Maya Angelou, Mexican History, poetry, Poetry Month, poets, Sandra Cisneros, Social Justice, Strength

Poetry on Wednesdays-Political Poetry

Poetry and Politics-JFK quote. alvaradofrazier.com
Poetry and Politics-JFK quote. alvaradofrazier.com

Remember high school English classes?

That was my first introduction to poetry. Old poets. Lot’s of ‘thee’s and thou’s,” and too much Old English stuff.

I was a studious person, more logical than emotional, so many poems went over my head.

That was until I went to college, in the mid ’70’s. It was an eyeopener when I read the profound words of contemporary poets Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, who spoke of racism and the strength of women.

I found only two Chicano/Mexican American poets, both male: Alurista and the political activist, Rudulfo “Corky” Gonzales.

Yo Soy Joaquin, I am Joaquin, gripped me from the beginning.

This bilingual poem, published in 1967, summarized Mexican and Mexican American history, from the exploitation of the natives through colonial times, to the present. The poem served as a nationalist ideology for political activism, using the historical events of the 19th Century social rebel, Joaquin Murrieta.

The poem was groundbreaking, revitalizing, and began a social movement. Since it is several pages long, here’s an excerpt from the middle of the poem:

I am Joaquin. 
I rode with Pancho Villa, 
crude and warm, a tornado at full strength, 
nourished and inspired by the passion and the fire of all his earthy people. 
I am Emiliano Zapata. 
“This land, this earth is OURS.” 
The villages, the mountains, the streams 
belong to Zapatistas. 
Our life or yours is the only trade for soft brown earth and maize. 
All of which is our reward, 
a creed that formed a constitution 
for all who dare live free! 
“This land is ours . . . 
Father, I give it back to you. 
Mexico must be free. . . .” 
I ride with revolutionists 
against myself. 
I am the Rurales, 
coarse and brutal, 
I am the mountian Indian, 
superior over all. 
The thundering hoof beats are my horses. The chattering machine guns 
are death to all of me: 
Yaqui 
Tarahumara 
Chamala 
Zapotec 
Mestizo 
Español. 
I have been the bloody revolution, 
The victor, 
The vanquished. 

 

You can read the entire epic poem here. 

In the 80’s and ’90’s, I fell in love with poems and novels by Sandra Cisneros. My love affair with Ms. Cisneros’ work is well documented on my blog. For me, her poems in “Wicked, Wicked Ways” and “Loose Woman,” spanned the politics of women.

Ms. Cisneros is my ‘she-ro.’  My favorite poem is “You Bring Out the Mexican In Me.”

It’s also fairly long, so I’ll print one of her short poems:

Black Lace Bra Kind of Woman

 

Watchale! She’s a black lace bra

kind of woman, the kind who serves

up suicide with every kamikazi

poured into neon blue of evening

A tease and a twirl. I’ve seen that

two-step girl in action. I’ve gambled bad

odds and sat shotgun as she rambled

her ’59 Pontiac between the blurred

lines dividing sense from senselessness

Ruin your clothes, she will.

Get you home after hours

driving her ’59 seventy five on 35

like there is no tomorrow.

Woman zydeco-ing into her own decade.

Thirty years pleated behind her like

the wail of a San Antonio accordion.

And now the good times are coming. Girl,

I tell you, the good times are here.

From LOOSE WOMAN, 1994 pg. 78

 

Until next week, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poetry, Poetry Month, poets

Poetry on Wednesday: Haiku

Poetry On Wednesday (POW)-alvaradofrazier.com
Poetry On Wednesday (POW)-alvaradofrazier.com

 

Today is Poetry on Wednesday (POW) day.

Last week I mentioned Poetry Month and how I’d contribute to the celebration of words.

Because I just learned how a Haiku is structured, by terrific instructor Sonya Sones, I decided to do a Haiku for POW day.

Traditional Japanese Haiku not only have 17 syllables, they must also contain an inference or allusion to nature or season, in an unrhymed sequence, and be in the present moment. Very Zen like.

Haiku on Cherry Blossom-gettyimages
Haiku on Cherry Blossom-gettyimages

There are several forms/rules on the traditional, but for my novice self I’m adhering to the  5/7/5 syllables for each line:

 

You can’t force poems-they

force you to pick up a pen

and write the words you hide

 

Richard Wright, author and poet, composed over 4,000 Haiku’s during the last 18 months of his life. Prolific, indeed.

These three are traditional Haiku’s and some of my favorites:

 

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

 

 I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.

 

In this rented room
One more winter stands outside
My dirty window pane

 

I’m going to work my way to traditional haiku and do some bilingual haiku, in tiempo ( time).

Give this poetic form a whirl. I believe you’ll learn to love its simplicity, form, and presentness.

It just might place you in a zen state.

poetry, Poetry Month, poets

Poetry Love

Writing poetry-gettyimages.com
Writing poetry-gettyimages.com

 

Many of you know that April is National Poetry Month. It’s a ‘newbie’ month, at only 18 years old.

Everywhere I turn there’s a ‘challenge’ of some kind: Poem A Day, NaPoWriMo, Poetic Form Challenge…okay, I’ll stop now.

There’s even a Poem in a Pocket Day on April 24th.

This one looks like a lot of fun and a good way for the single men to meet women and single women to meet men (Poem in a Purse?).

I’m such a newbie poet that I can’t (don’t) want the PAD or NPWM tests.

But, what  I am challenging myself to do is one or two poems every Wednesday. I can do that.

Besides writing one of my own poems, I’ll post one that has caught my eye from either a poetry book I own or one I see from the poets I follow. Sometimes I’ll have three poems up.

Also, I’m single, so maybe I can get the nerve to participate in Poem in a Pocket Day. Oh, darn, I just remembered that is the day I fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

Well, men in the airport terminal, on the plane, and at the hotel beware of the poem in my pocket or purse.

So now on to a poem I wrote last month.

Arrow to the heart-gettyimages
Arrow to the heart-gettyimages

 

Pierced Heart

 

We hold on,

fill our heart with stuff,

pack and stack every hurtful

incident, innuendo,

pain never erased,

never forgiven,

only stored

down in the depths

until we escavate

buried un-treasure

for rocks and arrows,

which find their way back

to our heart

 

Mona AlvaradoFrazier©

 

My favorite poem, for this week, is from Sabra Bowers of Later, Miss Slater.

She participates in the Sunday Whirl, a challenge which gives 12 words as prompts that a poet turns into a poem.

 

Honeysuckle

she leaves honeysuckle to weave
its tangles around forsythia branches
knowing the fragrance soothes her southern soul

with scented memories of a long-ago girl
who pulled wild honeysuckle blooms 
and sucked their sweetness

 

Sabra’s poem is lovely. Take a look at her other Sunday Whirl poems. I wonder if I can call my Wednesday posts, Wednesday Whirls? POW’s? (Poems on Wednesdays)…okay, I’ll stop now.


 

 

 

 

 

Authors, Books, poetry, poets

Writers Conference as an Investment

 

Stop with the excuses...
Stop with the excuses…

 

Several times I’ve heard the advice about attending writing conferences. I’d love to attend several in a year, but most people can only afford one every twelve months. 

This morning I’m on my way to LAX, with my writing sisters, to Seattle. The four of us will attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference this week. AWP, with membership, had a good price and there’s a lot of bang for the buck. 

I’m thrilled to have a chance to hear Annie Proulx (Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain), Sherman Alexie (War Dances, Smoke Signals), Amy Tan, and Benjamin Alire Saenz among other authors.

A writers conference is an investment, so I plan to:

  • Meet new people, compare notes
  • Choose useful workshops
  • Curate content by posting, journaling so I have a record to go back to
  • Share the info with you on my Google+ site

During the day I’ll attend workshops, mainly on YA topics, and post some highlights on my Google+ profile.   I’m a volunteer at the ginormous Book Fairhelping at the AROHO (A Room of Her Own) table. 

In the evening there are many happy hours to attend and I’m hitting at least these: AROHO, Arte Publico, and poetry readings. 

If I can remember to multi-task, I’ll send out some tweets (#AWP 14), just for fun. My twitter feed and handle are on this blog.

See you here next week and I do hope you visit me on Google+ for workshop highlights and insights.

I do hope I remembered my umbrella and phone charger.

Space Needle-Seattle, Washington AWP Conference
Space Needle-Seattle, Washington AWP Conference