Chingonas, Encouragement, Latino culture, Sandra Cisneros, Strong Women, Wisdom, Writing

The Wisdom of Sandra Cisneros

I read an article about the author, writer, poet Sandra Cisneros turning 60 years young. To celebrate, she dressed up as a cake-A. Cake-and celebrated in her new town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

This is why I call her a chingona. Strong, fearless, badass (in a good way).

“I have never felt younger or happier – now I can take care of me,” she says. “It’s a good time.”

She had a few things to say about life at sixty. This is part of a list she composed the day after her birthday, which began with “This is what I know…”

Channel of Light-Love.

When I let go of these distractions, then I write and live from a place of forgiveness, generosity, compassion, and humility.

Generosity  and Selflessness
Generosity and Selflessness

Err on the side of generosity.

Divine Providence
Divine Providence

When in doubt, sleep on it. Ask and you’ll get an answer.

Do the thing you fear most.
Do the thing you fear most.

 

Trust what comes from intuition; doubt what comes from my brain.

On love and life.
On love and life.

And you’re probably wondering how did she dress up as a cake? Well, here’s the photo:

Sandra Cisneros as her own birthday cake. Piñata skirt by Eva and Jorge Rios, photo by Tracy Boyer
Sandra Cisneros as her own birthday cake. Piñata skirt by Eva and Jorge Rios, photo by Tracy Boyer

We marched down the street like a parade to the jardin, the town center. A row of brilliant mariachis dressed all in white and gold serenaded me on my arrival with “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional birthday song.

Like I said, buen chingona.

Books, Junot Diaz, Sandra Cisneros, Writing

Burritos With A Side of Lit-No Salsa

Visible and Ignored
Visible and Ignored

I’m feeling like the above quote after reading about Chipotle’s “literary packaging series.”

They had author, Jonathan Safran Foer, select 10 authors to feature on Chipotle’s cups and bags.

“What interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing,” the novelist told Vanity Fair. 

 

But not one of the 10 authors are Latino/a.

 

None of those “800,000 Americans of extremely diverse background” will be exposed to a Latino writer.

This “literary” campaign comes on the heels of #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #DiverseLit.

 

Chipotle’s move is why we need to continue a movement with #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

 

English professor Lisa Alvarez sums up my feelings:

Chipotle Snub-photo by Michael Calienes
Chipotle Snub-photo by Michael Calienes

Reaction to Chipotle’s ‘short stories’ on their cups and bags can be found on Gustavo Arellano’s article.

Author, poet and commentator Michele Serros gave this response on Facebook. Hundreds of readers are contributing their favorite Latina/o writer:

Michele Serros List of Latina/o writers
Michele Serros List of Latina/o writers

 

To the list, I’ll add my favorites: Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chavez, Michele Serros, and Junot Diaz.

Add any of your favorites to the list.

It’s a multicultural world out there. Read about it, think about it, write about it. 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authors, Barbara Kingsolver, Bloggers, Books, Jennifer Chow, Lisa See, Louise Erdrich, Maya Angelou, Sandra Cisneros, Writers, Writing, Writing Process

Writers Tell All

gettyimages.com

Jennifer Chow made me do it. Her chirpy words of “fun challenge” has me participating in my first ever Blog Hop called “Writers Tell All.” 

A writer often works in isolation, for long periods of time, before any finished work is produced. It’s rare to have the opportunity to share thoughts with other bloggers/writers, so when Jennifer ‘tagged’ me I decided I’d share my thoughts.

Because we often work in seclusion we writers need to know if crying, throwing paper, groping for a pen in the middle of the night, talking to ourselves or passing up a party to write is normal. 

Totally.

So let the sharing begin. 

Question 1: What are you working on? 

  1. Revision 8 of a query letter for my second manuscript: Winter Without Flowers, a contemporary adult fiction. 
  2. Revising a synopsis for WWF.
  3. Sending out 10 queries per month for my first manuscript: Strong Women Grow Here, YA fiction about a 17 year old wife and mother in prison.
  4. Getting ready for the AROHO Retreat in Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico next month. I’m so jazzed to be included in a group of such accomplished writers. I received a fellowship to attend. 
Question 2: How does your writing process work? 

My isolation space
  1. Six days a week I put my butt in the chair (see photo above) with a mug of coffee.  
  2. When I feel stalled I look at the inspirational messages, photos, or words from friends on my bulletin board behind my laptop. (It’s an organized mess). Or I take the dog for a walk to clear my mind.
  3. I have a writing goal for the morning: type x amount of words, revise x amount of pages, work on a character sketch. 
  4. I’m a pantser who has vowed to do an outline for my next project. This may reduce the amount of revisions. 
  5. When I’m thinking of an emotional scene I’ll write longhand. There is something about the heart/pen connection. 
  6. Twice a month I meet with my critique group, Women Who Write (WoWW), and we go over five pages of our project after potluck. I’ve been with them since I started writing in 2008. 
Question 3: Who are your favorite writers? 
  1. Sandra Cisneros– her poetry and prose has sparked my heart for many years.
  2. Lisa See– her historical fiction is so good that I feel I’m wandering the back streets of post-WWII China or Chinatown in 1940’s Los Angeles.
  3. Barbara Kingsolver– I was hooked when I read The Bean Tree in 1988. Her character, Turtle, has stayed with me ever since.  
  4. Louise Erdrich-She is a master of evocative prose. 
  5. Maya Angelou– I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was required reading in one of my college classes. To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision.”  I still have my book!

Now it’s my turn to tag three writers. 

Please visit their blogs and see what they’re up to and willing to share when Writers Tell All.