Archive for August, 2013

Growing up in Cordova reading and writing were far from my mind. I spent my time riding my bike all over the plazita, swimming in the river and playing basketball. When I was old enough to drive, I spent by time cruising Spaña’s main drag. I would spend hours up and down River Side Dr. from one end to the other. These are the things we did for fun and to fit in. During this time reading and writing were only things I did for school, even when I first started college. Reading was what the nerds did, not the cool kids. Because of this mentality I missed out on a lot of great literature as a teenage and young adult.

I returned to college in the Spring Semester of 1999, I took many classes that were sounded interesting because I needed to bring up my GPA. I began to learn about literature written by Chican@s about our history and events that impacted our community and people. Even though the list of Chican@ writers is distinguished, it was also short. I was in search of more. I wanted to learn more about the history for New Mexico, especially Española and Cordova.

In the Summer of 2009 I attended a gathering, the group was called La Resolana. From this I began to write my own poetry. By the end of the summer we had put together a chapbook titled “Declamacion” this was the beginning of a collection of poems by local writers writing about our community and history. The treasure I was searching for was coming together. At our Resolana meetings we would gather and share our poetry and words or wisdom and guidance. This was something I never thought I would be a part of, but I found that it was a part of me that I hadn’t discovered in high school or my early years in college.

In July of 2011, Adán Baca had a poetry reading at the Española Library, the event was nameless for a few readings. I then created a Facebook page and called Poetry at the Española Library. After a few months Adán in a discussion with other poets dubbed the event The Española Poetry Explosion, it was named after an explosive night of poetry.

The Española Poetry Explosion has been a place of safety for many new poets and a place for veteran poets to come together and create a family of poets and writers. We have experienced flute players, musicians, singers and a host of veteran and new poets. The Española Library has been a great host. The staff has opened their arms and hearts to a community of renegade poets and revolutionaries. We have hosted chapbook releases by La Resolana when “Declamacion II” was released and when Luis Peña released his chapbook “The Three-Legged Dog”. We have had artist share their art with the community.

The Española Poetry Explosion is something new and explosive for our community. A safe have for young and old writers alike, newbies to the poetry scene or veterans. We have come together to expose a hidden talent of writers and poets. We gave a voice to many individuals who have been struggling with addiction and they became our teachers. Giving us an inside look in to their world of pain and let us know that they were human and had feeling just the same. The Library was their safe haven and class room to open many eyes in to the world of addiction. This is what community is all about. Every person who has come to a reading has become part of a family were all members are equals and all are respected.

I am honored to have been able to photograph the many great poets and artists who have come to the Española Poetry Explosion. I have collected a great number of photos of many open mic poets and featured poets. In the following blog I have invited Adán Baca, host to Española Poetry Explosion, Amanda Salinas, Adán Trujillo, Pilar Trujillo and Andrea Serrano for their thoughts and reflections regarding the Española Poetry Explosion.

GUEST WRITERS:

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Adán Baca

One of the beautiful and powerful things about poetry and spoken word is freedom, freedom to express what the poet has or wants or needs to say. There are no rules and no expectations. When the poet touches the pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard, voice to text on smart phone….the words are liberated and can also become liberating. These poems spoken from the heart, the mind the imagination, the funny bone; inspired by hope, loss, broken hearts, new loves, lost loves, our children, our elders our acequias our gardens and our plebe.

So for over the past two years the poets and the community have found a home at the Espanola Library. The library has been a great host and partner. The library belongs to the community and Teddie, Sherry and the library staff have been welcoming and supportive.

We’ve seen and heard incredible featured poets from as far away as Denver, many from Albuquerque and still more from right here in mi querido Norte. It’s been a blessing to see and hear people writing and sharing their words for the first time. It’s also been encouraging and powerful to see so many people come out and support the Espanola Poetry Explosion and the poets who share their words.

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Amanda Salinas
Photo used with permission.

Two years flew by for Poetry at the Library I was so excited to learn something like this would be in my hometown Española N.M and  Adan Baca creator of Poetry at the Library brought in Hoy Recovery patients to read their truths and healing that hit my heart and gave me a better understanding of the problems we have in our community.  I featured twice and although I had featured before in Albuquerque something about performing in front of my peers in a town I called my own yet never really fit in made it more nerve racking, but Adan made it fun and laid back making it that much easier. I look forward to coming in and sharing my old and new poems, seeing my community come together positively.  Something different.  Not forgetting its “funner than a sack of wet mice”- Pilar Trujillo. As time flys by and realize that in just two years I have heard the most heartfelt, honest and raw poetry in one room than anywhere else and I’m lucky to have been able to experience it. Happy two year anniversary Poetry at the Library, and many more.

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Pilar Trujillo

I first heard about the Espanola Poetry Explosion through my brother, Adan. He had been going to these monthly poetry readings and always came back excited. I decided to check it out one night, and I was immediately blown away. There was a true sense of community, but more than that, it felt like a really safe place to read a poem out loud in front of people. Everyone was so welcoming and respectful and very encouraging. I had never read any of my poetry out loud before. I decided to give it a try, knowing that I would be supported. 

I am always in awe of the powerful words that other people share at the readings. I have been moved to tears more than once in that space: hearing recovering addicts come to hard truths about their lives, witnessing someone read a poem out loud for the first time, hearing a new poem by a friend or finding new meaning in poems I’ve heard before. One of my most cherished memories was when my brother and I were asked to be the features for the reading in June 2012.  I will never forget how special it was to stand in the library of my hometown with my oldest brother and pour out my heart for my community. But the thing is, every single monthly reading has been a profound experience because the space allows for people to just be real and raw and true to themselves. It pushes you to be vulnerable in the best way.

The Espanola Poetry Explosion at the Library is evidence that we can truly heal together as a community if we have the space for it, and the right intentions. I am forever grateful for all that I’ve gained by being a part of the readings: the friendships, the shared palabras, the inspiration from some of the fiercest poetas I’ve ever known. Thank you to Adan Baca, Angelo, and all the others who have made it possible! Here’s to many more years!

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Andrea Serrano

For years, I felt out of place in the poetry scene in Albuquerque.  While there are a lot of talented poets in Albuquerque and more venues than anyone can keep track of, I never quite felt like I had a community.  In the summer of 2009, I met a group of people who welcomed me into their circle and gave me friendship and my poetry found a home.  In Española, NM, the sun shines bright and hearts are warmed in the resolana that is created by the poets of the Norte.

The Española Poetry Explosion is a gathering of community and friends.  A place where poets can share words and laughs.  There is comfort in the words that are shared, but beyond that, it’s the feeling of the gente who are there.  New poets, seasoned poets, souls in search of healing, lovers and fighters are mixed in with books and history.  As my comadre Pilar Trujillo once remarked, there is something beautiful about reading poetry at a library she grew up in. 

To be welcomed into this space reminds me that there is safety in community, and that community extends beyond county lines and boundaries.  I often call it Speak, Poet’s Sister Event because it feels like familia.  Even if I haven’t been in a while, knowing I can go to an event where so many people find and share voice is an honor and I’m proud to know the poets and organizers of this beautiful venue.    

Española Poetry Explosion is the light that shines through the darkness, the resolana that warms the bones and the familia that is always on your side.  Thank you for the courage to create community in my own city, and congratulations on two beautiful years!

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Adán Trujillo

When I walked out of the Española Library in June 2011 after randomly going to a poetry reading that I heard about on Facebook, I had rarely felt so inspired. Going that day changed my life and was one of the best decisions I ever made. Going every month after that (and until the wheels fall off) is a close second. This event stretched me outside my comfort zone, helped me find a voice I didn’t know I had and plugged me in to a community of like-minded people that I am grateful to know and call friends. 

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Beata Tsosie-Peña

It has always amazed me, how strongholds of talent, tradition and beauty are so abundant in Northern NM. How the arts scene here has maintained an underground and above ground presence that never tried to fit into mainstream westernization, but has existed more to sustain each other, and echo our multi-versal realities that we have to navigate through daily as Peoples coming from mixed heritage and upbringings. Through art this has been done seamlessly, and I am grateful for its existence within so much breathtaking beauty that also contains so much love of place for the Peoples who live in the Rio Grande Valley.

Española Poetry Explosion is an example of the way we come together as artists to reshape our landscape to hold this space for ourselves. In a time when public spaces are under utilized and scarce, it is so important that we make use of the spaces that do exist to continue to come together. Poetry is a way to share knowledge, shared and individual experience, and tell the collective stories of our time. The oral tradition is strong in this place that anchors our spirit, and it is very clear to me every time I hear blessings of words offered up, in such humble settings, how our poetic intentions are a spiritual bridge.

I am grateful for those in our communities who take the extra time for rural organizing, knowing the importance and equality of hosting any size of circle, and even more so, for making it a consistent one. I am also grateful for the poets who have been willing to travel far, and lend their voice in the uplifting of our Indigenous atmosphere in Española, reinforcing a creative network that I know has more work ahead. I’m thankful for or all the strength through words that is emerging from such beautiful faces, and that I hope can continue to be a vibrational movement of its own in our Valley.

COLLAGES FOR PAST READINGS

Here are some post reading collages of the Española Poetry Explosion. The collages aren’t in any particular order. This is part of the Española Poetry family and community. Thank you to all who have and continue to support this great community event every month.

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If you’re on Facebook please visit the Poetry at the Library (Española Poetry Explosion) fan page. Also, drop by El Razafotografista and Campana de Esperanza Fotography Fan pages. For biographies of many of the poets whom have featured at the Española Poetry Explosion visit the archive of my blog. Like our pages and support great community events and local businesses!

To all of you who have participated in our family and community of the Española Poetry Explosion please share your reflections on the comment section of this post.

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Through out my time in school, weather it was high school or collage literature, especially poetry were my least favorite subjects to take. Slowly I began to find poets and poetry that talked about events, people and history that I could identify with, but the list was short. Not many brown poets. The focus in class were on poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson and Shakespeare to name a few. I wondered where all the Chicano/Mexicano/Indigeno poets were at.

The summer of 2011 I was spending a week in Alburquerque with my new job. I received an invitation by Andrea J. Serrano to a poetry reading, Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido. Amanda and I attended the inaugural reading featuring Cathy Arellano and Ara Cruz. I didn’t know that this reading was going to become a monthly event. Then I received an invitation in July then August and so on an so forth.

Since the first reading in June of 2011 I was standing behind my camera taking photos of all the poets who have come through Speak, Poet. After a few months I realized that I was capturing the faces of poets of all walks of life, from all backgrounds and ethnicities. It was a great thing that was taking shape. At that point I knew I had to make every effort to attend Speak, Poet every month to capture every poet who featured and who stepped up to the Mic-less open mic. Finally, what I was once searching for was becoming a reality. Poets who I could relate too. I knew that this was the beginning of a great thing.

In April of 2012 I started a blog dubbed after the nickname given to me by Andrea Serrano. The nickname was El Razafotografista. I started my blog initially to promote my photography and poetry, but then realized that part of promoting my photography I could promote the poets from New Mexico. I started to take images I had taken at past readings and posting them on my blog and Andrea would allow me to copy and paste biographies of the featured poets. I realized that by creating those blog posts I was creating in cyberspace a corner where youngsters could read about poets who they could identity with. I was beginning to create a collection of faces that were writing words that many of our youth could identify with. My search for Chican@ poets was over. I had found the treasure I had been looking for and now I am sharing this treasure with all of you.

Standing behind the camera waiting for the right moment to push the shutter button, to capture that expression that gives the viewer a glimpse into the emotion the poet was expressing at that moment, as he/she spoke their truth. I has been a honor to have met and photographed many of Nuevo Mexico’s greatest poets and I know there is hidden, talented poets out there I hope to photograph in feature readings at Speak, Poet.

In this blog post I have invited Andrea Serrano, Cathy Arellano, Amanda Salinas, Fernando Lopez, Rich Boucher and Michelle Otero to give a reflection on their thoughts regarding the last two years of Speak, Poet. Here are their reflections and thoughts. I hope you enjoy these heart felt words and the photography that started my endeavor to document and promote as many Nuevo Mexicano Poetas.

GUEST WRITERS

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Logo by: Fernando Lopez

When I was asked to do the logo for Speak Poet I was excited. I wanted to give back to something that meant a lot to me. I remember a friend, and fellow artist of mine and a conversation we had on how the most abundant and significant plant is the corn stalk. At that point I pretty much knew what I wanted to say in the logo. Andrea Serrano our host and founder of Speak Poet mentioned she wanted the Albuquerque’s city’s skyline in the logo. So what I tried to do was make that skyline unmistakable, and giving that our voices are our microphones. I wanted to have the mic bursting out of the corn stalk, representing each of us. Standing strong and radiating behind the city. The task was fun, and it is my hope that I captured a bit of what Speak Poet is.

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Andrea Serrano and Fernando Lopez unveiling the new Speak, Poet Logo.

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Andrea J. Serrano

In June, I canceled Speak, Poet for the first time in two years. My dad had just gotten out of the hospital and we found out that his prognosis wasn’t good. I was exhausted and the thought of hosting an event terrified me. I didn’t think I could handle it and without explanation, I put a simple message on Facebook – and that act alone took a lot of energy. The next month, when I was ordering the cake for the two year celebration, I found myself worrying that no one would show up. What if June’s abrupt cancelation was so offensive that no one would return? What if there was no more Speak, Poet?

I find that I often worry about Speak, Poet. I worry that there won’t be enough food, or that people will be uncomfortable. I worry that the building will be locked and I worry that I will fall down the stairs. I have learned that a small dose of anxiety before an event is normal and when it comes to Speak, Poet, there is no need to worry: the community always shows up
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I never have enough words to describe what a blessing the Speak, Poet family has been in my life. What started out as an experiment has become a cornerstone to my creativity. I know that on the second Thursday of the month, I’ll be doing what I love and I’ll be among friends and family who never cease to amaze me with their words, their courage, their laughter and their presence. I love when someone reads for the first time; I love when Rich Boucher taunts the crowd into shouting “SPEAK, POET!” I love seeing our friends from Northern New Mexico join us each month and I love the sight of looking up and seeing so many genuinely loving faces. The fact that all of this is captured by El Razafotografista means we are capturing a story of community.

We weave stories, create connections and leave with our hearts a little fuller. Speak, poets, and speak loudly.

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Rich Boucher

Together We Will Find the Right Words:
A Reflection on the Second Anniversary
of Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido

I remember that it was a really hot June night, a real slow scorcher. And I remember thinking when I saw the place (El Chante: Casa de Cultura) how many times had I walked right past it and not given it a second look? I remember loving that the reading took place in a HOUSE, a real house with two stories to it and a front porch. It reminded me of the Art House, the little place on Delaware Ave in Newark, Delaware, by the University, where I’d hosted an open mic and slam night for years before I moved to New Mexico. I remember feeling excited to check it out, and very much wanting this night to be a booming success for my friend Andrea Serrano. Andrea and I had grown to be friends and colleagues in the local poetry scene here in Albuquerque, well before the start of this reading, and I was behind her endeavor one hundred percent. I remember my girlfriend Rhiannon and I finding seats and watching the place just fill up. It was obvious from the first night that this place would be packed to the rafters easily and every night. I remember so many strangers’ faces, strangers who through poetry would soon become the friends I’ll be forever grateful for. I remember hearing for the first time a night of poetry where much of it was in Spanish and I remember listening and learning and slowly growing to love the sound of the poetry of New Mexico in the mother tongue of this land.

From that first night, where I debuted my poem “Dark Jade” (my anti-Sushi poem that I was happy to crack Andrea up with) and where I heard the work of Cathy Arellano and Denver’s Ara Cruz, and where I heard and met so many other excellent poets from all over New Mexico, and where I have personally witnessed a poetry reading doing good works for the community (and for individual members of the community), the phenomenon that is Speak, Poet has only grown in strength even as it has had to find a new home. I’m so fortunate to have even been the tiniest cog in this shining wheel. I remember Andrea confiding to me how nervous she was; I remember telling her that I’d been there, that I’d known what it’s like to wonder if anyone will really show up at all. To wonder if this thing has legs, to wonder if it has wings. Well, after tons of excellent features and open readings full of beautiful moments over a span of two years (so far!), there’s no reason to wonder about the future and promise of Speak, Poet anymore; there’s only the next milestone to reach for ahead of us.

Very Gratefully Yours,

Rich Boucher

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Cathy Arellano

Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra, y Sonido…Y qué ?!

Andrea Serrano had a dream, and every month poets, spokenword performers, filmmakers and photographers, singers and dancers, painters and sculptors, gardeners and farmers, activists, students and teachers, queers, Chicanos with Xs and without, African, Native, and Asian Americans, and more—we gather. Every month our voices, words, and sounds bathe dreams and pierce nightmares.

Many times I’ve craved Speak, Poet. My livingroom, your livingroom, our kitchen, our front porch, our stoop, our circle with the mic-less open mic. Live, up close, in person, and in color. I’ve driven my car holding my breath until poetry–in and out all of its forms–washed over me. Each month community reveals themselves, introduces their families, and brings back their dead. I’ve wanted, needed to share my poetry, my concrete homeland, my queer body, me. And, I—visitor, outsider—have been heard, seen.

Speak, Poet where community says, Y qué to the crooked boss! Y qué to the derelict law! Y qué to the unjust jail! Y qué to the jail-like school! Y qué to the language police! Y qué to all the people that would keep us out, alone, separated, unheard, unseen. The community of Speak, Poet; the community that is Speak, Poet: Incredible. Truly.

Speak, Poet touched me so deeply that I wanted my students to have their minds blown, their consciousness cracked, and their souls soothed. This fall marks the first year anniversary at Central New Mexico Community College of CNM Speaks: Poetry and Spoken Word Open Mic. Yes, I copied. Do you blame me? Each time poets conjure their worlds on campus or a student speaks her or his poetic fact or fiction, or someone says, “I needed that” or “I’m going home to write”—or, they pull out paper and pen and write something on the spot and read it (!), I know the rite is right.

I humbly offer sincere gratitude to Andrea for having the vision and the ovaries for birthing Speak, Poet. And thank you to every member of the Speak, Poet community who sustains it with each breath.

Finally, won’t the poems that have bounced off the mic-less open mic make one helluva anthology?

Y qué! Y punto final!

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Amanda Salinas
Photo used with permission.

Looking back 2yrs at Speak Poet, I think about hearing all the poets and seeing how they stood up there with such confidence. I remember when it was my turn to get up and read my poem, my very first poem writen and performed I was so nervous I’m not sure I read my poem out loud instead I whispered it quickly and promptly got sick outside! Andrea Serrano the creator of Speak Poet encouraged me to write, keep writing, and believed in me enough to have me as a feature for “Voices to listen for” A proud night for me and I still thank Andrea today for the encouragement. Speak Poet has been wonderful and I look forward to driving from Chimayo/Cordova just to see everyone and hear their poetry. Speak Poet has become a place where I feel comfortable enough to share my truth knowing everyone there always has nice things to say a hug or smile to give just when you need it, even if they don’t know it. Andrea Serrano gave me a second chance at featuring a long side JoseLuis Ortiz and all though yet again I was nervous and didn’t quite use my time wisely I didn’t get sick again! It has been an honor to be a part of the Speak Poet family and hope 2yrs leads to many more come!

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Fernando Lopez

I moved to New Mexico in 2009 with a stack of bad break up poems and a mound of past regrets. I was an artist and poetry was just something kind of new to me. Never, would I have considered myself to be a poet or a writer. I couldn’t imagine myself being the type, writing for the sake of writing. How I grew up, such things were unheard of and pointless. The first time I heard anyone speak in that way was in fifth grade when my teacher Ms. Kelly showed us a video of Martin Luther King Jr in his famous “I have a dream speech”. It was then that something sparked in me. His speech would resonate with me, not only for what it meant but for the ferocity in his voice when he said it. I never realized such power existed, that simple words could mean and change so much. The first time I read at Speak Poet I remember a feeling just like that, it was infinite. I felt that I was a part of a revolution of artist and freethinkers standing in the company of one another sharing, peeling themselves to the very core with their words. For the first time, I heard my own voice and even though my hands shook and my voice quivered with every word. I got that same feeling I did when I heard that speech. What I love about Speak Poet is its mixture of seasoned poets (like those in this blog) and we, the people not so seasoned, yet equal, in our love of the word. A thanks to our host Andrea Serrano for giving us a gift, a safe place, a place of camaraderie and community, a place we all can call our home, a home for our words. Even my two younger sisters (teenagers) read for the first time there, I was so proud. Not long ago I got stopped by someone whom I never met before, asking me “hey you’re that poet from Speak Poet right”? And I was like, yeah I’m that poet.

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Michelle Otero

Speak, Poet is Nana’s kitchen after a big meal when your sisters and tíos and cousins and their kids and the neighbors and your niece and the nice güero boyfriend she brought home from college linger around the table and tell stories. Your tío who lost hearing in one ear during the war tells that one you love about the night he and your dad were walking home along the acequia after the dance and came face to face with La Llorona. Mama remembers the mean priest who used to shout, “You did what?!” from the confessional. He once gave her ten rosaries for penance. Your boy cousins take turns telling the time they were wrestling in Nana’s shower and broke her door, and she chased their naked bodies through the hallway and out into the yard.

Someone gets hungry again, and there are burritos and buñuelos and punch in rainbow colors. And it seems there are more people than when you started, and there’s no room to sit, and it’s hot, but everyone wants to be in the kitchen because that is where we are fed.

You remember those who have passed, those who were wounded. Someone pulls out a guitar. And you don’t know how it happens, but before the night ends, your niece, the shy one with the güero boyfriend, is reading something she wrote, and it’s the story of her and all of us, how we come together, how we are fed.

COLLAGES FROM PAST READINGS

Here are some post reading collages of Speak, Poet. The collages aren’t in any particular order. This is part of the Speak, Poet family and community. Thank you to all who have and continue to support this great community event every month.

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If you’re on Facebook please visit the Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido fan page. Also, drop by El Razafotografista and Campana de Esperanza Fotography Fan pages. For biographies of many of the poets whom have featured at Speak, Poet visit the archive of my blog. Like our pages and support great community events and local businesses!

To all of you who have participated in our family and community of Speak, Poet please share your reflections on the comment section of this post.

We are back! Promoting poets for Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido. Meet Michelle Otero, featuring this month. Come join us at Copper Square.
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A writer, actor, and teacher, Michelle Otero is the author of Malinche’s Daughter, an essay collection based on her work with women survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as a Fulbright Fellow in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her work has appeared in New Mexico Magazine, Brevity, Puerto del Sol, and other literary journals. She is member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop.A tenth-generation New Mexican, she is Creative Director of Valle Encantado, an organization promoting sustainable development initiatives in Albuquerque’s Atrisco neighborhood.