Today we have la fabulosa Isabel Quintero in the house, chismeando conmigo about writing, publishing, and her YA novel, Gabi: A Girl in PIeces.
If you're an Angelino with your eye on the literary scene, then most likely you've heard of Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo. She's shared her award-winning poetry with audiences throughout LA and beyond. She is the creator and curated of the quarterly reading series HITCHED, formerly held at Beyond Baroque and now being hosted at Holy Grounds.
I can't remember exactly where I first met Bao. It was about 13 years ago and we were both featured readers at a poetry event somewhere in Southern California. Although the specifics are a blur, I never forgot Bao or his reading that day. His words were fierce, poignant, original, full of fuego and flow.
In July, things collided and came apart. My brother-in-law tumbled off a roof and broke his leg. I rear-ended a Lexus. In July, we got “Super Historic” rainfall in L.A. I saw lightning strike the ocean. In July, the dead haunted my heart. The moon fell apart piece by piece and then put herself back together again—twice in one month, Blue Moon. And then there was the disarticulated poetry that inspired and surprised...
It's not surprising the Suzanne Lummis' newest collection of poetry, Open 24 Hours, was the winner of the 2013 Blue Lynx Prize. These are poems full of texture and poetic sass; they're urban dwellers that live in gritty places, where "...The rubble of smashed / glass makes the sidewalk shine..." In these poems "tenants bitch" and poets get stopped on street corners and asked, "Are you saved?"
When I was in my 20's I believed that passion (be it for a particular person, for poetry, for social justice or for lo que sea) was everything. Without passion, there was no poetry, no ganas, no nada. Being a person without passion was like being a deflated brown paper lunch bag.
I came to know the Los Angeles Chicano/a literary scene back in the 1990's when it was bustling with some pretty incredible artists. I still have a clear image of seeing Luis Alfaro on stage for the first time. He was roller skating in a circle while reciting poems about his father and about growing up in Pico Union.
Iris De Anda's recent book of poetry Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazón is an offering, a pumping heart, and in that heart are 4 chambers that burn. Rage. Love. Revolution. Evolution. The idea for creating 4 chapters or chambers in Codeswitch came to Iris late one night as she was drifting off to sleep.
Since she was a chiquilla, Sonia had a knack for weaving words and stories. A lizard who grew back a severed tail could, in Sonia's eyes, easily be compared to a resurrected Jesus. When asked one evening by her sister if she could rap, Sonia seized the challenge and busted out a bold impromptu sing-song-palabra-something.
In October of 2013, Arktoi Books (an Imprint of Red Hen Press) published Verónica Reyes' first collection of poetry, Chopper! Chopper! Poetry from Bordered Lives. Entre las páginas de este libro helicopters roam, tortillas torcidas fly, violins soothe a man's heart, diablos ask for comida and compassion, Xicanas theorize over jotería and sopa.