Fri, Aug 18|
Paul S. Flores' Book Release for WE STILL BE: Poems and Performances at Espacio 1839
Come celebrate the launch of Paul S. Flores' WE STILL BE: Poems and Performances from El Martillo Press at Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights! Performances by Paul S. Flores, Nico Avina, Xavi Moreno, and more!
Time & Location
Aug 18, 2023, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT
Espacio 1839, 1839 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA
About the event
WE STILL BE: Poems and Performances
Book Release Party
Paul S. Flores
with performaces by
David A. Romero
Celebrate with the nationally-celebrated, award-winning spoken word artist, playwright, and educator Paul S. Flores at arts and activism community space Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles as he drops his long-awaited full-length debut, WE STILL BE: Poems and Performances!
Paul S. Flores is one of the most influential Latino performance artists in the country and a nationally respected arts educator. He creates plays, oral narratives, and spoken word about transnationality and citizenship that spur and support societal movements that lead to change. Flores’ ability to paint a vivid picture of the bi-cultural Latino experience is shaped by his personal background and experience growing up in Chula Vista, California, near the Mexican border. His body of work touches on the immigrant story in all its complexities: from the violent—forced migration, gang life, war, incarceration, and separated families—to zooming in on intergenerational relationships and the struggle of preserving important cultural values. As a San Francisco artist of Mexican and Cuban-American heritage, Paul S. Flores has built a national reputation for interview-based theater and bilingual spoken word. He integrates Latino and indigenous healing practices to tell the stories of real people impacted by immigration and systemic inequalities. Flores' work has played across the United States and internationally in Cuba, Mexico, and El Salvador. Paul is a Doris Duke Artist Award winner and an inaugural NALAC Catalyst for Change awardee. His commissions have come from Creative Capital, La Peña Cultural Center, MACLA, MAP Fund, Pregones Theater, National Performance Network, SF Arts Commission, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and many more. Flores teaches Theater and Spoken Word at the University of San Francisco. He is a teaching artist in creative writing with the Prison Arts Project at CMF in Vacaville, and in San Quentin State Prison. He is the lead curator of Paseo Artistico Free Bilingual Community Art Stroll on 24th Street in the Mission District. He lives in San Francisco with his children.
Quetzal Flores is a Chicano Artivista born in Salinas, CA and raised in North East LA. His parents are social justice activists Consuelo Valdez and Roberto Flores. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1976 so that his parents could join the August 29th Movement. He attended Gates St. Elementary, El Sereno Jr High, Wilson Medical Magnet (Pre- Bravo) and Alhambra High. His love affair with playing music began when he was 13 and his brother came home from boarding school with an electric guitar. Holding the instrument in his hands instantly transported him into multiple realms of possibilities. His first mentor was Ruben Reza, a local guitar virtuoso. In 1993, under the sanctuary of a powerful music scene out of a tiny Chicano owned cafe in Little Tokyo, he founded the East Los Angeles based rock group Quetzal. From the experiences generated through the band and community struggles, Quetzal Flores has participated in multiple moments of radical transformation.
Jesse Bliss is an international playwright, director, producer, actress, poet and veteran arts educator. Miss Bliss is a groundbreaking storyteller. Her tales are experienced through the eyes of women and give voice to matters we seldom ever experience. Her pieces are deeply soulful, incorporative of visuals and powerful musical scores in collaboration as well as music she writes on her own. She herself experienced art as life-saving and in turn has dedicated her life's work to offering art to others of all ages, backgrounds and socio-economic standings. Miss Bliss attributes art to her own healing and wellness, knowing the power of what it can do to reshape lives, resist oppression and help raise awareness on matters of civil and human rights.
Nico Avina is a prominent Boyle Heights artist and activist, co-founder of Espacio 1839 – a space that operates as a gift shop, art gallery and a public recording studio. He is a former member of Los Poets del Norte.
Grounded in his roots and community, Xavi Moreno teaches spoken word, theater, and creative writing through TEOTR, Los Poets del Norte, the Unusual Suspects Theater Company, Company of Angels, Independent Shakespeare Co., About Productions, and I.am College Track, to youth in his community and the greater LA. area. Moreno is passionate about working with inner city youth who like himself who fell hostage to the juvenile system, education system, and who are finding a means to express themselves and survive through the arts.
Matt Sedillo has been described as the "best political poet in America" as well as "the poet laureate of the struggle." His work has drawn comparisons in print to Bertolt Brecht, Roque Dalton, Amiri Baraka, Alan Ginsberg, Carl Sandburg and various other legends of the past. Sedillo was the recipient of the 2017 Joe Hill Labor Poetry award, a panelist at the 2020 Texas book festival, a participant in the 2012 San Francisco International Poetry Festival, the 2022 Elba Poetry Festival, and the recipient of the 2022 Dante's Laurel. Sedillo has appeared on CSPAN and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Axios, the Associated Press among other publications. Sedillo has spoken at Casa de las Americas in Havana, Cuba, at numerous conferences and forums such as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education, the National Association of Chicana/Chicano Studies, the Left Forum, the US Social Forum, and at over a hundred universities and colleges, including the University of Cambridge, among many others. Matt Sedillo is the author of Mowing Leaves of Grass (FlowerSong Press, 2019) and City on the Second Floor (FlowerSong Press, 2022). Both of which are taught at universities throughout the country. Sedillo is the current literary director of The Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles.
David A. Romero is a Mexican-American spoken word artist from Diamond Bar, CA. Romero is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of El Martillo Press. Romero is the author of My Name Is Romero (FlowerSong Press), a book reviewed by Gustavo Arellano (¡Ask a Mexican!), Curtis Marez (University Babylon), and founding member of Ozomatli, Ulises Bella. Romero has received honorariums from nearly a hundred colleges and universities in thirty-four different states in the USA and has performed live in Mexico, Italy, and France. Romero's work has been published in literary magazines in the United States, Mexico, England, Scotland, and Canada. Romero has opened for Latin Grammy winning bands Ozomatli and La Santa Cecilia. Romero's work has been published in anthologies alongside poets laureate Joy Harjo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Luis J. Rodriguez, Jack Hirschman, and Tongo Eisen-Martin. Romero has won the Uptown Slam at the historic Green Mill in Chicago; the birthplace of slam poetry. Romero offers a scholarship for high school seniors interested in spoken word and social justice: “The Romero Scholarship for Excellence in Spoken Word.”
Espacio 1839 is a collaboration between Marco Amador (radiosombra.org) & Nico Avina (Teocintli). Clothing, books & community radio in Boyle Heights!
El Martillo Press
El Martillo Press publishes writers whose pens strike the page with clear intent; words with purpose to pry apart assumed norms and to hammer away at injustice. El Martillo Press proactively publishes writers looking to pound the pavement to promote their work and the work of their fellow pressmates. There is strength in El Martillo. Founded in Los Angeles in 2023 by Matt Sedillo and David A. Romero, and launched with a diverse group of celebrated and hardworking writers who embody our working-class intellectual spirit, El Martillo Press maintains an editorial board that makes its selections for publishing.
Praise for WE STILL BE: Poems and Performances
"Paul S. Flores unlocks the hot key, the people’s voice, and the Spanglish ritmoRhythm on how to write our story. He swags us into the soul and soulfulness of our life-chapters and our plight in the USA. It is a personal mambo, a face-to-face truth riffin’ us into a “Spanglish mandala of hope,” at last. We never again will ask ourselves “Who am I?” “Who are we?” Flores is not afraid to speak of his wounds of familia—yes, he is intimate, he is loving. He escorts us through the Bay Area, land of poets, artists, musicians, and muralists—he is part of that, he is all that—and we will be as we enter this world. Don’t forget: Huey Newton, Lolita Lebrón, and José Feliciano in this salsa history bowl that will light you up all the way to feverish happiness. Flores is a master weaver, with a blazing kaleidoscopic lamp that reveals and embodies our lives. No book like this one in the last 50 years."
––Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, Emeritus, winner of the Ruth Lily Prize, 2022, and Robert Frost Lifetime Achievement Medal, 2023
"Poetry evangelist” Paul S. Flores testifies to the importance of language, representation and equity, the hypocrisy of sham systems, and his personal journey to redefine masculinity with a responsibility to the younger generations. Flores stakes his claim in Bay Area poetics writing with true intimacy, vulnerability, and radical love for his community. WE STILL BE is part memoir, part call to action, and part cultural celebration. It is a declaration of hope that we will all win, that men can be trusted, and that San Francisco's poetic heartbeat is still something worth believing in.
––Amalia Ortiz, HBO Def Poet and American Book Award Winner. Author of Rant. Chant. Chisme. and The Canción Cannibal Cabaret & Other Songs
"In his own words, the 'first section is the spoken word hits', and those words are solar flares interrupting our measly little tech towers, burning through the social media with his explosive illuminations! Take heed nerds, he's coming with powerful words! Then his 'Ghost Poems about the exploration of my family' and these touched the core of my being with their eloquence and love and deep emotion. And last, '...section on resistance and resilience', which I devoured merging into the obstinate courage of the poems... A must read for anyone who actually cares about this world and much more...
––Jimmy Santiago Baca, American Book Award Winner, Chicano poet, Author of A Place To Stand, and the Hollywood film Blood In, Blood Out
"Careful memoir meets granite manifesto in this brilliant collection of wordplay. Through the doors of these poems, you get the sense for the true scope of the people; the ocean of the people; the countless biographies behind each marching eye in the city. And as we battle for the soul of metropolises ever turned against us, Flores is a poet frontline; proving that in craft is ascension."
––Tongo Eisen-Martin, San Francisco Poet Laureate, author and activist
"WE STILL BE is a raised fist. It is an open heart. It is a vulnerable love letter to place, pain, and permanence. Flores is a street prophet. A 21st Century Tlatoani. A flor y canto culture-bearer who invites us into the temple and psyche of the highbrow-hood. Through barrio analysis, academic insight, unyielding empathy, and profound introspection, WE STILL BE implores us to see, acknowledge, and tell the truth. These extremely personal palabras, prayers, and performances examine and interrogate the complexities of identity and celebrate the power of collective resilience. In a world that is obsessed with our erasure, this bold collection is a monument—a camino of cuentos that read like a litany of ritual, reminding us that WE STILL BE!
––Bobby LeFebre, Colorado Poet Laureate, writer, performer, cultural worker
“Paul Flores is incomparable in his tenacity and perseverance to bring our stories to life with his writings and poetry. All our complexities as a Latinx community are captured in this book. Our culture is embedded in his soul and WE STILL BE grateful that Paul Flores continues to inspire and innovate with such passion. ¡Siempre pa'lante!”
—Emanuel Xavier, author & activist