Sergio Troncoso reviews Rigoberto González’s Red-Inked Retablos (University of Arizona Press, 2013)
Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, Rigoberto González, is an award-winning poet and prolific writer. He is also a tireless supporter and a pillar of the Latino/a literary community. Rigoberto’s creative and critical work stand out in my mind as exemplary in the way he has been able to merge his creative output with his tireless support of emerging Latino/a voices and his efforts to bring attention to our literary community. His latest book Red-Inked Retablos is a testament to the way literature can—as Sergio Troncoso states—not only give voice to marginalized individuals but also “change the world around you.”
Here is what Sergio Troncoso has to say:
In "Red-Inked Retablos" (University of Arizona Press, 2013), Rigoberto González weaves his words to create a tapestry of literary activism and erudition, passion and precision, action with words.
He successfully achieves a book of "mariposa consciousness" -- that is, a primer for the gay Chicano writer and intellectual on how to move from family poverty and homophobia to self-education and self-realization, from not having a voice in a marginalized world to fighting with literary work to create your voice and change the world around you.
If individual and community freedom matter to you, then you should pick up this book and read it
Julie Brooks Barbour review Cynthia Cruz’s The Glimmering Room (Four Way Books, 2012)
Cynthia Cruz is the author of Ruin (Alice James Book, 2006) and a second collection, The Glimmering Room that is currently profiled in a book review by Julie Brooks Barbour of The Rumpus. Cruz is a former reader of the PALABRA PURA reading series, (Letras Latinas was once co-sponsor and curator of the series) was also recently featured in an interview for Hayden’s Ferry Review. In that interview Cynthia Cruz described her work as poems which are stripped of “their backbone” leaving only “glitter or afterglow.” This is—I think— a fit description for the poems that appear in The Glittering Room.
Here is what Julie Brooks Barbour has to say:
The Glimmering Room is a coming of age story, but not your regular bildungsroman. In this world, girls are asked to grow up too fast, to be sexual before their time. In this world, teenagers are sent to mental wards because they react to the expectations placed upon them. These poems remind us that growing up cannot only be difficult, but terrifying. Young men and women get bullied, depressed, and medicated. In this world, we find silent girls and broken boys.
Yago S. Cura reviews Tim Z. Hernadez’s Takeover of Small Things (University of Arizona, 2013)
Tim Z. Hernandez is an award winning author and performance artist. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax (Heyday Books, 2004) received the 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. His newest collection is Takeover of Small Things which is currently profiled in a book review by Yago S. Cura of Hinchas de Poesía, whose Odas a fútbolistas was recently profiled here for the Letras Latinas Blog.
Here is what Yago S. Cura has to say:
Poems are tied to the land in instances where the language used in those poems speaks to the land in the people. These poems of place should be issued passports; their words establish an embassy of sorts, in the mind. Darwish's poems are the first that come to mind, but also those of Nazim Hikmet, although his land and home are the poems he writes to sustain himself throughout his years of incarceration.
In the poem "Flying Parallel" from Tim Z. Hernandez's Natural Takeover of Small Things, the author freeze-dries a moment of lower-order struggle, and relates it with animal fidelity. In that poem, a hawk has caught "a baby squirrel" in its "talons" and is deterred from scarfing on the baby squirrel by "another bird, smaller in size...pecking the head/ and back of the hawk, parallel to my window" (54). The poet captures "Three lives/mid-flight, each of them arguing about their differences," each of them on "parallel" lifelines. Maybe a state of constant struggle might lay the groundwork for an aesthetic infrastructure predicated on the thereness of place-permanence?
Charlie Bondhus reviews Dan Vera’s Speaking Wiri Wiri (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013)
Dan Vera is the author of The Space Between Our Danger and Delight (Beothuk Books, 2008) and the inaugural winner (along with William Archila) of the Letras Latinas / Red Hen Poetry Prize judged by Notre Dame professor and creative writing director Orlando R. Menes. Speaking Wiri Wiri is Vera’s second full-length collection and is currently profiled in a book review by Charlie Bondhus of Lambda Literary.
Here is what Bondhus has to say:
“Wiri Wiri” is not, as one might guess, some little-known dialect. Nor is Dan Vera’s Speaking Wiri Wiri (Red Hen Press) an attempt to appeal to the linguistically esoteric. The title is a term invented by Vera’s father to mean “gibberish.” Yet there is no gibberish to be found in Vera’s Letras Latinas-winning poetry collection. Rather, there is much to inspire awe and provoke reflection.
As the book’s title suggests, language is a key element in most of the pieces, whether the poet is engaging the politics of mispronunciation and reappropriation—as he does in “Kvetch”—looking at the humor inherent in linguistic misunderstanding—as he does in “Tower of Babel”—or reflecting on the relationship between colonized languages and colonized peoples—poignantly expressed in “How the Land Longs to be Loved.” Indeed, “the tongue” features prominently in Vera’s book, both as speaker of language and as taster of food; and sometimes as both.