Sunday, September 15, 2013

Las Mujeres: Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rosemary Catacalos, and María Espinosa

LAS TRES MUJERES! Cervantes, Catacalos, and Espinosa:  Latest publications!

Rosemary Catacalos
Lorna Dee Cervantes
María Espinosa

Images of shifting tectonic plates were on my mind last week.  I was writing and researching in California, traveling over “earthquake land,” better known as The San Andreas Fault (click here for more information on these "shifting" plates).  The “fault” covers about 810 California miles which include (where I was) Santa Cruz and San Francisco.  
Aerial view of The San Andreas Fault

Santa Cruz is where Chicana lesbiana writer, Gloria Anzaldúa lived and died (May 2004).  For many years she walked the beach at dusk, her favorite time of day, because it was the “in between” time:  not quite day anymore and not yet night.  One might also think of dusk as “equal” – the point where light and dark meet in equal parts.  And in a week (September 22nd), we will arrive at the autumnal equinox which, like “dusk” is a time when two entities meet.  The sun crosses the celestial equator.  Immediately after this crossing, the days become shorter and cooler.  Equinox comes from the Latin, meaning “equal night”—not fully summer or fall.  It points to a moment, a space, a breath we take right before change happens, a shifting of inner and outer spaces. 

Later today, without fail, my mother will call me. She will remind me that “el Grito de Dolores” is approaching and will I join her in watching the re-enactment on the Mexican TV channel.  On September 16, 1810, the Catholic criollo priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, boldly announced that it was time to revolt, it was time to end Spanish colonization.  This “grito” was the call for change, for the Independence of Mexico. And it happened in Guanajuato, Mexico-- the land of my mother's antepasados, a site of so many complex shifts.  

This month also marks an important publishing moment. Writers Lorna Dee Cervantes, María Espinosa, and Rosemary Catacalos have new books and re-issued editions out from Wings Press.  Bravo, Wings Press (click here for info on Bryce Milligan of Wings Press), for continuing to publish (and re-issue) important U.S. Latina and Chicana writing. These three writers splendidly write of spatial shifts within and outside of the self.  What a gift to have their words available to us this month!

To honor these three writers, I share with you their poetry. 

Lorna Dee Cervantes’ fifth collection of poetry, Sueño, is bold as it is ethereal.  These are new and complex poems revealing a seasoned poet, a wise mujer.  The collection includes a poem dedicated to Gloria Anzaldúa.  While in Santa Cruz, I kept thinking of Cervantes’ words:

for Gloria Anzaldúa

When you’re copper poor, all
You have left is the walk.
The get up and go got you
there, and you stuck in the craw,
devoid and raw, an envelope at your
feet, taped shut.  You did anything
to open it.  You challenged.  You braided.
You swung wide the gate.  The goal was not
an absence – it was demanding the presence.
Demanding the sea.  Upbraiding.  See? 

Also in the collection is the poem “Burn Ward” which is yet another example of the many multi-layered, well crafted poems in the collection:

Burn Ward

I would love you like Walt
Whitman loved his fellow man,
like a volunteer in the Civil War loves his wards.
I would pack up your abscesses,
pile on the cotton ‘til what bleeds
ceases and you cease to amaze you. 

I would love you like Walt Whitman
loved the turtles, the small places
in a body a soul can hide.
I would love you like skin loves
the taste of salt, like water loves
the high mark.  I would love you,

love the keloids of your flesh
hardened into hands, love
the damp epitaphs, the masking sensuous lines
of your forehead – no matter the pain.
I would dip my cloth into your opening.

I would leave it there, some new marble
of me grafted to your hide.
I would sacrifice my ice and tears,
my bandage of lip and mouth, my art
of putting back the you that falls apart. 

Rosemary Catacalos (photograph by Steve Bennett)

Rosemary Catacalos is the first Latina to be named Texas Poet Laureate (2013).  Last April, La Bloga announced that Wings Press would be publishing an anniversary edition of her 1984 collection of poetry, Again For The First Time.  How lucky we are to have this new edition. This month, it is now officially available. Click here to read an interview with Catacalos. Catacalos’ poetry is rich in complexity, a mix of her Mexican and Greek inheritances: 

From Home

                for Bernardino Verástique

Desde tu tierra te dicen:
The chicharras are beginning to die again
and it is the end of summer fruit.
The peaches and melons are coming in
bruised and bitter and thin
to the point where peddlers
hawking from the backs of their trucks
try to pawn them off as change.
And the chicharras, ayy, the chicharras
are giving out with loud choruses
building one voice on another until
the trees shake with a noise
that pounds the heart and eyes.
There is no escape.
They are dying and pulling
the heat into the ground after them.
The mornings become brittle and cool
without their sound.  Camarada,
the moon is on the rise,
dogs howl through the night,
and it is September.
Grass is starting to grow
where you planted it in July.
It will die with the first frost,
come back again in the spring.
Camarada, in Greece there are grandmothers
who insist on being photographed as they
rummage behind the church among the dead
for the skulls of their former rivals,
finally cupping the empty bone for the camera
with the proud half-smile
of an accidentally longer life,
the eyes rheumy,
the pieces of embroidery fewer these days,
the shroud already woven.
I only tell you these things
because war has broken out in the lands
where the oldest angels
have always known it would come to this.
I only tell you because
Mr. and Mrs. Ozdabeano Maldonado
keep whirling their eternal polka
across my walls.
I only tell you
that somewhere in France
and perhaps elsewhere,
at this very moment
the dead are trying
to walk out into the air
without their stones

* * * * * * * * * * 

Nuestro Dolor

Labor Day.  All over Aztlan
the midwives are polishing
their instrumental silver hands.
The full moon
isn’t until day after tomorrow,
but already the fat milky body
is heaving, sweating,
rolling over and crushing us
in its desperation to deliver
itself of its monthly sorrow.
Workers hungry in the fields,
drunks on lopsided street corners,
old ladies shuffling off to church
on over-sugared legs,
boys lost in poison whiffs
of high heaven.
Ours are the tears that rub
the moon’s loaded belly.
We are this child’s family.
Where else will it come
with its little harelip of blood
but to us? 
María Espinosa
 Also just “hot off the press” is a new edition of Dark Plums by María Espinosa.  Originally published in 1995, the novel is a psychological exploration of abuse via a woman’s own journey toward self actualization.  

Roberta Fernández, editor of In Other Words: Literature by Latinas of the United States, wrote (for the 1995 edition):  “Novelist María Espinosa is concerned with human communication that transcends the norms usually permitted by society.  She is particularly adept at capturing the distinctiveness of multicultural communities in the United States, including Hispanic, Jewish, and rural communities.”  Espinosa is the winner of the American Book Award for her novel Longing and her 2010 novel, Dying Unfinished won the PEN Josephine Miles Award.  She is also author of the novel:  Incognito:  The Journey of a Secret Jew.
Espinosa is also a published poet.  Click Here for a sample of her poetry.  

Felicidades to Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rosemary Catacalos, and María Espinosa!  You can order their books through Wings Press here—(click here!).

A parting autumnal note:
Earlier this summer, I sent you all pictures of my vegetable garden which included a volunteer plant which, at first, I thought was zucchini.  

Earlier this summer-- too big to be a zucchini

But the fruit growing on it was just not a zucchini.  Well the latest discussion is that I indeed must have a pumpkin patch that has decided to grace its many vines and grandiose leaves at the corner of my garden.  It is indeed a gift and daily amazes me.  The one large fruit is beginning to change color—into pumpkin orange and there are two more babies on the other two vines.  

The changing color of the same fruit (pictured above)


Yes—there is change in the air.  Fall is coming!  Sending you all healing, calming, and loving energies!  

another one just discovered---

baby pumpkin

The vegetable garden-- lots of kale.  You can see the pumpkin patch to the left (back) of the garden.  A gift!
Felíz writing and reading to you all.


msedano said...

happy seeing the garden update. quick, pick one of those little ones and make some squash tortillas. i bet it tastes delightful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ms Amelia ML Montes for sharing not only garden updates but all the Latina talent. The Fall always brings me memories of my own mother's gardens and her magical pumpkin pies. Too much sugar for me now but how great remembering the wonderful tastes.
I love dusk moments as well and appreciate the art of "Las Mujeres".
Sincerely with blessings to you and all who plant and write and grow,

Olga said...

I am reading those exact libros and was sketching a blog too. Me ganaste! :) Lorna's poems have been accompanying me all week at the hospital and they are speaking to me deeply. Gracias Lorna, gracias Amelia, and yes, thank you Wings Press.

Amelia ML Montes said...

Gracias Michael--good idea on trying out the tortilla recipe on the little ones since it's too late in the year to wait for them to get as big as the orange one.
Y Diana-- gracias for your lovely comment. There are many pumpkin recipes (delicious, too!) without the sugar: gluten-free, no sugar added (I skip the honey). Try this:
Y hermana Olga-- sorry to have botched tus planes. Yes-- these exact libros are fabulous! Perhaps you can do a longer review of one or all of them. So sorry about the hospital visit. I am sending you many strong healing energias, hermana! Abrazos!

C.M. Mayo said...

Lovely to see this post, and the photos. Maria, fabulous about your book!