Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Bearable Lightness of Being

In Being Bodies, Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon offer the perspectives of a variety of women with varying Buddhist practices. The result is a contemplative and compelling work dealing with what it means to be female, what it means to fully and consciously inhabit the female body.

The last wave of the Western women’s movement critiqued the idea that a women was her body. In fact, a major focus of that movement was the position that biology was not destiny. This was primarily a response to the social construction of women’s identity, the objectification of a women as nothing more than physical self. However, there was little offered to support women in learning to fully live in that physicality, to know it as both vessel and endpoint.
Being Bodies offers a view that a woman’s self-knowledge is rooted in the flesh. Women’s awareness is based in surrendering to the body’s impermanence, its joy, its suffering, and its death. One of the most thought-provoking essays is Linda Chrisman’s "Birth".

In it, she describes the process of labor, and giving birth to her son. What's striking about this experience was how Chrisman was both deeply enmeshed in that process and separate from it. The most telling lesson, for both Chrisman and the reader, occurred at the height of labor. Here she realizes that all her physical conditioning, all her contemplative practice would not save her from pain. This selection beautifully illustrates the message of
Being Bodies. There may be another path for women, rooted in surrender to the fullness and limits of the body. Through that choice, a woman may find self-knowledge and ultimately, freedom. While the focus of Being Bodies is the female experience, it is a universal and object lesson about Buddhist ideas of impermanence, and becoming fully present in every moment by letting go. I was moved to tears reading this book. It reminds me that true beauty is the sum of both pleasing things as well the scars.

I feel such a strong, visceral connection to the stories of the women profiled in this anthology. (Interesting that "visceral" is the only word that comes to mind in reviewing a book dealing with the experience of being grounded in the body and the odyssey of transcendence.)
This book is a pivotal one as I try to develop a deeper spiritual practice - moving East in order to come West, hoping to re-encounter and reinterpret my own ideas of embodiment, spirituality and existence.

ISBN-10: 1570623244
ISBN-13: 978-157062324


Acentos and AWP Conference News

On Tuesday, January 29th at 7pm, we break from our normal schedule to bring you ACENTOS on a FIFTH TUESDAY, in conjunction with the Bay Area's own Craig Perez and Achiote Press.

The featured poets that night will be two amazing young writers:

Marina Garcia-Vasquez
, acontributor to the press' ACHIOTE SEEDS, Volume 2, and Javier O. Huerta, author of the acclaimed debut collection, SOME CLARIFICATIONS Y OTROS POEMAS. As always, the Uptown's best open mic will precede the festivities, and your host will be John Rodriguez.

On Thursday, January 31st at 6pm, the Con Tinta collective presents its annual awards dinner and reading.

Lifetime achievement awards are to be presented to Nuyorican writers
Sandra Maria Esteves and Tato Laviera. The dinner will take place at Mojitos', located at 227 E. 116th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. The reading will be held in conjunction with PALABRA, a journal of Chicano and Latino literary arts. Your hosts for the evening will be Urayoan Noel and Rich Villar.

Finally, on Friday, February 1st at 6:30pm, El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños presents ACENTOS: A Gathering of Latino and Latina Poets.

The event is slated to take place at the
School of Social Work at Hunter College, 129 E. 79th Street, at the corner of 79th and Lexington. A lineup of more than 20 emerging and nationally recognized Latino and Latina poets are set to take the stage, including Martin Espada, Sandra Maria Esteves, Brenda Cardenas, Aracelis Girmay, Willie Perdomo, and many more.

It's going to be a busy January for your crew at Acentos, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Keep an eye on this list for further updates, news, features and even more poetry events for the '08, as well as information about our fifth anniversary show in March.

Details for all our January events are listed below. See you all there!

Rich Villar
for the Acentos crew.

Tuesday, January 29th @ 7pm
ACENTOS Bronx Poetry Showcase A reading in collaboration with Achiote Press featuring JAVIER O. HUERTA and MARINA GARCIA-VASQUEZ plus the Uptown's Best Open Mic

The Bruckner Bar and Grill
One Bruckner Blvd. (corner of Third Ave. and Bruckner Blvd.) 6 Train to 138th Street Station Hosted by John Rodriguez FREE! ($5 suggested donation) Thursday, January 31st @ 6pm Con Tinta's Annual Award Ceremony and Reading Honoring the work of Nuyorican poets SANDRA MARIA ESTEVES and TATO LAVIERA Mojitos' Bar 227 E. 116th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) 6 Train to 116th Street Station Hosted by Urayoan Noel, Rich Villar, and the Con Tinta collective FREE and open to the public.

Friday, February 1st @ 6:30pm ACENTOS: A Gathering and Celebration of Latino and Latina Poets Presented by El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños at Hunter College and Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase

Featuring over twenty emerging and nationally recognized Latino and Latina poets:

The School of Social Work @ Hunter College
129 E. 79th Street (corner of 79th and Lexington) 6 Train to 77th Street Station, two blocks north to 79th and Lex. FREE and open to the public.

Acentos: The Bronx's Premiere Spot for Poetry

"Acentos is one of the best audiences, one of the best venues, I've ever seen. The organizers do a great job, not only in terms of spreading the word, but also in terms of creating anticipation. I feel like I'm part of a community, part of a movement. Aquí estamos y no nos vamos." Martín Espada




After a sold out run at Chicago Dramatists, MACHOS is moving to the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, IL, conveniently located near the CTA/Blue Line Austin stop.

Tickets are already on sale, and I hope you will help spread the word!

Here's the scoop:

At 16th Street Theater 4 weeks only! January 25 through – February 17, 2008

Fridays at 7:30 PM Saturdays at 5:00 PM Saturdays at 8:00 PM Sundays at 6:00 PM


Lisa Alvarado

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