Monday, September 12, 2005

SPOTLIGHT ON ROBERT VASQUEZ

Monday’s post from Daniel Olivas

Robert Vasquez was born in Madera, CA, and raised in nearby Fresno. Educated at California State University, Fresno (B.A. in English), the University of California, Irvine (M.F.A. in English), and Stanford University (Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing), Vasquez has received three Academy of American Poets prizes, three National Society of Arts & Letters awards, a National Writers' Union award, and—for his book At the Rainbow (University of New Mexico Press)—the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award.

His work has appeared in various anthologies, including, After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties (David R. Godine Press), The Geography of Home (Heyday Books), How Much Earth (Heyday Books), Under the Fifth Sun: Latino Literature from California (Heyday Books), and is forthcoming in The Literature of California, Vol. II (University of California Press).

Vasquez's poems have appeared in various periodicals, including The Los Angeles Times’ Book Review, The Missouri Review, The New England Review, Parnassas: Poetry in Review, Ploughshares, and The Village Voice, and are forthcoming in Notre Dame Review.
He has taught creative writing at the UC campuses in Irvine and Santa Cruz; he was the King/Chavez/Parks Visiting Professor in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Western Michigan University, and he was a Visiting Professor and Distinguished Visiting Writer in Residence in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of California in Davis. Since 1991, he has been on the permanent faculty at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. The Myth of the Happy Family, a new collection of poems, is near completion.

Here is a poem from Vasquez’s collection, At the Rainbow (University of New Mexico Press):

Pismo, 1959

The day ends with the blur
you wanted, full of watery hours,
the light weathered like aluminum,
gulls twining the air—summer’s
floating script in the sky
refusing to pull together. The sun

breaks down each body
to silver, each bar of flesh
waist-deep in foam and brine.
The day flares out: wreckage

of orange on blue. Sea stars
wheel into place; like you,
they witness the tide, the whitecaps
tipped with distance, the distance
large with blown sails and spray.
And the whole beachway goes cold
while strands of ocean light
sink like heavy netting.

So this is the sun’s passage
through dark doors of water....
So this is the scrolled shell
on fire, magnified. There is no one—
no lifeguard—to call out all
the bathers from calling water,

though you sense the dark
roll in, grain by toe-felt grain,
its curl slick and seamless
like a wing or a wave. Home’s
still a hundred miles inland. You say
the globe is three-fifths blue
and rocks forever toward us, you say
we will never die, and I believe.
I’ll sleep the whole drive back
beside you, leaning close and small
like a shadow reeled in, your face
precise with fine sand and shining.

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH (SEPTEMBER 15 – OCTOBER 15): LatinoLA lists many fine ways to help us celebrate this special month. The events include everything from literary festivals, jazz concerts to art shows. LatinoLA continues to be the best source for all things Latino in Los Angeles.

EDITORIAL INTERNSHIP: Tu Ciudad Los Angeles magazine is seeking motivated and talented interns to assist with editorial duties including but not limited to research and fact-checking for its print magazine and online outlets. Ideal candidates possess excellent written and verbal communication skills in English and Spanish, as well as a passion for providing the hippest and most relevant cultural and lifestyle news to L.A.’s English-speaking Latinos. Interns must be available to work in the magazines Wilshire Boulevard office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for a minimum of three consecutive months. Candidates must be college students. Internship positions are unpaid. Interested persons should send a cover letter, resume, and writing samples to edit@ciudadmag.com.

NUEVO LIBRO: The inexhaustible and omnipresent Rigoberto González reviews Ana Castillo’s new book, Watercolor Women / Opaque Men: A Novel in Verse (Curbstone Press). He says that the book “is a story of a lifelong quest for self-acceptance and redemption from the deceptions of love. Castillo has fashioned an engaging cautionary tale through the eponymous and endearing ancestor of those who are ruled by the heart.”

All done. As I noted, I came back from Kaua’i a couple of weeks ago and I had promised to tell you more about those colorful roosters and chickens that run wild on the island. When we were on the island back in 1987, my wife and I didn’t see such amazing birds wandering around. What had happened between the visits was Hurricane 'Iniki (September 1992) that tore down many coops where the birds had been kept (some illegally for cock fighting). Well, they’re wandering all about the island, even in parking lots near Safeway, etc. That’s the story. Until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!

2 comments:

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

WOW!! Daniel, I love your Monday posts! I MUST get this book. The poem is beautiful and thank you so much for letting me know about it.

daniel olivas said...

thank you, gina. i had the luck of being on a poetry panel with robert a couple of years ago. he's a gentleman.