Porter House Reads: Favorite Latina/o/x Artists

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
Kaitlyn Burd, Fiction Editor

While Valeria Luiselli has rightfully garnered many accolades for her most recent The Lost Children Archive, I want to highlight her 2013 novel The Story of My Teeth. It’s voice-driven, intelligent, and so unique in its structural successes. It also made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.

 

“Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings” by Juan Felipe Herrera
Asa Johnson, Poetry Editor

The flow of this poem is flawless—not despite but because of its insistent comma splices where periods (or stuffy semicolons) might make the lines seem stilted. This ars poetica is controlled but still surprising. It is never preachy because it dwells in uncertainty and invites would be readers or writers of poetry to do likewise.

 

Movies (And Other Things) by Shea Serrano, illustrated by Arturo Torres
Ben McCormick, Nonfiction Editor

Shea Serrano is one of pop culture’s poet laureates. I first found him on Twitter—where he is a GREAT follow (@sheaserrano)—then his prose took me just the same. It’s passionate, infectious, and thoughtful. Shea is also a healthy 6’3″.

 

Richard Rodriguez
Frank Burch, Field Notes Editor

Rodriguez is one of those writers whom you stumble upon at a younger age and are floored by. He is full of idiosyncrasies; categorization sticks to him like water on a duck. I’ve read few writers who can so deftly traverse such different and polarizing topics as Rodriguez does: homosexuality and religion, race and assimilation. Few writers can claim to represent the multitudinous and paradoxical nature of life in America quite like Rodriguez can.

 

Café con Pam (podcast)
Rachel Spies, Podcast Editor

Café con Pam is the podcasting answer to the “Coffee Talk” Saturday Night Live sketch, which basically means no topic is off limits, and you feel like you are listening in on friends chatting over coffee. The content may skew Latinx (past episodes have run the gamut from deconstructing Eurocentric beauty standards to raising bilingual children to discussing 90’s hip-hop), but trust me when I say that no matter how you identify racially, you will be entertained by this podcast. It’s also got episodes of varying lengths, so whether you’ve got a long flight or a short car trip to see relatives this holiday season, consider letting Pam and friends keep you company.

 

Ronny Quevedo
Caroline Frost, Art Editor

Ronny Quevedo is a contemporary multimedia artist born in Ecuador and currently living in New York. Quevedo is best known for abstracting athletic-field diagrams, like soccer fields and gymnasium floors. Quevedo is interested in the historic narrative of Andean and Mesoamerican cultures, as well as space as both a physical entity and a concept of measurement and control in geopolitics. By deconstructing the designs of field games, Quevedo explores flexibility within supposedly inflexible rules—like in a game. As a result, his works present a tension between the familiar and unfamiliar, the imaginary and real, the malleable and the fixed. Quevedo has mentioned that Jack Whitten’s notion of “compound perspective”—wherein all visual iterations and representations of space and time exist within one plane or action—has been important to him. Quevedo states, “The artwork provides a space where I can symbolically represent the complex geopolitical movements of immigrant communities and communities of color.”

 

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
Ali Riegel, Copy Editor

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s work is nothing if not a celebration—of womanhood, of transness, of the horror and thrill of navigating a world not made for your body and self. In my favorite poem, “The Moon is Trans,” Espinoza frames the eponymous rock as a transwoman—powerful and wary, sorrowful and triumphant. It’s this inventive language, as well as her explorations of the intersections between her transness and the Latinx community, that make Espinoza such an amazing poet, and one of my personal favorites.

 

Fernando A. Flores
Will Pellett, Content Editor

In the past year and a half, Flores has delivered two of my most enjoyable and memorable reading experiences. He published a short story collection titled Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas in the fall of 2018, and then immediately followed it with the release of his debut novel Tears of the Truffle Pig, released earlier this year. Originally from McAllen, near the Texas-Mexico border, and currently living in Austin, Flores feels to me like a spiritual successor to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but such praise feels grossly reductive. Bottom line, I could not sing the praises of his work enough and would recommend these two books to readers and writers who wish to be reminded of the magic of storytelling.

 

ire’ne lara silva
Taylor Kirby, Assistant Managing Editor

ire’ne lara silva is a poet and short story writer who reignites my love for language with nearly every sentence she publishes. Her short story collection, flesh to bone, is especially nourishing—from miscarriage to violence to metamorphosis, she reimagines a litany of Chicanx myths into contemporary stories about the many modes of women’s survival.

 

Wiki
Brady Brickner-Wood, Managing Editor

Despite turning twenty-six in October, Wiki—the half Puerto Rican, half Irish Brooklyn rapper—feels like an old head. In 2012, he made waves with his group Ratking, whose music embodied twenty-first century New York rap better than almost any other artist this decade. Ratking has since taken a hiatus, but Wiki has remained busy, releasing two solo albums in the past two years: 2017’s No Mountains in Manhattan and Oofie, which was released last week. On both records, Wiki has proven himself to be one of the sharpest, most technically adept rappers working. (Check out “Grim,” from Oofie, a tour-de-force featuring Lil Ugly Mane and Denzel Curry.) Yet after three Ratking projects and two solo albums, Wiki is no longer the charming upstart who helped reinvigorate New York hip-hop. Instead, he’s an independent artist navigating the murky waters of a genre where longevity is increasingly hard to find, where rappers fizzle out under the metrics of virality and streaming numbers. Let’s hope Wiki can stay afloat.

 

“Doing Donuts in an ’87 Mustang 5.0, After My Homie Chris Gets Broken Up With” by Michael Torres
Amanda Scott, Assistant Executive Editor

From the title right down to the final line, Michael Torres’ “Doing Donuts in an ’87 Mustang 5.0, After My Homie Chris Gets Broken Up With” spins with momentum. Fear, disappointment, and the existential collide into a single, electric motion. The whole poem is gorgeous, but the first line keeps me coming back, rereading to see what else I might find: “I want to argue for the stars but I find them missing / through this window splattered with mud.” I had the pleasure of meeting Michael this summer, and this poem—like all his work—exemplifies what I seek most in writing these days. Encountering his voice again on the page further proves that his work is everything we need right now.