Book Launch: Paul Hlava Ceballos’s banana [ ] with special guests
banana [ ] by Paul Hlava Ceballos, winner of the 2021 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and selected by Ilya Kaminsky, uses poems to reveal the extractive relationship the United States has with the Americas and their peoples through poetic portraits of migrants, family, and personal memories.
At the heart of the book is a long poem that traces the history of bananas in Latin America using only found text from sources such as history books, declassified CIA documents, and commercials. The book includes collage, Ecuadorian decimas, a sonnet series in the voices of Incan royalty at the moment of colonization, and a long poem interspersed with photos and the author’s mother’s bilingual idioms. Traversing language and borders, history and story, traditional and invented forms, this book guides us beyond survival to love.
Paul will read a selection from the collection and be joined in conversation by Quenton Baker, Jane Wong, and Michelle Peñaloza. An audience Q&A and book signing will follow the event. Delicious fried plantains and bowls of corn will be served by an accompanying vendor, Garzón Latinx Street Food!
paul hlava ceballos
Paul Hlava Ceballos has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Artist Trust, and the Poets House. His work has been published in POETRY, Pleiades, Triquarterly, Poetry Northwest, and BOMB, among other journals and newspapers. His collaborative chapbook, Banana [ ] / we pilot the blood shares pages with Quenton Baker, Dr. Christina Sharpe, and Torkwase Dyson. He received his MFA from New York University and currently lives in Seattle.
Jane Wong is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James, 2021) and Overpour (Action Books, 2016). A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships and residencies from Harvard's Woodberry Poetry Room, the U.S. Fulbright Program, Artist Trust, Hedgebrook, Willapa Bay, the Jentel Foundation, and others. Her debut memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City, is forthcoming from Tin House. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University. Her poetry art installations have been shown at the Frye Art Museum and the Richmond Art Gallery.
Quenton Baker is a poet, educator, and Cave Canem fellow. His current focus is black interiority and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in The Offing, Jubilat, Vinyl, The Rumpus and elsewhere. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a 2021 NEA Fellow. He is the author of we pilot the blood (The 3rd Thing, 2021) and ballast, forthcoming from Haymarket in 2023.
Michelle Peñaloza is the author of Former Possessions of the Spanish Empire, winner of the 2018 Hillary Gravendyk National Poetry Prize (Inlandia Books, 2019). She is also the author of two chapbooks, landscape/heartbreak (Two Sylvias, 2015), and Last Night I Dreamt of Volcanoes (Organic Weapon Arts, 2015). The recipient of fellowships and awards from the University of Oregon and Kundiman, Michelle has also received support from Lemon Tree House, Caldera, 4Culture, Literary Arts, VONA/Voices, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, among others. The proud daughter of Filipino immigrants, Michelle was born in the suburbs of Detroit, MI and raised in Nashville, TN. She now lives in rural Northern California.