Find Me At La Luna: A Review of “qPOC…&LMNOP”

qPOC…&LMNOP by Chico’s Brother
review by Nick Gardner

So often we find ourselves caught up in arguments of politics, discussing race and gender, citing articles we have read, or anecdotes we have been told without questioning our personal truths. As Chico’s Brother, Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz rejects this PC banter and academic discourse in favor of introspection in his new album “qPOC…&LMNOP” (available on Bandcamp). This series of songs replaces politics with heart, pushing grand narratives into the periphery in order to locate the personal narrative in the forefront.

Aurelio

It must be noted that Aurelio has not broken form from his previous album. Each song is derived from specific experiences. There is a vivid dream, a short history of his father and grandfather, a song for friend who passed away. Each track is personal, an internal struggle, but when converted to music and shared with the world, it becomes something we can all relate to.
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We Stand With Standing Rock

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In late July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating their concern that a pipeline slated to be built encroached upon ancestral lands.


It’s a five dollar donation to get in the doors of the Standing Rock Solidarity Benefit show, to be enveloped in the warmth, the glow, the murmur of conversations cut frequently by loud laughter. It looks like someone’s family reunion with folding chairs and cheap plastic table cloths, a buffet set-up with six donated Two Cousin’s Gut Buster pizzas and cheap booze. As the place slowly fills with people, the room becomes a beacon in the cold night, a bright light in a row of dim buildings, a convention of friends new and old, setting the stage for solidarity.


September 4th, Dakota Access begins clearing ground for the pipeline, bulldozing over sacred sites and burials. Protesters are attacked by dogs and pepper sprayed.


It took just under two weeks for Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Mark Sebastian Jordan, Kathy Fetzer-Goodwin to bring this event into the public eye, being touted in the local papers and drawing over a hundred contributors and participants. It even received threats, though none came to fruition. The K.E. McCarthy building was donated as a space for the show and by door time, all money spent on food, drink, and entrance would be sent to the Oceti Sakowin Camp.

Mark Jordan opens the show as MC and performer and along with Jason Kauffman, Lucas Hargis, and Nate Weiland presents a spoken word piece (Pronouncement: An Invocation for the Standing Rock Benefit Concert). He repeats the question: “who speaks?” over the murmur of the settling audience and we listen, and finally erupt into applause on his final call-to-arms, that “We speak!”

This becomes the theme of the show, the different voices no longer silenced, but calling for an end to injustice. This is a shout for self-expression and for claiming a space in the land.

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Nick Gardner & Susan A. Sheppard reading at Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge

November 19th marked the final Borderlands: Poetry on the Edge reading of 2016. Featured were Mansfield native Nick Gardner and West Virginian poet Susan A. Sheppard.

Nick Gardner took us on a wild ride through his struggles with drug abuse. It’d be easy to overdose on the dark themes in these poems, but for the Narcan of his startling images and subtle lyricism. This set of poems proves the redemptive power of giving oneself over to the creative impulse.

 

Susan A. Sheppard is a self described Appalachian poet. Her poems gaze toward her youth and are full of recollections of Indians, bootleggers, and banshees. Where the words of other Appalachian writers unfold like copses choked with bramble and draped with Old Man’s Beard, Sheppard’s work is delicate, tightly worked, and shimmering.

Borderlands: poetry on the edge takes place every 3rd Saturday, 2-4pm at Main Street Books. Each month Mark Sebastian Jordan invites two of the best poets from Ohio and the surrounding States to be featured. The reading is followed by a short open-mic.

Alan Mathos reads his poem “Eviction”

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Jason Thomas reading at Main Street Books

Alan Mathos  reading       at Main Street Books

Alan Mathos (a.k.a. Jason Thomas) is a poet, dabbler in short fiction, and contemplator of the peripheral aspects of life that hold hope and hidden meaning. These, he explains, are like rays of sunlight through the cracks of a door in a dark room – a door that remains locked until a key is revealed by one’s adjusting eyes.

Themes in his work include spirituality, humor, ghosts, temptation, economics, searching, isolation, nature, music, confusion, and perception (both visual and psychological). In his poetry, Alan enjoys variety, experimenting with free verse as well as structured, traditional, and rhyming forms. According to him, his fiction writing is coming along, but there are “still a lot of orange cones and barrels” as he improves his use of plot, character development, and shifts in narrative perspective. You can see and hear him at occasional open mics in Mansfield, Ohio and in free-range conversations in uncaged coffee shops and other cultural settings.