Monday, May 27, 2013

Spotlight on Luivette Resto and her new poetry collection, “Ascension” (Tia Chucha Press)

Luivette Resto was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, but proudly raised in the Bronx. In 2003, she completed her M.F.A. from the University of Massachu­setts at Amherst. Her first book of poetry, Unfinished Portrait, was published in 2008 by Tia Chucha Press and later named a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize. She is also a contributing poetry editor for Kweli Journal, a CantoMundo fellow, and the hostess of a monthly poetry reading series called La Palabra at Avenue 50 Studio in Los Angeles.

Resto’s latest book of poetry is Ascension (Tia Chucha Press). As the publisher describes this new collection: “Ascension explores the delicacy and the fragility of all re­lationships; not just the romantic ones in nature, but the ones we have with our family, friends, community, city, politics, nature, history, and ourselves. Some poems focus on the complexity, nascency, and dissolution of these re­lationships while other verses are unapologetic with their celebration of the self.”


“In Luivette Resto’s Ascension, our speaker is an unflinching witness and an exposed nerve. ‘Slut, murderer, mother,’ she carries betrayal, heartbreak, and hope. She mines the everyday, the ‘pedestrian or exquisite,’ for all its possibility. In paean, in dirge, in sonnet, she invokes Wonder Woman, and Puerto Rican Obituary. Without hesitation, she calls out misogynist colleagues, two-timing lovers. Personal and political, these are poems of defiance, affirmation, material and spiritual survival.” Barbara Jane Reyes, author of Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata

“This collection is full of fierce and tender poems. I love their clarity, their unpretentiousness, their courage, the respect given to people and situations by detailed seeing and saying. I love the poems’ lyricism, in both languages, not afraid to put the beat and heat of Spanish into English or the cool ironies and savvy of the Anglo-Saxon voice into Spanish. I love how the poems give voice to outrage but without singeing the world with bitterness or ideology or rhetoric. How they celebrate our culture and champion its hybrid manifestations instead of the simple and seductive either-ors.” —Julia Alvarez, author of The Woman I Kept To Myself and Homecoming



She didn’t kiss me like you.
That’s what you said
as we sat on my bedroom fire escape,
staring at the luminescent red and green lights
of the Empire State Building.

Christmas was almost here.
Our third one if I counted correctly.

We never faced one another
as you spoke to a starless night sky
and I listened to taxis curse at brave pedestrians.

You didn’t love me the same way anymore.
You needed to find yourself
before you could give to others.
I wasn’t what you needed right now.
You didn’t see a future or a family with me.

I didn’t cry.
Not for your satisfaction
but for mine.
I didn’t want to remember myself that way.

Thoughtfully the city exhaled
a wind full of flurries up my thin nightshirt.
Shuttering for the first time,
I got up and dusted off the rust from my jeans.

(Copyright 2009 Luivette Resto)

To watch and hear Luivette Resto read “Christmas Lies” from Ascension, visit this YouTube clip.

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