The San Diego Foundation recently launched an innovative artist-focused grant program called their “Creative Catalyst Fund” (CCF). Through this program, 15 individual artists are receiving funding for their projects housed at a variety of nonprofit arts organizations. Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company is pleased to be the partner organization working with Poet/Writer Manuel Paul López. He will be working on his original manuscript, The Yearning Feed, which will explore border issues intertwined with issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Each month, Paul will update us on his progress through this blog. His work will culminate with two evenings of readings at The 10th Avenue Theatre in October 2012. Stay tuned for details about that.
It’s our pleasure to introduce Manuel Paul López…
First, I would like to thank those individuals responsible for envisioning and creating the San Diego Foundation’s Creative Catalyst Fund–this is an incredible opportunity for San Diego artists, a resource that I hope will remain available to many more in the future. Thank you. I also want to thank Seema Sueko and the Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company for their willingness to support my project for this upcoming year; this wonderful gift has rendered me speechless periodically during the holiday season–I am forever grateful. Seema’s support and enthusiasm thus far has been inspiring.
Before I continue, I would like to briefly introduce myself to the Mo`olelo community. My name is Manuel Paul López, and I was born and raised in the Imperial Valley. My parents and much of my family reside there, and my wife and I visit as often as we can. I am currently an 11th grade Humanities teacher at High Tech High. Two books that I have written are Death of a Mexican and other Poems and 1984, the latter, a chapbook-length poem written as a tribute to the late, great Joe Brainard. I am also happy to report that I am a Canto Mundo fellow. Canto Mundo is an annual writers’ retreat designed to provide Latina/o writers with a space to discuss craft and community. This summer we will be meeting in Austin, Texas. The CCF grant will make this trip a reality for me by covering the needed travel expenses.
I intend to report monthly on Mo`olelo’s blog on the progress of my new manuscript. It is currently titled The Yearning Feed. These monthly dispatches will focus on my progress on the manuscript, as well as news of publications or readings that I might be doing throughout the year. You can also visit my personal blog if you would like to send a note. It is at manuelpaullopez.blogspot.com.
As I see it, the funds granted by the Creative Catalyst Fund will serve two purposes. First, it will provide me with an opportunity to take advantage of a couple of residencies during the year to secure some uninterrupted time to push through the completion of this manuscript. Second, Seema and I are organizing a two-night program in October, where I will read excerpts from the completed manuscript at the 10th Avenue Theatre. What I am most excited about is that I will be part of a lineup that includes poet, Luivette Resto, author of Unfinished Portrait, along with San Diego’s super group, Cumbia Machin. Needless to say, these evenings will provide a little something for everyone, and it will certainly be an honor to share the stage with such fantastic artists.
So what does the manuscript look like? As it stands now, the manuscript is comprised of several poems and short stories. I also intend to include informational texts and essays. The backdrop for these pieces are the San Diego/Imperial Valley regions, and the border that looms over them. A section that I am determined to develop is one that will focus on the 7.2 earthquake that shook the Imperial Valley and Mexicali areas, and to a lesser degree, San Diego, on April 4th, 2010. Although it did not receive much major news coverage, the quake devastated areas like Calexico, causing school closures and other damage that impacted surrounding communities economically, not to mention psychologically. No one in my family was injured seriously, but the quake left its heavy imprint on my family’s home when it cracked walls and shattered dishes. Full disclosure, I was in the air during the quake, returning to San Diego from Tucson after having participated at the Tucson Poetry Festival, a fact my dad likes to point out whenever the topic is discussed.
Overall, I am excited about this opportunity. This is a unique chance for me personally to work with an accomplished arts organization collaboratively. I do hope that this experience establishes a long-standing relationship with Mo`olelo, an organization I respect deeply. Thanks again for your time, and I wish you all a beautiful 2012!
Manuel Paul López