Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Two Fantastic Poets I Discovered in 2013

Luna Miguel talks lit, life in Madrid, etc.  Read an older interview with Miguel here.



Mira Gonzalez and Black Flag


click the image to visit interview


Just watched Blue in the Face again for some strange, unknown reason.  Maybe because I wanted to hear Lou Reed's fascinating monologues again.  I used to work at a video store and I ate movies up.  Ingested them.  It was during that time that I first watched Blue in the Face.  Not so much anymore, though.    I mean, watching movies, is what I mean.  After Blue in the Face I was curious to see what Paul Auster had to say about Lou Reed's death, so I looked it up and found this interview between the two along the way.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thank you to the editors of VLAK for taking some new poems.

Just reread Rane Arroyo's The Buried Sea and Harryette Mullen's Recyclopedia via my new library card for the new, beautiful San Diego Central Public Library.  Goddamn these books are good.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I can't get this song out of my head.  It's so damn catchy!  Cool band.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Recent Readings for SDSU-Imperial Valley, UC Davis and Humboldt State Students

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to university students at Humboldt University and U.C. Davis.  At H.U. I spoke with Professor and Poet, Barbara Brinson Curiel's Chicana and Chicano Studies class and read at the university's library for a great audience.  The students were brilliant and inspiring.  Many thanks to all who attended.  I must also note that Barbara Brinson Curiel is the winner of the 2012 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, and her collection Mexican Jenny and Other Poems will be out SOON from Anhinga Press.  I'm so excited for her and the collection!

Photos: Barbara Brinson Curiel


On Monday I Skyped with artist, novelist and Professor, Maceo Montoya's Chicana and Chicano Studies class about The Yearning Feed.  The conversation was enlivening, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have engaged with these students.  I hope the exchange was as enjoyable for them as it was for me.  

In both classes, I met students from the Imperial Valley.  Really nice.

And speaking of the Imperial Valley, in November I read at SDSU-IV in Calexico.  I visited Professor Bret Kofford's California History class.  The students rocked and asked several thought-provoking questions. Later that evening I read at the campus' art gallery to an audience that consisted of friends, family, students, and others from the community.  The day was beautiful and it was great to see so many faces I recognized.  



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Death

I just watched the documentary A Band Called Death.  What a story!  I'd heard of the movie, but forgot about it.  Uncompromising.  Ahead of their time.  Super talented musicianship.  Check it out!


Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death.
Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early '70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell...the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.




Monday, November 25, 2013

Rothenberg Reads

David Antin introducing Jerome Rothenberg: DG Wills, La Jolla California
My goodness.  Such history and sustained, vigorous artistic output in the main space at DG Wills on Saturday night (Rothenberg has four just-published books out this year).  David Antin introduced his old friend, Jerome Rothenberg, while the amazing and tough Diane Rothenberg and Eleanor Antin sat in the front row.  It was nice to hear stories about the two couples long history together as told by Rothenberg and Antin, sixty years, if me remembers correctly.



The reading was in support of Rothenberg's giant collection Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader, Edited with Heriberto Yépez.  The reader was published by Black Widow Press, and it features a portion of Goya's Asmodea as the cover art.  It really is a beautiful book.  Selections from Rothenberg's years of producing amazing poetry, translations, and anthologizing world literature is presented in this volume.  If not for Rothenberg's anthologies and translations, who knows if I would have ever had an entry point into the work and/or chants of figures like María Sabina, Léon Damas, among many, many more.  

María Sabina--Mazatec curandera
Léon Damas--One of the founders of the Négritude Movement, poet and politician

Inclusivity is a word that I often hear or read regarding Rothenberg's work.  The idea of enthopoetics, and the act of forging into the luster of deep culture, as he calls it, I can dig it.  

J. Rothenberg--BTW: the bag of chips didn't belong to him.

Following the reading, I began fingering through Eye of Witness at home, as well as pulling up old footage of Rothenberg readings and interviews on my laptop.  A piece that struck me can be found on the LINEbreak program.  It's from "The Horse Songs of Frank Mitchell."  In it, Rothenberg performs a 'total translation' of a Navaho horse blessing.  In the same episode, Rothenberg answers Charles Bernstein's questions about those who might criticize 'the outsider' who is perceived as infiltrating cultural artifact.

 


In closing, I wish there were more younger people in the audience that night.  An oral history was on display that evening that could have been tapped with deep and hungry questions.

Upon having my copy of Eye of Witness signed:

Me: muchísimas gracias, Mr. Rothenberg.
Rothenberg: de nada.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wanda Coleman RIP




Mercurochrome is a book that I return to ever so often.  To see Wanda Coleman and Austin Straus read and perform together a couple of years ago at the San Diego City College International Book Fair was a undoubtedly a highlight for me.   Damn.

Junot Díaz at Chicago Humanities Festival

Jerome Rothenberg

Jerome Rothenberg at the Kelly Writers House, April 29, 2008
I'm looking forward to tonight's reading and presentation by the incomparable Jerome Rothenberg at DG Wills bookstore at 7pm.  He will be introduced by David Antin.  Are you kidding me?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Vermin on the Mount reading was so much fun on Sunday.  I was blown away by the authors and their readings.  O, goodness.  Jim Ruland, the architect behind the reading series is amazing.  Check out this recent write up in the L.A. Weekly.

I also want to thank, Bret Kofford, and his class at SDSU-Calexico for inviting me to read and chat this Monday.  It was a great time, and I absolutely enjoyed the conversation that ensued after the reading.  That same evening I read at the campus gallery.  Lots of friends and family in attendance.  Cool day!

Wednesday was another special night when I had the chance to see and listen to Dr. Ofelia Zepeda at SDSU Main Campus.  I bought her Where Clouds Are Formed and got the signature--yes!  Many of the poems she read that night dealt with the forming of words, I noticed, the breathing in and out, the push of sound from the mouth, the subtle formations of meaning.  As a professor of linguistics, this makes sense, no?



I'm listening to the Vivian Girls right now.  And the Hot Snakes (it's a shuffle)!  And the Vaselines, now--

Absolutely loving Helene Cixous' Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing.  Also loving Calvino's Cosmicomics.  Wept twice, and nearly a third because of imagination soaring in these pages.  Wow, says I.  Where am I now, says I.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I have a black and white flying V guitar that I need to repair.
I have a black and white flying V guitar that is in total disrepair.
Although my black and white flying V guitar is in total disrepair,
it is not allowed to wear yoga pants nor spandex underwear.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three recent losses that have affected me psychically--though through their respective works they will live forever:

RIP
José Montoya
Frank Lima
Lou Reed

¡Presente!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Huizache

Got home today to find the new issue of Huizache at my doorstep.  The third of the first three issues--absolutely beautiful.  The new issue features the artwork of Gronk.  The previous issue's cover art starred Patssi Valdez.  And the inaugural issue, the artwork of César A. Martinez.  Gorgeous.

And the writers, brothers and sisters, the writing.  Visit the website to see writers who have contributed and the submission guidelines.  

Dagoberto Gilb talks to the L.A. Times about Huizache here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vermin on the Mount Reading





I'm excited to be one of the readers participating in the Vermin on the Mount series at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Sunday, November 10th.  Big thank you to author Jim Ruland for the opportunity.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

San Francisco Lit Crawl Reading

L-R Me, Leticia Hernández-Linares, Deborah Paredez, Oscar Bermeo,
Laurie Ann Guerrero,  Juan Luis Guzmán
The October 19th reading in San Francisco, more specifically, at the Mission Cultural Center was a blast.  Leticia did an amazing job MC'ing that night, in addition to contributing beautiful song and poetry that filled up the room.  Deborah Paredez, one of the co-founders of CantoMundo, was present and also contributed amazing work.  Oscar Bermeo read from his slick work that always excites me to try new forms in my own stuff.  Laurie Ann read from her new book, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, as well as a new piece straight out of her journal.  And Juan Luis Guzmán read fantastic work from two manuscripts that I can't wait to get my eyes on.  I also want to share here an article that recently featured Juan Luis in its pages.  Be sure to read it here (pp. 84-86)!  The Fresno school continues!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Waltz #2 (XO),” the third song on XO (1998), is Elliott Smith’s certain masterpiece. It’s got a roadhouse, Wild West, player-piano feel to it. And the tune, with its staccato ¾ beat, takes Smith back to Cedar Hill, the suburbs of Texas with his mother, Bunny, and stepfather, Charlie. There’s love in “Waltz #2 (XO),” but a deeper impulse is anger, aimed squarely at Charlie. Brilliantly laid out in metaphorical cloakings, the song’s a secret life history, summarizing Elliott’s feelings about the Cedar Hill atmosphere and the intricacies of his relationship with mother and stepfather. He was always exceptionally worried about the possible hurtfulness of his lyrics. The thought that they might cause harm pained him. So a habit was established according to which he’d begin songs directly, explicitly autobiographically, then revise away from fact toward vagueness and abstraction. Choice specifics grounded the song, but meanings trailed off into obscurity. Emotionally, it was an elision of the personal—there but camouflaged—a self-erasure. He was in the songs, they were him, it was his personal past reconsidered, the sum total of who he was, but they were more too, a mix of voices, first, second, and third person, all getting a word in, all with something crucial to say. “XO,” as Smith told an interviewer in 1998, means “hugs and kisses,” the sort of thing people throw in at the end of letters. A more arcane, connotative meaning was “fuck off.” “But that’s a really rare meaning I didn’t know about,” Elliott explains, apparently sincerely.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

CantoMundo Reading at Lit Crawl SF


Looking forward to this Saturday (10/19) in San Francisco.  Reading at the Mission Cultural Center for Arts as part of the San Francisco Lit Crawl.  Going to be reading with the CantoMundo familia.  Can't wait to see other readings as well.  If you're in the area, drop in!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I've been reading John Wieners over the last couple of days, more specifically, his Selected Poems 1958-1984.  The poem that always moves me is "Mother," which is below, from his book Ace of Pentacles (1964).  The distance and tenderness, the loneliness, love and heartache.  I've also been reading Will Alexander's book Compression & Purity.  His "My Interior Vita" is incredible.


Mother



talking to strange men on the subway,

doesn't see me when she gets on,


           at Washington Street
but I hide in a booth at the side


       and watch her worried, strained face --
  the few years she has got left.
     Until at South Station


    I lean over and say:
  I've been watching you since you got on.
       She says in an artificial
          voice: Oh, for Heaven's sake!


    as if heaven cared.


But I love her in the underground
      and her gray coat and hair
sitting there, one man over from me
      talking together between the wire grates of a cage.

 

John Wieners (1934-2002): My Mother, from The Ages of Youth in Ace of Pentacles (1964)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Big thanks to Professor Virginia Escalante for providing me with the opportunity to read at the San Diego City College International Book Fair.  The room was packed, diverse and energetic!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thanks!

Big thanks to City Beat and author Jim Ruland for this week's article mentioning The Yearning Feed and the San Diego City College Book Fair reading!  Very cool.

Much Anticipated

Saturday, September 21, 2013

SJH

The incomparable Screamin Jay Hawkins! The sax is nasty.

Eighth Annual San DIego City College Book Fair

I am excited to be participating in the Eighth Annual San Diego City College International Book Fair on Thursday, October 3rd.  For details for the event, visit the fair calendar here.  Spread the word.  One week of lots of events for everyone!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Eagle Has Landed

What a way to start the three-day weekend.  On my front porch last night was the box containing my new book The Yearning Feed.  Thanks to all who helped me along the way, and thanks especially to Laura Sue for allowing me to use the adorable sheep with the withering Miles Davis-like stare for the cover.  And thanks again especially to Joyelle McSweeney and Orlando Menes for choosing the manuscript!

The book's available for purchase at University of Notre Dame Press
and Amazon and Powell's



Saturday, August 17, 2013

Deafheaven is making its way toward San Diego.  I'd like to catch them on the 22nd.  I need some black gloves, though, to throw up my horns.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Reinaldo Arenas

I recently found the following title by Reinaldo Arenas at a used bookstore for a buck.  A writer for The New York Times Book Review once stated: "Arenas works in the sardonic nightmare tradition of Quevedo and Goya."

A random passage in El Central reads (Tr. by Anthony Kerrigan): "To speak of History is to speak of our own dung piled up in a variety of latrines."  

And another quote: "Beautiful is the figure of the naked indian...in the longed for land of my dreams."









Check out this beautiful tune used in the movie directed by Julian Schnabel about Reinaldo Arenas called Before Night Falls:


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Picasso's Guernica


While everyone was occupied with the Dalí: All of the Poetic Suggestions and All of the Plastic Possibilities exhibit on a different floor at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, my wife and I stood alone in front of Picasso's "Guernica" for what felt like ten solid minutes.  Two guards flanked each side of the iconic painting, of course, but we had it for ourselves for a good chunk of time before the mob eventually arrived.  Needless to say, the experience was incredible and will live with me for as long as I can conjure up memories.  

It didn't take long standing there before my mind returned to Eduardo Galeano's piece called "Guernica" from his book Mirrors, a tale that is as relevant today as ever.  Read or re-read it here in Spanish and/or here in English.  When considering the tragedy of Guernica, one must also think about Fernando Arrabal's play of the same name about a Basque couple caught in the air raids.  Absurd and funny even, but it makes a vicious criticism on the war machine and its conspirators, and the tragedy they inflict on the innocent.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I was recently invited to a Halloween party with the clear and stern stipulation: "No costume.  No entry."  One of my best friends just moved into his new place and wants to host the party this year.  So here I am, I have nearly three months to beat my brain for the perfect costume.  I've never been good at putting together clever costumes.  I've always envied the those who arrive to the party with costumes that have everyone laughing, touching (what's it made out of?), or cringing with fear or disgust.  

"Hey man, did you rent your costume?  It looks professional."  

"No I sewed it myself."  

"No way.  You're a genius!  I can't wait to see what you make next year.  Let me hug you--you're awesome.  The allusion your work is making is so esoteric but yet so pop-y."

And this is where I roll my eyes, mumbling: "you think you're so cool with your cool fabrics and protruding appendages and fully functional touch-screen chest monitor.  Whatever."

Every year I tell myself this will be the year you win "most original costume."  But every year I fail miserably, resorting to wearing a silly wig or sporting a fading tuxedo t-shirt or painting half my face one color and the other half another color that draws obvious metaphors.  Last year I wanted to be this but the glue burned my skin and I nearly had to spend the night in the emergency room.  Kidding.  So what will it be? to paraphrase Hamlet.  How shall I rise like the phoenix to join the celebrated annals of Halloween costume revelry?  

Let the countdown begin.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dinner with Henry Miller (1979)

Questionable Italian dishes, wine, and an engaging bio of Miller's hero, Blaise Cendrars.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

5 Entries

I'm nearly finished re-reading Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper.  I might be using it in the classroom this semester.  It's great to revisit the cast of characters who rise together to protect El Monte, California from the omniscient Saturn.  Characters like Federico de La Fe, Little Merced, Froggy, Baby Nostradamus, and others.  The characters are memorable, each for the most part, wrestling with sadness or loss in some way.  If you'd like to read a summary of the novel, go here.  In light of the recent NSA scandal, the all-knowing Saturn in the novel has taken on a different meaning for me as a reader and a citizen.  As EMF (El Monte Flores) struggles to regain its autonomy or self-determination from Saturn, members of the crew protect themselves by shielding their homes with lead walls or learning to mask their thoughts in order to thwart Saturn's mission for total control.  They also use other ingenious ways to disguise their livelihoods from the eye in the sky.  It's all out war in El Monte, and the people with flowers in their hands are making headway!  


In my new book The Yearning Feed, I include a quote from Bernadette Mayer's Midwinter Day to open the collection.  Midwinter Day was instrumental in providing me with a process for a longer collage poem I put together in the book called "The Xoco Letters."  Midwinter Day is a book-length poem in six parts that takes the reader through an entire day, including dreams and the act of emerging from them.  Pretty cool, que no?  I read somewhere that Bernadette Mayer rehearsed for the project by sketching through shorter periods of time to exercise the mind to better capture the different levels of consciousness we operate with on a daily basis.  Totally different in subject matter, "The Xoco Letters" is about the U.S./Mexico border and the dangers the desert poses for the clandestine, in addition to the waterways such as the New River and the All-American canal that have claimed the lives of some of those attempting to enter this country from across the southern border.  The New River continues to be an open sore for the Mexicali and Imperial County region though there have been significant moves to alleviate the environmental dangers of the notorious New River on both sides of the border.   Numerous talks and tours by various environmental agencies, governmental promises, etc. have been issued throughout the years, but it continues to flow and empty its chemicals and pathogens into the Salton Sea.  Locally, the people have fought hard to address the issue, organizing cleanups and soliciting larger agencies for support, and with the relatively new New River Wetlands Project, the toxicity of the river seems to be decreasing.  I was also happy to read about California's AB 407 via the Imperial Valley Press:

"AB 407 passed the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials on a vote of 6-    
0. AB 407 entails the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) to establish and administer the “New River Watershed Water Quality, Public Health, and River Parkway Development Program” to coordinate the funding and implementation of the recommendations from the New River Improvement Project Strategic Plan."

There have also been significant efforts to educate children about the matter, offering school tours to visit the New River Wetlands Project.  I have a strong feeling that a group of brilliant scientists and civic leaders will emerge from this next generation of Imperial Valley students who will ultimately solve the problem that this river poses with their beautiful minds and commitment to the environment and human rights--building on, of course, what has already been established by the warriors in the Valley currently fighting the good fight.

Some of the most impactful images I have seen in my life are of people floating down the New River in hopes to enter the country from Mexico, knowing what that river contains and the health risks associated with it.


Back to Bernadette Mayer: here's a Bernadette Mayer poem called "The Tragic Condition of the Statue of Liberty."  And here's an interesting roundtable discussion about the poem including Anne Waldman, Julia Bloch, Katie Price, hosted by Al Filreis.


I've also been reading Guillermo Gomez-Pena's Warrior for Gringostroika.  The energy and scope of his writings (I've never seen his performances en vivo) always excite me



Finally, a great place to read about latin@ literature is at The Hispanic Reader.  I totally want to read Patricia Engel's and Tim Z. Hernandez's new books.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

California Poet Laureate


Pretty cool interview and DJ visit at NPR with Juan Felipe Herrera.  The first tune he shares is "Incident at Neshabur" off of Santana's classic Abraxas.  I used to pull this album out of my parents' vinyl collection and spin it on the turn table round 'n round.  The beautiful "Samba Pa Ti" was my parents wedding song.  We used the tune in a beautiful slide show last year to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.  Gotta admit, I got choked up.  I got choked up, I gotta admit.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters


Just found this gem over at UbuWeb.  It's Jayne Cortez and the Firespitters.  Track 4 includes Ornette Coleman.  Amazing compositions!  O holy chills!  Damn!  Every marching band in the U.S. should learn the title track and play it at once.  To think this album is nearly 25 years old--it sounds so fresh.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Amaldóvar and Me


I'm really excited to watch Pedro Amaldóvar's new film Los Amantes Pasajeros.  I want to hit it either tonight or tomorrow before it moves on to different formats.  In preparation, I've been revisiting some of his older movies and watching those I've never seen.  For example, yesterday I watched Entre Tinieblas (Dark Habits).  To quickly sum up the picture, it features a near all-female cast.  It's about a cabaret singer whose on the run and finds refuge at a convent managed by eccentric nuns--very eccentric nuns!  A drama that utilizes dark and bawdy comedic elements (the type of stuff I love!) pushes this film forward, always surprising and knock-you-off-your-seat funny.  As in many of Amaldóvar's movies there are literary references and writers who are faced with a dilemma.  There are allusions to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and chistes directed at the 'holier than thou' literary canon.  I loved this movie.  Looking back--it was produced in 1983--it was a wonderful point of not necessarily departure, but it marked the possibility for new directions in the director's arsenal.  


Quick connection: my wife and I just returned from Madrid, and my lungs are still pumping Spanish air.  Goya, Goya, Goya, a voice bellows in my sleep.  A beautiful, beautiful time.  After a long day at the museum, we decided to drop into a tapas restaurant in Chueca.  A small, family-owned restaurant operating since 1966.  As we waited to be seated, I looked around the entrance and found a picture of Pedro Amaldóvar.  It was an article cut out from El Pais, explaining his fondness for the place. "What the &#$#?"  "What's wrong," Mandie asked.  "[mumble, mumble, grunt, pointing at the article (my wife understands this)]"   It turns out it's a place he likes to stop by when he's itching for tapas.  Actually, it's a place that he adores, and after eating there, I can see why.  It's short money--considering--and the food and environment is great.  I looked around the place, nervously hoping to catch a glimpse of the director, but he wasn't there.  One reason might be that it was ridiculously early to be eating dinner--it was 845pm.  If he was there, would I even approach him?  What would I say?  Or would I just stare creepily across the restaurant, my eyeballs peeking over a menu, waiting for him to pull out a notebook from his breast pocket to jot down some notes for his next film?  I'm really not good with that kind of stuff.

I mention this incident because it's one event in a chain of events pointing at the work of Pedro Amaldóvar.  There's a word for this I can't think of now, but I'll just use the word 'coincidence.'  These coincidence's happen infrequently but they do happen, and what I've realized is that I usually need to pay closer attention to the subject at hand.  Something's telling me something: "Study Amaldóvar's work more closely, you lazy %$@#$#@%. Study Amaldóvar's work more closely.  Don't just sit watching passively.  Don't multi-task.  What can it offer you and your work?  How did Amaldóvar critique this or that (read allegory and satire), how does he use humor, how does he rear back and deliver the gut punch, how does he introduce the extraordinary, how does he use color, etc."  Reader, you must imagine this recited in the voice of Hamlet's deceased father.  It's important, I believe, to take advantage of this synchronicity (not the word I was thinking of).  I don't know how, but as I mentioned earlier, it's advantageous to tune the senses a little more acutely.

From what I've observed, the reviews for Amadóvar's new movie have been mixed.  Some have told me it's a commentary on Spain's current economic crisis, but I have no idea what to expect.  All I know  is that I'll be there with a well-salted and buttery tapa, a bag of popcorn.  As for the crisis in Spain, protests are in the streets.  I read the spray-painted phrase "Eat the rich!" more than once on a few buildings around the city.

*     *     *

I'm listening to Nas' "Nasty" as I write this.  I can't sit still.  

*     *     * 

Watched Mexico versus Panama yesterday in the Copa de Oro tournament.  Que lástima.  They're skidding out of control.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Karen Dalton

I thought I'd post a song this evening by the truly gifted, Karen Dalton.


Here's a little backstory on Karen Dalton with some tunes on Red Essay:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

P.S.

Finally read CD Wright's One Big Self.  My goodness.  It was such an experience.  I'd like to write about it at a later time.

Stuff

I've been listening to Deafheaven's new album Sunbather.  Epic compositions with exceptional production.  This album references some of the great stuff that came out of the early 2000s.  Beautiful melodies drenched in distortion, screams, lulls, etc.  I like to take this album along on bike rides around the neighborhood.  I'm not entirely certain how I feel about the album yet.  It's been hella warm outside lately, but it's easy to forget about that when the flashes of beauty rise triumphantly from the chaos.

Also been listening to Retox, too.  And Kanye.  And Parts and Labor.  And Bob Marley.  And early Slayer.  And Chalino Sanchez.  And Nina Simone.

Tao Lin's new book, Taipei, was written up in the Los Angeles Times recently.  I haven't read it yet-the book that is-but do intend to get to it soon.  I've posted my feelings regarding Lin's work here on occasion and continue to suggest his books to friends and acquaintances, especially his early poetry, like you are a little bit happier than i am.  This guy has inspired a generation of imitators and will continue to do so for years to come.  Lots of folks have beef with this and to them I say 'eat your beef.'

I'm dreaming of long walks in distant cities.

Or long bike rides on distant bike baths.  I don't know how many more miles my beach cruiser has in its lifespan, but it's been a great companion over the 10+ years we've ridden together.  From the bike rides to the various AM/PM's in El Centro to the nasty spill I took a couple of summers ago on University Avenue in Hillcrest.  Packages, books, and food flew out of the basket on my handlebars (yes, I have a basket)--I was the yard sale of yard sales that day.

 Aqui está el Rocinante con mi esposa's fantastic steed, Artax, The Immortal
Wrote 3 new prose poems over the last couple of days.  Some would argue that's all I write.  Some would argue that I don't write prose poems, because I write 'pose' poems.  To those austere individuals, I say: 'come 'ere, someone needs a tickle.'  Actually, they might be right.  But who cares, I'll build my castle out of gelatinous cubes of fun, but not always, not always, that can be counted on.

Gearing up to read Evan Lavender-Smith's Avatar.  It's on deck with the pine tar in hand, gauging the velocity of the change up, slider and two-seam fastball that runs inside to the right-handed hitter.  Saw him this spring at UCSD.  Great stuff.

Speaking of which, c'mon Padres, you can do it man!

New Book

México, DF. Las voces de 25 jóvenes inmigrantes “involuntariamente” indocumentados –que llegaron antes de los 16 años de edad a Estados Unidos, por decisión de sus familias– son los protagonistas del libroDreamers, el primer libro de la periodista mexicana Eileen Truax.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CocoRosie

"Do you have love for humankind?"  Although I'm an information junkie, I'm seriously thinking about shutting down the news feeds for an undetermined period this summer.  I really believe that the horrible migraine I suffered two days ago was a result of the onslaught of horrific news we've been processing over the last few weeks.  My dreams have even been infected.  I must find equilibrium in art and kind relationships this summer (and always, que no?).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

Laurie Ann Guerrero
Laurie Ann Guerrero discusses her new book A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, winner of the 2012 Andres Montoya Poetry Prize on Words on a Wire with Daniel Chacon and Benjamin Alire Saenz.  The trio also discusses Canto Mundo, which happens to be occurring this weekend in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cruisin'

Well hold on there!  What's this?  I completely forgot about this tune until it showed its mug on the iPod shuffle during a pleasant bike ride on my rusty, crusty beach cruiser.  Damn you gotta love these lyrics.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Puerto del Sol Issue Out Now

Puerto del Sol 48:2
Thanks to the editors and staff at PUERTO DEL SOL for accepting one of my poems for publication in the new issue.  It looks great, and I can't wait to read it.

The cover art by Rachel B. Glaser is so rad.  It's called Aaron Rodgers.

Monday, June 10, 2013

La Nueva Canción


I'm a bit late on this one, but I finally watched Violeta se fue a los cielos last night with a couple of friends, and I was completely torn, dizzied, psychically disoriented, but enamored with Parra's work all over again.  The film is not a chronological study of Parra's life but a complex thread that moves in all directions, summoning memory, myth, heartbreak and fisted love all at once.  For me, her music's power is the ocean depth of her lyrics, her incredible phrasing, and her commitment to activism, although her politics were not touched much at all in the film.  Many will disagree, undoubtedly, but this is what I observed.  

Haunting.  Beautiful.  Necessary.

I want to watch Violeta again before it drifts away toward another place.


from Violeta se fue a los cielos












Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Beat Hotel

A few days ago a good friend of mine called early in the morning to tell me that he saw me in a documentary called The Beat Hotel.  What?  The Beat Hotel?  I watched it a few months before and noticed nothing.  You joking, I said.  Imagine how I felt, he said, I was watching the documentary late at night when all of a sudden I see your big-ass head on the screen.  I jumped out of bed, he continued, to rewind the film in order to take a closer look.  Yeah, he said, you're sitting at a table near the Shakespeare & Company Bookstore entrance.  

That's when it all came back to me.  A few summers ago my wife and I were visiting Paris and of course I had to stop by the famous bookstore.  I remember obsessing over Jack Hirschman's The Arcanes printed by an Italian publisher.  I wanted it so bad but the price was a little too high for me at the time.  While there I maneuvered around a film crew but didn't think much of it.  A man was leading them through the store discussing something or another.  I never heard the word Beat.  I sat at a table and fingered through a copy of Le Monde which was addressed to George Whitman and enjoyed the rest of the beautiful day with my wife.  

It turns out that the film crew was there to interview Sylvia Whitman and to look around the shop to discuss its place in Beat history.  A place where Corso, Ginsberg and the others dropped in to feed on books.  Funny as hell to think that I somehow fell into this universe.  The shot is brief, probably not even a millisecond, but it's there in the film and will remain so.  

Below is a still from The Beat Hotel shot on my homeboy's cell phone off his tv.  Hilarious. 





Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mayakovsky at the Museum of Photographic Arts


Look who I found at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.  Seeing Maya at the museum was a funny surprise.  I wish I had taken a better picture though.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thurston Moore's new band, Chelsea Light Moving, referencing O'Hara and Burroughs.  I read recently some of their new material includes verses by John Donne.






Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring time and all



Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds new album is on heavy rotation.  Seems a little short, but maybe it's because I want it to continue.

I'm also happy to share that I just finished Luivette Resto's Ascension, recently published by Tia Chucha Press.  The poems both sizzle and lure the reader toward quiet, and often times, not-so-quiet contemplation, as one tightens fists, laughs, or retreats toward the back room of solitude.  Among my favorites in this dynamic collection are "Unapologetic," "Sonnet for Our Lexicon," "Confessions of a Love Poem," "The Pendeja Syndrome," and the 5 page "Letters to a Young Latina Poet."  Luivette is a great reader of her work, and if she's ever at a venue near you, be sure to stop by. 





Sheryl Luna's Seven was just released by 3: A Taos Press.  Sheryl's previous collection, Pity the Drowned Horses, is phenomenal, a book I return to often. I can't wait to get my hands on her new one.










In today's LA Times, an article by Reed Johnson discusses LACMA's 'Asco' show at Mexico City museum.  Check out cool goods at Harry Gamboa's blog.

I've still been listening to Youth Lagoon's latest.  Damn, I wish I wrote this...


and this...


Saturday, March 30, 2013


We all love Nicanor Parra. He’s now 94 years old and a resounding consensus as to the nature of his writing is growing. This is good news. Parra is one of the greatest living poets and his work is not poetry but antipoesía: a sustained attempt to debunk what we understand as poetry. Antipoetry interprets something never before expressed regarding our life and world, something that profoundly bounds poetry to life. That’s the way it is, and yet, there’s something disturbing, something that doesn’t quite fit together. I am referring to a Gordian knot underlying his antipoetry that obstinately opposes institutionalization. Skeptics attribute a premature rigor mortis to Parra’s project, deeming it impossible to fully acknowledge antipoetry’s implicit subversion and demolishing force without first turning it into a stuffed animal. This is the exaltation and burial: on the one hand, readers admire antipoetry. On the other, they deny it by converting the most revolutionary vision of poetry in Spanish of our time into something neither more nor less acceptable than what could be the inopportune laugh of a student during mass. If it were just this, there’d be no problem, except for the fact that the church that this student goes to is horrifying. This student is a victim of sexual abuse and for some time now we’ve known that mass is a bloody ritual. Antipoetry shows us this brutal scenario.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ángel F. Sandoval's Shades of Brown


Poeta, Ángel F. Sandoval
I am excited to share Ángel F. Sandoval's collection, Shades of Brown (click this link to travel to the work), featured now at UC Merced's alternaCtive publicaCations.  AlternaCtive publiaCations, publisher Dr. Manuel M.Martín-Rodriguez, is dedicated to posting unpublished creative works, primarily by Latino and Latina authors.

I met Ángel a few years ago while doing a reading at San Diego State University.  He was in SDSU's MFA program at the time.  After the reading he came up and shared with me that he was also from the Imperial Valley, Brawley, to be exact.  We exchanged some quick stories and have remained in touch ever since, even reading together on a few occasions which has always been an inspiring experience.

Ángel's work is energetic and full of Chican@ love.  His words grip the page like tightened fists then explode into a confetti rainfall as your eyes pass them by.  This collection is special to me because I recognize nearly all of the sites this poet recalls, the big aroma, the blasting sun, the wide and infinite fields, and of course, the beautiful people del Valle Imperial.


El Barrio on the North End

On the east side of that barrio was the cemetery,
and on the west the city dump. And fallow fields
or plots of gone-bad onions took up the open space. 

That barrio was enclosed by deep dirt ditches
and dried up concrete canals working a whole lifetime, 

harvesting la perennial pisca de plastico...but also
           the three-year-old’s shoe clinging on to the steep bank,
                        the piece of shirt collar\\\caught on the floodgate blade.


           I remember the war we waged on
the rattlesnake we jumped and skinned and hanged

           on a low tree limb for all to see 
                       how cold-blooded we felt.
A hummingbird thirstily drank from the naked flesh.
ElGato limped over and slashed\\\off the long rattle—
the blood and venom joined the other spots on the sidewalk. 

DonTémoc, el escribano y cuentista, came out with his cane, 
shaking his head as always, and took down the flayed body.

             Two surcos slithered and cut\\\between apartment buildings. 
We played tackle football in the trenches
—sloshing through backwater—
as the older vatos watched on.

They scouted talent amid the muck and grime. 
Y ya traían bronca
             from home school hace un chingo
and they’d argue with fileros or lechugueros in hand; 
ready to protect their reps,
ready to recall all the rage and hate in their hearts 

and pour it down the guts of the twin gutters.