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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.