Welcome to The Beat, a poetry podcast produced by Knox County Public Library. Today, we’ll hear Cintia Santana read two poems from her book-length manuscript called The Disordered Alphabet. These poems, based on the letters “j” and “f,” are filled with sound repetition and collage imagery, and they touch on subjects from “jail” and “justice” to "fallen angels" and “fados in the rain” ("fado,” meaning, perhaps, both "fate" and a type of Portuguese song). What’s amazing to me about Santana’s work is her ability to produce poems that are, in the same instance, both playful and incredibly moving. Here are the poems “Ode to the J” and “[F].”Cintia Santana:
"ODE TO THE J"
Hey Jude, hey Judas, hey jumper on the bridge:
thirty pieces of silver buys you nothing
but a field of blood. And yet. How exquisite
it is to betray with a kiss. No sin is
original. No jail, a break. Blind, the river
and blind the curve. Justice. Just north of July.
Silver-green June grass and bug right
beside you. See, Jacob was my brother,
and Jack, in the box that was my heart, but not
now. Blossoming reed, sprouting seed, a scoop
in the hand, a jujube tree. Jump shot
in a jumpsuit. A jingle and a jangle. Jungle
into gym into jumble, so tumble. We did
and we do. Jewel is to joule as jazz
is to truth. Oh, oh, the density of joy
on a January jukebox. Stem no such flow.
First there was the sound
of a serpent in the ear.
Of falling. An angel
with a flaming sword.
A fist. The use
Fjord and flood. Fog
and foghorn. Flamingo,
Frankenstein. Then Frisch.
Fission, then Fermi. Fascism.
Flash, then fallout. The pamphlet
from the Office of Defense:
To escape temporary blindness,
bury your face in your arms.
To lessen your chances of injury by blast,
fall flat on your face.
of my flesh.
Sound of fat
Fault and faultline.
Fissure. Fences. Fray.
in the throat.
Also, a butterfly,
high. The number of f-stops
in the human eye.
Fizz and fantail. Fraud
and fracking. The fracture
of a fact; a farm
foreclosed. Your face—
to an empty frame.
Not forgotten; forgiven.
Fade as fate. Fat. Fa.
Fados in the rain.
[Text of these poems was provided with permission of the poet.]Alan May:
That was “Ode to the J” and “[F]” by Cintia Santana, who was kind enough to record these poems for us at her home in Menlo Park, California. Santana’s work has appeared in many well-known publications including The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and the Best New Poets 2020 anthology. She was awarded fellowships from CantoMundo, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. She currently teaches literary translation, as well as poetry and fiction workshops in Spanish, at Stanford University, and she creates poetry-based installations for the Right Window Gallery in San Francisco. You can find out more about Santana and her work by clicking on the links in this episode’s show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.Various voices:
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