Friday, March 12, 2010

Gente Telling Their Stories

Rights in a Foreign Land: Women, Domestic Violence, and Migration
Araceli Calderón González

Melissa Sánchez writes in the Yakima Herald-Republic about Araceli Calderón González and her book published last year in Mexico, Rights in a Foreign Land: Women, Domestic Violence, and Migration. You can read the entire article, which I recommend, at this link. Calderón, a writer who currently makes her home in Greeley, Colorado, has collected stories and poems from 17 women from Mexico who have migrated to Yakima, Washington. The women have all been served by La Casa Hogar, which has helped roughly 4,500 immigrant women since it was started in 1995.

The article notes: She had come in 2006 to collect stories from immigrant children for a book to be published in Mexico. But Calderón sensed a greater story in their mothers and in the other women she met here.

"It made me cry to wonder why these immigrants come to Yakima," said Calderón, a children's book author and literacy advocate. "Why do they leave home? Their communities may be poor, but they're so beautiful."

What Calderón discovered upon returning over the next two years was a narrative of domestic abuse that follows Mexican women into the United States, and the healing process they would begin inside a yellow house on South Sixth Street. It's an issue that receives little attention either here in the United States or in Mexico.

The book's forward, written by Elena Poniatowska, commended Carole Folsom-Hill, executive director of La Casa.

"Here and now, she tells them time and time again. She teaches them that life is worth living. She opens the way for them so that they may open the way for their children."

I don't know if this book is available in the United States. I would appreciate any information about the book and the author.


The Farthest Home Is in an Empire of Fire: A Tejano Elegy
John Phillip Santos
Viking, April

[publisher's blurb]
In his acclaimed 1999 memoir Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos told the story of one Mexican family- his father's-set within the larger story of Mexico itself. In this beautifully written new book, he tells of how another family-this time, his mother's-erased and forgot over time their ancient origins in Spain.

Every family has a forgotten tale of where it ca
me from. Who is driven to tell it and why? Weaving together a highly original mix of autobiography, conquest history, elegy, travel, family remembrance, and time travelling narration, Santos offers an unforgettable testimony to this calling and describes a lifelong quest to find the missing chronicle of his mother's family, one that takes him to various locations in South Texas and Mexico, to New York City, to Spain, and ultimately to the Middle East. Blending genres brilliantly, Santos raises profound questions about whether we can ever find our true homeland and what we can learn from our treasured, shared cultural legacies.

John Phillip Santos, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, is the first Mexican American Rhodes Scholar whose awards include the Academy of American Poets' Prize at Notre Dame and the Oxford Prize for fiction. His articles on Latino culture have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and the San Antonio Express-News. Writer and producer of more than forty television documentaries for CBS-TV and PBS-TV, two of them Emmy nominees, he lives in New York City.

Who Will Tell The Story of Lalo Delgado?

Yesterday's post on this blog featured Lalo Delgado, mentor and friend to many writers across the country. Scroll down to read Jesse Tijerina's tribute. Jesse mentions Chicano: 25 pieces of a chicano mind and Lalo's timeless piece, Stupid America. I never got my hands on this collection, although on my shelves you can find Under the Skirt of Justice: 43 Skirts of Abelardo; Here Lies Lalo: 25 Deaths of Abelardo; A Day is Coming: 32 Days of Abelardo; Petrified Bubble Gum: 25 Bubble Gums of Abelardo; Living Life on His Own Terms: Poetic Wisdom of Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado; An Autobiographical Sketch of Abelardo; and Lalo's "novel" Letters to Louise, published by Tonatiuh-Quinto Sol International in 1982. For those of you not familiar with this book, let me quote from the New York Times review by Alan Cheuse:

The narrator of Delgado's novel is a middle-aged Chicano poet/social worker/administrator named Santiago Flores. His job as an expert on the problems of migrant workers takes him across the Southwest, and his 'search for myself' carries him back into the world of his childhood. In the warm, slightly wacky letters he writes to an unknown correspondent -- possibly you? possibly me? -- there's a touch of Whitman and also a swatch of Cantinflas, and finally a great and appealing personality, a new and attractive voice. By peering over Abelardo's shoulder you may catch a glimpse of yourself in his highly polished Chicano mirror.

It should be obvious that Lalo was all about telling the stories of his people -- the migrantes, artists, workers, children, students, activists, radicals ... you get the picture. In the poem, Mi Amigo, Lalo, found in the Autobiographical Sketch, Lalo writes: His name is Lalo/and/he was sent/to make us repent/making/the community aware/that in the end/love will prevail. The man's laugh exuded love; his stories captivated me whenever I was lucky enough to be in his audience, around a table or in a lecture hall. Lalo would start talking and it was like he was a rolling, swaying, eternal motion, emotion machine - a natural poet, a gifted storyteller.

The Autobiographical Sketch is a very slim hodge-podge of poems and the piece Lalo wrote for Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. It clearly is only a "sketch" and cannot convey the massive influence or impact Lalo had on writing, art, farm worker advocacy, Chicano culture - on you and me. It's worth noting the ending sentences to his article for the Contemporary Authors series: Any of the avenues that I have touched briefly in this sketch of the many persons that live in me beg for more detail. Maybe in the same autobiographical format. I could do it in book size. I knew that Lalo had started work on this more detailed story of his life, but as far as I know he did not finish it.

So, who will tell the story of Lalo Delgado? Who will save this history, preserve the man, and educate the generations yet to come? Who will pay him back for all that he did for us?

The art piece above is by Stevon Lucero. Entitled For Lalo, it was one of the hearts created in 2007 for the annual Chicano Humanities & Arts Council Milagros del Corazon fundraiser, exhibit and auction. It hangs on a wall adjacent to the shelves that house my Lalo books.



Anonymous said...

Lalo seems to have had a great influence on many literary types in Denver. But his poems reached across many states - I was in Utah, in the migrant stream, and was inspired to keep on with school - although it was very difficult - becasue of people like Lalo. Maybe we can all collectively tell his story

Anonymous said...

Abelardo Lalo Delado will always be a seminal figure in my understanding as to how a poetry reading should be given. He gave such robust presentations, he smiled, he joked, he knew his audience and he succeeded. I was fortunate to have seen him read at numerous festivals in Texas, Colorado, and in Chicago's Casa Aztlan. His collection,Under the Skirt of Lady Justice 43 Skirts of Abelardo
(Barrio Publications, 1978) among his many chapbooks and perfect bound books is one of my favorites.
Lalo had a razor sharp wit that I miss. If he were alive today, he would deeply lament the Narco wars along the border, esp. El Paso area.

Anonymous said...

Delgado, sorry I missed the "g" in my other post, was born (this in his own words) la boquilla de conchos, november 27, 1931...america received him in 1943, went to aoy, bowie and the university of texas at el paso...a poet, playwright, lecturer, community organizer, youth worker, authority in the calo lingo, founder of machos, adviver to maya, original staff of our lady's youth center, founder of tepetac federal credit union and the guadalupe employment office...married to dolores, his children: ana, alicia, arturo, alfredo, angela, amelia, and abbie. (from his book CHICANO 25 pieces of chicano mind by abelardo (1972) Que Viva LALO!!
MARCH ABRAZO PRESS had the honor of hosting him in Chicago.