Thursday, February 12, 2009

St. Valentine's Day, Mesoamerican Conference

Michael Sedano

Click here for a musical accompaniment to the image above.

On the eve of St. Valentine's Day, it's my pleasure to share some of poetry's best expressions of love. I like to print these out and give them to my wife, and to friends.

Read these aloud to your own Valentine.


WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

--William Butler Yeats, 1893

I always toss in this one as a cautionary tale.

SWEETHEART, do not love too long,
I loved long and long,
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other's,
We were so much at one.
But O, in a minute she changed-
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.

--William Butler Yeats, 1904

I used to send out just the Yeats alone, to virtual valentines at the CHICLE list of yesteryear. 

One time I was surprised to get a bitter comment "You don't have any chicano love poems!" No, I didn't. I'd read none to equal the lamentation of "When You Are Old" nor the irony of "Do Not Love Too Long".

Then I came across Ina Cumpiano's fabulous "Metonymies" in Lauro Flores (ed)
Floating Borderlands Cumpiano's final metonymy, the ashes, for me expresses a passionate intensity that reflects a powerful love.

Metonymies / Ina Cumpiano


LAST JULY, they loosened their grip, let go--
plum, sweet plum--until the grass
was bloody with the warm flesh. Months later
the finches, purple fruit, hide in what's left of leaves
so that only when they fly off,
when the branches bounce back to true
is their presence known. They will not outstay
the leaves, the thin white light disclosing
those empty hands, the tree, against the sky.

This trip south, the egret questions the lagoon:
the white curl of its own back is the answer.
No matter how many times I return, this shallow inlet
to the sea will be here; and the egret, long gone,
will grace it with presence.
In "The Blind Samurai" the camera zooms
to the old man's clever ear: a double metonymy
that links our deafness to his danger. By the time
we catch on--snap, snap, footsteps
in the underbrush--
he has done battle and
bandits litter the forest like cordwood.


The camellia loses its head
all at once; it does not diminish
petal by petal
so for weeks the severed blossom lingers
as moist as pain, at the foot of the bush.


If the police ordered me to evacuate,
what would I take with me?
Baby pictures, computer disks, the silver,
proofs of birth? The sun
would hang like old fruit until the smoke
gathered it in. Then: night in day, sirens,
and knowing that whatever I took
would hold in its small cup
everything I had ever lost.
So if the police ordered me to evacuate during a firestorm,
I would write your name on a slip of paper,
light it, and--
in those few hurried moments allowed me--
watch it burn, brush the ashes into an envelope
which I would seal and keep with me, always.

The Floating Borderlands, Twenty-five Years of U.S. Hispanic Literature. Ed. Lauro Flores. Seattle: UofW Press, 1998, pp. 390-391. 1998

And a final St. Valentine's Day Offering...

foto msedano : Diego Rivera. Mexico DF, Palacio Nacional.

2009 Conference on Mesoamerica

“Continuity and Change in Mesoamerican History
From the Pre-Classic to the Colonial Era”
An Homage to Tatiana A. Proskouriakoff

May 15-16, 2009
Salazar Hall E184
California State University, Los Angeles

This conference on Mesoamerica commemorates the first centennial of Tatiana A. Proskouriakoff’s birth. Born in 1909 in Tomsk, Siberia (Russia), Proskouriakoff migrated with her family to the United States in 1916. She studied architecture and archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, and began doing fieldwork on Maya sculpture and architectural reconstruction in Piedras Negras, Guatemala (1936-1937), Copán, Honduras (1938-1939), Chichén Itzá (1939-1940), and in Mayapán (1951-1955). 

In her first published article (1944), Proskouriakoff linked historical inscriptions in carved jade found in Chichén Itzá with the history of rulership in Piedras Negras, thus making it possible to undertake stylistic analysis of Classic Maya monuments and to understand the inscriptions in Maya sculptures and glyphs of the historical succession of rulers. 

Proskouriakoff’s work during the 1950s dealt with Mexico’s Gulf Coast, giving due emphasis to the meaning and function of the ancient ballgame as found in regional sculpture. While at the Peabody Museum (Harvard University), Proskouriakoff began her detailed stylistic analysis of Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions in the belief that, more so than a record of ritual and calendric information, the contents were historical in scope. This breakthrough in Mesoamerican research led to Proskouriakoff’s historical dating of ruling dynasties in Yaxchilán, México (1964). 

Recognized for her fieldwork and publications on Maya inscriptions, architectural reconstructions, and the stylistic analysis of Maya sculpture, Proskouriakoff is also remembered for her contributions to the interpretation of ideological features in Mesoamerican art, religion, and native reverence toward ancestors. 

In 1984, Guatemala honored Proskouriakoff with the Order of the Quetzal. She died in 1985. Proskouriakoff’s book, Maya History, appeared posthumously in 1993 as a testimony of a life devoted to the study of Mesoamerica. 

In this commemoration of Proskouriakoff’s birth, the conference organizers invite papers on the following topics:

1. Tatiana Proskouriakoff and her contributions to Mesoamerican studies.
2. Maya Epigraphy.
3. Mesoamerica and its historical periods
4. The Epiclassic and multiethnic urban centers
5. Art and ideology in Mesoamerican Artifacts
6. Mesoamerican cave archaeology
7. Landscape, skyscape, and architectural design
8. Colonial ethnohistorical narratives and the question of historical periods
9. The Mexica and the Triple Alliance during the reign of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin
10. Religion, divination, and lunar symbolism in The Codex Borgia
11. History and ideology in the work of Spanish cronistas of the 16th century.
12. Mesoamerican culture and language in the work of Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Jesuits during the Colonial era.
13. Mesoamerica as a linguistic area: continuity and change in indigenous language texts.
14. Architecture, painting, literature, and sculpture: the encoding of Mesoamerican cultural features during the Colonial Era.
15. Transculturation in Art and History of 16th Century Mesoamerica

The deadline for a one-page abstract of conference papers is April 17, 2009. Please send your abstract as an electronic attachment to or mail to the following address:

Prof. Roberto Cantú
Department of Chicano Studies
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Telephone: (323) 343-2195

Conference Program forthcoming in the Spring 2009.
This event will be free and open to the public.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I am trying to connect with Ina Cumpiano who lived in Philadelphia, PA in 1962-63, had a daughter Elisabeth. I lived in Philly at the time and have pleasant memories of her and Elisabeth. She had a baby shower for me when my first baby was born. My name is Eva,
"Evelyn" Mi familia es de Rincon, PR
al igual que su padre y sus abuelos