Selena poems!

Selena_Quintanilla_statue_Mirador_de_la_florThis week I thought I would celebrate the publication of another one of my Selena poems in the latest issue of Crab Orchard Review by sharing the first Selena poem I wrote.

The poem “The Things to Fight Against” (below) can be found in my second full length poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), and was originally published in Switchgrass Review. In this poem, I braid together a bit of my own personal mythology with the late singer’s tragic death, our two narratives meeting across our respective bilingualism and lives in Corpus Christi, Texas. This poem is also an example of me working in syllabics.

Araguz author photo 3
old photo – parallel pose unintentional

My new poem, “Selena: a study of recurrence/worry,” is a pantoum and goes further into the impact of her life and death upon not only my own life but of those I hold dear in my hometown.

Be sure to check out my other poems in COR “St Peter to Joseph” and “Sentence” along with work by other stellar writers in this issue. Special thanks to editors Allison Joseph and Jon Tribble as well as everyone at COR who helped make this new issue possible!

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The Things to Fight Against – José Angel Araguz

for Selena

Onstage, mouth brimming with the Spanish
parents teased her with, maybe she looked
down and saw the cowboy hats, the boots
and belt buckles, the purses, curls,
and children, maybe she saw herself,

thought: Of all the things to fight against,
sound’s not one of them – sound of applause,
sound of gritos, sound of sparked cuetes,
sound of beer cans gasping open,
sound of busses turning in the dark,

groaning in dreams, sound of R’s rolling,
sound of birdwing flutter, sound of wind
over open water, sound of flags
unfurling, sound of flame flaring
up and out of a struck match, sound of

a voice, my own Spanish unsure, chopped,
shaky, sound of a bullet breaking
through the air, sound of a newspaper
splayed on the wind, the news floating,
punched with the grace of long hair – her hair

now a cold blade of bronze, her statue
along the sea wall, to see her is
to see the tide forever turning,
pulled and pulling away, is to
think again of her killer, crying

in her car in a stand-off, gripping
the gun which would later be broken
to pieces and thrown into the same
waters the statue looks over,
is to hear my aunt again call us

a city of crabs in a bucket,
each of us clambering to get out
has another behind them – their face
similar, a face we’ve grown with
and understand – dragging them back down.

 

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new work at Sugar House Review!

Happy to share that my work is being included in this Sneak Peek of the latest issue of Sugar House Review!

Check out the text and audio of my poem “On the Times I Don’t Remember the Right Words for Things!”

This sneak peek includes work by Emma Aylor, Craig Blais, and Tamara L. Panici among other fine writers.

Thank you to the editors of Sugar House Review for the work they do in supporting and showcasing their contributors!

See y’all Friday!

José

new review of Until We Are Level Again

Just a quick post to share the most recent review of my book Until We Are Level Again (Mongrel Empire Press) by Valerie Duff-Strautmann over at Salamander. Duff-Strautmann reviews my book alongside Natalie Shapero’s Hard Child (Copper Canyon Press). Please check it out!

Thank you to Valerie Duff-Strautmann for spending time with my work and for all the support throughout the years!

See y’all Friday!

José

update: new work

I’ve been behind in sharing some of my recent publications of the past few months so I’ll be doing a few short posts this week to rectify this.

First up – new work:

  • I’m honored to have my poem “Conditioning (Run Study)” published in the latest issue of Hunger Mountain “Everyday Chimeras.” They have been kind enough to share it on their site as well. Special thanks to the editors for including my work alongside some great writers including Elizabeth Acevedo, Brian Clifton, and Carl Phillips!
  • Also, my poems “Flea Market,” “Funeral,” and “Grit” are included in the latest issue of The Inflectionist Review! I’m always excited to be a part of one of IR’s issues. This one includes fine work by Jon Boisvert, Laurie Kolp, and Maximilian Heinegg among others!
  • Lastly, I am psyched to have a haiku included in the latest issue of Bones: journal for contemporary haiku. I found out about this journal a year ago, and spent that year reading past issues and working out how my haiku aesthetic could learn from the work they publish. Special thanks to the editors for including my work!

Stay tuned for updates on reviews and media later in the week!

— José

new book released!

Screenshot_2018-01-31-17-22-38-1

I’m happy to share that my third poetry collection, Until We Are Level Again, is officially out from Mongrel Empire Press! It’s available for purchase here.

This collection incorporates excerpts from my first chapbook, The Wall (Tiger’s Eye Press), into a sequence of poems that engages further with ideas of language, identity, family, work, and death. I am excited to have it out in the world and hope you check it out!

Special thanks to MEP editor Jeanetta Calhoun Mish for working with me on this project and to Anthony Frame, Robin Carstensen, and Octavio Quintanilla for their wonderful blurbs. Thanks as well to Adeeba Shahid Talukder and Brian Clifton for close reads of the manuscript in its final stages. Thanks also to Ani Schreiber for the digital sketch that adorns the cover.

To celebrate the book’s release, I want to share the poem from which the book title comes from. This poem means a lot to me on a formal and conceptual level: formally, it is one of my breakthroughs in my work with syllabics, a poem where all the experimenting feels like it pays off (at least to me). Conceptually, there is a clarity to what the poem says that remains complex. I’m not trying to praise my own work; rather, the last line was one that surprised me when I revised into it. It appeared on the page as if I had placed it there in another life.

The Broken Escalator at the Train Platform – José Angel Araguz

When something like this breaks, it means
we must swarm around the narrow
stairway, our steps slower, the pace
set according to our sighs. Each
glance and gesture becomes a word.
My looking down and waiting speaks
to the old woman next to me:
after you. All the stars left in
the sky, all the calls and blinking
messages, the wintered sorrow
of all passing thoughts must now wait
until we are level again –
wait as we take turns returning
to our lives. When something like this
breaks, it means the words I wanted
to write before are different from
the ones I have got down for you.
These words are older than you think.

originally published in The Boiler

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Happy until-ing!

José

new work & book news!

Just a quick post to share two things:

ONE: I am honored to be the January featured poet over at A Dozen Nothing. I’m especially excited to have these particular poems out in the world as they deal with some of the personal and political aftermath of last year’s election.

Thank you to editors Jeff & Pete for allowing the space for this work!

Check out the new work here.until 3_300

TWO: I want to officially announce the forthcoming release of Until We Are Level Again, my third full length poetry collection, to be published by Mongrel Empire Press later this Spring.

Thank you to editor Jeanetta Calhoun Mish for giving a home to this manuscript!

I’ll be sharing more news closer to publication. For now, here’s a peek at the cover art, a digital art piece by Ani Schreiber.

Happy new year to all of you!

See you Friday!

José