Thursday, March 24, 2016

Poets to See at AWP: Cynthia Alessandra Briano

I have yet to meet Cynthia Alessandra Briano in person, but from the energy she has exuded in our online communication about the Rapp Saloon Poetry Reading Series that she hosts the first Friday night of every month, I am convinced that she is definitely a poet to see at AWP this year in Los Angeles. She is fully engaged in the local poetry scene, and a hub for so many literary connections, as you will see in her biography below, that to miss meeting her would be to miss meeting an important connection in the SoCal poetry community. I hope that you will join me in meeting her on Friday, April 1, 8:30 p.m. at the historical Rapp Saloon (built in 1875) at 1436 2nd St., Santa Monica, CA 90401. I will be featuring, along with Ron Starbuck, Connie Post, and Anne Tammel. Music will be provided by Delonte Gholston.

For all that Cynthia is in terms of a connection to the SoCal poetry scene, she is far more--an award-winning writer and poet, a teacher, and a founder of literary organizations and journals that impact the world beyond her local environs. Here is one of her poems, along with the cover to These Pages Speak, a creative writing textbook where her work recently appeared.

     Solar Time--The Sundial, the Dial Plate, the Hours Marked Off 

     Our love like a horizontal sundial
     and God like the gilt brass gnomon
     casting the shadow, telling time,

     telling time—solar noon, like the Muezzin
     call to prayer, solar noon, the equation

     of our prayers angled North fifty one degrees, North
     thirty four, London, Los Angeles,

     when the sun crosses the Meridian of Greenwich— 
     come, the daily prayer. At sunset I touch my own knees,

     the spine of the earth a steady pull of grace, dark
     and your city a magnetic north, lunar noon now,

     lunar noon—when memory like the body begins its ellipse,
     and your absence like the spinning, steady tilt

     offsetting the length of night, memory like the dome
     of an observatory, collecting the apparent

     movement of your shadow like the sun,
     fifteen degrees westward in one hour, hands

     cupped beneath me like a celestial
     pull, the elliptic orbit of your mouth,

     the successive noons
     of our desire. Absence approximates itself

     like the day, a mean adjusted accordingly,
     the four days watches tell solar time exactly right,
     and God always like a pendulum

     forgiving the error in calculations.
     Solar time giving me twenty more seconds of you in December
     and in the sobering month of September taking them away,

     we add an extra second to clock time,
     we stick a single stick in the hard ground, watch

     for the lengthening, let it reach—what is there to measure, love
     accounting for the discrepancy of time

     spent and time remembered,
     moving faster when we near, slower at the aphelion,

     your mouth like the dark origin of all
     our existence,

     and love between us like the God-given shadow
     giving our bodies substance,
     the touch of your form without touch,

     your mouth on me like the single indicator
     of the universe collapsing—


Literary Biography

Cynthia Alessandra Briano is Founder of Love On Demand Global, an organization that creates custom-ordered poetry for charity, and aims to create opportunities for creative writers to contribute to causes they are passionate about. LODG hosts poetry booths, where members of the community commission portrait-poems from LODG writers that are composed on-demand and typed on vintage typewriters; LODG donates part of its proceeds to local and international charities.

Cynthia has run Love On Demand since 2005. It began as a one-woman poetry booth in Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade purely for inspiration. Her studies in Global Sustainability at UCLA Ext. gave rise to the idea of expanding this very personal project into a global one.

Cynthia is the recipient of the Lois Morrell & J. Russell Hayes Poetry Prize, a finalist in the national James Hearst Poetry Prize, and has been published in the North American Review and These Pages Speak, a creative writing textbook. She attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania where she received her B.A. in English Literature, with a concentration in creative writing. Cynthia has also studied Global Sustainability at UCLA Ext., has received a Community Access Scholarship to UCLA Ext. Writer's Program, and is part of the founding class of the Community Literature Initiative. 

As a student, she founded Enie, a Spanish Literary Arts journal, and served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Ourstory, a diversity publication, and Small Craft Warnings, the flagship literary journal for Swarthmore College. As an educator, Cynthia co-founded the literary arts journal, Treasure Chest, and serves as judge of the Onestep Young Adult Short Fiction Contest. 

She has been a featured poet at various libraries and venues including: The Natural History Museum, Beyond Baroque, and the on-air Inspiration House with Peter J. Harris on KPFK. Cynthia has also been co-sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc. for a reading at the Sunland-Tujunga Library. She has served as Literary Programs Director and Poet-In-Residence at Self-Help Graphics & Art, and has worked both locally and abroad, teaching  creative writing, speech, and English Literature. She has given professional development workshops on creative writing and public speaking in Thailand, the Philippines, and most recently, the Getty Villa.

Currently, Cynthia is a college counselor, serves as Global Sustainability Curriculum Coordinator, and teaches literature and creative writing to K-12 students. She is Founder of Spitfire Literary Arts, which offers creative writing and public speaking workshops for young adults and adults, and where she serves as Editorial Consultant, as well as Content and Copy Editor for manuscripts.

Cynthia is Curator and Host of the Rapp Saloon Reading Series in Santa Monica on First Fridays, and is at work on her first collection of poetry, The Moving Parts Dismantled.


Facebook Invitation to AWP Offsite Reading Event
Rapp Saloon Poetry Reading Series
Love On Demand Global

1 comment:

granddaddy said...

As always, your ability to foreground another poet rather than your own work or critical insight is a treasure.