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February 28, 2021 @ 4:00 pm
Tortillera: An Afternoon with Caridad Moro, Richard Blanco and Nikki Moustaki
Books & Books and Miami Book Fair present…
An Afternoon with Caridad Moro
In conversation with Richard Blanco and Nikki Moustaki
(Texas Review Press, $19.95)
Sunday, February 28, 4 pm EST
LIVE via Crowdcast
The word tortillera means lesbian in Español. The moniker is familiar to most Spanish speaking cultures, but especially particular to the Cuban experience. In most Cuban-American households to be called a tortillera (whether one is one or not) is the gravest of insults, the basest of adjectives, a cat call that whips through the air like a lash whose only intention is to wound, to scar. Many a first-generation, Cubanita (the ones who are into other girls, anyway) has suffered, denied, wailed over the loaded term, but in Caridad Moro-Gronlier’s debut collection, Tortillera, she not only applies the term to herself, she owns it, drapes it over her shoulders and heralds her truth through candid, unflinching poems that address the queer experience of coming out while Cuban.
The first half of the book immediately plunges the reader into the speaker’s Cuban-American life on-the-hyphen through vivid, first person narratives that draw one in, making the reader privy to the moments that mold the speaker’s experience: marginalization at a teacher-parent conference; the socioeconomic distinctions at assorted Quinceañera celebrations; a walk down the aisle toward divorce amid a back drop of wedding registries and Phen-Phen fueled weight-loss; post-partum depression; a peek into a No-Tell motel that does tell of the affair she embarks upon with her first female lover; the agony of divorce vs. the headiness of sex and lust; the evolution of an identity in verse.
Part reckoning, part renewal, part redemption, part rebirth, the poems in Tortillera come clean, but more than that, they guide, reveal and examine larger considerations: the role of language on gender its subsequent roles, the heartrending consequences of compulsory heterosexuality, as well as the patriarchal stamp emblazoned on the Cuban diaspora. The work contained in Tortillera befits its audacious title—bold, original and utterly without shame.
About the Author:
Caridad Moro-Gronlier is the author of Tortillera (Texas Review Press, 2021) and the chapbook Visionware (Finishing Line Press 2009). She is a Contributing Editor of Grabbed: Writers Respond to Sexual Assault (Beacon Press 2020) and Associate Editor for SWWIM Every Day. Moro-Gronlier is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry. Her work has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, The Best of the Net and two Lambda Literary Awards. Her recent work can be found at The Best American Poetry Blog, West Trestle Review, Literary Mama, The Sextant Review, Limp Wrist Review and others. A career educator, she is an English professor at FIU and MDC in Miami, FL where she resides with her wife and son.
About the Conversants:
Selected by President Obama as the fifth Presidential Inaugural Poet in U.S. history, Richard Blanco is the first Latinx, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity characterizes his many collections of award-winning poetry, including his most recent, HOW TO LOVE A COUNTRY, which interrogates the American narrative and sociopolitical matters of immigration, race, sexuality, and more. He has also authored the memoirs FOR ALL OF US, ONE TODAY: AN INAUGURAL POET’S JOURNEY and THE PRINCE OF LOS COCUYOS: A MIAMI CHILDHOOD. Blanco is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has received numerous honorary doctorates, serves as Education Ambassador for The Academy of American Poets, and is an Associate Professor at Florida International University.
Nikki Moustaki, author of the memoir The Bird Market of Paris, holds an MA in poetry from New York University, an MFA in poetry from Indiana University, and an MFA in fictionfrom New York University. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in poetry, alongwith many other national writing awards. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various newspapers and literary magazines, anthologies, and college textbooks, including the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Publishers Weekly, the Village Voice, and the Miami Herald, and her work has been featured in Glamour. O, the Oprah Magazine; and Elle, and on NPR. She is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Poetry and the poetry collection Extremely Lightweight Guns.