Sunday, December 6, 2009

Myles Eileen Iceland Song 2008

I finally got to see Eileen Myles. A long time fan, I've always managed to miss her appearances somehow. At the Visual Arts Center at UCSD, she read from her new book of nonfiction The Importance of Being Iceland. She included various slides in her presentation to help contextualize some of the essays. This video was included, and I thought I'd post it here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Artemio Rodriguez Visits San Diego

I recently had the opportunity to meet Artemio Rodriguez at his show's gallery openning here in San Diego. He's a very nice guy and entertained some of my questions and signed his name and drew a cool picture on my copy of the collaboration he did with poet, Juan Felipe Herrera.

My wife and I really enjoy(ed) his work. It was sort of a retrospective spanning approx. fifteen years. As usual, the work was intense and his ability to incorporate interesting detail made several of his prints quite gripping.

I wanted to attend his talk today at the San Diego Musuem of Art but was unable to do so. I don't feel too badly though because Thursday night was pretty magical. He even showed me his new book that is a beautifully produced leather-bound collection of fifty original prints that accompany a wonderful story in Spanish. Each collection was handmade and produced at La Mano Press ,now in Michoacan. Amazing, amazing work!

Below is a shirt I bought some time ago. My sister always complains that it's too intense and causes her anxiety. What do you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009


The Chinese Stars played Mexicali last night, and I would've loved to be there. Their new, new album "Heaven on Speed Dial" is out and I'm loving it.

Just got D.A. Powell & David Trinidad's "By Myself." Using 300 memoirs, autobios, and ghost writers, they created this "...tempestuous and inspirational tell-all confession."

I'm absolutely into what I'm writing right now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Boo Report

Boo, Forever

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
I'm haunted by all
the space that I
will live without

--Richard Brautigan

Monday, September 28, 2009

The 4th Annual San Diego City College Int'l Book Fair is here.

* * *
Robert van Halberg: For whom do you write?

John Wieners: For the poetical, the people. Not for myself, merely. Or ever. Only for the better, warm, human loving, kind person. The guy on the street who might hold open a door for you, left the bumper on your car, stops to give you instructions, spares some change, lets you in his bookshop. Friends I take for granted, like the future.

from John Wieners: Selected Poems 1958-1984

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Polvo - my kimono

My brother reintroduced me to this band over the weekend. Their new album just came out after having been seperated for several years. I'd like to write a short story to this song where the last syllable descends upon the very last note.

Polvo - Tilebreaker

B nice to see their show in LA this October

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Winner of the Inaugural raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest

I'm looking forward to congratulating and listening to, Joe Montoya, the winner of the inaugural raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest on September 19th at Voz Alta in Barrio Logan. I'm sure it will be a special evening.

This chapbook contest was established "as a way to honor the late Xicanindio poet activist the Red CalacArts Collective, Calaca Press (San Diego, Califas) and Red Salmon Arts (Austin, Tejas) have teamed up to create the raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest. The Redz seek material from authors whose poetry best reflects the lifework and interests of raúlrsalinas, including Native and immigrant rights, the Chicano Movement, Black Power, prison struggles, political prisoners, Leonard Peltier, Mumia abu-Jamal, social movements, EZLN, Cuba, independence of Puerto Rico, the Beat writers, and of course jazz, amongst many other issues related to culture, human rights, community empowerment and social justice."

One of the requirements for entering this contest that really impressed me was the need to include a description of one's community involvement.

How amazing is that!

Monday, September 7, 2009


In earlier times, the nymph Echo knew how to speak. And she spoke with such grace that her words seemed always new, never before spoken by any mouth.

But the goddess Hera, Zeus's legal spouse, cursed her during one of her frequent fits of jealousy. And Echo suffered the worst of all punishments: she was deprived of her own voice.

Ever since, unable to speak, she can only repeat.
Nowadays, that curse is looked on as a virtue.

Eduardo Galeano
from Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone

Last night my wife and I spent the evening watching a 3-hr special on the writer/educator/activist, Jonathan Kozol. We have read much of his works throughout our days of teacher education classes, workshops, etc., and to finally listen to him, and even see him offer a rare tour of his home was a nice addition to some of the arguments and concerns he put forth throughout the interview. Kozol highlighted the tragic dropout rates that still continue to clutch at minority students ankles, rattling off statistics that should make any sane person's stomach turn, yet nothing is done, no real war is waged. Kozol blames the right and left, stating that many of today's liberals seem like they're suffering from what he called "compassion fatigue." Kozol spoke about standardized testing--which is why I included Galeano above--and how it stifles creativity and inquiry, both for the student and for the teacher. I enjoyed listening to him talk about his love of literature, citing Rilke, Toni Morrison, and others, and how he was fired from a public school in Boston for teaching Langston Hughes, which inevitably led to his participation in the civil rights movement. As a thank you, Hughes sent Kozol a signed portrait, a picture he keeps over his work desk.

What struck me most about Kozol, besides his obvious passion to right wrongs, was his sense of humor, along with his admission that he did not feel like a seventy-three-year-old at all, but more like a fifteen-year-old. I loved that!

* * *
This summer has been nice. I read more than I thought I would have. Some of the highlights were Galeano's Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone and Open Veins of Latin America (reread), I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet by William Carlos Williams, The Balloonist by Eula Biss (reread), the new Gabriel Garcia Marquez biography, Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell by Deborah Solomon, Against Interpretation and other Essays by Susan Sontag, Oscar Zeta Acosta: The Uncollected Works, plus a grip of other invaluable reading pleasures.
* * *
Speaking of reading, I just finished Paul Martinez Pompa's My Kill Adore Him. Lean and tough, this collection addresses several social ills that continue to afflict this society of ours much more profoundly than the current flu scare. Racism, gender politics, homophobia, police brutality, workers' strife, among other important issues get served up and presented here. As a matter of fact, Pompa's poem "The War on Poets Goes On" totally reminded me of an incident I encountered at Dulles Airport, where I had to stomach a young security guard accuse me of being a liar for not telling him that I had a travel-size toothpaste in my backpack. Believe me, if I would've remembered that I had a travel-size toothpaste in my backback, I would not have been furiously chomping on several sticks of gum during our long flight.
Since reading this poem, I have started an essay about some of the most ridiculous encounters I've had while crossing back through our borders. For awhile, my friends used to joke that they didn't want to cross the border back into the U.S. if I was in the car because that would guarantee them a quick trip to secondary. As with all jokes, there is always an element of truth, even if it's not necessarily found in its content. Unfortunately in this case, the truth was obviously in the content, as well as in their slightly veiled anxiety that prompted them to say it in the first place.
And finally, I just started William Vollman's gargantuous Imperial. Cashing in on a gift card, in addition to a discount, I was able to afford this giant. About fifteen pages into it, I can't wait to see what's ahead of me. In the first few pages, Vollman has already mentioned the New River, the last ditch effort for those trying to enter the country illegally. There was a picture several years ago in the Imperial Valley Press that depicted 4-5 people floating on black, plastic trashbags filled with their belongings down one of N. America's most polluted rivers. Surrounding these desperate people, were large clumps of foam attributed to all of the poisons churning in that water. Every so often, I remember that image in the newspaper; it's one I'll never forget for as long as I live.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Children of the Desert Mountains Chapbook Release Reading

The Red CalacArts Collective, Calaca Press and Voz Alta present:

Children of the Desert Mountains
Chapbook Release Reading

Saturday, September 19, 2009 @ 7pm

Albuquerque, NM poet
winner of the first
raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest

From Los Angeles, CA contest runner-up

Local San Diego poets

Plus, opening music by

1754 National Ave.
Barrio Logan, Califas 92113

No Cover!

Free chapbook to the first 50 people through the door!

Praise and props for Joe Montoya:
“In language that is unadorned with fanciful literary conventions yet conjures up a hauntingly beautiful, gritty, and honest portrayal of life on the rez, Montoya’s debut is most welcome, leaves his readers wanting more, and is a powerful tribute to the life’s work of our ever present maestro and friend raúlrsalinas.”
- Louis G. Mendoza, Ph.D., editor of raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen

“Un homeboy y poeta de aquellas who gifts humanity with words of hope and compassion. A humble yet evocative offering that deeply resonates with the struggles and writings of East Austin veterano raúlrsalinas.”
- Rene Valdez, Executive Director of Red Salmon Arts and Resistencia Bookstore

“Joe Montoya’s words are Native reflections that bring to light the hurt and hope of a mostly forgotten people. He is an honest voice illuminating the darkness of life on the rez; worthy of helping carry on the legacy of raúlrsalinas.”
- Brent E. Beltrán, co-owner of Calaca Press

Vernon “Joe” Montoya is a Native American poet and short story writer born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised on the Santa Ana and San Felipe Pueblos. As a young adult he was incarcerated on drug offenses and used his time in prison to read and write poetry. He is a proud father of two daughters and two sons. Joe has won several poetry slam competitions and is currently working on his first full book of poetry. He reads, lectures and facilitates literary workshops in jails, prisons, juvenile facilities, middle and high schools. He also is a full-time undergraduate student in Criminology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and a full time employee at Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc., part of their Behavioral Health Team as a Certified Prevention Specialist that focuses on alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse prevention among adolescents in his community.

For more info:

Organized by the Red CalacArts Collective -
Supported by Calaca Press -
Hosted by Voz Alta -

The raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest and the Children of the Desert Mountains Chapbook Release Reading are supported in part by the Ford Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, and Southwest Airlines through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts. For more info


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DG WILLS: Last Friday!

Tomás Riley
Friday night's reading at DG Wills was incredible! Great vibe, great venue, great peeps, great afterparty! Here are a few pictures from that evening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back-to-Back Readings!--Thurs and Fri

Tomás Riley
author of Mahcic


Manuel Paul Lopez
author of Death of a Mexican and Other Poems

It's going to be a rockin' lunch hour on Montezuma Mesa when Tomás Riley (author of Mahcic, and one of the heroic Taco Shop Poets), Manuel Paul Lopez (author of Death of a Mexican & Other Poems and the troubadour of the Imperial Valley and more) appear here at SDSU!

Hepner Hall 221, SDSU
AUGUST 20, 2009

free and open to the public!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things to Do on A Wednesday in August

1. Drive truck to beach
2. Unravel tangled ipod ear buds
3. Drop beach cruiser from bed of truck
4. Ride along beach boardwalk
5. Think to self how obnoxious the sun
6. Stop for breakfast at local cafe
7. Order chilaquiles and savor the side of chipotle sauce
8. Move truck (2 hr. parking sucks)
9. Untangle ipod ear buds
10. Ride to local spot to watch US vs Mexico
11. See Donavan nearly get smacked during his corner kick attempt with large cups of who knows what, but somehow do know what
12. Muse over the game's outcome
13. My left and right hand shake, displaying good sportmanship
14. Untangle ipod ear buds
15. Press shuffle
16. "Seed Toss" by Superchunk
17. Jump on bike, wondering if my 2 hour parking is up (forgot to notice the time when I moved my truck)
18. No ticket
19. Pack bike, untangle ipod ear buds from bike basket
20. Jump onto the driver seat
21. Drive into the freeway that waits for me

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Austin Vida Live: XYX part 1

"You missed such a great show last night," is what I recently heard. It was the day after XYX played SD, and the same night they were scheduled to play Calexico. Goodness. Part II from this segment is incredible. What a sound!

Austin Vida Live: XYX part 2


Walls are
relief in lifting
themselves. Let

you also
lift yourself,
selves, shelves.

-Robert Creeley

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quickly Approaching!

Vollman and the Imperial Valley

I found this originally at Professor Nericcio's place. Vollman aims to capture the dynamics of the Imperial Valley, a work that has a lot of us excited. I really want to get my hands on this book.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

here's my last collage.

Nearly two weeks ago, M and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a special performance that featured Verbobala in all of its, or at least in 2/3's of its theatrical wonder (2 of the 3 members were present). To become better acquainted with what they do, here's a little description from their website:

Verbobala Spoken Video is a bi-national video performance group based in Cuernavaca, Mexico and Tucson, Arizona. Of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the members include video artist Moisés Regla, a Mexican of French and Spanish decent, acclaimed media designer, Adam Cooper-Terán, a Chicano of Russian and Yaqui decent, and Border poet Logan Phillips, an American of Irish and Slavic decent. This diversity is also reflected in their artistic backgrounds, as each comes to the project with experience in distinct areas including slam poetry, underground hip-hop, new media, experimental linguistics, electro-acoustic music, contemporary ritual and video installation.

Logan Phillips, the principle wordsmith of the group, also has a new chapbook called Arroyo Ink, which can be found here.

Logan Phillips and Adam Cooper-Terán are dynamic performers. I must also say that they are dynamic and impassioned cats off the stage as well. Their performance was intelligent and engaging, highlighting, from the set I observed at least, border politiks and self/cultural identity, using words, sound/song, costume, and image to pop their artistic vision(s).

After the performance, I also had the chance to meet and chat with poet and college professor, Francisco J. Bustos, who was kind enough to offer us his book, Aquí Estamos...YA NOS VAMOS. (I've seen Francisco read his work several times around town and he knows how to bring it.) This collection also includes poetry and prose by Michael Cheno Wickert and artwork by Ricardo Islas.

Here's what Alurista wrote about the collection:

"esta ouvre de francisco b y cheno es un kaleidos cope fronterizo...and wit estrait up and a cross with out cruz y fiction cuentos homage 2 those that live and struggle on y al otro lado de lada witness palabras que valen sin pecado la tinta no sobra...falta! simón que yes! ahora somos los mosquiteros...una mosca parada en la pader?"

Bustos' inscription:

To Paul + Mandi,
letras y ritmos for all, por siempre!

How cool is that? It was a wonderful night of art and conversation.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Go Nijinsky, Go!

While in Montmartre, my wife and I stopped by to say hello to Petrouchka. I too had dreams of levitation as a little boy. I'll post some more photos soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Poet and Editor, Tim Green, Brings It

And yet poetry as an industry is just as ridiculous as any other industry. Just as much a game: CVs, MFAs, bios, blogs, open mics, cover letters, conferences, colonies, grants, awards, networking, politicking, policing… I don’t care if you’re an academic poet, a street poet, or an underground poet. I don’t care if you’re the Poet Laureate or the Poet Lariat or the poet Harriet, who has a 160 poems in four different themes in a three-ring binder on her desk. It’s all a joke. It’s an egotistical, megalomaniacal, self-aggrandizing, back scratching, crotch-stroking, fist pumping joke. When I see a bio listing 104 “credits,” including Poetry and Triquarterly and the New England Review, I don’t think, Wow, that’s a real poet. I think, Wow, that’s a lot of postage. When I see the same poet reading the same poem over and over again to the same audience at every open mic in town, there’s no room to wonder about the transaction — the only one gaining something is you, gaining a captive audience for content that wouldn’t hold up through a dinner conversation.

You want fame, you want attention, you want respect. That’s all the game is about. It’s 28,000 submitters and 2,800 subscribers. It’s an audience of 30 at a poetry reading, and 20 of them thinking only about the poem they’ll read when the host calls their name. It’s a new book every four years because that’s what tenure calls for. And every faction, from the most amateur to the most erudite, thinks they’re the one that’s doing it right. It’s all the same silly enterprise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Motörhead - I Don`t Believe A Word

I failed! I failed! I sat 4 ft. from Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee at a hotel bar/restaurant in Rome recently and failed to place their faces. I stared and stared and searched my little mind, but nothing! Would I have interrupted their lunch? Probably not, but I sure as hell would have said: "Motorhead made me used to feel 10 ft. tall, man!" Or maybe throw some devil horns and bob my head or something, I don't know. Maybe they would've noticed some inner fire in me and invited me on stage for their show in Florence to sing "I Don't Believe a Word" with Lemmy? Oh well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just wanted to share with my 426 million readers that I'll be off to the lands of Shakespeare and Co., Venus de Milo, and Shelley's grave. But before I leave, I wanted to share this with you--for better or for worse. With much love and respect for this man's work, I covered and recorded Andres Montoya's "Star struck" recently. Take a listen, but promise me that all 426 million of you will use headphones. The sounds level out a bit better that way. If anything, take in Montoya's words and wisdom and ignore my voice. "What, homes?" You know what I mean.

For those who have never read Montoya's work, read it now! It may save your a%# some day.


Saturday, June 27, 2009


I've never been a fan of reunion tours, but I just landed tix for this band who will be performing at the House of Blues in Anaheim this October as part of their n. American tour. Nostalgia?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Music

I'm currently into Sunset Rubdown's new album, Dragonslayer. I love "Silver Moons!" Do you?


My pop's just bought me a new subscription for cigar aficionado. What a guy, no? In the latest issue is a piece on Jay-Z. Here's a quote that struck me:

"Obama represents so much hope for blacks and latinos. the hope he represents is bigger than any of the huge problems he could possibly correct. When you have positive role models, you can change your life for the better. The day Obama got elected, the gangsta became less relevant." jay-z.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Harold Norse Dies

Harold Norse is gone. I just found out today, which is extremely strange, because I was reading his collected last night and was seriously thinking about posting his poem "At Cafe Trieste" on this blog.

Norse left such beautiful, beautiful work behind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This just in from Chicago poet and homeboy, Eduardo Arocho. Take a look and make some plans to visit.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mexicali Rose

Mexicali Rose is a grass roots communitarian organization dedicated to providing free access to artistic media for the lower income community youth of Mexicali, Baja California. Mexicali Rose Media/Arts Center is located in the neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo, one of the city’s oldest and most vibrant areas historically and the area closest in physical vicinity to the U.S./Mexico border. The organizers were brought up and are based in this region and recognize a real need for different options for the youth of this community.

The purpose of this project is to give bordertown youth an avenue to express themselves and reflect their environment creatively and positively through art. By giving this craft to communities who might not otherwise have any media-related voice or capabilities, the project could serve as a positive alternative to a new generation. Through art, kids can express and affect the issues that they are undergoing as young people in a place as culturally diverse and challenging as the U.S./Mexico border.

The target age for the children involved in this artistic community is 13-18 years of age.

Mexicali Rose Media/Arts Center is equipped for the following:
• Documentary Filmmaking courses (including computers with editing software)
• Fine Arts courses
• Community Gallery
• Free computer/internet access to community students (Amongst other possible workshops & courses)

There is a strong desire to maintain a trans-cultural interchange by hosting filmmakers/bands and welcoming them into Mexicali with open arms and admiration for the sharing and development of a mutual craft.


IF ANYONE IS COMING FROM THE STATES... PLEASE BRING YOUR PASSPORTS...the u.s customs are not your friends...

exposicion de arte gratuita!

mostrando el trabajo de:
Daniel Gibson
Mike Bertino (
Ken Garduno (
Sergio Gonzalez
Adly Maldonado

Invitados Musicales/Artistas:
Chango Rey
Viaje en Bici

acceso gratuito
galeria comunitaria mexicali rose
ave. colima 1436 colonia pueblo nuevo
mexchicali, bajo california

para obtener mas informes

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Carlos Monsivais Visits San Diego, California

I am totally pissed that I missed Carlos Monsivais' lecture at the University of San Diego last Thursday night. I can't beat myself up too much, because business insisted that I miss Carlos Monsivais' lecture at the University of San Diego. A good friend of mine attended and reported that the turnout was dismal, compared to Monsivais' typical gatherings in Mexico, where standing room only is the norm no matter the capacity of the venue. Monsivais' talk was on Mexican poetry and beyond, often quoting long stanzas or passages from memory, while spending an extended amount of time discussing Dario's significance to 20th century Spanish literature.

This is where I'll stop. What I will do, however, is ask my friend, A, to report on the event in his own words. I'm also hoping he has photos from the event.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Issue

I have an extra copy of the inaugural issue of Blind Pen Journal, one that will hopefully continue to be published out of San Diego, Cali. This issue includes Craig Santos Perez, Alan Catlin, Nathan Graziano, Erica Arthur, Rebecca Schumejda, Alejandro Romero, Stephen Berry, Annelies Zijderveld, Sandra Chase, Mariel Romero-Ocaranza, Bradley Pickett, and yours truly. Also, some cool translations of poems by Jaime Sabines and Lorca.

If you would like this copy, please leave an email address in the comment section if I don't have it already. I'll contact you for directions to send on the snail's back.

* * *
Currently listening to Getz/Gilberto on the headphones. Can't help but feel cool with this stuff.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


A great, great man died today. Jimmy Cannon, my music teacher, and an Imperial Valley institution, the one who showed us how to hear. Who took us to Mardi Gras, whose jazz bands during the 70s lit up every stage they played. Whose mad presence filled up a room. I used to try and get to school as early as I could just to hear him play his horn every morning. Whose favorite horn player was Clifford Brown. Who used to say: Lopez, better quit ditching those classes. And: Mexican horn players got the chops. And: Lopez, you gotta big, round sound, but you gotta learn the words to the tunes if you want them to come out your horn right. Who sat us down the day Miles died and had us listen to Miles Davis tunes all afternoon.

Jimmy Cannon. Jimmy Cannon.

Here's a poem by another former teacher that was written for Duke Ellington, and now, Jimmy Cannon.

MAY 24TH, 1984
for Duke Ellington

that day began with a shower
of darkness calling lightening rains
home to stone language
of thunderclaps shattering the high
blue elegance of space & time
a broken-down riderless horse
with frayed wings
rode a sheer bone sunbeam
road down into the clouds

spoke wheels of lightening
spun around the hours high up
above those clouds duke wheeled
his chariot of piano keys
his spirit now levitated from flesh
& hovering over the music of most high
spoke to the silence
of a griot shaman/man
who knew the wisdom of God

at high noon the sun cracked
through the darkness like a rifle shot
grew a beard of clouds on its livid bald
face hung down noon sky high
pivotal time of the flood-deep hours as Duke
was pivotal being a five in the nine
numbers of numerology
as his music was the crossroads
the cosmic mirror of rhythmic gri-gri

so get on up & fly away duke bebop
slant & fade on in strut dance swing riff
float & stroke those tickling gri-gri keys
those satin ladies taking the A train up
to harlem those gri-gri keys of birmingham
breakdown sophisticated
ladies mood indigo
so get on up & strut across gri-gri
raise on up your band's waiting

thunderclapping music somersaulting
clouds racing across the blue deep wisdom
of God listen it is time for your intro
duke into that other place where the all-time
great band is waiting for your intro duke
it is time to make the music of God
duke we are listening for your intro
duke let the sacred music begin

-Quincy Troupe

Monday, May 18, 2009


by Roque Dalton

In the name of those washing others' clothes
(and cleansing others' filth from the whiteness)

In the name of those caring for others' children
(and selling their labor power
in the form of maternal love and humiliations)

In the name of those living in another's house
(which isn't even a kind belly but a tomb or a jail)

In the name of those eating others' crumbs
(and chewing them still with the feeling of a thief)

In the name of those living on others' land
(the houses and factories and shops
streets cities and towns
rivers lakes volcanoes and mountains
always belong to others
and that's why the cops and the guards are there
guarding them against us)

In the name of those who have nothing but
hunger exploitation disease
a thirst for justice and water
persecutions and condemnations
loneliness abandonment oppression and death

I accuse private property
of depriving us of everything.

tr. Jack Hirschman

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I spent much of Sat. morning and early afternoon recording new stuff for Boo Report. During this time, I found it interesting to see how the monitors and equalizers responded to my reading voice. For example, we had problems preventing a popping sound every time I read the word "pounds." It took several takes before we finally came to the conclusion: let's just change it to "kilos." Problem solved. I immediately thought, though, wow, am I spitting on people while I'm talking?

Peggy picked a pepper off her paninni. Imagine!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Reading JFH

While returning from the UCLA campus yesterday, i reread parts of Juan Felipe Herrera's 187 Reasons and couldn't help but remember Luis Alberto's Urrea's long ago blurb "[JFH] is passing other writers as if they were standing still."

When I concluded his long poem "Senorita X: Song for the Yellow-Robed Girl from Juarez," my eyes were wet, and I sat speechlessly for about 15 minutes, watching L.A. pass me from a charter bus window.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I am looking for the this book! If you see it anywhere, hit me up on my beeper. Or on my cell phone. Or if you see this guy, tell him I want part of his name back.
I recently met a guy who just moved to San Diego from the Bay Area. He shared (I never asked) that all he eats is burritos. He's been a bit frustrated with the move, though, because he said there aren't many taquerias in SD that use black beans. Really? I said. Apparently dude located three and mapquested them. Maybe this is his blog.
Speaking of Taqueria Cancún, o beloved Taqueria Cancun, my one and only Taqueria Cancun, I once defeated an employee there in an after hour arm wrestling match. (don't ask) They locked up the place, and we went at it! It was my greatest victory. I won't share his name, but all I can say is, I'll never remind him.

Friday, May 1, 2009

National Poetry Month

To celebrate the final day of April, I sat at a window somewhere on University Ave. sipping on beverage while reading O'hara's "Second Avenue." Scratching my head as I often scratch my head while reading O'hara's "Second Avenue," a woman stopped at the window and said: "Say, you look like you're working hard."

I looked up from my read, paused, then replied: "You don't even know." she smiled, laughed, and kept laughing as she crossed the street. I smiled, too, then continued to scratch my head while finishing up O'hara's "Second Avenue," but this time with a smile.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Vuelos Literarios
A Red CalacArts Writing Series

In the tradition of nourishing and promoting creative voices of resistance the Red CalacArts Collective, aka the Redz (a project of Calaca Press), will be organizing their second annual writer’s workshop series, Vuelos Literarios. Recognizing the need to produce, nurture and guide community based writers the Redz hope to create the next generation of Calaca Press authors.

Each year the Redz will invite a distinct and experienced poet/writer/artist to facilitate the workshop series. This ensures diversity in workshop topics, target groups, and artistic perspective. The overall goal of the series is to create an environment of mentorship and exchange between older and younger generations of community writers.

Vuelos Literarios 2009

We are excited to announce that this year’s workshop, Conociendo La Calaca: (De)Constructing Poetic Structure, will be faciltated by Calaca Press author and editor Manuel J. Vélez.

The following is a description of this year’s workshop and a specific breakdown of each of the workshop components.

- Creation of New Work -

Conociendo La Calaca: (De)Constructing Poetic Structure
Facilitator: Manuel J. Vélez

The invention of “free verse” poetry in the 19th Century was in direct response and retaliation to the more rigid forms of poetic structure that existed before it. Today free verse poetry has become the predominant form of poetic structure turning the others into historical artifacts. However when we consider the history of poetry and the importance that poetic structure has played in that history we can't help but wonder, what else did we lose when we gave up poetic structure? This workshop will attempt to answer that question by looking more closely at various poetic structures from different cultures and eras. The idea is to develop an understanding of how poetic structure contributes to the overall effect of the poem and how it reflects the socio-political and religious ethos of the poem's culture. Once we have understood the role of poetic structure we can then begin to look for ways to “de-construct” that structure to develop new poetic structures that better reflect our own culture's “ethos” and experiences.

Workshop will take place
Saturday, July 18 & Sunday, July 19, 2009
The Front
147 W. San Ysidro Blvd
San Ysidro, Califas 92173
The workshop will be divided into two days of four-hour sessions: The first day will focus on poetic structures such as the Japanese haiku and the Italian sonnet. Together participants will learn how these structures were developed and write their own poems using them as a guide. This way workshop poets can hopefully develop an understanding of how structure plays a role in a poem's overall effect. On the second day of the workshop participants will then begin to “deconstruct” the poetic structures by playing with metrical and rhythmic patterns, then seeing how other poets have adapted these patterns to create their own structures and reflect their own cultural experiences. Poets will finish off the workshop by developing their own poetic structures and writing poems based upon them.

- Publication -

All workshop participants will be asked to submit pieces developed during the workshop sessions to be published in a chapbook. The chapbook, Conociendo La Calaca, will be edited by the workshop facilitator, Manuel J. Vélez, and published by RedCalacArts Publications (an imprint of Calaca Press). Each participant will receive a minimum of 5 free copies of the completed chapbook.

- Public Reading -

In addition, a book release reading featuring participating poets will take place after publication of the chapbook. To be eligible for participation in the chapbook and reading, writers must have completed both workshop sessions.

Conociendo La Calaca

Chapbook Release Reading
Saturday, August 29, 2009 @ 7pm
The Front
147 W. San Ysidro Blvd
San Ysidro, Califas 92173

The Conociendo La Calaca Chapbook and Release Reading is supported in part by the Ford Foundation, JP Morgan Chase and Southwest Airlines through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts. For more info visit

Eligible Participants
This workshop is open to ten poets between the ages of 18 to 40 who are interested in developing their craft as poets. Prospective attendees should keep in mind that while the focus of the workshop is on such elements as metrical and rhythmic patterns there will also be an emphasis on poetry and its structure as reflections of a socio-political ethos. This means that participants should be prepared to discuss these elements within poetry as well. Students in undergraduate and graduate level Creative Writing programs are encouraged to apply however the workshop is not open to MFA graduates. Prospective workshop attendees are required to submit one poem and a one to two page personal statement (please include relevant contact info as part of statement) discussing their relationship to poetry and their community involvement. Applicants will be selected based on the strength of their writing, their personal statement and their commitment to community activism and social causes.


The Red CalacArts Collective makes every effort to make its events accessible and affordable to the community. We are asking participating writers to make a contribution of $25 (payable the day of the first workshop). All monies will be used toward workshop and publication costs. For those chosen who cannot afford the tuition, scholarships may be made available on a case by case basis.


To apply for Vuelos Literarios: Conociendo La Calaca email your poem and personal statement (as separate MS Word files) to:

Deadline: Wednesday July 1, 2009.

About the Facilitator/Editor:

Manuel J. Vélez is a co-founder of Calaca Press, the author of the first Calaca title, Bus Stop and Other Poems and editor of the anthology La Calaca Review. A graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso’s bilingual MFA program, he currently teaches literature and culture in the Chicano Studies Department at San Diego Mesa College.

About the Red CalacArts Collective, Calaca Press and The Front:
The Red CalacArts Collective, a project of Calaca Press, is a multidisciplinary arts and activist organization that focuses on creating, publishing, producing, and presenting Chicano, Latin American and indigenous related art focusing on issues dealing with human rights and social justice.

Calaca Press is a Chicano family-owned small publishing house dedicated to publishing and producing unknown, emerging, and established progressive Chicano and Latino voices.

The Front: A Collective of Arts, Culture, Design & Urbanism, a project of Casa Familiar, is a inter/multi/trans-disciplinary venue and communal space that promotes the creation, exhibition, distribution, chronicling and archiving of innovative artistic, scholarly and musical projects, particularly from the unique and subaltern voices of the border region.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I love this song! I forgot my youtube password, so forgive me.

The little keyboard reminds me of a show that i took in a few years ago. Elliot Smith played San diego, and he was so sweet. I was on crutches at the time (accident prone), and he walked past and said "are you ok," in this very small, wounded voice, and I'll never forget it.

Anyway, there were some dudes in ski masks outside the show with an acoustic guitar, casio keyboard, and a bucket playing pixies covers, and they were so good, and I loved everything that night so much!

I'll never forget Elliot Smith and his kindness and the time I read that he kicked some serious ass with his fists.

O, my.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boo Report

Listen to Boo Report, a new project I'm currently involved with con mi hermano. The line "The angels are god's hit squad" in the poem "Boo Report" comes from Frank Lima's "Scattered Vignettes," a long poem that knocked me on my ass when I first read it. For me, Lima is certainly one of the heroes.

We should be adding more on this site soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thinking about writing a sonnet? Try this.

Finally found a copy of The Smiths Louder than Bombs. I used to have it on vinyl, cd, and cassette. Without it, I've felt like half a person, in a panic, I saw golden lights that oscillated wildly, now it's back to the old house.

Blame that album cover for seducing me into smoking years ago.

Been spending much time listening to Numbers lately.

I like to call people Bill Murray, too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just In!

March 17, 1934 - February 13, 2008

The Red CalacArts Collective, Calaca Press and Red Salmon Arts seek submissions for the

Guerrilla Chapbook

Poetry Contest

As a way to honor the late Xicanindio poet activist the Red CalacArts Collective, Calaca Press (San Diego, Califas) and Red Salmon Arts (Austin, Tejas) have teamed up to create the raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest. The Redz seek material from authors whose poetry best reflects the lifework and interests of raúlrsalinas, including Native and immigrant rights, the Chicano Movement, Black Power, prison struggles, political prisoners, Leonard Peltier, Mumia abu-Jamal, social movements, EZLN, Cuba, independence of Puerto Rico, the Beat writers, and of course jazz, amongst many other issues related to culture, human rights, community empowerment and social justice.

Raul was an inspiration for many. This effort is a way to keep that inspiration alive.

raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest
Submission Guidelines

The raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest seeks work by Chican@, Latin@ and Native poets between the ages of 18-35 who have not graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing, nor are currently enrolled in an MFA program. Poets also must not have a collection of poems published by a small or large press exceeding 64 pages. Self published books, being published in anthologies and/or on the internet is ok. Previously published work will be accepted only if author has full rights to work. Please indicate with submission wether work was previously published.

To enter the raúlrsalinas Guerrilla Chapbook Poetry Contest authors must submit via email the following:

1) Ten poems written in caló, Spanglish, English o en español

2) A short essay describing your community work

3) A short bio in third person

4) Personal info: full name (and pen name if applicable), age, occupation, education, address, phone number, email, and website

Please send as 2 separate Microsoft Word files using Helvetica font size 12. One file with poems and the other with personal info, bio and essay.

Send to:
Deadline: May 1, 2009

Contest results will be publicly announced by the end of June 2009.

The winner will be determined by a three judge panel including:

Louis G. Mendoza, Ph.D. - Editor of raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen
Rene Valdez - Executive Director of Red Salmon Arts


Brent E. Beltrán - Co-owner of Calaca Press and member of the Red CalacArts Collective

The judges will be looking for the following:

1) Well written poems whose themes and subject matter relate to the lifework and interests of raúlrsalinas

2) Creative use of language

3) Your community work

The chapbook will be edited by Cal A. Vera who will have final decision (with input from the author) on title, chapbook contents, layout, and cover art. All ten submitted pieces may or may not be used. The editor may ask for revisions or even for alternative poems prior to publication.

1000 copies of the chapbook will be printed. Winner will receive 100 copies. The chapbook will be approximately 40 pages (give or take four).

Winner must own publication rights to submitted work. Author retains all rights to poems after publication of chapbook.

Depending on budget constraints the contest winner will be flown to, and read at, two chapbook release readings (one in San Diego and the other in Austin) and receive an honorarium of $250 for each. Readings will be scheduled for September 2009.

More about raúlrsalinas and the judges:

raúlrsalinas, the author of the seminal Chicano experience poem, Un Trip Through the Mind Jail, was not only an accomplished poet but a dedicated community activist who gained a political consciousness while serving approximately 13 years inside some of America’s most notorious prisons (Huntsville, Soledad, and Leavenworth among others). While in prison at Marion he was befriended by Puerto Rican Nationalist Rafael Cancel Miranda (famed for an armed assault on congress on March 1, 1954 with fellow Nationalists including Lolita Lebron). Sr. Miranda was a major influence on Raúl’s lifework. Imprisoned during the early Chicano Movement years he was active in the prison rights struggles of that time. His book, raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen: Selected Writings by Raúl Salinas highlights his struggles and victories inside America’s prison system. Including winning a landmark prison rights case. After his release from prison in 1973 he dedicated his life to Chicano and Native American causes. He was a member of the Centro de la Raza in Seattle, the American Indian Movement, a cofounder of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and various other progressive organizations dedicated to defending the rights and interests of all working class and colonized people. A true internationalist he was committed to supporting Puerto Rican independence, the Cuban Revolution, the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, the Zapatistas in Chiapas and the Bolivarian Process of Presidente Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela among many other struggles. After serving many years of forced exile in Washington state (where he helped defend Native American fishing rights), he eventually returned to his home in Austin, TX. Shortly thereafter he opened Resistencia Bookstore and Red Salmon Arts which became a cultural and political hub for East Austin’s Chicano community. Raúl authored four poetry collections Viaje/Trip (Hellcoal Press), East of the Freeway (Red Salmon Press), Un Trip Through The Mind Jail (Arte Público Press) and Indio Trails: A Xicano Odyssey through Indian Country (Wings Press) as well as three spoken word CDs Los Many Mundos of raúlrsalinas: Un Poetic Jazz Viaje con Friends (Calaca Press/Red Salmon Press), Beyond the BEATen Path (Red Salmon Press) and Red Arc: A call for liberation con salsa y cool with Fred Ho (Wings Press).

Louis G. Mendoza, Ph.D. is an associate professor of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include Chicana/o Literary and Cultural studies, U.S. immigration literature, prison literature, and oral histories. Dr. Mendoza is the editor or coeditor of four books including: Telling Tongues: A Latin@ Anthology on Language Experience (Red Salmon Press/Calaca Press, 2006) and raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine: My Weapon is My Pen (University of Texas Press, 2006). He is currently working on two books related to his 2007 Journey Across Our America research project on U.S. Latina/o communities that he conducted while bicycling around the perimeter of the country.

Rene Valdez is the Executive Director of Red Salmon Arts and Resistencia Bookstore in Austin, Tejas. A long time protégé of raúlrsalinas, Mr. Valdez continues the work Raul started at Red Salmon and Resistencia.

Brent E. Beltrán aka Cal A. Vera is a spinal injury surviving, third generation pocho and Chicano Studies community college dropout who dishes out the word from Calacalandia in National City, Califas. Along with his super hero wife Chelo, and fellow Red CalacArts Collective member, he runs the maverick Chican@ publishing house Calaca Press. Lacking two tongues himself he has committed the last 10+ years of his life to publishing rebellious writers whose work dances somewhere between the ever shifting boundaries of Castellano and the King's English. To date he has published/produced work by over 100 different authors and artists

For more information on Red CalacArts, Calaca and Red Salmon:

Calaca Press
Red CalacArts Collective
P.O. Box

National City, Califas 91951
(619) 434-9036 phone/fax

Calaca Press is a Chicano family-owned small publishing house dedicated to publishing and producing unknown, emerging, and established progressive Chicano and Latino voices. With a commitment to social justice and human rights Calaca Press strives to bring about change through the literary arts.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Asobi Seksu - Thursday

I have such a soft spot for this group. M and I are gonna see them next week. I'll be the homeboy with his eyes closed singing a killer falsetto in the front row.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Totally inspired by students (los lopesitos, one young man dubbed them), I want to start watercoloring again! They're currently working on original cover art for their chapbooks that will include their own manifestos and poetry. I'll post some of the manifestos they created for the art/political movements that occurred during and post WWI. As an exercise, they wrote them in about 15 minutes in the manner of Bob Kaufman's "Abomonist Manifesto." Pretty funny and interesting stuff.

Speaking of chapbooks, my new long poem will soon be published as a chapbook, and I'm really excited. It's called:

More details later.


Until next time, it's Saturday and it's time to feel nice and be nice. So WAKE UP and be nice too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ana Castillo at Calacalandia

Ana Castillo was just in town, more specifically, last Thursday at Smith Recital Hall at San Diego State University. She read from her new novel, The Guardians, and spoke at length about topics that ranged from border politics to her creative process. She also led a workshop on the memoir at SDSU on Saturday.

Friday night was beautiful, though. My wife and I attended a small gathering of wonderful people at the home of Calaca Press owners, Brent and Consuelo (Chelo) Beltrán. Ana Castillo was the guest of honor, and in my humble opinion, so were the foods, drinks and sounds of Son Sin Fronteras, better captured here at Ana Castillo's blog. I bought a couple of books and had them signed, one for my sis, Janina, and the other for a student, who will hopefully dig "El chicle" like I first enjoyed it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


My homeboy w/hand grenade, Alejandro Romero, just sent me this link about the new Howl pic in the pipeline(?)

Interesting timing for this news since I'm using Bom Kauf's "Abomunist Manifesto" in the classroom, one that's never worn my cranial guitar.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ursula Rucker: Poet - Official Trailer

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to see and hear and marvel at Ursula Rucker at the Kava Lounge in San Diego. She read with her guitarist and technological wizard on keyboards and drum machine. It was a tight performance in an intimate venue. When she started the set, the crowd was a bit sluggish, but that sluggishness soon vanished as the deep grooves worked their magic on our hips.

Some tracks reminded me of Tricky at his best. I wish I could've captured the night in a vial so that I could let a little out every once and awhile when shit was flat.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I've been using some Tao Lin in the classroom, and my students love his work and love him. They can't get enough.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Griot

Check out beautiful and inspiring vid. featuring Bob Holman at Oscar Bermeo's place.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Nina Simone - Do What You Gotta Do

I absolutely melt every time I hear the opening verse of this song. The phrasing is so, so good. We bought my moms The Complete Recordings for Christmas.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I lost another pair of glasses! My brother suggested these for my next pair.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poetry of the Sneeze: Thomas Merton and Nicanor Parra

* * *
I just read a tender portrait of Bukowski's fateful meeting with his hero, John Fante, in Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook. Of course, Bukowski disguises this literary giant in his piece by using one of his signature acts of deception, his use of the alias, where John Fante becomes John Bante! My favorite, though, has always been Allen Binsberg. Oh, and how can one forget Lawrence Berlingetti. It's been some time since I last purchased some Bukowski y los Bukis. Most of it is his typical posturing, with plenty of shine.

* * *
I'm currently waiting patiently for certain books to be released, one of which is Rebecca Schumejda's Falling Forward. Here's a dynamite poem that will be included, I believe, in her new book.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


If you happen to be in San Diego this weekend, stop by and check out Batwings. Here's my brother's other band, Cub and Pony.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Juan Felipe Herrera is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award!

* * *

Mexicali! Great bands! Here's another one: Maniqui Lazer.

* * *

Speaking of Mexicali, I'd love to get to la Serie del Caribe '09

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thorns of Life - Brooklyn

I managed to catch ex-Jawbreaker frontman Blake S.'s new band, Thorns of Life, last night at Bar Pink Elephant in N. Park.

"Filming punk shows is like dancing to architecture," he added, when someone on stage asked a few in the audience to stop recording the show. Huh?

Good to hear the old voice again.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Here are a few books I'm reading/rereading before my semester begins:

Night Wraps the Sky: Writings and about Mayakovsky, edited by Michael Almereyda
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
Grave of Light, by Alice Notley
Arthur Rimbaud, by Enid Starkie
Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, by Paulo Freire
Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, by Modris Eksteins
Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, by Charles Bukowski
Driving and Drinking, by David Lee

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Remembering Freddie Hubbard.

* * *
I picked up a fantastic anthology that I'll be using with my batch of sophomores this semester called From Totems to Hip-Hop, edited by Ishmael Reed. Here's a little something from Reed's introduction to the anthology, something that struck me: "...They have been confined to an intellectual cave by what William Oandasan called the Ogre with One Eye, the limited vision of American missionary education that's driving blacks and Hispanics from the classroom. Maybe someone will get a grant to study why black and Hispanic students pack the slam poetry events and write hip-hop verse themselves, but doze off in the missionary classroom and receive low scores in reading and writing on the missionary's SAT."

He then goes on to write: "Why can't T.S. Eliot and Tupac Shakur and Bob Holman, all in this anthology, be studied together? They're all homies."

I'm especially interested in this anthology's section entitled "Manifestos," since my students will be writing their own in response to this present [teen]Age of Anxiety. Get it? Pieces by Amy Lowell, Haki Madhubuti, L. Ferlinghetti, Dead Prez, and several others are included.

Because we'll be looking at the first part of the 20th century, both WWs and so forth, one of the suggested readings will be Clifford's Blues by John A. Williams. I mention this here, because I once had the incredible pleasure of hearing John A. Williams read in San Francisco. I remember him sharing his libretto that night; we all listened, and it nearly brought my ass to tears. The look on his face as he listened to the music circulate the room was priceless, as they say--his eyes closed, the gentle smile. What possibilities! I remember thinking to myself.

And who introduced him that night? Yes, it was Ishmael Reed. What an evening!

While flipping through FTTHH, it was also nice to see a poem bien bad-ass by Ernesto Trejo. There's a copy of his Entering a Life at the Imperial Valley College that still bares a slight coffee cup stain from when I foolishly placed my mug near the book's edge. O, but how I loved that book! I'm sure it's forgiven me by now. Fire and water, the book's greatest enemies. Or is it the book burning asshole who drinks water after his sport?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Just returned from New Orleans, and it was fantastic. My wife and I stayed two blocks from the French Quarter and walked and walked and walked, taking it all in, all of it coming back to me. You see, I had the opportunity to blast my horn through the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras when I was in high school. I remember we got my homeboy, P, to buy us all Hurricanes, because he was the tallest and had at least a fighting chance. "Button up your shit to your neck, man," we said, "and look old." Guess it worked, because our legs went noodly on us when we grabbed those things out of his hands and took a couple of small swigs. Needless to say, the effects of those things remain.

I'm really looking forward to this year. There are many, many projects I want to complete. Hmmm, maybe talk about that stuff later.

In other news, it was sad to hear about the passing of one of my favorite horn players, Freddie Hubbard. It especially hurts because I missed the chance to hear him play here not too long ago for his 70th birthday tour. My reason for missing, I don't have one. I fumbled. His work on the fluglehorn is some of my favorite. I'll be posting some vids during the week.
Speaking of which, my wonderful wife bought me Miles Davis' and John Coltrane's: The Complete Columbia Years for Christmas. Sketches of Spain (Okay, and Bitches Brew) is my favorite album, album, but the chance to hear some of the outtakes, with Miles scolding Teo Macero is funny as hell. Wait, I think the scoldings are in the Bitches Brew sessions. It's cool to see how a single tune could undergo so many variations.