Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Books of Interest by Writers of Color—Part Three—Lorna Dee Cervantes, Craig Santos Perez, Sherwin Bitsui

This is another in my series of posts on books of interest by writers of color. I am making my way through a long list of great writers. It's also another in my long series of battles with Blogger. This time my photos are working, but my abusive blog-spouse is flailing away at my fonts. Forgive irregularities, please.

Lorna Dee Cervantes, Drive: The First Quartet, New Poems 1980-2005 (Wings Press) Cervantes is considered one of the most important Chicana activist/poets in the last 40 years. Her first book, Emplumada (University of Pittsburgh Press), won the American Book Award, and her second, From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger (Arte Público Press), won the Patterson Poetry Prize, the Institute of Latin American Writers Poetry Prize, and the Latino Literature Award. She has won much critical acclaim and many other awards, including the Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Award, and is anthologized widely. Cervantes’ work is simultaneously accessible and complex, dealing with her own Chicano and Native American heritage and with issues of racism, colonialism, misogyny, violence, oppression, social injustice, and love. Cervantes continues to work in the literary and political communities, founding and editing literary magazines and giving readings and workshops to benefit various community causes. For anyone who wants to read more widely among writers of color, she is a priority, since through her activism, her writing, and her teaching, she has been an influence on many later writers. Here's a link to the small press that published her most recent book. Please patronize these indie presses. Without them, hardly any writers of color would ever make it onto the page.

Craig Santos Perez, from unincorporated territory [saina] (Omnidawn Publishing) Perez, a native Chamorro from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam), is one of the most prolific and influential young poets and critics around. His first book, from unincorporated territory [hacha]( Tinfish Press), with his second, from unincorporated territory [saina], forms part of a larger, ambitious work, an experimental poetry of history and resistance, a redefining of his birthland and the countries that have conquered it and tried to erase all traces of his native culture. Perez’s criticism is also a part of this net of language, historical and ecological research, wordplay, and wit that examines and undermines colonial oppression on Guam and in the world of poetry and literature. He manages the difficult task of being avant garde without being deliberately (or accidentally) abstruse and esoteric. Perez is a serious talent in the younger generation of writers—and he can be laugh-out-loud funny as often as he is passionate and erudite. Here's the link to find his most recent book.

Sherwin Bitsui, Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press) Bitsui is Dine of the Todich'ii'nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl'izilani (Many Goats Clan). He has racked up an amazing number of awards for a young poet with just two books—a Whiting, a Truman Capote, a Witter Bynner, and more. Flood Song, his most recent book, picked up both an American Book Award and a PEN Open Book Award. Bitsui’s work focuses on the tension between the Navajo reservation where he was born and the modern white world where he now lives, on the tension between the natural world of unspoiled places and the man-made urban environment. Bitsui uses elements of surrealism and quite specific sensory details, just as he uses both a supple, flexible English and the Navajo language of his childhood and ongoing heritage. He has already positioned himself as a major talent that is shooting for the top. Here's the link for Flood Song.

I'll be traveling, so I'll take a break from this series until the middle of next week. Then, more fantastic writers of color.

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