m most passionate about, and to allow myself to learn, fuck up, grow, and experience. And with that comes shifts, in purpose, goals, what gets us excited, and how we choose to process how we learn new things.
Sadly, I'll be stepping away from Writ Large Press as a partner, but I’m excited for what’s in store. I owe it to them to make room for someone who has the capacity for a commitment greater than mine. Soon Writ Large will be publishing a new series of chapbooks, and 90x90 is on its way, and thanks to the many supportive friends and volunteers who’ve stepped up to help make this happen! I'm looking forward to all of this!! And I'll always believe, and hold close to my heart, the mission of Writ Large Press and it's founding partners, as expression of the politics we need in the world - yesterday, right now and always!
As for me, I’ll be announcing some new projects soon, one is a small publishing project, another is an advocacy/data project. Beginning this fall I’ll be pretty busy with finishing school while working freelance putting events together, helping other folks with events, designing books, working on community projects, working with Ave 50 Studio on things, and working to fight displacement and societal injustices. I'm also working on my first book which is requiring a surprising amount of research, but feels so good to be able to actually do. But also, and more importantly, there are some pretty exciting happenings on the home-front, which of course takes the cake!
There's an endless amount of joy and experience that I can write about, but I'll stop now, too many tears for a Tuesday! I'm so grateful for everyone I've met along the WLP way, and I'm equally grateful for this literary community we call home. So much more to come...see you all on the other side! 💜
resist. disrupt. transgress.
If you're interested in helping WLP with 90x90, in production, curating, presenting, reporting, spreading the word, etc. OR if you'd like your work to be featured for an evening - please FILL OUT THIS GOOGLE FORM.
Dear fellow feminists, gentle women and men of color,
I need your help. I understand the process of voting. I understand the need for policy and structure and spending for structure and for this semblance of democracy, in order to make a more perfect union. After all, it is getting a little bit better for so many of us folks that aren't defined by the white, male, heteronormative folk who decided to re-found this place brown blood has called home for thousands of years.
I understand this process, so I will be voting this year. But not for President. But I want to vote for a President. And as a feminist, I'd love to vote for a woman. But. And there are so many but's. Help me understand why anyone can vote for someone who is willing and ready to push the big red button.
I no longer believe that war, in the way it's defined by our administration, is necessary or even helpful in promoting peace. Who's kidding, I never believed in war for anything. There is no other righteous excuse for war other than the purpose of promoting peace or exterminating evil. And even those excuses have been proven to no longer exist as excuses to spend 3.9% of our GDP on defense. That's $596 billion, which is triple the second highest nation in the world (quadruple if you go by the other report), a part of which is used to murder [innocent] civilians, usually brown civilians, and a part of which is used to create policy that destroys lives across the world. Interventionist policies that have shown to nurture femicide and rape culture - across the world.
And the candidate who is least quick on the trigger is, as an alternate or second to war, very much an advocate of sanctions, which has sometimes been known to do more long-term harm than war.
And to be okay with war
is to be okay with military
is to be okay with a police state
is to be okay with collateral damage
is to be okay with the
[fill in the blank] industrial complexities that make this country "great again"
Why and how is there a politician worthy of making this okay for anyone, how do our feminist-blooded brown bodies, histories, hearts and minds make this all okay, under the theory of democracy. How is any of this okay, to vote for? I want to know what good justifies the illusion of democracy , when history (and future) knows we can exist without being oppressed, without being owned, and without the need for voting for a President.
This album. This man of music. Changed our world. It did. Forget about the people who didn't want change, the music played on. It always plays on. Lifting us from those momentary lapses to those places on mountain tops, or in those softly lit corners of the forests, the places we don't want to leave but we have to. Or do we have to? The music can always keep us there, free jazz always kept me there. The recording stops but the notes still play. And play. You can hear it around the corner from where you are now, I bet you didn't know there was 'an around the corner' from where you stand. Those are Coleman's corners. He built them to teach us how to listen. And we listen. LA still listens. Jazz is hardly dead. It's a part of life, the metamorphosis of our heroes, the creators of innovation and inspiration. He made this music, this free and divine magic carpet ride, and now he is his music. Eternal. Ornette Coleman is hardly dead, he's just becoming something else. Something eternal. Ornette Coleman was Jazz. Jazz will do anything but rest.
Just officially partnered up with Happening In Highland Park for a couple of VERY exciting Highland Park projects coming up. Believe me, you'll want to "Like" the page for updates and info coming soon.
PS. Do you have an event coming up in the area? Or, maybe you just wanna know what's going on in the community (events, food-stuff, businesses) download the app. It's a one-man operation, and he's a good man! And he's VERY Figueroa-friendly! Also, the website is rad.
STATEMENT FROM CLIPPERS HEAD COACH DOC RIVERS
Ok. I've had a chance to breathe. It's time to reflect. But this time, I've decided to pass the mic to those who made this particular event so special, and so much more important than that other book fest in LA.
I'd like to think that Poesia Para La Gente's (PPLG) first appearance at the Grand Park Book Fest was more than just successful. Thanks to the good folks at Grand Park and the lovely Chiwan, Judeth and Peter of Writ Large Press, for inviting us to share what we do. What we do is bring poetry to the gente (people) of the community (the non-poetry community), using non-traditional spaces as venues, with the hope of maybe inspiring someone just a little (to make a bigger poetry community). The only way we can properly do that is by inviting good poets (good people) to share a little bit of what their idea of poetry is, to share their love for poetry, for community, to share their spirit - with the whole of the city. It's not easy to get out there, give it all you got, and keep at it for a few hours. It takes a lot of energy, especially under the sun. I want to give a huge out-loud thank you, and warm hug, to all of the poets who stopped by to say hi on Saturday and who continued to participate with hearts wide open -
Steve Abee, Gloria Enedina Alvarez, Khadija Anderson, Victor Avila, Dane Baylis, Brandon Brown, Billy Burgos, Juan Cardenas, Jessica Wilson Cardenas, Yago S. Cura, Iris De Anda, Peggy Dobreer, Nikita Liza, Bill Friday, Amanda Yates Garcia, Rebecca Gonzales, Xitlalic Guijosa-Osuna, June Kim, Kenji Liu, Karineh Mahdessian, Wendy C. Ortiz, Crystal Little Bird Salas, Fernando Salinas, Elena Secota, Kelly Grace Thomas, Conney Williams and Vickie Vertiz…
And while it's beautiful that they shared their talent and love for poetry, I also encouraged them - for the first time in our programs history - to share their experiences with us. This is our second time experimenting with the Poems on Demand program so I'm thinking of retiring it for a little while. Don't worry, we have some VERY exciting projects planned for PPLG, and I truly hope that you'll feel inspired to join us for those. And who knows, maybe after reading these reflections, you'll feel encouraged to start your own Poems on Demand project…that would be amazing!
And without further ado I present to you, a little of the book fest amazing-ness, in their own words...
Two Thousand Thirteen 2 0 1 3
what can I say…it was a wonderful year. Here’s a year in review, photo style.
(and if you click on the photos, it should take you to more photos)
The Bluebird Reading Series started off strong in '13 with the first reading of the year featuring Corrie Greathouse, Melissa Alvarado, Peggy Dobreer, and Bonnie S. Kaplan!!
We then welcomed guest hosts Hinchas de Poesia who brought in Billy Burgos, Bojan Luis, Yago Cura and Annette Cruz.
It’s more than Poesia Para La Gente, It’s Amor Para Los Angeles (or Beware of the Many Inverted Commas)
“The key to organizing an alternative society is to organize people around what they can do and more importantly, what they want to do.”
I’m back in full swing, from an amazing weekend. Amazing weekends are easy to pull off when they start on the right foot, and I think I’m getting good at helping to make that possible.
Saturday afternoon’s Poesia Para La Gente (PPLG) went a little different this time around. What we usually do is hold a reading, and maybe allow for some “open mic” time, inviting the public to participate. But this time I thought to try an experiment in writing poetry on-demand, the popular literary performance that gets poets closer to their audience by writing a poem for them “on demand.” The difference was that I wanted to change the medium that the poem was to be written on, not just to make it exciting but also to experiment with perception and communication. And it’s the holidays so why not incorporate some giving, why not solicit donations?!
And it worked! It was amazing from the start. Of course there’s always the very beginning, the moment everyone arrives…when we wonder what’s next. But that’s my favorite part, when everybody finds their place and I can see in their eyes that they “get” it…the reason why we all agree to do this. And that’s when the excitement begins.