This Must Be the Place

Oscar & Barb
Originally uploaded by geminipoet
Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Sigauke

Last April I read at the Mission Cultural Center and the shape of that set-list became the foundation for what would become Anywhere Avenue. While I can’t say that this set-list will mimic the flow of my next chapbook project I will say that it has given me something to think about, something to be grateful for and has inspired ideas for newer poems that will help flesh out a new narrative arc.


• Un extracto de “Hablo de la Ciudad” por Octavio Paz
• Political Theory
• The God of the Near Miss
• Unsolved Crimes Perpetrated by Invisible Men as Reported by an Unreliable Witness
• How much for the building (tenants optional)?
• Restoration #6
• God Loves A Liar
• This Wednesday
• I’m Jus Askin
• Excerpt from “I Speak of the City” by Octavio Paz
• Psalm for Anywhere Avenue
• Section Four
• Intersections
• Ode To A Whiteboy

What I didn’t like about this set:
Since I don’t have much experience reading these poems my mouth trips over some of the words which means I really have to edit down a lot of these poems. Stumbling over my words also makes me feel like a newbie on the mic, which not only wounds my ego but also gives some audience the impression that I am not giving 100%.

What I did like about this set:
Since I don’t have much experience reading these poems I am genuinely surprised about the way the individual lines, stanzas and poems come together and that wonder translates into some positive fuel for my ego, which inspires me to better readings and to write more new stuff.

So this is the Catch22 I’ve been in for the last few months and I think I am satisfied with the occasional word stumble and misfire in favor of pushing myself into new uncharted waters.

Things I want to change about this current narrative arc: Adding more nuances to the various characters I am introducing. The “I” in Anywhere Avenue stays pretty consistent, but the “I” in this group of poems shifts around a lot and I wonder if the audience was cool with the kind of over population. I am cool with the perspective shifting but I am thinking that it should be a more rhythmic motion as opposed to a violent toss. However if the point of the poems is to simulate CITY then drastic character shifts, mimicked on the page by a variety of forms, would equal a more realistic approach. I guess we will see.

I hope all this introspection doesn’t sound like I was unhappy with the reading because I was actually quite thrilled about the whole thing especially the part where I get to co-feature with Barb who delivered a stellar reading from Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata. Both these works have been a heavy influence on my own poems and process, the melding of Place and Story where both the environment and the characters are distinct and constantly informing each other with Barb as the speaker who never picks sides and delivers the poem with a take-no-prisoner attitude that stays in your face without having to resort to any undue hyperbole.

Many thanks to all the Sacramento poets who came out, Tim Kahl who recorded the event, Emmanuel Sigauke for the pics, and special thanks to Arturo Mantecon for making it happen.

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  1. Good post. I am still thinking about what I’d said about your reading and your going micro into these various “I” personae as opposed to initially giving them the larger city/urban blight context and then going into these personae. Will blog about it later, but for now, I should just say it sounds like it’s a good thing your current set lists are tripping you up a bit. I think this is much more challenging and interesting that hearing poets do the greatest hits and old repertoire.

    Now, re: what you are calling my “take no prisoners” thing, I think this is what apparently alienated a particular demographic in the room.

  2. re: alienat(ing) a particular demographic in the room

    isnt one of the points of Poeta to place a spotlight on everyday situations where the (self-proclaimed) entitled feel they can run roughshod over others and then turn that spotlight back on them?

  3. hi OB! How are you! I have to admit that I stopped reading your blog for no good reason, and now I have every reason to start again. . .what I mean is, I am struggling and straining and trying to lift my head up with this publishing/poeting thing, too, still. . .and I miss your ideas/company on this. . . .And oh, Octavio Paz. What a tremendous crush I’ve got on this one. . .

    tree dap! hilarious!

  4. hey mara, glad to know you are reading the blog again.

    yes, still trying to learn more on the publishing/poeting/reading thing, as well

    be on the lookout for more city poems soon.

    take care.

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