Thursday, May 14, 2009

Poeta de Colombia y Wisconsin

Maurice Kilwein Guevara and Poema

Gente: About two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to read for Paul Martinez Pompa (Pepper Spray/Momotombo Press) at Triton College in River Grovee, IL. I was paired with Maurice, and loved his sly, insightful, lyrical, muscular writing. Below is a brief description of who Maurice is, and below that, samples of the poetry that made me laugh and stirred my soul.


Maurice Kilwein Guevara was born in Belencito, Colombia in 1961 and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, where he teaches in the MA and PhD Programs in Creative Writing as well as in the Latino Studies Program. Previously, he has taught at Vermont College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Universidad de las Américas (Mexico), and Universidad del Norte and Universidad Javeriana (Colombia).

His first book of poetry, entitled Postmortem (U. of GA Press), won the National Contemporary Poetry Series Competition and was published in 1994. His second volume, Poems of the River Spirit, was published in the Pitt Poetry Series in 1996. Autobiography of So-and-so: Poems in Prose came out in 2001 with New Issues Press. POEMA, his fourth collection, was released in 2009 by the University of Arizona Press.

A dynamic presenter of his own work, Kilwein Guevara has given poetry performances and workshops in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain, Cuba and throughout the United States. His work has appeared in Poetry, Parnassus, Ploughshares, Exquisite Corpse, Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, and The Journal of the American Medical Association. His poetry has been anthologized in Touching the Fire: Fifteen Poets of Today’s Latino Renaissance (Anchor/Doubleday), American Poetry: the Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon University Press), The New American Poets: a Bread Loaf Anthology (U. Press of New England), and No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets (Tupelo Press), among others.

In 2009, he will be a Senior Research Grantee with La Comisión Fulbright en Ecuador, doing background research for a novel and a play. .He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and was the first Latino to be elected as its President. He is married to the poet Janet Jennerjohn; they have two sons and live in Milwaukee.


Hector the Colombian Who Butchered the Hair of Juan Ramón

You don’t know him? Oh, I figured cause he’s Colombian too.
I don’t get my hair cut from him no more. Used to.
Used to sit down with him in his shop over on
Lincoln Avenue, and he cut my hair, I guess he cut my hair
like maybe twenty twenty-five times, you know for least ten years,
y fueron cortes de pelo de calidad buena.
See the thing is Hector the Colombian he can bullshit so much
you need waders after a while, him talking about his village in the Andes,
and his mother who wears a crown of thorns cause she’s a
super-duper Catholic lady and sees angels in the Tupperware,
and his bother that’s a narcoleptic mechanic, and his six sisters in Colombia who is so beautiful they still ain’t married, and he says that’s the difference between Colombia and every other country in the planet is how beautiful the Colombian women is, etcetera. But the last time I got my hair cut by Hector he looked terrible like he ain’t slept in a week, and I can smell the aguardiente through the cheap cologne and gold chains. Snip snip clip clip he starts up again on how perfect like an emerald ripped out of the belly of the mountain the Colombian women is clip clip. Now he starts crying saying God the Almighty and/or Jesus Christ and even the Holy Mother is jealous of Colombia because the Colombian women is so beautiful like gold shimmering in the sunshine, and God’s jealousy is the reason why Colombia has earthquakes and mudslides and more blood than a butcher shop clip clip clip when out of the blue he says Who am I kidding? She left me porque yo soy un verdadero pendejo and I drink too much and I’m a mess and a bad person clip clip, and I start feeling the hot tears falling on my head and neck drip clip, and I give a quick peek at the mirror and it’s a mess. He’s fucking up big time, cutting big ugly bald shapes into my scalp like I got a dog disease, and it’s all uneven clip drip with drops of blood. The problem, Juan Ramón, is I am afraid I am too democratic and love all the women equal, but for some reason they don’t feel the same way about democracy as I do clip clip. But I say, Hector look man my head’s all fucked up, chingado, you fucked up my head man check it out, and he wipes his eyes, puts the scissors and comb down by his side, and I say I ain’t paying for that shit. That’s a shit-job you done, and he says in a low, empty voice: You’re right, Juan Ramón. You look the way I feel. This one is on me, totalmente gratis.

Poema cubano con cara vieja

La red
La red
Poema cubano
Con cara café
Face note
Net of creases
Come come
Comes out
Crops up
A stogie
A brown stump
Faces out
Time-net a brown face
De la pared
Un puro
Comes out
A brown face
Crops up
Out of the white
Out of the white plaster
A leathered rolling
Cheekbones slope of forehead
Looks down
And comes a brown face
A brown face comes out of the white
Out of the wall
Brown pores
A galaxy
Damp old puro
Eyes hooded
Looking down
A brown face comes out of the white plaster, stump of puro in his mouth

POEMA, University of Arizona Press (2009) 978-0-8165-2725-

Lisa Alvarado

1 comment:

msedano said...

me también, yo too. laughed. and i need a haircut. i think today i'll remain greñudo, just to savor that poema. thanx, lisa, thanx ése maurice.