The sixth volume of the San Francisco Poet Laureate Series, Stray Poems opens with Alejandro Murguía’s inaugural address, where he stipulates that as the city’s first Latino poet laureate he is accepting his post on behalf of his community. He goes on to provide a brilliant and impassioned poetic account of San Francisco’s Native and Latino literary history, stating, “So Latin America fused to the history of San Francisco, and vice versa—San Francisco fused to the memory of Latin America.
What follows is a selection of Murguía’s recent work composed over the past twelve years. These are poems of the 21st century, written in two (English-Spanish) or more languages —the native tongue of contemporary America. Angry, rebellious, subversive, sentimental, hip, urban, local, global—these poems stray from academia,the status quo, patriotism, the flag—and even God—as all poetry must.
Praise for Alejandro Murguía & Stray Poems:
“In the city of poets, Murguía has become the activist voice of refugees and exiles—as so many of us are, even as natives—at the center of the Americas. Disguised by its sensuous intimacy, soothing and ennobling, his is a poetry that arms the resistance.”—Dagoberto Gilb, author of The Magic of Blood
“Poet, teacher, publisher, lover, literary guerrilla—Alejandro Murguía is a San Francisco treasure. And I’m not saying this because he knows where to find the best pozole. Although he does.”—Jack Boulware, Litquake co-founder
“The powerful stream of rich, diverse Spanish spoken in the United States by millions of Latinos from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, has rushed into the huge river of the English tongue in such a way that a language and a literature have been born from those troubled waters, exploring multiple alternatives and choosing many paths. These Stray Poems from Alejandro Murguía speak with all those voices, crossing linguistic borders and really going out of the way to deviate from the standard path and let the multiracial and multicultural, all-embracing Latino beat flow into the heart of English.”—Daisy Zamora, The Violent Foam
“Murguía with a tango unleashed, a city on fire, a rendezvous of homage, manifesto, revenge and transcendence—he is alone, without a face, yet recognizable in every body that swims through the under-streets of the City, of Paris, of Havana, of bombed-out-Here’s-and-There’s and the stripped down body of all of us. No stones are left unturned; hypnotic, alarming, ‘melodramático,’ rough-lovin’, unkempt, ‘dangerous,’ and ready to battle at the center of the scorched core. ‘I didn’t cheat,’ one poem admits. He is on trial—fire-spitter and disassembler of cultural falsifications, in ‘strange’ and romantic moods, the poems scatter truth and aim and blow and burn and rise unto the flagless sky—’. . . a country of oceans and mountains.’ Murguía gets there. Alone, because few embark on that voyage. An astonishing, brutal nakedness. Love, that is. No book like it. An unimaginable heart of and for the peoplea ground-breaking prize.”—Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of California