Poetry at a Budget Meeting


By Ernie McCray

I had the honor of spending a day with a room full of progressive School Board Members from around San Diego County.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, as the subject was: Budgets. Whenever I got my budget sheets at my schools, it might as well have been expressed in hieroglyphics – I just can’t relate to language like “Total Available Funds minus Total Outgo.” Gives me vertigo.

I was there, though, to kick things off. And in doing that I shared three poems and one went like this:

Our schools now,
at this stage
of a rapidly aging New Century,
are about to introduce
our kids
to the realm of Ethnic Studies…   [Read more…]

Summer Chronicles #2: That Music You Are Hearing


By Jim Miller

Gary Snyder is a courage teacher. His fine new book of poems, This Present Moment, is a meditation on wonder and impermanence. In it, for instance, we learn to value our laptops “Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted/and vanish in the flash at ‘delete,’/so it teaches of impermanence and pain.”

And it’s true, the miracle of creation that comes out of “a formless face/which is our Original Face,” but as soon as the words are formed the self who made them is no longer there.

Still there is beauty, and moments of grace are there to be found and cherished in “the morning and night coming together,” the “glacier scrapes across the bedrock,” and “the deep dense woods.” You just need to follow “the shining way of the wild” and “hang in, work it out, watch for the moment.”   [Read more…]

Ten Questions for Ken10


Local Poet Returns to the Mic at Poetic Libations II

Thursday night marks the return of Ken10 as a featured poet on the San Diego literary arts scene. Ken10, also known as Kenton Hundley, took a short break from performing his poetry regularly at local venues.

In the 2000’s Ken10 was a constant fixture at the various poetic happenings that took place during that period. He was a member of Goatsong Conspiracy and the award winning group, Los Able Minded Poets, and performed his socially conscious, hip hop and jazz influenced verse throughout San Diego.   [Read more…]

National Poetry Month Has Come to an End


SDFP once again celebrated poets and poetry in April

By Brent E. Beltrán

After Anna Daniels wonderful job curating 2014’s National Poetry Month here at San Diego Free Press I decided to volunteer my services for 2015. Anna posted a poem here every single day in April last year.

I had no plans to be as ambitious as her but with my background as a former literary publisher I knew I could handle the task of curating selections during the month. But there was no way was I going to seek out thirty separate pieces!

Hopefully our readers enjoyed the selections during the month. Here is a breakdown of the poems and poetry related essays that were shared during National Poetry Month.   [Read more…]

Poet Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez Reads His Work

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.   [Read more…]

How to Make a Poem

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.   [Read more…]

“100 Things” on My Mind

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

  [Read more…]

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

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.   [Read more…]

Playwright Paul S. Flores Brings PLACAS to San Diego

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.   [Read more…]

A Video Interview With and Poetry by Amiri Baraka

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.   [Read more…]

Puerto Rican Obituary

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.    [Read more…]

Eduardo Galeano, Sacrilegious Women

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.   [Read more…]