Friday, January 30, 2009
This article of Denise Low's that ran in The Kansas City Star (reprinted in Denise's blog) makes very pertinent points about the importance of the arts, especially now. Denise is the state of Kansas' poet laureate and a long-time activist for the arts herself.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I had an e-mail from one of those classmate/reunion websites today about one of the girls I went to high school with--Manhattan, KS, High School. It’s been very odd, but after many years of having no contact with anyone I went to high school with, in the past year I’ve wound up back in touch with three of them, two girls in the class before me and a guy from my class who I dated in my junior year. That’s been very interesting, seeing how we’ve all changed with the years. Now, I hear about Jeanie, but not in any way that I can let her know how to contact me. I knew her better than the other two girls since she was in my class and we were in most of the same activities. I find myself wondering how her life has turned out.
I’m probably trying to get away from all the things I need to do. I need to do press releases and a million other things for Tercera Página, the Latino Writers Collective’s third annual reading series—and I will; I’ve just been distracted by writing major grants for LWC and for The Writers Place and other things like that. I also need to decide what poem I’m going to read for Palabra Pura’s Special Edition: “One Poem Festival” at the Jazz Showcase in
I’ve talked with wonderful, supportive husband, Ben, about it. He says I have two choices—go with a poem that’s good with audiences or go with an “AWP poem.” I ask, “What’s an AWP poem?” (Can you tell I’m just not sophisticated, even after all these years?) He says, “It’s a poem that gets pulled out to impress people with your literariness.” Well, that makes it easy! I don’t have any of those. I took a different road from that one a long time ago when I decided I wanted my work to be accessible to any reasonably literate reader. So I’ll probably be a bust as far as AWP is concerned. Francisco’s another matter—he has higher standards than that, I believe.
I would really like to read a poem that I think is one of my best, but it’s also one of my longest. I’m not like my friend, Joe, who writes 15-page poems sometimes. Long for me is 3-4 pages. But I have never read this poem because I don’t think long poems go over as well with audiences—it’s too hard to keep it all in your head while you’re listening—and this poem deserves full concentration. So once again, I see, I’ve decided not to read “Considering Oceans.”
I’ve got about 500 poems, so this could be a long process. I’ll put it in my unconscious while I work on Tercera Página, which will run from March 4-May 15 and feature a student performance of a cultural piece with original poetry, drama, dance, and music, Gloria Vando headlining a reading with LWC members, Sandra Cisneros in both a public reading at the Central Library and an event with students at the Plaza Library, all culminating with the launch of the LWC fiction anthology, which is one of those things taking extra time and attention right now.
To work, Linda! Adelante!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Other writing--novel, short story, nonfiction--is very different for me. When I'm in a non-poetry project, I set regular times and work on it daily. Sometimes it comes like poetry in spurts for which I'm grateful. Sometimes I sit and squeeze out words. Usually, it's something between the two. I warm up and manage to write what I planned and maybe a little extra. Poetry never seems to work that way for me.
The real work for me in poetry is all the revision I do. And of course, that's what really makes the poem. My friend, Jose Faus, is always reading something he's just written at a reading. I never read a poem until it's been through that long process of multiple revisions. Joe laughs at me about it. (Probably justifiably.)
But today it looks as if I'm moving back into a poetry period, always a happy time.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I've also just read Cristina Henriquez's unbelievably good first novel, The World in Half (Riverhead Books, 2009), which is coming out later this year. I had not been familiar with her work, other than a short story I had read in a literary magazine a while back. This is a beautiful and poignant book that combines geology, Alzheimer's, tragic star-crossed love, coming-of-age, and a search for a never-known father into one seamless whole that echoes in the heart and mind long after finishing the book and putting it away. Her characters live, and with all their flaws, we care about them and long for them to make the right decisions in their lives. Panama comes to life as vividly as one of the characters and impacts all of them. This is a young writer with great talent. I can't wait to see where she will go with it.
It's Friday, and everything still looks wonderful out there in the world. President Obama has rescinded the orders to torture and once again the United States is living up to its promise and ideals in that regard. Tough choices ahead for that man and for us. May we all choose wisely. May we all choose with both minds and hearts.
I plan to use this blog to discuss writing, my own and that of others, but I also want to look at society and politics. I’m, of course, not a member of the art-for-art’s-sake-only-and-if-it-has-something-to-say-it’s-no-good party. As I said at the opening program of The Writers Place in 1992, we as writers have a responsibility to show our society both the what-is that’s going wrong and the what-could-be that would make things right. We are the torch-bearers who must point out the dangers and light the way into a better future. Even in poems about “little” everyday things.
Enough of that for now. I’m a happy woman as I begin this blog. We’ve just inaugurated a new president, and I believe that Barack Obama is the right person at the right time for the
Heart's Migration by Linda Rodriguez is a generous, gorgeous book of poetry. It's the kind of beautiful book that comes along every once in a long while, to keep the reader the perfect company. It's courageous, unflinching in its voice and tradition. You read a poem the likes of "My Daughter's Nightmares," and you feel the pangs of familial love and responsibility. Rather quickly at the start of this book you feel like you are invited in, taken into a landscape of vivid image and memorable detail, such is the vibrant tapestry of this book. This is a gifted, capable poet who takes pride in making a lasting human connection. I praise her voice and her passion!
Virgil Suarez, author of 90 Miles: New & Selected Poems,
I’m happy that this will go on my book cover and, we hope, convince reviewers and potential buyers to give it a try. But most of all, I’m happy because I respect Virgil as a wonderful poet himself, so just knowing that he liked my work this much sends me flying. It’s much the way I felt after reading on Luis’ blog “the phenomenal poetry of Linda Rodriguez.” Because aside from his work as publisher, community developer and anti-gang activist, Luis is a great writer himself. However, since he’s publishing the book, he’s got a vested interest of sorts.
Anyway, much to be happy about in my universe. I have a loving husband and terrific kids, and I do believe that 2009 is going to be my year!
Queen of Hope, remember?