Monday, May 25, 2009

Debut poetry collection: William Archila

The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press) by William Archila

William Archila was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, in 1968. When he was twelve, he and his family immigrated to the United States to escape the civil war that was tearing his country apart. Archila eventually became an English teacher and earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon where he received the Fighting Fund Fellow Award. The award-winning poet's work has been published in many literary journals including AGNI, Blue Mesa Review, Los Angeles Review, Bilingual Review/Revista Bilingüe, Crab Orchard Review, and The Georgia Review. Archila also appears in the anthologies New to North America: Writing by Immigrants (Burning Bush Publishing, 2007), and Another City: Writing from Los Angeles (City Lights, 2001).

From the publisher:

In The Art of Exile, William Archila asks readers to engage with a subject seldom explored in American poetry: the unrest in El Salvador in the 1980s and its impact on Central American immigrants who now claim this country as home. In language that is poignant and often harrowing, the poet takes us on a journey from Santa Ana, El Salvador, to Los Angeles, California. Archila bridges race, class, metaphor, and reality with astuteness, mingling humor and pain with a skill that denigrates neither.

"A poet of the heart and head, of the personal and public, at times William Archila's poignant poems make me hear and feel an echo of Pablo Neruda and Cesar Vallejo." --From the introduction by Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize winner

Here is a poem from The Art of Exile:

"Self-Portrait with Crow"

As I punch the time-clock, I know
men will be gunned down at dawn
in a distant continent, someone
will dart into a café with a bomb nestled

in the belly, by the roadside a woman
will moan over the body of a man,
shrunken, stretched on the earth, that God
will finger the forehead of a dying country,

all of it funneled through the news on TV.
But tonight, instead of tuning in, I’m going to kneel
beside the window, recognize myself
in the croak of the crow, high above the black tree

of winter, claws hooked and rough, wings swept
back and hunched, face masked with exhaust.
I’m going to try, even if I fail, to see myself whole,
complete in the cry, in the beak of the crow.

◙ My review of Stephen Gutierrez’s new collection, Live from Fresno y Los (Bear Star Press), appeared this weekend in the El Paso Times. In part, I say of the collection:

Stephen D. Gutierrez's new book of short fiction, "Live from Fresno y Los: Stories" (Bear Star Press, $16 paperback), bears witness to the excitement and pain, exhilaration and disappointments, of growing up Chicano in Fresno and Los Angeles during the 1970s.

He renders his world in honest, eloquent brush strokes, creating stories that are simultaneously grounded in a particular culture while remaining universal in their message. He does this without sacrificing his trademark sense of humor.

You may read the entire review here. The Live from Fresno y Los may be ordered through your favorite bookstore, or online from Bear Star Press, or from Small Press Distribution. You should also take a peek at the other fine books published by Bear Star Press such as Death of a Mexican and Other Poems by Manuel Paul López.

◙ I had a wonderful time last week visiting UC Irvine to speak about Latino in Lotusland (Bilingual Press) along with two of the anthology's 34 contributors, Lisa Alvarez and Richard Mora (who contributed to the anthology under his pen name, Victorio Barragán, in honor of his grandfather). Our host was Alejandro Morales (who is also in Latinos in Lotusland), professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the School of Humanities. Many thanks to UC Irvine (students, faculty and staff) for making us feel at home.

◙ Last year, I told you about Arizona's Hispanic Flyboys 1941-1945 (Writers Club Press, 2002) by Rudolph C. Villarreal. On this Memorial Day, you might want to revisit (or visit for the first time) that post on this remarkable book that documents the heroism of our people that is too often overlooked. Click here to read the post.

◙ That’s all for now. So, in the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!


Francisco Aragón said...

Hi Daniel:
Thanks for plugging William's book!

Unknown said...

kindly share yourappreciation on poem Spirits