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Author brings attention to sensitive subjects while sharing a reading of her newest publication

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Maria Meléndez, editor and publisher for the literary magazine Pilgrimage, read from her newest publication “Flexible Bones,” on Feb. 11 in the Cottonwood Room of the Occhiato University Center at CSU-Pueblo.

Southern Colorado Reading Series Coordinator, Juan Morales announced that the shipment of Meléndez’s book was received Feb. 10, just in time for Meléndez’s reading.

During his introductory speech, Morales said the publication had been long awaited at the university and said he was excited for its arrival.

Maria Meléndez after her SoCo reading on Feb. 11. Photo by Zak Bratton

“Flexible Bones” is a poetry collection which had been titled from the process of creating the book, Meléndez said, and because he was trying to be more flexible with her writing.

She read a passage from the epigraph which explained how a bat’s bones can sometimes be flexible when under stress or pressure; Meléndez joked saying how we could all use some bat bones.

Meléndez said “Flexible Bones” has a sense of nature, politics, friendships and history within its text.

Morales said Meléndez’s writing reminded him of “poetry’s overall power to preserve,” which Meléndez expressed by reading several pieces that interrupted her opinions about political issues, such as the war in Iraq. Click here to listen to the poem “Bridge,” from the new book “Flexible Bones” by Maria Meléndez.

She read a poem titled “Nonsense”, which she said was her way of expressing how the current war and the previous war with Iraq were just nonsense.

“What’s that they always say? Fight nonsense, with nonsense,” Meléndez said before reading the poem.

Even though Meléndez said she “brushes” politics with her poems in her new book, she still ties nature into her descriptions and imagery.

Her first reading from the book was one that conveyed her opinions and ideas about the Mathew Shepard hate crime murder outside of Laramie, Wyo., in 1998, which she felt she related to. In her poem, she compares the crime to the act of killing Bull Bison in Wyoming, just for the bull’s fur coat.

At the end of that poem, the audience was silent.

Morales said Meléndez utilizes her imagery and treats the page like a “canvas for her work rather than just a median for her poetry.”

Meléndez also has two other publications, “Base Pairs,” which Meléndez said has been out of print for five years, and “How Long She’ll Last in This World,” which she also read from during her presentation.

“Base Pairs,” received an honorable mention at the 2007 International Latino Book Awards, Meléndez said, and was a finalist for the 2007 PEN Center USA Literary Award.

Meléndez’s own love for nature is shared by her husband who recently received a job at the Pueblo Nature Center, in June 2009. She joked during her reading saying that she literally lives at the Nature Center.

She is also a family literacy coordinator at Bradford Elementary School, and she said she helps teach English as a second language to the Spanish speaking children and parents. Meléndez said she learned to speak Spanish by taking classes in college and perfected her dialect encouragement from her aunts in Arizona.