Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ysidro Reyes: "I tell you, boy, it's all politics." Part 2

                                                                       
Daniel Cano

                                                                       
Isolated home standing alone on an entire block
    My interviews with Chicanos and Chicanas of the WWII generation, though some weren't even comfortable with the term to designate their ethnicity, wasn’t meant to be academic or scholarly, but more of a talk, a charla, to hear their memories of life in the U.S. during some tumultuous years. Here, I continue my discussion with Ysidro Reyes, descendent of the Reyes and Marquez families, founders of the rancho Boca de Santa Monica, and a businessman, who once was director of the first Gates Kinglsey Gates mortuary in Santa Monica, along with other business ventures.

    At 89, Ysidro Reyes talked like a professor delivering an engaging lecture, his pronunciation distinct, though his voice was low and raspy. He smiled, and occasionally, he pointed in different directions to make a point. He switched from topic to topic, going wherever his memory took him. I had a list of questions, which I hardly used. I decided to follow Ysidro wherever he wanted to take me. Ever the business man, he spoke as if he had little time to waste.
    He began reminiscing about Westwood, which he called the “Old Tomato Patch” and UCLA’s move from its original campus on Vermont Boulevard (L.A. City College today).
    Once in Westwood, UCLA, a teacher's college in the 1920s, sent its student-teachers to train at, what Ysidro called, “Harding High”, University High School today. I always wondered why a high school would be named University.
    I found the answer in an L.A. Times article that explained the district decided to change the school’s name from Warren Harding High to University High. “Los Angeles school administrators thought it best to remove the former president’s name from…Warren G. Harding University High School because Harding’s administration had begun…to collapse over illegal dealings in land, oil, and loans.” 60 years after the name change, Ysidro kept calling the school Harding High.
    He said he remembered meeting kids who came to Harding by bus all the way from Palms because Palms had no high school. There was a barrio on a hillside above Jefferson Blvd. and for years, Chicano families living there worked the farms at El Rodeo, Culver City, and Mar Vista. Once the Los Angeles School District built Hamilton High School, the kids from Palms no longer needed to travel to Harding.
    Ysidro said that throughout Sawtelle in those days, it was all farms. You could see isolated wood-framed houses surrounded by acres of land, mostly bean fields. It was common to see one house often standing alone on an entire block.
    He recalled when he was a boy and his family lived near a large, in-door nursery, Armacost-Royston in Sawtelle. In the 1930s, it was a major employer of people from the Westside. Due to West L.A.’s idea weather, Armacost was one of the first nurseries to specialize in orchids, and it shipped its plants across the country.
                                                                         
Armacost workers enjoying after work party, circa 1940s
    In the 1940s, Armacost hired so many workers that Ysidro's mother opened a restaurant in her home, where workers could buy lunch for about seventy-five cents a meal. "A big deal in those days," he laughed. Ysoila Reyes had enough room in her kitchen to feed "five or six workers at a time."
Ysidro leaned forward on his desk, pointed to me, and asked, as if I were a student, "What year did your family come to Santa Monica?"
    I told him between 1918 and 1920, but my grandfather had already been coming back and forth to the States before that, working in Kansas and Nebraska, but always returning to the family ranch in Jalisco.
    "See there," he said. "Those are the families that made this community. The Tapias, the Guerras, and such."
    He talked about the strength of those early Mexican families arriving in Santa Monica, most escaping the revolution and famine, how they helped develop the area then later "blended in," a part of the community, their children finishing school, entering various professional careers, and many going off to war when called.
    He said, "I remember the kids from Santa Monica all went to St. Anne's School when there was nothing--but one church out there started by Father Hall. Then later Father Woods turned it into a real parish, and all the families sent their kids to school there.
    "The kids came from around 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (now Olympic Boulevard), where the little circus used to come, El Circo, right on the corner of 20th and Pennsylvania. The big Barnum and Bailey Circus used to be over where the City Hall is today, on 4th Street. The smaller circus was on 14th and Colorado, but then the street got too busy, so the circus moved to 20th and Pennsylvania." It was funny how Ysidro interchanged the old street names with today’s street names, like Pennsylvania for Olympic, Oregon for Santa Monica Boulevard.
                                                                           
Santa Monica girls, 22nd Street, circa 1930s
    He rattled off the names of other Santa Monica families who lived near 20th Street and Olympic, the heart of the barrio, like "the Aguilars, the Robles, the Romos, the Guarjardos, and the Enriquezes." He said, thinking back, "The Aguilars, they're all dead now, but the house is still there, over by the railroad tracks, near Colorado Avenue." He described the area as mostly Mexican and told how some of the houses were separated by long stretches of land.
    At one point, he sat back in his chair. I slid the recorder closer to him, afraid I might miss something. As he thought about his childhood on L.A.’s Westside, he remembered two churches in the Santa Monica barrio, on 19th and Michigan, between Pico and Olympic boulevards. One was a Protestant church for the few Methodist Mexican families, an oddity in the heavily Catholic Mexican-American community, and the second church he called the "colored church,” using the term he found respectful for his generation.
     The mention of 19th street triggered another memory of a man named “Tom Malloy or Mallory;” who used to live on 19th Street and "putt-putt" around in an old jalopy, going door-to-door selling mentholated home-remedies and other miracle cures. The Mexican families always on the hunt for folk-holistic cures kept Tom Malloy in business, and the Mexican women, especially, grew excited whenever they heard his car coming up the dirt streets.
    Sounding like an archivist of obscure Mexican data, he affirmed that Santa Monica near 20th Street and Olympic was more of a barrio, in the traditional sense, “…mostly Mexicans living there. In Sawtelle, the Mexicans, Anglos and Japanese lived next door to each other in the same neighborhoods,” mixed ethnicity, so not truly what one would consider a barrio, though many of the families living there could be considered poor, even if everybody worked.
    “The community out in Sawtelle,” he said, his low voice, crisp, “started out around Purdue and Pontius Avenues, south of Olympic, out near Sepulveda, at a railroad stop, close to Cotner Avenue. That was where all of the paisanos lived, the Hernandezes and the others." I'd heard other Mejicanos refer to their countrymen as paisanos, as well.
    He said that a friend of his Charley Lugo, who had just died a few years back, was related to the original Californio families that owned all the land from Lake Arrowhead to San Pedro and south to about Westchester. "His wife, Louise is still alive. She's about 96 now," he said, smiling, as though to say, he was a youngster by comparison.
    Recalling his teen years, Ysidro described how he and his friends would go to the Criterion or Majestic Theaters on Third Street, today the popular, trendy Third Street Promenade, to see movies for a dime. Afterwards they'd walk to the corner of Wilshire and 4th Street and buy hamburgers and a Cokes. Santa Monica was not free of racism because Ysidro said at the Majestic Theater, the management forced African-Americans to sit in the balcony. They could not mix with the rest of the white theater-goers in the main floor. He said nothing about Mexicans, so I assumed he could sit wherever he wanted.
    "You heard of Bay City Buses?" he asked, as if giving me an exam, or my teacher's brain was just working overtime.
    I said I knew it as the original bus line that became the Santa Monica Municipal Bus, or the Blue Bus, as it’s known today.
    “Well, Jess Anderson started Bay City Buses at a depot on 4th Street in Santa Monica, across from the high school.” Ysidro said that for years Jess' drivers parked the buses there, just four blocks from the ocean.
    Years later, Bay City Buses moved to a different location. “So, the city built a new police station where the buses used to park, get repaired, and serviced. Right down there where City Hall is today.” I chimed in, “Near the Civic Auditorium.”
    “That right. In that area.”
    He told me when the workers prepared to lay the foundation, they found oil seeping from the earth, a gusher, black gold, everybody thought, gold in Santa Monica. So, they got the oil diggers out, and they dug deeper. It dried up. They didn’t find anything. He smiled, with a slight chuckle, “Nobody could figure out where the oil had come from,” he said, as if hiding a secret. "I knew. Jess Anderson changed the oil in his buses there for twenty-five years. That's where the oil came from."
    “Do you know about Mrs. Rindge?” Ysidro asked.
    His cousin Forrest Marquez Freed had also talked about Mrs. Rindge when I interviewed him. I said, “A little. Wasn’t her husband really rich, and she inherited a lot of land in Malibu?” Ysidro said not only did she own acres and acres of land, but Mrs. Rindge was one of the few people even living in Malibu in the 1930s and '40s. In his mind, Malibu was considered the wilderness, where everyone went hunting. Sometimes, during high tide, the Coast Highway would get flooded and people couldn’t reach Malibu, Zuma Beach, Point Dume or any of those outlying regions.
    Forrest knew Mrs. Rindge as a curmudgeon, who chased everybody off her property. For Ysidro, Mrs. Rindge was a strong, fierce woman who only wanted to protect her property. She was tough. "If you got a flat tire, you just kept on going. You got out of there. She fought the state of California and lost everything she had, her land, everything."
    So, the story goes, the State needed her land to build the new coast highway. She refused, probably fearing if the State took a little they’d come back and take more. She ended up in court, for years, and as Ysidro rightly claimed. She lost all her money and land fighting the State, which probably delighted the many speculators waiting to develop the land.
    I asked, "What if your family still owned all of the original land grant?" He looked at me, cracked a smile, "Oh, man!" he exclaimed.
    Ysidro admitted the family name opened doors for him. During WWII, after returning from twenty-six months duty in the Pacific, the Navy stationed Ysidro in San Diego. Gene Biscailuz, who would later be elected Sheriff of L.A. County, commanded the 11th Naval District, to which Ysidro had been assigned.
    The Biscailuz, Reyes, Marquez, and Carrillo families had close ties. Gene Biscailuz was a good friend of Mexican-America actor Leo Carrillo, Reyes' relative.
    Biscailuz learned Ysidro had been assigned to the 11th District Naval Hospital. He summoned Ysidro to his office. When officers approached to say the commander wanted him in the executive office, Ysidro remembered thinking, "What did I do now?"
    Surrounded by officers, Ysidro recognized Biscailuz and shook his outstretched hand.
"How are they treating you, my boy?" said Biscailuz.
    "Oh, fine, fine, sir."
    "How do you like the Navy?"
    "I don't think it's worth a damn, sir," he said, and Biscailuz laughed.
    Biscailuz told Ysidro he was going to Santa Monica and had planned to visit his friend Leo Carrillo and would visit the Reyes family to let them know their son was okay. Ysidro told the commander how much he appreciated the gesture. After a few more minutes of discussion, Ysidro turned to leave but not before the officers in the room shook his hand, also.
    Some weeks later, while Ysidro stood in formation for inspection, the officer in charge looked him up and down, then said, "Have you seen the commander lately?"
    "No, sir, not in about three or four weeks."
    The officer turned to his assistant and said, "Give this man a seventy two-hour pass to Santa Monica."
    Ysidro smiled at the memory, "Boy, I went back to the barracks, got my bags, and jumped on the next train home."
    About three months later, Ysidro again stood in formation, and the officer came by and asked, "When was your last promotion."
    "About six-months ago, sir."
    The officer turned to his assistant and said, "Make sure this man tests for the next rank," which Ysidro did and, soon after, received a promotion.
    Ysidro said, as he finished the story, looking me straight in the eye, "I tell you, boy, it's all politics."
    When the Navy discharged him in 1945, Ysidro returned to Sawtelle. His father gave him six plots of land, three, just off Santa Monica Blvd., on Stoner Avenue and three on Barrington Avenue. The land would help him start a family and allow him to buy a home. He sold the three lots on Stoner Avenue for $9,500 and kept the other three.
    In 1964, or thereabouts, a church nearby needed a larger building for its growing congregation. The board approached Ysidro and told him if he could change the zoning on his property, they would be interested in buying his land, hinting at a nice profit.
    "No, that's not my job to change the zoning; it's yours," he remembered telling them.
They came back to him some months later, along with a change in the zoning law. He sold them the land for nearly $200,000.
    "And that's the difference," he told me. "People say we [the early rancheros] lost our lands and so-and-so. No. We sold for what it was worth at the time. My family sold Pacific Palisades for $55,000 in 1885.
    "Nobody was cheated out of anything. That's just--dijeron…" he said, as he changed to the Spanish word for "hearsay."
    He admitted that some historians portrayed his family as being duped by gringo speculators, but his voice grew strong when he stated, "You know how people are…saying that everything was stolen and poor people [the Mexican rancheros], you know, they don't have anything. No, it was their fault, nobody else's. You wouldn't be anything if you sat there and just let the world go by. You've got to make things [happen] yourself."

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

2018 Américas Book Award Winners



The Américas Award is given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. By combining both and linking the Americas, the award reaches beyond geographic borders, as well as multicultural-international boundaries, focusing instead upon cultural heritages within the hemisphere. The award is sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP).




American Street
by Ibi Zoboi

American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story perfect for fans of Everything, Everything; Bone Gap; and All American Boys.

In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?


Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico's Folkloric Ballet
by Duncan Tonatiuh

Danza! is a celebration of Hernández’s life and of the rich history of dance in Mexico. As a child, Amalia always thought she would grow up to be a teacher, until she saw a performance of dancers in her town square. She was fascinated by the way the dancers twirled and swayed, and she knew that someday she would be a dancer, too. She began to study many different types of dance, including ballet and modern, under some of the best teachers in the world. Hernández traveled throughout Mexico studying and learning regional dances. Soon she founded her own dance company, El Ballet Folklórico de México, where she integrated her knowledge of ballet and modern dance with folkloric dances. The group began to perform all over the country and soon all over the world, becoming an international sensation that still tours today.


Duncan Tonatiuh’s picture books have been honored with many awards and accolades, including the Pura Belpré Award, the Robert F. Sibert Award, and the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award. With Tonatiuh’s distinctive Mixtec-inspired artwork and colorful drawings that seem to leap off the page, Danza! will enthrall and inspire young readers with the fascinating story of this important dancer and choreographer.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018. The naming shame. CSUCI On-line Floricanto

Bring the troops home from everywhere!
Michael Sedano

I strolled up the company street from the chow hall. The company clerk, a Spec5 from Boston, called over to me in that broad foreign accent all outraged. “Sedano, why didn’t you get promoted?”

I am stunned. I expected to make E-3, being top student in Radio School with the fastest Morse Code,  first to establish a network in the field, the supernumerary on guard detail, I assumed I’d make PFC. And here I’m being told by the guy who typed out the list that I’m not on it.

Sergeant Cafano’s revenge against an uppity soldier, or Cafano’s usual incompetence? Didn’t matter. The clerk said he’d fix it. He takes the sheet with the names of the promoted, rolls it into his Royal and types my name at the bottom of the list. The Captain has already signed it.

“Aren’t you going to thank me for promoting you?” Sergeant Cafano strutted over to me the day I showed up wearing my PFC chevron.

Life in the United States Army is a string of memorable moments separated by blank spots where you know you put in the time but that’s about all you know. Some of those moments are silly as can be, like my promotion. Other moments dig deep into profoundly helpless wretchedness.

It was after chow at the end of the duty day. The Bostonian calls over, "Hey Sedano!" He waits to get my attention. I turn and make eye contact quizzically. “Sedano! Report to Building 201 tomorrow to get your orders for Vietnam!”

And that was the start of a miserable night talking my panicked wife out of catastrophic thoughts and living with the inevitable. I believed I was going to Vietnam and so be it. It is what it is. She argued.

“Let’s go to Mexico!” She doesn’t speak Spanish and Mexico extradites. “Let’s go to Canada!” Canada is cold, I told her. Irony. She played the ultimate card, “You might get killed!” The teevee probably was on, flag-draped aluminum coffins filling a C-136, the boys coming home.

“If I get killed I won’t know it.” And she would have gone on with her life. Millions died in Vietnam, among them guys I trained with, guys I was interchangeable with but luck of the draw.

So live that when your summons comes... Live, something all of us are doing right now, the day after Memorial Day 2018.

Click here to listen. (Opens a new window)
To brothers dead crossing the rapido river…194?
in a day
in an afternoon
in a night
in years of fury
and tears
alone and far from home
away from familiar sounds
tender arms
you fell on the earth of italy
blood of mexico
blood of the northern
deserts
blood of the bitter border
spilled on earth of italy
on the earth of italy
hope of america
the vain hope of america
never realized hope of america
against a wall of teuton steel
you waded the chilling river
waters tasting of death
far from home
tasting of sudden death
left your dead on the river banks
tears of mothers on the river banks
hopes of sweethearts on the river banks
left tomorrows on the river banks
bitter yesterdays on the river banks
for a hope
vain hope

Anonymous pp 42-43 in Antonia Castañeda Shular, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, Joseph Sommers. Literatura Chicana. Texto y Contexto. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice Hall, 1972.





Battle of the Name Looms in Texas


The law may be an ass but in Texass the bigger asses are those who assess and promulgate policy. In the case of our gente versus the TXSBOE, the issue devolves to one of the most fundamental elements of dignity and identity: what you'll allow others to call you.

Six Texas cities hold a conference call tomorrow, Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 1:30pm CST. Organized in the past few days by National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Committee on MAS Pre-K-12, the call brings together a raza brain trust.

Mexican American, or Ethnic? Identity or invisibility? Stop them or suck it in? I suppose it could be "The History of Chicanos of Mexican-American descent," to get really gacho about it.

Call or email for tune-in datos.



El Canto de los Delfines On-line Floricanto. An on-line festival de flor y canto in multiple parts, Part I.

California’s state university system places new campuses in areas where supply-demand makes sense, and whose geography attracts academic professionals. The Camarillo area of southern California meets the criteria.

Danzantes procession across CSUCI campus.

Come down that steep grade onto the coastal plain, that’s the outskirts of Camarillo. Citrus up to the hills, then flat fields of strawberries. Up the coast lies Ventura and UC Santa Barbara. Cal State University Channel Islands lies to the south, a blue highway skirting massive housing developments of gated tracts.

The conversion of the one-time state hospital grounds into a university campus will eventually replace today’s picturesque Spanish colonial architecture with functional boxes. Visit right now, the campus is worth a tour, and the big projects haven’t begun. Malibu and the sea lie pa'lla, a journey circling back to Santa Monica and points east.

Locals will always go to college here at Channel Islands, no matter how fancy it grows. Growers kids and pickers kids. There’s oranges all the way to the mountains and up the valleys, and piscadores with kids. Highway 101 traffic zips past strawberry fields that provide the livelihood for pickers, “stoop labor with high school rings on their fingers” whose kids grow up and want careers where you need a degree.

In past years, chisme out of the sylvan campus proposed that Con Safos Magazine might have a revival at Channel Islands. That is still in the works. More immediately, Professor Margarita López has guided her CSUCI students to write for publication in El Canto de los Delfines.

El Canto de los Delfines is why people go to college, beyond attending lecture and lab. Join the debate team, the band, the newspaper, the literary magazine; see the world meet new ideas.

For language and literature majors, whose own education is about books, producing a book is the best kind of learning. They went away to college to read books, and they made one.

El Canto de los Delfines is a book, a softbound, photo cover, typeset, hot glue bound hold it in your hand and pass it along libro.

What excitement and pride for familias to come home after a day in los files to their college-going scion who hands them a book with the family name inside. "This is why we send you to school, mi'jx."

This year’s fourth edition in the Delfines series promotes a Voces sin barreras (Voices beyond borders) theme. Students created work grown from studying movimiento and modern photographs by Oscar R. Castillo. Some of the images are in the Smithsonian Institution.

The writers went through the writing editing revising process as classroom study. Then, with campus institutional support, an editorial team took on the publication process with Professor López advising.

With publication of a book, writers become more fully engaged with their art, more competent communicators having achieved vertically integrated control of the process from beginning--writing the work--to reading as an author to the audience at the gala book release pachanga.

Oscar Castillo conceived and curated this La Bloga El Canto de los Delfines On-line Floricanto. In coming weeks, La Bloga-Tuesday shares work selected by Castillo from the journal. Not all the works directly address the photo used in the publication. The editor and publisher, Dr. López, links images to pieces where she sees connections and likely so too the reader. I’ll call that an editorial ekphrastic.

All photographs are © Oscar Castillo and are published with permission. In the course of the next weeks, La Bloga offers text and in some cases, video, of works selected from the 2018 volume of California State University Channel Islands’ El Canto de los Delfines literary journal.

La Bloga On-line Floricanto: Canto de los Delfines
from photographs by Oscar Castillo

Madre Mía por Aimé Rosario Aguayo
Nuestro Amor por Araceli García 

Poeta en  el jardín. 2016, Oscar R. Castillo
MADRE MÍA
Por Aimé Rosario Aguayo

Madre mía
¿Te pinto un nuevo corazón?
Uno sin tristezas y rencor
Sin reproches o malas caras
Sin decepción o sin mentiras
Sin desgracias o pecado
Uno que luce como las promesas cumplidas
¿Uno que nadie será capaz de abandonar?
Discúlpame, mamá,
Pero tú mereces un corazón más excepcional que un corazón pintado.



Nuestro Amor
NUESTRO AMOR
Por Araceli García

El amor creció entre mi esposa y yo.
El día que decidimos entregarnos el uno al otro
Fue algo mágico el día que ella decidió contraer
matrimonio conmigo
Nuestro amor siguió floreciendo, el día en que nos dimos
la oportunidad de sellar nuestro amor ante Dios.
La fidelidad es un lazo muy importante en nuestro
matrimonio.
Desde ese entonces...

Quiero pasar el resto de mi vida a tu lado.
Y no hay dudas, ni temores por lo que siento.
Porque te llevo a todas horas en mi pensamiento.
El tiempo que hemos estado juntos,
Me ha enseñado lo mucho que significas para mí.
Y lo mucho que significo para ti.
Te quiero de una manera inexplicable
Que no hace falta verte horas y horas
Para que mi amor crezca cada día más.
Estoy inmensamente agradecido
Porque desde ese entonces te has convertido en mi mayor
complemento.
Eres, mi alegría y mi esperanza.
Quiero estar siempre a tu lado,
Y recordarte a diario lo mucho que te amo.
Eres mi querida esposa
Y quiero que sepas que eres lo que siempre había
anhelado.


Meet the poets
In 2017 Aimé Rosario Aguayo received her degree in English literature and criticism from CSUCI. After a year off she plans to study teaching at Channel Islands.

Araceli García studies Spanish. She has long enjoyed public speaking owing to her grandmother who was a teacher in Guanajuato. She seeks a career as a Spanish teacher. Araceli says we should live sensibly because we live only once.

Lucha Corpi on _Hudson_


Lucha Corpi on _Hudson_


Xánath Caraza is and will no doubt continue to be one of the most innovative poetic voices in the Spanish language. Hudson, her new poetry collection, is much more than a journey down any river that flows onward and inevitably empties its waters into a sea. The Hudson River is no ordinary river as it follows a dual course. So, our journey begins at the point of its origin, a tidal estuary—a habitat in constant flux—where the river begins and also empties into the sea, where salty and fresh water fauna cohabit. It also flows inland, providing routes and ways for people in cities along its course to prosper as well. It gives birth to another river along the way. On its riverbed, Caraza writes her “text”—the river’s story, which is also her story. The saline-fresh-water, restless currents become the tempo of her bloodstream.  Guided by the verses in bold lettering embedded in the text, the poet challenges us to seek the spirit of the river—the lyrical beauty. A third reading of verses in italics takes us deeper into the poet’s mind, into Caraza’s lifelong quest for answers to philosophical questions all of us ponder from time to time. So much more richness I have found in Hudson. All made accessible to an English-speaking readership by the beautifully crafted translations of Sandra Kingery.  Hudson is a must-read for poets and lovers of poetry—most definitely for lovers of rivers too! Bravo.

Lucha Corpi, poet and writer
Oakland, CA, May 2018



Xánath Caraza es y continuará siendo, sin duda, una de las voces poéticas más innovadoras en el idioma español.  Hudson, su nueva colección de poesía, es más que un viaje por un río que fluye e inevitablemente vierte sus aguas en el mar.  El río Hudson no es un río ordinario ya que sigue un curso doble.  Por lo tanto nuestro viaje comienza en el punto de su origen, un estuario—un habitante en flujo constante—donde nace y también se vacía en el mar, donde cohabitan las faunas de agua fresca y salada.  También fluye tierra adentro, provee rutas y caminos para la gente en las ciudades a lo largo de su cauce para también hacerlas prosperar.  Le da vida a otro río en el camino.  En el lecho del río Caraza escribe su “texto”—la historia del río, que es también la historia de la poeta.  Las tumultuosas corrientes-salinas-frescas de agua se convierten en el tempo de su torrente sanguíneo.  Guiados por los versos en negritas, incrustados en el texto, la poeta nos reta a buscar el espíritu del río—la belleza lírica.  Una tercera lectura de los versos en itálicas nos lleva a un nivel más profundo, a los cuestionamientos filosóficos y búsqueda de vida que Caraza se hace y que todos nosotros cuestionamos en algún momento.  He encontrado mucha riqueza en Hudson.  Todo accesible, para lectores angloparlantes, a través de la bella traducción hecha por Sandra Kingery.  Hudson es un libro que debe ser leído por poetas y amantes de la poesía—¡definitivamente por amantes de los ríos también!  Bravo.

Lucha Corpi, poeta y narradora
Oakland, CA, mayo de 2018