Archive for the ‘editorial’ Category

Rod C. Rodriguez (Stryker)

and

The “Birth” of Rod Carlos Rodriguez

(Birth Name: Carlos Emilio Rodriguez)

 

For over 25 years, the nom de plume (seudónimo) of Rod Carlos Stryker has served me as a warm and constant reminder of how I started in this exquisite world of writing, poetry, and the arts. Stryker has been my closest ally, my most steadfast compadre, and has become synonymous with the Sun Poet’s Society. Under this name, I’ve met and broke bread with people literally from around the world. I founded arts organizations, started magazines, wrote award-winning books, and was nominated three times for San Antonio Poet Laureate as Rod Carlos Stryker. I’ve also enjoyed many lessons and opportunities for growth in the arts and beyond while simultaneously honoring my Uncle Jesus Rodriguez and Aunt Cindy Rodriguez who were singularly instrumental in my 30 plus years of writing (see my blog, The Birth of Rod Carlos Stryker: http://wp.me/p3ONPX-8P ).

But in the last few years, I have felt a deep-seated desire to return to my roots, mi familia en Puerto Rico. Though some may argue it’s just a name and that it doesn’t really matter what I call myself, I have come to a point in life that it does matter. I want to fully embrace the part of me that is connected to my heritage and my culture in my writing and art photography. Naturally, this will be a process of transition. No change comes without trials and tribulations. Since “Stryker” is and always will be a part me, I will continue to use “Rod” as a salute to both my previous alter ego’s memory and my uncle and aunt’s immeasurable influence (dramatic, I know). Most importantly, each person must be honest with who they are and how they present themselves. And I am ready to present and represent this next chapter in my life with a more authentic spirit; a rebirth that will be documented in an upcoming book tentatively titled, Elysian Blues.

With all that said, I officially reclaim my birth surname and henceforth will write, publish, and proclaim myself to be Rod Carlos Rodriguez. All of my currently published books (that are in print) will still be available for purchase and if you’re interested in getting a copy, please search on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Native-Instincts-Rod-Carlos-Stryker/dp/0983334447) using my previous pen name of Rod Carlos Stryker or search via my book titles of Native Instincts (Human Error Publishing) and Lucid Affairs (Sun Arts Press). Additionally, my art photography will still be available at rodcarlosstryker.deviantart.com.

In the meantime, please join me as I begin this journey of rebirth. I look forward to new and continuing adventures as Rod Carlos Rodriguez. Thank you to everyone for your (hopefully unceasing) support in poetry, art, and life.

 

Peace and poetry,

Rod Carlos Rodriguez, poet

(formerly, Rod Carlos Stryker)

chair – Sun Poet’s Society

 

Journey’s Bliss

Journeys require
that first step on a new path
before our bliss.

by

Rod Carlos Rodriguez

 

Fever

 

Rod Carlos Stryker has left the building…

san-antonio

Although I’ve been writing poetry since I was 15 years old, I entered the poetry scene here in San Antonio in 1992 after returning from a US Military 3 year tour of duty in Germany (England, and Saudi Arabia). I spoke to my first San Antonio poetry crowd gathered at King William Bookstore (now defunct) for Ed’s Poets Society. I met such influential poets like Darrell Pittman and Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. Their performance styles and their words inspired me all the more to continue expressing and promoting poetry in San Antonio. Many poetry venues came and went in those early years including Stone Soup, Excalibur Poets Society, and Clipper Ship Bookstore. The Excalibur Poets Society was also a very influential venue thanks to the host, Will Person. He allowed me to guest host the poetry reading a couple of times and it inspired me to consider hosting my own poetry reading.

Cafe Gaea1

Formerly Cafe Gaea, now a tax and bookkeeping office

In 1995, the Sun Poet’s Society started in a small coffeehouse called Cafe Gaea (now a tax and bookkeeping office). Brooke Mazella (the business owner) approached and asked me to take over a poetry reading on Thursdays. I decided to try my hand at it and when Brooke asked what I wanted to call it, I thought of the magazine I was publishing at the time called Sun Poetic Times (1994-2005) and chose the name: Sun Poet’s Society. The poetry reading lasted about 9 months before Cafe Gaea closed. I didn’t want SPS to fold like many other poetry venues in San Antonio so I decided to move the whole venue to Java Junction (now a sports bar). Coffee shop after coffee shop where the SPS poetry readings were held closed and I kept moving the venue so it would survive. SPS had its weekly open-mic readings at Barnes and Noble (321 N.W. Loop 410, across from North Star Mall) for 14 years.

Barnes and Noble

Since its humble beginnings, the Sun Poet’s Society now sponsors events in San Antonio that include, Writer’s Take a Hike (a hiking workshop) as well as a monthly writers workshop called the Sun Poet’s Society Writers Workshop. SPS members routinely speak at local schools (i.e. Luther Burbank High School, Lanier H.S., McCollum H.S., Cooper Middle School, Bexar County Juvenile Justice Academy, Jackson/Keller Elementary). We’ve had interviews by the San Antonio Current, articles in the Mesquite Review, and we were awarded the San Antonio Current’s Best Performance Art Event of 1998. We’ve also traveled to the Texas Bookfest (98-99, 2003), the Austin International Poetry Festival (1996-2015) and Forrest Fest (Lamesa, Texas, April 2006, April 2008). What Keeps the Sun Poets going? -Desire to keep the spoken word alive.

Rupert Hopkins (England) at Sun Poets

Rupert Hopkins (England) at Sun Poets

Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Rosemary Nissen-Wade (Australia)

Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.

Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.

In the 20 plus years that the Sun Poet’s Society has held our weekly poetry readings, poets from every corner of the world crossed the Sun Poets stage. Poets from countries like Singapore, England, Australia, and Germany have shared their words with the Sun Poets. We’ve also had city and state poets laureate (like Dr. Carmen Tafolla, Larry Thomas, and Nathan Brown) perform for the Sun Poets. It has truly been an honor and privilege to have so many grace our poetry reading and our fair city with their unique words and voices.

Nathan Brown at Sun Poets

Nathan Brown (Former Oklahoma State Poet Laureate) at Sun Poets

After providing 20 years of poetry to San Antonio, we currently hold our open-mic poetry readings at Olmos Pharmacy Diner, 3902 McCullough Ave. and we hope to continue inspiring poets, poetry lovers, hobbyists, writers, singers, artists, and more for many years to come.

Olmos Pharmacy Diner

Olmos Pharmacy Diner

Surfing the Internet one day, I stumbled on a web site for Local Guides listings of San Antonio arts events. The Literate Lizard Writer’s Workshop (Now the Sun Poet’s Society Writers Workshop) was listed. Jennifer Wehunt reviewed the now defunct Calcutta Coffeehouse (where the workshop was held) and referred to the Sun Poets as “knights of serious spoken-word.” I was pleasantly surprised, but decided that is what keeps the Sun Poets going, its reason for its existence: knights of serious spoken word, champions for writers and artists the world over. The Sun Poet’s Society can do no less.

Dr. Carmen Tafolla, Texas State Poet Laureate

Dr. Carmen Tafolla, Texas State Poet Laureate 2015, at Sun Poet’s Society 20th Anniversary Event

Rodriguez Boys - I'm in the middle.

Rodriguez Boys – I’m in the middle.

Back in the early 1980’s, my uncle decided to visit with his brother, George (my father) and my family in New York. He noticed how both my parents were having a hard time with my brothers and I. He suggested to my parents that he could take us to his place in Connecticut for the summer to give them a break. However, I suspect what my uncle was, in fact, trying to do was give my brothers and I a break from my parents’ abuse. Our first summer in Connecticut was an adjustment for us. We expected the same type of abuse from Uncle Jesus as we had received from our parents. When this didn’t occur, it increased our anxiety. Eventually, we relaxed and began to truly enjoy this brief respite from the chaos and abuse we endured at home. Unfortunately, we had to return home at the end of the summer. We’d had a taste of what life could really be like when treated without even the threat of abuse. We begged our parents to allow us to return the following summer. Uncle Jesus readily agreed and our parents reluctantly granted our request.

The following summers were brief moments where we could live in an idyllic, albeit pseudo, family atmosphere. What resides in my memories of Connecticut the most was how my uncle and aunt would take us to different art shows and events. The Ballet, the play, an art exhibit, all types of art functions were presented to us. I also enjoyed watching my uncle play soccer and how the other team members would always cheer him on whenever he had the ball, always running to make the goal. It was a whole new world. One I desperately held onto every summer. I was unaware at the time of how much my uncle’s efforts seeded my consciousness. I also came across a poem during this time that would eventually open up the beauty and transformative experience that is poetry.

Then, my parents decided summers in Connecticut would no longer be allowed. I became depressed, desperately sad that I would no longer enjoy such wonders that were, briefly, within my grasp. Two years after the last summer in Connecticut, we moved to Texas. My parents had divorced prior to the move but decided to try once again to live with each other. They split up again a year after we moved to Texas. But, thanks to my uncle’s influence, I was ready to answer poetry’s call of self-expression at the tender age of 15.

Rodriguez Boys - I'm on the far right, yes, mullet and everything.

Rodriguez Boys – I’m on the far right, yes, mullet and everything.

Three to four years after I had begun writing, I started watching a popular television series starring Burt Reynolds called, B.L. Stryker. The name Stryker hit a familiar note in me but I couldn’t adequately explain why at the time. I decided to use the name along with the first three letters of my last name because I remember Uncle Jesus would sign checks and cleaning bills simply as Rod; hence the name Rod Carlos (my first name) Stryker. I have been using this pen name for a long time, but it was only recently while talking with my aunt that I understood why I actually decided on Stryker. Earlier I mentioned how I would witness my uncle playing soccer. I found out from my aunt that my uncle would usually play the soccer position called: the striker.

And so, here I am, an award-winning poet, author, art photographer, and more because my uncle decided to help three young boys escape, if only briefly, from the abuse of our parents. And, he introduced me to what eventually would be my liberator: the arts. I use Rod Carlos Stryker to honor my uncle and I always will.

Rod Carlos Stryker (a.k.a. Carlos Emilio Rodriguez)

award-winning poet, author, art photographer, human (thanks in no small part to Jesus and Cindy Rodriguez)

world trade center tribute - dan cabral

photo by Dan Cabral

As a boy raised in New York, and of Puerto Rican-American heritage, I was ridiculed, teased, shunned because of the color of my skin. I wished to myself and through little boy tears to not be Latino. I confessed to my mother how much I didn’t want to be brown. She helped dry those tears and also helped me to look past color and prejudice, to ignore and rise above hurtful stares and comments. Until finally, I was not only proud of my heritage, but also joyful of being human.

What I know, 

As a former member of the U.S. Air Force, I was stationed at various places around the world, including Europe and the Middle East. In each and every place I witnessed people, all with their own struggles, loves, choices. All trying to understand this difficult, sometimes unforgiving experience called life. I saw children, parents, sisters, brothers. In every culture, no matter how foreign to my ignorant eyes, I saw families, loved, coveted, cherished. Hopeful at being human.

What I know,

is that as different as people may be perceived, we are just as similar. We try to judge, to give excuses for being angry, and some excuses can seem extremely valid. But what I know is we ALL make choices in our lives. Honey mustard or mayonnaise, crunchy peanut butter or jam, to take the subway into work at the World Trade Center or at the Pentagon or stop at the corner gas station or not. And all our choices are made freely, never knowing what the Powers-That-Be have in mind for us. I could step off the curb tomorrow and a drunk driver or stressed out mom or young teenager racing his friends, or a crazed maniac with an axe to grind for all life has dealt him might end my life. And yet, I still make the choice to step off the curb, with this knowledge in mind, I enjoy my life as much as possible, with zest, with verve, with passion…being human!

What I know,

And what I do with all this knowledge, all this experience, is perhaps unpopular, is usually unpopular, especially now. I  CHOOSE to forgive. Yes, that’s right. I forgive Osama bin Laden and all those dictators who wish to harm and kill, I forgive their following for their role in this tragedy and other tragedies they may have committed. I was reminded, after much angry thoughts and seething ideas of retribution the day of September 11th, 2001 that to answer this insane violence with more insanity, begets more violence, more insanity. So, I’ve decided to propose peace. I will make a start, perhaps alone, to envision peace, to imagine it encompassing the world. Instead of God bless America, I propose God bless the Earth. The only path to REAL peace is not war, but dialogue, understanding, forgiveness and as blind as the world may be to this simple concept, this simple hope, the only real method of attaining true peace….is love. Give it some thought. And when the anger has subsided, when the seething desire for destruction has abated, all I know is what I envision, for myself, for my children, for my children’s children. It starts with one person, it starts with me, this human…being. I embrace all life, all ideals, all beliefs. And try to remember, if you can, that we are one. We Are One.

  

Rod C. Stryker, poet

San Antonio, Texas, United States, North America,

Planet Earth.

This was written years ago, but it is just as relevant today as it was on September 11, 2001. May the world know real peace.