El Sereno is an East LA neighborhood that shoulders the San Gabriel Valley. We all met there, at the Mazatlan Theater, excitement and curiosity equally peaked.
100 Thousand Poets for Change, (100 TPC), was a vision that was shared in 2011, sparked by the desire to make a change in our world. The goal was not to look to the White House for answers, but plant seeds in our own backyards and watch the ideas grow and find others seeking change. This would become the 100 Thousand.
I call him Chief, but you know him as Michael Rothenberg, Editor of Big Bridge, Poet, Writer, and friend. Rothenberg and his partner (in crime poetics, and soul), Terri Carrion, have led 100 Thousand Poets for Change to this massive global unit, with events topping to 800 in 115 countries. They lit the fuse in all of us now there is no going back. Since the blossom of 100 Thousand, Rothenberg and Carrion have decided to hit the road on a tour from California to Florida to meet the organizers behind the events.
Welcome to LA, Chief!
December 6, 2012
We all held up inside the Mazatlan, which in its heyday hosted elegant affairs, productions, and theatrics. Today it was ground zero for LA poetry. Los Angeles is an entity all to itself. It was not that difficult to gather 100 Thousand people in LA…and all of us want to see change. The beauty behind 100 TPC is that change is a variable that can be swapped out for any purpose. So when you join 100 Thousand, you hold the banner of what you want to see changed. Rothenberg sharply stated, “I don’t know what you need in your communities, you do.” Eloquent and simple. You take up the banner for your communities; everyone is a champion.
At the Mazatlan, it was like a meeting of the poetry “families”, or all the organizers that got involved in 100 Thousand Poets for Change, which has consecutively occurred twice. The second year opened up 100 Thousand Musicians, Mimes, Photographers…for Change. The events held all over the world were getting louder and our momentum was building. A goal of the Chief’s visit was to get the visions stirring in our heads again, and better align Los Angeles. LA makes noise because we got the numbers, we have the attention, and we have the audience. So how does LA go about it? We’re working on it. That will be reported, at another time, but for now, here’s the way it went.
Matt Sedillo, Mark Lipman, Antonieta Villamil, Lee Ballinger, Ross Altman, Jessica Wilson, Iris DeAnda, ….(NAMES), trickled in to grab their seat beside the stage.
The night’s meeting could go anywhere. Our eyes lit up as Rothenberg and Carrion joined us. We’ve nurtured a relationship online, and their names and faces were becoming iconic. At last, we see the flesh, learn the soul of these people we’ve grown to admire and launched us so passionately to take up the banner of 100 TPC. Hugs and candy canes were passed around. (Can’t lose sight of the holidays amongst a little business).
“How should we start?” was the question posed. Let’s start from the beginning…and so it was. The Chief shared the creation story with all of us. There was the struggle of a set of legs “standing out in the stream alone again”, to making things happen, to creating global unity and the support of ideas, to fruition, to a call from the prestigious Stanford University recognizing a historical movement, (the LARGEST poetry reading across the world at the same time!), and offering to archive it…
During the tale, Carrion positioned the camera, (ROLL em!), turned on the tape recorder, and snapped away to document our faces in this time and place.
<——–Michael Rothenberg sharing the creation story behind 100 Thousand Poets for Change to the Los Angeles 100TPC organizers
Lots of ideas were shared, introductions, suggestions, an offering of friendship and the share of resources…and like that, Los Angeles camaraderie was built. It is coming together…for change in all of our communities. While the collective seeds were planted, it will lead us to bridge Los Angeles poetry, with goals beyond that, to lead to the unity of the arts altogether; another vision of change sparked by the energies of Rothenberg and Carrion.
There are lots of good things on the horizon, and I can’t wait for you all to see it!