Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pachucos on stage and poem. Los Valentines: On-line Floricanto.

Zoot Suit Return: To Where It All Started

Michael Sedano

The buzz surrounding the re-staging of Luis Valdez’ Zoot Suit makes the play a tough ticket. When this production closes in March, Southern California will be filled with disappointed people waving money in the air to buy tickets. Like Hamilton but with Chicanas Chicanos.

After its 1978 run atop Bunker Hill, Zoot Suit moved to the Aquarius theatre. This year ticket buyers might replicate that extended run. It’s a simple matter of demand and supply. You want to see Zoot Suit, we’ll sell you a thousand tickets night after night. The current iteration of Zoot Suit looks to be in for a long run. Ójala.

Luis Valdez, Lalo Guerrero, and company, have created a musical extravaganza around Valdez’ story of youthful joy and emerging identity. Edward James Olmos built a career portraying el pachuco, that “angelito negro” whispering consejos into Henry Reyna’s ear  about manhood, style, attitude.

There’s a rich history of the pachuco character in Chicana Chicano Literature. Poems like To A Dead Lowrider, El Louie, Aquellos Vatos, helped define the pachuco ethos that informs Valdez’ play. If those pieces are not in your collection or immediately available, Latinopia and La Bloga are teaming up for a crash course on Zoot Suit and la pachucada.

Latinopia is currently holding a pachuco festival to share their excitement at the revival of Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum. Featured are two interviews with Luis Valdez on writing the play and casting Olmos for his iconic portrayal. In another video, José Montoya talks about pachuquismo and reads A Pachuco Portfolio. A third link features rrsalinas reading his poem, Homenaje al Pachuco, Mirrored Reflections.

In the first of two videos, Luis Valdez traces the appearance of the pachuco character from 1967’s Los Vendidos to 1978’s Zoot Suit. He reminds the listener that “the psychological through line” driving the musical extravaganza portrays el pachuco’s dominance over Hank Reyna’s life until Hank pulls himself away from el pachuco’s influence.

In Jose Montoya’s interview, pachucos aren’t romantic myth but people he knew. They got a bad rap. Dress was a matter of showing the world they had class, and got their ass kicked for it. When he reads A Pachuco Portfolio, the poet dedicates it to “la plebe, us of the cross and the four directions.” Alluding to the sanctioned beatings and blind rage against zoot suiters that extended to all chicanos, “when you make that kind of history you resent being de-historified…we are still here.”

Hail, Pachuco isn't the title of rrsalinas' poem, but after hearing this reading you'll remember "hail, pachuco".

Raúl R. Salinas’ reading gives life to the everyday pachuco. In Salinas’ vocabulary, breathing while pachuco means you’re going to do time. The pinto poet wryly delivers a five item taxonomy for those who study pachucos, capping the list with "The Pachuco As A Pachuco, room six".  There's a litany of prison names, picking cotton under guard in Texas. The powerful ending, “hail pachuco!” gives me my alternate title for Homenaje al Pachuco, Mirrored Reflections.

Jésus Treviño recently sent me a link to Salinas reading the same poem, now in the closing years of Salinas' career. There’s a warm nostalgia to the reading, more in tune with the slow blues in the background, a sardonic glimmer of the burning anger of that younger poet.

Of all the alternative ways rrsalinas’ life could have ended up, the old veterano seems to have made the right decisions as the reading mirrors the man's mellow regard for the mindjail.

Take A Piece of Someone's Heart - Valentine On-line Floricanto
Odilia Galvan Rodriguez, José Héctor Cadena, Rafael Baron, Paul Aponte, Amara T. Smith

“Love Battles: by Odilia Galvan Rodriguez
“Cuerpo” Por José Héctor Cadena
“Asi/Like this” By Rafael Baron
“Truth & Denial / Verdad y Negacion” by Paul Aponte
“Take my hand” by Amara T. Smith

Love Battles
By Odilia Galván Rodríguez

love battles
they burn
in mouths of men and women

your sound made a path
deep in my chest and rumbled there
your fragrance lingered

I bathed it in
your pheromones
nothing better my love

I told you
in the prairies
before I knew you well

I’d not wait on love
but I did
lie in wait and
sprung from that hole

of ancient prairie dogs
now only ghosts extinct as
Holiday roses

I am neither good nor bad
but a woman
who has shared your passion

the danger of love
for all life is that its lack
brings a kind of death

I still want you love
how your mouth curves up
buoyant as water

spring upon pure stones
I love you beloved and
don’t know anything about light

where it goes where it comes from
don’t ask the night to explain
its void of shining

exempt from jeweled stars and
long shadows that mimic
the absence of light

you came to me
with light and shadow
the colors of life

what do you wish to hear
tomorrow when I will not speak
it is too early for argument

the leaves of our trees turn
fall on the earth as offerings
like our kisses fall

from heights we can no longer reach
but I remember you then
on that field in the light of your fire

your tenderness for me
that will last forever
in my heart that burns

for you
copyright © 2016 Odilia Galván Rodríguez.

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet, writer, editor, educator, and activist, is the author of six volumes of poetry, her latest, The Nature of Things, a collaboration with Texas photographer, Richard Loya, by Merced College Press 2016. Also, along with the late Francisco X. Alarcón, she edited the award-winning anthology: Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, University of Arizona Press, 2016. This poetry of witness anthology, the first of its kind, because it came about because of the on-line organizing work of Alarcón, Galván Rodriguez, and other poet-activists which began as a response to the proposal of SB 1070, the racial profiling law which was eventually passed by the Arizona State Legislature in 2010 and later that year, HB 2281which bans ethnic studies. With the advent of the Facebook page Poets Responding (to SB 1070) thousands of poems were submitted witnessing racism, xenophobia, and other social justice issues which culminated in the anthology.

Galván Rodríguez has worked as an editor for various print media such as Matrix Women's News Magazine, Community Mural's Magazine, and Tricontinental Magazine in Havana, Cuba. She is currently, the editor of Cloud Women’s Quarterly Journal online; facilitates creative writing workshops nationally, and is director of Poets Responding to SB 1070, and Love and Prayers for Fukushima, both Facebook pages dedicated to bringing attention to social justice issues that affect the lives and wellbeing of many people and encouraging people to take action. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, and literary journals on and offline.

As an activist she worked for the United Farm Workers of America AFL-CIO, The East Bay Institute for Urban Arts, has served on numerous boards and commissions, and is currently active in Women’s organizations whose mission it is to educate around environmental justice issues and disseminate an Indigenous world view regarding the earth and people’s custodial relationship to it. Odilia Galván Rodríguez has a long and rich history of working for social justice in solidarity with activists from all ethnic groups.

Por José Héctor Cadena

Con alcohol y miel
y tanta carga,
el verano quemó-amor de ti
lo lavanda

aun así te deslizas y
desvaneces sueño
despierto y apartado de
silencios sin sabor

para alcanzar la flor
y mover muñecas
por pinceles,

cubriste la luna
en tu aventura
de dos horas
te perdiste

y regresaste contando
de las agujas de invierno
que trazan memorias
de cambios
de labios,
de lejos
nervios ante
el placer

José Héctor Cadena is a writer, poet, and collage artist, who grew up along the San Ysidro/Tijuana borderlands.

He received the bachelor's degree in English with a minor in Spanish and Chicana Chicano Studies from San Diego State University and the Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

He is currently a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies at The University of Kansas.

Por Rafael Barón

Le hago así
a mis labios
para recordar
la piel
de tú quijada
de tú cuello
de tus senos

le hago así
a mis labios
para recordar
la suavedad
de tú espalda
de tus manos
de tus piernas

le hago así
a mis labios
para sentir
la sonrisa de tu beso
la inquietud

la memoria de pasiones pasadas

le hago así
a mis labios
para sentir
la intención de tus suspiros
la ambivalencia de tus silencios
la certeza de tus miradas

le hago así
a mis labios
y así
y así
y así.

Like This
By Rafael Barón

I do like this
to my lips
to remember
the skin
of your chin
of your neck
of your breasts

I do like this
to my lips
to remember
the softness
of your back
of your hands
of your legs

I do like this
to my lips
to feel
the smile of your kiss
the restlessness
the memory of passed passions.

I do like this
to my lips
to feel
the intention of your sighs
the ambivalence of your silences
the certainty of your gazes.

I do like this
to my lips
like this
like this
and like this.

Rafael Barón graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in English and a BA in Chicana and Chicano Studies.

While waiting to hear back from MFA in Creative Writing programs, he continues to write short stories, poems, and two memoirs.

Most of his writing involves issues with identity, politics, undocumented workers, and his past.

Truth & Denial
By Paul Aponte

I don’t want to ...
Gently caress your hand
Slide my fingers across your arm
Softly touch your cheek
Put my arms around you
Tickle your neck with my lips
Take in the bouquet of your hair
Run my hands down your back
Glide my inner thigh on yours
Kiss the corner of your lips with mine
Lose myself in your eyes
Drink from the memories of passion created in my mind …
I just want to know your soul, to merge with you.

Verdad y Negación
Por Paul Aponte

No deseo …
Acariciar tu mano suavemente
Deslizar mis dedos por tu brazo
Tocar tu mejilla levemente
Envolverte en mis brazos
Cosquillear tu cuello con mis labios
Hundirme en el buqué de tus cabellos
Resbalar mis manos por tu espalda
Correr mi muslo sobre el tuyo
Besar la esquina de tus labios con los mios
Perderme en tus ojos
Beber de las memorias de pasión creadas en mi mente …
Solo quiero conocer tu alma, fundirme contigo.
Paul Aponte – January 6th, 2015 ©

Paul Aponte is a Chicano Poet from Sacramento. He is a member of "Escritores Del Nuevo Sol" (Writers Of The New Sun) and Círculo. He is soon to be published in "Poetry in flight" - El Tecolote Press Anthology, and has been published in Sacramento Poetry Center's quarterly "Poetry Now", "Un Canto De Amor A Gabriel Garcia Márquez" a publication from the country of Chile containing poems from around the world with 31 countries represented, and in the "Los Angeles Review Volume 20 - Fall 2016". He was also the editor's choice in the online journal "Convergence" and is the author of the book of poetry "Expression Obsession". Many of his poems can be found on his Facebook "Notes" under the pseudonym Wolf Fox.

Take my hand
By Amara T. Smith

And from the darkness
the place of creation and infinite possibility
through great pressure
extreme pressure
a new reality will be born
take my hand....

Amara Tabor-Smith is an Oakland based performer/sometimes poet/dance maker who describes her work as Afro Futurist Conjure Art. Her dance making practice, utilizes Yoruba spiritual ritual to address issues of social and environmental justice, community, identity and belonging. She is the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater whose work has been performed nationally and internationally, and she is a 2016 recipient of the Creative Capital Grant. Amara teaches dance in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. www.deepwatersdance.com

Young Stagehands & Actors Wanted

No comments: