September 18, 2009

Oh fer...So now he's a poet?

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, I relocated to Mexico a little over three years ago. There were many reasons for this, both personal and political, which were often intertwined. In terms of daily life, I found the United States oppressive: the workaholism, the running on a treadmill and never getting anywhere, the feeling that one never has a moment to oneself to think, relax, just be. All of that changed when I crossed the border; the sensation was "libre por fin!" (free at last). And it proved to be true. Mexico is not in a rush; the rhythm of life is much slower down here, and a lot healthier, imo. You can believe what you want about crime and swine flu; the fact is, unlike Americans, these folks have their priorities straight. Slowly, I began to unwind. Slowly, I was much more in touch with my body, and with the sensuality of the environment. Slowly, I began to feel happy (what a thought).

All of this had a very large, and unexpected, impact on my writing. One year after my immigration, I suddenly wrote a novel. The bulk of it just poured out in a few days, and then it took another six months to complete the rest of it and start the editing process. I'm currently looking for a publisher for it (well, an agent to start with), and hope I can get it into print sometime next year. The title is Destiny, and it explores the question of whether we can change our lives as an act of will.

I was also asked to be a regular columnist for two upscale literary journals here in Mexico, and began contributing articles on a variety of topics, some of which have been posted on this blog. My Mexican publisher intends to bring it out in book form (in Spanish) as a collection of essays sometime next year, and I'm hoping I can find a US publisher for the English edition as well. These articles reveal a somewhat different form of nonfiction writing, for me, I think: more direct, more visceral, occasionally lyrical. Title: A Question of Values.

Finally: nearly two years ago I suddenly wrote a volume of poetry. This literally erupted while I was sitting in a small cafe; I had no idea I had all this in me, and it moved through my body like a tidal wave. I wrote the bulk of the collection on napkins over a period of three days, and then spent a few months editing it with the generous help of Paul Christensen, who teaches creative writing at Texas A&M, and who contributed a Foreword to the volume as well. And then a small, fine literary press in the Boston area responded positively to a query letter, and the book is going to be published next year by the Cervena Barva Press. The title: Counting Blessings. You get the idea.

Well, I guess good news travels fast. I was subsequently asked to read from this collection by the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, and will be doing a week of presentations for them this November. The schedule is as follows:

-Nov. 16, 7:30 pm: Poetry Reading at Moe's Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
-Nov. 18, 7:30 pm: Lecture at the Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin St, SF (I'll be reading 2 or 3 essays from the collection I referred to above)
-Nov. 19, 3:30 pm: Interview at SF State U, Hum 512 (1600 Holloway Ave)

The theme of the Poetry Center's work this year is "The Poetics of Healing". It fits well with what I've been going through, I think. For those of you living in or near the Bay Area, I'd be delighted if you could join us.

And finally, let me thank all of you who have contributed to this blog over the past few years. In some indefinable but very real way, I think the intelligent back-and-forth that we've engaged in had something to do with my growth as a writer. Gracias and