Shout Out to Latino Poetry Review
“To be of the air. I'm saying this to myself like a prayer, because I don't know that we can be free—of nationality, body, belonging.”
—Miguel Murphy from Blood and Breath: A Conversation
There is very important new member of the poetry world. (This odd world of beasts and bones.) He is brand new and he is very handsome. He is made out of the river’s ripples and green mesquite. His name is the Latino Poetry Review. Bienvenidos LPR…y gracias.
With its first issue just now arriving, I’d like to applaud the little one and say first, you rock (that’s an official poetic term) and second, what took you so long? We’ve needed you.
Let’s just take a peek at the mission statement:
“Latino Poetry Review publishes book reviews, essays, and interviews with an eye towards spurring inquiry and dialogue. LPR recognizes that Latino and Latina poets in the 21st century embrace, and work out of, a multitude of aesthetics. With this in mind, its critical focus is the poem and its poetics.”
Yes, let’s spur away. Come over. Come in. Let’s unfold each other. I’m going to start calling it Latino/a Poetry Review. Is that okay Francisco?
Francisco Aragón began this review and in his editor’s letter he writes:
“Latino Poetry Review (LPR) is a response to the current state of poetry criticism. If contemporary verse receives limited attention in literary studies today, Latino poetry gets scant, if any attention at all. This doesn’t seem to be the case with prose: a few years ago, two Notre Dame doctoral students spoke to me about the fiction panels at the “Latina Letters” summer conference in San Antonio, Texas. No such panel, as I recall, focused on poetry. LPR is a response to that.
Latino Poetry Review is a pro-active gesture, one aimed at promoting the book review: other than the El Paso Times, one would be hard pressed to name a newspaper that runs, with any regularity, reviews of poetry collections by Latinos (or any poets, for that matter). Mainstream literary journals fare no better. LPR is a response to that, as well.”
This is a void (oh, us poets and our longing, our endless voids, it’s as if our voids are the only thing that holds us up) that has needed to be filled for sometime and I’m looking forward to reading the next issue, sharing it, and championing it as it continues.
With some beautifully written reviews from Craig Santos Perez and Emily Pérez (it’s not a prerequisite, but if you’re last name is Pérez you might want to think about contributing, apparently they’ve got an affinity), to name a few, as well as a wonderfully honest and poetically limber dialogue between Miguel Murphy and Javier O. Huerta, LPR is off to a brave and impressive and start.
Here is a quick preview to the interview, “Blood and Breath: A Conversation.”
From Miguel Murphy:
"For me being Chicano comes with an expectation that I will speak a certain way about certain things. I feel a kind of sadness about this, because I know that I don't know how to do that, but also a sense of responsibility too, a rebellious desire to fulfill the struggles of my heritage with some answer to the fetish of the past. My dead grandfather has said my poems are confessional fantasies, and I like this assessment very much."
From Javier O. Huerta
"I believe that to write as a Chicano poet is not really about content: the celebration of a noble past or images from our Chicano/immigrant childhood. I believe that the foundation for our (here, I am speaking universally) poetics is already formed before we open our first schoolbook. Everything that comes after our first book—Dr. Seuss, Encyclopedia Brown, Hardy Boys, The Outsiders, Homer, Aristotle, Catullus, John Keats, Kant, Jane Austen, Faulkner, Cavafy, Ernesto Cardenal, Tomás Rivera, Juan Rulfo, James Wright—is understood only in relation to that foundation, which is formed by (and here I am speaking only of and for myself) corridos, Chespirito, the dime novelas, the Bible, curse words, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, mourning, and love. To write as a Chicano is not an essential matter but an experiential/experimental (in Spanish there is little difference between the two) one."
¡Bienvenidos Latino Poetry Review!
Ada Limón is the author of Lucky Wreck (2006), This Big Fake World (2006), Sharks in the Rivers (2010), and Bright Dead Things (2015), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award. She earned an MFA from New York University, and is the recipient of...