Latin@ Featured Poets: 3 interviews
Liliana Valenzuela @ La Bloga
Internationally-renowned translator, journalist and poet, Liliana Velenzuela is a CantoMundo inaugural fellow and the author of the newly released chapbook Codex Of Journeys: Bendito Camino. Of Bendito Camino inaugural poet Richard Blanco wrote: “Spare and full of light, each poem is like a tiny x-ray of the soul, capturing so much of what is not seen by the naked eye underneath.”
To call each poem a “tiny x-ray of the soul” is a fitting description for in this chapbook each poem is a small piece which when added together transform into a whole, into a single “codex.” Like the ancient codices of Mesoamerica which together tell the histories of the people that inhabited those ancient civilizations, Bendito Camino is part of larger manuscript called Codex of Desire in which Liliana takes “journeys is all different directions.”
Norma Cantú @ NewBorder
CantoMundo co-founder and recent inductee to the Texas Institute of Letters, Norma Cantú is currently featured in an interview for the inaugural issue of NewBorder: Criticism and Creation of the U.S. / Mexico Border.
Reading Norma Cantú’s words here remind me that poetry now only reveals to me—as a reader—deeper veins of knowledge and emotion that run bone-deep but didn’t know where in me; but also reminds me that words when uttered or put down on paper are also acts of faith with the power to both empower and save one from precarious situations. Such was the case as in the story Norma Cantú shares regarding the theft of her manuscript Canícula and of its mysterious reappearance.
Rigoberto González @ NewBorder
Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, Rigoberto González is the author of ten books of poetry and prose and is also currently featured in an interview with John O. Espinoza of NewBorder. His most recent collection of poems is Black Blossoms (Fourway Books).
In this manifold interview Rigoberto harks back to the figure of “the mortician,” a character that appears both in his first book of poems So Often the Pitcher Goes to until it Breaks and his latest Black Blossoms and which serves to explore issues of masculinity and sexuality but also of the other; such as in the mortician poems in Black Blossoms which tell the stories of the women in the life of that figure.
And speaking of the other; Rigoberto also elucidates how in times of erasing the other—in times of “Mexiphobia” as Sandra Cisneros has called our times—Rigoberto González reminds us that yes, the poet has the power to humanize but he or she also has the responsibility to create the spaces and communities where that poetry can flourish in the first place:
“If Chicano writers rely on the New York publishing world for validation, we are relying on the wrong thing, even if and when we get it. Yes, these snubs are frustrating and sometimes maddening, but I take great comfort in knowing that we have not stopped writing just because the Pulitzer prize committee hasn’t given us a bone. Because that’s not why we write. We are not here to please a mostly-white institution. If New York never notices, it’s New York’s loss, but it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to the cultural and demographic shifts of this country’s readership.”