Sunday, August 05, 2012

Homenaje a tatiana de la tierra

by Amelia M.L. Montes (

Dear “La Bloga” Readers—as you’ve been noticing this week, a number of our “La Bloga” writers have been posting their tributes, love, memories regarding one of our own:  “La Bloga” writer, tatiana de la tierra who died last Tuesday, July 31, 2012.  I was very fortunate to share Sunday writing duties with tatiana. And I was fortunate to know her for many years through the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) and the organization, Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS). 

From tatiana’s website:  Born in Villavicencio, Colombia and raised in Miami, Florida, tatiana de la tierra is a bicultural writer whose work focuses on identity, sexuality, and South American memory and reality.  She received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Master of Library Science from University at Buffalo.  

Tatiana was a founder, editor, and contributor to the Latina lesbian publications esto no tiene nombre, conmoción and la telaraña.  She is author of For the Hard Ones:  A Lesbian Phenomenology/Para las duras: Una fenomenología lesbiana 

and the chapbooks Porcupine Love and Other tales from My Papaya, Píntame Una Mujer Peligrosa, tierra 2010: poems, songs & a little blood. In 2009 she published a Spanish-language children’s book, Xía y las mil sirenas (Xia and a Thousand Mermaids). (click here to view tatiana's website)

She will forever be with us through her radiant energy that comes alive in her words.  There are also a number of readings that have been recorded or are on YouTube.  In this YouTube piece, she begins by singing one of her poems and then she talks about her literary influences (click here).  Here is one of her poems from her most recent collection, tierra 2010:  poems, songs, & a little blood


i walked in darkness
at two in the afternoon
blocked out sun
with ancient walls
zigzagged into alleys

tasted the sea in moist air
tuned into church bells
felt the pace of people's footsteps
noted closed storefronts
signs in catalán
graffiti of the day

i wanted to avoid tourists squinting at miniature maps

i wanted to get lost in the shadows
be taken in by my solitude
navigate my own dead ends


Below are loving tributes, memories, and photos: 

From Olga Garcia:
I’m sharing one of my favorite pictures of Tatiana.  I took it in her home in Long Beach, California on Day of the Dead 2011.  

Tatiana, her mother Fabiola (who was visiting), Maritza (my girlfriend) and I painted our faces dead on that day and rode the metro from Long Beach to Placita Olvera.  As was always the case with Tatiana, we had a blast. 

Olga Garcia:  “And I knew her long before she was a Wounded Eagle Woman.  We met at a dusty border, where cactus and Spanglish ruled.  Where the land was flat and the cockroaches flew.  We were long lost sisters who shared histories of migration, bricks of welfare cheese, cocaine and onion fields, hickies on our necks, water, earth, fire, and words.  We wrote our hearts out beneath a blazing sun and ate the flesh of fish until only skeletons remained.  We sat in the giant huecos of red desert rocks.  We survived sandstorms and traveled deep into the belly of the earth, where bats slept and stalactites and stalagmites encircled us like a magical rocky kingdom.  We ventured into copper canyons where natural springs sprung.  She perched on a rock like an eagle and me diving into water like a fish.  We did New York.  San Diego.  Las Cruces, El Paso.  Juarez.  Los Angeles. Santa Barbara.  Buffalo.  Miami.  The Keys.  We fled like fugitives to Mexico, then to Canada.  Bathed beneath Niagara where colossal rocks became whales.  We were maidens in the mist.  Mermaids once more.” 

From Cristy: 
Seven Months ago, I fell in love with a walking, talking, and loving rainbow.  The most colorful woman I have ever met.  Tatiana de la Tierra.  Our love together can best be described with the words romantic, tender, passionate, caring, daring, intimate, and unique.  

The blessing of meeting her from outside her career circle is having been given the opportunity to meet her from the inside out.  Her beauty often took my breath away.  I admired her intelligence, bravery, courage, sense of humor and all around amazing humanness.  Tatiana’s emotional gifts given to me are valuable, beautiful, and immeasurable.  I wrote this poem for her as an expression of the permission and freedom she gave to me through loving me in my entire totality. 

She gave me permission
To be loved in the knowning and unknowing of my being
To look out the window at the passing cars, to taste the sweet flavor of her essence upon my tongue.
She gave me water for my seeds and now the flowers are sprouting out of my head and out of the bottoms of my feet.
She gave me permission to be safe
To be held and rocked and sung to sleep
She gave me hours of her warmth
Wrapped in her arms, child whimpers and child dreams
She gave me permission to love her, to share out loud the vision of snowflakes falling in the midnight air
She gave me permission to softly surrender and allow in her love and her ability to care
She gave me permission to just be
She gave me, she gave me, she gave me, me. 
May the love shared between us forever grow and flower within my heart.

From Manuel Ramos: 
I knew tatiana only for a short time, and mostly through her writing on La Bloga, but we did meet occasionally at writing events, here in Denver and in California.  
Left to right: Michael Sedano, tatiana de la tierra, Olga Garcia, Manuel Ramos

She was a remarkable person—her passion for life, art, and “the right thing” was obvious in everything she did, from her personal style to the beautiful words she shared with us.  We miss her unique voice on La Bloga.  I’m sure there are many friends and family who miss her wonderful humanity and singular personality. 

From Lydia Gil:  Breves palabras, recuerdo que perdura

From Melinda Palacio: 
These are my tatiana photos.  In the first photo, she is reading my poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown.  It was her idea to take the photo with my book.  

The group photo shows me, tatiana, and one of her writing groups, Las Guavas, including La Bloga’s Olga Garcia.  Her mischievous smile and sense of whimsy come through in these images.  tatiana amazed me with her sense of adventure.  
Melinda Palacio and tatiana de la tierra y her Las Guavas writing group
She traveled the world and never let not feeling well stop her.  I especially enjoyed her posts on Colombia and her goddess retreats.  The photo of her in the snow with a golden lion tiara impressed me.  She is the first woman to make camping in the snow look elegant.  Her Sirena book for children is gorgeous.  I am grateful I had the chance to meet her at the Flor y Canto at USC in 2008.  Thank you Michael Sedano and La Bloga for introducing me to tatiana’s beauty. 

From Donna Snyder:
I’m writing to express my great sorrow to learn that tatiana died so young.  First I knew her from her writings, then I met her when she moved to El Paso to get her MFA at UTEP [University of Texas at El Paso].  When she moved to Buffalo, she left me a huge bag of clothes, silk tops and beautiful flowered things, exotic as she was.  She made me my first mojito, advised me on how to buy a good vibrator, recommended a special bookstore in NYC when I was leaving for a big adventure, gave me good advice on my love life and health that I never heeded.  tatiana de la tierra.  Not only was she of the earth, she was the earth, the ultimate earth goddess.  Descansa en paz.

Recuerdos en fotos from Lydia Gil:

AWP Conference 2010 in Denver: (Left to right) Lydia Gil, Manuel Ramos, Rudy G., Jesse Tijerina, tatiana de la tierra
Rudy G. y tatiana de la tierra
From Daniel Olivas:
tatiana had no pretense whatsoever.  As what some of us of a certain age might say:  what you saw is what you got.  We have been enriched by her presence (both physical and virtual) and many others will be touched by her spirit through our online community as her words and photographs continue to be read and savored.  Tatiana, mi hermana:  hasta . . . hasta . . . we will all be with you someday.  

tatiana de la tierra, reading Nov. 2, 2007 Dia de los Muertos
From Miguel Juarez, MLS, MA
Associate librarian, Archaives and Rare Books
University of North Texas Libraries in Denton, TX:
In 1999, I encouraged tatiana to apply for the SUNY Buffalo Library Residency Program when I was a UB and she was living in El Paso, Texas.  I was on the selection committee.  At first she didn’t like the idea of becoming a librarian.  When she applied, the committee said that she already had an MFA and she did not need another Masters, but she was clearly the BEST candidate, MFA or not, and thankfully for us, the rest is history.
Lizette Guerra y tatiana de la tierra at opening of the Chicano Studies Research Center Library, UCLA (April 2011)
From Luz-Maria (Luzma) Umpierre, Ph.D: 
There is a song in Puerto Rico that says:  “Cuando un amigo se va, dejame un inmenso vacio.”  That is how I feel on the loss of this powerful sisterly voice who helped me be published early in my career.  Luz perpetua para ti.

Memorias en fotos (two) from Michael Sedano--
from the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto: Yesterday * Today * Tomorrow:  

Michael Sedano:  I love her expression of puro joy.  She was on, the audience was into the art, and in this moment that all comes together. 

Olga Garcia y tatiana de la tierra 
From Linda Rodriguez:  I never met her, but I loved her ‘Blood on the Roses’ and ‘La Violencia.’  A remarkable spirit.

And here is a poem from her 2011 collection:  Pajarito: Regáleme Una Canción


soy mono cósmico azul
                 hago monerías y no me importa
estoy obsesionada con el chamanismo
                  y el camino multicolor de la tierra
me la paso canturreando todo el día
                    hasta le canto a los tubos de mi sangre
me fascina la realidad
                      intento escribir mis verdades
soy espiritual pero no pertenezco a ningún grupo
                      la diosa soy yo
quiero vivir del aire y la tierra
                      pero no sé sembrar ni un pepino
disfruto los placeres de la lengua
                      lo cual puede ser interpretado de todas las maneras
disfruto los placeres de mi cuerpo
                       aunque a veces estoy hecha un zapato
una delicia:  manejar rápido en el autopista
                         retumbando con la música
detesto los deportes, la gritería, el imperialismo y el mugre
                         quiero ser payaso
me encantan los abanicos colgantes
                       no aguanto el calor
soy piedra, amo las piedras y tengo muchas piedras
                       quiero aprender a silbar como un pájaro
quiero Colombia, malocas, sonajas y moras
                          todo el día pienso en los sueños de la noche


Gracias Querida tatiana!  Para Siempre

Amelia M.L. Montes y tatiana de la tierra


Luzma Speaks said...

Tatiana had the immense magnanimity of allowing me to publish in her own La Bloga space my first review of Cachaperismos. She was not a woman worried about who "was on first", " like we all should be. She also gave me a place to publish and corresponded with me extensively in the 1980s. I will miss her.

Daniel A. Olivas said...

What a force of nature! We will all miss tatiana but, as I said, her words and images will live on for us to enjoy. Mil gracias for writing this beautiful post.

Rene Colato Lainez said...

Vamos a recordar siempre a Tatiana.

Tasha Simons said...

Words fail me. In truth, I still can't believe my sister is dead. I miss her terribly. My life will never be the same. Love you, Taty

Carlos Manuel Rivera Carboinael Rixema said...

I met Tatiana de la Tierra in 1998 at Tempe, Arizona in a congress of Transgender and Dissidences in the Latino/a Cultural Representations. There, I performed "La Tongo" by Abniel Marat and she was passionate with the piece. She was a supporter, talented, and friendly woman, as well as full of grace and humor. Rest in Peace Tatiana!! Always, I will remember you!!

Miguel Juarez said...

I first met Tatiana de la Tierra at the Blumberg Auditorium at UT El Paso when she was a student in the MFA program in Creative Writing there. Years later, I encouraged her to apply for a the Library Residency Program at SUNY Buffalo. I also sat on the committee that selected her for the University of Buffalo Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship Program that offered support for newly admitted students in doctoral and master’s level programs across the university who would contribute to the diversity of the student body, especially those who can demonstrate that they have overcome a disadvantage or other impediment to success in higher education. At first the larger committee did not want to select her for the fellowship because she already had her MFA, but fellow committee member Susana Tejada and I successfully argued that Tatiana would provide an important voice for the library community, a voice that was often unheard--the rest is history. Aside from her important work in Creative Writing, Tatiana contributed greatly to the Library field and profession. She left us too soon.