Wrenching. Not only too young, I still don't understand why people as beautiful as this, the rare few like Michele Serros, don't live forever. Because the next young aspiring writer inspired by activism, ocean waves and not growing up on the East Side, will need someone to identify with. Always. Not all Chicanas identify with the three B's, but many of us identify with being that "medium brown girl," the one who even in our 30's is still asked, "But your mom's white, right?" Over and over and over again. Serros new that eventually you just have to write about it, and always write something that will help you laugh it off. But not before tears, and right now isn't funny.
Long after gentrification has run its course, and the lines between these diverse Chicana/o & Latina/o So Cal communities are painstakingly blurred, Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death Identity and Oxnard, How to be a Chicana Role Model, Honey Blonde Chica, and ¡Scandalosa! will all be considered history books. Poignant, funny, honest, painful, brilliant history books. Or rather, herstory books. But for now, those of us multi-generationed California writers, who happen to be Chicana and still taking Spanish-language courses the hard way, have work to do. Michele Serros paved the way for us, speaking our language, dancing in our kind of chanclas, and making us laugh from a view atop 12-foot waves. I don't know if her work is taught in high schools, I hope it is. I'm inspired to return to school, to get back out there to teach, to teach her work, to help inspire so many of LA's medium brown girls that need some Michele Serros in their lives. Thank you Michele.
Writer Michele Serros dies at 48
by David L Ulin, LA Times
This is called the Writing Process Tour. I have no idea who/where/when it came from, BUT IT'S RAD. Thanks to the very awesome Traci Kato-Kiriyama for inviting me!
A Los Angeles-based literary character who I happen to respect a great deal once [affectionately] scolded at me, "You're not writing? Well you're not a writer!" Not that I care to "call myself a writer" entirely, but one thing I have learned, in the relatively short time I've been taking this kinda seriously, is that it's not until you own what you must do that you start caring about getting better at it, better at the craft of writing. I'm honored to be included in this wonderful little project, because as a literary program coordinator working with so many different writers and artists, I have very little time to work on my own material and so I often question...well...all kinds of things - which ultimately allows me to deny myself the opportunity to know myself. I'm a poet, I write to better understand myself - the past, present and my dreams. I write to better understand others, and to draw maps that explain that how they love me is different than how I love them - and writing helps me understand that that's okay. I write to fill the gaps in my memory, of lost time and of people and places that go missing - I write to make it easier for me to say goodbye. Although I don't believe that all of this will makes "sense" of my thoughts, this writing is something I have to do. But I'm so good at forgetting, so thank you Traci, for inviting me into this project - and for reminding me...of why I need to write. (HA! No wonder I've been feeling so frazzled!)
So, here are the questions I'm suppose to answer. Aside from my answers I'm also suppose to nominate three authors, who will be doing the same. My nominations are at the bottom of this post.
What are you working on?
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
C) Why do you write what you do?
IV) How does your writing process work?
So what exactly am I working on?
About a year ago I finished a novel that I had been writing over a span of about 15 years. I'm assuming that if I were to read it in its entirety it would reflect the insanity that has been my life up until the point of finishing it. I'd like to look over it at some point before making any major steps, that's something I'm trying to work on. But more importantly, I'd like to have my first collection of prose/poetry available by early 2015. I'm very very slowly compiling those now. Not RIGHT now, but you know - nowISH. And I just locked my first ever interview assignment for an online culture magazine.
Genre? What's that? Not sure that that my work differs from others, except for where it derives. Our experiences are unique, and the way we choose to share them are unique. I'm pretty ADD and tire of certain things pretty easily so I like to challenge myself with experimentation, in terms of form and structure of the prose. I also like to work a lot with photography and music. I have all kinds of ideas for how I'll arrange and ultimately release the collection of poetry, but still...there will always be someone with something similar out there.
C. Why do I write what I write?
I suppose I answered this in the opening statement. I write this stuff because I have to - to keep track of mileage, to let go and move forward. To say goodbye.
I'm dependent on Mac notes. My mode of transportation is bike, bus and train so I'm only an Iphone, or shutter release away from being inspired. I take photos of anything that I find interesting and let the image trigger a memory, or a story. I'll write something and post it to facebook, before committing it to this notations section of my website, where I'll look it over again to expand on it, edit etc. For anything that I write in length, for projects to be published or whatever, I first determine how it's going to be experienced. The voice, is it internal or external? For external, I create a character and that character usually has a particular musical taste that sets the mood - of everything. The music sets up what I'll write next.
And I go from there.
And I nominate Désirée Zamorano, Iris De Anda and Rebecca Gonzalez to have their process made public - by no later than next Thursday! GO!
Désirée Zamorano is the director of Occidental's Community Literacy Center where for a decade she has used diverse literature to connect with adults and kids. Désirée Zamorano writes in order to shred the cloak of invisibility thrust upon Latinas. Her latest novel, THE AMADO WOMEN, Cinco Puntos Press, is about four women linked by birth, separated by the secrets of sex, money and death. desireezamorano.com
Iris De Anda is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. A womyn of color of Mexican and Salvadorean descent. A native of Los Angeles she believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams.She self published her debut collection of poetry, CODESWITCH: FIRES FROM MI CORAZON, and it's available now, on her website…irisdeanda.com
Cultivated by the sun and moon peeking past the shoes dangling from the phone lines, Rebecca Gonzales was raised and resides “one block East of El Pino.” in East La. Rebecca collects the energy of the streets with the passion of poetry and sweetness of her son’s laughter to find positivity and optimism for the future. As a mother she is humbled as a poet she is obedient, and as a woman she is unapologetic. You can Rebecca’ s work at ladydrug.wordpress.com
I work at an art gallery, with doors wide open and always looking forward to the next person who walks in. Today an odd but giddy artist fella stopped by to check out the art, among other things. I was happy to entertain him while he waited for the director to finish her meeting, but found more joy in him entertaining me. In between discussions on Zaum poetry and teaching me standing yoga poses he would yell at me because I questioned his opinion that writing makes people happy. His opinion, in a nutshell and generally speaking, was that any and all writing, like painting, fulfills a deep need for us to get in touch with our emotions and that this leads to true happiness. Hmmm. No. It is what it is.
Hours after he left, my mind ruminated on happiness. And on writing - my mind ruminated on writing…ugh. After work I decided that I'd rather not write and instead I'd finally get around to reading the April/May 2013 issue of Razorcake, the bi-monthly zine put out by Todd Taylor of Razorcake/Gorsky Press. I've been staring at my copy since I picked it up at AWP in Seattle back in February, and the freakin' thing is put together in Highland Park - where I live and work. Weird!
So this is a punk zine right? And so to find myself in tears while eating dinner at a nearby very-public restaurant was a little unexpected on an easy Tuesday night. Forget for a minute that on this night there had just been a shooting a few blocks away and the body discovered not too far. After distracting myself with the first few pages of the zine I skipped to page 8 and read the title "Notes on Grief," and a reactionary inhale overcame me until I glanced at the sketch of a bird and a Sandy Hook graphic on the opposite page. I don't remember exhaling. By the time this zine was published it had been four months since that day happened, the day we would all like to think never happened. But it did happen, and four months is the same as a day.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue, in a couple days I'll be in a cyclical mourning period myself, marking the second year of life without a friend whose friendship I could really use right now. A friend whom I would have called last week to hear her laughter reign over those sounds a broken heart makes, because only the closest people know what mends you - and twenty years of friendship mends everything. But I continued reading, because I'm on a mission. And damn that Jim Ruland for being such a good writer. In spite of bringing me to tears over just how mind-body-heart-gut wrenching the world can be, he wrote about emotion, spirit and strength , and quite beautifully honored his friend's daughter, Avielle, by writing her name to memory.
Although life, its reflection and its death, was happening all around me tonight, Ruland's essay was a suggestion to me that a memory can act as a little bird that kinda passes by to say hello and quickly leaves to create a nest to find shelter in. Don't get me wrong, his essay was more of a recollection of a very dark time, but in it I found glimpses of strength. I would like to try to keep nests for glimpses and recollections of memory and strength. To create memories is an act of eternal giving, that never stops gifting - to at the very least some one. As mothers day approaches I can't help but think of my mother whom I haven't spoken with in a little while for complicated reasons, and that I love her and miss her and for now, until we do speak again, I have those memories - kept in a nest...
A momentary life of trees, branches of strength, blossoming with nests to keep memories nearby, isn't too bad... and something to be thankful for. But to the dude who is looking for happiness; writing this...isn't making anybody happier, anytime soon. And it's okay.
Let's just call it a zine, coming out soon. Yay!
Writing, at its best, is an observation with the occasional participation...in living. The wonderful writer Joseph Mattson catches those observations in the height of their realty and releases them...to us, gift wrapped in piercing colors that we can feel. Read this and unwrap the imagery and what your left with is, quite simply, an amazing and perfectly arranged assortment of sentences. Writing at its best.
"My Mother's Unsolved Murder" by Joseph Mattson, published by The Fix
The most important thing he taught me was that words require rest to ready themselves for a life conducted in these semiotic orchestras. After a short recess, the words will develop minds of their own, jump from the pages and walk into waiting memories. For the first time, they become excited to go to where you call home. And the conductor will take pride in his own gracious bow.
Poetry, above all, has taught me how to communicate, how to listen - effectively. How to enjoy silence between words, until that moment the words end. To extract meaning from emotion left between the lines. Poetry has taught me that relationships are made without words, without language, without sound. Relationships are built of the communication that poetry leaves behind. Poetry, above all, is not communication - it is love incarnate.
Why are most writers lured into the linear story line? Does it make it easier to create these seemingly wondrous worlds that don’t exist? As we read in real time, we share experiences, as if they once existed. We forget to understand that these are people, heroes, lands…worlds without memories.
In our realities, we rely on memories; a nonlinear recollection of an experience that relates to whatever is happening in the present. We’re attached to these existing recollections in our mind that force us to live in the past, jumping back and forth through time. And we pile on to that any daily challenges we choose to not confront. We attach, detach, and reattach only to remember, rely on and recollect.
The linear system is easy, logical and accessible. We can press pause, and carry on when ready. It’s our realities that are magic. We live life in locked strait jackets, at the bottom of pools of water - only to escape for a brief moment, take a breath, and then jump back in and try to figure out how to escape all over again.
Living honestly, naturally, fully and wildly can open the mind to ideas of greener grass. And sometimes it’s not so green, but it’s not real…so it’s worth exploring. Where we go to escape is usually where we find ourselves.
“My brain is the key that sets my mind free.” - Harry Houdini
To sit and think and write of the agony and despair of being tortured by endless supplies of surrounding loss - is to wallow in our weeping. To place grief on a pedestal, and press pause. Our tears slowly turn to clay, sculpting endless supplies of surrounding…words. Our frowns struggle to lift us to places forgotten, to avoid falling into the still of life’s estranged but necessary other half. When it’s not planes, trains or hugs that gets us there, it’s the pen. Retreating to now, the moment that leads the way to those forests -where all sides of trees are veiled in rusted moss- those cold and heavy forests, where we begin to connect with nature, and rustle through a sense of being nurtured. We’re forced to embrace void and fear, our long-lost siblings. Soon we’ll say goodbye to our Winter in Spring, knowing that as long as there is life, it will come again. And Summer will come to burn the shade off the trees. But for now, we weep. Wallowing in the moment, until we can put the pen down and allow the clay to become dust.
We're born with ideas.
Symbols aid in recollecting them,
reuniting that which is apparently separated.