Jayne Cortez, 1934-2012: “Find Your Own Voice & Use It”

“Find your own voice & use it, use your own voice, and find it

The sounds of drizzle on dry leaves are not like sounds of insults between pedestrians

Those women laughing in the window do not sound like air conditioners on the brink”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, performance poet Jayne Cortez died at the close of 2012 in NYC, having found her own voice and using it throughout her long life, writing, publishing, and performing poetry that addressed racial and sexual oppression. The 2010 video above features her performing with Denardo Coleman, her son with Ornette Coleman.

School’s Out Forever: Budget Cuts & College Classes

At some point every semester, students ask about creative writing. They ask if we will get to do any.

And I have to tell them no, that poetry and fiction and dramatic literature are not part of the SLOs, the Student Learning Objectives, for the writing classes I teach.

But there are few, if any, creative writing classes offered. In fact, there are few, if any, creative classes of any kind offered any more.

Tonight a student asked the question. And I said no. He pointed out the video posted on this blog and the argument it makes for creativity.

There’s no budget for those classes any more.

Not enough people think the arts are necessary, important.

I hope you watch Sandra Hunter’s video on the topic of these budget cuts to the arts.

PS She teaches writing at Moorpark College. She’s a poet and she writes plays.

Stories & a Poem or two from Nikki Giovanni: It’s Black History Month

For nearly 30 years, UC Santa Cruz has recognized Martin Luther King Jr with an annual convocation.

Last month, UCSC invited Nikki Giovanni to speak.

According to Wikipedia, “Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Her primary focus is on the individual and the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in the lives of others. Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride, respect for family, and her own experiences as a daughter, a civil rights activist, and a mother. She is currently a distinguished professor of English at Virginia Tech.[1]

And wow, did she have a LOT to say! I wish I could have been there. She presents so much history with so much heart and humor that I am scrambling to figure out how to fit this into my already full syllabus. I can certainly make it an extra credit or make-up assignment, so if you are one of my students, you can watch and listen to this and write about it.

Happy Black History month!

3:15 Experiment Reading 3/15 of “Middle of the Night”

My new poetry collection Middle of the Night Poems From Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son (en theos press 2011) will be here tomorrow! See the cover, discover the contents and learn more about the broadside pictured.

3:15 Experiment Reading 3/15 & Other Launch Events for "Middle of the Night" Please join me Tuesday March 15, 2011 at 7:30pm in the Artists Union Gallery for the first reading from my new poetry collection Middle of the Night Poems From Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son (en theos press 2011). This is the paperback book edition of the chapbook I produced for the 2010 Women’s Conference. … Read More

via art predator

Dottie, Vlat, Me, You & More at Artists Union Gallery 12/7

Poet Dottie Grossman will read her work in a call and response performance with Michael Vlatkovich (and possibly other musicians) 730pm Tuesday, December 7 at the Artists Union Gallery, 330 S. California Street, at the Ventura Beach Promenade near the big hotel, the parking garage and Aloha Steakhouse. You can learn more about what Dottie does in the video above and get a sample of the process.

The poetry reading is free but a hat is usually passed and donations are accepted for refreshments of coffee and cookies. CDs will also be available for purchase.

An open mic will follow. If you want to read your own poetry at the open mic, arrive 10-15 minutes early to sign up. Since there will likely be a big crowd, poets should keep their readings short: one poem of less than 3 minutes. If there’s time, poets will read in a second round.

I’ll be bringing my students; we will be reading from our end of the semester class publications. I’ll be reading a poem or two as well from my new collection Middle of the Night Poems from Daughter to Mother :: Mother to Son (en theos press 2010).

Below is one more video of poetry by Dottie Grossman–this one’s short and gives you a good idea of what’s in store tomorrow night!

For more poetry, take a ride on the Monday Poetry Train!

Train Night At The Artists Union Gallery Tues. 9/14


read on the theme of TRAINS!

Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Artists Union Gallery
330 South California Street, Ventura

Hosted by Roe Estep
Open mic follows…

The Painting Locomotive, by Van Gogh

By ellen

Near the end of his life
Vincent said to Theo
I am the painting locomotive
as he splashed his canvass with unbearable blue
slashed the spectrum of hues
from yellow to ochre’s billowing wheat
daubed those black marauding crows
in a feverish race—his eyes
piercing twin tracks of light
suddenly bullet-stopped
like a coal fired steam-engine’s
great screeching brakes.

Excerpt from NIGHT TRAIN

By Enid Osborn

He wanders long and long

the whole long train,

chaste and astonished by their faces, their losses,

and lost in the rhythmic, now arhythmic beat and clack

of the rails, rough and missing

like a faulty heart

The locomotive’s sad herald cry barely reaches him

from another realm, another train

Not this one he prays over,

not this long night,

not this long train he wanders aching through

He is far away from the world,

from the miles of ramshackle track

where fallen spikes lie rusting in the rocks,

reaching for their lost beds,

and the oily, split tyes

yawn in tortured speech

to bear the terrible heat and fire spark

of countless train tons laboring through the night…

Every Tuesday you can find an open mic and every other Tuesday a featured reader or two at the Artists Union Gallery. It’s free–but they often take donations to give to the poet.

To find more poetry, take a ride on the Monday Poetry Train!

Summertime Shakespeare at CLU: Comedy of Errors & Winters Tale (via art predator)

A great way to expand your horizons, enjoy a summer evening, have fun–and likely earn class or extra credit! For my summer school students, this would count as one of your four cultural-literary-eco events.

Summertime Shakespeare at CLU: Comedy of Errors & Winters Tale Summertime is Shakespeare time as festivals and performances sprout in parks and on outdoor stages across the country and around the world. Watching one of Shakespeare’s plays under the stars or in the shade of a tree, listening to birds or crickets and frogs, relaxing with a picnic and a bottle of wine, is one of my favorite ways to celebrate summer. I’ve enjoyed Shakespeare outdoors at Ashland Oregon, in Colorado, and more recently, in Californ … Read More

via art predator

A Celebration of Irish Literature & Sights in honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This guest post comes to you from John McNally pictured here with his wife, Sally and their daughter on Summer Solstice 2008. They visit Ireland often; in this photo they’re touching the Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny on the Hill of Tara at which the High Kings were crowned.

A few years ago, Sally and John McNally gave a presentation about Ireland and its culture to my college composition and literature students that included a Reader’s Theater performance of John Millington Synge’s classic Irish tragedy, Riders to the Sea. Read the play Riders to the Sea; this study guide will help you see Synge’s brilliance and this post will tell you something about the traditional language.

To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, and to help people appreciate the Irish people and culture, John put together a selection of Irish websites along with a brief narrative for anyone with an interest in Ireland or who may be planning a trip there. “These are my favorite places and activities,” writes John, “carefully selected and happily experienced as a result of a dozen visits to the Old Sod over the last three decades.”

John McNally’s Top 20 Places to Go in Ireland
or at least visit on the web!

Around Dublin

1) The National Museum of Archeology on Kildare Street, Dublin.   It’s free, located in central Dublin, and has artifacts from throughout Irelands history from stone age gold jewelry and mummified Bog People to the uniforms and weapons of the Irish Rebel leaders.  http://www.museum.ie/en/exhibition/irelands-gold-introduction.aspx

2) The National Library: Next door, it has with a superb exhibit on poet W. B. Yeats:  http://www.nli.ie/yeats/

3) Kilmainham Goal Tour is unsurpassed in telling the story of Ireland.  This former prison is preserved as a museum and is filled with history.  It has also been the site of several recent films. http://www.bing.com/reference/semhtml/Kilmainham_Gaol?fwd=1&src=abop&qpvt=kilmainham+gaol&q=kilmainham+gaol

4) Walking tour: the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl.  http://www.dublinpubcrawl.com/

5) Dublin Writers Museum offers an excellent one hour presentation. http://www.writersmuseum.com/

6) 1916 Rebellion Tour Another lively and informative walking tour http://1916rising.com/

7) Sinn Fein Bookshop: If you have further interest in Republican (Rebel) Ireland then visit the Sinn Fein Bookshop:   http://www.sinnfeinbookshop.com/catalog/index.php

8) Tourist Center on Suffolk Street. You may have noticed my personal interests lean towards history and literature so naturally my selections favor these enduring sites.  For a wider variety of activities visit the Tourist Center on Suffolk Street where you can find information on events, shows, and tours of all types.  http://www.visitdublin.com/seeanddo/TouristOffices/Detail.aspx?id=256&mid=2090

9) Grafton Street is a favorite with street entertainers and should not be missed.

10) Temple Bar is Dublin’s Cultural Quarter where you can find modern and traditional Irish music and art.  It’s also a handy place to stay because it’s in the center of the city so you can walk to nearly all other venues.   http://www.tascq.ie/

11) Hop-On Hop-Off Busses The best way to see central Dublin in a day or two and not worry about getting lost or paying for parking are the Hop-On Hop-Off Busses which stop at all the major attractions and are a tour in themselves.   http://www.dublinpass.ie/dublinpass/transport/default.asp?refID=

Outside of Dublin

12) The most significant attraction is Newgrange. These ancient Temples predate Egypt’s Pyramids and England’s Stonehenge.  http://newgrange.com/ Tours take small groups inside the Passage Tombs from this well run center: http://www.knowth.com/bru-na-boinne.htm

13) Brigit’s Garden is just the thing if you are a lover of Celtic Heritage and Mythology like ourselves.  http://www.galwaygarden.com/

14) Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a living museum of rural Irish life.  http://www.group-trotter.net/ireland/places/bunratty/bunratty.html

15) Craggaunowen Nearby is my favorite pre-history site, Craggaunowen. http://www.craggaunowen.org/

16) Cliffs of Moher A virtual tour of the Cliffs of Moher shows you why you’d want to visit: http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/TakeTheTour.aspx

17) Blarney Castle in Cork can be overcrowded with tourists but if you go anyway be sure to visit the Druid area in the nearby forest. http://www.blarneycastle.ie/

Northern Ireland

18) Black Taxi Tours are a good way to see Belfast. http://belfastcitytours.com/gallery.html

19) West Belfast is the Irish-Catholic side of the city and they offer their own tours: http://www.visitwestbelfast.com/tours.php

20) Dunluce Castle If you get up to the Antrim Coast, Dunluce Castle is unsurpassed with its rugged beauty.  http://www.travelsinireland.com/castle/dunluce.htm

Sin-e’   (That’s it)                                                                                        John McNally    March 2010

Performance Pioneer Rachel Rosenthal Publishes Book & Celebrates 83rd Birthday

According to The Los Angeles Times, “Rachel Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

Back when I was in grad school at the University of Nevada Reno, Rachel Rosenthal came to visit. I didn’t know what to expect, but attending her performance came highly recommended by my friend Helen Jones who ran the Women’s Center. “Don’t miss it,” she said. And I was glad I didn’t. I can still feel the energy with which she filled the room, even if I don’t quite recall the particulars.

Flash forward many years later when another Helen, this one Helen O’Neil, invited me to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83 birthday celebration and book release party.

The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! DbD, or “Doing by Doing” describes her signature method of teaching improvisational theater. In the 130-page book, the Obie winning performer explores improvisational theater and its relationship to life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her 34-hour DbD weekend intensive workshops (currently still happening on a bi-annual basis in Los Angeles). This mix of memoir, teaching manual, and manifesto was edited by Kate Noonan and is set for US release December 15 2009 by Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-55102-1, http://www.routledge.com).

“Chance is the core of improvisation,” says Rosenthal when crystallizing the point of her teaching methods, “The DbD Experience is about breaking down borders, opening up to the givens, activating the moment, and paying attention to what is.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I told her. “Unless of course I win that wine blogging contest and go to Portugal–haha!” Well wonders will never cease–I did win that wineblogging contest, went to Portugal, and was just too severely jetlagged to go to LA the day after I returned.

Fortunately, Helen went to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83nd Birthday Bash–and wrote about it for us:

The press was dubbing it “The Cultural Event of the Year” so I was expecting an over-crowded, stuffy event to honor Rachel Rosenthal’s decades of theater and performance art. All I knew was that Rachel did performance art in the 60’s and had a shaved head.

The hosting gallery, Track 16, in the Bergamot Station, Santa Monica CA, avoided décor with just plain white walls. Half the gallery was dedicated to the works for a silent auction that benefited Rosenthal Company’s TOHUBOHU! This new performance troupe, bills itself as an “Extreme Theater Ensemble” where nothing is scripted, rehearsed or repeated.

The event also premièred her new book The DbD Experience – Chance Knows What it’s Doing!, a mix of memoir, philosophical musing, and teaching manual. Here she explored improvisational theater and its relationship to
life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her DbD weekend intensive workshops.

Among the 83 pieces were works by John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Robert Rauschenberg, Lita Albuquerque, Eleanor Antin, Judy Baca, Ed Moses and June Wayne. A Ed Ruska was going for $1,000; a happy celebrant won a large painting by The Unknown Heartist, for only $70, which several us felt was the superior piece. Many of the artists who contributed the art to the silent auction were in attendance.

Balloon sculpture, Pali X-mano, (www. pali-x-mano.com) whose works float around Burning Man and Santa Barbara Soltice, was there in his fun spattered pain over-alls, showing off his portfolio, which included a 20¹x20¹ tentacle
balloon that housed a 4-piece band.

Stand out art came from Photographer Lennybruce Lee, Llyn Foulkes collage “Letters to Rachel,” and metal and glass sculpture by George Herms.

While I never saw the Rauschenberg, I did see Clint Steinhauser’s beautiful necklace, “Rachel’s Head” which really showed the love these artists have for her and her powerful inspiration.

This was turning out to be more of a real Birthday party with people cooing over the birthday girl and chiming about her experiences with her.

There was a big cake from the Cake Divas, towering a top the 20 foot table lined with petit fours, gold sprinkled cookies, Croquembouche and chocolate cookies with handwritten ŒR¹s.

The Bar had a lovely supply of Hogarten Beer, White Cosmos and Bitch Bubbly. While Bitch, a grenache from Grateful Palate Imports, is considered by many a for the “label only” wine, the Bitch Bubbly was a lovely very dry Rose which complemented the desert table.

John Fleck MCed.  Performances of mime, vaudeville, and song included Amy Knoles from the California E.A.R. Unit and Jean Paul Monsché of the Mad Alsacians. All rich with accolades to Rachel, with her concluding, that she hoped we all had a lot of money to spend.

The receiving line was long and diverse: Rosenthal’s fame rose in the 1950s as artistic director and performer in her totally improvised “Instant Theater.” In the 1960s and 1970s, she was a pioneer in animal rights issues, and was a founder of “Womanspace,” a hotbed of feminism. Among the guests were her fellow comrades with the look of past battles in their eyes, while young students knelled down beside her with their glowing faces.

And then magically there was a break in the line. I turned to Rachel and mentioned that I just had turned 50 and it was amazing to see her here at 83. She just held my arm with both her hands, looked at me and smiled. Then I felt this great wave of energy. After a timeless moment I walked back to a chair. I sat and absorbed the whirl of joyous energy, strong enough to alter the Bitch Bubbly in my head. And I thought, Wow! does her art carry this energy across to an audience?

The evening closed with Alberto DeAlmar, playing Flaminco guitar in front of the Dosco Indian food truck, while the last of us danced and clapped.

Like The Los Angeles Times says of Rachel, “Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

I believe ‘em.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Accounts of Rachel Rosenthal’s Birthday party from the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly help to illuminate this force of nature:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-rosenthal7-2009nov07,0,499239.story and
as do these photos from
ARTinfo’s recent shoot:
and these images from the birthday bash:

Watch this space for an upcoming review of Rachel Rosenthal’s new book, the upcoming performance in February and more.

VC Students to Read in Artists Union Gallery Tonight 7:30pm

Students from Gwendolyn Alley’s English composition classes will read prose and poetry from their recently published class anthologies tonight, Tuesday Dec. 8 7:30 in  the Artists Union Gallery, 330 S. California St. Ventura California. The reading is free and all are welcome.

Pictured are students from Alley’s English 2 class at the conclusion of Eco-Fest which they organized. Christina Henderson drew the poster; an image with students and the poster graces the cover of their student publication.