Paul Romero is doing great things in New York with his signature open-air reading series in Bryant Park. Letras Latinas had the pleasure of collaborating with the curation of two installments this summer. The line up on July 27th was curated entirely by Letras Latinas, and Letras Latinas had a hand in curating part of August 10th's line up.
What follows are the blog posts that covered these two events, both of which are gems in the genre. Thank you, Jason Schneiderman. Thank you, Anne Lovering Rounds.
Word for Word Poetry Blogs
We've tapped some very special guest bloggers to help us celebrate this summer's Word for Word Poetry series at Bryant Park. They'll provide a behind-the-scenes look at each event and divulge about the talented poets who share their work. Experience Word for Word Poetry yourself every Tuesday through September 14, from 7pm to 8:30pm, at the Bryant Park Reading Room.
Jason Schneiderman on Word for Word Poetry, July 27, 2010
This week’s Word for Word Poetry Reading was in the Letras Latinas series, welcoming Latino authors to Bryant Park. Paul Romero welcomed the audience in Spanish and English, explaining that the readers had been selected with the help of Francisco Aragón, director of the University of Notre Dame Institute for Latino Studies. With the subject matter of the evening stretching over both of the American Continents, with specific visits to Texas, California, Argentina, and Indiana (thanks to UND), it was interesting to think about how Spanish and English exist in overlapping geographies, with Latino culture marked by Spanish, but here made visibile (audible?) in English. Of course, New York—a central node in world culture—is the perfect place for letting identity emerge without fetters or restrictions; Bryant Park’s podium was giving a stage to Latino poets bound by a common identity capacious enough to hold broad sections of humanity.
Ruth Irupé Sanabria was born in Argentina to dissident parents who were placed in Death Camps by the Pinochet government during Argentina’s “dirty war”. To her knowledge, her family is the only family to be completely re-united following the abductions. Many of the poems were about her family’s status as a cause celebre, with the Seattle Press covering her family’s reunion. A major concern of her poems was how to live with the knowledge of brutality, how to stay alive in its wake, on poems asking “or is it madness to rise again at the rim of violence.” A poem about a piñata highlighted the ways that violence is never far, even when sanitized or turned into play. My favorite line: “We didn’t know we were fragile on our way from one war to the next.” Sanabria expressed curiosity about the statue of William Earl Dodge, who stands guard over the Bryant Park Reading room. We learned that he was an advocate for Native American rights, although his successes were limited.
Read the rest of Jason's post (about Steven Cordova and Rachel McKibbens....HERE
Anne Lovering Rounds on Word for Word Poetry, August 10
The three poets in the park’s Word for Word reading last Tuesday night were poets of shape-shifting. As the evening unfolded, we heard poems speak English and speak Spanish, inhabit memory and confront the present, and move from the real to the surreal and back again.
Brenda Cárdenas, poet laureate of Milwaukee and author of the collection Boomerang, opened the reading with a travel poem, “On the Coast in Pedasi.” What began as evocative recollection turned into a meditation on migration as the poet observed a cloud of bees “swarm the plaza”: “Watch your step,” the poem told us, underscoring Cárdenas’s own keen powers of observation. “Someone,” inspired by a photo she had seen on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin, addressed with terse grace the exchanges implicit in photography. Through subtle wordplay— the photographer “like the poet” with “no reservation,” “nothing to trade / in upturned hands,” the subject who “will give the camera / his best shot”—this poem opened up the multiple, rich, and perturbing transactions of the portrait. Cárdenas has a wonderful ability to balance the contemplative with exuberant, acrobatic language. In “That Beehive ’Do,” she rhapsodized the hairstyle she had worn for a London performance piece (“That beehive ’do / B-52 / bombshell”), and in “Poema para lost tin-tun-teros,” an homage to drummers, Cárdenas let onomatopoeia work its own magic, without translation. The reminiscence “Me and My Cuz” easily wove together multiple voices into its own music, from “Santana blaring from the Bose” to allusions to an uncle’s advice to teenage tough chicks (“…escúchame bien, / don’t you ever let me catch you / take your change off the bar”). On both stage and page, Cárdenas’s voice is compelling for the way it is inclusive and effortless.
Read the rest of Anne's post, about John Murillo and Willie Perdomo........HERE.