Feminism in LA

April 2016 started off pretty cool. I had scored free tickets to a reading happening in LA called Feminist as F*ck, being put on by the actress & poet (and my FB friend), Amber Tamblyn. Also on the bill were Amy Poehler (yes!), Roxanne Gay, Eileen Myles, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Rhonda Jarrar. I had invited my mom to go.

We got up there with plenty of time to spare, so we got to go to a place I’d wanted to visit: The Last Bookstore. It was awesome. They were having a reading as well (the AWP conference was happening so there were events all over the place). Mom & I explored the upstairs area and just the way it’s designed is cool. I could have spent all day in there.

LastBookstore

On our way out, I ran into my friend, Murray Thomas, my former editor at …Next! magazine from the early days of the SD/OC/LA poetry scene (mid-90s). Fun! Mom & I headed back toward the theater and had a bite to eat at a place on the corner. It was yummy. While sitting outside, I saw another friend, Mindy Nettifee. We’d been teammates on the ’99 Laguna Beach Slam team. She lives in Portland now, but she’s very close with Amber so had come to the show (I’m guessing she was in LA anyway for the conference).

There was a huge line for the show, but Mom managed to get us reserved seats because she complained that she had emailed about getting handicapped seating but never heard back. They printed up signs and placed them on the chairs for us, ha!

reserved

The show itself was fine. It was thrilling to see and hear Amy Poehler, who is very smart and extremely funny. A special guest was Carrie Brownstein (who is on Portlandia with Fred Armisen) and is a musician.

My favorite part of the evening really was talking about feminism with my mom. I wrote a poem about it. Here you go:

My Mother Says She Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist

I smile at her
we are at a self-proclaimed feminist reading
which is what sparked her remark
I simply say, “Yes, you are.”
Her quizzical look inspires me to add
“You learned to drive as an adult,
you have a college degree,
you had a career,
you became a U.S. citizen,
you vote,
you have your own bank account.
When you married Dad, none of that was true,
but because you wanted those things
you made it happen.”
She said, “Well, yeah.” Then, “Oh.”
I tell her it’s not about being a bra-burner
or a protester. It’s about having rights.
To put it another way, I tell her
that she raised two daughters
to think for themselves & to take care of themselves.
She supported me & my sister
in playing sports, going to college, getting jobs.
She timidly says, “But men are better at some things.”
And I say, “Yes, and women are better at some things,
but you wouldn’t deny the opportunity for a woman
to try doing anything.”
And then, as if to prove something to herself,
as she waits in the long bathroom line, she sees
that a men’s room line doesn’t exist. She questions
the women in line, “Well, aren’t we feminist as fuck?
Why don’t we use the men’s room?”
Women cheer & agree, and some move to the
empty, barely used men’s room.

a reading

In late February, I was featured at a reading, along with some other poets. It was at a house. Think house concert, but with poetry. It was really cool.

The host was an old poet friend of mine, Adrian. I honestly can’t remember how, where, or when I met him, but he was a Taco Shop Poet and he’s friends with my former professor, Quincy Troupe.

I was excited for this reading because it was a new crowd for me. My friend, The Becky, attended with me. They had homemade tostadas for the crowd plus beer and wine. It was a great spread.

He said I would be kicking off the show, which was fine with me. The bummer was that right before I was to go on, and I mean, literally right before, I developed the beginnings of a cold sore. I mean WTF? Why then? I didn’t feel especially nervous or anything. I just suddenly got a tiny little bump on my bottom lip. I felt very self-conscious about it, but I don’t think it was quite visible yet. But so weird!

Anyway, I gave my reading, and I was totally on. I read some old pieces, but they’re very familiar and they were new to most of the audience. I killed. Here’s a photo of me at the mic. He had musicians there to back up the poet if he/she wanted it. I had them play on a couple pieces. I don’t really like it, but it wasn’t bad.

Adrian's It was a fun evening, and it felt good to be so well-received.

Just a little highlight from February!

poetry friends

Today, after binge-watching the second half of the last season of “Parenthood” and prepping dinner for tonight, I drove up to Escondido to see an old friend, Rick Lupert, perform his poetry at an art gallery. My friend, Robt, hosts the reading. I was a little late, but I caught most of Rick’s feature, then stuck around for the open reading.

I read the poem I wrote for this year’s Star of India show. The photo is from the day of the show as I was finishing it.

Rick is a very funny poet, but he also has poignant moments. I can’t say that we’re very close, but there’s something between those of us who were coming up in the late 90s in the poetry scene in Orange County. True, I lived down here, but I’d drive up a bunch, and I’m happy to say that I’m friends (at least on FB!) with many of the poets I saw and read with regularly.

And of course, Robt, a partner in crime. I don’t get to see him very often, but I know he knows I love him, and I know he keeps up with me and Han and what’s going on with us.

After the reading, I drove home and just relaxed, took a shower. Han got home, and I put dinner in the oven. I made a chicken parm casserole that was a little weird. I don’t know if I’d make it again, but the flavor is okay.

Back to work tomorrow. I had brought my laptop home thinking I’d be productive, but between unraveling and binge-watching, the laptop didn’t get any action.

poetry & a play

I appreciate your kindnesses after yesterday’s post. I’m feeling better than yesterday.

Tonight I did a reading. I was invited to be part of it by a friend and fellow poet. The reading was to take place prior to the performance of the play, “The Oldest Boy.” Our “payment” was tickets to the play for tonight. The reading was being put on by the San Diego Repertory Theater and KNSJ, San Diego’s activist radio station.

It was first described that I would have 9 minutes to read. There were three other poets, for 4 total. We would also do a collage poem to end the performance. That was a new concept for me, but basically, each poet reads 4-10 lines of one of their original pieces and the next poet does the same thing to create a one-of-a-kind collage poem. Sounded fine.

I always like to try to create new work for special performances, so I wrote two new pieces inspired by the title of the play. I also brought a few others with me because my poems aren’t too long so I can fit a lot in in 9 minutes.

I was supposed to be downtown by 5:30 pm, but I didn’t want to sit in traffic so I left work early, around 3 pm. Around 2:45 pm, I got an email that said 3 more poets would be in the reading, so now my time would only be 5 minutes. Well, okay, that’s fine. Not ideal, but I can roll with it.

I was there plenty early, by 4 pm, so I walked around Horton Plaza, a huge mall in the middle of downtown with all kinds of crazy levels, staircases, and so many stores. I am not a typical American consumer. I don’t know how these stores stay in business. Anyway, I wandered over to the Westin and sat in the lobby to make some adjustments to the new pieces. I figured I could read the two new ones.

I arrived and saw the set-up and the other poets arrived. They are all great people, most I knew, but there were a couple new poets I hadn’t met before. We did a ‘rehearsal’ of the collage poem, and yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.

So now there’s 7 poets on stage. It was a nice stage with chairs for an audience. When we started at 6 pm, there were two people. By the time the first poet read, there were maybe 6? I was the second one to read. I read one poem, like the first poet did, assuming we’d do another round, but as the other poets read, some took more time than others, so by the time the last one read, we only had time left to do the collage poem. Fine. Like I said, everyone was really nice, and it was fine (have I used that word too often?).

Then I went in to watch the play. It was good. The woman who played the mother was excellent. What threw me off was the use of a puppet to play the son. It’s just like one of those things that happens in theater, to me anyway. They can’t just do a play. There’s got to be some twist or symbolism or something. But, I did like it, in general. There were some great lines and deep thoughts in it. Plus I liked the Buddhist philosophy.

After the play, I went to my car, but not before paying for my parking. $10, even with validation. Sheesh. Then when I was leaving, the parking gal said, “Oh, we have a deal with the Lyceum Theater so you don’t have to pay.” I said, “But I already did.” She said, “Yes, but next time, don’t.” Fine.

Overall, the evening was, you guessed it, fine. What isn’t fine is finding out about the 2 Air France planes having to be diverted due to bomb threats and the suicide bombings in Nigeria. Seriously fucked up shit going on in the world. And yes, it is contributing to my current mindset.

Thank you for reading and for being kind.

Friday night Tuesday

I don’t have to work tomorrow so it’s like it’s Friday.

I went to the monthly poetry reading at Cafe Cabaret & did a couple old pieces. The featured poet was a younger guy who goes by the name Konstant Be. During his feature, he gave me a shout-out (I’d never met or seen him before). He said the imagery in my work was great and he liked that it was so rich in metaphor. He said he thought a lot of that was missing from the spoken word scene these days. It was really nice of him to say & really awesome to hear!

After the reading I came home to find that Han had shaved his head! He’s all short haired again. I like the look. It’s been a while since he had it short. 

Until tomorrow!

10 years of Elevated!

Tonight I went to a poetry reading that was celebrating its 10th year in existence. For poetry venues, that is a long damn time. The folks who run it are friends, but I would say that they’re fairly new to me although we’ve known about each other for a while. I can’t say I was there when this reading started, but I was there for quite a number of them before it. I went to it probably 4 or 5 years ago now to see what it was like. I’d heard great things about it, and I knew that some of the people involved had been at my readings back in the day.

I remember that it was held in a dance studio then, and it was crazy packed at $5 a head. I was blown away that they were able to bring so many people, and so many young, urban, diverse, people to a venue twice a month. And the poetry was exciting. Like slam but not judged. Just dynamic performances about social issues or personal issues or whatever. I was also very aware that very few people in that room knew who I was or that I had anything to do with what they were doing. But Chris Wilson, the ‘leader,’ knew me and we chatted and caught up.

Since then, I’ve tried to go to the reading or to the San Diego Slam to support, to represent the ‘old school,’ sometimes I even get up and read one. A couple years ago, I reconnected with a guy who used to read at the Urban Grind when I co-hosted the slam there. He’s a great poet and nice dude. He’s part of the Elevated! family as well.

Last year, I wrote this piece about the slam team. I went to the Grand Slam this year, but didn’t write anything about them.

It was nice to be there tonight, to get hugs from these men and women who have kept at it for 10 years, encouraging and promoting spoken word from the youth and others of San Diego. I should try to go at least once a month. It’s held the 1st and 3rd Thursdays, and the slam is the 2nd Monday. Maybe I should also try to write something new.

Slammed

Stayed home from work today. I just didn’t feel good when I woke up. I worked from home. I also took my car to get a recall thing fixed & got groceries. 

Tonight I went to see the San Diego Grand Slam final. I knew some of the competitors, others were new. I left before it was over because it was late. I have my predictions. We’ll see if I’m right tomorrow. 

Today’s draft

Raise Your Voice

I don’t know why you feel 

That you have to raise your voice

To create meaning