Peter J. Harris ~ 2019 Poets & Writers' Connecting Cultures



so I'm here with the HS get you to press we're celebrating 30 years as a small press in Los Angeles and I want to thank poets writers for their support of our annual celebrating words festival and in the the work we shared to the community of the San Fernando Valley the Northeast San Fernando Valley so I want to bring up our author from our press Peter J Harris his book bless the ashes it's such an honor to you know to have such seasoned riders as part of our famiiy dia and so without further ado Peter J hurt [Applause] greetings all baby talk with assurance inside my labyrinth softens crow's feet silken staccato within on earth sprawling oasis where she doesn't have to hop scotch around landmines I don't have to tap dance inside step tripwires beautiful detour on waves radiating from the Bell we have wrong lines on our faces flare into delight of toddlers swimming swooning to their trapdoor curiosity as we glide away from astonishment and back to the world decoded signs phase into view inspect the promise of aces be somebody's memory be somebody's fragrance is that honey perfuming the dashboard is that bobblehead Papa Smurf dancing salsa and the rear-view mirror [Applause] well bless the ashes is a book that my teacher and friend Luis Rodriguez chose for Tia chucha at least I have known each other since we were 20 in our 20s he is officially the first Chicano I ever met and I were roommates in a program a journalism program at UC Berkeley many years ago the thing about Tia chucha that moves me is that as he said as recently as last night we were together than he was we were reading so he was in Chicago working with pioneering african-american cultural workers Wendland brooks among them and when the book the idea for the press evolved my understanding is that they wanted to make sure that black and brown voices could be published in a respectful beautiful format and so I want to say something first real quick before us close the the hips one of the hippest things about Tia chucha is how pretty the books are they are really gorgeous gorgeous books and so I'm honored to be a part of the family which includes really many powerful writers who have gone on in some cases to be major voices literary voices in the States and around the world so I thank Louise particularly because it's hard to figure out what to send a person when you're old and you get to the point where you feel like you really got your own voice and it was a joy to find the work that's in bless the ashes because when I shared it with him I knew it was the book because that title poem which is very long is about my mother who died early in the spirit of tonight's theme this common Shore a rival ground capital city of our ten fingered democracy home to daybreak mouths unbuttoned speech glowing bodies dazzling home for citizens ending disrespected journeys we rise in the same morning now witness flames of intention tiptoe on the surface of time nothing has a chance of ever being the same no instrument could measure the the pleasure you're boiling visitation brings to me no I see no mouth say no other who has not loved and left my mother's womb when I trust to know this new secret about me we take the oath of office pledge to uphold the levitt my hand raised testifying like in church back home your left hand poised affirming as in sacred rites accenting your beloved land velvet hands naked shoulders alliance of vulnerable directions we cross and latitudes here unmarked thick with trees in season humid with wild gays unknowns open around our throats we'd rape curiosity smoothing knots into patterns that could cause war in the past culture changes when people weave new patterns like this feeling ripens when strangers design new patterns like this love surprises when people risk new patterns [Applause]

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