Friday, October 31, 2008

ARRIVED TODAY: Dear Jack by Scott Inguito

Editor's Note

A seminar on the San Francisco Renaissance led by Gary Snyder was a highpoint of my stint in Davis, California back in 2000. I took it as an opportunity to read Collected Books of Jack Spicer (poetry), The House that Jack Built (lectures), One Night Stand and Other Poems (early poems), and the biography by Lewis Ellingham and Kevin Killian, Poet Be Like God---a wonderfully vivid portrait of literary San Francisco in the mid 50s and early 60s. In the wake of my years in Spain, Spicer's After Lorca caught my eye: his imaginary letters to the dead poet from Granada, some of which were translations of Lorca poems, both real and invented, were mesmerizing. It's with particular delight, therefore, to present Dear Jack by Scott Inguito; and a happy coincidence, as well, since Wesleyan readies to release, My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer.

Before I had the pleasure of meeting Scott or reading his work, our e-correspondence revealed that he brought to his poetry a background in the visual arts, as well as a constellation of thought that took nothing for granted---perpetually questioning and probing what poetry and a poem could do. I first encountered his work in early poems anchored in his Mexican, Filipino and Irish working-class roots in Santa Maria, California. His play with syntax, the line, and punctuation announced, to my mind, that poetry for him was about exploring and playing with language:
The light line falls
Your face
If I have found
Sing back to me
In choirs of arms
Faces wooden
At table
Bread is fondness torn
Olives in the filling
Grape-stuffed empanadas
Pinched & curled
With brown hands
[from "Guadalupe Beach" in The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry.]

In 2003 Inguito took part in an AWP reading I organized featuring emerging Latino and Latina poets. Later he accepted my invitation to be in The Wind Shifts (University of Arizona Press, 2007). Put simply, Scott Inguito, as exemplified by the work you'll read in Dear Jack, is among a particular group of writers who are enlarging---stretching the canvas of Latino poetry.

Francisco Aragón
Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame


Scott should be getting, or have gotten his shipment today: those of you out in the San Francisco/Bay Area can support the poet and buy a copy from him. One of the other things I'm especially pleased about with regard to this title is that the Introduction is written by Craig Santos Perez, whose work as a critic (and poet for that matter: I recently read, in Cambridge, England, the terrific from Unincorporated Territory) I admire increasingly. He's written a fun and brilliant piece---in the form of a letter ("Dear Scott")---to usher in Scott's work.

Named after a volcano in Nicaragua,
Momotombo Press publishes new works in Latino literature
in the chapbook format---with particular attention to those artists
who have yet to publish a first full-length book.


Mrs. Maybe said...

Oh, Hell, Yes!

Aaron said...

This should be good. I'm excited to get my copy.


Aaron said...

BTW, did Chris design this one too? It looks great.