Here’s the August update from CCF grantee Manuel Paul Lopez:
July was a busy month of work and travel, and I want to thank those behind the Creative Catalyst Fund Fellowship Program for making these trips possible with its financial support.
In mid-July I visited the University of Texas, Austin to attend this year’s Canto Mundo. It was four days of symposia, lectures, writing workshops, and public readings. Hopefully, we will have access to the video and audio footage at some point in the future. Workshop leaders included two phenomenal writers, Aracelis Girmay and Roberto Tejada. Each author led generative workshops and discussions that inspired some interesting work from all of us. I really enjoyed these sessions and left thinking a little differently about poetics and some of the possibilities for future works.
If you haven’t read Girmay and Tejada’s work, please pick up copies of their books. In Austin, I purchased Tejada’s study on artist, Celia Alvarez Munoz. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press, as part of its A Ver series, published this book in 2009. This book is a biography and cultural history related to the works and contributions of the El Paso-born artist. Other books by Roberto Tejada include the poetry collections Mirrors of Gold (Krupskaya, 2006) and Exposition Park (Wesleyan University, 2010), in addition to National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), among others. Aracelis Girmay, whose poetry collections Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007) and Kingdom Animalia (Boa Editions, 2011) are on my bookshelf and are both well worn from marathon readings. Kingdom Animalia was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2011.
Our keynote speaker this year was, E. Ethelbert Miller. He began his keynote by reading a short poem by Charles Bukowski called the “The Fighter,” a poem that helped me fight through some difficult times during my late teens. I smiled when he read the title and was immediately hooked. In my small journal I tried to jot as many notes as I could during the lecture and came away with several gems related to key moments during the Black Arts Movement, Ethelbert Miller’s thoughts on experimental literature and jazz greats, such as a Charlie Parker paraphrase Miller recalled: “I can hear the new music, I just can’t play it yet.” Ethelbert Miller also spoke at length about community, activism and the need for writers to look beyond their desks to sincerely ask themselves the question: what else am I doing for poetry besides writing it? Ethelbert Miller later reinforced his earlier point by explaining that one should wake up every morning realizing that something is broken in the world, and if we begin our days knowing this, what are we going to do to help fix it. This suggested to me that combatting the problems in our communities and beyond should be a daily pursuit; in other words, we must embody change.
On Saturday we met at UT Austin’s Benson Library’s Latin American Collection to learn more about the library and its archives. We saw, and in some cases, touched rare manuscripts by Alurista, Gloria Anzaldua, and Julio Cortazar. We also learned that the Benson Library would now be housing Canto Mundo’s papers.
The trip was fulfilling on so many levels. Listening to the Cantomundistas read their work during the Friday and Saturday night readings was the highlight. Observing so many different styles and approaches to poetics during the last two Canto Mundos I have participated in has been exhilarating, signaling a beautiful and diverse body of work by a group that I have greatest respect and admiration for. And what the best part of all of this is that the tent continues to grow with each new addition.
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During the last week of July, I resided at the Dorland Arts Colony in Temecula, California. I first heard about this residency via David Trinidad’s poem called “Moonlight in Temecula” from his latest book Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems. Apparently, he stayed there before the fires that leveled the previous cottages in May of 2004, an unfortunate fact that periodically invaded my brain while I was there. Overall, the stay was everything I hoped it would be, spending several delicious hours in a beautiful little cottage on a mountainside writing and revising new and old work. Inspired by several writers who have shared their positive and productive experiences at residencies, I decided to apply and was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend. Thank you Dorland Arts Colony for this magnificent acceptance, and I hope to return in the near future.
Read Paul’s past blog entries here:
2/05/07/news-from-paul/ (may 2012)
http://moolelo.net/2012/04/07/the-latest-from-paul/ (april 2012)
http://moolelo.net/2012/02/02/la-palabra-y-la-imagen/ (february 2012)