Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Plaza de la Raza, Los Angeles, California

Latino Art Now!:
The New Wave/La Nueva Ola

Third Biennial Conference
November 10-13, 2010

Plaza de la Raza

Los Angeles, California

"My son Andrés's poetry has always inspired me, especially those poems that reflect the San Joaquin Valley.  Just as in Andrés's work, this print views Highway 99 as an important symbol, not only because it connects so many little towns throughout the valley, but also because it has always given hope to some that they might one day escape life's hardships and despair.  I've always been deeply touched by the protagonist in Andrés's poem "the escape," a man who leaves, even if only in his mind, the love of his life on the 99."

November 2010

by Malaquias Montoya
(with lines of poetry from “the escape”
by the late Andrés Montoya)

will be unveiled tomorrow--November 11, 2010,
at Plaza de la Raza, Los Angeles, CA

the escape

it doesn’t matter that his chin is too long
or that the left side of his upper lip
is being pulled into his nose
by a hair of skin.

it doesn’t matter that he never asked
to the prom the girl who smelled
of rosemary and dirt wet
from the rain.

it doesn’t matter, the regrets for quitting
school at 16 for the job at PDM steel,
or that the union’s been bought
since ’76, or that since he started
callousing his hands on the cool
face of metal, he’s lived his life daily
asking like a child about to be beat,
“i wonder if they’ll lay me off today.”

he’s sixty now and never been married
and it doesn’t matter that he’s lonely,
that he left the woman of his dreams,
the hitchhiker he never picked up,
somewhere on the 99 south of Selma
in 1972.

it doesn’t matter that today he woke again
hating everything without knowing it.

it doesn’t matter that he’s drunk again

it doesn’t matter that he swerved
to miss the kids playing on the corner
of the prostitutes, that he plowed
his Pontiac into the waiting side
of someone’s car, that watching
were witnesses staring from the mouth
of the sorry street littered with fast food
bags and the fake ghosts of hope and life
teasing everybody.

it only matters, now, at the end of the long day,
that there are still two blocks left before he
can begin his journey up the walk to the waiting
cushions of the soft sofa staring out
from the crumbling house.

 “the escape” appears in the iceworker sings and other poems (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 1999) by Andrés Montoya. It received the 1997 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize at UC Irvine, and the 2000 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for poetry.

Grateful Acknowledgement to Bilingual Press / Editorial Bilingüe, housed at Arizona State University's Hispanic Research Center in Tempe, AZ, for permission to publish this poem at Letras Latinas Blog.

The Latino Art Now! Conference is the leading national forum for artists, art professionals, curators, educators, scholars, critics, and art dealers. Through dialogue in roundtables, workshops and presentations, the conference examines the contemporary state of Latino art in the United States and the cultural forces that are presently shaping it. Join us for the latest issues, trends, and topics in Latino art and culture.

Conference features art exhibitions, book fair, tours to art center and cultural venues.

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