I walked the ghost town/Used to be my city

My favorite book of poetry from last year was the iceworker sings and other poems by Andrés Montoya. I say that because it was the volume of poetry I read most often during there. Must have checked it out of the Oakland Public Library at least three times and would have probably kept checking it out ‘cept for the fact that Barb got me a copy for X-mas.

It felt like I read that book just at the right time, a time when I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the grittiness that was becoming Anywhere Ave. Childbeaters, gamblers, petty criminals, and wannabe gangsters floating all around and who was going to be responsible for their actions? Who was going to clean up the mess that was happening around the block?

Andrés Montoya showed me that no one *has* to clean up anything. Living in the CIty means living with everyone and all their crap. The best we can do is be responsible for ourselves, try to keep our own backyards and front stoops clear and hope everyone else does the same. Hell, even acknowledging that your stoop is dirty is a big step towards keeping the City in check. Ever try asking a neighbor to clean up their garbage? Ever try asking a stranger? It ain’t easy, that’s for sure.

Back to Montoya. His speaker points no fingers except to himself. His speaker asks for no sympathy or pity. His speaker does ask for love and does admit that he may be unworthy of it but he’s gotta ask. Right? More than anything, his speaker remains honest. Not truthful or factual which are different animals, just honest.

Well, that’s my off the top of the dome, gut reaction memory from my reads of his work. But I feel that there is still more in the reads. More music, more memory and more hope to be saved. As the cover image states, the time for Forgiveness is right now and inside the pages of Andrés Montoya’s poems.

All that being said, I am very honored to be included in the forthcoming issue of in the grove and also to be a part of a reading celebrating the life and poems of Andrés Montoya. Many thanks to Daniel Chacón and Lee Herrick for letting me give a little back to Señor Montoya.

in the grove release party!
Special Issue: An homage to Andrés Montoya
Fresno, Califaztlán
Thursday, April 10 2008


Dave Hurst
Craig Perez
Lee Herrick
Javier Huerta
Teresa Tezari
Oscar Bermeo
Optimism One
Maceo Montoya
Steve Yarbrough
Michael Medrano
David Dominguez
Tim Z. Hernandez
Kenneth R. Chacón
Malaquias Montoya
Corrinne Clegg Hales
Veronica E. Guajardo
Sasha Pimentel Chacón

For an updated list of readers, please check here

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  1. I enjoyed this, Oscar. Your take on his view of City is accurate, far as I can tell. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Fresno.

  2. I wish I could have submitted something to this special issue on Andrés. What I can say is that next week, I’ll be travelling to South Bend to hole up in my office at Notre Dame to read manuscripts for the first book competition that honors him. I’ll be sending along manuscripts to our final judge for the third edition of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize:
    Martín Espada

  3. Lee- Glad you enjoyed the post. Can’t wait to read in Fresno with you and all the other great poets.

    Francisco- Many thanks to you for keeping Andrés’ legacy alive through the Montoya Poetry Prize. Hearing about the Prize was my first introduction to the work and the life of Andrés.

    Take care, y’all.

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