Prensa // Recent press

Ey internet astronauts, I've just come off tour with Verbobala after two months in Mexico, it was a mind-blowing time. A bunch of press came out of it, which we're grateful for. Most is in Spanish of course, but there's a bit in English later in the list. More soon!

Plus, below is some footage from a show that Sonidero Verbobala rocked in Coyoacán, Mexico City.

Click for PDF // haz click para leer el PDF:
Emeequis Verbobala

Our Lady of Perpetual Tour

Tucson, Arizona, EE.UU. Adam and I have been wondering what saint deserves some prayers every time we almost completely screw up on tour. For example, when we leave $5,000 worth of equipment sitting just off of 4th Ave. in downtown Tucson at midnight on a Sunday. What saint was responsible for us turning the van around and finding it there before anyone else did?

Tour with Verbobala (and all its applicable tech) is a grime ballet of one thousand swirling details. Everyday, very specific and small tasks have to get done in order for everything to line up correctly. Sending ahead press releases, booking parties to fill in dates, buying 100’ VGA cables, catching the shuttle, updating the website, etc. The good news is that by and large tour is going great. But it’s easier to notice the near-disasters, for example, realizing in Portland that I forgot my passport in Arizona.

This happened last week at 2 A.M., hours before we were scheduled to pick up the rental car and drive to Vancouver. Ensuing panic. What are the border rules? What’s up with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative? Was it pushed back again? Spring and I swung by to pick Adam up at 8 A.M. When I told him, he started laughing, much to his credit. But it was the Nervous Laugh, the one that sounds like homicide waiting to happen. We went anyway, my Dad spent his Sunday morning scanning my birth certificate, and we stopped in Seattle to print it out. Long story short, we made it into Vancouver on Sunday, April 20th.


Among the few upsides of the whole incident was the opportunity to feel fear of a border again. I hadn’t had that feeling since traveling in Central America and the Caribbean in 2006. The way that borders do that thing, oscillating between being Ports of Entry and Border Walls. Borders are like the surface of water. They can let you pass right through, or they can kill you. We’re taught to fear borders, and to think it would be easier to Just Stay Home.

Meanwhile, Moisés is having to deal with all of that on a constant basis. He flew from Mexico City to Mérida, Yucatán last week, in order to get a quick interview with the U.S. Embassy there. Since the Tucson Poetry Festival had passed while his artist work visa was still officially “pending,” he decided that it was time to cut our losses and apply for a tourist visa. Last Monday it was denied, and he was not told why. Maybe because the Festival had applied the work visa. Maybe because of an incident when he was a kid. Probably because the U.S. government is afraid that he will sneak away to pick strawberries or clean our toilets, nevermind that he’s an established international video artist. Apparently, US burrocracy has now driven Moi nuts and he has run off into the Yucatán jungle with some Irish girls that he met. We haven’t heard from him in days. Who could blame him?

We are a three-person group, missing our third member. Adam and I get along famously, and there are a lot of good times, but they’re always tinged with a certain bitterness that Moi Isn’t Here, that Moi Would Love This, that This Would Be Perfect With Moi. Sure, he’s been working hard in Cuernavaca, uploading pieces to our server so that we can use them in performance (and thus manifest his presence, a digital illegal immigrant). But he’s not getting to hear the applause, do the interviews, meet the people, travel. We have been told by crowds that the legal situation adds a certain urgency to our shows, which maybe it does. But Moi Isn’t Here. We talk about this a lot, and Adam called it Mourning Moi. I called it Moining. A-haha. Sin llorar, cabrones, como dice él.

So Moi lights candles to San Judás, Saint of Lost Causes. Adam and I keep up on the grime ballet, bouncing between airports and venues. Good things are happening. It looks like we’ll be touring from here on out. And we’re figuring out who to pray to.

Verbobala mailing list

After years of people asking, I finally have a email list. It's focused on Verbobala, which makes sense since that's just about all I'm focused on these days. We'll send along tour dates, news, and spanglish albures. If you're interested, drop me a line with your email address and I'll send you an invite. Also, if you want to be emailed when this site is updated, you can subscribe to

More soon! It's all happening!

PR for 26th Annual Tucson Poetry Festival


Tucson Poetry Festival 26—Poetry and Voice


The year 2008 marks the 26th Anniversary of Tucson Poetry Festival, the longest running event of its kind in Arizona!  Tucson Poetry Festival (TPF) was founded in 1981 with the mission to celebrate—and expand the audience for—contemporary poetry. TPF has provided people with the opportunity to hear over 150 superb visiting poets in this unique annual experience, including some of the most celebrated poets of our time, as well as talented local and emerging poets.

This year, poets from Tucson and beyond join us to celebrate all aspects of Voice in poetry, as a stylistic convention and a performance tool.  This festival showcases a broad and diverse range of poetic voices—written, spoken, and signed.

This year, we have partnered with The University of Arizona Disability Resource Center who, as co-sponsors of the Festival, will provide accessibility services including ASL translation for all Readings and the Panel Discussion. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008—Sunday, April 13, 2008

All tickets are available at The Historic Y the day of the event; no advance tickets.
Individual readings—$10
With student ID—$5
Small group sessions—$10
Festival Pass good for all events—$50
20% off groups of 10 or more


U of A Poetry Center, 1508 E Helen Ave

Thursday April 10th
7:30 pm
            Performance by Ayisha Knight (free)

The Historic Y, 300 E University

Friday April 11th
7:30 pm            Readings by:  The Will Inman Award Winner, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Wanda Coleman; Book Signing to follow

Saturday April 12th
Small Group Sessions in the Historic Y Conference Room
10:00 am
            Wanda Coleman
11:30 am            Benjamin Alire Saenz
1:00 pm            Rebecca Seiferle
2:30 pm            Sherwin Bitsui           

7:30 pm            Reading by Ayisha Knight, performance by Verbobala Spoken Video,
Book Signing to follow

Sunday April 13th
11:30 am            Breakfast & Panel Discussion on “Poetry and Voice” and “Other People’s Poetry” Reading: Moderated by Paul Fisher (free event w/ bagels & coffee)
2:00 pm            Verbobala Small Group Session
3:00 pm            High School Contest Reading w/ Contest Judge Rebecca Seiferle (free)
5:30 pm            Readings by:  the High School Contest Winner, Sherwin Bitsui, Rebecca Seiferle; Book Signing to follow
8:00pm            Community Poetry Slam hosted by Lindsay Miller ($5 suggested donation)


Ayisha Knight is the daughter of a white Jewish mother and a Black Cherokee father by birth, but was raised in a community of single mothers who raised her as their own.  Questions of her cultural and linguistic identity always evoke quizzical expressions, astonishment or resignation to the fact that she can't be described in one checked box on college applications.  As a Deaf woman whose primary language is ASL, her vision of the world is unique.  Her passions for art, storytelling, theater and education have been forming a tapestry for many years now.  Ayisha Knight is the only deaf poet who has ever appeared on Def Poetry Jam.

Poet and fiction writer Benjamin Alire Saenz, the son of a cement finisher and a cook, was born in his grandmother's house in Picacho, N.M. He studied at the University of Iowa and Stanford University as a Wallace E. Stegner fellow. His first collection of poetry, Calendar of Dust (1991), won the American Book Award. He is the author of a collection of short stories, Flowers for the Broken (1992), the novel Carry Me Like Water (1995), several children's books and a collection of poems, Elegies in Blue (Cinco Puntos Press, 2002). He teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Wanda Coleman is the author of Bathwater Wine (Black Sparrow Press, 1998), winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. A former medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist and scriptwriter, Coleman has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation for her poetry. Her other books of poetry include Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors (1996); Hand Dance (1993); African Sleeping Sickness (1990); A War of Eyes & Other Stories (1988); Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968-1986 (1988); Imagoes (1983); and Mercurochrome: New Poems (2001). She has also written Mambo Hips & Make Believe: A Novel, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1999.

Verbobala Spoken Video is a bi-national video performance group based in Cuernavaca, Mexico and Tucson, Arizona. Of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the members include video artist Moisés Regla, a Mexican of French and Spanish decent, acclaimed media designer, Adam Cooper-Terán, a Chicano of Russian and Yaqui decent, and Border poet Logan Phillips, an American of Irish and Slavic decent. This diversity is also reflected in their artistic backgrounds, as each comes to the project with experience in distinct areas including slam poetry, underground hip-hop, new media, experimental linguistics, electro-acoustic music, contemporary ritual and video installation.  Verbobala creates bilingual site-specific performance art that challenges the traditional concept of artistic genres. Like international borders, the separation between artistic forms and languages has become increasingly amorphous and irrelevant. Their pieces play with the limits between cinema and literature, performance and installation, orchestration and improvisation, English and Spanish, audience and artist.,

Rebecca Seiferle's poetry collection, Wild Tongue, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in Fall, 2007. She was awarded a Lannon Foundation Fellowship in poetry in 2004. Her third poetry collection, Bitters, won the Western States Book Award and a Pushcart Prize. She has also won the Hemley and Bogin Awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Poets & Writers Exchange Award, and has work included in Best American Poetry 2000. She is the Founding Editor of the online magazine The Drunken Boat ( and her poetry, translations, and essays have appeared in over twenty-five anthologies.

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. Currently, he lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is Dine of the Todich'ii'nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl'izilani (Many Goats Clan). He is the recipient of the 2000-01 Individual Poet Grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, the 1999 Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Literary Residency Fellowship and more recently, a 2006 Whiting Writers' Award. Sherwin has published his poems in American Poet, The Iowa Review, Frank (Paris), Lit Magazine, and elsewhere. Shapeshift is his first book.

Paul Fisher is a theatre education specialist, performing artist, and published poet. He is a regular performer with Monolog Cabin, Orts Theatre of Dance, and Sweatlodge. Paul is the Founder and was the Director of the nationally recognized Arts Education Program for the Tucson Pima Arts Council. He is a private consultant specializing in the use of creative thinking and performance as a tool. In 2003 he received the Buffalo Exchange Arts Award from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. He is currently working with the Development and Training, Staff Development and Human Resources Departments of the INTUIT Corporation.

For the past 13 years, the High School Contest has incorporated young writers into our program, encouraging them to express their experiences through poetry. The young writers submit three poems in English, Spanish, or Tribal Languages, which are judged by an acclaimed Spanish-speaking writer to be eligible for gift certificates from local bookstores and the chance to read at TPF.  This year’s High School Contest Judge is Rebecca Seiferle.

For 24 years, the Statewide Poetry Contest (Will Inman Award) has inspired adult writers to share their poetry with nationally known poets who select their poems for cash prizes, publication in our program and the opportunity to read at the Festival.  This year’s Statewide Poetry Contest Judge is Wanda Coleman.

For More Information:
Tucson Poetry Festival

Preview of the new Verbobala piece “WORK”

Regular readers of the site will have noticed that I'm not posting new material nearly as often as in the past, and that most of the posts in the last few months have been videos. Signs of the times, amigos.

Hola a tod@s,

well, we're two months into jamming on the new Verbobala piece, whose working title is, well, "WORK." This will be the first piece that we've created completely from scratch, rather than a combination of our solo work. We wanted to give you a glimpse of it now.

The piece will premier at the finale of the 26th Annual Tucson Poetry Festival on April 12th, 2008––US visa gods willing. After that, we'll be touring throughout the US: to the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, and Texas. There are also plans for the UK this fall. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please let them know.

This video shows off a bit of the shooting we've been doing for the piece. Lots of interviews and time spent in unusual pieces: pulque farms, mesoamerican observatories, illegal mezcal bars. Most of the work thus far has been done in Mexico, though once we start traveling the piece will take on a much more global feel. The video doesn't include any original poetry yet... but imagine pantoums of remixed interviews, Lorca meets Eduardo Galleano meets Cummings, Mexican slam poetry, etc. etc.––this video is just a taste.

Here's the link

There is also higher quality available.

And of course a compilation of some of our 2007 performances.

The audio is a Verbobala remix of the Zizek crew from Argentina. Jacob Cooper of Bark Bark Bark has recently agreed to collaborate on WORK's score. The Tucson premier will also feature a collaboration with spectacle experts Flam Chen.

We have lots of tricks up our collective sleeve, and hope to see you soon.

Ink & airplanes,

Adam, Logan & Moisés

still alive, home from tour

Yes, I am alive. Yes, there is a hurricane on either side of this country. But by the time the hurricanes reach Cuernavaca, they are long, calm, "female rains" as Emily would call them. They've already combed their eyelashes with the coastal trees, as Jewel would put it. My second night back I ended up at an art opening at La Casona Spencer, where we throw the CuernaSlam. As I was leaving, my friend John said to me, "Well, welcome home." And I realized that I've never come home to Mexico before. But here I am.

I'm teaching three classes at the university this semester: English Literature I, Translation Resources and Translation III. I dig teaching, though it isn't my focus anymore. Why? Well,

2007 Tour By the time it was all over I had done 23 shows in 30 days. I played an abandoned KOA Kamp off I-40 at Two Guns, Arizona at a rock fest run on generators and whiskey. I made the pilgrimage and featured at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. I did an entire show with my fly unzipped in metropolitan Tempe. Puro exito. Prescott and Bisbee and Silver City reminded me why I love small towns. Albuquerque felt like family. Through they were only printed last April, I've all but sold out of "This Line Drawn Across Footprints" and "Where Do Airplanes Build Their Nests?"

777 fest, Two Guns, AZ

Verbobala A lot has changed this summer. Though I'm in Cuernavaca again, some big opportunities have come up, and the future has started to take a bit of shape. Verbobala Spoken Video is consuming me, which is part of the reason not much has been happening on this site. Moi and Adam consistently blow me away. Collaboration is the only way to go, and it's an honor to be working with them. We're playing Poesía en Voz Alta at Casa del Lago in Mexico City at the end of the month. It's the very same festival that I flipped over last fall. What a difference a year makes. Oh, and speaking of a year: Verbobala university tour, fall 2008? It just may be. I love you AJ Lefty.

TipofyourTongue Festival, Penzance, England I've been waiting to mention this for awhile, but here it is, something I'm extremely excited about: I'll be featuring at the TipofyourTongue Festival in Cornwall, England next month. Verbobala owes its existence in part to this gig, which has been in the works the better part of a year. Verbobala will play on Thursday, I'll do a solo show on Friday, give a workshop and host a show on Saturday. They're putting me to work. It's going to be a great time.

Mexican National Poetry Slam, diciembre 2007 Along with Cara Cummings and a few other asskickers, I am helping to organize the first-ever national poetry slam in Mexico. We're still in talks with potential venues, but it will be the 7th or 8th of December. All are invited. The idea is to send a Team Mexico to the American National Poetry slam in Madison, Wisconsin in August 2008. You'll be hearing more about that. Here's some video from the CuernaSlam de Poesía, which just had its second show last week. I'm pretty proud of how it's been going. You can be our friend on MySpace and feel involved.

Spoken word festival at Arcosanti, mayo 2008 Can't say too much about this yet, but cool things are happening. Stay tuned.

Verbobala Spoken Video in Tucson, Arizona

verbobala spoken video

So I haven't mentioned this here yet. But I have a new project, called VERBOBALA SPOKEN VIDEO that Moisés Regla and I founded earlier this year in Cuernavaca. We use live video, experimental audio, and new media to create site-specific performance art. It's poetry in the widest interpretation possible. Our first show was not long ago at the amazing Arcosanti Spoken Word Fesival, and since then we rocked our home show, the CuernaSlam de Poesía in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. While talking to people about the project in Flagstaff, they were calling Verbobala (say Ver-bo-ba-la) a band. You could call it that.

A week from today I'll be home from New York and Verbobala will be playing our largest show yet, at the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson. We'll be in collaboration with heroes Flam Chen and Adam Cooper-Terán as part of a fundraiser to send Team Tucson to the National Poetry Slam for the first time ever. A worthy cause.

I swear this is going to be completely crazy. Hosted by my super cuate Aaron Johnson! Fundraiser for beloved Team Tucson! Poetry from Jewel Blackfeather! Bullhorns! Public disturbance! Music! Too good! Too good!

Hotel Congress. Do not miss this show. Tickets on sale here.

smells like tigers flyer

SMELLS LIKE TIGERS! A Fundraiser for the First Ever Tucson National Poetry Slam Team.

Talent from Arizona and beyond comes together to raise money for the first ever Tucson National Poetry Slam Team! Verbobala Spoken Video, featuring Logan Phillips, Flam Chen, Adam Cooper-Terán, and Moisés Regla, is a collaboration between a Border poet from Arizona and a video jockey from Mexico City. They create site-specific performance art that celebrates the forgotten past, the strange present, and a few possible futures. Verbobala causes a scene. This will be the largest Verbobala show to date, thanks to collaboration with Tucson's first-class spectacle spinners, Flam Chen. With performances by the Tucson National Slam Team--Lindsay Miller, Kelly Lewis, and Teresa Driver--as well as poet Jewel Blackfeather, local bands Crossing Sarnoffand One Eye Open, raffle for awesome prizes, and more! Hosted by Aaron Johnson.

DATE: Saturday, July 21st, 2007 – Doors at 6pm

LOCATION AND TICKET INFORMATION: Club Congress - 311 E. Congress All Ages $9 in advance $10 at the door

SCHEDULE: 6:00 pm - Doors Open 6:30 pm – Poetry by Jewel Blackfeather 7:00 pm – Music by One Eye Open 7:30 pm – Poetry by The First Ever Tucson National Slam Team: Lindsay Miller, Kelly Lewis, Teresa Dawn Driver 8:00 pm – Music by Crossing Sarnoff 8:30 pm – Raffle for awesome prizes 8:45 pm – Verbobala Spoken Video featuring Logan Phillips, Flam Chen, Adam Cooper-Terán, Moisés Regla

For More Information: Tucson Spoken Word Network at

Arizona Freeway Sunrise

The grasses are always dancing in the median,headbangers, seed sowers, dry spines twisting. Freeway flowers face early decapitation— guillotine tirewind, lit by skyfire:

here the sun is literally a star, made of beaten copper, sharp, imperfect. As the star pulls itself up again, the sky goes streaked, the improbable pattern of yellow-red, vivid.

The radio stations are just murmurs in the Spanglish static. The cities hide behind the horizons. The tires break grass necks. The flowers throw themselves like colorful, suicidal philanthropists into the eastbound, into the westbound.

Saguaro shadows are twirling sundials on the clock face of burning sand, they tick, they spin, they speak until they’re spoken to, torn down, paved over, left in piles, sold.

The rush, the hush, the hiss of wind and the immutable silence of light. The piston explosions, the cellphone syllables.

Two realities in the same moment. Two landscapes that never touch.

Arizona freeway sunrise. A breeze blowing through barbwire.

Amanecer en carretera de Arizona

Los pastos siempre bailan en el camellón, de atrás para adelante, esparcen la semilla, sus secas espigas se tuercen. Las flores de carretera enfrentan temprana decapitación; viento-guillotina de llantas, iluminadas por el fuego del cielo:

aquí el sol es literalmente una estrella hecha de cobre forjado, puntiaguda, imperfecta. Mientras la estrella se levanta de nuevo, bandas cruzan el cielo, el improbable patrón de amarillo-rojo, intenso.

Las estaciones de radio sólo son murmullos en la estática. Las ciudades se esconden detrás de los horizontes. Las llantas rompen cuellos del césped. Las flores se arrojan como coloridos y suicidas filántropos hacia el este, hacia el oeste.

Las sombras de los saguaros son manecillas que giran sobre el cuadrante de la arena hirviente, hacen tictac, giran, hablan hasta que se les habla, derribados, asfaltados, apilados, vendidos.

La prisa, la calma, el silbar del viento y el silencio inalterable de la luz. Las explosiones de pistones, las sílabas de celulares.

Dos realidades en un mismo instante. Dos paisajes que jamas se tocan.

Amanecer en carretera de Arizona Una brisa silbando entre alambre de púas.

Trad. de J. Emilio Rodríguez

Poesía en Voz Alta

English translation of this post. Más noticias de poesía slam mexicano.

Lo encontré un poco tarde, pero lo encontré de todos modos. El festival de la UNAM que se llama "Poesía en Voz Alta" ya empezó el jueves pasado. Más información está desponible en el sitio del Casa del Lago.

Este año tienen por lo menos un poeta estadounidense que se llama Amiri Baraka. Él es bien conocido, el movimiento slam en los EUA debe mucho a él. Hasta ahora no he tenido el placer de verlo en vivo, pero casi todos metidos en el movimiento sabemos de él.

Sin duda éste es un fuente importante de poesia contemporánea / moderna en México. Segun los organizdores, se puede encontrar mucho en el festival: poesía encénica, poesía con ritmo, hip hop, spoken word, poesía maya/zapoteca/náhuatl/quechua/guaraní contemporánea, dub poetry, y más.

No he encontrado ninguna mención de concursos de poesía slam, ni un veradero poetry slam, pero de todos modos este es un gran paso adelante en el proyecto.

Espero investigarlo más al fondo. A ver si puedo asistir uno de las sesiones.