Literary Sala presents three poets and announces the annual Big Read

By Carole Schor

James Cervantes

The San Miguel Literary Sala is proud to present a bonus for January – not our usual two readers, but three wonderful poets for your listening pleasure: Laura Juliet Wood, Lois Read, and James Cervantes.

San Miguel Literary Sala presents:
Three Poets: James Cervantes, Lois Read and Laura Juliet Wood
Launch of the San Miguel Big Read!
Thu, Jan 9, 5pm
Hotel Posada del Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15
70 pesos; 50 pesos for Literary Sala members.
Complementary wine reception

San Miguel has long been a haven for poets. They are inspired by the light, by the people, by the traditions and handicrafts and abundance of tasty, delicious produce.

Lois Read is a retired teacher of art and art history. From a young age she began a love affair with words, sharing the gift of poetry with her grandmother as they did their household chores. The colors not only of San Miguel have inspired her, but also New England fall landscapes, the seascapes of the Mediterranean, the beaches and mountains of Greece. Friend and fellow poet, William Dougherty, has said of Read and her poems that she “melds visual imagery, allusions to the visual arts, and the singing colors of diverse topographical or place poems, evokes the classical concept of ‘picture poesis,’ a speaking picture. What radiates from her poems is not merely an impasto of description but the pulmonary [spiritual breath of life] processing of coloring vision.”


From Cloud Watching (from Breathing in Color)

“I have been asked

‘Do you dream in color?’

No. My dreams are of people

talking, and doing unusual things.

Color to me is Eyes Wide Open

Heart Wide Open. Magic.

The color of clouds.”


James Cervantes, once a professional cellist and now a professional poet, will be reading excerpts from his book Mr. Bondo’s Unshared Life, a book length series of persona poems based on the elusive character Mr. Bondo, who may or may not have a relation to the material used to repair cars. As one savvy critic wrote of this character, “All the scattered information that purports to describe ‘Mr. Bondo’ tacitly denies his independent existence. Pragmatically, ‘Mr. Bondo’ exists only for any person (including himself) as the information connected with that name, so dispensing with the ‘real’ unified entity ‘Mr. Bondo’ in favor of its observable derivatives may be more epistemologically defensible than asserting his independent existence, and when we describe him, we’re really discussing what we know of him rather than his absolute reality.”

When asked whether Mexico or San Miguel inspires him to write, Cervantes answered, “Location has never been a prime motivator for writing. One must write, or not, wherever one is. This holds true for me for poetry, but other kinds of writing might be dependent upon location, especially if location is the predominant subject matter.” To the aspiring writers here in San Miguel he gives the advice, “Write, write, write. And read, read, read.”


Fear via Place

South by southeast, I suppose, where thickets grow

and tangles weave green until it’s black.

Places blind with growth blinding me, where I walk

right through a face in the day’s brightest hour,

where I miss by a mile the hand that grabs a tree.

And if there could be shadow, that hand would cover mine

before it let go. But south by southwest would do,

where thin leaves grow, or even in the lava caves

where the mineral drip adds little to itself

and you would not know the person next to you

unless you talked real close, recognized the breath

and knew the sun was burning everything outside.


Laura Juliet Wood – Our own hometown Poet Laureate, Judyth Hill, says, “Laura Juliet Wood’s poems reveal luminous, alert landscapes and heartscapes. [Her] poems ache with a restless, brilliant looking; they resound with deep music and a scholar’s passion.” Wood first came to San Miguel with her parents at the age of nine and has been pulled by some mystery of the past that seems to have a power over her. “I am inspired by Central Mexico’s landscapes: dry, vast, mountainous, by the light and color so different from the humid tangle of flat swampland that makes up the Gulf Coast of Florida where I grew up.”

Her father, who was also a writer, urged her on to become the poet she knew she should be. He gave her valuable lessons about making time and making sacrifices in order to have the time to pursue her passion. “We write because we have to, and we do it when we’re ready.” After waiting nearly 30 years for the “right” time to write, a cancer scare for her husband and the birth of her daughter Caroline, the time was right for Laura Juliet Wood, and her first chapbook of poems, All Hands Lost,was published. “We need to do what we have to do rather than wait for the right advice. I suppose that would be my advice to the aspiring writers here in San Miguel.


The Old Silver School Bus to Atotonilco

If I were to board a bus through life,

it would be the one

with a Guadalupe pasted

to the rear view mirror, duct tape

on the wheel

and a torta on the dash.

I delight in bouncing up and down

on ripped blue

vinyl seats

to a norteña band’s oompa, oompa—

watching the tall gear shift


a gloved snake

in the driver’s hand,

and Jesus

on the cross

sway in the glittery sunlight

up ahead.


Annual Big Read

Each year, to celebrate one of the prominent writers who will keynote the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, we designate one book for the annual Big Read. We encourage everyone in San Miguel to read the book, and to join a Big Read Discussion Group. This year, the designated book is In Perfect Light, a novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. At the Sala event on January 9, you may purchase the book, sign up for a Big Read discussion group, and hear more about the book and the writer. See our full article elsewhere in this issue for more information.

Join us for a night filled with poetry and to join the Annual Big Read at the Literary Sala on January 9 at the Hotel Aldea at 5pm. 50 pesos for members, 70 pesos for non-members.

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