October 17th—Dark Ink Anthology Reading and Costume Contest: Be There and Be Scared!

Join me for the reading and Halloween costume contest on October 17th at the Goldenwest Diner in Westminster where I and others will be reading poems from Moon Tide Press’s horror-inspired anthology.

Frankenstein’s monster, Zombies, TWO vagina dentata poems, monsters GalORE—how could you possibly escape this fright night! Bring your mummy or a date!


Dark Ink Anthology—Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

This post is a month overdue...I had technical issues with some of the photos, so I had to scrap my initial plan and instead individually feature poets from the Dark Ink anthology launch.

First of all, I want to start with Adrian Ernesto Cepeda. I was so stoked getting to meet him in person at the Dark Ink launch after following him on Twitter for so long. And his poem was fantastic! Buy the anthology from Moon Tide Press, so that you can read it and all the other fantastic poems!


Full disclosure: I stole this photo from his post on Facebook. Below is a selfie of the two of us. 


And look down here for some members of the audience!


Discussion—Inspiration, Voice, Attribution, and Honesty

Centos and erasures are two of my favorite forms, and I use epigraphs and ghost lines. Yes, they draw upon others’ materials for both text and inspiration, but they give credit and what is created is (and should be) something unique. After a recent incident of serial plagiarism—which seems to be outright theft from several poets—and cultural/personal appropriation, these forms and poems that clearly draw inspiration off of other writers seem tainted. 

I believe there is a place for these forms and for conversations among poems and between poets within works, BUT attribution is required. I don’t ever condone or promote plagiarism. Yes, poets imitate poets they admire. I have been to readings in which younger poets’ cadences and imagery were clearly influenced by a poetry idol within their community. Much of this imitation is unconscious and an indication of admiration and learning, but the poets were clearly writing their own poems.

Developing one’s voice can be a long process—I am still developing mine, but the centos that I have created do seem to have what I consider my voice. I am very careful to note the origin of each line. If you do create a cento or use a line for an epigraph or consciously structure a poem after another, give credit and ensure your poem is not just a copy. If in doubt, ask someone to look over it. If the poem seems nothing more than a replica or an echo of the other poet, put the poem aside. Come back to it when you have a clearer sense of your own voice. Be good to the community and to yourself. 

I welcome hearing your viewpoints on these forms. Best wishes and good luck writing! 


Discussion about Community

As you must have noticed, most of my blog posts mention (or center around) the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading series hosted at the Ugly Mug. This reading hatched me as a poet. I had attended and learned from other writing groups, but only after I became a regular at the Ugly Mug did I begin the real work of developing technique and discipline (though the latter remains tenuous at best).

As the ugliest duckling ever—all mucus-slimed and squawky—I imprinted on Ben and Steve and on several of the other regulars (the many James, for example). I had the opportunity to hear regionally and nationally celebrated poets feature. Sometimes their brilliance was an unintended disincentive, but I worked to develop an ear for lines and for syntax, an eye for metaphor, and a voice. I met poets at all stages in their careers and became part of a community.

Through that initial introduction, I joined other communities housed within the larger SoCal writing community. I joined the Poetry Lab and consider Long Beach another poetry home. I have learned so much from Danielle’s workshops and those of her guest authors...and have so much yet to learn. I love attending other readings and desperately wish I could go to all of them: so many fabulous readings in Long Beach (Cadence Collective, Definitive Soapbox, etc., etc.)—the Redondo Poets, Shout in Fullerton, the Rapp Saloon in Santa Monica, Beyond Baroque in Venice, really any reading/workshop led or promoted by Brendan Constantine, and so many more.

At a recent Poetry Lab workshop, that session’s visiting author, Eric Morago, asked who we wrote for. What audience did we have in mind when composing? Some the participants said wrote for a particular demographic; others wrote for themselves—that if they themselves liked it, they believed others would too. I answered that wrote specifically for the Ugly Mug (and honestly for the Poetry Lab too). These are my communities. What is your community? Who do write for? Who do you listen to?