There’s a hidden truth in some old people’s lives. They protest they are “all right by themselves” but they’re not. They can’t do things like open jars and cans, figure out the teevee set, or stop relatives from moving in under guise of “taking care of granma.”
Caretakers help themselves to the old person’s finances, that pot of gold in savings, those active credit cards, that well-running car. Gramma hides behind her locked door in fear of getting screamed at for being alive.
Elder abuse. It’s the kind of ugly family truth that beckons siblings to look away, pretend not to notice. It’s a familia infamy that an elder’s final days on this earth could be spent as a victim. Just thinking about elder abuse puts me into a fist-crunching rage. For poet Karen S. Córdova, acting against an uncle’s exploitation wrested a good life for an old woman. If Córdova's relatives read Farolito, there's a lesson about loving for them. For everyone else, Farolito's a collection of poems that demand a reading every bit as much as reading tomorrow's newspaper.
Farolito, poems by Karen S. Córdova, occupies a vital space in Chicana Chicano Literature. A personal narrative that draws deeply upon New Mexico roots and cultura, Karen S. Córdova illuminates a behind-the-scenes family story of elder abuse, avariciousness, and rescue. Abuela’s is a universal story that too many are forced to live, for want of a poet granddaughter, or a reader of Farolito to recognize the crimes in one's own town.
Córdova manages her taboo subject-matter with a poet’s compassion and intent. But raging just under the skin of these pieces seethes a granddaughter’s anger at a family’s complicitness. This gives some poems a hard edge, as should be.
I missed Abuelita for eight months.
My uncle said I wasn’t welcome:
Would a bullet from a gun greet me at the door?
My crime was that I cleaned her house
while he was cleaning out her bank account,
and so her lying in the hospital also was opportunity.
Personal narrative poetry should make a point worth noting. Those who have done wrong need to be remembered and held accountable. For Córdova’s worthless Tío, his accountability comes in the poet’s next line, Abuela’s hospitalbed message:
“I’m here. Ven. Ahora me ves. Diles adios a todos por me”
The granddaughter recognizes the old woman’s farewells to her family will fall on empty hearts, uncaring ears.
Farolito sings poems of incredible sadness tempered with the poet’s infusions of indelible memories of familia, generations, and comforting visions that buffer the hard way Abuela is going.
Farolito offers hopefulness, too, in the story of abuela in a nursing home, liberated from that conniving tío and those primos, and hearing the life affirming message,
“See. She’s still Grandma.“
The poet builds to an understated climax so evocative that one cannot avoid choking up reading the line aloud. I would like to see Córdova read the poem. (The poet read at the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto at USC. Click here for a link to her reading.)
The places where old people go for rehabilitation, extended care or independent living, can and should be be oases of peace. If so, credit must go to the gente who work the 24/7 duties of such places. They shouldn’t be invisible.
Córdova’s acknowledgment of the workers in eldercare facilities mixes tragedy with nobility. Outside the workplace, a caregiver is murdered. The poet writes a message to the victim's mother, telling her
I don’t care what she did
in youth and indiscretion or
You should have seen the face—
of your daughter who almost lived.
Abuela didn’t get to go suddenly in a burst of light. She lingered becoming less herself and more a memory to her loving granddaughter. The poet closes the collection with a series of affirming farewell poems, including the title poem, that leads a reader to wish to be so fiercely remembered.
Mi abuela will walk toward her mother
down that path lined with sun-struck trees.
For a moment, she’ll look back—
silently bequeath her voice to me—
roll the petate and leave forever.
Her voice will live in the heart of my heart.
I vow I will guard, pass it whole
to my grandchildren’s children,
Independent booksellers will order your copies of Farolito or you can order via the publisher’s or author's website, and other places.
Also order your copies here:
News 'n Notes
Digital Codex of Pan-American Writing
from the editor:
In this issue—our Blue Moon Special—we feature Regan Good, who appears in Hinchas for the first time; poems by Norman Dubie; "erasure" poems by Kelly Nelson; Desirée Jung, Mông-Lan, Matthew Goodman, Fabienne Josaphat; & 3 lovely poems by Kristine Chalifoux, along with Jamie Figueroa's short fiction, "Family Ritual." Thelma Reyna interviews Graciela Limón, author of the The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy. Also in this issue: the figurative cubism of Alexandre Nodopaka; the fantastical found-object sculptures of Gilbert Rangel; two paintings by Trina Drotar & First Morning of the Early Third World and other drawings by Arturo Desimone. Join us, won't you!
Click here to read Hinchas de Poesía16
Los Angeles Theater Center New Season
from the Company:
The Fall season includes a West Coast Premiere comedy about the collision between online gaming and In Real Life (IRL) relationships (In Love and Warcraft); a West Coast Premiere drama about two kids caught in the middle of the 67 Riots (Detroit 67); a World Premiere comedy about the Baby Boomers' generation of "double immigrants" (57 Chevy); a remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots (Riot/Rebellion); a hilarious comedy about what the holidays are like for Latinas (The Latina Christmas Special); and the return of a beloved holiday tradition in the City of Angels (La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin), plus unique additional programming. Come experience stories that are personal, political and cultural and stages that reflect the diversity of Los Angeles.
Programming made possible by The James Irvine Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, The W.M. Keck Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation, California Community Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Entravision Communications Corporation, and GOYA Foods.
The Latino Theater Company is supported in part by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.
Click here to visit LATC's site with electronic box office.
Sophocles Update: Seattle
The Passion As Told by Antigona Perez
By Luis Rafael Sanchez, translated and directed by Arlene Martinez-Vazquez
With the Greek chorus transformed into a host of multi-cultural news reporters working for online media and a crowd of citizens who Tweet and update their Facebook status at every move of their despotic dictator, this production features an entirely Hispanic cast as the residents of the Republic of Molina - highlighting the discrepancies between perception and reality in the era of global information.
Featuring the talents of Javonna Arriaga, Ashley Salazar, Stela Diaz, Angela Maestas, Carter Rodriguez, Steve Gallion, Meg Savlov, Keiko Green, Fernando Cavallo, Emily Fairbrook, Duygu Erdogan, Jazzy Ducay, Adrian Cerrato, and Robin Strahan.
The play opens its 12th Avenue Arts run on Thursday, runs through the end of August.
Click the video below for the play's imaginative set-up, then click this link for tickets:
Antigona Teaser FINAL Medium from Arlene Martinez on Vimeo.
Euripides Update: Pacific Palisades (Malibu)
From MacArthur Fellow and critically acclaimed author of Electricidad and Oedipus el Rey, Luis Alfaro's Mojada is a breathtaking reimagining of Euripides's Medea transported to East Los Angeles. In an epic journey of border crossings, Medea, a seamstress with extraordinary skill, runs from a past of betrayals. With husband Hason and their son in tow, our storied heroine's struggle to adapt takes a disastrous turn when old and new worlds meet in the City of Angels. Alfaro's gripping contemporary take on the ancient Greek myth tackles the complexities of family, tradition, culture, and the explosive moment when they all collide.
From Tamazunchale to Hermosa Beach: Peripatetic Writer Takes Road Next Traveled
La Bloga friend, Ron Arias, is featured in luxury web magazine Southbay, pursuing the potter's wheel instead of pedo in some third world calle. From crafting sentences with his hands to spinning mud into vessels, the look of satisfaction on Ron's face tells the world he's making the most of every opportunity.
Ron Arias read at both the 1973 and 2010 historic floricantos at USC. Follow this link to view his 2010 reading.http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15799coll79/id/274/rec/1