June 22, 2022

SRJC hosts readings of indigenous and diaspora poetry


Now is the time to be a revolutionary, agreed three poets who spoke during an SRJC Libraries online poetry reading on April 16.

The three poets, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Angel Dominguez and Tongo Eisen-Martin, each shared excerpts from their work.

SRJC Librarian Loretta Esparza organized the event in an ongoing effort to uphold SRJC’s Land Recognition, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors in October 2020.

Indigenous and immigrant poets Brolaski, Dominguez, and Eisen-Martin each strive to pressure the boundaries of writing, community, identity, and activism through their respective works.

Brolaski is a “Two Spirit” individual who resides in the Chumash Territory of California. Two-Spirit is an indigenous non-binary genre, and Brolaski uses it / its pronouns.

“You know, like the sky, the grass and the bird,” Brolaski said. “Where you can’t tell what it is.”

Brolaski was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, and has also written and co-authored four books, including 2017 “From Mongrélitude, “2012”Advice to lovers, “2011”Gowanus Atropolis, “and 2009”GENDER FREE: Reflections on the Life and Work of Kari Edwards. “

Like-minded two-spirited, Angel Dominguez is a Latinx poet of Yucatec Maya origin who uses them / them pronouns and was raised by immigrant parents. They write in the hope of raising awareness of the injustice of police brutality. “Abolish the police,” Dominguez said during the SRJC’s poetry reading.

Author of “ROSE WATER, “and 2015”Black Lavender MilkDominguez received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz before venturing to Boulder, Colorado, to earn his master’s degree in fine arts from the Jack Kerouac School of Poetics at Naropa University.

Listening to the mid-April Zoom lecture from the unceded lands of Ohlone, Dominguez let his poems present themselves instead of the usual formalities and started with their poem “Headlines”.

“We keep reading ‘dead’ or ‘killed’ instead of ‘murdered’ or ‘executed,’ Dominguez said. “The violence of the system of systems, the constant threat from the police. And when you are “other” in America, everyone is the police. “

Dominguez paused.

“This poem was written five years ago. It bothers me that it’s topical now, ”they said. “I hope that someday I will never have to reread these poems again.”

Quick to follow Dominguez’s impassioned presentation, acclaimed organizer Tongo Eisen-Martin muted his mic so his booming voice could be heard by SRJC students and faculty.

An educator from San Francisco, Eisen-Martin focuses his powerful poetics on questions of extrajudicial executions of blacks, mass incarceration and human rights.

Devoted to reaching every soul he deems failing by the system, Eisen-Martin has taught in detention centers across the country, and his latest program, “We again accuse the genocide, has been used by organizers across the United States

His other books, 2015 “Someone is already dead” and 2017 “Heaven is all goodbye, were each nominated for the California Book Award, and the latter received the California Book Award and the American Book Award.

He also taught at the African American Studies Research Institute at his alma mater Columbia University, where he obtained his master’s degree.

Eisen-Martin left his virtual audience with the following message: “we just have to be revolutionaries”.