January 2016, mid-winter break and we are into 2016 with more than a running leap. It's a presidential election year for the somewhat divided-united States of America: class,sub-class, elite-class, gendered, gender neutral, intersex, transexual, bi-racial, multi-racial, aging--conceived to "transitioning," -- habitated/urban campers/street sleeping homeless, native born/immigrant-in/emigrant out/dual citizen Americans,agnostics, atheist, and believers of too many strata to list---our celebration of a new year 2016 is in process. Enjoying the break, traveling a little, dining out going to invites to openings, previews and celebrations.
I'm visiting a few locales, meditating, walking in crisp early morning sunrise air or late night listening to tap dancing raindrops on the roof. Today, I'm local---
San Diego has just finished a week of rain and this morning's blue cloudless-skyed sun smiles down onto an undercurrent of chill air. We're supposed to have a wet winter this year in San Diego California. Those readers in our farm regions.... you most of all know how much we need water. It's been a long drought for us. If predicted patterns hold, rain followed by a few drying out days, our soil won't get saturated. We prayerfully will avoid flooding, sink holes, and landslides, unlike many American states this winter,. So many families in distress.
Family and friends were a focal point for me this holiday season. We got together real time face to face and electronically to say how much we care during 2o15's year end. I even enjoyed browsing through several out of state and local craft stores. I'm learning how to make personalized greeting cards with words from my original poetry. Ah yes . . . (Smile) An inside family joke, "Happy crafting auntie!"(I used to dread craft stores and bonding projects) now they have deeper meaning. Thank you for your patience nieces. My personalized greeting cards? Still....in process.
Another process I savored over the holidays was time with friends I haven't seen much. Schedules seem to clutter up from October to mid- January. However, in December, I spent almost a day with International poet and poetry anthology editor Olga Garcia.
We hadn't seen each other since last summer's end when we strolled near the harbor and worked through formative ideas for our latest projects. Olga shared one of her newest books of poems, "Dark Matter." It is an intensely personal set of observations on life and human existence. At that time she was on her way to Europe for several readings and glowed excitedly in anticipation to read in front of European fans as she shared concepts behind the writing in Dark Matter
This December was about relating our experiences. She loved her European readings. I was ending the fall semester having enjoyed a full time of work and interaction with fascinating students whose scholarly growth inspires me even now. It was also a time to take photos, have brunch, and consider future projects.
As of our recent Balboa Park winter break conversation, "Dark Matter" is out of print and in back order. Olga is planning several 2016 readings. I and I am finally finishing my second book of poetry--with readings during late summer of 2016. In the meantime, she is also a regional editor and translator for the San Diego Poetry Annual http://sandiegopoetryannual.com/submission-guidelines/
Our conversation reminded me of over a decade ago when we talked of writing, aesthetics, poetic and musical meters, of form, symbolism, and cultural blendings as members of a ground breaking regional women's poetry ensemble, 4nth founded by Kelli Parish-Lucas who is now Rev. Kelli Parish Lucas. Her audience is now on a global scale. http://womenwhospeakinchurch.com/contribute/kelli-parrish-lucas/
4nth performed in Tijuana and Los Angeles as well as in various San Diego venues from book stores to awards ceremonies- often rehearsing performance material while sharing coffee, conversation, and life in an artist safe/friendly ambiance at Claire De Lune Cafe.
Catherine Rice Simmons, an inspirational poet and educator lost her battle with cancer a few years later. It took a while for our eclectic group to find someone who could coalesce with our performative poetry style. We eventually invited poet Megan Webster into our ensemble and are the richer for her presence.
Megan Webster is a 2005 San Diego Book Award recipient. Her book of poems Bipolar Express is a personal exploration of living with a son member who is bipolar. Megan is one of the innovative poet advocates of Wordgathering, a journal of disability-related poetry. http://www.wordgathering.com/past_issues/issue2/index.html
Olga Garcia's and my Balboa Park talk added fuel for an informal December morning discussion about music and working on one's craft with guitarist T-Bone who plays with San Diego band Mystique Element of Soul. He had walked to the newly renovated Broadway pier to sit and reflect. I already sitting, reading.
Mystique Element of Soul had a gig at Patrick's II in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter District on New Year's Day. Thanks for the invite, man. However, I was too tired from grading final exams and papers to go out. Our chat was a follow- up on an impromptu interview question/discussion for my Ashe Interview website,
Mystique Element of Soul guitarist T-Bone
It was good to talk about putting in the work necessary to become proficient, about "Right" practicing to excel beyond ordinary, about studying and knowing one's music style's foundational elders and innovators.
On a side note about elders and trend setters: here's a shout out to Visual Artist Salvador Torres--thank you for all the early evening, late night conversations!
One of the original San Diego Chicano Park artists, Salvadore still paints http://www.library.ucsb.edu/special-collections/cema/torres Having recently finished a commission to restore San Diego Metro's Bayside Trolley mural,, he has several ongoing projects in various stages of development, including lectures and interviews.
He has many awards for artistic community inspiration across borders and as a retired professor, Salvador continues to challenge mediocrity and inspire greatness in artists.
Oh yes . . . Ravi (the Rock Whisperer) another border-bridger, wishes everyone a happy New Year," a time of prosperous growth and spiritual enlightenment.
Ravi at Seaport Village
He has faced difficult adversity and challenges in 2015. However, having just returned from traveling oversees, Nepal and India, he is restored and renewed. One of his dreams is to experience a world in which, even if we don't agree, we can come to a place of balance, a place where we cultivate and nourish mutual respect for each other individually and globally as humans.
One last New Year note: You gotta get the children's book, The Grumpy Unicorn written and illustrated by Jen Hodge.(It actually works as an adult coffee table conversation book too!)
A budding first time author, Jen Hodge has a quiet, amiable public persona. The Grumpy Unicorn is about finding joy and purpose in uniqueness of self. The story feeds mind and soul. And Jen's artwork is a sumptuous visual wonderland. Fans believe she is a voice to be heard and gladly helped back her publishing efforts.https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2086743943/the-grumpy-unicorn
I agree with them . . . . .I literally laughed out loud with delight as I read it.
Jen is a vibrant conversationalist. Our early morning Sea Port Village conversation made me smile. It was refreshing.She doesn't seem to be phased by growing coverage of her work. Although this is her first publishing venture, she definitely has more genuine, entertaining, and wholesome stories to tell. The Grumpy Unicorn is definitely generating media buzz. It may have sold out since we last talked. But, hopefully, more books are in the works.This book is a keeper.
Well, it's interesting chatting to "catch up" on a few happenings. But, gotta go . . . anniversary celebrations, (Malcolm X library's 20th was a blast), interviews, premieres, special readings......Winter season blogging!!!!
-------Attending the Amigos del Rep/San Diego Repertory Theater's production/reading of "The Madres" by playwright Stephanie Alison Walker. http://www.sdrep.org/amigos.php
Prepping for the Spring semester. "The Madres" review---- in a week or so!