March 2012: Free Books, Strikes, A One Person Band, and a Poet Gone
By Jorge Antonio Vallejos
So, the first quarter of 2012 is gone. It’s been a good one.
March was eventful, different, and fun; I:
- was named one of top five blogs to follow by www.firstpeoplesdirections.org
- did my first VLOG
- interviewed Toronto Public Library Workers on Strike
- wrote my fist obituary
March has seen the most of me in the entire time that I’ve been doing blackcoffeepoet.com.
I’ve been listening to you, my readers, those who have emailed, about seeing more of me:
Where is the blackcoffeepoet? Who is the blackcoffeepoet? Where is your writing?
March has seen BCP via videos and my writing, non-review and non-interview writing.
I always tell people that blackcoffeepoet.com is about me and isn’t about me. It’s my website but I focus on other people and artists. Once in a while I insert myself via a video of me reading and some personal writing.
After getting emails from you all about seeing more of the blackcoffeepoet, me, I decided that this year would be a little different; I’d feature people like I always do for three weeks of every month and then do one week of me: my personal writing and a video.
This past month I put myself in a lot more than one week while highlighting others.
March saw blackcoffeepoet.com feature two Arab artists: a musician who is a one-person-band named Maintenance Request Form, and Adam Abbas, a Toronto poet. So two weeks were dedicated to folk other than myself. And I stuck to the mandate: peoples of colour.
Finding out that I was named one of TOP 5 Blogs to follow was amazing! It was validation for all the hard work I do: work of passion; work via persistence; work of love. Many of you congratulated me and I very much appreciate that.
What was also exciting and new was doing my fist VLOG: FREE BOOKS!!! I talked about 45 books that were given to me by my neighbour Marcia. Yes, 45 books! She was moving out and needed to get rid of stuff. Books being part of it.
My two hours at Marcia’s were a “bibliophile’s dream” as one of my friends put it. I couldn’t have said it any better.
I wrote about Marcia’s gift and did the VLOG as a visual companion where I showed and talked a little about the books.
Another new thing I did was almost a full week of video interviews followed by an obituary.
After taking a seminar with the 1491s in February I learned that as an artist sometimes I have to jump on things. My jumping was on the story of Toronto Public Library Workers being on strike. I love the Toronto Public Library! I’m a writer largely because of the Toronto Public Library. I attended so many events and workshops and readings there as a kid and I took out books on a weekly basis.
Standing in front of the Toronto Reference Library I conducted 3 interviews:
- Four library workers laid down why they were striking
- Readers and patrons talked about why they missed the library
- A library worker talked about health, safety, and service concerns
The month ended on a sad note: Adrienne Rich, the great American poet died. I wrote an obituary for her. Rich is not a poet that I am very familiar with but it made sense to honour her as she broke down doors for people like me to do the work I do.
March is gone.
It was good.
We’ll see what April brings.