Friday, May 22, 2009

3 recommended events for this weekend in Fort Worth

Humanization 4tet--featuring Aaron and Stefan Gonzalez, Metroplex musicians who are also brothers--begins its U.S. tour this weekend here in the FW. Humanization 4tet's first release (on Clean Feed Records) won best Portuguese CD honors as selected by the biggest Portuguese jazz magazine, Jazz.PT, in 2008.

The Humanization 4tet is led by Lisbon guitarist Luis Lopes & features tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado. Lopes and Amado selected the Gonzalez brothers--sons of Dallas-based jazz virtuoso Dennis Gonzalez--to join them as the rhythm section to fill out this "freebop" quartet.

Friday, May 22 - Firehouse Gallery - Ft. Worth
4147 Meadowbrook Dr. - 76103 - 8 pm - $5

For more info, check out this compendium of reviews of the 4tet.


Saturday, May 23rd: Check out Jesse Sierra Hernandez' solo art exhibit opening at the Rose Marine Theater Gallery (Galeria de la Rosa), 1440 N. Main St., 5 minutes north of downtown FW. Jesse's exhibit, entitled En Una Manera Silenciosa, will surely draw a crowd of dedicated fans and friends.

I'll have to miss the opening, cuz I'm going to be in Tulsa, OK, for the premiere weekend screening of "Barking Water".


Lindsey D sent word about a free film screening, sponsored by the local chapter of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World).
Never had heard of this doc before. Check it out.

Sunday, May 24th
1919 Hemphill, 5 minutes south of downtown FW.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Barking Water" premiere in Tulsa, Oklahoma--where it was filmed

"Self Portrait: Homeland Series" by Richard Ray Whitman, 1986, photo collage, mixed media
Richard Ray Whitman (the guy in the middle in the image above) is a friend who I met, quite serendipitously at a New Year's Eve party in OKC (Oklahoma City), back in 1999 when the last place I wanted to bring in the new year was in Austin. I called up fellow poet and wondering wanderer Kathianne O and told her to pick me up from the OKC airport around 10pm that night. She, not expecting this call, tried to beg off, saying that she was boring, had no friends and no food in the fridge. I told her that I didn't care, and that I was on my way nonetheless. When she picked me up from the airport, her entire mood had transformed: "there's a party happening at my house--i bought a buncha food and beer--and my Indian friends are coming over!" You never know when a random call to a distant friend can stir up a nice hot diggity. At Kathianne's later that night--and into the next morning--I got to meet and hang out with Richard Ray and his brother Joe Dale. We shared fresh poems, lotsa drink, and kindled a wonderful new friendship. I celebrate Richard Ray Whitman with this post, cuz he's the sort of quiet smoldering presence who defies description. He is a visual artist, poet, committed Yuchi Indian activist, and now--an actor. He is a caring, compassionate person whose gentle spirit can truly transform any room you find yourself sharing with him. I'll never forget the day last May (2008) when he led me to his special altar and lit some sweetgrass and gave me a special blessing mere weeks after I'd survived my closet ordeal. It was a highlight of my visit to Oklahoma City last year. Vicki, Richard Ray, me, Kathianne in OKC, May 2008 - photo credit: Bryan Parras

I cannot wait to see him on the big screen in his first starring role.

THE EVENT: Oklahoma Premiere of "Barking Water", Native Indian indie filmmaker Sterlin Harjo’s new film featuring Casey Camp-Horinek and Richard Ray Whitman.

The film got great reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and was screened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York City on the opening night of the Native American Film and Video Festival in March. That was followed by screenings at the Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art.

Now, it’s opening in Oklahoma. Circle Cinema in Tulsa will host the
Oklahoma premiere, from Friday, May 22nd through Thursday, May 28th.

Circle Cinema is located at 12 S. Lewis, Tulsa, OK
Phone at 918-585-3456 for more info.

Tickets will go on sale Thursday, May 21 by phone or online.

Additional links:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring Issue, YELLOW MEDICINE REVIEW - now released

There is nothing like capping off an amazing afternoon of backyard gardening (also lit my firepit as it was actually cool enough outside to deal with that) with a great mail delivery. I received my contributor's copies of the latest issue of the
YELLOW MEDICINE REVIEW yesterday and put the huge yellow envelope aside 'til I was done in the backyard. Then, I took a quick bath, put on some fresh clothes, and walked--with envelope under my arm--to the Chatroom for a celebratory pint. It's my tradition to toast myself whenever a new publication credit comes to pass; typically, I've ended up at the thinks-it's-schmancy-but it's actually pretty laidback upstairs bar at the Worthington Hotel downtown. I once dragged a box of books and a box cutter up there, plopped down on a leatheresque settee and ordered a Bombay gin and tonic. Never mind trying to get a friend to join you; they're usually at work or otherwise occupied. And, what I've come to realize is that this celebration is really about you, the writer, and your book. Ain't no one else really gonna understand the import and necessity of unpacking the book from its delivery wrap with great anticipation, and the delicious feeling of first seeing the book design and cover art, and turning the book over and over in your hands--knowing that your own written words have contributed to its weight and value. Then, when you open the book to see where your poems have been placed, you marvel at how your work seems to hold its own settled in among poems written by people you have never heard of before. I try to read my poems with the eyes of a new reader, imagining what they might find or appreciate most in my words. All these gestures and rituals of welcoming a new book are a quite personal experience for the published writer. If you as friend or family member don't really understand but applaud me from afar, that's cool. Me and my new book will continue to celebrate over at the corner table, glistening with pride and good humor.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Get out, get active today - Monday, May 18th

For some reason, tonight's a big night for community action and activism in the Metroplex. I might end up at the ACT meeting; I have met a few ACT organizers and they are very cool and creative problem-solvers, and so I want to learn more about their work in Tarrant County. But right after I post this, I'm dragging my boombox out to the backyard, and I'm turning into a gardening fiend for the next few hours. Bean pole plants are looking good. My collard seeds have sprouted!



ACT's (Allied Communities of Tarrant) general membership meets at 7 pm at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in the library tonight, Monday, May 18th.  The address is 3717 Stadium Dr. (west of Granbury Road, in the Westcliff neighborhood).
Tonight's agenda includes final planning for Tuesday's education action (see below), updates on the ACT May 28 GALA, and work on JPS's new community clinic initiative and the beginning of immigration workshops.  Nine ACT leaders met with legislators and participated in a press conference at the state capitol last week, and they will discuss progress on legislation around job training, TAKS testing, and children's health insurance.
Tomorrow, TUESDAY, May 19th at 6:45 pm, parents, congregrations, pastors and principals will meet to determine the political will for challenging the status quo in schools.  This includes
• challenging how schools treat parents
• how teachers and parents can be more effective together,
• how to challenge the geography of failing schools.
Please arrive at 6:45 pm at Beth Eden Baptist Church,  3208 Wilbarger St, Fort Worth.  The leadership team and Education Coordinator Tara Perez have led listening sessions with hundreds of parents, and these stories will form the basis of a summer organizing strategy. 
More information on ACT (Allied Communities of Tarrant):

Jose Aguilar - 817-443-4152 (cell) -

Allied Communities of Tarrant - 817-921-2228 (phone) -



The Fort Worth Police Department will hold a police public awareness forum TONIGHT:

MONDAY, MAY 18th, 2009
7PM to 8PM
SHAMBLEE BRANCH LIBRARY (about 2 blocks east of I-35, minutes from Magnolia/Fairmount 'hoods)

This forum will be conducted to:

- Build a better verbal dialogue between the community and the police department.
- Maintain a continuous working relationship and address the various concerns of the community.

In this meeting, community groups and residents will have the opportunity to hear about the latest projects and programs, ask questions and give feedback to numerous police officials.

Chief of police Jeff Halstead and other police department representatives will attend the forum.

Because you care about what happens in your neighborhood, please attend. For more information, please contact Office Sharron Neal at 817.392.4215.

Please invite your neighbors, your neighborhood watch groups, and your copwatch allies.


And, to close off the night, if you can get out to Denton---a benefit for the QUERENCIA COMMUNITY BIKE SHOP!

Doors open at 7pm

$5 if you come by bike

8pm- Chris Flemons
9pm- The Slow Burners
10pm- Boxcar Bandits
11pm- Sara Jaffe

Bike sale, Bake Sale, Raffles, Bike Valet!!!

Help us buy some tools!

We are celebrating our recent approval of 501c3!!! We are officially a tax-exempt nonprofit organization!


GET OUTSIDE, GET ACTIVE, the weather's gorgeous so roll your car windows down & turn OFF the a/c !!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

My cabbies

The forthcoming issue of Yellow Medicine Review will be featuring three of my poems based generally on the theme of education, including one about my international cab drivers--they're immigrant men about 99% of the time--and we share fascinating conversations as they drive me to my destination. As we all know, "it's the journey, not the..." I learn so much from these men, as they are often well-educated with colorful histories which are encapsulated in six minutes (or so) of time talking together. I often--especially in the past three months--begin to feel a particular kinship with these men, as if these drivers are long-lost brothers who need to hurriedly catch me up on the lives they've been living.

In some cases, I have tracked their journeys, before even knowing them personally: A Nepali driver seemed to appreciate that I exhibited more than a passing awareness of the current political situation in Nepal. And, when my driver this past Wednesday told me that he'd been born in Cuba and hoped to travel there someday--his parents were from Sudan--I put two and two together and realized that this young man was of "diplomat family stock". He confirmed what I'd thought, telling me that his parents were only briefly based in Cuba, and thereafter returned to Sudan where this man was raised. He told me that he could not now return to Sudan, for he is a "wanted man" and I chimed in, "like one of those 'Lost Boys' of Sudan", to which he smiled--not every Fort Worthian is gonna have a clue, after all--and nodded, "yes I am like them."

There are many "lost boys" wandering our streets as taxicab drivers in the night. I hope that they at least occasionally meet other passengers who care to hear their stories and arrive, full stop, at heartening and enlightening conclusions together.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sor Juana Festival - comes to Dallas on Saturday, May 16th

The Latino Cultural Center of Dallas
in collaboration with the
National Museum of Mexican Art presents

The 2009 Sor Juana Festival
Saturday, May 16
4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

"The Sor Juana Festival is a multidisciplinary festival honoring one of Mexico's greatest writers, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th century Mexican nun who valued the education of women. In addition to the Latino Cultural Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art is collaborating with over 12 arts organizations across the nation - making the Sor Juana Festival the largest Latino performing arts festival in the country."

4pm - Film Screening
"Yo, la peor de todas" / I, The Worst of All
María Luisa Bemberg (1990) - Based on the life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,this film will be shown in Spanish with English subtitles.

6:30pm - Intermission

7pm - Special Musical Performance
Mezzo-soprano Silvia Paola Nuñez will perform traditional 17th century songs from Mexico's baroque era

7:30pm - "Sor Juana: A Life Defined"
The illustrious Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz comes to life in this theatrical performance filled with poetry, music and color. Performed by Teatro Flor Candela. Written and directed by Patricia Urbina.

8:30pm to 9:30pm - Reception

Latino Cultural Center
2600 Live Oak St., Dallas, TX 74204

Festival admission is free - open to all!

"En este montaje teatral disfrutaremos de poesía, danza, música y títeres. Apreciaremos la voz de la Décima Musa al asimilar las culturas prehispánicas, africanas y occidentales; la compleja relación con los poderes políticos y eclesiásticos; y la batalla apasionada que libró para defender el derecho de la mujer a cultivar el conocimiento en igualdad con el hombre y a expresar sus ideas con libertad."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

follow me on Twitter at

i'm re-enacting my closet ordeal,
via twitter only. it's a 2.5 day finite experimental performance work.

don't worry, i'm not actually IN the closet physically, just a little bit emotionally, psychologically, and artistically.

one friend DID panic, thinking i was actually trapped (again), and drove over to check on me yesterday evening.
sorry, Lindsey.

another thing i'm doing to celebrate my 1-year anniversary of the struggle to carve a hole in the door to get out of the closet, is that i'm EATING and DRINKING as much as i want for 2.5 days. i'm having a cup of Wild Berry Zinger tea at the moment, whereas this time last year i was enjoying (barely) "essence of saliva."

be in the moment, wherever you are!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Festival Internacional de Poesia de Quetzaltenango - this wk. in Guatemala

Ramsey, our friend studying Spanish in Guatemala, sent word about an international poetry festival taking place there all this week (May 9-15). He's gonna be checking it out, which I'm happy he's doing. For more info on the fest, click here.

And, to read his online travel notes--which are remarkably nuanced and detailed at times--check out
RAMSEY'S TRAVEL BLOG. I recommend the additional reading implements of a strong cup of coffee and a well-cushioned desk chair.

On the subject of traveling abroad and witnessing poetry festivals, I am reminded of my own three months spent--quite often--hanging out in Kathmandu with some of the contemporary Nepali "stars" of poetry. Once word got out that a poet from America was wandering their streets, many KTM literary scholars and poets invited me to teas, lunches, and some--at times--quite pompous literary events, the likes of which I'd never experienced before. (Imagine sitting in an un-air conditioned windowless lecture hall for five hours, watching dignitary after dignitary walk up to the podium for his 10-minute honoring ceremonial introduction--now this is before you even get to hear one poem. When an actual poet is introduced, his (though there are noted and recognized women poets and authors, the great majority are men) brief reading is preceded by hugely long sonorous commentaries by a panel of (who designates them as such, I never found out) critics. Torture, I tell you.{

However, one bold shining exception to all the pomp and pretension I experienced at Nepali literary events, was getting to spend quality time--in his home, no less--with the nationally-revered poet Megh Raj Manjul, known to most as simply 'Manjul." Ah, now the memories are really flooding in. Now I have to drop everything, maybe tonight, and find that old audio cassette which contains my brief interview with Manjul (circa August 1999), and, most importantly, the poems and song that he performed for me and my tape recorder. (Dang, I hate that my minidisc battery was spent by the time I got to meet Manjul...)

Until today, it hadn't even occurred to me that my Nepali literary comrade might have a web presence this century. I guess, because Nepal didn't even get digital pagers until the late 1990s, I didn't think that folks there would even be bothering with website development and html authoring. Oh well, more the surprise and pleasure for me now, as I am finding a cornucopia of sites that are feeding my current re-fascination with all things Nepal.

You can read more about Manjul, as one of the many Personalities of Literature from Nepal on the Spiny Babbler website. Spiny B is a veritable production house of activity for all things literary in Nepal. I myself own archival copies of the "Spiny Babbler", the English-language poetry journal founded by Nepali publisher/writer Pallav Ranjan. I suppose that the print journal was only the beginning for Pallav, as the online website now evidences.

As I keep browsing, I find more sites leading me to my past. Wow, even my former meditation teacher, Wayne Amtzis, is online! I remember doing walking meditation on his rooftop one humid Kathmandu afternoon, and meeting him for Buddhist teaching sessions at a study center every so often during my summer there. Wayne is also established, as expatriate from the U.S., as a writer and translator, having played an instrumental role in the publication of dozens and dozens of poems written in both Nepali and Nepal Bhasa (one of many ethnic languages) over the years. I think I'll send him an email, and start a reconnection in earnest with the living poets of that nation.

Here's to literary expression, anywhere--be it Guatemala or Nepal, Mexicio or the U.S.--and everywhere, and to all the contemporary writers who forge bonds beyond borders.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fort Worth Cactus and Succulent Show--this wk-end at Ridgmar Mall

I think i killed a cactus once, without even trying.
But am thinking of partially xeriscaping my front yard this year. The left half.
Succulents and hardy drought-resistant plants only. No more mowing, on that part of the yard.

Ain't gonna ever be any little kids playing tackle football in my yard anyway...thanks to Molly Fallis for the heads-up on this.

Fort Worth Cactus and Succulent Society is hosting its 26th annual Show and Sale at the Ridgmar Mall, 1-30 & Green Oaks Road, May 8, 9, 10, 2009. Open during regular mall hours. You can bring plants to be identified as there will be lots of pros there. Advice on care too.

Vote for your favorite plant while there.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tides 2009 JBL Awards - Call for Nominations until May 22nd.

Call for Nominations: Tides 2009 JBL Awards - recognizing individuals who advocate / organize for immigration reform

Tides 2009 JBL Awards - Call for Nominations

The 2009 JBL Awards will recognize two individuals who have advocated and organized for comprehensive immigration reform, worked to counter anti-immigrant policies and groups, and helped voices at the grassroots shape and influence the immigration debate at the national level. The award recipients will be honored with $10,000 each on September 7, 2009 at the Tides Momentum Conference in San Francisco.

Nominations are due on Friday, May 22nd 2009. Named after Jane Bagley Lehman, one of the founders of Tides and board chair until her death in 1988, these awards honor the life and legacy of this unconventional philanthropist whose insatiable curiosity was matched by her willingness to take risks. Jane was inspired by the approaches and strategies of grassroots advocates and organizers and their willingness to challenge traditional assumptions. She also cared deeply that the results of their efforts be translated into public policy.

Reforming Immigration Reform
In the absence of comprehensive reform, the U.S. immigration system continues to violate rights and perpetrate injustice. Under our current law and policy, undocumented workers are easily exploited by unscrupulous employers. Families, including those with U.S.-citizen children, are torn apart each day by immigration enforcement raids and deportations. And hundreds of thousands of immigrants sit in detention, often mistreated, malnourished and threatened, not knowing when they will see their families again.

In this hostile environment, a growing number of grassroots leaders have emerged to right the wrongs—and to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Human rights groups, elected officials, faith-based organizations, and activists from across the nation are stepping up to defend our nation’s commitment to unity, equality and opportunity.

They face a determined and vocal anti-immigrant minority, opposed to a path to legalization and, in some cases, even to safeguarding basic civil and human rights. At worst, these anti-immigrant forces have stoked a climate of hatred and fear, leading immigrants to go deeper into the shadows and withdraw further from community life.

The 2009 JBL Awards will honor grassroots advocates who are working to achieve immigration reform and working to counter restrictionist policies and groups. Eligible nominees are activists who are working at both a local and national level and collaborating with others to:

Raise awareness of the immigration debate and help educate people who are not yet aware of the issues.

Expose racist and xenophobic anti-immigrant work and inform the public of hate crimes.

Respond to anti-immigrant attacks and protect workers and families affected by raids.

Nominees will have supported local immigrant communities while elevating their work and the grassroots movement for comprehensive immigration reform to the national level. Nominees will have pushed to advance both moral and political arguments for planting real immigration reform firmly within the Obama administration's agenda.
Their work will also have called for immediate cessation to raids as well as reversal of draconian detention policies. (While the JBL Awards recognize the power of all of these roles in restoring justice to our immigration policies, any individual applicant will not have to have accomplished all of these roles.)

To learn more about the nomination process and more about the JBL Awards, please click here.

Deadline: email nominations no later than Friday, May 22nd 2009 to:

Tides partners with philanthropists, foundations, activists, and organizations across the country and across the globe to promote economic justice, robust democratic processes, and the opportunity to live in a healthy and sustainable environment where human rights are preserved and protected.

Tides Foundation
The Presidio
P.O. Box 29903
San Francisco, CA 94129

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Benefit for the INNOCENCE PROJECT - May 6th, Fort Worth

[Thanks to Beverly Archibald for sending this along via email. Please spread the word to get folks out to hear opera singers, but, just as important, to learn more about the work of the INNOCENCE PROJECT. According to Beverly, this concert event has been organized by Dan Okulitch, lead actor and bass-baritone singer for the opera adaptation of "Dead Man Walking" (which was first a book by death penalty abolition advocate Sister Helen Prejean and later made into a Hollywood film starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon), which is now playing at Bass Hall, downtown Fort Worth. Highly recommended.]

What: a benefit concert for the Innocence Project.

When: Wednesday May 6th at 7pm

Where: Rose Marine Theater - 1440 N. Main St. in Fort Worth

Admission is free. Donations accepted.