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Everyday Chica

July 24, 2010
Design by Pat Roberts and me

This isn't me--it's actually a photo of Lili

Tadaaa!  Here it is–the cover of my forthcoming chapbook, Everyday Chica (Longleaf Press).  It’s been an exciting couple of weeks.  I received the last of the blurbs (see below) and Jorge, Kevin and I went to the studio to record a CD to accompany the book–spoken word incorporated with music.  Still have to review the recording but we had a great session and accomplished so much thanks to Bobby, our generous, amazing mix-master.

The cover is thanks to the efforts of designer Pat Roberts; she gave me many options and ideas in response to my desire to have a photo of a young woman.  I consulted with my brother-in-law, artist Roberto Milanés-Gala, who suggested a photo rather than an illustration or painting.  His advice impressed me and I went that route and I’m very very happy with the result.  What do you think?

Well, I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: getting blurbs from writers whose work you admire is one of the most wonderful experiences I have been blessed to have.  I am honored and humbled by these responses:

Below are my three blurbs–
“The seed of exile sprouted me,” writes Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés in Everyday Chica, and her poems examine that seed and its various shoots in family, language, and North American pop culture.  The poems take us on a journey of generations, a “reverse exodus” from the poet’s ancestry in Cuba to growing up Cuban American, a poetic archeology from which Rodríguez Milanés works to unearth “the right language.”  That language for her is almost always something worked for, earned, and jarred loose from the fictive representations of a culture she both wishes to embrace and interrogate.  These are poems that address the importance of speaking the truth, even if that truth waits “at the bottom to pull [her] down.”  There is hope here and not just descent.  But it’s the sinking into grief that polishes these poems into a starshine of papayas, sapote, and “the old neighborhood.”  Ultimately the seed of exile Rodríguez Milanés explores bears “a mighty magnet” of fruit tended by “careful hands.”  It’s the careful hands of this poet, devoted to the work of the poem, that ultimately show us how we can each find a home, even amidst our various wanderings.
George Kalamaras, author of The Recumbent Galaxy

The every day chica in Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés’ Everyday Chica is Jersey girl, disco queen, and quinceañera as well as keen cultural critic. Growing up as a part of and apart from two cultural traditions, this all-too-brief coming-of-age story takes us from New Jersey to Cuba and back again, with forays into family and cultural history, in language which is exuberant, funny, and tender. 
Stephanie Brown    author of Domestic Interior
Milanés cuts away at long-time standing myths and masks of Cuban@ being: the internal and external colonialismos. We read about the exiles, nostalgias, body fantasías and all those nasty anthro-love-turista inventories. Yet, there is love, prayer, a deep caress of mainland and isla and most of all, of self – “without conditions.” Applaud this tender fire, coming at you spoken and sparkling.
Juan Felipe Herrera     author of several books including 187 Reasons Why Mexicans Can’t Cross the Border

Am I a lucky chica, or what?????


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