Yago: I would love to work as an academic librarian at a state college or university with a small but respectable creative writing program and help them develop curriculum and programs that champion Latin American poetry, in general, and U.S. Latino poetry, specifically. I could easily transmit my experiences as a bilingual teacher of English, publisher of contemporary poetry, and Latino poet. Currently, I am a bilingual outreach specialist for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles (http://www.lfla.org) tasked with training parents, administrators, and counselors at non-profits, L.A.U.S.D. school sites, and Family Source Centers on how to access Live Homework Help, the free, online homework tutoring offered by the Los Angeles Public Library (www.lapl.org).
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Yago: The Biblioteca Nacional de Argentina in Buenos Aires, or the National Library of Argentina in Buenos Aires (http://www.bn.gov.ar/). The building was built in the “Brutalist” style, so I wouldn’t call it a pretty building per se, but its highly imposing, and you just have the feeling that brainy stuff is going on inside. At the same time, the architects used concrete conspicuously so the building feels a little precarious and intimidating; it juts out at exaggerated angles, and resembles a giant robot head placed on top of a skinnier robot neck. I think Prince Charles called it a monstrosity, which it kind of is, but it’s probably the prettiest monstrosity where books are kept.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Yago: I am currently working my way through Natalie Angier’s The Canon, when I have a second or two, and it’s pretty fantastic. But, Breakfast of Champions is probably my favorite book of all time. I’d be happy with anything written by Stephen Johnson, or Eduardo Galeano’s three part history of The Americas, Memory of Fire. In terms of poetry, I have an obsession with Nicanor Parra’s Antipoems: New and Selected and Roberto Juarroz’s Vertical Poetry. In terms of Latin American fiction, Vargas Llosa’s, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and Roberto Bolano’s, Nazi Literature in the Americas have recently stupefied me to my core.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Yago: I love how seamlessly libraries integrate the different layers of technologies on the menu in our civilization and society; in many ways, libraries have always been like the Las Cruces testing grounds for technologies. I was really inspired by two things I recently read in the Sept./Oct. 2012 Back to School issue of American Libraries. When the Public Libraries and the Internet surveys were first conducted in 1994, just 20.9% of public libraries were connected to the internet. By 2004, nearly 99.6% of all public libraries were connected to the internet. In other words, libraries have been fundamental in standardizing (and championing) internet use, but it seems like e-book producers have turned their backs on libraries. In that same article, the authors (John Carlo Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, and Lindsay C. Sarin) discuss the evolution of the library from a space where information was kept to a laboratory where information is parsed, “We are well aware that the days of the library as solely a repository of print materials are long gone. The library is a central community space that serves…many whom rely on the library for both cultural and intellectual integration.”
Naomi: What Blogs, Websites or Feeds should we be following?
Yago: In 2011, I started The Shusher’s Blog (http://theshusher.tumblr.com) to highlight the work I was doing on behalf of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. If you are looking to collaborate with non-profit, educational, community-based, or social welfare organizations in Los Angeles, chances are I have visited with them to bring the gospel of Live Homework Help. I also blog about public library issues that come up when I work as a substitute for the L.A.P.L.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Yago: In 2010, I started an online literary journal, Hinchas de Poesia (www.hinchasdepoesia.com) because I had learned coding and Dreamweaver fundamentals in library school. The journal is like my spokesperson for how passionate and committed I am to literacy and its expressions. Many employers have looked favorably on the skills I was able to teach myself publishing Hinchas, and the initiative it took to start something of that sort. We just published our seventh issue and want to correspond our eight issue with the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012. Find something you love and pursue it, and people will generally notice the passionate attention and love you have poured into that thing.
Yago S. Cura is an Outreach Specialist for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. He publishes Hinchas de Poesía (www.hinchasdepoesia.com), an online literary journal, and has had poetry published in Lungfull!, LIT, Exquisite Corpse, PALABRA, Skanky Possum, Versal, La Fovea, and COMBO. He moderates a Spanglish poetry blog, Spicaresque (http://spicaresque.blogspot.com), that has had more than 37,000 visitors and a librarian blog, The Shusher’s Blog (http://theshusher.tumblr.com), that documents all his outreach efforts on behalf of the L.A.F.L. He has facilitated creative writing and freshman composition workshops at UMASS-Amherst and Latin American Poetry workshops at Beyond Baroque in Venice.