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.
Every time I do one of these Poesia’s I fall in love with the poets I invite, this time was no exception. They were all so wonderful. They brought their enthusiasm for what this is all about, they let go of ego and fell into the process of writing for others…more importantly, they brought themselves – which, after all, is who I invited. And they wrote good poems, on demand, for a few hours…you trying doing that in public…it’s tough! So from the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of the poets that featured on Saturday – Iris De Anda, Brandon Brown, DM Collins, Yago S. Cura, Peggy Dobreer, Bill Friday, Sean Hill, June Kim, Brooke Lundgren, Karineh Mahdessian, F. Albert Salinas, Elena Secota, Urban Voodoo and Daniel Austin Warren.
They, along with past participants of PPLG make me want to organize an alternative society. Good things happen when talented people lend themselves to the community.
What stood out this time, that made this PPLG experience so different, was that I fell in love with the community that stumbled onto/into us at Pershing Square. They let us in, they allowed us to explore a new way of doing what we love to do, as if we’ve always been doing it. The security guards didn't care that I had a shopping cart of books, that people were looking through. And from the first emotional interaction I witnessed between a very grateful Angelena (who moved here from Germany in 1966) and the lovely poet June Kim, to the strangers I met who heard about the event via Facebook and decided to come down to support the poets, the idea, Para Los Ninos, and to donate books. Surprise! Los Angeles is a wonderful city!
But this idea really got going back in August when Peter Woods, Chiwan Choi and I were conspiring to cause some wonderful trouble during an installment of DTLAB’s Music To Drink To. At some point the idea of having the public “steal” books, i.e. taking ownership of their literary rights, from a shopping cart of books (temporarily called “Hoffman’s Books”) came to mind, (think Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book”). While trying to justify the concept of “stealing” within the context of a workable ”message” I kept referencing Marshall McLuhan’s phrase “the medium is the message” from his 1964 Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. And of course this led to an expanded thought and concept that works very well with our Poesia Para La Gente program.
And this is a shortened story of how Libros Para La Gente was born.
Shopping carts are not allowed in Pershing Square. Was I worried, not at all. Actually, “using” shopping carts outside of their intended use is illegal. Soooo, donate those good books of yours and we’ll see you at the next Poesia Para La Gente, with our Libros Para La Gente cart de books!
Coming up for Poesia Para La Gente:
- de la Moda³! / Fashion³!
- a Natural State / Estado Natura
And more! Stay tuned for details!
Again, thanks to everyone who had a part in making Poesia Para La Gente such a fantastic experience this Saturday, from donating books, to asking for a poem, donating a buck or two (and more). Thank you! And thank you to those of you we know, who showed up to support us as friends. Joe Wagner, Ryan Nance, Vachine, Abel Salas, Gloria Alvarez, Abram Gomez (and thanks for the poems and music!), Trista Hurley Waxali, Michael Sedano, Keith Martin, Felicia Verdin, and of course Chiwan, Judeth and Peter (of course) - you are all beautiful friends.
OH!!! And how can I forget, we raised $218 for Para Los Ninos. Not bad for $1 poems. And the cart of books? From 48 books to 7! Just about every person looking through the cart was ready to donate an amount of money, so they were surprised when all I asked in return was a promise that they read it, or at least try. They each promised.
And of course thanks to Kathy Gallegos and Avenue 50 Studio, for making this all possible! XO 4LIFE
DM Collins, Brooke Lundgren, Peggy Dobreer, Brandon Brown, June Kim, Abel Salas, Jessica Ceballos, June Kim's daughter,Abram Gomez, Karineh Mahdessian, Elena Secota, Iris de Anda, Sean Hill. Not in the photo - F. Albert Salinas, Urban Voodoo, Daniel Austin Warren, Yago S. Cura and Bill Friday. (Photo by Sean HIll)