Category Archives: los angeles

things about l.a.

April Happenings

Dang, lots of celebration and reading this month.

Here’s where I’ll be this month:

Friday, April 20, 2012    6:00pm – 9:00pm
Community Hall, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
1145 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90017

  • Small Press Booth @ LA Times Festival of Books, USC Campus, hosted by Kaya Press.

Saturday, April 21st, 10 am – 12 pm
I’ll be at Kaya/Small Press Booth, signing, reading and reppin’ Dancing Girl Press.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 @ 12:30pm until 3:00pm
The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring Street, L.A., CA

There will be food, readings, and visual art.

Featured readers/artists include:
*Dan Lau, David Campos, Angel Garcia, Michael C. Ford, Gail Wronsky, Mike the Poet, Andrea Gutierrez, Kamala Puligandla, Janice Sapiago, Erika Ayon, Cristina Victor, Sara Borjas

  • “Speaking Out: Transformation through Poetry:” Reading at Cal State Fullerton

Tuesday, April 24th @ 12-12:45 pm
Cal State Fullerton, Room TBA


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Brunching with Poetry

Yesterday morning, I ate bacon, lime-spiced papaya, fresh scones, and lox on a jalapeño and cheddar bagel at LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Writing and Power)’s first Poetry Brunch, hosted by the wonderful Alanna Lin.

I underestimate the power of fun at times.

Participants and readers (myself included) gorged themselves on a delicious, home-cooked meal an hour or two before “getting down to business.” Which didn’t feel like business. Poetry isn’t business! But it feels this way, before I do a reading sometimes — why?

Jamie Asaye Fitzgerald and I were the featured readers. Prior to our readings, everyone at the event, around 20 people, shared five-line poems at the mic. I dig this kind of community building in a reading format; everyone eating, drinking coffee and sharing their work. By the time I got up to the mic, the reading was among friends, haiku-writers, and brunch-lovers unbuttoning the top button of their pants.


I am teaching Introduction to Poetry this coming year. I am trying to remember any “formal” introduction I’ve experienced. In the sixth grade for the poetry unit, I had to interview my best friend as Gwendolyn Brooks who dressed like her (knit cap, large glasses). Does this count?

My first workshop in college wasn’t pleasant. There were little to no poets-of-color on the reading list. I didn’t speak Workshop Language yet. I was skeptical and grouchy, the newness of first winter in New York wearing off.

How were you introduced to poetry? How did poetry introduce itself to you?

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Filed under influences, los angeles, summer, writing process

Circles of Influence: Thoughts on Community

Rashaan Alexis Meneses posted this today on Facebook and posed this question: “How you might draw a diagram of your own circle of influence? Who would be in yours?”


















According to Maria Popov who collaborated with Michelle Legro and Wendy MacNaughton on this diagram for Longshot Magazine, Circles of Influences is “a visualization of literary, scientific and artistic influences. It’s designed to illustrate the enormous creative indebtedness that permeates humanity’s proudest intellectual output, while also demonstrating the cross-pollination of disciplines across science, art, literature, film and music.”


Below is my Circle of Influence (thank you, Paint!).  Instead of renowned white male literary figureheads dominating my circle, there are writing communities such as Kundiman and the PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship, which have shaken up my world, splashed a bucket of icewater on my head, and said, YOU!  These communities have expanded my worldview, poetics, process, life.  There are teachers, mentors, fellow “emerging” writers (who are the heart/soul of these communities), the first Pinay writers I read, the first writers who I loved first.  There isn’t enough space for all of them.














I’ve linked the different writers and artists in my circle by community: where I was when I first met/read them, who influenced/influences their work, other communities in which they belong and overlap.

I forgot to mention The Blood-Jet Writing Hour, a place where I try to link all of these communities and influences.

Pearl Buck, author of The Good Earth, is here.  She was the one of the first writers who pissed me off when I encountered her in high school.  Her stereotypes of Asian folks, her limited scope, her access to a world and a community that didn’t belong to her.


Last night, I met with the former 2009 Emerging Voices Fellows (now MMIX Writers Los Angeles) at Sylvia and Bonnie’s house for our not-so-regular potluck and sharing of work.  We ate our usual Trader Joe’s pizza and drank sangria. We sat on Sylvia’s brilliant red couch to read last chapters of novels and memoirs, fresh poems, a new collection of photographs.  Projects we began at the PEN Fellowship are being revised and close to finished.

I shared poems inspired by Sylvia’s photography collection, “I forget myself (I forget you).”  A true mix.  Many of us have/are attending conferences and residencies frequently, or signing up for the MFA, or getting promoted at work.  This was the first community where I truly found home, and I’m grateful to come back and shake my head and laugh at how fast time flies.


Filed under Community, emerging voices, influences, Kundiman, los angeles, MFA, MMIX, the blood-jet, UC Riverside, writing process

July Readings!

Sorry for the non-updates!  I’ve been catching up on reading, writing, and radio-ing.

But, I have two upcoming events!

1.) I’ll be reading at the Arlington Public Library for Inlandia Institute’s online journal, Inlandia: A Literary Journey this Saturday, July 16th at 1-4 pm. (Check the flyer below for more information.)

2.) On Thursday, July 21st at 7pm, The Splinter Generation will be hosting a reading at Avenue 50 Studios in Highland Park. The Ladies of Splinter will feature female poets Lisa Cheby, Rachelle Cruz, Lisa McCool-Grime, and Magdalawit Makonnen along with live music from L.A. band Fort King, and Latin rock and funk from DJ Jose Galvan from Indie 103.1. There will also be free munchies and cheap booze for purchase.

The Ladies of Splinter
Featuring Lisa Cheby, Rachelle Cruz, Lisa McCool-Grime, and Magdalawit Makonnen
Thursday, July 21st @ 7pm
Avenue 50 Studio
131 N. Avenue 50, Highland Park
$7 general

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Silverlake Jubilee Reading this Sunday!

This should be fun! If you’re in the area, swing by for music, literature and comics.

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My poem “Unfriend” featured in KCET Departures

…to love this turf is love hard and unrequited. Is to be a constant
trick, a constant victim of the dry screw. Is to never be quite satisfied on
deeper levels. Is to always be hungry.
Hungry for the sweet love promised. -Wanda Coleman

More good poetry news!  My love/hate poem to Los Angeles “Unfriend” is featured in the National Poetry Month KCET Departures series.  You can read it here. Wonderful poems by Luis Rodriguez, Mike the Poet and many others are featured on the site as well.

Also, be sure to check out KCET’s awesome and creative programming on the L.A. River.


Filed under los angeles, published

Three Spring Readings

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!

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Filed under 30 days/30 poems, los angeles, readings, UC Riverside, writing process