It is such a pleasure to find out that my poem “The Draft of Messiah” tied for sixth place with two other poets for Poetry Super Highway’s 2015 Summer Contest. Very exciting! Thank you to the judges who took the time to read all 635 poems and score them. Congrats to the top ten!
On October 6th, 2015 I will be reading in the Student Union with my talented Creative Writing Club peers. This poetry reading will be led by Mariano Zaro at Rio Hondo College. We will be celebrating Latino Heritage month. Please, come and join us. I am super excited for the reading and the food. Flyer below for more information and details.
Wednesday night I went to The Ugly Mug in Orange, California for the Cadence Collective: Anthology/Sadie Girl Press Night. I wasn’t planning on going because I’ve been going through some health issues. Also doing full-time this semester leaves me with little wiggle room to have fun. I became easily swayed into going after I finished up an essay for Anthropology. I finished my essay early because I wanted to see and hear my poetry community. Finishing the essay early also gave room for a relaxing weekend, which is why I am even able to write this post in the first place.
I hadn’t seen anyone in a month prior to Wednesday. Being there at The Ugly Mug felt like the first time hearing everyone again. It was magical. Sarah Thursday did a wonderful job. She told us the story to her cover art for All the Tiny Anchors. I’m not going to tell it because if you weren’t there you missed out! Ask her about it the next time you see her. Thursday also read a few poems she hadn’t read out loud before at the request of Terry. She also read from The Unnamed Algorithm. Hearing Sarah Thursday read after so long was a sugary sweet treat.
Terry Wright was absolutely phenomenal. She read her poems from the Sadie Girl Press Sampler: The Language I Was Broken In. Do I need to mention that she also read from Cadence Collective: Year Two Anthology? Of course she did! Terry Wright is a woman full of talent. She told us the story behind her poem Mappae Mundi. I am going to be honest I really love the last line of that poem, so when she explained how that came about I giggled. I cannot wait until her chapbook release party in December. I’m so excited to have her work on my bookshelf soon.
JL Martindale read poems from her joint chapbook with Daniel McGinn The Bottle & The Boot. I cannot explain to you how wonderful her reading was. It was absolutely raw, loud, and she exposed herself without holding back. I was swooning so hard. Seriously, it’s been well over a month since I heard this woman read her poetry. I forgot how much her poetry jumpstarted my heart with emotions. JL also read a poem by Amanda Tan titled I dazzle, even with my eyes closed. It was very nice to hear Amanda’s poem be read by JL.
I also enjoyed hearing G. Murray Thomas read. Who can get tired of G. Murray Thomas reading his poetry? I can’t. I also never get tired of his awesome hugs. Robin D. Hudechek also read her wonderful poetry. I loved hearing her read What My Hands Know. It’s an absolutely beautiful poem. It gets me every time. Michael Cantin read a poem about his very big white balls but they weren’t actually about his balls. It was amazing. His reading was flawless and it left me absolutely stunned (in a good way of course). I kind of wish he read his gold poem too. Great stuff. LeAnne Hunt also read. I always love when she reads. It’s always so good. Marc who was sitting next to me agreed that LeAnne’s poetry was too good. K. Andrew Turner had challenged Elmast Kozloyan to write a poem where she incorporates Armenian. She accepted the challenge and oh it was great. I cannot wait for her second chapbook Luna Seas. Marc J. Cid also read three poems. One of the poems he read was Inoculation, which you can find on Cadence’s website. Ben was a gracious host and closed the night reading a poem by Keayva Mitchell, Alexis Rhode Fancher, and Ricki Mandeville from the Cadence Year Two: Anthology. I got there 30 minutes late though because Bruxie’s was calling, overall it was a great night.
I am so honored to be part of such a strong, talented, supportive poetry community. It’s been the best gift I’ve received to be able to be part of it since I was seventeen. I genuinely can say they are my chosen poetry family. I don’t know when I will be able to go back to The Ugly Mug. All I know is every time I do go back I always feel welcomed. These nights are only made possible because Phil the Ugly Mug owner makes it happen. I should also tell you Phil makes the best Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups milkshake. So when you go, order one, and have it.
Montebello Friends of The Library is having a fundraiser at Polly’s Pies – Montebello on October 18, 2015 from 2 P.M. – 4 P.M. Come on and join us for a great day of pie tasting. The tickets are on sale through Eventbrite. All proceeds benefit the Montebello Friends of The Library. Help us achieve our fundraising goal. We want to provide more STEAM workshops for our Montebello community kids. Buy your tickets here for $15.00.
Thank you so much.
As I announced last month Elmast Kozloyan will be helping me with Moon Pixel Open-Mic by being my co-host for September, October, November, and December. We both will be hosting each month, unless I can’t attend because I am sick. She will be taking over the entire night if that were to happen. I asked her a few questions and she answered. This is so you all can know Elmast a little bit better.
What significance has the moon played in your personal and artistic life?
Elmast: “I felt I’ve always had a deep connection with the moon. A few years back I was going through a difficult time emotionally and there were very few stable things in my life. I would go for days without much sleep and most nights I would go outside to just stare at the moon. Although its shape changed every night it was always there and became the one constant thing I could hold onto. It is my literal and figurative rock. Right now in my artistic life the moon will play a heavy role in my next book of poetry Luna Seas. The center focus is the idea of insanity taking inspiration from mythology/folktales and the power of nature, particularly the relationship between the moon and ocean. ”
Has having a healthy artistic community helped you evolve and grow as a writer? How?
Elmast: “Absolutely! I don’t know where I would be today without my community. Surrounding yourself with creative people is an essential component for growth as an artist. I have been very blessed to have an amazing supportive community of writers whom I’ve come to consider a second family, as well as having community with those outside of the literary arts. All artists are storytellers and we have all been given a gift that we are compelled to share with the world, and I find it inspirational to watch others grow in their craft and tell their story. It pushes me to challenge myself and try new things and the feedback I get from other writers and artist are so valuable.”
In the next six months how do you see your writing improving, or growing? How do you want to challenge yourself?
Elmast: “I very honestly couldn’t tell you, if I knew where my art was going to be I think I would already be there. Although I always have goals of where I would like to improve. I find myself changing in ways I never expected. You just have to ride the wave and see where it takes you. Trying to force your own way may cause you to drown. The goal on my horizon is to experiment with new forms and subject matter. Poetry has been my main focus and I would like to try storytelling in a new medium. ”
Elmast has a feature coming up September 14, 2015 at Gatsby Books, Long Beach. For more information go to Cadence Collective.
Elmast Kozloyan: is a poet trapped in limbo between magic and reality (though seldom chooses the latter). At the age of fifteen won a silver medal for poetry in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and since then has been mentoring youth poets, is an editor of CSULA’s Statement Magazine and published in places such as Cadence Collective, Poetry in Motion, Pacific Review, East Jasmine Review, and the Los Angeles Times. She also has a chapbook called Doe Eyed Venus.
We write as to believe
that God himself will read
our words out loud
to his angel legions.
Command them to memorize
our sonnets, odes, and prose.
We hope that they will sing
our lines for eternity
on cotton kissed clouds,
glancing down upon us
ignoring our existence,
yet making our creations
So we move our hands like gypsies,
with the sole purpose to entertain,
and hypnotize our crowd
with desire that by the end of the night
someone will give their soul
Previously Published in River’s Voice 14
8/28/2015 Features for Moon Pixel
Jeffrey Graessley: resides in La Puente, CA. His debut collection, Dual Impressions, co-written with John Brantingham was published by Silver Birch Press earlier this year. He is also the author of the chapbooks Cabaret of Remembrance (2013) and The Old Masters (2015). Moreover, his recent discovery of the TV show Drunk History has given his life new meaning.
Robin Axworthy: is a native Californian who wandered off in search of adventure for many years before returning home in 1983. She has been writing since childhood in the interstices among growing up, marriage, child rearing, teaching, dancing, reading, and etc. She is currently writing poetry and fiction – still in the gaps, but more, now that she’s found the local poetry community.
The Red Pears: was founded in July 2014. Join us as they open up Moon Pixel this Friday night. Their genre of music is indie/alternative/elevator music. Band members include Henry Vargas: Vocals/Guitar, Jose Corona:Drums, and Juan Aguilar: Bass. All in all they’re just three dudes from El Monte making some noise. Show them some support and love by following their social media sites and liking their Facebook page @theredpears(Twitter) @the red pears(SoundCloud) @the_red_pears(Instagram)
Join us for another night at Moon Pixel open-mic at Half Off Books Whittier, CA at 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. story-tellers, magicians, poets, comedians, musicians (acoustic only) are welcome! Everyone has 3 minutes to perform on the open-mic list this month. We have three features this month so we’re keeping the time limit tight.
Every artist struggles with the tension, nerves, and uncertainty one feels when going to a new venue for the first time to perform, but that is common, and it shouldn’t discourage an artist from opening up to the supportive community Uptown, Whittier is.
Half Off Books has created an engaged interest for local talent. Every month they provide a space that allows people to network with each other, but most importantly they have given birth to a safe atmosphere where people can inspire one another. Half Off Books is not only an exceptionally well run independent bookstore, but they are also the foundation that has built a dynamic, and diverse creative scene for local artists in Whittier.
Any artist neighboring in or near Whittier, California can build an audience and get feedback by attending an open-mic regularly. The best one to start off at is SHOUT! hosted by Eric Morago at Half Off Books. The beautiful thing about this venue is that this open-mic has no age discrimination. The local talent here ranges from third grade student to senior citizen. The performers that have performed at Half Off Books have been extraordinarily memorable in their own unique way.
SHOUT! happens every second Wednesday of the month and has been ongoing since 2011. Eric Morago has done a remarkably wonderful job hosting every month for the past four years. Half Off Books alongside Eric Morago have welcomed and supported many local poets, authors, musicians, comedians, story-tellers, and magicians. They are one of the many reasons why Uptown, Whittier is the ideal destination to visit. The key thing to understand is venues that provide a safe space for open-mics, as well as the hosts that run them are important, because they give rise to a healthy artistic community.
A healthy supportive community is crucial for an artist to evolve, which is necessary in order for them to succeed, because change is a big factor to growth. Change happens more easily when an artist feels they are in a safe supportive environment. This gives them the comfort to explore and experiment. An artist must show progress and the stages of improvement they have reached over time. To stay stagnant is not ideal and not an option. Every art form needs constant room for improvement. An artist must grow and keep growing. It’s an essential goal to reach and to always keep in mind. One must work hard over and over again. Practice helps one become the ideal image they feel best represents who they are. Artists change as they adapt and move through different stages of life. This is why in order for them to best represent themselves there is always constant work that needs to be put in. Being an artist isn’t easy and isn’t suited for everyone.
This is why attending open-mics allows an artist to get a good sense of who they want to become and who they are. It gives room for experimentation, for trail and errors, success, more errors, and success again. That is the cycle. It’s a beautiful one that can be very exhausting.
But there is one priceless reward that comes from performing after each and every open-mic. That is the moment that occurs when the artist realizes there is an audience out there meant for them. This happens when a stranger comes up to them and lets them know they connected emotionally to their work. That is a priceless moment.
Artists must understand there is an audience meant for them, let them find you, and look for them. Those who don’t follow and who don’t understand, let them go, keep on creating, and explore your horizons by attending a local open-mic near you.