Monday, September 30, 2013

Spotlight on Verónica Reyes and her new collection, “Chopper! Chopper!: Poetry from Bordered Lives”



Chopper! Chopper!: Poetry from Bordered Lives (Red Hen Press/Arktoi Books) reflects the lives of Mexican Americans, immigrants, Chicanas/os, and la jotería—malfloras, jotos, and beautiful rainbow communities. As vividly as Mexican Technicolor, these poems capture life in the barrio: vendors hauling carts with elote, raspados, botes y más. Vatos fighting to exist. Mujeres claiming space. Summer evenings, children playing in the calles of East L.A., El Paso, and bordered tierras everywhere. Reyes’s work exudes the pride, strength, turmoil and struggle of neighborhoods brimming with tradition and invention, estilo a la brava. These homegrown verses reveal the barrio in all its intricate layers. Revering difference, they fight to make room for something new: Marimacha Poetry. ¡Y Qué!


Chopper! Chopper! replenishes the landscapes of East L.A. and the lives that give it shape. Reyes resurrects old-time shops and hangouts. They memorialize the land alongside edifices of refuse, sterile towers, man-made deserts and rivers, machines that suffocate the sky, fields locked in the historical cycle churning out the fieldworker’s woe. Queers, dandies, cholos, mariachis the same as ‘Chumash, Pomo, Modoc’ ramble these streets. In these dramatic monologues, the perfect poetic mode to retool history, Reyes’ wit leaves a mark. Her young self marvels at ‘old coors or budweiser botes, tab, aspen soda cans . . . tossed by the lake at Lincoln Park, half buried in the sandbox just like the statue of liberty in planet of the apes.’ In this cool, sad, funny collection, East L.A. startles us like ‘a pinche far, faraway land’ it really is." —Kristin Naca, author of Bird Eating Bird

“In this book there is no time to run home chillando or licking your wounds—the gente in Reyes’ recollections pull you into a world where crooked tortillas and marimacha swagger are less the image of otherness, but a symbol of nosotros’ness. Through Reyes’ barrio lyricism, we, the others, do not cross over to become the norm, but come together as strands of hair, distinct, yet slicked together by the force of love, coraje, and Tres Flores.” —Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano


Verónica Reyes is a Chicana feminist jota poet from East Los Angeles, California. She earned her BA from California State University, Long Beach and her MFA from University of Texas, El Paso. Her poems give voice to all her communities: Chicanas/os, immigrants, Mexican Americans, and la jotería. Reyes has won AWP’s Intro-Journal Project, an Astraea Lesbian Foundation Emerging Artist award, and was a Finalist for the Andrés Montoya Poetry award. She has received grants and fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation, and Montalvo Arts Center. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Feminist Studies, ZYZZYVA, and The New York Quarterly. She is a proud member of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) and Macondo Writers’ Workshop.

To read a sample poem, visit Arktoi BooksArktoi Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, was established in 2006 by Eloise Klein Healy to publish literary works of high quality by lesbian writers. The mission of Arktoi Books is to give lesbian writers more access to "the conversation" that having a book in print affords. 


• The Los Angeles Review of Books, edited by Tom Lutz, recently ran my three-question interviews with Orlando Ricardo Menes and Alvaro Huerta regarding their new books.

• Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times ran Héctor Tobar's review of Tim Z. Hernandez's beautiful new novel, Mañana Means Heaven (University of Arizona Press). My interview with Hernandez regarding his novel will run in a special online edition of High Country News tomorrow.

1 comment:

Sheryl said...

Veronica Reyes is a fantastic poet!!! Go check out this collection. You won't regret it!!!