From a Newtown Literary contributor: Robert René Galván
Robert René Galván’s work was featured in issue #17 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed him about his writing and his answers are below. For more, follow him on Facebook or Twitter. You can also check out his forthcoming book publications, Undesirable: Race and Remembrance (Somos en Escrito Foundation Press – Berkeley, 2020), The Shadow of Time (Adelaide Books, 2021), and Standing Stones (Finishing Line Press).
When you think of Queens, what first comes to mind?
Multiculturalism and great food!
How does Queens influence your writing?
Queens has been my home for twenty years now and couldn’t be more different from where I grew up in terms of culture and pace. I feel that I can breathe here. It has all the advantages of big city life and within an hour’s drive I can climb to the top of Bear Mountain. Of course, this dichotomy finds its way into my poetry.
What is the last piece of writing you read that made you laugh or cry (or just especially moved you)?
I was moved by Michael Torres’ new book of poems, An Incomplete List of Names. He is also a poet who lives in the schism between two worlds.
What inspires you? Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your poems featured in the journal?
I’m provoked by so many things. Undesirable grew from an incident in the local supermarket where I was accosted by a racist man. So many memories emerged from that encounter and a full-length book of poems ensued. The poems that were selected for Newtown Literary were born out of the current pandemic: “Awakening” imagines its end; "Heitziner Hauptstrasse, 1918", recounts Egon Schiele’s death during the last major pandemic; and “Grand Central - March 2020" is a vision of the empty terminal.
What does your writing process/routine look like?
I have been writing poetry since the age of seven and all my work is written in bound journals with a fountain pen. (I have shelves of them that I revisit from time to time.) My poems usually begin as staccato images on the page from a particular inspiration and then I assemble them like pick-up-sticks into a coherent form. I refine them and then type them on the HP.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
I am also a conductor and multi-instrumentalist. I play Native American Flute, all percussion, guitars, ukes, charango, quarto, mandolin, piano, lap harp, xylophone, to name a few. I feature these instruments with one of my choirs that performs multicultural songs. I also enjoy cooking. I made Shawarma just the other day. My favorite, though, is Oaxacan mole.
What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
I am completing what will be my fifth book, Table of Elements, in which each element from the periodic table is treated with a poem.