Poetas y amigas
By Lisa Lenard-Cook
Imagine doing something because you love doing it—not for money, fame or someone else's praise, but because it connects you with yourself, your friends and your world. Now imagine that that something involves poetry.
Tres Chicas Books are love's labors found, rediscovered in 2003 when New Mexico poetas y amigas Renee Gregorio, Joan Logghe and Miriam Sagan decided to start a press, first of all for the sheer pleasure of working together, but mostly to share with readers the odds and ends of their writing—experiments with both words and living—that would likely not find homes anywhere else, and to do so without the commercial demands of mainstream publishing.
If the books Tres Chicas has published thus far are any indication, though, the pleasure is all ours. These are beautiful books, from their smaller-than-usual size to their pastel covers adorned with simple black and white woodcuts. Each book is a pleasure to hold, a pleasure to behold, and most of all, a pleasure to unfold to discover the gifts within.
I use the word gifts with full intentionality. There is the gift in Renee Gregorio's 2004 Water Shed of tanka (an ancient Japanese poetry form), prose and meditations about her black belt Aikido practice, such as:
I never learned
to like the fall backwards, when
it's hard to recall
that direction doesn't mean
I'm not still moving forward.
There is the gift, in Joan Logghe's Rice, also from 2004, of home, hearth and heart:
I am the wife. The bounty is now, the moment
rises and falls in a face. I have been fasting
from love. I want the real feast. I accept
Finally, in Tres Chicas's most recent book, the 2005 Just Outside the Frame, there is the gift of 55 poets, the great majority of them from New Mexico, whose works have been lovingly compiled here by Miriam Sagan and Miriam Bobkoff. Originally published on the webzine Santa Fe Broadside (sfpoetry.org), the collection brings together myriad voices in a chorus at once harmonious and attuned to the individual poets. Here's well-known Sapello poet Judyth Hill:
February emptied me.
I gave and got, gave and got.
I can tell the whole story now.
In the down dark, seeds wait.
There's also lesser-known Deborah Finch of Albuquerque, whose day job as a research biologist serves her poetry well:
as you sing softly, clinging
to a twig in the undergrowth,
then touch ground, knowing the way of everyday,
flying shadows of cliff and pine.
In this coming year, Tres Chicas will publish its fourth labor of love: collaborator, honorary Chica and Albuquerque resident JB Bryan's Big Thank You. The three women first hired Bryan, whose own labor of love La Alameda Press has a nationwide reputation for its poetry books—including books by Gregorio, Logghe and Sagan—to design their books. As Logghe notes, "He loved the fact that we were carrying on the small press tradition in our own quirky way."
Las Chicas are also in a new video, along with Judyth Hill, called "Intimate Witness," originally filmed in 2000 by Jonathan Lowe of Video Magic.
Firm believers of "growing art in a peer situation," Tres Chicas' goal is to move beyond the politics of art and work instead in "the politics of friendship and comadres."
All Tres Chicas titles are distributed by Small Press Distribution (www.SPDbooks.org) and can be ordered at local bookstores or from the authors.
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