Lo Nuevo


The Young Fugitives.

Amores y Amigos, Cupcakes and Chulins, I have been so swamped I don’t even have time to tell people what I’m up to except sometimes I remember to post it on Facebook. Like, why even have a personal website if I’m not going to use it to do things like, I don’t know, TALK ABOUT MYSELF!!!!!!!!!  Anyway, earlier this week I got it together to finally send out an email about upcoming events and I thought, I guess I could just plagiarize myself and post it on my website as well, which is 75% what I’m doing except I added in some things for “interest.” And in case you are reading this and already got that email and feel like content should be unique to platform. ANYWAY, here’s what’s up:

1.) Not a Vegan Anymore
2.) Track 13
3.) Radical Love
4.) Youth Opportunities in Little Village
5.) Upcoming Reading of My New Solo
6.) A Little Farther in the Distance

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

In honor of New Year’s Day, I’m posting the text of the New Year’s resolutions piece I performed for Paper Machete last January…

Becoming a vegan was not actually my idea. It was my friend Daniella’s.* I hate to blame her but she is the kind of vegan who is very persuasive. You know, long meaningful stares at your omlet during brunch and then “helpful” links to “The Truth About Eggs”** posted on your Facebook timeline while she claims to be texting her mom? Plus, she’s super hot, stylish and skinny but not too skinny and she has a kind of glow about her that she claims comes from eating kale and no animals but which I now suspect to be some kind of expensive BB cream. I don’t mean to doubt her but when I followed in her footsteps, finally persuaded by a passionate monologue about the ratio of puss to cream in yogurt, I gained twenty pounds, my hair developed the texture of a brillo pad, and I lost all the feeling in my right hand and foot.   (more…)


Recently, I had the great honour of being featured as part of the Chicago Artists’ Resource SinglePage series. I talk about how hard it was to return to poetry after my daughter was born. An excerpt:


When my daughter was born, I remembered words I had forgotten: sunquwawauripachallay. They poured out of me, bits of Quechua mixed with English and Spanish to form a strange litany of endearments I repeated again and again as I carefully traced the contours of her face, claiming for her every name,  every devotional, I could think of: mi amormi chula,mi nenami wawami bebamy basketmy beanmy bundlemy lovemy heartmi sunqumicorazónuripachallaypalomitalittle dove. When I ran out of words, I’d simply tell her I loved her, chanting: te quiero mucho mucho mucho, tanto tanto tanto, siempresiempre siempre. In the absence of any new thing to say about how much I loved my daughter, I became a kind of trilingual thesaurus…

Catch the rest of this essay, plus a video of me reading my poem, on Chicago Artist Resource.

What Theater Can Do

A few months ago, the Freedom Dreams conference invited me to be a speaker on a plenary panel called The Power of Art, which asked artist/activists to speak about the role of art in social justice organizing.

A few nights ago, Free Street presented TRACK 13,  the latest piece from the Young Fugitives. TRACK 13, created by young artists and activists, eloquently spoke to the pain and the helplessness that many people feel in the face of brutality and oppression perpetrated by the very people who are “supposed” to protect them: the police. The play posed the question: what can making a play really do? And many in the audience shared this (entirely valid) question: what can making theater, or art, or talking about a problem REALLY and ACTUALLY DO to make change? This was the very question I’d wrestled with at the Freedom Dreams conference, facing an audience of activists who were not entirely convinced that art had a valid role in organizing and social change.

I’m no Pollyanna. I’m skeptical about most things, and don’t believe in self-congratulation. But I do believe in theater, and I do believe that there are things the theater can do. So I thought I’d post my comments from the conference here:  (more…)

One Year, One Zillion Performances, One Zillion Grey Hairs…

Watching the Free Street LiVE show in Piotrowski Park

A year ago this week, I formally became the Artistic Director of Free Street Theater. It was, and still is, an intimidating challenge. After all, Free Street has a 45 year history. I wasn’t even BORN when Patrick Henry and crew started making theater in parks and other public spaces. I was watching Sesame Street, aka Plaza Sésamo, in another country when Free Street ensemble members set up a long-term residency in Cabrini-Green to create original work with residents there. I mean, SERIOUSLY, everywhere I go, when I say I work with Free Street, people start telling me stories about seeing them in the 70′s, the 80′s, the 90′s. It’s a legacy company in Chicago – one of the oldest continuously running theaters in the city. Seems like half of the city knows more about Free Street’s history than I do! And to be real, not all of it is positive. You can’t do 45 years in a place and not have bad blood here and there. Some years have produced better shows than others. Some years have been kinder to its people than others. Some years have been all about international travel and accolades and others have been a bust. You get the picture.

All the same, any one who knows me and knows my work knows that I believe in theater. (more…)

I Heart FB

‘Tis the time of year to swear off Facebook. I mean, not for me. I would never do such a thing. I love Facebook like whoa. By “like whoa,” I mean like this, which is to say fully but not uncritically.

But every December into the wee early days of January, my Facebook feed is full of people renouncing social media. Dozens of “goodbye, I’m deactivating, taking a break, contact me by phone or snail mail or carrier pigeon.” I guess this sounds snarky, but I don’t mean it to be. I understand that on an average day, Facebook is a addicting distraction, a flow of generally useless and trivial information. On a bad day, it might be a hostile environment. Maybe even on a good day, the kind of day where you exchange jokes with an old friend and “like” a genuinely cute picture of someone’s dog/baby/dinner, it can be exhausting.

Still, I’m a super fan. Here’s why: I am not a stay-in-toucher. I am TERRIBLE at remembering to communicate with others. I answer emails in my head, but rarely on the information super highway. I never check voicemail. I forget to call even my most favourite people in the whole wide world. And I can’t remember the last time I wrote anyone a letter. I also MUCH prefer to be alone, to spend hours doing things like painting my nails and staring at a wall. And yet, I have chosen a field that is inherently and endlessly social. On an average day, I have extended interaction with about 60 students, a dozen colleagues, and a cast of 12. That’s JUST the default of meeting my contractual obligations. It doesn’t count professional networking, meetings with funders, planning committees, or any number of informational coffees that come with the job of an Artistic Director. And it definitely doesn’t count time with friends, family (8 brothers and sisters in 4 different states, 3 sets of parents in 2 different countries, 4 nieces and nephews, oodles of wonderful aunts, uncles, and cousins), or my partner and child.

In this landscape, Facebook emerges as a giant beacon of light, a shining star, a glistening web of social connectivity. In 10 quick minutes, I can admire my sister’s growing baby bump, commiserate with a friend’s job woes, link two people who are interested in the same kind of political activism, and check out Real Simple’s advice on organizing. I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Sure, none of this is a substitution for relating to people you really care about in depth, but it offers an alternative when that isn’t an option, whether separated by time, continents, or general flakiness.

Over the past year, I’ve sworn off (and on and off and on and off and on) gluten, sugar, dairy, and chemicals in my lip gloss, but Facebook? Oh hell no, I won’t go!