Saturday, July 14, 2007

Craig Perez AKA Craig Santos Perez

Whenever I walk out of a theater after having seen a play, I often wonder why I don't go more often as I usually enjoy myself.

I could say the same about Jacket, John Tranter's ambitious online journal: I don't visit as often as I should, but when I do, I stay a while. A few months ago, I was browsing over there and noticed that someone named "Craig Perez" had reviewed Involuntary Lyrics by Aaron Shurin, the poet in San Francisco who teaches at USF and whose work I find challenging. The review began:

In Aaron Shurin’s Involuntary Lyrics, his first full-length poetry collection in about a decade, we enter a ‘composition of surfaces’ where the speaker tends the body and soul of experience in the visible dimensions of the poem. Shurin’s lyricism transforms music into a ‘current disturbing’ every textual moment of attention, taking hold of us at our deepest heartstrings.

Perez drew me in and I read on, and on, and before I knew it I was "exiting" the review as I would a "theater:" I had thoroughly enjoyed myself and resolved that I needed to get to Jacket more often. But perhaps more importantly, I thought: "I wonder if I could persuade this guy to write for Latino Poetry Review?

The reviews I tend to enjoy are those that give one the impression that the reviewer enjoyed writing it---whether it be witnessing William Logan display new ways of slicing someone up, watching Brian Henry do the same to Logan's criticism over at Verse, or a fresh voice like Craig Perez's engaging with experimental lyrics. The reviews of poetry that I enjoy use interesting nouns and verbs, all the while weaving in citations seamlessly. I e-mailed Craig and made my pitch.

I haven't encountered someone with such an intelligent enthusiasm for poetry in a long while. In a recent e-mail exchange, I mentioned him to D.A. Powell, for whom Perez was a Teaching Assistant at USF. He remarked: "Craig Perez!....I wish I could have cloned him."

Why am I mentioning him here, now? Well, not only has he graciously agreed to write for Latino Poetry Review (which I consider a coup), but he's recently reviewed two poets---each very different from the other, but both in The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. One is a current Momotombo Press poet and the other is a future one. So, without further delay:

Craig Perez Santos on Scott Inguito.

Craig Perez Santos on Brenda Cárdenas.


I went over to Verse to see if I could locate that review Brian Henry wrote of William Logan a while back, but couldn't find it. Instead, I found a review posted in May of a poet I had the pleasure of meeting in Chicago at PALABRA PURA, which brings me to make this general petition as this blog evolves:

If anyone comes across an online review of a book or chapbook by a Latino or Latina poet, I'd really appreciate learning of it as I'd like to get into the habit of linking it here. In fact, I'll make this pitch with regularity. You can either e-mail me or post a message.

Here is a review of Ada Limón second book.

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