Images from left to right: Headshot photo by Scott Chernis. Along the Border Lies by Paul S. Flores, 2001. Book cover.
Paul S. Flores is a published poet, performance artist, playwright, and well-known spoken-word artist. His work explores the intersection of urban culture, hip-hop, and transnational identity.
He was raised in Chula Vista, California, and spent much of his youth between Tijuana and San Diego, developing a border consciousness. Flores’s PEN Award–winning novel, Along the Border Lies (Creative Arts Book Company, 2001), reflects this experience.
Flores moved to San Francisco in 1995 to enroll in the MFA Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State University. In 1996 he cofounded the Latino poetry performance group Los Delicados: Poetas del Sol and recorded the CD Word Descarga (Calaca Press, 2000).
Flores’s most recent one-person show, You’re Gonna Cry, directed by Brian Freeman, sold out its premiere weekend at Dance Mission Theater in February 2011. His play Representa! was directed by Danny Hoch, produced by San Francisco International Arts Festival, and premiered at the Hip-Hop Theater Festival in 2007 at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley. Representa! then toured to 17 cities, including HERE! Art Space in New York.
Flores’s past performance projects have taken him from HBO’s Def Poetry to Cuba, Mexico, and El Salvador. His newest play, Placas, is about Central American immigrants and tattoo removal. The play will be his seventh full-length stage production.
Flores also produces independent events and performs at Mission District venues such as Galeria de la Raza, Mission Cultural Center, Red Poppy, BRAVA, Intersection for the Arts, and Dance Mission as well as throughout the Bay Area and the United States.
Flores has twice received the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund and was recently awarded the CCI Investing in Artists grant, an NEA Theater grant, and an NALAC Fund for the Arts to help develop Placas.
Flores is also a highly respected youth arts development specialist. As a cofounder of Youth Speaks, he introduced spoken word to hundreds of thousands of youth all over the country—from native reservations, to public schools, to juvenile halls, to counseling centers. He helped develop the national platform for young people to build peer relationships and strategize toward a better future through the Brave New Voices: National Teen Poetry Slam, now seen on HBO.
Flores currently manages the Latino Men and Boys Program, funded by the California Endowment, at the Unity Council in East Oakland. He also teaches hip-hop theater and spoken word at the University of San Francisco.