Poets Online Talking About Coffee: Ruben Quesada

Welcome to Team QMT! What can our readers expect from your editorship?

Where do I begin? It’s the year 2020 and Queen Mob’s Teahouse is a source of information that offers readers meaningful, investigative, provocative essays, stories, letters, poetry, translations, films and videos that are accessible through multiple forms of media and mobile platforms—content that encourages and transforms literacy through multiple perspectives and forms of language. The digital world we live in allows us the privilege to hear and see the world through the perspectives of people around us. At QMT, I want to feature the beauty and the ugliness that exists around us to learn what it means to be alive. Readers bring their own experience and literacy to magazines and it is the responsibility of the editors to find ways to introduce and feature content to all of its readers. A number of literary magazines over the years have become sensitive to multiple literacies, a multiplicity of perspectives. These magazine editors are aware that there are readers for all forms of writing—there is no cannon, there is no overarching or dominant mode of understanding. Language, technology, culture is ever evolving and QMT will evolve and adapt to meet those demands.

How can a potential QMT contributor grab your attention when submitting their writing (or film etc.)?

Aside from making the submission content both thoughtful and well-crafted, potential contributors should wrap their submissions in glitter or shiny cellophane. I want the concision of Ted Chung’s filmic storytelling with the packaging of a Lynchian drama, bear hugged by J.J. Abrams. An #elevatorpitch doesn’t hurt either.

And where should they send submissions?

Email me at ruben.quesada [at] queenmobs [.] com

Who are your favourite latina poets at the moment?

Latino/a poetry has come along way in the last decade. There are a growing number of Latino poets to read. Here are a few my favourite contemporary Latino/a poets: Laurie Ann Guerrero; Dan Vera; Carolina EbeidDavid CamposRosebud Ben-Oni.

What can you tell us about (the writing process behind etc) “When Night Saved My Life” and “The Fortune Teller”?

The poem “When Night Saved My Life” came about in multiple ways. I was visiting several museums in San Francisco this spring and at the de Young Museum I was struck by the dark yet hopeful painting by George Iness, “Moonlight.” The use of chiaroscuro by Iness is masterful. The aureate moonlight is hopeful. It was something that I needed recently when I began to miss my dear friend in Ireland. The painting’s composition reminded me that even on the other side of the world there is something beautiful awaiting me. Heartache can inspire beauty. So many things in the world around us today discourage sadness or a darkness that might be perceived as negative. I need that darkness to appreciate the light and beauty around me and that’s what I felt Iness was striving for in his painting. It is the dark of night from this painting that helped me heal.

My poem “The Fortune Teller” came about in an entirely different way. During my same trip in San Francisco I walked through the Legion of Honor and this painting by Jacques-Louis David seemed to beg further exploration. I’ve written about another one his paintings titled “Oath of the Horatii,” which depicts three men at home before they head off to battle. The painting for my poem was also domestic in nature. Here, we have the two female figures—a woman is having her palm read by another woman. I’ve been fascinated with the occult since I was a child and this was an opportunity to create a story surrounding these women. The situation seemed right to imagine their lives. It was that simple.

The Fortune Teller

After Jacques-Louis David

This is her forecast; her voice
waivers. She falls to her knees,

eyes closed, face fading. She takes
my hand like taking communion

and traces a future onto my palm—
an undiscovered heart

line of men, my mother
on the moon, my hair

covered in a haze of zinnias. My
mother is dead of fever. It happens

two nights from now. This old woman,
too, will wilt soon. Days later

I return to confirm her truths.
She wears a heavy green coat,

a bouquet blooms from her mouth—
a mist of pink petals clouds the room.

With regards your coffee drinking, what is past, passing and to come?

I’ve a long-standing relationship with coffee. Nothing can keep us apart.

It’s funny, my mother grew up next to a coffee plantation in Costa Rica and there’s a running joke in my family that coffee is in our blood. I don’t remember a time growing up or even now without it.

I’ve had coffee from silky black to milky white and in all forms. Sometimes I wake up thinking of its aroma–freshly ground coffee beans. It’s a bright, earthy smell that seeps into your clothes and skin if you’re around it long enough. I’ve even made my own facial scrub with ground coffee beans. My favorite way to have it is as espresso in an Americano–a little bit of hot water to thin out the body–on a cold morning makes the start of my day better.

I recently met a woman who started her own coffee company and shop. She purchases coffee beans directly from sellers in Ethiopia and sells them in her own coffee shop. Sounds like a dream come true! My next collection of poetry is about coffee beans, did I forget to mention that?

Submit a comment