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Southwestern College

900 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista

The Taco Shop Poets, legends in the San Diego area, will be giving a rare reading at Southwestern College on October 24.

The group’s name telegraphs the nature of their work: words written not as genteel consumables, but rather words to be performed in boisterous places where people congregate to exchange ideas, rhymes, politics, and sometimes food. The group, whose voice is at once individual and collective, formed in 1994. They expanded, shrank, and are now composed of Adrian Arancibia, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Tomas Riley, and Miguel-Angel Soria. Their most recent joint publication is titled SugarSkull Suenos.

The work of each individual is constantly evolving, according to Adrian Arancibia. Although the poets are geographically stretched between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, they have been united recently around the common theme of redevelopment and gentrification, and around a question: where are the working class and poor folks going to live?

Arancibia said an early poem written by Guzman-Lopez, “A Taco Shop Canto for War-Torn San Diego” presaged some of the concepts they are working on now. Here are the first two stanzas:

  • Land grants no more
  • Boom town no more.
  • The war is no more
  • War is no more.
  • San Diego, war city no more.
  • No need for the great wall of factories
  • from Pacific Highway to Kearny Mesa.
  • General Dynamics, Solar Turbines, jet hangars
  • Recruitment depots
  • Will all become artists lofts
  • Will all become free clinics
  • Or maquiladoras.

Arancibia said beyond gentrification, the poets are tangling conceptually and artistically with the difficulty of raising children with a social conscience, and the difficulty of maintaining your own identity as an activist and an artist when you have become a professor, an arts administrator, or a reporter.

The poets will perform Thursday, October 24 at 11:00am and 1:00pm at Southwestern College, room 214.

Aranciaba and Guzman-Lopez will also will also perform on Saturday, October 26 at 5:00pm on the street corner at 740 16th Street.

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