San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Winds of Change In Border Town

The winds are blowing (as they sometimes do) from the southeast, and word has it that the trees are toppling in LA, as reported on NPR about an hour ago.

Here, in San Diego, where the winds gust strong but the trees are still standing, we continue to wonder what it means to live and work and write and dream in a so-called 'border town.' So-called because we're actually two towns, San Diego and Tijuana, separated by a fence that stretches all the way down to the coastline where, if you visit on a warm, sunny day you can find little Mexican children and little American (sic) children joining hands through the rusted girders while the foam laps doggedly at their feet (same bubbles, different world). Of course, anyone who's ever visited these parts might understand why SD and TJ are, in fact, just one town, regardless of the fence and the languages and what the border patrol and folks like Gray Davis might say to the contrary.

One town, big and sprawling and bifurcated in the moist tropical desert of northern Baja. Let's call it, for now, Tia Diego, and imagine, for now, that all the flows of money and misery that fuel a border economy are rather the undercurrents, or post-currents, or anti-currents, of another kind of flow--of ideas, art, language, music, friendship, kinship, interest, curiosity, love. The daily work of entry and exit underwrites that flow, and to live in these parts is to be part of that flow, whether you're fully aware of it or not. To write poetry in these parts is, for some of us, to be at all times a writer divided and seeking, at every turn, some manner of recovery and completion, in language and languages, in the folds of variant speech, text, form, argument, assembly--the hybrids of poetic life, of language intensity, of persuasive song and sense articulation (etcetera). To work writing here is, then, to participate willfully and readily in such acts of recovery/completion, and to do so not alone but with others doing similar kinds of research.

Tijuana--not so much a sister city as a twin accomplice--pulls and pushes, seeking its own level, while a hump-backed and bloated San Diego holds a shoulder to the wall. There are elements up on the bluffs overlooking the bay who might, in all seriousness, be true residents of "San Diego" and who, in that palm-sweet realm, wake up and go to sleep every day looking east and west (and sometimes north) but never south, and who in that way become, despite even the best of intentions, builders and maintainers of walls. We at the Guild choose to turn our eyes and ears southward, or rather to imagine several directional vectors all of which intersect in the heart of downtown Tia Diego. Finding that point of intersection--that nexus--is a difficult challenge, indeed. The maps have not yet been drawn, and toward that end (geoliterary cartography) there is much work--and some serious blogging--to be done. In the meantime, we begin as most writers do, with acts of imagination.

To work writing as a San Diegan is not, finally, to be border-bound. The border, really, is that unfortunate unavoidable that, like the derelict cousin, must be mentioned at every family reunion if only to put the subject to rest, once and for all, until the next gathering. And so, having mentioned it, we can choose to move on and imagine a Tia Diego free of the border and its regulated flows, a region where a guild-full of practicing artists, writers, dancers, videographers, ethnographers, reporters and spiritual healers can meet (on either side or in between) to forge connections which, while perhaps too late for us, might help future generations find a way. We're here to work with our neighbors, so understanding exactly where we live is the first order of business. So look around, take note, listen well, and imagine. Then, let us know. We're all ears.............


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