Play every note loud — especially the wrong ones.
– Dizzy Gillespie
Look at his website, though, and you may not be sure whether “poet” is a label big enough for Rosal. He’s authored books of poems, sure, but he’s also an essayist, a teacher, a voiceover artist, a performer and guy who really — I mean, seriously — likes music.
Need proof? Just check out his bio: “A New Jersey native, a life-long amateur musician, and an old school b-boy and DJ” — this is the stage Rosal sets for himself. Through the late ’80s and early ’90s, Rosal was a music producer for Metropolitan Recording Corporation, working with acts such as Joey Gold and Laissez Faire, and has recently appeared in the music video “Makin’ My Move” for soul artist Phillip Alexander. Even better, Rosal claims he can still do baby swipes — though there’s no confirmation that we’ll see these at today’s reading.
Heavy hitters in the literary world agree Rosal, a visiting writer at the University of Texas at Austin, is a force to be reckoned with. Fiction writer and memoirist Junot Díaz spoke of Rosal’s first poetry collection, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive, like this: “Part immigrant-song, bildungsroman, family-chronicle, and love story, the collection is nearly overwhelming in its beauty. Rosal, almost sorcerous in his abilities, has called up a language, a hurricane, a world, a searing meditation…. This is a book from whose pages you’ll emerge (in no particular order): shaken, heartbroken, annealed, made new.”
Uprock was a finalist for the Asian-American Writers’ Workshop Literary Awards and winner of the AAWW Member’s Choice Award. His chapbook, Uncommon Denominators, won the Palanquin Poetry Series Award. Rosal’s second full-length poetry collection, My American Kundiman, a title referring to the traditional Filipino love songs of Rosal’s heritage, was published by Persea Books in fall 2006.
Patrick Rosal will read at 4:30 p.m. today at Author’s Corner on the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright Street, Champaign. The reading is free and open to the public.