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Letras Latinas: Building Literary Community April 27, 2012: As our poetry month (and time on Harriet) comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on an important program that continues to influence the visibility of Latino poetry in this country. If the poetry community at large seems tiny, imagine the Latino poetry community--it’s no degree of separation. Though ours is a virtual community that stays [...] by

Our Deportees April 23, 2012: Yes, that’s a picture of me carrying a box of grapes. Home from college in the summer of 1993, the only way to spend time with my family was by joining them at work. My father insisted on taking the photograph because he didn’t want me to forget where I had come from. Why am I smiling? Even working among family and friends didn’t lessen [...] by

The Great Poetry Caper April 18, 2012: Last May, I went to visit my brother Alex in Mexicali, just across the California border. It was the big goodbye. After many years of talking about moving to La Paz on the tip of the Baja California peninsula, my brother and his wife were finally going to do it come July. Watching the border become increasingly dangerous convinced them of it. [...] by

Woven Voices April 16, 2012: The subtitle of this book extrapolates further: “3 Generations of Puertorriqueña Poets Look at Their American Lives.” Read that sentence more closely and suddenly the simple description opens up to complexity: three generations promises to cover an expansive range of different (and differing) perspectives and experiences; that it’s [...] by

The Unsettling Muses April 12, 2012: Pictured above is the actor Ramón Novarro. He’s one of my unsettling muses. As I move forward to the next body of poems after Black Blossoms and Unpeopled Eden (which will be released next year), I don’t quite know if I am writing poems that will shape the next book or if I’m simply responding to whatever it is that pulls me toward [...] by

But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise April 9, 2012: Returning to an old tradition and making good use of Harriet to spread the word about poetry books, I wanted to give a shout out to Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, whose debut collection has recently been released through Red Hen Press. But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise signals disruption, interruption, discord and, on a more empowering note, [...] by

Hunger April 5, 2012: It’s been one of those weeks when, uncharacteristically, I’m affected by the negativity of the media. Yes, it’s an election year, so the political pandering to communities that I don’t (and can’t) relate to is on overdrive. When politicians seeking office recognize hate groups disguised as patriots, it only invites distasteful [...] by

“Diving into the Wreck”: An Appreciation April 2, 2012: To commemorate the passing of Adrienne Rich, I wanted to offer a different kind of experience: my failure to understand her canonical poem the first time I encountered it. Let me set the stage: high school, 1987, a series of college entrance exams: SAT, ACT and some Advance Placement rigamarole. I had been in this country seven years and [...] by

Stutter April 27, 2011: I was thrilled to see Jeffrey McDaniel throw some love at Diane Seuss. Here’s a link to an interview I conducted with her last fall over at Critical Mass. I found out about her book visiting Poetry Daily--don’t forget to toss a few bucks in that direction, by the way, during their National Poetry Month fund drive! I do, year after year. [...] by

Whatchu Reading…? April 25, 2011:   The MFA writing workshop is only part critical feedback, and those enrolled in the Rutgers-Newark program know that I’m big on citizenship--on reading poetry books and reporting back with recommendations and reviews, on sharing the book-love online. Poets have to talk about the work of other poets. It’s like that in the literary [...] by