Last week in Los Angeles Literature on Tuesday the 6th, Los Angeles Times Book Critic David L. Ulin dropped his new book Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Sidewalking offers a compelling inquiry into the evolving landscape of Los Angeles. Part personal narrative, part investigation of the city as both idea and environment, Sidewalking is many things: a discussion of Los Angeles as urban space, a history of the city’s built environment, a meditation on the author’s relationship to the city, and a rumination on the art of urban walking. Exploring Los Angeles through the soles of his feet, Ulin gets at the experience of its street life, drawing from urban theory, pop culture, and literature. For readers interested in the culture of Los Angeles, this book offers a pointed look beneath the surface in order to see, and engage with, the city on its own terms.
On Wednesday the 7th, Book Show Books was honored to host the release party reading for the publication of Jessica Wilson’s first book of poetry, Serious Longing, published by Swan World Press out of Paris, France. Patrice Kanozsai says of the collection, “Deep and whole poetry about origins, ancestors, childhood with real efficient poetic words…Sometimes amazing…Sometimes funny… Always relevant. Jessica will take us with Jim Morrison in a rabid hole…”
On Friday the 9th Tia Chucha Centro Cultural & Bookstore in Sylmar hosted their bi-weekly English Language version of their open mic. This edition featured poets from Community Literature Initiative (CLI) a Los Angeles based non-profit organization focused on teaching writers in the city how to create poetry and fiction of a publishable quality. Founded by South L.A./South Central poet Hiram Sims, the CLI course is a 10-month (September to June) training program to refine works-in-progress into finalized manuscripts ready for publication. At the conclusion of the 10-month program, all participants are guaranteed a first-book publishing contract with one of their partnering Los Angeles Small Presses. Some of the featured poets read urgent poems that spoke on the current social/racial situation in the United States of police violence and the different language we use to discuss violence committed by one race and ethnicity compared to another.
On Sunday the 11th, in Uptown Long Beach, the third edition of the monthly reading series “Uptown Word” took place at Ricardo’s Nursey in North Long Beach. It was a day to celebrate three featured poets, the community of North Long Beach and the community poets there as part of the open mic. Lucid Moose Lit was there with co-founder and poet Nancy Lynee Woo, promoting the presses recently released anthology Like a Girl, Perspectives on Feminine Identity, an anthology of poetry, prose and art. The presses mission is: to stimulate conversation and foster community by publishing literature on social topics, while promoting literacy, creativity and diversity. The three features—Jerry Garcia, Irene Suico Soriano and Thomas R. Thomas, have deep roots in L.A./Southern California.
Jerry Garcia is a native of Los Angeles. He attended high school at Loyola High, the oldest high school and continuously run educational institution in Southern California. He studied Communication Arts at Loyola Marymount University. Jerry has been a featured poet at venues throughout Los Angeles and Ventura County including Beyond Baroque, The World Stage and the Los Angeles Central Library Aloud Series as part of the 2006 Newer Poets XI. As a poet unconstrained by strict formality or sonnet-cism, his poetry is intuitive and never shoved into a box, Garcia adds a certain voltage to his vocabulary… his poetry has static. As Apryl Skies said of Garcia’s work in 2011on the Examiner.com “Often when reading his work or listening to Garcia read his own, one can envision the imagery on an old film reel… always cinematic, sagacious and memorable. His poetry encompasses all the elements society loves about American film and Garcia isn’t afraid to tread the dark waters, but does so always with a sense of higher wisdom.”
Irene Suico Soriano hails from East Hollywood, near one of Southern California’s thriving Filipino districts. She obtained a B.A. in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry and a minor in Playwriting from Loyola Marymount University. Much of her work reflects the community she came from, for example, commenting on relationships between the rich and their caretakers, with the nursing industry a major gateway globally for immigrants from the Philippines. She pens works, according to The Argonaut in 2014, “such as ‘Frederick,’ a portrait in text of a lonely San Fernando Valley soul drowning in alcohol and memories of the Philippines of his youth.
Thomas R. Thomas was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. He currently lives in Long Beach. He publishes the small L.A. press Arroyo Seco Press. His poem titled “Swimming the Arroyo Seco,” speaks to the importance of the presses same. “The Arroyo Seco was my/Mom’s playground in the 20s/Swinging from a tree she/dove into the water before/the river was paved.”