Pocho Poet Josiah Luis Alderete Speaks Fire In The Mission
In a city that gives the cold shoulder to working class people and creative folks that aren't backed by trust funds or tech money, Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore opens their doors to those who still care about the artistic soul of San Francisco. It's a place where you can walk in and be greeted with a warm "Hey hermano, Hey prima, Hey familia," and strike up a conversation with the booksellers, fellow readers or local writers that frequent the Mission shop. It's a venue where folks can read to a supportive inter generational audience, a gallery space showcasing artists of color, a community sanctuary to just stop in and exhale a deep breath from the chaos of the city.
It's a vibe that is tended to and nurtured by co-owner and poet Josiah Luis Alderete. Coming of age in San Francisco in the 90s, he became immersed in the vibrant literary scene bourgeoning in the Mission. "People say North Beach is the heart of a literary scene in San Pancho or in San Francisco, and I'd say, nah, man, it's the Mission," he muses. As bookstores and cafes from that era have shuttered in the neighborhood, Alderete is helping keep the Mission poetry scene alive through organizing and booking local writers to read and share their work at the 24th street bookstore.
In our conversation back in March 2022, Josiah shared literary history of the Mission, why Axolotl's show up in his pocho poems, and how his work is a form of memory keeping.