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.
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