L.A. Book Launch: Cenizas by Cynthia Guardado

When: October 22, 2022
Time: 7 pm
Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, 681 Venice Blvd Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA 90291


About this Event
Cenizas offers an arresting portrait of a Salvadoran family whose lives have been shaped by the upheavals of global politics. The speaker of these poems—the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants—questions the meaning of homeland as she navigates life in the United States while remaining tethered to El Salvador by the long shadows cast by personal and public history. Cynthia Guardado’s poems give voice to the grief of family trauma, while capturing moments of beauty and tenderness. Maternal figures preside over the verses, guiding the speaker as she searches the ashes of history to tell her family’s story. The spare, narrative style of the poems are filled with depth as the family’s layers come to light.

Guardado crafted the poems in Cenizas over a ten-year period, often traveling to El Salvador for research and to conduct interviews. The Salvadoran Civil War haunts the pages of this collection as it unflinchingly explores war, its aftermath, and the bittersweet legacies that are passed down from one generation to the next. The poems mourn those who were lost and honor the strength of the speaker’s ancestors. “All my people have been born from the ashes of volcanoes,” she writes, invoking a family lineage that has endured the atrocities committed against them. Even so, El Salvador keeps pulling the speaker back—and despite warnings of danger, she still manages to find beauty among the ruins.

Celebrate the launch of Cenizas (University of Arizona Press) with readings by poets Xochitl Julisa-Bermejo, Andrés Sanchez, and special music performance by Lilyflor del valle at Beyond Baroque. Following the performances there will be a book-signing in the poets’ garden. Reception with food and light refreshments will be provided.

“Cenizas inhabits the fine realm between the living and the dead, the past and the present, el aquí y el allá. Each page is a portal through which Guardado exhumes the atrocities Los Estados has inflicted upon her family, her country, her own body. This is a book ‘full of thunderstorms,’ but our guide, our medium, our bruja, makes sure we learn to wring our clothes before the next lighting strike.”—Javier Zamora author of Solito

“En este libro, ‘No hay bibliotecas … y la academia es mi mamá.’ A poet’s legacy, her everyday knowledge, and doctoral education are hard lace and poetry. This El Salvador not only survived war and ongoing violence, but blossomed flor y canto across a continent, only to land in Cynthia Guardado’s words. And when we arrive in the middle of Los Angeles and its ‘sea of people swarming,’ the poet ‘holds tightly onto’ her family’s lives in this book: this is how she ‘keeps them from falling’ out of our memories and into the heart of American letters.”—Vickie Vértiz, author of Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut

Livestream: If you can’t join us in-person the event will be livestreamed on Beyond Baroque’s YouTube channel at the scheduled time of the event.

Reservation Policy: Please RSVP if you are planning to attend this event. We accept walk-ins, but priority will be given to people that have registered. Limited seating is available; we recommend arriving early.

About the authors
Cynthia Guardado is a Los Angeles–born Salvadoran poet and professor. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Cenizas and ENDEAVOR. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, U.S. Latinx Voices in Poetry, and The Wandering Song. Guardado won the Concurso Binacional De Poesía Pellicer-Frost in 2017, and Cenizas was a finalist for the National Poetry Series in 2019.

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016). A former Steinbeck Fellow and Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner, she’s received residencies from Hedgebrook, Ragdale, National Parks Arts Foundation, and Poetry Foundation. She has poetry published in Acentos Review, CALYX, American Poetry Review, and most recently, her poem, “Battlegrounds” was featured at Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day and On Being’s Poetry Unbound. Her poetry and organizing are inspired by her Chicana experience and a drive to cultivate comfort in chaotic times. She is director of Women Who Submit, a literary organization fighting for gender parity in publishing. IG: @xochitljulissa

Andrés (Andy) Sanchez, They/He is a trans/non-binary Mexican poet, advocate, and traveler. They migrated to the U.S. at the age of 5 and grew up in Southern California and Las Vegas, NV. They currently live in Long Beach with their dope little black cat Copal. Andy has been featured in over two dozen open-mics in the LA area and has hosted workshops, talks, and readings for diverse communities.Their first collection of poems, This Body was published by World Stage Press in 2020. Andy currently teaches for the Community Literature Initiative.

About the musicians
Lillyflor del Valle is a first generation Salvadoreña, Mother, musician and composer with commUNITY roots in the North East San Fernando Valley. She strives to live each day ARTfully. IG: @lillyfloryloscompas.

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