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Launch Party for Gil Cuadros’ MY BODY IS PAPER

May 30 @ 7:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the SF LGBT Center

Launch Party for Gil Cuadros’ “My Body Is Paper”

An evening with Kevin Martin, Rafael Pérez-Torres and Amy Scholder

with an opening statement by Greyson Wright from the SF LGBT Center

City Lights celebrates the publication of

My Body Is Paper: Stories and Poems

by Gil Cuadros (Edited by Pablo Alvarez, Kevin Martin, Rafael Pérez-Torres, and Terry Wolverton)

Foreword by Justin Torres

Published by City Lights Books

Since City of God (1994) by Gil Cuadros was published 30 years ago, it has become an unlikely classic (an “essential book of Los Angeles” according to the LA Times), touching readers and writers who find in his work a singular evocation of Chicanx life in Los Angeles during and leading up to the AIDS epidemic, which took his life in 1996. Little did we know, Cuadros continued writing exuberant prose and poems in the period between his one published book and his untimely death at the age of 34. This recently discovered treasure, My Body Is Paper, is a stunning portrait of sex, family, religion, culture of origin, and the betrayals of the body. Tender and blistering, erotic and spiritual–Cuadros dives into these complexities which we grapple with today, showing us how to survive these times, and beyond.

Gil Cuadros (1962–1996) was a groundbreaking gay Latino writer whose work explored the intersections of sexuality, race, and spirituality. Diagnosed as HIV positive in 1987, Cuadros channeled his experiences into his acclaimed collection, City of God (published by City Lights in 1994), which captured the raw emotions of living with a life-threatening illness. His lyrical intensity and unflinching honesty shined a light on marginalized communities and familial expectations. The book was highly acclaimed when it was first published and captured the attention of prominent writers in the literary community, among them Paul Monette, Eloise Klein Healy, and Wanda Coleman. In the thirty years since, City of God has gone on to become a classic of Chicanx literature.

Kevin J. Martin is the executor of the Estate of Gil Cuadros, and a longtime copy editor and writer. Currently, he serves as Senior Writer and Associate Editor for MagellanTV, where he writes on various topics related to art and culture. Martin resides in Glendale, CA.

Rafael Pérez-Torres is professor of English and Gender Studies at UCLA and author of Movements in Chicano Poetry and Critical Mestizaje, co-author of Memories of an East L.A. Outlaw, and co-editor of The Chicano Studies Reader. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

Amy Scholder is a literary editor and documentary filmmaker known for amplifying the stories of marginalized writers, artists, musicians, and activists. Amy began her career as an editor at City Lights Books in San Francisco. She has since served as US Publisher to Verso Books, than later joining 7 Stories Press as Editor and Chief. In 2008, Scholder left Seven Stories to become the executive editor of the Feminist Press at the City University of New York. She has published books by David David Wojnarowicz, Sapphire, Cookie Mueller, Gary Indiana, John Giorno, Heather Lewis, Lynne Tillman, Kate Bornstein, Diamanda Galas, Hervé Guibert, Ann Rower, Mary Woronov, and June Jordan. Scholder was approached by director Pratibha Parmar and producer Shaheen Haq to help them finish their hybrid documentary feature film My Name Is Andrea, about Andrea Dworkin. She became an executive producer of the film, which premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.

Read Ruben Quesada’s appreciation of writers Gil Cuadros, Gary Soto and others in the Lambda Literary Review.

Praise for My Body Is Paper:

“In his poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, Gil Cuadros speaks the reality of his heart, honoring not only his suffering with HIV/AIDS but his survival.”– Eloise Klein Healy, author, A Brilliant Loss

“I weep with this book, although it is a celebration, it reminds me of the possibility of a writer called back too soon. The language is a song grounded in earth and culture. There is such rhythm I languish in the stories, even as they make me miss more and more. I don’t want it to end, so I keep going back and reading it over and over, each time a reference unfolds differently, the words strike other meanings, the memories have different colors, and I am left with who we all were.” –Luis Alfaro, playwright

Praise for Gil Cuadros’ City of God:

Chosen one of the Los Angeles Times’s “Essential Los Angeles Books,” April 2023

“Before he died in 1996, Cuadros left behind this remarkable gift. . . .this intense work depicts the rejection . . . often faced in Latino families, the empowerment spurred by sexual freedom, the menacing impact of the epidemic and the personal toll on Cuadros and his friends.”

– Los Angeles Times on Gil Cuadros’s City of God, honored as an “Essential Los Angeles Book,” April 2023

“The sensual, the expressive, the daring, the transformed become the martyrs of every era, every family. Their memoirs, heroics are our most devastating works of art. Gil Cuadros’s story ‘Unprotected’ is a classic of AIDS fiction and deserves a place of honor in the mosaic of American writing.”

–Sarah Schulman, author of My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years

“Cuadros, who won both the 1991 Brody Literature Fellowship and one of the first PEN Center USA/West grants to writers with HIV, establishes himself as a new force in contemporary gay-themed writing with this collection. City of God provides frank, powerful testimony to life’s continuation during the era of AIDS.”

–Publishers Weekly

City of God is an unsparing account of devastation and empowerment in the age of AIDS. From the body’s first mysterious eroticism to its final humiliation and pain, Gil Cuadros gives voice to both the beauty and sorrow of our common fate. His writing cuts like a double-edged sword–at times artful and sharp, at times unfiltered and raw. This is an awesome and haunting book.”

–David Trinidad, author of Digging to Wonderland: Memory Pieces

“In a voice poised between plainspokenness and urgency, Gil Cuadros writes about the remnants of love in a devastated world. The poems and stories in City of God are as dire as they are beautiful, and sharp as a blow to the body.”

–Bernard Cooper, author of My Avant-Garde Education: A Memoir

“I accuse Gil Cuadros of literary seduction in the nth degree . . . He makes me read on when I want to cry . . . I do not want to look at his words, and yet I cannot take my eyes away. His images sooth, burn, inspire. I accuse Gil Cuadros of language abuse–his stroke of silk, his pen a bludgeon. I accuse him of heart-bashing.”

–Wanda Coleman, author of Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems


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