Rosebud Ben-Oni with Diego Báez, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, J. Michael Martinez, Juan Morales and Octavio Quintanilla on {Power} Ballads

Darrel Alejandro Holnes (photo credit: Hope Thompson), Octavio Quintanilla, Diego Báez, Rosebud Ben-Oni,  J. Michael Martinez, Juan Morales
Darrel Alejandro Holnes (photo credit: Hope Thompson), Octavio Quintanilla, Diego Báez, Rosebud Ben-Oni, J. Michael Martinez, Juan Morales

This conversation began quite organically: at CantoMundo 2014, with J Michael’s Martinez’s sonic-powered laughter ringing through Opening Circle. Over the course of the next few days the six of us—Diego Báez, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, J. Michael Martinez, Juan Morales, Octavio Quintanilla, and yours truly ended up talking about hair metal, thrash metal, the marriage and funeral in “November Rain,” this funny take on “Sweet Child of Mine,” Keanu Reeves in that Paula Abdul video (more on that later), and the intergalactic strangeness of Gwar. (Remember Gwar? Remember the nightmares you had because of Gwar?) In one way or another, our poetry has been influenced by power ballads, and we decided to explore this relationship in more depth. We hope, by the end of this conversation, you’ll find your own inner power chord…—Rosebud “7TrainLove” Ben-Oni

Darrel Alejandro Holnes and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Darrel Alejandro Holnes and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Darrel Alejandro Holnes and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

It gives me great pleasure to present the second conversation between CantoMundo poets in a 3-part series: Marcelo Hernandez Castillo and Darrel Alejandro Holnes. Let’s begin with a note from Marcelo on conversing in a pecha kucha. —Rosebud Ben-Oni

Darrel Alejandro Holnes and I set out to participate in a discourse that outlines some of our aesthetic interests and similarities and, perhaps, to bridge some of the points of variation through which Latin@ poetry seems to intersect. Eventually, I proposed to reconsider the connotations around the terms “discourse” and “conversation.” I wanted to experiment with the limits of what we can call a conversation, so I proposed to Darrel that we enter into a type of discourse that offers both a lyrical associative gesture and an exercise in collaboration. Terrance Hayes has translated a formal structure of presentation called a Pecha Kucha (from the re-appropriated Japanese word for “picture”) into a poetic form in his book, Lighthead. The form derives from architecture students fed up with having to sit through PowerPoint presentations for hours. In effect, they devised a new form: 20 x 20. The presentation consists of 20 images that all must contribute to the advancement of the overarching theme, and you have 20 seconds to talk about each one. Pecha Kuchas became a worldwide phenomenon, with people from different disciplines coming together to speak for 20 seconds about their specialty. “Pecha Kucha Nights,” as Terrance explained to me, were a chance to construct interdisciplinary conversations through the medium of association.