I’ve just come across this announcement for an event taking place at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) on Wednesday, July 21:
So, you’ve been writing, painting, dancing. You’ve got a band, or a performance piece. How do you reach out to others? Find folks of like mind? Get the work out there? How do you create a community of artists & friends who will support each other?
In this informal reading/talk, Diane di Prima, San Francisco’s Poet Laureate, will talk about making your art and getting it into the world “by any means necessary”—whatever comes to hand—in good times and bad. She will also address the importance of creating a sense of community.
Diane’s presentation will be a rare opportunity to glimpse an important and seldom-acknowledged part of Bay Area cultural history through the eyes of someone who lived it. Dialogue with the audience will be invited and encouraged throughout the presentation.
Wow, I am really appreciating this and want to go check it out; of course, having spoken in Willie’s VONA class on publication, it’s what’s currently in my mind. I am reminded of meeting Nick Carbó for the first time, back in the mid-1990’s at Cody’s Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. His word of advice to me and Michelle Bautista at the time was to band together and consider the leap from Maganda magazine into other publication. Come up with a name for a press, and publish yourself, why not? Michelle self-published a chapbook, and eventually, so did I. That was the way in for me.
“By any means necessary,” di Prima’s blurb above says. I think of it this way: do it guerrilla stylee, pull chapbooks out of your backpack and hand them to people at any given moment. Swap product with other artists. Oscar uses his chapbooks as what he calls business cards. I’ve seen him finagle his chapbooks into the hands of Jimmy Santiago Baca, Luis Alberto Urrea, Chris Abani. It’s not really finagle; it’s hustle. (Speaking of hustle, click here for information on Anthem Salgado’s “The Art of Hustle” workshop).
I see so clearly how since my first DIY chapbook, my community and my readership just grew and morphed. These days, as I hustle to sell books (find book reviewers, promote course adoption, secure speaking and performance gigs), I have to figure out other ways to keep one foot planted in gift economy. Does gesture and speech figure into this gift economy, i.e. writing reviews, book blurbs, recommendation letters, blogging, performing, speaking to students? I think also of curating and documenting, creating/producing happenings, evidence, and artifact.
That’s what I do hope folks thick in the schmooze remember: that we should always have work, actual concrete product in our hands to share with others, and that we must always have a plan, a concrete process for creating that concrete product to push into the world.