Douglass by Day / Douglass by Night: Reading F. Douglas Brown’s ICON

by Mike Corrao
From: Empty Mirror

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Icon is an ekphrasis of the place where personal and global histories coalesce. F. Douglas Brown examines the prominent images of those who have shaped his past. Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass (the poet’s namesake) take center stage. Prominent icons are transformed into art. They become walls, housing the projections of a reflective poet. Brown stands at the base of these beautiful panels (created by Jacob Lawrence back in the 1930s) and sees himself contained within them.

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REVIEW: BARBIE CHANG BY VICTORIA CHANG

by Kitty Anarchy
From: Los Angeles Review

71rXad9D74L-123x185Victoria Chang’s poetry collection Barbie Chang looks at the complex realities of racism for third-generation children. Even as a child, the speaker, Barbie Chang, is not able to have normal friendships with anyone—she overhears a classmate’s mother advising her daughter against forging a friendship with her because it is not in her best interest in “Barbie Chang’s Daughter:” “the new girl’s / mom tells Barbie Chang / that her own daughter should not tie / herself down too fast.”

 

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Untranslatable Voices: Vickie Vértiz Writes Los Ángeles in “Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut”

by Isabel Gómez

From: LARB

41CpYKt5dSL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_“IT’S THE BROKEN PARTS that matter” claims Vickie Vértiz, in a note to her poem “Nahuatl — A Revenge,” which features what she calls “imperfect” translations from the indigenous Nahuatl language into English. Vértiz’s imperfect translations recall what theorists Emily Apter and Jacques Lezra, following Walter Benjamin, call “untranslatables”: philosophical concepts that both invite and prevent transfer between languages, words that call out to be reinvented in their new language context precisely by resisting translation. In Vértiz’s poems, Latinxs living in California share “untranslatable” experiences that take place between English and Spanish. Her poems transform displacement and a polluted cityscape into sources of resistance and aesthetic restructuring. The visually and sonically rich setting of these poems may be polluted — by toxic air, water, and soil; toxic masculinity and white supremacy — but Vértiz celebrates what her community grows in this toxic ground and voices their untranslatable experiences.

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Endeavor

By Brian Dunlap

Originally published in Dryland

Endeavor
by Cynthia Guardado
January 18, 2017
World Stage Press
110 pages

15879220_10211893348915512_1761981898_nIn Endeavor, Cynthia Guardado has penned 53 very personal poems. These poems that form her debut collection revolve around survival. The survival she discusses—surviving a misogynistic world, surviving the fear and violence of white supremacy or surviving the daily trauma of being invisible to the country at large, for example—stems from her perspective as a Salvadorian American woman from Inglewood, California.

As a woman of color Guardado understands Audre Lorde’s concept that “poetry is not a luxury.” Though Lorde, in her essay, is specifically speaking about black female poets’ needs to pen poems because it’s “a vital necessity for our existence” since it helps “form the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams towards our survival and change,” the concept easily applies to any female poet of color. Guardado uses this vital necessity to infuse her poems with an unshakeable rightness to her own witnessing.

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‘Wonder Valley’ is an L.A. Thriller That Refuses to Let Readers Look Away

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“Wonder Valley,” the third novel from author Ivy Pochoda, begins with a classic Los Angeles tableau: a chase on the 101, complete with a police helicopter, camera-toting news crews and spectators recording the spectacle on their smartphones.

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REVIEW: THE INLAND EMPIRE IN PHOTOGRAPHS AND ESSAYS

by Erin Michaela Sweeney

From: Terrain.org

empire.jpgNapa, California–based artist known for multimedia installations, public art, photography, printmaking, and sculpture, Lewis deSoto revisits Southern California’s Inland Empire, where he lived the first half of his life. From his creative toolbox, deSoto grabs an old standby—his photographic lens—to articulate the 21st century present of the Inland Empire. He overlays the visuals with written filters of his narrative past to produce Empire: Photographs and Essays.

Though the subtitle lists photographs before essays, his personal history gives the volume its geographical structure and soul. He shares vivid memories, granting readers a chance to visit times and places, even certain mental spaces, of his Inland Empire universe from 1954 to 1981.

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Magical Realism Transforms Los Angeles in ‘Tropic of Orange’

On Karen Tei Yamashita’s iconic LA novel.

BY CHRIS DOYLE

From: chireviewofbooks.com

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In support of their publication of Karen Tei

Yamashita’s new work of nonfiction, Letters to Memory, Coffee House Press has reissued three of Yamashita’s novels in beautiful new jackets: Through the Arc of the Rainforest, Brazil-Maru, and Tropic of Orange, which is the subject of this review. Originally published in 1997 and already considered a canonical L.A. novel, its eclectic and feverish prose still speaks with a freshness on contemporary concerns around migration, identity, globalization and apocalypse.

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