Sunday, July 22, 2007

What's New Now

Emmy Perez, author of Solstice, has fast become one of my favorite poets. She has poems in The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, which in this poet's opinion, is one of the best anthologies in recent years. Throw in a foreword by the extraordinary Juan Felipe Herrera and you have my must-buy book of the month. Emmy's work also appears on the Poetry Foundation's online blog. * I know some of you are anti-anthology, but if you had to recommend one, what would it be?

* I am thoroughly enjoying my e-mail exchange with Ivy Alvarez, whose first book, Mortal, is "a stunning first book," according to Denise Duhamel, and I could not agree more. The poems bend the Demeter and Persephone mythology and work through ideas/images of the body and loss. I have enjoyed it a great deal. Our e-mail exchange, as a focus on first book authors, will be published in Neil Aitken's Boxcar Poetry Review as the interview feature in a forthcoming issue.

* Congratulations to Bryan Thao Worra and Ka Vang on the great article in the Star Tribune about their roots, poems, and vision. Southeast Asia and adoption, poetry and war, marriage and microphones! Bryan's first book, On the Other Side of the Eye, comes out in August. You can order it at his blog.

* To the kind audience members who bought my book at the Fresno Art Musuem's poetry reading and jazz concert tribute for Habitat for Humanity New Orleans on Thursday night, it was a pleasure talking with you.

* You'll feel like you're in an episode of Miami Vice when you're on the phone with the customer service rep and he tells you your code # is, as he told me last week: "D as in Drug, the number 3, the number 4, K as in Kilo, K as in Kilo, the number 7, N as in Needle." These can't be the standard words for those letters, can they?

* We leave for Guatemala this week; we'll be there until mid-August. I feel very at home in Latin America. I'll be taking a few books with me, but no laptop. I like to write on the yellow legal pads when I travel. When you are in the region where poets like Claribel Alegria, Ruben Dario, and Ernesto Cardenal used to write, it's difficult not to write, you know? In my book there are some poems I wrote about Chichicastenango in the mountains of Guatemala. Beautiful, beautiful.

* & to my KAD brothers and sisters leaving for the Gathering in Seoul, I will be thinking of you!


Lyle Daggett said...

Lee, thanks much for the link to the Minneapolis Star Tribune article about Brian Thao Worra and Ka Vang. I hadn't caught the article when it came out earlier this month.

I'm also reading The Wind Shifts, and am liking it much. Will also need to check out Ivy Alvarez's Mortal, which I haven't gotten to yet.

Another one I just finished reading is "The Republic of Poetry" by Martin Espada, which I found incredibly powerful and moving, especially the poems in the first section written from Espada's visit to Chile in 2004 on the 100th anniversity of the birth of Pablo Neruda.

A poet friend of mine, Zoe Anglesey, traveled a number of times in Central America, in particular Guatamala, during the 1970's and early 1980's. Her book of poems Something More Than Force (published sometime in the early 1980's by Adastra Press in Easthampton, MA) is made up mostly of poems from her travels there, and dealing with the hard political repression of the right-wing military government and the popular resistance during those years. Mentioning in case you want to track it down and check it out.

Hope the trip to Guatamala is great.

Lee Herrick said...

Lyle, thanks for mentioning Anglesey's book. I'll check it out. Her time there in the 70s and 80s must have been pretty amazing--stark and maybe disturbing, too, I would imagine. The war-torn histories of the countries there are often documented so powerfully in the poetry, yes. A couple of years ago we traveled throughout El Salvador, a beautiful country with its own history of Civil War. I am reading & trying to learn about U.S. involvement in those countries, and one person I've found very interesting to read is John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, about espionage, extortion, and other means by which developing nations are kept in a state of "development" (i.e., economic limbo). I'll check out Anglesey. I should also read more of Carolyn Forche, whose book around 1972 touched on situations there, I believe. One of the better anthologies of poets out of those countries is called Volcan. You'd probably like it.

I saw Espada read from those Chile poems a few summers ago before they'd been published. The reading was one of the most powerful I've seen. I need to buy that book. Incidentally, he has two poems forthcoming in the literary magazine I founded called In the Grove. (

sume said...

Have a great time in Guatemala, Lee. Wishing you much inspiration, creative energy and may the sheets of your legal pad never prematurely get separated from the rest of the pad. That stupid perforated line always gives out on me. *grumble

Lee Herrick said...

Thanks for your good wishes, Sume! I know what you mean about those pads---mine often get mangled and bent, but they survive somehow. Hope all's well with you there.