Photography Self-Shot by Jorge Lara for VIM
I am not one for looking back, but I realize now that what got me here was the realization that I wanted to reach my potential. As an artist who creates art, I wanted to create the perfect poem, I wanted to overcome my fears and reach out the only way I knew possible.
Back in 2002 I found myself going to college at UNLV, working graveyard as a dishwasher at the Tropicana Hotel and writing poetry whenever I had any free time. It kept me balanced, focused, as much as I could wish possible. I was going to school to major in Mass Media / Journalism. It was my junior year and I wore myself out, not sleeping well, working 16 hour days at times and pushing myself at school till I reached the point where I had gotten so weak that my body gave out and I spent a week in the hospital recuperating from pneumonia. It was a hellish week at Sunrise Hospital. A week with no visitors except for my mother, stepfather, and brother. A week that gave me the time to reevaluate my life. I wanted to give meaning to what I was doing. I wanted to focus on the bigger picture. Realize my dreams, however small the incentive, I wanted to make my life matter. I could either kill myself trying to finish school or I could use the knowledge I had to make a difference in my life and of others. That week I had reached a realization ( and a-ha moment if you wish). I would give back to the community of poets that had given me so much. So I made the decision to start a website, I had purchased the domain “LasVegasPoets.org” and started teaching myself the basics of html. I would use the website to highlight the poetry venues and the poets in the poetry scene. What started as a small personal project became a journey of expression and of bridging gaps that existed in the poetry scene back then.
Having arrived in Las Vegas in 1996, I came to find comfort in the family and small circle of acquaintances I had made while attending the local poetry readings around town. And back then, it seemed so difficult to find a poetry reading. I have always been an observer of people. Seeing the best and worst in myself and in others. Having purchased the domain for LasVegasPoets.org I had started unbeknownst to me on a path that would lead me to creating a non-profit that would garner the attention of people equally as passionate as I was to make a difference, to give back.
In 2005 the Las Vegas Poets Organization was formed. With guidance by a fellow poet and attorney, Erika Wright, I started the search for what would be the first officers of the organization. An executive board would be created with luminaries from the local poetry scene and from that work and forward on an advisory board would be formed. For two years the boards would work together along side a volunteer board to bring about changes in the poetry community. We would focus on reaching out to the community and collaborating with other art non-profit entities and organizations, assisting in the creation of poetry venues that we all dreamt we could be a part of. With the advisory board the organization was able to broaden its scope and reach. Ultimately, our work would culminate in helping to bring the 18B Music Festival, having a fundraiser at the Green Valley Ranch Casino, featuring at the UNLV Festival of Communities, and helping to spotlight poetry at the Vegas Valley Book Festival with Nevada Humanities.
On Living The Dream...
I have always lived by the adage that if you want to make change, you must start your own art movement, learn from the past but create your own future, for a modern art collective to exist there must be a motive beyond passion. Tried and tested ideas can always be infused with a broader scope of hope being the fundamental instinct to a better society. No project is too big, no dream is too small. But realize that you will have to live with that dream.
VIM Magazine was born from the Las Vegas Poets Organization and my passion of magazines, of Andy Warhol and giving everyone their 15 minutes. Back in high school I always imagined myself being the editor of a magazine. And so twenty years later, the dream lives on.
The magazine started online, as a way to feature and interview poets, to give them the spotlight and to converse with artists and learn from their vision, their hopes, and their dreams. It is an honor to have the opportunity to be able to connect with an individual, to be able to grasp with what they are feeling and going through.
The magazine at its infancy would consist of only a selection of photographers who would assist me in capturing the individual I was interviewing. They would provide the photos and I would provide the questions and conversations. It was a mutually amicable union that worked simple as it was. There was an intimacy to it, of knowing the person you were interviewing that allowed for a broader outlook beyond the normal Q and A. I was having earnest conversations with artists and visionaries who working with their own potential and passion would spotlight every minute detail of their lives. I love being able to focus in on an individual being interviewed and providing them a vehicle for self-expression. They have reached a point where they have found their identity and with good reason, there is never an interview that disappoints. I’ve come to learn to trust in my instincts.
In 2012 VIM magazine would be “relaunched.” After a couple weeks of searching I had narrowed down the choices for the people who would ultimately serve as fellow editors of the magazine. The magazine would focus on entertainment, culture, and fashion. There would be a big celebration relaunch party at the Beauty Bar consisting of 7 local popular bands. I had a managing editor and four other editors who each had an assistant editor. Throughout that year though it seemed that the magazine had lost its focus. The magazine was no longer just about the interview, it was about featuring music reviews and makeup tips and with having to edit other peoples work, the interviews that were coming out were not as polished as they could be. It was a good experiment and experience that I relished at times but ultimately I had decided that the magazine had to go back to its roots and so the format would revert back to how it had all started.
So in 2013 I find myself working alongside some great photographers and I started to photograph the people being interviewed as well. There is something about creating a whole package. I think of an interview as a piece of art and that is why I sometimes give the person being interviewed no deadline to submit their responses. They have full control of what that they want published, they can be as thorough as they like. It gives the pieces a richer depth in the process, having little restrictions to fall upon, the mind and heart are free to express themselves.
On wishing others well...
I have come to appreciate the people in my life. I realize now that people will come and go in our lives. We must be able to adapt to change and we must be open to being able to reach out, even in the darkest of times. It seems it has taken me awhile to learn how to stay focused, to give my attention to the matters at hand (a good night of sleep helps as well) and to make things work with what you are given. That week I spent in the hospital changed me in more ways than one. Yes I will admit I was scared, before then I thought of myself as immortal, as any young guy imagines himself to be in their youth, without restraints. My life is full of untapped potentials.
I live to challenge myself, to see what I can create, to visualize and project a passion and to make it a reality. There was a time when I was at UNLV that I was planning on majoring in architecture. I had the key to the Architectural library, everything was set in stone, but things always change, passions always differ from one point in time to the next, and so it evolves from there. But even then I find myself to be an architect of my life, I create my walls, my limitations, my resolves. I like to believe that at some points in my life I have reached enlightenment. Self-realization of what I can make possible. And still, I live for the moment. And yet there are still levels of enlightenment to be reached.
I want to take this time to congratulate Michael Martin Humel on realizing his dream. As Past Entertainment Editor of VIM he brought a passion that would remain undeterred. He always talked about starting his own magazine, 'Culture Of The Senses,' and I am glad he has followed through with his vision. Past Art Editor Frankie Darkstar now has his own art gallery. Past Fashion Editor Normangelica Gonzalez now features in two great bands Prisma Royal and Radiant Kind. Our past Cultural Editor Mayra Padilla has always had a hand in helping out with non profits and with her help we were able to assist local non-profit Project 150.
I want to thank the individuals that served with me for two years on the Executive, Advisory, and Volunteer Boards of The Las Vegas Poets Organization. Their work has seen many returns and even now their hard work echoes in the community we have all helped built.
I want to thank Shannon Dorn for working with me on VIM throughout 2013. She has been the principal photographer on most of the interviews we have had these two past seasons on VIM Magazine and I am honored to be able to share her work with the world. She has left a wonderful imprint on Vegas culture with her own work. A remarkable talent that with determination, started her own art movement.
I want to thank all the poets for entrusting me with all their hopes and dreams. I like to think that I work with them to bring about new avenues and channels for their self-expression. They bestow upon me an opportunity for me to cultivate and create a foundation from which we can all benefit from.
Thank you to Torrey Cole whose friendship and feedback has helped me to realize that our job is far from complete. Working with her, we have discussed planning an art festival that will bring art, dance, and poetry to the forefront. I attended a dance recital that Torrey curated and have seen the talent she can put together, it is a talent that deserves a bigger stage. It will be great to see this mixture of poetic words, and dance, and art all come to fruition.
On matters of circumstance...
These past couple of years have been filled with accolades and privileges that I cannot help but cherish. I was given the opportunity to be a State Judge for Poetry Out Loud by the Nevada Arts Council. I was named a Top Poet by CBS Local Las Vegas, I was selected to speak at the 18 by 18 Speaker Series that featured the ‘Visionaries of the Arts District.’ It is good to be recognized for the work that I do. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented individuals on passion projects.
VIM Magazine is going to broaden its horizons this fall, reaching out to artists in other parts of the world with interviews with artists and visionaries across a multitude of countries. Artists have been reaching out from different parts of the world wanting to be featured. Till now we had only been a Las Vegas centric magazine. We will still focus on the local art and culture scene, this will only help to elevate the interviews to another level.
The Las Vegas Poets Organization has always focused on helping people to Discover Vegas Poetry and this year is no different. National Poetry Month is upon us and with this month we will be re-releasing volume one of the ViVa Vegas Poets Anthology and doing an open call for the second volume of local poetry, unveiling films of poetry performances from local Las Vegas poets, and continuing to spotlight poets at the Pop-Up Poetry Feature Series. We will be donating the proclamation we received from Mayor Carolyn Goodman for National Poetry Month to the Las Vegas County Library District at the Nevada Humanities offices and planning our fourth year of presenting poetry at the next Vegas Valley Book Festival in October.
On the future....
The future is not set in stone. Things as remarkable as they are always fluctuate and change. The only constant that we have in our lives is the opportunity to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. To truly have empathy toward others, to realize what they feel and what they can amount to, to know just how certain things can be with all that life can bring to us.
It all amounts to how we reach out the world. Our world that we make for ourselves. To enjoy what the days bring, the places, the people, the circumstances from which we can really learn
from. Being a poet, I don’t think I have ever really poured my heart out. I never given myself the opportunity to. Yet, the opportunity is there, it has always been there. They say to love others, you must love yourself, my mother has constantly reminded of this and it seems as though I can see that reasoning through different eyes now. I can realize the strengths it takes to bring the joy that is necessary in my life in order to progress.
For what the future holds, I am planning and producing a 10 minute cultural and arts broadcast that will air this fall on Futuresound Radio on KUNV 91.5. With the help of Gina Quaranto and Blackbird Studios, VIM Magazine will be holding a retrospective next year of all the photography that has been featured on the magazine website since its inception. I am learning to write poetry and music again by learning to let go and just writing what feels real in my heart.
I am always looking for new ways of reaching out. I want to thank everyone for being part of my journey. Let’s see what we can create next.