The Taco Shop Poets

Updated Web page (as of 11/26/99) -

With feet on both sides of the border we declare that Cappuccino and poetry are no more! Long live salsa and the spoken word!

Taco shops are places where people eat, talk, and leave behind social and class barriers in search for the perfect carne asada burrito. Taco shops have become the new meeting places for a cross- section of society. But taco shops don't just have a culinary function any longer.

Taco shops are cultural centers, they are the the cultural crossroads for the new millenium.

As Taco Shop Poets we are the cultural workers at these crossroads. As of August of last year we have been cultural guerrillas, taking over taco shops in San Diego, Tijuana, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, taking poetry to an audience not usually exposed to the spoken word and taking the usually jaded spoken word audience to a new environment for poetry. Our onda is the combination of the different spaces in our community: the taco shop space, the poetry space, the border space, the music space, the perfomance space, the nationalist space, the gender space, the sexuality space. Our work can be found where these areas intersect.

We are a group of accomplished Southern California performers who have converted taco shops into temporary cultural centers. Our performance consists of music, poetry, prose, storytelling, and ritual.

Reviews have appeared in major publications such as the Los Angeles Times (p. A-3, 9-4-94), La Tarde Newspaper in Tijuana, the San Diego Reader, and through The Associated Press news service.

Poets and Performers That Have Participated as Cultural Guerrillas:

Lalo Alcaraz, Luis Alfaro, Alurista, César Aragón, Adrián Arancibia, Elizabeth Barrón, Adela Carrasco, Roberto Castillo, María Figueroa, Alfonso García Cortéz, Ryk Groetchen, Adolfo Guzmán López, Fran Illich, Jackolean López, Waldo López, Manuel Mancillas, Richard McCaskill, Gerardo Navarro, John Nielson, John Partida, Victor Payán, Elías Ramírez, Fermín Robles, Olympia Rodríguez, Lin Romero, Nydia Sánchez, Miguel Ángel Soria, Alejandro Stuart, Regina Swain, James Watts, Zopilote.

Support for Taco Shop Poetry has been given by the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego, the Foundation for Arts Resources, Self- Help Graphics, Plaza de la Raza, the University of Santa Clara, Chacho's Restaurant in San Jose and Jorge Sánchez, the Steamed Bean in National City, and Pan Handler Production.

For general information about the Taco Shop Poets and future dates please contact the group at:

Taco Shop Poets
PO Box 126531
San Diego, CA 92112.

All work included here is copyright by each author, so don't plagiarize it because there are a lot of us and we will find you.
Photography by: Valerie Tevere, Abdur, Rudy Rodríguez.


Adolfo is a border boy. He was born in the pugilistic México City neighborhood of Peralvillo in 1969. He was there just long enough to learn to walk and take in the air when it was still clear. He then moved to Tijuana for several years with his mother to a hillside house with a view of the nightly border patrol sweeps by helicopter. Soon after they moved to National City across the border where he grew up. His first readings as a youngster took place at the houses his mother used to clean, in the upper middle class neighborhoods of La Jolla. They included all the volumes of various editions of the World Book encyclopedia and several decades worth of National Geographics.

His influences include the literary pop-hallucinations of Parménides García Saldana and José Agustín, as well as the Americana mantras of Jack Kerouac, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Hunter S. Thompson, and poet Marisela Norte.

His Chicano college days were spent learning about the Chicano student movement as co-editor of the newspaper Voz Fronteriza, and then as producer of the public affairs radio program Radio Califas, both at the University of California, San Diego. He created and organized the Taco Shop Poetry readings that have taken place in taco shops in Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, San Jose, and San Francisco in the last year.

He is currently a free-lance arts critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune and other publications, and does feature stories for KPBS-FM, the NPR station in San Diego. He hopes to write good prose and poetry in spite of himself.

dos de lengua para llevar
press the online
better git it in charley's soul
a brain is a brain is a brain
the fish
a taco shop canto for war-town san diego
un día vas a perder la cabeza y no te vas a dar cuenta


Selected Biogaphical Information on the Life of Jackolean López. Rivers run up inside down, mountains stand solid sound and sitting now close with a window to see I know that echoes ricocheted walls and insides to bring stages and dances in my life-to bring new writings. For the years of past (four ) I have lived as a Chicana poet in San Diego, teaching, writing a book of poems, traveling, researching, temping, protesting for raza rights, and recently accepted to the Historical Studies graduate program at the New School for Social Research in New York. I intend to continue my research in historical studies as well as everything else. Emissions of sincerity-Jackolean López.


Victor Payán is a San Diego-born poet and writer. His e-mail address is
to force a rhyme
to a cholo dying young
untitled #101


Egresado de la Licenciatura en Comunicación de la Universidad Iberoamericana Noroeste, y profesor de asignaturas de la misma. Ha publicado extensivamente.
en ese golpe ronco de las palmas
alta luna en la noche de tijuana


I was born in San Jose, California on September 29, 1966 but I shall not die here. My writing began out of a lack of creativity. In 1989, I was attending city college, pursuing a Fine Arts degree. One of our assignments was to keep a sketchbook. Needless to say I wrote in mine. For me writing is the images that my mind couldn't paint or draw. My desire is to possibly write a short story, or something longer. Problem is, I like to do everything quickly. Having the chance to read with the Taco Shop Poets has been a great happening in my life. Now that sounds goofy, but it is true. Much of this writing is reality as I see and mostly feel it. My words are usually hand written, and typing for me is hell. I am realizing this now as I try to type. Enough of this.
i said no!


Born and raised in México, D.F. Completed education in Los Angeles, at Cal State University. Began writing in the sixth grade and has continued to do so as a community worker within the Juvenile Justice System and as the Mother of a 22 year-old daughter, presently attending U.C.L.A. Has performed in California and México. Published in various Chicano literary journals. Happy Songs Bleeding Hearts- Chapbook published by the Centro Cultural de la Raza. Poets-in-the-Schools-Teacher. Neighborhood Arts Project Teacher. Poem-College Workshop Teacher. Taco Shop Poet. Word Sound & Power Collective. Creator Flying Heart Productions.
ondas chicanas
man y festo
who invented the first taco?


adrián arancibia-prieto born in the desert fishing town of iquique, chile in 1971. uncles taken away into prison camps after coup in 1973. parents see official chile doesn't want us there. moved from chile to joplin, missourah, usa in 1976. culture shock ensued; couldn't deal with saltine crackers and sliced white bread. finally moved to los angeles in 1980. once there realized was latin, country bumpkin latin, but nevertheless latin. 2 years later made it to san diego. have lived there since. took a two-year exodus for uc berkeley. became politically and socially conscious once there. had to return to diego to help family out. began writing poetry. found poetry in hip-hop, swapmeets, pan, salsa, and conversación. must find hands to feel poetry grasshopper.
can i slip an S
oj oj oj oj
going back
another brother died


Adela Carrasco was born in Los Angeles, raised in San Jose, California, and educated in Northern California. Adela currently resides in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles, and is a practicing attorney in downtown Los Angeles.
king and story collage
flesh tones


Lalo Alcaraz, native of the San Diego Tijuana border, is the creator of L.A. Cucaracha, an editorial cartoon which appears in weekly newspapers, magazines and on refrigerator doors. L.A. Cucaracha skewers Gringo and Latino politics and culture from a wildeyed Chicano viewpoint. Under the pseudonym Lalo López, he is best known as the co-founder of the infamous agit-prop comedy troop, CHICANO SECRET SERVICE and the co-editor with Esteban Zul of the irreverent satire 'zine POCHO MAGAZINE, "Mad Magazine for Mad Chicanos." Sr. López also wrote the essay, "Generation MEX," trashing the Gringo Gen X fable in a self-serving manner for Norton's NEXT: Young American Writers on the New Generation," which was published in 1994. Lalo's latest project is a full blown media hoax/political satire performance piece created by Pocho Magazine's parent company, the National Pochismo Institute titled "Hispanics For Wilson," in which the Pocho staff impersonate fanatical self-deportationist supporters of anti-immigrant California Governor Pete Wilson. Lalo wishes one day to be Minister of Culture of Free Aztlan. Not only is he a fervent fan of Taco Shop Poetry, he indulges in hot manteca tacos when nobody is looking.


98.6 in My Mouth
Bong Fire


Man-Tek-Ozo is a music and text ensemble. It started working together on May 1993 performing Waldo López's "Canto Negro." The name came later that year for a performance at RUSEFEST. On January 15, 1994, Man-Tek-Ozo performed at El Sótano in Tijuana the piece "Primero Chiapas, Luego Tú," a piece relating to the recent rebellion in Chiapas. For this performance Man-Tek-Ozo premiered Waldo López's piece "El Canto del Jaguar," and another piece by Chiapas poet Efraín Bartolomé. Several musicians have played with Man-Tek-Ozo: Jorge Peña, Erik Grizwold, Ulfar Haroldson, George Lewis, Scott Walton, Rik Groetchen and Zopilote. The group has performed several times in El Café Café in Ensenada, La Casa de La Cultura-Tijuana, El Lugar del Juglar, and most recently with the Taco Shop Poets.


Manuel Mancillas "Zopilote" is a native Tijuanense. His parents have owned a carnicería, tortillería and small grocery since 1950, and continue to do so, since they migrated to San Ysidro Califas in 1964. He received a BA in Anthropology from UCLA in 1972, an did his M.A. studies at SDSU from 1977-78. He lived and worked with highland Mayas (Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal y Chol) in the state of Chiapas from 1970-1976. For the last 20 years, he has worked in the social services field throughout San Diego and Tijuana. Currently, he is a founder-director of RUSE, a multinational artist's collective and alternative performance theatre in San Diego, also a member of Man-Tek-Ozo, with poet Waldo López and guitarist Rik Groetchen.
él, contrabajos, yo, clarinetes


pincelando el alma


Alurista has been called the poet laureate of Aztlán. He is the author of the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, one of the definitive texts of the Chicano Movement, and of numerous books of poetry. He is the co-founder of the Centro Cultural de la Raza and the Mexican American Studies Department at San Diego State University.
las faldas de mexicali


Gerardo Navarro was born on December 8, 1963 in Chula Vista, California of Mexican parents, grew up in Tijuana, México and was educated on both sides of the border. He initiated his artistic development in San Diego while collaborating with the Border Arts Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo from 1985 to 1991.

For more that ten years he has worked in painting, performances, and installations, as well as in public and collective art projects. Above all, Navarro's most valuble and acclaimed contribution to art is his ability to expand the border discourse beyond geography and into "the virtual village of the mind."

Navarro's written work is characterized by hyperreal narrative (video-stream of consciousness), driven with passion, humor, and wit. It is a travel log that pictures the world with the kinetic eye of the troubadour that brings past and future into the present.

i am a man
no whites allowed
global overture


Miguel-Ángel Soria is a Tijuana born, San Ysidro poet and Xicano political activist. He is one of the founding members of Izcalli (the Náhuatl word for House of Reawakening), La Escuela de la Raza, a Xicana/o Saturday cultural school. He has been telling stories and writing since his earliest memories.
sueño #4
sueño #9


* Nacido en Tijuana en 1975
* Laboratorios Cinematik
* Segundo lugar de video fronterizo nivel secundaria
* Mención honorífica en el concurso de novela de jóvenes
* Feria internacional del libro infantil y juvenil en 1993
* Contra-Cultura (menor)

Cybercholo de nacimiento. Considera que debe continuar la revolución de los colores que sus padres dejaron inconclusa y llevarla hasta los máximos límites de la autotrascendencia zen. Con su literatura pop pretende capturar la esencia de la vida, las sensaciones que atacan sus sentidos y todo lo que puede reciclar y decifrar del terrible information overload. Desde la vaka house envía su mensaje de amor-vida-evolución mientras bebe religiosamente un vaso de cal-c-tose por las mañanas. Y recuerda que la vida que se ha escogido fue iniciada bajo la ambiciosa educación anarquista a la Sumerhill mezclada con las calafias de la 5 y 10, la oración universal, el manifesto del partido Comunista, y su hermanita Sol.
ni lo intentes
la pesadilla del dj
una beatnik a destiempo

James Watts

Performing at Roberto's Taco Shop, San Diego.