poetry

Ten Latinx Poets on #NationalPoetryDay

I want to do what spring does to cherry trees-Pablo Neruda

Yesterday was the first day of Spring and the first day I caught a breath. A weeklong cough and a road trip of 1100 miles will do that to you.

Today is National Poetry Day. BookRiot published a list of “25 Gateway Poets to Start Reading for World Poetry Day.”

This had me thinking about the first time I became interested in reading poetry. It wasn’t any of the poets in my English Lit classes in high school.

In college, I bought, and read, my first book of poetry:

1-Floricanto by Alurista. His words caught me up in poetry, the poems reflected my childhood, my experiences. My favorite: “We Walk On Pebbled Streets.”  I still have the old book, weathered and marked up in the margins with images that resonated, made me think, ask questions.

 

Poetry book by Alurista
Floricanto by Alurista

The following are Latinx poets I’ve read.

2- Sandra Cisneros: My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. Every woman finds themselves in her poetry. My favorite, a three-page poem:

You bring out the Mexican in me

The hunkered thick dark spiral

The core of a heart howl

The bitter bile.

The tequila lágrimas on Saturday all

through next weekend Sunday.

3. Margarita Engle writes novels in verse, many of the novels are for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. The Lightning Dreamer : Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist and Poet Slave of Cuba are favorites.

4. Frank Acosta publishes poetry on Facebook. Here’s a post about his poetry.

5. Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino Poet Laureate and awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for his collection of poems “Half of the World in Light.”

6-Gloria Anzaldúa, a NEA award winner and co-author with writer/playwright Cherríe Moraga of Borderlands.

To live in the Borderlands means to

put chile in the borscht,

eat whole wheat tortillas,

speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;

be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to

resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,

the pull of the gun barrel,

the rope crushing the hollow of your throat

7. Jimmy Santiago Baca‘s poetry is gut-wrenching and intense. He’s written several books of poetry besides a screenplay, Bound by Honor.

8. Verónica Reyes, Chopper Chopper centers on poems from “Bordered Lives.”

Poems by Veronica Reyes

9. Melinda Palacio. I first read “Folsom Lockdown” her chapbook, and went on to  “How Fire is a Story Waiting.” My favorite is “Things to Carry,” her poem about visiting her father in prison.

10. Ada Límon. “Sharks in the River.” She made a blog entry that described a feeling I also had:

I feel like everything these days is just notes. No completed thing, just notes. But I am taking them and walking with them and move them around in my body and flying them like kites and listening to them rustle and maybe someday I will make something.

Now go read some poetry, an old favorite and someone new.

Creativity, difficult times, Encouragement, Faith, Frank de Acosta, Inspiration, poetry

How Love Trumps Hate – A Poem and Photograph

glass flask, alchemy, chemistry
Glass flask, photo by Marissa Anderson, flickr.com

 

Alchemy is an ancient practice shrouded in mystery. Its practitioners sought to turn lead into gold through a purification process involving heat.

The word “transformation” is a synonym for alchemy. So is “magic” and “power,” both which can describe love.

Love, an emotion, is also a quality we all need more of during these difficult times in our society.

This poem demonstrates the power of love, which trumps hate.

 

Alchemy of Love (Love trumps Hate)

Never lose grace in faith
Believing there is beauty
To be found in everyone
All of us at one time
Have walked in brokenness
Through the dark corridors
Of our hearts and minds
An empathetic kindness
Compassion without condition
Received from another
Can be the spark that turns
A lost, dark, wounded soul
Towards the healing of light
Mending frayed, fragile lives
Prayers reaching to embrace
The stranger as relation
Engenders the true power of love
I say this with humble gratitude
Knowing I have received love
Undeserved; given love, unrequited
We are called to walk a sacred manner
Believing there is alchemy in love

Reflection by: Frank de Jesus Acosta

This photo made the rounds on Facebook. Eric Gaines, a police officer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, was standing at a bus stop on March 1 when a teenage boy stopped to pray over a homeless man. The officer snapped this photo.

Eighteen-year-old Stephen Watkins said he was on a bus home from school when a song he was listening to inspired him to get off at an earlier stop in order to bless a complete stranger.

“I prayed for him. I said, ‘God right now you’re using me to bless this man,’” Watkins told WJZ-TV. “Thank you for showing me this song.”

teenager, young man, praying, homeless man
Teenager Praying for a Homeless Man; photo from Facebook.

Life can be difficult, sometimes devoid of sense verging on hopelessness. Let’s chose compassion and love to make life a little better in our tiny part of the world. Maybe, just maybe, that gesture will travel and touch someone’s life like this poem and photograph did for me. Keep the faith.

Encouragement, Inspiration, Wisdom, Writing

Why Do You Write?

This quote resonates with me.

Quote on Writing-Audre Lorde. www.alvaradofrazier.com
Quote on Writing-Audre Lorde. http://www.alvaradofrazier.com

In my blog bio, I say something similar about the type of fiction I write for young adults and adults.

In my youth, violence, gangs, and drugs surrounded my neighborhood. During my adult career in juvenile justice and corrections, the same issues were part of my daily life, but I was on the other side.

When you live with violence, poverty, racism, fear, or trauma you can develop some coping mechanisms like acting out, repression and denial.

For many women, one of the coping strategies is silence. But when we stuff our thoughts, push the words down, stifle our voice in fear, we sometimes think we’re okay.

But we’re not.

Our feelings go somewhere deep into our muscles, into our blood, and into our soul, where we bury the pain under a facade of everything is fine, “don’t you see the smile on my face?”

That’s why I write. I tired of stuffing thoughts and reactions down into the corners of myself.

I tired of seeing others do the same thing, over and over again until their throat got so thick with unsaid words they would get sick, or develop masks, or self-medicate.

Write down your words, somewhere, anywhere. Let your pen flow with the unsaid things in your heart. Write through the fear, the terror, the uncomfortableness of the pain until you can’t breathe anymore, or the tears come and then write some more.

You will get to the other side.

That’s why I write.

Why do you write? When you leave a comment, please leave the name of your website so you can share your stories.

Thank you and enter September with an adventurous spirit.

Books, Chingonas, Inspiration, poetry, Strong Women, Writing

Michele Serros- Author, Poet, Friend

Michele Serros, Mrs. Antonio Magaña, author, poet, friend.
Michele Serros, Mrs. Antonio Magaña, author, poet, friend.

 

My friend died two days ago.

Cancer.

I knew she had it for several months.

Pinche cancer.

I really thought she’d survive.

Damn it.

She married the love of her life, a short three years ago. He was by her side when she left this world.

My heart holds a special spot for Michele Serros, or as she liked to hear, “Mrs. Antonio Magaña.”

A confusion of feelings surround death.

Why? Why her? Why didn’t prayers work?

I see her smile, lively eyes, texts at odd hours,

her words expressing identity, small towns, and individuality

a literary landmark

stories like my life and unlike my life

resonate with scenes only she could paint

Why?

She found love, at a vegan restaurant,

with a Berkeley chicano, a mexican, from her home town,

from her own high school, the same alma mater, so long ago

ecstatic with love, a new family

sharing her life.

That’s the way she was, loving, giving, living

daring to say the unsaid,

with wit and unique style,

inspired to write by Judy Blume.

A Medium Brown girl,

A Taco Belle,

Mucha Michele,

who wrote outside of ‘barrios, borders, and bodegas,’

defining herself and the question of identity

to a mess of other men and women

boys and girls

high schoolers to old schoolers

on what is mexicano, chicano, americano.

A writer of handwritten notes,

handcrafted cards of

glitter and glue,

inspired,

memorable,

unique,

like her.

 

Michele was the first writer I knew, personally, and from my home town. I attended her readings back in the late 90’s. Her writing inspired me to think that I could be a writer. When I first met her, we clicked. She had that kind of personality-she clicked with everyone.

A giver of advice, affection, and friendship, Michele was a humble person who stayed grounded and a strong woman who was soft on the outside, tough on the inside. A chingona.

She was a long distance member of the writing group to which I belong, sometimes sending us articles to review.

I often felt inadequate, a published author asking me for feedback? But that was the way she was, as real as real can get.

An excerpt from her book, “Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard,” struck me, long ago. Her mother died, from cancer, and Michele wrote the obituary. When she described her mother as an artist, someone questioned it, “it isn’t like she sold anything.”

Definitions always played a big part of my life: a true Mexican versus a fake Mexican…a true artist versus a wannabe. Nonetheless, my mama would have been crushed knowing she left this earth not remembered as an artist. It was her fear and lack of confidence that kept her art stuck on an easel, hidden away in the corner of our family’s garage…it was her death that gave me the courage to finally share some of my own poems and stories. The purpose? to make someone happy, inspired…I just couldn’t bear the thought of questioning what my own obituary would say. 1994

There is no question that Michele was an artist, who made millions of readers happy, who inspired thousands of Latinas, Latinos, and others who rarely read anything that resonated with their lives. Her books are here.

She had been working on a new novel, An Unmarried Mexican, a title she borrowed from one of her favorite books and movie, An Unmarried Woman.

As you could imagine, medical expenses soared, especially for a self employed person. Give Forward has a campaign to assist Michele’s family. The fund is halfway to its goal.

To read more about this wonderful person, see “An Unexpected Heirloom,” at Huffington Post and this article in the Los Angeles Times.

Rest in love, Michele.

Siempre.