Poetry & Race Roundtable        (page 9)

Francisco Aragón: As I was reading the thoughtful contributions posted thus far, what I found myself doing was taking note of particular phrases—those that sparked certain thoughts or riffs of my own. These will be my modest ruminations on what I’m going to call race and the poetry world. That is, it might mean how race is dealt with within The Poem, but also: how race is implicated, however directly or indirectly, in The Poetry World—the one I have experienced in the last twenty five or so years.

“We have to hazard rejection”

“Now add race to the equation”

What about when we are rejected and the person doing the rejecting hasn’t read a single line of our poetry?: I was told by a book review editor that when he tried to assign The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007) to book reviewers he had worked with in the past, he couldn’t get anyone to accept the assignment. The reviewers he approached kept saying a variation of: “I’m not qualified to review that kind of book?” Or, before even cracking the book, “I can’t read Spanish.”


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