We Want to Hear From You!

This is a blog for the community, by the community! Submit writings, opinion columns, and/or pics of anything you think is important to share with fellow Denver Harbor residents! All submitted things will be given the credit of the person who wrote or sent in the work. Email us @ ourdhstreets@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

OurDHStreets Highlights: deecolonize.com

this is the new website of our main contributor and editor! Please check out dee!colonize's work ~ she is from dh and will be addressing issues, announcing events, and giving opinions on topics that impact the OurDHStreets community along with sharing her poetry & daily musings.

support local artistry!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Hot Hot Hot!!!

Off Lyons Avenue in Denver Harbor

Is it hot or is it hot?! I went out about 1pm & 4pm and my thermometer read between 108 and 110..and it shows! We hope everyone is taking precautions to keep cool and feel good! The key elements for DH kids and adults alike should be H2O! Keep it steadily streaming through the body, because more than any spruced up (probably with some chemicals or sugars) drink can ever provide, WATER does all that and then some. Stay hydrated!

As many of our kiddos were off during the Summer, the DH Bloggers took to brainstorming in the shade!

See You Soon With New Stories & Events that Affect & Reflect Our DH Streets!

And in the meantime, check out these FACEBOOK Pages that deal with our Community:

Friday, June 24, 2011

OurDHStreets Spotlights: Poet Radames Ortiz

I sat along the wall of booths inside of Jacales Restaurant perusing the menu as I waited for poet / writer / artist Radames Ortiz to meet me. I looked over notes and recalled videos of him I’d youtubed for our meet up as the waitress politely asked me if I’d like more tea. After a few more people scrambled in, Radames made his entrance with the same contemplative look that makes him stand out, spotted me waving from the corner, and made his way over to our table. He was wearing the baseball cap he’d promised to wear so we’d be able to recognize each other, which made me laugh, since I’d been audience to a good handful of his performances around Houston over the last 2 years.  I was intrigued from the get-go and was eager to know what made this raised-in-D.H. poet tick.

OurDHStreets: You have a quote by Dana Gioia on your blog that reads “Anyone attentive to the new popular poetry sees the antithesis--the death of the text. American culture conditioned by electronic media and a celebrity culture based on personalities has given birth to a new kind of author, the amplified bard.”

Can you explain this quote and why it came to be part of your arsenal?

Radames: The quote describes how writers have started their own personal branding. With technology and social media, our personalities are “amplified” and we have more control than ever in developing our brands. For example, I have a digital self - a fractured self like my avatar and my social networks. In starting my blog I finally had a space to bridge all of these selves. I think the image of my avatar transmitting poetry to a laptop and a laptop transmitting my work to the rest of the world is a good depiction of “the amplified bard.”

OurDHStreets: You’ve worked with Writers in the Schools before. Tell me about this organization and its programs. What personal things did you gain from working with this great organization?

Radames: Writers in the Schools is a nonprofit in Houston which helps different level students engage with the power and joy of writing. WITs normally places a writer in a classroom who works with a teacher and help students explore creative writing whether it’s fiction or poetry. I taught students in the 3rd, 6th, and 8th grades.

My main takeaways from my teaching experiences were: 1. Some students are eager to write and they are creative and very talented.  2. The role of writer as teacher is extremely important and necessary in the public school system.

OurDHStreets: You are one of the few poets in Houston who incorporates music in your performances. Why do you find this music / word fusion necessary?

Radames: The idea behind my poetry / music collaboration with Jonathan Jindra  is that we wanted to enhance the audience’s experience. Our upcoming poetry cd, Ratlines, is a multimedia project. Since technology is so readily available, we wanted to create a multi-sensory experience. When the cd comes out, it will include audio, an ebook, video and artwork.

Jonathan is an electronic music composer, so he created this great ambient soundscape to accompany my poetry. When we perform live, we like to overload the senses. We bombard our audience with poetry, music and video projections in order to create a different type of poetry reading.

OurDHStreets: What muses inspire your art? How have your themes evolved over time?

Radames: In the beginning, I wrote mostly about my childhood experiences. Like the old adage says, “Write what you know,” right? In these early poems, I wrote about the way I experienced the world around me. I’m a narrative poet. I guess it makes sense since I initially wanted to be a short story writer but like my girlfriend at the time told me, I just wasn’t “good at it.” But I always carried over those narrative qualities over to my poetry. At first, it was about capturing experiences like the way I grew up, and then I moved to writing about what others experienced.

Currently, I’m focusing on the theme of addiction. For some reason, I’m interested in how others handled and have been affected by their demons. When I was younger, I experienced the drug counterculture, later I spent some time in rehab. So, I got to witness firsthand how addiction can affect people’s lives.

OurDHStreets: I see from your day job at Schipul – The Web Marketing Company and your social network accounts that you are interested in the huge scope that is social media and I see you are a regular blogger and poster on Facebook as well - can you comment on the impact that social media and networking has had on poetry?

Radames: I think one of the benefits of using social media as a writer is the opportunity to connect with your audience and the poetry community. The act of writing is still a solitary act but being a writer doesn’t have to be anymore. There are many places to connect with other poets and your audience. For example, I am member of the Houston Poetry group on Facebook where local poets in the area share information, talk shop and promote poetry readings and events. Also, I’m an avid tweeter and I follow a lot of great poetry organizations like @harriet_poetry the twitter feed of the Poetry Foundation’s blog as well as @poetswritersinc the twitter feed of Poets and Writers. Through these various networks, I feel like I’m part of a community and not so alone as a writer anymore.

But the greatest benefit of social media and the internet is that it gives us a different distribution channel.  For example, we no longer have to depend on traditional publishing houses to get our work out to the world.  Social networks and the internet have made it easy to share one’s work to a larger audience. Truthfully, I get more exposure when I publish my work online as opposed to traditional print journals, which let’s be honest, are mostly read by other poets. Publishing online gives readers instant access to your work and social networks gives them the opportunity to be exposed to your personal brands.

Don’t get me wrong. All this technology can’t make you a better poet. You still have to do the work, put in the hours, like poet Carol Muske-Dukes says you must have “an absolute commitment to the art and craft.”

OurDHStreets: Tell me about living in Denver Harbor?

Radames: It’s a funny thing but I was literally born in Denver Harbor. My parents didn’t have insurance and my mom was still illegal at the time of my birth, so they hired a midwife for about $300 to help deliver me. My dad still has the receipt the midwife gave him. So, I was born in a garage apartment on Gazin Street.  Anyway, I lived in D.H. from the day I was born until I was 17 years old.

D.H. has definitely made me the person I am in good and bad ways. The neighborhood was rough sometimes. There were race wars between the blacks a lot. Also it didn’t help that I eventually became a vegan skateboarder and listened to pop punk. My friends and I definitely didn’t feel like we belonged here and we didn’t belong in other neighborhoods like Montrose either - since we were a bunch of brown kids f*cking up business properties when we skated.

But growing up here gave me a lot material to write about when I eventually began writing poetry. I carried with me these broken sidewalks, the rumbling train horns, the race riots, the sensuous smell of tortillas from Porras.

I eventually left the neighborhood, dropped out of school, got a GED and ultimately graduated from college with a B.A. in English. But I will always have a connection to these D.H. streets.

OurDHStreets: These are just extra questions that I ask every person I interview for the blog. Answer anyway you want. - You grew up in this neighborhood. What things have changed or are changing that stand out to you? What can you say about these changes?

Radames: I really love that there is a skate park in front of Cliff Tuttle library now. We use to have to skate up and down Lyons, shredded the curb at Popeyes. So, it makes me extremely proud that the neighborhood is accepting countercultures. I’d like to believe that my generation of skaters had a hand in that. The idea of kids skating instead of having stupid race wars or being in gangs makes me joyful.

I also see that the neighborhood still remains primarily Latino; which is a natural instinct i.e. creating tribes. But, it’s great to see there are people like you who interested in transitioning and building pride for the neighborhood.

OurDHStreets: What do you hope for yourself / Denver Harbor / and the community in the future?

Radames: I’d like to lead a poetry workshop at the library here and hold a poetry reading / skateboarding exhibition in the skate park. I think it would be an awesome event. Poetry and skating! Things can’t get better than that.

As for the neighborhood, I want it to continue building pride in itself. When you grow up here, you are taught to stay loyal to the hood, to show your colors and that’s fine. But I hope with the new initiatives you are leading, the revitalization efforts you are creating, people here will be more proud where they came from and to never forget.

OurDHStreets: Would you share a poem or two with us?

Radames: I would love to.

Rough Travels

In sixth grade, Lupe and I skipped eighth period.
We hid beneath shacks, tiny pebbles in our mouths
and waited for the bell to ring.
When Mr. Duncan never looked for us
we cut across the football field, jumped over a barbwire
fence. Our bodies brown and strong,
chests heaving like red balloons.

We smashed bottles against walls
of old tire factories. Echoes of broken glass
rung throughout the sky. We were
boys who wanted out; a place of our own
like the twisted valleys across the border.
We talked nonsense: Metallica and kick-flips,
of Erica’s breasts staring at us.

A train horn exploded inside our chests,
Our pounded cheeks, our clobbered ears
detected opportunity. We ran out
to the tracks, eager to greet the iron cattle
stampeding through streets.  Like thieves,
we waited for the perfect moment.
Our grins slicing our faces,

the whiteness of palms bruised red.
A pair of fuming buffaloes, we charged the train.
Our hands gripping ladders, clutching
to metal rails. We rode
through neighborhoods like birds,
past blurred telephone poles in rain.
We blew kisses to mamasitas wearing

red-skirts and blue-eye shadow.
I dreamt these endless train rides,
would take us past the horizon.
To shed our ghosts on the thick grass
of playgrounds, to pull us
into a great cloud of  dust.
Until Lupe and I were no more.

Black Girl Pain

Between McReynolds, my old middle school
& a bridge arched over I-10, I
helped beat a black girl with hair
curled-up & skin purple as a plum.
Back then the Browns stayed on the Eastside
sporting Raiders caps & jeans draped
on hips. While the Blacks, with raised fists,
shouted us to go home, across the border.
The train track, a black strip of iron,
divided the neighborhood into countries.
One side—KRS 1 dropping beats out of purple mini-trucks.
The other—boleros blaring out of men drunk
on wooden porches. But on that day, a black
girl walked on fresh grass, heading towards
a grandmother deep in the barrio. & us,
ignorant with hate, became mob of brown fists
& rocks. She stood with crescent arms
showing the world the power of her skin.
Her pinned-up hair set free. She swayed
& seemed almost to fly into smoky air,
almost to be superb in clouded sky.
& despite our kicking, our shouting
no newspaper reported the strength
gleaming from her bruised face.

You can hear Radames Ortiz read some of his poetry on the radio by tuning in on Tuesday, June 28 at 7:30 PM to the Nuestra Palabra show on 90.1 FM


Bio: Radames Ortiz's work has appeared in numerous literary journals including, Gulf Coast, Texas Observer, Open City, Hayden's Ferry Review, Cortland Review, and Exquisite Corpse. His work has also been collected in various anthologies which include: US Latino Literature Today, Regeneration: Telling Stories from Our Twenties, and Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems and Paintings from Texas. He was nominated for a 2003 Pushcart Prize. He was also awarded a 2003 Archie D and Bertha Walker fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He was the 2006-2008 Naomi Shihab Nye Scholar and was a featured poet at the Poetry at Roundtop Festival. You can follow him on twitter @radameso and read his blog at http://theamplifiedbard.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DH Ticker: March 26th is DH Clean Up Day!

Spring is near and that means going through all the shelves, nooks, and crannies, and getting rid of the dust bunnies that have started multiplying over the Winter! This time of year is also a great time to do a little neighborhood cleaning, so Denver Harbor Civic Center is excited to invite all residents (and friends) to...
Saturday, March 26, 2011 has been designated as DENVER HARBOR CLEAN-UP Day! Grab your gloves and lend a hand to Keep Denver Harbor Clean! Meet at 5800 Old Clinton Dr. at 9am! Presented by the Denver Harbor Civic Club.
For more info, email dphinojosa@hotmail.com.