Monday, August 05, 2013

Spotlight on Orlando Ricardo Menes and his new collection “Fetish” winner of the 2012 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry

Orlando Ricardo Menes was born in Lima, Perú, to Cuban parents but has lived most of his life in the United States. Since 2000 he has taught at the University of Notre Dame where he now directs the creative writing program. In addition to Fetish, he is also the author of Furia (Milkweed) and Rumba atop the Stones (Peepal Tree). His poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The Hudson Review, Callaloo, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Image, and Shenandoah. Menes is editor of Renaming Ecstasy: Latino Writings on the Sacred (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe) and The Open Light: Poets from Notre Dame, 1991-2008 (University of Notre Dame Press). Besides his own poems, Menes has published translations of Spanish poetry, including My Heart Flooded with Water: Selected Poems by Alfonsina Storni (Latin American Literary Review Press). He is the recipient of a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Earlier this year, I announced on La Bloga that Menes was the the winner of the 2012 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry for his manuscript, Fetish. The prize included $3,000 and publication by the University of Nebraska Press.

Fetish, which will formally be released on September 1, is now available for pre-order.

Orlando Ricardo Menes. Courtesy of Poet Portraits by W.T. Pfefferele

From the publisher: “From sensual pleasures and perils, moments and memories of darkness and light, the poems in Orlando Ricardo Menes’s new collection sew together stories of dislocation and loss, of survival and hope, of a world patched together by a family over five generations of diaspora. This is Menes’s tapestry of the Americas. From Miami to Cuba, Panama to Bolivia and Peru, through the textures, sounds, colors, shapes, and scents of exile and emigration, we find refuge at last in a sense of wholeness and belonging residing in this intensely felt, finely crafted poetry.”

Praise for Fetish:

“Orlando Ricardo Menes’s Fetish is a rare work of the American Creole Sublime, conjuring visions of his Cuban homeland as a sacred geography of vanquished mestizo dreams, his Florida boyhood a world of transmuting tropical wonder. At once mythic, syncretic, and autobiographical, transported on strains of epiphanic geomancy, Menes’s work subtly presents a new vision of América that Martí, Stevens and Walcott would all embrace. You want to whisper in a fever, ‘Adelante!’” —John Phillip Santos, University Distinguished Scholar in Mestizo Cultural Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio

“It is a magic-carpet ride—because the carpet is the tapestry of the Americas and its characters of tobacconists and capitalists and miners and fathers, and the magic is the language, the ‘maracas of rain,’ and the ‘orchids that grow in gessoed moonlight.’ What a wild ride; what a wild and lovely and passionate and closely observed ride.” —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Unmentionables

“Drenched with the flavor and savor of the Caribbean, Orlando Ricardo Menes’s Fetish is a treat for the mouth and the ear, as well as for the mind. Striking characters abound: Zvi Mendel, ‘retired tobacconist to Havana’s Ashkenazim’; an unnamed female survivor of a prison called ‘Den of the Lioness.’ Anger at injustice often surfaces. The beauty of the region springs up everywhere. But it is sound that powers these poems, a piquant blend of English spiced with Español…. These delectable poems beg to be tasted. To be spoken. To be sung.” —Charles Harper Webb, author of Shadow Ball

1 comment:

Francisco Aragon said...

Letras Latinas will be partnering with Poetry Foundation in Chicago on October 24 to present Orlando's award-winning book. He'll be joined by Dan Vera, who Menes chose as the inaugural winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Pen Poetry Prize. A not-to-be-missed event if you're in Chicago! Great profile.