Sunday, April 1, 2012

Latin@ Featured Poets

Juan J. Morales @ Kwelli Journal

CantoMundo fellow, Juan J. Morales—whose debut collection, Friday and the Year that Followed: Poems (Fairweather Books, 2007) is reviewed by Daniel A. Olivas in this issue of Latino Poetry Review—is the current poet featured at Kwelli Journal with his poem “One Last Love Poem.”

When I first read Friday and the Year that Followed, Juan J. Morales struck me as a storyteller. In the same way that a short-story writer or a novelist uses prose, Juan uses poetry to tell a story, except Juan’s use of poetry makes his stories that much more compelling.  For example, in the first section of the book titled “Ambato” and more specifically in the poem “Newspaper Story,” Juan gives a statistical account of a 1949 earthquake that devastated the Ecuadorian city of Ambato, leaving behind “6,000 dead,” “100,000 homeless” and “50 cities rubbled.” In the midst of this violence, which reduces the suffering of the innocent to the muteness of statistics, Morales summons the language of storytelling and the supernatural to give life to those who perish in the catastrophe.  In a way, his work—like that of recent Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, William Archila—reminds us that the poet is first and foremost a creator, with the ability—to borrow Archila’s words—“to shape and bend his or her work into an iron-like form that will out last the experience of the war,” of catastrophe.

“One Last Love Poem” is in Morales’ words “self-explanatory” and is part of a new collection of poems in progress:

One Last Love Poem: 

I confess being nervous to preserve you
before the little things fall in chasms of lost wishes.
Maybe it’s not ready but it escapes
like cigarette smoke in a sigh.  Before it’s too late, before
fully waking from living this life, I will write
to your body, to your telling stories.
I will drink them into my day like a subtle wink
you’d throw me in a crowded room.  I will always
see the charm of a chickenpox scar interrupting
your long lashes, your eyes set in navy
flecks of almost grey, how they will still look
into mine to instantly know how I feel.

I’d like to think I have photo sharp memory
but I still crash down to earth
noticing the strands of your hair
around the house that will sadly vanish in time
and golden bobby pins I find becoming
mousetraps that snap down on smaller memoirs,
subtle as your scent on skin beyond perfume. 
The cling to clothes a eulogy for squeezing
into your neck.  Your scent will dissipate in the quiet of
home, and I will desperately conjure it when I hum
improvised songs we sang to television melodies
we know and punk mixes we wore out.

If I could, one last time, I would kiss the freckles you hate
on your alabaster skin, the cigarette burn
on your arm that matches mine and shows our survival
so far, the two moles you hate
you know where, the small scar on your knee
you once showed me.  Either way, I can hold on
and let this all collapse into the calamities
of beauty, rising to be collected
when I don’t know what else to say or when
I let myself swirl into other sensations of you
I’m still sorry I couldn’t hold onto.

Click HERE for more.


Eduardo C. Corral @ Lambda Literary 

CantoMundo fellow and Latino/a Poetry Now Featured poet, Eduardo C. Corral is currently a featured poet at Lambda Literary, where his poem “To Tim Dlugos (Four Centos).”

Lacking the necessary words to intrigue you, dear reader, to this poem by Eduardo C. Corral I am tempted to simply write: “Eduardo C. Corral. Enough said.” And perhaps I should but instead I will confess to having never heard of the “cento.” The cento is a poem composed of verse and passages taken from other authors, hence Eduardo’s title “To Tim Dlugos” and which borrows a line(s) from Duglos in each of the four centos’ openings.  According to Wikipedia, the word Cento, meaning, “a cloak made of patches,” comes from the Latin. With this in mind I invite you to check out this four centos by Corral, which revisits Tim Duglos’ A Fast Life, a book that “rocked  my [Eduardo’s] life.”

Here is the opening cento:


I thought I was incapable of love. The year
I could not find a pen.
When you stop to think, it’s quite the bargain.
We were supposed to
drop a quarter
in this story. The horizon drops. All winter the sky gets higher.
It used to be more fun to be a poet.
I want a Pepsi for breakfast.
When I’m this blue,
I washthe city and the continent.
I really ought to carry a notebook.
Don’t know why.

Click HERE for more centos.


Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...

Because of your blog, I discovered Eduardo C. Corral and had the wonderful opportunity to hear him read recently. He is an incredible talent. Thank you!

Francisco Aragón said...

Thank you, Andrea. It's nice to know that Letras Latinas Blog is helping readers discover newer voices like Eduardo's. Perhaps you can recommend this space to other readers, as well?

Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...


Andrea (Andee) Beltran said...