Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Floricanto Returns to USC. On-Line Floricanto Continues.

Michael Sedano

Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow concluded its three-day run Friday evening with a reception for the exhibition Sueños by the Sea: Celebrating Los Festivales de Flor y Canto at USC.

The festival's first day reunited veteranas veteranos videotaped at the 1973 floricanto; that was Yesterday, a misnomer given the energy and ongoing power of these artists. Now I'm thinking we should bill the next festival--there will be another--as "From Yesterday to Today leading into Tomorrow," for clearly that is the status of Chicana Chicano, Latina Latino literature at this moment in history, a living, growing, vitally alive literary tradition.

The Today and Tomorrow themes spread across the second and third days that blended presentations of important contemporary poets and writers with several poets making their debut at an important event, as well as readings by a graduate student and three undergraduate poets, sponsored by El Centro Chicano, the original host back in 1973.

Great news for those unable to attend, and those wishing to relive the festival. In coming weeks, USC's Digital Library will be posting video of Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow, filmed gavel-to-gavel by Jesus Treviño. In addition, I donated my archive of 1973 photographs to USC and these, too, will soon be publicly available on the digital library.

Available right now are the extant videos from 1973's first Festival de Flor y Canto at this link. For the most part, these videos have not been viewed since their distribution in the mid-1970s, and as I've reported in earlier La Bloga columns, nearly were lost. To view a collection of photographs from 1973, click here.


Foto: Francisco Alarcón / Source: Facebook.

All three days, the emotion that filled Friends Lecture Hall in Doheny Library was palpable. I could smell it, taste it in the air; felt it in the hugs and kisses of well-wishers; saw it in the abrazos and smiles shared in small and big groups; heard it in laughter and excited chatter coming from every corner and aisle in the room, in the hallway, at the reception.

Great news arrived at the exhibition reception, when USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan expressed a view that USC needs another floricanto next year. ¡Ajua! Dean Quinlan, the audience nodded in joyous agreement. I believe the statement was not an offhand phatic remark. Given USC's long-standing commitment to Chicana Chicano, Latina Latino literature, a festival de flor y canto could become the signature event annually reaffirming that commitment. I volunteer to help. Anyone else?

Here is a slideshow of portraits of every presenter in the three-day event. As the emcee, I had a front row seat and was able to capture numerous effective images. For a larger size view--one that plays well in full screen mode, view the slide show at Read! Raza (do allow time to load).

video


On-Line Floricanto

Among the more engaged performers at both Tuesday's Un Floricanto Adelanto and Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow, was Francisco Alarcón. He helped Abel Salas organize the Tuesday event at Corazón del Pueblo, and conducted a four directions ritual at USC, in addition to bringing his mother and brothers to Doheny Library to share the love.

Francisco's energy extends to the virtual world (does anybody still use that phrase, other than me?). Francisco responded to Arizona's hate legislation by forming the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070. Francisco, and his moderator team, weekly select poems to share with La Bloga. This On-Line Floricanto has become one of La Bloga's most popular features.

1. "The Remembered" by Genny Lim
2. "Defiance of Flowers" by Alma Luz Villanueva
3.“A Chicana Chant For Roots Up High On The Mountain” by Diana Joe
4. "Slaughters and Shifts and Migrations" by Virginia Barrett
5. "The Great Wall of America" by James Michael
6. "Sestina for Illegal Widows" by Lori A. Williams.
7. "Walls (A Stream)" by Yasmeen Najmi
8. "Letter to the boy that made me cry" by Edgar Gonzalez


"The Remembered" by Genny Lim

The Remembered

by Genny Lim


Remembering Our Immigrant Ancestors



We dream of the forgotten
When daylight breaks
we return to the shell of the living
We dream of the forgotten
whose yearnings spill into sunlight
We dream of the forgotten
whose faces are withered petals
whose names brush our lips
like blown candles
We dream of those we loved
of those we didn’t, of those who
we only knew in brief or in passing
through their footprints dogging our trail
through their songs trapped in our cells
through history’s suffocating noose
through the jungle of paper bloodlines
to the altar of broken hearts

We dream of the forgotten because they
follow us through the skin of our memories
through the tracks of our journeys
through the unmarked graves of ancestors
through wars and exile
through births and deaths
through joy and sorrow
We dream of the forgotten because
they remember us
They inhabit us
They are us
They are the surf pounding rock
the battering sea shattered
into infinitesimal drops
Arching, wave after wave
against currents of migrating geese
We dream of the forgotten
as dispossessed lovers
who lived, who loved
like us

Copyright by Genny Lim
Sept. 3, 2010


"Defiance of Flowers" by Alma Luz Villanueva

DEFIANCE OF FLOWERS

by Alma Luz Villanueva


I sit here, centuries past, eating
breakfast, a tired, hungry looking
young man, making his errand, carrying
an immense spray of rainbow

flowers, a peacock of
flowers, an altar of
flowers, a defiance of
flowers in his arms, his

stunning child for these stone
lined blocks, the few pesos
they will give him for the
gathered beauty, defiant

in his thin, hungry arms-
if Zapata could see him, a
century later, he would weep,
grab his rifle, start a new revolution,

yet they killed him for his defiance of
flowers, his altar of
flowers, his rainbow of
flowers, and so the poor

still carry burdens and
beauty for the rich,
the masters of this
time, this day as

I eat my omelette
smothered in salsa,
listening as the well to
do older man orders the

waiter, the weight of his
class fills his voice,
master to peon, I glance
at him, it's all he has,

no peacock of flowers,
no altar of flowers,
no defiance of flowers,
no beauty. Of flowers.

His red-blotched angry face holds
these words, though he would deny
it: "I would rather die on my feet than
live on my knees." Emiliano Zapata




One hundred years after the revolution-
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico-
To the seventy-two human beings, migrants
murdered at the Mexico/USA border-
by Mexican drug cartels, shame on
us all, the Americas, this Turtle Island.

Alma Luz Villanueva

“A Chicana Chant For Roots Up High On The Mountain” by Diana Joe


A CHICANA CHANT FOR ROOTS UP HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN

by Diana Joe


I BEGIN WITH A HUM
HUM
A HUM THAT ENTERS
THE CREEK ROLLING
ROCKS TAPPING TAPPING

SING SING
A HUM HIGH UP ON THE
MOUNTAIN
A MOUNTAIN
HUGGED BY THE FOOT HILLS
FILLED
WITH SPIRIT SPIRIT
I BEGIN WITH A HUM
A HUM
HUITZILI FORCE
WINGS SING
LEAVES OF THE ASPEN
BEATING
BEATING THE WIND
WIND WIND
BREEZE IN HAIR
CURLED TO CAPTURE
THE ALTITUDE IN THE AIR
HAIR HAIR THE COLOR
OF NIGHT NIGHT

AND NEATH' MY FOOT
MOSS MOSS MOSSS
SOFT LAYING THERE
WAITING FOR THE
REST OF MY SISTERS

A NEST HOLDS THE
KEY TO FAMILY FAMILY
COME AWAY STEP
STEP STEP ON
GENTLE FERNS
MEDICINE OAK TREE
NO POLICE HERE
NO POLICE HERE

HUM HUM HUM
WHISTLING CACTUS
NEEDLES THAT PIERCE
TIME
TIME
TIME FOR THE FAMILY
THE CLOUDS COVER ME
THE CLOUDS COVER ME

A BLANKET ON THE MEADOW
NEXT TO THE CREEK
WHERE I WAIT PATIENTLY
FOR A DAY DREAM

WHERE THE MOUNTAIN ROAD
OPENS AND NEVER CLOSES
WHERE CHILDREN CAN CLIMB
AND ROLL AND HUM
HUM HUM

THIS IS A CHICANA CHANTING
IN THE MOUNTAIN
NO LAWS OF MAN CAN HOLD
ME

NO MAN MADE LAWS WILL
SCOLD ME

I HAVE A SPEAR
NEARBY

WHITTLED BY THE
SISTER THAT LIVES WITH THE
OAK TREE
THE OAK TREE
SHE WEARS A SKIRT THAT
THE ELK GIFTED TO HER

HER SHIRT SEWN BY HAND
BY HER AUNTIE
THIS IS A CHICANA CHANT
NOT A TUNE BUT A GOOD WORD
COMBINED WITH THE MIST
SPIRIT
SPIRIT FOG THAT CAME TO
BE WITH ME THROUGH THE NIGHT
UP HERE IN THE MOUNTAIN

AND MY FIRED TALKED TO ME
IT TALKED TO TO MY FOG SPIRIT
FRIEND
IT LIT UP
EVERYTHING FOR EVERYBODY
AND ALL THE RACCOONS
JOINED US
THEY JOINED US
THE FIRE
THE RACCOON RELATIVES
THEY JOINED US

THE FOG
THE FAMILY OF MIST SPIRIT
HUMMING ALL
COMBINED TO DELIVER
MESSAGE FOR DREAMING
STAY IN DREAMING
STAY DREAMING
YOU DONT HAVE TO CLOSE YOUR EYES
IN THIS DREAM THERE ARE NO
LIES NO LIES NO CHASER OF FAMILY
IN THIS DREAM YOU ARE FREE.

A CHICANA CHANT FOR ROOTS UP HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN
FAMILY

A PRAYER BETWEEN HER CREATOR
A PRAYER FOR THE NEARNESS OF THE SKY
A PRAYER THAT WILL REACH THE DESERT
A CHICANA CHANT FOR ROOTS

TO BE WATERED IN THE DESERT
BRING WATER TO THE DESERT
A MEDICINE POUCH DANGLES IN DE LIGHT
IN DE LIGHT IN DE LIGHT

CHANTING CHICANAS WORKING WORKING
HUM MM HUMM A MOUNTAIN IS WAITING
TO POUR WATER FOR YOU
COME DREAM YOUR DREAM WITH OPEN EYES
LAY HERE NEXT TO THE OTHERS STARE AT
THE NOTES IN THE SKY

STARE
STARE
BRING A LITTLE BIT OF THE DESERT HERE
NO POLICE
JUST THE DESERT
DRESS IN SAHUARO CLOTHING
STYLISH SANDLES OF OCOTILLO
OUTSTANDING
THEY CAN NOT HARM US HERE
UP HERE
WAY UP CHANTING
HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN
A CHICANA CHANT FOR ROOTS
A CIRCLE REACHES THE HEAVENS
HUMMING HUMMING


"Slaughters and Shifts and Migrations" by Virginia Barrett


SLAUGHTERS and SHIFTS and MIGRATIONS—ARIZONA





I spent the day skirting the Mojave

in nearly 100 degrees, no air conditioning

in the car, wondering how people can make it

in such heat, crossing the Sonoran Desert by foot

to get to this side.



NO EXPONGAS TU VIDA A LOS ELEMENTOS! NO VALE LA PENA!



Past nightfall I catch 66 through Slegman

wrecked and in need of a bed.

How do they sleep with pillows of cactus and scorpions under their heads?



I pull in after a neon motel sign: SUPAI.

I receive the last available room from the affable owner.

She inquires about my profession and her face brightens at my reply.

"When we first moved to America from India,” she tells me,

"my son he made the Taj Mahal from clay in school. He painted it, too.

Teaching art to children,” she assures me, “this is very, very important.”

She hands me my key with a sudden melancholy gesture.

“But in this small town,” she shakes her head and glances outside,

“they have no art.” She sighs, “so my children, they do sports

and computers instead.”



My room, recently remodeled is uninspiring but clean.

What can you expect for 40 bucks?

But why am I complaining—an entire family could live in here

if they managed to make it over the border safely.

Los coyotes ahora cobran $4,000.



Supai—from Havasupai, the indigenous language

of this land.

Slaughters and shifts and migrations;

greed and dreams and people searching to survive.



__________



This morning, on the road again and already hot,

grasshoppers perish on my windshield

as a bolt of lightning over the mountain I’m driving toward

momentarily steals my eye.

The news says: “some support the installation of a minefield

to keep illegal immigrants out.”

Arizona—how many need to die?



Moving over the land can push us

into the heart of our existence,

beating and aching and keeping us alive.



What agony over killing these insects!

What exhilaration driving toward the rain!



Only Earth holds the right to tell any of us where we belong.





by Virginia Barrett


"The Great Wall of America" by James Michael

The Great Wall of America

by James Michael


We built a wall around this country…
a good five stories high.
If any hoser wants to climb it,
I’d like to see ‘im try.

After we walled off Canada,
we built another wall down south,
from the California beaches
to the Rio Grandy’s mouth.

All along our coastal shores,
we built enormous dikes,
anchored in the ocean floor
and topped with barbs and spikes.

We all gathered to admire our work.
The cash and effort that it took
to build this monstrous concrete wall
called for another look.

A little girl, aged 5 or 6
asked with a puzzled grin,
“When you lock those people out,
don’t you lock these people in?”

I must admit that girl was right.
I let out a mournful wail.
America’s Great Wall had turned
our country into a jail.


© Jim Michael
April 8, 2006

"Sestina for Illegal Widows" by Lori A. Williams.


Sestina for Illegal Widows

by Lori A. Williams


Luz tries to get some papers together.
The blonde lady at the Red Cross promises to help,
get her some sort of aid, with proof that her Pedro
worked for Fine & Shapiro in the Trade Towers;
delivered breakfast and lunch to the women and men
whose families grieve and rage, but always eat

enough. Her three young children miss eating
the food papa once brought home -- burgers and ice cream; together
at a big basement table full of cousins, uncles, aunts -- women and men
with golden smiles for their American dream. The help
was what they were called, cleaning the restrooms in the Towers,
washing dishes in deli's, delivering corned beef and salad, like Pedro

did, six days a week. His tips were big. You are my best worker, Pedro,
his boss Miguel said and Luz was so proud. Now come eat
at my table, let's talk! I see you moving on to waiter. These towers,
they make men like us rich! We must stick together
in this free and prosperous land. With this money, we help
our families back home, prove we are able men.

Luz and her friends have lost many good, strong men
to this free, safe, rich country. Manuel and Pedro
were brothers, six kids between them. The women help
each other with rice and beans and plantains to eat,
cheap, plentiful, but never enough. They cry and fret together
for their loves and tomorrow. After the fall of the towers,

family back home kept asking long distance, where did the towers
go? Luz tried to explain what she didn't understand. Our men
are gone, mama. There is nothing to send you! Hands together
in prayer, the parents spoke to God -- where is our Manuel? Our Pedro?
Candles were lit, town square filled with fear. How will we live, eat
without them? How can we bury not even a bone? God, help!

Luz finds no proof. Only clucks of regret, no help
from blondes or any other saviours. Money in the tower's
fund is not for her kind -- those who came to America to eat
three meals a day with kids and anxious limbs. Hard working men
who toiled in kitchens and bathrooms and carried lunch sacks, like Pedro,
to offer their families a dream; to succeed as a people, together

in New York, where there is no help for families without papers. Men
employed in the Towers, who died with our own, like Pedro,
leave wives like Luz, scrounging to eat, to live, to be acknowledged--
together.
I wrote this one after reading about the plight of the families of all the undocumented immigrant workers at the WTC.
Most of them were delivery men, working at the restaurants on the concourse level. There are no
numbers as to how many of them died....because most of them were not citizens, yet...they worked hard
supported their families here, and in Mexico. I remember reading an article about their wives
and children, and how they were lost....no income, nowhere to turn. This is for them.


"Walls (A Stream)" by Yasmeen Najmi


Walls (a stream)

Broken glass
sardine cans
broken bones
memorias in sand
broken landscapes
broken land
broken rivers
broken dreams
broken Dream Act
broken schemes
broken families
broken tribes
broken language
broken lives
broken houses
broken homes
broken screams
composed of stones

broken mother
non-stop tears
for her son deported
just before graduation
to a foreign land
thirst-broken
prayers to La Virgen
an altar
to the Saguaro's
slender reservoir and
broken shade

Oh Virgencita
pray for our
broken minds
broken hearts
the circle
love
us
broken.


Yasmeen Najmi




"Letter to the boy that made me cry" by Edgar Gonzalez


Letter to the boy that made me cry

by Edgar Gonzalez


I look at the ring you gave back to me, and remember.
I remember the Banda playing and us dancing.
Dancing the dance that has flowed through our blood and has been passed down from our padres.
The cumbia and banda steps that shake the earth with the sounds of joy and delight
The same delight that our ancestors felt before the colonization and the despair.

I remember that boy.
That boy that made me cry.
The boy that gave back the ring that signified our love for each other.
I remember.
I remember, the ceremony that would follow proving that we too, follow the social norms of the west.
That love
the love we were proud of in the open and struggled with in the bedroom
That love that proves that weren't as down as we thought.

I remember that boy.
That boy that taught me about my past
The boy that reminded me that the scorching blood in my veins represents the fire of sun.
The fire that no one can take away from me.
That fire that has been reproduced by my mestizo brothers and sisters and passed down to me.
He reminded me that the soil underneath my feet is brown and that without it we cannot live.
That the brown under my feet that is spread across the world is brown because it is mixed with bloodshed from our brothers and sisters that have fought the injustices that I will continue to fight tomorrow.
He reminded me

I remember that boy that made me cry.
The boy that despite my stubbornness, made me enroll into school and learn that life has more to offer a faggot colored boy than the capitalist structure pretends to.
The boy that stuck by me even when I chose to be the oppressor and throw the past in his face like sand in the eyes for stupid reasons that only I, understood.
He would watch me buck like a wild horse throwing tantrums for issues that were tear drops in size but not in depth.
I remember

I remember him, That boy.
That boy that wanted to share his life with me.
The one that was OK with the tomato in the garden that was not quite ripe yet.
The boy that saw the steel beyond the wood.
I remember him.
The boy that taught me that I cannot make the same mistake twice and that if I do, there will be another boy that I will cry over.





BIOS

1. "The Remembered" by Genny LimGenny Lim is a native San Franciscan poet, performer and playwright. An internationally known poet, she has toured festivals in Naples, Italy, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Caracas,Venezuela. She has two collections of poetry, Winter Place and Child of War. Her play, Paper Angels, about anti-Chinese immigration set in 1915 returns to San Francisco after its premiere in 1980, for a free three-day run, Sept. 15-17th in Chinatown's Portsmouth Square as part of the SF Fringe Festival.

2. "Defiance of Flowers" by Alma Luz VillanuevaAlma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...
Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009). A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Three novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past eleven years. And is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings.
Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past five years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory.
www.almaluzvillanueva.com

3.“A Chicana Chant For Roots Up High On The Mountain” by Diana Joe
4. "Slaughters and Shifts and Migrations" by Virginia BarrettBorn in New York City, raised in Vermont, Virginia Barrett is a poet, writer, and visual artist. Her travel memoir Mbira Maker Blues—a healing journey to Zimbabwe, was released in 2010 (www.studiosaraswati.com/jambu.htm). Her most recent book of poems is Infinite Love—poems from a course in meditation and she is the translator of At 24th & Mission—poesía local con esencia global by Miguel Robles. Virginia teaches poetry, creative writing, and visual art to both children and adults. She has lived and traveled in Mexico, South America, Zimbabwe, Europe, Thailand, and other parts of the world. She now lives in San Francisco. www.virginiabarrett.com


5. "The Great Wall of America" by James Michael
6. "Sestina for Illegal Widows" by Lori A. Williams.
7. "Walls (A Stream)" by Yasmeen NajmiYasmeen self-published a poetry chapbook in 2004 titled Ankh, the Hindi word for "Eye," and is working on a second. Her poems appear in the Kolkata, India-based Graffiti Kolkata Broadside, La Bloga, El Tecolote’s 40th Anniversary Literary Edition, Poets for Living Waters and the poetry anthologies The Stark Electric Space and Adobe Walls. An environmental planner and public servant, her poetry often reflects her deep connection to the ecology and cultures of the Rio Grande. She can’t wait to experience the poetry of visiting her father’s homeland (India) for the first time this year!

8. "Letter to the boy that made me cry" by Edgar Gonzalez

1 comment:

Xánath Caraza said...

I'd like the 2012 or 2014 Flor y Canto to be in Kansas City. A ver qué pasa.