(I don't usually take this long to write a thank you, but an important matter kinda stole my attention on a Monday night.)
I know I didn't reinvent a wheel, readings have been going on for decades. Well, historically much longer than that but you know what I mean. And the internet has been used to stream live events since it was able to do so. But for some reason Sunday felt like the first time I’ve hosted a Bluebird Reading and it felt like I stepped into new territory. While preparing to write this I had to make sure to pull every Bluebird from the memory banks, just for grounding purposes.
Being able to effectively listen to the spoken word is an exercise in being human; paying attention to the details while also trying to comprehend the symbolism, the sitting in silence, the emotional response - at the right moments, and sometimes at the wrong moments. Reader, after reader, after reader, and sometimes for two hours at a time. I don’t know about you, but this is often hard for me to do. For some reason I can't sit still too long during poetry readings and I sometimes want to just laugh during the quiet moments. Yeah, I sometimes suck at being an audience, but one thing I know for sure, my Bluebird audience doesn't suck. Ever. I'd love nothing better than to give a big hug and thanks to all of those who came by (virtually and physically) to listen and support our featured writers, the Bluebird reading series and Avenue 50 Studio. My parents (all four of them) were in attendance via Google Hangout, and so were Bluebird alumni Melinda Palacio and Wyatt Underwood!
This past Sunday was especially significant to me for many reasons, one being that I’m a big fan of the journey, more so than the destination. Physical or metaphysical, place is defined by the stories that still travel on the roads between here and there. It’s important that these stories are told, because where we are now – didn't always exist. I think it’s important to remember yesterday and there, and to dream of tomorrow and here.
So to recap - the wonderful Hector Tobar gave us a sneak peek into a mythical relationship centering on our River and nurtured by bicycle tours of the cities under-appreciated malodorous areas. Amanda Yates Garcia (with the help of Mark So strategically placing his cassette decks in the hands of the audience) led us on an exploration away from places dreamt up by our inherited anxieties and towards our relationship with place and the sounds that those physical and spiritual experiences birth – and with Gram Parsons to boot! Abel Salas took us to Tucson to help us compassionately fight, for what is right and for those that can’t. And we thought about our plans for disaster, and then wonderfully accepted our Angelesian fate, with the help of Joseph Lapin's view from Chinatown. And of course, what journey wouldn't be complete without a visit to the old village of Strathpeffer, Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands?! With a little help from our lovely friends at Google Hangout, our favorite human factors engineer - the effervescent, holistic and Los Angeles born Ashley Karr - was able to share her beautiful poem from her hotel bed in her ancestral Scotland. I thank them for inspiring us...for amazing storytelling...and for making Bluebird their home for a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon.
A HUGE thank you to the wonderful open-mic’rs – My favorite part of the Bluebird Reading, always!
Don't worry, we’ll be expanding on this Google Hangout experiment because of course, I wouldn't want anyone to get bored. Stay tuned for more info on that.
And next month there will be NO Bluebird, as she’s flying away from home for a little winter break. But catch us December 8th when we feature Rich Ferguson, Brynn Saito & a live Butoh performance by Khadija Anderson (plus more TBA) !!!
Again, thank you and a huge X and O
The more your encounter with poetry deepens, the more your experience of your own life will deepen, and you will begin to see things by means of words, and words by means of things.
Hemingway once wrote, "He defends [his friends] when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. ... He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets publishers to take their books. He sits up all night with them when they claim to be dying ... he advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide."
T. S. Eliot declared that he "is more responsible for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry than is any other individual."
Donald Hall remarked that he "is the poet who, a thousand times more than any other man, has made modern poetry possible in English."
He gave birth to Robert Frost. He introduced Joyce to Harriet Shaw Weaver and then invited him to Paris, changing everything.
As a writer, Ezra Pound was aware of the inside, as a human...he was aware of the outside.
This was important enough for me to pause the futbol match...write...and share.
This blog is in response to a lovely thank you I just received from a girl who goes by the name of Billimarie, I call her the Typewriter Poet. She also wrote THIS blog about the recent Poesia Para La Gente Metro reading we all did. It includes the awesome poem she typed up along the journey!
I forgot exactly how we met but I do know it was on Facebook. After looking her up I invited her to join us on the poetry train, because she embodied what Poesia Para La Gente is all about.
Here's the thing, the Typewriter Poet doesn't need to perform a poem, she doesn't need to be heard (in the conventional way), nor is she interested in promoting herself. She only wants to type poems for people, for free. Spending time with her on the train made me think that maybe she wants to form a road of communication between symbols and her internal voice that's already communicating with our collective conscience. And then I realized she's already been doing that. And isn't that the nature of poetry? You meet her and realize how calm, collected, peaceful she seems, not exactly your everyday poet. (relax, it's a generalization!) There doesn't seem to be a struggle, but I could be wrong. But then again, she doesn't need a struggle, she's found her purpose, or so it seems. Imagine doing what you love, doing it day-in and day-out. Now imagine if what you're doing happens to be a ritual of non-verbal communication in a language of symbols, with your community - as an act of altruistic, free expression. Imagine if what you're doing is praying...with the community, free of doctrine and with a smile. Imagine that.
The Typewriter Poet carries her pink typewriter just about everywhere and writes for free, for anybody, at anytime. She's even taken her typewriter on "tour" throughout the Pacific Northwest. She does this for the love of poetry. And maybe for the love of people. I'm not quite sure yet. She has nothing to sell, only to save, though she doesn't know it. She's saving the art and spirit of the voiceless word freshly strung together by ribbon and ink onto paper, spoken-less, accessible and free...
On behalf of typewriters, and those who choose to redefine what it means to have a voice, thank you Ms. Typewriter Poet.
follow her adventures at http://www.typewriterpoetry.com
Top photo - Laminated copy of the first ever issue of Gidra. What is Gidra?
"In April 1969 a group of students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) founded a newspaper dubbed Gidra, a monthly publication that took a radically progressive political position. These five students—Mike Murase, Dinora Gil, Laura Ho, Colin Watanabe, and Tracy Okida—desired a visual media that would bring to light issues not featured in the mainstream media. Dubbed by the authors as the “Voice of the Asian American Movement” Gidra ran from 1969 until its final issue was published in April 1974. " (More on Gidra Here)
Bottom photo - to the right of Traci Akemi Kato-Kiryama are several of the founding staff members of Gidra; Mike Murase, Evelyn Yoshimura, Doug Aihara, and unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the woman in the red coat.
These photos were taken last night at the 1st & 3rd Tuesday Night Cafe in Little Tokyo. As part of the programming of the Tuesday Night Project, the Tuesday Night Cafe is on it’s 15th year…woohoo! Last nights reading was standing room only, making it obvious that TNP’s mission and the communities needs are aligned just right. The amount of creativity and caliber of talent was just a tiny bit of proof of how much this city has to offer.
But what I wasn’t aware of was Gidra. Another layer of Los Angeles, proof yet again that there’s more to Los Angeles than just creativity and talent. The people of Los Angeles have a history of using creativity to build a foundation of strength, a voice for political advocacy.
And these guys are still active in the community. Last night they were asked how they avoided “burn-out,” something I’ve personally been researching a lot lately, and Mike Murase’s response was -
"We never became cynical, we still have hope, and we still believe in what we do."
"On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?
These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power."
-- Howard Zinn, July 4 2007, "The Progressive"
I can only hope that it's "respectful" to celebrate the idea of Independence Day independent of what this country represents, and instead with the ideology that the people we choose to surround ourselves with will help make this country 'better' through acts of kindness, creativity, and compassion. A moral compass doesn't come with a flag, a cross or an anthem...it's in our hearts, and it's to be celebrated on this day, so that tomorrow we can gain the courage to fight for what Independence Day was meant to celebrate...liberation, freedom.
you’re the science, i’m the glue setting between the folds of a ventricle-less heart . i don’t understand your logic, you don’t understand my reason, yet we remain neighbors. our sons and daughters playing under the stars in the open fields that were once ours alone.
…How Communities Are Born.
(inspired by the thought that a broken heart bleeds out love, so why be sad.)
It’s cirque de la lune on this election eve. I’ll go ahead and add my two cents to the blogosphere and beyond.
I too get somewhat excited by the notion that our vote for presidential candidate matters. And it does matter, in terms of how we think about our neighbors, our communities, and even ourselves. It’s a time to look at the facts, recollect our thoughts and by election day we should have a slightly adjusted take on our system of values, at the very least. If our presidential vote doesn’t matter, the least we can do is remember to make educated decisions on a daily basis, inspired by this election process. Of course, this is all dependent on what we choose to look at. I, for one, am choosing to not even glance at the facts on the guy born in Detroit, for fear I might turn to stone.
As for our current President, I did some campaigning for him in the swing state of Nevada. Am I voting to re-elect him? No. I’m proudly supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein, because as a Californian, I can. Perhaps it’s a contradiction, or that I’m slightly conflicted, guilty; all of it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable voting for whom I truly felt could make a difference, without making sure that I did my part in stopping an apocalypse from happening, in a state that could help make it possible. You know how it goes, the lesser of two evils mentality. That’s why I canvassed.
As for Jill Stein, she’s an intelligent, ethical, proactive and environmentally conscious advocate of humanity. Her views resonate with me, as well as with just about everyone I know, though they don’t know it. There are a number of us that believe this country needs radical and fundamental changes, and we’ll continue to support those that have the desire and skill to make that happen…and we’ll support organizations, companies, businesses, laws, propositions, referendums and measures that are humane and that save jobs, our health, and lives. We do this by voting on election day. We’ll vote for those that can’t and we’ll vote for those that have yet to be born.
At the end of the day, nothing changes unless we all change it together, through the simplest of actions that migrate into a liberating infrastructure. It begins with making choices based on shared values that positively effect society. Every day choices. If we do this in conscious solidarity, everything will be okay. I actually believe this….most of the time.
Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future. Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground.” - Sara Ahmed
I’ve been writing like a mad woman lately, on a laptop that also happens to have an internet connection, which means I’ve been researching subjects that I have no business even thinking about.
For Instance, I found out about a small sovereign community of musicians, writers and artists that appealed to me the way most of these communities do, (the way the typical American non-community doesn’t). After finally speaking with a member, I quickly realized that it wasn’t something I could be a part of, for far too many reasons to mention in this quick blog post.
I did some more writing and then some more research. I’m now permanently distracted by my findings.
Walden Five, yes I’m aware that there is no 3 or 4, is the temporary name of our new community. It won’t be so much of a community as we propose it to be a nation of like-minded individuals with similar goals and value systems. A nation with a blueprint echoing most of the principals used by Thoreau, and some by BF Skinner. We? We being the two people I recently met whom, as of right now, live in an eco-village they feel has strayed far from any (non)religious indoctrination detailing any purpose. Something they feel is important to a structure of a community,unlike the society we are accustomed to. Personally, I’m still not certain that indoctrination is something useful for this kind of community, as I see an importance to having ongoing and open discussions on ideas, strategies and rules. It’s important that we respond to individual and community growth, as it happens, and are open minded enough to make any changes. But, I haven’t approached communal living in such a long time, and with many years of life and societal experience behind me, it’s now time to do proper research and walk into this with a clear mind.
And of course, tomorrow I’ll return to writing about my real-life recent experience in visualizing the emotional collective consciousness between myself, several others and nature. I don’t want to get into details but I’ve noticed that while writing about the experience I’ve been able to reach yet another level of consciousness. I’ve always been taught that writers should believe what they write, as they write it. Feel it, and see themselves through it. And i’m now at that point with this particular writing assignment. So I’m thinking, maybe my subconscious has driven me to this random bit of research, to these two mysterious people with whom I am whimsically, but whole-heartedly planning a nation with. And maybe it was my subconscious that sabotaged the relationship I was recently pushed out of, an event that eventually led me to seek the guidance towards finding my emotional, mental and spiritual consiousness. Will I ever really have the answers to these questions? Nope, but life, (and all of it’s tears, laughter, love and loss) is all about asking ‘em. And I’ve never felt more alive.
and sometimes….being filled with clichés is not so bad.
Towards a Nation…
A revolution is bloody. Revolution is hostile. Revolution knows no compromise. Revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way. And you, sitting around here like a knot on the wall, saying, “I’m going to love these folks no matter how much they hate me.” No, you need a revolution. Whoever heard of a revolution where they lock arms, as Reverend Cleage was pointing out beautifully, singing “We Shall Overcome”? Just tell me. You don’t do that in a revolution. You don’t do any singing; you’re too busy swinging. It’s based on land. A revolutionary wants land so he can set up his own nation, an independent nation…” -Malcolm X, Message to the Grass Roots, 1963
If we aspire to look inward and make necessary changes, or at least share with the world our best qualities, perhaps this wouldn’t be so true….
Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, or On Education, 1762