Sunday, February 26, 2017

Imaniman: Sparked From the Communal Soul

Olga García Echeverría

This past December, three decades after the original publishing of the iconic Borderlands / La Frontera, Aunt Lute Books paid homage to Gloria Anzaldúa's legacy with the publication of Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands.

In this 205 page anthology, Aunt Lute Books notes that “award-winning poet ire'ne lara silva and Dan Vera have assembled the work of 54 writers who reflect on the complex terrain—the deeply felt psychic, social, and geopolitical borderlands—that Anzaldúa inhabited, theorized, explored, and invented.”

So, what do you get when 54 writers gather on the page to celebrate in verse and prose the visionary work of Gloria Anzaldúa? Imaniman, which means "their soul" in Nahualt, gives us "work that is sparked from the soul: the individual soul, the communal soul. These poets interrogate, complicate, and personalize the borderlands in transgressive and transformative ways, opening new paths and revisioning old ones for the next generation of spiritual, political, and cultural border crossers" (quoted from Aunt Lute Books).

US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera opens up Imaniman with an introduction that sings, “Anzaldúa lives on...”

She definitely does, not only in the poems, essays, and books she left behind, but also in the countless writers/artists who continue to be nourished and inspired by Anzaldúa's creative musings. Herrera writes about the anthology's voices and what they invoke: “I am moved by these inner and outer voyages...This collection is a signpost on the continuous journey of initial investigations into a borderless Cultura & new power-source, an inner one, in particular one drawn from the deep vision-work of Anzaldúa.”

Chicana Lesbian Visionary Emerging from The Sea
La Gloria Lives On! 

Back in 2015, when Imaniman existed only as visionary seedling, I interviewed editors ire'ne lara silva and Dan Vera about the inspiration behind the project and the type of submissions they were seeking. It was clear from that interview that they were not interested in academic articles or didactic discussions of Anzaldúa's texts. They sought instead works that were "accessible" and layered with "nuances of poetry." ire'ne lara silva stated, "We want the leaps of intuition and the wisdom garnered from the pursuit of art.” In other words, they wanted soul, literary pieces that danced and conversed and broke bread with Anzaldúa in communal and creative ways.

Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands has now been manifested and released. The pieces in the collection delve into the body, language/la lengua, hybridity, color/race, ancestral inheritance, the ever-bleeding and blooming borderlands, crossing-over manifestos, cultura as medicine, fluidity, sexuality, resistance, resilience, regeneración, and transformation. Despite it's non-academic approach, or perhaps precisely because of it, this is a great teaching source for Chicanx Latinx Studies, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, and English departments (if they can in their own and desperately needed ways be transformative and shed Eurocentric skins and reading lists). Imaniman can be purchased at Aunt Lute Books and on Amazon.

In the last couple of days, I caught up with the editors again and asked them about their post-publication thoughts.

Dan Vera

“I've been delighted at the response to the anthology, not only form contributors but also the way in which people have gravitated to this contemporary voices engaging with Anzaldúa's legacy of transformative work. We had no way of realizing that just a few short months after its release the ever increasing climate of hate would cast the anthology in such a vital light. It feels in many ways that the anthology allows us to reconnect to this ancestral river of wisdom right when we all need to dig deep for the continuing struggles ahead. I hope Imaniman results in other such projects where contemporary writers can engage with the antepasados who guide us by word and example.”

ire'ne lara silva 

“In these times, Imaniman feels like a gift we made to ourselves without knowing how much we'd need it. A place where we could unabashedly speak our truth as border-dwellers, where we could speak to our realities without constraint, where we could fearlessly be all of what we are with our identities, our histories, our languages, our art, and our souls.”

Currently, readings from the anthology are being scheduled in various cities across the country. A book release reading was held in Austin on February 18th and featured contributors Carmen Calatayud, jo reyes-boitel, Jennine DOC Wright, John Fry, Victor Payan, and ire'ne lara silva.

Plans are also underway for releases in the Rio Grande Valley (TX), San Antonio (TX), and San Francisco (CA) in the next few months. Other cities with possible future readings include: Washington (Northwest), Pueblo (CO), Brooklyn (NY), and Chicago (IL).

There is, of course, also a Los Angeles reading just around the corner.

Los Angeles Imaniman Reading
Friday, March 10, 2017
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Other Books / Otros Libros
2006 East Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033 

Featured Readers/Performers:

 Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016), a 2016-2017 Steinbeck Fellow, former Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee. She’s received residencies from Hedgebrook and Ragdale Foundation and is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. Her work is published in Acentos Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and The James Franco Review among others. A short dramatization of her poem "Our Lady of the Water Gallons," directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, can be viewed at She is a cofounder of Women Who Submit and the curator of HITCHED.

Iris De Anda is a Guanaca Tapatia who hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic at the Eastside Cafe every third Thursday of the month. Author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazón. Radio host of 100 Segundos de Soledad on La Banda Elastica Radio. She forms part of the postpunk group bexox, as well as all female rock band The Bloody Gypsys.

Minal Hajratwala
( is a writing coach who believes you can Write Like a Unicorn. Her books include Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (winner of four nonfiction awards), Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment (poetry), and Out! Stories from the New Queer India (anthology). She is a co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and a former Fulbright Senior Scholar.

Monica Palacios is the creator of solo shows, plays, screenplays, short stories, stand-up comedy, poems, essays, blogs featuring the Latinx LGBTQ experience. National and international scholars have critically engaged her work in academic journals, books, dissertations and conference panels. A highly anthologized writer with three new publications: Jota Anthology by Korima Press 2017; Practicing Transgressions by Third Woman Press 2017; and IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands, Aunt Lute Press 2016. Monica has received numerous awards for her positive contributions to the Latinx LGBTQ population, most recently the Latinas in Pride Award 2016 from the City of Los Angeles. Palacios was honored by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for 3 decades of groundbreaking Chicana lesbian performance. Monica has taught at California State University Long Beach, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, Loyola Marymount University, Claremont College, Pomona College, California State University Los Angeles and American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Currently her play Say Their Names is traveling throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom with After Orlando, an international theatre action in response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting. She is touring with her solo shows, San Francisco Mi Amor!, Queer Latina Love & Revolution, and is developing her new play, I Kissed Chavela Vargas.

T Sarmina was raised in the Central Valley. A queer, xicanx child of migrant field workers, T writes with these identities intersecting at the page. They are a VONA SoCal alumna and earned their bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Mills College in Oakland. Their work appears in Coiled Serpent (Tia Chucha), ITWOW (Yellow Chair Press) and IMANIMAN (Aunt Lute). They currently live in Los Angeles and work at 826LA as the Writers’ Room Coordinator.

Victor Payan:

Olga García Echeverría is the author of Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas. Her work has been published in Lavandería: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words, U.S. Latino Literature Today, Telling Tongues: A Latin@ Anthology on Language, The Sun Magazine, Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands and is forthcoming in Jota by Kórima Press. She lives, writes, teaches, and shape shifts in Los Angeles.

This is event is FREE and open to the public. 

Anthology copies for sale at the event.

There will be free refreshments. 

Hope to see you there!


tisha said...

This comunidad is amazing. Looking forward to the reading/event!

Unknown said...

Nice to see Iris De Anda on the list. Waiting to cooperate with her along with the group of essay dune writers. One of the events will be dedicated to the Community Publishing.

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Gloria Anzaldua was a genuine pioneer in expanding the richness of our American literary landscape. Her voice was unique, courageous, authentic, compassionate. Honoring her with this anthology is a gift. Thank you!