* new work up at star 82 review!

Just a quick post to announce the release of Star 82’s Special Flash Issue which includes my piece “Prayer Box” along with an original ink sketch!

This special issue consists of 50 poets writing flash pieces of exactly 5o words each. Stellar work by Todd Mercer, Kate K Lore, and Autumn Stephens among others are included. Check out the rest of the issue here.

Special thanks to editor Alisa Golden for putting together a great issue and for allowing us to share original artwork!

See you Friday!

José

* existing with gisela kraft & an update

 

five-story house in laleli – Gisela Kraft

one lies in rags on the street
and his stomach is empty
and he wishes for death

one sits with friends at tea and backgammon
and his mind is empty
and he wishes for death

one sits in a straight-backed chair at a desk
and his bank account is empty
and he wishes for death

one lies in bed staring out to sea
and the place next to him in bed is empty
and he wishes for death

one flies back with food in its beak
and its nest is empty
and only this one says
we should give it another try

(trans. Laura Leichum)

This short lyric has quickly become a favorite of mine in the past few weeks. I’m charmed by the way the seemingly simple refrain quickly enters into allegory. The repetitions of “empty” and “death” build up an atmosphere of dejection and set up the turn at the end of the poem. The impersonal and non-specific nature of “one” as an address allows for the final stanza’s change in perspective; something “flies” in the heart of the reader and defies the preceding stanzas of emptiness and death, and gives further impetus to exist. There’s also a structural charm to the poem in the way the “five-story house” is played out in the five stanzas of the poem.

***

It has been a week since the official release of my collection Everything We Think We Hear. Since then, I have been humbled and moved by the warm reception and good wishes people have shown the new book. Thank you to all who have shown interest and bought the book!

After some minor issues, the book is available for order on Amazon!

As part of a partly superstitious and partly practical (or so I tell myself) process, I went ahead and ordered myself a copy. Here’s a pic that shows that my little book does indeed exist:

This copy is going straight to mom in Texas. I’ll make sure to post an update here when I receive my own copies for sale.

Happy existing!

José

 

* new collection released!!!

I’m happy to announce that my new collection Everything We Think We Hear is officially available on Amazon!

As I’ve mentioned here, this project brings the prose poem and flash fiction structure of my chapbook Reasons (not) to Dance and takes it in a more personal direction, adds a little more guacamole and South Texas to my usual rhetorical and imagistic leanings.

Here are what some of my favorite writers had to say about the project:

“What is the meaning beyond memory’s hauntings? How does one survive the multi-faceted self fashioned from such meanings? Poet José Ángel Araguz’ unflinching collection, Everything We Think We Hear, considers these questions from all angles and gives us answers as adamantine and brilliant as the prose poems he has fashioned in his questing.”

Sarah Cortéz, Councilor, Texas Institute of Letters, Author of Cold Blue Steel

“José Ángel Araguz balances the beauty and agony of a man siphoning love from beer bottles, sparse mother-son conversations, a stern Tía’s throw, and the weathered memories of an absent father. This collection, where a boy who couldn’t dream becomes a man “making communion with all he knows,” insists you gaze on lo raro, the sour-pickled and scattered parts of a soul who refuses to ignore the song of the broken even when surrounded by splendor. “

Peggy Robles-Alvarado, author of Homenaje a las guerreras

“In José Angel Araguz’s collection, Everything We Think We Hear, todo se vale, everything goes! This book plays with our senses and forces us to consider what we think we hear, what we think we are reading. A fierce voice that shouts often and whispers now and then the many truths of life in South Texas. The poetic prose pieces startle the senses with rich images that linger in the mind like memorable dreams. Read these pieces and come away transformed.”

Norma E. Cantú, author of Canícula

Anyone interested in a copy for review, I can make a PDF available. Feel free to contact me: thefridayinfluence@gmail.com

Thank you to Sarah, Peggy, and Norma for their wonderful words of support for this project!

Special thanks as well to Roberto Cabello-Argandoña of Floricanto Press for working with me during this process!

See you Friday!

Jose

* beginning with juan felipe herrera & some news

This week’s poem by Juan Felipe Herrera (recently appointed as the first Chicana/o U.S. Poet Laureate) caught me towards the end the first time I read it. The way the details come together. The turn and return at the end to the image of something dark around the neck. Each reading of it since that first helps me appreciate the lyrical nerve at work.

The words about the grandmother had me in my memories of my own grandmother who passed when I was nineteen. I’ve been in a similar space as the poem describes, “inventing her memory.” For me, “black sparkles” is ink, each word more of the “leash” the poet writes of.

Cimabue, Goya, Beginnings – Juan Felipe Herrera

I carry a dark necklace around my neck.
It’s painted on.

No one has taken notice.

They think it’s an outline or an odd shadow.
No one has stared longer than a few seconds.

I’ll tell you.

I didn’t know where to put all the fragments of the novel
that family never finished. It had such sweet beginnings,
but it grew umber with a one-eyed madonna hovering
over the lampshade.

So many years, I whispered to her
come to me,
listen to me
I understand.

She would appear to me with gold-leaf
around her braids and seven daggers erect over the heart;

perhaps the last desire; the first real words
escaping from my grandmother’s grave, trying to touch
my hair as I sat at seventeen, writing,
inventing her memory.

Her voice was so loving,
now, all that remains is this broken leash
of black sparkles.

Frescoes in the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi, southern transept, scene: Apocalypse, Detail by Cimabue
Frescoes in the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi, southern transept, scene: Apocalypse, Detail by Cimabue

I’d also like to announce that my full-length microfiction collection Everything We Think We Hear has just been accepted for publication by Floricanto Press!!!

This manuscript has gone through several incarnations since 2012. The move towards microfiction happened in the last year. Something conceptually clicked about these pieces as I was working with FutureCycle Press on the finishing touches of my recent chapbook Reasons (not) to Dance. FutureCycle’s belief in one project breathed life into another.

I’ll be sharing more updates on the project as the book comes together.

Happy everything!

Jose

 

* another excerpt from Reasons (not) to Dance

* holy dancin' castles *
* holy dancin’ castles *

As promised, here is a second installment celebrating the release of my chapbook Reasons (not) to Dance!

Above is another of the ink paintings by Andrea Schreiber that was nominated as a possible cover. This ink painting was specifically inspired by the piece “Spinster,” the text of which is below.

Enjoy!

Spinster – José Angel Araguz 

You want me to tell you about life here. There was a castle where a woman was buried within a wall as a sacrifice. They knew nothing about her except she loved to dance. Later, there was a law against dancing. You knew when someone was breaking the law because the castle would begin to shake. Mother called the woman a saint: only someone who was pure could root out those who wronged. The night my father left, the castle crumbled down. Granted, this is only partly true. It was told to me and I tell you, not because I believe in dancing castles. I believe you have come here wanting stories, and all I have learned are reasons not to dance.

*

Copies of Reasons (not) to Dance can be purchased here.

Happy (not) dancing!

Jose

* hollering with cisneros

Human beings pass me on the street, and I want to reach out and strum them as if they were guitars. Sometimes all humanity strikes me as lovely. I just want to reach out and stroke someone, and say There, there, it’s all right, honey. There, there, there.

Sandra Cisneros, from ” Never Marry a Mexican”

 

After last week, I’ve been enjoying hitting the books on my exams list again. This week I’m revisiting the work of Sandra Cisneros. In rereading her short story collection Woman Hollering Creek, written after The House on Mango Street with a book of poems in between, it’s interesting to note echoes of Mango Street, at least in terms of formal music and spirit.

The above excerpt, for example, has the nuance and linguistic power of evocation of the best short pieces that make up The House on Mango Street. Yet, even in this excerpt, one can see that the stakes are different. Where Mango Street is a book of childhood, of youthful observation and insight, here the speaker is possessed of the wildness of adulthood. And it’s there in the language. The last sentence’s “There, there, there” evokes the strumming of a guitar in an almost tangible way.

It is in this evocation that Cisneros builds off her previous collection of stories and continues in the spirit of what Charles Baudelaire, in dreaming and defining the prose poem, described as “the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm or rhyme, supple and agile enough to adapt to the lyrical movements of the soul.”

Prose poem, flash fiction, short short, microcuento – whatever banner the lyrical movements happen under, the eye and heart are first to recognize the signs.

Rachel says that love is like a big black piano being pushed off the top of a three-story building and you’re waiting on the bottom to catch it. But Lourdes says it’s not that way at all. It’s like a top, like all the colors in the world are spinning so fast they’re not colors anymore and all that’s left is a white hum.

There was a man, a crazy who lived upstairs from us when we lived on South Loomis. He couldn’t talk, just walked around all day with this harmonica in his mouth. Didn’t play it. Just sort of breathed through it, all day long, wheezing, in and out, in and out.

This is how it is with me. Love I mean.

Sandra Cisneros, from “One Holy Night”

*

Happy hollering!

Jose

p.s. Check out a previous post on a Cisneros-inspired microfiction here.

* new chapbook – Reasons (not) to Dance – released!!!

* new chapbook - eek! *
* new chapbook – eek! *

I am happy to announce the release of my new chapbook, Reasons (not) to Dance!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this collection of prose poems and flash fictions imaginatively explores moments of hesitation and celebration in the tradition of the Latin American microcuento as practiced by Ana Maria Shua, Eduardo Galeano, and Agosto Monterroso.

To celebrate, I will be posting short readings throughout the summer. Along with excerpts from the chapbook, I will be sharing some of the artwork that made as well as almost made the cover.

Speaking of which, the ink painting on the cover is by Andrea Schreiber (often referred to on the blog as “Ani”). Here’s the original piece:

* looking *
* looking *

The image was inspired by the piece “Look” which I include below along with a short reading. “Look” was originally published in Blue Earth Review and earned 2nd place (along with another Reasons piece, “Relinquished”) in BER’s 2014 Flash Fiction Contest. Enjoy!

Look

after Kafka

When the afternoon light has turned to evening light and she turns to tell you this, points out the purple as the kind of purple she would want a whole room painted in, and you consider what that room would be like if you stood in it, this purple at every side, when the sky you are both looking at seems different each time you look and in your mind say look to yourself and look because she has been looking and wants you to as well, when she perhaps has even gone as far as to enter that room and close the door behind her and is standing alone with this purple at every side, when all you can do is turn from the purple glints across her eyes and look again at the sky, a deeper purple now that imbues itself on the stones of the church, on the sides of the tree, on the slick of the leaves, on the skin of the couple passing by, a purple distance between them, a purple silence and a purple expression on each of their faces – then it is time to shut the blinds and for a moment stand with her in the completely darkened room and let your eyes and hers adjust.

*

To purchase a copy of Reasons (not) to Dance go here.

Special thanks to Diane Kistner and all the good people at FutureCycle Press!

Also, I now have an author page on both Goodreads and Amazon! Feel free to stop by and share your thoughts on the new chapbook. More excerpts and readings to come throughout the summer!

Happy reasoning!

Jose

* new work up at Pretty Owl Poetry

* pretty owl poetry/issue 5 *
* Pretty Owl Poetry/issue 5 *

Just a quick post to announce the release of the latest issue of Pretty Owl Poetry which includes my flash fiction pieces “Spinster” and “Oceans.” The issue also includes fine writing from Jill Khoury, Howie Good and fellow UC poet and friend Les Kay as well as artwork by Heather Simon.

Check out the issue here.

I’m especially excited for this publication. These two pieces are part of “Reasons (not) to Dance,” a flash fiction/prose poem chapbook forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. The project explores ideas of risks as played out in short prose pieces that range from the fabulistic to the memoiristic. My guides in writing these come from the Latin American microcuento tradition, writers such as Augusto Monterroso and Julio Cortazar.

Thank you to Kelly Andrews, Gordon Buchan, and B. Rose Huber for putting together a great issue!

See you Friday!

Best,

Jose

* microcuentos, new work & augusto monterroso

The Dinosaur – Augusto Monterroso

When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.

*

* what hitting snooze can get you *
* what hitting snooze can get you *

The above, by the Honduran writer Augusto Monterroso, is credited as being one of the world’s shortest stories. Monterroso is one of my favorite writers in the Latin American microcuento tradition.

When I first read him, I was amazed at how much spookiness can happen in a short amount of prose. The form – which in English goes by various names: flash fiction, prose poetry, short shorts, microfiction, etc. – allows for a certain kind of sensibility to play.

Myself, I find a complicated humor in the form at times, as can bee seen in two new pieces published in Star 82 Review’s Issue 2.4.

Check out “Wisp” and “Brown” here.

Happy wisping!

Jose

* new short (short) fiction at Star 82 Review

Just a quick post to announce the release of the Issue 2.3 of Star 82 Review featuring my short piece “Clams.” Read it here.

I was excited to find this review. The generous spirit of its content – from short (short) fictions to erasures, art, and translation – had me interested right away.

Check out the rest of the new issue here.

See you Friday!

Jose