CantoMundo Day 2: Realization


CantoMundo 2010
Originally uploaded by OBermeo

Definition (1): an act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact

When I first heard I was accepted to CantoMundo I was the most surprised Latino in the room. Then I saw the names of the other fellows and thought I must be the luckiest dude ever because I saw names of writers who I have admired, writers with accomplishments, writers with degrees. In my mind, better writers.

I’m glad I shook that moment of self-deprecation pretty quickly and by the time I arrived in Albuquerque I knew I was ready and prepared. Luck didn’t get me here, hard work did. Luck didn’t fill out my application, I did. And if I was chosen it’s for a reason, probably the one I put down on the application essay.

Getting this kind of personal affirmation has been a process and I have to keep in mind that when I meet an author I admire, it’s ok to say you love their work. Saying it to them ten times over, maybe not so much. And when same author tells you that (s)he likes your work, accept the compliment. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t say away from your own success. Stay on the path to personal affirmation. Realize it.

I was sure of that coming into CantoMundo and after hearing guest speaker Toi Derricotte speak, I was doubly sure.  Toi’s recollection of the founding of Cave Canem, the first retreats, the highs and lows with both fellows and staff, the parallels with CantoMundo, and what the future may hold helped to cement my own place in this gathering.  It made me hopeful for the future, not because we know what’s happening next, actually, quite the opposite. The uncertain future is open to possibility and, with that, dread and fear because we don’t want to squander it.  Embrace the dread and you embrace an impossible future.  I like that.

Definition (2): the fulfillment or achievement of something desired or anticipated

My next act of realization involves my manuscript. If nothing else, CantoMundo has put me in a situation where I’ve agreed to send my manuscript to a respected author for feedback and critique, and also to a legitimate editor.

What happens next?  I don’t know.  I’ve been talking about sending my ms out with a query letter for months and haven’t done squat.  This is different.  I’ve converted a personal aspiration into a verbal realization, a big step for me.  I’m going to deliver, for sure, and see what the impossible future has in store for me.

On another note, the fellows open mic was tonight and it was pure bomba. A diverse group of styles dealing with a variety of viewpoints, a true American song of poetry.  I took video so you can see for yourself.  It won’t be anytime soon but when it’s ready, watch out.  Canto-Mundo. Canto-Mundo.

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.

3 thoughts on “CantoMundo Day 2: Realization”

  1. As someone who has witnessed your personal growth, and as someone whose growth has often been inspired by you, I know that self-deprecation on your part should not be a part of your vocabulary. See yourself not just as a talented poet, but as a peer to everyone in the room at CantoMundo and anywhere else you go. Be good, man. Loving the reports back from Burque!

    1. Thanks, man. It feels good to hear that from ya.

      Yeah, I’m definitely feeling more comfortable by the minute here and, of course, that means I need to use that comfort zone to help me bounce off into some new unknown territory. Lemme say, it’s a great and exciting (but also scary) feeling.

      More reports coming your way and some video of our mutual friend in Amherst.

      Palabra.

  2. I was a first year fellow this summer to Cave Canem, and had the incredible fortune of meeting Brenda Cardenas and Francisco Aragón. The presence of Letras Latinas blessed CC and me very personally. Even though, I am a poet, it is hard for me to find the word to describe my joy at seeing my Latino(a) brothers and sisters having a “home” to share and grow as poets just as we African-Americans have. Much love to Canto Mundo, and much success. Come brothers and sisters, let us change the landscape of American poetry together! Let Latino(a) poetry get the recognition, the laurels it deserves, a U.S. Poet Laureate! Let America be a little bit of America for you and me.

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