Barbara Jane Reyes just posted a great, thought-provoking post on literary activism over at Harriet Blog. I recommend reading it! I wholeheartedly agree that more documentation of readings and literary events needs to happen. I used to scramble on YouTube, looking for poetry performances to show students. I think Hilda Weiss over at Poetry.LA does an incredible job of documenting readings at dozens of diverse venues all over Southern California. Here’s an interview I conducted with her over at cratelit.
BJR also mentions her aversion towards conferences for important discussions/topics, specifically women of color publishing and visibility. I agree for the most part, thinking about my last experience at an academic conference. Though I think that conferences sometimes can be a good jumping off point, and a good way to meet folks and see where folks from different communities overlap. Hmm, I suppose it depends on the conference.
Speaking of readings, I’ve hosted/participated/attended in a few the past week. The first at Back to the Grind, a local coffee shop in Riverside, for high school students in an after-school creative writing workshop series I co-taught with my colleagues, Kamala Puligandla and Angel Garcia. Our students read some wonderful stories and poems though I wish we spent more time on performance. Many of them became really interested in performance and theater towards the end of our workshop, but we didn’t have time to cover everything. This is good to note for next time. This workshop was really my first engagement with Riverside outside of the MFA, and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many high school students who were and weren’t in our workshop at the reading.
I read at Skylight Books, one of my favorite L.A. bookstores, last Sunday with a group of MFA’ers. It was truly an honor reading there. Some of my PEN and MMIX friends came by to support, and it was wonderful seeing them since I no longer live close by. Skylight was podcasting the event, and I’ll share the audio once it’s made available.
Lorna Dee Cervantes gave an incredible reading yesterday afternoon at UCR. She read from Emplumada and Drive: The First Quartet (five books in one!), which was great since I’m quite new to her work. I bought Drive and I’m excited to read it! She read a poem riffed from Robert Hass’ advice to “know the names of things,” which was a beautiful catalog poem dedicated to immigrants “everywhere anytime.” Her reading definitely sparked some poems.
I’ll be posting NaPoWriMo poems here occasionally, but not daily, as I’m posting poems on a collective private blog. I hope you all are writing your ass off!