Note – this poem, “Celia,” is three pages long. Press the down arrow on the black bar to see the other pages.
Poet’s Statement –
Through numerous discussions with Celia Malheiros, the inspiration of my epoymous poem, I became convinced of the progressive and international approach to social and cultural issues Celia shares with me and that we both share with antecedent creative artists such as Diego Rivera and his wife and artistic partner Frida Kahlo. Frida, whose representation in the mural has been called insufficiently prominent, has been a particular model for Celia. Celia’s full expression as both artist and activist led to her ultimately separating from her original musical and marital partner. Respect for the power and wisdom of indigenous culture, much represented in Rivera’s CCSF mural and embodied in Frida’s lifestyle, is also shared by Celia, who has benefitted from voyages of discovery into the northern jungles of her native Brazil.
After completing an MFA in Creative Writing at SFSU, Jeff Kaliss commenced creative writing and other courses at CCSF, where he completed the Creative Writing Certificate, was published in Forum, the College’s literary magazine, and founded the Poetry for the People Podcast. Jeff is a longtime, widely-published music journalist and author, and during the pandemic he’s read poetry with fellow poets in the US and abroad.
Note – this poem, “Casualties of a War on Creativity,” is two pages long. Press the down arrow on the black bar to see the other pages.
Poet’s Statement –
This Poem, “Casualties of a War on Creativity,” reflects on the consequences of losing art classes at City College. An ekphrastic poem, it takes inspiration from the No Business as Usual Exhibit of Protest Art at the now closed Fort Mason Campus. The poem draws upon images of corporate greed, which drive the downsizing of urban, working class arts classes. The final stanza specifically names Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, noting that we continue their struggle.
Note – this poem, “MAYA ANGELOU AT CITY COLLEGE OF SAN FRANCISCO,” is two pages long. Press the down arrow on the black bar to see the other pages.
Poet’s Statement –
This poem, “Maya Angelou at City College of San Francisco” reflects on a celebration of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” which took place in my Poetry for the People classroom. We recited the poem in multiple languages, speaking to our own resilience in the face of a history that seeks to crush us. We made this poem our own and we rose together. Maya Angelou lived and worked in the spirit of Diego Rivera’s mural, celebrating love and beauty in the face of oppression and pain.
Tehmina Khan is a daughter of Indian immigrant scientists who has spent her adult life writing, teaching, resisting, and mothering. She has taught science to preschoolers, citizenship to octogenarians, and literary translation to elementary school students; she now teaches English and poetry at City College of San Francisco, where she defends everyone’s right to a quality education on whatever terms we choose. She has taken CCSF courses in Chinese, photography, literature, and gender studies. City College is the people’s college, which serves a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, neurodiverse, and multilingual student body, who come to class ready to defend their education and their democracy. Tehmina is humbled to be part of this community.
Note – this poem, “WHAT WE KNOW NOW, BUT DIDN’T KNOW THEN,” is two pages long. Press the down arrow on the black bar to see the other pages.
Poet’s Statement –
I was inspired to write this poem by looking at the picture that you had in the Face Book ad that looked like a person telling a story around a campfire and was reminded of how technology has erased the personalized touch of telling stories by “word of mouth”. We are now so inundated by technology that these traditions and stories have gotten lost in society and maybe we need to rekindle that feeling, that method of not only telling stories but also communicating in general on a personal level.
City College of San Francisco has been like a second home to me. Right out of high school I loved being a part of Dance Department and performing with teachers that inspired me like Paula McCullum Epperson. She is long gone now, but she motivated me to follow my dream of being a dancer and then dance instructor and choreographer. I opened my own dance studio shortly after that called Ingleside Creative Arts. My two daughters also went to school there, one majoring in Visual Art and the other in Special Education. But I also learned my love for the Dramatic Arts and Film by participating in Vocal Classes with Judy Hubbell and Drama with Deborah Shaw and Susan Jackson and also participated in a couple of Musical Theater productions. The Theater has always been the place where the mural stood and reminded me that I was there to fulfill my dreams of being a performing artist. To this day I am a filmmaker and actress and co-founded my production company called Asian Mainstream Productions. We have made award winning films that have been accepted into national and international film festivals. City College was the sign for me to do what I was passionate about and will always be a place of learning and education. The teachers were the best and still are. I hope future students experience the college the way I did- a place to follow your dreams and fulfill them!