The Valley Poets Reading: A Celebration of Latino Writers

I will be featuring Saturday, October 24, 2015 at The dA Center in Pomona, CA at 7 p.m. alongside Marco Vasquez and Madeline Newman Rios. This event will be hosted by Elder Zamora and John Brantinham. I will be reading poems from my chapbook, “Born To Electrify”, and some new poems as well. I hope to see some of you there. I haven’t featured in awhile, so I’m excited! It’s always such a pleasure and honor to be asked to read at a venue. There will be an open-mic as well. Come & share. I’d love to hear you all read.

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Update: Moon Pixel Open-Mic features for October, Brandon Mayer added!

Hello,

We have added another feature to our line-up Brandon Mayer. We will be featuring Mariano Zaro, Brandon Mayer, and Mike Sonksen for October 30th, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Half Off Books in Whittier, CA. Sign-up sheet goes up no later than 6:30 p.m. we can’t wait to see you all there. We will be having a costume contest for all ages. Winner wins a gift certificate to Half Off Books. The audience decides who wins!

Mariano Zaro is the author of four poetry books: Where From/Desde Donde (Bay Books, Santa Monica), Poems of Erosion/Poemas de la erosión (Carayan Press, San Francisco), The House of Mae Rim/La casa de Mae Rim (Carayan Press, San Francisco) and Tres letras/Three Letters (Morsa/Walrus, Barcelona). His poems appear in New Baroque, LA Melange, River’s Voice, Askew, The Seattle Muse, Badlands, Al Aire Nuevo and Luces y Sombras. He has translated American poets Philomene Long, Alicia Vogl Sáenz, Sarah Maclay, Marie Lecrivain and Michelle Mitchel-Foust. As a fiction writer, his short stories have been featured in several literary journals in Spain and the United States: Menos 15, El signo del gorrión, Caracola, The Louisville Review, Poeticdiversity, The Baltimore Review, Pinyon, Magnapoets, Portland Review and The Palo Alto Review. In 2004 he received the Roanoke Review Short Fiction Prize.

Brandon Mayer: Originally from Florida, Brandon Mayer studied music and film at UCLA. After living in Spain and New York, he returned to California and, while working as a schoolteacher, made the beautiful full-length Sea of Stars, which was self-released in the fall of 2000, soon after followed by the EP Palm Tree and Culver. As an ensemble and solo artist, Mayer has toured and performed extensively. Also a composer, he has written music for theater and films that have been broadcasted on television and performed/screened at festivals throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Mayer lives and works in Los Angeles, where he teaches music at Blind Childrens Center and UCLA.

Mike Sonksen also known as Mike the PoeT, is a 3rd-generation Los Angeles native that earned his Bachelors’ Degree at UCLA in 1997. In June 2014, he completed an Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in English and History from the California State University of Los Angeles. Following his graduation from U.C.L.A. in 1997, he has published over 500 essays and poems with publications and websites like KCET, Poets & Writers Magazine, Wax Poetics, Southern California Quarterly, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, The Architect’s Newspaper, LA Alternative Press, Los Angeles Review of Books, Cultural Weekly and many others. For the last three and a half years he has written a column for KCET called “L.A. Letters,” which celebrates bright moments from literary Los Angeles. Sonksen has taught at St. Bernard High School, View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School, California State University of Los Angeles, Woodbury University and Southwest College. He has also been a guest speaker at over 70 universities and high schools. Dating back to the late 1990s, Sonksen has presented his poetry over 1,500 times in a wide range of venues including bookstores, museums, college campuses, secondary schools and literary festivals. In 2013, the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center awarded Sonksen for “Distinguished Service to the Los Angeles Poetry Community.” His next book, Poetics of Location is forthcoming from Writ Large Press.

Shadows vs. The Sun

Bird hates me. I am a poet.
He says, “I don’t speak
an ass lick of truth.”

“Settle down.” I tell him
and pass the flask
of cheap whiskey.

Bird starts to laugh
and takes a chug
of my liquor.

He believes I am hope-
less. He pitched an idea
for my chapbook.

He suggested I wrap
my poetry around
empty toilet paper rolls.

“It’s going to be given shit
anyways. So why not?” he said.
I stayed quiet after that.

Now, I try to reach the Sun.
Yet, I am still a prisoner,
and Bird died this morning.

 

Previously published in San Gabriel Poetry Quarterly

The Ugly Mug

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.

The Pressure of Poetry’s Mass Consumption: How I’ve Been Dealing With It

The mass consumption of poetry put a pressure on me. Every day I would write or draft a poem. I repeated that routine almost all of summer. I came to slowly realize it was draining me of my creativity and confidence. I was producing poetry that was a waste of my time. All the things I was writing were terrible and the drafts I had accumulated I couldn’t complete. I realized my drafts were always just a long stanza I couldn’t find direction to. After staring at my draft for too long I convinced myself that it had potential, so I stayed up late trying to force it to find its end. When I would start seeing the sunrise through my window I realized these drafts had no purpose. That truth made me feel like a failure to my own craft. It wouldn’t let me fall asleep right away. Often throughout the day I found myself asking what I was doing wrong. I started becoming intimidated by the page. I couldn’t pick up a pen, type anything on word, or even think about what’s the next leap I wanted my poetry to gain.

It was a month ago that something suddenly changed within me. I began noticing how frequent my fear of writing something and challenging myself was becoming. I had to stop for a second and ask myself what was wrong out loud. After two minutes of asking myself what’s wrong I was able to voice out loud what the issue was. The issue was honesty. The writing I was forcing myself to produce over the summer was not honest. An integral part for me to feel fulfillment come to fruition in my writing relies on honesty. That component was shattered in the failed efforts I was putting to writing, writing, and writing away with no purpose in mind.

Honesty was part of the issue the other part was myself. I didn’t want to come to terms with things. Honesty meant accepting the experiences I am going through, went through, will go through, and writing about them in order to heal. I wasn’t ready to heal because I was still figuring out how to process, accept, and grow from all the challenges revolving my day to day life.

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After feeling angry with the lack of growth I was accomplishing with my writing I decided to tackle every issue I was afraid of being honest with on. This resulted with me writing on sticky post-it notes all the issues I didn’t want to face. In a matter of minutes half of my bed’s head-frame was filled with post-it notes with my issues. These post-it notes gave me a big reflection on what my current state of mind is. All the issues I wrote down at the moment inflict so much emotional pain on me. At the top of the post-it list is my mother’s health.

It felt uneasy at first deciding I was going to write about my mother’s health again. There were four post-it notes that I wrote in regards to that issue. One had false messiah, the other song, the third one had blood (x3) nose bleed, and the last one had mother. For two weeks I would just look at those post-it notes, while embracing and organizing my thoughts, feelings, and identifying my pain over them. It was agonizing but at the same time therapeutic. On the third week I drafted out a layout on what I wanted the central components of my poem to consist of.
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This step by step process and the amount of time it was taking for me to write wasn’t new to me. I had become unfamiliar with it. I stopped doing these things after I turned nineteen. It took a month for me to write a poem that had outstanding quality to me. I performed this poem at EastSide Poetry at The Daily Brew Coffee Bar in Montebello, California about a week ago. Whether the poem was successful to the audience I do not know. The important thing is that as an artist it was successful to me and that it was the best representation of what I currently am aiming for with my poetry. I cannot express to you enough how important it is for you to find your purpose. What is your purpose? Find your purpose. Every day I wake up reflecting on my purpose and asking myself if it’s still relevant to the person I need to be right now. If it’s not I find a way for my purpose to either change or adapt to who I am.

Get to Know Moon Pixel’s New Co-Host Elmast Kozloyan

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.

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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.

Moon Pixel’s Features for September

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Eric Morago: is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet who believes performance carries as much importance on the page, as it does off. He is the author of What We Ache For (Moon Tide Press, 2010) and Here for the Friction (Orange Ocean Press, 2012). Currently he teaches for Red Hen Press’ Writing in the Schools Program, is an associate reviewer for Poetix, and serves as a poetry editor for FreezeRay. Eric has an M.F.A in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach, and lives in Los Angeles.

ericmorago.com or facebook.com/EricMoragoPoetry

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remSleep: is an indierock/folk two piece band straight outta Los Angeles CA. With influences such as Bright Eyes, The Vaccines, and 80’s dance punk music the duo create dancy, uplifting, storytelling music. Tranquil sounds to a poppy catchy tune is what you hear from this local band, followed by sweeping bass riffs suttle to the ear all done by (Andrew Parra), outstanding structured lyric format in which Ish Guerrero(singer/guitar) composes and writes. Ish says he loves word meaning much more than anything else and really focuses on what he speaks rather than just making normal generic tune

remSleep Facebook

This event is FREE and open to all ages. Come on and join us for another month of Moon Pixel on September 25, 2015. We welcome everyone to sign-up and perform…poets, musicians (acoustic only), story-tellers, magicians, or comedians. Sign up sheet goes up no later than 6:30 P.M. We start the magic at 7:00 – 7:15 P.M.

Memo Poems (1)

There’s a pull coming
from somewhere in
outer space.

I don’t know where
it comes from.

All I know is I feel it
every time I wake up.

The mole on
my lover’s forehead
lets me know
I don’t belong
here.

I want to build
a rocket ship out
of the mattress.

All I need is the rubies
from the nightstand,
and maybe some blue
sapphires too, but

Pluto’s heart
is capturing everyone’s
attention right now,
and the news says
there could be room
for me in Mars.

7/15/15