Friday, January 18, 2008

PALABRA PURA Year 3: launched

desde San Antonio

We couldn't have asked for a better way to launch this our third season.

The evening in Chicago last night began with Palabra Pura's signature stamp: our pre-reading dinner. In addition, of course, to our guests of honor, ariel robello (who flew in from Tampa) and Juan Manuel Sánchez (who's completing his MFA from the University of Illinois), also present was Eric Murphy Selinger, poetry critic and professor at DePaul who is about to publish a major essay in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, titled, "Gringo with Baedeker, Cortez in Kevlar"--a piece, according to Parnassus' website "on Latino and Latina poetry." We missed Lisa Alvarado, who couldn't make it, but were joined by the rest of the Palabra Pura crew, Ellen Wadey, Mike Puican, and Mary Hawley, as well as Juan's wife, whose name, I lament, is escaping me.

Without doing proper justice to the reading, I will say that I especially enjoyed how Sánchez's and robello's reading styles were a fruitful study in contrasts, with Sánchez's deliveries more understated but intense---sculpted lines and images that commanded your attention. His riff on Wallace Stevens (13 ways of looking at coyote) was a highlight for me. robello, for her part, opened her set singing a piece that used the melody of "La Bamba" but inserting content that evoked what's been happening to las mujeres de juárez. She also performed one of her pieces entirely in Spanish, expressing appreciation for a reading series were Spanish is not only welcomed, but encouraged.

What I'm hoping (since I likely won't be able to attend all of the Palabra Pura readings this season) is commissioning pieces that I can post here. So, Chicagoans, let me know if you'd like to cut your teeth on writing about any of these readings for this blog. Attendence was very good, and I was happy to see Paul Martínez Pompa and Kristin Dykstra, poet, translator and editor of Mandorla, who graciously drove up from Normal, IL.

In the meantime, I'd like to share what PALABRA PURA 2008 looks like, thus far: there are still a few local poets we need to confirm:

February 20
Tim Z. Hernández
Stephanie Gentry-Fernández

March 19
Aracelis Girmay
Olga Ulloa

April 16
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Rigoberto González
(in partnership with the Poetry Foundation)

May 21
Adrian Castro
local poet TBA

June 18
Naomi Ayala
Diana Pando

July 15
Emanual Xavier
Irasema González

September 17
Tomás Riley
local poet TBA

October 15
Frances Treviño
local poet TBA

November 12
Juan J. Morales
local poet TBA

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