The Peoples Press-POOR Press 2011 collection featuring revolutionary authors in poverty

Tiny - Posted on 16 June 2011

POOR Press Authors will present @ City Lights Bookstore on Thursday, July 7th @ 7pm

Review by Jack Hirschman

One of the most interesting publishing ventures in the San Francisco and Bay Area is the Poor Press project. This revolutionary bi-lingual enterprise grew out of the Poor Magazine, which is a journal of poetry, polemics and righteous articles created by the inimitable Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia,---that indomitable force and magnet of affirmation of the people on the street, the economically poorest section of this society---and her late momma who is always still close to Tiny’s heart and always evoked by her  in a continuous solidarity.

    The Poor Press project is central to the struggles especially of the immigrants from Latino countries, of African Americans, Native Americans, Filipinos and the homeless poor of whatever color or ethnicity.

    In short, this is a people’s Press, by which I mean that I would prefer reading the books of these “poor” poets and writers (and how ironically apt that word is because there’s nothing poor about the Poor Poets: their expressive energies ARE what real poetry is all about), rather than what goes asnoot into the upper realms of litteratsure. Anyday.

    A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of reading a poem I wrote in Tagalog about Al Robles, the late and great poet and community organizer of the Manila-town Filipino people. The Poor scholars (that’s correct, these are scholar poets and scholar artists) were dedicating a room in their offices to the beloved Robles. So there is now the Al Robles Library as part of the Poor Magazine complex on 16th St. in San Francisco’s Mission barrio.

    It’s a small room, housing Al’s library, and other books as well, but it’s got his heart everywhere and anyone entering it cannot help but feel his presence.

    To give some idea of what the Poor Press is about: one of its biggest books is Los Viajes (The Journeys),which is 180 pages of poetry, prose and art defining, manifesting and affirming immigrant life in the States. These are stories, images and sounds of people crossing borders all over Pachamama/Mother Earth.

     Beautiful writings of Guatemaltecos Julio Chavez, Angel Garcia, Ingrid Deleon and Rafael Ramos; of the El Salvadoreno immigrant writer known as The Dreamer; of Bulgaria”s Stefana Seraphina; Filipino Tony Robles; and Mexicans Chispita, Theresa Molina, Sergio Guerrero, Martina Gonazalez and Roselia Jaramillo.

     Here’s an incredible line by Mexican poet Silencio Muteado from his poem in the anthology, “What is the Amerikkkan Dream?”

          What dream got you in that car trunk, in the middle of the border line

          Is that the American dream?

    Every aspect of immigrant struggle is manifested in this extraordinary book which ought to be read by all as a work that can really save one’s humanity in a time of insane wars and chaos.

    Ingrid Deleon, who is included in the anthology, also has a book of her own story, of One Immigrant Motherand her journey from Guatemala through Mexico to the United States.

    And there’s the wonderful poems and stories of Tony Robles in his book, Filipino Building Maintenance Company.Tony is the nephew of Al Robles and, raised in the latter’s shadow, he has developed into an important voice especially for the Filipino people and their familial continuity.

Likewise, and with powerfully intense activist fervor is Dee Allen, whose book is called Boneyard----Poems and Songs of African Struggle and Survival in the U.S. Allen is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade and has written terrifically animated poems of both class and race issues. For examples, some lines from “Under Suspicion”:


Standing at the front gates

of Sorry Sara’s

at 10 am,

I may have been guilty alright.


Guilty of being an

innocent piece of darkmeat

looking forward to an

honest day’s toil.

    The poetry books of Poor Press are small editions (Los Viajesis an exception) of about 30 pages each, and includes a book of stories by Marlon Crump, and the outrageously brilliant Life, Struggle Reflection---poems by Queennadi, who writes blingo or black lingo, blango or black slang, and is ebonically ebullient on virtually every page of her book.

    These are poets and storytellers that are making hope get the hell up from the grave that this conniving and war-mongering government has sentenced it to, and pointing a way to a future that just might belong to all.     

POOR Press authors will read from their revolutionary books at City Lights Books in San Francisco on Thursday, July 7th

Buy Bruce Allison it the best


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