Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Guest Columnist: Sarah Rafael Garcia. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto.

Guest Columnist: Sarah Rafael Garcia. "Memorias de Mis Besos Nobel"

As I entered the bookstore, I felt a literary spirit penetrate my skin.  My body had an ever so tingling sensation that left my hair electrifying and my toes curled in the most sensual position. I was a bit overpowered and a little uncomfortable with the public experience but I went along with it. It felt so good.

I took each step with pure indulgence. I skimmed the tables for something that caught my eye but all I could think of was how excited I felt and took pleasure in the warmth that was spreading from my feminine spot to my inner thighs.

I slowly made my way through the isles, carefully placing my hands on leather-bound books and vibrant illustrations. I ran my fingers through Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. As something called for me to return to the front of the store, I took in a deep breath, attempting to hide my internal moans of pleasure. Then I remembered that Laura Esquivel's Malinche was sitting on the front table and I needed two copies for her autograph that I was there to get.

At that very minute, I saw him enter through the magical doors.  A young, handsome man gallantly walked besides him, but my focus was on his distinguished presence and gray hair. He was the one that seemed extremely familiar and whose enlightening works ran through my head: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and the most notable to me, Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes.

I timidly kept my distance but forced my way to the cashier’s desk where he stood signing a book for the owner. My curiosity led me to study the young sales attendant’s reaction. While blushing, she nodded at me as if yelling out loud "Yes! Oh God, it is him!”

I leaned over to see his face. I needed confirmation.  I was there to meet one of my top inspirations to become of writer, but I never in my wildest dreams expected to run into him. ¡Mi numero uno!

El que me hace soñar entre sus manos. El que me toca sensualmente con cada palabra. El único que siempre esta allí cuando lo busco. The one who has touched many lives around the world, with just a stroke of a pen.

There he was with his back turned towards me. He was taking a step farther away from my urges. He had one foot out the door, headed back to the fantasy world that he was in prior to this moment.  A place that was so remote to me. Could I actually let him slip out of reach just like that?

As calm as I could possibly be while walking towards him, I stated loudly, "¿Con permiso, lo puedo saludar?"

As charming as he is known to be & before he could turn to see my face, he responded, “Solo si lo hace con un beso." With a mischievous smile, I replied, "¡Si gusta le doy dos!"

Then we casually intertwined into a normal conversation about me living in China, writing a book and reading two of his in the last year and a half. I stated how happy I was to be with him. He told me that our worlds could have crossed at many places, since he too spent time getting lost in the walls of the Forbidden City and his own stories. He was so charming and intriguing.  His eyes were mesmerizing. I had no choice but to give myself to him. He had full control of the encounter. He inquired about my life and how I survived through such tough times. He made me laugh like a schoolgirl. He made me feel like I was the only woman and writer in the world, “No te preocupes, ya se que vas a hacer una escritora famosa. ¡Por que siempre comenzamos pobres y con hambre!”

I continued to succumb to his every gesture and hung on to each syllable his lips enunciated. He held my hands tightly and played with words as if he knew he was courting my literary whims to reach their climax. Then just like that; he wished me Buena Suerte and expressed his sincerity with a gentle embrace.

The same instant he walked out the door, he disappeared from my vision and returned to my world of passionate dreams.  I was left flushed and wanting more.  Immediately afterwards I did what every impressionable young woman would do. I shared my intimate moment with a good girlfriend.  While describing each minute detail of my rendezvous with the Nobel Prize winner, I realized I had never even told him my name.

About Sarah Rafael Garcia
Sarah Rafael García was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Orange County, California. She started writing after her father's passing in 1988. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Sociology at Texas State University, is bilingual in Spanish and knows enough Mandarin to speak to pre-k students and taxi drivers in China. She has lived in Beijing and traveled to various countries including a three-month backpacking adventure in Australia. She is an active writer, community educator and published author who strives to advocate for human rights.

Since the publication of Las Niñas, A Collection of Childhood Memories in 2008, García has continued to share her writings and community outreach by founding Barrio Writers in 2009, a reading and writing program aimed to empower youth through creative writing, higher education and the cultural arts and hosting Wild Womyn Writers in 2010, workshops that create neutral spaces which empower womyn to explore their creative spirits, free themselves from societal restrictions and learn to embrace their natural instincts.
García’s essay “Crossing Borders” was published in Connotation Press in April 2011 and her spoken word piece "Without a Name" was aired on the 2012 EXSE Spoken Word Showcase and published in Label Me Latina/o in June 2012. Most recently, she is attending Texas State University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing while working on her next book. García’s writings, workshops and lifestyle promote community empowerment, cultural awareness and global sharing.

Listen to Sarah Rafael Garcia read a story at Latinopia.

Banned Books Update

On this first Tuesday in the eighth month of the year 2012, Arizona continues to ban books in your name.

After reading last week's La Bloga Banned Books Update, a University of Nebraska researcher wrote  Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone. Pedicone insists he has not banned The Tempest, nor any other book. Pedicone alludes kids can get the not-banned books by filing approved interlibrary loan paperwork.

The researcher asked if kids would be expelled for bringing in a non-banned banned book. Pedicone wrote back with his claim that nothing has been banned and if a teacher wants to use a book, Shakespeare's The Tempest, for example, the teacher has that liberty, provided the title is approved for use in that class.

Pedicone refused to answer the question about the kid's liberty. His silence is tacit admission that any kid bringing a non-banned banned book into the classroom will be banned from the classroom, along with that non-banned banned book.

On-Line Floricanto First Tuesday in August 2012

Arnoldo Garcia, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Alma Luz Villanueva, Alejandro E. Barajas, Iris de Anda

“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia:
"Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda

My Land 
by Arnoldo Garcia

my country
is the smallest country
in the world.
my country fits
inside one-hundredth
of one molecule
in a touch between one strand of DNA
my country
has room
for everyone
every European
every Chinese
every Mexican
every African
every Indian
every Asian Pacific Islander
every queer
every nomad
of the earth
every two-legged, four-legged,
crawling, burrowing, winged-
fit in my country.
Everyone is welcome, everyone
I'll happily give you
my country
as long as you promise
not just to take care of her
to let everyone
live in her in peace
in garbled flags
in borders without pigment
borders with human pores
to breath freely
to live breathing
My country is everyone, is everywhere
my country is small
bothers no one
invades no one
drones no one
doesn't stamp your passport
doesn't ask for identity documents
my country lets you be
lets you exist as yourself
lets you determine who you are
my country has no borders
other than those of humanity to humanity
my country has no armies
no prisons no police
no homeless no one suffers
at the hands of other humans
my country is all the colors
the clash of colors, the contrast
the muddy blends, the stark yellows
the pink sunrises, the red of your tongue
mu country fits in your veins
fits in the bat of an eye
welcomes you to our bodily paradise
you can have my country, if you want
it's already yours
walk slowly take your time
my country is in no rush
peace and freedom take their time
rest a bit get up work hard, party
in my country
even the dead
get a turn to dance
every now and then
there are no regrets
there is only life
and its mortal pleasures
in my country
oh! in my country
you would be ideal
you would fit right in
like you always lived there
like your ancestors had been buried there
as a matter of fact
I would encourage you
to bury your ancestors here...
to bring your ancestors here
to my country
to bury them here
take care of them here
take care of our country
where everyone
where every living being
my country is so small
that everyone fits.
And in one of her pores
fit all the suns and moon,
my country, you and me...

Ode to Teresita
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012

Teresita Urrea, Santa de Cabora,
Mexican Joan of Arc,
You, the spiritual curandera
Who dedicated her life to serve others.

You, the illegitimate daughter
Born of an unlikely union between
A fourteen-year-old india, Cayetana Chavez
And wealthy haciendado, Tomas Urrea.

Abandoned by your mother at twelve,
Accepted by your father at fifteen —
You went from poverty to riches
To become a pampered daughter.

You lived with him, his mistress Gabriela,
Your half bothers and sisters, at Cabora—
Learning from Huila, the rancho’s healer
To become a curandera.

One day, you fell into a trance so deep
Your father thought you’d died,
But you survived with a mission from God
To cure, comfort, and console the sick.

Thousands flocked to Cabora,
To receive your touch,
To seek your counsel,
To be healed.

Afraid you’d lead the indios to rebellion,
Presidente Díaz had you arrested,
Offered you prison or exile.
Prison meant death—you chose exile.

With your father also exiled,
You came to Nogales in Arizona Territory
Became a living saint
Adored by los indios of Mexico.

Your heart broke over Tomóchic.
The slaughter of Tomoticheco villagers
The death of 700 soldiers, the destruction
Of a town—all blamed on you.

Santa Teresita, curandera, spiritual healer,
You moved to El Paso with your family,
Continued your healing work,
Wrote about Tomóchic.

You refused to lead a Yaqui rebellion
That led to the death of seven warriors.
Branded “La Bruja de Nogales,”
Three attempts were made on your life.

You settled in Clifton, found peace
Until you married the wrong man,
A spy sent by Presidente Díaz
To take you to Mexico or kill you.

Disowned by your beloved father,
You joined a medical company to tour
The United States starting in San Francisco—
Ending in New York with a new love.

Another heartbreak—tempered
By the birth of your daughter Laura,
The death of your father whom you
Never saw or spoke to again.

Back to California, to Los Angeles
Where you worked with unions
Until your house burned down
And you returned to Arizona.

Another daughter born in Solomon,
Reminded you of family in Clifton.
So you went back, built a house there,
Died at thirty-three years of age.

Your faithful friends and servants
Mariana and her husband Fortunato
Raised your daughters in Mexico
Until they returned to Arizona.

You, dear Santa Teresa, forgotten
By time, your bones moved twice,
So now you rest in an unmarked grave
People claim is yours.

Cabora crumbled into the dirt
That gave birth to its adobes—
Scarcely an outline of its walls remain,
Broken tiles festoon the ground.

Your only monument, a plaque
On a boarding house in El Paso,
Earmarked for destruction
In the name of progress.

Yet the spirit of La Santa de Cabora,
The spirit of Teresita, your holy spirit—
Lives on in the hearts and minds
Of those of us that love you.

by Alma Luz Villanueva

I live in Mexico
because festivals wake
me up pre-dawn,
Quetzalcoatl shimmering through

sky window, these
fireworks loud like
gunfire, someone's
died, left the body,

someone beloved, they
explode, they weep
for two hours, through
the day, and no

one calls the police, every
one understands some
one's left their body, some
one beloved is gone. I

dream through explosions,
wake to loud joyous
mariachis in the distance,
a marriage, family gathering,

I live in Mexico
because death and
life hold hands
dancing, singing, exploding

with grief and joy-
I live in Mexico
because every car stops
for the funeral procession,

a singer/guitarist sings
the beloved's favorite
songs on the way to
the cemetery, where the

famiies will gather, Dia
de Los Muertos, to
welcome their tender Spirits
home, from babies to

elders, a feast on the
graves, they decorate,
joy/sorrow equally,
beauty, song, candles,

tiny stars flicker all
night long as Spirits
come to taste tamales,
tacitos, tequila, cerveza,

fresh limes, oranges,
sweet cakes, where
the father of his Spirit
teen, grave decorated with

little cars, dancing
muertos, bottles of
empty Victorias (his
favorite), some full,

proudly shows me his
handsome boy, I can't
weep, his smile of
pure joy-

I drove to Mexico
in spring 2005, the
fear color codes of
my country, endless

wars on some enemy,
my dreams filled with
mourning women, holding
Spirit sons and daughters,

only sorrow, only grief,
no graves of marigolds,
feasts, sorrow/joy,
death holding hands

with life, dancing, singing,
weeping, exploding
pre-dawn journey of
the beloved, all day

into the night, mariachis
leading a wedding party to
more joy, holding hands
with life death life-

I live in Mexico
to remember,
to witness
simple human

joy sorrow joy,
those without my
country's great entitlements,
the leaders, the shameless

1% who would haul
off the mourner with
explosive weeping, singing,
who allow one in five

children in my country to
be hungry, who prefer
the poor to die (very)
quickly, while mouthing

how much they love their
country, care for its people,
send the neediest young to
kill/die for their oil wars,

want to control the
sacred wombs of women,
the constant enemy,
the constant fear,

unhinging our young, our
unbonded to our Mother
Earth young, bring
automatic weapons to

schools, universities,
playgrounds, now
theatres where the masses
go to dream, the manufactured

dream of Holly Wood,
dream, all humans need to
dream, many have forgotten
how to dream, vision-

I live in Mexico
because a Huichol family
in full brilliant rainbow
dress motioned me in front

of them, the market, I
thanked them but no, their
rainbow smiles insisted,
and the woman helped

me unload my full
cart, their few carefully
selected items waited, she
smiled her rainbows, I

smiled mine, "Gracias,
gracias, gracias,"
I kept saying, why
I live in Mexico.

I live in Mexico to feel
full sun on my face,
full moon light/shadow,
Quetzalcoatl's radiance.

San Miguel de Allende, July 2012

El Jefe de la pobreza
por Alejandro E. Barajas

mi gente llegó 
a un estado mojado
listos para trabajar
llenos de alegría y paz
listos para hacer 
la diferencia y más
de tanto dolor y poca educación  
ellos fueron la ternura
de la lumbre en este pecho
por dentro del corazón 
vive el hombre
vive la hembra 
viven aquellos
que fueron maltratados
en el programa de Los Braceros
uno por uno
por la virtud 
de trabajar y amar
cantando con el cielo
soñando con la tierra
un canto lleno de amor 
soy un hombre 
lleno de amor y ternura
soy más que lo que soy ahora
la pobreza hierve 
dentro mi sangre
dentro mi corazón 
lleno de menos dolor
lleno de más educación 
Pan-America Unida es mi ilusión

The Boss of Poverty
by Alejandro E. Barajas

my people arrived
in a wet state
ready to work
filled with joy and peace
ready to be
the difference and more
from much pain and little education
they were the tenderness
of the fire in my chest
within the heart
lives the man
lives the woman
there lives those
whom were mistreated
in the program of Los Braceros 
one by one
for the virtue
to work and love
singing with the sky
ringing with the earth
one song filled with love 
I am a man
filled with love and tenderness
I am more than I am now
the poverty boils
inside my blood
inside my heart
filled with less pain
filled with more education
Pan-America United is my illusion

© 2012 Alejandro E. Barajas

Read the fine print...
by Iris De Anda

Handshake sells the contract
Loosing contact
Masterminded at ease
You say thank you & please
As "They" give it to us
Commercialized freedoms
Individualized monotone design
We are to feed on consumer disintegration
With a dis-eased population
Become subdued under sugarcoated ties
Fall asleep under lulluby of lies
Corporate head
Mind Control
Sell your soul
What is the price to brainwash ideals?


“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia:
"Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda

Elena has been doing a Chautauqua living history presentation of Teresita Urrea, la santa de Cabora, since 2001. The Arizona Humanities Council pays her honorarium and she travels all over Arizona introducing people to Teresita. She recently performed as Teresita at the National Hispanic Museum in Albuquerque and the Chamizal National Monument in El Paso. She's also performed at UC Davis, Border Book Festival in Las Cruces, Segundo Barrio in El Paso, and UT in San Antonio.

A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; celebrating our stories, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.
As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena also does presentations about Morenci, Arizona. She received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Recently, Elena was nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. She is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems that were published not only on that page but also on La Bloga. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.

Alejandro Esiquiel Barajas was born in Sunnyside, Wa. He was born into a hard working farm-working family. Along with 6 siblngs in the family, everyone knew what one dollor's worth meant at an early age. It was in the year of 2007 that Alejandro began to write about this intricate life, but it wasn't until 2009 that he began to create courage to save his thoughts on a piece of paper. This has now evolved into a self-manifestation of several poems that transcend into different realms inside the mind. Alejandro's personal interest include, but are not limited to: strumming the guitar, waking with the sun, neighboring the shores, and skipping rocks endlessly until the arm gives out. Alejandro will be attending Western Washington University's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies for the next two years, where he intends to dive into Ethnic Studies/Critical Pedagogy. He also intends to further his studies until he recieves a PhD.  

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