Ep09circle On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad:
CantoMundo Poets Speak Out

curated by Rosebud Ben-Oni
with Millicent Borges Accardi, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo,
Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Amy Sayre Baptista, David Tomas Martinez and Ruben Quesada
and an afterword by Celeste Guzmán Mendoza

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On Poetics, Identity & Latinidad presents a series of conversations exploring diverse aspects of Latina/o poetics with six CantoMundo poets.
“When I first applied to CantoMundo, I was worried that my mixed upbringing (my mother being Mexican and my father being Jewish) would automatically “disqualify” me. But the founders embrace the multicultural, multiracial and overall complicated identity that is Latina/o. While I’ve had many influences in my life, I had struggled with the idea of identity, and never had a real writers’ community in which to engage in ideas. After my first CantoMundo retreat, I felt intertwined with a multitude of individuals united by the necessity to grow as poets. I learned that Latina/o poetics, as much as Latina/o identity, does not have to have a singular defining trait, perspective or voice. This was liberating for me as a poet, and the inspiration for this curated conversational series was those hot June days at the 2013 retreat, with temperatures well over 100 degrees, with days that fell into night while the conversations never stopped: they only morphed into new ones.”
Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a CantoMundo Fellow and the author of SOLECISM. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she earned her MFA in poetry, and a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Ben-Oni is an editorial advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
Millicent Borges Accardi is the author of three poetry collections: Injuring Eternity, Only More So (forthcoming) and the chapbook Woman on a Shaky Bridge (Finishing Line Press). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Barbara Deming Foundation, CantoMundo and Formby at Texas Tech. Millicent received degrees in English and writing from Cal State University Long Beach, holds a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and works as a freelance writer.
Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, born and raised in San Antonio, writes poetry, plays and essays. Her first full-length poetry manuscript, Beneath the Halo, was published by Wings Press in September 2013. Her second book, Coming in Waves, is forthcoming in 2015. Guzmán Mendoza is co-director and a co-founder of CantoMundo, a workshop for Latina/o poets. Her poetry and essays have been published in the following anthologies: Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education, Telling Tongues: A Latin@ Anthology on Language Experience, Red Boots and Attitude: The Spirit of Texas Women Writers, ¡Floricanto Sí!: U.S. Latina Poetry and This Promiscuous Light.
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and is a CantoMundo fellow, a Zell postgraduate fellow and the first undocumented student to graduate from the University of Michigan’s MFA program. He is a Pushcart nominee and has received fellowships to attend the Squaw Valley Writer’s Workshop, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center.
Darrel Alejandro Holnes is from Panama City and the former Canal Zone of Panamá. He studied art at the Universidad del Arte Ganexa, music at the Instituto Nacional de Música and creative writing at the University of Houston and the University of Michigan, the latter from which he earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree. He is the co-author of PRIME: Poetry & Conversations. His plays have been recognized by the Kennedy Center, and read and produced in regional and university theaters throughout the U.S. He was a “waiter” at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and is a Cave Canem, CantoMundo and VCFA fellow. He currently teaches at Rutgers University and New York University, consults for the United Nations, and writes and resides in New York.
Amy Sayre Baptista has a fiction MFA from the University of Illinois. She was a 2010 Disquiet Fellowship recipient, and is presently finishing a novel and beginning a collection of short stories. She was a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee in fiction.
David Tomas Martinez is the author of Hustle, and a PhD candidate in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program in Poetry. Martinez is the Reviews and Interviews Editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, and a CantoMundo Fellow.
Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal. He is Poetry Editor for Codex Journal and The Cossack Review. He has been a fellow at CantoMundo, Squaw Valley Writers Poetry Workshop, Napa Valley Writers, Vermont Studio Center and the Santa Fe Art Institute. He teaches digital storytelling, literature and writing at Eastern Illinois University.




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Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.