A big thank you to Brian Komei Dempster, whose Advanced Poetry course at USF I will be visiting today, to discuss Poeta en San Francisco. I am always honored when educators adopt my books for their courses, and I am more honored when those educators have served as my role models and mentors, which Brian has.
This morning I have been turning over in my head the things I want to talk about, as the book is about seven years old now, and I am about a decade older than I was when I began writing it.
I go back to the river, in Heart of Darkness, in Apocalypse Now. What that movement away from the “civilized” centers means for that person/those people in movement. Again, as “liminality” is a theme constantly discussed in the classes I teach, I believe it’s relevant here too. So then, as much as it is about points of origin and points of destination, it is about the movement/transition between points, and perhaps it is more so about that movement/transition.
Already, it is blurry, where the points of origin and civilization are in the book. This city has been both the destination “requiring” the civilizing mission, and then the originary point, from which missionaries, and their government and military counterparts have embarked on their civilizing missions. So perhaps that’s what I should put out there as the discussion point for today. How to organize the book based upon “blurry” origins and destinations, based upon liminality, with liminality also being multiple. How do the book’s personae aid in (or thwart) our ability to make clear delineations.
There is also, of course, the book’s namesake, Federico García Lorca’s Poeta en Nueva York, and the duende in the American city. So that’s another possibility for discussion. And so that’s my plan for today.