Report Back: Californication

just returned to hawaii this weekend  after a long 17 day tour in california. sadly, my phone broke during my first part of the trip, so i don’t have pics from all of the events…so you’ll have to use your imagination 🙂

first stop: a class visit to a documentary poetics course taught by the amazingly talented JEN HOFER at CALARTS in LA (the class read my second book). such an engaging conversation with the students, many of whom were interested in the form and politics of writing culture, as well as the possibilities of multi-lingual and visual poetics. i love these kinds of discussions–to hear how students are engaging my work to think through their own projects. after the class, i had the pleasure of having a coffee with MATTHEW SHENODA–someone i’ve admired from afar but have never met before.

second stop: co-hosting the open mic at the ford foundation diversity fellowships conference. for those  who don’t know, i am currently a predoctoral ford fellow. the open mic was fun, tho a bit strange cuz most of the fellows are in the sciences…so i think they think the humanities fellows are a bit strange. one of the highlights was hearing caroline sinavaiana perform a new work on the last day of the conference:

third stop: a panel at UCLA titled “NEW CHAMORRO WRITING.” A pleasure to present with alison cuasay and tanya taimanglo–to talk about chamorro and pacific writing, the role of poetry at the intersection of history, politics, and culture–the joys and struggles of publishing, marketing, etc. we had a good crowd (about 50 students and faculty) and a spirited q&a session. after the panel, we got to hang with some of the pacific grad students…and then treated to a fancy dinner by the UCLA faculty! special thanks to keith camacho and liz deloughrey for their hospitality. after dinner, a bunch of us drove out to LONG BEACH for the opening of what they say is the first museum focused purely on pacific island art and culture in the area: PACIFIC ISLAND ETHNIC ART MUSEUM:

fourth stop: a reading at PUBLIC ADDRESS in LA, curated by JEN HOFER. this event was on a sunday evening during a rainy night–so the crowd (about 13) was intimate and undeterred. i really enjoyed this event because i got to perform alongside a visual artist/thinker and two experimental musicians. during the discussion afterwards, many audience members pointed out how well all our work flowed together–a testament to the thoughtfulness of our fearless curator. here’s a pic of the musicians:

fifth stop: ok, so there wasnt actually a fifth stop, but when i wasnt staying at the marriot resort and spa in newport beach with the ford conference, i got to stay in the swanky trailer in the back yard of JEN HOFER’s awesome house in LA. spent many hours chatting away with jen and her partner–ROB RAY–who are two of the coolest folks i’ve ever met. on my last afternoon before heading to san francisco, jen & i took a walk along the LA river. here’s a pic of her looking all badass:

sixth stop: OMNIDAWN readings! always a pleasure to read for my publisher, who set up two readings–on back to back nights–in berkeley and san francisco. the berkeley reading at moe’s had a pretty good crowd (like 40 maybe). i read with norma cole, anna rabinowitz, and paul legault. i think the four of us made a good team–very dif styles and concerns, but very similar explorations of language, thought, and narrative (with some humor thrown in). our san fran reading at books and bookshelves was smaller (around 15 people)–many folks not being able to come because they were watching the giants game! here’s a pic from that reading:

seventh stop: CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO (CCSF). some folks may not know this, but CCSF has a relatively large pacific islander student population. the pacific studies class–taught by the amazing prof.  david ga’oupu palaita–read my second book. this class, along with two Poetry for the People classes–taught by the amazing prof. aimee suzara–were in attendance. it was such a beautiful event. not only was i gifted at the beginning of the event with chant, dance, and poetry, but i was also gifted at the end with more poetry and chant and some CCSF gear. the crowd was big (maybe a 100 students) and i gave a lecture titled POETRY, POWER, and WITNESS. here’s the crowd settling in (you  cant even see all the students sitting/standing along the side walls!):

after my talk, we had another great q&a session, and then i met separately with the pacific islander group leaders to discuss the role of the humanities in building a pacific islander studies degree in the continental u.s. oh, here we are:

me signing books:

eighth stop: pacific islander poets reading at the de young museum in san francisco, hosted by dan taulapapa mcmullin–an amazing samoan artist/writer/filmmaker/scholar who’s currently in residence at the museum. there was quite a few people in the gallery space (maybe 60?). here’s one of my favorite spoken word poets/activist/scholar drew vai:

ninth stop: MILLS college in oakland, where i visited BARBARA JANE REYES’ class on ethnic poetries. had a great q&a session on native american and pacific poetries…questions of indigeneity, hybridity, form, orality, and much more. you can read barbara’s write up here. the class reading one of mahealani perez-wendt’s poem in EFFIGIES:

tenth and final stop: University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). the afternoon workshop on militarism, commemoration, and poetry went really well. i gave about a 30 minute presentation on the history of militarization on guam, and then we discussed the various articles in relation to some new poetry. the audience was a nice mix of undergrads, grad students, and faculty. i learned so much from the questions and discussion and i’m excited to continue thinking through these issues in both my creative and critical work. special thanks to prof. christine hong.

as i mentioned, my phone broke. so i ended up getting the new iphone and now i have video capability! look out. here’s the “academic” audience in action. apparently, sesshu foster thinks everything is ‘outrageous’!:

finally, my last event: the big reading at the humanities lecture hall (about 120 students/faculty)…with many students from prof  karen tei yamashita’s (yes, the karen tei yamashita that is a finalist for the National Book Award) literature course in attendance (having been assigned to read my second book). one of the greatest honors was that ROB WILSON–a critic/poet that i highly respect and admire–introduced me! swoon if you’re an experimental pacific writer. then i read about a 40 minute set: some new poems, some poems from my first book, and some from my second book. the q&a session was awesome! non-stop questions…what was esp exciting was that some students actually asked questions that began “on page 57…” they totally kept me on my toes. special thanks to karen, rob, kyle and the asian diasporas research cluster!

here’s a video of the audience booing me when i refused to give an encore:


if you have trouble viewing the videos, you can go to my YOUTUBE page here.

some of you may have heard me read my new SPAM poem. after the event, a student came up to me to sign his copy of my book, and he said it was his birthday. so i gave him a can of SPAM as a gift. he had me sign the SPAM. before he left, he said “I will never eat it”:

speaking of delicious food, the night ended at a lovely chinese restuarant with a few faculty and students:

in honor of a poem i read about VIENNA SAUSAGES, they ordered me a special chinese sausage:

I will never never eat it. THE END

Categories: .

One thought on “Report Back: Californication

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s