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Poet and playwright Paul Flores: Sights & Sounds

Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi

Sights & Sounds is your weekly guide to the Bay Area arts scene. San Francisco-based poet, playwright, and professor Paul Flores told KALW’s Jen Chien about three fantastic arts events happening around the Bay this week.

Credit Courtesy Kearny Street Workshop

Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network and Kearny Street Workshop are teaming up to co-present superstar author & poet Bao Phi, and one of the most talked about graphic novelists in the past year, Thi Bui. This special reading, followed by a discussion moderated by DVAN founder Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, to talk about their work and their collaboration on children's book A Different Pond.

Bao Phi is an award winning author of two poetry collections, Song I Sing and Thousand Star Hotel, and he is the Program Director of Events and Awards at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Thi Bui is a writer, artist, and former public school teacher. Her graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do, has received critical acclaim and is a national bestseller.

"He's an amazing poet, has a lot of experience in spoken word — but he's also super literary but writes in a voice that's super accessible ... anytime he's in the Bay Area, people need to go see Bao!"

Taller Bombalele teaches Puerto Rican bomba dance all around the Bay Area. Every month they put on monthly bombazos or bomba jam sessions. This month, the Bombazo en la Bahia is celebrating the community's youngest member's first birthday. The Bomba is open to everyone to dance, sing, and eat some birthday cake with live music.

"The cool thing about Bombalele and the Bombazo you don't just get a presentation of Bomba ... what they actually do is they invite people from the community to dance with them. It's more a participatory event, not like a class!"

Credit Fabian Echevarria

In her twelfth and final solo play Latin Standards Marga Gomez performs the loving, funny and true story of perseverance and creative addiction passed down from immigrant father to lesbian daughter.

Mixing nostalgia, urgency, and comic edge, Gomez portrays herself as a driven adult child of a Cuban entertainer. Defying reason she attempts to produce a hipster comedy night at a struggling Latino drag queen club, Esta Noche, during the onset of San Francisco’s gentrification crisis. Between vivid portrayals of characters from 1960’s Manhattan to present day San Francisco, Gomez ponders the ballads (or Latin Standards) penned by her late father Willy Chevalier: a comedian/producer/entrepreneur and composer of dance tunes that reveled in jealousy and obsession.

"It kind of jumps time and in the middle of it she'll riff on, she'll become her stand-up self, and then she'll switch to becoming her father, it's an amazing piece."