You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

free walking and driving tours of east l.a. including restaurants, murals, marketplaces, history:

walking tour of downtown los angeles including free sites in chinatown, olvera street, city hall, downtown library, little tokyo:

free hikes in san gabriel mountains and in griffith park behind the observatory where you can see the hollywood sign, especially if parts of los angeles are on fire

free summer 2010 performing arts at california plaza including nortec collective & lula washington dance theater:

poetry readings and spoken word performances: and:

ride a bike along the l.a. or san gabriel rivers:

enter East L.A. Dirigible Transport Lines lottery to win free new year’s dirigible wine and chicken picnic over pasadena or annual spring dirigible race to noah purifoy’s sculpture garden in joshua tree:

over poems at la palabra reading series at ave. 50 gallery—gracias to laura longoria and don newton for inviting ron baca and me–i’d worked with ron in 1989, i said in those days i was working full time, teaching, dept chair, sponsoring poetry club with ruben martinez for boyle heights teens for seven years, writing books, karate 15 – 20 hours per week, raising 3 kids, getting 4 to 6 hours sleep, putting thousands of hours into meetings, anti-war and cultural activities, on the board of cafe cultural, helping out at events on the eastside, (and i told the folks filling all the seats in ave. 50 gallery, thanks to jose, gloria, enrique, phoebe, sam, patricia for tuning in—as i stood in front of terrific paintings of brilliant stars and galaxies) even if in 1989 we put in thousands of hours only to see our venues close and the events seemingly all forgotten, all those happenings from the old days washed away by time and gone, people scattered, we had that dream (and maybe a bunch of others) and now if you look on first ave. where cafe cultural used to be, it’s all happening, galleries, events, casa 0101, art, coffeeshops, eastside luv open mic, etc., all kinds of other things going on from there to imix bookstore, who knew this dream could come true?

How about a bunch of these dreams?

“Poesia No Solo Estas Hecha de Palabras”—Homenaje al poeta ROQUE DALTON

Presentacion Rosamaria Segura

Anecdotas Jorge Portillo
Poesia Dora Magana
Gustavo Adolfo Guerra
Jessica Grande
Karina Oliva
Leisy Abrego
Oriel Maria Siu
Oscar Rene Benitez
Raul Preciado
Ricardo Ventura
Rossana Perez
Ruben Martinez

Musica Carlos Jimenez
Jose Gamez
Luis Lopez
Paty Ovando
Will Echegoyan

Artes Plasticas Andres Montoya
Boris Villacorta
Cecilia Marmol
Eduardo Alfaro
Isidro Escalante
Jose Mena
Mario Avila
Pehdro Kruhz
Raul Preciado
Ricardo O’Meany
Santos Dubon
Tito Calidonio

Sabado 8 de Mayo 2010
de 7 a 1030 PM

Brisee Foundation
184 Bimini Place
Los Angeles CA 90004
(2nd atras del Vons)

una presentacion de Center for Salvadoran Cultural Development Centro Cultural Centroamericano

The last time I drove through Arizona I saw Mexicanos hammering together the studs of new buildings, houses and condos—they were roofing all the brand new structures in the new parts of town; I saw them watering the golf courses and doing the groundskeeping keeping everything green for white golfers; I saw them running convenience stores, and corner stores in the little dried out crossroad towns; I saw Latinos working minimum wage jobs in the gas stations, mini-marts, busing the tables and working back in the kitchens in all the little restaurants; I saw it was their labor and lifeblood making the economy of AZ move; it was them in the fields across AZ wherever there was irrigation and rows of crops; they were the ones devoting their lives to the livelihood of tending the whole economy of the state, in the bottom corners, in the far-out places and dirty streets, in the cool or corny bars, restaurants and fast food joints. And for this they deserve to be attacked by every cop in the state? The governor and the racists that she supports need to answer for this.

This reminds me of the old days when my parents generation was incarcerated in the AZ desert for the war years because they were Japanese Americans, and it reminds me of the atmosphere of hatred and fear in the 1960s that racists kept using to increase violence and division and to try to keep their slimy grasp on power.

Stop the Criminalization of Immigrants, End Racial Profiling!

Tell AZ Governor to Veto Anti-immigrant Bill

The Arizona State Legislature just passed a law (SB1070) that legalizes unchecked racial profiling by police of anyone they “suspect” is undocumented. It would criminalize all undocumented immigrants as “trespassers” and subject them to misdemeanor or in some cases, felony charges for a new “trespass” crime.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign the bill into law any day now. Tell Governor Brewer to stand up for human and civil rights and veto this anti-immigrant, racial profiling bill.

via Harry Gamboa

from Amnesty International:

The Arizona House and Senate have passed a bill (SB1070) that would empower police officers to stop and interrogate every individual in the state regarding citizenship status and make it a crime to be an undocumented person in Arizona. If a person does not immediately present documents proving that she is legally in the US, she may be criminally prosecuted, jailed and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. The bill contains no safeguards against racial profiling and increases the likelihood of arbitrary arrest and detention. These are all human rights violations. Because SB1070 has already passed in the Arizona house, it’s next stop is the governor’s office. Tell Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. Join activists across the US as they visit the Governor on April 20th to express opposition to this bill.

Governor Jan Brewer’s Contact Information:
Phone number: 1-800-253-0883

The scapegoating of migrants, the deliberate fuelling of fear and the nurturing of discriminatory, racist and xenophobic sentiments by some politicians and parts of the media have been accompanied by measures that have trampled on some of the most basic human rights of migrants, including the right to liberty and security of the person. Much of the public debate about migration is couched in terminology which is loaded and derogatory. People trying to enter another country are vilified as “illegal immigrants”, “gate-crashers”, and even as “invaders” seeking to breach the defenses of the US with malicious intent. The clear implication is that they are abusing the system and exploiting the generosity of states. Such descriptions create the impression not only that migrants have no right to enter, but that they have no rights at all.

Dear Governor Jan Brewer,

AZ SB1070 is a hateful and discriminatory legislation that reminds me of Executive Order 9066, which was signed in 1942 and which sent my mother and her Japanese American family into incarceration at Poston in the Arizona desert for the war years. As teenager, my mother (who is a U.S. citizen) graduated from high school imprisoned in a camp. Her whole family lost livelihoods for years, lost the lives they had built up over the years, lost possessions and their freedom. Only some of them survived to receive a presidential apology in 1990 for these injustices perpetrated against 120,000 people.

Some historians characterize that racist injustice against Japanese Americans as a sort of “hysteria” which white politicians were somehow emotionally swayed by, because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the West had long been afflicted by virulent anti-Asian racism, with pogroms, lynchings and violence directed at Asians for generations—all given a cover of legitimacy by prior Asian exclusion laws, anti-miscegenation laws and laws prohibiting Asians from owning property. Nowadays hate crimes, violence and “hysteria” are directed against border-crossers and immigrants, while hateful discriminatory laws like AZ SB1070 are drafted to encode that violence, to give discrimination and injustice a cover of propriety, politesse and law. Whatever the stated intent of this law, its actual effects will be to foment division, violence and prejudice.

Arizona does not need to foment new methods of anti-immigrant and racial hatred equivalent to the white “citizen’s councils” of the South in 1965, when civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten, and freedom riders were murdered. Arizona shares with the Western states a xenophobic history of violence and injustice against minorities. Your action in vetoing AZ SB1070 can avert further development of these legacies of injustice and hatred. Your action in vetoing this discriminatory bill can send a message that there are other options besides hatred encoded into discriminatory law, and injustice made the official practice of the state of Arizona.


Sesshu Foster
Alhambra, CA

dolores and i hiked 4.7 miles to inspiration point on a smoggy warm hazy day (i was overdressed, i thought it was going to cloud over and the wind blow) up the castle canyon trail prettified by wildflowers on all sides, violet lupines, composites like baby’s breath, ceanothus bushes thickly presenting clusters of tiny purply blossoms, crimson indian paintbrush, we hiked in the fragrant shade of the bay laurel trees, sometimes a spring trickling out over the granite rocks, lots of shade on the way which was good because i was sorely out of breath, about 2500 to 3000 feet elevation gain up through pines and fir except the views were draped in haze and smog blotting out details, blah, the burned slopes from last summer’s big fire eroded and still and silent, dead blackened manzanita kind of elegant against the chalky, ashy eroding slopes, mount lowe and mount wilson one ridge away a few miles above, a bunch of joyous koreans eating lunch at the picnic tables under the inspiration point shelter where we ate our sandwiches too, drank a lot of water, 2 tangerines then headed back down past humming buzzing beehive, a hunting redtailed hawk floating by us ascending an updraft, ordinal feathers distinguished (as i noted in my blurb for lisa’s book), and now i can feel the trail in my knees.

April 1, 2010
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Lisa Chen earned a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA from the University of Iowa. Her debut collection of poetry, MOUTH, received a 2009 award from the Association for Asian American Studies. Sesshu Foster says that MOUTH “startles with soulful complexity.” She currently lives and works in New York City as a media consultant to social justice and environmental organizations.

designed by Laura Longoria

Sunday April 25, 2010 2 to 4 pm
Avenue 50 Studio131 Avenue 50, Highland Park 323.258.1435 

Cohosted by Laura Longoria & Don Newton

Ron Baca was born and raised in Boyle Heights. He draws inspiration
from the writings and activism of Jimmy Santiago Baca, Luis Rodriguez, Sandra Cisneros, Amiri Baraka, artist Linda Arreola’s “Vaguely Chicano”, Paul Robeson’s “Here I Stand” & the vibrancy of the Chicano Movement for self determination. His all time favorite poem is “Stupid America” by Abelard Delgado. Ron is a regular reader at La Palabra and was a founding member of the Echo Space Poets Collective at the Eastside Café. He lives in University Hills with an aviary of parakeets and a hillside garden which he shares with his son and daughter.

mixed media by Linda Arreola

Sesshu Foster has taught composition and literature in East LA for
25 years. He has also taught writing at the University of Iowa, CalArts, UC Santa Cruz, and Naropa. His work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, and State of the Union: 50 Political Poems. He is currently collaborating with artist Arturo Romo-Santillano and other writers on the website Sesshu’s most recent books are novel Atomik Aztex and World Ball Notebook, which won the 2009 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, both published by City Lights.

mixed media by Linda Arreola

from issue #14, HYPHEN Magazine:

Eloquent and erudite, Lisa Chen’s collection of poetry and prose startled me with its blend of vivid imagery and weird absurdity. Ranging from disparate topics such as Chinese ghost stories to the geography of rooms and self-storage spaces, the poems in Mouth re-imagine a legacy of historical and cultural absence. A memorable line from the title poem, “the sloe-eyed, two-fisted mouth / exiled from the punctilio metropolis, / a trembling bellow hole,” exemplifies Chen’s arresting language play; and the poem “Full-body Monkey Tattoo” highlights her skillfulness in bringing a contradictory premise to its most logical conclusion. While certainly intellectually satisfying, I hungered for more emotional connection to the work in this promising book. The coolness of Chen’s poems rely on a specific level of interiority that, for me, would require more explicitly outlined themes to help me step into her poetic landscape and remain grounded in her passions. Readers will enjoy both Chen’s intellectual sensibilities as well as her somersaulting language.

-Maiana Minahal

from POETRY FLASH “Mostly Books”:

A Porch Light at Dawn

a review by Clara Mitchell

MOUTH, by Lisa Chen, Kaya Press, New York City, $13.95 paperback,

If, as Lisa Chen herself advises in “Translator’s Apologia,” you “. . .Enter these pages with / The lowered expectations of a prison guard,” you may be pleasantly surprised by the pointed coherence that frequently emerges from Chen’s fantastic verbiage. Similes strike, snapping ideas into sudden focus just when the experimental structure or disjointed syntax begins to float a poem away from the comprehensible. For instance, Chen laments in “Songs of Gold Mountain” that: “. . .all your / finery on a moonless night, the joy you hide in your sleeve, flutter / and vanish through his mind like a crumpled theater ticket” and “In the Street”: “. . .a sheer shirt / Slung over the lampshade like the whole room / Got into her blouse. . . .”

In fact, much of the sparkle in Lisa Chen’s work is generated by these crisp comparisons, by her skillful creation of poetic detail in the everyday and her use of such details to open fresh channels of understanding in her very nonlinear poems. My favorite such moment happens in the three-line poem “The Wagon” which closes with: “. . .The look / on his face as I leave is a porch light left burning at dawn.”

Over and over in Mouth we experience Chen’s refusal to elaborate, her clear choice to leave context behind. “The Wagon” demonstrates this strategy at its finest: the spareness of the scene is its power, the demand for interpretation its authority, its pull. At times, however, Chen’s cryptic scenarios ease into vagueness; for example, the questions raised by the series of non sequiturs strung together in “I Didn’t Always Look This Way” detract from its pleasure. By its close, it can become a bit wearying to keep up with Chen’s imaginative leaps without some kind of contextual clue on which to regain one’s footing:

I didn’t always look this way

The grin on that cow that shills for glue

I didn’t always look this way

Stay calm. Stay very, very calm

Mouth is characterized by an overarching tone of assertiveness: these poems are rife with commands, as in the series of authoritative notes-to-self in “Interior Monologue”: “Leave house. Walk five blocks to the bus stop. / Take bus across town. . .” or the rapid-fire delivery of opinions as fact in “Solution”: “The solution is to have sexual intercourse in lieu of awkward / silences. // The solution is. . . .” Throughout this collection, the frequent use of end stopped lines and simple declarative sentences show its authorial self-confidence. Lisa Chen’s conviction in her vision does not waver from start to finish in this book. In the end, it is the reader, perhaps hesitant at first to trust Chen’s method, whose confidence in Chen’s purpose rises steadily with each poem.

Clara Mitchell was Poetry Flash’s summer 2009 editorial intern. She is currently a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.


a beautiful afternoon, just fell down on the floor getting out of bed—I told everybody, “don’t put the right side rail UP,[“] (bathroom door next to the head of my bed, But someone did—Hellova time getting around to the foot and BAM!—down. But now free: got 4 letters from you today. So want to write some letters: need to!—today. Yes. Catching my breath from try[ing] to get out of bed! — Such a beautiful day! meals ok but so damn important! and that and other reasons WANT TO GO home! Will ask tomorrow or this afternoon. Still reading [“]Landscape Artist” not the title But about HIM! can’t think of his name BUT A Real good reading. Also hungry. Yes. — I’ll never get enough to eat. What a life at 85! nobody could guess.


No rain. Hope you make it here soon. Sound like a possible visit in a week or so. Paul no knows he should drive. He’s gonna struggle just to exist til he dies. I hate to think of that been thinking of Jim, Mom and Dad and the others now dead!
The weather has been so beautiful. I go out to bake Myself in it every day. Yes. I have a very unlucky love life; unlucky for the OLD LADIES naturally and one young one, but, you know, favorable or tiring “you’ve gotta live”

when I want to “clear my mind” I “write to Sesshu” R. F.

Love Ol’ Dad

April 2010