Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chicano Park and the Restoration Project

This Tuesday I had the good fortune to watch a bit of the Chicano Park Park Mural Restoration project. There I met up with novelist and artist, Maceo Montoya. You can see him working hard with his cousin Tomás Montoya on restoring the great, José Montoya's mural seen below. Maceo kindly introduced me to master muralists Esteban Villa and José Montoya. It was something to see José Montoya observe the progress on his mural. I chatted with Mr. Villa for some time and received an invaluable education on topics that ranged from life in the classroom to the beginnings of the Royal Chicano Air Force. 40 years of history that afternoon!

The restoration project will continue, so if you want to observe some of it, drop by and watch.

("Libertad" mural by Esteban Villa)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Things to Do On My Birthday Week

1. Check out the Asco retrospective and get completely excited. Scroll down and watch the Willie Herrón video. His voice sounds like someone I know, but I just can't place it yet. I am now closing my eyes and listening, though the person still does not come to me. As my homeboy, Alex, would say: mmmmmmmmmmmm.

2. Check out Ambrose Akinmusire play Miles Davis. I've written about him before--his work is amazing, and I can't wait to hear his Miles interpretations.

3. Buy new Rigoberto Gonzalez poetry collection Black Blossoms.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I heard this old classic today on the radio during our short road trip. O, how I used to feel so tragic. The Wedding Presents' Sea Monsters still sounds so current to me despite its 20 yr+ age.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Raul Zurita at UCSD

It was only by chance that I read about the reading in the local weekly. It happened while waiting for an appointment, the uneventful type that simply allows us to remain in good standing with convenience.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear, meet and survive for days on end on the echoed verses of the great, Chilean poeta, Raul Zurita. This reading, sponsored by UCSD's New Writers Series, took place on campus at the Visual Arts Facility, a black box of a venue, that added further to the haunting atmosphere that Zurita's mutli-voiced poetry evokes. On location, was a representative of Action Books, who recently (2010)published a bilingual version of Zurita's Canto A Su Amor Desaparecido, originally published by Editorial Universitaria (Santiago, Chile, 1985). Poet, Daniel Borzutzky, translated the latest edition.

The reading began with Zurita reading from Purgatorio, with guest readers contributing English versions in tandem. The result of this reading was theatrical, chamber-like, two voices, two languages, exorcising the effects of Pinochet-era Chile.

Someone in the audience commented on Raul Zurita's frequent use of Chile's natural landscapes, most famously, the Atacama desert. In response, he stated, though much more vividly and eloquently, that because people were so brutally disposed of during this tragic era in Chile's history by using secret, though many times not-so-secret methods, Chile's natural geography was often the last living body to offer any compassion to these victims.

After the reading, I asked The Poet to sign my copy of Canto A Su Amor Desparecido. He did, graciously. "De donde eres?" he asked, our hands in a slowly-loosening handshake. " El Centro," I answered. "Ahhhhh..." he responded. Something in his face, in his expression, seemed strangely recognizable.

Zurita's Purgatorio is an important book to me for many reasons. For it is a document of witness, participant, memory, flesh, trauma, warning, triumph, in addition to so much more. To me, the work's beauty lies in the unflinching eye, the ineffable courage to strike back at the madness with verse.

Zurita His name, too, sky-written among the clouds.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Post Book Fair Panel Sentimientos

I want to drop a big thank you to Virginia Escalante, professor and director of the San Diego City College International Book Fair. The event was marvelous. To see Wanda Coleman, Austin Straus, and Luis Rodriguez consecutively on Sat. was some cool hours spent. I also want to thank Angel Sandoval, currently a San Diego State University MFA candidate, for organizing the panel, and for delivering an awesome reading and presentation. As a fellow Imperial Valleyite, I am very proud of the work he's doing. It was also great to read with Manuel Velez, a poet and professor whose collection Bus Stop and Other Poems, has been a book that I've periodically returned to/to see how it's done.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Omar Salinas reads from his Crazy gypsy poems, 1973
I will be on a panel alongside poetas Manuel J. Velez and Angel Sandoval at the San Diego City College International Book Fair on Thursday. Come join us!