Saturday, July 15, 2017

Marcial Delgado - It Takes a Working Man to Tell a Working Tale

I have the pleasure today to introduce the current ABQ slam champion, Marcial Delgado. Marcial's poetry is firmly rooted in community, Chicanismo, and family. There is a groundedness is his poetry and he exemplifies the direct, clean, unfussy language of a working-class approach. 

He is a strong performer, who can command a stage with not only his physical presence, but his delivery and the heart of his message.

I was fortunate enough to read at an ongoing series he hosts, Voices of the Barrio, at a community venue in Albuquerque, El Chante. As host, Marcial does something very few venues do - he pays the featured poet. There is a collection among the attendees, but regardless of the donations, there is an honorarium that I suspect he also adds to from his own pocket. Why did I mention this? Because a working-class ethic is what this man is about.  All work, including creative work is to be respected and rewarded.

Take a minute and read his poetry and our interview.

Marcial Delgado is a poet from Albuquerque, NM. He is also the host and curator of Voices of the Barrio Open Mic Poetry at El Chante: Casa de Cultura in downtown Albuquerque. Delgado has written a chapbook in collaboration 
with Armando Guzman titled
 “Burque Soul...Desert Blood.” 

In 2017 Marcial Delgado became the ABQ  Poetry Slam Champion.

He is also a member of the ABQ team competing in the 2017 
National Slam Championship, August 8-12, in Denver CO.

I Love You

You don't like me
You were taught not to like me

Because my skin is as brown as the mud left behind by a stray thunder cloud
Filled with the prayers and tears of my ancestors who were left dead or dying on a bed of blood that covers a warpath of greed and spite
You hate me
You were programmed to hate me
Because you cannot pronounce the name that was given to me by my parents
A name that arrived from a country that isn't your own
My name is Marcial
Not Marshall or Marcel
My name should be sounded out with an echo all the way from Chihuahua, Mexìco
You despise me
You've learned to despise me
Because I speak Spanish
Even though you know the original language of my ancestral soul was ripped from my tongue centuries ago
And replaced by words from a distant land across the sea
A land full of rape and disease
Brought to my home of forest and deserts and rivers and love
You dislike me
You've been guided to dislike me
Because I am not patriotic to a country that hates me a lot more than you
A country that locks away my childhood friends in a prison system that treats them like slaves so privatized prisons can profit from the blood and sweat of the barrios
A country that separates my bloodline with a fence
Even though my blood belongs to the Camino Real
Descendant to the King's Highway
Long before the white man stuck his flag upon my elder’s graves
You detest me
You were trained to detest me
Because of the color of my eyes and the color of my skin given to me by the desert sun
So you pick at me with a logic that drives into brick walls at dead ends
Make assumptions behind my back
Say that I'm an alcoholic that gets lost in a maze of whiskey bottles and beer cans on a Saturday night
I love you
Even though I was taught to hate you
And yet I love you
I love you

Ancestor's Blood

Chicano culture is a passion and an honor
History of Aztec obsidian and Spaniard steel
Fist full of still-beating hearts that were sacrificed to the Sun
Explorers utilize enemies of the enemy to become old world conquerors
Architects and engineers build great temples and city-states to please their gods
Two worlds collide and give light in hopes of the return of two saviors, Quetzalcoatl and Christ
Revolutionaries speak for the oppressed with their bravery, blood and bullets
Zapata y Villa wage war on the corrupted in hopes to free the people from governed abuse
Gringos mistreatment of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Rape our land and make us tenants of our own homes
Leaders like Reies López Tijerina, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Cesar Chavez fought for our dreams
The land of Aztlan became a vision of breathable reality
The future is brown we must not let the old gods down
A new sacrifice of pride must be given to the sun
We must educate our daughters and our sons
Teach them our history and show them how peace can be won
Not through paved boundaries, violence and guns
But through education, faith, hope and love
We are a strong raza and we are capable of reaching the stars mapped out for us by our ancestor's blood
Like the Eagle perched on a cactus with a serpent below it's tongue we will forever remain strong

Everyone has an opinion

About restaurants, books and movies
Opinions are golden when used for ideas like politics and discussion
But opinions are evil when directed and placed upon people
You say you can't stand Mexicans, Gays and Muslims
Then you try to justify your hate filled statements by saying "that's just my opinion"
Use a simple word from the dictionary to cover up your self-entitled bigotry
There are synonyms for your opinions
Like hatred, intolerance and racism
But you think it's alright just because you consider yourself a patriotic American
Use the word opinion to make yourself look like a good Christian in front of all your friends
Yet you fail to understand that Jesus loves everyone including Muslims and Mexicans
And every other single existing human
At least that's what is taught to believe in
The creator even loves those who choose atheism
But yet you continue to spread your falsified history through corrupted Facebook memes
And you fail to see that patriotic Americans also arrive from third world countries
"Oh say can you see" that the Earth wasn't made for you or me
This land we tread is everybody's
The color of your skin doesn't mean you were meant to reign supreme
It's xenophobic rhetoric that kills the American dream
Imagine if love truly was cherished
From sea to shining sea
Picture the possibility for this Land of the free
If we all stopped creating war
To join in peace and harmony
To live without fear and the absence of worry
It's really worth the effort of holding
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"
Words that were written with the blood of honesty
Are not meant to be another suppressed memory
Words held high to the sky as a promise for the world see
Brown is not around to be ridiculed and kicked to the ground
Told to be brave then turned to servants and slaves
Beneath your chains all you see are savages without any souls to save
That's exactly how your opinions behave
Ignorance is written all over your face
Spreading hate like a disease
Spewing lies all over the place
There's nothing wrong with loving the country in which you belong
But how can you bow before a loving God with all of that hatred buried beneath your heart?
There's no intention to wipe my ass with your opinion
It's just, damn close your mouth and try to do some listening
Now I think I know what's going around your brain as you read this poem
The words I have written must be really stupid and crazy
But hey, what can I say because it's only my opinion
Now crucify me

Tamales Are Smiles

Sitting on my porch Thinking about my past Thinking about my present Thinking about my future Thinking about Tamales Man, I really love Tamales I wish I was eating a Tamale I can smell the thrilling aroma Of maseca and chile colorado The imaginary taste of perfection fills every taste bud with excitement As my teeth grind down on a pocket of air Wishing that a tamale was there Tamales are more than just red chile con carne rolled in masa and corn husk Tamales are sacred memories Of a table sitting in the middle of family Spreading and scooping and wrapping Singing songs of ranchera and mariachi Smiling and laughing It doesn't matter how many visitors are coming The tamalero can hold one thousand tamales Tamales are celebration Tamales are the last taste of the night Cuando uno estas mas pedo que la chingada After a bailè con su amada Tamales are the first flavor of the morning Cuando uno estas mas crudo que la chingada Tamales are more than the only presents I unwrap on Christmas time (At least I know that Santa Clause got all of my letters) Tamales are the smiles of Abuelitas As they watch the eyes of their grandchildren grow wide and satisfied I love tamales But don't get me started on Menudo

Talk about your journey as a worker and a poet. How has being a working man grounded you and your work?

Even as a child, I always knew what I wanted to be as an adult. Like many boys I wanted to be like my dad. My dad was a construction worker. I believe that my trade of work has a lot to do of who I am as a poet and a person. A poem is built just like a house. With a strong foundation and a strong structure. Strong enough to withstand Mother Nature's storms.
My poetry journey begins as a child. In fact, I remember writing my first poem in the first grade. It was about frogs playing with dogs.
As I grew through public school system, some teachers recognized my natural talent for writing. When I grew into a teenager my brother and I started a metal band. He played guitar and I was the lead singer. I always loved to write lyrics and poetry for our band. Even still to this day we get together and write music.
I am heavily influenced by The Poetry and lyrics and 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's Hard Rock and metal music.
Bands like Iron Maiden, Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth, and Black Sabbath have inspired me to be the poet I am today.
I began to perform poetry in front of an audience in the year of 2014. I then begin to attend open mics and poetry slams. I really fell in love with the poetry community in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I enjoyed spoken word so much and also I wanted to show my appreciation to the Albuquerque poetry community. I created a monthly open mic poetry. With the help of El Chante: Casa de Cultura we have created a space for the gente of our barrios by our gente of our barrios. This event is held every second Thursday of every month.
I then discovered slam poetry. I worked hard  on my poetry as a spoken art. My performance improved and in 2017 I became the ABQ Slams Grand Champion. Since then, with the ABQ slam team we have traveled and brought back to Albuquerque a Southwest Regional Championship trophy. In early August we will travel to Denver Colorado to compete in the National Poetry Slam.
I am a construction man. I build homes for a living. I work with my hands and I am proud of that because the tradesman is a dying breed. I stay grounded to my work, my family, and the Mexican community. My people are held close to my heart because they are who I am.

What do you feel are some assumptions that people have about you and your work? What would you like to say about that?

I really don't pay too much attention to assumptions but there are assumptions that have been made about me. For instance, during an event I was asked by an audience member how a person like me got into spoken word poetry. A person like me. What did she mean? She meant a cholo, a gangster and a person of the streets. I am just working man who takes care of his family. I am only a man who enjoys writing poetry.

What are the themes that draw you back over time?

Growing up in the barrios of Albuquerque. The passion and the acts of survival that I have seen and participated in throughout my life. The love I share with my wife because without her love I would never find the courage to share my heart with others. And the supernatural of the world because monsters and magic do exist within poetry and culture.

Give us some background about the regular event you host at El Chante. Why is this important you?

In September of 2015 with the help of El Chante: Casa de Cultura, Voices of the Barrio: Open Mic Poetry and Music was created. It is a monthly event held every second Thursday of every month. Voices of the Barrio is a platform for the stories of ourselves and our city to be told in a safe environment.It features local poets and storytellers with the opportunity to be paid for their art. 
This is important to me because it's my way of giving back to my city and it's my way of giving back to the community that has captured my heart.

You are the current ABQ Slam champion. How do you see that influencing what you do presently and moving ahead?

When I became the 2017 ABQ Slam champion it was a great moment in my life and I think this title has influenced me to work harder on all aspects in my life. My family life, my work and my poetry are all influenced by this accomplishment. As I move on in my poetry journey my only goal is to continue to inspire others to write with their hearts and souls. To inspire and touch the lives of others is the true accomplishment of my journey.

What is the role of familia in your personal and creative life?

My family is every aspect in my life. My family is every breath I take. I have a large family and I carry a piece of all their spirits with me wherever I go and all I do. My brothers push me to be the best I can. My wife and my daughter inspire me everyday. Family is all I've ever had. Family is all I've ever cherished. Without family I am a ghost.

In what ways would you like to develop as a poet and writer? What obstacles do you see and what kind of support is out there for you.

Perhaps the next steps in my journey of poetry include creating my own manuscript to create a book of poetry to call my own. I would also like to start submitting poetry to more publications. The only obstacle I face is me. I must educate myself on how to develop as a writer. I must not be a victim of my own procrastination. I have lots of support. The support of my family and the support of my community. I also have the support of the Chicano Poet Society a lovely Facebook group with members from all over the country.

What's something that's not in the official bio?
I love to eat cake and it doesn't matter what kind of cake. Just along as it's cake.

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