Poetry News

Eduardo Corral talks about living and writing on the border in the Arizona Republic

By Harriet Staff

The Arizona Republic has a long profile of recent Whiting Award (and Yale Younger Poets prize) winner Eduardo Corral, who grew up in Casa Grande, between Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona's Sonoran desert. Corral, the son of Mexican migrants, left the state to attend the Iowa Writers' Workshop and various artist residencies, but many of his recent poems were composed and refined at the Casa Grande Starbucks in a strip mall near Cartridge World:

There are mom-and-pop diners around, but, Corral said, "They don't let you hang out all day for the price of an iced coffee."

And he needs to hang out. He can't write at home, which he shares with his parents and three nieces and nephews, because it's too noisy. But he can't write at a library because it's too quiet. He grew up with a brother and sister, and the silence doesn't feel right.

"I'm just used to noise," he said. "Loud house, loud neighborhood, loud brain."

So in that clamorous environment, Corral edited the manuscript that will become "Slow Lightning," his first book, to be released in April by the Yale University Press:

The poems that come out of Corral's mildly distracted brain were called "alluring, moving, playful and elegiac" by the judges who awarded the Whiting. "They have flashes of surrealism," the judges continued, "and sometimes a lovely in extremis strangeness."

To Corral, the surrealism and strangeness are that he has been able to forge a career, a life, from the words he struggles to scratch on yellow legal pads and type into his laptop. He sometimes finds himself on a flight, or being feted at a hotel before a reading, and considers the fact that it was his poetry that got him there.

Corral's poetry will now carry him to New York City, where he'll spend a year living and writing, thanks to the Whiting Award. Read the whole article, which explores Corral's trajectory, inspirations, and background. Or check out his blog.

Originally Published: November 28th, 2011