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Poetrypalooza & The Zzyzx Writerz
It was time for poetry to step up and go to the masses.
The end of August wrapped up a 10-day poetry tour that spanned from East Los Angeles County to West LA and the beach cities. Poetrypalooza unfolded in front of our eyes, spearheaded by a young Los Angeles-based writing group known as the Zzyzx Writerz. The writing group, formerly the Creative Writing Club from Cal State Los Angeles, is run by Prez, Kimberly Cobiàn, who was also the lead organizer for Poetrypalooza. While the members of the group have known each other for quite some time, it was just over 5 months ago when the Zzyzx Writerz separated from Cal State LA and created a foundation for writers who were committed to their craft and to sharing their work in a group environment.
Their goal was to put together an anthology of poetry for publication in 2012 and also to create a film inspired by a poem called Mujer de Fruta by Kimberly Cobiàn. These goals were the root idea behind Poetrypalooza. Those behind Poetrypalooza not only brought along their wonderful writing skills, but many other remarkable creative feats. The group's Treasurer, Henry Chow, runs Cinema Poetry Productions, a production company set on realizing the words in poetry to cinema images. Chow's first project is Cobiàn's Mujer de Fruta.
The talents of Co-Organizer Rae Shaw were also present with her Wicked Lovely Films production company. Aside from the film, the Zzyzx Writerz- who is made up of: Kimberly Cobiàn, Henry Chow, Lisa LaBrie, Levi Quintana, Roberto Blanco, Rae Shaw, Cindy Hui, Elaine Kim and many more- also wanted to gain more exposure and to meet other writers in Los Angeles. While they took the reins of LA, they had no idea of how many riders, (no pun intended), were anxious to come on board!
The motto of the Zzyzx Writerz is "We float in that midpoint between nothingness and inspiration," and they took their name from that lonesome road on the way to Las Vegas, Nevada. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, the group felt it was an adequate representation of their being: to support creativity even in the face of creative block. Zzyzx Prez Cobiàn explained to me that the avenue of writing has made such an impression in her life as it gives her more than a creative outlet; it gives her "strength in her own words" and is a means of "empowerment." The great gift of the Zzyzx Writerz is to bring the stage of personal empowerment to the people of Los Angeles with the tagline, "Celebrate Life in Poetry!" They didn't let anyone down.
The summer tour de poetry was inspired by the summer concert tours around the world. It was time for poetry to step up and go to the masses. Occupying a range of venues in the fashion of east meets west, Cobiàn and her team wanted to be sure that all of LA was included.
Poetrypalooza stopped at Kathmandu Boutique in Santa Monica, Stories Bookstore Café in Echo Park, Thematic Attic in West Covina, Café Amsterdam in North Hollywood, The Last Bookstore in downtown LA, Eureka Café in Mid-City, Half-Off Books in Whittier, The Spot Café and Lounge in Culver City, Café in the Heights in Lincoln Heights, and the grand finale was at Café Cultural in Los Angeles.
Each Poetrypalooza night kicked off at 7pm, emceed by either comedian Tony Cosby, or Joe Luu. The emcee's set the mood for what was to come for the night, while Cobiàn often followed up with a poetry icebreaker to the audience. This would get the masses playing with lines and rhythms to form their own poems from the pieces of a diverse range of poetry. Throughout the night, the schedule of featured poets, workshops for adults and children, music, theatrical performances by Wicked Lovely Films, and open mic fueled the desire of "celebrating poetry in life," the motto of Poetrypalooza.
During the workshops offered, the public could gain insight on their own writing abilities and styles. Much knowledge and creativity was shared. Many of the workshop leaders were known names in their own "scene," however pulled together to assemble a greater vision of Los Angeles poetry. Workshop leaders included: Jayson Pida, Rick Step-Bolling, David A. Romero, Radomir V. Luza, and many more. To close each night, a raffle was held which showcased generously donated prizes, often donated by each venue. The Zzyzx Writerz also urged the public to take advantage of the 10-day tour to promote their creative selves by posting on the net-board. Cards, ads, and the like could be posted for a donation.
Poetrypalooza was a huge success and very welcomed by Los Angeles' literary enthusiasts and writers. The Zzyzx Writerz were very proud of the outcome of the event, and also extremely happy to see so much support from the community. The venues hosting Poetrypalooza were also quite thrilled with the amount of participation at the events and the determination of the event organizers. Cobiàn personally wants to acknowledge the businesses and venues that supported Poetrypalooza, especially Whole Foods, which donated appetizers to the Poetrypalooza finale at Café Cultural.
While there were many amazing moments shared along the breadth of the event, some of the amazing highlights included allowing writers a stage for the first time. Some members of the Zzyzx Writerz, and others in the audience never shared their poetry in front of an audience before. They were nervous, then slowly got into, and then were just super excited to read again! When asked what one of the most memorable moments of Poetrypalooza was, Cobiàn stated, "The finale had a theatrical performance." Cobiàn's poem Mujer de Fruta was shown as a featurette. "The acting was so beautifully crafted. I saw my poem come to life right in front of my eyes. It was amazing!"
Poetrypalooza will be back in the summer of 2012! For more information on the complete tour, and to see a complete archive of tour photos, please visit:
For information on Mujer de Fruta, the short feature, please visit:
The Zzyzx Writerz would like you to join them! Come by the 2nd Tuesday of each month to Garfono's Pizza: 5468 Valley Blvd. Los Angeles, CA from 7pm-10pm