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Arts & Culture

A Chat with Chicano Poet Reyes Cardenas

Photo: Courtesy Photos, License: N/A

Courtesy Photos

Photo: , License: N/A

Cárdenas will read from his poetry collection at Gallista


With works like “From Aztlan to the Moons of Mars,” and “Adamski & Eve” Cárdenas’ poetry is lousy with sci-fi imagery, sexy UFOs and émigrés to the stars, and he chalks this up to the genre’s ubiquity during the Cold War. “During the ’50s my parents would always take me to every sci-fi movie that came to the local drive-in theater, so I guess that’s where I got my interest in it,” he recalled.

There is also much judgment in Chicano Poet. In the section about “Mr. Incognito,” Cardenas writes about a fawning literary fascination with Russian poet Joseph Brodsky and “other Soviet … and eastern European writers with the same backgrounds” that takes precedence over Latino concerns. His “Robinson poems” are so bleak and unnerving, it is hard to imagine this family man from Central Texas crafting them.

“Actually, Robinson is a character created by Weldon Kees,” informs Cárdenas, “He wrote four poems about a person named Robinson. I took that dark character as an example of white people and just expanded his life into a few more poems.”

Chicano Poet makes it obvious that Cárdenas is well read in many areas. So, has he ever felt pressure to make his work less worldly and complicated for the sake of clarity?

“I don’t feel that my work is complicated at all,” says the author of “I Never Was a Militant Chicano,” a poem that explains, “but only because/I’ve always wanted/more than a revolution/ can provide.”

Reyes Cárdenas reading (feat. L.A. David)

Free
5pm Sat, Oct 5 (reception to follow)
Gallista Gallery
1913 S Flores
gallistagallery.com

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