Cascadia Poetics LAB


Was having after-party drinks and tacos with Nadine Maestas and we were commiserating about the intensity of people of Latino descent. When you have a name like Nadine Antoinette Maestas, and you are from New Mexico, people have a sense that you have Latinx roots. When your name is Paul E Nelson, you’re just another white, cis-gendered male tool of the patriarchy.

Yet because of my Mother, thank you Ma, I’ve had work selected for the Two Countries anthology by Tina Schumann. From the event webpage:

Two-Countries: US Daughters & Sons of Immigrant Parents (Red Hen Press) is an anthology of flash memoir, personal essays, and poetry edited by poet Tina Schumann, herself a child of an immigrant.

The collection contains contributions from sixty-five writers who were either born and/or raised in the United States by one or more immigrant parent. Their work describes the many contradictions, discoveries, and life lessons one experiences when one is neither seen as fully American nor fully foreign.

Seven contributors to the anthology will read tonight: Jed MyersPaul E. NelsonShin Yu PiTammy RobackerMary Lou SanelliMichael Schmeltzer, and Kristy Webster.

Two Countries:
US Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents

Anthology Launch
October 26 at 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Richard Hugo House

The anthology has been so long in the making that my bio listed on the event page is out dated, but I look forward to this event and will, of course, read work inspired by a visit to my Mother’s home country, Cuba, in 2005.

To have this “split identity” has its curses and blessings. I’m grateful I grew up in an era when we believed in Dr. King’s notion that we should judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin, so identity politics and its bastard step-child identity poetics never had appeal to me. As Sam Hamill once said: “You barely pass for a white guy” and the close calls involve occasional hassles at customs, 17.5 years of discrimination and character assassination in Auburn when I lived there and a couple of lost jobs due to intense responses of mine, quite normal in Cuba, but unacceptable in the passive-aggressive NW. But I would not want to trade the intensity that comes with Cuban blood and love how my Cuban (and before them, Spanish) ancestors show up in my life: plátanos at the Caribbean soul restaurant, calling the new neighborhood we live in Rainier Beash, as a Cuban would Miami Beash and of course legendary cursing which is related in vivid detail in my interview with the dean of Cuban poets, José Kozer. (See: Tiovivo Tres Amigos.)

Thanks Tina Schumann, for understanding this dynamic, for putting this anthology together and for including me. & thanks Ma for the genetic intensity.

Lesbia M.P.R. de Nelson & Paul E Nelson Jr.