Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Renaissance Man.(Books)

Byline: David Steinberg Of the Journal

Chicano literary pioneer unites culture with poetry

Novelists and nonfiction writers have a shot at the spotlight: Fat advance checks and a spot on a bestseller list may be at the end of their rainbows.

As for poets? Sure, they get published. But how many are knighted poet laureates? Most struggle off the spotlight's track.

Albuquerque is the home to a respected Chicano poet the spotlight has missed. No, no. Not Jimmy Santiago Baca. He's famous.

Does the name Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo ring a bell?

His first major collection was recently published. (See accompanying review.)

I want to tell you more about the man than about his poetry.

"He is one of the founding poets of "El Movimiento Chicano," says Rudolfo Anaya, the dean of Chicano writers. That's a reference to the Chicano civil rights movement and cultural renaissance that blossomed in the 1960s.

If you count up Garcia-Camarillo's many endeavors, you will likely conclude as I have that "poet" doesn't fully or fairly describe his accomplishments.

He's been a pioneer as editor/publisher of three literary publications. He's been a playwright. He's served as the cultural attache at the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque. He is an artist; he creates "visual poetry." And since 1979 he has been the host of the KUNM-FM weekly radio program "Espejos de Aztlan. …

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