ANMLY #29 :: Canto Mundo : A Decade of Song

CantoMundo is community, labor, and collaboration. In 2009, founders Norma E. Cantú, Celeste Mendoza, Pablo Miguel Martínez, Deborah Paredez, and Carmen Tafolla were inspired by the Cave Canem workshops for African-American poets, and imagined a space where LatinX poets could come together, write together, and learn with each other. They formed CantoMundo. This collective exists because it was imagined into existence and then supported with love and a great deal of work. It has been supported by that labor and imagination for ten years. This folio is one snapshot, an incomplete one, of what happens when love, labor, and collaboration come together.

Angela Davis reminds us of the power of imagination to secure freedom. She tells us that in collectivism we can find hope and optimism. Davis tells us that imagination is not the end point, but the beginning of the struggle to freedom; and she also reminds us that we probably won’t see the impact or results of our efforts. It is certainly true that CantoMundo’s impact on Latinx poets and poetry while already incredible will also be felt in ways that cannot be yet conceived of or realized. 

The writers in this folio are part of the evolving mission and future of CantoMundo. My work has been to give them space. I know there are writers who are not in this folio, and their ideas and images and realities are missing. I feel humbled by that thought, as I feel humbled by the work of the poets in this folio. One some level, a labor like this one will inevitably  be unfinished. This is not what CantoMundo is, or even a representation of it. Rather, this folio is a promise, one that I hope we all make, to continue to be of service to the communities that have allowed us to learn from them and listen to them.

This group of poets and thinkers have helped me imagine a poetics of liberation and joy in ways I had no idea I needed or wanted. I came to CantoMundo a year after my cancer treatments, and I was very fragile, very nervous, and felt very broken. There are many who have been part of my return to a new life and a new body. And CantoMundo as a group, as leadership, as poets, as activists, as incredible humans — they are love in moments of terror, they are water in the moments of thirst, they are strength in moments of falling down. 

The poets in this folio are part of the present and future of LatinX poetry . Theirs are words to share.

M. Soledad Caballero
February 2020

M. Soledad Caballero is Professor of English at Allegheny College Her scholarly work focuses on British Romanticism, travel writing, post-colonial literatures, WGSS, and interdisciplinarity. She is a 2017 CantoMundo fellow, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize, has been a finalist for the Missouri Review’s Jeffry E. Smith poetry prize, the Mississippi Review’s annual editor’s prize, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award. Her poem “Myths We Tell” won the 2019 Joy Harjo poetry prize for Cutthroat: a Journal of the Arts. Her poems have appeared in the Missouri Review, the Mississippi Review, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Memorius, the Crab Orchard Review, Anomaly, and other venues.