Mar 31 2014

I translated the poems that make up Black Tulips: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa (University of New Orleans Press, 2012).This Ping-Pong folio*  is inspired by several of Hinojosa’s relatively early poems, poems largely made out of questions. The question is a central trope in general in the work of Hinojosa. His poetry is a kind that is speculative and imaginative, with a language that grows increasingly richer, symbolic, and dense. The act of wondering fills his work, wondering about the world, about love, and finally about the present and future of the country he loves. Though his politics could not be further from my own, being the first translator of Hinojosa into English, becoming his voice in this language for the first time, was a great pleasure and a great responsibility. There was a great injustice in erasing such a gifted, significant poet. “Lost, but now found,” writes Jonathan Cohen, translator and poet. I can only hope he stays found for a very long time- Mark Statman

*Each year Ping-Pong magazine has a folio where we invite responses to various poems in translation. This year we will feature Alexander Blok.

Write your own poetic response to the following questions posed in this poem (in Spanish and English) by José María Hinojosa.  Read More >

Mar 23 2014

This week we celebrate the birthday of Cesar Chavez, (3.31.27), co-founder, along with Dolores Huerta, of the United Farm Workers Association. I wrote the following poem about a time I went out and picked tomatoes with my big brother, sister and her friends in San Joaquin Valley. I believe that everyone should have to work in the fields at one point in their lives. It changed my perspective on what I put in my mouth, and who exactly puts it there. Today I teach the children of farm workers. Cesar Chavez changed the brutal working conditions, but make no mistake, we still have a long way to go. Diego Luna just came out with a movie about Cesar Chavez, I highly recommend it.

After Tomato Picking

In fourth grade
I picked tomatoes
to make money.

The night before we packed
our lunches with anticipation
and American cheese sandwiches.

We left at dawn with the sun
bending the desert
into slivers of gold. Read More >

Mar 17 2014

How would you describe a beautiful woman? The American media-complex puts forth its definition of female beauty, and shocker-alert, it is equated with money: Botox injections 600.00, boob jobs, 5-10,000.00, hair styling, well, I once watched a “behind the stars” type of show that said Victoria Beckham spent 50,000 on her hair per year. Sheesh. In the amount of characters it takes you to tweet (140), give us your definition of female beauty. Here Denise Duhamel explores this notion, taking scissors to prescriptions of beauty:

Fat Fashionista

O Gucci, Diesel, Calvin Klein, and your teeny garb.  Even you, frolicking Betsey Johnson. I saved two years to buy one of your dresses only to find that none of them fit. O Victoria Secret with your tiny panties that only stretch so far. O skinny jeans, halters, and bikinis. O Anne Klein, Versace, Guess, Ralph Lauren! I can only window shop unless I diet—and what would be the pleasure in that? O Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Stella McCartney, let me tell you—there was a time when I had my own private designer, my grandmother Bertha Bourgeois and her aqua Singer.  Even when she worked from a Butterick pattern, she pinned the crepe paper to me first and made any adjustments. All my clothes were custom—I could be an apple, a pear, a turtle, any shape I wanted.  My designer didn’t care. I strutted the vinyl carpet runner that lead from her hallway to the living room wearing her latest creation.  Every season I picked my fabric and consulted with BB who took to it with chalk, her pinking sheers cutting along the bias.

Denise Duhamel is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including: Blowout (University of Pittsburgh, 2013), Ka-Ching! (University of Pittsburgh, 2009), Two and Two (2005), and Mille et un sentiments (Firewheel Editions, 2005). Four of her poems were included in the 2013 edition of Ping-Pong. She is a poet whose voice invites others to enter into the conversation. She rocks.
Photo Credit: Stewart Ferebee
Mar 10 2014

Round in all the right places:
hips, breasts.
Her lips watermelon your

Sticky, yes,

She licks you there—
A grin.

A grin.
She licks you there—

Sticky, yes,

her lips watermelon your
hips, breasts.
Round in all the right places.

Originally published in The Monterey Weekly in a slightly altered iteration.

Photo credit: Francesca Woodman

Mar 3 2014

The past is a whore insisting you notice her
grey feathered dress.


Photo Credit: Stewart Ferebee

Mar 3 2014

Your job is to write a piece of flash fiction in 200 words or less based on one of the stanzas in Joe Hall’s poem from the 2013 edition of Ping-Pong here:




“The newlyweds will only see their wives

through the grillwork.” I kiss you

behind the ear in the mesh

Read More >