Sunday, December 15, 2013

Undocumented Epigramas

A few days ago I posted a FB status that poet Javier O. Huerta said reminded him of one Cardenal's epigrams or maybe it was a poem. 
My status went something like "hopefully in 2014 I'll become a U.S. citizen,"  to which Javier replied that it reminded him of this by Cardenal: 

Tal vez nos casemos este año,
amor mío, y tengamos una casita.

Y tal vez se publique mi libro,

o nos vayamos los dos al extranjero.

Tal vez caiga Somoza, amor mío.

I think Javier's comment/ reminder, points out something that is particularly poignant about Cardenal's epigrams; that is the brief but powerful force behind their message which is both personal and political and which I think also lends itself to being appropriated in some way in order to capture the "undocumented" experience. Or perhaps not capture but "document." Epigrams after all have always been brief and powerful like that and it also reminds me of some of the saying and everyday albures that I heard when I use to work in kitchens. 

As almost everybody that knows me, knows I grew up from age ten to eighteen as undocumented. That experience is something I don't write about in my poems. But lately the interior reality of my imagination feels the need to document some of that experience. I've decide to appropriate some of Ernesto's epigrams in order to do so.

Here are two I wrote today, these come from Cardenal and from my gut y no me imporat si son buenos o no.

Maybe next year
me vaya a Brasil

Y aun que México
no gane el mundial
y aunque ni lleguemos
al 5to partido

Y talvez me regrese a Mexico
(por que no tengo papeles)
ni un peso pa’ cruzar

y maybe by then ya haigan rechazado
allá la privatización de Pemex
y las reformas educativas

Y si no me vuelvo
de mojado aun que no

tenga ni un peso
ni Mexico su 5to partido


me contaron que en el norte 
te enamoraste

y que ahora duermes con otra
como antes lo hacías conmigo
y que de mi ya ni te acuerdas

entonces me fui a mi cuarto 
y escribí este poema
no para ti

si no para el mal gobierno
y esta pobreza

de la que huiste 

de la que huiste 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

note #1

I haven't written here in a long time. I haven't written period. I started this blog because I couldn't write--what they call writer's block and sometimes it has been that; a tool to break that. But I also started it because  around that time I was starting my MFA program, that is I was to spend the next two years doing nothing but writing poetry, polishing my craft, setting the foundations for a professional life as a writer. That's the dream right? To just write? To be immersed in the craft?

Juan Gelman calls poetry "una manera de vivir." Poetry is a way of life says the old-guerrilla poet. That's what Juan says. Una manera de vivir. Una manera de vivir says Juan who was in exile and who lost his son and daughter-in-law to the junta during the dirty wars and who never returned to Argentina--whose craft, whose way of life had a direct consequence on his exile and in the lives of those nearest to him. 

Im not a fan of power. Revolutions rise and power becomes concentrated, never shared. But I can't deny the fact that the Cuban revolution and it's leaders stand symbolically as a time when we Latin Americans proved to the world that domination is not ever lasting, that in the words of Mario Benedetti: :  “imperialist domination was not necessarily everlasting; that the apparent inexpugnability of the powerful was not without its crevices, and that an entire peoples’ creative will could overthrow those cold architects of destruction, those cybernetic administrators of death (my translation).”

That's what I was thinking when I titled this blog "Granma for Poetry." The granma was the name of the ship/ yacht from which Fidel and Che set out from Mexico for Cuba in 1959.
Bob Marley said something like: If you are the big tree, We are the small axe. I like that, the big tree, ready to cut you down.... it takes a considerable leap of the imagination to conceive that... or to conceive that a revolution can be launched from a yacht but it happened. (We all know what happened after that but yet the lessons are there...) 

Maybe writing--poetry is like that. Maybe a poem once written sets sail--like the granma did. Maybe it reaches shores previously unimaginable. Maybe it proves that when faith is not lacking and imagination is placed under the service of a people’s revolutionary will that which was previously thought as unfeasible becomes more than attainable. The granma was and is a leap of the imagination and so is the writing of poetry.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“The old world is crumbling down:”Aimé Césaire’s A Tempest and the Rise and Fall of the Third World

A little note of mine regarding Aimé Césaire’s A Tempest, currently over at The Actuary. 

Published in 1969 Césaire’s A Tempest, can be placed not only under a Cold War context but also at the height of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements enveloping the world from Bolivia to the Congo to Vietnam or in those continents which came to form the “Third World” and the non-aligned movement of those years. (This tri-continental movement which sought to establish true political, economic and cultural independence from the West or First World but also from the Soviet Sphere or Second World thus became known as the Third World. The Third World was much more than a geographic zone on the periphery of the Empire; it was an idea perhaps best exemplified by its political leaders, the likes of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Egypt’s Gamal Nasser, India’s Jawaharlal Nehru and Yugoslavia’s  Josep Tito to name but a few).  A Tempest, it could be argued can be read not only as a text that deals with the lingering effects of colonialism on the psyche of the colonized but also as a fascinating narrative that takes us from the birth of postcolonial nations after World War II to their downfall as corrupt nationalist regimes. A closer look at the characters of Prospero, Caliban and Ariel should elucidate some of the points made here thus far.

             [Continue reading.]


Monday, January 21, 2013

There’s Beauty in the Transatlantic Slave Trade

That's the title of a note I've been wanting to write for a while and which is now hosted at The Actuary.

Kamau Brathwaite's Middle Passages


I love what Kamau Brathwaite does in Middle Passages vis a vis confronting the horror of colonialism and in particular the treatment of Africans and blacks during that era. The world which he creates is an echo of the dreams our ancestors wished for us. He reminds us that we are here today because there were people before us who refused to die, and lived to have children who lived long enough to do the same. Brathwaite chooses to see the history of slavery and the sell of human flesh not as a history of oppression but rather as one in which he views the genetic inheritance of those that out-lived their oppressors as a triumph worth celebrating or/and as a pedagogy of resiliency and resistance.


Continue reading.