Friday, August 11, 2017

Long Awaited Poetry Book by La Bloga's Daniel Olivas

Melinda Palacio

New poetry book by La Bloga's Daniel Olivas

A good day is when writing comes easy and the book you've been waiting for makes up for the world turned upside down. It's a frightful sight outside my office, where the act of scribbling words on a page, erasing them, then transferring said words to a computer happens. What with a tweety, trigger-happy narcissist in charge of our country, it's easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of internet distraction, such as the biggest time suck of them all, facebook and posting a picture that documents your current situation or wishing one of your online friends a happy birthday or placing a heart or happy face emoji next someone's cute cat picture. It's hard to believe that a whole block of writing time can slip away doing theses things. It's a miracle any work gets done in the real world. At least, there are some professions left where dipping into the virtual world is not allowed on the clock.

One person who is not on facebook is one of the most prolific writers I know and he has a taxing day job as an attorney in the California Department of Justice's Public Rights Division. His job as a lawyer doesn't include the many volunteer positions he holds in the literary world as editor and board member and weekly blogger at La Bloga. Daniel Olivas is the force.

When Daniel offered an advanced copy of his new book of poems, Crossing the Border, I eagerly held up my hand. This collection of poetry, his first, is long awaited. I recall the book was going to debut in 2010, but the contract fell through due to the publishing house's financial problems. However, Daniel persisted and kept the collection intact and, lucky for us readers, the book will be available the fall, through a new publisher, Pact Press, as its debut title. Here's to exciting beginnings. Pact Press is an imprint of Regal House Publishing.

Some of the poems were published almost 20 years ago, as early as 2000, but the stories and sentiments are timeless. Honoring your personal narratives never goes out of style.

In "Papa Wrote," the poet describes a scene familiar to all writers, that moment when you are in front of a small audience, but you want to wait for that special person who promised they would show:  "we waited in awkward/silence, the espresso machine's/ hissing offering the lone/commentary." And when Daniel's father showed, during the Q&A, his father revealed Olivas's birthright as author.

I especially enjoyed reading, "Hidden in Abuelita's Soft Arms." As cliché as the grandma poem is, I personally cannot stop writing about my grandmother. It also takes hutzpah and skill to pull it off. Daniel's Abuela poem is a poem dedicated to children. She is "wrinkled and brown like an old paper bag" with "her too-perfect white teeth," and lives in a house "Painted yellow-white like a forgotten Easter egg."

Many of the poems in this collection cross their own border of poem as witness. As a lawyer, Olivas has the ability to see both sides of an argument and write in diverse voices and personas as in the title poem "Crossing the Border" or the last poem, a personal favorite, "La Tormenta at the Lost Souls Café" After the paintings by Gronk, where "La Tormenta ponders her identity--/Even her name's origin is hidden/In fog and memories of East L.A."

Fall back into poetry with Daniel A. Olivas's eighth book, Crossing the Border; official pub date is November 17, but you may pre-order today. 

Daniel Olivas


Unknown said...

Melinda, mil gracias for this lovely review. Being part of the La Bloga familia has helped me be a writer. Write on!

Laurie Ann Doyle said...

Congrats Daniel! This is a great book!

Unknown said...

¡Felicidades, Daniel! Can't wait to read it.

Unknown said...

Congrats compadre! Keep on putting pen to paper!

Concepcion said...

Like Sylvia, I can't wait to read este libro de poesias de Daniel Olivas. Congratualions, Daniel. And, gracias, Melinda for your own beautiful words.

Unknown said...

Thank you all! This is the kind of support that means so much to me and to the other writers within our community.