Tuesday, December 26, 2017

No Happily Ever Aftering in SanTana. 2017's Closing On-line Floricanto.

Review: Sarah Rafael Garcia. SanTana's Fairy Tales. Austin, TX : Raspa Magazine, 2017.
ISBN 9780692860304

Michael Sedano

Fairy tales come in many shapes, colors, and degrees of dramatic intensity, from treacly-sweet Disney  Beauty and the Beast to Jean Cocteau's masterful La Belle et la Bête. If there’s a truism about many fairy tales it’s a story whose fantasy characters live happily ever after, and there’s a moral to the story. If there’s another truism about fairy tales it’s that there’s nothing simple about many of them. Sarah Rafael Garcia’s Santana’s Fairy Tales illustrates both, and much more.

Certain readers will automatically read Santana’s Fairy Tales twice, while others will look at the second half of the book—or the first--longingly. The volume comes with seven stories and an author biography, in English, followed with the same material translated into Spanish by Julieta Corpus. This dual-language feature alone makes SanTana’s Fairy Tales a classroom teacher’s fantasy, a classroom set.

No one lives happily ever after, not in gentrifying Santa Ana,  California, where no one is entitled to being happy. Perhaps happiness is a fairy tale, is there a lesson to be learned here?

The fairy tale for these characters is that they live at all. Lived. Could have lived. These people have been disappearing from their town, their neighborhoods, for a hundred years, the narrator laments in the story of the ghost carousel of the new promenade. A couple of the personae, in fact, are dead and narrate their tale from a transitory place.

Sarah Rafael Garcia gives voice to men and women. Setting the scene for the intertwined stories, a male voice lays out the urban landscape haunted by the greedy spirit of the anglo founder of the city. Jingling coins in Señor Billy’s pocket in other fairy tales might be the smell of sulphur and the cloven foot. Those coins will be jingling in other SanTana tales, a motif Garcia employs effectively to keep the overarching narrative in focus.

Zoraida narrates the next story, “Zoraida/Marisol.” She is enchanted, and dead. Hers is the voice of a Spirit cycling through a perpetuity of alternation between giver of death and madriña to life. In life, Zoraida’s spirit filled the corpus of a boy named Gabriel. For transgender gente there aren’t many happy endings.

Grim fairy tales welcome comic relief, even when it’s at the expense of helpless renters and homeowner whose adamant belief in eviction-defying signs echoes the fairy tale belief in Indulgences protecting one against evil. Jingle jingle.

Selling Indulgences was a Sin. Buying them was a sucker's move. Is there an alternative for the renter or the homeowner standing the path of condos and strip malls?

To some readers, Garcia’s stories will evoke familiar childhood stories, just retold in the setting of the final days of a once puro raza pueblo. I think I recognize Hansel and Gretel. Readers who weren’t raised with a lot of fairy tale books will nonetheless believe the title and take the stories as fitting some moral or propaedeutic purpose.

The book is easy on readers with ample white space and an easy-to-read sans serif typeface. The publisher, the editor, the author, will profit from closer attention to spelling. Sadly, numerous errors pepper the pages, distracting even the most forgiving reader. Cathy Arellano writes the introduction, "Fairy Tales For Truth and Justice," but isn't credited in the translation.

Readers will enjoy the tales for themselves. Communities wanting to stop or slow their erasure can begin with awareness and empathy for others. Here is where SanTana’s Fairy Tales can inform an effort by defining terms and evoking souls who merit better.

In her final chapter, Garcia the writer steps out from behind her keyboard to offer her version of Prospero’s speech. She gazes out her second-story window in Santa Ana’s urban redeveloping Artist Colony, looks across the promenade to the fountain where the carousel stood, and sees such stuff as dreams are made on. She doesn’t want them to vanish into thin air.

2017’s Final On-line Floricanto
Andrea Hernandez Holm, Raul Sanchez, Marion L. Lipshutz, Sonia Gutiérrez with Francisco J. Bustos, Sharon Elliott

“Vulnerability” By Andrea Hernandez Holm
“Open letter to the people of this world.” By Raul Sanchez
“Seven Words” By Marion L. Lipshutz
“Study Skills / Técnicas de estudio” By Sonia Gutiérrez with Spanish Translation and Spanglish Mashup by Francisco J. Bustos
“Hibernation” by Sharon Elliott

By Andrea Hernandez Holm

We see the
stumbling stampeding
Ideologues who tip toe
Like t-Rex
Through sacred lands.
We see they have forgotten
Words are sacred
Words are power
Words are free;
And we can and we will
Collect them in our mouths
In our hearts
In an expansive arsenal
To arm us in the revolution.

Open letter to the people of this world
By Raul Sanchez

This is NOT an apology
this is not an excuse
this is not, this is not!
what you think.

This is just to tell you
That the actions, words
Verbal offenses by the man "acting"
As the president of this country
Belong to him alone.

His actions are NOT! the reflection
Of the TRUE American people
Who inhabit this land.

This land was taken from the native people whose ancestry remains and will never vanish.

Yet, the current status of this society is one where open discrimination is allowed.

This country was erected with the sweat of many many Immigrants.
However the clown in office has no clue about nothing because he never experienced poverty, necessity, desire to overcome and provide for his loved ones.

There is no people of color in his family or friends. According to him everyone else is "Undesirable".

So, please remember,
Rest of the World that you are always welcomed here, always!

This nightmare will pass and we will survive despite the atrocious nonsense!

Seven Words
By Marion I. Lipshutz

I am feeling
so vulnerable
because of all of the racist
fetus fetishists
who don't care
about ending toxic
white entitlements,
who have contempt
for diversity, who fail
to see the humanity
of transgender people,
whose perspective
on climate change
is ignorance based
not science based, and
whose voting decisions
are never evidence based
but racism based.

Study Skills
By Sonia Gutiérrez

Study what they do
between the nights and days—
the bold yeas and nays
with their hidden smirks.
And then—rise.

Técnicas de estudio

Estudia lo que hacen
entre las noches y los días—
los sí y los no audaces
con sus sonrisas escondidas.
Y después—levántate.

Skills de Studying

Estudia lo que hacen
entre las nights y los days—
los audaces bold-yeas-and-nays
con sus hidden smirks.
Y después—rise.
Spanish Translation and Spanglish mashup by Francisco J. Bustos

By Sharon Elliott

guides are ready
cedar kin
heirs to oak and hazel
in the midnight frozen river

seep beyond the edges
glass worn thin
like tree bark
water writes days
of quickening and sorrow
in turquoise ink
on a bloodshot sky

dawn a late comer
gloaming walks an early road
northern winter
follow chitchat crows
in the narrow light

more hours
spent in
than consciousness

old women
tie their shoes
with deer sinew
and cat gut
in the early dark
from grace
into knowing

“Vulnerability” By Andrea Hernandez Holm
“Open letter to the people of this world.” By Raul Sanchez
“Seven Words” By Marion L. Lipshutz
“Study Skills / Técnicas de estudio” By Sonia Gutiérrez with Spanish Translation and Spanglish Mashup by Francisco J. Bustos
“Hibernation” by Sharon Elliott

Andrea Hernandez Holm. Born and raised in the desert of central Arizona, Andrea is a writer of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and scholarly works. She is a keeper of stories and a teller of stories, most of her writing focusing on the exploration of identity. She lives in Tucson with her husband and sons, and is blessed to be near family and friends.

Andrea is a published poet with works appearing in Generations Literary Journal, La Bloga, The Blue Guitar, La Sagrada. Her poem “Not Enough-Too Much” was featured in the “Best of 2012” edition of La Bloga. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction essays have appeared in the anthology Poetry as Resistance, Yellow Medicine Review, Wisdom of our Mothers, and Our Spirits, Our Realities. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry.

RaúlSanchez is the author of "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels", a bilingual poet, an interpreter, translator, a 2014 Jack Straw Fellow, Poetry on Buses judge, a TEDx participant, human rights advocate and a mentor for the PONGO Teen Writing program in the Seattle Juvenile Detention Center as well as poetry mentor for the Program Writers In The Schools.

Marion I. Lipshutz is a Jewish feminist, democratic socialist and aspiring writer who has been centering her anti-Trump activism in progressive New York Jewish organizations. In 1981, she earned her MA in anthropology from the New School for Social Research, and in 1988, her MSLIS from Pratt Institute. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. She would like to thank Odilia Galvan-Rodriguez for seeing the poetic potential in what started as a single sentence.

Sonia Gutiérrez’s bilingual poems have appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, Konch Magazine, and Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Change. Her fiction has appeared in the London Journal of Fiction, Huizache, and AlternaCtive PublicaCtions. Sonia’s bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña, is her debut publication. She is a contributing editor for The Writer’s Response (Cengage Learning, 2016).

Currently, she is moderating Facebook’s Poets Responding, working on her manuscript, Sana Sana Colita de Rana, and completing her novel, Kissing Dreams from a Distance. Her libro artesano for children, El Lugar de los Alebrijes / The Place of Alebrijes (Nódulo Ediciones and *Asterisco Editora de Poesía) is forthcoming. Her poem, “Study Skills” / "Técnicas de estudios" / "Skills de Studying" appear in her manuscript, Legacy / Herencia. Francisco J. Bustos and Sonia Gutiérrez participated in Ilan Stavans's Don Quixote en Spanglish reading at the CECUT in Tijuana, Baja California.

Francisco J. Bustos es poeta, traductor, y músico. Creció en Tijuana y San Ysidro y ahora vive en el Sur de San Dieg. Es profesor de “English Composition”, literatura y escritura creativa en Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA, EU) donde también coordina la serie literaria “SWC Guest Writers Series”. En el 2009, creo el grupo de poesía y música Frontera Drum Fusion donde integra música digital, instrumentos eléctricos, percusiones precolombinas y presenta poesía en Ingleñol y Spanglish. FDF Web profile/links:

Francisco J. Bustos is a bilingual poet, translator, and musician who grew up in Tijuana and San Ysidro and now lives in South San Diego. He is a Professor of English Composition at Southwestern Community College (Chula Vista, CA, ) where he also coordinates the literary series "SWC Guest Writer Series.” In 2009, he founded Frontera Drum Fusion where he plays guitar, bass, Pre-Colombian and world percussion, digital music and performs bilingual poetry in mainly Spanglish and/or Ingleñol.

Sharon Elliott has been a writer and poet activist over several decades beginning in the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s and 70s, and four years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Ecuador, especially in multicultural women’s issues. She is a Moderator of Poets Responding to SB1070, and has featured in poetry readings in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in several anthologies and her poem “Border Crossing” appears in the anthology entitled Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, Francisco X. Alarcón and Odilia Galván Rodriguez, eds. She has read it in Los Angeles at AWP and La Pachanga 2016 book launch, in the San Francisco book launch and at the Féis Seattle Céiliedh in Port Townsend, WA. Her book, Jaguar Unfinished, was published by Prickly Pear Press, 2012.

1 comment:

Odilia Galván Rodríguez said...

Wow! Another year of collaboration between La Bloga y Poets Responding, we love it! May it continue for many more years to come. Como Siempre, un million de gracias Em Sedano for being who you are and doing all that you do for the arts and literature in particular. To you and all the crew over at La Bloga, Feliz Año! May we see many many more together. Adelante la Resistencia! ♡