There is always movement in the poetry scene. It is always growing and evolving, yet never-ending. Last Friday night, many talented poets and authors took the stage at the latest quarterly event of the “Poetry & Art Series” at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.
Poetry & Art began in 2001. It is organized and hosted by Michael Chung Klam, also a poet. Events like these are really helping nail the amelioration of the current era of poetry, for every artist that was featured brought something unique and different to the table.
A vast number of authors and poets read in this event. One noteworthy poet was Jimmy Jazz (pictured above in the headliner photo), who was wearing skull-makeup and just loads of personality. He shared a couple of his pieces, including one that he wrote for his friend Jim Ricker who passed away last year. He called it “Elegy for Jim.” It included some these riveting lines:
“Jim, Hippie Jim,
Who will speak at length about the great writers of our time?
Who will follow Pynchon & Bill Vollmann,
who will read Edward Abbey’s FBI file,
and care about David Foster Wallace?
Who will throw his body on the gears of the capitalist machine?
And wonder in what desert Edward Abbey lies?
You Knower (of so many things)
History dies with a man like you
History falls into the memory hole…”
Janel Spencer, pictured above, is an SDSU MFA grad student and poet. The poems she read were “Monarch School: Poetry Lessons,” “Crossing,” and “Tease Me.” With her upcoming wedding, she happily encourages more people to collaborate with her on the website she started called Poetry in San Diego, a google calendar that lists the many different ongoing poetry events in the community of San Diego.
Viet Mai, above, read a poem of his called “Fallen Leaves.” Looking nothing like the age of 35 which he just turned. Mai enthusiastically stated that, “I can only hope to share this art form and what I’m going through for a long time.”
There surely were some big names as well, to add to the magic of the evening. Pulitzer Prize–winner Rae Armantrout came and joined the crowd. To this day, she remains a very inspirational figure in the conventions of poetry. Her latest book is Versed.
Poets are always mixing it in different ways. Frontera Drum Fusion is an eclectic San Diego/Tijuana project that performs live poetry in English, Spanish, and Spanglish. They incorporate rhythms and music using acoustic percussions from various parts of the world and more. The frontman is Francisco J. Bustos.
Frontera Drum Fusion entertaining the crowd with their diverse sounds.
Mary Leary was another poet who invoked many laughs and cheer from the audience. She read a poem that was about a common everyday sport, baseball. It was lighthearted poem but in favor of the sport : with fun, repeating lines like “If there is one that thing that is beautiful, it is baseball, and if there is one thing that is baseball, it’s beautiful.”
Winners of the evening were chosen by People’s Choice Poetry Awards, where the audience chose winners by a secret ballot. The four winners were Rosa Sandoval, José Hugo Sanchez, Arthur Kayzakian, and Kylie Acuña. Each won $50.
Host Klam shared that the next event will be June 11 with LA poet Rich Ferguson and San Diego Poetry Annual authors with editor Bill Harding. Poetry & Art: April 2016 was a great turnout of an evening with a huge crowd. After still being around for 15 years, everyone has something significant to walk away with from Poetry & Art.