Pay For What You Get


SPD Shelves
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Small Press Distribution’s Open House & Book Sale is the devil. You would think I could drop in, look around for a minute, make a mental note of some titles I can order later, and then be out. Yeah, right.

Ok, first stop is the Poetry Trading Post where you can get a free book for a poem. In exchange for my humble offering, SPD reciprocated with a copy of Cantos Al Sexto Sol: An Anthology of Aztlanahuac Writing. Score!

Off to the SPD shelves were I help New York Poeta and good friend Eliel Lucero navigate through the rows and rows of literary goodness.

So what did I find? Glad you asked.

Primera Causa/First Cause by Tino Villanueva, translations by Lisa Horowitz
This will be my first introduction to Villanueva’s obra poética, Horowitz’s translations, and what looks like a fine chapbook production from Cross-Cultural Communications.

Luna: Volume 4
Found in the 1/2 off section. My first Luna purchase with a list of contributors is off the chain and an equally impressive but sencillo layout.

In the South Bronx of America by Mel Rosenthal with essays by Grace Paley, Martha Rosler, and Barry Phillips
When I saw this on the 1/2 off shelf, I almost jumped out of my skin. I’ve been scouring used bookstores for months looking for this book and to see it just waiting for me to pick it up. Word, palabra, and everything in between, yo.

Backstory: When I first started my writing project on the Bronx, I was searching the Web like a madman looking for images that did proper justice to the Bx. Specifically, I was searching for images of the cardboard images placed in the windows of abandoned tenements to cover up the urban decay as opposed to actually bringing in proper services. The only images I found that didn’t treat my childhood home like a leper colony or cruel social joke were the South Bronx photos of Mel Rosenthal. Since then, I’ve come back to Rosenthal’s online gallery over and over again to help me find a way to turn the story in those pictures into poetry.

So I took a break from reading my copy of In the Grove and plunged right into Rosenthal’s book and was happily impressed. Some few quick thoughts over at Good Reads but I hope to have a more detailed breakdown soon.

Speaking of impressed—I went back to finish In the Grove and am just floored by this collection. It is all kinds of beautiful in all kinds of ways. If you have a chance, get yourself a copy.

Palabra, word, and everything in between.

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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