This past December, three decades after the original publishing of the iconic Borderlands / La Frontera, Aunt Lute Books paid homage to Gloria Anzaldúa's legacy with the publication of Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands.
So, what do you get when 54 writers gather on the page to celebrate in verse and prose the visionary work of Gloria Anzaldúa? Imaniman, which means "their soul" in Nahualt, gives us "work that is sparked from the soul: the individual soul, the communal soul. These poets interrogate, complicate, and personalize the borderlands in transgressive and transformative ways, opening new paths and revisioning old ones for the next generation of spiritual, political, and cultural border crossers" (quoted from Aunt Lute Books).
US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera opens up Imaniman with an introduction that sings, “Anzaldúa lives on...”
She definitely does, not only in the poems, essays, and books she left behind, but also in the countless writers/artists who continue to be nourished and inspired by Anzaldúa's creative musings. Herrera writes about the anthology's voices and what they invoke: “I am moved by these inner and outer voyages...This collection is a signpost on the continuous journey of initial investigations into a borderless Cultura & new power-source, an inner one, in particular one drawn from the deep vision-work of Anzaldúa.”
|Chicana Lesbian Visionary Emerging from The Sea|
La Gloria Lives On!
Back in 2015, when Imaniman existed only as visionary seedling, I interviewed editors ire'ne lara silva and Dan Vera about the inspiration behind the project and the type of submissions they were seeking. It was clear from that interview that they were not interested in academic articles or didactic discussions of Anzaldúa's texts. They sought instead works that were "accessible" and layered with "nuances of poetry." ire'ne lara silva stated, "We want the leaps of intuition and the wisdom garnered from the pursuit of art.” In other words, they wanted soul, literary pieces that danced and conversed and broke bread with Anzaldúa in communal and creative ways.
Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands has now been manifested and released. The pieces in the collection delve into the body, language/la lengua, hybridity, color/race, ancestral inheritance, the ever-bleeding and blooming borderlands, crossing-over manifestos, cultura as medicine, fluidity, sexuality, resistance, resilience, regeneración, and transformation. Despite it's non-academic approach, or perhaps precisely because of it, this is a great teaching source for Chicanx Latinx Studies, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, and English departments (if they can in their own and desperately needed ways be transformative and shed Eurocentric skins and reading lists). Imaniman can be purchased at Aunt Lute Books and on Amazon.
In the last couple of days, I caught up with the editors again and asked them about their post-publication thoughts.
“I've been delighted at the response to the anthology, not only form contributors but also the way in which people have gravitated to this contemporary voices engaging with Anzaldúa's legacy of transformative work. We had no way of realizing that just a few short months after its release the ever increasing climate of hate would cast the anthology in such a vital light. It feels in many ways that the anthology allows us to reconnect to this ancestral river of wisdom right when we all need to dig deep for the continuing struggles ahead. I hope Imaniman results in other such projects where contemporary writers can engage with the antepasados who guide us by word and example.”
ire'ne lara silva
“In these times, Imaniman feels like a gift we made to ourselves without knowing how much we'd need it. A place where we could unabashedly speak our truth as border-dwellers, where we could speak to our realities without constraint, where we could fearlessly be all of what we are with our identities, our histories, our languages, our art, and our souls.”
Currently, readings from the anthology are being scheduled in various cities across the country. A book release reading was held in Austin on February 18th and featured contributors Carmen Calatayud, jo reyes-boitel, Jennine DOC Wright, John Fry, Victor Payan, and ire'ne lara silva.
Plans are also underway for releases in the Rio Grande Valley (TX), San Antonio (TX), and San Francisco (CA) in the next few months. Other cities with possible future readings include: Washington (Northwest), Pueblo (CO), Brooklyn (NY), and Chicago (IL).
There is, of course, also a Los Angeles reading just around the corner.
Los Angeles Imaniman Reading
Friday, March 10, 2017
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Other Books / Otros Libros
2006 East Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033
FB event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/771376459684809/
Iris De Anda is a Guanaca Tapatia who hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic at the Eastside Cafe every third Thursday of the month. Author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazón. Radio host of 100 Segundos de Soledad on La Banda Elastica Radio. She forms part of the postpunk group bexox, as well as all female rock band The Bloody Gypsys. www.irisdeanda.com
(www.minalhajratwala.com) is a writing coach who believes you can Write Like a Unicorn. Her books include Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (winner of four nonfiction awards), Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment (poetry), and Out! Stories from the New Queer India (anthology). She is a co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and a former Fulbright Senior Scholar.
Victor Payan: http://www.victorpayan.com/
Olga García Echeverría is the author of Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas. Her work has been published in Lavandería: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words, U.S. Latino Literature Today, Telling Tongues: A Latin@ Anthology on Language, The Sun Magazine, Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands and is forthcoming in Jota by Kórima Press. She lives, writes, teaches, and shape shifts in Los Angeles.