Saturday, April 26, 2008

Article About Palabra Pura Published in

The Guild Complex Helps Change The Poetry Landscape For The Better

On Wednesday, March 19, 2008, I trekked out to Humboldt Park to check out the Guild Complex's Palabra Pura poetry series at the California Clipper, 1004 N. California. The Clipper is by far one of the best poetry venues in town, with a long bar in the main room and cozy tables and chairs in the back where the poetry takes place. I took advantage of the $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon, but the Clipper specializes in a variety of drinks, including various martinis, for reasonable prices.

The Clipper was simply packed with people who came out to hear some great poetry. This venue competes with Danny's Tavern for having the most non-poets in the audience, and that is a real achievement when it comes to the poetry world. Who does our poetry reach when we read to the same twelve people week after week? Palabra Pura is a bilingual reading series, and the audience as well as the readers represented the diversity that makes the city of Chicago so famous. Because March is Women's History Month and because both featured poets were female, the women outnumbered the men four to one this time.

The host for the evening, Johanny Vazquez Paz, was a pure delight, as she introduced the poets in the open mic. The Guild Complex was gracious enough to let me read a poem and I fed off the energy in the room.

The first featured poet was Olga Ulloa, who was born in Cuba and grew up in Madrid. At times like this I wish I would have paid more attention during Spanish 101, because Ulloa's entire set was in her native tongue, so I can't tell you much about her passionate poetry other than that, judging by the audience's response to it, it must have been awesome. Don't let this scare you away from this series if you don't speak Spanish; the rest of the night was either in English or was translated and I found beauty in the musicality of Ulloa's voice anyway.

The second featured poet, Aracelis Girmay, came in from New York City to read. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and the author of Teeth (Curbstone Press). Her set, entirely in English, was filled with variety, including a wide spectrum of styles and subject matter, from her heart wrenching anti-war poem to her humorous anecdote about one of her students. Her wonderfully written work inspired hope while taking an unflinching look at the human experience. Her most powerful poem of the evening was inspired when people were encouraged to send George Bush a bag of rice with a note that says "If your enemies are hungry, feed them." Girmay pointed out, "My enemies are not hungry. They drive in jets to parties. They wear ball gowns.

"Next year the Guild Complex will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Isn't that something! I remember the first days of the Guild Complex when they did their shows in the window of a place called Guild Books on Lincoln Ave. I bet most of you reading this right now were not part of the poetry scene back then; I bet some of you were just entering preschool. Where does the time go?

Palabra Pura always happens on the third Wednesday of the month, but not always at the same venue. On April 16, Palabra Pura will be at The Center at 3656 N. Halsted and will feature Lorna Dee Cervantes and Rigoberto González. You can always check out for information about their programming. --by CJ Laity

Thursday, April 24, 2008


El día amanece en mí con prisa
rotundo truena su alarma
y el pie izquierdo toca el suelo
sin pensar en las circunstancias

taconeo mis dudas recién nacidas
en la acera interminable de la calle soledad
cubriendo mis ojeras con polvos mágicos
que ocultan los vestigios de la madrugada

intercambio fantasías con los transeúntes
mi exhibicionismo abierto como un tajo
a cambio de una mirada que cicatrice

y salto, corro, vuelo, relleno mis huesos
calzo unas zapatillas veloces para flotar
y llegar a tiempo a donde no quiero estar.
por JVP

Saturday, April 19, 2008

En Memoria de David Sanes

Sin debida sepultura

a los viequenses

Y fue en abril cuando por fin pasó.
En el silencio que esperan las respuestas
vivían los habitantes de la islita
pegando sus oídos al aire
para escuchar el zumbido agudo
de la bala gigante raspando el viento
subiendo el tono in crescendo
mientras se acercaba a la tierra
que fue fértil antes de que ellos construyeran
un cementerio de bombas desparramadas
sin debida sepultura.

Y por fin pasó en abril.
En silencio escucharon el estruendo
arañando el cielo, lento pero veloz,
acercándose, acercándose
tan cerca que no hubo escape
para la vida de un hombre
tan común y corriente
que su muerte no paró las otras bombas
que siguieron cortando la pureza del viento
y abrieron la tierra en pequeñas fosas
donde poco a poco cada habitante
va enterrando sus sueños.

por JVP

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Celebración de Poesía en Español

En ocasión del aniversario de las revistas Diálogo y contratiempo, y conjuntamente con el Centro de Estudios Latinos y el Departamento de Lenguas Modernas de DePaul University, y contratiempo, les invitan a celebrar la poesía en español.

Viernes, 18 de abril: DePaul University, Lincoln Park Campus
2pm Concurso estudiantes, John T. Richardson Library, 2350 North Kenmore Avenue
6pm Lectura poetas invitados, Munroe Building, #114, 2312 North Clifton Avenue


Antonio Deltoro (México) Francisco Pamplona (México) Carlos Trujillo (Chile) Zulema Moret (Argentina) José Mármol (Rep. Dominicana) Gladys Llarazegui (Argentina) Jorge Rodríguez Florido (Cuba) Enrique Sacerio-Gari (Cuba)

Sábado, 19 de abril: Casa Michoacán
2pm Lectura poetas de Chicago, Casa Michoacán, 1638 South Blue Island


Febronio Zatarain, Juana Goergen, Jorge Hernández, Jorge Frisancho, om ulloa, Beatriz Badikian Gartler, Bernardo Navia, Olivia Maciel, Fernando Olszanski, Johanny Vazquez Paz


19 de abril, 7pm
Presentación del Teatro Aguijón
Schmitt Academic Center, #154, 2320North Kenmore Avenue

Donación sugerida $15

Después de la actuación del Teatro Aguijón, basada en los cuentos del libro Vocesueltas, se realizará una recepción para celebrar la clausura del festival y el aniversario de las revistas contratiempo y Diálogo. La donación incluye la presentación y la recepción.

INFORMACIÓN: contratiempo, 312 666 7466, o

Monday, April 14, 2008

PALABRA PURA Special Presentation: Lorna Dee Cervantes & Rigoberto González

Nobody can't miss this amazing presentation of Palabra Pura with two of the most important Latino writers in the United States. I am VERY excited about meeting these two poets. No dejen de venir a Palabra Pura, va a ser una noche muy especial.

Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Time: Doors open at 6:00 PM, Reading begins at 7:00 PM
Cost: Free admission.
Location: Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBT Community Center, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago

Lorna Dee Cervantes is an internationally acclaimed Chicana poet from San José, California. Her poetry has appeared in nearly 200 anthologies and textbooks, including The Norton Anthologies of Modern, American, English, Contemporary & Women's Poetry. She is a recipient of many honors, awards & literary fellowships including the NEA, Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Award and a Pulitzer nomination for DRIVE: The First Quartet. A fifth-generation Californian of Mexican and Native American (Chumash) heritage, Lorna Dee Cervantes was a pivotal figure throughout the Chicano literary movement. In 1976, she founded the influencial small press & Chicano literary journal, MANGO Publications, which was the first to publish well-known writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ray Gonzalez and many others. Cervantes holds an A.B.D. in the History of Consciousness and was an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She currently resides in San Francisco and teaches at SFSU and offers intensive poetry workshops from her home, the Mission Poetry Center. She is readying several new books of poetry for publication and completing her novel and a full-length screenplay. Visit her on her blog at

Rigoberto González is the author of seven books, most recently of the memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A story collection, Men without Bliss, is forthcoming. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and of various international artist residencies, he writes twice a month a Latino book column, for the El Paso Times of Texas. He is contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, on the Board of Directors of Fishouse Poems: A Poetry Archive, and on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/ Latino activist writers. He lives in New York City and is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University/Newark.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Él poco a poco se fuga de mí
la distancia germina nuevas rutas
y el silencio fusila la esperanza
de que pronto recordará mi espera
asentada en el pozo de la indiferencia
mientras arropo el alma para quitarle el frío
en este invierno eterno como su olvido.

Él mantiene atrapada en su boca
la última palabra, la que cierre
el trato deshecho de este amor
ha cosido con sus manos la verdad
alargando un hilo de mentiras
como el acordeón de un mapa
buscando su norte hundido en el sur.

Él se despedaza en el recuerdo
y es piedra hecha arena en mis manos
cenizas en el crematorio de mi cuerpo
pájaros negros arrojados al fuego de gehena.

Él se aleja día a día en el horizonte
punto invisible imposible de alcanzar
y yo aquí rebobino la cinta borrosa
del pasado y sus promesas aniquiladas
sin que nunca se deletree el F-I-N.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Homenaje al Bailador at Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center

I'm very honor to be the emcee, along with Omar Torres of Agúzate, of this great event.
¡No se lo pierdan!
For more information about Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center click on the title of this post.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Entre la altivez
de la ceja
y la capacidad
del ojo
un párpado
con su cortina
a medio cerrar
se niega a aceptar
la realidad.
por JVP

Tuesday, April 1, 2008