Books
  • Furious Lullaby (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
    Furious Lullaby (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
  • Names Above Houses (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
    Names Above Houses (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry)
  • A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry
    A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry

  • Requiem for the Orchard (Akron Series in Poetry)
    Requiem for the Orchard (Akron Series in Poetry)

Anthologies

Oliver's work can also be found in the following anthologies.

  • Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing
    Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing
  • Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
    Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation
  • Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
    Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond
  • From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great
    From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great
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Online Poetry Journals

Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard is a love letter to memory and its ability to both sustain and shatter us beyond the “dust of ourselves,/ cold, decisive, and purely from the earth.” de la Paz renders in beautiful and exacting language the tenderness and ferocity of boyhood, alongside the enduring vulnerability of parenthood.  Out of such intimate recollection a generous wisdom blossoms.   

—Jon Pineda, author of
The Translator’s Diary

Terrible News RE: U. Akron Press

I just found out today that the University of Akron Press, which is the home to two of my books and an anthology I co-edited, has been shuttered due to budget cuts at the University of Akron. I've posted a protest letter on Facebook and Twitter. The letter is here:

 

 

Dear President Scarborough and the Board of Trustees:

 

            The decision to shut down vital humanities programs and institutions at the University of Akron is troubling and suspect.

            While I am sympathetic to universities facing budgetary shortfalls as a Professor at a similar Regional Comprehensive institution, cutting key programs that provide access to students who are interested in the arts as well as programs that support students of color is grossly negligent. Cutting the University of Akron Press, EJ Thomas Hall, and the Multicultural Center will cripple your students' and potential students' access to mentoring, apprenticeship opportunities, and vital services that are pivotal in to recruitment and retention.

            I am personally invested in the work of the University of Akron Press as one of its long-time press authors, having published three books with the press. I can attest to the national reputation of the press. Writers such as Beckian Fritz-Goldberg, Jeanne E. Clark, and John Gallaher, and Emilia Phillips are important writers with a national reach and strong reputations in the writing community. Additionally, A Face to Meet the Faces, an anthology Stacey Brown and I published through the University of Akron Press, includes work by many significant authors including Pulitzer Prize nominee, Cornelius Eady, National Book Award Finalist Patricia Smith, and host of other luminaries in the literary arts. The work produced by the press is used in high school, university, and college classrooms across the country and by closing the press you are irrevocably damaging the reputation of the University of Akron and the integrity of the University's mission to "ensure student success and leverage [your] region's assets in the creation of knowledge and application of research that benefits humankind."

            Cutting the University of Akron Press runs counter to the Vision 2020 plan which had been endorsed by the Board of Trustees under the previous administration. Indeed, a community and its university are "interlinked" as stated in the letter, and by cutting vital community-centered programs like the University of Akron Press, EJ Thomas Hall, and the Multicultural Center while spending  $375,000 on presidential house renovations clearly signifies an administration that is out of touch with its own community.

            I will be forwarding this letter to Americans for the Arts, Cave Canem, Canto Mundo, Kundiman, and a number of other national arts organizations who are invested in arts programming and student advocacy. Your tragically short-sighted decision has local, national, and long-term repercussions that will severely damage the reputation of the University of Akron.

____________________

 

Oliver de la Paz

Professor of English

Western Washington University

516 High Street

Bellingham, WA 98225

(360) 650-2564

oliver.delapaz@wwu.edu

Response 5

About half way through Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. I'm really taken by his character Marie-Laure, who is blind, but whose sections are rich with description.

Another from the voice of the minotaur:

 

From the Index of Monstrous Things—Cruel

 

 

Then nightfall drops its thread,

soft. The dark has a texture of linen

and is a mouthful of cool.

I am hungriest when the sun

is red from carriage dust

and about to take its last drink

in the sea. I am hungriest when I hear

the lambs they send call each other

by name. I am full of their syllables

of remembering. And in the dark

I am all nerve endings—seeing

the possibilities without maps.

The stars are erased in the maze,

thus I am the only god. And blood

rises to my throat as my voice

fills with necklaces of song.

 

Response 4

I realized, after finishing up Nick Flynn's My Feelings that I needed a 2nd POV in a manuscript in progress. Now, some of these jottings for my summer readings don't quite address this, but some of them do and will. Here's a draft of something. The POV feels true to my intention, so I think I'm going to rewrite some of the earlier pieces into 1st person. Anyway, here's the poem:

 

From an Index of Monstrous Things—Atrocious

 

 

And sometimes there are bodies in pain

you acknowledge. The moment you see

in another's face, yourself or someone

who once was you. The dendritic lights

of the underworld reflects only spasms.

Only whispers of personhood. You palpate

the skin to tell yourself it's real. You misread

the body because the matrices of skin

on skin startle you back into monstrosity.

Touch and touch and touch—it is and was

never meant for you. Because the myth

of you was never really about you.

Because you are up late (you are always

up late) and there are visible specks

in the ceiling you call stars, alive

and violent with some purpose beyond.

 

After a weekend hiatus, more responses

I took a short break from writing and reading because the kids were out of their camps and daycare. I've started two new books--River of Shadow: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by (whom I adore) and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (whose first collection The Shell Collector was introduced to me by Papatya Bucak and whom I also adore). 

I've only got a response to the Solnit book which is a fascinating look at Eadweard Muybridge, inventor and father of film. 

I've been working on a sequence of ekphrastic poems and this small bit of what will be a longer poem is, in my mind, a spinal poem for a manuscript in progress.

Yes, it's not done and it's flat, but it's a draft . . . (stop apologizing Oliver). It's based on this photograph:

 

Here goes:

 

Revenant

 

Mrs. Wilkins, Teaching an Igorrote-Boy the Cake Walk

--Missouri Historical Society

 

 

Mrs. Wilkins, with her left hand, raises

her skirt above the dust of the promenade

 

and the Igorrote boy wearing a gentleman's silks

lightly places his right foot in front of the left.

 

In his left hand, Mrs. Wilkins gingerly shadows

the sensate pleasure of dancing the cake walk

 

which the boy bares with a smile, hat akimbo

hiding his eyes from the sun and from the smiles.

 

***

 

The hazard of the eye—the way it dismantles

maps and fashions new continents out of mountains—

 

***

 

I am listening to cars gun their engines over

the expressway. The cake in my mouth is sweet

 

and numbs my mouth. There are runnels of smoke

out of the west where the forests burn.

 

Where men have set ablaze the wilderness

having seen it. Having savored it.

 

***

 

Fortifying the huts are the girders of industry.

They stretch for miles and miles bolstering the scene

 

and what has been claimed for glory. The boy

and the white woman cake walk down the promenade

 

for all the world to see.

 

***To be continued

Response 2

Like the previous entry, this is also a response to Beth Bachmann's Do Not Rise. Only the draft I present here is actually my second attempt at the same poem.

Here's the problem when you write and compose directly on the laptop--programs crash. Sometimes programs crash while you're writing. Sometimes they crash when you haven't saved your work. This was what happened to me this afternoon--I had typed a poem which was roughly sonnet-sized. I was trying to save it. The program crashed. The first draft of the poem is gone. There's a lesson in all of this: SAVE YOUR WORK WHILE YOU'RE WRITING. 

Anyway, here's the second response to Beth's work. I responded to lines from her poem "sustainable."

And, by the way, the titles are just placeholdrs--I'm trying to force a secondary sequence into a current manuscript and using titles as a means to pry entry into that manuscript. It may or may not work.

 

 

From an Index of Monstrous Things: Abnormal

 

 

I want the flame-tongue to dazzle me.

 

To rise up the sides of cavern and maw,

 

its voice clicking when doors wing open on hinges.

 

I call it love. To call it something beyond

 

the burn of a language that speaks to the dark

 

is to hook its animal lungs and call it star. Stay with me

 

fire, skin hollowed out from your last gulp of air.

 

Breathe-in. Kiss hard and know I've been awake.

 

Late and soft and blowsy gutterings click

 

on the echoey stone. Rickety and bitten.

 

Let your mouth sip the wind. Let it ladle up

 

droplets of the dark. Pour you on me.  Let me feel

 

the utter rain of you. Let me feel burn. Your eye

 

whorls, lips, your breathy singing

 

 

Summer Reading Challenge and a response

I hope you are all having fun with the reading challenge. So far I've managed to read two of the books on my list: Beth Bachmann's Do Not Rise and Nick Flynn's My Feelings. I'm in the midst of juggling two books, but I'll mention those once I get through 'em.


One of the challenges I added for this Summer Reading List is a response in writing. It's to keep you accountable. I know I need to be held accountable. Anyway, here's my response to Beth Bachmann. I borrowed a line, but then it ended up being the image of the bloodshot eye after revision from her poem "bright one." 

I'll be back tomorrow with more writing and more responses, but for now, here's the poem:

 

 

From an Index of Monstrous Things: Aberrant

 

 

 

Because when I feel my pulse, its quickening

 

can't be fathomed. The minotaur

 

at the center of the maze is all cups

 

for eyes. Limbs and hinges thrusting about

 

in a dark foam. His frenzy hums

 

all night. I hear it zone around my ears

 

like a gulp of gnats. I am full of his sound.

 

My cup masks nothing but his breath's

 

swell and thrust. What's more, he is a child

 

waving down the shadows he casts on walls.

 

Shadow hands cross and uncross atop pavilions,

 

inverted constellations of rabbits, doves, and dogs

 

with their tongues fingering the labyrinthine night.

 

There is no pattern for my urge--I love his bloodshot eye.

 

Love the incline of his forehead. His fury. 

2015 Summer Reading Challenge

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

1) Pick 15 books that you would like to finish this summer--any genre, any size. This list doesn't have to be at 15 right from the start. It will grow as the summer continues.

2) Of the 15 books, designate 3 that you recommend to co-participants. (After you've read them, of course).

3) Of the 15 books, 3 of the books must be from recommendations by other participants.

4) Post your 15 book list somewhere with a link so that co-participants can link you on their webpages, tumblr pages, or blogs.

5) Hold yourself accountable by posting commentary about a book you've just read. Commentary can also take the form of something creative or artistic.

6) The Challenge Ends August 31st. Have fun.

 

*****

My list (so far):

 

1. All Aunt Hagar's Children--Edward P. Jones

2. All the Light We Cannot See--Anthony Doerr

3. Bluets--Maggie Nelson

4. If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?--Matthea Harvey

5. Ending in Planes--Ruth Kocher

6. On Looking--Lia Purpura

7. Yearling--Lo Kwa Mei-En

8. My Feelings--Nick Flynn

9. Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920's to the Present--Lesley Wheeler

10. Lighting the Shadow--Rachel Eliza Griffiths

11. The Americans--David Roderick

12. Open Secrets--Alice Munro

13. Do Not Rise--Beth Bachmann

14. River of Shadows--Rebecca Solnit

15. Demons in the Spring--Joe Meno

I read Keats as part of the Favorite Poems Project

Thanks to TateStreet.org! Here's a video of me talking about Keats:

 

https://youtu.be/k12SencWfXQ