What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?
I just picked up “Thief in the Interior” by Phillip B. Williams and afterwards I want to start reading “Incorrect Merciful Impulses” by Camille Rankine. I have also been reading essays by Juliana Spahr online and doing close reads of some of my favorite poems too. I love “Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window” by Joy Harjo, “Savior Faire” by Claribel Alegria, “wont you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton, “Como Tu” by Roque Dalton, and anything by Lucie Brock-Broido. She has been a huge influence on my writing (which I don’t think is immediately obvious) but it’s true. I would love to meet Lucie one of these days. We live in the same city.
What book popped for you in 2015?
Robin Coste Lewis blew my mind last year, with her debut “Voyage of the Sable Venus.” And Eileen Myles is always my super-hero, so “I Must Be Living Twice” is very important to me too. I wasn’t able to read as much as I wanted to in 2015 though. I moved from NYC to SF then back to NYC because Venus was in retrograde.
Whose words do you return to regularly?
Lucie Brock-Broido, Eileen Myles, Eduardo C Corral, Natalie Diaz, Ocean Vuong. Those poets are very close to my heart, they have continuously impacted my viewpoints towards life and writing. Also important to me, as both poets and people, are Yusef Komunyakaa and Rachel Zucker. Oh and Marie Howe, she is my mother. I’m not sure if she knows how much I love her. I hope she reads this and knows. A lot of the poets mentioned here, I’m noticing, are my mentors and friends. I guess that’s telling. Sometimes I turn to books to hear the voices of my friends, especially when I am traveling. I wrote an email to Eileen from SF this summer saying “I almost cried at the bookstore, running my fingers across the book spines, flipping down the books by everyone I love. I sat in the bookstore listening to your voice, listening to Eduardo’s. I miss you.” Or something like that. I am poor as dirt right now but I feel so damn thankful to have such beautiful poems and poets in my life.
Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?
Camille Rankine’s new collection is on my mind. I am also waiting for the forthcoming debuts from Layli Longsoldier, Solmaz Charif, Ari Banias, Javier Zamora, Erika L Sanchez, Janine Joseph, Jos Charles. And new chapbooks from Nicole Sealey and Alysia Nicole Harris. There are a lot of talented poets alive right now. It’s going to be hard to win the NEA or Ruth Lily .
What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?
In February, I start my national “Tour To End Queer Youth Homelessness” so I will be traveling a bit for the next few months. My chapbook “Sad Girl Poems” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) just came out and so I will be reading from that. Also, I’m going to continue working on my first full length manuscript. I write fairly slowly and so I am just trying to be patient with myself about my writing process. I’m trying to ignore any poetry news or hype or expectations and just focus on my writing. I have a lot more to do before I start submitting my first full length.
CHRISTOPHER SOTO (aka Loma) is a queer latinx punk poet & prison abolitionist. For more information, visit christophersoto-poet.com