Yesterday, July 25th, 2017 women writers from Los Angeles and the Inland Empire gathered at Art Share L.A. to read poems and prose at the un :: fade :: able reading to commemorate the life of Sandra Bland.
The scent of burning sage settled into our skin and wrapped itself around the chairs that were arranged in an open circle. Even if you didn't know the person you were sitting next to - you felt like you did. The reason for us being in the same room was a kindred common ground of remembering the life of Sandra Bland.
It was explained that last year's program was one of mourning the loss of Sandra Bland. This year's gathering would be to celebrate the memory of who she is to us. Before each person shared their work we recited the mantra: "My name is, _______, and I am a Poet/ a Writers / a Musician (pick one), who speaks for and with Sandra Bland. Tonight, I dedicate my work to her unfadeable memory. SayHerName, and restore her life."
By the end of the evening it was as though there was a divine connection with everyone in the room. Sandra Bland, and Fanny Lou Hamer, and tias and abuelitas and sisters and daughters and mothers from generations filled our tongues with healing and love. And my mother - July 25th was the one year anniversary of her homegoing and this was the best possible way I could honor her life, in the company of sisters honoring life.
The event was curated by F. Douglas Brown and hosted by Brittany Williams. Musical preludes provide by Loyola MPC Club. There will be more events. Check out the website if you think you might be interested.
Thursday nights are lit in downtown Riverside.
Eclectic electricity is in the air with vendors, artists, dancers, musicians and poets. The creative spirit reigns mingling the inventive new with the tried and true.
When Cati Porter - Founder and Director of Inlandia, invited me to be a featured reader - there was a yes and yes that filled me ecstatic. National Poetry Month featured reader alongside Honduran social justice poet, videographer and CSUSB professor, Alex Avila, was a new adventure at the Riverside Public Library. I forgot how much I love the Mission Inn and the classic architecture of the area. There is a rootedness that is unique for the Inland Empire region, something that feels like ocean of centuries and the current wave of revolution.
Being in a library, family friendly was the tone for the evening. Alex had the audience engaged with folklore participation and poetry peppered with Spanish for flavor. I shared poems that celebrate my love of poetry and the innocence of children.
Thank you Cati Porter, founder of Inlandia, and host for the evening, for the opportunity to celebrate National Poetry Month in a delightful venue of culture, literature and kinship.