On this episode, we feature Texas author Tomás Q. Morín and his collection of poetry, "Machete."
His work grapples with the continued violence against Black and brown bodies and Morín’s poems are each a tool of outrage, justice, resilience, and ultimately love.
With striking metaphor and social commentary, Morín balances anger with a deadly, comedic politeness—a silver lining in the midst of instability and turmoil. He writes in the title poem:
"When they stare
I know it is my skin
they fear, this face,
this hair so unlike theirs.
I meet their eyes
and make them sway
like fields of cane.
When they stiffen,
I sharpen the edge of my smile
and watch them fall.
Hailing from the coastal plains of Texas, Tomás Q. Morín is an author, poet, translator, and teacher.
Morín’s first poetry collection "A Larger Country" received the APR/Honickman Prize in 2012 and was a runner-up for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. His other poetry collections include "Patient Zero" and "Machete."
He is also the author of the memoir "Let Me Count the Ways," (University of Nebraska Press) and the coeditor, with Mari L’Esperance, of the anthology "Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine." His translations include "The Heights of Macchu Picchu" by Pablo Neruda.
He is the recipient of fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
He teaches at Rice University and Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives with his family in Texas.
Music for the episode was written and performed by Jaime Barreto of the band Ancient River.
Founded in Gainesville, Florida in 2007, Ancient River has released 13 albums ranging in styles from Americana to loud psychedelic rock and has recorded for multiple different labels including Sony and EMI. Ancient River is currently based out of Los Angeles, California.
A special thank you to the Digital Media Commons at Rice University for facilitating the interview.
Generous funding for Arts & Letters Radio was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thank you to Stickyz Rock'n'Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.
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Executive Producer and Host: J. Bradley Minnick
Producer & Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit
Sound Mix and Mastering: Joseph Fuller, Orchestra of One
Recorded by: Jane Zhao, Director of the Digital Media Commons at Rice University
Intern: Faith Stillwell
Arts & Letters Radio is a production of Living the Dream Media.