by Eduardo C. Corral
Middle child, conqueror
of tree houses, my brother bites a pear,
the bite mark casts a pale light
that illuminates the storybook of his desk.
His favorite illustration: children
beneath the sprawling branches of an oak.
Boys versus girls. He runs
his thumb over the face
of the tallest girl. Her socks
embroidered with yellow rosettes.
He bites the pear again, the light increases,
enough for him to notice,
for the first time, the silver cross
around the girl's neck.
If mother reads to him from the book,
he begs her to pronounce
the name of the girl. She insists
her name isn't embedded in the story.
So he's taken the jangling
of mother's copper bangles as she turns
the pages for her name.
He adores the girl's intense grip
on the rope. He can't read. Not yet.
He glances at his hands,
and though holding a pear,
feels rope sliding through his palms.
One week from today, Eduardo C. Corral will be the featured reader at ACENTOS, Bronx Poetry Showcase, curated and hosted by Rich Villar. Many months ago he made a call to local anthology contributors to join him in order to read from The Wind Shifts during the open mic phase. Letras Latinas decided to take this occasion to launch its ad-hoc Broadside Series. Fine letterpress editions of "Pear" have been produced by poet, publisher, and printer Scott King of Red Dragonfly Press in Minnesota. If someone in the NYC area would like a crack at obtaining one of these letterpress gems, I will be giving them away (until they run out). So journey up to the south Bronx next week to hear and touch some poems. Steven Cordova has confirmed his attendence, and Urayoán Noel nearly has. We are also hoping for local Macondistas to make an appearance. Taking its cue from the long tradition of small press publishing in Latino poetry and fine printing, the Letras Latinas Broadside Series aims to keep alive the tactile pleasures of poetry---holding a finely printed page in one's hands.
And speaking of pleasures. When Eduardo C. Corral's colleague at Iowa, Joyelle McSweeney, agreed to introduce Gabriel Gomez at Chloe's Cabaret last week, I knew the audience would be in for a treat. Joyelle, in addition to everything else she does in poetry, has made the poetry reading Introduction into a mini-genre of her own. She has agreed to share this with readers of Letras Latinas Blog:
"Intro to Gabriel Gomez,
Chloe’s Cabaret, U. of Notre Dame 10/30/2007
by Joyelle McSweeney
No lesser source than dictionary dot com informs us that a free radical is—
n. An atom or group of atoms that has at least one unpaired electron and is therefore unstable and highly reactive. In animal tissues, free radicals can damage cells and are believed to accelerate the progression of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases.
The metaphor of the free radical is one very available to those discussing art right now. It’s graced the cover of at least one poetry anthology and titles a documentary about a experimental filmmaker being shown right now at Notre Dame. The implication of such usages is that art is an action which may be damaging to the body politic but damaging in a cathartic sense, engendering a permanently post-catastrophic, more perfect embodiedness for the state—or the state of the art—once the artwork’s performance is done.
The metaphor of the free radical makes a late appearance in The Outer Bands, Gabriel Gomez award-winning volume which we are here to celebrate tonight. His long sequence ‘The Outer Bands’ makes an accounting of the endless private half-lives of catastrophe juxtaposed against the large-font, public dailiness of newspaper headlines. At the close of the poem, thirty days after Katrina, the evacuee speaker sits in a New Orleans-themed bar, far from his home. Against this displaced scenario is set the ‘competing image of the flood/The free radical informing the cancer.” Here it is the flood, not art, triggering a destruction that will fractal both inwards and outwards destroying both the individual cell and the societal organism itself. Unlike art, this free radical makes no promise of regeneration.
Gomez’s art is gentler than the flood. Rather than destruction, his is a poetics that makes use of this area of possibility which is the border between, where one entity complements, inflects, changes another. His lyric terrain is “an idea between valleys”-- not like a mountain, as one would expect to find between valleys, but like “falling/like cello extending.” In this space, to quote from another poem, “the image/still as glass/concurs”; con curs etymologically breaking down to give us ‘run with’ and thus showing us the motion inside glass’s stillness, motion we factually know to be, to bring Marvel into this, “vaster than empires, and more slow.” This then, might be the political gesture of Gabriel Gomez, not that of the firebrand but the outlaster drawing attention to motions small yet eternal. In his minute focus, he proposes sightlines long and patient enough to survive beyond the historic wrongs embedded in our here-and-now. Hear him now: Gabriel Gomez."
Thank you, Joyelle.