Celebrate the release of the new POOR Press books and meet their authors Wednesday, Nov. 11, 6 p.m., at Galleria de la Raza, 2857 24th St. at Bryant in San Francisco
by Marlon Crump, PNN
When I think about the meanings of “journey” and “destination,” memories of my road to POOR Magazine/POOR News Network race through my mind: manual labor jobs with no future; supporting my family of four with meager earnings while living in Cleveland, Ohio; and going from one homeless shelter to another until my arrival in San Francisco in 2004.
In between the hardships of homelessness, I found sanctity in extensive reading at the library, taking numerous GED night classes for writing, and sometimes writing my poetry in the dark. There was always the need for me to feel the words written from my own hand, created from my own mind. My passion for writing grew.
I began to feel my own words during my brief period as a volunteer for the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness in 2005. On May 2 of that year, I recited my poem that I had written the night before, “Care Not Cash/Trash,” aimed to criticize Mayor Gavin Newsom’s resentful policy against those receiving welfare aid.
For 20 nerve-wrecking minutes, I faced a relatively large crowd on the San Francisco City Hall steps, my eyes gazing blankly and news cameras glued to me. Hoping that I wouldn’t faint from the hammering of my heart, I summoned a subliminal will for a boost of adrenalin to carry me even after I concluded my poem.
A woman in the crowd’s forefront smiled at me as I descended the steps. She had an easy smile, with the aura of a teacher and a revolutionary vision. “That was really great,” she said to me, still sporting that easy smile.
Six months later, following the unlawful attack upon me that occurred on Oct. 7, 2005, by 12 members of the San Francisco Police Department, I saw her again. She was “Tiny,” Lisa Gray-Garcia, co-founder of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network. Our worlds immediately collided as we both shared similar visions in literary art, media and access.
A year later, I learned from POOR what a healing tool literary art can be through their revolutionary Digital Resistance media and journalism training program and later their POOR Press publishing program. After writing my first book, a series titled “Citizens & Civilians Over Corruption: Savagely Removed Occupant,” I knew what I was going to give to the world, and much, much more.
To write about one’s painful experience through a path of healing re-introduces the fact shared by everyone at POOR that “writing is fighting.”
POOR Press Publications integrates the voices segregated from corporate mainstream media through the literary art of the POOR Press authors themselves. Each POOR Press author, including myself, though the issues we face and write about are different, all of us together say this to the world: Silenced voices are untold journeys in and of themselves.
‘Taking Back the Land, Resisting Criminalization One Story at a Time’
“Los Viajes: The Journeys,” a bilingual (resisting linguistic domination) POOR Press Publication, chronicles the journeys of scholars ranging from migrant, indigenous, poverty and revolutionary worker – all are detailed in this book in their very own voices. Stories, images, art and the sound of people crossing borders all over Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) are featured in “Los Viajes.”
Courage displayed by Ingrid De Leon in her escape from domestic violence and poverty from Guatemala and battling barriers to sustain a stable life in the U.S.A. are heard in her poem, “I am scared.” Poetry from Silencio Muteado reveals the horrors of how lavish lifestyles of America brainwash some undocumented immigrants into senseless competition in “What is the Amerikkkan Dream?”
The sorrows of a grandmother named Chispita for having to release her young grandson in order for him to be cured, while hanging onto an ounce of faith they’ll be someday reunited with tears of joy is the story you read in “From Oaxaca, Mexico.” In a poetic memoir, Tony Robles tells of his brief encounter with his grandfather in “Non-Returnable.”
In “Should we go to San Francisco?” you learn how it feels to be labeled as bums, told you can’t extend your hotel stay, dragging heavy bags while driving from strip mall to strip mall, gas station to mini mart, terrified and unsure what to do, having friends but no money and no hope for any money.
The mother and daughter team, “Mama” Dee Gray and “Tiny” Lisa Gray-Garcia, future co-founders of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network, are the voices you hear in “From Los Angeles to San Francisco.”
All the stories of the voiceless in “Los Viajes: The Journeys” show readers the struggles of people in poverty as they seize the opportunity of “Taking Back the Land, Resisting Criminalization … One Story at a Time.”
‘Filipino Building Maintenance Company’
Tony Robles is a native San Franciscan, community organizer, activist, co-teacher, co-editor and revolutionary worker scholar of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network. Robles’ book, “Filipino Building Maintenance Company,” dedicated to his uncle, Al Robles, is a deeply detailed novel combined with poetry on his life experiences maintaining a father and son work/love relationship.
Tony’s father, James Robles, a janitor by trade, worked for the City and County of San Francisco from 1977-1978 before deciding to become self employed by starting what would be the “Filipino Building Maintenance Company,” thus defying the workforce apartheid of the U.S.A.
“The house of a janitor is supposed to be clean. One would assume this to be true because the janitor performs his duties with the sacred mop, broom and toilet brush” is a lecture once given to him by his father.
Robles’ poems present reminiscences of their relationship, such as in “Broadway Chicken.” “Some of the best exchanges of words with my father came across the tables of Chinese restaurants. They weren’t really exchanges; my father usually did all the talking.”
“Filipino Building Maintenance Company” reveals a father-son relationship, showing discipline, responsibility, the value and pride of hard work. It also shows motivation for entrepreneurship and the breaking of barriers to future goals, such as writing.
‘Untold Stories of Amerikkka’
Silencio Muteado is a member of the Po’ Poets project of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network, a race, media, poverty and migrant scholar. A native from Michoacán, Mexico, Muteado was raised on the eastside of Oakland.
Experiencing what most of the youth in poor communities of color endure, such as poverty, racism, oppression and violence, Muteado realized where he was standing, in “the new world.” While living in a city with a high homicide rate, Muteado saw the bright side. In 2004, he published his book through POOR Press Publications, called “Untold Stories of Amerikkka.”
His book contains poetry (bilingual resistance to linguistic domination) that graphically details the indefinite immoral values of the U.S.A., such as slavery, war, poverty, violence and the unrelenting attacks on undocumented immigrants and migrant people.
Additionally, “Untold Stories of Amerikkka” features graphic art and pictures expressing the impact of immorality that the U.S.A. has had on people. With the visual and verbal art, Muteado through his words sees the bright side of this country’s callous culture, observing, “Rhythm was born inside humankind.”
‘Life, Struggle, and Reflection II: Raw and Uncut’
Kim Swan, aka Queennandi X-Sheba, is a race, media and poverty scholar, Po Poet and Revolutionary Rap Villain of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network, a motivational speaker and a “super baby mama” mothering three daughters.
Raised in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, “the Moe,” Queennandi is a formidable poetic voice for all poverty-stricken African descent men, women and children – all of them chased daily by racism, police brutality and Child Protective Services.
As a survivor of the streets and the cruelties of modern day society, Queennandi chronicles these experiences in her second book released through POOR Press, “Life, Struggle, and Reflection II: Raw and Uncut.” The title refers to her life experience. It is a sequel from her first book – as she puts it, “Black by popular demand.”
Queennandi’s book contains numerous poems dealing with issues from the oppression and disrespect of women – Black women in particular – and the anger that follows to the massacre of revolutionary Black men, past and present, in her poem “Black Revelation.”
In “Have You Ever Heard a Tale?” she says the need for future sequels of her book would be precluded if only people could change for the better.
‘Complicated: Moving into the Light’
Ruyata Akio McGlothin, aka RAM, is a member of the Po’ Poets and a race, media and poverty scholar of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network. He is also a “super baby daddy” fathering two daughters.
A native San Franciscan and survivor of police brutality and racial profiling, RAM has released his third book through POOR Press, called “Complicated: Moving into the Light.” His book poetically conveys to the reader’s heart RAM’s feelings about love, regrets from unsanctioned addictions and the road to recovery and the memories of pain that tour through his mind.
Its very introduction is an induction of inspiration for those who are lost and unable to find their way in life: “It’s complicated / In recovery, in love / Poetically concentrated / If you pull, or if you’re shoved / Get clean, trying to stay / Shouldn’t mean to get away.”
Like its subtitle, RAM’s book inspires anyone who’s isolated in the dark to move into the light.
‘San Francisco County Jail Cookbook “Tu”: Attack of the Ass Clowns’
Brother Y is a race, media, poverty and disability scholar of POOR Magazine/POOR News Network. He is also a frontline fighter in the “War on Drugs,” a formerly homeless veteran and an advocate for medical cannabis patients’ rights.
Living in a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel for a number of years, Brother Y often encountered harassment, from both property management and police, regarding his legitimate use of marijuana. He details these events in his second book released through POOR Press, titled “San Francisco County Jail Cookbook ‘Tu’: Attack of the Ass Clowns.”
In this sequel to his first book, released in 2008, he summarizes his resistance to the criminalization of marijuana, the denial of medication while incarcerated, and his grievances made to uncaring property managers and public officials. Brother Y informs the reader that although the most recent “War on Drugs” charges against him were dropped, his struggle continues.
He defines the “Ass Clowns” as a landlord, a security guard, a police officer and a prosecutor or district attorney who targets people in poverty. Wasting no time exposing a recipe for disaster, he advises, “Time to get down to the meat of the matter.”
‘Non-Profit Industrial Complex: A Love Story and Other Poems’
Thornton Kimes is a race, media and poverty scholar and staff writer for POOR Magazine/POOR News Network. He has also written poetry, some in haiku, for The Street Sheet, a publication of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. Before he joined POOR in 2008, Kimes worked at Goodwill Industries.
The release of his very first book, “Non-Profit Industrial Complex: A Love Story and Other Poems,” Kimes tells of his experience there in “Nature, politics, love, weirdness, working for a non-profit organization, and Wizard of Oz imagery.”
Kimes expresses his fascination for haiku and short poetry in his book. He enjoys trying to say the most with the fewest words: “I’m not comfortable with longer poems, but that is changing. ‘Non-Profit Industrial Complex: A Love Story’ is one of the longest poems I’ve written.”
“We all live in Oz. Sometimes spectacularly strange, America/Oz feels like the Yellow Brick Road’s traffic signals are broken and we’re in a giant parking lot. Finding the way is a quest for more brain, more heart, more courage,” writes Thornton Kimes.
Marlon Crump is a race, media and poverty scholar and journalist for POOR Magazine/POOR News Network. He is also a revolutionary legal scholar. A survivor of police brutality and racial profiling, Crump earned that title by representing himself in a civil suit against the City of San Francisco.
“Ray’s Day” is his second book released through POOR Press. He reluctantly wrote this book to quel the demons – the trauma – that has plagued him and his family for many years.
“Ray’s Day” is a novel that brings its reader into a deep, dark fantasy world where Crump confronts an individual who committed unforgivable crimes upon his family. Readers see the true objective of “Ray’s Day” when they hear Crump say: “I am ultimately hopeful that ‘Ray’s Day’ will equal a new day for all sexual assault victims to cope with their pain with self-healing … by the potent antidote means of creativity, arts and literacy.”
To register for the next POOR Press/Digital Resistance media and publishing training beginning in January, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 863-6306 and leave a message.
POOR press books are also available by mail order by going online to www.poormagazine.org and clicking on POOR Press.
POOR will also be hosting “Mercado de Cambio: The Po’ Sto’ Holiday Market and Knowledge Exchange” on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 12-9 p.m., at their offices in the Redstone Building, 2940 16th St., one block below 16th Street BART in the Mission, San Francisco. Books, Po’kies and art from POOR Press, Po’ Poets, neighborhood DJs, musicians and many micro-business people and artists in the Bay will be available for the sale and exchange of their wares. Space is limited. If you are an artist and want a table, call (415) 863-6306 to register.
Read more about issues of poverty and race written by the people who face them daily at POOR Magazine/POOR News Network, www.poormagazine.org.