Winter

This evening, the melody to “Winter in America” by Gil Scott-Heron began to play in my head. I found a version on YouTube and I’ve been playing it and listening more intently than I ever have to the lyrics, some of which follow:

“Yeah, and the people know, people know it’s Winter in America

And ain’t nobody fighting cause nobody knows what to save,

Save your soul, Lord knows

From Winter in America”

I’ve been working on a poem about the “elephant in the room,” those things that are large and almost engulfing us, and yet we avoid acknowledging them, talking about them, sharing with one another that we see, feel and hear them. And something about it being “winter in America” and “nobody knows what to save” are anything but an elephant in the room for many of us these days. One of my mentors has encouraged me to keep going, to write the poem. And it’s not an easy poem to write. And this evening, I am once again putting one foot in front of the other, listening to Gil Scott-Heron and writing about that elephant.

Gil Scott-Heron begins the song with these lyrics:

“From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain”

 

 

 

13th Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival at Berkeley City College – May 16th

I am both excited and honored to be one of the featured poets at this annual poetry festival held this year on Saturday May 16th from 11 am – 5 pm at Berkeley City College.

Many thanks to poets Sharon Coleman and MK Chavez for herding the cats and handling publicity.

There will be readings, publishers, poetry books, and lots of hometown pride! You won’t want to miss it.

Poet and activist Rafael Jesus Gonzalez will be honored for a lifetime of poetry and social justice.

The poster is gorgeous, don’t you think?

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Not a new poem for not entirely new situations

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Lizard

Lizard said, “It pays to use camouflage and observe carefully.” His tongue glittered in the light as he spoke and eyed me from the other side of the boulder. He teaches me that stillness pays and moving quickly when necessary is crucial, but the best thing to do in the city or in the country, is to blend in with your surroundings.

Sometimes, men and women in dark uniforms eye me suspiciously. My height, skin color and unisex, loose-fitting clothing are often identical to the description of the person they’re looking for, except that I have breasts. It is dark outside, so they say it is hard for them to tell that I’m not the perpetrator they’re looking for.

 My tongue shoots out in flames, quickly licking the air before the blue uniform in the patrol car sees it. I fold into the brick building on the corner of Alcatraz and Telegraph. My skin turns crumbly reddish brown and I freeze.

My poem “Lizard” appears in the anthology, New Poets of the American West, Many Voices Press, 2010. I thought it appropriate to post it on my blog at this time.

Far too many have not and are not able to blend into their surroundings or do whatever it is that would ensure their  safety and survival as they are hunted, ignored, devalued and stereotyped. This is my offering to them and to all.

 

 

Reading, Writing and Subtraction

 

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I’ve been spending some time during this long weekend reading articles, posts, Tweets and varied forms of artists’ writing about why and how they do what they do.

It has always been interesting to me to read or hear about the process through which individuals come to their art, or through which their art comes to them.

My other weekend activities: long walks, weeding out the things I don’t need or use from closets, drawers, hiding places, etc. and donating them. I”m also furiously writing bits and pieces of anything and everything in my notebook. And I’ve started a list of ideas for future writing.

All of this is providing me with more internal and external space. Aaaaah….

How do you create space for your art? I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

Pandemonium Press Reading Series – 1st Wednesdays

I’ll be reading poetry and some fiction with several excellent writers this week, as we kick off a new reading series at a beautiful loft space in Oakland that has great vibes.

PANDEMONIUM PRESS READING SERIES

1ST WEDNESDAYS AT SPICE MONKEY
1628 WEBSTER ST, OAKLAND, CA

AUGUST 6: HIROSHIMA/NAGASAKI REMEMBRANCE
7-9 pm

featured poets:

Sharon Coleman
Rafael Jesús González
Kirk Lumpkin
Joyce E. Young

Curator: Leila Rae

An open mic precedes and follows feature readers.
Signup now for open mic: pandemoniumpress@gmail.com

Admission Free

Come early or stay late for food/drink at Spice Monkey
(Webster at 17th; just 2 1/2 blocks from the 19th St. BART station)

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The food, drink and staff at Spice Monkey are wonderful, so you’re in for an all around treat!

http://www.spicemonkeyrestaurant.com/

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone—An Online Learning Experience – National Writing Project

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone—An Online Learning Experience – National Writing Project.

This summer, I decided to hop on board an online course and community of educators led by teachers and authors Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan called the Unfamiliar Genres Project. Their book “Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres” is the basis for the course.

Part II of the course/community is active during the month of July. Each participant chooses an unfamiliar genre to research and to write in. I’ve chosen vignettes since most of the students I work with are training to become clinical psychologists and therapists and they write papers in which they are learning to assess clients by reading and responding to vignettes. But I’ve learned through my research that vignettes are also used in Psychology and Sociology research in surveys. And I’m knee-deep in reading journal articles that describe the research and reveal the vignettes. And I’m loving it!

Of course, rereading “The House on Mango Street” is a great deal of fun as is reading “Deer Table Legs” by Katayoon Zandvakili and “Slide” by Monica Zarazua.

Katayoon’s poems are vignette-like which may be directly connected to her other creative pursuit, which is painting. And Monica’s short fiction has vignette qualities. Until I did a reading with these two writers on Wednesday, I was unfamiliar with their work. So, I’ve had pleasant synchronicities occur with this project. And I have two new books!