Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birth of a Book: MOMOTOMBO PRESS: vol. 14....or....10

Volume 14...if we're talking since the inaugural Mark My Words: Five Emerging Poets (Momotombo Press, 2001), which featured chapbook-length selections by Lisa Sperber, Sean McDonnell, Angela Garcia, Eric Gudas, and Maria Melendez in Momotombo's first phase in Davis, CA.

Volume 10...if we're marking the moment Momotombo settled into its Latino skin with Slow Dissolve (Momotombo Press, 2003) by Steven Cordova.

And although Maria Melendez has been an Associate Editor since working with Brenda Cárdenas on From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press, 2004), the volume we're attempting to usher into your hands today---The Book of Ours (Momotombo Press, 2009) by Octavio R. Gonzalez---marks Melendez's debut as Acquiring and Managing Editor, but with one caveat:  The Book of Ours was, in fact, my last acquisition as Founding Editor, while Melendez worked with the author to shape this exquisite collection. In her Editor's Note, she writes:

One of the things I most admired about Mr. Gonzalez's work, from the start, was the poems' refusal to take any category for granted. The family poem becomes the city poem becomes the love poem becomes the spiritual poem becomes the mouthful of desire poem.

And yet, none of this happened in a vacuum: as has often been the case during Momotombo Press' trajectory, an author came recommended. In this case, by another González a few years back: Rigoberto González, who frames this volume nicely in one of Momotombo Press' best introductions:

The different textures in this collection---the soliloquy, the notebook, the fairy tale, the prose poem---evidence a gifted and promising writer who can maneuver through any poetic avenue and sparkle [...] As an immigrant poet, as a gay poet, as a poet of color, Octavio Gonzalez seems the perfect fit for New York City, where all dimensions of identity and experience spill into its streets and subways. [...]

What we celebrate, therefore, is the fruit of collaboration. Courtesy of the author, here's a taste:


why don't you go
tell it on the mountain, unless
it's a skyscraper
you live under.
assume it's a metaphor.
only others
get away with murder.
kill this poem, the only way
you know how to:
by thinking about it.
itching for a movie, hear this
image glowing
in your mind's ear, like music:
go home to your sadness, cough up two
lungs of forgiveness.  only
animals are artists.

Octavio R. Gonzalez

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