SACRED SITES IN THE ARGONAUT

SACRED SITES IN THE ARGONAUT

JULY 1, 2021 THE ARGONAUT PAGE 17
A R T S & E V E N T S
SoCal’s Secret History
Santa Monica author releases new audiobook
By Haley Beyer
Susan Suntree’s best-selling,
award-winning book, “Sacred
Sites: The Secret History of
Southern California”, was first
published in 2010 and describes
the origins of the
universe, the evolution of
plants and animals, migration
of humans and much more.
In 2021, Suntree released a
new audiobook version of her
book, which is available on 41
sites including Amazon,
Google and Audible. The
inspiration for the audiobook
stemmed from her curiosity of
how things came to be.
“I asked myself how did
things come to be the way they
are?” Suntree said. “I wanted
to see through the palm trees
and concrete.”
Suntree wanted people to feel
SoCal expert Susan Suntree’s new audiobook “Sacred Sites: The Secret History of
Southern California” features little-known information about the geological formation
of the landscape, Native American sacred villages, and the coming of the Europeans.
like they were part of the world
they lived in. She felt misplaced
in Los Angeles because
there was no information
available about the landscape
or indigenous people. She used
her experience as a performance
artist, teacher and 18th
Street Art Center resident artist
to start her research and
worked with tribal leaders,
artists, historians and scientists
at major universities and
museums.
What Suntree discovered
changed the way she viewed her
home and she wanted to share
that with everyone around her.
“Southern California is a
dynamic place,” Suntree said.
“There is continual transformational
landscape. It is a force of
life on this astounding planet. It
is all intelligence. All alive.”
In the audiobook, Suntree
covers the history of the Native
American people who lived in
Southern California for more
than 15,000 years. She also
shares information about the
Tongva and other indigenous
tribes with their villages
Cahuenga, Tujunga, Topanga
and other familiar locations.
One fact that most people do
not know is that the oldest
human skeleton in North
America was found in LA.
After exploring the Santa
Monica Mountains, 16-millionyear-
old seashells that were
once coastal seabeds were
found as well. Earthquakes are
responsible for pushing the
mountains higher, and after the
Ice Age ended, the bay that
once filled the LA basin
retreated and the region basked
in the current Mediterranean
climate that LA is known for
today.
Suntree’s journey began as a
one-woman show, which was
then made into her best-selling
book. Making it into an
audiobook “restored it to its
native being.”
“My worlds didn’t collide, the
two worlds became braided
together,” Suntree said.
To prepare for recording,
Suntree went through voice
exercises and lessons. Once the
work began, she worked every
single day until it was completed.
The work was tedious
because the layering of the
music, voices of the characters,
and creating a clear concept of
the timeline was essential
to creating the perfect
interpretation.
The music helped move the
story along and Suntree enjoyed
working with composer Tom
Zehnder and featured Ernest
Siva. She also worked with
actor Kalani Queypo and Peter
Coyote, an Emmy Award-winning
narrator of documentaries.
“It was so important for me to
work with these two people,”
Suntree said. “It felt right to
have the male voice of Queypo,
an indigenous person, tell the
story alongside someone as
brilliant and experienced as
Coyote. “
To purchase the audio book,
visit shop.authors-direct.com/
collections/suntree-sacred-sitesaudiobook
The audiobook is narrated by Suntree and actor Kalani
Queypo, and features Peter Coyote, the voice of Ken
Burns’ documentaries.
CREDIT: TONY VEREBES
CREDITS: AUDIOBOOK COVER IMAGE: JUERGEN NOGAI; COVER DESIGN: TIM GIBBS-ZEHNDER

Audio Theater Update

Audio Theater Update

November 19, 2020

Dear Friends,

In a year of continuing challenges, we have very good news to report: Phase one of our Sacred Sites audio theater production is completed! I am thrilled to type these words!

We are so grateful for the support so many of you have provided. Without you, we would not have come so far. After months of preparation rehearsing, working with linguists and other consultants, and much more, we have completed 22 hours of recording. The Media Staff studio, a supporter of this project, has one of the best recording rooms in Los Angeles. The raw material sounds excellent. In my next letter, I will share clips of the recordings.

It is a pleasure to introduce to you Kalani Queypo (Blackfoot, Hawaiian) who reads with me Book 2 and the Epilogue. He is a founding member of the National American Indian Committee at SAG-AFTRA. Among his many credits are Terrence Malick’s The New WorldJamestown, and Fear the Walking Dead. I’ve included his headshot and bio plus studio shots at the end of this letter.

Phase Two has begun: editing, music composition and licensing, mastering, distribution, and publicity. Since we are an independent production, we must do everything we can to get this timely and inspiring project out to the public.

To do this, once again I need your assistance. Please reach out to anyone you feel would love this work and would join our mighty team of supporters — no amount is too small (or too large!).

Sacred Sites is a story that weaves the world together. It inspires us to love this earth and, thus to care for it in every way we can. It is essential that we understand natural systems and learn the many ways we humans have and can, once again, live in harmony with all life.

Thank you for being a part of this creation.

http://www.gofundme.com/f/sacred-sites-audio-theater

Or send a check made out to Sacred Sites LLC to 41 No. Logan St., Denver CO 80203.

With deep appreciation,

Susan

Kalani Queypo (Blackfeet, Hawaiian) proudly serves on the Native Voices Advisory Council and is a founding member of the National American Indian Committee at SAG-AFTRA. He can be seen in the Oscar-nominated, Terrence Malick film, The New World, Steven Spielberg’s Emmy winning Into the West and Slow West (Sundance GRAND JURY PRIZE). Television credits include Jamestown (producers of Downton Abbey), Saints & Strangers, Fear the Walking DeadMad MenNurse JackieBones, and Hawaii Five-0. Queypo is currently filming the new CBC series, The Trickster.

Kalani and me at the end of his session.

Director Tom Keegan and engineer Anthony Alfaro

Me on my last day of recording (16 hours over four days!)

Jerry Mayfield, whose Media Staff studio was a wonderful place to work. He is famous for his sourdough bread which he served at every session with his homemade jam. What delight!

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your family and friends are safe, well, and steady (enough). I deeply appreciate all of the support you have given me and my creative projects over the years and I wanted to give you an update. In the midst of the world being upside down, I’m pleased to share some good news.

SACRED SITES: THE SECRET HISTORY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA was selected by its publisher, University of Nebraska Press, to be brought out in an updated paperback edition. I am very grateful to the press for their faith in the book. They feel, as do I, that it will reach more people in this new format. I’ve attached the cover which includes some new praise (including Stephen Greenblatt and Glen MacDonald) and which makes good use of the beautiful design they created for the hard-back edition.

It is now available. Your reviews posted wherever you buy books and on social media are a great plus and I thank you in advance for that support. https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9780803231986/

READINGS: On the official publication date of the paperback edition of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, June 1, 2020, I was scheduled to read at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History at the invitation of the Santa Barbara Archaeology Association. It is postponed. When it is scheduled I will let you know.

My presentation includes a colorful slide show of largely unknown cultural and geographical features of the Southern California landscape discussed in my book. Please tell your friends who live in that area to join us when the reading happens.

I am also scheduled to read at 7:30 PM on June 18 at the E.P Foster Library in Ventura at the invitation of Phil Taggart.   See next post for information about how to attend via zoom!

If your organization, bookstore, or get-together of friends would like me to read, please do be in touch. I love sharing this work. Yes, one day we will gather again. Meanwhile, we can zoom!

SACRED SITES AUDIO BOOK: A marvelous team has coalesced around the project of producing Sacred Sites as an audio book. This has been a dream of mine for years! And now it is coming to fruition. Based on the updated new paperback, this production captures the book’s poetic essence. Epics have always been sung, and though I am not going to sing, the audio book will capture the sense of the work as a song cycle.

We are thrilled that Peter Coyote has recorded the foreword by Gary Snyder and the introduction! It’s a big project requiring the input of linguists, musicians, consultants, and many others. We are already in rehearsal via zoom and soon will be raising money to fund a stellar recording to share with the world. I’ll keep you posted!

A CHORAL QUILT OF HOPE: THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

You may remember that I adapted the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a poem and that award-winning composer Adrienne Albert’s set it as a choral work (adriennealbert.com). The Preamble of our composition has often been sung, but now the 75-voice Concord Chorale of Concord, New Hampshire will premiere the complete composition with orchestral accompaniment. Originally scheduled forMother’s Day weekend, this unforgettable evening is postponed. I will let you know when it is rescheduled.

I learned about the UNDHR when I compiled and edited, Wisdom of the East: Stories of Compassion, Inspiration, and Love (Contemporary Books) for which the Dalai Lama wrote the foreword. One of the essays recounts the connection between the Roosevelts’ encounter with the Dalai Lama and Eleanor’s inspired shepherding of the document to international ratification at a meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco on December 10, 1948. When I first read the document, I knew that a choral work would allow it to resonate in the hearts of all who sing and hear it.  

Finally, I am so very pleased now to have a studio at 18th Street Arts Center. It’s an honor and a boon!

Please like the Sacred Sites facebook page and check for it on Instagram. I’ll be posting lots of updates on my soon to be updated website: http://www.susansuntree.com/.

Lately, when I breath the cleaner, bluer air here in Los Angeles, I am reminded of what is truly possible when we act on behalf of the community.

Love,

Susan

September Post

September Post

3 September 2019

Dear Friends,

Literary Good News:

Attached is the flyer for our Writers Circle reading at Beyond Baroque Literary Center on 6 September, 8 PM, in Venice. We four writers meet weekly. Each of us has developed a body of work, both poetry, storytelling, memoir, creative nonfiction, and fiction that demonstrate a range of styles and voices We are eager to share. Join us!

Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California will be published in a paperback next spring which will include a few updates in the science section. I am thrilled about this! And there is an audio book in the works which I will report on in the fall.

In November, I will be reading on the creative writing panel at the Pacific-Asia Modern Language Association (PAMLA) conference in San Diego.

11th Street Historic Bungalow District:  Our indefatigable committee has regrouped after the intense effort that led to our success in establishing this district. Now we are preparing for negotiations about the rules that will govern its ongoing care.   I am ever grateful to all of you who helped along the way. Every single contribution mattered!

The Santa Monica Conservancy honored me and my co-chair, Diane Miller, with the 2019 Preservation Advocacy Award. They also honored Mid City Neighbors for their essential support of our project. I felt truly honored to receive this recognition which not only honors me but all the many people who contributed to the establishment of this historic district.

I’ve finally completed my notes and sorted the slides about my grueling and utterly fascinating journey last August to Western Mongolia which I am happy to share with you. I held a screening for a few people last week and am happy to do so again.  Meanwhile, I’ll soon set out on the Norwegian mail boat from Kirkenes, a very far northern Norwegian town,traveling south through the fjords. My sister and I will disembark at the Lofoten Islands for a few days before completing the journey to Bergen. Thereafter we will take the train over the mountains to Oslo. We are promised spectacular scenery and wild weather.

Summer with its heat and light, bumper crop of crises, and garden vigor presented itself with the lengthening and now slowly shortening days. In the afternoon when it’s time to stretch and walk, I look out my studio window here at 18th Street Art Center with increasing wonder at the earthly beauty of the Holocene, lately named the Anthropocene for the human hands and minds that want to overtake that beauty while some of us work to restore and support it. Our work is ever present.

With the season, Susan

Reading Date Change and Choral Quilt of Hope to be Performed!

Reading Date Change and Choral Quilt of Hope to be Performed!

READING DATE CHANGE AND GOOD NEWS

4 May 208

Dear Friends,

CHANGE OF DATE: My reading at Britt Marie in Albany is happening on Sunday, 20 May at 3:30 (see the poster below)!

Sorry for the confusion! I hope to see you there. Britt Marie is one of those beloved restaurants that people regularly return to. It was bought a few years ago by a former student of mine. Timo Rodriguez was a memorably smart, lively unto wild young man attending one of my remedial writing courses at East Los Angeles College. He went on to earn a PhD at UC Berkeley, but tiring of academic life, bought Britt Marie and introduced a poetry series among other lively additions to the restaurants great food and ambiance. Plan to stay for dinner!

Good News: My adaptation as a poem of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set as a choral work by award winning composer Adrienne Albert: A Choral Quilt of Hope, will be sung in Kansas City this summer. They will sing the Preamble and plan to present the complete work later this year. We hope to see this work sung across the country and, in translation, around the world, so people will embody the UNDHR’s vision, articulated so long ago, of peace and community benefit for all.

June 24, 2018
A CHORAL QUILT OF HOPE: PREAMBLE (click to go to Adrienne’s site)
Westport Presbyterian Church
Kansas City, MO 64111

 Good News: Our efforts to create an Historic 11th Street Bungalow District moves forward. We received a strong letter of endorsement from Pasadena Heritage, one of the foremost conservancies in the country.

May! The month of Green Grass. Upcoming: June, “The Little Month of bright summer air/when the young eagles fly.”

Susan

He Wore Hats

He Wore Hats by Susan Suntree

See it here:

02/17/2017 By Postcard Poems & Prose

Susan Suntree writes poetry and essays, pesters the crowds at malls and parks with her mask and puppet street theatre, and works to save wetlands and indigenous sacred places. Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, received an Independent Booksellers Association Award for Nonfiction, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Poetic Narrative, a Mellon Foundation Award. Other books: Eye of the Womb/El Ojo de la Matriz (poetry in English and bilingual editions), Tulips (translations of poetry by Spanish poet Ana Rossetti), also Rita Moreno, Wisdom of the East. Poems in, among others, Prairie Schooner, ZinkZine 6, Ensemble Jourine, Piedra del Molino, REAL, Fightin’ WordsPEN Anthology. Reviews in Poetry Flash and Theater Journal.

Website: http://www.susansuntree.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading, Historic District Update, Publications

May 2017

Dear Friends,

Update on Historic District: Since I last wrote, we continue our work to establish an 11th Street Bungalow Historic District (which preserves my 106 -year-old bungalow: 1223 11th Street. A couple of weeks ago, we submitted our Community Consultants’  Report which includes, among other documents, histories of each of the bungalows and some fascinating stories about the people who lived on our block in the early decades of the 2oth Century–the people who made Santa Monica a home town.

Our hearing before the Landmarks Commission is schedule for 12 June 2017. I will send an alert letting you know when and where to send an email. Remember: even a sentence or two is an effective vote! A district protects the houses while it recognizes our neighborhood as a place where an interconnection of people and place–the basis of community–is expressed in the design of the homes.

For those of you who might be interested, I’ve attached my short history of the block which begins with the land itself and continues with the story of the human community.

Upcoming: On 15 May at 7 PM (see flyer for map), I’m giving a presentation of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California for the Santa Susana Mountain Parks Association. Free and open to the public. Bring a book to have signed! I’ll also have a few available (cash or check) after the reading. Please join us!

The SSMPA works to preserve the unique landscape of the Simi Hills where some of the most important indigenous sacred sites are located (the Burro Flats winter and summer solstice ceremonial sites, among others, which I write about in Sacred Sites). Rocket engines that flew to the moon, among other military projects, were tested here–a complicated legacy whose remnants must be seen for the history to be grasped. And the land itself is authentic Southern California wild beauty with abundant natural life— a rarity and a treasure that must be protected.

Publications: “He Wore Hats” (attached) was recently published in a visual format. My short essay in praise of the venerable SoCal literary center, Beyond Baroque (attached) is posted on Harry Northup’s poetry blog: http://timestimes3.blogspot.com/2017/05/beyond-baroque-star-and-spur.html. I’ve nearly completed another book of poetry (The Traveler Poems) which will soon fly into the ether to find its publisher. My memoir about “going back to the land” in the early 1970s will be included in an anthology about what happened to people who responded to this dream.

Wild blooms still brighten the landscape, and pale sycamore leaves turn toward deep summer green. We had a hard rain last night, so the ground and roots won’t forget spring just yet. Traditionally Southern California Native Americans wore garlands of wildflowers during this brief and fragrant season.

Our attention to the community of life nourishes what the current political climate would starve.

In concert,  Susan

Castle Peak, a Place of the Tongues in the Simi Hills

Tukuupar

Dear Friends

Lawrence Goldstein’s Poetry Los Angeles: Reading the Essential Poems of the City (University of Michigan Press) was released 1 May. In his preface, Goldstein notes that he has written not about individual poets. Rather, he wishes “to pay tribute to the poems, not (solely) to the places, for those poems have the potential to change our thinking about more than a single region. They map not only locations but the modes of consciousness and verbal invention….”

In his conclusion of the first chapter titled: “The Pacific Ocean of the Poets,” Goldstein writes: “The most recent landmark of topographical ambition is Susan Suntree’s Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California (2010)…based on extensive geological, archaeological, and ethnographic history. Gary Snyder refers to as an ‘epic’ in his Foreword; he might have compared it to religious and philosophical texts whose narratives are not of heroic feats of arms, but are philosophical accounts of natural evolution, as in Lucretius’s investigation into the nature of things….”

He also writes:“…the poem offers an experience of textuality comparable to the tradition of long-form American poetry and ecologically minded prose beginning in the early days of the Republic and reaching a crescendo in Leaves of Grass.”

It deeply pleases me to share this news about Sacred Sites being given literary consideration. I’ll post the complete text of Goldstein’s comments on the Sacred Sites page. Take a look!

 April: The Green Grass month when grasses sprout.

May: The Big Big Month.

June: The Little Month of bright summer air

                                       when the young eagles fly.

From SS p.154

 

 

Southern California: English, Spanish. Indigenous

Southern California: English, Spanish, Indigenous

While the Ground Shifts

While the Ground Shifts

Welcome to my blog, which I call Posts.