In Vietnam they were "Mập–Ốm" and in Spain, "El Gordo y el Flaco." Where I grew up, we simply asked for the square packets in which salted, roasted watermelon seeds were sold at the corner sari-sari store: "Fat & Thin," known to the rest of the world as Laurel & Hardy. Bare feet on Saturday porch steps, heads bent over rented, dog-eared komiks. Our lips whitened as we cracked each brittle pod open and our tongues extracted the slivers of meat inside, our greedy labors incommensurate to what it took to gather them from the bellies of fruit out of an acreage and more. A pile of dark shells grew where we sat, until the hour when a cuckoo might have trilled or taunted the lateness of the day; until one of us had his ears pinched by an irate mother—our own small vaudevilles playing to a gallery as the lamps came on.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. 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.