A&E  

The Third Annual Grand Park Downtown Book Fest

The Music Center presented the eclectic event featuring poetry, readings, music and more, March 28, 2015.

By Ricky Ricardo
Published on LatinoLA: March 29, 2015


The Third Annual Grand Park Downtown Book Fest


Spring is in the air. This could mean one thing: Time to get out to enjoy all of the amenities that Southern California has to offer. You can go to the beach, the mountains, desert, amusement parks or the various relaxing, well maintained parks that dot throughout the city.

Thousands of book lovers from points near and far descended on Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. The occasion: The Music Center Presents the Third Annual Grand Park Downtown Book Fest, featuring Artizen Lab, in a salute to local creative community.

The crowd grew as the day progressed, thanks to social media: Facebook, Twitter, emails and good old fashion telephone calls to family, friends and fellow co-workers. This family-friendly event consisted of new-born babies all the way up to the "young at heart" in attendance on this unusually hot Spring day.

The day got under way with welcome remarks from Lucas Rivera, director of Grand Park. This was followed by performances by Renaissance Faire Storytellers dressed in their period costumes, to the delight of the youngsters gathered near the front of the Family Pavilion (Olive Court) Stage.

The Main Stage (Performance Lawn) was in the spotlight for poetry reading courtesy of royalty in the world of poetry, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles Luis J. Rodriguez and Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. The Los Angeles Poet Laureate Program is a collaboration between the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) and is intended to enhance the presence and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts in Los Angeles and to reach out to Angelenos who have limited access to poetry or have few opportunities for exposure to express writing.

Mr. Rodriguez was chosen to be the Los Angeles' Poet Laureate by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014. His poetry book, My Nature is Hunger, won the 2005 Paterson Book Award. His 1993 memoir, Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. has sold close to half a million copies. He has fifteen books in poetry, children's literature, fiction and non-fiction. He is also founding editor of the small press Tia Chucha Press, now in its 25th year, and co-founder/President of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore in San Fernando Valley.

Mr. Rodriquez recited poetry from his latest book of poetry in 26 years It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle. The poems recited were "Peace by Peace," "The Calling," "Victory Victoria; My Beautiful Whisper (written for his daughter), "Civilization" (written to address the homeless kids in Latin America), "Moonlight to Water," (written for his youngest son), and "Heavy Blue Vein (written for his mom, and talk s about growing up in Watts).

The first-ever Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate was awarded to Amanda Gorman, by the award winning literary arts organization Urban Word, along with the Los Angeles County Commission for Human Relations, the Los Angeles Public Library and PEN Center USA. Ms. Gorman was presented with a book deal from Penmanship Books, who will publish her first collection of poems.

This amazing young lady has been a youth delegate to the United Nation and founded her own organization One Pen One Page aimed at providing writing workshops and mentorship to encourage the creative expression of youth in local schools, nationally and abroad.

"Amanda Gorman is an idea Youth Poet Laureate because she is not only an inspiring young poet, but she also embodies the values that promote social justice, and equity, leadership, and youth voice," stated Michael Cirelli, Executive Director of Urban Word in a press release from 2014. "Ms. Gorman leadership as LA's first ever Youth Poet Laureate will inspire countless youth as this program grows across the city and county."

I can vouch for all of the above mentioned testimonials. I witnessed this brilliant Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman during the Third Annual Grand Park Downtown Book Fest. She recited several poems that resonated with the diverse crowd. The audience stopped what they were doing to take note of the powerful words she rendered on the following poems, "Black Daughter's Metro Map to City Identity," "To the Writer Who Called Shonda Rhimes an Angry Black Women," "I Believe" and "If I Were to Have a Son" dedicated to Michael Brown. She continued with "The Poet Beautiful," "At the Roots," and "Neighborhood Anthem." This 17-year-old Youth Poet Laureate is taking the poetry community by storm, which will soon develop into a Global following once her first book of poems are published.

Additional activities featured were Artizen's Lab- the Community Camera/Fill the Well-Poetry in the Park; Shop at the Pop-up Bookshop; Scrapbook-Poetry with Reading is Poetry; Activities with 826LA, First 5 LA and City of Los Angeles; Swap cook books or kid's books; leave a book or take a book at Grand Park's Little Libraries; Join Red Hen Press and its poets for an afternoon of family poetry projects and crafts!

A vibrant outdoor gathering place, Grand Park is a beautiful public park for the entire community in Los Angeles County. With expansive green space for gatherings large and small, Grand Park celebrates the county's cultural vitality and is host to community events, cultural experiences, holiday celebrations, and many other activities that engage and attract visitors from all communities. The 12-acre Grand Park stretches from The Music Center on the west to City Hall on the east, and is easily accessible by Metro via the Red/Purple line to the Civic Center/Grand Park station. The park was named one of American Planning Association's 10 "Great Public Spaces" in the U.S. for 2013. Working closely with the county, The Music Center is responsible for all operations and programming for the park. For more information, visit http://grandparkla.org

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary year, The Music Center is LA's home to the world's greatest artistic programs and events. With four iconic theaters and four renowned resident companies- Center Theatre Group, the LA Master Chorale, the LA Opera and the LA Philharmonic-and recognized for its illustrious dance programming, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, The Music Center is a destination where audiences find inspiration in the very best live performance, as well as nationally recognized arts education and participatory arts experiences. For more information, visit http://musiccenter.org

About Ricky Ricardo:
Ricky Ricardo is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer.
Author's website




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