Thursday, August 06, 2009

Paul Martínez Pompa: His Aim Is True

Paul Martínez Pompa

Paul Martínez Pompa earned degrees from the University of Chicago and Indiana University, where he served as a poetry editor for Indiana Review. His chapbook, Pepper Spray, was published by Momotombo Press in 2006. His first full length collection, My Kill Adore Him, was selected for the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize in 2008. He currently lives in Chicago and teaches composition and creative writing at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois.

What people who know are saying

“This is one tough, smart poet. The poems of Paul Martínez Pompa are gritty and visceral, but never cross the line into sensationalism. They are poems that vividly evoke the urban world, especially Chicago, without ever lapsing into urban cliché. They are poems that seek justice for the Latino community without ever resorting to the overheated language that all too often consigns poetry of social conscience to oblivion.”

— Martín Espada, 2008 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize judge

"Like the poet’s native Chicago, even when violent or troubling, Paul Martínez Pompa’s poems risk beauty. His work possesses a fluidity that appears both effortless and well earned. His is a Chicago Renaissance of one Gwendolyn Brooks’s Bronzeville and Carl Sandburg’s 'city of big
shoulders' becoming a 'city of broken lovers' and 'an entire city in your ears' in Martínez Pompa’s capable hands. Playful and political and passionate, the poems in My Kill Adore Him mark an important debut, one you’ll surely adore."

--Kevin Young, author of Dear Darkness and For the Confederate Dead

Paul Martínez Pompa deconstructs with a deft sword. Straddling literary strategies, no supposition nor paradigm is safe. He slays the stereotypic dragons within as well as without, putting popular culture, elegy, nightmare, personal narrative, identity and gender politics in the same hat, and drawing from the source, Pompa plays a poetic hand for keeps. Every turn
of trope is more delightful than the last. A breakaway collection from an exciting new writer.

--Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Drive: The First Quartet

What I say.....

Paul's writing hits deep, hits purely, hits true. Whether it's gender identity/visibility/invisibility and the unerring pull of desire, or whether it's the disembodied voices of poisoned workers on the border---Paul leaves his mark on you, indelible and irrevocable. There is an amazing passion in the writing, and yet Paul is also somehow observer and voyeur. He is able to capture the tragedy of desire unspoken, bones in the desert undiscovered and unburied. His writing makes my heart race and my palms sweat. It breaks and enters my sleep. It is not to be missed.

From the monster of a book....

Men Watching Men
—El Gato Negro Bar

I’m not drunk

enough so I order one
more bottle. He shoves
a lime down its throat
& I see myself

surrounded by men
who watch the night
in a mirror
behind the bar.
We smoke

our cigarettes
with purpose, pretending
courage is something
we can suck in.
Click of the jukebox

& the treble
cuts the air. A man
holds his woman
tight enough to feel her
penis press his belly.

Dance floor strobe light
captures their bodies.
Her cheek on his
shoulder, her breath
on our necks.


i am searching for a way. to fall
into your skin. to erase. what grows
under. your hospital bed a home
away from. memory. the vanishing act
who fathered your children. how to reconstruct
the ruins. no fist small enough. to unravel this
knot in my chest. as if i could. heal. how easy
he is to hate. a wound. in a wound
labeled your body. a diagnosis on a slip
of paper. not a story. the empty space
i too have colonized. forgive my desire
to pour you. through me. embrace
the damaged parts. i am searching for
a way to fall. a way to bleed. him. me.


Lisa Alvarado

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