Shonda Buchanan's Ode to John Baldessari's Vision of L.A.

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Interplay: Poetry and Art, features poets working in a variety of styles to respond to specific artworks in the Broad collection to demonstrate the bond between visual art and literature.

Title: Shonda Buchanan on John Baldessari’s Overlap Series: Palms (with Cityscape) and Climbers (2000)
Presented by: The Broad
Originally Performed: May 26, 2020
Written and Recited by: Sholeh Wolpé

About The Broad
The Broad is a contemporary art museum founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, the museum offers free general admission and presents an active program of rotating temporary exhibitions and innovative audience engagement. The Broad is home to more than 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is one of the world's most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art.

About the Series
Interplay: Poetry and Art, features poets working in a variety of styles to respond to specific artworks in the Broad collection to demonstrate the bond between visual art and literature. Some of the writings are new ekphrastic poems, and others are previously written works, chosen by the poet to pair with an artwork. As the textures, surfaces, palettes, and subject matter of the visual work intertwine with the poetry, the connections between these distinctly different mediums emerge, revealing how one complements the other.

About the Poet
Award-winning poet and educator Shonda Buchanan (b. 1968) was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a daughter of Mixed Bloods, tri-racial and tri-ethnic African American, American Indian, and European-descendant families who migrated from North Carolina and Virginia in the mid-1700 to 1800s to Southwestern Michigan. Black Indian, her memoir, begins the saga of these migration stories of Free People of Color communities exploring identity, ethnicity, landscape and loss. For the last 18 years, Buchanan has taught Creative Writing, Composition, and Critical Theory at Loyola Marymount University, Hampton University, and William & Mary College. An Eloise Klein-Healy Scholarship recipient, a Sundance Institute Writing Arts fellow, a Jentel Artist Residency fellow, and a PEN Center Emerging Voices fellow, Buchanan has received grants from the California Community Foundation, Arts Midwest/National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program, and several grants from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Shonda Buchanan recently participated in The Logic of Poetry and Dreams series in conjunction with The Broad’s special exhibition, Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again.


“We Are All Angels”

Every horn honking
Every fence
Every line for a club, restaurant, bar, taco joint,
Korean spa, nail shop, kogi truck,
Grand Central Market, midnight movie,
Skylight Books reading line.
I'll stand in it.
Every child's frisbie-wild sand kicked
in my lap yell in Santa Monica beach-combing sleep.
I'll suffer it.
Every Beyond Baroque board meeting.
Every Beverly Hills Wilshire attitude or
South Central "I got you, cuz" embrace.
Every Leimert Park Sunday jazz-laced traffic crunch
Every morning clamor of South Pasadena
parrots left behind.
Every dtla gentrification
layered on top of my gritty haunted streets.
Every secret bridge, killer workout stairs,
Venice beach botox muscle monster.
Every parking lot chump who takes my space.
Every exhaust-filled freeway I wish away.
Every 405, 10, 110 accident I pray on as I inch past.
Every strip mall, every child star, every digital nomad.
Every unsheltered human.
Every millionaire in Trader Joe's.
Every red carpet neck-craning "I Love You Denzel" moment.
I will take it.
Give me your Jamaican roti and Little Tokyo sushi.
Give me Greek Theater open sky kisses.
Give me dragqueen love.
LA, with your twilight Mulholland Drive
window steaming love song,
your San Gabriel Valley winds
struck up by Chumash & Tongva ghosts
& gang bangers we loved anyway,
now seeding
in fault lines under our feet
that we call home.
I miss your Olivero curanderas.
I miss your Boyle Heights Chiapas desert skin
your crooked Sunset Boulevard smile,
your Hollywood hat-tip fingers,
your county check arms around me.
I miss your desperation, your sweat,
your glossy lips on my forehead,
your Skybar skyline eyes, your Sylmar
sweatlodge sage smoke in my hair.
I miss your cowboy dust.
Your Pio Pico Black Mexican governor past.
Your migration future.
I miss you,
LA I long for you in my sleep.
Won't you come back to me?
I'm still single in this beautiful, mad,
iguana quiet, saddle blanket
earth tremoring night.
You, my love,
my favorite hiking trail
my morning wheat grass shot
my bookstore solitude
my Angels Flight magazine
my writer's heaven.
I will not run.
I am a Sade song
playing long into a community
college night.
I will not run.
I will be here
when you wake up.


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