My first post, “San Francisco Poet Al Robles (1930-2009)” is up on the Poetry Foundation blog. Here is an excerpt:
Al Robles was an activist, at the forefront of the movement to stop the demolition of the I-Hotel, which housed elderly and low income tenants, many of whom we’ve come to know as the “Manongs,” elder Filipino Americans, or Pinoys, who spent their youths as migrant labor in West Coast agriculture and canneries, and as US veterans who fought in WWII. He brought young activists and artists to Agbayani Village in Delano, a rural settlement of these Manongs, and to the WWII Japanese American internment camps at Tule Lake and Manzanar. He believed it was important for young activists and artists to see these places with their own eyes, to hear the stories of these places firsthand. Robles’s activism was closely tied to his poetic work; in fact, his activism and poetry were one and the same. He believed poets should bring themselves into the world.