Friday, August 7, 2015

Youth Poets

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet a group of youth from the South West Youth and Family Services Young Writer's Workshop. I was invited to chat with them about writing and to read some of my work. Every summer they gather to to express the Word -- what is true and beautiful and hard in their lives. The Boot is where their poems are published.

They will celebrate the release of The Boot on August 12th, 2015 at 5:30 in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center's auditorium in West Seattle. AND, this year The Boot returns to its original print format. Don't miss their performance and get a hold of that chapbook - It is worth every line!

Here is the one of the poems I read for them:

On my way to the Castle

Twice a day
This walk
Past empty corner lots
Liquor stores
Boarded up buildings
Prayer Mission Pentecostal Church
Retired condoms
Stuck in gutters
Lotto tickets littering sidewalks
The reek of despair
From seedy motel rooms
The color TVs can’t hide the stench
Praise Fellowship Christian Church
Twice a day
This walk
Past sullen faces with hawk eyes
Flimsy bodies inside loose garments
Boys, their wings of love lost long ago
Now turned into vermin spirits
Feasting on decay
Center of Hope Community Church
If a soul needs
Or if the weight of things
Becomes unbearable 
Comes in many colors and languages
On Macarthur Boulevard
Available at each block
Between 72thh and 86th streets
Centro Evangelista Bethel
Todos los días
A lump in your throat
Reliving your little brother’s asthma attack
The rape of your 20 year old aunt
The day before
The robbery at gunpoint of your best friend
 Al Islam Community Education Center
At the end of the road
Is a school
It once looked like a medieval
Castle high on a mount
Surrounded by lawn and roses.
Now black spears
Surround its tower
The moat long and narrow
Love Involvement Fellowship Education
This walk
Every day
How to think about factoring integers?
What about the causes of World War I?
Crafting a thesis statement?
All elemental truths
Like the mattress
With guts spilled out
In the middle of the sidewalk
Or the apartment windows
Dressed with stained sheets
Tied at the corners
                  Greater Life Community Outreach Christian Church
Walk and think
How to make yourself invisible
In each one of your classes
Hide your body neatly
Behind the head in front
When the teacher
Calls on you
The lump in your throat throbs
The worms 
Too many to hold back
Can come flying out
Spill out onto the desk
Crawl their hideous crawl 
Vision Ministries
But you are too kind
You spare your classmates the horror
And look back with an empty stare
Smile politely,
Hopefully, earn a pass
You ask yourself
Does anyone ever vomit
Whose wings lift
The grayness of things?

Originally published in Milvia Street  2010

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer of Writing

With Luis Alberto Urrea
It started in Truchas, New Mexico with an inspiring three-day long conversation about poetry, readings and sharing with Ilya Kaminsky, Veronica Golos and Jeffrey Levine and poets from Boston, to Los Angeles, Washington to Louisiana.

Then off to Squamish, BC for a week at Quest Writer's Conference with Gregory Orr, Joy Harjo, Alicia Ostriker, Oliver de la Paz and Rebecca Brown. Re-connected with a VONA (Voices of Our Nation) sister and met a cohort of super talented, accomplished writers from Canada and the US.

Port Townsend, WA was my next stop - a week in a gorgeous location in a memoir workshop with the fabulous Wendy Call sharing space and soaking up readings by Luis Alberto Urea, Joseph Stroud, Gary Copeland Lilley and others.

Finally, back in New Mexico at MALCS (Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social) Summer Institute con el corazon en la mano - sharing ideas, cultura, poetry with an extraordinary group of Native American, Chicana and Latina women.