• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
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  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
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readings & workshops
November 19

Poetry Reading: Santee Frazier & Franklin K.R. Cline

readings & workshops
November 21

Offsite Talk: Native American Identity & the Politics of the Poetic Image 

readings & workshops
December 3

Ultimate Truth Poetry Reading and Book Release

readings & workshops
December 6

Heddy Keith author of Through it All

readings & workshops
December 9

Poetry Reading: Tonya M. Foster & Samiya Bashir

performances
December 10

Alternating Currents Live presents Nicole Mitchell Quartet

special events
January 27 -28

24th Annual Poetry Marathon & Benefit

Archived readings & workshops
Aug 1 Tuesday, August 1
10:00am, $10 | FREE for those who pledge a reader for $35 or more

 

Ching-In Chen is author of The Heart's Traffic and recombinant and co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. A Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole and Callaloo Fellow, they are part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. A senior editor of The Conversant, they serve on the Executive Board of Thinking Its Presence: Race, Advocacy, Solidarity in the Arts. While completing their PhD in Creative Writing at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, they served as editor-in-chief of cream city review as well as on the Woodland Pattern board and the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. A poetry editor of the Texas Review, they are assistant professor of poetry at Sam Houston State University. 

 

Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth / The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison (Decentralized Publications); Achiote Seeds/Semillas de Achiote with Critstina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico (Achiote Seeds); and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press). She also co-edited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press and Dispatches Editions) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Cárdenas’ poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Latino Poetics: The Art of Poetry, The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, POETRY, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, The Quarry: A Social Justice Database, the Library of Congress’ Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers, Jet Fuel Review, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, and many others. Cárdenas served as the Milwaukee Poet Laureate from 2010-2012 and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 

Dawn Tefft's poems appear in Fence, Denver Quarterly, and BlazeVOX, among other journals.  Her chapbooks include Fist, The Walking Dead: A Lyric, and Field Trip to My Mother and Other Exotic Locations.  Her nonfiction has been published in Truthout, Jacobin, PopMatters, and Woodland Pattern's blog. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works as a higher ed union organizer.

 


heritage                


 

When                           “To say” a woman

become monument “in front of all these people”    

                                              never sang porridge songs         

or pull      by my hair            

              into line    she place

              me row by row    “men and boys”    black heads “surging”    

              uncover production        “in knots of half a dozen or more”


 

I became not her stone                

“who have paid money for their wives”        

 

she “reckless”            stood tremble         

in fire

 

                                              “get a rope” say the crowdface     

 

“regular traffic”

“black with people”    stare her down                

                                  “the little mite”    

                                  corridor         “a good many times”

                                                       “the unprintable” “sneak[ing]”                                                            

 

“advance a foot”            

                                                

 

                                                                                                       “string

                                                                                                        them up    

to a lamp                                            

                                                                                                                   post” 

 

—Ching-In Chen, from recombinant

 

 

Placa/Roll Call

(after Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez’s Placa/Roll Call, 1980)

 

“If the city was a body, graffiti would tell us where it hurts.”

                        --Chaz Bojórquez

                           

And this block would shout, “Nos diste un CHINGASO, cabrón. Mira esta cara rota, these baton-cracked ribs, this black and blue street dizzy con gente: BLADES, KIKI, LARRY, SNOW, ENRIQUE, CONNIE, ELTON, KING, DAVID, KELLY, JEFF, RAT´ON, CHAZ, los de aquí, los de abajo. This roll call won’t be silenced, not by gloc, not by chokehold. This is our temple of runes, our tomb—its glyphic curve and flow, calligraphic code writ acrylic. This, our relic, our scroll unrolled in catacombs, our flecks of subtext still buzzing después de que vayamos con La Pelona. ¡QUE LUCHA, LOCO! Ven, baile con nostros to the aerosol’s maraca y hiss, al punk en español’s furious sweat. Hang your head out the window y dale un grito tan lleno de duende that it cracks the pavement, summons our dead to dinner. Turn the tonal kaleidoscope. Then pause, catch your breath, so you don’t miss the illegible moment where all the mystery lives. There, de-cypher that!”

 

—Brenda Cárdenas 

 

Poem originally published in Poetry, vol. 207, no. 6, March 2016, p. 599.

 

 

 

 

Only in chaos are we conceivable


 

i.

I miss sadness

 

the cloud forest

 

the chemical library

of my own nostalgia

 

the drums of Calanda

moving closer

in my dreams


 

ii.

the weight of something

that was you

confusing me about my own

animalness

 

until I could no longer identify

talon, teeth

they were buried so deeply

in my flesh


 

iii.

now all I have is

resentment

at the type of privilege

that gave birth

to “pulp-free”

 

this strange pacing

thing

making plans

inside me


 

--Dawn Tefft, originally published in Fence