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!
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. Their current focus is black interiority and the afterlife of slavery. Their work has appeared in The Offing, Jubilat, Vinyl, The Rumpus and elsewhere. They are a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and the recipient of the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust. They were a 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence and a 2021 NEA Fellow. They are the author of we pilot the blood (The 3rd Thing, 2021) and ballast (Haymarket Books, 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.