Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: A Weekend With Pablo Picasso. Almaraz. Bits'nPieces. On-line Floricanto.

Siguenza Breaks Leg In Picasso One-Actor Gem
Michael Sedano

“One-man Show” is parlance of an earlier day, when gendered slurs were lingua franca. I've learned not to allow my language to set the limits of my world, because the best One-man Show I’ve ever seen featured Siobhan McKenna doing Irish women. After McKenna’s work, the short list for second-best brings to mind immediately only Jack MacGowran’s Beckett monologues. I am a Beckett fan—once called Beckett a Chicano and riled up the MLA world--so I have a triumphant feeling welcoming a Chicano to the “best-ever” One-man Shows. Move over Beckett and McGowran, a genius is at work at Casa0101. The virtuoso performance of Herbert Siguenza in A Weekend with Pablo Picasso provides matchless entertainment for a critically limited period. The show closes October 8.

Standing ovations are de rigueur for Los Angeles audiences. The roaring ovation Siguenza received Friday night came with sincerity and gratitude, palpably out of a shared sense of achievement, “One of us did this!” “One of us did this!” is a kind of pride that counterbalances a common reaction among raza when reading disgusting news about a crime, “Don’t let it be a Chicano…” This time, it is, and unsurprisingly.

Audiences know Siguenza has it in him. Years of scene-stealing and spotlighting with Culture Club honed the actor’s ability to slip in and out of character, do voices, be silly. At Casa0101, Siguenza inhabits his Picasso over 90 minutes, embodies in the personality a sense of practicality—the art worker has to finish a commission to complete a sale—while holding onto one’s personal aesthetic. Picasso the character is doing art, the business of art is making work for sale. Siguenza the actor is making art, voicing Picasso’s notions of essences of Art, simultaneously producing original art, painting and sketching live. Telling, showing, in a masterful demonstration of both.

Casa0101 is a place to run into friends, like this late arriver who will find seats in the nether regions. 
A few years ago, Siguenza’s two-actor monologue spotlighting Mario Moreno--Cantinflas out of character---offered eye-opening evidence of the actor’s multifaceted dramatic skills. That captivating performance in the enchanting environs of Ford Theatre was in Spanish, and a limited run at that. Everyone in LA who could have seen it didn’t get the chance. Those of us who attended, even English-only companions, found Siguenza’s portrayal riveting. (The Ford is LA’s best-kept secret for theatrical performances.)

Siguenza’s Picasso speaks in code-switching English-Spanish, tossing in a soupçcon of le Français for flavor. The actor’s rich baritone embodies a larger-than-life persona in this Picasso. I didn’t know Pablo Picasso, but this one’s a good version ni modo. The actor projects power that at times overflows with charisma, compelling the audience to get wrapped up in the character’s process of creation, holding attention on substance, even through long speeches.

Artists Margaret Garcia celebrates her birthday at a special place, Casa0101. Bonnie Lambert, left, and Rhett Beavers
will join Siguenza and others at Casa Fina for birthday cake and post-performance partying.
The script offers a show-not-tell psychological biography of the artist, goaded by the agent, forced to whip up a handful of paintings and three vases; production for commercial ends, not genuine art. Picasso spends one weekend just whipping out the paintings while reflecting on his connections as a sexual man and artist. The scenes devoted to the painting Guernica include some of the evening’s more arresting thoughts.

I confess that fatigue forced my eyes closed. I listened with one ear and phased out only a couple of times. So I feel pangs of guilt for how the actor must have felt, seeking eye contact with gente in the intimate confines of Casa 0101’s auditorium. He would scan the house to the aisle where he’d catch my chin resting on my chest. I apologize, that makes a tough audience. But in consolation, I sleep at the Opera and the Taper.

Audience and Art Collector Tip: Choose the front row center seat. Picasso addresses the audience needing a model. “I’ll draw you,” he says. At the conclusion of his bows, the artist Herbert Siguenza presents the audience member with the portrait Picasso sketches in the performance.

Watching the artist making art adds an aesthetic dimension theatre allows only rarely. Siguenza draws on a transparent window, a paloma, after daughter Paloma. It comes to life and flies away via imaginative use of projections. In one scene, Picasso selects a model seated in the audience and Siguenza draws her while declaiming the lines. In the climax, Picasso gives himself a few minutes to paint a  canvas to fulfill the order.

Siguenza whips together a Picassoesque bull fighter in rich black, rough, broad strokes. A perfect pastiche of a Picasso torero impression. Picasso Siguenza garnishes the bull’s blood with fiery red strokes. Picasso pulls the canvas off the easel, offers it to the audience as an illustration of what he’s said about art-on-purpose, not the accidental crap Jackson Pollock sells for big money in New York.

Casa0101 auditorium rises steeply so there's not a bad view in the house.
The auditorium at Casa 0101 is only a few rows deep and inclined steeply against the hard-upon rear wall. Everyone’s seat is close to the stage. The sound and projection systems are first-rate. Worn and compacted chair cushions make bringing a personal cushion a matter of importance.

Like the Cantinflas show, Casa 0101 plans a limited run of A Weekend with Pablo Picasso.  I hope, with enough advance notice, everyone in LA who deserves to see Herbert Siguenza in A Weekend with Pablo Picasso will line up for tickets or click the teatro’s website here. The performance runs weekends at accommodating hours, now until October 8. The production last played in 2014, Siguenza tells the house in his curtain call speech, intimating a demora of unknown duration until the next.

Teatro 0101 founder Josefina Lopez makes an important contribution with this space, and the nearby Casa Fina Restaurant. Culturally, Casa0101 extends professional theatre into Boyle Heights on a permanent basis. Audiences here enjoy popular fare such as Hungry Woman in Paris, rare performances as Siguenza’s Picasso, local-origin one acts about Frida Kahlo, and original work such as Lopez’ upcoming An Enemy of the Pueblo, opening October 20. Plans are afoot to bring Beauty and the Beast to Boyle Heights. Extending the reach of professional theatre into the community, Lopez teaches writing workshops and regularly presents student work on stage.

Director Josefina Lopez thanks audience and asks them to bring groups like several tonight.
A short walk to the west from Casa0101, Casa Fina Restaurant fills the void emptied when La Serenata de Garibaldi abandoned its wonderful location across the street from Metro’s Gold Line Mariachi Plaza Station. The theatre offers a pair of dinner and show options worth considering. Exceptional service and upscale but not hoity-toity comida make for pleasant dining. Being Mexican food, the menu offers lots of gluten-free choices. As usual, ask the waiter to let the chef know.

Eastsiders, particularly gente in Boyle Heights, are vehement protestors of gentrification. Iconic Mariachi Plaza, for example, threatens to disappear except by name, if developers plant condos in Metro-owned land adjacent to the plaza. Exogenous art galleries have taken space, one bragging the danger of Boyle Heights enlivens visits to the place. Where developers see profit for themselves, locals see a park, or affordable housing for all.

The clash of money versus pueblo will play out in coming months now that voters gave Metro a blank check to build and develop like urban robber barons. Change comes inevitably, but it doesn’t have to be at the business end of a wrecking ball. Josefina Lopez defines a useful model of change without gentrification. Raza-owned, razacentric establishments like Casa0101 and Casa Fina enrich not only the local economy but also give la cultura wider reach into the larger region’s sense of place and cultural space. In Boyle Heights, visitors find SoCal's most precious amenity, the unequalled pleasures of free parking to go along with great theater and fine dining.

September 16, 2017 - October 8, 2017
Fridays at 8 PM. Saturdays at 3 PM & 8 PM and Sundays at 5 PM

2102 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Phone: (323) 263-7684

Email: info@casa0101.org

Carlos Almaraz: Chicano Genius Subject of Film & LACMA Exhibition Through December 3

I was stunned meeting Carlos Almaraz. I forget the course, perhaps Intercultural Communication but could have been Oral Communication. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to let the student invite a Chicano artist friend who lived in her neighborhood to share slides of his work. Chicano art was few and far between in those days.

The unassuming artist presented slides that knocked me out of my desk. His description of context and technique melded social awareness with fine art sensibilities. For the students, the forty-five mintues with the artist gave them a graduate seminar in Chicano painting. For a nascent collector, I coulda bought a painting. I shoulda bought a painting. I wish I'd bought a painting. "Broke" has different meanings at different times, and back then I needed a better dictionary.

I suffer from anomia, inability to capture names, so I forgot the artist's name as soon as I met him. His images indelibly etched themselves into not just memory, but awareness. I knew my Janssen, and this disremembered artist gave lessons in art to the best textbook on art appreciation. When I finally connected his art with that fellow in the Speech building at CSULA long ago, my heart sang and broke.

Almaraz was a member of Los Four, the foundation group of Chicano art whose members included Magu, Judithe Hernandez, Carlos Almaraz, Beto De La Rocha, and Frank Romero. Carlos Almaraz is  currently the focus of an exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, home of The Rock, and a set of videos.

Latinopia shares this teaser on one of the Almaraz films.

Latinxtalk New Current Affairs Kid on the Virtual Block

When I was deejaying at KCSB, getting a PSA spot assigned to the playlist was a bummer. Public Service Announcement, PSA, inevitably meant a poorly-recorded classroom lecture on an important issue droning from some remote college out there in the U.S. of A. Someone thought its message and I was chosen to promulgate it. I wanted to talk, play jazz, and avoid PSAs. That's what newspapers and libraries were for.

Now in those days, KCSB wasn’t the FM powerhouse of Santa Barbara. Programming went out via carrier current. That means the signal arrived via the power lines in dorm walls. The Casitas, the old military cardboard barracks near the swamp where I bunked my first semester at UCSB, didn’t get KCSB. My audience was the late-night studiers living in the big new cinderblock buildings with poor broadcast reception. Until 1:00 a.m. sign-off, I was the only choice.

I dredge up my fame as a radio DJ because it seems to me the Internet has become one big PSA, with a difference. Messages come from the mass, initiated at no one’s will but the producer’s. Audiences flit from channel to channel yet will never land on any particular digital screen because the Internet is like the carrier current. It goes to limited places and only those who seek out the signal get to be its audience. If they're not turned on by what they get, they flit away. A dog eat digit world.

Enter Word-of-Mouth. In Sales training, WOM is the best gossip a sales organization can promote. Marketing and advertising messages inundate merchants, urging they spend money and buy stuff. All other things being equal, one marketer’s message is as good as another. The theory's familiar, an opinion leader's recommendation, even a casual observation or attitude, about the product or company can be pivotal to placing the order. Nothing happens in an economy until someone places an order.

This comes up because I came across a new PSA spot for Raza the other day. My friends, and you are my friends, as LBJ used to say, Latinxtalk is worth a couple of inspection visits. The site comes with clean layout, good white space, legible fonts, readily identifiable text holes.

The editorial board comprises a cross-country team of academics; professors and Ph.D. types. I'm not sure what the actual name is, Latin X Talk, or LatinXTalk, that's probably still up in the air so they use all caps.

Places like LatinXTalk can be vehicles for making academic research accessible to everyday readers. The journal is refereed. This may let academics get over the “publish or perish” hump and feel free to contribute publicly instead of behind the paywall of academic journals. The web PSA demands the kind of writing that seems in the offing at Latinxtalk: seminar speculations, protreptics, sociocultural analysis composed a few degrees above lowest common denominator, and who knows? The endeavor launched only recently and has yet to bring a second issue. So, a ver.

The inaugural issue comes with lively text and a compelling headline opining on a racist Arizona sheriff getting a “pass” from a pendejo with authority to do that.

Click here to visit LATINXTALK.

Tía Chucha Celebrates Chicana Chicano Arts • Benefit in October

Yesterday, Daniel Olivas shared details of the Tía Chucha fundraiser scheduled for LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in the heart of el pueblo de Los Angeles and the shadow of City Hall. Click this link for details. One seat is $80, when purchased right now. The meal and event go up to cien bolas soon. Hope to see hundreds of people at La Plaza. Save the twenty to pay for parking, buy now.


Wrapping September's Songs: On-line Floricanto
Daniel García Ordaz, Marian Haddad, Andrea Mauk, Anne Apfel, Aideed Medina

“In America*” By Daniel García Ordaz
“Big City, Glass Skyscape: Everything that sings” By Marian Haddad
“Mother Is Mad” By Andrea Mauk
“Reflecting in a Storm” By Anne Apfel
“Huelga” By Aideed Medina

“In America*”
By Daniel García Ordaz

technology has evolved
racist people have not

super imposed images on maps
they created of lands they did not

real people have also appeared
on this continent

a regular paradise
in the Land of the Gorch

with no puppeteer in sight
no papers

only their underwear and hopes—
the Electric Mayhem continues

*(a found poem from a newspaper article about Jim Henson’s Muppets and Sesame Street)

“Big City, Glass Skyscape: Everything that sings”
By Marian Haddad

I remember I was six-
teen when I first stepped
off a plane, into Houston’s

Intercontinental. The Big
-ness of it all, sixteen and my
first time there, the city, the airport,

the bustling masses; I heard languages
I had not heard before on El Paso’s streets;
yes, of course, our English, our Spanish—but I

heard the British inflections, the soft rounded
mouths around letters, the formality of it all; I heard
what I’d come to know as Venezuelan or the Brazilian
implementations of Js instead of the breathy Hs, Jah, Jah—
for yes, yes. South American accents, my uncle and cousins
had raised up before. Women in red kimonos, the gold-intricacies,

walked along husbands who spoke while walking, everyone making
their way to Baggage Claim; German woman speaking to her man, liebling,
schatzi; the French lilt and sway of words—the Italian fervency, prego, prego,

the opera of hand and mouth—and never had I heard our familiar family-language
spoken so naturally outside our house; Arabic, the idioms, prevalent here. New families,
seemingly stretched out among this Internationalism, in-deed, which Intercontinental claims
—so rightly; it felt as if I were being pulled up into it, immediate-ified; and mystified. Every framed, imported, into our Texas. Two blood-brothers made their marks here,
in this big Chicago
of our wide state—in this Houston hustle. And oh, the downtown mirrored buildings, smoky,

or blue—city of glass, sky-line that seemed futuristic and beautiful; I remember
the night—brother graduated from South Texas School of Law, the masses at
the ceremony, the black, proud robes draped on young women, young or not

-so-young men. City which made them all; fast-paced, fast-thinking. Fast.
Turbo-charged at-once and elegant; Father housed the party, a pretty
penny, at Vargo’s—over what seemed a small makeshift river,

and the piano bar before; the meal, white linen and fine
crystal, fluted glasses of champagne, the braised duck.
Where were we? Far away from our west Texas

chiles rellenos, the scent that spun up
in our kitchens, the melted asadero
that filled our homemade red enchiladas,

our Arabic ground lamb or fat kabobs
grilled, smoking—above charcoal briquettes
in our backyards, this—was different, this

was Big City, crystal and silver, lobster and veal,
silk, satin—dim-lit jazz bars overlooking Houston lights,
fine Italian wines and real Italian restaurants, streamed along,

strip malls and quaint villages; yes, there was a way to get the Mex-
ican food we felt at-home with, Ninfa’s forever, or the very Arabic Fadi’s
—Phoenicia, where we could buy a durbukee, too, goat-skinned drum; the

clatter of plastic cassette covers as we’d pour over Wadi il Safi, Sabah, and the up-
and-coming contemporary voices—too westernized for me. I wanted—the authentic.
I remember the blue green seemingly velvet lush gardens, the landscapes, rich and

almost-blue. This was not green. Something about a tropical, humid sky. I
remember Thanks-
giving and wearing a sleeveless shirt, late November and humid, warm. Dank. Driving into

The Woodlands to visit friends, whose wide windows all about their house, proclaimed

the waxmyrtle, yaupon, pines, the deep and towering evergreens shading the drive.
But I remember most, the down-town miracle of it all, the congested streets,
futuristic, somehow—The night my brother took me to see—Lynn

Redgrave, Shakespeare—for My Father, Jones Hall,
the large, inviting sweep of building facing
Louisiana. And to our left, facing up

into it, Capitol. And to our right,
Texas. The familiar
mouthy name

—Milam, behind it all.
I remember stepping up
the recollected many stairs,

the dim-lit wide entry, the red hue
of it all—I recall finding our chairs, the black
turtleneck Lynn wore—the black leggings, fire-red hair;

the stage-sized-large-as-living Michael Redgrave, facing us,
black and white sketch of him as Hamlet, the prince, behind her,
in front—of us, large as our lives—Truly, I was somewhat disappointed

when—I’d found out there were not more actors, not more pomp, in this
show my dear brother took me to; I wanted flash and fandango—
but, I entered there, this one-woman playing many roles, ingenious

script—unfolding, how often had To be or not to be
filtered into—our ears, our eyes, as Hamlet
wondered if life should—go on—

the drudge and moan of it,
the clopping unfairness
of a life—ah, but

something like The Lord’s
Prayer, or—The Pledge of Allegiance, the rote
recitation of words we did not stop long enough
to ever really hear—that night, became real, became
clear, as Lynn, mid-show, or nearer-closing, turned her back
to us, faced—her father, Hamlet—begged his wisdoms. And I heard,

as if, for the first time, real, alive—Father, I want to be—an actor!
Father! And she prodded him, almost god-like, for answers, quiet image bearing
more weight than a body, wanting him to give and be given—to answer; to be—or
not to be

—Father? And the same small, but wide, words welled up inside me, outside me, the breath
in my body heaved and rose, for the beauty of understanding—
for the very first time, a meaning I might make clear, hear. TO BE

—FATHER? An actor. An any-
thing. That, my blessed master, is—
the question. I almost did not hear

the remaining words; caught up,
still, in the newness
of the old words,

the way poetry, itself, makes
something new—Lynn bowed, was done,
we rose with the power of our bodies, with the open-

ness of lungs, wanting to find ways to clap louder, to rise
up—to levitate, and we did, somehow, into the wide and high rafters;
my brother, fast-stuck two fingers, wide, into his mouth, whistled like a train searing

the night, the masses, thunderous in their applause, the baritone voices echoing,
and BRAVA!!!!! That night, the city, forever
sent me—singing.


And there was always Rice Village, where decades later, I’d
recognize the almost sci-fi silver or platinum circular street
signs, hung in the middle of intersections, flaunting

their street names near the Galleria: Post Oak
and its boulevard, San Felipe. Westheimer.
The many familiar names, shiny big

-city contemporary street
signs stirred me,

big and singular,
in their presence,
on my way to

The Village to meet
my Annie, who will always be,
my Annie, walked from her place

near Rice, we met on the Boulevard,
Croissant Brioche, for coffee, for tea, sweet
pastries in sun-light beaming through glass walls, mimetic of

French doors, frames painted sea-green, the cozy wicker French
country chairs; we poured over poetry, again, spoke of music and
cadence and language, of yoga, of where we should meet more—

of my friends, young girl who’d written a fantasy love—story, Nicole—
her mother, Sue. Annie and I walked under the dark green awning, entered
Café Mogador, where we’d sit, the four of us, loving the speaking about literature

writing—of characters, fantasy—and possibility; the Brazilian waiter, so kind, we took pictures
of him, and he took pictures—of us, and with full smile, came up to embrace, stopped,
in his tracks, You have, a very good—energy, a light—sounding rich as his country’s

sea, even the service in this city, so often, seems, international
—the almost-European sensibility. I remember the same
elegance, this grace, the first and second time

my brother drove me through River Oaks,
to see—such sprawling homes—past
Memorial—drove from his place

on Voss, where music
played large: drums,
dumbek, guitar.

And after
reading poetry
with poets who’d invited

me—to Texas Southern University,
preceded first, by an Iraqi oud master,
who sang as well for us—about love

and war, where I spoke about Lebanon’s dark
summer, 2006—of Palestine, pronounced it, Philistene—
and my Hebrew friend who came, when afterwards, we late-night

ed in our American camaraderie, House of Pies, Upper Kirby, talking, fore
arm to forearm, at the counter, all night, into the late hours, into morning, and when,
having flown back from Syria, once, I stopped off in Houston, spent—one night at

historic house, out-skirts of downtown, cardamom bush, dark wood kitchen, glass.
He gave me a Khamsa, Jewish, five-fingered Eye of God, for protection
on roads, maybe, as a gift, maybe just because; and as I drove back,

through Katy, to my central Texas Hills, I wanted the furthest East
Texas Piney Woods, sensed a hint of that lush leaving. Houston land
scape, the way the verdancy seems blue as velvet; miles later, blue

turns to green, the green that is left when blue fades out of blue,
that green before yellow, chartreuse—the different geoscapes
we travel through, leaving the Big City, and driving I-10

through Katy, then a way after that, the long hours
of blueless shades of green—that city, in spirit, in
memory, in-waiting, always larger—than it seems.

Twice-Pushcart-nominated poet and writer, Marian Haddad, MFA, is a private manuscript and publishing consultant whose clients have won book and chapbook contests such as The Ashland Poetry Prize. She earned her B.A. in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. She studied The Prose Poem at Emerson College and earned graduate hours in philosophy as an NEH recipient at The University of Notre Dame. She holds a teaching certificate in secondary education and founded and directed The Writing Center at Bowie High School, five minutes from Mexico, in El Paso, Texas. Her work has been featured on The Hallmark Channel, in The Huffington Post and various media venues.

Mother Is Mad
By Andrea Mauk

I slept alongside the ocean last night, the faithful roar of waves hitting shore, the moon grazing the surface, the depths harboring dark secrets, stars batting their coy eyelashes, saying now you can see me. In the city, you forget to look.

I stare.

The mathematical regularity of gravitational pull, like a watch with Swiss engineering. The sky: the biggest blanket ever told, but the ocean says that's the problem. Our metaphors are self-centered and backwards. It asks me if I feel the awe.

I do.

I am calm and afraid at once. I look at the the thin row of cars parked along the PCH, and think, were there always so many lining the highway? Do they even have somewhere else to call home? We would not be parked here if this were the Atlantic, we would not be dozing alongside the shores of Lázaro Cárdenas or Zihuatanejo. The waves remind me that they aren't always this friendly.

I know.

I look to the hills. We are parked at the place where the people run down, the sandy white slide, the twinkle of transmission towers at the top sending red light messages to the sky, whether urgent or risque, and I remember, those could be flames and we could be running. Those could be one-minute warnings and we could be mourning our dead and digging out.

We're not.

There are mad men aiming missiles and we are parked in the crosshairs. There are causes worth fighting for and we take our stands. There are hateful outbursts, distractions which flibber our twitter and gnaw at our bowels. There is science silenced by economics. There is the immenseness of earth and the smallness of us which can only be felt in the dark, on a night when the ocean obscures the overwhelming detail, when it assures us that she is the strongest, and mother is mad.

We listen.

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She calls Whittier, CA. home. She sells real estate, fights against gentrification, and teaches theatre there. She has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, writes and produces plays for children, and has completed two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry ishas been featured in Hunches de Poesia and in several issues of Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” Her poetry is also published in Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice and Sonadores: We Came to Dream. She has also been a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry. She has a cookbook project on the back burner. When she is not writing, she loves to take road trips, sing in front if an audience, and spend time with her dogs and horse.

“Reflecting in a Storm”
By Anne Apfel

Is a hurricane our collective anger
Is a fire our collective pain
We are all one...On this universal plane
What happens when we tip the scale
From looking away too long
What happens when we forget ourselves
Our pain and anger becomes strong
Taking off with the wind and rain
To remove with a cleanse our universal pain
We shake it off deeply in the earth
Rumbling and Quaking to destroy its girth when we become too fat
Tomorrow is a new day the sun will rise anyway
The moon will set weather we are here or not
Say a prayer for the wind and rain
Say a prayer to release your pain
Let go of your fear and hate.
As we all know, it’s never too late
Ask the wind not to blow and the rain to make the fires slow
The storms will dissipate if we promise to abate
See my hand making this first .. I open it I don’t resist
I just take myself away. I will not add to corporate greed
And then the fire I will not feed as my heart slowly burns away
Watching the storms recede.
Plant a tree and you will see..what happens when you give
Give back to the earth she is our mother
Pray for her every day and then I promise
When we are well the storms will go away....

Anne Apfel is a writer. poet and meditation instructor from Western, New York. Her books of poetry include "HerStory" and "Infinity Entwined." Both are available on amazon. Anne teaches poetry through meditation and visualization, allowing students to color different pictures that surface their own words. Her style of poetry writing is called two voices falling into one; calling on the spirit of the energy to form into words for the poet. In her books, she speaks with a spirit that helps her write. Notice if the spirit speaks to you? Enjoy her children's books, "Introducing Ellie!" a book about a sidewalk chalk girl finding a spider and her journey to kindergarten and "Bestify the Fairy," a book about a fairy a magician and a frog prince. For meditation, pick up a copy of "12 Weeks of Meditation." By Anne Apfel.

By Aideed Medina

We are family ,
you and I,
children of one heart,
one cause.
The spirit recognizes family
even before introductions are made
and lives are explained.
Tu gente y mi gente ,
somos una sola fuerza,
un latido,
Magandang corazon.
are gathered at the Filipino hall,
at sunset.
The sweet smelling ladies
of The Society of Mary ,
cooing motherly
to a chicanita
in Tagalog.
No translation needed,
I understood the words
and the sound
is a soothing call
I am learning
crucial piece of my history,
of our story.
I am learning
the shaping of my consciousness.
This is the beginning of my spirit,
years before
I was conceived
or imagined.
I am feeling the tearful happiness,
the sense of something lost,
of stolen time.
Our story,
our heart,
two siblings separated at birth,
and here we are
embracing ,
finding each other
at last.
Time is of the essence,
stand with me,
solidarity without hesitation,
we are on a journey
started by our fathers,
Itliong and Chavez.
My heart
sings , sings, sings,
chains of flowers
to lay upon the grave
of Itliong.
I am finding myself,
the whole heart ,
the entire story ,
a looping band of blood,
started by a man
denied a family,
Seven Fingers,
a day my course was set,
a day my father's course was set.
Remember the day hermanos,
remember the day my children,
September 8, 1965.
The spirit of one,
the courage of one
reaches out to another,
the blood calls.
We are one people.
You come for one ,
you come for all.
My rebellion ,
born in the heart of Larry Itliong.
Itliong and Chavez.
I am a woman made stronger with knowledge.
We are a people made stronger in this knowledge.
Un solo corazon.
This is your daughter,
blooming in your work,
generations later,
cooing the words in English and Spanish,
across time,
my Tagalog song.
Magandang Corazon.

Aideed Medina, poet and spoken word artist, creates and performs poetry in English, or Spanish, as dictated by the inspiration of each individual piece.

She writes about the human experience in relation to nature, love, and family, as well as social justice issues that are close to her heart.

Medina first published in the CSUF Spring 1998 Chicano Writers and Artists Association Journal, "Flies, Cockroaches and Poets".

After a thirteen-year hiatus from writing she began to create poetry again and went public with her work as the host of Every Day Fiction, a multi-lingual poetry open mic in downtown Fresno.

She marked her return to the literary scene in the CSUF Spanish literature magazine, "Austral" in 2014.
Her poem, "In Honor of the Women of the Trail for Humanity", was included in US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s celebration of unity poems that marked the end of his tenure as the California Poet Laureate.
Her latest collaboration with The Fresno Grand Opera and composer Nathaniel Díez Musso produced an original art song entitled, “The Wilting”.

Currently, she is coaching high school students under the direction of the Fresno Poet Laureate, Bryan Medina, with the Poetry Out Loud Program, and for youth slam competitions.

2017 Representative for the Loud Mouth Poetry Slam at the Women of the World Poetry Slam DTX.
2017 Fresno Arts Council Horizon Award recipient.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Get your tickets now to celebrate Tía Chucha's Gala 2017!

The mission of Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural is to transform community in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and beyond through ancestral knowledge, the arts, literacy and creative engagement.

Tía Chucha’s began as a café, bookstore and cultural space owned and run by former Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodríguez, his wife Trini Rodríguez, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sánchez. Tía Chucha’s provides year-round on-site and off-site free or low-cost arts and literacy bilingual intergenerational programming in mural painting, music, dance, writing, visual arts, healing arts sessions (such as reiki healing) and healing/talking circles. Workshops and activities also include Mexica ("Aztec") dance, indigenous cosmology/philosophy, and two weekly open mic nights (one in Spanish, the other in English). Tía Chucha’s host author readings, film screenings, and art exhibits as well.

Tía Chucha's Gala not only allows the community to come together and celebrate our collective achievements, it also allows a celebratory space to honor those who have given to our community. Also, it provides a chance to help raise the much-needed resources to continue Tía Chucha's mission.

So, please buy your tickets now by going here. And we look forward to seeing you!

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Last Saturday, we held a wonderful book launch of my latest short-story collection, The King of Lighting Fixtures (University of Arizona Press), at Other Books in Boyle Heights. The book launch was co-presented by The New Short Fiction Series which is run by the talented Sally Shore. Sally and the actor, Alex Di Dio, performed two of my stories, and then I read one myself. Other Books still has some copies left, so if you want to support a great, independent bookstore and also want a copy of my book, drop on by. Here are a few photos from the lovely evening.

Giving a few opening remarks.

Getting ready to read a story.

The actor Alex Di Dio hanging out as guests begin to arrive.

Sally Shore doing a little Q&A with me.


Before the signing, my books waiting
to be taken home by some lovely people.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Manuel Gonzalez - Poesia es Medicina

This week, Blogistas, I have the honor of interviewing the current Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, Manuel González. This is a writer passionate and generous in word and deed. His efforts to deepen and broaden who hears and makes poetry makes him one of my favorite poet/organizers. 

What is also worthy of note is his commitment to educate communities about poetry's capacity to transform and heal. I have personally experienced the kind of heart salve his writing and performing offers.

You can reach Manuel via his email - xicanopoet@yahoo.com 

Manuel González is the Current Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM. A performance poet who began his career in the poetry slam, Manuel has represented Albuquerque four times as a member of the ABQ Slams team at the National Poetry Slam. Manuel has appeared on the PBS show, Colores: My word is my power, and is one of the founding members of the poetry troupe The Angry Brown Poets and People of the Sun-Performance Art Collective. Manuel teaches workshops on self-expression, through poetry, in high schools and youth detention centers. He has also facilitated art therapy programs, to help at risk and incarcerated youth find an outlet through art.

Manuel has coached and mentored multiple youth slam teams throughout northern New Mexico. Manuel’s connection to his poetry and culture helps him connect with students. By teaching poetry, his students are given the opportunity to explore their own culture. Building up self esteem, finding something to say, figuring out how to say it eloquently, and letting their voice be heard. These are just some of the benchmarks in Manuel’s workshops.

Manuel was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His mother’s family is from the historic Barelas neighborhood in Albuquerque and his father’s family is from the small Northern New Mexico town Anton Chico. Manuel’s father (Manny González) was the founder of the band Manny and the Casanovas, pioneers of traditional New Mexico music. Manuel’s Chicano roots, history, culture, and spirituality are among his inspirations for his work and poetry.

"I'm proud to be from New Mexico!” says Manuel. “And to me, it's more than just green chile and desert. It's seeing the value of our familas, our community, our traditions, and our culture. It's the Rio Grande valley and Santuario de Chimayo. It is feasts, dance, poetry and prayer."

Talk about your journey as poet. You have an upbringing with strong roots in music, particularly, New Mexican music. Talk about that influence on you personally and in your work.  Do you feel there is a musicality to your poetry? 

My father was leader of the band “Manny and the Casanovas” which was one of the originators of New Mexico Music. I never really got to know my father, because he passed away when I was 18 months old, but I feel the music of his blood that pumps through my heart. Music has helped me figure out who I am and has helped me learn how to feel. I have and do use music to get me through some of the hardest and joyous times of my life. It makes the pain, heartache and struggle that we go through on a daily basis bearable and the beauty, magic and joy we share unforgettable.

I am not a trained musician like my father and his family are, but I did find my light in spoken word poetry and performance art. I know the power of self-expression and how much emotion can be used to move and change people in deep personal ways. Poetry and music  help you connect with people to raise vibrations!   

You are the current Poet Laureate of Albuquerque. What do you see as your central responsibilities? What would you say are your accomplishments, and what impact would you like to make? 

Being Poet Laureate of Albuquerque is more about our beautiful city’s accomplishments than my own. I want to be the “ambassador” for an artform that most people overlook or have never been exposed to. I try to do more writing workshops than strictly performances because in those workshops we write together, cry together, and see each other as beautifully imperfect human beings.  Albuquerque is a unique and magical place where culture and history are at every corner in this city. Poetry is a means for us as a community to tell our stories, heal our wounds, and show Albuquerque for the magical place that it is.  With the three volcanic sisters to the west and that majestic mountain to protect us on our East and this river carries our dreams to the sea.  Poetry abounds here in Albuquerque we just have to look and nurture the future generations of this legacy.

Who do you like to read/hear and why?

I guess the beginnings of metaphor that I heard growing up were the “dichos” or mexican sayings I would hear.  People would always say things like “El que con perros se acuesta con garrapatas se levanta.” (He who lies down with dogs wakes up with fleas.) Or, “El que con lobos anda aullar se enseña.” (He who goes around with wolves learns how to howl. These sayings taught me to see the world in a different way.  When I reached adolescence I got into hip hop.  That’s where I first found my love for words and rhyme. 

But hip hop was like cotton candy.  It tasted good, It just didn't have any the nutrients I needed in it.  It wasn’t until I went to my first “Poetry Slam”  did I get my first real experience with poetry.  So when I started to get serious with this artform I was obsessed with spoken word poets who are still alive.  

I’d say my first influences were the poets from Albuquerque who changed the way I looked at what was possible with words and emotion.  Poets like Kenn Rodriguez, Maria Leiba, Danny Solis, Matthew John Connely, and Sarah Mckinstry Brown.  These poets danced, sang, and bled on the stage with their words.  They shared and connected with the audience in deep and personal ways.  I was hooked.  Then i got to go to my first National poetry slam ane I met some of the most incredible spoken word artists in the world.  Poets like Shane Koyzcan and Saul Williams,  or Amalia Ortiz and Joaquin Zihuatanejo.  Some performance poets who have influenced me are Guillermo Gomez Pena, Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, The Taco Shop Poets, and Culture Clash.   These poets helped shape my performance style and the energy I bring on stage.  

As far as “written” and “classic” poetry goes  my all time favorite poet is Pablo Neruda.  I also love poets like Federico Garcia Lorca,  Audrey Lorde, Naomi Shihab Nye, mary oliver and especially Rumi.

I guess I look for art that touches me deep in my soul.  It has to be more than beautiful, more than tragic, more than flowery language.  It has to move me and leave a lasting mark on my heart.

There is a lot of discussion about slam/performance poetry vs. poetry for the page. How do you see those distinctions? Do you feel there is a bias at work against performance poetry, and if so, how would you characterize it?  What you feel is the relationship between performance poetry and community? How do you see development as a poet/writer in this context?

My first introduction to poetry came from hip hop and spoken word.  I approach this artform from the perspective of someone who was not brought in through academia, or the written word.  My experience comes from the way I’ve felt sitting in a huge audience and feeling like the poet was speaking directly to me.  I’ve shed tears and found forever stains on my soul from poetry.  I’ve also been the poet on the stage and saw time stop and words hang in the air similar to the feeling of “duende” that flamenco dancers attest to.  I think we lose out on experiences like this with the written word.  When we add the energy of our voice, the movements of our bodies, and the expressions on our faces poetry comes alive.  In those instances it can ignite fires and change lives.  We come together to share our innermost thoughts, emotions, ponderings, and tragedies.  We support each other and cry together.  I think that’s why our community here in Albuquerque is so tight. 

Through my journeys I found the “authentic” people.  “Genuine” artists and people who actually love and appreciate culture and art in this way.  Poets like Levi Romero who gave me words of encouragement when I really needed it at the beginning of my career.  
Danny Solis who mentored me and introduced me to spoken word poetry.  People who understand that art is the best way for marginalized people to express themselves and find their voices.  People of Color, LGBTQ, people with emotional scars, socially awkward, and people who feel outcasted find open minded acceptance in our poetry community here in Albuquerque.  

It wasn’t always that way though.  Poetry used to be the sole property of ivory tower academics who had rigid definitions of and elitist interpretations of this artform.  The “old guard” loved their Frost, and Shakespeare, but poets of color, poets who are still alive, and poets from those marginalized groups were mostly overlooked.  I think that is what stifles the growth of a living breathing artform that needs our blood and tears to survive.  

There is definitely a rift between “academic” poets and “performance” poets.  

I’ve been in audiences where there was a famous academic poet on the stage, and i was thinking. Wow, I really enjoyed this poet’s books! Too bad they can’t recite their own work. And i’ve seen poets on the stage who are just telling a story or making a speech.  
Calling it “poetry” doesn’t always make it so.  

Your practice is rooted in bring groups and people together. How would you describe your experience community building with what I would characterize as the the Anglo/Old guard? 

Being Chicano I found myself  the “token” in many poetry events.  I’ve had to do the “dog and pony show” for rich Anglo donors in mansions in Santa Fe, with my culture all over the walls and a huge Buddhist fountain in the back.  I’ve sat in the audience when Anglo poets get up and recite poetry riddled with my slang.  Codewords we used to identify “real gente.”  It’s always disconcerting to hear someone talk like your uncle in jail, or using the words we only hear when the men drink by themselves.  They are not meant to give you more street cred, or show how down you really are.  You have to be where we’re from and do what we do to use the words that are ours. “¿Que no?”

But our poetry community here in Albuquerque is “All inclusive”  The only prerequisite we have is that you are honest, sincere, and respectful.  I think the two APLs before me and I have done a lot of work to cross pollinate the different poetry scenes and communities we have here in albuquerque.  I’ve gone to events for the transgender community, the New Mexico Poetry Society, the United Way, UNM Chicano Studies, and I try to bring poetry into our communities and invite the people to begin creating, writing and speaking their truth.  That’s how we build community, fight racism, homophobia, and misogyny.  This is how we push the gospel of poetry throughout the barrios and pueblos of New Mexico.

Not  a lot  of people know that an indigenous Mejicana healer, Maria Sabina, profoundly influenced the Beats - Kerouac, Ginsberg, Waldman.  Her "poetry" was, in fact, her sacred prayer chanting. How do you see poetry as a tool for healing?  For empowerment?

Poetry heals.  When we express ourselves with genuine sincerity, the metaphors we use can become like prayers, or better yet incantations.  

We can speak these worlds into existence.  When we look within ourselves and confront our inner demons and convert the pain we carry into art we heal the wounds and bruises we all have on our hearts.  I’ve seen performance poets whose movements and gestures become dance and the metaphors make the room vibrate with magical intentions.  Some poets conjure when they’re on the stage. Creating moments that leave marks on us.  

They wrestle themselves with words and win. They publicly heal themselves and giving us permission and example to heal ourselves. Once we go through the journey of mending our scars we can then begin to work on society.  We use our words to expose injustice when we see it.  Give greed, racism, and misogyny an emotional face.  Holding up mirrors to the powers that be hoping to change the way they think by forcing them to feel.  This is how we heal our world.  The artists, shamans, poets, dancers, and creators must become louder than the constant drone of negativity that bombards us from every direction.  That’s why my favorite places to run my workshops are the jails, foster care centers, detention centers, homeless shelters, and places where people really need healing.  I give them a paper a pen an ear and a heart. 

Describe the creative life in your own family, particularly as the parent of a young poet. What words of advice do you have for her?

Sarita grew up in the poetry community.  She was at poetry slams before she could talk.  I remember her first attempt at spoken word poetry when she was five years old.  It was a long and meandering freestyle about her adventures with her best friend Sam.  

I tried to be sure not to push poetry onto her.  I wanted her to find her own path, but the poetry came out of her naturally.  She titled her first chapbook “Solita”  because she wanted everyone to know that she wrote all her poems by herself.  She’s growing up to be a radical Xicana feminista poeta and I couldn’t be more proud of her.  Her politics came from listening to all of Burque’s best poets and a few nationally renowned poets have taken the time to mentor her. They’ve coached her on her writing and her performance so now she’s an unstoppable poetic force to be reckoned with.

Where do you see yourself creatively ten years from now?

I’m very interested in incorporating spirituality into my poetry and performance.  I’ve witnessed poets and performance artists who almost conjure on stage.  They take their art to the level of ceremony and ritual.  I’ve only experienced this  a few times in my life. Times when I’m in an audience and it feels like the poet is speaking directly to me and saying exactly what I need to hear.  
And I’ve been on stage when it feels like time stops and the audience goes on a journey with me.  Flamenco dancers call it “duende.” That moment when we connect with our ancestors and orishas and the spirits that whisper to us when we quiet our thoughts.  I want to figure out what it is and how to make it happen.  I’m sure that it begins with authentic and genuine expression.  After that I’m still trying to understand.  I’ve also seen the healing powers of poetry.  When we write something real and sincere about the pain we carry it helps to heal those bruises on our hearts.  When we stand up and share that poetry with others that healing can become contagious.  I want to spread the healing powers of poetry and create magic when I perform.  


What's something not in the official bio?

Something you don't know about me: I graduated high school from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM. I went all 4 years of high school. No comment, lol!