Sunday, January 1, 2012

FLORICANTO ISSUE of Beltway Poetry Quarterly

A young man raises his hand.

“How does it feel writing about our country?”

The invited guest tells the story of how he came to poetry.

The country in question: El Salvador. The scene of this exchange: a high school in Washington, DC.

Frazier O’Leary, who has taught and coached for thirty years, has gathered twenty or so of his Cardozo students, most of them natives of this small Central American nation, or the sons and daughters of Salvadoran immigrants. A few weeks earlier they had each been given The Art of Exile by William Archila—also born in El Salvador, who migrated to California in 1980 at the age of twelve. After Archila’s presentation, O’Leary’s students line up to have their books signed, chatter and visit with their new friend.

That spring afternoon, in 2010, poetry became a palpable bridge. 

Among those who witnessed what took place in that classroom was Dan Vera, who’d graciously agreed to document the moment with his digital camera—whose poem, “If You Want To Purify America’s Textbooks of Ethnic Studies,” is one of the twenty-six poems you’ll read in this winter issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, an issue that aims to embody a similar bridge.

Guest editors of Beltway Poetry are asked to hone in on a local angle. Mine is the AWP Conference & Bookfair held in Washington. Or rather: the “off-site” event at the True Reformer Building on U Street that unfolded on February 4, 2011, an event called “Floricanto in DC: A Multicultural Response to SB1070”—in reference to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. 


---Francisco Aragón

from his Introduction 
Beltway Poetry Quarterly 
Volume 13:1, Winter 2012

Read the rest of the Introduction and access issue HERE.

Floricanto Issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly

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