Two Awards and Two Book Releases

by Brian Dunlap

downloadOver the past two weeks more good news has come to the Los Ángeles-Long Beach literary community. Two accolades for a spoken word album that a L.A. poet has two tracks on, and an honor for a poet writing about El Salvador and Salvadorian issues, plus two poetry releases.

Jessica Wilson Cardenas, Founder of the Los Ángeles Poet Society, found out the spoken word album “Freedom,” by Jenni Asher, on which she laid down two poetry tracks on, by Jenni Asher won the Independent Music Award (IMA) for Spoken Word Album. On Facebook she exclaimed, “I am so honored and stokked!!! Thank you, Jenni! Way to go, my friend! I am so excited!” It’s the 16th year the IMA’s have been handed out.

Cynthia Guardado, author of the poetry collection Endeavor, has an unpublished poetry manuscript exploring El Salvador and her family. There are a few poems in Endeavor that are about or are set in El Salvador. As her parents are immigrants from El Salvador, and for many years she visited the country and her family there in the summer, the country, culture and people play a big role in her life. She has won an Attitude Award from La Prensa of Los Angeles, and as Guardado said on Facebook it’s “from a newspaper based out of Los Ángeles dedicated to writing about El Salvador & Salvadoran issues,” that her mother nominated her for. “She is incredibly proud of me,” she continues, “and in many ways this is an honor for her.”

La Prensa describes the awards as follows; “Attitude Awards are the awards granted by La Prensa of Los Angeles to people of the Salvadoran community in the city of Los Angeles who have distinguished themselves by their professional development, education, altruistic sense and more.” And Guardado continues saying, “I’m not entirely sure what this all entails. And it’s great to be entering to be entering the Salvi sphere in a new way this year.”

Furthermore, poet Cindy Rinne recently released a new poetry collection titled, Moon of Many Petals (Cholla Needles Press). She is both an artist and poet, having created art for the past 35 years (first in water media and starting 15 years ago in creating art quilts). I found out about the book though a blog post she wrote a week and a half ago where she says about this new book, “A long time dream has been to have a book published in full color of my art and poetry…” Moon of Many Petals is a novel in verse about one family during World War II taken to internment camps by the US government simply for being Japanese. Her full color art accompanies and supplements the story.

In her blog post Rinne continues, talking about the formatting process for the book. “Rich,” the publisher of Cholla Needles Press, “selected images to go with the poems. At first I was surprised by some of his choices. Then I began to see the connections between my fiber art and my poems. I changed some of the images as I had stitched certain ones to go with specific poems.” And as Rinne says about her book release reading, “I enjoyed introducing my story family to others.”

Finally, Long Beach Poet Sarah Thursday is releasing a new chapbook from Arroyo Seco Press titled Seventeen Poems Not About A Lover. This book contains 17 poems that are, according to the chapbook’s Amazon page, “a collaboration between poet, Sarah Thursday, and artist, Alyssandra Nighswonger. After six years of friendship and artistic crushing, this dream project has come to life. Though the poems intentionally avoid the topic of romantic love, they deal with love and loss from family and inner personal struggle. Each of the seventeen poems has a custom papercut illustration, hand-cut and photographed for a 3-D effect.”

Sarah Thursday is a poet dedicated to her literary community. That’s why she is, according to her website, a “Long Beach poetry advocate…who co-host[ed] a monthly reading with poet G. Murray Thomas,” since 2014 “called ‘2nd Mondays Poetry Party’” that ended its run this past Monday as everyone said their goodbyes to Thomas who is moving back east. Also, Thursday has considerable experience in writing and publishing chapbooks as she “in 1992…made her very first chapbook and continued with four more up through 2001…In 2014, she founded Sadie Girl Press to explore her other passion: layout and design of print books. She has since published many chapbooks and anthologies, incorporating writers and artists she loves.”

As Thursday says in a recent Facebook post about Seventeen Poems Not About A Lover, promoting her release party on April 29th at Viento y Agua Coffee House in Long Beach, “I’m so very excited to share this gorgeous piece of art/chapbook Alyssandra and I created!” Alyssandra Nighswonger illustrated the chapbook.

With this good news coming out of the Los Angeles-Long Beach literary community, there is no doubt these scribes and all the others, will continue to be busy, dedicated to producing important and moving literature. Congratulations to all four of these poets.

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