Twenty Anthology Released Today

Cover from Twenty
Twenty: Poems in Memoriam, El Zarape Press, 2014. $10.

A caveat: This isn't a review, an analysis, or an advertisement. It's simply a personal reflection on a book I had the pleasure of working on for the past year or so. 

Twenty was released on Amazon today. It's a collection of poems in response to the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I remember the day, hearing about the horrible shooting. I was sitting in my car, just listening to the radio, thinking, oh, another school shooting, and then the stark realization that this time it happened at an elementary school. It was a cool day, a grey sky. It was hard for me to believe this world was still a beautiful place.

That night, my good friend Daniel had organized a poetry reading, and I'm so glad they decided not to cancel it, in light of the events. We met at a local BBQ shop, ate, and read poetry into a mic to the small crowd of mostly poets in the establishment. It was a somber evening, and many of the poets were filled with an incredible range of emotions -- from bitter anger to overwhelming sadness to that simple, somber, apathy that comes with giving up, with giving in (that last one was me...).

We decided, after the reading, to write poems outside the restaurant with chalk and in the process, I felt a little better, just a little more alive. We were making the world a beautiful place again, with simple haikus on the sidewalk, illuminated by the warm street lights in the misty night. Surreal.

That's how this anthology came about. It came out of the conversations we, as poets, had that evening. Four of us decided to get together and create this anthology, with Edward Vidaurre taking lead and Daniel Garcia Ordaz of El Zarape Press guiding the way. We might live thousands of miles from the tragedy, but I hope that the humble poems in this anthology will have that same effect as the haikus on the sidewalks had on me that night -- to help rekindle the belief that our world is, indeed, a beautiful place. It's complex. It's cruel and loving. It's warm and cold. It's made up of shadow and light. These poems are, too. And there's beauty there. And healing.

If you're interested in getting a copy of Twenty, it is for sale on Amazon. Partial proceeds from the anthology will be donated to benefit the Newtown community.

Special thanks to my fellow editors, Daniel, Edward and Jose. And to everyone who submitted and contributed to this project. I am honored to play a small part in this.