Saturday, December 4, 2010

Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (3) Gabe Gomez

Gabe's manuscript was selected by former Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, Valerie Martínez. One of the special things about this second edition of the prize was that the official announcement was made public at the Border Book Festival in in the spring 2006. Martínez graciously made the trip down to Mesilla, NM for the occasion. On our way to the festival I dialed Gabe's number; he answered; I passed the cell phone to the judge, and she relayed the good news.....


How, if at all, are the visual arts implicated in your work as a poet? Or, can you talk about the relationship between poetry (yours or the work of others) and the visual arts.

At this point, my work isn’t necessarily influenced by one single thing, much less other forms of art. The visual arts, however, will probably always have some tethers in my work. Rather than a finished art piece, I find that most of my connections to the visual arts are within a mechanical/spiritual process that begins before I "lay on the paint" so to speak.  To borrow a legal term, there is a period of discovery where I engage, albeit subconsciously, in collecting information—it’s a broad and undefined act, but an important part of my process. I locate myself within these ideas and pieces of the larger world; it’s a kind of measurement. In this, my composition, lines, breaks, phrasing, etc., are not unlike site-specific or performance art. The act of writing often informs the poems, so the idea and execution are often intertwined.  The page presents little if any boundaries, but enough of a limit to structure a poem.   

Please pick one of the three following topics/themes, and share what relationship it has with your work as a poet:  place, voice, community.

I have a vast definition of place; it’s similar to my overarching definitions of poetry, which is to say, ironically enough, that my interests have little to do “with” poetry. Still, my obsessions with sourcing ideas invariably lead to place or rather a “confluence of circumstances.” I remember hiking alone through the desert when I was a boy and wondering if I had been the first person to step through a particular pass in the landscape…whether or not you bring ideas to the place of your origin or the place informs the poem, it is a tremendous thing to capture…

What did winning the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and, as a result, having your first book published mean to you? What effect did it have on your writing career?

 An unexpected gift to winning the prize has been the atmosphere it created for my work to evolve. The Outer Bands is a risky book—it is a restless and urgent document that captured a very specific period in my life. It taught me that art and the art community has a central place among tragedy. Ultimately, it has changed my own expectations of writing and my place within the conversation of contemporary poetry. It was a tremendous way to begin a literary career, as there was no compromise—but rather a refinement—to the vision and integrity of the work.

“The title poem of this collection is a 28-day record of days between Katrina and Rita, which draws from the news headlines, the language tossed around by politicians, and realistic images of the storm to provide a portrait of just how dislocating, how jarring, how out of time that period was.” 

— The Times-Picayune

The Outer Bands
(University of Notre Dame Press, 2007)

available HERE

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