Opening the new season of _________-Shaped Readings, Milwaukee’s BRENDA CARDENAS and ROBERTO HARRISON are joined by Madison’s TIM YU.

This mouthfill of a reading will take place Friday, January 27th, 7pm at Avol’s Books (315 W. Gorham).

Only the conjunctions of their three very distinct poetries can adequately show the overlaps and resonances between them, but we expect language of contemplation, declamation and humor that bridges continents and sings to possibilities for new politics of human community.

Biographical Notes:

Brenda Cárdenas is the author of two collections of poetry Boomerang (Bilingual Press, 2009) and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press, Institute for Latino/a Studies, 2005). She also co-edited Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press, 2001). Cárdenas’ work has appeared in a range of publications, including The Wind Shifts: The New Latino Poetry, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, Achiote Seeds, RATTLE, and most recently in the literary journals Cream City Review and Pilgrimage, as well as the anthology Brute Neighbors: Urban Nature Poetry, Prose and Photography. She is currently serving as Milwaukee’s Poet Laureate and is an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee.

Timothy Yu is the author of two chapbooks: Journey to the West, winner of the Vincent Chin Memorial Chapbook Prize from Kundiman, and 15 Chinese Silences, forthcoming from Tinfish.  He is also the author of a scholarly book, Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry since 1965.  His work has appeared in Kartika Review, SHAMPOO, and The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century.  He teaches at UW-Madison.

Roberto Harrison‘s books include Os (subpress, 2006), Counter Daemons (Litmus, 2006), and a half dozen or so chapbooks. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Poems by the readers

Brenda Cardenas:

Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin:
Erasure of an Op-Ed by Our Imperial Scooter, March 10, 2011

Outstanding first year in Wisconsin—
one of the best!
Reasonable changes force
schools to fire based on
my budget-repair bill,
which passed and awaits
cutting billions of dollars!
In Wisconsin, we are reforming
the way government works.
Our plan gives tools to total reduction.
Bold changes are modest:
State workers contribute
half of their health,
wages and benefits,
a sister-in-law, two beautiful kids.
A typical middle-class Wisconsin family
would love a deal like the one we’re proposing.
Concessions speak louder than words:
Local governments can pass
a hope and a prayer,
reward barriers that block innovation.
When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed
collective bargaining in Indiana,
the average pay for Indiana state employees
actually ceased; employees’ pay ceases
when they do something exceptional.
Pass our budget-repair bill!
Good for the Badger State,
good for government employees
who overwhelmingly want their jobs.
In Wisconsin, we can avoid the teacher,
schools, America, the future, our children!
Dire consequences we face.
Taking the easy task each day,
there are protesters in and around
our state. They be hard.
But their voices cannot drown out
the voices of the countless payers
who want us, our budgets,
and, more importantly,
to make government work for them.

Published in Cream City Review, 35.1. Spring/Summer, 2011

Roberto Harrison:

A diversity in oneness


Tim Yu:

Chinese Silence No. 4

after Billy Collins, “China” 

I am a cicada floating in a coffee cup
on the desk of the Poet Laureate.

Grant proposals are being written.
Many bottles of Napa wine are emptied.

But even when his nodding head
strikes the desk like a bobbing Buddha’s,

I lurk silently inside
my mug, chipped by the teeth of Ezra Pound.


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