Acknowledgement: Beltway Poetry Quarterly

No SB1070 mural
Originally uploaded by Steve Rhodes

Now this is a nice start to the New Year.

Many thanks to all the folks at Beltway Poetry Quarterly especially Kim Roberts and guest editor Francisco Aragón for including me in their latest issue. The fact that this is a special issue dedicated to the Floricanto in DC: A Multicultural Response to SB1070 makes it an even greater honor and lessens the sting of not being able to actually participate in last year’s AWP event due to bad weather. Now, thanks to the power of text and imagination, I can share a virtual stage with some voices that I deeply respect, am continually inspired by, and folks that I can even call friends.

For those of you who like to know the behind the scenes stuff–think Blu Ray commentary on the Poetry World–I gotta say I almost missed the cut on this issue and only thanks to the gracious prodding of Francisco Aragon was I able to get in. So why did that happen?

It wasn’t because I didn’t want to be in the issue but I honestly didn’t think I had anything to contribute that would honor the spirit of the publication. I have some good poems that don’t yet have a publishing home but I wasn’t just going to contribute the next poem in my queue but add something to not just be another voice. Especially since I don’t write a lot of response poems and only have one poem specific to SB1070.

Finally I decided to submit a poem that’s been on my blog since it’s been written, “the ice worker lives,” a cento written during the reading party for In the Grove #16, celebrating the life of and work of Andrés Montoya. If there is any poem that I’ve written that speaks about the injustice of a law like SB1070, it would be this poem that gathers the voices of all these speakers who by their words and actions stand against the idea of any legislation that would disrespect familia in any way.

Enough behind the scenes mess, please head over to Beltway Poetry and enjoy the gathering of poems that speaks against SB1070 and stands for poetry and its power of change.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

50… no more… no less.jpg
Originally uploaded by bernat…

The new year is coming up fast and what better resolution than to return to the blog and get back to the dirty grit of poetic work.

2011 was a great year for me in terms of my professional development with a new title and raise at my non-poetry related job and, I’d like to think, improved as an all around normal person. Sadly, I don’t think I improved very much as a poet. I did become a better teacher of poetry and added some nice publication creds but I don’t think I got any better in my craft as evidence by the fact that this is the first time in years that I didn’t put out a chapbook.

The thing that real stings is how little I’ve come to care about the ancillary aspects of poetics—the readings, the hype, the drama, the talk and the angst of it. I find myself retreating when I hear about anything negative in regard to poetry which is so different from my younger poet self who would hear any challenge about my idea of an ideal democratic poetry state and respond with some deeply righteous indignation. Now, not so much. I still believe that poetry can transform and enrich lives but I don’t think that getting all confrontational and snarly about poetry does anything except make me a stereotype. And, more than anything, I hate being a stereotype.

The end result is an absence from this blog, the Command Central for that before mentioned indignation, and I think that absence has been one of my big mistakes of the last year. There has to be a way to keep promoting the positive aspects of poetry, performance and process without resorting to shock jock jabs and and snipes. Of course, the jabs and snipes are an easy form of writing so I guess I have to keep pushing myself to be a better writer.

Second big regret of 2011—a lack of any real reading. Yeah, I know we’re always supposed to be reading and a “true poet” is knee deep in three books and yadda, yadda, yadda but I’ve put so much energy into getting ahead at my paying job and also working hard at some side poetry gigs that I find myself mentally and emotionally exhausted with any remaining energy going towards staying physically fit. Segue: I worked out 102 times this last year and feel as strong as ever. End congratulatory side.

Well, what to do in the New Year? Make some positive changes and let that change start with reading some good books. Not just poetry but also more full novels, graphic novels, real sci-fi and maybe a bio or two. Keeping up with movie obsession is a good compliment so my main resolution is to commit to the Fifty Fifty Challenge of 50 new books and 50 new movies in 2012. Sound interesting? You can sign up over at a great website set up by author Jon Yang.

All throughout, I’ll be documenting those new books and movies here on the blog, keep up getting better at my job, try out some new recipes, make sure to get in another 100+ workouts this year and, best believe, continue to revise and improve my manuscript for publication.

Peace out 2011 and big ups to 2012.

The Places We Call Home

“The Places We Call Home” -a free literary event in celebration of the upcoming Filipino American International Book Festival at Eastwind Books of Berkeley.

Eastwind Books Of BerkeleySeptember 29, 2011
Thursday 7:00 pm
Eastwind Books of Berkeley
2066 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704

Authors and Poets reading will include:

Oscar Bermeo was born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below and To the Break of Dawn.

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author of eight books, including the internationally-acclaimed novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Magdalena, and Vigan and Other Stories.

Rashaan Alexis Meneses earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California’s Creative Writing Program, where she was named a 2005-2006 Jacob K. Javits Fellow and awarded the Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction.

Veronica Montes is the co-author of Angelica’s Daughters, as well as a short story writer whose work has appeared in Bamboo Ridge, Growing Up Filipino, and Philippine Speculative Fiction 5.

Barbara Jane Reyes is a recipient of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and the author of Diwata, which was recently noted as a finalist for the California Book Award.

Benito M. Vergara, Jr. was born and raised in the Philippines. He is the author of Displaying Filipinos: Photography and Colonialism in Early 20th-Century Philippines and Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City.

For more information about the October 1 to October 2, 2011 Filipino American International Book Festival visit

For more event information
Call: 510-548-2350

Audio: CantoMundo 2011 Fellows Reading

CantoMundo 2011

Many thanks to Brenda Nettles Riojas of Corazón Bilingüe for this awesome clip of the CantoMundo 2011 Fellows Reading.

It was a real pleasure co-hosting this event with Amalia Ortiz and presenting the diverse work of all our fellow poetas to a packed house at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin. Looking forward to hearing the next part of the clip with the rest of the fellows.

For those keeping score at home, you can hear me read “Barry Bonds on the Witness Stand” at the 10:43 mark quickly followed up by Diego Báez doing a cover of my poem, “I’m Jus Askin.”

Photo Credit: The Center for Mexican American Studies

Acknowledgment: Generations Literary Magazine

More good news, folks! Many thanks to Kiala Givehand and all the folks at Generations Literary Magazine for including “Epistle to Kool Herc,” “Eulogy,” “Tribute,” and “Ode to My Clyde Pumas” in their second issue—Influences.

All these poems come from NaPoWriMo 2010 and are all special to me as they capture the spirit of hip-hop poetics that emerged from last year’s April poems.

Generations will be available in the next few weeks but you can be the most mac of all macs if you pre-purchase your copy now. Hit up this link for info on how you can be the first on your block with the new hotness.

Still on the fence? Peep the list of contributors and know this issue will be live when it hits.

Generations Literary Magazine: Issue Two

INFLUENCES: In this issue, we will explore what influences us. From role models to music to money. What influences your life? Your decisions? How have you been influenced by others? Are most of your influences from the generations before you or from your peers? What influences have you had on others?

Often, we are influenced by people, places, and events that we don’t realize until well after our interaction. We want to hear about the experiences that have shaped your life.

In keeping with the overall theme of the journal, we’d love to hear/see how other generations have influenced you. From one generation to the next, we impact and affect one another. We learn from or resist the influence of those before us. And whether we choose to or not, we also influence the generations behind us.

Your ideas and images can represent your neighborhood or the globe. You can share what is private or public, individual or universal. We want to see & read how you interpret the theme INFLUENCES.

This is a conversation — we are waiting to hear your voice.

• Elmaz Abinader
• Oscar Bermeo
• Cynthia Blank
• Michelle Brulé
• Aichlee Bushnell
• Valentina Cano
• William Cass
• Pam Carriker
• Macy Chadwick
• Kevin M. Chopson
• Emma Shaw Crane
• Lauren Crux
• Dave Davis
• Rick D’Elia
• Pat Falk
• Elizabeth Fishel
• Myrah Fisher
• Trina Gaynon
• Alisa Golden
• Becky Joy Hirsch
• Linda Lee Jaffe
• Samuel Levi Jones
• Kathamann
• Barbara Leon
• J.H. Martin
• Matt McGee
• Erica Minton
• George Northrup
• Tess Patalano
• Willie Perdomo
• Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha
• Samuel Sattin
• Katey Schultz
• M.E. Silverman
• Mica Valdez
• Amy Watkins
• July Westhale
• Christopher Woods
• Interview with Rachel McKibbens