Monday, November 07, 2005


Monday’s post from Daniel Olivas

Xochiqueztal Candelaria was raised in San Juan Bautista and earned her BA at UC Berkeley and her MA at New York University. Her work has appeared in The Nation, Seattle Review, Solo: A Journal of Poetry, GSU Review, Gulf Coast Magazine, Indiana Review, Massachusetts Review, Louisiana Literature, and the Homestead Review. She has also written articles for the online journal: Solo Ella and has been anthologized in June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint, published by Routledge Press and in the 2002 Women in Literature and Letters Anthology: Mamibaile. Candelaria has received a number of fellowships and awards including a Vermont Studio Center Writing Fellowship, a Hall Farm Center for the Arts Award, a National Hispanic for the Arts Fellowship, a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant, a Bread Loaf Work-study Scholarship, a LEF Foundation Fellowship, the Fifteenth Annual Louisiana Literature Prize for Poetry, and the 2001 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize. She loves to dance Salsa and is currently learning magic. She is an instructor at Gavilan College in Gilroy, California. Here is some poetry by Candelaria that first appeared in the Homestead Review:


Take this leaf and debrief me.
I rarely remember names.
I don't know how to knit sweaters.
The letters I haven't written are long.
I know you learned how to walk,
and say apple and yes and yellow
at some point in your career and
clearly I have learned the alphabet. I have
hair that smells like orchids on purpose
and four sisters and one brother
and a mother who is five feet tall.
You have at some point inspected
the parts of a doll or consciously killed
an ant. I can't tell you the color of your
first bike or lover but I know Vermont
in the summer is green. I want to lean
back in the grass by the rippling stream,
and watch fireflies confess. In my language
leaf might mean hand, neck, silver water, nipple.

Confessions of a Female

No is not a word that we are conditioned to use.
Instead we might laugh or say maybe or thank you or yes.
We also see parts of the crenelated whole
and the whole part as beautiful.
We might start to like your choice
of words and for a while that is enough.
We might think you look a bit rough and want
to teach you the difference between soap and style.
The words I love you but do not amount to a contradiction.
For light has always been both particle and a wave.
We are likely to save small things-bead by bead
fascinated by the intricate daring of the infinitesimal.
Saddled with sharing, we unconsciously lament the loss
of the cliff dwelling where you can lift up the bone ladder.

Love Poem for Mexican Men, 2001

I didn't cut the sign of the cross in the air
swear on my mother's
cracked copy of the new testament
that I wouldn't love you.

The February wind didn't
enter my chest
making it painful
to open arms.

I just grew to imagine that you might
stay out all night, drink the week's pay,
lay some girl who smelled sweet
then treat yourself to a movie.

I didn't want to wedge myself
between stove and counter top,
smile while you called out
for more tortillas. Pray for you.

How could I not have noticed
the smell of almond soap in your hair,
face as smooth as wet ice cube,
the voice at the bottom

or your voice, the impossible
run away, idling R. I didn't imagine you
up close. Didn't see the seam
our bodies could make.

Was it you at the corner of Monterey
and Church who played kickball
in the dirt, yelling
for chubby Miguel to take third?

It's absurd to wonder about it now.
The man I'd never marry looks
like a cross between my uncle and your father
my grandfather and you.

Am I no longer then the lost
wife, found in the river, the one
who woke each day to grind the corn?
Am I now free to be
the ant who hid in the rice
and crawled away?
The other day I dreamed you
out for a walk. You carried nothing.

You must have been ten, a dark wing
of hair across one eye.
Then from way up high,
you too were a tiny black embrace
panting your way up this hill.


◘ UCLA Library Celebrates Women Faculty: Explore “Visionaries in the Academy: Women of Color at UCLA,” an exhibition at Young Research Library that focuses on women of color in tenure-track positions. The exhibition runs through December. In conjunction with the exhibition, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, professor in Chicana/o studies, will discuss her book, Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders, at the library on Monday, November 7 at 12:00 noon. Please call Norma Corral, 310-825-4945, if you have questions.

◘ CRSC Library Welcomes Diaz-Cotto: Juanita (Ramos) Diaz-Cotto, a longtime advocate of progressive causes and the editor of Compañeras:Latina Lesbians, will read from her ground-breaking book, accompanied by a slide presentation on Latina and Latin American lesbian activism. Diaz-Cotto, an associate professor at SUNY Binghamton, is also the author of a book on Chicanas in the legal system. The event will be held on Thursday, November 10, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, in the Chicano Studies Library, Haines 144. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served. The presentation is co-sponsored by CSRC, MALCS, and Center for the Study of Women. For more information, call Yolanda Retter at 310-206-6052 or email her.

◘ Hot off the press, Self-Help Graphics & Art: Art in the Heart of East Los Angeles documents the history of this important Latino visual arts center. The book includes a list of most of the artwork produced at the community center. Along with full information for each work is the artist’s description of the motivation for creating it as well the meaning behind it. These microhistories are a particularly valuable part of the volume. To read more about the book, click here.

◘ If you are a subscriber, the fall issue of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies should have arrived. If you are not an Aztlán subscriber and want to be one, e-mail your postal address to the CSRC Press in order to receive a subscription package!

◘ I Am Aztlán: The Personal Essay in Chicano Studies, has received a solid review in the September issue of Choice, a compendium of reviews for academic librarians. The reviewer, R. Acuña, notes that the collection “shows that the term Aztlán is much more complex than right-wing critics dare to acknowledge. ... All of the pieces are quick ... leaving readers wanting more. ... Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." I Am Aztlán features intimate writing about the challenges of being a Chicana/o intellectual, academic, and activist. In its pages well-known scholars wrestle with childhood experiences of family and adult experiences of research in order to come to a better understanding of both. If you are teaching a class about research methods or the Chicana/o experience and are interested in a desk copy, please contact CRSC Press. To read more about the book, click here.

◘ Write it Right!, a program aimed at assisting high school seniors in the San Fernando Valley write their personal statements for college entry, is looking for volunteers to work with high school seniors. During the first three weeks in November they will work with students at San Fernando High, Polytechnic High, Sylmar High, Van Nuys High, Kennedy High, and Monroe High. For more volunteer information, phone Jose Atilio Hernandez in Senator Alarcon’s 20th District office at (916) 445-7928 or email.

◘ The CSRC welcomes undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in Chicano Studies to work as interns and volunteers in various areas of the Center. If interested, send an inquiry to Carlos M. Haro.


(ChUSMA is: Gustavo Chavez, Alberto Ibarra, & Marisol Torres)
Directed by Olivia Chumacero
with live original music by Quetzal Flores

Playing at San Fernando's historic Azteca Theater
214 N. Maclay
San Fernando, CA

November 5, 6, 12, & 13
Saturdays @ 8 p.m.
Sundays @ 4 p.m.
Pre-sale tickets are available online here or at the following locations:

Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural
12737 Glenoaks #22
Sylmar, CA


Imix Bookstore
5052 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041

General admission pre-sale tickets: $15
Student/senior pre-sale tickets: $11
Admission: $20
General admission & $15 Student/Seniors

The L.A. Weekly says: "Mixing Aztec mythology with Mexican carpa, Chicano teatro and Hollywood's version of the L. Frank Baum classic 'The Wizard of Oz,' the theater troupe ChUSMA has crafted a provocative yet whimsical sociopolitical fable."

NUEVO CUENTO: Judith Ortiz Cofer’s new story, “Sofia and the Magic Fish,” appears in the premier issue of Staccato Magazine, which publishes only “micro-fiction pieces” of 500 words or fewer. Check it out.

MAKING APPEARANCES: I am a featured author in the new issue of poeticdiversity; the feature is here. And I was recently inteviewed in Ink Byte.

All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadre at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!


msedano said...

how could san juan bautista not produce chicana chicano art? home to el teatro campesino, perched at the edge of a green river valley on one side, wooded hills on the other, pacheco pass to the west, and ft. ord on the east. during AIT, my wife and i would drive over to san juan bautista, go to the almaden winery tasting room overlooking that valley. the winekeeper knew i was a soldier. he'd bring us those tiny glasses and two bottles then go away. invariably we'd find a church fundraiser barbeque in town where the wonderful gente gave us a warm welcome and more than one abrazo. and wouldn't accept our money.

i enjoyed Xochiqueztal Candelaria's poems. good choices. the like the suprise at the end, a mere leaf? i like the consciously killed ant in the first piece, the ant in the rice in the last. i'd like, however, to issue a defense of mexican men. but then, maybe she is the ant consciously killed?

i love poetry. thanks for these.


daniel olivas said...

a flood of memorias. good. and glad to share my find. i had a story published by the homestead review last year (i think) and discovered this chicana gem. flying off to monterey, ca, very soon. hasta.

Anonymous said...

I try to stay away from poetry; I'm too cultured as it is. But I read Candelaria's.

(Sedano, there's no "defense of mexican men" needed; they're indefensible.)

Interpreting poetry is like trying to eat mole with a fork: tho lots of people do it, you just can't get enuf of the gravy unless you also use a tortilla. The fork is our brain, the tortilla is our soul.

Her poems post worked; gave me, at least, a taste of Candelaria's spirit.

Graz, Olivas,

Manuel Ramos said...

Not that this has anything to do with anything about this post, but The Chicago Manual of Style recently said this about poetry:
"Q. Are poets allowed poetic license to do practically anything with punctuation? I ask this in view of a poem by Emily Dickinson that seems to use the em dash in bewildering and inscrutable ways.

A. Yes, poets are pretty much allowed to do as they please. In my experience, they are sometimes even offended by editing, believing that their misspellings and inconsistencies are inspired, if not intentional. Of course, if poetry is idiosyncratic to the point of being annoying, nobody will want to buy it, so there’s some motivation for restraint in the first place."

msedano said...

--i, like Yvor Winters' frase--poetry is a constant reemindur of all the thangs that can be said in only one languige.