In anticipation for tonight’s book release party with Alejandro Murguía, the sixth San Francisco Poet Laureate and the first Latino poet to hold the position (!), here’s a peek into his new collection, Stray Poems, out now from City Lights!
I’m from the Mission
And I’m on a mission
like you’re on a mission
and we are on a mission
and the mission is
to be in the Mission
Me entiendez, Mendez?
La Misión, La Mission,The Mission
wherever I stand
here, there, everywhere
I’m in the Mission
and the Mission is in me
like the Mission is in you
because the mission is to be in the Mission
Spectators, operators, speculators
all roaming the Mission
but there’s some people missing from La Misión, qué no?
Watch your watch when you’re in the Mission
Check the descarga beat on Mission Street
because the heat is on the Mission
so the mission now has to be
to free the Mission
Yes, hear me straight everyone
that’s the vision
and what a vision
Free the Mission
That’s the mission
Free the Mission
The sixth volume of the San Francisco Poet Laureate Series, Stray Poems opens with Alejandro Murguía’s inaugural address, where he stipulates that as the city’s first Latino poet laureate he is accepting his post on behalf of his community. He goes on to provide a brilliant and impassioned poetic account of San Francisco’s Native and Latino literary history, stating, “So Latin America fused to the history of San Francisco, and vice versa—San Francisco fused to the memory of Latin America.”
What follows is a selection of Murguía’s recent work composed over the past twelve years.
These are poems of the 21st century, written in a combination of English and Spanish—the patois of contemporary America. Angry, rebellious, subversive, sentimental, hip, urban, local, global—these poems stray from academia, the status quo, patriotism—and even God—as all poetry must.