"WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
Palabra Pura: Another Take
[by Lisa Alvarado (Thursday)]
Last night, I had the pleasure to attend Palabra Pura's reading featuring Sandy Florian and Raúl Niño. Once again, over a pre-reading dinner (presided over by the Guild's Executive Director Ellen Placey Wadey, board members and poets Mike Puican and Mary Hawley, and the MC, poet and diosa Johanny Vasquez) I was able to have a far ranging, relaxed discussion with Sandy about her work. She's a master of prose poetry that is haunting, complex, dream-like, and we all got the scoop that the next day she was to fly out the very next day to prepare for a residency in France.
We were joined by Raúl at the California Clipper and I have to say being in the audience was a singular treat. I was part of a crowd in a full room of rapt listeners, including a young Latino who read a new piece in the open mic section, who was encouraged by Ellen after the reading to come back again.
The pairing of Florian's layered, imagistic writing about the everyday and the divine and Nino's clean, spare etchings of private moments reverberated in my mind even on the train into work today.....That, compays, is why poetry is food for the soul at the deepest level...at least for this writer, and I suspect, many of Bloga's readers.
My thanks to Lisa Alvarado for contributing this post to La Bloga and which I'm re-posting here. I wasn't able to attend. I'd invited Sandy Florian to read for Palabra Pura as I had the pleasure of hearing her read last fall: Joyelle McSweeney, who was co-curating "Chloe's Cabaret" with Cornelius Eady and I this past year, had invited her to read from her collection, Telescope (Action Books, 2006)
A note on my previous post:
I was meeting with ILS' web designer a few days ago to discuss Latino Poetry Review's template. One of the ideas we were kicking around was having a backdrop that would, in essence, be what I'll call "virtual wallpaper." On it would be the faintly inscribed names of Latino and Latina poets. The day I was compiling a list of names, Roberto Tejada, author of a wonderful book of poems, Mirrors for Gold (Krupskaya, 2006), forwarded me a press release from Wesleyan University Press about a book slated for next month called something like American Poets in the 21st Century. He was passing this along to point out, once again, the complete absence of Latino/a voices. As I began to cobble together my "virtual wallpaper," it occurred to me to give it the same title as this anthology, with a subtitle: "Another Sampling."
I was inspired by Spike Lee.
Do The Right Thing (1989) remains, arguably, Lee's most important film. There is a moment in the film when a DJ interrupts his radio broadcast and yells out, "Roll Call!" and then he unleashes, in his cool DJ voice a litany of names.....
Nora Zeal Hurston,
and on and on. I remember feeling quite moved sitting in that theater taking in this catalogue of names---Americans who had enriched and defined our culture.
Letras Latinas, on however modest a scale, aspires towards doing that for Latino poets and writers within American literature. And I need your help.