"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Anthology Shows the Best of Latino(a)/Chicano(a) Poetry in the Last Ten years

I want readers to make extra effort to check out The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press), edited by Francisco Aragón with forward by Juan Felipe Herrera. I was impressed by this collection since the book includes every major new Latino(a) and Chican(a) poet. All, with exception of five of the poets, have published one book since 1997, so being the first book to give us a full glimps of Latino(a) and Chicano(a) poetry going back ten years. Of the poets from El Paso (or born) are Albino Carillo, Sheryl Luna, and Carolina Monsivias. Rosa Alcalá is currently teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso’s MFA program and Emmy Pérez left UTEP for TX Pan Am University in the valley just recently.

This is a fun book because I remember receiving the fresh copies of some of their first (or second or third books). In the last ten years, I had the opportunity to review Francisco Aragón, John Olivares Espinoza (Go Indio!), Carolina Monsivais, and Steven Cordova.

I think editor Franciso Aragón has been instrumental in helping to bring many of these writers as some of them were first published on Momotombo Press: Brenda Cárdenas, Steven Cordova. But also other presses have played role in bringing these poets to light: University of Arizona: Richard Blanco, Albino Carrillo, David Dominguez, Gina Franco, Carl Marcum, María Meléndez. Curbstone Press: Naomi Ayala. Swan Scythe Press: John Oliveres Espinoza, Emmy Pérez. Wings Press (which was instrumental in bring out many young Tejana poets): Carolina Monsivais, Deborah Parédez. Other poets have been publishing in journals and on the web, thus showing the increasing popularity of web publishing.

So take a look at these publishers as they are putting out our newest poets, but be careful, don’t send them the cheap stuff.

There are a few poets I think should have been in here, but I’ll save it.

Well here some books we want to mention.

LUDLOW (Red Hen Press 2007 ISBN: 978-1-59709-083-4) by Davis Mason

Davis Mason's LUDLOW is a magnificent novel in verse, having the speed, concision and accuracy of poetry with the expansiveness and character of a novel. It tells the searing story of a handful of immigrants (Greek, Mexican, Scottish, Italianâ) in southern Colorado, climaxing in the Ludlow Massacre of April 1914. "LUDLOW bowled over me with its dramatic power, kept me reading on, under its spell. This violent chapter in American labor history richly deserves a poem of epic size, and David Mason, outstanding poet and long-time resident of Colorado, is the man to deliver it. Unforgettably, its characters practically step off the page. Here is a major poem bursting with life, a book with greatness written all over it" -- X.J. Kennedy.


TALK SHOWS (Switchback Books 2007 ISBN: 978-0-9786172-0-2) by Monica de la Torre. TALK SHOWS is accomplished translator Monica de la Torre's first book of original poetry in English. "De la Torre's poetry deconstructs sets of beliefs about what it means to be a multi-dimensional subject and turns markers of gender and race on their so-called ears. Identity and gender politics are folded neatly into smart disses and observations on the specifics of cultural play and gaff, making this a book to be reckoned with" - Lee Ann Brown.


New Fiction from Freedom Voices

STORIES FROM EL BARRIO (Freedom Voices 2007 ISBN: 978-0-915117-11-6), Piri Thomas. Piri Thomas, who reached millions of readers with his best-selling autobiography, Down These Mean Streets, now gives readers of all ages a vivid slice of the life in El Barrio ”a place where people face their problems with energy, ingenuity and love. He draws vivid stories from his past experiences and makes us feel what it means to be poor and proud and generous; to be streetwise and full of bravado but frightened, too; to struggle to go straight; to be ashamed of being ashamed; to dream. Speaking in the voice of the streets and from his heart, Piri captures the spirit, the laughter and the hope of his people.


New from Zephyr Press

LETTERS FROM MISSISSIPPI: REPORTS FROM CIVIL RIGHTS VOLUNTEERS AND FREEDOM SCHOOL POETRY OF THE 1964 FREEDOM SUMMER (Zephyr Press 2007 ISBN: 978-0-939010-92-9), Elizabeth Martínez. This expanded edition includes over forty pages of poetry by students in the Freedom Schools of 1964, adding the lively voices of local participants, mostly teenagers, to those of the volunteers from the North. The new edition also includes an additional dozen biographies, resulting in a wider resource for scholarship and for a general understanding of this critical moment in civil rights history.


New Poetry from Bilingual Review Press

CENTRAL AMERICA IN MY HEART/CENTRO AMÉRICA EN EL CORAZÓN (Bilingual Review Press 2006 ISBN: 978-1-931010-39-9), Oscar Gonzales. Facing page translation. In this touching tribute, Gonzales expresses nostalgia for the beauty of his native Honduras, sharing his passion and sense of loss. Vacillating between rage and undying love, Gonzales' poems express his deep cultural appreciation for the people of his homeland while he reveals their struggles and berates a corrupt and unjust political and economic system. Inspired by Pablo Neruda, Roberto Sosa, and Jorge Luis Borges, Gonzales hopes to "lessen the antipathy within Honduras and awaken a social consciousness" through his poems, which are presented in both Spanish and English. Gonzales was awarded Yale University's coveted Theron Rockwell Field Prize in 1991 for his anthology of poems Donde el plomo flota (Where Lead Floats). He was the first undergraduate to receive the award.


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