Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Q&A Michael Nava, Author of The City of Palaces

The City of Palaces published earlier this year won Best Latino Novel at the 2015 International Latino Book Awards. I had a chance to ask its author Michael Nava a few questions myself and here's what he shared:

Lit: What inspired you to write this book? 

MN: Of course, any book has many sources of inspiration. In this case, my immediate inspiration was my own family history. Like millions of other Mexican-Americans, I am descended from refugees from the Mexican revolution; my great-grandparents who fled in 1920 for California.

The Mexican Revolution is, along with the Russian Revolution, one of the two greatest 20th century revolutions and yet it is almost unknown in this country where it had a direct impact that continues through to this day; the first great wave of Mexican migration to the US. It's as if Irish-Americans knew nothing of the potato famine that drove their ancestors to this country. I wanted to tell that story because it is one that Americans, Latino and non-Latino, need to know.

Lit:Where do you draw inspiration from? 

MN: I draw my inspiration largely from my desire to tell the story of the disenfranchised, the outsiders and all those people -- whether, for example, LGBT or Latino/a -- whose histories have been suppressed or ignored. I am in the broadest sense a political writer. My politics don't get in the way of the story, but the stories I tell reflect my politics.

Lit: What's your writing routine like? 

MN: I write in the morning before going to my day job as a staff attorney at the California Supreme Court.

Lit: Which books have had a great effect on you? 

MN: As a young writer I read almost no fiction because I intended to be poet so until I was in my early 20s I really only read and studied and wrote poetry, everyone from Shakespeare (the sonnets) to modernists like Wallace Stevens, Eliot and Auden as well as a healthy dose of poets in translation from Pablo Neruda to CP Cavafy. From the poets I learned compression and the love of language which, as it turns out, are valuable tools for a novelist.

Lit: What advice do you have for young Latinos/as based on your own experiences? 

MN: Except for token figures, the mainstream literary establishment continues to ignore us. The City of Palaces was turned down by 13 New York publishers who said the same thing -- good book, but whose going to buy it. Since there are 33 million Mexican-Americans in this country what statement reveals is provincialism and ignorance. So, you must persevere, find ways to get your stories out the rest.


Friday, November 15, 2013

#FridayReads: For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey by Richard Blanco

For All of Us, One Today is a fluid, poetic account of Richard Blanco's life-changing experiences as the inaugural poet in 2013. In this brief and evocative narrative, he shares the story of the call from the White House committee and all the exhilaration and upheaval of the days that followed. 

For the first time, he reveals the inspiration and challenges—including his experiences as a Latino immigrant and gay man—behind the creation of the inaugural poem, "One Today," as well as two other poems commissioned for the occasion ("Mother Country" and "What We Know of Country"), published here for the first time ever, alongside translations of all three of those poems into his native Spanish. Finally, Blanco reflects on his new role as a public voice, his vision for poetry's place in our nation's consciousness, his spiritual embrace of Americans everywhere, and his renewed understanding of what it means to be an American as a result of the inauguration. 

 Like the inaugural poem itself, For All of Us, One Today speaks to what makes this country and its people great, marking a historic moment of hope and promise in our evolving American landscape. 


Richard Blanco
 (Photo: pennstatenews)
Selected by President Obama to be the fifth inaugural poet in history, Richard Blanco is the youngest, first Latino, first immigrant, and first openly gay person to serve in the role. The negotiation of cultural identity and universal themes of place and belonging characterize his three collections of poetry—City of a Hundred Fires, Directions to The Beach of the Dead, and Looking for The Gulf Motel. Blanco is a fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. He lives in Bethel, Maine.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Wanton Life


The Wanton Life, from My Nature is Hunger by Luis J. Rodriguez (Selected Poem)


About Luis J. Rodríguez:

Rodríguez is a poet, journalist, memoirist, children’s book writer, short story writer, and novelist whose documentation of urban and Mexican immigrant life has made him one of the most prominent modern Chicano literary voices. He is perhaps best known for his memoir Always Running (1993), a powerful account of his time spent in Los Angeles–area gangs in the 1960s and ’70s. One of Rodríguez’s primary concerns as a writer continues to be the experience of poor immigrants in US cities, a theme reflected in his novels and children’s books as well as first-person accounts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Storytelling is Universal

"The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms."  --Muriel Rukeyser


Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser (Photo: Wikipedia)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NYC: Poetry Handmade Books / Poesía hecha a mano Event

You're invited:

Poetry Handmade Books / Poesía hecha a mano

Please join us at McNally Jackson Bookstore on September 2nd, 2011 at 7:00pm,

Yarisa Colón will be speaking about the creation of her handmade poetry books.


McNally Jackson Bookstore is located on 52 Prince Street (between Lafayette & Mulberry), New York City.

This event has been organized thanks to Javier Molea.


Yarisa Colón Torres (1977) was born in Puerto Rico, and moved to Queens, New York when she was fourteen. She publishes her poetry by creating unique handmade books. "Caja de voces" (collaboration with Waleska Rivera, 2006), "¿Entrelínea o secuestro?" (French translation by Yarín Medina Gil, 2007), "Sin cabeza" (revised edition by Taller Asiray, 2011) are among her latest publications. Recently, she also published a limited edition of "Cibeles que sueña=Cybele As She Dreams", a poetry book written by Lourdes Vázquez and translated by Enriqueta Carrington.

Yarisa has shared her work at museums, universities and street fairs in Puerto Rico and abroad. Her work has been reviewed by El Diario/La Prensa, AHA Magazine, Claridad newspaper and Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, among others. In 2003, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (NY) invited her to be part of the project “Puerto Rican Writers: History and Context”, which provides a space in the general archive to preserve and share her documents. Please visit her blog Espacioasiray.blogspot.com to view some of her work.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Margarita Engle, first Latina recipient of the Newbery Award

Great interview:

Guanabee Interviews Margarita Engle, Newbery Award-Winning Author Of The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom.

Margarita Engle is also the 2009 winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award, which honors Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.
















Congrats, Margarita!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Culture in El Bronx


It always amazes me how some people, especially those who've migrated to NYC, have never ever set foot in the Bronx, well, except for a Yankees game.

One hand, I understand it the Bronx has gotten a bad historical rap, the South Bronx, most of all.

But for those who are sleeping on the Bronx, wake up and smell the fresh Bustelo brewing. The Boogie Down is on the up and up!

This northern borough's African American & Puerto Ricans residents birthed hip hop and rap, grafitti and breakdancing. All cultural rich art forms that revolutionized urban culture and influenced almost everthing that came afterwards, from music, to clothes, to visual arts, to language, to MTV, poetry and more but enough of the history lesson.

Those who venture northwards will find that the South Bronx has been revitalized, just over the bridge is a span of antiques shops and artists lofts, known as SoBro (or South Bronx). There are poetry reading such as at the Bruckner Bar & Grill and a large poetry/writing comunity.

There are First Nights events:

First Friday at The Bronx Museum of the Arts

"Join The Bronx Museum of the Arts for its free First Friday program, From Salsa & Bachata to Merengue & Son: The Popular Music of Two Islands, featuring live band performances and DJs covering popular musical genres from Cuba and Dominican Republic. A new series launched in September, First Fridays offers film screenings, art performances, music and other special events the first Friday of every month. In conjunction with the festivity, the Museum will offer tours guided by student docents from the Bronx High School of the Visual Arts of Quisqueya Henriquez: The World Outside, a collection of works by the Cuban-Dominican artist currently on display." More info on the site.

And, forget the windows on Fifth, in the Bronx, the Bronx Zoo's Holiday Light show will take your breath away. For those who miss the suburbs and the pretty decorated homes, just drive up Pelham Parkway....

"For three decades, the Garabedian family has decorated their home and yard at 1605 Pelham Parkway North with a handcrafted holiday extravaganza that includes more than 50,000 small lights, religious figures, ballroom dancers, Victorian-era characters, and pop-culture icons. The family, which runs a dressmaking business, crafts the dolls, their costumes, and the stages and props all by hand, only the lights and Christmas tree are bought in a store.

Powered by 37,000 volts, the Christmas House can be seen from blocks away and is a yearly attraction for Bronx residents and others who come to enjoy home-spun Holiday cheer."

Via The Municipal Art Society of New York.

The Bronx has experienced a rebirth and been a home to likes of Don DeLillo, E. L. Doctorow, Edgar Allan Poe, Chaim Potok, Mark Twain, Danny Aiello, Woody Allen, Anne Bancroft, Joey Bishop, Red Buttons, James Caan, George Carlin, Tony Curtis, Stacey Dash, Chazz Palminteri, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stanley Kubrick, Linda Lovelace, Sonia Manzano, Garry Marshall, Carroll O'Connor, Jerry Orbach, Al Pacino Regis Philbin, Rob Reiner, Neil Simon Mary J. Blige,Diahann Carroll, Grandmaster Caz, Willie Colón Grandmaster Flash, Kool DJ Herc, Fat Joe, Billy Joel, Héctor Lavoe, Jennifer Lopez, KRS-One, Tito Puente, Big Pun, Carly Simon, Regina Spektor, Luther Vandross, Mario Vazquez, Veronica Vazquez, Howard Dean, Ed Koch, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Colin Powell, Theodore Roosevelt, Eliot Spitzer, Lou Gehrig, Jake LaMotta, and Ralph Lauren just to mention a few.

The apartments buildings on Grand Concourse once again are luxury co-op homes to those smart enough to snatch them up just as did families did once the art deco apts were built.

Those who think the Bronx has nothing to offer them, out to think again, this brimming with culture borough has got it all, class, wit and soul.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A poem...

My heart leaned
toward the Caribbean
It was a heavy lean,
one weighted in
mangoes, guenepas, coconuts,
and congas newly bathed
in palm oil, freshly pressed.

The weight was laden
with the ritmo of plena,
and the rain cascading
from purple-beaded shekeres,
laden with the mashed pulp
of sugar cane, and aguelo's
sweeping machete.

The unbalance held
the fever
that accompanied
the red-burnt skin
of those who had left
and forgotten
how the coquis sang their song,
as the sun
knelt before the
Earth it had kissed all day long.

Weighted with the
divinity of the trees,
who Huracan left alone,
whose leaves danced in the windsong.

My heart leaned, heavy,
weighted,
by the thought of you,
swimming in the blue,
swimming, an ocean song, away from me.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hasta la vista!

So I'm off this weekend to San Francisco for the big Web2.0 Expo.

I leave you all with some parting poetry writen by moi:


Walking Papers (Friday's Psalm)


Weary Spirit
I watch you wander.
Torn muscles,
despairing eyes,
sorrowful heart,
limping trying to find a place
to claim your own safe refuge.
Arms open
I die to embrace you,
shelter you.
Keep you from
the cold darkness,
the abyss
threatening to drown you.
Overwhelm
both you and I.

I wonder why I
feel so strongly
your need.
When you,
yourself,
tell me to stay away.
Fearful of the power,
the abyss has
over you,
scared it might claim
me too.
Your demons
becoming mine, ours.
Yet, you fail to realize
that my demons
are the same
you face everyday
when you look in the mirror.

For our fates
are so intertwined
that they fail to appear as singular
when scrutinized closely.
But instead are as tightly
paired as the double helix
Of a DNA strand,
Curving and spooning
around each other.
The blueprints of two lives,
combined, conjoined,
trying to materialize new life.
The evolution of the soul.

Weary spirit,
I engage you,
wish you Godspeed.

May your sojourn
Bring you home.
So that your dirty feet
and worn soul may be washed
in the basin of my lonely tears
and be replenished at the oasis
of my desert reservoir,
which I will water and tend
everyday so that you may drink.
May your journey
liberate that hurt child
who peers out from within.
May he find a home
and be at peace,
no longer needy.
Let the worries dissipate
and the air be clear
so that your lungs
may fill to capacity
and refuel your tired body.

The path you choose,
I pray,
let it be clear of stones,
if it is not,
let your bloody feet
find their way to my healing palms
so that I may be the salve that balms
your feet with my grace.

Weary one,
let your journey
be expansive.
Receive its lessons,
its enlightenment
but do not over do it.
Let it come to a close
so that the life cord
which I extend
from deep within
my uterus
not snap or break
if overstretched.

Keep the map of my love
close to you.
Read its words
and gifts
with your inner eye.
Let their power
glow inside you.
Let them flow
intravenously
through you.
Use them to delineate
and guide you.
I will wait outside your door.

He who leaves always returns.
It is the Tao of the universe.
Matter can never be destroyed.
Men are never quelled
only transformed.
May Buddha hold you in his path.
May you journey in a circle.

I pray:
May you come home.
May you come home.
May you come home.
Safe and whole.

Monday, March 26, 2007

One of my poems

The Residue of Man’s Exhalation

Swept in
like a breath of fresh air
across the expanse of naked flesh
newly washed.

Where goose bumps arise
at the touch of the tip of your tongue
or fingertip.

Tracing the silhouette
of some newly discovered
geography across my body

Like a fervent explorer
on some unclaimed landscape.
Dying and being reborn
with every breath and stroke
like a tiny million fireworks
blazing the sky
for fragments of time
and then fading away
and repeating.

So that the breath caught in my throat
is all that exists
and all else
is silent.
Caught, transposed, and suspended
by the touch of you and I.

Transfixed upon my memory,
like the stain of a stamp
or engraving on leather
where the topography
of the carvings
is reminiscent of
our dips and revolutions,
ebb and flows,
leaving me breathless
and anticipating
the next wave.

Preparing my body,
letting it be molded
into your chalice.
Allowing your tongue to trace
its delicate pale rim
and taste its promise
like reparation to a dying man.

Uplifted by your admiration,
transcendent and aglow,
left exalted, elevated and consecrated
I float through the day
held aloft
by the residue of your sweeping breath
hot on the
span of my neck
as my thoughts race
through my reflections
trying to recapture
a sense of you.


* Inspired & dedicated to W.
 
Web Analytics