“Is it talking dirty if you’re just listening? What you see in the picture is me. Passenger Front seat. Cinder block wall behind me. I mailed it to my Romanian pen pal, me making a sexy face in my friend’s Falcon. To my right is the dustless dashboard. In the backseat is my older friend Junior. Give me a sexy look, he says. He’s taking a picture for my pen pal but it’s really for him. It’s also for me. For my other friend who’s driving. My sexy hair looks like this: a ponytail on top of my head, wavy brown cascading over to the side of my face. In my denim jacket and white button up, the other thing that sizzles is my plaid flannel skirt, one my mother made. Her hands lined my hem. The driver rolls carefully down my alley. Me, trying out my sexy look and he’s looking too. We enjoy it, watching me try. And I enjoy trying.”
Avenue 50 Studio together with Writ Large Press and
and Litmus Press present:
October 15th | 8pm
at Avenue 50 Studio
131 N Avenue 50 | Highland Park CA 90042
Litmus Press, in celebration of two recent releases—Restless Continent by Aja Couchois Duncan and Anti-Humboldt by Hugo García Manríquez—is curating a number of readings around writing (us)americ(k)a(s).
Aja Couchois Duncan
Hugo García Manríquez
The country is a fiction, a narrative of legalese, piety, and slaughter.
The country is a positioning, its geographic bounty.
The country is a fingering of continents, a cordillera stitching the western expanse.
The country is the slip of skin on which we write ourselves: the warriors and wounded, the chained and transported, the subsequent generations of, those who cling to its mythos as if a sail.
Everyone should visit the generous, lovely staff at the University of Arizona, Tucson’s Poetry Center. A tremendous thank you to: Tyler, Wendy, Laura, Julie, Renee, the two Sarahs, Aisha, generous docents Marc and Tony, and of course, the inimitable, Hannah Ensor.
Here are my selectionsfrom the stacks at the Poetry Center during my recent residency!
The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry edited by Francisco Aragón
A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon by CAConrad
Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics edited by TCTolbert and Tim Trace Peterson
What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America edited by Aldon Lynn Nielsen and Lauri Ramey
The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology edited by Nathalie Handal
The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard
The Complete Poems of Jean Genet by ManRoot Magazine
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
The Service Porch by Fred Moten
The Taxidermist’s Cut by Rajiv Mohabir
Off-Season City Pipe by Hedge Coke
How the End Begins by Cynthia Cruz
Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night by Morgan Parker
A Third Instance by Rosa Alcalá, Graig Watson, and Elizabeth Whitehead
The Lust of Unsentimental Waters by Rosa Alcalá
Undocumentaries by Rosa Alcalá
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border by Juan Felipe Herrera
“— ninety thousand children crossing the border in the last three years what thirst what listening what refuge what desert harbor what desert keeps at bay what keens what dims what signals we cannot read what enforcement what filament what unmoved substrata what bleeds unregulated despite the body what will not bend will not sleep will not touch lightly with fingertip or tongue tip what we carry in a pocket radiating thudding what we lose in neglect what we lose in death what accidents build while we look the other way”
Vickie is thrilled to have been selected by Natalie Diaz for the 2016 Summer Residency at the Poetry Center. Stay tuned for event details on the culminating reading in August.
About the residency: Since 1994, the Poetry Center’s Residency Program has offered writers an opportunity to develop their work. The Poetry Center will award one residency each summer for a poet to spend two weeks in Tucson, Arizona developing his/her work. Writers at any stage of their careers may apply; emerging writers are welcome. The residency includes a $500 stipend and a two-week stay in a studio apartment located within steps of the Center’s renowned library of contemporary poetry.
Join me as I moderate two panels at the #AWP16 writers’ conference happening in LA this year! Latinx writers from all over the southland will share our prose and poetry on the following panels, THURSDAY, March 31, 2016:
Panel R225. From New Wave and Punk: Musical influences on Latino Literary Aesthetics.
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm, Room 505, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
With special guest Michelle Gonzales from SpitBoy, Daniel Chacon, Carribean Fragoza, musicologist Marlen Rios, and Vickie Vertiz.
From all corners of Los Angeles and across this country, punk and New Wave music have influenced Latino writers for decades. This multigenre panel is equal parts reading, discussion, and listening party. Through poems, essays, and stories, the panelists highlight how, as listeners, they blend literary aesthetics with New Wave and punk sounds to tell new stories.
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
Room 410, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Panel R252. Mistaking Planes for Stars: Los Angeles Writing from Freeways to Flight Paths.
With Vickie Vertiz, Aida Salazar , Steve Gutierrez, and Melinda Palacio.
From Bukowski to Viramontes, working-class writing in Los Angeles is a longstanding tradition. Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the county, bringing avant-garde aesthetics to literature. However, many of our stories have yet to be told. This reading highlights cutting edge poetry, story, and performance by working-class and queer Latinos from a little-known part of Los Angeles: the southeast. From railroad yards to factory floors, writers share their work of grit and heart.
There’s an i and an e at the end of my name
Mom and Dad did not pick the last vowels
But they did have the concept: breathing, baby, girl
Mom says the black nurse who spelled me
White teeth smacking peppermint gum
My name is a reference to Victoria
My other half who left Loveland Street before I did
Victoria, the older sister who never beat me with her left hand
While she curled her hair with her right
I didn’t tag along with her hoochie friends
To watch Purple Rain through our hair-sprayed bangs
Victoria peeked out from her crib at our teeny house and said, Chale girl,
I’ll catch you later. Coughed her baby lungs into dusty dried persimmons
So I could be the oldest sister to our two younger brothers
So I could beat them with one hand and sip
Strawberry milkshake with the other
She died from pneumonia at a general hospital so I could take
Our younger brother to watch Batman with Spanish subtitles
Drag him to Smiths-loving, pimple-skinned parties
I’m named after a ghost for whom our mother makes birthday cakes
Out of Styrofoam discs, lovingly smothered with real pink icing
Plastic ballerinas every one of her 38 birthdays
Neither of us got to be a chola, or a cha-cha, a new-waver
She left me thick glasses in fourth grade
A name for which to make up another life, every day
Don’t fuck it up…
To get your copy of “Tocaya,” order Swallows here.