UPCOMING EVENTS: The Nintendo Generation and “Queer Futurity”

Thursday, April 11, 2019

I would like to call attention to a pair of upcoming literary events. On Saturday, April 13, Aleida Rodriguez is reading at Beyond Baroque, in Venice, California. On Thursday, April 18, at 4 p.m., Cherrie Moraga will be giving the annual Helena Maria Viramontes lecture at CSULLB at the University Theater at 4:00 p.m. Rodriguez was the first editor and publisher to publish Moraga’s poetry, though at the time she was still using her birth name (Lawrence). By chance, my poetry also appears in that issue of rara avis magazine.

Among the younger writers for whom the poetry of Rodriguez and the plays of Moraga provide the context of continuity, Monica Teresa Ortiz has had a chapbook published recently that deserves your attention. Autobiography of a Semiromantic Anarchist, which was the winner of the Host Publications Chapbook Prize, consists of two sections of prose poems, “the waiting room” and “sanctuary.” While each of these titles emphasizes the spatial setting, it is the temporal factor in this collection of poetry that proves to be the most revealing.

Ortiz regards herself as the Nintendo Generation, those born in or after the video game “Donkey Kong” debuted in 1981. Although I doubt she has any interest in pursuing the topic, I believe she could write a intriguing personal essay on the topic. As someone born at the start of the Baby Boom generation, I can vouch for how her descriptive term is an accurate delineation of a cultural shift that became best known as the Millennial Generation, after first being dubbed “Gen X.”

Ortiz’s score of prose poems in this chapbook most directly reflect the “survival” aspect of video games, which feature a narrative that tests the ability of a protagonist to withstand the sudden imposition of a hostile environment. Eros and Thanatos grapple like sweaty wrestlers in her poetry. “We fuck under the conditions of economic collapse and climate change.” While most of her generation cohort expresses its “outrage if (they) can be clever in under 240 characters,” Ortiz has chosen the less visible social medium of prose poetry. Autobiography of a Semiromantic Anarchist deserves to be retweeted about until the crisis she speaks of becomes the topic of urgent, massive action. In particular, I would call your attention to the final note in the post-script to the main portion of her book: “But I already told you: a queer futurity is the best bomb shelter we could build.” By that, I assume she means that there would be no bombs being built that we would need.a shelter from. In Ortiz’s writing, readers can find a worthy successor to the unwavering challenge posed by Don Gordon’s poetry of protest.