Sunday, May 3, 2009

Please welcome CANTO COSAS: volume 2



Yusef Komunyakaa

"I met William Archila during the summer of 2005, at the Breadloaf Writer's Conference, and from the onset I was truly impressed by his quiet demeanor and fire-tinged poetry. He already possessed a facility for assaying the sonorities of a multilayered world---lived and imagined. Indeed, here was a voice that seemed old and young, a singer of naked praise and lamentation, a truth seeker and truth teller, a poet who resided with certitude and a sense of grace, uniquely within his own skin, without any bravado or grandstanding. In his best poems, a quiet certainty lived alongside a natural surrealism. Early on, there was already something (how does one explain it, or should one even attempt to explain it?) in a poem by Archila, indebted to a strangeness that seemed matter-of-fact, and an almost casual gravity and buoyancy were intricately woven into that which approximated everyday life. Nothing felt contrived or ornamental in a poem by this fine young poet; this fact kept me returning to his work again and again.

Now years later, sitting here in New York City with The Art of Exile, I am reminded of what truly struck a nerve in me when I first read William Archila's poetry: I believe the authenticity in this voice [...]"

from the Foreword of The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press, 2009)


"In The Art of Exile, William Archila's amazing first volume of poetry, we have the memoir in poetry of a man who has made both a physical, global journey and a journey of the questing spirit. Born in El Salvador, a country torn by civil war, Archila arrives, after a long travail, in a new homeland of a deeply considered peace---it is the country of poetry. We read depictions of men physically broken, psychically wounded by war, and testimonies of a populace governed by fear intermingled with the profound dramas of these same Salvadorans who've become immigrants in the communities of L.A. Archila's poetry derives from this expanse of experience and makes of them short briefs of poignancy of his exile's acculturation in an urban world that is at once harsh and beguiling. From the worst of humanity's destructiveness, Archila creates the best our civilization has to give---humane sentiment, forgiveness, love, and poetry. The Art of Exile is a marvelous contribution to the Art of Peace."

---Garrett Hongo


"The Art of Exile is what William Archila works to perfect in this first book of poems about El Salvador, a country 'small as a paper cut.' Archila breathes life into the boys and men left behind who have died in the dirt roads and stubble fields of his lost homeland as he builds the language of a new life in the north, a language steeped in jazz and blood, tobacco and chalk, concrete and dust...History, poverty, family and faith move these poems into mysterious territories where the living speak to the dead and dead speak back."

---Dorianne Laux


The Cortland Review
features a poem in its spring 2009 issue
by William Archila
along with an audio recording of the poet reading his piece.


William Archila was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, in 1968. When he was twelve, he and his family immigrated to the United States to escape the civil war that was tearing his country apart. He eventually became an English teacher and earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon. His poems have appeared in Agni, Blue Mesa Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetry International, and Puerto del Sol, among others. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife. The Art of Exile is his first book.

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