Monthly Archives: January 2010

Reading at MOCA this Thursday

Hope to see you L.A. folks there!

***

From MOCA’s website:

MMIX Literary Reading
01.28.10 6:30 PM
MOCA Grand Avenue, Ahmanson Auditorium
MMIX Los Angeles Writers, co-founded by recipients of the 2009 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship, read new work in response to the exhibition Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years. The group’s eight members—poets, fiction and non-fiction writers—draw inspiration from their diverse communities and experiences, and from the dynamic interplay of the literary and visual arts. Featuring: Erika Ayon, John Boucher, Rachelle Cruz, Thi Dao, Parnaz Foroutan, Sylvia Sukop, Marissa Tinloy, and Mehnaz Turner.INFO 213/621-1745 or education@moca.org
FREE

MOCA GRAND AVENUE
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Short Not Funky

I think I just referenced a Too Short song in this post’s title.

For the past few weeks (months?), I was in a funk.  A writing and life funk.  I hadn’t been writing as much as I was during my fellowship.  I’d been struggling with balancing time, work, writing and money.

I think I’m out of it now.  I’m learning to be present, to let things be, to not resist experiences right here, even though they can tough.  Last night, I met with my writing group, MMIX Los Angeles Writers, to eat dinner, chat, and share in-progress and finished work for our MOCA reading next week. I think a good night of exchanging work and creative spirit does good for the writer.  It’s nice to remember that the community is there all along, even when the writing process is isolating and lonely.

After the meeting, I couldn’t sleep.  There were so many ideas running in my head about future possible readings, first lines of poems for my aswang project, lines for a poem about an old job I had in West Oakland.  I tossed and turned in bed until 2 am, and finally sucuumbed to the muses.  After all, they don’t show up very often.

This morning, I prepared for The Blood-Jet Writing Hour, and read more poems from Cool Auditor by Ray Gonzalez who was the guest today.  His whole book is composed of prose poems that explore music, surrealism, the desert landscape of El Paso, his family.  I had never realized that the prose poem could be so fluid, awake, and free flowing.  I think I had been afraid of the prose poem this whole time.  Ray also released another book around the same time called Faith Run, which is a book of more autobiographical poems with more “traditional” line breaks.  How cool to see a writer play with language, style and form, in two separate projects.  It was especially fascinating to see how both books bled into one another, in terms of content, yet their distinctive forms dictated the tones and musicality of the poems.

A writing assignment (for myself, and for you, too.  Please comment with your poem if you’d like.):

Write a prose poem about the landscape of your hometown.  Invite the mountains, ocean, hills, in addition to the pop culture figures from your childhood, your family members, and best friends.  Let them breathe, live, and interact all within the same paragraph.  Let the surrealism of their relationships exist in the poem.

Now, write a different poem with line breaks about your hometown.  How do the breaks change the tone, music and content of your poem?

I’ll be posting soon!

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“Yes, Dreamer”

A poem by my father, Romeo Cruz.  Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yes,  Dreamer
Moses spoke again before
the burning bush in doubt
and rubbed the soot from his skin
but God thunders from the bush-
Don’t you have faith in yourself.
You are good as everybody else.
Convince them even the Pharaoh
that I am with you all the days.
This burning bush never fizzles out
like the faith that did not stop the
crowds at Ebenezzer Church at Atlanta
from shouting and jumping with hallejuhah
for the Promised land of freedom?
But m’am, aren’t you supposed
to get up and give your seat
the White man.  But, sir, I
so tired and this bus is full like
derelicts of Pharaoh’s carts
coming from the Nile.  I am tired
of working for the White man and
have to see the Promised land of
Freedom. But God thunders from
the burning bush: Stop rubbing
that soot off your skin.
The burning bush will not fizzled
out like the sun and the desert
sandstorms will never block
the dreams of our children.

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Graphic Novels

From J. Torres' Lola: A Ghost Story

My love and admiration for graphic novels is fairly new, although I grew up with cousins who read The Sandman series, Watchmen, 300, among other classics.  I was hooked with Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and now finally read graphic novels my cousins have been recommending me for years.

What I love about graphic novels is the variety of styles, the relationship (and sometimes tension) between text and visual art…and I can read them pretty fast. 🙂  My favorite subgenre is the memoir.  My favorite graphic novelists are Adrian Tomine, Marjane Satrapi, and Frank Beddor.  I can’t stand manga, or the Marvel stuff. I know that Spiderman is classic, but I don’t really care to read the comics.

I am certainly no expert but I have somehow become in charge of organizing, displaying and suggesting graphic novels to purchase at the local independent bookstore where I work part-time.  I’ve been eyeing Crime Fiction writer, Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island in graphic novel form for my rather long “to-read” list.   I’ve skimmed through Frank Beddor’s Mad Hatter series, which is a spin-off to his Young Adult, Alice in Wonderland-inspired,  Looking Glass Wars. I love what Beddor has done in to create two multigenre series from two perspectives, in order to tell versions of the same story.

Barbara Jane Reyes recently posted an announcement about Lola: A Ghost Story, a graphic novel written by J. Torres, a Filipino author.   This is the first Filipino graphic novel I have heard of, and I am psyched to buy, read it, and maybe invite J. on The Blood-Jet.  Have folks heard of any others?

You can find a review for Lola: A Ghost Story here.

You can purchase it from Oni Press here.

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Yay!

I just submitted my first application to grad school for creative writing! Cheers to starting the new year off right.

A few more resolutions:

*Submit to literary journals once every two months.

*Find an Asian American and Filipino writing and arts community in Los Angeles.

*Apply to the Kundiman Retreat. Check out their fancy new website.

***

The other night, I was in a bit of a funk. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing in Los Angeles. I question the writing life. I find that I need to be more challenged at work. Before bed, I cleaned my room, organized my shelf of old journals, and opened one of them to find this quote:

“At present, live the question.” – Rilke

I’m reminded of the benefits of writing every morning and keeping notes when I can read about what my life was like a year or two ago. It’s nice to know that whatever I was worrying about a year ago, is not really an issue now. Or is still something I’m working on. I’m learning to live the question, rather than stress out about the answer.

On another note, check out this event I’m doing with MMIX Writers’ group:

MMIX Literary Reading
01.28.10 6:30 PM
MOCA Grand Avenue, Ahmanson Auditorium
MMIX Los Angeles Writers, co-founded by recipients of the 2009 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship, read new work in response to the exhibition Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years. The group’s eight members—poets, fiction and non-fiction writers—draw inspiration from their diverse communities and experiences, and from the dynamic interplay of the literary and visual arts. Featuring: Erika Ayon, John Boucher, Rachelle Cruz, Thi Dao, Parnaz Foroutan, Sylvia Sukop, Marissa Tinloy, and Mehnaz Turner.INFO 213/621-1745 or education@moca.org
FREE

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Hello 2010.

2009 was an incredible year of growth, love and challenge.  This past year, I became an EV PEN Fellow, wrote some poems for my aswang project, got some work published in Back Room Live and Kweli Journal, and began The Blood-Jet Writing Hour radio show.  I also moved twice in Los Angeles, fell in love, visited many beach towns (San Clemente, Santa Cruz, San Diego, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach), traveled to France and Spain, and incorporated yoga into my morning routine.

I think the most challenging part of this year was letting go.  I found it difficult to let go of control over my writing when I could have benefited from being more open.  I still struggle with living in my new apartment and in Los Angeles.  I complained a lot about money, or lack thereof, this year.

Today, my roommate Nate and I are going to create vision boards today for this year.  A few ideas, goals, resolutions for this year are:

*Riding my bike a few times a week.

*Applying (and getting into) graduate school for creative writing.

*Balancing my energy amongst my loved ones.

*Living a wealthy consciousness.  Money comes and goes…

*Visiting Texas.

*Create a filing system for my paperwork: bills, revision.

*Writing letters to old high school friends.

*Learning Tagalog.

*Learn how to make Filipino dishes more healthy.

*Letting Acela breathe.  She wants to live in Los Angeles, but she still wants to figure out what she’s doing in St. Louis.

I’m honestly most excited about going back to school.  Work is rough, and it will be nice to finally focus on writing for a few years.  Cheers to 2010 being filled with more love, poetry and prosperity!

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