Monday, June 02, 2014

Chicaninas y Chicaninos N’Asturies

By Xanath Caraza

Santiago Vazquez-Vaquera, Xanath Caraza and Daniel Chacon

A marvelous group of Chican@ scholars, writers, poets, artists and friends gathered for the 9th International Conference on Chicano Literature: Cityscapes: Urban and Human Cartographies in Chicano/a Literature, at the University of Oviedo, Asturias in Spain from May 28 – 30, 2014. Here are three perspectives del congreso accompanied by a series of photos of this incredible event, in addition to more photos of Casa América, Alcalá de Henares and Asturias la profunda.

Coffee Break Chicano Style in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain.  IX Congreso Internacional de Literatura Chicana
Cartografías urbanas y humanas en la literatura chicana

Casa América

María Herrera, moderador, Lucha Corpi and
Francisco Lomelí

Un día antes del congreso, el 27 de mayo en Madrid, tuve la oportunidad de escuchar a Lucha Corpi, a María Herrera y a Francisco Lomelí en la Casa América para la presentación, ‘Cultura y Sociedad en las Letras Hispanas’. ¡Qué afortunada poder ver a tan importantes pilares de la literatura Chicana juntos!

En la terraza

9th International Conference on Chicano Literature: Cityscapes: Urban and Human Cartographies in Chicano/a Literature

Chacón on Oviedo
By Daniel Chacón

Universida de Oviedo

I remember when I first got involved with the Chicano Movement, the Spaniards were vilified, at least on the level of rhetoric. Spaniards were the oppressor, the ones who robbed us of our indigenous values, language, and way of life.We didn’t want to go back to Spain, we wanted to reclaim Aztlán.

Of course, we don't feel that way anymore about Spaniards, but that's the way it used to be.
Yet in Oviedo, Spain last week, a bunch of Chicanos were welcome into the city by Spanish hosts, and for three days we occupied the halls of the university. We were writers and scholars from the United States and Mexico, and together we shared our stories, our research, and our ideas about what we love the most, Chicano-Chicana literature.

And it wasn’t just Chicanos who are interested in the literature. There were professors of Chicano-Chicana literature from Spain and Italy and all over the world.

I’m talking about the 9th Annual Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies, which took place this year in Oviedo, a beautiful city in the north of Spain, surrounded by verdant mountains topped with mist. In the past, this conference has taken place in other cities around Spain, including Toledo, and next year it will be held in Madrid.

It's essentially Chicanos getting together with Spaniards and others to talk about Chicano-Chicana literature, to present papers, present readings, and to exchange research, ideas, and suggestions as to the state of our literature and culture.

It was amazing to see how many people all over the world are interested in what we write.
I was honored to be a part of this conference, presenting a story from my book Hotel Juárez: Stories Rooms and Loops. I spoke about the border, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, and how living in such a dynamic place cannot help but influence what and how I write.

One of the panels I attended was on translating Gloria E. Anzaldúa, with Norma E. Cantu, Xanath Caraza and Zaccaria Paola, an Italian scholar of Chicana literature. They talked about the challenges of translating her language, her Spanglish, her tejana into Mexican Spanish, Castilian and Italian. One scholar of Chicana literature from Germany spoke out about the challenge she faced translating Anzaldúa into German.

Now that I know about this conference, I want to go every year. In fact, next year I'm going to propose a panel on emerging Chicano-Chicana writers. One of the things I noticed about this panel is that almost everybody who participated has participated in the past. Everyone seemed to refer to previous conferences, the last time they saw each other all together, but this was the first I've ever heard of it, thanks to my Caraza.

Now that I know about it, I want to encourage other creative writers to propose panels for next year’s gathering.

I don’t know much of the conference’s history, but it seems that it has traditionally been mostly scholars of Chicano-Chicana literature. They present papers and research, but there seems to be some shift to include creative writers doing readings, like me and Xanath Caraza, who read from her latest book Lo QueTrae La Marea.

In another panel I attended, there was a reading by Lucha Corpi from her latest book called Confessions of a Book Burner, and the scholar María Herrera-Sobek shared some of her unpublished poems.

Because the creative writers are firmly a part of this gathering, the poets, the fiction writers, the memoirists, we should all propose panels for next year’s conference in Madrid. It could be like the Chicano AWP.

Daniel Chacón, Chicanino N'Asturies

 Some Thoughts/Reflections/Locuras on This Recent Conference on Chicano/a Literature
By Santiago Vazquez-Vaquera

1. Every two years, this conference has been hosted by a different Spanish university. The first was in Granada, this was then followed by: Vittoria, Málaga, Sevilla, Alcalá de Henares, Alicante, León, Toledo, and, this year, Oviedo. In two years, the congreso will be in Madrid.

2. I've participated in every conference since Vittoria, fourteen years ago. That was one of my first trips to Spain and I remember flying into Madrid, going to Chamartín train station, and buying a ticket for the first train going to Vittoria. It was a regional train, slow, uncomfortable seats, no cafeteria car, and stopping in every town on the way. There was nobody else in my car. At some point I fell asleep and dreamed I was on an interminable trip heading somewhere unknown. When I woke up, I was still on the train, alone, and heading to someplace unknown.

3. Vittoria was a lot of fun, however, and along with seeing friends I knew already, it started my close relationships with a number of faculty working on Chicano/a culture in Spain. The best part of the days I spent there were the conversations in bars and café's in the city, the epic walks that Rolando Hinojosa-Smith and I used to take —something we used to do back in Austin when I was living there, and in whatever European city we found ourselves—, and the trip Rolando, Klaus, and I took to Bilbao to meet with a student working on his work and then a quick walk around the Guggenheim museum.

4. The first time I presented creative work was at the Alicante conference when a last minute panel was arranged for Alejandro Morales, Charli Valdez, and me. Though the conference had originally been conceived as a meeting between writers and critics, by Alicante the readings had largely fallen off the program in favor of more formal scholarly talks. Fortunately, things have improved since then.

5. In Toledo, two years ago, I proposed a panel of writers that was made up of Charli, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and me. It was a lot of fun and Stephanie and I began to plan for the next one.

6. Though Stephanie, in the end, was unable to make it to Oviedo, this year's panel was made up of Xanath Caraza, Levi Romero, and me. Though we were placed at 9 am on Thursday, it was still well attended. Xanath blew the crowd away with her wonderful and evocative poetry, I was going to read a new story but opted for three short pieces —one from my new book, one that I wrote years ago and haven't read for more than a decade, and one that I last read at an event in Barcelona in 2008—, and Levi brought the room down with his poetry of remembrances to his heroes, to those "easy nights," and to his community. It was an honor to have our panel moderated by Lucha Corpi, and to have in attendance two writers who I consider inspirations, Tino Villanueva, and Norma Elia Cantu.

7. As with all the other conferences, the best part was the conversations in the streets, in the bars, and in the walks. For three days, Chicanas and Chicanos took the streets of Oviedo. It was great to hang out with those friends who I've had the honor of spending time with over these last fourteen years of Chicano conferences in Spain: with Alejandro Morales, with Norma, with Manolo, with Lomelí and Herrera-Sobek, with Imelda, Amaia, and Antonieta.


8. It was great to spend time again with Xánath, and to finally meet Daniel Chacón in person —though we'd met virtually here on feisbúc a year ago. That Thursday night we spent wandering from place to place as we talked and joked about everything and nothing, was memorable. Though we were unable to make it to the Woody Allen statue that night —being stopped first by a group of guys from Sevilla who wanted a photo with some women they met, then by Xánath who just stopped and announced she was tired—, I was glad that Chacón was able to get to it the next day.

9. Xánath was everywhere on the conference program, presenting on three panels. The panel she had with Chacón on Friday was beautiful. In the dimly lit room, she read from her collection of short stories, followed by Daniel who spoke on his life, on writing, on the energy that connects, and then concluded with a story from his book, Hotel Juárez (that I still have to get).

10. The train back from Oviedo was long, but it passed quickly as Chacón and I met for a drink in the café car, we were soon joined by John who brought a picnic of paté, jamón, cheese and bread, along with wine and aguardiente. With the passing landscape of Castilla-León, we talked about comedy, about writing, about our lives back home. Estivaliz, a grad student who had presented on Tim Z's book joined us. After John and Daniel headed back to their seats to get their stuff —they were getting off in Madrid—, she and I had coffee and watched as the train approached the tall towers of Madrid. Afterwards, I returned to my seat to read and do some work. My car was full and as the train raced south across the campos de Castilla-La Mancha at 248 kilometers/hour, I fell asleep.

Las Fotos del Congreso
By Xánath, Chicanina N’Asturies

Mi sorpresa aumentó cuando al llegar a la estación de tren, en Madrid para salir a Oviedo, me di cuenta que íbamos juntos María Herrera, Francisco Lomelí, Virginia y yo en el mismo tren.  No tan sólo ellos sino también Santiago Vazquez-Vaquera, Lucha Corpi, Carlos, Alejandro Morales y Santa Barraza.  Un sentimiento de complicidad académica y artística comenzó a inundarme desde ese momento hasta el final de la conferencia e incluso ahora, Chicaninas y Chicaninos N’Asturies, Chicanas and Chicanos in Asturias.

A continuación una serie de fotografías de mi estancia en Oviedo.

En el tren

En el tren

II Galardón D. Luis Leal: María Herrera.  Presented by José Antonio Gurpegui, President of HispaUSA

Tino Villanueva

Norma Cantu

Lucha Corpi

Art by Santa Barraza

Levi Romero

Carlos, Lucha Corpi, Maria Herrera, Francisco Lomeli, Xanath Caraza, Virginia, Santiago Vazquez-Vaquera & Alejandro Morales

Paraguas rojo

Alcalá de Henares

Este 2014 he tenido el honor de recibir la beca Nebrija que el Instituto Franklin da cada dos años a un investigador o escritor.  Personalmente estoy trabajando en mi segundo volumen de relatos y algunos proyectos más.  Comparto con ustedes algunas fotos de mi oficina en la sala de investigadores de la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares.

El Coloquio de los Perros

Adriana Manuela quien vive en Puente Genil, Córdoba, España ha creado una serie de pinturas para algunos de mis poemas.  La revista literaria El Coloquio de los perros, dirigida por el poeta Juan de Dios García, ha publicado una serie de cinco poemas con sus respectivas pinturas por Adriana Manuela.  Hagan click en el enlace para ver esta magnífica publicación en la prestigiosa revista literaria, El Coloquio de los Perros.

Asturias la profunda

Después de Oviedo he tenido la oportunidad de conocer un poco más a fondo la región de Asturias.  Asturias es una región verde del norte de España, llena de magia, gente alegre, comida deliciosa, ríos por todas partes e influencia celta.  Voy a dejar que las fotos hablen por sí  mismas.  Gracias, Miguel Rollón, Daniel Carballo y María Edelmira Pérez Álvarez por el entusiasmo, música, cariño y hospitalidad en los alrededores de Nava, Asturias.  Poetas a quienes conocí en el XI Festival Internacional de Poesía Ciudad de Granada hace un par de semanas. ¡Puxa Asturies! 


Jose Rodriguez said...

My family is from Asturias but I grew up in Venezuela. I spent many summers in Asturias chasing after sheep, cattle and horses on those green granite mountains. Today is called hiking, but back then it was called work. The principality is beautiful, a great place for apples and cider, but winters are cold and harsh. Asturianos are a strange bunch because we have been isolated from the rest of the world by a wall of mountains. Where else in continental Europe they play the gaita or pipes? My great grandmother didn't even speak Spanish, but the local bable, which sounds like a mixture of old castellano and latin.

Xánath Caraza said...

Dear José,

Thanks for sharing your memories. Yes, Asturias is another world and they do play pipes or gaitas, drink apple cider and have beautiful mountains, which reminded me of another photo I will add. Enjoy!