Angela Peñaredondo, an honored and awarded Filipinx poet and artist, presented her poetry at California Lutheran University’s William Rolland Stadium and Gallery of Fine Art, Feb. 15.
Peñaredondo vulnerably shared pieces both from her chapbook “Maroon,” and poetry collection “All Things Lose Thousands of Times.”
“I hope that students see her in part as a role model, and her poems as a kind of mentorship for how to have tough conversations,” said Jacqueline Lyons, a professor who specializes in creative writing with an emphasis on poetry and literary nonfiction.
Lyons founded The Guest Writer Series Readings in 2012 and directs the program. Since then, she has hosted at least a dozen different authors.
Peñaredondo was born in Ilolio City, Phillippines, and now lives in Southern California. She has been writing since she was a teenager, but only began working with publications in the last couple of years.
She started and ended her reading by sharing poems that were not hers. This is something she likes to do because she said she feels “indebted to the poets and writers that have inspired [her] and encouraged [her] growth as a writer.”
As a writer, Peñaredondo said she likes to play with different styles, forms and topics. Her poems have taken on a social justice stance and she said she likes to work with queer identity and feminism, among other powerful subjects.
“I’m really honored to be here and happy to be sharing my work with all of you,” Peñaredondo said before she began the reading.
She proceeded with a multitude of poems, including “Girl Meets Girl,” “Black Tigers” and “Mediations on a Fist in Three Parts.” She also shared works that were inspired by other artist’s pieces, such as her poem “Women Leaves Psychoanalyst’s Office,” which is based off a surrealist painting of the same name.
“When we’re looking at other pieces of art we’re also in conversation with ourselves,” Peñaredondo said. “I like to be influenced and be in conversation with film and music and contemporary art.”
The crowd was filled with various types of people: younger and older, students and non-students, all different with one element in common: a desire to hear Peñaredondo’s work.
“It was really interesting to hear someone who is an established poet,” said senior Max Carstens-Pierro, a Cal Lutheran student who attended the reading and is studying Peñaredondo’s work in Lyon’s poetry class. “It was getting outside my shell. It also helps with the comprehension, to get it in the classroom and then experience it here.”
Peñaredondo is currently working on a manuscript she describes as a hybrid collection of prose and poetry that works with three main voices. You can learn more about her at her website www. apenaredondo.com.
“Even though the writing practice can be really solitary, it’s also very community-oriented,” Peñaredondo said. “Community is essential, you need that place or that platform where you can have conversations and challenge and support each other.”
The next Guest Writers Series Reading will host fiction author and Cal Lutheran professor, Dustin Atkinson, on March 29.
“I just think the energy of having the work come to life is really wonderful,” Lyons said. “I’m always happy to host a poet, it’s good conversation.”