On Thursday night, I was part of what has already been called "the best reading ever," (visit to see some images from the event) an homage to the late poet Andrés Montoya and publication release of In the Grove's special edition in his honor. The standing-room only reading was loaded with love, spirit, amazing poetry readings and impromptu recollections---from such a wide range of writers whose lives and/or writing has been influenced by Montoya. I am honored to have been invited to be a guest blogger at Letras Latinas, so I will be working on a longer blogpost about the event over the next few days, but check back here and visit Letras Latinas for a full report, including but not limited to some reflections on some of the many moments that I remember and will always keep with me: the PUENTE students who read one of Andrés' poems; artist Maceo Montoya's (Yale and Columbia graduate, whose first novel is forthcoming) powerful and unscripted stories of Andrés, his older brother; Pulitzer winner Philip Levine, at 80 and still getting better somehow, making a surprise appearance and reading his poem "Blood" and recalling Andrés as a student; readings by three of the most compelling new poets around, Craig Santos Perez, Oscar Bermeo (who read a poem by Sheryl Luna! and has since written this amazing poem, "palimpsest: the ice worker lives" which gave me chills), and Javier Huerta; and to close the event, American Book Award winner Tim Z. Hernandez on the shruti box before giving a powerhouse performance of a variation on "Confessions of a Brown Lotus," which you can read here. For everyone who came, thank you. Truly.
This is just a quick report in the midst of a busy weekend. Like I said, I will be writing a lengthier post soon (including my takes on the Best Raffle I Have Ever Seen, the joy of watching Tim's daughter play, catching up with a certain poeta, drooling over the autographed broadside by Rigoberto González, and more).
But today, we are celebrating Sasha Pimentel Chacón's birthday at my house, so the joy from the reading continues. Sasha and her husband, novelist Daniel Chacón, hosted the event and are staying with us for the weekend, and we've had a blast sharing stories from the event and how much everyone's contributions meant to us. Check back for photos and the full report soon.
Oh, and if I didn't mention it: the issue is available online now.
You have to go read Barbara Jane Reyes' post on the event and check out the great picture of Javier Huerta, Craig Santos Perez, Daniel Chacón, Oscar Bermeo, and me----and then fly over and read Oscar's wonderful glimpses of the event and more pictures, including one of Barbara and me together! One for the ages! And, rising star poet Sasha Pimentel Chacón has posted a blog as well.