Ana Tijoux: Behind the Rebel Spirit

It’s rare to have a look at the mind behind the music, but on April 23, we get this opportunity, when musician Ana Tijoux visits the ALOUD stage to chat all things music, activism and love for Latin America with local poet and translator, Jen Hofer. The program, presented in Spanish with interpretation in English, will also feature an acoustic set with a fellow musician.

The 37-year old musician born to Chilean parents exiled in France during the Pinochet dictatorship fronts her indigenous roots and Mapuche pride in her lyrics, although her voice stretches beyond any one place. Tijoux’s voice is an instrument that pulls vowels to new lengths, breaking and bending phrases, melting words into her genre-defying albums. She’s labeled as an MC and rapper, but she also stylizes funk, soul, and blues. As for “why hip-hop? “Hip-hop is the land of people who don’t have a land,” says Tijoux.

Nurtured by Community
Collaboration is a central part of Tijoux’s work. Her most recent album, Vengo, includes at least five tracks featuring a guest musician, one co-sung with Palestinian rapper and MC Shadia Mansour on “Somos Sur.” Tijoux’s rhymes shoot out like poetic bullets that jump from defiant in “Antipatriarca” to the affirming “Creo en Ti,” a hip-hop duet with Juanito Ayala. It’s an uptempo jazz beat with flutes and a muffled marching band drum that seems to echo adelante (onward) in the background.  It’s the same adelante that is the backbone of her work.

A Voice for Many
Tijoux’s politics are crystal clear in her lyrics, and she’s sure to share them at ALOUD just as she did during a recent informal chat with students at Pomona College and fellow musician Martha Gonzalez of Quetzal, when she recalled pivotal moments from childhood that influenced her vision of the world. Her father had gifted her an “Anti-monopoly” game, and it was originally received with much disappointment that it wasn’t the traditional “Monopoly” she had wanted. Upon learning the values the game espoused: property for all and liberating the incarcerated, her excitement for the game, and passion to do the same in real life, grew. Raised in France among immigrant communitiesfrom Africa and beyond, meant that her world was rich with color and culture at a young age. Returning to Chile as a teen exposed her to her own country’s struggle. These are the stories she tells through song.

Literary and Musical Influences
Tijoux attributes the poetry of Gabriela Mistral as a primary inspiration in her life and work, yet notes how even as the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, her presence seems silent compared to Chile’s other grand export, the poet Pablo Neruda.  You can hear the words of Eduardo Galeano in her music, references that became historicized with his recent passing days ago. As for music, Tijoux is awed by the rhythms of Violeta Parra, the mother of the Nueva Canción movement in Chile. “Her identity is so deep, it’s from the root, you can’t even explain it.” Tijoux is right there with her. Rooted. Authentic. We’ll get to hear her and learn more about all of these influences–in conversation and song–at the Los Angeles Public Library on April 23.

After Tijoux’s ALOUD visit, she’ll be participating in a special concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall celebrating Violeta Parra in: Gracias a la Vida: The Rebel Spirit of Chile’s Legendary Voice.

–Posted by Maureen Moore

Library Supporter T.C. Boyle Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

On Saturday, April 18, the annual L.A. Times Festival of Books kicks off on the USC campus, and as part of the festivities the winners of this year’s L.A. Times Book Prizes will be revealed on Saturday evening. But one big winner has already been announced: novelist and short story writer T.C. Boyle will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement.

TC Boyle

Beyond his many writing accolades, including penning the critically acclaimed books Drop City, The Tortilla Curtain, East Is East, The Road to Wellville, and most recently The Harder They Come, Boyle has been a longtime supporter and friend of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. He’s also been a frequent participant and honorary chair of the annual Book Drop Bash, including this year’s, which will take place on Saturday following the awards ceremony.

The Book Drop Bash is the official after-party of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, exclusively for Library Foundation Members and Los Angeles Times Festival Books authors. If you are not already a Library Foundation Member, you can still attend by becoming a Member today and receive your invitation for two to the Book Drop Bash!! For more information, please contact Membership Director Megan Hamilton at 213.292.6242 or meganhamilton@lfla.org.

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Before we honor the work of T.C. Boyle this Saturday, listen to the podcast of his conversation at ALOUD from 2010 when he discussed his collection Wild Child as well as his novel The Women about the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. You can also check out his work from the Los Angeles Public Library.

Join the Festivities at the Book Drop Bash!

Are you one of the thousands of Angelenos who look forward to coming out for the country’s largest book celebration? On Saturday, April 18th, the Los Angeles Times Festival Of Books takes over the USC campus, and the festivities don’t stop at the end of the day. The Library Foundation of Los Angeles will open the doors of downtown’s historic Central Library to Members and participating Festival authors for the fourth annual Book Drop Bash, an after-hours soiree celebrating the literary life of our city.

Rub shoulders with your favorite festival authors, including Book Drop Bash honorary hosts T.C. Boyle, LeVar Burton, Janet Fitch, Jonathan Gold. Attica Locke, Susan Orlean, Luis J. Rodriguez, Kenneth Turan, David Ulin, and many more.

Participate in the legendary book swap, take pictures in the photo booth, and enjoy music and drinks in downtown’s historic Central Library as we celebrate the literary life of our city!

If you are not already a Library Foundation Member, you can still attend by becoming a Member today and receive your invitation for two to the Book Drop Bash!! For more information, please contact Membership Director Megan Hamilton at 213.292.6242 or meganhamilton@lfla.org.

This event is made possible through the generosity of our sponsors.

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Changing Lives: L.A.’s New Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez

“L.A. is the most culturally rich of U.S. cities, expansive in size, but also in spirit and imagination,” says Luis J. Rodriguez, who was appointed last October by Mayor Eric Garcetti as the second poet laureate in L.A. history. Besides being an award-winning author of 15 books, the founder of Tia Chucha’s Cultural Center and Bookstore in Sylmar, and an honorary host of the Library Foundation’s upcoming Book Drop Bash, Rodriguez is a fierce community activist.

City Librarian John Szabo, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Danielle Brazell of the Department of Cultural Affairs welcome Rodriquez as L.A. Poet Laureate at the Central Library.

For forty years, Rodriquez has been active in gang peace and youth development, deeply rooted in the urban consciousness of many neighborhoods across Los Angeles. “We [Angelenos] have a complex history that includes diminishment, oppression, losses. But we also dream big and try to shape the world with big hands, big hearts, big minds.” Rodriquez is whole-heartedly embarking on his new poet laureate post with plans of collaborating with the Los Angeles Public Library, as well as schools, museums, community spaces, probation camps, juvenile halls, and more to make poetry “an everyday, every occasion thing” across every community. To kick of National Poetry Month this April, we asked how books changed his life, and here Rodriquez shares his personal story:

“In 1956 my family came to Los Angeles from the border area of Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. I didn’t speak English entering L.A. schools. In those days, they punished us for speaking Spanish. And they didn’t teach us English well. I began an intense street life—stealing at seven, breaking into schools at 10, joining a gang at 11, drug use at 12. My parents tried to keep a stable life, but my father worked as a custodian far away, leaving early, coming late. My mother had her hands full with four rambunctious children, and when she worked it was in the garment district or cleaning homes. Somebody fell through the cracks—it turned out to be me. I dropped out of school at 15 and my parents promptly kicked me out of the house. I was briefly homeless in downtown L.A., sleeping in abandoned cars, in all-night movie theaters, along the L.A. River. But one thing that saved me was books. I loved to read as I learned more English. At 10, a teacher read aloud “Charlotte’s Web” and I was hooked. Libraries became my refuge, in particular the Central Public Library, where I roamed the aisles during the day. I was the weird homie with books under my arms. Nobody else in my family or among my friends seemed to like books. Books never belittled me, beat me, or told me I’d “never amount to anything.” Despite nights in jail, drug use and violent acts, by age 19 I was done with “the crazy life.” I longed for another world, another person, one linked to deep social change and creative expression. By twenty, I had obtained a high school diploma, painted murals, took part in community protests—and my first son was born. I had transformed. Around five years later, I worked as a reporter and recited poems at cafes and cultural spaces. Books were there every step of the way.”

Stay tuned for more information about poetry programs with L.A.’s new poet laureate and check out his work at the Los Angeles Public Library!

 

Spring Break at the Library

It’s spring break for many students around Los Angeles this week and next. If you are looking to keep your young ones engaged outside of the classroom, head over to any branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. With a wide range of free programs for children and teens, there’s no break at the Library from learning, reading, playing, and some much needed relaxing. Here’s a few highlights from the Library’s full upcoming calendar of events.

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NoHo Teens Yoga Club
Tuesday, April 7
North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library
Practicing yoga helps teens develop the body-mind connection which not only improves body image but also promotes better posture and even alleviates stress. Join us at NoHo library to learn some breathing and relaxation exercises to get you through that stressful school day.

LA Youth Poet Laureate 5-Week Teen Poetry Workshop
Tuesday, April 7

Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library
Do you have what it takes to be Los Angeles’ next Teen Poet Laureate? This 5-week poetry workshop is your opportunity to workshop your poetry or hip hop with professional writers and prepare your portfolio for city-wide competition. Refreshments will be provided.

Magnetic Poetry for Teens
Tuesday, April 14
Washington Irving Branch Library
Come learn to make a magnetic poetry set! Supplies provided; space is limited. This program is presented in celebration of National Poetry Month.

STEAMIN’ SPRING BREAK SCRATCH Camp
Tuesday, March 31 thru Friday, April 3
Baldwin Hills Branch Library
Kids eight years and up are invited to spend spring break learning to create code for making games, animated apps, storytelling and more. This is a four day camp. Commitment to attend all sessions is required. Computers are provided or campers can bring their own laptops. Space is limited. Advance registration recommended. Call 323.733.1196 to enroll.

Camp Minecraft
Wednesday, April 8
Venice – Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library
LA Makerspace will teach us how to participate in an interconnected world, where skills in online collaboration and coding are more valuable than ever! Space limited to 15 people. Sign up at the Information Desk. Ages 8-14.

Make It Mondays: Building Bricks
Monday, April 6
Arroyo Seco Regional Library
Join us for a hands-on activity each Monday at 4:00 pm…it’s MAKE IT MONDAYS! On April 6 and 20 we will be creating masterpieces with (4 letter brand name) building bricks.

There’s so many other ways students can take part in the Library’s many activities, including volunteer programs for teens at their local branch. Learn more today!

Top Photo Credit: “Coronado school is in session” from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archive.

Catch the Line-up of Young Literati Toasters

The Young Literati’s Seventh Annual Toast is around the corner, and an exciting line-up of L.A.’s best and brightest has just been announced to take the stage to celebrate the Los Angeles Public Library. On Saturday, March 28, actor Colin Hanks, actress Gillian Jacobs, comedian Jason Mantzoukas, DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, filmmaker Jason Reitman, actress Jenny Slate, and actress Mae Whitman will read selections of literature from the Library’s vast collections before a special musical performance from GRAMMY-winning L.A. band La Santa Cecilia and DJ sets by artist Shepard Fairey. Please join us for this special benefit and the Young Literati’s biggest event of the year! Learn more about how to attend here, and to ready you to raise your glass for public libraries, here’s a few fun highlights featuring the evening’s special guests.

From the “best Latin rock band,” La Santa Cecilia’s music video “Cumbia Morada”

Official trailer for Jenny Slate’s subversively funny Obvious Child

Jason Mantzoukas’s unhinged visit to Conan

Mae Whitman now in theaters near you

The Seventh Annual Toast
An evening celebrating and supporting the Los Angeles Public Library
Saturday, March 28 at 8PM
Learn More

Bridging the Digital Divide One Library Patron at a Time

With our ever-growing reliance on technology to navigate our daily lives, it’s shocking to hear that one-third of Angelenos still do not have Internet at home. As millions turn to the Los Angeles Public Library for free access to computers, the Internet, wireless access, eBooks, eMusic, and eEverything, simply getting to a computer is only solving part of the problem. For those who are inexperienced or uncomfortable using technology, the Library Foundation supports the Cybernauts program, offering personal concierge-like technology assistance to Library users of all ages.

“What’s great about the Cybernauts program, is that it puts learning into play,” says Karen Gavidia, an enthusiastic Cybernaut at the Exposition Park branch, pictured below. “It’s about teaching and keeping patrons updated on technology that is constantly changing and piquing their interest about what’s out there.” Cybernauts are savvy at providing help on a range of issues—from creating email accounts, using word processing and photo sharing programs, to filling out job applications and tax forms. “Teaching a lot of basic things has a long term impact on how people use technology,” explains Gavidia.

Like many of the Cybernauts, Gavidia is from the community she serves and has become a welcoming face in her neighborhood branch. “I used to be a regular patron and a lot of patrons feel more comfortable coming in and asking questions because they recognize me and I can speak Spanish with them.” Bryan Bazalar, another bilingual Cybernaut and nearby resident of his Panorama City branch, considers himself lucky to be a part of such an inspiring program, which was partially conceived as a way to offer meaningful job training to young adults. He’s currently getting his Masters in Library Science and loves the everyday challenges of problem solving.

“The Internet is not always a clear solution, so I enjoy sitting down with a patron and getting their whole story, and then helping try to solve their issues,” says Bazalar. In his branch, he manages the Student Zones where he helps students with research—teaching students how to use online search engines and find information beyond cursory sites like Google and Wikipedia. But he also has noticed a lot of basic questions arising from students and adults alike on keyboarding issues, so he began offering a weekly keyboarding class to address these needs.

“The biggest benefit that I see patrons get from our coaching is confidence, and that’s very important to overcome fears of using the Internet,” says Bazalar. This year, the Cybernaut program expanded to 32 neighborhood branches as well as Central Library thanks to the generous supporters of the Library Foundation.

As part of the Library’s mission to provide free access to ideas and information, these innovative programs are also empowering individuals through technology supported by the Library Foundation:

  • Full STEAM AheadA fun, integrated science, technology, engineering, art, and math program that sparks the imagination, and develops perseverance, problem-solving, and self-confidence. The Library is collaborating with a number of partners, such as Los Angeles Makerspace, Iridescent, Nine Dots, and The Exploratory, to teach workshops in areas like computer programming, electronics and robotics, 3D modeling and printing, animation, filmmaking, and more.
  • Live Homework Help—A free online tutoring service that offers one-on-one help with math, science, social studies, English, and Spanish to students in Kindergarten through first-year college as well as adult learners.
  • Student Zones—Offering teens and children access to dedicated computers, equipment, and furniture during the after-school hours, including the free use of books, subscription databases, printing, school supplies, trained personnel, and other learning resources.
  • Adult Literacy—Committed to breaking the cycle of low literacy in our community, Adult Literacy Services help adults with English literacy skills below a sixth grade level to improve their reading and writing proficiency through one-on-one tutoring as well as self-directed, online practice.

Learn more about these technology initiatives at lfla.org and lapl.org.

 

 

 

Raise Your Glass For Libraries at the Young Literati Seventh Annual Toast

On Saturday, March 28, raise your glass with the Library Foundation’s Young Literati for the Seventh Annual Toast to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Celebrating the delicious and diverse literary history of L.A., the gathering will feature L.A’s best and brightest—including a DJ set by artist and activist Shepard Fairey and lively readings from the Library’s vast collections by actress Gillian Jacobs (Community, Girls), comedian Jason Mantzoukas (The League), and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest), and more.

Held at The LINE Hotel in Koreatown, the Young Literati’s biggest event of the year will be curated by philanthropist, entrepreneur, and Young Literati Chair Amanda Fairey; her husband, Shepard Fairey (pictured below); chef Roy Choi; writer and director Jason Reitman (pictured below); and Golden Globe-winning actress Kate Hudson. Actress Busy Philipps (pictured below) and producer Samantha Hanks will serve as Honorary Chairs of the event, with Philipps serving as the evening’s emcee.

Past Toasts have featured such notable names as Jack Black, Russell Brand, Sarah Silverman, Miranda July, Nick Kroll, Henry Rollins, Tig Notaro, John Densmore, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and others.

Proceeds from the Seventh Annual Toast will support the Los Angeles Public Library’s Full STEAM Ahead program, a fun, integrated science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) series that sparks the imagination, and develops perseverance, problem-solving, and self-confidence through workshops and events for children, teens, and adults.

Tickets for the Toast are $175 per person ($125 for Young Literati Members, $400 for VIP packages) and can be purchased online at lfla.org/toast.

Make Plans to Stay Home and Read a Book!

The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball is this Sunday, March 1! Angelenos all over the city will escape into the pages of a good book to support the Los Angeles Public Library. Either poolside or fireside, day or night, with loved ones or in solitary bliss, everyone is invited to join the festivities. To help you get inspired for a lovely respite of reading at home, see what other participants–and their pets–have queued up.

Catherine Gordon’s parrot Coconut, plans to read Flaubert’s Parrot.

Margaret L. Bach plans to read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light You Cannot See.

Eric Roberts plans to read Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn.

Marjorie L. Jennings plans to read Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World.

John E. Peer plans to read Ben Lerner’s 10:04.

Coralie R. Goldsmith plans to read Marilynne Robinson’s Lila.

Anthony Cobbs plans to read Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove.

Valerie Tracy Zografos plans to read Blair Worden’s The English Civil Wars.

If you haven’t already made a reservation for the ball, learn more about how you can stay home, read a book, and give back to the educational and cultural programs of the Los Angeles Public Library.

What are you planning to read? Let us know how you’re celebrating:
Twitter: @LibraryFoundLA #LFLAStayHome
Facebook: LibraryFoundLA
Instagram: LibraryFoundLA

Have a Ball with Junot Díaz, Carlos Santana, Patton Oswalt, and More

“Our libraries, in their promotion and practice of literacy, in their providing free access of information to all, in their diverse educational and artistic programs, in their astounding egalitarianism, represent what is best about our society.  And what is best about us,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, and this year’s Stay Home and Read a Book Ball Chair.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to support the incredible work of the Los Angeles Public Library,” Díaz says of the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, which invites participants to come together on March 1 by staying at home and reading a book. “Saving lives and saving the future by the simple act of reading—I ask you: what could be more heavenly than that?”  We agree—nothing could be better! Please join us for this special event, now in its 27th year, that benefits the cultural and educational programs of the Los Angeles Public Library. Read below why others are staying home and supporting the Library, and why you should join in too!

“I invite you, wholeheartedly, to read books that remind you of your highest self and emancipate you from mental slavery or false beliefs and illusions.  The more you invest in attracting books that resonate with the frequency of your true self, the more light you will bring to the world.” –Carlos Santana

“Tonight I’m going to have a conversation that is interesting and fun and unstoppable.  I might get emotional.  I might cry.  I might break up laughing.  But I know I won’t be bored. That’s how it is whenever I open a book.” –Ceci Bastida

“You’re grounded!!!!  You can’t go out and prowl the L.A. streets.  You’ve got to do something more edifying, emboldening and altogether more groovy.  You gots to stay home tonite and read a good book!!!!!!!!!!” –James Ellroy

“L.A.’s public libraries served as refuge from the violence and suicide-inducing emptiness of my barrio existence.  Whether as a stammering Spanish-only child trying with great effort to absorb the English words in books like Charlotte’s Web.  Or as a teenaged gang member, turning tattered pages in juvenile hall or homeless inside an abandoned car. Books called me to life, to destiny, to imagination. To stay home and read a book—a luxury, a miracle, true magic.” –Luis J. Rodriguez

“Whether it’s Benito Cereno or Billy Budd or Jane Eyre or Tess, a Confidence Man, a Secret Agent, or even Two Serious Ladies instead of one – I’m guaranteed the rare satisfaction of life, in all its hues, when I skip the forgettable, the social world, and select my evening date from the pages of a book.” –Rachel Kushner

“All I’ve ever wanted was to stay inside and read a book.  Thanks to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, that dream will come true.” –Patton Oswalt

Make your dream come true too! Learn more about attending the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball on March 1st and supporting the Los Angeles Public Library.