Poetic Lenses: Our Fifteenth Annual Look at Debut Poetry

By Dana Isokawa
FROM: Poets & Writers

debut_poets_collageFor our fifteenth annual look at debut poetry, we chose ten poets whose first books struck us with their formal imagination, distinctive language, and deep attention to the world. The books, all published in 2019, inhabit a range of poetic modes. There is Keith S. Wilson’s reimagining of traditional forms in Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, and Maya Phillips’s modern epic, Erou. There is Maya C. Popa’s lyric investigations in American Faith, Marwa Helal’s subversive documentary poems in Invasive species, and Yanyi’s series of prose poems in The Year of Blue Water. The ten collections clarify and play with all kinds of language—the language of the news, of love, of politics, of philosophy, of family, of place—and, as Popa says, they “slow and suspend the moment, allowing a more nuanced examination of what otherwise flows through us quickly.”

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Poet. Prof. Life.: Allan Aquino

By Romeo Oscar Cascolan
FROM: 700 Magazine

img-0038-4x3_3The inclusive mindset of the American dream makes the United States a welcoming destination for the variety of cultures that the world has to offer. As a Filipino who immigrated to the United States in 2000 and earned my American citizenship in 2018, I can personally attest to the opportunity within this country; as a result, I am more aware of the struggles and hardships that people endure in the hopes of leading a better life in the United States. The field of ethnic studies focuses on understanding the undeniable impact that these immigrants make on this country. The people involved in these studies may come from vastly different backgrounds, but their goal is always the same: to build upon the principles of freedom and independence that unite all Americans.

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A Great Spirit Trapped in a Tiny Life: On Cherríe Moraga’s “Native Country of the Heart”

By Michael Nava
FROM: Los Angeles Review of Books

download (1)Cherríe Moraga has been an iconic figure in queer and Latinx literature since the 1981 publication of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, an anthology she edited with the late Gloria Anzaldúa. Bridge was among the first explorations of how people and communities with multiple social identities — queer women of color, for example — are subject to intersecting discriminations that create complex and profound forms of oppression — what we now call intersectionality. In the decades since Bridge, Moraga has produced fiction, poetry, and plays, received awards and fellowships, and taught at Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Even with these credentials, she, like other queer writers of color, has been patronized by a largely white, straight literary establishment, which often dismisses work like hers as special interest pleading, while hailing the work of straight, white writers for its universality.

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Fingers Crossed for the Endangered Literature Class

By Megan McNaughton
FROM: The Corsair

BridgetteWith her long purple dress, aqua hair, and strong spirit, Professor Bridgette Robinson walks into Santa Monica College’s (SMC) Drescher Hall 212, greets her English 1 class, and begins to read along to Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors’ novel “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.” She easily commands the attention of the room; her students sit on the edge of their seats listening.

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