No one is free of their narrative.
— Leslie Scalapino
In 2009 we began the long and arduous process of editing an anthology meant to provide a current view of contemporary Latin@ letters. To begin with, we wanted to widen the notion of what Latin@ letters looked like outside of what we saw as conscripted lyric and narrative traditions. When looking at the literary history of the avant-garde, we noted that the outlined lineages elided some of the greatest innovators of the twentieth century, writers like Juan Felipe Herrera, Alurista, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Pedro Pietri, who are often overlooked for aesthetic canons, even though their work is deeply influential, linguistically and formally innovative, and invested in revising notions of subjectivity. In our view, the exclusion of these vanguard artists is due to the misreading of their work as exclusively driven by Latin@ identity (as opposed to being part of the larger and translucent “American,” defined by gatekeepers who are often not Latin@).
As editors we considered the many problems associated with organizing an anthology, a selection, or sampler, based on what is an arbitrary or complex designation: Latin@. Ultimately we felt that our goal was to widen the conversation, the lens through which that designation is applied. Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing seeks to fill a crucial gap. The writers included in this anthology are concerned with reimagining and rearticulating the corpus of Latin@ writing as much as they are concerned with calling into question the need to patrol our borders. Replete with artistic, cultural, and aesthetic ambition, the writers included in this book embrace the intersections of poetry and the page as typographical canvas; of the photograph, the written word, and the page as a symbiotic space for narrative; of the stage, the text, the political context, and the performance as both ethical and poetical utterance.
The poets in this short excerpt from the anthology, which will be published by Counterpath Press later this month, represent a wide swath of what we consider the innovative contemporary work being done in Latin@ letters. We are excited by the complex ways through which these poets express their sensibilities, their histories, and their identities. This portfolio is, in part, a compendium of otherness, but the spectacle is not in our histories but in our voices, the peculiarities of our sensibilities that tie us both to cultures behind us and the cultures before us.
Editors’ Note: Visit the table of contents for Poetry’s May 2014 issue to read the portfolio that accompanies this introduction.