I'm not offering the watercolors and audio tracks with this ebook. I hope with the next ebook in the series, I'll be able to provide links. These audio tracks are not affiliated with any professional media. They're just home recordings I made of myself reciting my poetry. But once that issue is cleared up, I will be able to present the audio files and hopefully the watercolors too with my ebooks.
One dark, the other light. In my mind they compliment each other. Both have
pulled me thru rough and sleepless nights of silent hysteria and rage. I finally
made a break through and learned to just appreciate every moment of my life,
and just not allow myself to be victimized anymore. I don't have to cry and
write poetry and suffer defeat of spirit. I can glow and keep on glowing.
I can breathe the love I feel. I don't have to withhold it....I'm free now. Just a
little more cautious though. Hope you can relate to the poems. What started
me writing these 2 books was a recurring dream in which I found my
perpetrator and gladly inflicted injury (a family member who betrayed me), one
whom I once loved dearly. The ugliness...the actuality of the act, so upset me...
I had a nervous break down. So I learned that revenge is never worth it,
even in a dream, because of what it does to the one performing such meanness
...especially inflicting great physical harm. It isn't worth it enough to dream
about it! (smile) That's THE MIND WOULD KNOW poems.
After the dream I wrote EVEN IN DREAMS and IN THE HUMMING.
In The Humming inspired the book IF I COULD DO FOR YOU.
My son Joel Timmins contributed some of his beautiful artwork to this series.
I don't want to tell you how I've suffered etc. It can all be good if we let it be. An artist needs fuel, so all that stuff that broke my heart and crushed my hope to be somebody significant in this world....forced me to control my distemper and create music, poetry, puppets, stories, many wonderful things. The pain birthed inspiration and production. That's what the poems mean to me. But I don't know how to describe what brought me to the edge of the abyss, so I could write the poems....anyway...no one wants to hear it. So that is the long and short of it.....to describe the poems any more than that would be to take away mystery of discovering what they could mean to you.
In turning to the Great Spirits of Antiquity and ancestors unknown to me whom I reach out to....I have survived and grown a soul...and created a body of work that greatly relieves me, and that all admire. In one of the poems in this compilation, I remark: "A life well lived is like a bell that rings forever; the sound encrypted in our collective soul, enriching Humanity's potential" So in that heartset, I offer these poems to you and hope they touch you somewhere deep inside, and it is helpful to you in some way.
In 2001 my life was at the end of a decade of great turbulence and disappointment for me. My life changed the day I received my HUD voucher for a 1 bedrm apt in 2001. I'd been homeless for years and starving to buy equipment for a mug/tee shirt merchandise business I've been trying to get going. HUD took me off the street and I was able to get a computer and create my website BANANA PATCH FANTASY PRODUCTIONS. which is a showcase of my music, poetry, children's books, novel etc. Now I have my own virtual reality and I love it!
So these poems are from 2001-2008. I know some of my poetry is very nice. I'm not a "great" poet. But I am happy to share these simple poems of my life with anyone who will listen or read them. They mean alot to me because I remember how they helped me to hold onto reality and hope and be victorious after all. This life has not been wasted on me. I am driven to self expression. I was disabled at 9, I was an orphan from 3 months. Never adopted, only tolerated by relatives, I found a place within where I could have meaningful reflection and conversation with ancestors, saints and whoever was willing to comfort me, my aloneness. So I'm a little neurotic. I'm just human and not having a family forced me to find sanctuary somewhere. How fortunate for me to have found it within my own Self. This is why I believe in Life eternal. Someone succors me, invests in me, walks with me, bends the Universe to accommodate me, protects me. I feel the love. To this day, I walk the trail alone with invisible Guides who bring me thru all . I'm still learning the lessons and growing. I am loved because I am a lover.
With her novel THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET, Sandra Cisneros introduced one of the most lyrically inventive voices ever to emerge from the barrio. Now she gives us a book of poems with the lilt of NORTEÑO music and the romantic abandon of a hot Saturday night. Celebrating the cataclysms of love and mapping the faultlines in the Mexican-American psyche, LOOSE WOMAN is by turns bawdy and introspective, flagrantly erotic and unabashedly funny, a work that is both a tour de force and a triumphant outpouring of pure soul.
Fiercely moving, the two long narrative poems of Martín & Meditations on the South Valley revolve around the semi-autobiographical figure of Martin, a mestizo or "detribalized Apache."Fiercely moving, the two long narrative poems of Martín & Meditations on the South Valley revolve around the semi-autobiographical figure of Martin, a mestizo or "detribalized Apache." Abandoned as a child and a long time on the hard path to building his own family, Martin at last finds his home in the stubborn and beautiful world of the barrio. Jimmy Santiago Baca "writes with unconcealed passion," Denise Levertov states in her introduction, “but he is far from being a naive realist; what makes his writing so exciting to me is the way in which it manifests both an intense lyricism and that transformative vision which perceives the mythic and archetypal significance of life-events."
"The Moon" has been selected as one of Vancouver Poetry House's 10 Best Poems of 2015
"This poem, translated from the original Spanish, unfolds as a litany of the many ways the moon has been described. One long, complex sentence links all the previous iterations, while a second, much shorter sentence isolates the image of yet another moon. The prose-poem form seems to contain the patch of night sky from which that new apprehension--the moon reflected in the vision of a solitary witness, the poem's speaker--arrives."
--New York Times Magazine, Featured Poem, "The Moon"
"The poems are thoughtful and intelligent, frequently referencing mythology, literature, architecture; they require time to ponder, read, and re-read....Reflective souls will find much that resonates here."
--San Diego Book Review
"It is not hard to see why this collection won the Paz Prize for Poetry. Pintado seems a worthy successor to Octavio Paz, whose own poems owe so much to surrealism and the world of dreams."
--Midst of Things
"Cuban-American Pintado, recipient of the Paz Prize for Poetry, meditates on myths, legends, labyrinths, and the relationships between love, fears, and dreams in this bilingual collection."
--Publishers Weekly, Fall 2015 Announcements
"Translator Hilary Vaughn Dobel does an excellent job of reproducing Pintado’s tone and diction; her translation stands confidently on its own, without hewing any more closely than necessary to the original. While much of the poetry in Nueve monedas does rhyme in Spanish, Vaughn Dobel has not sought to reproduce that rhyme in English, the right decision in this case because of how Pintado uses rhyme in his own work, more often to end enjambed lines than not, a subtle use more suggestive of English-language New Formalists than the more baroque Spanish-language poets of midcentury."
--World Literature Today
"The urgency and presence in Pintado's poems feel as if the poet's very life depended on writing them. They are possessed by a unique, intangible quality that arrests the reader and commands attention. His work is intimate yet boundless, moving easily between form and free verse, prose poems and long poems, whether capturing the everyday streets of Miami Beach or leading us into the mythic and mystical worlds of his imagination."
--Richard Blanco, author of The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood
Translated by Hilary Vaughn Dobel.
Nine Coins/Nueve monedas is a palimpsest of love, fears, dreams, and the intimate landscapes where the author seeks refuge. These poems appear like small islands of salvation, covered with the brief splendor of the coins people sometimes grab hold of, taking the form of a very personal and often devastating map. Each poem is a song at the edge of an abyss; an illusory gold coin obtained as a revelation; a song of hope and understanding. The volume's dreamlike geography prompts the reader to revisit the thread, the labyrinth, and the Minotaur’s legends. The night streets of South Beach, Alexandria, and many other cities, lit by the fading torches, seem to guide us in conversation with characters who are long dead.
The Paz Prize for Poetry is presented by the National Poetry Series and The Center at Miami Dade College. This annual award--named in the spirit of the late Nobel Prize-winning poet, Octavio Paz--honors a previously unpublished book of poetry written originally in Spanish by an American resident. An open competition is held each May, when an esteemed Spanish-speaking poet selects a winning manuscript. The book will be published in a bilingual edition by Akashic Books. The winning poet will also receive a $2,000 cash prize.
The book opens with an image of Fresno as “the inexhaustible nerve/in the twitching leg of a dog/three hours after being smashed/beneath the retread wheel/of a tomato truck en route to/a packing house that was raided/by the feds just days before the harvest.” It ends with “Adios, Fresno,” an astringent farewell to the city: “You can keep your fields,/the sun will follow me./I won’t reconsider./I’ve overstayed my welcome/by three generations.” By then, we have toured the breadth of the San Joaquin Valley, have tasted Fuyu persimmons and lengua, have witnessed a home crumbling to foreclosure, and listened to the last words of a dying campesino. We’re made aware that this is an atmosphere scented by an entirely organic stew—a melding of culture, objects, and forms. This is a place where rubble mirrors the refuse of lives. But garbage is also compost. And if we squint, we can see through the wreckage a few small patches where love could be taking root and hope might actually be sprouting.
This expanded, bilingual edition combines new research and perspectives on an inspired writer and thinker. It includes the fully annotated primary text, The Answer/La Respuesta (1691), which is Sor Juana's impassioned response to years of attempts by church officials to silence her; the letter that ultimately provoked the writing of The Answer; an expanded selection of poems; an updated bibliography; and a new preface.
Tejada’s innovative work dramatically widens the scope of Latina/o literature, showing us exactly what it can accomplish. The poems move very much like a three-act play, in which the first act is one of origins; the second, a staging of desire; and the third, a symbiosis. These acts magnify one another when unified. Each poem within the collection positions itself within the avant-garde, in which the artful use of language aims to dazzle, surprise, and enliven. The poems dance by, preserving a tension between hurry and delay, momentum and stasis, and every line is like a newly launched firecracker, sending out startling patterns of spark and flare.
Tejada’s exuberant language stretches the limits of selfhood and the way it is represented in poetry. He illuminates the tangled webs that are woven when identities are linked to sexuality, nationality, privilege, and temporality. The concerns and obsessions voiced here turn the construction of desire on its head, forcing us to ask ourselves what is worthy of our attentions.
Since then, more than three thousand original contributions by poets and artists from around the globe have been posted to the page. Poetry of Resistance offers a selection of these works, addressing a wide variety of themes, including racial profiling, xenophobia, cultural misunderstanding, violence against refugees, shared identity, and much more. Contributors include distinguished poets such as Francisco Aragón, Devreaux Baker, Sarah Browning, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Susan Deer Cloud, Sharon Dubiago, Martín Espada, Genny Lim, Pam Uschuk, and Alma Luz Villanueva.
Bringing together more than eighty writers, the anthology powerfully articulates the need for change and the primacy of basic human rights. Each poem shows the heartfelt dedication these writers and artists have to justice in a world that has become larger than borders. Poetry of Resistance is a poetic call for tolerance, reflection, reconciliation, and healing.
This distinctive collection ranges from the frighteningly whimsical image of CortŽs dancing gleefully around a cannon to the haunting and poignant discovery of a dead refugee boy seemingly buried within the poet herself. The blending of styles works to blur the lines between subjects, creating a textured narrative full of both imagination and nuance.
Ultimately, Empire situates individual experience in the wider social context, highlighting the power of poetry as song, performance, testimony, and witness. Addressing themes such as war, family, poverty, gender, race, and migration, Candelaria gives us a dialogue between historical and personal narratives, as well as discreet ÒconversationsÓ between content and form.
Pérez reveals the strengths and nuances of a universe where no word is “foreign.” Her fast-moving, evocative words illuminate the prayers, gasps, touches, and gritos born of everyday discoveries and events. Multiple forms of reference enrich the poems in the form of mantra: ecologist’s field notes, geopolitical and ecofeminist observations, wildlife catalogs, trivia, and vigil chants.
“What is it to love / within viewing distance of night / vision goggles and guns?” is a question central to many of these poems.
The collection creates a poetic confluence of the personal, political, and global forces affecting border lives. Whether alluding to El Valle as a place where toxins now cross borders more easily than people or wildlife, or to increased militarization, immigrant seizures, and twenty-first-century wall-building, Pérez’s voice is intimate and urgent. She laments, “We cannot tattoo roses / On the wall / Can’t tattoo Gloria Anzaldúa’s roses / On the wall”; yet, she also reaffirms Anzaldúa’s notions of hope through resilience and conocimiento.
With the River on Our Face drips deep like water, turning into amistad—an inquisition into human relationships with planet and self.
The author engages in mythology and art history, musically wooing the reader with texture and voice. As she references such disparate cultural figures as filmmaker Lars Von Trier, Annie from the film Annie Get Your Gun, Nabokov’s Lolita, facebook entries and Greek gods, they appear as part of the poet’s cultural critique.
Phrases such as “the caustic domain of urchins” and “the gelatin shiver of tea’s surface” take the poems from lyrical images to comic humor to angry, intense commentary. On writing about “downgrading into human,” she says, “Then what? Amorality, osteoporosis and not even a marble estuary for the ages.”
Giménez Smith’s poetic arsenal includes rapier-sharp wordplay mixed with humor, at times self-deprecating, at others an ironic comment on the postmodern world, all interwoven with imaginative language of unexpected force and surreal beauty. Revealing a long view of gender issues and civil rights, the author presents a clever, comic perspective. Her poems take the reader to unusual places as she uses rhythm, images, and emotion to reveal the narrator’s personality. Deftly blending a variety of tones and styles, Giménez Smith’s poems offer a daring and evocative look at deep cultural issues.
Puerto Rican-born playwright José Rivera plays have been produced all over the world and his work has been translated into seven languages. His best known work includes Marisol and Each Day Dies with Sleep. "Rivera has a messianic mission to replace old and dying creeds with vibrant new visions."—Robert Brustein, New Republic
Also available by José Rivera
Marisol and Other Plays
PB $15.95 1-55936-136-0 • USA
In these poems, Miami is celebrated as a modern Tower of Babel and a place where the layers of history are particularly palpable. Wave after wave of conquerors wash across the Americas. A well-dressed Latino businessman inadvertently reveals his roots at the Ritz when someone steps on his foot, eliciting a profanity--in Spanish. Intimate snapshots capture the nameless heroism of homeless men, the exuberance of a child's affection for her hometown, and memories of lovers.
“El español y el inglés han estado en guerra desde que la Reina Isabel hundió la Armada Invencible en el 1588”, escribe Rosario Feré en “Duelo del lenguaje”, el poema que da t’tulo a esta colección; “los lenguajes llevan con sigo todo su fuego y poderío”. Ferré explora las tensiones entre lenguas y culturas a través de esta colección de carácter controversial, que señala muchos de los dilemas a los que se enfrenta hoy una América cada vez más bilingüe.
Estos poemas celebran tanto la antiquísima ciudad San Juan como las metrópolis más modernas: Miami, Nueva York, WDC. Pasado y presente, historia y sociedad se mezclan con una inmediatez sorprendente. Ola tras ola de conquistadores estalla sobre Norte América; un hombre de negocios bien vestido inesperadamente revela sus raíces cuando alguien le da un pisotón en el elevador del Ritz y suelta una maldición. Fotos instantáneas de los deambulantes que se desplazan por las calles de la capital, el cariño exuberante que siente un niño por su ciudad natal, los amantes cuya memoria perdura en el recuerdo, el rumor de la lluvia en el patio de atrás, que lava el remordimiento: he aquí algunos de los temas a la vez poéticos y cotidianos que se recogen en este libro.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Through dream song and elegy, alternate takes and tempos, prizewinning poet Willie Perdomo’s third collection crackles with vitality and dynamism as it imagines the life of a percussionist, rebuilding the landscape of his apprenticeship, love, diaspora, and death. At the beginning of his infernal journey, Shorty Bon Bon recalls his live studio recording with a classic 1970s descarga band, sharing his recollection with an unidentified poet. This opening section is followed by a call-and-response with his greatest love, a singer named Rose, and a visit to Puerto Rico that inhabits a surreal nationalistic dreamscape, before a final jam session where Shorty recognizes his end and a trio of voices seek to converge on his elegy.
Ana Castillo’s poetry speaks—in English and Spanish—to every reader who has felt the pangs of exile, the uninterrupted joy of love, and the deep despair of love lost.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Among the contributions are:
A “Southern Renaissance” for Texas Letters
—José E. Limón
The Texas-Mexico Border: This Writer’s Sense of Place
The Rain Parade
Unflinching in its honesty, brutality, and beauty, the collection fiercely addresses conflict and childhood, inviting readers to engage in complex and often challenging issues. Senegal Taxi weaves together verse, dialogue, and visual art created by Herrera specifically for the book. Stylistically genre-leaping, these many layers are part of the collection’s innovation. Phantom-like televisions, mud drawings, witness testimonies, insects, and weaponry are all storytellers that join the siblings for a theatrical crescendo. Each poem is told from a different point of view, which Herrera calls “mud drawings,” referring to the evocative symbols of hope the children create as they hide in a cave on their way to Senegal, where they plan to catch a boat to the United States.
This collection signals a poignant shift for Herrera as he continues to use his craft to focus attention on global concerns. In so doing, he offers an acknowledgment that the suffering of some is the suffering of all.
Cristina García is the author of several novels—including Dreaming in Cuban—anthologies, and books for young readers. A National Book Award nominee, she is also a visiting professor and Black Mountain Institute teaching fellow in creative writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
- Cross it.
- Come…come to life!
- I promise.
- On you, oh God.
- Grandma we are coming, stay with us.
- Dawn will top the crown.
- Two years.
- My Preferred One.
- What we can.
- In our world.
- The fear to be somewhere.
- Yesterday was a first time ever.
- A rose unique as light.
- Virginia and Atlanta.
- America wake up.
- Love opens its way.
- Listen Adam.
- The Lost Time.
- Intro to BMD Poems of a Dreamer.
- Mother’s Day.
- Drums of Humanity.
- Life is not a Dreamed Path.
- Not fearing but Hoping.
- Aviation, Shackles, and Fetters.
- I want to Mean and Write.
- Creator and Guide.
- A Day will Come.
- On Foot, Walking Up.
- Guardian Wake me Up.
- The Boy called Freedom.
- Your Holy Name.
In this powerful new collection of poems, Martín Espada articulates the transcendent vision of another, possible world. He invokes the words of Whitman in “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed,” a cycle of sonnets about the Paterson Silk Strike and the immigrant laborers who envisioned an eight-hour workday. At the heart of this volume is a series of ten poems about the death of the poet’s father. “El Moriviví” uses the metaphor of a plant that grows in Puerto Rico to celebrate the many lives of Frank Espada, community organizer, civil rights activist, and documentary photographer, from a jailhouse in Mississippi to the streets of Brooklyn. The son lyrically imagines his father’s return to a bay in Puerto Rico: “May the water glow blue as a hyacinth in your hands.” Other poems confront collective grief in the wake of the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and police violence against people of color: “Heal the Cracks in the Bell of the World” urges us to “melt the bullets into bells.” Yet the poet also revels in the absurd, recalling his dubious career as a Shakespearean “actor,” finding madness and tenderness in the crowd at Fenway Park. In exquisitely wrought images, Espada’s poems show us the faces of Whitman’s “numberless unknown heroes.”
In this expansive collection, we hear the noise of cities such as New York, San Juan, and São Paulo abuzz with flickering bodies and the rush of vernaculars as untranslatable as the murmur in the Spanish rumor. Oscillating between baroque textuality and vernacular performance, Noel’s bilingual poems experiment with eccentric self-translation, often blurring the line between original and translation as a way to question language hierarchies and allow for translingual experiences.
A number of the poems and self-translations here were composed on a smartphone, or else de- and re-composed with a variety of smartphone apps and tools, in an effort to investigate the promise and pitfalls of digital vernaculars. Noel’s poetics of performative self-translation operates not only across languages and cultures but also across forms: from the décima and the “staircase sonnet” to the collage, the abecedarian poem, and the performance poem.
In its playful and irreverent mash-up of voices and poetic traditions from across the Americas, Buzzing Hemisphere / Rumor Hemisférico imagines an alternative to the monolingualism of the U.S. literary and political landscape, and proposes a geo-neuro-political performance attuned to damaged or marginalized forms of knowledge, perception, and identity.
In this new collection, Alarcón creates poetry with roots in Gypsy songs clapped out in the distinctively short rhythms of flamenco music. Each page lifts the heart and stirs the soul by delving deep into the struggle for self and sexual identity.
Canto hondo / Deep Song includes 106 poems divided into four sections that articulate struggle, otherness, and the meaning of the poetic landscape. Like Lorca, Alarcón seeks out the fault lines where the lyric and the political bleed productively and proactively into one another.
An important voice in Chicano and GLBT poetry, Alarcón writes with a complex, emotionally powerful style that is accessible to students and all lovers of poetry and poetic traditions.
As the reader is transported from Las Vegas to Argentina to the landscapes of Ancient Greek epic poetry, Twelve Clocks explores the connections between song, ancestry, family, loss, and time. If the imagery of the collection hints Troy might be an image of the wrecked Argentine economy under neoliberal economics, the poems eschew the abstractions of politics in favor of a vivid and sensuous lyricism.
The interconnectivity of the poems in Twelve Clocks is mirrored by different elements’ transcendence throughout the collection. The clock that goes missing in one poem turns up in another, characters vanish and reappear, matter destroyed in one poem reoccurs as energy in another, and then matter and energy both go missing. Taken together, the poems confront the literary legacy of Western poetic tradition and our shared future.
"Ríos delivers another stunning book of poems, rich in impeccable metaphors, that revel in the ordinariness of morning coffee and the crackle of thunderous desert storms. In one sonnet, Ríos addresses injustice in the borderlands, capturing with mathematical precision the everyday struggles that many migrants face—'The border is an equation in search of an equals sign.' A series of sonnets about desert flora abounds with fantastic, magical imagery—'Bougainvilleas do not bloom—they bleed' and 'Apricots are eggs laid in trees by invisible golden hens.' Likewise, Ríos's bestiary sonnets overflow with inimitable similes, worthy of a book unto themselves—'Minnows are where a river’s leg has fallen asleep' and 'Gnats are sneezes still flying around.' This robust volume is the perfect place to start for readers new to Ríos and a prize for seasoned fans."—Booklist
In his thirteenth book, Alberto Rios casts an intense desert light on the rich stories unfolding along the Mexico-US border. Peppered with Spanish and touches of magical realism, ordinary life and its simple props—morning showers, spilled birdseed, winter lemons—becomes an exploration of mortality and humanity, and the many possibilities of how lives might yet be lived.
Made from magnificent rhododendron, poisonous rhododendron,
Very difficult-to-pronounce rhododendron—whatever
Rhododendron even is—I would have to look it up myself,
This word sounding puffed up, peacocky with its
Indianapolisly-long spelling, all those letters moving in and out.
But the plant itself, the plant and the bees that find it:
The bees see in its purple flower, first, a purple flower.
They do not spell it. They do not live in fear of quizzes,
Purple offering what it has to offer, unapologetic, without further
Definition, purple irresistible to the artist's and to the bee's eye—
Who can blame either one this first-grade impulse toward love?
Purple, always wearing something low-cut . . .
Alberto Rios is the Poet Laureate of Arizona and host of the PBS program Books & Co. He was a finalist for the National Book Award for his poetry volume The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body. He teaches at Arizona State University and lives in Chandler, Arizona.
Ameriscopia reimagines New York City and its expansive inspirations, which for Torres capture the contradictions of America. Allusions to the Twin Towers, Coney Island hot dogs, and the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe continuously recolor the pages. But even as he makes these iconic references, Torres allows his poems to invert and refract the identities they evoke—New-Yorker-American-Latino-Dad-Performer-Boy-Writer—to invigorate poetry out of its slumber into a deep cultural urgency. Torres’s kaleidoscopic vision is borne of decades of poetic experimentation. Audiences have delighted in his spontaneous mashups of disparate topic matters; writers have studied his skilled technique at synthesizing—for example, from a mundane curbside view to an imagined conversation with artists Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy.
Torres writes, “I discovered that, this world uncovered / is like the soul / of The Puerto Rican man — occupied / by the weight of his balance.” Ameriscopia is Torres’s statement on growing up and the inspirational facets that accompany his journey into fatherhood. From conversations in cars to fast-beat lullabies, Torres’s poetry taps into rhythms both distinctive and dynamic. In Ameriscopia Torres is at full force, a poet in control, a writer emboldened by the page—in flight.
His grandfather was a yardman. He mowed the front and back yards of wealthy people who lived in far off foreign suburbs, and he noticed that these people would do strange things like put old, unwanted, used, household items out on the curb for any passer-by to pick up and take if they like. These foreigners called these items trash; his grandfather called them treasures. So he was a treasure hunter as well.
His most sought after treasures were books, which people would sometimes place by the box-load on the curb. He would bring these books home and challenge Joaquin to read the poems and stories out loud in English to him. Joaquin’s grandfather understood English but chose not to speak it, but he demanded that Joaquin speak it to him. And these poems and stories that Joaquin would read aloud to his grandfather were his initiation into the literary world. He asked his grandfather once, “Why do you make me read these poems out loud to you?” His abuelo replied, “Mi’jo, this barrio is plagued by violence, gangs, drugs, and poverty, but when you’re inside the poem or the story, none of that can harm you.” And with these words, his grandfather saved him.
Many of the voices captured between these pages are merely spirits now, but they rise like a phoenix from the ashes when these poems are read. Joaquin commented once that these poems were not an act of inspiration but rather an act of desperation. If he didn’t capture the voices that exist in these poems and share them with the world, then who would?
In Barrio Songs, Joaquin Zihuatanejo gives readers an unflinching look at life in the inner city barrio of America today. Brutal but honest, these narrative poems tell the story of a boy who found refuge in a world of poems and stories at a young age. From the love of his abuelo, his grandfather, to the pain associated with being born of a mother who could not, and a father who would not raise him, Joaquin paints vivid pictures with each stanza daring the reader to walk a mile in the shoes of a barrio boy.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of Immigrants in our Own Land and a Place to Stand had this to say about the collection, "The poetry is lush and green and rich. One turns from inside the heart's thorny and parched landscape and encounters the poetic word to redeem the salt in the wound, the long-for kiss, to cool the burning-- these poems do just this."
Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Yellow Glove and Different Ways to Pray commented on the collection, "Natasha & Joaquin write passionate, potent poems―their voices unafraid of questioning and reckoning―here's a cheer for their full hearts, vivid hopes & soulful journeys—"
Rudolfo Anaya, who has been called by critics the grandfather of Chicano literature, and who wrote the masterpieces Bless Me, Ultima, and Alburquerque had this to say about Joaquin, natasha, and this daring collection of poems:
"Joaquín and Natasha, your poems are like a satisfying summer rain replenishing a thirsty landscape. They are engrossing, thoughtful, deep with knowledge, and rich in poetic rhythms. As I read I felt in the presence of two old souls penning the red and black ink, awakening to life the wisdom of our ancestors. I rejoiced, knowing that you two represent a new generation of multicultural poets, willing to reveal your intimate lives, your joys and tragedies, and also sharing a profound empathy with the lives of los de abajo, those who have suffered the iniquities of history. I felt freedom and justice ringing in your poems, and I trust many readers will feel the same sense of liberation.
You write from a wealth of experience, touching the soul as few can do, creating the emotional worlds to which all poetry aspires. At times the poems are whirlwinds of protest, reminding me of Neruda and the Nuyorican poet Miguel Algarin, poets who marry the essence of poetry with social commitment. So, Joaquín and Natasha, you join the ranks of those who tell us that poetry can be a cleansing wind blowing across the land, a wind to cool the sweat of workers and bend tyrants into submission.
Your poems renew the energy of the soul, and as they go out into the world they will renew society."
--Library Journal; one of "Thirty Amazing Poetry Titles for Spring 2014"
"Revelatory, a testament to Di Donato’s ability to deconstruct the complex weavings and machinations of the human heart."
--New York Journal of Books
"Dinapiera Di Donato's poetry exhibits a tremendous control of language...She is both ancient and contemporary . . . a vital poet who honors the memory of Octavio Paz."
--Victor Hernández Cruz, author of In the Shadow of Al-Andalus
These poems were written during days spent clearing river debris while the author was living along the Hudson River in Manhattan. The poems speak of these wanderings in the imaginary landscape of a nomadic subject who erases and rewrites.