Lorna Dee Cervantes
Lorna Dee Cervantes, a Native Californian (Chumash), is an award winning author of six books of poetry. The former Professor of English at CU Boulder, Creative Writing Program, lives and writes in Seattle.
About Their Work:
For many years, Lorna D. Cervantes has shown the courage to put what was withheld from her, what she was warned away from, what people told her to forget, at the center of her art. The Spanish language, gender constraints, racial stereotypes, her Chumash ancestry, all are there insisting that they matter. She puts them down clearly alongside everything else she thinks and feels, her words complex but direct and only difficult when difficulty is necessary. Cervantes also shows the courage to confront. Her poems of intimacy and family go far beyond “I hate and I love,” though she gets that classic sentiment, too:
if only you were a stone I could throw
if only I could have you.
They describe relationships that both empower and disable and explore all the ways our world bends and twists our loves right alongside our own odd orneriness. Cervantes’ willingness to confront persists in longer, meditative poems like “Banana,” which connects cruel historical fact, metaphors and simile that reach across time, contexts, cultures and histories with the plain and the every-day, showing us how much good and evil is right there in front of us. Ultimately, however, Cervantes would not be as fine a poet as she is if she didn’t understand, with Byron, that “The great object of life is sensation--to feel that we exist, even though in pain.” Cervantes’ poems commit to sensation, to making us feel their life as “a lit candle to what blow[s] you.” We believe in them because, as she has written in a different context, the poems truly “carve day into light.”
Books (for purchase):
Read for Margin Shift:
March 9,2023, June 16, 2022