have you read the essay at LPR titled “Gringo with a Baedeker, Cortez in Kevlar” by Eric Murphy Selinger?
javier beat me to the punch. (dont you just love javier’s perfectly pitched prose, even when he’s writing critically! you will forgive my bad english sentences after reading his post).
so all this week, i will be blogtiquing for 30 minutes a day selinger’s essay. dont forget to comment to encourage me (even if it’s just “hey mr blogger man, play your blog for me”)
First, close your pretty rhetorical eyes. Imagine that the DePaul University Research Council gave you money to purchase books, read, and write an essay on Latino Poetry. Who would not consider such an opportunity the greatest privilege? Who would not consider the responsibility that comes with such a privilege?
Selinger (Call him Nalgas de Vaca) thinks he’s funny: “I find myself hoofing it across terrain I’d planned to rule. I still hanker to hoist the flag of reading for pleasure–the Castle with Bookmark Rampant–over Hispanic American poetry. But the time I’ve spent with a coastal shelf of anthologies and collections has left me feeling less the conquistador and more the castaway.”
“Gringo with a Baedeker” is a funny way to introduce his essay: “For gringos of a certain age […] it can be hard to navigate the traditions we loosely group as ‘Latino poetry’ without some sort of Baedeker.” His essay poses as a Baedeker, but he also searches for various Baedekers, particularly in the introductions to various anthologies and collections.
Alas, he is disappointed in the shoddy, salsa-stained maps he finds: “To some readers, those floricanto blossoms and their roots will seem as familiar as salsa—the music or the condiment, as you prefer. Alas, the introductions you’ll find in the collections themselves often seem written for aspiring pedants (“ideologemes,” anyone?), or, worse, for hipsters decked out in dancing shoes and revolutionary berets. Must we really attend to “the beat of the heat in this volume, stabbing-quick, so quick you can feel the blood come down the skin,” as Juan Felipe Herrera urges in the overwrought foreword to an otherwise excellent anthology, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry? If we don’t, are we doomed to “the sterility of Anglo culture,” that “land of weirdos, electric freaks” who, as Cruz once scoffed in an essay, “sit mesmerized in front of screens and buttons…barking about having the freedom to do whatever nauseous things their lifestyles call for”? Spare me, gentlemen. There are poems to read, and grown-ups to read them. Where should we begin?”
First, Mr. Nalgas de Vaca, you can begin by giving proper respect to Herrera. fine if you want to bark back at Cruz for his scoff, but no need to infantalize Herrera’s sentiment.
Second, you can begin by growing up. “Cortez in Kevlar” is not funny. “Anonymous Poet of Pick-Your-Native-Nation” is not funny.
Third, you can rename your essay: “The Unbearable Whiteness of Reading”
TIME’S UP (i write slow)! more tomorrow if i am inspired by your comments.