Download high-resolution image
Listen to a clip from the audiobook
audio pause button
0:00
0:00

Tarta Americana

Listen to a clip from the audiobook
audio pause button
0:00
0:00
Ebook
0"W x 0"H x 0"D  
On sale Sep 12, 2023 | 144 Pages | 978-0-525-50862-5
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
A suite of poems that channels the legendary singer-songwriter Ritchie Valens to examine and question mid-twentieth-century conceptions of race and art, identity and desire

Ragged and raging across the spectrums of cognition, race, and gender, Tarta Americana lyrically envisions forms of survival outside neuronormative perceptions and histories. Against the recent tide of white nationalism in the United States, Tarta Americana finds a rhinestone in Ritchie Valens, the rock and roll legend, surfacing across time and bodies, genders and sounds, displacing the linear unfolding of desire and biography. Valens, the embodiment of corporeal transcendence, guides Martinez as he expresses his own neurodiversity, his struggles and triumphs, interrogating memory, gender, and race, traversing pain in search of compassion and joy. Tarta Americana, tarred and glittering, melodic in its screams, overdrives text and space in chase of American politics that could, at last, harmonize love with redemption.
© Teresa Veramendi
J. Michael Martinez is the author of three collections of poetry, including Heredities, which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Museum of the Americas, which was a winner of the National Poetry Series Competition and long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry. He is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University. View titles by J. Michael Martinez
Advance praise for Tarta Americana:

“Martinez’s latest collection uses the figure of Ritchie Valens, the legendary Mexican-American recording artist, to unspool a knotted personal history, including chemical and erotic utopias and dystopias and the journey to writing about, from, and within neurodiversity . . . Those remediations are intimately expansive genealogies of a personal and collective wound but they are also explorations of neurodivergent form, understood as animated by radically synaesthetic ways of knowing.” Intervenxions, The Latinx Project at New York University

“A playfully kaleidoscopic collection that focuses on Ritchie Valens, the Chicano rock legend of the 1950s . . . Another superlative entry in this poet's record.” Booklist (Starred Review)

“J. Michael Martinez’s expanding oeuvre so often investigates and overturns the high and low mythologies of the intersection between Latinidad and U.S. imperialisms: in Tarta Americana, Martinez brings this analysis home and into the intimate space of fandom, queer desire and inscription. This book is Gen X ecstatic in its ambitious formal range and showcases Martinez’s love affair with the sublimity of language at all its registers. Tarta takes us into “You language,” as a discourse meant to deliver us more deeply into a new form of lyric autohistoria-teoria in what is Martinez’s best work yet.” —Carmen Giménez
 
“For too long, literary critics have explained Hispanic American literature as concerned mainly with “hybridity.” But the extreme warping of our political landscape demands the discovery and harnessing of new cultural properties. Enter the master of multi-perspectival narrative. J. Michael Martinez has constructed an epic…Tarta Americana is not only a riveting poetic-biopic of Richie Valens, but a way of understanding culture-making itself.” —Rodrigo Toscano
 
“In Tarta Americana, the celluloid and actual Ritchie Valens serve Martinez as body double and secret sharer, the shape-shifting persona who walks us through the cloaca of the political present and media sphere, through our unlived life in the industries of desire. Ritchie Valens’ ‘We Belong Together’ in the key of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Ritchie Valens as Rilkean angel and Orphic repository. Ritchie Valens as the recipient of a centerpiece epistolary sequence that further proliferates into many-sided embodiments ever larger than life—the ‘story-shape’ exuberant and relentless in Martinez’ quest to integrate what was broken or torn apart. The sonic register spans from the caustic vision of Mexican folk balladry with its existential vacilada to the custodies of ixiptla as presence and making present, and the maximalist cascade of ‘one more nonlinear,  / sweat stained star-  / lit night pulsing  / police lights  / across the rain streaked  / windshield where our most furious  / apprehensions  / blur all Rothko red . . . y arriba y arriba.” —Roberto Tejada

“’Flying guitar, what we knew is you flew,’ says the speaker in J. Michael Martinez’s dazzling, book-length, riff—code-switched—of Don McLean’s iconic song, lamenting the day the music died. Yes, Martinez deploys his signature array of formats and linguistic registers, only here his focus is one Richard Valenzuela AKA Ritchie Valens—a brilliant epistolary lens, through which the poet offers his most personal and vulnerable poemario to date…we are movingly persuaded when, in the end, the poet says: ‘These pages /are my hands, / you’re holding / my hands.’” —Francisco Aragón

 “Ravenous, cinematic, lost to angsty doldrums of rollerblading ‘past Hollywood Video's rows/of Styrofoam VHS dreams’— this is Tarta Americana, a love letter.  Martinez craves a deeper connection, past the iconography of a talent who died tragically and too young: the further Martinez ‘scrapes the narrative’ from his own skin, the more something more intimate than the myth of a man emerges, something ‘outside time, ear into the soft, it is this emptiness I want: our sacred outside existing only in each other.’” —Rosebud Ben-Oni

“Richie Valens, immortalized for La Bomba and Donna, dead at 17 in a plane accident, is here both patron saint and proxy-self, and Tarta Americana is both bildungsroman and protest song, a story of family and love, of the pain of growing up, and wide-eyed witness to the casual racism that culminates in cruel violence. In poems that pulse with a lyricism so bright is borders on the technicolor, this gifted poet gives to us what poetry and song have given him: ‘twin consolations to the noise.’” —Dan Beachy-Quick

About

A suite of poems that channels the legendary singer-songwriter Ritchie Valens to examine and question mid-twentieth-century conceptions of race and art, identity and desire

Ragged and raging across the spectrums of cognition, race, and gender, Tarta Americana lyrically envisions forms of survival outside neuronormative perceptions and histories. Against the recent tide of white nationalism in the United States, Tarta Americana finds a rhinestone in Ritchie Valens, the rock and roll legend, surfacing across time and bodies, genders and sounds, displacing the linear unfolding of desire and biography. Valens, the embodiment of corporeal transcendence, guides Martinez as he expresses his own neurodiversity, his struggles and triumphs, interrogating memory, gender, and race, traversing pain in search of compassion and joy. Tarta Americana, tarred and glittering, melodic in its screams, overdrives text and space in chase of American politics that could, at last, harmonize love with redemption.

Author

© Teresa Veramendi
J. Michael Martinez is the author of three collections of poetry, including Heredities, which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Museum of the Americas, which was a winner of the National Poetry Series Competition and long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry. He is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University. View titles by J. Michael Martinez

Praise

Advance praise for Tarta Americana:

“Martinez’s latest collection uses the figure of Ritchie Valens, the legendary Mexican-American recording artist, to unspool a knotted personal history, including chemical and erotic utopias and dystopias and the journey to writing about, from, and within neurodiversity . . . Those remediations are intimately expansive genealogies of a personal and collective wound but they are also explorations of neurodivergent form, understood as animated by radically synaesthetic ways of knowing.” Intervenxions, The Latinx Project at New York University

“A playfully kaleidoscopic collection that focuses on Ritchie Valens, the Chicano rock legend of the 1950s . . . Another superlative entry in this poet's record.” Booklist (Starred Review)

“J. Michael Martinez’s expanding oeuvre so often investigates and overturns the high and low mythologies of the intersection between Latinidad and U.S. imperialisms: in Tarta Americana, Martinez brings this analysis home and into the intimate space of fandom, queer desire and inscription. This book is Gen X ecstatic in its ambitious formal range and showcases Martinez’s love affair with the sublimity of language at all its registers. Tarta takes us into “You language,” as a discourse meant to deliver us more deeply into a new form of lyric autohistoria-teoria in what is Martinez’s best work yet.” —Carmen Giménez
 
“For too long, literary critics have explained Hispanic American literature as concerned mainly with “hybridity.” But the extreme warping of our political landscape demands the discovery and harnessing of new cultural properties. Enter the master of multi-perspectival narrative. J. Michael Martinez has constructed an epic…Tarta Americana is not only a riveting poetic-biopic of Richie Valens, but a way of understanding culture-making itself.” —Rodrigo Toscano
 
“In Tarta Americana, the celluloid and actual Ritchie Valens serve Martinez as body double and secret sharer, the shape-shifting persona who walks us through the cloaca of the political present and media sphere, through our unlived life in the industries of desire. Ritchie Valens’ ‘We Belong Together’ in the key of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Ritchie Valens as Rilkean angel and Orphic repository. Ritchie Valens as the recipient of a centerpiece epistolary sequence that further proliferates into many-sided embodiments ever larger than life—the ‘story-shape’ exuberant and relentless in Martinez’ quest to integrate what was broken or torn apart. The sonic register spans from the caustic vision of Mexican folk balladry with its existential vacilada to the custodies of ixiptla as presence and making present, and the maximalist cascade of ‘one more nonlinear,  / sweat stained star-  / lit night pulsing  / police lights  / across the rain streaked  / windshield where our most furious  / apprehensions  / blur all Rothko red . . . y arriba y arriba.” —Roberto Tejada

“’Flying guitar, what we knew is you flew,’ says the speaker in J. Michael Martinez’s dazzling, book-length, riff—code-switched—of Don McLean’s iconic song, lamenting the day the music died. Yes, Martinez deploys his signature array of formats and linguistic registers, only here his focus is one Richard Valenzuela AKA Ritchie Valens—a brilliant epistolary lens, through which the poet offers his most personal and vulnerable poemario to date…we are movingly persuaded when, in the end, the poet says: ‘These pages /are my hands, / you’re holding / my hands.’” —Francisco Aragón

 “Ravenous, cinematic, lost to angsty doldrums of rollerblading ‘past Hollywood Video's rows/of Styrofoam VHS dreams’— this is Tarta Americana, a love letter.  Martinez craves a deeper connection, past the iconography of a talent who died tragically and too young: the further Martinez ‘scrapes the narrative’ from his own skin, the more something more intimate than the myth of a man emerges, something ‘outside time, ear into the soft, it is this emptiness I want: our sacred outside existing only in each other.’” —Rosebud Ben-Oni

“Richie Valens, immortalized for La Bomba and Donna, dead at 17 in a plane accident, is here both patron saint and proxy-self, and Tarta Americana is both bildungsroman and protest song, a story of family and love, of the pain of growing up, and wide-eyed witness to the casual racism that culminates in cruel violence. In poems that pulse with a lyricism so bright is borders on the technicolor, this gifted poet gives to us what poetry and song have given him: ‘twin consolations to the noise.’” —Dan Beachy-Quick

Books for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Every May we celebrate the rich history and culture of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Browse a curated selection of fiction and nonfiction books by AANHPI creators that we think your students will love. Find our collections of titles here: Middle School High School

Read more

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

Read more

PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

Read more

PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

Read more