This poem of mine came out in HipMama Zine today! Such a cool way to start a new year with a poem published on the first day. Many thanks to Ariel Gore for that.
Two days in
And they give her
Two syllables instead
Her given name too full
Of beauty, of vowel, of nuance.
High school begins.
The time we throw on new identities
The time we suppress the old.
I’m not allowed hugs
What makes me think I can have names?
A name I didn’t chose for her
Something short, ugly
More American. Joking. Fun.
They don’t mean nothing by it.
Easy to remember:
Like knowing one’s place.
I have to be silent on this one.
It’s not my battle.
I spent a lot of time on that name,
Nine months as she turned
And kicked and got ready to be born.
I am reminded of crossings
When one of her grandfathers crossed over
having his Mayan name chopped in half
to make it easier on everyone
but the one erased.
My other blog Tales of a Sierra Madre will host 30 poems and 30 days. Join me with your own in the comments. Here’s to a month of poems.
Dana Gioia is reading at Quincy Library on April 3 and I’ll be reading with him as well. I’ve never met the poet laureate of California. He vowed to visit all counties and this is Plumas County’s turn at the start of national poetry month.
Now what to read…come out if you are in Plumas County!
While 2016 may have sucked death and destruction wise (from David Bowie to Leonard Cohen dying to everything in between–and I’m not even touching the election), there was also hope and beauty.
This summer in our quiet little town, boxes upon boxes were delivered of books for our defunct school library. With donations from around the world, we filled our library and gave to seven area libraries and to the local foster care agency for the kids they see. I now keep a box of books in my car (of duplicates and older books) to give out as I see a need.
This year also gave me the opportunity to check out YA titles and other books I was unfamiliar with. I’ve also known some authors who had books come out as well. From tiny books , to books published on a large scale–we had a good deal of great words this year if you knew where to look. Here’s my quick list of books to check out by independent or small press authors (because the mainstream good ones you can find at Costco–I don’t have to help you with that).
I first saw V. Kali perform her poetry when we were on the same bill at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA back in 2013? 2012? It was the summer and I was reading poems from my chapbook Alzheimer’s Cul de Sac (my grandfather had just died from Alzheimer’s the year before) and she was reading from a slim volume of pieces that a friend had put together for her. She was phenomenal. Her work blew me away. So much truth in it. And I thought I hope there’s a book by her somewhere. FINALLY THERE IS! Just published by World’s Stage Press (where you can find her reading her work sometimes). GET IT.
2. Another Los Angeles poet par excellence, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo’s much anticipated first book of poetry Posadas has been released. “Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge is a feminist collection of poetry straddling borders, and arose when daughter of Mexican immigrants, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, traveled from Los Angeles to the Tucson-Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border in August 2011 to volunteer with the humanitarian aid organization, No More Deaths. She hoped to gain a concrete understanding of the “wall,” and the result was a book illustrating a speaker driven to activism by a need to honor her family’s journey.” Posadas!
- Alicia Young is just an absolute treasure to read to read. Hard-hitting and truth-telling. She gives you a window into a world that probably didn’t vote the way you did–and she delivers empathy with her meticulous eye. Schmussy
- !.Totally biased on this one, but have you read Michelle Gonzales’ book yet?! It went into a second printing. Such a great time capsule into the early 90s Bay Area punk rock scene. Can’t recommend this one enough. Spitboy Rule
5. I started getting interested in Lasara Firefox Allen’s work after reading Sexy Witch. Now I realize Jailbreaking is probably more my speed. “Jailbreaking the Goddess is a revolutionary revisioning of the feminine divine. Where the maiden, mother, crone archetypal system is tied to female biology and physical stages of life, the fivefold model liberates the female experience from the shackles of the reproductive model.” This book has gotten me into some really great conversations.
6. Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz–my favorite of anything she’s published so far. Dream meets reality and back again sort of thing. “Dreamnoir” it’s being called. Worth reading. Bruja!
7. Pauline Campos’ new journal “Be Your Own Fucking Sunshine” is just some great silly fun. A blank journal with inspirational swears like a drunken sailor messages. Why the fuck not? Fucking Sunshine…
There are many more worthy books of 2016 to read, to be sure, but often the small and indie go undiscovered, and they NEED discovering.
Here are three projects I was involved in this year that could benefit from some patronage as well!
Mary of the Chance Encounters is an audiobook CD or a download comprised of me, yours truly, reading eight short stories from this manuscript of erotica, disturbing, noirish short stories. Produced by Wretched Productions and Ms. Heidi Moore—-who made its first full-length feature film
DOLLY DEADLY–Which my daughter, son, and I are all in at one point or another. I was location scout on this venture, did some sound effects, AND creative services for a vegan crew. If ever I demonstrated an ability to be a jack of all trades, it’s on this project. Thanks, Heidi!
And last but not least, I rounded out the year being art director (and model) for the Pin-ups for Plumas Community Radio Calendar!
Twelve women from my neck of the woods–two of us DJs at the station–(that’s DJ Tina Terrazas on the cover), posed for a fundraising calendar for our radio station KQNY . We would absolutely love your support by purchasing a calendar Here.
(forgive me in advance for butchering this form)
Library Project Ghazal
We need to tell you we’ve had a complaint about the library.
An anonymous caller says you’ve got feminism in your books.
Kids read books with feminism in them will ruin the morals of the valley.
Girls thinking too much of themselves because of what’s in the books.
The girl says, my mom won’t let me read anything in here. None of this is
appropriate reading material for our children. There are ideas in these books.
The boy says I don’t really read. Just not into it. Nobody’s story is ever
like mine. I haven’t read one of these things since the second grade. Books.
You can’t please hardly any of the people any of the time. It seems strange that
with the other media and short attention spans that we still think banning books.
Rural America needs words. Lots of words. Words that fight small despairs,
The late Friday night lights of doom. Diagnosis a life without books.
We built a library out of the kindness of strangers. Packages coming from around the world. As if the singular grand solution to all that is wrong could be books.
Care to add more lines for me?
I am a romantic at heart.
In that twisted way where you read a great book and you enjoy crying at the end because everything went to hell and the lovers don’t wind up together because one of them is dead, or married to someone else, or a war has broken out.
My students used to say, Ms. Garcia are you aware all of your books you assign have tragic endings?
Do they? Oh shit. I guess they do.
I think I got that way through poetry. It was the first thing I ever read and the first thing I ever wrote.
So as I’m starting to organize the school library and finding all the poetry books that have been checked in I’m just amazed. There is so much here. So many voices. So many observations. So many perspectives. So many sorrows. So many joys.
I want to crawl into this shelf–disappear into the shelf. Disappear into your gifts.
And I’m doing that now.