Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Chicana Movidas. Floricanto in the Front Room. Bits and Tids.

Review: Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, and Maylei Blackwell, eds. Chicana Movidas. New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era. Austin: UTexas Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-4773-1558-3 (link)
Michael Sedano

Chicana Movidas isn’t that book you take down on a cold night and slowly read beside the fire, nor devour it cover-to-cover, unless your academic needs dictate you read good stuff that makes a difference to your own work.

Even if Chicana Movidas New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era is assigned in a C/S course—which it should be—readers will read it carefully, so as not to miss something important out of myriad ways this is a useful collection.

On its face, the collection offers historical readings for activists and feminists involved in social change today. Unless assigned to read cover-to-cover, readers will want to pick and choose a chapter here, a woman there, according to one’s own interest.

Editors Dionne Espinoza, María Eugenia Cotera, and Maylei Blackwell cover a broad range of fields to focus on women whose leadership and acts produced local change in policy, law, or attitude, along with lasting individual acclaim. It’s a large book and there are a lot of significant accomplishments by important people, Chicanas doing movidas located in four spaces: hallways, homes, borders, and memory. Twenty-one essays apportion into the divisions, the editors allocating five to each section, with exception of Part II Home-Making Movidas, where the edition’s one male contributor joins the table of contents.

The title word, “Movida,” elicits instant interest from informed readers, some of whom may perhaps see pejoration, as in the line from Tino Villanueva’s “Aquellos Vatos,” the slightly unsavory kid who “always had a movida chueca somewhere uptown.”

Espinoza et al express keen insight into their intentionality, “are collective and individual maneuvers, undertaken in a context of social immobilization, that seek to work within, around, and between the position means, ideologies, and practices of publicly visible social relations.”

Within the four-division structure, the essays collected identify movidas within the spaces and that operate within and across the lexical division of “hallway” or “border” For instance, historiographic movidas inhere in all academic writing. Here, the editors describe the motive of the academic worker who introduces “a proliferation of discourse that had been largely ignored it in the earlier books on the Chicano movement that in most cases offered only token and mentions of women.”

Growing from historiography comes “Mapping Movidas,” an abstraction of place that is less critical as a term than the product of the mapping movida. These are “small scale, intimate political moves, gestures, and collaborations that reflect the tactics women used to negotiate the internalities of power within the broader social movements.”

The impressive textbook echoes the work, and movida, of Rita Sanchez and Sonia Lopez, eds. Chicana Tributes: Activist Women of the Civil Rights Movement: Stories for the New Generation (link). There, the epideictic occupied the writers, praise and recognition the book's singular movida. Chicana Movidas is a heavy-duty research-centric academic endeavor. Sanchez and Lopez are ideal for a C/S 100 course. Espinoza, Cotera, and Blackwell is for the upper division and first year grad courses. In fact, several essays are the work product of graduate students at the cusp of entering the academic grind where these movidas are essential to master the system.

Chicana Movidas makes a strong contribution to movement studies, as well as its feminist intentions. The editors de facto answer the standard question, “Is the movimiento dead?” or “Whatever happened to the movimiento?” This volume illustrates an alive and fruitful movimiento, we are an infinite potential of “theories in the flesh” people making social impact.

The movimiento is the women in the 21 chapters, not some nationally famous person. The collected essays show that a movimiento comes of individuals acting locally, like Ester Hernandez’ Sun Mad painting that expresses a world of farm labor protest. One painting, reproduced and hung on walls, along with broadsides, giclées, screen dumps, collectively these messages produce social change, new laws, better attitudes and engages communication. That’s what the movimiento looks like.

Movements don’t arise from a leader’s stance, nor do movements exist as a function of a top-down leader:

This collection marks how bearing witness to a movement and writing from the individual 'I' can be a key movida that inspires others to voice and incites other strategies for social change.

Chicanas didn’t invent social movements but they’re really good at it. People who study stuff like movimientos will tell you it’s hard work by multitudes that makes a movement. Here are essays by 21 scholars that illustrate that and simultaneously are taking part in the movimiento as are you while you read.

Whatever happened to the movimiento? Pues, aqui ‘sta.

Living Room Floricanto at Casa Sedano Welcomes Edward Vidaurre, or, Do Try This At Home
Michael Sedano

Enigmatic, dynamic, engagingly minimal, McAllen Poet Laureate Edward Vidaurre fills  so compact a space on the page with enormous complexities:
Three poems
Single spaced

Ode to A Matador From A Dying Bull
A voice
The Age of Softening
Not one stanza mentioned your death
--“I.” Edward Vidaurre

“I.” is the type of poem that’s forgiving on an eye, but hard on a listener. Reading this poem aloud poses a challenge to reciters, to read the piece congruent with the poem on the page. That’s a challenge, not a requirement.

Readers see the character two lines below a collective title, "Dappled Things." Essentially the poem is unnamed. “I.” announces the work’s position in a series named “Dappled Things.” Then the fun starts with the conventional double space to a poem's opening words.

“Three poems” double return and a reader's in ambiguitylandia. Might "I." be instead titled “Three poems”? Or is the line a first stanza, and the double hard returns after the line signal another stanza? At any rate, “Single spaced”, comes as an enigma of the visual poem for the reader to pause, work it out. That's lost on the listener. Hence, the challenge I look forward to seeing met beyond the poet's expectation.

Vidaurre uses the tiny device effectively, working from familiarity with his text.

Sunday afternoon, Vidaurre shared the piece and a host of other wonderful poetry in a Living Room Floricanto at Casa Sedano. Casa Sedano is on a roll with the recent year-ending liz gonzalez Living Room Floricanto (La Bloga link) and now kicking-off the new year with the latest Pasadena California gathering,  welcoming Edward Vidaurre and sixth-grader Bella Vidaurre.

I imagine Edward on open space instead of Casa Sedano’s cramped living room restricted quarters. The three hard returns into the “Ode to a Matador…” the reader sees the white space. Here, Edward would take three deliberate steps before interpreting, "ode..." With those steps the listener eases into three lines where mystery lurks. Whose voice? Age--epoch or youth? Is softening metaphor? A final step to where the reading ends lets those thoughts linger in momentary pause, the movement bringing new perspective for the final line. “Not one stanza…” the eye immediately sees that eponymous structure in the white space. And when you think about it, the voice just changed from the bull’s to the poet’s. Or did the bull win? Whose death? A reader asks, are there four stanzas in this poem, not three? The audience watched the stanzas form on the floor.

A reader can stop and think about it, whose is "your" because the reader can't hear the poet make the point with his voice. Listeners can't push "pause" and rewind memory without missing something, maybe getting lost.

Casa Sedano's guests sat enthralled by a powerful presentation. Beyond sharing the moments, the front room environment encourages interaction, commenting,  requesting an encore, talking to others in the room sharing satisfaction.

Noted poets Gloria Enedina Alvarez and Altadena's Poet Laureate emerita, Thelma Reyna,  arrived after Edward’s reading, so they didn’t to hear any of this. Nor would anyone who wasn’t in attendance hear the readings. Floricanto, like all oral communication, is a here and now experience.

Not in this case. Latinopia’s Jesus Treviño joined the floricanto guests and as a bonus, videotaped the reading. Television production has become part of the experience at most Casa Sedano living room floricantos. Today, guests sign a film release because some guests may appear on Latinopia site within a few weeks.

Vidaurre's reading enjoyed the pleasures of one-camera production. Although he’s retired from Hollywood, ever the Director Jesus Treviño called for Take Two to do CU to intercut in the finished product. Guests, as well as those who missed the Living Room Floricanto at Casa Sedano, will enjoy reliving the event with all that artful editing, via Latinopia. Latinopia adds features every Sunday.

The Living Room Floricanto is an outgrowth of the late artist Magu’s Mental Menudo and its Casa Sedano variant, Mental Cocido. The occasions go by other names, Tertullia, Salon, many people know about the living room floricanto in Prufrock. In the rooms at Casa Sedano the women and men come and go speaking of agua chile tostadas and tacos de chicharron, cheeses and fruits. A few birongas and some good wine add their flavors as chosen.

Gloria had read with Edward Vidaurre the night before in Boyle Heights so she missed the stuff he didn’t read the night before. For Casa Sedano, Vidaurre saved the best piece of the night, read superbly, “Why I Don’t Own A Gun.” This is the two-take reading and everyone should look for Latinopia’s documentation of the fabulous afternoon.

La Bloga and Casa Sedano invite you to start your own Living Room Floricanto series. Like a book club that meets every so often,  hold your LRFloricantos in Summer outdoors, indoors Winter, and as occasioned by events whenever.

If an author happens to be making a tour into your tierra, throw a Living Room Floricanto. Vidaurre and his sixthgrader Bella, are touring his book “I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip,” and that’s part of why Casa Sedano and friends were able to welcome Edward Vidaurre and Bella. The Boyle Heights homeboy was presenting at HomeBoy Industries, whose Father Greg Boyle blurbs the collection.

Try a Living Room Floricanto in your chante. Like Alice’s Restaurant, if everyone did a LRFloricanto it’d be a movimiento, the Living Room Floricanto Movement, and all over the land gente will be celebrating friendship, chicano literature, authors, books, and puro fun. There’s all this literacy spread out all over Aztlán, bring it together every once in a while. It’s good for your soul.

"Pome" the poet says, "I understand Texan," says Rhett Beavers, right.

News 'n Notes, Bits and Tids
Alivio Open Mic: Floricanto in His Garage

For 5 years, we have been working toward maintaining a space where community members and beyond can safely express themselves and release their stress to a supportive audience. Spaces like these are important, as they disrupt the capitalistic monotone relationships we are pressured to have at work and in our lives. We must continue to break out of the consumerist nature of our society, and consume knowledge, stories, art, song, and poetry.

Event Details:
+Open mic list -- first come, first serve. Arrive early to sign up.
+Special features: Ladi Soul and Figgy Baby
+Food will be sold, but only cash is accepted.
+We will have 16 vendors.
+We will have music after the event to celebrate Eric's (the host) birthday.
+Entrance is free, but donations are welcomed to help us keep growing.


Sign up: 7:45pm
Open mic: 8:00pm-11:00pm

Chicago: Museum of Mexican Art

San Jose California Opera News

Tickets are on sale now for La Llorona/The Weeping Woman, an award-winning musical drama by Héctor Armienta. Previous productions have sold out, so make sure to get your tickets right away!

The production is based on a folk legend well-known throughout México and the American Southwest. Both Latino and non-Latino audiences, first-time theater goers and those familiar with opera, will be captivated by this powerful and breathtaking musical drama.

Friday, June 28th at 7:30pm*
Saturday, June 29th at 7:30pm
Sunday, June 30th at 2pm

La Llorona/The Weeping Woman
Mexican Heritage Theater - School of Arts and Culture @ MHP
San Jose, CA

1 comment:

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Hey, Michael, thanks for the shout-out of me being there...but did you have to say I was late?
LOL, Em! Just kidding! I say that because many of my family and friends have pointed out my tardiness to other things over the years. I am guilty as charged! But I want to add that I'm almost finished reading Edward Vidaurre's book, I TOOK MY BARRIO ON A ROAD TRIP, and I'm loving it! The Introduction by Father Greg Boyle is a powerful tear-jerker.

Edward's poetry is heart-breaking in its deep honesty and pathos. I think anyone reading this book would understand why the "caravans" of immigrants from places like El Salvador come to America. It's literally a matter of life and death for them. This book should be required reading for all the hard-hearted Trump MAGA cultists who have no clue what massive human suffering looks like, and definitely for the politicians who are likewise cruel and clueless.