Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Celebrating a year of Black Coffee Poet: an interview with Jorge Antonio Vallejos

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When Jorge Antonio Vallejos started his online magazine, Black Coffee Poet, just over a year ago, it immediately caught my eye. He covered stories, authors and issues that no one else seemed to be covering. I wanted others to know about this fantastic resource.

1.Wow, it’s been a year already. What was your inspiration for starting Black Coffee Poet?

I started Black Coffee Poet for two reasons:
A) I did not get into a MFA in Creative Writing Program that I applied to.

B) My readers of my column in university, The Condor’s View, wanted to see me continue my column or start something similar.

I wanted to share with the world the many different faces of poetry who are ignored by the literati, who have touched me, and who have helped me grow as a person and poet: Red, Black, Brown, Female, Disabled, Queer, Poor, Jailed, Homeless, Working Class, Self-Taught, Revolutionary, and Controversial.

2. How did you celebrate?

The celebration was a weeklong feature of one of my mentors, Indigenous/Feminist/Activist/Writer, Lee Maracle.

I video interviewed Lee, reviewed her one book of poetry, “Bent Box”; re-published an amazing dialogue between her and Brazilian academic Rubelise da Cunha (originally published in OPEN LETTER Fall 2008); and video taped her reading a poem and a short story from her new collection “First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style”.

Celebrating not only means remembering my first year, it also means remembering those who came before me, those who helped me get to where I am, and those who support me past, present, and future. Lee fits all three, as do many other people who I acknowledge on my THANKS page on blackcoffepoet.com.

It all started with my mom when I was months old with her taking me to my local branch of the Toronto Public Library.

Support your local Toronto Public Library!

Support any library wherever you are from.

3. Who was you favourite guest interview?

My favorite interview was my first, and it was with my favorite poet, Chrystos. I never would have thought that I would be able to interview her. It still gets viewed a lot, almost every week.

4. Do you make any money from BCP?

No money!

It’s a labour of love, discipline, and learning. I’m my own boss and I take it very seriously. I’m also a student, as it’s my personal MFA. I read, write, re-read, re-write, publish, interview, videotape, upload, research, hustle, everyday.

My hopes are to get a grant after two years of being up online. The Ontario Arts Council is very impressed with the magazine. John Degen, the OAC Literature Officer, said, “Nobody is doing what you’re doing!” We had a hour and a half meeting in April. At the end of it he said, “This is the best meeting I’ve had in a long time.” That was great to hear.

I’m open to donations, selling advertising, and doing paid speaking gigs and workshops.

People taking my work seriously is pay alone.

5. What are you working on next?

There will be some new things this year on blackcoffeepoet.com. I want to do video round tables on topics such as sexual consent, harm reduction, sex work, Trans peoples issues and concerns, missing and murdered Aboriginal women, International Women’s Day, the Reena Virk and Helen Betty Osbourne murders, and so much more.

I’m also really listening to my readers. They want to see more of me: my writing and videos of me reading my own poetry and prose.

Workshops, speaking gigs, and readings are also on my list. I’ve done all three but I want to do many more.

I hope to travel so I can promote the magazine and tape writers in different cities, provinces, and country’s for future features on BCP.

I’m dreaming up a poetry festival for 2012 too!

Thanks for reading. Friend me on Facebook and Twitter, I’m Black Coffee Poet on both. And please subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel.

Jorge Antonio Vallejos is a mixed race, Toronto based, poet, essayist and journalist. He is the creator of blackcoffeepoet.com. His writing has appeared in COLORLINES, XTRA!, THIS Magazine, Anishinabek News, Toronto Star, The Kenyon Review, and Descant. Jorge can be reached at blackcoffeepoet@gmail.com.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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