May 5th, Future Now: Victoria Martínez Andrade, Moncho Alvarado, & Alicia Viguer-Espert

Hosted by Dryland LA literary journal’s Nikolai Garcia, join us via Zoom and live at Re/Arte Centro Literario in Boyle Heights to hear featured poets and guest Open Mic artists present their work, every first Thursday of the month.

In this event we call on all Black & Brown poets and writers to join us for our Open Mic & Reading Series, which features three authors published in literary journal Dryland LA. This month features include poets published in Issue 11: From Ciudad de México, Victoria Martínez Andrade; Moncho Alvarado, who just released her debut poetry collection Greyhound Americans (winner of the 2020 Saturnalia Book Prize); and Alicia Viguer-Espert, two-time pushcart prize nominee.

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Address: 2123 Cesar Chavez. Ave. Boyle Heights, CA.

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. 10 Slots available per reading!

Date: Thursday, May 5th

Time: 7 pm – 9 pm PDT.

About the authors

Victoria Martinez is from Mexico City, where she currently lives. Storyteller, poet, author of Emociones Clandestinas (2000) presented at FIL in Guadalajara. She has worked into advertising and digital communication and likes to write about all forms of dance and corporal movement, about love, time and death, and details of life that together describe historical moments of contemporary history.

Moncho Alvarado is a sister in residence in air, a Cihuayollotl trans woman Xicanx poet, translator, visual artist, and educator. She is the author of Greyhound Americans (Saturnalia Books 2022), which was the winner of the 2020 Saturnalia Book Prize, selected by Diane Seuss. She has been published in Meridian, Foglifter, Lunch Ticket, 2018 Emerge Lambda Fellows Anthology, Poets.org, and other publications. She is a recipient of fellowships and residencies from The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Lambda Literary, Poets House, Troika House, the Summer Seminar at Sarah Lawrence College, and won the Academy of American Poet’s John B. Santoianni award for excellence in poetry. She lives part time in Pacoima, CA and Queens, NY. follow her at monchoalvarado.com

Born in Valencia, Spain, Alicia Viguer-Espert was raised in a bilingual household of Castilian and Valencian, travelled the world, learned English as an adult, began writing in English in 2017 and that same year was the winner of the 2017 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Book. She writes about her relationship to nature, identity, language, home, and soul while dreaming to elicit hope with her poetry. Her work has been published in national and international journals, anthologies, magazines, and web sites. Featured poet at numerous museums, art galleries, libraries, and poetry salons, Alicia is also a twice Pushcart nominee. 


Open Mic Guidelines

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.

March 3rd, Future Now: Antonia Silva, Cecilia Caballero, & Matt Sedillo

We’re back with our first Future Now reading series of the year! Hosted by Dryland LA literary journal’s Nikolai Garcia, join us via Zoom to hear featured poets and guest Open Mic artists present their work, every first Thursday of the month.

In this event we call on all Black & Brown poets and writers to join us for our Open Mic & Reading Series, which features three authors published in literary journal Dryland LA. This month features include poets published in Issue 11, Antonia Silva and Cecilia Caballero. Slam champion, best political poet of America, and Re/Arte writer-in-residence, Matt Sedillo will be reading from his new poetry collection City on the Second Floor (Flowersong Press, 2022).

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. 10 Slots available per reading!

Date: Thursday, March 3rd

Time: 7 pm – 9 pm PST.

About The Authors

Antonia Silva is a queer Mexican-American poet from Santa Ana, California who currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. They were a 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Antonia’s work is published in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rising Phoenix Review, and Dryland Literary Journal. Follow them on IG @n0palitx 

Based in Los Angeles, Cecilia Caballero is a creative nonfiction writer, poet, teaching artist, and coeditor of the book The Chicana Motherwork Anthology. As a teaching artist, Cecilia facilitates poetry workshops to create more communal spaces for healing and social justice. Her prose and poetry has been published in Dryland, Epiphany, Gathering: A Women Who Submit Anthology, Raising Mothers, The Acentos Review, and elsewhere. She is an alum of workshops and fellowships with Tin House, Macondoa, and the Women’s National Book Association and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart prize and a Rhysling award. Cecilia is currently working on her first book, a memoir titled Other Alive Creatures. Twitter: @la_sangre_llama 

Matt Sedillo has been described as the “best political poet in America” as well as “the poet laureate of the struggle” by academics, poets, and journalists alike. He has appeared on CSPAN and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He has spoken at Casa de las Americas in Havana, Cuba, at numerous conferences and forums such as the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education, National Association of Chicana/Chicano Studies, The Left Forum, the US Social Forum and at over a hundred universities and colleges, including the University of Cambridge, among many others. He is the current writer in residence at Re/Arte and author of Mowing Leaves of Grass (FlowerSong Press, 2019), as well as City on the Second Floor (FlowerSong Press, 2022). 


Open Mic Guidelines:

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.

Dec 2nd, Future Now Reading: Josh Evans, Daniel Morales Leon, & Yelisa Ambriz

Join us in-person and on Zoom, Thursday, Dec 2nd, for the last Future Now reading & open mic of the 2021 year! Future Now is hosted by Assistant Editor Nikolai Garcia & the Dryland team. This month we are featuring California Poets: Josh Evans, Daniel Morales Leon, & Yelisa Ambriz.

This will be a hybrid reading & open-mic event as it’s happening in-person at Re/Arte Centro Literario, located in Boyle Heights, and virtually via Zoom if you are able to join us online!

When: Thur. November 4th, 7-9 pm PST.

In-person locationRE/ARTE  2014 1/2 E CESAR E CHAVEZ AVE. LOS ANGELES, CA 90033

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. Whether you’re attending on-site or via zoom you’ll get a chance to share your poems. Only 10 spots are available, sign up as soon as possible!

Open Mic Guidelines:

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.


Josh Evans

Josh Evans is a poet, storyteller, voice actor, and educator from Pasadena, California. He has featured at Beyond Baroque, Avenue 50 Studios’ La Palabra series, a Dignidad Literaria read-in, the Altadena Arts Festival, and the Los Angeles Music Center’s “For the Love of LA” production. Josh Evans has also performed at weddings, birthdays, conferences, and both private school and college events. His poems and essays have been published in the Café Con Libros inaugural anthology, Spectrum anthology, Angel’s Flight Literary Magazine, Altadena Poetry Review, and the Los Angeles Poet Society’s debut anthology Los Angeles Poets for Justice: A Document for the People. When not performing, he also teaches poetry and creative writing from Pre-K to adult level; his short story collection Aces Wild can be purchased on Amazon. Josh is on TikTok at GriotJosh and Twitter/IG at @joshevansgo.

Daniel Morales Leon

Daniel Morales Leon (a.k.a. “Chapulin) is a Oaxacan born, South Central raised Angelino poet who uses spoken word as a medium to promote critical literacy among his working class peers. His delivery style is most notable by its rhythmic cross between rhyme, prose and subject matter.

Yelisa Ambriz

Yelisa Ambriz was raised between the grape and almond fields of Pratton in Fresno, California. She earned a B.A in History from the University of California Berkeley in May of 2020. A Guacha by blood, Fresno browngirl by heart and the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents and farm workers, Yelisa learned the art of fieldwork at an early age. She became inspired by all those long days under the sun and soon began writing her family’s stories. Her work can be found in the Flies, Cockroaches and Poets Journal, Exist(ir), Pan(*)cha Zine, and the UC Berkeley Students of Color Emerging in English Zine.

Writers, Roberto Lovato and Héctor Tobar, in Conversation at Re/Arte Centro Literario

Roberto Lovato, author of Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas, will be joined by another voice of the unheard, author and journalist Héctor Tobar, at Re/Arte literary center on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Copies of Lovato’s groundbreaking memoir, named New York Times “Editor’s choice”, will be available for sale and signing.


Although Roberto resides at The Writers Grotto in his hometown, San Francisco, he is known for his story-telling journalism that covers violence and terrorism all over the world. As a Pulitzer grant recipient he has covered crises in Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador (where his
parents migrated from), Dominican Republic, Haiti, France, and the United States.


The conversation will be led by Héctor who’s New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark:
The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, allows him to understand Roberto’s
passion for sharing stories that are ignored for political and economic gain. They will be
discussing the memoir as well as giving insights on writing, literature, and publishing.


Re/Arte is a literary and art space run/owned by Viva Padilla. Re/Arte is the headquarters of Dryland, a literary journal born in South Central Los Angeles, Hombre Lobo, and Ponte LAs Pilas Press. Re/Arte looks to host a number of events such as film screenings, book readings, open mic nights, workshops, author talks, a literacy program for youth y más.

Nov 4th, Future Now Reading: Gustavo Hernandez, Rosie Alonso, & hector son of hector

Join us in-person and on Zoom, Thursday, November 4th, for a new installment of our monthly reading & open mic series, Future Now, hosted by Assistant Editor Nikolai Garcia & the Dryland team. This month we are featuring SoCal Poets: Gustavo Hernandez, Rosie Alonso, & hector son of hector.

This will be a hybrid reading & open-mic event as it’s happening in-person at Re/Arte Centro Literario, located in Boyle Heights, and virtually via Zoom if you are able to join us online!

When: Thur. November 4th, 7-9 pm PST.

In-person locationRE/ARTE  2014 1/2 E CESAR E CHAVEZ AVE. LOS ANGELES, CA 90033

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. Whether you’re attending on-site or via zoom you’ll get a chance to share your poems. Only 10 spots are available, sign up as soon as possible!

Open Mic Guidelines:

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.


Gustavo Hernandez

Gustavo Hernandez is the author of the poetry collection Flower Grand First (Moon Tide Press). Gustavo holds a degree in creative writing from California State University Long Beach, and his poems have been published in Reed, Acentos ReviewSonora Review and other publications. He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and lives in Southern California.   

Rosie Alonso

Rosie Alonso (she/her) is a poet and English professor from East LA who resides in the San Bernardino (Cahuilla land). She is a part of the Los Angeles Poet Society and the chief editor of Acid Verse Literary Journal. Her first full-length poetry book, The Cockroach Manifesto, is forthcoming. She believes in giving the land back by all means necessary. Her hobbies include cruising on her skateboard and sneaking her cat into Walmart. 

hector son of hector

hector son of hector lives in Oakland, CA. He is the child of Mexican immigrants, currently works in a hospital, dreams of short stories and writes poetry in secret.

Oct. 7th, Future Now Reading: Christian Hanz Lozada, Juliana Chang, & E.M. Franceschini

Join us in-person and on Zoom, Thursday, October 7th, for a new installment of our monthly reading & open mic series, Future Now, hosted by Assistant Editor Nikolai Garcia & the Dryland team. This month we are featuring contributors from Issue 10: Christian Hanz Lozada, Juliana Chang, & E.M Franceschini

This will be a hybrid reading & open-mic event as it’s happening in-person at Re/Arte Centro Literario, located in Boyle Heights, and virtually via Zoom if you are only able to join us online!

When: Thur. October 7th, 7-9 pm PST.

In-person locationRE/ARTE  2014 1/2 E CESAR E CHAVEZ AVE. LOS ANGELES, CA 90033

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. Whether you’re attending on-site or via zoom you’ll get a chance to share your poems. Only 10 spots are available, sign up as soon as possible!

Open Mic Guidelines:

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.


About The Authors

Christian Hanz Lozada

Christian Hanz Lozada co-authored the poetry book Leave with More Than You Came With, and his short works have appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review (Pushcart Nominee) among others. He lives in San Pedro, CA, and uses his MFA to teach his neighbors’ kids at L.A. Harbor College.

Juliana Chang

Juliana Chang is a Taiwanese American poet. She is the 2019 recipient of the Urmy/Hardy Poetry Prize, the 2017 recipient of the Wiley Birkhofer Poetry Prize, and a 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Medalist in Poetry. She received a BA in Linguistics and a MA in Sociology from Stanford University in 2019. Her debut chapbook Inheritance was the winner of the 2020 Vella Contest and published with Paper Nautilus Press in 2021.

E.M. Franceschini

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Tampa, Florida, Éric Morales-Franceschini is a former day laborer, US Army veteran, and community college grad who now holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia.  He is the author of Autopsy of a Fall, winner of the 2020 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, and The Epic of Cuba Libre: the mambí, mythopoetics, and liberation, forthcoming at University of Virginia Press in 2022.  His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared at Dryland, Witness, Kweli, Acentos ReviewNewfound, Global South Studies, Boston Review, and elsewhere.   

Sept. 7th, Grito de Boyle Heights Featuring Luis J. Rodriguez

Join us this Wednesday, September 7th, at Re/Arte Centro Literario for a reading & open mic featuring former L.A. poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez!

Grito de Boyle Heights happens in-person at Re/Arte (2014 1/2 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. LA, CA 90033) every second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Sign ups for Open Mic start at 6:45 PM, so we recommend arriving early! When you’re there, enjoy a cup of coffee catered by Mobar Coffee & Market.

Luis J. Rodriguez was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in the San Gabriel Valley of East Los Angeles. He is a Poet, novelist, journalist, activist, critic, and founding editor of Tia Chucha Press, and co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley.

He is the author of 16 books in all genres, including the best-selling memoir, “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” His latest memoir is the sequel, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.” that recount his experiences as a former incarcerated individual and dealing with addiction and gang violence. His last poetry book is “Borrowed Bones” from Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press. In 2020, Seven Stories Press released his first book of essays, “From Our Land to Our Land: Essays, Journeys & Imaginings from a Native Xicanx Writer.” From 2014-2016, Luis served as the official Poet Laureate of Los Angeles.

We will have copies of Luis’s books in-stock at Re/Arte if you would like to grab a copy!

We also offer writing workshops every 2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the month at 4 PM, on a donation basis, with Chicano political poet Matt Sedillo at Re/Arte (no appointment necessary, drop-in). Other times for workshops check more details here.

See you soon!

Sept. 2nd, Future Now Reading: Olga García Echeverría, Jo Foderingham Brown, & Edward Vidaurre

Join us this coming Thursday, September 2nd, for the sixth installment of our monthly Reading & Open Mic Series, Future Now. Hosted by Assistant Editor Nikolai Garcia & the Dryland team. This month we are featuring contributors from Issue 10 and Issue 9: Olga García Echeverría, Jo Foderingham Brown, & Edward Vidaurre.

This will be a hybrid reading & open-mic event as it’s happening in-person at Re/Arte Centro Literario, located in Boyle Heights, and virtually via Zoom if you are only able to join us online!

When: Thur. September 5th, 7-9 pm PST.

In-person locationRE/ARTE  2014 1/2 E CESAR E CHAVEZ AVE. LOS ANGELES, CA 90033

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. Whether you’re attending on-site or via zoom you’ll get a chance to share your poems. Only 10 spots are available, sign up as soon as possible!

Open Mic Guidelines:

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.


Olga García Echeverría (Issue 10)

Olga García Echeverría (she/her/ella), born and raised in East Los Angeles, California, is the author of Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas (Calaca Press and Chicha Press). Her poetry and essays appear in numerous anthologies, print magazines, and online literary venues. She has been an educator in the literary arts for over 25 years and currently teaches literature in the Chicanx Latinx Studies department at California State University of Los Angeles. For the past decade, under the leadership of Poets & Writers and California Center for the Book, she has worked as a bilingual workshop leader for the Rural Libraries Tour, which facilitates creative writing workshops in rural and underserved areas of California. She and Maylei Blackwell are the literary executors for the beloved Colombian American lesbian poet and publisher tatiana de la tierra.                                                  

Jo Foderingham Brown (Issue 10)

Jo (Foderingham) Brown (she/her/he/him) is a Black, queer, gender non-conforming woman from Georgia, currently living in DC. She has been writing since childhood and started performing her work in 2016. Common subjects of her work are misogynoir, Blackness, interpersonal relationships, and her Jamaican heritage. You can keep up with Jo at tallawahthoughts.co

Edward Vidaurre (Issue 9)

Edward Vidaurre is an award winning poet and author of seven collections of poetry with his eighth collection Cry,Howl forthcoming in 2021. He is the former 2018-2019 City of McAllen,TX Poet Laureate, a five time Pushcart Prize nominated poet and publisher & editor-in-chief of FlowerSong Press and its sister imprint Juventud Press. Vidaurre is from Boyle Heights, CA and now resides in McAllen, TX with his wife and daughter.

Flowers, Song & Dynamite: A Review of Matt Sedillo’s Mowing Leaves of Grass

By Elias Serna PhD 

The first time I heard Matt Sedillo, he was the poet shouting in the street. Literally. And the streets have always been the terrain of poetry as well as polemics. When Rudy Acuña stated that “polemics are the engine of revolutions” he was referring to Corky Gonzalez’ epic “I am Joaquin.” It was what a generation needed. A historical consciousness, which the poets delivered before the historians completed their manuscripts. In my own scholarship, I have described movement speech as pleito rhetoric, speech that confronts power through multi-lingualism and academic English, evoking the street fight. Today, Sedillo, much like Corky Gonzales did with “I am Joaquin,” summons a historical consciousness, evokes the revolutionary pleito, stokes the fires next time.

The setting for Sedillo’s poems are rebellions past and present. Numerous uprisings throughout history are set off after a child is murdered or abused by ruling forces (Noche triste, the Tongva/Chumash revolts, Black Lives Matter). It must be the last straw for a people, the last condition they are willing to tolerate, the last shred of dignity taken. The child representing their future, the people’s hopes and potential. After Jesse Romero was chased through Boyle Heights on August 9, 2016 and shot dead after disposing of a gun, his corpse was unceremoniously turned on its stomach, limp hands handcuffed behind his back by officers. A street protest followed and ended on the spot his body lay. The speakers were visibly anguished, distraught. Then Matt Sedillo took the mic. He too was enraged but composed, words weaponized and aimed, the poet shouting in the streets. He read a poem combining “Here is a Nation” and “Kingdom of Cages” and it was fiercely electric. 

In his inaugural book of poems, Mowing Leaves of Grass (FlowerSong Books 2019), Sedillo assembles an invigorating collection of poems providing an Ethnic Studies curriculum via scalding ideological and ironic wordplay. His opening poem “Pilgrim” offers both biographical data and a no-nonsense (or anti-nonsense) biting analysis of current racial politics. Like Alurista and the early Chicano Movement poets, Sedillo expertly weaves literary and pop culture allusions with the cadence of radical Chican@ Studies curriculum to produce literary dynamite. He contrasts those who “were born to summer homes, and palatial groves… where the Red Fern Grows” to a Xican@ self, “Always Running, down the Devil’s Highway, through Occupied America, on the way back to the House on Mango Street, and all those other books You didn’t want us to read.” He points out how “some were born to the common core, whose faces graced the pages of doctrines to discover,” leaving others out and reminding readers how the nation’s foundation relied on the colonial ideology of white supremacy. 

When Sedillo writes, “The Melting Pot was never meant for the hands that clean it,” you get the sense that few have the courage to say this truth, or the audacity to write like this. His fierce irony, literary allusion and rhythmic alliteration become that much more pointed when he viscerally connects harsh historical truths to our present, accusing schools in particular: “Cause you don’t teach it, Could write a book, But you won’t read it… This is about you, and 1492, And the Treaty of Guadalupe, California missions, And Arizona schools, And these racists, That try to erase us… From Popol Vuh, To Yo Soy Joaquin, To the Indian that lives in me, From Mexico 68, To the missing 43, They tried to bury us, They didn’t know we were seeds.” The allusions pour down, line by line, a rain of the terror upon an indigenous Chicano history. The image of burying of revolutionary seeds, first published during Nicaraguan revolts in Ernesto Cardenal’s “Epitaph for the Tomb of Adolfo Báez Bone” in 1954, has been appropriated in recent struggles by Tucson Raza/Ethnic  Studies organizers, to Mexicans protesting the Ayotzinapa massacre, to Black Lives Matter protesters. But like Central American poet-priest Cardenal, Sedillo articulates a leitmotif that signals uplift and regeneration. Sedillo ends his poems in balletic form, a cutting irony: “We didn’t cross the borders, The borders crossed us, Who you calling an immigrant, Pilgrim.” The rhetorical question, full of pleito, is enforced in the echoes of a radical Xican@ arts tradition, alluding to Aztlan Underground’s hit song and Yolanda Lopez’ iconic movement posters.

Imaginative poems like “The Devil” personify and illustrate clear sources of misery and inhumanity like war and consumerist traditions, while calling into question the enabling problem of apathy, misinformation and irresolution in every one of us. “Defend the Eastside” spotlights familiar places and conjures spiritual moments in the barrios east of downtown L.A., bastions of Chicano culture and resistance. As the title suggests, the poem makes a declaration to rise up to protect these sacred spaces. A few poems like “Pedagogy of the Oppressor,” a critique of the Thanksgiving mythology, are succinct and blunt, although rich in disturbing imagery.

It was rewarding to see “Kingdom of Cages” and “Here is a Nation” in print. As a witness to the spoken poem, I appreciate its still life form in front of me. As a student of literature, I rejoice in the close reading. “Here is a Nation” is a critique of contemporary state-sanctioned killings of Black and Brown youth in the context of a national tradition of racist violence against liberation movements. Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen recently wrote an op-ed in a similar fashion about anti-Asian violence as not new, but part of a shameful national tradition of racist violence against non-whites. But Sedillo’s economy of words (most of the lines in this poem are one, two or three words) pack more elocutionary force than police batons. Condemning the moral crisis of today, he writes:

They are killing our kids

While half the nation 

Applauds

In the homeland’s defense

Because they think 

They think

That a white woman’s purse

Has more value 

Than a black or brown boy’s life 

Sedillo possesses an art of drawing conclusions that are spatial, visual and revealing. “Here is a nation/ That eats its young/ This is not a democracy/ This is not a republic/ This is an open-air prison/ An industrial scale plantation.” His juxtaposition of modes of patriotic tradition with scenes of violence produces an ironic onomatopoeia: “Peculiar institution/ Institutionalized racism/ Declaration/ To Plantation/ Anthem/ To Slave Ship/ The bicentennial/ And back/ To the slave whip.” While the presentation of evidence is blunt, its arrangement resonate visually and stunningly: “To Arizona’s/ Blood red/ Coyote trails/ Traffic/ In brown flesh/ Brick by brick/ Grave by grave/ Inch by inch/ slave by slave/ Here is a nation/ There are its chains.” The last two pages of the poem set two lists of martyrs side by side: revolutionary martyrs over time and more current innocent children murdered by police. Except one: Brisenia Flores. 

In 2009, the nine-year old girl, daughter of two Mexican workers in Arizona, was murdered alongside her father by a nativist vigilante group who invaded the family’s home and shot her at point blank range as she pleaded for her life. The murder of the innocent third grader illustrated the depraved status of racist vigilantes as well as state-sanctioned violence provoked by anti-Mexican rhetoric, immigration policies and education laws. Sedillo’s roll call of martyrs is a reminder that the murders of Tecumseh and John Brown centuries ago, of Malcolm X and Ruben Salazar 50+ years ago, and of unarmed children today are still “applauded by half the nation.” It is also, as the poem concludes, “a call to arms.” 

The shorter “Kingdom of Cages” opens by marching out a cast of police characters in a country (U.S.) with the highest incarceration rate in the world, condemning the internalized (in)justice system, “the thin blue line on an all white jury.” The social movement for culturally relevant curriculum points out importantly that education outcomes hinge on the class being meaningful to the present, to books reflecting student lives. Sedillo’s poetry abounds in this quality. The evocative repetition of “As they shoot us as we run” reminds us that for white colonizers, real estate developers or gentrifying neighbors, people of color have too frequently served as “their open frontiers, the neighborhood threat,” a justification of racist colonizing and violent policing of space.  

It also summons the memory of that raw emotional day at the wake of 14 year old Jesse Romero, as the crowd formed around the youth’s shrine off of Cesar Chavez Boulevard in Boyle Heights. The tragedy repeated this year when Adam Toledo was killed in similar fashion by Chicago police. We need Matt Sedillo’s poetry like the 1960’s needed “I am Joaquin.” Sedillo’s rhythmic anthems stand alongside Ana Castillo’s “In My Country,” and Abelardo’s “Stupid America” – unapologetic, poetic and brave. If our current racial crisis is a house on fire, is Matt Sedillo the water, or a strong wind? The deeper answers to our social ills won’t likely be debated effectively in city halls. And before the social scientists write their analytical manuscripts, the vision of a better tomorrow may be first observed in the enraged elegies to murdered children, in the voices of the poets like Sedillo, shouting in the streets. 


Elias Serna is a parent, artist & educator, formerly an assistant professor of English at the University of Redlands. He is a co-founder of Raza Studies Now, the Xican@ Pop-Up Book movement, and is currently helping coordinate Xican@ Quincentennial Moratorium events. He holds an MFA from UCLA Film School and a doctorate in English from UC Riverside. As a MEChA co-chair at UC Berkeley, he organized Ethnic Studies activism and helped negotiate the American Cultures requirement. He is a co-founder of teatro group Chicano Secret Service which has toured nationally and performed at the HBO Comedy Festival and in the tv pilot “Pochonovela” (PBS). In 2013, his archive titled “Chican@ Movement Banned Books,” won 1st place in the Library of Congress’ National Book Collection contest. He is a board member of the Pico Youth and Family Center.

Aug. 5th, Future Now Reading: Devynity Wray, Luivette Resto, & Monique Quintana

Join us this coming Thursday, August 5th, for the fifth installment of our monthly Reading & Open Mic Series, Future Now. Hosted by Assistant Editor Nikolai Garcia & the Dryland team. This month we are featuring contributors from Issue 10: Monique Quintana, Luivette Resto, & Devynity Wray.

This will be a hybrid reading & open-mic event as it’s happening in-person at Re/Arte Centro Literario, located in Boyle Heights, and virtually via Zoom if you are only able to join us online!

When: Thur. Aug. 5th, 7-9 pm PST.

In-person location: RE/ARTE  2014 1/2 E CESAR E CHAVEZ AVE. LOS ANGELES, CA 90033

Zoom ID: 878 8950 0444

Fill out this google form to sign up for the Open Mic. Whether you’re attending on-site or via zoom you’ll get a chance to share your poems. Only 10 spots are available, sign up as soon as possible!

Open Mic Guidelines:

  • Be ready to unmute yourself when your name is called and please mute yourself again once you are done sharing. 
  • Open-mic readers will have three minutes to share. Please be respectful of our other readers’ time. We will use the mute button at our discretion. 
  • We will not tolerate any hate speech. (No racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). 

Help us get the word out by sharing the flyer on Instagram, FB, or Twitter and invite a friend to come hang out! This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to showcase their poetry and connect with artists of the Los Angeles community and beyond.


Devynity Wray is a writer and visual artist from Queens, NY whose work makes the trajectory of the African diasporic heritage, experience and legacy prominent. As a writer, Wray earned her chops on New York’s slam poetry scene making the Nuyorican Poet’s Café her stomping ground. She was a Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam Finalist and team member in 2002. Wray graduated from City University of New York’s Hunter College with a B.A. in Africana, Puerto-Rican and Latino Studies and recently earned her M.F.A. in Visual Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Wray is currently compiling words for her debut collection of poetry.

Luivette Resto, a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fanatic, was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico but proudly raised in the Bronx. Her two books of poetry Unfinished Portrait and Ascension have been published by Tía Chucha Press. Some of her latest work can be found on the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center website, Bozalta, and North American Review. Her third collection is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley with her three children aka her revolutionaries.  

Monique Quintana is from Fresno, CA, and the author of Cenote City (Clash Books, 2019) and the chapbook My Favorite Sancho and Other Fairy Tales (Sword and Kettle Press, 2021). Her work has appeared in Pank, Wildness, Winter Tangerine, Cheap Pop, Okay Donkey, and other publications. You can find her book reviews and artist interviews at Luna Luna Magazine, where she is a contributing editor. She was the inaugural winner of Amplify’s Writer of Color Fellowship, and she has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and the Pushcart.  Her writing has been supported by Yaddo, The Mineral School, the Sundress Academy of the Arts, the Community of Writers, and the Open Mouth Poetry Retreat.  She teaches English at Fresno City College. You can find her on Instagram at @quintanadarkling and moniquequintana.com.