Call her First Lady of Fania Records.
Insist she’s flip side of Celia Cruz
cutting her smile like caña, or Aretha’s
Puerto Rican sister. All the names drop
flat. Latin Soul Queen, Mott Haven maven
tuned to chirp, scat, ululate calling to
those who listen—La Lupe, Puro Teatro.
“7/07/07” and “La Lupe” are two poems in a series of poems written as kwansabas, a poetic form created by Eugene Redmond. The form consists of 7 lines of 7 words each. Each word is 7 letters or less. The thematic constraint that I have been working with relates to the connotations with the number 7. My interest in writing these poems was to explore the myths and mystical associations with this number that has popped up in various surprising ways throughout my life.
“7/07/07” emerged out of the urban legend that Tupac Shakur would reemerge on that date to refute his supposed demise. “La Lupe” is one of several poems where the 1970s become integral to the work-in-progress. La Lupe was one of the key vocalists of the Fania Records, a label that established salsa music in 1970s New York. This Cuban-American vocalist died in the Bronx, and her songs have been sampled in hip hop songs and featured in Pedro Almodovar films. Aside from being a child of the seventies, these are two of many poems culled from pop culture references, archetypes, and literature that are evident throughout the poems in this series.
Arc & Hue is Tara's debut collection on Willow Books. The poems address nostalgia, longing, and letting go whether through poetic form, narrative or lyric or via allusions to Hurricane Katrina, Venus Hottentot, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight or Common. To quote Wanda Coleman, "These bold and engaging poems are the treasures of a caring writer fully committed to her gift. Sistuh Lady cooks."