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Walk About Town and Write On IV

What up gente!?!?!?  

This is it!!  Today, (time in the UK) at 11 am, we will be making our way to Spain and bidding farewell to Merry ol' London-town. It's been 14 years since I was last here, so I am especially glad I got a chance to get back - wish the lady, Mrs. Jasminne Mendez could attend, but that might be another time. *HINT - click on her name and go check out her site!! I'll wait...

Ok, so you done yet? Great. Now let's get going shall we?

 Slone Gardens - fancy, fancy

Slone Gardens - fancy, fancy

This being the last blog about London, I thought I would start off with an idea that was brought up in our writing workshop (YES, in fact, we had work to do and it was thrilling!!), the idea that while we are in Europe, the writers we pour over, might have actually set foot in the very spaces we take up now. For me, that means then, one of the poets that rocked the planet, Sylvia Plath, had to have done so. She spent a portion of her life (and her death) here in the UK and especially in London. It is an exciting idea, a far fetched idea - we occupied the same spaces, in separate times of course, but it is connection. It is an important connection. It means that the very trees, the very sidewalks, the very buildings evoked the same emotions, perhaps dissimilar feelings, but as humans, as writers, as poets, it causes a movement that must be caught - and I know, on that, I must write, even if after her. 


I was so entranced with this idea, I decided to look up if there were any interviews done before her death about her time in the UK and sure enough I found one:

So upon further inspection, I decided to see if any of her work had any focus on her time here and again, sure enough, I found a poem she wrote - "BLACK ROOK in RAINY WEATHER.  I read the poem and figured out she has an audio recording (again on Youtube). Check it out!

From there, I decided to work on a poem in response to her poem - a restorative piece - where I want to talk to her, tell her that the miracle is there: take a look - its not done, but orale, echate la 

On Plath’s “Black Rook in Rainy Weather”

                                                                                                “I do not expect a miracle”                                                                                                                                                                                    - Sylvia Plath

 Mi querida,

you should,

you should try to go back

down to the shores again.

The houses you saw the first time,

they have all been redone,

with antenna dishes,

the size of beach balls,

pointed at the sun and the sky,

still gray, and the colors

in the “Cheers” and the “Hullos”,

the very faces have changed a bit,

they are darker, they believe

in Yaweh, in Allah,

in Diosito Dios and omens,

the ones that pick up grains of sand,

wear away wooden doors,

rust the edges of iron gates,

the ones that lay bones in placid order.

It is all an awe,

milagro ante milagro.

Take a walk with me,

let me reintroduce you

to the butcher,

he’s the son of the man

you used to ask for pork chops,

he reads minds too.

Instinctively, knows where to cleave,

where to separate the tender

from the unessential.

He will take care of you, he holds

another job too, works in the yards,

landscapes, notices the way the leaves

fall, is able to make the blades of grass

grow greener. He has built a few bird feeders.

It is there, amongst the trees,

at the edge of Bloomsbury,

on a bench, that’s where I sit. 

******

So it is no where near done, but it's going... 

Before I finish up the blog about our efforts in London, I have to mention the last play of significance while on this trip. I think I have to mention that the theatre bug has bit me again!  Now, I don't know if its the fact that we have seen a gaggle of plays o si es que this last play me callo pero rebien. I mean, the last play entitled "INCOGNITO" written by Nick Payne, was truely a beauty. 

This is what the site for BUSH THEATRE had posted about the play: 

"The brain builds a narrative to steady us from moment to moment, but it is absolutely an illusion. There is no me, there is no you, and there is certainly no self.

Princeton, New Jersey. 1955. Thomas Stoltz Harvey performs the autopsy of the recently deceased Albert Einstein. And then steals his brain.

Bath, England. 1953. Henry undergoes pioneering brain surgery. The surgery changes Henry’s life, and the history of neuroscience, forever.

London, England. Present. Martha is a clinical neuropsychologist. When her marriage breaks down she starts to make some radically different choices.

Three interwoven stories exploring the nature of identity and how we are defined by what we remember, Incognito is a dazzling new play about what it means to be human.

Nick Payne was the winner of the Evening Standard Award for Best Play forConstellations (Royal Court/West End). His plays also include Olivier Award-nominated The Same Deep Water As Me (Donmar Warehouse), If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet at the Bush Theatre and in New York starring Jake Gyllenhall, and most recently Blurred Lines (NT Shed)."

 The stage before the actors to the stage! 

The stage before the actors to the stage! 

It was a magnificent performance. It made me want to do the play. If I could audition again and do THIS play, I would. It struck me. It was very well done. The lighting, the set, the actors (those 4 actors were beasts!), each of whom took on at least 4 characters apiece, did a masterful job of presenting overlapping stories. It was breathtaking.  

Here is the director talking about the play:

That was literally the night before last - it was an amazing way to spend the evening. 

Last night, we spent the time going to the park in Russell Square. We spent the time at dinner. We spent the time, selfishly, as writers, enjoying the city, enjoying the brisk weather - the gray clouds did roll in, and there was a bit of a chill in the air and I loved it. I think that is what enamors me to the city - the crispness of it matches the crispness of the language, of the accent, of the colors. It is all ancient and at time modern, it is current and antiquated all at the same time. 

 Russell Square

Russell Square

For dinner, I had a slender stake and fries and a small bowl of Mac and Cheese. Ha. I had mac and cheese. It was a fitting simple meal, that helped give me the energy for one last walk around the town. After not being here for 14 years, it amazes me how well I was able to get around. I did not stumble like I did before - Sonia, I have you to thank for that. Hope you are well, amiga mia. Hope you are well!!


And with that folks, I bid this city farewell. I hope to make it back here before another 14 years. I have a wife that needs to see this place the way I do. It is a goal of mine.  Until then, enjoy the pictures of two days and two nights on the town, in the tube, at a play, with a pint, with a smile, with a breathe of London air... 

ONE LAST NOTE:  A SHOUT OUT!!! 

Because I am an artist from an amazing Houston, TX - I just had to take a moment and congratulate two individuals making some big news and doing it up big!!

Many thanks and praise go to Deborah "D.E.E.P" Mouton and Carlos Paz, Jr. , both of whom are making headlines and reaching new heights in their careers.  

Check out the posts/video's that follow: 

D.E.E.P on "UPWORTHY"   

Thank you both for all you do! See you soon!

And now- 

THE TEASE:

 

 Uhhhh, that's the post office in Madrid. El correo. Ha. 

Uhhhh, that's the post office in Madrid. El correo. Ha. 



Walk About Town and Write On III

Hey gente!! 

Ok, so its time to play a little catch up - with today's post, I will fill you in on what I did over the weekend - it was a packed weekend. Actually had a chance to see some amazing plays and got a chance to read and write for a good while.  So, if you are ready, read on: 

Saturday, June 14th -  2 plays!!!

YEP. You saw that right. We had a magnificent time at the theatre on Saturday!  We caught a play in the mid morning time and then ended up on the south side of London for a second play. Both plays were quite interesting and bold.  We got the chance to see MR. BURNS and WAITING FOR GODOT.  

 Show poster for Mr. Burns!

Show poster for Mr. Burns!

SO to get an idea about the play is about, you have to go see the play (of course) or read the reviews.  I am setting one up done 3 days go in the Guardian, HERE.  It was written by Anne Washburn

To be clear, the play is set in three different time periods: sometime in the near future, 5 years from then and then 75 years from that - and all moments therein, have a very post-apocalyptic feel. The beginning of the play sets up the totality of what we are in store for - a play based loosely on the series "The Simpsons" and one episode "Cape Feare", which (I am not a big fan of "The Simpsons") is one of the best ones to remember. The first act in the play sets up the summary of the episode  (admittedly based on two versions of Cape Fear - one that stared Gregory Peck and a later version starring Robert DeNiro.  Here is a quick 60 second review of the episode itself: 

60 SECOND SIMPSONS REVIEW - CAPE FEARE

¿Que te parece? Crazy right? So I was able to come to one conclusion about his play - you either love it or you hate it. There is likely no in-between. The writer wrote this and it is based in my youth (the 90's) - and there are both pop culture and theatre references built into the play. For me, I thought they did a damn fine job of playing up the comedic elements and they were able to take liberties with other portions that for me came out well. 

Here are some of the references you get in the play from ACT I to ACT II: 

Mad Max & the Thunder Dome
Oedipus Rex
Antigone
Cape Fear (Peck)
Cape Fear (DeNiro)
Friends
The Simpsons
Heart of Darkness
Joker (Jack Nicholson) 
Beetlejuice
90's music

I liked the play, as it made you have to pay attention to the sequence of events as they unfolded. I would also say that you were probably pretty lost, or would get lost if you didn't have any cultural background in areas listed above - It is a play, a bastard child if you will born from the musical movie "THE MOULIN ROUGE" and "ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW". BUT, that's what made it work for me. 

The theatre, the ALMEIDA THEATRE was amazing as well (Click on the name to get info on it). I took the liberty of setting up some shots there as well: 

So from there, we dashed to the south side of London and went to the ARCOLA THEATRE (click on the name to get more info) to catch WAITING FOR GODOT - and that was an amazing play - Here is brief note on what the play is about: 

"Written by Samuel Beckett in 1948, -t story revolves around two seemingly homeless men waiting for someone—or something—named Godot. Vladimir and Estragon wait near a tree, inhabiting a drama spun of their own consciousness. The result is a comical wordplay of poetry, dreamscapes, and nonsense, which has been interpreted as mankind’s inexhaustible search for meaning. Beckett’s language pioneered an expressionistic minimalism that captured the existential post-World War II Europe. His play remains one of the most magical and beautiful allegories of our time."

They director of this play, here in London, has done away with the bola hats and replaced the costuming with lots of modern day references and ball caps, and I think it works. I was entirely impressed. The characters were lively and the energy quieted down when it needed to and raised when it made sense. It was a haunting play.  Here are some of the shots I took at the theatre: 
 

After we finished that play, we made our way back to our humble "flats" and headed back out into the night to partake in "WORLD CUP" festivities - 

We got to catch the England v. Italy game!!

Here are the highlights - 

And to end the night, we had a few beers, a ton of laughs and a damn good time... 


 The Swan Pub!! 

The Swan Pub!! 

Day two was much 'Lighter" 

John and I (fellow ON-LINE MFAer from Grand Rapids, Michigan) decided to hang out and catch a museum and ANOTHER play.   It was a cool day. 
 

First we took a walk on the wild side (not really) and made our way to the Tate Modern Art Museum. That place looks different than what I remembered it to be. Click HERE to get more info.
To be honest, we didn't even get to scratch the surface - we took our time to get there, and we had great conversation - politics, social/governmental responsibility, immigration, the need for more people of color to teach MFA and be in MFA programs, we have a lot in common. 

While at the Tate, we found two exhibits: 

Project Space: A Chronicle of Interventions

Here is a bit on it - 

"

A Chronicle of Interventions explores the multiple histories of intervention that have occurred throughout Central America during the 20th century and displays the work of seven practicing artists who each explore various foreign, economic, political and military interventions which have shaped the region.

Harking back to 1980s New York, the exhibition begins with an archival display of the seminal installation by Group Material, entitled Timeline: A Chronicle of USIntervention in Central and Latin America, the work wasoriginally installed in New York’s PS1 Gallery in 1984, when Central America was in the spotlight of political and economic debate in the West.

Fast forward thirty years and the exhibition returns to this history of intervention and its consequences, through the work of contemporary artists who chronicle related historical episodes, accounts and phenomena." 

It was a facinating look - and was actually a conversation we were just having - the idea of what U.S. intervention in places with indigenous peoples looks like and how that affects their futures.  It was real neat and definitely insightful.  

The other exhibit was - POETRY & DREAM 
"The displays in Poetry and Dream show how contemporary art grows from, reconnects with, and can provide fresh insights into the art of the past.

The large room at the heart of the wing is devoted to surrealism, while the surrounding displays look at other artists who, in different ways, have responded to or diverged from surrealism, or explored related themes such as the world of dreams, the unconscious and archetypal myth."

This was a breathe of fresh air mostly due to the fact that the art entirely varied from room to room and artist to artist. 

The neatest part was that we could take pictures!!!

Right after the Tate, we had already decided the previous day we wanted to go see another play - so we went and saw "THE COMMITMENTS" - based on the movie of the same name.
Here is the original preview for the movie: 

The play was a riot!  The singing was spot and the music was entirely well done. The audience was entirely entranced by the music and I was unexpectedly surprised by just how many people there are that are overjoyed to support theatre. It was great. 

After we were done there, then we took the walk back, so John could go get ready for his one-on-one check in with our Prof. Chacón. This allowed me a chance to go have something I don't do often enough - ITALIAN FOOD!!  - Kimberly (another classmate, this time from Phoenix, AZ) went to dinner at a place called the Speghetti House. It was amazing!    So all in all it was a great day. 

 Some good food and poetry - that's the ticket!

Some good food and poetry - that's the ticket!

The take away from the two days : 

I think I am beginning to better understand the make up of character, of exposition and of emotive drive in relation to stories (duh). Maybe its much more about the visceral connection to moments and memory I am keying in on - in Godot - the frustrations for the characters came at moments when memory and the mind were key - and in Mr. Burns, the characters wanted to return to some lost era, built up on the memory of pop culture.  Even the physical environment in which a character occupies has a way of directing how the performance goes - the actors can play up - and play loud - the 4th wall they can break, reaches up into the balconies and beyond. 

Ok, so for now, that is the end of this part - will keep you up to date after tomorrow. Hope your day goes well. 



Walk About Town and Write On II

Hey Gente,

So the way this will work, is I will post as close to daily as I can, giving you the highlights of the day as it goes.  Here was our first stop: 

THE GLOBE THEATRE

 Panoramic photo inside the Globe Theatre!!! 

Panoramic photo inside the Globe Theatre!!! 

Today, we had a chance to do some really cool stuff. We took part in an "Actor's workshop" which consisted of mostly an educational tour of the Globe theatre here in London,  and then a short workshop that laid out some ideas about how the rehearsal process went for actors in the time Shakespeare put plays on. I discovered two things: 

1) the logistics of rehearsal time were nothing like today - think about it, you now get to do a "read through" when you handed a play the very first day you have rehearsal. Think on that for a second. SOMEONE. MADE. A. COPY. FOR. YOU.  - But in Shakespeare's day, a "player" had to write out his lines and the cue line before their line (so they know when to go on).  I even asked about if there were ever stage directions in the plays - and nope, there were no parts included in scripts from back then - just like in poetry, when you have the line and the words to guide the reader to the emotion, to the meaning, an actor at that time, had to be very quick thinking, adaptive and have a sense of language to make the play and the role come off well.  We had a chance to read single lines and figure out how would a person say those lines. What is the emphasis? Who is the line directed to? Where does the pause go? Is a physical response or action that provides for better understanding of the context or the content? We discussed all that. It was very neat.  

2) Actors had to be highly sharp people - sharp as in, quick witted, light on their feet, and able to adjust to any space. Theatres like the Globe, were not all over the place - they had to perform in different space, in different configurations. They were the precursor to the modern acting troupe and gorilla theatre - where minimal sets and minimal props provide for a quicker development of the play as seen by the audience.

If you want to know more about the Globe Theatre, please, click HERE

Then later on that night, we went back to the Globe theatre to see this play: 

 we say this play tonight!!! 

we say this play tonight!!! 

The play itself as told by the website at the Globe Theatre:

"TWO LOVERS ARE BLOWN APART BY LOVE AND WAR

Cleopatra, the alluring and fascinatingly ambiguous Queen of Egypt, has bewitched the great Mark Antony, soldier, campaigner and now one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire. When Antony quarrels with his fellow leaders and throws in his lot with Cleopatra, his infatuation threatens to split the Empire in two.

Virtue and vice, transcendent love  combine in Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare’s greatest exploration of the conflicting claims of sex and power, all expressed in a tragic poetry of breathtaking beauty and magnificence."


It was an awesome experience- watching a play in such a replicated space that shows the world that old world art forms still are relevant. - The play played to the characteristics of the venue - there are high levels, all round and above the stage, so voices carry up and it is a magnificent view from every angle. It is an intimate setting and the changes between scenes didn't use lights - but the actors who are charged with changing up the sets as they go. 

The "High" for the day - 

As we were walking toward the Globe theatre to get there for the play - we were lost and as one Londoner said we "looked like a family of meer cats staring off". Both this young gentleman helped us get to a tube stop and then a second guy helped us figure out the line we needed to get (Jubilee line) . The Brits here were willing to speak, willing to help. It was a nice jester. I plan to pay that back when I get back to Houston to other tourist. 

The "Low" for the day - 

So, the only thing I didn't entirely enjoy on this outing, was the standing in the "pit" for audience members. The play was 3 hours, and thus, we had to stand and try to enjoy the play.   Sadly, the second act of the play didn't hold my attention and I don't know if it was because it dragged on or because my feet hurt.

Over all, it was a great day.  Below are some photos I took for the day. Some at St. Paul's Cathedral, some over the Millennium Bridge, some over the Thames , some of things and lines and textures that held my interest.

 


Check back tomorrow and you can see where we went to next!!!

 

 

Walk About Town and Write on

hey mi gente, 

This will mark the second Thursday that I have been able to blog, consecutively. It is a big step for me, so clap. I can hear you from here. Where is here? So without making to big a stink about it all. I am happy to say - I AM IN EUROPE!!  Officially, I am taking a course entitled "THE CREATIVE EXPERIENCE" - in which the participants will have the opportunity to write about the observations, explorations and creative works while in both LONDON, ENGLAND and MADRID, SPAIN. 

FISH AND CHIPS!!

I am on the first half of the trip - London!  So far, we have been here two days and it has been a blast. Its been roughly 13 years since I was here first and my first impressions are still a bit the same: 

1) the number of languages spoken here are still more distinct than the languages spoken back home. (Though, to be fair, Houston is catching up!!) 
2) Public transportation is still kick ass - the tube system and the bus system are easy to use and EVERYWHERE
3) Everything is smaller (except the people- they got some talk folks here!!) portions of food, door sizes, shower space, cars, refrigerators, etc - the notion of "everything is bigger in Texas" does not fit here. 
4) the precision of words - ex: its not a "parking lot" its a "car park", it's not "watch the signs", it's "observe announcements" 
5) the attitude to media - the biggest breaking story in the news? A BACK LOG OF PASSPORT APPLICATIONS!!!  AHHHHHHH  seriously, I haven't heard a single thing about a school shooting, or a car robbery, or a house catching fire, a kid getting kidnapped, nothing. 
6) This place is bike/motocycle/pedestrian friendly. Seriously. It is the best mode of transportation. 
7) There is a historical reverence and connection all across the city and beyond. You go to Trafalgar Square and you get the interconnection between the Brits, the French and the Spanish. They are all tied together. Naturally, it would have to be this way, as this history is preserved so well. 
8) They have just as many STARBUCKS as we do. Way too many for my taste. 
9) Greens here are greener than what we have back home. I don't mean better, but much more deep colors, in the grass, in the trees, in the flowers. There is so much "green" around, it is nice. Parks are everywhere. 
10) The people are so much more personable than I remember. If you are willing to interact, then people will surely greet you and give you time of day. Not everyone is on a cellphone. It's nice to see. 

Here are some of the pictures I have taken while here on the trip: 

QEPD - 

So it might not seem like this has anything to do with my trip here, but hear me out - even as I am able to count my lucky stars to be out here and hold some of the most amazing conversations about writing and the practice of writing - I can not ignore reality - sadly, the Houston Poetry Community has lost of its newer voices - Miss Alice Alsup.  She was someone I wish I had gotten to know. Her loss has been felt by many and being here in London-town has a bittersweet feel.  My heart goes out to her family and her friends. I only wish I could truly be counted as one of them. I did not know her long enough, but since we kept some of the same friends, I am sure we would have had a natural connection. To all the poets and folks back home, me mas sentido pesamé. 

Today, I spent the morning reflecting on what I read in a Free Press article written by Harbeer Sandhu - he put it out there like that I for one appreciate such honesty. 

Here is the article in case you don't know about it: 

THERE IS NOTHING LEFT NOW THAT GOES UNSAID - THANKS AND RIP, ALICE ALSUP

READ IT? ok - so I thought about her and the impact she made. In a relatively short amount of time, she wrecked shop and kicked culo. It would have been amazing to see her grow as a person and a poet. Before we left for a bus ride to Stratford Upon Avon for play, I got a chance to read "CHASE", a poem Alice wrote.  I thought of the poem, I thought about London, I thought about what death is, what it means and I couldn't help but run the facts of her demise in my head, and as we were driving past a beautiful field, for a split second, I thought of her not a gone, but merely someplace else.  I took out the final details of her life and replaced them in a poem with a new existence in London. I know it is too silly to speak of, but, as elegies go, I wanted to picture her living her life somewhere else. I placed here in "LONDON-TOWN". I place here in Regent's Park, in a flat, reading in the grass.  I think as images go, it was fitting.  
Where ever you are Alice, thank you for your poetry. You will be missed. 

 Alice Alsup- Que En Paz Descanse

Alice Alsup- Que En Paz Descanse

Here is a snippet of the poem I started:

An Elegy in London-Town (After Alice Alsup’s “Chase” )

                                                      “But I too am a wildfire"    - Alice Alsup

You will think you see her as you walk

around. You will run the moment in your head,

when she is found, you will wish that she be

in London-town with you. Image her in Russell Square,

her feet in the air, barefoot,

simple release, not a care, not a pressure, her,

belly down, reading some poems from Sylvia P. 

She will ask you if you would like to get some

candies from the chemist on the corner and if you know

how to change out the sim card on her new “Votofone”.

She will live in this place, now, in old Westminster,

watching the boats travel, walk about town.

She will get lost just like you do, on the Central line,

on the way to Surrey, on the way to Regent’s Park.

She will laugh at the tube stop “Elephant & Castle” and you

will tell her about the necessity of a ploughman’s lunch

with a shot of whiskey before an evening outing.  

She will take pictures and read and read and write.

she will tell you, 

Let us not burn down the world,

consume ourselves in the smoke

 

Its no where near done. 

OK, gang, so that about wraps up this post. But first a message. 

TO MY LOVELY LADY - JUST A QUICK NOTE - 

TODAY, 5 years ago, I made the best decision of my life. I got married to a writer!!  Never been a dull moment yet. Baby, hope you are doing well at home and resting. I miss you much. I adore you. See you soon... 

Long Over Due, So Write Something New

Hey Gente, 

As you read this, I am finally at a point where I can say things have "calmed down" - as if life is ever boring. But for real, I am always apologizing for not getting this thing up to date soon enough. Hopefully, that will change. Its been over a year and a half since I started this blog and I can't seem to figure out a good day to post. I am hoping for Thursdays so, let's see if this works.  As usual, I will try to cover at least three areas and bring you some news. Thanks for reading and please add comments. Tell your friends, tell your enemies, just get them to read. 

"HE HASN'T SLEPT IN YEARS"

This is the closing sentence in the bio for Edward Vidaurre and his latest collection of poetry titled "INSOMNIA".  It is an sharp read. He doesn't hold anything back from the page, from the reader or himself.  Edward has taken a culminating look of something so dense and damaging, and made it bold and introspective. All the poems in this collection are packed with a magnitude of images and metaphor that make the reader take pause and adjust their sleepy eyes to the newest ideas he has to offer. 

Edward has done a masterful job of laying out his soul in these pages. There are poems related to his experience in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. He calls upon the images of his daughter, of the moon lit nights and the dreams he has yet to have. Ed is a blacksmith with this metal. He creates pieces that speak to a cultural relativity interwoven with sestinas, pantoums, haikus and slew of beat poems. There are shadows that live in these poems. They are gritty and worth every letter on the page.  Congrats Edward!!  This is a badass beast!!!  

Straight from the intro to the book: 
"In his second collection of poetry, Edward Vidaurre offers new poems focusing on--and inspired by--bouts of insomnia, and the vivid dream-like imagery that a lack of sleep creates. With an introduction by award-winning Katherine Hoerth. Pick up this book on those weird and wonderful nights when it’s 2:07 a.m. and the waning echoes of yesterday’s shattered dreams and sprightly nightmares reverberate madly against the thickly transparent rays of the moon. In this collection of poems, Edward Vidaurre captures the lingering accusations and celebrations of the night that mingle with the fresh affirmations of the morning through poems filled at times with umbrage and desperation and at others with the sort of devilish charm that has come to define his candid wit. Like a bad dream that won’t go away or a good dream that just makes one’s day Vidaurre’s new collection, Insomnia, rouses us with a twitch and spilt coffee jerk and lulls us with knowing nods to those moments of clarity and opaqueness, of sweetness and acrimony, of haunting realism that can’t help but keep us awake for just one more poem."

 The cover to Edward's book - published by El Zarape Press in the RGV!

The cover to Edward's book - published by El Zarape Press in the RGV!

If you are interested in getting your hands on a copy of the book, click the link below:  INSOMNIA 

You can hit Edward up on Twitter at @EdwardVidaurre. Let him know what you think of the book and follow his posts! 


MEANWHILE, BACK in EL CHUCO

If you are like me, then you have a love for all things historical. History can be found in the very walls you live in - it can be in the places you work and you study in. It is a treasure that should be cherished and protected, if for nothing else, to stand as a reminder of either darker times that should not ever be revisited or a reminder of better days - so to give hope and forward thought.

It is also a frustrating thing when "in the name of progress" places and images are removed with out any thought to its affect on the greater community.

In El Paso, that is exactly what the community is fighting.  Let me be very clear:  The Texas Department of Transportation or TXDoT is bolding working towards taking down a 100 year old building - Lincoln Center. The reason? TXDoT wants to make room and link up highways. Point blank.  Nasty, right? 

Para que veas - click on the link below to get an idea of the latest events as they have occurred- 

Demolition of Central El Paso Lincoln Center delayed by court order

Did you read it? Good. Now for some background on Lincoln Center. 

Lincoln Center in El Paso, TX has its roots at the very heart of the foundation of what would later be the city of El Paso as we know it today. Originally, the land where Lincoln Center (and Lincoln Park) was developed had been worked on, in 1852, by Hugh Stephenson. He built several buildings and his home at this site, back then known as Concordia. Historically, it was the site of the first Mexican community north of the Río Grande. Later by the 1860's it had transformed from a residence to a military base ( an addition if you will, to Fort Bliss, which is in the area) and later a school. From about 1880 to 1910, the land had additions built and rooms added on - and by they time you reach the 1960's the Lincoln School was El Paso's segregated school. Only Mexicanos attended.  Once the Civil Rights Act was passed, the school changed up and eventually was sold off  in the 1970's by the El Paso Independent School District. 

From 1977 to 2006 the building had survived the construction of freeways overhead and eventually became the Lincoln Cultural Arts Center. It is/was the only cultural center in El Paso, a city that boasts over an 80% Mexican American population.  

If you want to get more info on the history of Lincoln Center - click HERE.

OK, so as it stands, there has been a struggle for acknowledgement and preservation actions from the Lincoln Park Community since 2006. It is a part of a culture now. It has always been a part of la comunidad and a prime example of what shared history is. 

Support the efforts of the El Paso community!  DO NOT LET TXDoT OVER REACH - they already tried very quickly to start with the dismantling of the building. It took many brave men and woman to protest and PHYSICALLY stand outside the center to keep the wrecking crews from coming in and starting the demolition.

The difficulty now is that the city of El Paso will not take any more steps to save Lincoln Center - effectively turning its back on its Mexican American community. They will not take over the building, no attach line item funding to help the building out. The future of Lincoln Center rests in the hands of the community. 

 I am adding three links below that tell you the true tale and efforts of the community.  SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT - the more press, the more people are aware, the more pressure is in the air for government officials to do something positive for the community. It is time to open the doors of Lincoln Center!!  

Links for more info: 

STAND FOR LINCOLN 

DONATE! - STOP THE DEMOLITION OF LINCOLN CENTER 

SIGN THE PETITION! 

Many thanks to Georgian "Librotraficante La Vecina" Perez for all the background info!!  


WAT?! ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?!!?!? 

So here is the blurb (press release we created for the Word Around Poetry Tour and the new LINE UP for 2014.  Get it ready mi gente, ya se arma bien pronto! We are expanding the events for poets and for community, so keep tabs on the site and on this blog for more info. 

Click here for the website - www.wordaroundtown.org 

                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 28, 2014                           

Word Around Town Poetry Tour Announces the 2014 Poet Line-Up! 

Houston, TX - The Word Around Town (WAT?!) Poetry Tour’s purpose is twofold:  1) To introduce poets to venues they’ve never been to and 2) To expose audiences to poets they’ve never heard before. The WAT?! Tour’s 9th year is shaping up with a formidable line-up of poets. The week-long poetry event kicks off Sunday August 10th and runs through Saturday, August 16th.  It’s poetry for 7 nights straight in 7 venues. It’s a line up that consists of 18 of Houston’s top poets and a select nightly feature that promises to bring diversity and excitement that defines what it means to be a performing poet in Houston. As always, all shows are free and open to the public- nightly at 8pm,throughout the tour.

The 2014 Line- Up:
This line up represents the full spectrum of Houston poetry- poets garnering attention from local, national and international publications and award winning performances. These poets are slam poets, poets working on MFAs and PHDs amongst performers, hosts and producers of theatre, blogs, live shows and internet radio. They are professors, judges, students, activists, jazz musicians, and graduates from the school of hard knocks from all over the Houston area. The Word Around Town Poetry Tour presents:
 

 ALICE ALSUP| SAVANNAH BLUE | BGK| GERALD CEDILLO | PW COVINGTON

 WINSTON DERDEN | DIGH | ERANIA EBRON | MARLON LIZAMA | SAL MACIAS

 DARLA MCBRYDE | JONATHAN MOODY | BISHOP RAGTIME

 OSCAR PEÑA | RAIN | AMIR SAFI | TRADEMARK | MARY WEMPLE  

 New Flyer for this year!!!  You like? 

New Flyer for this year!!!  You like? 

K, so that ties up another blog post right there. The next time you read, I will give you some updates on Tintero Readings, Sclero Awareness Month and one last item that I will save as the teaser for next week. See you then!

The TEASE: 

 

Time to speak, a time to write

Hey gente, 

Sometimes, I get a chance to speak at important moments in efforts and movements - today is no different. Today, I sacrifice - my wife is about to undergo surgery tomorrow and I still have to prep the house for her recovery and yet, I find myself at the State Board of Education of Texas to discuss the need for Mexican American Studies - here is what I had to tell them: 

Statement to the TX State Board of Education –

 

Education for All

Good afternoon, buenas tardes, boa tarde – my name is Guadalupe Mendez, an educator from Houston, TX.  I come here with a simple message – a request in fact, one I hope does not fall on deaf ears. I ask, implore, beseech you to consider and vote yes to the creation of Mexican American Studies in the form of a statewide effort. It is not enough that school districts be allowed to implement local programs, what carries weight is the creation of a statewide curriculum that school districts can work with.  It is vital that it be done, in order to address the rise of new majority. It is not a new concept – over 51% of school students are from Spanish speaking origins and something must be done to meet them in their educational track. It is not enough to create programs and systems to regroup latino drop out rates back into schools. It is not enough to provide dual language programs with luke-warm connections with literature. Something substantial must be done to make sure that the now majority in Texas public schools – make it to and through high school graduation and into college.

As a elementary and secondary school teacher, I have seen many students disconnect, disassociate, and feel disarmed from not knowing their own background and the extended background of Texas History. Make no mistake, I do not want a supplanted education that only speaks of some random history of Mexico – I want an additive history, that talks about the whole picture – one that shows the roots of this state and the southwest part of this nation as a whole. As Mrs. Cargill noted her self, in a graduation ceremony commencement speech for inmates “education serves as a stepping stone and lays a strong foundation to give them hope for the future no matter where they are.” Can’t the “them” she refer to be not only inmates earning a GED, but our Hispanic children, making their own moves in the bigger context of American? Don’t our students, all students, Hispanic and otherwise deserve a chance to pick the classes they want? Equality is a far reaching, far moving tool. If our prisoners can have a chance at a strong foundation, don’t our children deserve the same?  Please, vote your conscience, and say yes to Mexican American Studies. It is a door ready to be opened that allows a new chapter to be read and studied. It is a beautiful history and reaches across cultures and across the state.

I thank you for your time. Mil Gracias. 

Writers Can Write About Short Films, Shortly

Hey Gente!!  

Hope you are good!!  I am staying pretty busy (teaching, hosting, writing, editing, workshopping, blogging, and an MFA) but I get a chance to see some MOVIES now and again.   In truth,  this getting to see some films is really due to my class in Short Fiction & Film.  As a result, I must also confess that MY WIFEY has been (as usual) taking advantage of my MFA program and doing some of the assignments for her self (DAMN FREELOADER!!)  - to that end, she actually had a good suggestion: 

Because of her, I have one of the films I have to review for the program this week!!

It's entitled "NEW BOY" - Take a look at the film and I will review it and fill you in with a summary of what I found interesting
(CLICK ON THE BOLDED NAME TO SEE THE FILM)

NEW BOY

 

 

 

Then there is this one other film - and before you think me a sap, yes, I am a romantic at heart, and loved the frenetic pace of this short film. It's way high school angst, but quite nice. Take a look at this one and i will review below. 

THEN MOST BEAUTIFUL THING

Put the Notebook Down, Get on the Mic, Get on the Floor

Hey Gente - Feliz viernes!

As I am writing this, I am a few hours away from Spring Break beginning and if any of you reading this are in education, then you know the break is well needed. Kids have been bustin' ass and taking names and have had the longest stretch of academics since January - so they and their teachers, professors, teaching assistants (TAs) deserve a small respite. Thank you for all you do and get some sleep.  

Now let's get the blog going today, shall we? 

10 YEARS IN THE MAKING!!

So this is happening (what a great way to kick off Spring Break!!) - 

Ruby, Darnell and the gang have done an amazing job hosting and putting together a magnificent combination of celebration, dance and learning that is the hallmark of the TEXAS SALSA CONGRESS. (Click on the bold to go to the site). This is year is a decade in the making - Ruby has put this together enough times that a whole generation of dancers have been able to attend. It is pretty bad ass and always a real treat to see such amazing dancers under one roof for the weekend!!  

This year, Ruby invited Jasminne and I to showcase some poetry. Its been a pleasure getting to share some words with the dancing community for the last three years- better yet, since, they actually respond and react to the words we share. They have been one of the best crowds to perform form - (the Salsa dancing community, artists themselves, get the idea behind art and are so supportive) To be sure, it's a good moment poetically, since this will be only the SECOND time the wife and I have collaborated on a piece together. We work so differently that we don't often get to put a piece together. In truth, we would do it more often but only if people ask - and Ruby is the ONLY person who has, so we take the charge and create. THIS year, Ruby wanted us to create a piece to look at community, family, legacy and the 10 year anniversary, so that's what we did. Jas took the community and family aspect and I took the legacy and anniversary elements - and I think folks at the congress will be presently surprised. 

Here are the details for the Congress: 

10th Anniversary of a Texas Sized Celebration of Dance & Culture

The Texas Salsa Congress is one of the largest dance events to hit the Lone Star State! This upcoming year we celebrate our 10th Anniversary of a Texas Sized Serving of Salsa! The event draws teams from all over the world to celebrate all forms of dance including but not limited to Salsa, Bachata, Jazz, Contemporary & Hip-Hop. This dance exhibition has provided shows and performances that have left our audiences on their feet with standing ovations and ready to dance the night away! Come back often to our website to check out a tribute to our talent over the years!

This event has been one of the events that has paved the way for many other events to shine in Texas. Always amazing, always BIG-Texas Salsa Congress!

The Texas Salsa Congress kicked off last night at Rebels Honky Tonk Bar on Washington Ave. and will continue until March 16th. If you want tickets - check the link HERE
Should be lots of fun!! 

 

SOMETHING NEW!!! TINTERO READINGS... 

Say hello to the city’s newest addition to the poetic art scene! The Tintero Collective proudly presents something for “la communidad” – a hybrid reading series that changes every month;  a featured poet reading, an open mic night, a performance art experience, a poetry Q & A session, etc., etc.  The most important feature is that this reading is BILINGUAL; Spanish, English, Spanglish – all are welcome.  In the proud tradition of the former Nuestra Palabra Literary Showcase, the TINTERO READINGS (click on the bold) plans to fill the void and build the voice of bilingual poets in the city who need a place to read, a place to express and a place to explore writing.  The first ever reading took take place at Talento Bilingüe de Houston on Februrary 26th, from 7:30 – 10:00pm, and continues monthly, every fourth Wednesday of the month, under a new focus. The Tintero Collective (organizers of the Tintero Readings) plan to keep the readings relevant and open to the public. 

Background

 With growth seen by such events as the Houston Poetry Fest and the Word Around Town Poetry Tour, the question from new and interested poets has come up time and time again – “Is there a space for Latino poets to share their work?” Sadly, the answer for the last 10 years has been “no”. In fact, the last venue to host anything similar to what the Tintero Collective is suggesting happened to be Talento Bilingüe de Houston, under the direction of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say. Since then, there has been relatively no space, no continuous movement to help develop the voice of up-and-coming Latino poets in English or in Spanish.  In response, I proposed the idea of creating a new style of reading -in a bilingual setting, to several other poets and artists. Deniz “dee!colonize” Lopez, Stalina Villarreal, John Pluecker, Marlon Lizama and Marc-Antony Piñon all agreed it was a worthwhile effort and all are working under the name – the Tintero Collective.

Bios of the Tintero Collective:

Marlon Lizama – World traveled BBoy (Havikoro) and poet, this 30 year old writes to social issues, love, and injustice; all while juggling fatherhood, a daytime job as Artistic Coordinator Neighborhood Centers Inc., and international BBoy competitions. Marlon strives to prove a positive message of action through dance and word. Marlon has recently returned from a BBoy competition in Europe. . . and the travels continue.  

dee!colonize - A strong voice in Houston's poetry scene, she brings an in-your-face social commentary to the mic. Over the past 6 years, this Xicana has connected with several artists & activists to bring the message of revolution & community consciousness to the stage. She has hosted at the 1st & 2nd Annual East End Festival. She has read/organized benefit shows & events dealing with the abolition of the death penalty, police brutality, empowerment of women, immigration rights, black/brown unity, and indigenous pride. dee!colonize currently maintains a blog- www.deecolonize.com - where she shares poetry & commentary weekly. 

John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, translator and co-founder of the language justice and literary experimentation collaborative Antena. His work is informed by experimental poetics, radical aesthetics and cross-border cultural production. His texts have appeared in journals in the U.S. and Mexico, including The Volta, Mandorla, Aufgabe, eleven eleven, Third Text, Animal Shelter, HTMLGiant and Literal. His work extends off the page to text-based improvisational performances in collaboration with experimental musicians and performance artists, as well as projects at the intersections of visual art and poetry. He has translated numerous books from the Spanish, including Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border (Duke University Press, 2012) and Feminism: Transmissiones and Retransmissions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). He has published three chapbooks, Routes into Texas (DIY, 2010), Undone (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011) and Killing Current (Mouthfeel Press, 2012).

 Marc-Antony Piñón is the creative director for Arts 4 Healing Inc., a graphic artist for Baylor College of Medicine and the founder of MAP Creative, a graphic design company out of Houston, Texas. He is also a pianist, rapper and visual artist.

Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal is a Mexican and Chicana poet, a translator, and an instructor of English. The book (H)emötoma by Minerva Reynosa has been the main focus of her translations, for which she attended World to World, Mundo a Mundo in 2009 to workshop poems from the book. She is also the translator of “Grace Shot,” by Luis Alberto Arellano in Sèrie Alfa: Artiliteratura, “Eight Fabulous Animals” by Ilan Stavans in Eleven Eleven, and nine poems by Minerva Reynosa in the latest Mandorla. She has an MFA in Writing from the California College of the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Stalina lives and works here in Houston.

and then me.... 

NEXT SHOW - the next featured poet will be Jasminne Mendez (click on the bold for her site) and if we can swing it - poets from a new anthology TWENTY - IN MEMORIAM

So far it has been a blast - first show was killer and now we are making way for the next show - so get ready to join us. 

So join us if you can!!  March 26th - doors open at 7:30 - show kicks off at 7:55 and we go til 10 pm. I will be host this time around and we will have a discussion afterward. Bring a friend or two - TBH is located in 2nd Ward at 333. S. Jensen - this event is always free and open to the public. 

ok, so there you go. A bit fast on the details, but things are going. If you happen to like the blog, share it with your friends and your enemies - I'll keep typing. See you soon, and of course - the tease: 



 

Writers Write Feverishly About All Things

Hey Mi Gente - hope you are good. There are a ton of new things afoot all over the place, so let's get started right away!!   - 

First up the TEASE!! 

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SO, this should be a pretty righteous show!!  AND yes, I am being bias - but not really. Let me explain - so I have heard THE EX-OPTIMISTS and they are pretty good. (Click on the bold name for a youtube vid of them.)  What I am excited to see is my homie Matt Garcia - who plays in KNIGHTS of the FIRE KINGDOM!! Actually, truth be told, I am an awful friend and should have gone to see him and band play way before this - but I am glad I am going TONITE!!  Here on the blog, to get you hyped up to see the show (YOU NEED TO GO!!!), I even got the band to agree to an interview (a first ever on this ratty old blog)!! - So, click on the vid below and then read up on the interview. Then after - read up on them directly from a Houston Press Article. 
Enjoy the read!! A big thanks to Matt for puttin' up with my craziness and to Jeff (lead) for answering the questions. 

1) How did you guys get started?

Aaron and I played together in a band called Roky Moon and BOLT! that was going to start playing less and less because some of the members moved to Austin, some got new jobs, we lost our practice space--basically life happened and that band was kinda pushed to the back burner. But Aaron and I didn't wanna stop playing together, so we recruited his brother to play drums and got Dave to play bass and just starting jamming for fun. Before too long, BOLT! called it a day and we realized that the new thing could be a real band that could play out and maybe do a record at some point, we had a couple line-up flippity flops and that's pretty much how we came to be as we are now.

2) Where did you get the name?

My daughter came up with it. She was writing a story and the Knights of the Fire Kingdom were side characters in that. I thought it was a really badass name for a badass rock band, so I asked her if she minded if we used it. She said that we could if I have her 15 bucks for the rights, so I did.

3) How many years have you played together? What makes that work?

We've been playing for about a year and a half, almost two years. I think from a musical perspective, it works because we all have fairly similar tastes in music, but they're different enough that they contrast and grate against each other enough to keep things sounding interesting. From a personal perspective, it works because we all really like hanging out. We spend a lot of time with each other, so it's obviously really important to get along. Enjoying being around the people that you're in a band with is way more important than how someone plays guitar or drums or whatever by a long shot.

4) What does a rehearsal for you look like?

We named our practice room "the Fire Kingdom" and we usually text each other silly shit all day long, particularly if it's a day that we're gonna be playing. So once we get up to the Fire Kingdom, we're already all on the same page--it's like an all-day, non-musical warm-up. Someone always brings community beers, so we open a few up, do some free jams to get loose, then run the set, take a break and then run it again for good measure. Lately, though, we've been working on a lot of new stuff and we've got about 6 or 8 new songs that we're fleshing out. And we've been bringing wine instead of beers lately, too, so it's kinda adding a touch of class to things.

5) Best thing about being in a band?

The camaraderie. Getting to hang out with your buds. Plus it's cathartic. Our songs, for me, can serve almost as primal scream therapy. So all the bullshit that may have been building up over a few days gets instantly purged and things are good to go again for awhile.

6) Worst thing about being in a band? 

I'm not able to do it all the time.

7-8) Who are your influences? both individually and collectively.

Well, like I was saying earlier, we've got pretty diverse musical tastes and influences, but I think the common thread between all of us is a love for early and mid '90s rock. We're all about 30, give or take a couple years, so we all came into our own in that period right after Nirvana got huge and were kinda shaped by what came out the few years after that. But we're really kind of all over the place. Dave is really into that first wave of emo--before "emo" was a bad word and still applied to bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and No Knife and stuff. Aaron is more into the classics--Queen, Bowie, the Beatles. I think Chris is probably the one of us who's most in touch with what's happening and what's cool and new right now. He's really good at turning us on to new stuff. Matt's sort of the wild card. As long as I've known him, I've only ever heard him listen to jazz records. He's really into the Coltranes, the Miles Davises, the Louis Primas. He told us about this thing that Thelonious Monk used to do when he was writing. Apparently, he'd write chords or notes on little scraps of paper, throw them in a hat, pull them out 4 or 5 at a time and that would be the chord progression that would be the basis of whatever he'd work on next. We tried doing the same thing as an experiment and all of the new songs that we're working on ended up getting written that way. We're pretty happy with them, so I guess the experiment was a success. I'm the alt-rock guy. I still listen to the records I bought from Vinal Edge when I was 15, y'know? Old Rocket from the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu records, the first couple Foo Fighters albums, Nirvana bootlegs, scattered garage and metal records--as long as there are loud guitars and some asshole screaming over it, I'm basically sold. WHen you are not playing music, what do you do? A lot of our time is taken up by day jobs, unfortunately. But we're all able to find time for girlfriends and families and other artistic stuff, too. I like to do a lot of drawing, Aaron is a really great actor and does tons of stage work, Dave likes making hilarious little movies, and Chris & Matt both took up competitive swimming last summer as a way to stay in shape. I wanna try to get out there with them this year, but I'm not sure if I'll have time.

9) If you had to describe yourself and your music in 3 words, what would that be?

"Punitive damages pending."

10) What's next?

On the immediate horizon, we have a show this Friday, March 7 at Fitzgerald's with our friends Holder, Midnight Norma Lane and the Ex-Optimists. Then on the 22nd, we're going out to play at Revolution in College Station, so that should be fun. We've got a full-length album at the presses right now, too, that's gonna be coming out on Little T&A Records probably either in April or May and there will be a release party for that. Beyond that, we've got our sights set on finishing up this new batch of songs, getting them recorded and released. We'll be playing some shows in the summer and fall, too. We really like playing and being in this band, so we'll definitely be around.

17 HOUSTON ACTS TO WATCH OUT FOR THIS YEAR  

if you want any more info - look them up on facebook!!  Hopefully, I will see you and these guys tonight!!!

 

CREATIVE WOMEN, CREATING!!!

So, again, and in amazing fashion, the ladies at Creative Women Unite are putting together an amazing show for this Saturday, March 8th. Event goes on from 6 - 11pm, so show up!!. Here are the details: 
 

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We each have a vision of what we hope to accomplish, what we wish to manifest in our lives. The journey to reach our goals is often as rewarding as the prize itself. Resilience becomes our ally, strengthens us, and helps us to become empowered; ultimately allowing us to bloom.

Join Creative Women Unite for our annual International Women's Day & Women's Herstory Month celebration March 8th, 2014 at Midtown Art Center, 3414 La Branch, Houston TX, 77004.

6:00 PM to 7:30 PM Opening Art Reception
8:00 PM to 11:00 PM Variety Show
6:00 PM to 10:00 PM CWU Mercado 


Suggested Donation: 
$10 adult, $5 students, children under 6 & seniors over 60 FREE


These are the following talented women performing in the variety show this year:
Thay Alaffita, Caelin Boarer, C4 Ceefor Ebrahimi, Holly Charles, Tere Garcia, Anna Garza, Margaret HopeDeniz Yxayotzin LopezLena Melinger,Jasminne MendezTifani PustStephanie Saint Sanchez w/special guests The Gendermyn & Miranda Villarreal

The following creative visual artists's work has been chosen to exhibit in this year's CWU group show:
Amy Achrysalis, Christine Bongateen Armstrong, Betty Baer, Lee Ann Carrier, Dre Forgotten, Rachel Gonzales, Elizabeth Gruhn Tina Hernandez, Rachael Holliday, Senyase Garcia Jimenez, Linda Simen Kelly, Beverly A. Kemp, Kelly Kielsmeier, Alina Neumann, Mandy Peyrani, Dani Pontus, Alexus Rendon, Lady Jane Shipley, April Sullivan, Georgo Tapley, Saralene Tapley, Isabel Torres, Veronica VegaMonica Villarreal, Greta Ward, Charisse Weston, Adrienne Wong & Jo Zider

Looking for that one-of-a-kind artisan gift? The following vendors are featured in the CWU Mercado: Bring Them Home, Holly Charles, Farrah Babette GodfreyLa Reina Vegana/Love Waters, Mitra Mostofi, Mama Cruz, 1 Stop Shop, Pleasure Focus, Recycled by Design & Wild Roots Naturals

DJ Erika Payán Zanetti will be spinning at the opening reception!

We would like to thank the following sponsors: East End StudioGallery, Voices Breaking Boundries http://www.vbbarts.org/ and Bright Star Productions http://www.brightstarproductions.com/

FOR MORE INFO ON THE ARTISTS, THE MARKET, and THE EVENT - go to their site

 www.creativewomenunite.org


TWENTY... 

So this just happened:

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Poets and artists joined together to create Twenty: In Memoriam--in response to the tragic school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. This poetry collection is an offering to the children, parents, families, and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Poets and artists from across the U.S. humbly offer this anthology in hopes of providing a literary embrace in the face of tragedy, with works about loss and healing, fear and faith, love and hope—the hope that words have the power to strengthen the ties that unite us as Americans and as human beings with a shared sense of compassion and kindness that help us honor the past and give us the gumption to dare to move forward. Partial proceeds from this project will be donated to consistently verifiable charities and foundations in Connecticut and the U.S. dealing with children, autism, mental health, art, and education. I was lucky enough to be included in this collection. if you can pick up a copy. 

Mil Gracias to Ed, Daniel, Jose, and Katherine. Amazing work, mi gente!! - 

If you are interested in getting a copy - click on the name below and head over to AMAZON to get yourself one. 

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TWENTY: IN MEMORIUM

And with that, we close - just in enough time for the TEASE:  (more details next week!!!)

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Sometimes, A Film Speaks to a Writer, Suddenly

Hey gente, 

Hope all is good in your barrios, calles, y cuadras!  Its been about two weeks since the last blog post and this time the focus isn't just on the "Flash Fiction" we looked at before. NO, this time, we get to take a trip and visit short film (which in a very direct way is Sudden Fiction, but on the screen). 

So let me give your el profe's directive for the week: 

Watch three Films 

"Natives" 

 “Anti-Social Network” 

“Sniffer”

Watch one film not assigned.

Link the non-assigned film and write your thoughts on it, covering characterization, setting, lighting and other elements (props, costume).

You must also refer to assigned film(s).

_______________________________________________________________________

So, let's get started shall we?

Do me the favor and view at least 2 of the films linked above - you can comment back if you liked them or not, and what caught your attention with the films. So, bueno, the film I decided to discuss is even way shorter than the three above - watch it. 

THE RETURN

To start off with, I think what catches my attention first is the "drop zone" the film puts the viewer in - in this case, on the side of the road. A lonely road, isolated and vast- and this sets the tone for the rest of the film. It lines up both the immediate action and the setting in a way that they have to exist together, visually. In photography, this is known as texture - the photographer is able to capture many different contrasting points in the one shot and that speaks volumes. In this case the film open with a young man, alone, pondering, isolated on a lonely road, isolated, in some gloom, or some evening - and it is a long road, perhaps a foretelling of the journey the character will have to endure.  Its cleaver to start this way. The writer kills two birds with the one stone by giving as much "set up" as needed with out a plethora of exposition. 
       The same can be said with the start of the other three films - in Sniffer, the character and his companion live together and she has to bring him down from the ceiling, within the first few moments of the film,  so he won't "float off"  - giving us a recurring element that exists throughout the film. It opens in the bedroom, full of shadow, and at least in both of these cases- there is no dialog, there is just either the theme or the problem that already proceeded the viewers arrival to the film.  

   The other two films, ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK and NATIVE start the viewer not just in setting per say, in a sequence of actions:  - the semi-control freak in NATIVE comes out of a convenience store having bought something for her self and her lover, yet her lover hadn't asked for anything. She wants to lay down ground rules as she drives, already adding to the tension from the get go. In ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK - you get a rather comical look at the way one guy interacts with people and events primarily through Facebook. As the story opens, he is "checking in" to someone's funeral, to the dismay of the others in attendance. It is action here that gives the viewer the signal of what the overall plot points might entail. 

I think in terms of how the cinematography goes - I think each film is distinct and reps the theme very damn well. In SNIFFER - there are shadows and gloomy colors that cover the viewer, along with the synchronized moments of the day to day, people walking with weighted boots, trudging along keeping their literal "feet on the ground" but no one looks up. No one looks up, except for the protagonist, who finally unlatches his boots and floats away. 

Ok, I think gave you a bit of what my thoughts were as to the assignment and i hope you guys enjoyed the films - next week, we will pick up with events happening around the HTX and local areas.