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