Monday, February 19, 2018

Irene Sanchez

Poetry has always been political.  A means to raise a voice that needs to be raised. For this month's second feature I am happy to feature a writer who has established a presence for her literary skills as well as her passion as an activist.  Irene Monica Sanchez is a fantastic writer, academic and educator.  I asked her to provide a brief rundown of who she is.  Below you can also find a poem she wrote about the vibrant city which she is closely tied to, Pomona.  

"Irene Sanchez is an educator, poet, public scholar, and writer committed to social justice. She engages with people through projects she works on and centers social justice in her work by producing stories, essays, talks, presentations, workshops, poetry, and academic research/writing.  Irene has spoken/presented/keynoted at: University of Washington-Seattle, Highline CC, Everett CC, South Seattle CC, Reed College, Chapman University, Harvard University, Adelante Mujer Latina, University of California, Riverside, National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies, El Mundo Zurdo (Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldua), OC Ethnic Studies Summit, Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, Mira Costa College, Fresno State University, UC Students of Color Conference, UC Davis and more. 

She has had her work/writing featured by KPFK 90.7 Los Angeles, KPCC-Southern California Public Radio, Latino Rebels Radio, Telesur English, Inside Higher Education, NASPA, and The American Federation of Teachers. She is the co-founder of The Southwest Political Report and Xicana Ph.D. Blog where you can find some of her writings. She is a danzante of the Aztec/Mexica tradition. She is also the co-host of a monthly poetry open mic at Café con Libros in Pomona, CA called Poetry y Pan.

Now based out of the San Gabriel Valley in LA County, Irene teaches high school Latinx Studies and can often be found at a community/cultural event with her family."

For more information visit her page here.


When I was younger I wondered
What lies beyond the horizon 
As the Santa Ana winds call me to move closer to it
There is more to see
Beyond where these valleys end 
And mountains begin 

Where poetry nights
Are held by dim lights
And memories blink rapidly 
As you travel these freeways

How can you be in two places at once
It is not the IE or LA
But to you it is 
Where you are supposed to be

Pomona was a place I hardly spoke of 
I left Southern CA
I left him
A place I worked and made a home
Out of another person
Before I learned a person could never be a home

Foothill and Garey 
At 4am
Is cold 
I was 18
Newly married
Trying to make something 
Out of gifts I didn’t know I had

Open the door 
The bell rings
I took orders 
They came by the dozen 
Just like the prayers I had spoken when I
Thought no one was listening

I wanted my life to be as sweet as the morning I boxed 
So I placed them carefully
Knowing one day 
I would have to leave all that was 
Warm and comforting
Like those mornings
And how they masked the cold

After the shift ends
I took a drive 
By the Glass House
Stopping by The Globe
Before I became apart of something bigger
Beyond this new horizon I realized
There was more to see

So I left all that I ever knew
Hoping I could come back to it 
But all these years later I see 
How it came to me 

That in Pomona
Is where I learned to 
Make a home made of dreams 

I thought I had lost

Friday, February 9, 2018

Stephanie Barbe Hammer

It has been a while since I've updated this blog.  Photography is a passion, life is life, sometimes passions take a backseat to the daily routine.  As I find myself being able to dedicate more time to this project again I thought I would start things off by featuring a writer who I have come to both greatly admire and hold in deep personal regard as a friend.  Stephanie Barbe Hammer, February's featured author, wrote a brief reflection on the photoshoot we did.  

"I have spent much of my life in train stations. When I was 4 my Russian grandmother took me on the New York City subway for the first time and I was delighted to be riding on a “toodles” train that I’d heard tell of in a children’s book. Later I took trains to Connecticut, Long Island, Massachusetts and yes, East Berlin, as well as through the entirety of Switzerland. I took trains every other weekend one summer to Washington DC to visit my new boyfriend Larry, and then when I finally got a job in academics, I commuted by train to the university, using the Long Island Railroad and then Amtrak. When I moved to Los Angeles, the metrolink to Riverside became the mobile office where I wrote my first novel, composed endless poems, and sometimes had encounters like the one that is in the poem included here. I have come to feel oddly at home at those spots near the track where I might find a seat and where I can pause for a moment in the eye of the transit storm. From that position I more or less impatiently scan schedules and traffic lights, awaiting the arrival of the train car with its whine and roar. I love it when the train comes in and the poignant strangers descend while I wait for my chance to board and rumble with that big machine forward. Towards something that feels like freedom, yeah, I know that’s sentimental, but seriously that sudden jerk when that giant mechanism shudders into motion feels almost always like it's promising some kind of luscious future."

Stephanie BarbĂ© Hammer is a 5-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  She has published work in The Bellevue Literary Review, Pearl,  the James Franco Review, and the Hayden’s Ferry Review among other places. She is the author of the prose poem chapbook Sex with Buildings (Dancing Girl Press), a full-length collection, How Formal? (Spout Hill Press), and a novel, The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior (Urban Farmhouse Press). A former New Yorker, Stephanie now lives in Coupeville WA with interfaith blogger/author Larry Behrendt. She is currently working on a poetry collection about a relentless urbanite navigating a rural habitat, and a novel about 2 mixed up women on a train to Montreal.  A poem by her appears below.

going to the metrolink/june 9th

it's dark as hell at 

5 am, 
and it's a sharp cold which is confusing

because this is Los Angeles.

i stagger up,
i try to drink some coffee.

i know it will be hot later when the sun

rises so i pile jacket on top of sweater
 on top of sweater
 on top of sleeveless shirt.
i put bags in the cold car. 
i put my coffee in the cold car.

i drive to the train station with 

the seat warmer on though my husband

hassles me about this choice when he

hears about it later.
i go stand on the platform and it's

cold there too, but the guy who

is an actor who teaches where i teach

begins imitating

the gestures of everyone waiting for the train.

he shines hot sun energy despite the darkness

while i shiver at him wondering where that power

comes from when all i can do is remember -- regret –

that i left my coffee when i parked the car.

i wish i could sip and consider the actor

because he's really good and i know already – 
though it will take years -- that I will write about him

and this unseasonable moment.