Bienvenidos
Buscar:
, LANG
Poet Laureate Luis Rodríguez

LITERATURA: Poets document the city in 'Coiled Serpent' anthology

| Imprime | Envía
RICHARD GUZMAN / PRESS-TELEGRAM

As students take part in a guitar workshop inside his Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in Sylmar, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodríguez grabs a copy of the latest book published by his nonprofit organization.

He walks outside to a small table and sets down his blue Winnie the Pooh coffee cup, exposing a faded forearm tattoo of a long-haired indigenous woman as he flips through the pages of “Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles.”

“I love the beauty of it. The poems really stand out, and I think it’s really reflective of the city. The city is beautiful in so many weird ways,” says the poet and novelist, who is perhaps best known for his memoir “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.”

Rodriguez, who was named poet laureate by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014, has long been an advocate for poetry and the power of words to change lives.

And the new book exemplifies those tenets with a collection of poems that capture the experiences, cultures and even the weirdness that intertwine — and at times collide — to create the fabric of the city.

The anthology includes the voices of more than 160 L.A. poets who are part of the sweeping 371-page tome.

“We needed a big, powerful anthology that covered the range of L.A. Even if you can’t represent all of L.A. But at least have a lot of voices,” said Rodriguez, whose cultural center also includes its publishing arm the Tia Chucha Press.

“We have a lot of voices. Some folks are brand new to poetry, some are very well-known,” said Daniel Olivas, an author and one of three editors of the anthology.

The other two editors are Neelanjana Banerjee, the managing editor at Kaya Press in L.A., and Ruben Rodriguez, Luis Rodriguez’s son and recent UCLA graduate.

“I think when you read the entire book you get a remarkable mosaic of feelings and senses. You can smell some of the poems when they talk about the streets of Los Angeles and its people,” Olivas said.

“Many of the poems are about life experiences in the city. Some of those experiences are filled with turmoil, experiences of discrimination and poverty. Some of those voices and experiences, however, are simply reminiscing about life in Los Angeles back in the day,” he added.

The three editors went through submissions from about 300 writers who turned in about 3,000 total poems.

they narrowed the anthology down to the more than 200 pieces that include work by well-known writers like Laurel Ann Bogen, author of 11 poetry books, respected performance poet and community arts activist Kamau Daaood and Dana Gioia, the current California Poet Laureate.

Some of the poems touch on physical places that define the city like Watts, Boyle Heights and the Valley.

Others talk about earthquake weather, tattoos, taggers, life in prison and music clubs.

The book also tackles serious topics like poverty, body issues, language and poverty.

There are odes to pan dulce, eating artichokes (which is compared to making love), rainfall washing dirty cars and urban coyotes hunting little pet dogs.

And yes, there are poems about traffic.

The poems aren’t broken up into sections or themes, but rather are presented in alphabetical order by the authors’ names, which Olivas said gives the book a more “natural” feel.

“It’s almost as if you decide to walk the city. Walk the streets of downtown or walk through Boyle Heights or walk through the San Fernando Valley and you hear the voices of the inhabitants of this amazing complex, diverse and sometimes disturbing city,” he said.

Gioia, the California Poet Laureate who describes his writing as musical and rhythmic, submitted a poem called “Meet Me at the Lighthouse.”

In the piece, the Hawthorne native reminisces about the Lighthouse Cafe; a well-known jazz club in Hermosa Beach:

“Meet me at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach / That shabby nightclub on its foggy pier / Let’s aim for the summer of ’71 / When all of our friends were young and immortal,” he writes.

For Gioia, the anthology puts a well-deserved spotlight on the city’s writers, who are often unfairly overlooked by their East Coast counterparts, he said.

“California, and especially L.A., tends to be marginalized by Easterners. If you read most Ivy League anthologies, you would hardly know California existed as a place for writers,” he said.

“It (the anthology) looks at the cultural kaleidoscope of Los Angeles as a kind of earthquake, something that changes the landscape in which it occurs,” Gioia added.

Meanwhile back at his Sylmar bookstore, Rodriguez knows that while the book does a good job of reflecting the city, it’s impossible to capture the multitude of voices in Los Angeles in a single anthology.

“I think they (readers) will get a sense of the voice of L.A. as a whole, but they’ll also get a sense that you can’t capture all the voices. You’re going to get a glimpse, an opening to a deeper sense of what’s powerful and what’s poetry in Los Angeles,” Rodriguez said.

Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore


Ver archivos de 'NEXT' »
 


Ofertas
Empleos
Clasificados
Autos
Bienes raíces
El tiempo
Tráfico
MX Lotería
NWS Santa Ana - Partly Cloudy
65.0°F
Partly Cloudy and 65.0°F
Winds South at 8.1 MPH (7 KT)
Last Update: 2013-12-12 12:20:18