Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guest Columnists: Olga Garcia, tatiana de la tierra, Liz Vega

La Bloga is happy to introduce a three-woman guest column today, Olga Garcia, tatiana de la tierra, Liz Vega. As you'll see from their biographical sketches following, they are an accomplished team of poets, educators, mujeres chingonas. It's a genuine honor they have chosen to join us today as La Bloga guests. For today's post--which La Bloga hopes will be the first of many-- they share a bit about themselves and their relationship to writing and art.
El Blogmeister: Michael Sedano

My Life as a Beet by tatiana de la tierra

I’d like to say that I’m rooted like a red beet with my head in the earth and my feet in the sky, that I am always in the land of metáforas and dramatic structure. But in reality, most of the time that I’m upright you’ll see me as a car potato, sitting in the driver’s side of my little blue Yaris, zooming along the 405 with the music blasting. Or I’m a wedge of hard aging cheese plopped in front of a computer monitor at home or at work.

You get the picture: I am a beet stuck in the body of a cheese-stuffed baked potato. I feel for my transgender brothers and sisters, as I know what it's like to be one thing on the inside (a writer and creatrix) and another on the outside (a professional something-or-other).

But back to the roots. My mom handed me over to a world of words when she read me poetry as a child. She read me children’s poems and prose by the brilliant Colombian author Rafael Pombo, and she also read me Neruda and Benedetti. She blasted music and sang along while doing housework, knitting and reading, introducing me to bambucos, boleros, and baladas, gifting me with music and melody. I took it from there. I was a budding writer in junior high, when I published my first haiku in the school’s literary newsletter. By high school I was writing feature articles and editing the school paper. I discovered the power of the word by listening, reading, and finally, writing.

I have been writing, editing, and publishing in multiple genres for the longest time—from poetry and songs to encyclopedia entries—and I’m nowhere near done. I really resonate with creative non fiction, with the rough, the raw, and the real. My bloga space will be filled with reflections of writing, music, and the arts. I can’t give too many details now because first I have to stick my beet-head back in the earth and plant my feet firmly in the sky. Until next time, I send everyone lots of beet luv.

Self-Proclaimed Poetry Prodigy by Liz Vega

One of my earliest memories is of me sitting around the kitchen while my mom cooked and recited poems. I grew up listening and reciting Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Amado Nervo and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

At family gatherings I was always part of the entertainment. For some time, it was adorable to watch a five-year old tackle the philosophical musings of older, depressed men and intellectual reclusive nuns. The adorableness quotient faded when I became a tall, budding fifteen-year old reciting traditional verse among my more animated competition—boisterous, bratty kids lip-syncing and dancing to Menudo, a band so alluring even I, the self-proclaimed poetry prodigy, had to worship them. Despite the ridicule and yawning adults, I held on steadfast to my poetry. I was enchanted with the beauty of words, the strength of metaphors, the swirling sounds of alliteration.

My love for the arts includes films, outsider art, contemporary art and reading good literature. Writing has also always been a hobby of mine. Fifteen years ago in D.C, a psychic named Fatima told me that I would become insanely wealthy through writing. I am still waiting. Until that happens I am excited about sharing my passion for what I find beautiful with La Bloga readers. I seek to review books, films, events and venues where children and families can develop and nourish their relationship with art and literature. I believe that through art and literature we transcend, evolve, and bridge seemingly different worlds. Art is essential to the nourishment of our souls; it is as essential as relationships and love. Al rato!

I Don’t Need No Stinking Roses by Olga García Echeverría

My writing roots stretch back to a tiny one-bedroom apartment that I shared with six siblings in East Los Angeles. Our home stood a few yards from the edge of the 710 freeway, where the never-ending roar of the speeding cars was our perpetual soundtrack. In our tight living quarters where hand-me-downs were the norm, there were few things I could claim as my own--writing was one of them.

As an adolescent, I created my first journal by stapling a stack of papers together with a title page that meant to say “Diary,” but since I was a terrible speller it read “Dairy.” Despite my rancho spelling errors, words on paper gave me then what they still give me now—testimony. I write, therefore I know I’m here.

We had few books at home when I was growing up, so my “literary classics” were telenovelas, ghost stories, El Cucui, La Llorona, and the family drama that never ceased to unfold. There were also the robust sensory details of barrio life--fearless cucarachas, chickens in the backyard, a Nina Simone record stolen from the local library (sorry!), Funky Town grooves blasting on an old record player, and the occasional slaughtered pig being dragged into the kitchen by my father who made and sold homemade chorizo. Poetry was everywhere—in the thundering freeway roar that I pretended was an ocean, in the mish-mash of English and Spanish, in the smell of frying tripas, in the eyes of the severed pig that greeted us when we opened the refrigerator door. These are the things that rooted me in poetry, instilling in me a love of language, details, and stories.

I look forward to sharing many words and thoughts with La Bloga. In particular I’m interested in seeking beauty and art in obscure places and exploring creative topics that may otherwise go under the radar. Hasta la próxima, I bid you all peace and poetry.

Olga Garcia
Astrological Sign: Ultra Libra
Zodiac Year: Qui Quiri Quiiiii!

Olga García Echeverría was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California. She has a BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. Currently, she teaches ESL to adult immigrants in Koreatown and English to high students via the Upward Bound Program. Her first book, Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas, was published by Calaca Press and Chibcha Press in September of 2008.


Tatiana de la Tierra

Astrological sign: Tauro (Sun & Moon)
Zodiac year: Ox
Occupation: librarian and writer
Location: Long Beach, California
Born in Villavicencio, Colombia and raised in Miami, Florida, tatiana de la tierra is a bicultural writer whose work focuses on identity, sexuality, and South American memory and reality. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Master of Library Science from University at Buffalo. She is author of For the Hard Ones: A Lesbian Phenomenology / Para las duras: Una fenomenología lesbiana and the chapbooks Porcupine Love and Other Tales from My Papaya and Píntame Una Mujer Peligrosa. foto: Hillary Crook.

Liz Vega
Astrological Sign: Scorpio
Zodiac Year: Rooster

Liz Vega works in education and is an avid supporter of the arts. When she is not juggling students or her two daughters, she is immersed in poetry, prose, or film. She was born and raised in East L.A., but in typical Mexican migratory fashion she moved back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico while growing up. Her formal education was marked by marijuana-growing nuns in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, bilingual classrooms in East Los Angeles, the sink or swim methods of a New England preppy boarding high school, and finally Cornell University, where she earned a degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in gerontology. Liz is currently putting her degree and concentration to good use as she is sandwiched between the needs of her aging parents and raising a family.

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1 comment:

Wendy Cobourne said...

I've known and loved tatiana for 37 hilarious and serious years. We came to know each other in 6th grade, when the class was standing in a hushed single-file line until this frizzy-haired girl dressed in loud colors emitted the most enticing and contagious giggle I ever heard. I had to get to know this iconoclast-in-training. I knew she would be the one to corrupt my oppressed and obedient ways. In high school, we spent many a night in my purple bedroom trying to fit our words into neat little columns in the campus paper. I've saved every letter she has ever written me and forced her to give me the rights to their future publication, because all readers should have access to every piece of her insightful, eloquent, irrestible and funny writing. - Wendy Cobourne, writer in self-imposed exile.