Books & Poetry

Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Breakdown

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Breakdown

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 04.25.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

100,000 miles of spared parts
drive-by poetry
hit and run-on collisions
karmic rebirths
bodywork
revelations (Chapter 11)

100,000 miles of free verse

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Thumbnail image for Poet Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez Reads His Work

Poet Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez Reads His Work

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.23.2015 Books & Poetry

By Brent E. Beltrán

I have the honor of knowing and being a friend of Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez. In 2004 I met him in a hospital in Tijuana where his comrade in poetry, Pedro Pietri, was receiving experimental treatments for cancer. Though I have only seen him once since he returned back to his apartment in El Barrio in New York we have maintained our friendship through social media.

Papoleto grew up in Spanish Harlem (known as El Barrio), is an original founder of the Nuyorican Poetry Movement, published his first poem in 1969 (“Message To Urban Sightseers”) and his play, Junkies Stole the Clock, was the first Latino play produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival The Public Theater’s Nuyorican Playwright’s Unit.

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How to Make a Poem

by Karen Kenyon 04.22.2015 Books & Poetry

For Steve Kowit

By Karen Kenyon

Tear open your heart — like a giant purse
it will pour out memories
and yearnings,
keys to doors you will never open.

And you must read the others
who have also dipped into this world
even if in another language
of the soul.

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“100 Things” on My Mind

by Ernie McCray 04.20.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ernie McCray

I just finished a very pleasant read, “100 Things Arizona Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die,” a book written by two of the best sports writers around, Steve Rivera and Anthony Gimino.

They write a lot about Arizona Basketball History and having played a role in that history, and having been around it all my life, the book couldn’t help but resonate with me in special ways.

In a chapter about University of Arizona traditions I found the words to a fight song that’s flowed through my veins and bones ever since I first heard it as a 14 year old, back in 1952:

Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Bear Down, Arizona
Hit ‘em hard, let ‘em know who’s who
Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Go, go Wildcats, go
Arizona Bear Down

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My California Drought

by Will Falk 04.20.2015 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

there’s water, at least,
on the coast
and that’s where I’m heading

when stopped near
Petaluma, California
a sunburnt sign
hangs over a vineyard
celebrating a family
insurance business’s
longevity

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Thumbnail image for Playwright Paul S. Flores’ PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is Coming to San Diego

Playwright Paul S. Flores’ PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is Coming to San Diego

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.17.2015 Books & Poetry

Part Two of a Two Part Interview with the Former Chula Vistan and UCSD Student

By Brent E. Beltrán

For Part I of the interview please visit.

In this second installment of my two part interview with playwright Paul S. Flores he discusses the founding of Los Delicados, what poetry means to him, his novel Along The Border Lies, what attracted him to theatre, his play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo, the casting of Culture Clash’s Ric Salinas in the lead role, the outreach for the play, him being named a Doris Duke Artist, and what advice he’d give to fledgling minority writers.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Mission Beach

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Mission Beach

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 04.17.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Mission Beach

The boardwalk
wakes to surfers
slipping out of morning swells
window washers
wiping away coastal haze

In Belmont Park
workers inspect
the 90-year-old Dipper

Laminated waves of wood

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Thumbnail image for Playwright Paul S. Flores Brings PLACAS to San Diego

Playwright Paul S. Flores Brings PLACAS to San Diego

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.16.2015 Books & Poetry

Part One of a Two Part Interview with the Former Chula Vistan and UCSD Student

By Brent E. Beltrán

Writer Paul S. Flores grew up in Chula Vista and attended UCSD. He moved to San Francisco to pursue his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. While there he immersed himself in the Bay Area arts/activist scene, helped found Youth Speaks, co-founded the irreverent poetry troupe Los Delicados, wrote an award winning novel, Along The Border Lies, wrote and performed his original plays, had children, and was recently named a Doris Duke Artist. His play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is touring California with a stop in San Diego April 23-25.

I met Paul, along with his Delicado compatriots, at a Floricanto Festival in San Jose in 1999 while publisher of the grassroots literary publishing house Calaca Press. In 2000, Calaca Press produced the spoken word CD anthology, Raza Spoken Here 2, which featured their poem Presente! In 2001 Calaca released their full length CD, Word Descarga. Since then Paul has gone on to do some tremendous literary work.

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Thumbnail image for A Video Interview With and Poetry by Amiri Baraka

A Video Interview With and Poetry by Amiri Baraka

by Staff 04.16.2015 Books & Poetry

By SDFP Staff

The following video conducted in 1998 by poet E. Ethelbert Miller of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life features an interview with, and poetry by, the late, great, radical poet Amiri Baraka (formerly known as Leroi Jones).

His website states:
“[D]ramatist, novelist and poet, Amiri Baraka is one of the most respected and widely published African-American writers. With the beginning of Black Civil Rights Movements during the sixties, Baraka explored the anger of African-Americans and used his writings as a weapon against racism. Also, he advocated scientific socialism with his revolutionary inclined poems and aimed at creating aesthetic through them.

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Puerto Rican Obituary

by At Large 04.15.2015 Books & Poetry

By Pedro Pietri

Pedro Pietri, El Reverendo de la Iglesia de la Madre de los Tomates and the Spanglish Metaphor Consultant of the Latin Insomniacs Motorcycle Club Without Motorcycles, was born in Puerto Rico in 1944 and grew up in Harlem. He first read Puerto Rican Obituary in 1969 at a Young Lords Party rally in New York. In 1973 Monthly Review Press published his first collection of poetry, Puerto Rican Obituary. He, along with Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Victor Hernandez Cruz and many others were an integral part of the Nuyorican Poetry Movement. On March 2, 2004 he died of cancer mid-flight on his way back to New York after spending time at an experimental cancer treatment facility in Tijuana, Mexico. While in Tijuana he was cared for by his brother Joe Pietri, longtime friend, poet, and former San Diego resident Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez, and the folks at Calaca Press including future San Diego Free Press writer and Editorial Board member Brent E. Beltrán. 

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Thumbnail image for Eduardo Galeano, Sacrilegious Women

Eduardo Galeano, Sacrilegious Women

by Source 04.15.2015 Books & Poetry

Eduardo Galeano / Tom Dispatch

Editor Note: Acclaimed author and champion of social justice Eduardo Galeano died on April 13, 2015.

His book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent came out in 1971 and proved to be the first vampire thriller of our American imperial age. Its blood-sucker of a plot was too outrageous not to be mesmerizing: a country called the United States declares a “good neighbor” policy for those living in its hemisphere because they just look so tasty, and then proceeds to suck the economic blood out of country after country. Hollywood never topped it. “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries” couldn’t hold an incisor to it; Buffy was a punk by comparison.

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This is for…

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.14.2015 Books & Poetry

By Brent E. Beltrán

This is for those that came before
The ones that paved the way
Blazed the trail
And beat the path

This is for he, she
You, me
Everybody in this neighborhood
         We

This is for the park builders
The pillar painters
Sculpture makers
Cactus garden caretakers

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Thumbnail image for Far Away

Far Away

by At Large 04.13.2015 Books & Poetry

By Tara Evonne Trudell

crossing
the mojave desert
I dreamed
my people
moving through
heat waves
and hunger pains
mothers fathers
children
willing life
dying to cross
a line
drawn in sand
drones hovering in air
dangerous spy tactics
always monitoring
the calculation
in military moves

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: My Uncle’s Cigar

Geo-Poetic Spaces: My Uncle’s Cigar

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 04.10.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Cigar smoke
blows my Uncle’s Cessna
over the Andes
home
where he strikes a match
lights another Habana

Hand rolled tobacco leaves
crackling
into an amiable glow:

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Thumbnail image for An Inconvenient Companion: For Mary Kowit

An Inconvenient Companion: For Mary Kowit

by At Large 04.09.2015 Books & Poetry

By Jim Moreno

Grief is an inconvenient companion,
In the grocery store line, in the middle of a sentence,
Hanging clothes on the line, it doesn’t care,

It grabs you by your lapels, It grabs you by your throat,
It low blows your gut, It shakes you and shakes you,
Fills your eyes with rain, then suddenly,
It lets you go. Just like that―gone.

It doesn’t care where it flows,
It must gush & flow; return later when you
Least expect it and shake you and shake you again.

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Thumbnail image for Grandchildren of the United Fruit Company

Grandchildren of the United Fruit Company

by At Large 04.08.2015 Books & Poetry

By Sonia Gutierrez

Knock, knock, knock.
America, there are children
knocking at your door.
Can you hear their soft
knocks like conch
shells, whispering
in your ears?

Weep, weep, weep.
Can you hear
the children whimpering?
Their moist eyes
yearning to see friendly TV-gringo-houses
swing their front doors
wide open.

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Fallen Leaves

by At Large 04.07.2015 Books & Poetry

By Viet Mai

My grandma died
and I don’t know how to cry about it.

I was too busy working.
Too busy playing Halloween.
Too busy trying to create a future,
that I forgot about losing my past.

My bloodlines feel so thin at times,
it’s no wonder why I get anemic.

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Thumbnail image for The Dead Write No Poems

The Dead Write No Poems

by Will Falk 04.06.2015 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

National Poetry Month happens to mark the year anniversary since I set out on the road to dedicate my life to the struggle against this dominant culture hell-bent on destroying the world.

Questions arise on this road, questions that I must answer if I am going to continue on this way.

One of the questions I seek answers for involves poetry. I love poetry. I love reading poetry, I love listening to poetry, and I love writing poetry. But, the hour is extremely late, and poetry means nothing if it is not used as a weapon in defense of the real world.

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Thumbnail image for Redemption in City Heights

Redemption in City Heights

by Anna Daniels 04.04.2015 Books & Poetry

By Anna Daniels

He pushes his shopping cart
Down the via dolorosa of 45th Street
The dull clunk of glass bottles
Clattering of cans, the rattle of metal
And wheels on the pavement
Announce him

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Thumbnail image for Last Will by Steve Kowit

Last Will by Steve Kowit

by At Large 04.03.2015 Books & Poetry

By Steve Kowit

A message from the SDFP editors: Last year we kicked off National Poetry Month with a selection of works by San Diego poets. Steve Kowit was one of those poets. We are deeply saddened to learn of his death. The encomiums that he deserves and the extensive remembrances of his life as a poet, essayist and educator will be forthcoming. But at this moment, in this place, we remember Steve’s poetry and what he had to say about poetry making.

Poetry, when it is at its most ineffable, transports us to places we had no reason to believe language could take us. …

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces:  Port of Hope

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Port of Hope

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 04.03.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

While the island sleeps

I dream
cargo ships anchored off harbor
trees
dropping ripened fruit on sidewalks
salty breeze turning
rooftop fans

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Sal is Short for Salvador

by Source 04.02.2015 Books & Poetry

By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Salvador Valtierra preaches on the corner of Fifth and Broadway
The bus depot and crossroad for pedestrian masses
This is the corner where the stock market crashed
Where Reaganomics and its cranes revived a financial district
Booming with peep-show parlors
Residence hotels and adult bookstores

Now it’s the corner of ninety nine cent stores
And ninety nine cent lives
Lives lived out with stubby fingers
Clorox cracked skin
And tennis elbow
From pushing vacuum cleaners

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Thumbnail image for SeaWorld Steals a Page from the Scientology Playbook

SeaWorld Steals a Page from the Scientology Playbook

by Doug Porter 04.01.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

A book tour by a former SeaWorld trainer critical of the company’s treatment of Orcas has led to the theme park releasing a five year old cell phone video depicting the author using racial slurs during a drunken conversation.

Critics of SeaWorld are saying this action is just another example of a sub rosa campaign by a company seeking to defend itself against charges that it mistreats the animals it keeps in captivity. The company saw one million fewer customers in 2014 as compared  to the previous year.

While the latest move by SeaWorld had led La Jolla’s Warwick’s bookstore to cancel a signing event for “Beneath the Surface” author John Hargrove, it appears to have energized protesters organizing an Easter Sunday demonstration at the company’s Mission Bay location.

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Thumbnail image for SDFP to Commemorate National Poetry Month Throughout April

SDFP to Commemorate National Poetry Month Throughout April

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.01.2015 Books & Poetry

Hail Pachuco! by raúlrsalinas Kicks It Off

By Brent E. Beltrán

April is National Poetry Month and us litera-locos y locas at San Diego Free Press are celebrating by, once again, posting poetry and poetry/spoken word videos throughout the month.

I have been tasked with curating this internet exhibition of verse. I don’t consider myself a poet (though I confess I’ve written a few poems) but I do know many through my days of publishing while co-owner of Calaca Press.

Calaca published dozens of mostly Latino poets and writers over 13 years. Among those published were Chicano literary icons such as alurista, Francisco X. Alarcón, Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado and my mentor, raúlrsalinas, as well as local scribes like the Taco Shop Poets, Francisco J. Bustos, Michael Cheno Wickert, Ken10 and Viet Mai. Recently I’ve helped North County writer Sonia Gutierrez and LA scribe Iris De Anda self publish their first tomes of poetry.

Though not schooled in the literary arts literature has always been near and dear to my heart. Being able to artistically sling words together is a true craft that must be honed like any other.

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Baseball is Not a Metaphor

by Jim Miller 03.30.2015 Books & Poetry

By Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

So you spend a great deal of your time telling them to keep their heads up and to stay in it. Indeed, the game is hard enough that, for lots of our young people bent on more immediate gratification, the patience and work it takes to get better is too much for them.

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