CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT THE IMPETUS FOR THE ACENTOS REVIEW AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE ONE OF THE FOUNDING EDITORS?
Well the initial idea for an Acentos Review came in a meeting where all sorts of Acentos expansions were being discussed. I thought we should have a review but I didn't know that would involve me as an editor.
It seems like it was just an idea until Raina León, my co-editor, handled all the web stuff then we put out a call for submissions. Soon after, we began to be emailed from everywhere. It was an idea that manifested a lot quicker than I saw coming. That's the way I like it too.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST SURPRISE AS EDITOR?
As an editor what surprised me the most was the response. As we finished the first edition, I remember knowing that Raina would put it all up online, then the proofs online, and then the site went live. People began to email, text, and call me to congratulate me.
I guess until that point I was just working on a project with my friends. It was made real.
IS THERE A SPECIFIC AESTHETIC THAT CALLS TO YOU AS AN EDITOR?
I was faced with this question about a month ago, during a Q & A at the Hudson Valley Writer's Center. I am still a young editor, but what I realized when this question was asked, was that I don't have a specific aesthetic that calls to me. I work better from the other extreme–I know what I don't like very well. When I'm reading submissions and someone uses Spanish gratuitously a yellow card gets pulled from my shirt pocket and I give it a second look to see if I can look past the transgression. Some poems make it, some get a red card soon after, and get pulled off the field.
I think that I'm still building my aesthetic as an editor, which in big part has led to me questioning my aesthetic as a poet. I really look forward to the next year with the review. I'm learning more and more with every submission that I read; the good, bad and dirty.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION REGARDING LATINO POETRY TODAY?
As misconceptions go, I mentioned one before: Latino poetry doesn't need gratuitous Spanish words interspersed amongst the other words, the use of Spanish articles especially.
Another misconception is the identity poem. Although identity poems are important for the development of every poet, Latino poems are not limited to poems about being Latino/a, just poems written by individuals who consider themselves Latino/a.
YOU ARE NOT ONLY AN EDITOR OF THE REVIEW BUT ALSO A POET, STUDENT, TEACHER AND DJ. HOW DO ALL THOSE ROLES CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR OWN ART AND THE SELECTION PROCESS FOR THE REVIEW?
The editor hat I wear is exclusive. I try to put the other arts behind me a bit. I know what rhythm I like but I remind myself constantly that I don't want poems that sound like me, but poems that I want to sound like. Little pieces or tautology like that help me separate the arts.
The biggest thing is that as an editor I'm the critic, the enemy, not the artist. I'm not the artist until I'm putting it all together. But when reading submissions, I'm the villain that writes rejection letters after submission.
But I guess my roll as an educator does come out a bit. The voice that internally asks poets, "Did you really write that? Are you serious with that? Is that what you mean to say in these few lines?"
Sometimes reading submissions is a emotional exercise.
WILL YOU BE DJING THE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION? WHAT'S THE MUSIC GONNA BE LIKE?
I wont be out in full DJ form, with turntables and such, because the time doesn't permit for such things, but DJ Feliz Cumbé (my alter ego) will make a special playlist. It'll have equal part roots, and some new school tunes that Latinos and everyone else should be listening to. It'll definitely include some Novalima, and Cultura Profetica. Palos, Digital Cumbia, Tribal Guaracha, and so many other forms of Musica Latina.
Music is poetry, the lyrics and the writing of every note. So as a DJ I guess I'm also a poetry editor, and my set is the review. I guess I was a bit wrong in the the last question. DJing definitely helps my selection, because I'm doing the same thing in a different venue.
Acentos Review's First Anniversary Reading and Celebration
Sunday, August 2nd, 6pm
The Acentos Review Celebrates it first year with a reading with some of our favorite contributors. Please join us for this wonderful and FREE celebration.
Featured Readers include: Bonafide Rojas, Rodrigo Toscano, Edwin Wilson Rivera, Sheila Maldonado, Jose Gonzalez, Li Yun Alvarado, Pedro Marrero Jr., Shokry Eldaly II, Marie Elizabeth Mali, Liza Ann, David Ayllon, Mundo Rivera, Christina Olivares and Jennifer Prado.
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery (Between Houston and Bleecker)
F train to 2nd Ave, 6 train to Bleecker