Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Posada for Iguala. Gluten-free Chicano. Fuentes Essays. On-line Floricanto at Mid-January.

Guest Columnist Reyna Grande: Posada in Iguala

Note. ¡Nos Faltan 43!
La Bloga friend Reyna Grande grew up in the city where  43 Normalistas were kidnaped by agencies of their own government, so the tragedy weighed uniquely heavily on the successful Chicana writer's thoughts. With holidays approaching, Grande resolved to raise funds to bring toys and holiday joy to her old tierra.

Story and photos by Reyna Grande

This past December I traveled to my hometown of Iguala, Guerrero to host a Christmas Toy Giveaway in the neighborhood where I grew up, a neighborhood filled with children living in extreme poverty. With the support of many wonderful people, I was able to carry out a very nice event on Christmas Eve at the local church.

I purchased over 700 toys (for babies to ten-year-olds), basketballs, soccer balls, and backpacks, purses, jewelry and hair ornaments. I also gave away shoes and clothes to some of the children (I brought a suitcase full of shoes and another full of clothes for this purpose).

I rented tables, chairs, and a huge tent because it was sprinkling all day. I hired a DJ, served dinner (cochinita and beans), and for those who stayed after the Toy giveaway, there was café de olla and pan dulce for a midnight snack. The party ended at 2:00am when the rain started in earnest. Otherwise, I’m sure we would have kept on dancing!

The next day, with the help of my cousins, I went to deliver the leftover toys to the kids who did not attend the Giveaway. We loaded up the boxes in my uncle’s cart and went from house to house, almost like Santa!

It really was a special event, and it made me feel so happy to see the children playing with their toys and enjoying their Christmas season. It brought back memories of my childhood growing up in this same neighborhood, often playing with mud and sticks because I didn’t have toys to play with.

I know that things are dire in Mexico, and the people there are dealing with so many tragedies and hardships that what I’m doing might seem trivial, that my Christmas Toy Giveaway isn’t enough. And perhaps it isn’t, but it is a start. One day, my dream is to open a Children’s Center where I can provide all kinds of services to low income children. For now, I plan on continuing the Christmas Toy Giveaway and putting a smile on a child’s face.

I had planned to visit the rural college in Ayotzinapa, but as luck would have it, the Ayotzinapa students and parents came to Iguala.

Two days after the Christmas Toy Giveaway, I attended a mega march held in Iguala exactly three months after the disappearance of the 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa. The march began at the site where the students were confronted by police, where three students were killed and 43 kidnapped.

Hundreds of people showed up from different areas in Guerrero and elsewhere. We marched along the pereférico all the way to the courtyard of the Iguala City Hall (which is presently being repaired after it was burned).

I was happy to see so many people turn up at the march. Ever since I had arrived in Iguala, I had been asking various people what their opinion was regarding the Ayotzinapa students, and I hadn’t liked what I was hearing.

One of my aunts called them “Crazy.” One of my cousins said the students had “asked for it.” My seven year old cousin had called them “the bad people fighting with the police.” A cab driver blamed the parents of the students for what had happened. “Why would the parents allow their children to attend such a radical school?” he’d asked.

It really saddened me and angered me to hear those kinds of comments. But that day at the march, I was able to see a different side to what I had been hearing so far. Here at the march, every single person present was there to support the families of the Ayotzinapa students. They were proof that though there are some people who don’t understand the situation, there are many more who do and who are willing to do something about it.

Mexico is currently undergoing a transformation, and the way to keep it going is by continuing to support the families of the missing students as they fight for justice, to stay informed about what is happening in Mexico—and to tell others about it. Perhaps the mainstream media isn’t covering the issue as much as they should but that doesn’t mean we can’t pick up the slack.

Finally, my trip concluded with a quick visit to Xalapa to spend a few days in the company of the wonderful Xánath Caraza and her husband. And if that weren’t enough, I was able to meet up with Norma Cantú in Mexico City before I went home, just in time to celebrate her birthday, with mariachis and all!

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
3-Meal Chicken Bone Caldo de Pollo

Michael Sedano, The Gluten-free Chicano

Chicano Power! That’s how I explain my lightning-speed recovery from abdominal surgery last week. Cut on Wednesday, home on Saturday. The surgeon expected a week. Last time--July--I hung around that ward for 21 days.

I expected the worst. At one period during December I thought I was going to die permanently from post-op pain, never again to taste caldo de pollo.

I sailed through the operation, and didn’t lose any extra organs this time. No pain, that amazes me.

On the surgical recovery floor we walking wounded exercised along the hallways, shuffling out of our rooms pushing stainless steel trees hung with bulging plastic bags running vinyl tubes into the back of our right hands. One room had an “airborne” sign on it. Some poor wretch was non-stop throwing up and groaning. There were sick people in that hospital.

I fasted for five days. The menu offered nightmare after nightmare. Choices from clear broth to beef patties contained gluten. To the purveyor’s credit their comprehensive information seemed effective. But they poisoned me last summer, so I didn’t trust the food. I gave up eating.

Basic Caldo

With all those sick people in the surgical ward, and that dangerous food, The Gluten-free Chicano needed the universal therapy of caldo de pollo. I got home and my wife and I cooked up a caldo de huesos version of chicken soup with rice.

Ur-level chicken soup is incredibly easy to make: add ingredients to water, boil, eat.

Add a little finesse and the results are company worthy.

3-Meal Caldo de Huesos 

Ingredients – chop, slice, mince, crush
Carrots, 3 or 4
Celery, 3 or 4
Garlic, 4 or more dientes
Onion, medium brown
Tomato, 1 fruit or sauce or juice
Rice, ¼ to ½ cup
Comino seeds or powder, ½ tsp.
Chicken thighs, lots
Bay leaf, 1
Dried chiles, 1 for pot, others to garnish soup
Lemon to add to bowl.

Fill a pot with water. Add the spices and vegetables, not the rice.

Cook a lot of chicken to make a rich broth and have enough meat for two more meals. A “family pack” of thighs provides amply. Fill the pot with vegetables and chicken thighs or a cut-up whole bird. Cover with water and boil rapidly. Lower heat and simmer for an hour.

Test the meat for doneness, opaque white all the way through. When all the meat is cooked right, remove it and cut the cooked flesh from the bones. Keep what you'll eat tonight covered. Store the surplus in freezer or refrigerator.

Return the huesos to the broth, add rice, and boil until the rice blooms. Next time, add a little more or less rice.

Add some de-boned pollo to each bowl, and a bone. Stir the pot and ladle in broth and some of each vegetable.  Encourage eaters to chew off the bits of tendon and flesh remaining on the bones. My Dad used to sing "Save the bones for Henry Jones 'cause Henry don't eat no meat" when we had this caldo at home. I do, too.

Garnish with fresh lemon juice, crushed red chiles onion and cilantro. Tortilla de maíz quesadillas make a fit and gluten-free side treat. I had left-over cheese and onion enchiladas.

Caldo de pollo is endlessly variable and naturally gluten-free. Chop up additional vegetables if you’ve gone shopping, such as cilantro, bell pepper, rajas de chile, calabacitas, an helote, papa, chayote. If Bay laurel doesn’t quite please you, remove the leaf after half an hour. If you have left-over grocery store roasted chicken, boil the meat off that carcass!

New Critical Essays on Carlos Fuentes

La Bloga friend Roberto Cantú shares news of an upcoming resource he edited for scholars and readers in American Literature, especially those interested in Mexico's Carlos Fuentes.

The Reptant Eagle: Essays on Carlos Fuentes and the Art of the Novel includes nineteen essays and one full introduction written exclusively for this volume by renowned Fuentes scholars from Asia, Europe, the United States, and Latin America.

Collected into five parts, the essays integrate wide-ranging methods and  innovative readings of The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962), Aura (1962), Terra Nostra (1975) and, among other novels, Distant Relations (1980). Essayists analyze the visual arts in Fuentes’s novels (Diego Rivera’s murals, world film); chart and comment on the translations of Fuentes’s narrative into Japanese and Romanian; and propose comprehensive readings of The Buried Mirror (1992), and Personas (2012), Fuentes’s posthumous book of essays.

Beyond their comprehensive and interdisciplinary scope, the book’s essays trace Fuentes’s conscious resolve to contribute to the art of the novel and to its uninterrupted tradition, from Cervantes and Rabelais to Thomas Mann and Alejo Carpentier, and from the Boom generation to Latin America’s “Boomerang” group of younger writers. This book will be of importance to literary critics, teachers, students, and readers interested in Carlos Fuentes’s world-embracing literary work.

Tempus fugit
On-line Floricanto for Mid-January 2015
Sonia Gutiérrez, Armando Guzman, Javi Infante Varas, Anne Elizabeth Apfel, Teresa González-Lee

The Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance commend to notice five poets at the midpoint of the first month of the new year. Half gone and half begun.

“The Indictment of Index Fingers and Thumbs” By Sonia Gutiérrez
"Recalibration" By Armando Guzman
“Untitled” By Javi Infante Varas
“Spirit Guided” By Anne Elizabeth Apfel
“Curtailing the Whips of Pain” By Teresa González-Lee

The Indictment of Index Fingers and Thumbs
By Sonia Gutiérrez

Before Judge Justice
stood five index fingers
and five thumbs.

She asked, "Who pulled the trigger
of the pistol that killed
Charles Smith in Savannah, Georgia?

Who pulled the trigger
of the firearm that killed
John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio?

Who pulled the trigger
of the gun that killed
Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri?

Who pulled the trigger
of the pistol that killed
Trayvon Martin in Gardens, Florida?

Who pulled the trigger
of the weapon that killed
Oscar Grant in Oakland, California?"

Dumbfounded and with white knees
shaking, the index fingers
pointed at the firearms
with hollow eyes and answered,
"They did. Index fingers
and thumbs don't kill people.
Guns do," as middle fingers,
ring fingers, and pinky fingers
stood silently in complicity
side by side without saying
a word.

Judge Justice
had heard enough
of the ten stooges
whose veiled fingers
and thumbs locked
"It is a shame that even though
you are all strong index fingers
and thumbs you are still
afraid of the stories
your Founding Fingers
told you about a Black
Boogie man," she responded.

And so Judge Justice
announced her verdict:
"Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"

Sonia Gutiérrez is the proud daughter of two michoacanos. Her work promotes social and human dignity. She teaches English Composition and Critical Thinking and Writing at Palomar College and will be teaching Chicana and Chicano Prose: Creative Writing at San Diego State University this spring 2015.
La Bloga’s On-line Floricanto is home to her Poets Responding SB 1070 poems, including “Best Poems 2011” and “Best Poems 2012.” Her vignettes have appeared in AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, Mujeres de Maíz, Huizache and forthcoming in Sunshine Noir II this fall.

Her bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña (2013), is her debut publication. Kissing Dreams from a Distance, a novel, is under editorial review. She is completing her second poetry collection, Legacy / Herencia. To learn more about Sonia, visit SoniaGutierrez.com.

By J. Armando Guzman

Children crossing the desert.
When did children become pawns?
When did they become villains?
New age concentration camps.
We must assemble the hatred committee.
The venom of being conservative.
Check your moral compass.
It is in dire need of recalibration.

I was born in the border town of Nogales Sonora. I grew up staring at the fence that divided me from my family in Mexico.

By Javi Infante Varas

a system the strings our hopes so neatly and systematically perfect together, we become attached and dependent on somebody else's words.
we, the oppressed, want to claim our freedom again--our dreams.
my college career is hanging on that string, a stable job, a house and some extra cash--my American dream
i've been given little to make ways so i began to believe that I deserved little.
going to sleep every night staring up at the dark ceiling wondering if I was ever going to be good enough for a government that never had me in mind.
"when?" i wondered, was gonna be my time?
living every day kissing the ground good night, giving thanks because that day I didn't get caught.
this mind trick starts to seep through
making you doubt yourself,
"you're going to shine" --was that really true?
watching my feelings hang on, I looked next to me and saw many others who had hoped one day they would be worthy, too.
we held hands and sang songs and in our waiting ritual we got old
we saw some light dimming
some doors shut closed
we took our brokenhearted dreams and slipped them in our pockets
just kept walking, got to find a job
time doesn't forgive, it moves on.
relief for what now? I can make it on my own
underground survival mode
kiss the ground good night again
as jaded as I am
one day I'll be home

Javi is an undocumented single mother. she advocates for migrant rights in the SFV.

Javi enjoys writing creatively to calm her deamons & find community through art & education. she is pursuing degrees in Literature & Gender Studies.

this poem is in response to Obama's immigration announcement in November 2014. (it is my first poem about my undocu experience.)

Spirit Guided
By Anne Elizabeth Apfel

While you were looking down on me..
I was looking up to you...
With my open heart offering you myself..
The infinite wisdom of my grandmothers and grandfathers..

You did not respect me...
It took me to long to understand...
While I was looking up to you..
You were looking down on me..

I prayed for you to see the world..
The earth needs our love....
Humanity lived inside me...
Inside all my relations.....

But you....were looking at your watch..
Late...for a date with destiny....
I watched as you drove away in your fancy car..
Splashing mud on my beautiful skirt... I made with my hands..

It wasn't me I felt bad for as you were looking down on me
I was looking up at Infinite Creation.....
Infinity smiled on me...we shared some beans and laughs..
I tucked myself into bed that night...Praying for your soul..

And that is all......

Anne Afpel is a poet, photographer, artist and writer with a new poetry book called Infinity Entwined and a children's book Introducing Ellie.

She does a mixed media of chalk and words to create a subtle message. prayer, story or blessing inside the photo or drawing.

You can find her poetry art on ViggoWorks a page linked with Viggo Mortensen's art, and ApfelArt.com.

Curtailing the Whips of Pain
By Teresa González-Lee

dedicated to my mother Maria Jaque.

Night emits its gloom
night is a fisherman’s lamp
tossing in a sea cabin.

You can think of me as a little boat
in a windstorm where I did not sink
for my  light is still on.

Behind the curtain shadows
a stooped old woman
awaits for  dawn.

Steps stranded from long gone zest
dimming eyes but wanting to shine
body curved in fetal position to curtail the whips of pain.

At daybreak I can respond to a happy monotony
like an old fashioned wall clock
tickling my heart timelessly to dream  on.

Teresa’s poetry in Spanish comes from Chile, South America. She’s lived in the U.S./Mexican border area after majoring in English for a BA at the University of Chile in Santiago.

In 1988 she was hired by MiraCosta College in San Diego, CA to found the International Languages Dept for San Elijo Campus. Earlier in the decade of the 80s she had taught Spanish to medical students at her alma mater, UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Her Fulbright scholarship allowed her to perform doctoral studies in the fields of Linguistics and Peninsular Literature from Spain while simultaneously developing her poetic craft in English.

Teresa has led a dual career, being a Professor of Spanish while writing poetry bilingually.
Her publications include: books, chapbooks, anthologies, Rincon Poetico website www.miracosta.edu/poesia, Art and Poetry Summations, Poetry and Dance (CD), video-poems on YouTube specifically “The Surfing Madonna from the Tepeyac”.

Presently after having retired from academia Teresa has been active in The Leucadia Alive Poets Society. Her creativity has led her to hold Bilingual Tertulias (book clubs) centering on great poets yet to be discovered.

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