feature + interview up at Crab Creek Review blog!

Happy to share a poetry feature and mini-interview that went live earlier this week up at the Crab Creek Review blog!

Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2This feature comes as part of their “From Their Archive” series. It’s a generous and encouraging feature to see in the writing community. The post includes my poems “Alien” and “Desgraciado” as well as a short interview where I talk about things that are inspiring me lately and give some advice on the writing life.

“Alien” is included in my second full length poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press). This poem is a good keystone of sorts for that project as it has some of the major themes explored throughout that book.

I’m sharing “Alien” below but highly encourage y’all to check out the full post.

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José Angel Araguz

Alien

When I heard this word first thrown around
in conversation, my family’s Spanish
cracked to let in this strange stretch
of cautious whisper, the weather changed
in my mind. I’d read of spaceships,
of planets so advanced you could
travel freely, no stopping to be
asked about citizenship, no stone
face behind a badge peering
to where I sat in the backseat.
The world became another place.
The word wetback began to bring
to mind the scene where the dark creature
burst from a woman’s stomach
in a movie. The sky grew overcast
in my mother’s eyes, kept her inside,
when someone talked of borders.
Rosaries turned secret communicators.
Prayers: reports of worry and want.
Each crucifix, a satellite.
Before, I would stand outside and look
at what I felt to be not empty space
but an open window to another life.
Now, another life invaded.
There were people with papers,
and there were people without.
There were questions I was told
the answers to should they come up.
There were stories I was asked
to forget. When my mother pressed
the silver face of St. Jude
into my palm, I felt the weight of it,
the cold and unfamiliar
​feel of what I didn’t know.

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Check out another poem and my mini-interview at the Crab Creek Review blog!

family & language

Tonight I have a reading at The Book Bin in Salem, Oregon. This reading will be my first official reading from my new book, Until We Are Level Again (Mongrel Empire Press).

until 3_300In honor of the reading, I am sharing the poem below which inspired the cover art by Ani Schreiber. Birds figure heavily in the new book, landing and taking flight like the few things I know about my father; their movement of coming and going also mirror the guesswork his absence puts into my hand.

I once worried about writing too many poems about my father’s absence, and family in general. This book – along with Small Fires (FutureCycle Press) and a newer, unpublished manuscript – serve as a kind of trilogy answer to this worry. Every poem serves as another moment in a large conversation about language and family, one in which family is language I am trying to understand. When a family member is missing in this world, the feeling is like a misplaced word. I write to turn over words for the family they show.

The Story of the Prisoner Who Made Friends with a Sparrow – José Angel Araguz

My father digging
for grubs and snails, eating
his bread only enough
to leave crumbs on his palm,
his hand out each morning
through the bars, holding out
whatever he has found
for the flutter that knows him,
the eyes that never meet his,
that look around him,
for him, a child’s eyes
almost, unable to place
or name a father,
only take
what he can spare,
and move on.

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Small Fires excerpt & Goodreads giveaway announcement!

This week I am excited to announce a Goodreads giveaway for my latest poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press). I’ll be giving away ten signed copies of the book. Deadline is August 10th, 2017. Check out the details here:

Goodreads Book GiveawaySmall Fires by Jose Angel Araguz

Small Fires

by Jose Angel Araguz

Giveaway ends August 10, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

To help celebrate this announcement, I am presenting an excerpt from Small Fires in the form of both a poem and some commentary. The poem is entitled “Hail from Corpus Christi” and as I mention in a Q&A conducted by Carve Magazine, working on this poem was key into finding the themes of the collection.

Hails from Corpus Christi – José Angel Araguz

I would be belted after dinner,
my food eaten with the moon,
the night a table where a place
is set, and a place diminishes –
hardened, chucked out of the sky,
milk-glow, but a rap like a stone,
the kind in movies thrown at windows
to get someone’s attention – I was all
attention as my mother’s boyfriend
turned to rain and thunder,
clouds broke into fists and cries
broke the sky of my sleep with lightning
that held fast in me, turned me
into that color – a hardened flash
falling through the years into a room
where I tried to restrain the weather
of what I felt, but raised
my voice, punched the wall, the table,
clawed after and clutched your arm
as you tried to leave before
hearing what I had to say,
clutched and pulled away to see the white
of where the blood had left, a hardened
streak that burst into
your hand hard across my face, your voice
no longer a voice I knew,
a voice that from then on
kept me at a distance,
would harden and check me for years,
distrustful, despite our apologies,
despite tears and my own diminishing
voice, a pebbled voice, a grit,
shit shit shit under my breath
every time we’d argue, knowing
there was nothing I could do
but take it, hold my clouded self,
not wanting to hit, ricochet, scatter.

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For more commentary on this poem, check out the rest of the Carve Magazine Q&A.

Happy hailing!

José

new work & review online!

The recent busyness of my move back to Oregon have delayed my sharing a number of recent online publications.

First up is the latest issue of Failed Haiku which features four of my senryu as well as illuminating work by Alexis Rotella, Lori A. Minor, Chen-ou Liu, and Terri L. French. Check out the issue here!

Special thanks to Mike Rehling for including my work and fostering such a great community of artists!

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Next up is my poem “Depredadores en sombra” featured as part of Círculo de Poesía’s project #POESÍACONTRAELMURO / #POETRYVSTHEWALL / #POÉSIEVSMUR: POETAS DEL MUNDO, CUARTA PARTE.

I’m proud to have my first published poem in Spanish be part of this important project.

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Lastly, I am happy to announce that I have signed on to be a regular reviewer for The Bind, a review site devoted to presenting creative reviews of poetry books by women and nonbinary authors.

Here is my review of Debora Kuan’s Lunch Portraits (Brooklyn Arts Press).

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20170514_174144-1And lastly, just a quick reminder that my new book of poems, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), is available for purchase!

This collection features my poem “Alien” originally published in Crab Creek Review.

See you Friday!

José

 

rioing with roberto carcache flores

maps coverIn my microreview & interview of Roberto Carcache Flores’ A Condensation of Maps, I noted how Flores has a knack for working up images that connect on both a conceptual and emotional level. In this week’s poem, “Friends in Rio Sapo,” we see the gradual build up of details and images culminate in a moment of quiet revelation.

The title sets up a moment of connection along “Toad River,” a phrase which is engaged immediately through the image of “passing clouds” looking “like white lily pads / in a heated / swimming pool.” This latter detail is jolting, as it implies a human element amidst an otherwise nature-focused poem. This jarring moment, however, serves to push the reader closer into the other details. As we move from cliff, albatross, mango groves, and stray dogs, just who the “friends” of the title are become apparent.

This coming together of elements continues in the second stanza as the speaker’s communion with Rio Sapo mirrors the arrival of “stray dogs.” At its heart, this poem reveals such communion as one of its gifts. I say gifts because of the third stanza’s subtle tumbling of details. Line by line, the third stanza evokes in words a similar spell as cast by what it describes. Between the sounds (undress, night’s, silence, innocence on one end; croaks, bank on the other) and the imagery presented, this last stanza reveals not the speaker’s thought but their experience before the reader.

Rio_Sapo

Friends in Rio Sapo – Roberto Carcache Flores

The passing clouds
are reflected on
the water’s surface,
like white lily pads
in a heated
swimming pool,
my feet feel
the rocky cliff’s
sharpness,
an albatross
glides through
surrounding
mango groves.

The opening
of a tuna can
and a bag of raisins
gathers some
stray dogs
around me,
their noses
grown tired
of corn meal
and the occasional
drum stick.

The frogs
begin to undress
the night’s
silence
with the
innocence
of their
early croaks,
all along
the moonlit
river bank.

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20170514_174144-1I’m also happy to share that I have received my copies of my new book Small Fires (FutureCycle Press)!

If you’re interested in purchasing a signed copy, feel free to email me at: thefridayinfluence@gmail.com

Copies can also be purchased from Amazon and FutureCycle Press!

This collection includes my poem “El Rio” originally published in Crab Creek Review.

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Happy rioing!

José

earing with charles simic

Happy to report that things are moving along with the, uhm, move to McMinnville. We’re situated in a new home and are piecing together who we are from what we have been — which is to say that all our stuff is here, but not fully organized.

Zenith_pocket_watch_insideAs time has been slipping past me during this move, I thought it only suiting to share this week’s poem by Charles Simic. I continue to admire Simic’s knack for images that read with a riddle-like thrill. The subtlety with which one image suggests the next, until we’re left at the “lip” of the poem’s ending is the work of imaginative intuition. Both poet and reader listen with the same “ear” throughout.

Watch Repair – Charles Simic

A small wheel
Incandescent,
Shivering like
A pinned butterfly.

Hands thrown up
In all directions:
The crossroads
One arrives at
In a nightmare.

Higher than that
Number 12 presides
Like a beekeeper
Over the swarming honeycomb
Of the open watch.

Other wheels
That could fit
Inside a raindrop.

Tools
That must be splinters
Of arctic starlight.

Tiny golden mills
Grinding invisible
Coffee beans.

When the coffee’s boiling
Cautiously,
So it doesn’t burn us,
We raise it
To the lips
Of the nearest
Ear.

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2A quick note of thanks for those of you who have helped welcome my new book, Small Firesinto the world. Copies can still be found via FutureCycle Press and Amazon. I’m really proud of this collection!

Happy earing!

José

rain & memory via claribel alegria

Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2This week brought the release of my new poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), which includes the poem “Cazar Means to Hunt Not to Marry” originally published in december magazine. This particular poems travels through a series of memories on the back of two words that sound the same but are spelled different. Language as an experience beyond us acting within us, that’s where I try to go in poems.

I see memory working in a similar way as this in this week’s poem “Rain” by Claribel Alegría. Memory wends its way through rain and stones, until it overwhelms the speaker. By the end, memory becomes a means, something happening within the speaker through which they can love the world “without knowing why.”

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download

Rain – Claribel Alegria
Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
Streaming
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
world
a voracious
world–abyss
ambush
whirlwind
spur
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.

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Happy raining!

José

P.S. Copies of Small Fires can be purchased from Amazon and FutureCycle Press.

Small Fires is here!!!

Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2

I’m happy to announce the release of my new book of poetry, Small Fires, available now from FutureCycle Press and Amazon!!!

This collection includes my poem “Blade” which won an Academy of American Poets Graduate Poetry Prize selected by Carl Phillips.

Be sure to check out the book and stay tuned for the availability of signed copies later in the month. Also, let me know if you are interested in a review copy.

Special thanks to Diane Kistner and the good folks at FutureCycle Press for giving this project a home! Thanks also to Andrea Schreiber for the cover artwork.

More news to come later this week!

José

new doors via richard tillinghast

A few big changes have happened in my life that I am barely catching up on enough to relate here. The first is that I have happily accepted an Assistant Professor position at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. I am really excited to be joining a stellar faculty at an institution known for cultivating a great intellectual and creative atmosphere. I am also excited to be back in Oregon, with its supportive and vibrant poetry community, bookstores, coffee (OMG, coffee!), and proximity to family.

What this big turn also means is that we’ve had to leave Cincinnati sooner than expected. The past few weeks have had us cleaning and packing and cleaning again, until we landed in Oregon last week. Hence, the catching up (with consequent catching of breath).

Along with all the moving work, I have also been working with FutureCycle Press and placing the final touches on Small Fires, which is due out next week. More details to come.

Big moves like this one always take me back to this week’s poem by Richard Tillinghast. Tillinghast’s meditative lyric hooks into the symbol of “big doors” and deftly begins to weave various narratives of “Many things never to be seen again!” The energy and clarity of this particular line does the work of bringing the reader closer to the poem, the speaker seeming to be on the level of awed gossip as they relate the rich details and images that follow. As the poem ends, the reader themselves has been on a ride, ruminating alongside the speaker, and, like them, knowing both a bit of what has passed and that there remains so much more they cannot know.

church-doors

Big Doors – Richard Tillinghast**

I have seen with my own eyes doors so massive,
two men would have been required
to push open just one of them.
Bronze, grating over stone sills, or made of wood
from trees now nearly extinct.

Many things never to be seen again!
The fury of cavalry attacking at full gallop.
Little clouds of steam rising
from horse droppings
on most of the world’s streets once.

Rooms amber with lamplight
perched above those streets.
Pilgrimage routes smoky with torchlight
from barony to principality through forests
which stood as a dark uncut authority.

A story that begins “Once upon a time.”
Messengers, brigands, heralds
in a world unmapped from village to village.
Legends and dark misinformation,
graveyards crowded with ghosts.

And when the rider from that story at last arrives,
gates open at midnight to receive him,
two men, two men we will never know,
lean into the effort of
pushing open each big door.

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Happy dooring!

José

P.S. The Influence is now considering poetry submissions. Check out the “submissions” tab to learn more.

**This poem is from The New Life (Copper Beech Press, 2008).

some influence & book news!

influence news

This month marks five years of blogging on The Friday Influence! Over the years, this space has been a great source of community for me. Thank you to all of you who stop by regularly or just pop in at random looking for a poem. I continue learning much from interacting with you, either in the comments or elsewhere, including my Instagram poetry project poetryamano.

As the Influence enters its fifth year, I’d like to go further and reach out to readers and fellow writers in the hopes of having the blog be a bit more interactive. Above, you’ll see that there is a new “Submissions” tab with information on current calls. You’ll see that there are two specific calls, one for those interested in participating in a microreview & interview, and one for a montly haiku/tanka feature.

For the haiku/tanka feature, I’d like to do a monthly post of a variety of haiku and tanka, in whatever variations you are inspired to write. From traditional, nature-centered three line poems, to one line haiku, prose haiku or tanka, or even a blackout / erasure haiku or tanka. Check the Submissions tab for how to send your words and images.

book news

mask with frameIn other news, we’re about a month away from the release of my next book, Small Fires, which will be published by FutureCycle Press. As a bit of a preview, I am sharing the artwork that will be incorporated into the final cover, an ink painting by Andrea Schreiber.

This painting was inspired by the poem “Luchadores” (originally published in Waxwing) which I share below. Thank you all again for a great five years and stay tuned for the release of Small Fires in May!

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Luchadores

after Cathy Park Hong

They were the only men in the house,
and stood firm, one hand raised
saying farewell, the other idle.
I’d make each bed, wash dishes,
set chairs back in place, then dig
under the sink where their masked faces
waited to be pulled out. I fought
with them all afternoon, took turns
playing villain, playing good,
letting each one win, then starting
over. The light in the garage apartment
turned all summer, flickered
light and dark across the floor
as on the leaves outside.

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Happy anniversarying!

José