She had a gap between her two front teeth,
and her signature song was "Proud Mary."
In the '60s you came to know her after she
won a singing contest on Student Canteen.
Had it been part of your vocabulary back then,
you might have used "Afro" to describe her head
of wiry hair. You might turn out the way she did,
too, if your father was a Jamaican marine
stationed in the Philippines, and your mother
from the Visayas. You might think comedy a way
to deflect attention from the features everyone
loved to point out jeeringly--- skin of darkest
brown it was almost black, a lipsticked overbite
glowing under stage lights. "Negrita," they'd call
almost lovingly; but you'd strut across the stage,
belt out the rock & roll and rhythm & blues until
their seeing drowned in thunderous applause.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.