Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Books of Interest by Writers of Color—Luci Tapahonso, Gloria Vando, Kristin Naca

Luci Tapahonso, A Radiant Curve: Poems and Stories (University of Arizona Press) Tapahonso, Navajo, is originally from Shiprock, NM, where she grew up with Navajo as her first language. Now Professor of English at the University of Arizona in Tucson, she has published three children’s books and six books of poetry. Tapahonso initially writes in her first language, Diné, and then translates into English. Her later books are bilingual editions in Diné and English. Her work is rhythmic and sometimes mystical with a strong focus on women and family. It was with her book, Saánii Dahataal (the women are singing), that she began to win acclaim for her work. She has won many awards, including the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for Poetry and the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers, and has been featured in several PBS television documentaries. Her most recent book includes a CD with original songs and chants, as well as poetry.

Here is the link to her latest book. I encourage you to buy these books from the small and university presses that publish them. Without them, we would have few writers of color published, at all.

Gloria Vando Shadows & Supposes (Arte Público Press) Child of a highly accomplished artistic/political family of immigrants from Puerto Rico, Vando was born and educated in New York City. Her lushly imagistic work focuses on the isolation and alienation of the immigrant’s child, never truly at home or a real part of either homeland. She has received the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award; the Latino Literary Hall of Fame’s Poetry Book Award; the 2009 Poetry Award from El Instituto de Puerto Rico, NY; the first Kansas Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship; two Billee Murray Denny Prizes; a River Styx International Poetry Award; and many others. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and on the Grammy-nominated Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work 1888-2006. Vando has had her poems adapted for the stage and presented at Lincoln Center and Off-Broadway. She is publisher and editor of Helicon Nine Editions, for which she received the CLMP Editor’s Grant and the Governor’s Arts Award (KS). She is also a contributing editor to the North American Review. In 1992 she founded, with her husband, The Writers Place, a freestanding literary center and art gallery that is the heart of literary activity in Kansas City, MO.

Here is the link to her latest book.

Kristin Naca Bird Eating Bird (HarperCollins) Naca is a Filipina-Puerto Rican poet. Bird Eating Bird, her first book, uses English, Spanish, and even fragments of Tagalog to explore class, gender, and race in delicate, lyrical, yet powerful poems. This book won the National Poetry Series and an Honorable Mention in Poetry from the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Naca is a professor at Macalester College where she teaches Asian and Latino literature and creative writing. She is a fresh voice with a meticulous aesthetic and immense promise.

Here’s a link to her book. Harper’s is a big NY publisher, of course, but go ahead and get it from them. They’re one of the few big guys who sponsor a first book contest.

I’ve been spending much of this dangerous heat wave in coffee shops and libraries. My old house’s a/c can't handle heat over 100 degrees. In public venues, I don’t go online because I’ve been hacked that way before. So I’ve been online less. When this heat wave goes away, I will get back to my usual schedule.

Next week, Luis J. Rodriguez, Phong Nguyen, and Maria Melendez. Lots to look forward to.

Stay cool if you’re in this deadly heat wave. If you’re not, send cool thoughts to those of us who are.


  1. Hi Linda, Thanks for this great post! I notice that we've published books by many of the wonderful writers on your blog roll. We've got an incredible anthology edited by Allison Hedge Coke coming out at the end of October. Here's a link if you're interested: http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid2299.htm. Let me know if you'd like to see a review copy or run an interview with Allison.

    Take care, Holly Schaffer @ Univ. AZ Press

  2. Holly, Thanks for your kind words.

    I would be very interested in both an interview with Allison and in reviewing the anthology. It sounds wonderful. Perhaps we could do the interview by email in the next few weeks and then follow up with a review of the book a few weeks after that?

    All best,