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Emma Trelles
Emma Trelles is the author of the chapbook Little Spells (GOSS183) and Tropicalia, winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and forthcoming from the University of Notre Dame Press.
Interests: books, bands, poems, peace, hiking, camping, politics, cats, gardens, movies, and mulling.
Recent Activity
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The ninth season of the Mission Poetry Series wraps with a reading on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at 2 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Public Library. In Bright Sky Blue: Two Poets in Spring features award-winning authors Marisol Baca and Christopher Buckley. The title of the event is taken from a poem by Joanne Kyger, a major poet of the San Francisco Renaissance who studied poetry and philosophy at UC Santa Barbara. The reading will be held at The Santa Barbara Public Library, in the Faulkner Gallery, at 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA, and is free and open to the public. The event offers complimentary broadsides, refreshments, and poets’ books for sale. The Mission Poetry Series is hosted by program director Emma Trelles and production coordinator Mark Zolezzi. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/missionpoetryseries/ Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The Waiting, acrylic on canvas, by Julia Khoroshikh Metamórfosis by Pat Mora Pearls here Pearls there Pearls behind us —George Sarandáris I Topless she rules her turquoise sea, this child, kicks her commands. Arms outflung, she orchestrates waves, enters her Aegean kingdom, plants her small feet triumphantly on obedient sand, scolds a swell that lifts her with its clear power. The sea bows, retreats. Vasílissa tis thálassas smiles regal approval at the light rippling her long mysterious hair. II Laughing, full nude fengári tosses an eager string of fish to cheer the night-brooding sea. Like fireflies they dart and glint in the sea’s dark, whispering folds. The fish leap to ride the waves of its silver sorrow like stars scurrying to our fabled shores. Might I step softly on the jasmine shimmer of their fins from island to island on this fragrant bridge of light? III We are all beautiful in water. Girls lift their mothers laughing in their arms. Grandmothers, heavy in sand, float in this caressing sea, point their toes, dancers again, their arms, graceful, as silvery- green olive trees, their legs, lovely in play, in ripples of light. In 2018, The University of Arizona Press will publish Pat Mora's seventh adult poetry collection, Encantado: Desert Monologues; and Lee and Low Books, her children’s poetry collection, Bookjoy, Wordjoy. Her other adult collections include Adobe Odes; Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints; Communion; Borders; Chants, and Agua Santa: Holy Water, where "Metamórfosis" was first published. Among her awards are Honorary Doctorates from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo, a Life-time Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, a Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, an Honorary Membership in the American Library Association, a Life-time Membership in USBBY, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship to write in Umbria, Italy, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at El Paso. She was a recipient and judge of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a recipient and advisor of the Kellogg National Leadership Fellowships. Born in El Paso to a loving, bilingual family, Pat lives in Santa Fe. She is always working on new books. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Sestina, as my mother cooks by Lory Bedikian I tell her it’s a problem of the nerve. She doesn’t look up, but eases a scar on each small olive, making room for the marinade to soak in. Not one eye blinks as she does this. Like before, I’m pretty sure that this is my cue to leave. But I think back, when she had to leave Aleppo with my father, each good-bye plucking a nerve, hitting notes against her chest—quite pretty for a plainly dressed Protestant. Like a scar they mark the bible with this date. One eye on the future, they fly and find a one-room apartment in New York. Now, my mother acts as if this room holds only her. She mumbles there’s nothing wrong, just leave the past alone and you’ll be fine. I lunge my twitching eye toward her. But she doesn’t have the nerve to look. I wonder how she handles the brush of scar below her abdomen, where I entered the world, pretty different than most. She asks me to put on something pretty for once. The L.A. noon heat rises. I pace the room thinking of how to tell this woman of the scar tissue the doctor found; how I tried to leave the office smiling, grateful it wasn’t worse, just a nerve disorder, its radar placed in the sphere of an eye. After so many years, she still gives me the eye over. What I say next is anything but pretty: Has she ever thought each cell, each nerve of my body is conspiring in rebellion to the room we’ve always held between us? She says she must leave for work, she’s late. My fingers shake. I say another scar will form from this—like each scar you brought across the Atlantic. I feel as small as the eye of a needle. A cutting board, an empty sink is what we leave behind us. She walks ahead, down the hall. I stop. Pretty soon she’ll reappear. In this house I have no room left, so I grab my keys, knowing it’s enough that I’ve struck this nerve. This is how she survives, making sure to leave the house looking pretty. Not one scar visible to the eye. She doesn’t question this world, how it has the nerve to move us from room to room, so far from where we started. Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting was awarded the 2010 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she was awarded the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for Poetry. Her work has been selected several times as a finalist in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition and in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition and has received grants from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund and AFFMA. Poets & Writers chose her work as a finalist for the 2010 California Writers Exchange Award. Her work was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Looking at Women by Iliana Rocha My father taught me how. His curious eyes, perpetually amber from drinking, would scan a woman, rest on a bold curve they liked: tits or ass. He was not a leg man. It would begin innocently enough, his arm draped across a bench at the mall, my mother shopping. I’d sit in his armpit, matted hair in Old Spice while his gaze trucked each body teetering on stilettos. Weekends, my father watched Sábado Gigante, would hoot & holler at the women wearing nothing but dark eyebrows & overdrawn lips, occasionally an accordion as a dress. ¡Damn! he would exclaim. Damn. There were also the pornos, soft-core, half-naked women with their hard breasts mistakenly attached to ribs. “Hot blonde” was a universal phrase, & brunettes became sexy only when they removed their glasses & shook their tight buns loose from their heads. Teachers can be hot too. Sometimes I slept on the living room sofa, & the TV’s glare would wake me: nude mermaids fingering each other in the gills, merman sucking their shiny pennies of nipple. Then there was the internet history. More women—some pregnant, some just chubby. I noticed my own body, legs half-tree trunk, half-lightning rod. Tried to pinch the skin around my knees & ankles into neater shapes. A waist strangled into a waist: el número ocho, la guitarra. Some have found that waist, others reached right through it to other women everywhere: one positioned obediently in the emptiness of one boyfriend’s computer screen, sunny & grinning in bikini. Continuous others popped up, contained in rectangles, snapping a thong’s hot pink. I started to look, too, at one in a commercial licking barbecue sauce from her fingers. My stare isn’t all that different than his—start from the face, scroll down. I love a woman in a tight dress, done up like a drag queen. Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as The Nation, RHINO, Blackbird, and West Branch. Karankawa, her debut collection, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is available through the University of Pittsburgh Press. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma and lives with her three chihuahuas Nilla, Beans, and Migo. "Looking at Women" first appeared in Karankawa. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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In Her Image by Sandra McPherson French postcard, circa World War I In agreeing to be the crucified woman, she knew she would need to hang there with no pockets, no purse, no pearls. She would know how to stretch into it when the time came. Did she enjoy an innate ballerina who could express befitting grace? While still her bearing should look disciplinary, chastening. Express duress. She must suffer while blooming with a boast of pulchritude the lighting director could work with. At the tryouts, the rest of us were already too mangled with practice nails, and slivers. She stepped right up, and now she is holding on. Jesus as evangelist from girlhood, a young savant known for finespun sayings and secrecy revealed as sorrow. Her death would fall somewhere in her menstrual cycle. Her belly invites most — soft and so slightly split into those two lobes which make apricots and peaches superior to the moon. Lustrous, a stage-curtain rope knots right over pubic hair. Feet bound with ribbon, a satin tether to appeal to some, she ails ungaunt, her edges sled-round, cambered. Coifed in the same style as her carnality: in even waves, marcelled. Are agony’s good looks art’s job, or labor’s contract, or sex’s by swoon? Whatever, they’re hers. And the age’s. Real senselessness, stupefying power over lives, eventually tore men’s faces off. Their leaders made millions rot millions. Many choked on rats’ mud. Flies had no teeth for skulls so there it stopped. What did this have to do with our sacrificing, sacrificing our breasts barely between a triangle of bleeding nails? How we numbed evil. How unbearable we made goodness feel. Sandra McPherson has twenty collections published, 5 with Ecco, 3 with Wesleyan, 2 with Illinois, and 2 with Ostrakon. New work appears in Field, The Yale Review, Agni, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Ecotone, Cimarron, Crazyhorse, Basalt, Cirque, Plume, and Poetry. She taught for 23 years at UCDavis and 4 years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collection of 67 African-American improvisational quilts is housed at University of California at Davis Design Department. She founded Swan Scythe Press. Her new collection, Quicksilver, Cougars, and Quartz is scheduled for 2018 from Salmon Poetry Press. She is the great-grand-niece of Abby Morton Diaz, Plymouth feminist author and abolitionist. "In Her Image" was first published in Ploughshares. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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From the Lake No. 1, 1924, oil on canvas, Georgia O'Keeffe Refrain by Jennifer Elise Foerster There is a woman who whistles from the arroyo—oh hollow bone you have a body you cannot carry alone. What I carry beneath an ocean same color as the sky is not my own though I am always yours, collecting fractals of falling hours, coral scales for your necklace. Nightly I fall from my skin to the surface—glass worms drift in the trade winds, sighs of porpoises billow the dunes. Beneath the swimming Sargassum blooms, snails’ sapphire wings, I depend on the rain of the dead for food— my umbrella, flared, is a fossil. Oh abyssal fish with telescope eyes, fish with luminous torches, where are the whirling Spanish dancers? Where are my drowned teeth, ear bone, jaw? A crab marches its marbled shell across the ocean floor— as if the body was ensnared by its own memory. Body, I drag you like a shipwreck, pluck the pelican-trampled weeds from the cracks of the gas-lit shore to fasten into your hair nest— and some days can only manage to sit on the deck with a cigarette watching the tin clouds rust in the rain, my fish-shaped bath soaps bleed into gutters no longer knowing blue from blue, flesh from light, sea from sky. I cannot echo your absence without dissolving you, cannot retrieve you from rock or from sound, nor can I return you. A freight train carrying last night’s dreams steams across the in-between where I wait at the depot catching dust, holding a suitcase and your clammy hand— where the eyes of fish are not windows but moons the earth has forgotten. Like a bone afloat on a darkening sea the arroyo’s fluted surface whistles— Body, have you forgotten me so soon? Jennifer Elise Foerster is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and received her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She is the recipient of a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship (2017), a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship (2014), and was a Robert Frost Fellow in Poetry at Breadloaf (2017) and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford (2008-2010). A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, she teaches at the IAIA MFA Low-Residency Program, and co-directs For Girls Becoming, an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma. Jennifer is the author of Leaving Tulsa, (2013) and Bright Raft int the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press; "Refrain" first appeared in her most recent book. This spring, she will be completing her PhD in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver. She lives in San Francisco. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life), from the Silueta series, 1976, Ana Mendieta In the Afternoon by Achy Obejas You worry between pots and pans about your body swollen; straightening your back, the snail's roundness your own. You cringe. You're embarrassed. You see too many similarities with the soup spoons. "It's nothing," you say, your skin rice paper, tea color, and musty like a morning bed. In the afternoon, we buy bread and cheese, hard because you want to cut it with a blade. Your finger has string around it to remind you of me. You add wine to the shopping list. I want to take two hours to read, to do nothing, to find a place on the tree to carve our initials. I have no knife. You, stretching, reach for the ceiling and blue lines shoot through the inside of your arm -- neon, a boulevard, water for the garden. You laugh, tell me I would not survive in the wet, black-green of the forest. "Your skin," you say, touching this, touching that, "is too light, too bright. Something would eat you." I want to take a long nap, stiff-fingered, limp breasts, sour-sweet like a baby's breath in the cave, in the cave. Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins, Days of Awe, and three other books of fiction. She edited and translated (into English) the anthology Havana Noir, and has since translated Junot Díaz, Rita Indiana, Wendy Guerra, and many others. In 2014, she was awarded a USA Ford Fellowship for her writing and translation. She currently serves as the Director of the MFA in Translation program at Mills College in Oakland, California. The Tower of the Antilles, Obejas' stories of contemporary Cuba, is longlisted for the 2018 Pen Open Book Award and for The Story Prize. This poem first appeared in her poetry chapbook This Is What Happened In Our Other Life, published by A Midsummer Night's Press. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Brown Girl Sings Whalesong by Barbara Jane Reyes When they say you are as big as a lumpy, blubbery whale, you may go ahead and bellow deep. Creak, croon, and trill, moan low. Go ahead, open your mouth so wide, that you can swallow the sea. Know that your blood pulls you through what your oldest ancestors committed to heart. Remember you have touched the ocean floor, and you have made your garden there. Remember, your skin is thick. Remember, no one has tamed you. Yes, you are immense, your lifespan and memory long, your heart larger than a full-grown man. Your lungs carry air for us all. Your ribcage could be a refuge. Your skull is a cavern of deep song. Through murk and poison, you move true with the moon. Your body lights a million lanterns. Your deep pitched song finds your sisters, your mother. They say the earth’s most unruly parts sing like you. Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Invocation to Daughters (City Lights Publishers). She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the SF Bay Area, and is the author of four previous poetry collections: Gravities of Center, Poeta en San Francisco, Diwata, and To Love as Aswang. She is also the author of the chapbooks Easter Sunday (Ypolita Press), Cherry (Portable Press), and For the City that Nearly Broke Me (Aztlán Libre Press). She is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco’s Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program and has taught at San Francisco State University and Mills College. She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member for Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA). She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC, 1980, Nan Goldin The Body And Its Origins by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza I must have had a good reason to leave. Think back to the body and its origins. Dream of night sky. Neutral colors. Imagine the moment this all came to be. I was conscious beneath the ocean waiting to become this thing. There were no words. No death. God was touching herself everywhere. I crawled up walls and kissed ceilings. I mixed with dirt and felt the world come to life and then come up with a word for life. And then a word for death. And then a word for body. And then a word for man. And then a word for woman. And then a word for me. They took my skin and stretched it out over the kitchen sink. I can feel the warm water, the soap, the fork scraping over me. Light coming in through the window. My first sounds. It was all love when I didn’t have anything. All wet grass and cold snow up to my neck. I remember seeing my name on a piece of paper and asking mom what it meant. It was like a broken mirror to my eyes. Further and further from the stars. Emptying of the soul. Time felt as cloth. Strange memory of dad as a skeleton praying for god to save him. And do you know what prayer does? It makes you feel like nothing again but most people who pray don’t understand this. When I pray I am pure. I don’t ask for anything. I am a vision of the future. I am spread out on the couch sobbing because I’m feeling some shit. I listen. I give myself to the world at my leisure. I run as far away from men as I possibly can. This is all to avoid what I really mean— That purpose is transformation. That body is life. That life is a word. And death and woman and man. That I didn’t have to fight to exist. That I drifted into this light and it just happened. That I am a woman because there are stars and water and air and trees and dirt and flesh and words and dreams and love and feeling. That I have less than forever to hold myself. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been featured in Denver Quarterly, PEN America, Lambda Literary, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of two collections—i’m alive / it hurts / i love it (boost house 2014) and There Should Be Flowers (CCM 2016). A third collection, Outside Of The Body There Is Something Like Hope is forthcoming in 2018 from Big Lucks. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Amorphous Landscape II: oils & pencils on wood, 2014, Alexandra Levasseur Song to be Sung before Dying by Ellen Bass Break me like bread. Take me apart. Strip each rib down to light. Pour me out like a bucket of milk, sloshing hot from the teats of a goat. Shear my hair and toss it onto the back of the wind for the birds to weave. Like the egret pecks at the elephant’s hide, like the plover scrapes the crocodile’s teeth, pick me clean. Whisper to my lonely breasts. Tell them a story, you are going to die. But don’t let me go until my body is a wilderness. Burrow like mites head-down into my lashes. You be the whale. I am the krill. Open your jaws and swim through my shoal. Strip me down to my foundation. Handle each plank and rusty nail. Erect me again in a new location. I’ve always wanted a view of the sea. Unload me like a cargo ship. Hoist cases of whiskey and all the flaming threads of saffron. Don’t be patient. Plunge your hand through my flesh like a Tibetan healer and pull out the nest of hair and teeth. Give me eighteen sinuous arms like Avalokiteshvara so I can hold you through every terror. Give me infinite legs like the Nude Descending so I can be always rushing toward you. Excavate me with your chisels. Crack me and free the mirrored fossil waiting for you these fifty million years. Ellen Bass's most recent book is Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She co-edited the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women and her non-fiction books include The Courage to Heal and Free Your Mind. Her poetry frequently appears in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, three Pushcart Prizes, and The Lambda Literary Award. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University. This poem originally appeared in Narrative. "Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body" is the second annual offering of the Poetry Coalition -- more than twenty organizations nationwide dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. A founder member of the Coalition, Letras Latinas at Notre Dame's Institute's for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present 10 poems by women in March that engage with this year's theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's "Flores Woman." The poems in this project were curated by Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Keeping Faith Alive, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2008-2009, Poli Marichal & When We Woke by Aracelis Girmay It rained all night. It did not rain. I strapped my life to a buoy—& sent it out. & was hoping for a city whose people sing from their windows or rooftops, about the beauty of their children & their children’s eyes, & the color of the fields when it is dusk. & was hoping for a city as free as the rain, whose people roam wherever they want, free as any real, free thing is free. Joyful. Green. & was hoping for a city of 100 old women whose bones are thick & big in their worker hands beautiful as old doors. & when we woke, dear reader, we’d landed in a city of 100 old women telling their daughters things. & when we turned to walk away, because we did not think we were citizens of this strange & holy place, you & I, the hundred old women said, No, No! You are one of us! We are your mothers! You! You! Too! Come & listen to our secrets. We are telling every person with a face! & they stood us in a line facing the sea, (because that is the direction we came from) & behind us there was another line of women & another, & we sang songs. & we filled the songs with our mothers’ names. & we filled the songs with trees for our mothers to stand under, & good water for our mothers to drink. & we filled the songs with beds for our mothers to lay down in & rest. We filled the songs with rest. & good food for our mothers to eat. We made them a place in our singing, & we faced the sea. We are still making them a place in our singing. Do you understand? We make them a place where they can walk freely, untouched by knives or the police who patrol the borders of countries like little & fake hatred-gods who patrol the land though the land says, I go on & on, so far, you lose your eye on me. We make our mothers a place in our singing & our place does not have a flag or, even, one language. Do you understand? We sing like this for days, standing in lines & lines & lines, facing the sea. The sea knows what to do. We sing like this for days until our throats are torn with singing. Do you understand? We must build houses for our mothers in our poems. I am not sure, but think, This is my wisest song. Aracelis Girmay is the author of three books of poems: the black maria, Kingdom Animalia, and Teeth. She is also the author/illustrator of the collage-based picture book changing, changing. Recent collaborations include an interview with Emmy Pérez and a poetry translation project with visual artist and writer Rosalba Campra. For the last several... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The ninth season of the Mission Poetry Series opens with a reading on Saturday, November 11, at 1 p.m. at Antioch University Santa Barbara. “Furious Music: Three Poets in Autumn” features poets Alexandra Lytton-Regalado, George Yatchisin, and David Dominguez. The title of the event is a phrase taken from "Duende," a poem by Tracy K. Smith, the newly appointed U.S. Poet Laureate. The reading will be held at Antioch University Santa Barbara, 602 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, CA, and is free and open to the public. The event offers complimentary broadsides, refreshments, and poets’ books for sale. Join us! Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Paul Fericano is a working class poet, satirist and social activist. He is the author of The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press) and several more poetry and prose books and chapbooks, including Interview with the Scalia, Commercial Break, Driving to Reno with Freud, and Loading the Revolver With Real Bullets. He is the editor and co-founder of Yossarian Universal (1980), the nation’s first parody news service, and he is a founder of SafeNet, an advocacy group that assists survivors of clergy sexual abuse by fixing on healing and restorative justice; he also writes an online column about this work, A Room with a Pew. Since 1971, his poetry and prose have appeared, disappeared and reappeared in various underground and above-ground literary and media outlets in this country and abroad, including: The Antarctic Review, Inside Joke, Mother Jones, Poetry Now, Projector, The Realist, Saturday Night Live, SoHo Arts Weekly, Vagabond, The Wormwood Review, and Catavencu Incomod (Romania), Charlie Hebdo (Paris), Il Male (Italy), Krokodil (Moscow), Pardon (Germany), Punch (London) and Satyrcón (Argentina). Paul Fericano received the Howitzer Prize for his poem, “Sinatra, Sinatra,” an award he himself created and exposed as a literary hoax to reveal the absurd nature of competitive awards. The following year, Commercial Break received both the Prix de Voltaire (Paris) and the Ambrose Bierce Prize (San Francisco) for upholding the traditions of socio-political satire. He resides on the San Francisco peninsula. Because I am valuing order at the moment, I thought I'd start at the beginning -- literally. The front matter of your book includes praise from a variety of newspapers & publications both here and across the pond. I noticed that several described you by summoning the language of subterfuge, such as how you write "like a wanted man hiding out in the basement of Poetry magazine" (Chicago Sun-Times) or that "if a witness protection program" existed for poets, you'd be in it (Washington Post Book World). How does your work, and this book in particular, connect to the covert? Yeah. If you talk to some of my friends they’ll swear they never heard of me. The Hollywood Catechism represents the progressive arc my narrative has taken since my high school seminary days at a Franciscan boarding school in the sixties. My desire to write conspired with my need to be funny which collided with my vocation to serve God. As a naïve fourteen year old freshman I was taught that God and poetry were essentially great because both were solemn and unfathomable. In English class we were instructed to examine not feel. Poems were prayers and prayers were sacred with no hint that ancient writers even knew what a joke was. What little I knew of poetry and God was encyclopedic compared to what I knew about sex and my own body. During this time the priest who ran my screwy English class was sexually assaulting me under the guise of medical treatment. I was a fearful, angry and depressed kid, ashamed and confused about... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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A river in which time quenches its thirst, 2015, gouache, colored pencil and ink on paper, Firelei Báez Weighing In by Rhina P. Espaillet What the scale tells you is how much the earth has missed you, body, how it wants you back again after you leave it to go forth into the light. Do you remember how earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock you in their arms, warm in the flow that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin, and finally to stoke you, body, drumming intimate coded messages through music you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming and your poems and your obedient blood. Body, how useful you became, how lucky, heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad, sometimes, imagining that greedy zero you must have been, that promising empty sack of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow. But look at you now, body, soft old shoe that love wears when it’s stirring, look down, look how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know. Rhina P. Espaillat has published ten full-length books and three chapbooks, comprising poetry, essays and short stories, in both English and her native Spanish, and translations from and into Spanish. Her work appears in numerous journals, over seventy anthologies, and dozens of websites, and has earned national and international awards, including the T. S. Eliot Prize in Poetry, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Howard Nemerov Prize, the May Sarton Award, the Robert Frost “Tree at My Window” Prize for translation, several honors from the New England Poetry Club, the Poetry Society of America, the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Salem State College. Espaillat’s most recent publications are two poetry collections in English titled Playing at Stillness and Her Place in These Designs, both available from their publisher, Truman State University Press, http://tsup.truman.edu. Espaillat has also published a book of Spanish translations titled Oscura fruta/Dark Berries: Forty-two Poems by Richard Wilbur, and a book of Spanish translations titled Algo hay que no es amigo de los muros/ Something There Is that Doesn’t Love a Wall: Forty Poems by Robert Frost, both available from Amazon.com. She is a frequent reader, speaker and workshop leader, and is active with the Powow River Poets, a notable group she co-founded in 1992. "Weighing In" was first published in Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press). “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Los contempladores, acrylic on canvas, 2004, Tomás Sánchez The Island Within by Richard Blanco for Ruth Behar I’m still thinking about your porch light like a full moon casting a foggy halo in the frigid air last night, the bare oaks branching into the sky like nerve endings inches away from the frozen stars, the pink gables of your Victorian home protesting yet another winter for you captive in Ann Arbor as you practice mambo by the fireplace. I’m following your red-velvet shoes to conga beats and bongo taps taking your body, but not your life, from the snow mantling your windows outside, 1,600 miles away from Cuba. I’m tasting the cafecito you made, the slice of homemade flan floating in burnt sugar like the stories you told me you can’t finish writing, no matter how many times you travel through time back to Havana to steal every memory ever stolen from you. You’re a thief anyone would forgive, wanting only to imagine faces for names chiseled on the graves of your family at Guanabacoa, walk on Calle Aguacate and pretend to meet the grandfather you never met at his lace shop for lunch, or pray the Kaddish like your mother at the synagogue in El Vedado, stand on the steps there like you once did in a photo you can’t remember taking. I confess I pitied you, still trying to reach that unreachable island within the island you still call home. I thought I was done with Cuba, tired of filling in the blanks, but now I’m not sure. Maybe if I return just once more, walk the sugarcane fields my father once cut, drive down the road where my mother once peddled guavas to pay for textbooks, sit on the porch of my grandmother’s house, imagine her still in the kitchen making arroz-con-leche— maybe then I’ll have an answer for you last night when you asked me: Would you move to Cuba? Would you die there? Richard Blanco is the fifth Presidential Inaugural Poet in US history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban-exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work, including three poetry collections (Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, and City of a Hundred Fires); and two memoirs (The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey). The University of Pittsburgh Press has published commemorative chapbooks of One Today, Boston Strong, and Matters of the Sea, the poem he wrote and presented at the historic reopening of the US Embassy in Havana. Blanco’s many awards include the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Thom Gunn Award, and a Lambda Literary Award for Memoir. He is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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"Pericos" (the flock), by Amber Rose, from the series "El Aviario." Year: 2014 Technique: Ink and acrylic on 1970s El Salvador legal paper. you can count on it: La Mano by Alexandra Lytton Regalado For the more than 60,000 children from Central America who cross the border unaccompanied. With lines from Maya Angelou and Richard Wilbur Arcing above our apartment building, above the rousing city and green skirts of the San Salvador volcano, a flock of wild parakeets comes to roost outside our window; my nine-month son rests his head on my chest and all I want is to draw the curtains, but he’s coughed all night and now his breathing is slow, near sleep, though his eyes snap open with each squawk. I imagine the parakeets preening their emerald feathers, joyful in their ceremony of clacks and trills. They are not musing the capriciousness of nature as I am; they don’t know five thirty am, only that the sun has tinged the mountainsides gold and that this alcove echoes their welcome beautifully. The wild parakeets tap at the windowpane and my son stirs, raises his sleep-etched face to mine. Together we slip past the curtain and discover seven green parakeets, perhaps a little smaller, their feathers scruffier than I had envisioned. Two squabble over a prime niche and the stronger one comes towards the glass, wings unfurled, fat tongue thrusting from his open beak. I want to unlatch the window and sprinkle seed, lure them to perch on our shoulders and arms, anything to make them stay longer. Instead, my son, rooted in the things unknown but longed for still— greets them with the slap of an open palm to the windowpane, and in a clapping of wings they leap from the narrow corridor at once, a raucus fleeing, with headlong and unanimous consent, a disappearing stain, a distant murmuration swallowed from sight. Alexandra Lytton Regalado’s poems and short stories have appeared in Gulf Coast, Narrative, Notre Dame Review, OCHO, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. She is the winner of the St. Lawrence Book Prize and the Coniston Poetry Prize. Her poetry collection, Matria, (Black Lawrence Press) is forthcoming in 2017. "La Mano" was first published in Green Mountains Review. Learn more about Alexandra here. ______________________ “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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painting by Hugo Palma-Ibarra Upon Returning From To the North, by León Salvatierra (translation by Javier O. Huerta) When I fled Nicaragua was alone. The young ones had departed or had disappeared, the young ones. Women elders had left, children and songs. The wind and the aurora It was nineteen eighty eight when I fled Nicaragua Was Alone Remained the park benches (Maybe one person walked by there) I was fifteen when I fled Nicaragua There was no more talk of Rigoberto. Bullets fell on his chest like pearls. Cesar and his two brothers were lost Carlos remained in the mountain Streets also disappeared My house was abandoned My father was no longer there My mother My brothers (alone) The mango and almond trees had fled Ants walked towards the shadow I walked in the shadow My neighbors—the ones in the big house— purchased a dream They fled to the United States Managua—Miami: direct flight I fled as MOJADO spent nights wet flying over rivers over fields and roads I went flying passed across Guatemala, Mexico, and finally entered the United States of America America was not the name of my beloved America was my paralytic dream America was not my home Provider of people and articulations Buses . . . Cars . . . Trailers Brutal Force Men White or Caucasian Black African American Native . . . Asian . . . Latino . . . All colors Beneath its face was hiding verb and shame America was not alone Those were dark years the sun set daily over my face until one day she could no longer hide me and allowed me to return Stamped a seal on my heart and gave me flight In nineteen ninety nine A man will enter an Other Nicaragua In nineteen ninety nine Nicaragua continues to be alone At home surrounded by friends and memory The mango and almond trees did not return The ants remained in the shadow my mother my brothers . . . In nineteen ninety nine I, too, was alone in Nicaragua Al regreso by León Salvatierra Cuando yo me fui de Nicaragua estaba sola. Los jóvenes se habían corrido O habían desaparecido los jóvenes. Las mujeres los ancianos se habían ido, los niños y las canciones. El viento y la aurora Fue en mil novecientos ochenta y ocho cuando me fui Nicaragua Estaba Sola Quedaron las bancas en el parque (Tal vez una persona caminaba por ahí) Yo tenía quince años cuando me fui de Nicaragua No se escuchó más el hablar de Rigoberto. Las balas cayeron en su pecho como perlas. César y sus dos hermanos se perdieron Carlos quedó en la montaña Las calles también desaparecieron Mi casa estaba sola Mi padre ya no estaba Mi madre Mis hermanos (solos) El palo de mango y el almendro se fueron Las hormigas caminaron a la sombra Yo caminé en la sombra Mis vecinos—los de la casa grande— iban comprando un sueño Se fueron a Los Estados... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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illustration by Danielle Chenette El Villain by Maria Melendez Kelson "I fled the West Coast to escape them, but I still see illegals Everywhere,” whines a letter-writer in our rural Utah paper, Applauding a local ICE raid. “How does it feel to be a problem?” Everyone (no one) wanted to ask Du Bois, circulating his elegant Diction and mixed-race face among Atlanta glitterati, turn Of the century, when the White Sixth Sense was “I can smell Negroes and Jews.” The question ices my hair and eyelashes, All Raza one family of suspects in this age of round-ups; am I To breathe in prejudice, breathe out light? How does it feel To be a problem? Some well-meaning White ones want a Christ of Me, sacred heart on display. “Where are your documents Naming this pain?” They hope for a nibble of rage. I see Lourdes, Seven years old and sin documentos, embrace my daughter hello, Good-bye, every day on their school’s front steps, the two of them Giddy with girl pacts. When Lourdes solves subtraction problems, Safe at her dim kitchen table, how does her mother, Elva, feel, As her daughter works a language that will never add up to home? Down the street, I see Rodolfo from El Salvador, legal refugee, dance The glee of a Jazz victory in front of his big screen. Ask him how Pupusas feel in his mouth, corn-dough communion with patria. His wife, Inez, is fourth-generation Mexican American from Salt Lake City. Fuck these pedigrees. How does it feel For Rodolfo, Inez, Lourdes, me, to be seen as not-quite-right, Not quite US, not from around here, are ya? I will not say. I will not display our stigmata. We shouldn’t need papers to cross from familia to politics. Ask the seer-of-illegals, the maid of ethnic cleansing, How it feels to hold a broken feather duster. Maria Melendez Kelson’s poetry collections (How Long She’ll Last in This World and Flexible Bones) have been finalists for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the International Latino Book Award. Her poetry, feature articles, and fiction appear in Poetry magazine, Ms. magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and elsewhere. Her mystery novel-in-progress won the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for crime fiction writers of color from Sisters in Crime. She has taught writing and literature at Saint Mary's College in Indiana, Utah State University, and Pueblo Community College in southern Colorado, where she is currently a faculty member in English. Find her on Twitter: @mkelsonauthor. “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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"Car at Night," acrylic on canvas, by Jan-Willem Boer The Promised Land by Blas Falconer They disassembled the bed, emptied drawers, and left what they found no longer necessary or too heavy, or held a memory they’d rather not carry: the small deaths, for example, buried in the yard. Driving away, they didn’t stop to look, not once, at the city, blinking in the night. Tired after all these years and hungry for what they couldn’t name, they passed the houses, glancing at each other, now, with new tenderness. Gone was the barn with its rotting roof. Gone the broken lock. Gone the overgrowth, the rusted carport, the little ways one person can diminish another. They’d been warned of earthquakes and traffic, but wouldn’t the light be different there? In the picture, blinds hung lopsided, and a tree stood in the window. There were oranges among the leaves, some of them bright, large, and ready to eat. Blas Falconer is the author of two poetry collections, The Foundling Wheel and A Question of Gravity and Light. His awards include an NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange award, and a Tennessee Individual Artist Grant. A poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review, he teaches in the MFA program at San Diego State University and in the low-residency MFA at Murray State University. His third full-length poetry collection, Forgive the Body This Failure (Four Way Books), is forthcoming in 2018. “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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"Exilio: Olga, La Habana," 1967, José A. Figueroa A Short History of Goodbye by Silvia Curbelo The grass tells nothing. The sky sits in its simple cage of days. No sound like the past blowing through. Only the wind knows what’s at stake here, moving into the scenery, running at the mouth. Hush, say the daylilies shaking their heads a bit. Silence is its own music, soft as dirt. No one notices the orphan drift of clouds, the wingtip scar of the horizon balanced between nowhere and this. Hush, whisper the azaleas. But nothing’s as wordless as a young girl standing on the lawn waving her handkerchief. Silvia Curbelo was born in Matanzas, Cuba, and emigrated to the U.S. as a child. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Falling Landscape and The Secret History of Water, both from Anhinga Press, and two chapbooks, Ambush, winner of the Main Street Rag chapbook contest, and The Geography of Leaving (Silverfish Review Press). She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, three Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Grants, and two Cintas Foundation Fellowships, all for poetry, as well as the Jessica Noble Maxwell Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review, and the James Wright Poetry Prize from Mid-American Review. Her poems have been published widely in literary journals and more than two dozen anthologies, including The Body Electric (W.W. Norton), Touching the Fire: 15 Poets of the New Latino Renaissance (Anchor/Doubleday), and the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Spanish translations of her poems are featured in the anthology Usos de la Imaginación (Editorial de la Univ. Nacional), Mar de Plata, Argentina. Silvia lives in Tampa, Florida. “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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duration by Steven Alvarez ray of sun shines directly into her hands & to my lens drops of rain stick mudslides radio sd winding roads through rolling mountains & yes her hands green algae in fish tank behind her neon cactus paddles outside window beyond table textured oil images on pastel walls rich in lime & lemon hues she picked up her nachos purchased by yrs truly from some corporate chain w/ fresco something in its name & this might have been the last smile I remember from her her eyes closed her wheelchair right up to that oak table one hand at her mouth with a tortilla chip covered in scallions & sour cream her left hand in her lap soft diagonals of jutting light & her in her room grimaced less light but bar of light to her hands & to my lens & I think maybe that light her father who died two months prior or maybe her mother or maybe our grandfather or maybe her grandmother or maybe my grandmother & then down my gaze to her chair’s wheels’ shadows surrounded darkness & skeletons of spokes casting something mysterious & shine to my lens yes shine her darkness for she disappeared to death in this shot spoken softly away in three ways wheels intersecting tears statues shed tears hard ones torn faces & holes fill all abjections torn rusted broken tears shed & hard shadows & outside bluest sky after hardest rain see rain fell mostly hard & from inside heard as hard noted as rough & outside banners waved frayed edges of woven spirits strung together this garden of light & fire this day emerged & she worsened w my father in her room as I wandered this garden of light for photos & to understand something abt death in this universe & fat pomegranates reflected white sun & drops of rain ran down fat globs of light dripped down to earth & in each drop suspended at its apex before falling I thought that’s duration right there & over yonder fountains splashed water shining sun for my delight as I thought again yet back to Gloria worsening inside & oranges for Gloria to eat I gathered gracefully offered to which she gracefully responded no gracias primo mio Santa Barbara, California: 13 January 2010 Steven Alvarez is the author of the novels in verse The Pocho Codex (2011) and The Xicano Genome (2013), both published by Editorial Paroxismo. He has also authored two chapbooks, Six Poems from the Codex Mojaodicus (2014, winner of the Seven Kitchens Press Rane Arroyo Poetry Prize) and Un/documented, Kentucky (2016, winner of the Rusty Toque Chapbook Prize). His work has appeared in the Best Experimental Writing (BAX), Berkeley Poetry Review, The Drunken Boat, Fence, Huizache, and Waxwing. “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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On the Coast in Pedasi by Brenda Cárdenas Beached boats litter coves, sails sprawled like abandoned skirts of lovers asleep on the sand. The empty zocalo simmers— a secret waiting to be whispered, Café Tiesto’s shutters and doors anchored open to release its brick oven heat. Through a streaked windshield, you watch a woman sweep the dusty veranda, wipe tables spruced with buds drooping into an afternoon still as a breath held. If you exhale now, a tornado of bees will careen around the corner, swarm the plaza, blackening its sky. The woman will drift inside, gently latch shutters as the funnel cloud drones through town, busy with the work of finding home. Once the horizon has swallowed all of them, you will part your lips, release the locks, exit cover. Watch your step. Every migration bears its fallen, those that drop to the dirt. Across the plaza, the woman will push the door open hum as she sweeps. Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press, 2009) and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth/The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison (2011) and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (2005), as well as a co-editor of Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuvten Duyvil Press, 2017) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (2001). Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Latina/o Poetics: The Art of Poetry, The Golden Shovel Anthology, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, Pilgrimage, RATTLE, and others. Cárdenas served as the Milwaukee Poet Laureate from 2010-2012, and in 2014, the Library of Congress recorded a reading of her work for their Spotlight on U. S. Hispanic Writers. She is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "On the Coast of Pedasi" was previously published in Verse Wisconsin. Issue 109. Summer, 2012 and in Cave Canem Anthology XIII: Poems 2010-2011, Aquarius Press/Willow Books, 2015. “Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles. Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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francisco mariposa, by maya gonzalez Walking (Tenochtitlan, DF) with Francisco X. Alarcón, 1978 by Juan Felipe Herrera Coyolxauki Escavations downtown Mexico DF here archeologists bend down below us hard hats women and men whispering swishing brushes uncovering her stone armature body book revolution sister. We walk on tiny quadrants of consciousness protein stone disk criss-crossed by knowing and unknowing we move on this is how two spirit wanderers walk to La Torre Metropolitana swashbucklers in mega--- DF Elias Nandino in a tan suit El Doctor they call him El Doctor poeta de canciones de amor oscuro y popular like Pedro Infante in a fancy scarf and wide pants he looks on with chavos from Bellas Artes slamming together the next issue of Tierra Adentro Let’s do an issue Pancho says 47 stories up above Tenochtitlan outside we meet up with Arturo Villafuerte in his overalls I tell him to read with some congas and a string bass get some soul into it he nods órale who knows where we go next so we go who knows where we go and Arturo hands us his new chapbook – As de corazones rotos and says he has a column in El Excelsior so we should send him some pieces no problem la hacemos in the middle of this Onda we run into Ernesto Trejo huffing it down San Juan de Letrán with his mini-series of poetry chapbooks – we hang for a while in the middle of the last qtr. of the century where I saw Macario a few blocks from here in the early 60’s searching for a hut to be able to bite into an existential turkey leg this is the life on the street poeta a poeta we walk on tacos y cervezas blood chorizos caldos fried fish heads we head to Gustavo Saenz’s canton in his mini Omni car bubbled up to La Colonia Roma a light plate of burritas – what on earth is a “burrita” I ask jamón con queso on a white flour tortilla like a quesadilla Gustavo says in his neat bluish coat -- Francisco makes a deal let’s Publish a Chicana and Chicano edition of El Suplemento Literario that we’ll edit for El Excelsior – What do you think Juan Felipe la hacemos I say. we walk on we move we rap we eat late near Las Catacumbas bar we check out a teatro popular – “La Traigo Dormida” a card board comedy about how a husband hypnotizes his wife we leave we hustle to another day with Editorial Katún here’s a book on the life of Agustin Lara I think I’ll get it for Alejandro Murguía he has a thing about Lara serrucho face his dark melancholy jagged wooly skin his metaphysical attempt to stitch everything that has been cut open back together again- that cannot be stitched back together again like we are Azteca Humpty Dumpties in the Promised Land Francisco I say wait a minute - stop why don’t you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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How I Became a Poet by David Dominguez the Horses’ Heads/ Were toward Eternity– “Because I Could not Stop For Death,” Emily Dickinson In spring, my mother cranked open the window and the master bedroom, struck by sunlight, filled with the smell of lilacs and Mexican orange that brushed the pane, and the bees swarmed the blossoms and filled my ears with a workman’s buzz, a buzz I never feared, for our cupboard glowed with mason jars and red clover honey. And from the shadows of the ant-infested apricot and the garden we planted on Good Friday, black-throated hummingbirds emerged and hovered in jasmine tangled between fence slats. I remember summer, the branch-webbed sky, squirrels, blue jays, and dive-bombing mockers who strafed my head when I gathered vegetables because I wanted salt, lemon, and sliced cucumber. One twilight, I found a black and yellow monarch fanning its antennae, head, thorax, and abdomen; I pierced its wings with a stick, held it like a lantern against a bone-white moon, realizing its milkweed dusted veins and my veins carried blood to our bodies’ edges . . . and so knelt on my scabbed knee and buried it. In autumn, doves roosted in the rain gutter, moaned at the moon-lit dawn as if their longing might nudge the earth around the sun and bring back spring, which I found hidden in patches of Bermuda as my fingers raked through snails, twigs, and leaves in search of pecans that brightened my heart when I munched on them and watched Dad scan the sky so I could see whirling rings of rock and dust: anything is possible, he said, as I looked through the eyepiece. Most of all, I remember how in winter my mother felt exhausted by the responsibilities of daughterhood— Lo siento, Mamá, el doctor dice que tienes cancer; or of motherhood—where’s Ranger, Mom?. . . Son, I let the doctor put him to sleep because he broke his back; or of wifehood—I just got home from work, Dear, and I cut my finger peeling potatoes, and it’s still bleeding. She leaned against the counter, stared at the yard, mourned the giant sun flowers propped against the fence, and said, Come rest with me for a while, Mijo. I sat Indian style on their bed as she unfolded the afghan, reached to her nightstand drawer, and took out Poems by Emily Dickinson wrapped in a white dust jacket. Her fingertips glided over the gardenia spread across the cover and the words Dad had written on the first page, To my wife with love, from your husband on Mother’s Day; I’d fall asleep and see horses’ ears twitch and press towards eternity, hooves clopping through fog caught between pines— and then, my first words emerged and perched themselves on power lines and trilled against the galactic sky. David Dominguez holds a BA in comparative literature from the University of California at Irvine and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. He... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2016 at The Best American Poetry
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illustration by Isabela Ramos sermon by Rachel McKibbens Each time I see a woman walking in a grocery store or sitting on a bench in a park or a funeral parlor, I want very much to taste the woman, lick every blessed inch of her from the bottom of her calloused heel to the top of her glorious head. If she is wearing an eye patch, I want to lift its smooth and sleeping lid, whisper something sweet beneath it, push my tongue around its spoon-like edge. If the woman is older, I want to taste the history carved into her flesh, learn each translucent hair of every fragile limb. If she is missing a breast, I want to taste the bright and rugged scar of it, press its ghost-soft nipple against the bridge of my mouth. If she is a mother, I want to soothe her many hands, trace each silver bolt of childbirth etched along her torso, taste the salted hole of her, this sacred, this blood hot church. Rachel McKibbens is a Chicana poet and two-time New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow. She is the author of three books of poetry: Pink Elephant (Small Doggies) Into the Dark & Emptying Field (Small Doggies) and blud, forthcoming on Copper Canyon Press. In 2012, McKibbens founded The Pink Door Women’s Writing Retreat, an annual writing retreat in the US open exclusively to women of color. Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2016 at The Best American Poetry