April Poet Profiles: Andres Rojas

I am honored to present the work of my friend Andres Rojas. Andres  was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. at age 13. He holds an M.F.A. and a J.D. from the University of Florida, and his poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Massachusetts Review, New England Review, and Notre Dame Review. Andres is also the poetry editor for Compose, an online journal.

Andres reads a lot, when he is not spending time with Melinda, his wife of 23 years. They like to revisit their favorite spots (New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, and St. Augustine);  during spring and summer, they go for walks on the local beaches. For the past couple of years, Andres has become addicted to MOOCS, and has completed about 15 of them—varying on topics from cosmology to history to poetry. He loves to hike. He has recently completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and is approximately 45 miles into North Carolina.

Andres wrote his first poem at age 13, emulating his father (who didn’t really like that first poem). He wrote song lyrics in high school, and took creative writing courses in college, intending to write fiction. He wrote the poems required for his course, and he is still writing poetry 30 years later.

Though Andres loves creative activities (acting, playing the guitar, singing in a band, and writing fiction and nonfiction), he is drawn most to poetry. He says, “I love to work towards the pleasures of writing poetry, which I vaguely define as striving for elegance, precision, discovery, and catharsis.” He believes in the power of poetry to enhance empathy and awareness. Poetry challenges a reader’s intellect and emotions, preparing them for other difficulties—whether on the page or in person. His favorites include Eliot, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Adrienne Rich, Carolyn Forche, Eduardo C. Corral, Ada Limon, Natalie Diaz,  and Ocean Vuong.

Andres was a finalist for this year’s Andres Montoya Poetry Prize. In 2017, his essay on Latino/a poetics and immigrant identity will be coming out as part of a University of New Mexico anthology. You can find more of Andres’s work at his blog. Today he offers three poems:

ONE

Loss isn’t hard.
It comes uncalled,
a side effect

like chills or thirst,
makes room for more,
wants little else

but what is lost,
what artifice
burns to restore,

can’t fail to try.
Write them, again:
door keys, notebooks,

that first time, hours
poorly spent, words
fine without me.

My mother’s watch.
Her last-worn dress.
Your voice. Your hands
that I love. You.

HEADWATERS
          Chattahoochee Gap Spring

Breached in stone,
fig-leafed with lichen,

a baptismal font
enough to keep its share

of future skies — how new,
exactly, this trickle? The Adam

and Eve orchids too
bespeak something

other, as the bird skull
alit on deer droppings,

as — miles downstream,
hours back — the tubes

on the river, asters
alkene and slick: ancient,

if not older than themselves,
rarer than stars, yes, and ordinary.

OSCEOLA FOREST
          …damit mehr Licht hineinkomme

Night is more than what longleaf pines
have gathered here, voids leaning in
as for a look, the sky not their opposite

but something else: of stars,
light may abide longest.

June brings out few fireflies,
three, four per hour, if that. One
lights my chest, my head,

all I can see now, this spark
in so much forest, calling.

I close my eyes to absence older than stars.
They and the fireflies still shine, I’m sure —
I, who walked four hours to them

knowing what light can mean
even to one who means nothing to it.

Sources:
“One” originally in Luna Luna
“Headwaters” originally published in Colorado Review
“Osceola Forest” originally in Bridge Eight

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2 Comments

  1. One of my favorite poets. “knowing what light can mean / even to one who means nothing to it.” I love the way he writes about the great impersonal, his sense of awe and beauty.

    Reply

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