Sunday, April 15, 2012
Latin@ Featured Poets: 3 Interviews
Rosa Alcalá @ Jacket 2
Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, Rosa Alcalá is currently featured in Jacket 2 with the interview: ”Unrehearsed Chemicals: A Conversation between Joshua Marie Wilkinson and Rosa Alcalá.”
“Unrehearsed Chemicals” is an insightful and thoughtful exploration into the evolution of the manuscript and the themes of class, gender and identity, as well as the literary theories that would come to influence and define Rosa Alcalá’s Undocumentaries (Shearsman, 2010). As the very title of the collection suggests, and as Joshua Wilkinson astutely remarks, the poems here present us a “world between the undocumented laborers” and what “cannot be documented in a documentary.”This is a world that demands risk of the poet: for if the poem fails in this risky endeavor of documentation, the poet runs the risk of reducing the world of labor to the same misrepresented clichés and abstractions that laborers are often reduced to:
“I read articles, watched documentaries (like American Dream, about the Hormel Food factory strike in Minnesota, which is mentioned in the book), and took notes. But I felt that this didn’t quite get at “it” (and I didn’t know what the “it” was yet). I started weaving my own unstable file of experiences with what I was reading, and this lead to other research, which was woven in as well. I was rereading Williams’s Paterson at the time, so I took his collage technique as a guide. So, the “undocumentary,” for me, is the lyric’s “unrehearsed chemicals,” which in the archive or document becomes “a brighter or stiller image.” I say “brighter” because I think the archive has the ability to seduce with its certainty, its proof, but it’s “stiller,” less able to communicate the slipperiness of experience.”
Brenda Cárdenas @ Lake Effect (Radio Interview)
On March 31st, on the eve of National Poetry Month, former Poet Laureate of Milwaukee, Brenda Cárdenas curated “Cantos Latinos: A Mosaic of Latino Poetry,” her last event as poet laureate. “Wanting to go off with bang” and inspired by “the diversity of Latino/a letters,” this last event sought to capture the linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity of Latino/a poets. This pre-event radio interview features Brenda Cárdenas and Cantos Latinos featured poet poet, Maurice Kilwein Guevara.
“Latino is this very generic word” says Cárdenas and yet in this radio-interview Cárdenas and Guevara strip away the banality of the label to show the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversities that generate a creative tension which makes the world of Latino/a letters a kaleidoscope with more colors than a rainbow. And as it was asked in this epilogue of installment two of Latino/a Poetry Now: what might this diversity, this particular sensibility yield for American poetry?
Pat Mora @ Latino Poetry Review
One of the high-lights of the AWP conference (my first) that took place last February in Chicago, was for me the off-site Con Tinta tribute to Pat Mora that took place at Zapatista. And while I did not have the pleasure of hearing Pat Mora read any of her poems, the intimate setting of the venue did invite many fine conversations, and not to mention the food and libations that followed. And since this a post on Latin@ featured poets with a particular emphasizes on interviews, I’d like to take this opportunity to re-post this older interview from issue 2 of Latino Poetry Now, between Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, Maria Melendez and Pat Mora and which explores the poet’s writing process and her conviction in the ability of poetry to contribute to intercultural understanding:
“A recent memory is being … in Portland, OR and thinking how my dear parents would have smiled at seeing a beautiful new branch library decorated in amazing piñatas. Teen mariachis walked in, Latinos and non-Latinos, and sang romantic songs en español for the diverse assembled group to enjoy. Children then heard a bilingual story-teller or made maracas or book marks. All the attendees had signed a family reading pledge and thus received a free children's book thanks to the efforts of the Portland Public Library. The event brought tears to my eyes—happy tears.”