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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
The Alta California Chapbook Prize is now open & accepting submissions from Latina/e/o/x poets of all levels residing in the U.S. Please send 8-12 pages of poetry, written in English or Spanish, to Gunpowder Press via Submittable by October 1. Two manuscripts will be selected and published in the spring in bilingual editions. Poets will receive $500 each, 10 copies of the chapbook, and an invitation to read at the Mission Poetry Series. Past winners of the prize are Grief Logic, by Crystal AC Salas; Levitations, by Nicholas Reiner; Sor Juana, by Florencia Milito; and On Display, by Gabriel Ibarra.This year's judge is award-winning author, editor, & translator Alexandra Lytton Regalado (Relinquenda, Beacon Press, 2022/National Poetry Series) & Matria (Black Lawrence Press, 2017/St. Lawrence Book Award). The series editor is Emma Trelles. For complete details, please visit Submittable. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2023 at The Best American Poetry
Gunpowder Press invites emerging and established Latina/x/o/e poets (age 18+) residing in California to enter the 2nd Alta California Chapbook Prize. The deadline is October 3, 2022. Two manuscripts will be selected and published in bilingual editions. Send 8-12 pages of poetry written in either English or Spanish.The judge is Francisco Aragón and the series editor is Emma Trelles. Click here for complete details about the contest and to submit your work! This year's prize is made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Mellon Foundation. Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2022 at The Best American Poetry
Hi Victoria, Thanks for reaching out. I'm the judge for this contest, and for more info about me and details about how to enter, please visit . I hope you consider sending us your work! -- Emma Trelles
Gunpowder Press invites Latinx poets who are current residents of California (age 18+) to submit to the first Gunpowder Latinx Poetry Chapbook contest. The deadline to submit is September 30, 2021. Poems may be submitted in English or Spanish. Selected manuscripts will be published in both English and Spanish. We especially encourage poets living on the Central Coast in Santa Barbara, Ventura, or San Luis Obispo counties to submit. Special attention will be given to poets who have not yet published a full-length collection. Two manuscripts will be selected for publication in bilingual editions. The winning poets will each receive $250.00, 10 copies of the published chapbook, and an invitation to read at the Mission Poetry Series in Santa Barbara in 2022. For all of the guidelines, in English and in Spanish, visit Gunpowder Press invita a los poetas Latinx que residen en California (mayores de 18 años de edad) a participar en el primer concurso del Gunpowder Latinx Plaquette de Poesía. Los poemas pueden estar escritos en inglés o español. Los manuscritos seleccionados se publicarán en formato bilingüe: en inglés y en español. Invitamos especialmente a los poetas que viven en la costa central y en los condados de Santa Bárbara, Ventura, o San Luis Obispo. Se prestará atención especial a los poetas que aún no hayan publicado una colección completa. Se seleccionarán dos manuscritos para publicación en ediciones bilingües. Los poetas ganadores recibirán $ 250.00 cada uno, 10 copias del poemario publicado, y una invitación para leer en la Mission Poetry Series en Santa Bárbara en 2022. Para más detalles, visita Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2021 at The Best American Poetry
Variations on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop by John Murillo Start with loss. Lose everything. Then lose it all again. Lose a good woman on a bad day. Find a better woman, then lose five friends chasing her. Learn to lose as if your life depended on it. Learn that your life depends on it. Learn it like karate, like riding a bike. Learn it, master it. Lose money, lose time, lose your natural mind. Get left behind, then learn to leave others. Lose and lose again. Measure a father’s coffin against a cousin’s crashing T-cells. Kiss your sister through prison glass. Know why your woman’s not answering her phone. Lose sleep. Lose religion. Lose your wallet in El Segundo. Open your window. Listen: the last slow notes of a Donny Hathaway song. A child crying. Listen: A drunk man is cussing out the moon. He sounds like your dead uncle, who, before he left, lost a leg to sugar. Shame. Learn what’s given can be taken; what can be taken, will. This you can bet on without losing. Sure as nightfall and an empty bed. Lose and lose again. Lose until it’s second nature. Losing farther, losing faster. Lean out your open window, listen: The child is laughing now. No, it’s the drunk man again in the street, losing his voice, suffering each invisible star. John Murillo is the author of the poetry collections, Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books 2020). His honors include a Pushcart Prize, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. He is an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University and also teaches in the low residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
Eartha Kitt As Muse by Yesenia Montilla The eyes are two saucers filled with every forlorn woman’s last meal: roasted chicken & a good Bordeaux & how the heart is found in the neck’s thick artery, ready for a man’s good touch. Eartha, I know nothing about fame or fortune but I know a little about being so lonely that even the flower’s elaborate bloom can not keep me company. You’re so damn pretty, that I could write a poem about you & you & (insert lover’s name) We both have had plenty to spare & darling, I love how we look in the mirror & kiss the air & how when our hand waves in greeting the sky and all its particles dance & a sweet sigh escapes from our parted lips & isn’t that sound a kind of tenderness? How laughter bolts from our mouths like a wild heart drumming this is how we muzzle the world — Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet & a daughter of immigrants. She received her MFA from Drew University in Poetry & Poetry in translation. Her first collection The Pink Box was published by Willow Books & was longlisted for a PEN award. She lives in Harlem, NY. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
A memory of freedom forgotten by Maryam Ivette Parhizkar It comes seeking the legitimacy of history but even that feels like a violence—that is: history is narrative. The need to break the plot of itself. The field, something like a field is a plot. A plot is a demarcation. I was running some place like a field & there she was, her hand at her waist. We were before language, language was & was not history, she did not hold the memory of beating before or after, body at ease, arms not akimbo but almost in a holding. We were all there, golden, maybe insects in the grass. You were running into open space, even the sky was different than what I remembered. Language already happened but we were before language. Our smells did not matter except they told each other who was there. (Scarcity— who invented that name.) Enclosure before history of enclosure. For Phoebe Glick and Sara Jane Stoner after language from Ruth Wilson Gilmore Maryam Ivette Parhizkar was born and raised by a Salvadoran and Iranian family in southwest Houston, Texas. Her chapbooks include Somewhere Else the Sun is Falling into Someone's Eyes (Belladonna*, 2019), As for the future (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2016), and Pull: a ballad (The Operating System, 2014). She is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies and African American Studies at Yale University and a CantoMundo fellow. She lives in Jersey City, on the periphery of the Hackensack Meadowlands. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
Subordinate Volca (after the eighth elegy) by Edwin Torres I dreamt I was holding a sea creature, tightly, in bed, the room was not mine, but a long darkened space with no walls, almost a bottom of the ocean with no water, it was mid-dawn or dead at night, we were under covers, in the dream, yet exposed, in the dream, engaged in what might be considered aggressive cuddling, up there, on the surface, social distance was law, humanity had ascended to avoidance for survival, in the dream, violence was carried out without leaving home, using language, crimes were committed in every sentence, isolation, no longer a mandate, but a guided meditation, under the rendered open, I was released in slippage, as the shadow keeping me warm, kept floating, and settling, back, on whatever it was I had become, the creature in my arms, was cocooned in translucent answers, hints of the binary defined our encounter, my masculine had nothing to do with our need, as if I were holding a giant bean bag, protected in a clear sack, we were viral tentacles, un-limbed by reciprocal touchlings, hovering over each other, the head was a protrusion where the neck should be, encased in hermetics, agoraphobic aurora, effable sock mask, secured by assyrian tendrils buckled on each side, with features pulled back, the face was a cross, between a pucker and the luminescent temporal within, conundrum of the sentient, what counted for something, remained there, a clear latex funnel appeared where the mouth should be, bright red lips at the base, in my barely contained appendages, with no trace of longing, I was holding this unformed plastic sack of flesh, while listening closely to words, spilling slowly, from the inverted triangular mouth funnel, I would in turn, open my mouth over the funnel, guiding droplets of silver to engorge themselves around the cochlea, organ finding organ, we were patient, catching what bits of frenetic arousal would conjure themselves, into each other's available orifi, we remained like this for years, in the dream, swaying to non-existent water, spilling the secret of poems, without fear of hierarchy, or promise. Edwin Torres is the author of 10 poetry collections, including XoeteoX: the infinite word object (Wave Books), Ameriscopia (University of Arizona Press), The PoPedology of an Ambient Language (Atelos Books), and is editor of the inter-genre anthology, The Body In Language: An Anthology (Counterpath Press 2019). He has performed his multi-disciplinary bodylingo poetics worldwide. Fellowships include NYFA, The Foundation for Contemporary Art, and The DIA Arts Foundation. Anthologies include Fractured Ecologies, Who Will Speak For America, American Poets In The 21st Century: Poetics Of Social Engagement, Postmodern American Poetry Vol. 2, Kindergarde: Avant Garde Poems For Children, and Aloud: Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Café. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ copy rong, a video poem by Sheila Maldonado ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ Sheila Maldonado is the author of the poetry collections one-bedroom solo (A Gathering of the Tribes / Fly by Night Press, 2011) and that's what you get (Brooklyn Arts Press, forthcoming, 2020). She is a CantoMundo Fellow and a Creative Capital awardee as part of desveladas, a visual writing collective. She has served as an artist-in-residence on Governors Island, New York, for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and a Cultural Envoy to Honduras for the U.S. State Department. She teaches English for The City University of New York. She was born in Brooklyn, raised in Coney Island, the daughter of Armando and Vilma of El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras. She lives in El Alto Manhattan. This video poem first appeared in House Party #14, a digital publication and performance series of The Poetry Project. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
Trade?-markers, pen, paper-2017-Joshua Escobar everybody in general by Joshua Escobar let’s kiss Frank as in Frankenstein let’s kiss people in cages let’s kiss nebulae double-crossed let's kiss straight people mauling whatever they love let's kiss the sexuality of other cities let’s kiss unused doctrines & volumes of knowledge let’s kiss lovers playing up the doom let’s kiss feathers vs. chasm let’s kiss chasm vs. feathers let’s kiss Saint Francisco of the Latin Exes let’s kiss agony to death let’s kiss R.A.'s BOMBNESS let’s kiss a baby queer's hoe streak let’s kiss another sexy guy’s disinterest let’s kiss the fruity aftertaste of Lucifer’s skull & bones soup let’s kiss youth drilled anew even as it’s impossible to see each other let’s kiss Joshua Escobar is the author of the chapbooks Caljforkya Voltage and xxox fm, as well as the new full-length collection about being a deejay in a queer dystopia, Bareback Nightfall (Noemi Press, 2020). He holds a Master's from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, as well as from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. He is a regional chair (California) for CantoMundo, and the co-founder of the all-ages zine, Orange Mercury. He teaches at Santa Barbara City College, and reviews poetry collections in his free time. IG: djashtrae17. "everybody in general" was previously published in the Brooklyn Rail. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
Art by Raffaele Monchiero León, age 23 months suspect by Raina J. León in the isolation room, there are dirt spots on the floor. in laboring, as the contraction waves rise to peak pain and then taper, i focus on dirt. i am riding a wave above the soiling. the child washes me over in hot spray. my body sheens over in glow. a nurse says, you are so strong and you are doing so well. her affirmations are dumb; i do not trust them. how can i when i cannot see her lips, her face, beneath the blue mask. i, too, am masked. it’s a dirty exchange. i think in expletives. i try to return to the wave. i ask for a heating pad. they will never bring it. my touch is contagion, suspected contagion. i am guilty until proven innocent. a fever is pandemic. a black body is pandemic. a fever is not a possible sign of labor, though i am laboring. the child pushes blood through the gate, announces herself. the body takes over. the doctor says, “do whatever your body tells you.” as if i could stop her entrance on this human water, the fertile spark of me a path into an isolation filled with people. i focus on the spots and their erasure. mine. photo credit: Matteo Monchiero Raina J. León, PhD, is a Black, Afro-Boricua, native Philadelphian, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She is a fellow of Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006), the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Macondo, and CantoMundo and has been published in over 100 publications in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and academic scholarship. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the practice of humanizing education. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn and sombra: dis(locate) and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She is a member of the SF Writers Grotto and The Ruby in San Francisco. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, a journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She is a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. For Summer: Poems by Latina/o/xs is a curated collaboration between Francisco Aragón at Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, and Emma Trelles at the Best American Poetry blog. Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
Down these mean streets, 2017, Roberto Carlos Garcia from Mixtape for City Kids from Dysfunctional but Happy Families, Kids Like Me (a new form ) by Roberto Carlos Garcia When the light from that moon spilled out of your mother’s belly, I tell you, you were smiling then. We need a name: but we can’t call this Menace to the Hood or Boys in Society or no shit like that. You have been born into a world. Look around. See that black boy over there running scared, his old man got a problem & it’s a bad one. Mami? Even though she don’t have a job, Mami still works hard. The last 23 years of her life have been spent teaching a poet & killing generations of cockroaches with sky-blue plastic slippers. But these are the people who will love you with the same love they received, or hopefully better. You will have enemies too. My enemies ride jets to parties. They use words like casualties to speak of murder. Yes, you’ll survive. Look at me. I’m shocked too, I’m supposed to be locked up too, you escape what I escaped you’d be in Paris getting fucked up too. My father said…surviving one thing means another comes & kills you. He’s dead, & so, I trust him. I know this isn’t much. But I wanted to explain this life to you, even if I had to become, over the years, someone else to do it. The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did about the future. Forget the future. I’d worship someone who could do that. Then, slowly, Lo is fo e ri bari Lo is fo e ri bari love is for everybody Love is for every every body love love love everybody love. Poet, storyteller, and essayist Roberto Carlos Garcia is a self-described “sancocho […] of provisions from the Harlem Renaissance, the Spanish Poets of 1929, the Black Arts Movement, the Nuyorican School, and the Modernists.” A native New Yorker, Garcia is rigorously interrogative of himself and the world around him, conveying “nakedness of emotion, intent, and experience,” and he writes extensively about the Afro-Latinx and Afro-diasporic experience. Roberto’s third poetry collection, [Elegies], is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press. His second poetry collection, black / Maybe: An Afro Lyric, is available from Willow Books. Roberto’s first collection, Melancolía, is available from Červená Barva Press. His poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, The BreakBeat Poets Vol 4: LatiNEXT, Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3, The Root, Those People, Rigorous, Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Gawker, Barrelhouse, The Acentos Review, Lunch Ticket, and many others. He is founder of the cooperative press Get Fresh Books Publishing, A NonProfit Corp. Roberto holds an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation and is the creator of the “mixtape” poem, which resembles a cento in that it is composed of lines borrowed from other poets but also includes lines from fiction, non-fiction, rap lyrics, and other... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
we the dancing millions by Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes (after Omar Sakr’s Where I am Not) I ask the driver if he likes New York. we have not yet established I speak his mother tongue. he laments against loneliness, a season here depressed, a season back on the island, in revelry. a season here. a season there. season season season season he finds with every return that people here do not speak with each other, the rushingrushing an anvil on relation. so many unspokens. better to be with family, to go where you are loved. I try to love him for the length of the ride, brown bodies we are in the loneliest world so I smile, a secret gesture of union. he says through the rearview, it is a beautiful day isn’t it? I look out the window, he taps the steering wheel of his car, the hum of diaspora a child we’ve made between us, ready to live the twelve minutes to my destination. hermosa, pero, hermosa. his whole face beams the sun, the winter in him dies— ¿hablas español?! we feast on language the New York kind of lonesome we know our bridge & tunnel lovechild nobody wants to love. but we learn to love her too. when he isn’t driving all of Brooklyn through their silence, he—José—(with the name of my grandfather) dances home to his country of brothers, their stifled exuberance riving imperialism’s calendar. an abundance of rice unworried for time: there is no word for late in the island’s mouth. what a world where you can linger into the hours of dusk, live off the horizon by touching its mornings. I wonder what it would take to be the bambuco itself, the waltz of lovers never-quite-touching in want. even my dreams of music play the asymptote of solitudes. I am not sure who to blame, though it is capitalism & poetry often enough to which I turn my back. this was never a commercial for anything, but capitalism & poetry make it possible: José’s hands clapping back at colonialism in the bomba rhythm making a lover of the drum; my wrecked body carrying the fevers of memory down from the mountains. how language spreads us over each other, our histories necking in the rain of it all. too many hearts to name, & we are pulling up, anyway, to my door of seven years pretending to be home. our child is over now, the together-ride through a city that maybe ought to sometimes sleep if only to remember what it is to really dream, to remember the grammar of closeness. our twelve minute love affair & its offspring clinging to the window, heir to the ache of seasons. is that a marvel or a mess? can we tell the difference? cuidate, I close the door—parting, after all, is the first sorrow we know. birth, a distance in the giving of light. the harshness of winter returns, a jealous lover at my cheek. but a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
Ways of Seeing My Brothers by Grisel Y. Acosta 1. You are precise artisans, designing aircrafts meant to soar above the altocumulus, or pumping air pulsating through twists of brass trumpet, pressing fingers down on valves to scream higher than a jet. 2. Smirking boys in a 70s photograph, unaware of the holes in your socks. 3. Fearless little men, walking into classrooms filled with children who will only think to ask, “Are you a spic?” 4. I do not see you in jail the night you totaled Mami’s car I do not see you stoned or geeked out, lonely and alienated in the college dorm I do not see you terrified when you see no options in the want ads I do not see you when you cry alone when your best friend fell in a rain of bullets I only see the miraculous feat of survival, how you managed the impossible: staying alive when the world told you every day you did not exist 5. I remember the day your daughter was born, dear brother, and you had to fill out a form, choose Black or White. Your oblivious white wife saw the X by the word Black and asked you why and you said, “Well I sure as hell ain’t white,” and all of a sudden you gave your own kind of birth. 6. I wore your clothes, walked like what we call a boy, talked knucklehead talk, became what you were. 7. The only time I met Tio Segundo en Cuba, who built his home with black market wood, his dirty workman jeans the same as the ones I saw on you, brother, after a day of roofing, and my heart hurt because I knew the two of you needed each other, drank yourselves into oblivion because you longed for each other, yet you would never meet. 8. I listened at your doors Devo bang bang bang Santana Black magic sat for hours wondered in AC/DC electric curiosity fizzling like guitar feedback waited for you to open the passageway 9. are you safe, dear brothers? I cannot protect you from this obsession with your demise all I can offer is what I have seen remember, what I see is beauty Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta is an associate professor at the City University of New York-Bronx Community College. Her first book of poetry, Things to Pack on the Way to Everywhere, is an Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize finalist and it is forthcoming from Get Fresh Books in 2021. Recent work can be found in The Baffler, Acentos Journal, Kweli Journal, Red Fez, Short Plays on Reproductive Freedom, and Celebrating Twenty Years of Black Girlhood: The Lauryn Hill Reader. She is a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Poet, a Macondo Fellow, and the editor of Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity, an anthology that features over Latinx 30 contributors and subjects. Her work focuses on her Afro-Latinx and indigenous ancestry, queer identity, the punk and house music subcultures, her birthplace of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
After Rubén : A Book Launch for Francisco Aragón with Fellow Macondo Readers takes place on Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Central Library, Latino Collection and Resource Center as part of Writer's Week at San Antonio Public Library, 600 Soledad Street, San Antonio, Texas. The following is excerpted and adapted from the Foreword to After Rubén (Red Hen Press, 2020), by Francisco Aragón. Alan Pelaez Lopez has argued that the “X” in “Latinx” signifies an historical wound rather than a rhetorical trend. In Pelaez Lopez’s formulation, the wound of Latinidad emerges from four sites that correspond to the four sides of the X. The violences of settler colonialism, anti-blackness, and heteropatriarchy—the inability of language to fully articulate their impacts and define how vulnerable bodies navigate daily life in the Americas. At the crossroads of this volatile equis, I’d like to propose, Latinx poetry has the unique capacity to gather the worlds of the wounded: their tongues, triumphs, and hardships, their wounds and the words for drawing near them, perhaps even the words to begin building another world from within their aches and sorrows. Readers are fortunate to encounter in Francisco Aragón’s new collection of poems and prose After Rubén a passionate, wise, and sensitive guide to these worlds. With joy, pluck, and a welcoming hand, Aragón’s lines and sentences take us to meet the people and their places. His mother, “head brimming with phrases” in English and amulets for escaping the sweatshop. His father, “portly, sugar / in his blood, a whiff of something // on his breath as he speaks of the Sacramento / River.” A sister, her voice “sturdy as the metal / table and chairs / in the patio.” Cities north and south, where numina float and settle, “as if a place—León, / Granada—could speak, / whistle, inhabit / a timbre.” A Nicaraguan woman testifying about the Contra War, whose words “gather and huddle / in my throat.” Unitedstatesian scoundrels, alas, such as Joe Arpaio, one of the empire’s cast of grotesques—“we’ve caught a glimpse / in the jowls of your sheriff: / bulldog who doubles as your heart.” And, approaching rapture, the poets who whisper and sing in Aragón’s ears and in the poems in his book. Aragón has collected in After Rubén several lifetimes of a life in letters. From the “short / skinny boy” with a skateboard and “books in my backpack,” to the man in a hotel mirror who’s come to resemble his father, the constant is poetry and poets. Here, Aragón is a poet fierce and compassionate, wizened and empowered by his experiences as a gay Latinx man. Here is the tireless advocate for other poets, who share our air or breathe within poems we share with others. After Rubén meditates on family, both inherited and made, through filiation, through the words of living and dead. And our guide animates his dead, for, as he writes, “the dead are very patient.” The Rubén of the title... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2020 at The Best American Poetry
The Sound Of One Immigrant Clapping after Czeslaw Milosz by Adrian Castro Let's say he actually did not arrive on a boat-- that the relentless colonel never found his subtle throat hidden under the trance of the clave or thunder hands that spoke repíques of those crimes Let's say he went to Nueva York on the assumption Mario Bauzá Machito or Tito (Rodriguez or Puente) could make his legs & hips move in a constellation of joy Let's say he merely tried to hear the echo of his arms flapping through a factory like a red rag fastened to that fan Let's say the cold often froze his vowels tan Caribeña tan resvalosa y mermelada-- Could the immigrant even mute the melody of his tongue-- They say it is silence that makes music But this will be like drumming on a distant tuft of cloud like the colonel cutting the sound he never found But it takes years of forgetting for a stranger to breathe the salt water or glance at a pile of stones & say I arrived through this portal This is now my home... Adrian Castro is a poet, performer, and interdisciplinary artist. He was born in Miami from Caribbean heritage, which has provided fertile ground for the rhythmic Afro-Caribbean style in which he writes and performs. He is the author of Cantos to Blood & Honey, Wise Fish, and Handling Destiny, all from Coffee House Press, and has been published in several literary anthologies including Conjunctions, Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets; Little Havana Blues; A Century of Cuban Writers in Florida; Step Into A World: A Global Anthology of New Black Literature; and Renaming Ecstasy: Latino Writings on the Sacred. He is the recipient of a USA Knight Foundation Fellowship, a Cintas Fellowship, a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, the NALAC Fund for the Arts Individual Fellowship, and the Eric Mathieu King award from the Academy of American Poets. Adrian Castro is also a board certified Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and herbalist. "The Sound of One Immigrant Clapping" first appeared in his collection Wise Fish: Tales in 6/8 Time. Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
in the shadow, federico carosio iii Driving Down Old Cutler Road for Guillermo by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello Banyans arch across the road, all braided with orchids and light, asphalt ragged with roots so that we have to slow down and take in more than we otherwise might. This is your favorite road. You said this once, stitching hours into the highways between us, and I remember us drawn up and down the eastern coast, each long-held breath hemming in our frayed days. Now, as I drive alone, these roots seem to unspool into garlands of stars, far-flung miles gathered back into the arms of a man who, for all your driving, can have a favorite road, and at the end of it, wait for me. Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of the poetry collection Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), which won the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize and a 2016 Florida Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2017 Milt Kessler Award. She has received poetry fellowships from Kundiman, the Knight Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association, among others. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Best Small Fictions, The New York Times, and more. She serves as the poetry editor for Hyphen Magazine and as a program coordinator for the Miami Book Fair. For more, visit Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
carla, 2014, mickalene thomas from When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson I’m covering my head, like Kool G. Rap said, in this red zone. Dead. This ain’t no motherland, though fek-uhnd as fuck. Florida’s the only time and place I’ve said, It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand, like I will never understand the love- bugs fucking ass to ass, or man standing his ground, shotgun in hand, shooting at cans like they’re an unkindness of ravens. Seven years I have mothered this nature into a woman. The moon, her crevices, a tree the sharpness of her tough skin split. Erica Dawson is the author of three books of poetry: When Rap Spoke Straight to God (Tin House, 2018), winner of the 2018 Florida Book Awards Gold Medal for Poetry; The Small Blades Hurt (Measure Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Poets’ Prize; and Big-Eyed Afraid (Waywiser Press, 2007), winner of the 2006 Anthony Hecht Prize. Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals. Her poems have appeared in several anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2008, 2012, and 2015; Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poets Now; and American Society: What Poets See. She is the director of University of Tampa’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing, and, at UT, an associate professor of English and Writing. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
stump garden, 9" x 12" etching on zinc, sean sexton Nest Eggs by Sean Sexton Yesterday morning I prepared the roe of the mackerel queen my son caught on a Saturday morning off-shore excursion. I exhumed two swollen, pink, vein-bound bags from the silver damsel, and sliced them into pieces to sauté. I lament her demise, eggs never laid, fish lives that never will be--eaten and relished with shame. And the pea-hen that set five eggs in our dooryard at the foot of St. Francis beneath the penumbra of a sapling as we watched in awe of her sorry chosen nest, her unfaltering devotion to the task. She'd stand a moment, shift the eggs like a careful cook frying chicken pieces, managing warmth, and some kind of order. The curvature and needling devise of her beak revealed its perfection for such, as did her shape, crouched like morning fog upon a hollow. Day or night, rain or shine, she stayed. In a downpour at dusk, we tried to help her, swiped a shower curtain from the guest bath, to drape in the branches of the tree, affixed with clothespins and best of intention. We left a radio blaring through the night, wakened to the crying, same as last month's hen that hatched three fuzzy balls with legs she led half a week, feeding, gathering them in when they strayed, until in a single obliterating moment they were taken. For days she wandered yelping, searching aimlessly. Now shells lie asunder like smashed crockery. She's afoot and again, loose in the air-- the sound the world makes. Sean Sexton was born in Indian River County and grew up on his family's Treasure Hammock Ranch, eight miles west of Vero Beach, Florida. He divides his time between taking care of a 600 acre cow-calf and seed stock cattle operation, painting, and writing. He is married to artist Sharon Sexton; they have two grown children and live on their ranch in a house they built with their hands. He has kept journal-sketch books drawn from his life since 1973 and was awarded an Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the State of Florida in 2000-2001. He is the author of Waldo’s Mountain: A Brief History of a Small Elevation; (Waterview Press, 2001); Blood Writing, Poems (Anhinga Press, 2009), and The Empty Tomb (University of Alabama's Slash Pine Press, 2013). He was a presenter at the National Grazing Lands Coalition Conference in Orlando on the subject of Art and Agriculture. He has been a panelist at the Florida Literary Arts Coalition Conference in St. Augustine, FL, since 2012, and a regular performer at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, since 2011. He became inaugural Poet Laureate of Indian River County in 2016. "Nest Eggs" is from his most recent collection of poems, May Darkness Restore (Press 53, 2019). Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
these are messages i'm sending to you, neil de la flor The Vagabond by Neil de la Flor We bond over electronic music and make out. On the dance floor, his arms are dumbbells destined for the seabed. We pray for the abyss to relinquish the red lights of the world. Adora welcomes the world batting her eyelashes like a flamenco dancer bats her abanico. She is ridiculous in her beehive wig. A boy and a girl wear leather dog collars as Lola spins the Cure, Depeche Mode, The Clash, New Order. We order two shots of tequila and photographic memories. Each shot is a declaration of love or something close to a crossbow. The arrow of time is a cosmic phenomenon divined in blue agave. The cosmos quarrels behind us in a black veil. He reveals his history of histories beneath yellow street lights—a pair of binary stars fight for more space. Vampires move over. Rats get out. He bends dangerously in awe of his own angels. We (don’t) share secrets. The shadow on the left puts his left hand in the right pocket of the shadow on the right. We (or they) are nouns and verbs created in a foreign language. Each lie a point of light in the sky. Neil de la Flor is a writer, educator, photographer, and executive director of Reading Queer, a Knight Foundation funded organization dedicated to promoting queer literary culture in South Florida. He is the author of Almost Dorothy (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010), winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and An Elephant’s Memory of Blizzards (Marsh Hawk Press). He also co-authored four collaborative books of poetry, including Sinead O’Connor and her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds (Firewheel Editions, 2011), co-authored with Maureen Seaton and winner of the Sentence Book Award; Facial Geometry (NeoPepper Press, 2006), co-authored with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass; and Two Thieves and a Liar (Jackleg Press, 2012), also co-authored with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass. He graduated with an MFA from the University of Miami, where he was a Michener Fellow, and can be reached at Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
the dream of flight, 2019, collage with japanese paper & watercolor on canvas, maria berrio Entry by Caridad Moro-Gronlier Tortillera, n. Pronounciation: Spanish /tor-ti-lle-ra/, Spain, Latin, Central and South America, U.S. Forms:Torti, Torta, Tort, Tortilla Etymology: < Latin tortus (twisted), <Spanish torta, <Germanque<English queer. Compare French tortille Origin:<From term torticera (tortious), derived from Latin tortus, with the meaning of crooked, twisted, etc. torticera, a highbrow word, by a process of popular etymology pronounced wrongly as tortillera by their phonetic similarity as in "she is tortillera" instead of "she is torticera" by an error in pronunciation. Synonyms:amaricada, arepera, bollera, bollo, buchona, cachapera, cambuja, camionera, come coños, desviada, ententida, fricatriz, hombruna, invertida, juega tenis, kiki, lechuga, lela, lencha, lesbiana, machorra, marimacha(o), obvia, sáfica, sopaipilla, tijeras, tribada, trola, troquera, virago, webiá, zapatona 1. a. Homosexual woman; lesbian. I outed myself as a tortillera at Noche Buena dinner last Christmas and I was roasted along with the lechón. b.Transatlantic traveler term known to connect homosexuality with the beginning of homophobia; refutes all sexual and onomatopoeic explanations (i.e. the supposed equivalency between the clapping sound made from kneading corn pancakes to the sound made during lesbian sex) as seen through the consideration of homosexual behavior as something twisted, deviant, first referenced in 1830 in the Spanish-French dictionary by M. Nuñez de Taboada, published in Madrid, in which the French word tribade is translated as tortillera and defined as "a woman who abuses another”. My mother did not allow me to play softball in high school because the coach was a tortillera and she didn’t want me to end up a tortillera, too. c. Derogatory slang that denotes deviant, twisted behavior, the lowest form of female debasement, term known to induce emotional distress such as shame and self-loathing, as well as physical symptoms including, but not limited to anorexia, bulimia, cutting, dermatitis, depression, enuresis, flushing, gastritis, heart palpitations, hyperhidrosis, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, kyphosis, lethargy, malaise, mania, nausea, nightmares, OCD, panic attack, paranoia, rash, rosacea, scarring, sleepwalking, stuttering, tachycardia, tongue biting, teeth gnashing, thinning hair, ulcers, vomiting, xerostomia. Better my daughter be dead than a disgusting tortillera. 2. Female producer and seller of maize pancakes. According to Adolfo Sanchez Vazquez, upon the arrival of Spaniards exiled to Mexico due to the Civil War, some were greeted by a sign that read "El sindicato de Tortilleras les da la bienvenida!", which caused someone to quip, “This is a very cosmopolitan country if even tortilleras have a union!” Caridad Moro-Gronlier is the award-winning author of Visionware, published by Finishing Line Press as part of its New Women's Voices Series. She is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pintura:Palabra, An Anthology of Ekphrastic Writing; Rhino Reading Queer: Poetry In a Time of Chaos; Bridges To/From Cuba; The Antioch Review; The Tishman Review;The Cossack Review; Moon City Review; The Damfino Review;The Collapsar; The Notre Dame Review; The South Florida Poetry Journal; The... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Aedes Aegypti by Brian Turner With the audio on mute, the television flickers over the bodies of lovers tangled in dream, carbon dioxide pluming from their mouths the way factory smoke billows from the industrial park outside of town. Mosquitoes circle in a holding pattern above. As the female’s wings beat 400 times per second, the male’s at 600 hertz, their wingtips trace the smallest figure-8s into the invisible, a gesture toward the infinite. Such brief lives they have. One month, maybe, their coupling a conversation at 1200 hertz, the high pitch of their union an A above concert C— Beethoven’s last note, perhaps, the note he chose not to take by feather from the well of ink the way a mosquito might dip a stylet in blood. He let the note play itself out. To recognize the cry of the bat with its hunger returning. Blue notes smoldered out from the throats of lovers. That no matter how certain the crushing weight of the indomitable, even the smallest of flyers raise their wings in music. Brian Turner is a writer and musician; author of a memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, two poetry collections (Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise), and a debut album with The Interplanetary Acoustic Team. He edited The Kiss anthology and curated the series on Guernica. He’s received a Guggenheim, a USA Fellowship, an NEA, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, the Poets’ Prize, and a Lannan Foundation Fellowship. He’s published in The New York Times (online), National Geographic, Harper’s Magazine, and more. He directs the MFA at Sierra Nevada College. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
flamingo hammock palm, 24 x 24 in. oil on canvas, eleanor blair Harvesting the Heart by Angela Narciso Torres In Florida, I shall eat a palm seed and see if that’ll grow a new heart for me. -D.H. Lawrence Indeed, swallowing a seed seems the better option. For stealing a palm’s heart from its solitary stem is back-breaking work and spells certain death for the tree. The part you can eat, otherwise known as swamp cabbage, lobster of vegetables, or burglar’s thigh, lies deep in the green trunk between woody bark and where the fronds begin. You’ll need a machete to work down the trunk, cutting away fibrous layers one at a time, each about the weight of a small child. You’ll want to give up after the third or fourth layer. Don’t stop. Nearer the core it’s denser, sap-drenched, and very tender. You’d be surprised, despite how much you’ve uncovered—arms sore, fingers splintered—the sheer size of that heart. Angela Narciso Torres is the author of Blood Orange, winner of the Willow Book Literature Award/Poetry. Recent work appears in POETRY, Missouri Review, and TriQuarterly. Her chapbook, To the Bone, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications and her second full length collection, What Happens Is Neither, from Four Way Books. A graduate of Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Ragdale Foundation. She resides in South Florida where she joins the 2020 Palm Beach Poetry Festival faculty as a manuscript consultant. Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
The tenth season of the Mission Poetry Series begins with a reading on Saturday, November 3, 2018, at 1 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Public Library. Sunlight, Leaves, & Shadows: Three Poets in Autumn features three award-winning authors: Chella Courington, Joseph Rios, and Vandana Khanna. The title of the event is taken from “Words,” a poem by Dana Gioia, the current Poet Laureate of California. 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 Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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 Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at The Best American Poetry