Tuesday, January 7, 2020

THOSE WHO PRAY TO RICE by Julio Montalvo Valentin

NightBallet Press wishes all of you a very Happy New Year!

To celebrate the beginning of 2020 — a new year, a new decade 
we have a very special treat for you!

We are enormously pleased to announce the publication of
Those Who Pray to Rice, a new book of poems by Julio Montalvo Valentin!!

                                         (Striking cover art by Jeanette Powers)

Those Who Pray to Rice contains nineteen beautifully written poems about Puerto Rico and what it means to be Puerto Rican-American, expanding on themes of family, food, and the experiences of hurricanes, poverty, and survival. He deftly weaves Spanish words and phrases throughout his poetry, musically and naturally, to give the reader a true sense of his cultural identity. 

Of Those Who Pray to Rice, Antonio Barrios, Executive Director at The Lorain Arts Council, has written, "What joy Mr. Valentin brings with the wonderful analogies uses of the everyday simple pleasures of cultural identity through food...and he has added depth to the age-old story of Juan Bobo."

Beginning with the central theme of "13 Ways of Looking at Rice," Valentin continues to explore how rice is not just a staple but a way of life in poems like "Rant," "Interlude in My Mother's Mouth," and "The Power Went Out for Three Days."


and no one died.
and the bodegas fed everyone.
and we used the supplies for Y2K.
and the drum fires sang us to sleep.
and the fiends shared their childhood memories.
and the sirens went silent.
and the zombies kept watch.
and litter didn't float in the sky.
and no one had to sell their food stamps.
and we all sipped on the goodnight juice,
and we didn't have curfew.
and all the stars appeared in the Bronx.
Fifteen years ago,
Grandma cooked all the rice in the neighborhood
and no one died.

Other poems offer the intriguing titles of "Diaspora of the Banana Cloud," "Under Steve Buscemi's Eyes," and "She, the Bomb."

Julio Montalvo Valentin (they/them) has authored two previous chapbooks, Don't Give Up the Ship (2015) and Ship Lost (2016). Julio is poetry editor for Coffin Bell Journal and Variety Pack, both based in Buffalo, NY. They also serve as teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center. Aside from studying poetry and English literature at Buffalo State University, they can be found working on their next project, converting a school bus into a poetry caravan.

Those Who Pray to Rice is only $10 plus $3 shipping, and is available through PayPal, right here and now! You need not be a member of PayPal; just have your debit or credit card number available for checkout. (All prices are for U.S. customers only; for out-of-country postage prices, please email the editor.) Get your copy of Those Who Pray to Rice today!

Those Who Pray to Rice made its initial debut at "Streetlight Imaginations: Poets Read from Recent Books" at Cuyahoga County Public Library in South Euclid, Ohio, on November 23, 2019. Sponsored by Laurie Kincer and co-hosted by NightBallet Press/Dianne Borsenik and Crisis Chronicles Press/John Burroughs, S"treetlight Imaginations" brought eight poets together for a wonderful afternoon of readings. This event doubled as the book release for Those Who Pray to Rice



"Streetlight Imaginations"
Pictured left to right: Karen Schubert (NBP), Nicole Hennessy (CCP), John Burroughs (publisher of CCP), Julio Montalvo Valentin (NBP), Dianne Borsenik (publisher of NBP), Elaine Schleiffer (CCP), Sean Thomas Dougherty (NBP), Lisa M. Dougherty (NBP), Cat Russell (CCP), and Nick Gardner (CCP).



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