David Hernandez @ American Life in Poetry
David Hernandez is a featured poet of The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (2007); his poetry collections include Always Danger (2006) and A House Waiting for Music (2003). His poem “At the Post Office” is currently featured at American Life Poetry.
“At the Post Office,” as the title suggest, recounts a moving encounter between the speaker of the poem who is trying to mail a package to an ailing friend and a postal clerk characterized as a “giant stone, cobalt blue,” a giant “slab of night” who, despite his rock-hard façade of immortality, knows of the intimacy of decay:
“I know the stone knows a millennia of rain
and wind will even grind away
his ragged face, and all of this slow erasing
is just a prelude to when the swelling
universe burns out, goes dark, holds
nothing but black holes, the bones of stars
and planets, a vast silence. The stone
is stone-faced. The stone asks how soon
I want the package delivered. As fast
as possible, I say, then start counting the days.”
Carmen Calatayud at Split this Rock
Published by Press 53 this past October, In the Company of Spirits, is Carmen Calatayud’s first book-length collection of poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, Gargoyle, PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art, and the anthology DC Poets Against the War. Her poem “Commitment Otra Vez” is currently featured at Split this Rock and offers a literary taste of her newly released collection, In the Company of Spirits.
“Commitment Otra Vez,” like many of the other poems in Carmen’s newly-released book length collection, offers us a contemporary poet working to weave narratives of testimonio that blur the line between the political and the spiritual, where
pray for your country
and you can finally sleep
through the night.”
Rigoberto González @ Poem Flow
Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, Rigoberto González who was recently (along with Lorena Duarte and Xochiquetzal Candelaria) featured in this Poetry Society of America roundtable published in anticipation of installment three of the national reading series, is currently featured at Poem Flow. Poem Flow is a mobile app which everyday features and highlighting the work of contemporary American poets. Every day a new poem “flows” to thousands of cell phone screens through this poem-of-the-day app. Rigoberto González’s poem “Gila” was a recently featured on this fascinating new platform.
Titled after one of the tributaries of the Colorado River, “Gila” manifests one of the key elements of Rigoberto’s poetry, namely what Juan Felipe Herrera refers to as a “poetics of intimacy.” “Gila” like many of Rigoberto Gonzalez’s poems can infuse the most seemingly unfamiliar and alien subjects, a mummified lover, a mortician’s scar, a tributary of the Colorado River, with what Herrera calls “explosive life-force blazing toward the boundless:”
“It's no curse
dragging my belly across
the steaming sand all day.
I'm as thick as a callus
that has shorn off its leg.
If you find me I can explain
the trail made by a single limb.”
Aracelis Girmay @ The Cortland Review
Another Latino/a Poetry Now poet whose work is currently featured is that of Aracelis Girmay (Aracelis, along with Eduardo C. Corral and Rosa Alcalá were the poets featured in installment one of this national reading series). Her two poems “When They Ask Me My Name” and “(making You a House Upon My Leaving)” are currently featured at the Cortland Review.
In “When They Ask Me My Name,” the speaker of the poem declares: “I am a city.” A city that “hums electric as an exposed nerve.” Here is a speaker that is both shedding pieces of the self while at the same time acquiring pieces of the world: “I am here,” the pieces of that city declare, “having been thrown to the dogs/ & pigeons, I am the dogs & pigeons.” Here is a perpetual of lesson of loss and life:
“My life is very long. But short compared
to the turtle's, the stone's. I am both
the bird whose chest flashes red
at the window, & the cats below
screaming Return to me.”
Rich Villar @ Thrush Poetry Journal
Rich Villar’s poems and essays have appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Amistad, Achiote Seeds, and on NPR's "Latino USA." He has been quoted on Latino literature and culture by The New York Times and the Daily News, and he directs Acentos, an organization fostering community around Latino/a literature. His poem “Aubade at 12:56pm” is currently featured at Thrush Poetry Journal and has been nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize. Here is one of my favorite moments in that morning love song:
“The sun refuses the order to shine, to bathe
your closed eyes in winterglow, the deep
red purpose of your bedroom: I will
compose an ode to the Triboro Bridge,
the dervish upon which the city spins, wishing
I was Miles, playing what is not there.”
Deborah Parédez @ Voltage Poetry
Deborah Parédez is a featured poet of The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (2007) and a CantoMundo co-founder. She is also the author of This Side of Skin (2002) and the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (2009). Her poem “The Fire” is currently featured in Voltage Poetry with a critical analysis on the masterful “turns” in this poem. “Turn” here being the place in the poem where the reader is met with “surprise and heightened engagement.” The first turn (but not the principal turn in this poem) being the point in which the speaker plunges the reader in the description of a physical fire (a suicide by fire) and a “you” who extinguishes that fire; that is into the “night Tony decided to end it all:”
“bathing his head and limbs in gasoline
and igniting himself into effigy”
Only to be met again by the “you” whom “[taking] all the necessary precautions” saves Tony’s life.
But this burning figure, only serves as a vehicle by which to deliver the poems “knock-out” turn in which the speaker of the poem compares herself to Tony and to the “fire” which can envelop a person “ablaze and reckless:”
"so that years later when I, a bright girl, ablaze
and reckless, rushed to embrace you,
you did only what you knew best to do:
you stayed calm, moved quickly,
took all the necessary precautions,
snuffed out every ember,