Alfred Arteaga -- R.I.P.

I just got the sad news that my friend -- and amazing Chicano poet -- Alfred Arteaga passed away this week. Several weeks ago, he was in LA and we had coffee at the "House of Brews" in San Fernando. He seemed in good spirits. I know he's had health problems for some time and was working hard to stay strong and alive. I send many prayers and condolences to his family and countless friends.

I was also privileged to publish Alfred's last poetry collection, "Frozen Accident," through Tia Chucha Press in the fall of 2006. I've known of Alfred's work for years. He invited me to speak to his class at the University of California, Berkeley about ten years ago and I remember his graciousness and openness. I also was able to secure a writers' fellowship for him after reading poems he did in Spanish that I thought were outstanding. I'm glad it turned out to be Alfred's work--he's truly an innovative and accomplished poet, a poet of the continent, the land, this earth.

When I published "Frozen Accident" it was one of two manuscripts that year that I really wanted to do. Tia Chucha Press gets around 200 manuscripts a year. I pick the handful that stand out, then I read those over and over (or as many times as I need to) to decide the two that will get published. I have to turn down many amazing manuscripts in the process. But I also end up picking the two that most resonated, continued to surprise and overwhelm me even after many readings. Alfred's work kept growing in layers and meaning.

Cherrie Moraga called this book one "for poets only, that is for all of us who hunger to contemplate within and beyond the pre/scribed chronologies of our lives."

In addition, Juan Felipe Herrera said, "Arteaga tells a story the way a Mexican wrestler makes words fly from the canvas; he breaks them and then with an agile, almost ballerinia-like step, he destroys their structures."

Obviously, I don't just publish my friends. Most of Tia Chucha Press books are of poets I never knew personally. And I have many friend poets who send me manuscripts I don't deem ready for publication. But every once in a while I have a poet-friend with a most wonderful manuscript. I'll publish that--the poet, not the friend. Like Alfred, who stands in my view as a poet of this millennium.

Alfred needs more recognition and many lifetimes of readers. Please order "Frozen Accident" and any of his poetry collections from any book outlet you choose. To order "Frozen Accident" from our distributor, contact 1-800-621-2736.

Que descanses en paz, hermano.

Motion by Alfred Arteaga

Heart beat is never twice
river, the image font
a dream wood of liquid
form in the site of dead

souls, the lyrics follow blood
points, life edge words
shape to melody, to beat

of heart like flight of the small.
I am not the man who was.
I, Nezahualcoyotl, take
flight in the graphite river,

change place for life,
leave for an island and beyond.
Run cholo run, flee
the red reach and night.

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