Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Books of Interest by Writers of Color—Cornelius Eady, Brenda Cardenas, Kimberly Becker

Cornelius Eady Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems (Putnam) Eady is an acclaimed poet and dramatist. His book of poetry, Brutal Imagination, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. His libretto for the opera, Running Man, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999. His six other books of poetry and three other works of drama have also received various major awards. His work is full of the music of the blues and jazz riffs, as well as clear-eyed, large-hearted consideration of his family and the African American community within which he grew up. He uses simple, deceptively clear language to deal with complex concepts and multiple stories simultaneously. His work contains layers and layers of clarity, truth, and paradox. Another major writer of color who has given back extensively to his community, Eady also made a name for himself as a teacher and mentor of young writers. In 1996, he and poet Toi Derricote co-founded Cave Canem, a writing community for African American writers with a first book prize, an anthology, a summer retreat, and workshops and events throughout the year and throughout the country. Eady is the Miller Professor of English and drama at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Normally, for a writer as successful and well-known as Eady, I’d link you to his website, but his is undergoing work right now. So, here is the link to Eady’s publisher—Putnam, one of the big guys, but show support for our authors and maybe we’ll see more of them at these big publishers soon.

Brenda Cárdenas Boomerang (Bilingual Review Press) Cárdenas is an activist/poet of the borders, the margins, the justapositions of languages, cultures, and forms. Yet underneath her fascination and experimentation with style, stories are her substance. She tells the stories of family, friends, herself growing up and adjusting or not to modern America. She tells the stories of who and what gets lost in translation and border-crossing. She shows how the multiplicity these give the culture and language of the country she loves and rails against enrich and enliven it beyond compare. Her two collections of poetry are just the beginning of what will be, I’m sure, a rich and acclaimed career. If you have a chance to hear this poet read in person, grasp it with both hands. She is an electric performer of her own work.

Here is the link to her book. As usual, I encourage you to patronize the small presses who make the work of so many writers of color available.

Kimberly Becker Words Facing East: Poems (WordTech Editions) Cherokee/Celtic/Teutonic, Becker has published her first book in 2011. This is a book of the difficulties and joys of homecoming after searching and wandering. Full of delicate and truthful observation of the natural world and the emotional world alike, her poems are full of rivers, stones, feathers, and tears “bumping up against the stories.” Becker has already been awarded several grants and fellowships and seems to be at the beginning of a significant career. This is a poet to keep an eye on as she further develops her art.

Here is the link to her book.

Coming up soon--an interview with Allison Hedge Coke, fine poet in her own right and editor of the forthcoming, Sing: Poetry From the Indigenous Americas. This long-awaited anthology will be published by University of Arizona Press in October. I'll also have a review of the book itself closer to its time of publication. This is the first anthology of Indigenous poetry to span the Americas from Alaska to Chile. I am going through this treasure now, savoring all of the wonderful diversity it represents. So, more fun in the Writers of Color series. Also, I hope to begin my Literary Mystery Writers series next week. If the creek don't rise, etc., etc.

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