I would very much like to thank Emma Trelles for mentioning Fighting Kite, my 2007 poetry collection, in The Best American Poetry blog in her post "Big Love, Little Books" (13 February 2009). I truly appreciate the good word, Emma — such a nice plug.
For those who are not familiar with Fighting Kite, here is the title poem, an elegy for my father, Martin Avila Gotera.
— Vince Gotera, first appeared in Hawai'i Pacific Review (1992);
reprinted in the textbook Asian American Literature: A Brief
Introduction and Anthology, edited by Shawn Wong (1996).
As far back as I can recall, my father told me tales about flying fighting kites, a sport he engaged in throughout his youth. Kite fighting is done in many countries across the world; the sport is a major motif in Khaled Hosseini's 2003 novel The Kite Runner, which was made into a feature film in 2007. But for me, the fighting kite was (and still is) a thing of romance, a source of adventure and fable in bedtime stories I heard from my father.
I wrote several versions of the first half of this poem over a number of years, versions that simply didn't do justice to my dreams and fantasies about kite fighting. But it was not until Papa's death in 1989 that the poem came together, as I realized that the fighting kite was, for me, a symbol of his difficult and fascinating life. The book's description on the back cover reads, in part, "Fighting Kite narrates, in verse, the life of Martin Avila Gotera — son, trickster, soldier, schizophrenic, visionary, lawyer, workingman, father &mdash a life that glimmers like a node, a shimmery knot, a glowing nexus
As you know if you are a frequent reader of the blog, it's my practice to say a bit about craft and technique in each poem. But I think I'll just let this one speak for itself. Martin Avila Gotera was quite a fascinating person — a man of passions and problems; the back-cover description ends by calling him "brilliant and troubled, tormented and wise." I hope my poems, and the book, do justice to his memory.
Once again, many thanks to Emma Trelles and to The Best American Poetry blog. Keep the faith, people!