Best Poets Society

The Latino Writers Collective

We've been to a few poetry readings at the Writers Place, but none was as beautifully diverse, as crowded or as festive as the March 20 book release for the anthology Primera Página: Poetry From the Latino Heartland. The Latino Writers Collective is a hardworking group of writers who meet every other week to give one another feedback and encouragement. The result of those efforts, Primera Página, is a gorgeous compilation. We're especially partial to the work of Chato Villalobos, a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer who wears his heart as prominently as his badge: A cop at your service/Chicano with a gun,/A product of two immigrants, the barrio's son,/I bleed for the weak, sometimes cry for the young./I'm the angel sent for the children of no one. Before mourning the severing of her cultural roots, Gabriela N. Lemmons starts her poem "Kansas" by noting, I know when they harvest winter wheat,/when corn needs to be planted, and how/close to God people think they are./But I don't know one multi-tongued Latino. Marcelo Xavier Trillo's "Across the River I Wait" addresses unease at living in the suburbs: Why is it when I cross the Missouri River/it's like going to a different country?/On the calm side,/what many refer to as God's country,/I see new roads,/people at clubs without security,/nice cars,/and few police. The Latino Writers Collective helps us see our city again, through new eyes.

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