Last Sunday, August 14th, forWord was one of the features at David A. Romero Presents Red Night at the dba256 Wine Gallery and Bar in Pomona, CA. Our set was 30 minutes which is the longest set we have ever had. It was a challenge and as Mark would say, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
We shared the stage with some dope folks that night, such as Andrew Figueroa Chiang, Mike Isberto, Becky Holt, Ancient Universal, Jumakae, Matt Sedillo, Trio Makoto, and Mr. David A. Romero himself.
If you are familiar with the spoken word scene in Southern California, you most likely would have heard about a Mic and Dim Lights, the second largest poetry open mic venue in the LA area next to Da Poetry Lounge. The reason why I mention a Mic and Dim Lights is because it is literally right across the street from the dba256 Wine Gallery and Bar. If I lived in Pomona, I would definitely frolic in this part of town all the time and you should too if you are in the area. So now that you probably have a better idea of where this event took place, let the pictures roll!
Overall, it was a fun night where each person was able to represent who they really are and what they stand for as an artist. No one was rushed and you could feel the energy from everyone sharing the space. I really enjoyed the intimate setting with the art pieces in the background and dimmed lights which set the mood for a wonderful evening of music and poetry.
Thank you to David A. Romero for organizing Red Night! Big ups to the dba256 Wine Gallery and Bar for providing the space!
This was Red Night. So get ready for Blue Night at the same time, same place this Sunday! Support this series!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.
This reflection is extremely late… we were waiting on the official pictures to come out, but they never did. So instead, take a look at some of the pics Mark took backstage!
On June 30, 2011, forWord joined the cast of SP!T 3, this time with all four members of our collective!
It was great to team up with SP!T cast old and new to put on this show, directed by a good friend of ours, Alex Alfaro, who we know from our Uncultivated Rabbits origins.
What made this show unique was the mixing of spoken word, hip hop, and acoustic performances in the lineup. What also made this really awesome was that the event took place at a theater right in the heart of Los Angeles.
SP!T is a wonderful experience for any performing artist, and I would encourage anyone to try out if they have the chance!
For the first picture from left to right: Mark Maza, John Nguyen, Susan Diep, Loc Tran, Eddy M. Gana Jr. (Me!), Stephanie Sajor, and Diana Phuong.
Before forWord, Mark, Susan, Steph, and I were all members of Uncultivated Rabbits, the one and only spoken word organization at the University of California, Irvine. We all drove in the same car together and attended the 2009 APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit: Bay ‘09 at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s pretty crazy when I look back at these pictures because we were forWord before… forWord if that makes sense. Two long years have passed since then. We have grown in many ways as writers, spoken word artists, and friends.
Now in just four days, all four of us will be returning and flying out to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the 2011 APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit: Twin Cities! To say we are filled to the brim with excitement would be an understatement. We can’t wait!
The theme for this year’s Summit is “Moving It Forward, Bringing It Back.”
We envision the 2011 Summit as a space to foster intergenerational dialogue with an explicit elder presence, a youth component, and activities for all those in between. We will also explore the various ways spoken word has pushed into other genres (theater, music, film) while bringing it back to our poetic roots. Similarly, we will foster a dialogue on past APIA social movements and present possibilities, encouraging participants to bring the conversation back to their own organizations and localities.
The APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit is a biennial gathering of Asian Pacific Islander American community artists and activists. We come together to:
- provide space for artists and activists to learn from each other and build community
- recognize spoken word performance as a source of new language, new ideas, new dialogues and understandings, and creative fodder for activism and organizing
- acknowledge the arts as a critical, elemental component in building, empowering, and transforming our communities and ourselves.
Our vision is a more socially just future, where a cohesive and sustainable APIA spoken word community uses the tools and practices inherent in the art we make – to creatively engage in social movement building in service of, and in alliance with, the broader APIA community.
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.
Okay talk about staying relevant, I just got back from this dope open mic at the Starbucks on 16061 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA. How dope was it? It didn’t even have a name because you cannot put a label on dope-ness. It was THAT dope.
But in all seriousness, I had an awesome time at this open mic organized by a fellow poet, Zachary Rosen, of The Parking Lot Poetry Revival. I was the lone wolf representing forWord. Let’s go!
I arrived at 7:30 PM in time for Zach’s improv poetry where he performed a poem on the spot based on audience’s suggestions. Daniel Lisi graced the stage too with his poetry representing Write Bloody Publishing. A friend and member of Uncultivated Rabbits, Andy Tran, was there to support for a bit. Also Kevin Mai aka “Hussell Simmons” of Uncultivated Rabbits, The Parking Lot Poetry Revival, and our poetical family was there to rock the mic with “Superhero” and “Chasing Dreams.” There were mostly poets for the night, but there were also a few amazing guitarists as well. You can’t go wrong with music and poetry!
When it was my time to step up to the mic, I felt nervous as usual. But thank you, adrenaline! I performed “Living Dead” which is a poem about zombies that I originally wrote but recently turned into a duo piece with Steph. It actually was my first time performing this poem solo so it felt good to finally express it. Next, I read out of the forWord chapbook and performed “Everybody Wants to Be an Activist” about students who called themselves activists, but were not staying true to their word.
Overall, I really enjoyed this open mic. There were a good amount of first timers stepping up on the mic which I absolutely love. It is always great to see others take a dip in this pond I call poetry, and then watch them scuba dive when they are up on stage expressing how they feel and sharing their stories. It’s a beautiful thing to see. It never gets old.
Now I would like to take the time to acknowledge Zachary Rosen who is responsible for this event. He is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Now I have only met him twice: The first being at the Anaheim Artwalk last Fall and the second time being today. But honestly, I feel like I have known him much longer which reminds me that this is another reason I love poetry. You get to know people through their poetry. Understand them through their poetry. Laugh. Cry. If we could only live in a world where “hellos” and “goodbyes” are replaced with poems. How much more connected we would be as a community. Not to say that I know everything about him, but what I do know is that he is a good person. That being said, I will miss Zach. He will be moving to Montana for a couple years this August. By the way, check out his poetry. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you, Zach, for everything. We all wish the best for you!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr.
Okay, it’s time to get back to being relevant so here is a post about forWord’s most recent FEATURE this past Tuesday in Culver City.
Natural High has started its “Summer Heat” series where they will be bringing back-to-back features every Tuesday all summer long leading into their First Annual “ArtFeedsUs” Festival on August 20th, 2011. We were fortunate enough to be invited by the multi-talented O. Smith. He is one of the hosts of Natural High alongside Hank G. and Miss Sho’ King.
When we arrived at the venue, we didn’t know what to expect because this was our first time there. However, our experience there succeeded beyond our expectations. Natural High is held at Industry Cafe & Jazz on 6039 Washington Blvd (2 blocks west of La Cienega) in Culver City, CA from 9 PM - 12 AM. They accept $3 donations at the door. It all goes to a great cause supporting an inspiring venue that’s been holding it down for years now.
Karma was the first feature for the night. She has a strong soulful voice that resonates all throughout the room. I really enjoyed her performance and I hope to hear more of her songs live around the LA community. Check her out at: https://www.facebook.com/karmatheartist
After some time, forWord was featured. There were four mics for all of us, but the room was so intimate that we only needed to project our voice. Steph, Susan, and I opened up our set with “The Things They Said” about reality versus expectations in our lives after college. Steph and I followed it up with “Living Dead” which is a poem about zombies yesterday and today. Mark performed “Shadows” which is a response to a prompt given to him by Pat Pressl about the time he felt most vulnerable. We ended our feature with “Writer’s Block” about finding the inspiration to write again (self-explanatory). We enjoyed our feature at Natural High. Thank you to O. Smith, Hank G., Miss Sho’ King, and the entire Natural High family.
Thank you to our friends and family who made it out with us, Marielle Gana, Richard Sajor, Kevin Mai, Brittany Jones, and Big Doxx. Thank you to everyone we met at Natural High!
Eddy and Stephanie doing Mark’s legendary HH
What followed the open mic was unexpected and spontaneous… just how I like it: Meeting new faces, getting to know more about people, Susan and Brittany had a rap/haiku/dance battle (Susan owned her), street corner poetry, and more. We didn’t leave until 1:30 AM. We were having so much fun.
Personally, I really needed a night like this and I am so happy that we now have a family in Culver City. Thank you, Natural High!
I just wanted to chime in. It’s Susan! I also needed a night like this. It was just straight up love and fun. The thing I really love about street corner poetry is it reminds me of when I was in Uncultivated Rabbits (no pressure, just sharing between people who respect each other and really just want to listen). It was a wonderful night. Thank you friends and Natural High!
- Eddy M. Gana Jr., Susan