miguel writes: “I have to say I have a natural skepticism toward group-think of most kinds.” he’s talking about the “Latino” in Latino Poetry Review and the dangers of this kind of ethnostructure limiting the expressive carnival of identity (he also warns us against the danger of taking our selves too “seriously”–whatever that might mean).
i definitely agree that the main danger of identity politics is its sometimes debilitating essentialism (as opposed to its strategic essentialism), which can further marginalize those who exist within that identity yet remain outside the perceived essentials of that identity.
in response to miguel’s post, francisco wrote: “But your post here, for me anyway, captures the spirit with LPR has embarked on its journey: that we do contradict ourselves, that we are hybrid in our thinking, that we are multitudes, that are not, as you eloquently say, afraid of verbally getting into a ‘fistfight with [ourselves].'” whereas miguel seems naturally skeptical (which isnt to say he isnt also optimistic) about the identity of LPR, francisco seems naturally optimistic (within isnt to say he isnt also skeptical). Yet, they both seem to embody the same spirit.
i think this is possible because francisco’s editorial activities are not what i’d call identity politics, even though he uses the ethnonym ‘Latino’. instead, i’d argue that his work is creating a postmodern identity politic–a practice that incorporates what is best about identity politics (creating an imagined community–community in the sense of common background, common struggles, etc)(as well as the ability to bring people together with a symbolically and politically charged ethnonym) with what’s best about postmodernism (re-inforcing the diversity, contingency, performativity, and indeterminacy of ‘identity’). like i wrote in the post below, francisco multi-media editorial projects galvanizes around ‘Latino/a’ but resists the closure that miguel rightly warns us against.
Didi’s post only indirectly relates to LPR. She writes: “From time to time someone confuses my magazines for a “latino” publication. I publish everybody no matter what nationality, race, color, creed, denomination, etc. The only thing I am looking at is their poetry and art. I do not see beyond that. Please stop confusing what I publish with who I am.”
I think Didi touches on an important point: the situation of the ethnic editor. i’m not going to say that all ethnic editors should only always publish other ethnic writers. i’m also not going to say that ethnic editors should structure their editorial choices through their ethnonym of choice. ethnic editors should feel free to follow their hearts. i respect that didi doesnt only publish american-cubans. i respect that carmen gimenez-smith of noemi press publishes writers from many different ethnic backgrounds. i respect reginald shephard published more white writers than ethnic writers in his new anthology. i respect elena minor at palabra magazine for her focus. and, quite obviously, i respect francisco for all his work for ‘Latino’ poetry and poetics. so YES, don’t think that just because an editor is ethnic that you know what we might do.
the aspect of didi’s post that does trouble me is when she writes: “The only thing I am looking at is their poetry and art. I do not see beyond that.” one could argue that it isn’t possible to not see beyond the text into other contexts, but we all know that so many people do not see beyond that, whether because they refuse to (read the new-criticism-ethnic-reincarnate reginald shepherd) or are just blind to it (read the editors of poetry magazine commenting at harriet).
relating this to my own work, achiote press does not use an organizing ethnonym nor do we only publish ethnic writers (we are lame, i know.) however, i can’t claim that “i do not see beyond” ethnicity or nationality. race isnt “beyond” poetry, but they intersect and are woven in a diversity of patterns. i think it’s important–as francisco continues to do–to look at the various ways poetry and ethnicity intersect and interconstitute.