Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dispatch from Berkeley

It was my first time back since Cody's had folded. It felt strange (sad, really) arriving at the corner of Telegraph and Haste on foot from the campus and seeing what had been one of the West Coast's most important independent bookstores---closed. As an undergraduate, and for years afterwards, that space was a touchstone. It was also the site of the reading series curated by POETRY FLASH's Joyce Jenkins and Richard Silberg---the place where, in 1985, I met Francisco X. Alarcón and began what would become a four-book collaboration as a translator. Moe's was still next door; Black Oak Books was still open on Shattuck; and Shakespeare & Co. was still open for business on the corner of Dwight and Telegraph. But the neighborhood isn't the same without Cody's.

Speaking of Shakespeare Co., I was browsing the poetry section and found three copies of Body In Flames (Chronicle Books, 1990)---a title long out of print and not easy to come by. It was my first significant publication as a translator. I also came across Manuel J. Vélez's Bus Stop and Other Poems (Calaca Press, 1998)---the inaugural volume of Calaca Press, based in San Diego. And finally, I picked up a book I had never seen before: "Primeros Cantos de Roberto Vargas" published by "Ediciones Pocho---Che" with a postal address listed as "P.O. Box 1959 / San Francisco, Califas Aztlán / 94101"

[ I started this post in San Francisco, and hope to continue it later this week. I've been away, and am going to try and keep a rule of never letting more than a week go by without posting anything, even if the beginning of a draft of a post, which this is: if for no other reason than to give a senese of where Letras Latinas is focusing its gaze which, at the moment, is: small press publishing and its role in Latino/a literature ]......(to be continued)

1 comment:

msedano said...

thanks for the reminder. i enjoyed 'they blamed it on reds" and "elegy pa gringolandia" many years ago. fyi, here's a foto from a 1974 reading by vargas.