Sunday, March 03, 2013

Poetry: Laurie Ann Guerrero, Pablo Miguel Martínez, AWP, "Haciendo Caminos," the First Biennial U.S. Latina/Latino Literary Theory and Criticism Conference, Immigration Art y Mas--

Amelia María de la Luz Montes (

I ask you to read literature every day of your life, Queridas y Queridos.  Read literature to save your life, to save another by reading to her, to him.  Read.  Especially today, this very moment, we are living in a time when quantity is prized, quality is ignored, speed is the ticket, not time for thinking. We live in a time when technological proficiency is expanding, yet empathy and curiosity about one another is waning.  Our sense of community and communal care is diminishing. The pithy quip is favored over the complex and multi-layered explanation.  “Just spit it out.  Time’s a wastin’” instead of “Come.  Sit.  Tell me the story—all of it.  I want to understand every dimension.” And in the news this week,  sequestration became the word: across the board cuts without consideration as to the program, the individuals, or environment impacted.  Every one and every program is the same.  Nuance is lost and replaced with generalizations.

Perhaps we are living inside the pages of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time:  “As the skipping rope hit the pavement, so did the ball . . . Over and over again. Up. Down. All in rhythm.  All identical.  Like the houses.  Like the paths.  Like the flowers.” 

Perhaps we have forgotten to consider the pages of García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude:  “He spent six hours examining things, trying to find a difference from their appearance on the previous day in the hope of discovering in them some change that would reveal the passage of time.” 

Enter Laurie Ann Guerrero and Pablo Miguel Martinez whose books of poetry refuse to conform or forget. Their words respond with breath, rhythm, pain, joy, truth.  

Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying which won the 2012 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (selected by Francisco X. Alarcón), sings of wildly unexpected perspectives.  To order a copy:  CLICK HERE!

Laurie Ann Guerrero
“My Mother Woke a Rooster” is one splendid example:

My Mother Woke a Rooster

She was amazed by her wide presence in the tiny kitchen.
The incredible strength in her thighs.
The ease of the strut.
In a pan hanging above the stove,
she caught the reflection of herself and swooped her rubbery cockscomb back,
letting it fall over her brow.
She pursed her red lips, her mouth just visible deep inside a sharp beak.
She watched in wonder.
The staccatoed swivel of her neck rubbing what the night before was the wrinkled throat of an old woman.
Her eyes now fitting on the face of a fighting cock.
Her red tip toes now claws and rough as rope. 

Francisco X. Alarcón describes Guerrero’s poetry as “filled with the nuanced beauty and complexity of the everyday—a pot of beans, a goat carcass, embroidered linens, a grandfather’s cancer—A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying journeys through the inherited fear of creation and destruction.”

Pablo Miguel Martínez
 In Brazos, Carry Me, Pablo Miguel Martínez takes us to el Rio Brazos in Tejas, one of the historical sites of the Mexican American war.  Martínez invites us to remember and to contemplate how this history has shaped us now.  (To order CLICK HERE!)

How brilliant it is, then, to take such a complex epic event, and begin the book with the “paletero,” waking the neighborhood early in the morning:


Listen to the tinkling
of the paletero’s simple bells—

they rattle a religion deep
inside you—escúchalas

con todo tu corazón—
their song reaches heaven

long before the clang
of ponderous cathedral bronze. 

These poems radiate with profound simplicity.  Michael Hames-Garcia writes:  “Pablo Miguel Martínez’s poetry reminds me what it is that I love about language and its ability to evoke the profoundest of emotion from quotidian description . . . Each poem is a gem—of wisdom, of passion, of sensuality, of sorrow, of joy, and of everyday beauty and embedded history.” 

And felicidades to Kórima Press on this new book of poetry.  Check out Kórima Press to read about this important independent publisher (click here!). 

As well as Pablo Miguel Martínez and Laurie Ann Guerrero’s work, the artist Favianna Rodriguez collaborates with other Latina and Latino artists, agitating with color, to call attention to Immigration issues throughout the country. (click here to see Favianna in action!)
Favianna Rodriguez

With her bold, eye catching, and breathtakingly gorgeous art, she is placing a powerful lens on the struggle of the undocumented.  And some of them have joined her team bravely identifying themselves as Undocu-Queer, advocating for LGBTQ rights. 

In the face of sequestration (which also means “to hide away”) U.S. Latina/Latino writers and artists are boldly alive, loudly speaking through their art. 

Click here for recent article on art and immigration.  


More!  More!  ¡Mas!  ¡Mas!

This coming week, a number of Latina and Latino writers will be reading their work at The Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Boston, MA, (March 6-9).  Read our La Bloga writer, Olga García Echeverría’s important posting about working class economies (which explains "who" really can get to such conferences)  (click here).  She mentions writers such as Joy Castro, and Eduardo C. Corral.  Also check out Iris Gomez, poet and nationally recognized expert on immigrant's rights, and Alex Espinoza, whose book, The Five Acts of Diego León is just out.  Check out the AWP site to find out more.  Don’t miss these writers if you are headed to Boston and the AWP! 

Also this coming week, (March 7-9) in New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) is hosting the First Biennial Latina/Latino Literary Theory and Criticism Conference (click here).  The theme is:  “Haciendo Caminos: Mapping the Futures of U.S. Latina/Latino Literatures.”  The conference committee describes the conference as aiming “to draw a critical mass of U.S. Latina/o literary critics and theorists, both foundational thinkers and emerging voices, for the first time in the history of the field . . . Located in New York City, home to one of the largest and most diverse Latina/Latino populations in the country and birthplace to some of the most important literary movements in Latina/Latino literature, this conference boldly calls for a fundamental reawakening of the field . . . In an era when Ethnic Studies is being attacked, we must brazenly champion, across our departments and institutions, a brilliant literature and scholarship that shines a path to a more complex and just humanity.”
Features speakers:  Ramón Saldívar, Mary Pat Brady, José Esteban Muñoz, Helena María Viramontes

Our La Bloga writer, Melinda Palacio mentioned “Haciendo Caminos” in her posting this week (click here). 

I will be speaking at “Haciendo Caminos” as well.  So if you are in New York, check out my panel.  I will be reading from my Diabetes Chronicles manuscript with Professor Meredith Abarca and Karen Cruz Stapleton.  

#53—Saturday, March 9th
Food, Memory, and Colonialism’s Inscription on Latina Bodies
Room 1.65
Meredith Abarca, University of Texas, El Paso, “Latina/o Memoirs and Food Sensory Memory”
Amelia Maria de la Luz Montes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “The Diabetes Mestizaje Cronica:  Theory and Practice.”
Karen Cruz Stapleton, North Carolina State University, “Sugar, Desire and Power in Loida Martiza Perez’s Geographies of Home”
Moderator:  Adam Berlin, John Jay College, moderator

Gracias dear La Bloga readers.  I am wishing you a month of March packed full of passion, reawakening, nuance, time for reading and writing, pursuing your art, time for connecting with nuestras hermanas y hermanos. 

¡Les mando a todas buenas energies!