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la tolteca Promoting the Advancement of a World Without Borders and Censorship

AĹ„o Cuatro Volumen Tres Fall 2014

se habla espaĂąol essays

by Sandra Cisneros, Edith Grossman, Indran Amirthanayagam and others.


Jessica Helen Lopez and Mayra Santos Febres

new poetry and more

the se habla e 2

español issue Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA


la tolteca

Ańo Cuatro Volumen Tres Fall 2014

Promoting the Advancement of a World Without Borders and Censorship Publisher & Editor-in-chief Ana Castillo

Managing Editor & Director of Design Ignatius Valentine Aloysius

Marcelo Castillo, Patricia Crisafulli La Tolteca Staff Copyedit/Proofreading Brenda Romero, Patricia Crisafulli,

Emilia Garcia

Contributors [Photography]

Claudia Hernández, Patricia Quintana, Ignatius Valentine Aloysius Front Cover photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA

La Tolteca ‘Zine is published twice a year in spring and fall. L/T ‘Zine is not responsible for the authenticity of contributors’ content. All contributors are solely responsible for their submissions. SUBMISSIONS POLICY: All Ana Castillo workshopistas are invited to submit original, unpublished work in any genre or media for consideration: Only Microsoft Word formatted files will be accepted. PDFs and e-books are not accepted. Our Winter 2015 theme is Healing La Tolteca ‘Zine welcomes new books to review: P.O. Box 1405, Anthony, NM 88021


contents the chapbook is back PUBLISHER'S NOTE . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

interview: jessica helen lopez BY MARCELO CASTILLO . . . . . . . . 10

poesia [poetry]

FRONTISPIECE PHOTO . . . . . . . 16



CLAUDIA HERNANDEZ . . . . . . . 30

MILAGROS TERÁN . . . . . . . . . . 32

FRONTISPIECE PHOTO . . . . . . . 34

VIVA FLORES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36


NANCY AÍDÉ GONZÁLEZ . . . . . . 39

workshopistas' palette : . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

ensayos [essays]

FRONTISPIECE PHOTO . . . . . . . 46

EDITH GROSSMAN . . . . . . . . . . 48

SANDRA CISNEROS . . . . . . . . . 50

LOURDES VÁZQUEZ . . . . . . . . . 52


MILAGROS TERAN . . . . . . . . . . 58


interview: mayra santos febres

BY DANIEL TORRES . . . . . . . . . 62

fall read recommendations . . 66 announcements . . . . . . . . . . . . 68




the chapbook is back The title here has a catchy assonance, perhaps, but I don’t believe the chapbook ever lost its popularity. The chapbook is a slender volume in limited edition and most often, produced with great care by the author and perhaps, a few ardent supporters. For hundreds of years the form has brought to poetry aficionados the earnest efforts of independent writers and thinkers. Today, in times of digitalization of all things composed it remains vibrant, respected and a practical way for new poets to get their words out. The chapbook has also been a project for independent publishers. In modern times, we are grateful to the chapbook’s contribution to promoting new poets and non-commercial works by established writers and artists. It is often a calling card. The poet passes on her pamphlet or bound book as if to say, “This is what I do.” Along this vein, La Tolteca ‘Zine received several such samples by current U.S. Latina poets. We round up here these works, some chapbooks and others are with small presses in the spirit of the ‘Zine. While ‘Zines have given way to the ethereal, perhaps losing what is thought of by many as precious—the ability to hold literature in one’s hands—we have the advantage of getting the word out to many more than the run of copies of such works. In time, the poet’s hope is to have a second run or a bigger press take on her words. Perhaps, like in the case of one of Sandra María Esteves’ poem reprinted in this issue, it may transform into another medium, performance or theatre. (In my own case, my chapbook of erotic poems—a run of 200 copies—printed in 1979 were mounted and performed in NYC in 1982 as part of an arts festival.) A poet never knows where or how far the chapbook will carry her verses. Jessica Helen López, who is interviewed here discussing her chapbook cunt.bomb was named poet laureate of Albuquerque this year. Another poet named poet laureate of her city, in this case, San Antonio is Laurie Ann Guerrero. Her

collection A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying was published by the University of Notre Dame Press. Like many newly established Latin@ poets and writers Guerrero walks in the path made clear by the previous generation. The poet and professor, Francisco X. Alarcón serving as judge of the selection committee that accepted Guerrero’s collection for publication, contributed an introduction and the book’s first poem includes a quote from the late Gloria Anzaldúa. Ire’ne Lara Silva is active in the Latina arts community of her native Texas and is rapidly showing herself prolific in poetry and prose. She is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, ani’mal and INDIGENA. Silva’s collection of stories, Flesh to Bone won the Premio Aztlán Award, established by the New Mexican Chicano writer, Rudolfo Anaya. There is much to be said when a poet and storyteller is recognized by a legendary forerunner but above all, perhaps, is the gratitude the younger poet feels in her heart. M. Miranda Maloney, residing in El Paso, Texas, founder of Mouthfeel Press and publisher of Silva’s chapbook is also a poet. Her new chapbook , The Lost Letters of Mileva was produced by Estepario Productions in Chicago. (The inclusion of a physical address makes me want to walk down and check them out some time.) We could include dozens of similar modest productions from poets all over the world. Most poetry lovers have such personally autographed editions on their bookshelves. Who are these talented beings who study and try their hand at lyrical and not-so-lyrical compositions? We have the essays here of two who started out with chapbooks. One is a native of Nicaragua, Milagros Terán. We also reprint two of her poems here from her bilingual collection, Las luces en la sien (The Lights at My Temple). The other short essay is a poet whose name is familiar to anyone acquainted with Chicana culture, Sandra Cisneros. They both address their kinship with Spanish and English. Alejandra Ibarra, Claudia Rodriguez and Iris de Anda all reside in Los Angeles and attended a spiritual memoir writing workshop with me in that city last May. They, like the others discussed here are dedicated to all that is poetry and active Continued on next page

Photos: ©2014 Patricia Quintana, USA


the chapbook is back editorial contd. in its promotion in their own communities. Rodriguez’ forthcoming collection, Everybody’s Bread will be released by Korima Press. On their website the logo of the press is a graphic of a nopal and it is explained that the press is committed both to Chicano and Chicana literary and queer art in the “Rarámuri” tradition. The Rarámuri are the people we know as the Tarahumara of present Northwestern Mexico. They are famous for their long distance running. In this way, we conclude, Korima Press intends to take the message far and wide. On her website, Iris de Anda calls the sharing of her “first self published book, CODESWITCH: FIRES FROM MI CORAZóN,” a blessing. Often, although not always, for Latinas, they see poetry has channeled into their lives in the way we might view a religious experience. More than one poet throughout the ages has expressed poetry as having saved her or his life from what was imagined an otherwise potentially tragic end. Poetry saves the poet and it is hoped by the poet, that in turn, her verses may somehow do the same for her readers. De Anda’s collection is divided into four “chambers: rage, love, revolution and evolution.” Santa Perversa and Other Erotic Poems by Alejandra Ibarra is the title of a chapbook and has evolved to a kind of persona or alter ego of the poet. We see her pictured on her website in red veils like a Hindu goddess, offering sensual prayers and blessings to Mexican school children. Like the poet Viva Flores whose poems are also included in this issue, Alejandra Ibarra is a pen name while the poet’s birth name is not left entirely out of print. Many poets also take to the stage with other names. Today poets not only like theatrics as well as to be in front of a camera but also to take command from behind the camera. In her chapbook, Ibarra, just as Jessica Helen López Ibarra has claimed ‘cunt,’ so does Ibarra/Prado/Santa Perversa. In Ibarra’s case, not as an explosive confrontation against censoring attempts at women claiming their body but to express desire. In her poem, “I place my cunt,” Ibarra writes, “I place my cunt against your chin/ moving upward/brushing your lips.” There you have it. Latina poets of the 21st century have arrived, cunts and all.

AnaCastil o

Editor-in-chief and Publisher


Photo: ©2014 Patricia Quintana, USA


interview: jessica helen BY MARCELO CASTILLO

"I was invited to Japan to perform at the Indian Embassy for a ben for children who were orphaned by the earthquakes in Kyoto."


Jessica Helen López is a nationally recognized award winning slam poet. She holds the title of 2012 and 2014 Women of the World (WOWps) City of ABQ Champion. Cunt.Bomb: A Chapbook (Swimming With Elephants Publications) is López’ second collection of poetry. She is the founder of La Palabra—The Word, a Woman collective created for and by women and gender-identified women. López’ Ted Talk was entitled, ‘Spoken Word Poetry that Tells HERstory’. This year the poet was named the City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate. Recently, staff contributor Marcelo Castillo conducted the following interview with the poet who now makes her home in ‘Burque. The following is their email exchange: La Tolteca: What is your latest book? Jessica Helen López: My latest publication is the chapbook, Cunt.Bomb. published by Swimming With Elephants Publications. It was published in February 2014. The collection includes ten poems and a foreword that I wrote regarding the title (and title poem) of the book. I almost didn't include the foreword but I felt like I had something to say (in defense/support) about the chosen title of the book. L/T: How did you hook up with Swimming With Elephants?


JSL: SWEP is founded by my homegirl, Katrina Guarascio. I have known Kat for almost ten years. We met at a poetry reading in Albuquerque. At the time, it was only my fifth or sixth reading. Something like that. She came up to me afterwards and told me she liked my poetry. Well, as you can imagine, I loved hearing that! L/T: What was the inspiration for Cunt.Bomb.? Fast forward. Katrina and I collaborate on a writer's collective that I founded in 2011, La Palabra - The Word is a Woman. We often co-facilitate workshops, we have collaborated on a past Palabra publication (an anthology of work by women) and we travel together often to attend poetry festivals, etc. (And yes, we share summer-patio-beers when we can. Nothing quite like a platica with a good friend.) Back in January of 2014, Katrina asked me if I was interested in publishing a book with SWEP. I had a (second) full-length manuscript that just had made it through several rounds in a book contest held by a much-touted indy press. (I received Honorable Mention.) I figured I would work a bit more on the manuscript and then pitch it elsewhere. So when Kat asked to publish my work I figured that a chapbook would be perfect. Cunt.Bomb. consists of only 10 poems. I have since refined and revised my manuscript. In the meanwhile, I have this gorgeous little black and white print book of 10 ‘dangerous poems’ that I am able to share with readers.


nefit reading that provided aid


I absolutely adore the poem, "Do Not Let This Universe Regret You" by Marty McConnell. The poem is a radical poem about self-love and invokes the topography of the female body. It honors the sacredness of the ability of the female body to bleed, birth (or to not) and also promotes empowerment and pride in the female form. The poem uses the word cunt--once. An educational program director that I worked for at the time absolutely did NOT want me to share this poem with the group of young ladies I was working with. The group was designed to be a safe space for creative expression for teen girls. To me safe means also safe from censorship. It should be noted that the coordinator, Contd. on next page


interview: jessica helen BY MARCELO CASTILLO (continued)


my ex-employer, is male. I feel he was very out of touch with what teenage girls experienced in their day-to-day lives, how they talk, dress, and how they express their very real concerns and issues. Also, he wasn't "on the ground," so to speak. It was/is the poet(s) who works individually and collectively with young writers, and in turn, hear their stories, challenges, successes, traumas and triumphs. I wished my supervisor had really read McConnell's poem. Instead he immediately dismissed, discredited and silenced the poem, therefore silencing the young women's voices too. He was appalled by the poem because it utilized a word that is demonized, utilized to capitulate the female sex, and is considered vulgar by popular opinion. But it wasn't always so. It certainly wasn't so in the context of McConnell's poem. For some time now, feminists and forward thinking writers (Erica Jong, Igna Muscio, Rachel McKibbens, John Updike, Sandra Cisneros, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, etc.) have worked to reclaim the cunt in order to reverse the negative connotation. They have created a discourse that challenges the status quo, and therefore challenges patriarchy, misogyny, institutionalized sexism, rape culture, sexuality, orientation AND the politics of language. The poem Cunt.Bomb. was my eventual response. I wrote it several months later and it sat in the digital bookshelf of my laptop for some time. I have ruminated over this poem often. I have been asked to read it aloud in various venues and then discuss its impetus. Every time that I speak on or write about it I learn more about myself. I clarify, reiterate, resolve, learn how to defend my right and my choice in writing about the cunt.


L/T: Tell us more about your accomplishments as a spoken word performer/artist. JHL: I have been a slam poet since late 2005. It absolutely changed the direction of my life. I was a single mom at the time and I was "slanging" eggs at a local diner. I had just decided to return to college. I wanted a better life for my daughter and I knew that it was not something I could provide by waiting tables. At that time, I had been in the service business for almost ten years. I needed a change. That change came with my involvement in the slam poetry community of Albuquerque. The slam community was not only inviting, friendly and hospitable but also accessible, culturally-charged, empowering, diverse, community-minded and all about the power of grassroots and elevated consciousness. I felt alive! I began to religiously attend local slams (The Blue Dragon, Poetry and Beer at The Distillery, MAS Poetry at RB Winning Coffee Shop -- too many to name!). Our city was/is vibrant with poetry and the intersection of literary and performance arts of all kinds. To my happy surprise, three months into slamming I made the city team and was able to collaborate with a team of five seasoned slam poets. We collaboratively wrote together that entire summer and practiced at various theater venues. In August 2005, I attended my FIRST National Poetry Slam Competition. We performed and competed with other 60 other teams from across the country. Oh, the poetry! I was inundated with the richness of language and the tactile imagery of the ephemeral spoken word. Since then I have been a consistent competitive slam poet. I have made (you must compete locally to secure a spot) five teams



and therefore competed in five national competitions. Cities across the country must "bid" to be a host city so, in that way,’ nationals’ is hosted in a different state every summer. It is because of slam poetry that I have been able to travel the country extensively. I have also competed in national "indy" tournaments. I have won the title of Women of the World ABQ twice and competed at the national WOWps competition. I was invited to Japan to perform at the Indian Embassy for a benefit reading that provided aid for children who were orphaned by the earthquakes in Kyoto. Also, I am happy to announce that Albuquerque submitted a bid to Poetry Slam Inc. (PSI) to host the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam National competition and was awarded the privilege of host city. I am on the core facilitator crew of (amazing) mujeres who will coordinate this very large event. Over seventy women will travel to our city to compete for the title of WOWps 2015 Champion. L/T: You also teach at UNM. How is that for you? JHL: I am currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico for the Chicana Studies Program. I teach a writing workshop class called Borderlands Poetics. We read authors like Corky Gonzalez, Levi Romero, Lalo Delgado, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Denice Frohman, (WOWps 2013 Champion), Leslie Marmon Silko, Dino Foxx, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano and more. We explore the idea of in-betweeness, identity and the internal and external geography of borders. We write about being mestizas, pochas, and feministas. We write about our histories, our familial/cultural stories, and share our oral traditions by putting them into poetic text. We

honor our cultural wisdom and knowledge handed down to us from our elders. Teaching for the CCS Program at UNM has been absolutely liberating, enlightening AND spiritual, in the sense that the program consists of staff and faculty who genuinely support one another. Our main offices on campus is know as La Casita. Red, yellow, pink roses bloom in our "front yard." The Chicana/o Studies program has existed for about 40 years at UNM. The Department Head Dr. Irene Vásquez has unified efforts to move to departmentalization. This means that, if approved, CCS will develop a comprehensive graduate studies program. Keep your fingers crossed and your Virgen candles lit. L/T: What exactly is La Palabra-The Word? JHL: La Palabra -The Word is a Woman :) I wrote a Creation Story for our website. The Creation Story is also the foreword of our first La Palabra anthology we released last year. We are working on our second anthology to be published in August. I developed a mission statement that is conducive to writers who are also mothers. That being said, we are a collective of women and gender-identified women who meet regularly (in my kitchen and various other venues) to write with one another, engage in the arts (we did an art journaling class recently taught by a California-based painter who traveled to ABQ to work with us) and to support each other's endeavors. Here is the link: And here is the La Palabra group as defined on our Facebook Group Community Page: Founded by Jessica Helen Lopez, La Palabra: The 1313

interview: jessica helen BY MARCELO CASTILLO (continued)


Word is a Woman is a writer’s collective that celebrates femininity and gender-identified womanhood in the context of its beauty and perceived flaws, functionality and health, sex-positivity and sexual/gender identity. Through the lens of the written word, photography, and performance, the collective attempts to raise awareness as it explores the female creative principal, various creation myths, and the role and perception of woman in society. This is an OPEN group so please post relevant links, poems/artwork and announcements here. Invite friends and community members that may be interested. Women, Men, Straight, Queer, Poly, Trans-folks, White, Brown, Black, Red and Rainbow-colored ALL WELCOME! Join us for this online-communal adventure. Por favor y ¡gracias! Some sites of López’ work: weekly_poem_cunt.bomb, thebakerypoetry. com<>, and<>..

Live Performance - watch?v=lA2iMNdqCGQ Live Performance - watch?v=s_Js2kYuLg0 La Palabra - The Word is a Woman website - http:// More on Cunt.Bomb -

TedxTalk ABQ link - watch?v=l1QGpJL2zXQ Write Bloody Book Contest Finalist - http://www. Morning Brew Television Interview/Reading -


Photo: ©2014 Patricia Quintana, USA





Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA




¿Qué hacer de nuevo con los poemas abandonados? Ya están adoloridos en el archivo de la cuenta de repuesto, su contraseña casi olvidada. ¿Es hora de rescatarlos? Y ¿quién lo hará? ¿Los hijos? ¿Yo, durante mi último estertor? ¿Un investigador de poesía de migración en busca de ritmos que nadie recuerda y están perdidos? La fantasía de los escritores es ser descubiertos algún día años después de la edición del número final de la revista que rechazaba sus envíos al ritmo de aquel reloj de Big Ben. Curiosa la imagen. El Imperio Británico llegó



No voy al Mercado de Musa esta mañana. Ya no seguiré la rutina, ni iré a la librería de mi memoria donde consulto los poemas que me formaron y me hicieron el camino. No puedo regresar y he llegado al borde del Mar. Gracias por acompañarme hasta aquí. No te preocupes. Estoy bien vestido para el viaje; no tengo puesto nada de sobra. Abrázame, ah, Mar.


I have everything to lose, a son and daughter, a mother, a lover, a friend, sister, job, country, language, dog. If I can keep dropping articles, show rhetorical efficiency, declare that clouds will be seeded and rain fall again on the plains, that writing will accompany me always, even when love at hand needs to be fed, cared for like a child, willing to play his games, or a sleepy companion, come back from work, looking forward to a cup of tea or a drink; if I can just wait for your call from the evening out with young friends, to pick you up at the metro and not feel tired, or worried about failing sight, the three thousand poems drafted on an aging laptop that call for revision one day or year before passing away.

Indran Amirthanayagam ©2014 USA

_____________ Indran Amirthanayagam has published nine books, including the Paterson Prize-winning The Elephants of Reckoning.  


Photos: ©2014 Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, USA


(for you) ~In memory of Ana

I come from the river of you flowing thru the landscape of my being, the waterfall of your name cascading thru the crevices of my soul, the ripples of your cosmic song reverberating beats thru my body, the magical mist of your essence becoming the million moments of memory. I am the swirling stream navigating the map of your hands, the crushing current out of control crashing against stone, the impatient rush roaring, splashing, the soft descent slipping and sliding through the cool undertow of vibrating sea life swimming around and into your universe of light. I am sweet water born in your ravine of rain, the consummation of thundercloud in the electric flash flood carrying the life force of the divine dream of your love. I am floating. I am drowning. I am soaring. I am diving. I am the plunging reflection drunk from the libation of your eyes, healed in the baño of your spirit, formed in the undulation of your dancing brush like sea grass suspended in waves wandering wild in the depths.

Sandra María Esteves ©2014 USA



(para ti) ~En memoria de Ana

Yo vengo del río tuyo abundante a través del embellecimiento de mi ser, la cascada de tu nombre desemboscada por las aberturas de mi alma, las ondas de tú canción cósmica reverberando golpes por mi cuerpo, la mágica neblina de tú esencia convirtiéndose en millones momentos de memoria. Soy el torbellino del torrente navegando por el mapa de tus manos, la corriente trastornada fuera de control estrellándose contra las rocas, la prisa impaciente rugiendo, chapoteando, el suave descenso escapándose, deslizándose, por la resaca refrescante de la vida del mar vibrante nadando alrededor y hacia el interior de la claridad de tú universo. Yo soy agua dulce nacida en tú barrancal de lluvia, la perfección completa de tormenta acompañada de nubes en el relámpago eléctrico del diluvio cargando la energía de la vida del divino sueño de tú amor. Estoy flotando. Me estoy ahogando. Estoy elevándome. Soy sumergible. Yo soy la reflexión de la sumersión embriagada por la libación de tus ojos, sanada en el baño de tú espíritu, formada en la undulación de tú pincel bailador como la grama del mar detenido en las olas extraviada salvajemente en la profundidad. Sandra María Esteves, traducción por Sery Colón

‘Tears for You” was produced by City Lore as a performance piece in "White Wing Brushes the Building" for which it was translated into Spanish by Sery Colón. The poem appeared in Breaking Ground Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers In New York 1980-2012, Ed. by Myrna Nieves, Editorial Campana, 2012.

Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA



for Magdalena Gómez On the Amtrak to Springfield in June, those wildflowers that grow where no one can see them blossoming in all their fiery splendor, for whom does their beauty persist? Their brilliant oranges like songs to the sun on hills that hide off the side of the road or near riverbanks where leisure boats reside in their affluent docks— do these earthly delights grow for them? Clusters of daisies, day lilies, purple and pink azaleas sprout from cracks between rock slabs thrust from the earth in nature’s casual abundance. Primroses, sundrops, sweet peppers and hemlocks, dogwoods, wintergreens, shinleaf and prince’s pines, indian pipe, beechdrops, mayflowers and pinksters, luscious greenery that clothes the majesty of summer in offerings to cloud spirits on the alter of spring. By water towers, railroad tracks, grain silos and farmlands, within dense forests, open fields, tennis courts and backyards, under billboards, bridges, fences, and power lines near shopping malls, family homes, lumber yards and parking lots, mountain laurels, labradors, huckleberry and calico, cassandra, rosemary, cranberries and checkerberries. Along churches, shipping ports, dance halls and graffiti walls, against saw mills, wishing wells, station houses and city parks, in the company of willows, woodlands, wetlands and truck stops, cows grazing and horses romping swamp candles, lambkills, loosestrife and blueweeds creeping and fringed, tufted and narrow-­‐leaved, greenness thrives from every space of ground, in silver, olive, jade and emerald, a wealth of weeds and vines in between dancing twin butterflies.


Lavenders and chickweeds, mosses and mushrooms, fungus and flora finding their way, following their secret calendars in perfectly timed feasts, spontaneous branches reaching upwards and outwards, in a dance and communion of life. Growing and birthing in cycles of returning, unable to confine the fullness of their being with their nesting and hoarding, their pollinating and harvesting, home to bird families, squirrels, insects and amphibians, tender roots peeking out from the mortar crevices of bricks in defiance that refuses to follow regulations and rules of containment. Something happens in my eyes, and beyond seeing, in the midst of these intertwining forms, leafy, random and carefree in their fractal infinities. Some part of my soul is refreshed, renewed like the moist earth after the rain. All this beauty, this buffet of earth greening, so precious, these gifts, here for me, for each of us— and my spirit settles as I breathe and know that we are alive.

©2009 Sandra María Esteves USA New & Selected Poems

Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA



Nana Buruku, dancing heart, beacon spinning trails, gypsy queen, alone and full of light, traveling clock for migrating flocks, inspiring creatures to poems and howls on hills between concrete and bark. Madamita, meandering mothership, mother of all mothers, mother of the waters, of ships and islands, of rivers and waterfalls, staring, confronting, warning of floods! Neptune’s captive wife delivering windstorms, squalling waves and whirlpools claiming the restless sea in conflicting undercurrents and riptides. When you eclipse you hang like dead rock, tired, old, a corpse, reminding us how powerless we are in the eternity of your presence, how small we are

with our greedy wars and unforgiving thoughts, how sad and impotent we’ve become beneath your heavenly majesty, floating free, suspended in orbits beyond reach. Even on your calm days you still pull and sway, create maps on the walls of seashells. All life, all leaf and embryo, spiral and curve, reflect your dance through cosmic space. Elder sister who cradles us in the rocking curve of your crescent bow. Who holds and comforts us, to coax us back to life. Who feeds us from the ancient wisdom well and reveals the healing secrets of trees. Seamstress stitching a story quilt to protect us from the cold unknown. High priestess, silver goddess bewitching multitudes behind your glowing mask and starry crown; mystical guide who gifts us with sight thru darkness, luminescence kindled in the hearts of opals and crystals, mimicked in the clothing of iridescent fish, rushing to and running from the Sun, needing to be, to love, to shine;

SANDRA MARIA ESTEVES 26 Photos: ©2014 Patricia Quintana, USA

rolling around sobbing and joking, flirting and withdrawing, with unpredictable mood swings, then disappearing. Daughter of Earth, Jupiter’s niece, cousin to Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, raucous and wild royal princess drunk with life, laughing with lovers in lustful tides. You flow by our window on your magic carpet, sprinkle moon dust over our beds, then run away at dawn. You chant nebulous incantations into the oceans of our dreams as clouds embrace your face. You like to tease. Play hide-­and-­seek, stalking. “Follow me!” you challenge us in your ethereal dialect, daring us to fly. Though chained to earth, we rise to touch the sky.

©2011 Sandra María Esteves USA New & Selected Poems



for Occupy Wall Street

You are more than flesh and bone, more than circulating protons and neurons, more

ruin the rainforests, hydrofracking the water to drain the global life force

than a mass of ganglia and corpuscles rushing through your trembling heart on your urgent mission

for profit and gain. There is a part of you that is greater, that cannot be seen, touched,

to join the expressway of restless multitudes on subways

bought or sold, collected by any bank or sales company. The essence of you

in the daily crunch to sit behind desks, push buttons,

cannot be owned or enslaved. Your eternal spirit, fragile and precious, is a gift

work copy machines for the landlord, electric company,

concealed within you, the real treasure of you that blossoms and wilts

banks and latest fashions. You are more than that heap of bills to be paid, more

from the darkness of self, that connects one to another like a grain of sand

than your collection of lifeless objects, european furniture, flat-­screen tv, cell phone and laptop, more

in the vast ocean of being or a star in the constellations of galaxies adrift in cosmic space.

than your house of books on endless shelves waiting to be embraced.

©2011 Sandra María Esteves, New & Selected Poems

You are much more than the greedy war machines that plow the earth,

_____________ Sandra María Esteves is a preeminent voice of the Nuyorican poetry movement. Her most recent recorded cd publication is DivaNations, an a cappella spoken-word audio cd (self-published), 2010.


29 Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA


Has venido a mi tierra, al Lago de Santiago Atitlán, para ver una puesta de sol que sÓlo se puede vislumbrar entre el Volcán San Pedro y el Volcán Tolimán. A tu llegar, los guías te arrean a la presencia del infame Santo Maximón— todos claman tener en su hogar el verdadero Santo Maximón: Rilaj Mam—Nuestro Abuelo ¿Le llevarás su tabaco y su ron? Has venido a mi tierra a vagar por sus senderos enlodados, desgastados, pero aún no has visto lo que tienes que ver/ la corriente del lodo no ha velado los catorce desplomados que esa tarde protestaron. Hoy, se contempla un sol sonrojado, escondido tras volcanes callados.


Allí se encuentra arrinconada en la esquina del Edén/ al noroeste del muro donde se engendra y palpita con fulgor la lila flor de bugambilia. Desde su caída, ningún aire ha podido circular en su interior. Ninguna vid de hojas palmeadas, ninguna campanilla rojo china se ha querido enredar en sus barandas serpentinas. Todos le huyen— nadie quiere encerrarse e inhalar el encanto verde-azul del frondoso plumaje que allí un día existió.

CLAUDIA HERNÁNDEZ _____________ Claudia D. Hernández is a photographer, poet, translator, and a bilingual educator. She is the founder of Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color Project.


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA



Velo Ajeno

Es morir en vida, decía Tía Zoila cada vez que se le aparecía un muerto degollado en su toma. Quien sabe con quien se metió. Cantó su último canto— embolado, solo, y enamorado. LUNA AZUL—


Constante Lucha

Derrámate como flor inquieta cada noche Luna aterciopelada Desnuda tu perfil en lo gris del viento Que tu canto no se desvanezca en el albor de tu candor NOSOTROS FUIMOS—


Azul Recuerdo

Como bala derrochada estalla el duende que seduce Al tierno pétalo del árbol Dejando leños sin consuelo, desnudo olor de invierno. Claudia Hernandez ©2014 USA




Vení corriendo amigas! Llegá antes que la puesta del sol a tirar a last res piedras con los ojos cerrados para lograr deseos. Siéntate en la peña y ve como se arrojan los muchachos al romper de las olas. Dejá que se te pringue el vestido de sal y que tus pies se sangren en las rocas para ver el dibujo que se forma en la arena. Seguile el vuelo solitario a la gaviota que alcanza a aquellos dos pelicanos que perturban la imagen. Vení corriendo amiga! Decile adiós al



Come quickly, my friend! Get here before the sun goes down so we can make a wish upon three stones we throw with our eyes closed. Perch upon the cliff to watch how boys jump as the waves break. Let saltwater stain your dress and let your feet drip blood from rocks, painting a picture in the sand. Listen to the stones whisper as they fall into the ocean. Follow the solitary flight of the seagull until he reaches those two pelicans that disrupt the image. Come quickly, my friend! Say goodbye to the sun.


Poneloya Beach, León, Nicaragua.


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA


Estoy de pie. Tengo algunos metros cuadrados para ensayar los retornos. Las luces en la sien, desfigurado el rostro de los insominios. ¿Hacia dónde orientar mi brújala? Las luces en la sien. Desfigurado el rostro los intentos, el tiempo.


I am standing upright. Within these few square Meters. I pace back and forth. Lights at my temple, the distorted face of an insomniac. In which direction should my compass point? Lights at my temple. A distorted face. Attempts, time.

Poems from Las luces en la sien (The Lights at My Temple) by Milagros Terán. (Leteo Ediciones ©2013) Translations to English by Fiona Griffen


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA

' stas

palette :


Ya no me reconocerías, querido. Mis ojitos árabes que amabas tanto con tiempo han cambiado, y madurado. Tú que primero quebraste candados en mi mente y en mi cuerpo dañado tú, alas de ave; que raroque ahora me encuentre encadenada a la guía de tus manos. No te olvido, sÓlo guardo. SÓlo guardo. Con tus brazos tiernos me montabas con calma me llevabas caminando por tu rancho en tu silencio me enseñaste tu tierra sagrada, las cruces enterradas en tu cuerpo en tu casa. Tu piella recorría como camino abierto, tu espalda dulce carretera,

36 36

me llevaba a pueblos nuevos. “No me ames”, me decías. “No me ames, Palomita”. Y yo, potranca blanca recorría carreteras en tu cuerpo sino por solo otro día.


Las Diosas viven en casas de cartón; papeles desechados. Toman el agua que vive en los charcos, caminan solas por calles oscuras sin nombre marcado.

no las escucha nadie.

Las Diosas celebran debajo de las revoluciones. De periódicos cosen vestidos y hacen fiestas en los callejones, construyen moños de todos los colores usando bolsas de plástico y cordones.

Esperan afuera de salones de baile por jovencitas encomendadas a ellas por humildes madrecitas.

Cuidan de niñas que viven sin dulces realidades, venden dulces en galaxias siderales puentes de plomo separan dos lenguajes y unen vicios comunales. Cuidan mujeres que venden su piel en la calle, cuerpos sagrados disfraces. Corren detrás de carros gritan, pero como todo lo hacen cantando

Las Diosas no duermen.

Las Diosas viven en casas de cartón, cajas de refri con palabras escurridas , son sencillasno existen sentadas en sillas Divinas, o altares con fruta y cosechas de milpas. Dicen, “Dáselo a las vivas”.

Workshopista Silver City, New Mexico 2013. Viva Flores is a poet and performer. She writes a column for Black Girl Dangerous, a QPOC blog. http://www.blackgirldangerous. org/about-bgd/ 37 37

iris de anda LA SALA DEL SUSPIRO

estamos en la orilla del mundo respirando profundo el tiempo sin jaula la melancolia llena de mar mi esperanza en el atardecer desnuda sin duda la búsqueda de tu ser encuentro divino cúspido de dolor tinta de turquesa el rostro de nosotros fuego ardiente rústico transparente traspasando lágrimas de miel tomando refugio en el ayer de mis amores no hay dominio propio las reglas se olvidan tu sudor me recuerda a campos de cafe la lluvia nos permite gritar hasta elevar nuestro espíritu danzando te extraño como nunca como siempre


Dile que te regrese a mí ya no soporto este llanto si tu amor es sincero te espero con mi corazon estillado en la noche salgo bajo la luna le pido que quite este momento sea sólo un rato que mi alma vuelva a volar y mi corazón a brillar que mis ojos sonrían de nuevo ésta es mi plegaria al cielo que nos llene de consuelo mujeres con sentimientos de fuego pido fuerza para entenderlo que mis lágrimas se conviertan en petalos dame tu mano te dare mi amistad mujer guerrera tu intuición es tu verdad respira con profundidad recuerda que el mar se lleva todas las tristezas las convierte en olas de cristal y tu regresaras como nueva crea tu altar en un lugar sin barreras las velas son la luz de las quien recuerdan esta vida es un sueño que pronto se olvida disfruta cada momento cada respiro cada encuentro

Iris de Anda (Workshopista, L.A. 2014) is a poet, performer, political activist and works in the healing arts. You may order her book Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazón on her website: 38 38

nancy aidé gonzález


Somos las mujeres del maíz we are the women that walk among the mazes of corn, crisp green leaves moving swaying like arms embracing.

Somos las mujeres del maíz, we watch the pollen swirl as the whispers of the ancients echo in our ears.

We were shaped from maíz, the staff of life breathed into our lungs. Somos las mujeres del maíz, we touch the verdant stalks with our brown fingers, kiss the apex of the stem that ends in a silky tassel, our feet leave footprints on the fertile soil.

We harvest the mother grain, utilize its medicine to heal, we grind the kernels in our molcajetes, kneading the masa

to make tortillas, tamales, that nourish, sustain our families. Somos las mujeres del maíz, we are the women that return the corn to the earth at sunrise, cycle of life reborn.

"Tortilla Warrior" Seeds of Resistance Flor y Canto Issue no.1, 2013


nancy aidĂŠ gonzĂĄlez


She stands on the busy street corner selling delicate red and white roses hugged by baby's breath and luminous cellophane resting in a once discarded plastic bucket.

She understands the innate beauty of roses, their fragility their fragrant hope as they grow slowly from bud to emerge embracing change, as they flush into full bloom. She knows of piercing thorns and truth, of crossing barbed wire borders.

40 40

She understands the prickling sting, the aculeus of being an outsider.

She wears a large sweatshirt with USA emblazoned in block print across her chest

but she misses Mexico and the small town she was raised in.

A red and green rebozo hangs down upon her head shielding her from the fulgent sun, a gift from her mother, a reminder of home. People stride past her lost in their own thoughts hustling to work, on pressing errands, wandering down the tangle of the Los Angeles landscape.

She is La Virgen de las Calles, waiting with a heavy heart, full of yearning, dreaming of new horizons, a fountain of humble tenderness and abounding love.

La Virgen de las Calles comprehends the nature of roses, their vulnerability their need for nettle.


It will take time - this r e c o n s t r u c t i o n intervals of breaths cobblestones of faith surge of calm when we come to the recognition that I am you and you are me interwoven webs of linked networks of bones, flesh, soul

hearts and hands opened, we stand on blades of grass miles from somewhere above the stars - galaxies of promise collages of beauty scintillating p a t h w a y s beyond.

DoveTales, 2013

The time has come to occupy the light for peace to dwell in our hearts for all of us to unite - a patchwork peregrinate cultural differences put our fingers on disillusionment heal the chasms our humanity has not been lost


nancy aidĂŠ gonzĂĄlez


Smokestack emissions rise contaminating the atmosphere jackals roam looking for las hijas de MĂŠxico one more female homicide increased body count no one knows exactly how many 500 1,000 5,000 silent screams fill the night in a fallow cotton field from catacombs cries of women that have disappeared into the twilight give testimony to the smoldering moon in low tones they beseech that we not forget the transgressions of those that took their lives they request tangible justice while mocking rebuke for crimes overlooked for a price dust-covered case files piled on disarrayed desk the spider web binding them together mothers hold signs take to asphalt march, weep, light candles that illuminate twinge wounds pink splintered crosses stand as sentinels for the abomination mire entwines.

42 42


Riding in the ’63 Impala cruis’n el corazon del barrio passing by carnalitos y carnalitas running through sprinklers abuelas y abuelos on the porch talk’n about the old days cholos playing handball at the high school women in the beauty shop getting their hair did rollin’ past taquerias panaderias heladerias Bumping I’m Your Puppet La La Means I love You Thin Line Between Love and Hate Sabor A Mi through the streets of Califaztlan Chrome spoke wheels spin low and slow variations of pink paint layers glisten hard top covered in a garden of hand painted gypsy roses lean back upon velvet pink interior flip the switch hit the hydraulics dip and raise dip and raise hop hop hop off the ground in the intersection the journey has just begun let’s chase the immensity of the moment in estilo.

(Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul Anthology)


nancy aidé gonzález


Sun, summoning dawn truth will come with portraits of consciousness narratives of shelter

interlocked woven fabrics find equilibrium strings of transcendence in cosmos

beyond ancient knowledge alive planets orbit echoing memory of universe saffron stars manifest wholeness

nimbus treasures – rain jaguars roam spirit realm leave prints where

trees take root in tierra firme drawing humanity closer.

Nancy Aidé González (Workshopista, L.A., 2014) is a Chicana poet and educator. González is a contributing writer for La Bloga and belongs to the Sacramento based group, Escritores del Nuevo Sol.

44 44

Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA



In the following essays, each contributor answered the question: How did you come into the Spanish language? Each essay is a response to that question and is around fivehundred words. Furthermore, the essays aren't meant to be formal critiques but informal and personal statements by the authors.



Photo: Š2014 Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, USA


Spanish para siempre Spanish first entered my life when I chose it as the language I would study in high school. I was a reluctant student, bored and rebellious, during those twelve long years of public school, but one of my Spanish teachers—a very smart and humane believer in intellectual discipline—knew how to reach me, and I decided to follow in her professional footsteps. I majored in Spanish as an undergraduate and continued to study the language and its literature in graduate school. At first I thought I would specialize in Peninsular literature, the brilliant writers of the Golden Age in particular, especially Quevedo and Góngora, but when I encountered the poetry of Neruda and then Vallejo, I decided that the contemporary writing of Latin America was what I wanted and needed to study, and I eventually wrote my dissertation on Nicanor Parra, the Chilean antipoet. I followed a fairly predictable route, earning the requisite graduate degrees and teaching language and literature courses in the foreign language departments of several colleges and universities, until translation presented itself as a possible alternative to the routine of endless office hours and interminable faculty meetings. This occurred when Ronald Christ, then editor of the journal Review, asked me to translate a piece by Macedonio Fernández, the eccentric Argentine writer a generation or so older than Borges. It was called “La cirugia de

la extirpación psíquica.” When I told Ronald I was a critic, not a translator, he said something like: Call yourself whatever you want, Edie, just translate the damn story. I did, and translation began to occupy more and more of my time. I never lost my love of teaching, but it gave me great joy some years later to leave the other trappings of academic life and dedicate myself full-time to translating—I should say almost full-time, since I still moonlight as a teacher, offering one class a year in Columbia’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, and one a year at the 92nd Street Y’s Poetry Center in New York. Nowadays I teach literature in translation, usually books I have translated so that I can speak with a certain authority about some of the choices I made in bringing the work over into English. Many of the students are interested in literary translation as a profession, and it is extremely encouraging to see so many talented people deeply committed to the field. Since the time I was twelve years old, Spanish has loomed large for me, as a student, an instructor, and a translator. It still does, ahora y para siempre. Grossman’s most recent translations are: SOR JUANA INéS DE LA CRUZ: Selected Works and THE DISCREET HERO by MarioVargas Llosa, both out September, 2014. © 2014 edith grossman



Photo: Š2014 Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, USA from a painting by Ana Castillo


Un español mexicanitotito

I was surprised to hear my friend, who was raised in northern Mexico, admit she connotes Spanish with a language of rage. This may be the case for her, but for me, the Spanish language has always been one of tenderness, of an indigenous worldview in the case of Mexican Spanish, because woven into it is the Mexican diminutive, which I can only surmise from reading Miguel Leon Portilla’s translation of Nahuatl poetry, is part of the indigenous way of seeing. Note that the diminutive here is not understood as “less than,” but as an endearment. In Mexican Spanish I detect an animism that understands all things are alive and connected to us. Is this true or is this my way of seeing Spanish? I suspect all languages are connotative, the result of who taught us this language and the circumstances of that delivery. I am fortunate to have been my father’s favorite child, and for Spanish to be given to me with filigree, rosettes, chubby cherubs and

ribboned doves, as elaborately exquisite as the folk designs on a lacquered olinalá box. And so, if anyone wants to get me to do something for them, it’s best to call me “Sandrita,” to embroider their speech with mexicanismos that will lessen my defenses and make my heart melt. Think of the servilletas with the flowers and ribbons, the quaint cariñitos, Eres mi divina amor. Muero por ti. Duerme con los angelitos. Mátame con tus palabras, chuchuluco de mis amores. Well, corazón de melón, you get the picture. Sandra Cisneros is the author, most recently, of HAVE YOU SEEN MARIE?, a fable for adults, illustrated by Ester Hernández. © 2014 by sandra cisneros. All rights reserved.



La unidad de la arena Aprender un idioma de prisa: indagar en sus ritos y secretos - para el inmigrante, para la traficada, para el que huye, para el afectado por un sistema colonial o neocolonial - es escalonar un aljibe sin antorcha. Tantas historias íntimas existen de abuelos y abuelas, padres y madres con sus crías o huérfanos que se dieron a la aventura como átomos se forman en esas aguas. Otros muchos sufrieron del abuso de un lenguaje distinto cuando el cuerpo imperial exigió su nuevo signo: dificil de traducir, dificil de manejar, porque una sola palabra te obliga a sustraerte y sentarte en el banco de la duda, mientras todo se mueve lenta, muy lentamente alrededor tuyo. Incapaz de comprender. Tu pequeño cerebro acelera el movimiento de las neuronas buscando la clave pertinente, la palabra adecuada en tu jerga para poder transformarla en la clave correspondiente. CODE SWITCHING Así es como nos balanceamos en este país y sus territorios miles de millones, reinterpretando el lenguaje oficial, imaginando una alquimia que nos ayude a comprender al Otro. Algún dios de nuestra infancia que descifre la señal, la cueva de donde procede, la luz que le antecede. Si tomo mi lengua original, la lengua madre,


el idioma no sólo mío sino de mis ancestros puertorriqueños, entonces puedo cabalgar en esta lengua ajena y corretear por los montes junto a las mariposas amarillas, hasta dar con el sonido y el baile de mi ritmo. El decorado no tanto sólo es la metáfora, o el símil, sino también el signo del Otro. Con éste aderezo muchos de mis textos siempre recordando la fauna y la flora original, testigos del amor y también del terror. Recobrando diariamente la unidad de la arena, nos vamos desplazando entre dos lenguas, dos culturas. Soy un puente apretado de piedras y sonidos del cual acuden mis descendientes a libar de los significantes. De sus significados. Abro y cierro mi cuerpo: ese puente. Abro y cierro mi casa: la piedra. Abro y cierro el viento: el sonido de cada sílaba. Dos lenguas fracturadas por su centro para dar paso a la ubicuidad del signo inédito. Es cuando escribo: “…I want to be in America docudrama and reality show Benicio en la frontera en pleno desierto porque somos mexicanos tenemos que sufrir en este mundo dicen que dijo el viejecito en la entrevista y todos estos hermanos Mex-Yorks están aquí trabajando veinte horas al día sin benefits sin plan médico como cámaras en silencio somos todos domésticas llegadas en yola sin dinero casa y comida dispuestos a hacer lo que sea…”

La fracturación enriquece el pensamiento. El pensamiento dilucida la forma, el sonido, la sílaba, la sintaxis. La mano traza sobre la superficie del papel la representación de su significante y habla del afecto, la rabia, el miedo del amor arrebatado. La confusión que siempre surge a la entrada de un puente de piedras. El cansancio del viaje, de la mano del coraje que aún queda. Los brazos firmes de ambos (bilingüe), las notas musicales del instrumento (multilingüe) y con esta nueva mitología me transformo en un ente visceralmente libre y sin claroscuros. © 2014 lourdes vázquez

LourdesVasquez’s novella Not Myself Without You was published in 2013.

Photo: ©2014 Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, USA



Spanish in my land

To the Spanish language I pledge my allegiance. Born in Cordoba, Argentina, but for most of my life a citizen of the HispanicAmerica of the United States, the second largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world. In fact, when I arrived in the mid-sixties, the Hispanic presence, culture and history of the United States was a totally unexpected and pleasantly surprising discovery. I found the Spanish mother tongue of the United States to be made up of a rich, varied vocabulary with grammatical plays, a copulations of the English Language with Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican utterances as well as many other peculiar Central and South-American expressions. Typical of people living in exile, discriminated or, in some subtle way, excluded from the mainstream culture, I held on to my roots, the body of my culture, native tongue, community, loved ones, and to my proud identity and tradition, trying to appreciate a unity in the diversity. Since my earliest days, working during the Nixon administration at the White House Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking People, I sensed how important and yet distant it


was for us, Hispanics/Latinos, to achieve in diversity the unity that was provided to us by our common Spanish language, history and culture. In unity, our numbers, our economic and political power has increased. I used to tell my Anglo friends when they asked me to speak English only to start learning Spanish. Today, the few surviving souls validate my advice: “you were right.” That era dates my first poem written in English entitled “Communion.” Life To understand me You have to know Spanish Feel it in the blood of your soul. If I speak another language And use different words For feelings that will always stay the same I don’t know If I’ll continue being The same person.

It was published with the title “Learning English.” Faced with the amazing reality that my poem was translated into Spanish and then back into English by none less than translator, Lori Carlson, I was inspired to write all of my seventeen published books of poetry and essays in Spanish.1 But my amazing discovery went beyond expectations when I found out the creator of our country Thomas Jefferson had urged his countrymen and women to “… acquire an accurate knowledge of it [the Spanish language]. Our future connections with Spain and Spanish America will render that language a valuable acquisition. The ancient history of that part of America, too, is written in that language.” He demanded that his daughters read ten pages daily of El Quixote in Spanish. Furthermore in the nineteenth century, Walt Whitman, in my estimation, the most important American poet to date, stated: “To that composite American identity of the future, Spanish character will supply some of the most needed parts.”

understand one another in different countries and are not “invaded” by unnecessary English words. Bilingualism, biculturalism yes. Se habla español, a reality that unites us, allowing us to communicate with one another from Alaska to the Antarctica, a true Pan-Americanism, as well as in Spain, the Philippines and many other countries. I love when my children and now, my grandchildren call me papi, abuelo and I see their smiles as I address them as Mi amor (my love). Decades after leaving Argentina, the land of my birth, I am still living in Spanish.

Luis Alberto Ambroggio, residente, Delegación de Washington DC;Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española. El Dr. Ambroggio es miembro Correspondiente de la Real Academia Española © 2014 luis alberto ambroggio

While advocating the dynamism of the Spanish language, I insist that we must be careful to use it in a proper way so that we 1

Among these, some have since been translated to English. The collection, The Wind’s Archeology/ La arqueología del viento won the 2013 International Latino Best Spanish to English translation Book Award.

Photo: ©2014 Patricia Quintana, USA


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA



Spanish in my land

En el jardín de los vientos

Luis Alberto Ambroggio

Obra poética (1974 - 2014)

En el jardín de los vientos

Obra poética (1974 - 2014)

Luis Alberto Ambroggio



From a Country of Poets I started writing poetry since I was 11, in my hometown of Leon, Nicaragua. My country is known for its love of poetry, and its poets, and that was transmitted to me both at home, and at school. We had a good library and I started learning poems by heart, poems that I would recite to family and friends, and at school shows. My parents are both Nicaraguans, their parents and grandparents too, so Spanish has been our tongue for many generations. But since I grew up in the 70s and English was already gaining a lot of ground in Nicaragua, I had to take English as a second language at school. I grew up with it, really, listening to songs by Cat Stevens, Elton John, and groups like Bread or Supertramp, where I would write the lyrics of the songs down, on paper, to recite them along later when our friends gathered to listen to them. It was part of my academic upbringing, learning a second or third language. In middle school we started with English, and by junior and senior year the Catholic nuns in my school had already introduced


French. That, combined with the study of literary greats like Edgar Allan Poe, and Ezra Pound in translation gave me the curiosity to deepen my knowledge of it, of its culture and its people. So it was a given that I had to go to the United States to polish what I had learned at school, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how I went to Michigan during the winter break of my sophomore year to spend time going to school with American girls to learn English, even though I was on vacation at home. My parents had decided early on that once I was finished with high school I would return to the USA, so I went to Boston to finish learning English, while I also kept away from the dangers of the uprising Nicaraguan revolution in 1979. While Spanish is the language of my heart, I also have discovered that English is the language of my reason. Maybe because in poetry, words are more precise and more definite, so you have to be very careful what you choose, also because Spanish is more musical and poetry is music to the ears. Perhaps because I have an ear for

music, and poetry flows more naturally to me. It seems to me that while I relish more writing prose in English than in Spanish, I also enjoy the challenge of poetry translation from Spanish to English where the real test is finding a word that not only conveys the same but that also has the same number of syllables to make up for the nice sound it has in its original version. So it is not only the meaning but the challenge of sound and music that affect the poem. I have published four books of poetry and a work of fiction. ‘The Lights At My Temple’ Selected Poems, appeared last year, translated by Fiona Griffin.

© 2014 milagros teran

Milagros Teran’s new bilingual book, The Lights at My Temple (Managua: Leteo, 2013) is a selection of her first poetry collection, 1982-1992.

Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA



A Poet for all Seasons

I write in four languages: English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. I wrote my first poems in English, which is one of Sri Lanka's languages. However, I lost Tamil, the language of my ethnicity, to migration, landing in England an eightyear-old boy and never saying another word in Tamil, not at home or at school. The need to assimilate, to belong, the overwhelming urge to forget, contributed to the disappearance of Tamil. The same urges, with the exception of the forgetting, explain my obsession with composing verses in the languages of my new loves: French, Spanish, and Portuguese. A new-minted diplomat in September 1993, I was assigned to a  Spanish course and advised that I would work in Caracas and then Mexico City. The assignment changed at the last moment and I joined the porteños of Buenos Aires for a year, followed by another in Brussels.  I took Spanish study very seriously, immersing myself in Dos Mujeres, Un Camino, el noticiero de Univision and auditing a seminar taught by Mario Vargas Llosa at Georgetown. I also took a course at American University in Latin American History and Culture and spent my days in conversation and grammar classes

at the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State. Eighteen weeks later I passed the exam and prepared to depart for Buenos Aires. I fell in love again with Spanish when I got to Mexico City in early 1999. Mexicans were generous with their time and friendship and I used to show my poems to colleagues, friends and strangers learning from the reactions of all.  By 2001 I published El Infierno de los Pajaros, which carried a prologue from Jose Emilio Pacheco and illustrations by Jose Luis Cuevas. These endorsements gave me a place at the table; my word music in Spanish had fallen on receptive ears. And then came Lima, the whole of South America in the 2009–2013 period, and new poems, I would like to add that my new languages also gave me new love, in life as well as on the page. I am, and will always, be their debtor. Indran Amirthanayagam has published nine books, including the Paterson Prize-winning work, The Elephants of Reckoning. © 2014 indran amirthanayagam



"Los otros días, releí Boat people y tengo q muy satisfecha. Y de algunos ensayos

Hablando con Mayra Mayra Santos Febres nació en Carolina, Puerto Rico en 1966. Estudió en la Universidad de Puerto Rico y en Cornell University donde se doctoró y ha sido becaria de la Fundación Guggenheim en Humanidades. Sus novelas son: Sirena Selena vestida de pena (2000), Cualquier miércoles soy tuya (2002), Nuestra señora de la noche (2006), Fe en disfraz (2009) y Yo misma fui mi ruta (2014) sobre la vida de Julia de Burgos, la poeta más conocida de la literatura puertorriqueña. Mayra también ha publicado cuentos, poemas y ensayos. En esta breve charla vía correo electrónico le he hecho varias preguntas que sirven de puerta abierta a la mujer escritora del Caribe que reflexiona sobre su primera novela, sus influencias literarias, sus lecturas, su libro más querido, la situación actual de la Isla de Puerto Rico, las novelas biográficas, y el Festiva de la Palabra, su sueño más preciado. ¿Por qué o para quién escribiste Sirena Selena vestida de pena? Escribí esa novela para mis amigos gays, sobre todo los que habían muerto de complicaciones


relacionadas con el VIH/SIDA. La escribí para mis mentores gays, vivos y muertos. También la escribí porque no me cabía en la cabeza que la historia gay de Puerto Rico jamás se hubiera publicado, que no existiera ni un libro de entrevistas, ensayos o de historia sobre el movimiento. Todavía no lo hay y ese silencio me atormenta. No exagero. Fíjate, ahora que han pasado 14 años (Dios, cómo pasa el tiempo), también me doy cuenta que escribí Sirena Selena por el profundo amor que le tengo a lo femenino. Lo femenino como performance, lo femenino como subversión del patriarcado, lo femenino como caricatura, lo femenino como afirmación de diferencia. Amo lo femenino. A través de Sirena pude, con el paso de los años, reconciliarme con lo femenino en mí. Ése es un regalo que le tengo que agradecer a la Sirena. Porque soy hija del patriarcado -que me enseñó a devaluar lo femenino- y también del feminismo socialista, que aspiraba a una androginia masculinizada que borraba lo femenino como afectación burguesa. Los travestis me enseñaron de chiquita a amar lo fe-

os febres

que admitir que ese es un poemario del que me siento de 'sobre piel y papel'." menino en toda su contradicción y complejidad, y como arma de defensa. Sirena es un tributo a eso también. ¿Qué libros consideras tus influencias? Todos, los buenos, los malos y los mediocres. También el cine y las artes plásticas. Últimamente, me estoy leyendo

muchos tratados de neurociencia y de evolución. No puedo escoger más que a una autora como punto de referencia. Y ésa es Julia de Burgos. Será por su centenario. Pero leo tanto que las obras se me han hecho un bolo alimenticio de deleitosa deglución, pero difícil clasificación. Este año leo a Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina. Siempre leo a Ovejero -sobre todo sus poemasporque lo amo. Leo los ensayos de Iris Zavala, la puertorriqueña. Leo a Vania Vicens, poeta joven de Guatemala. Juan Gelman siempre estará a mi lado. Releí al Gabo. Leo, leo, leo. Confieso que he leído y que, en verdad, verdad, me gusta muchísimo más leer que escribir. ¿Cuál de todos tus libros es tu más querido y por qué? El que estoy escribiendo ahora, porque me supone un reto. Pero tengo que confesar que Fe en disfraz es una de mis novelas favoritas de las que he escrito. Los otros días, releí Boat people y tengo que admitir que ese es un poemario del que me siento muy satisfecha. Y de algunos ensayos de "sobre piel y papel". ¿Qué piensas de la situación actual de la Isla? Me da un miedo inmenso la devaluación de los bonos y el crédito chatarra en Puerto Rico. Un miedo inmenso, Daniel. Veo un empobrecimiento real de los sectores pudientes del país. Ni te digo, de los sectores medios y de clase trabajadora. Y no veo salida. Si no nos sentamos a negociar la deuda, Puerto Rico no se va a poder levantar en buen rato. Sin embargo, también veo muchos proyectos de autogestión como respuesta al descalabro administrativo bipartidista instaurado en la Isla en no se sabe hace cuántos cuatrienios. Tal parece que,


interview: mayra santo BY DANIEL TORRES (continued) OHIO UNIVERSITY

tanto pobres como ricos se están dando cuenta de que el mantengo sostenido no puede seguir siendo opción para la Isla. Pero, en serio, no sé lo que va a pasar. ¿Qué estás escribiendo después de la novela sobre Julia? Otra novela sobre Julia. Lo anterior era una biografía novelada, para la cual me contrató el Municipio de Carolina. ¿Cómo fue el proceso de escribir una biografía novelada? He aprendido mucho, pero todavía no lo puedo verbalizar. Pero, para resumírtelo, me siento como me imagino se sintió Truman Capote cuando terminó de escribir "A sangre fría". Cuando uno se identifica y vierte en un relato en el cual los personajes nacen de uno, de la absoluta y refrita imaginación, las responsabilidades de atribuirle características, de "narrar sucesos íntimos de sus vidas", de explicar motivaciones es libre. Cuando ese mismo personaje estuvo vivo, está vivo, como Julia lo está todavía en la memoria y en el cariño, en el sistema simbólico y social de varios pueblos (Cuba, Puerto Rico, España, Chile, y Santo Domingo) la cosa pinta distinta. Hay que olvidarse de que una escribe sobre un documento cargado, es decir, que una vuelve a narrar una vida ya narrada múltiples veces, aunque sea desde el silencio. Hay muchos aspectos que previos, aunque pocos, documentadores de la vida de Julia han deseado omitir. Hay silencios institucionales impuestos por la izquierda, la derecha, el centro, el epicentro y el ultramargen. El enfoque prescriptivo en la Obra de Julia, en vez de en su vida, responde a un


tapaboca informado por ideologías feministas, independentistas, esas que exigen que narres la vida de una heroína perseguida y mártir proletaria de conducta intachable, por aquello de presentar un modelo cónsono a los que necesita el pueblo. Están también los que prefieren que Julia sea recordada como la mártir del amor, porque así la despolitizan. Y están los que no quieren que se narre "la leyenda negra" de Julia con el alcoholismo y sienten que si tocas ese tema, traicionas a todo un pueblo. Los hay que no quieren que se diga que fue espiritista. Que no se hable de sus huelemil maridos y amantes, que ni se nombre que no tuvo hijos, aunque los quiso; miles de aspectos de una vida que a bastante gente le parece aún que reúne demasiados aspectos contradictorios con una sola Julia, una sola mujer que fuera más fácil de narrar si cayera dentro de los cánones pre-escritos de los personajes que le atribuyen. Para nada quiero desestimar esas otras versiones de Julia. Que la gente siga escribiendo u omitiendo narrar su vida como ellos la ven. En el libro comisionado por el Municipio de Carolina, esbocé mi versión. No creo que fuera tan compleja como hubiese querido que fuera. Pero voy cocinando otras obras en donde, de manera más libre, pueda seguir narrando a Julia. Si con esta versión causé resquemores, espérate a que publique lo que ando cocinando.... Pero, la Julia que conocí mientras relataba su vida ahora es mía y yo de ella. Somos una. Es una mujer espectacular. ¿Escribirías la novela sobre Manuel Ramos Otero? Sí, pero ése es un proyecto para un futuro, espero que no muy lejano.

os febres Háblanos del Festival de la Palabra, tu sueño más preciado Aquí la escritora interrumpe su discurso y me refiere al link o vínculo en Internet del festival porque me aclara que hay tanto qué decir que le sobran las palabras. Y yo, como participante del festival en dos ocasiones, puedo atestiguar que el Festival de la Palabra es el sueño más preciado de Mayra porque los tapones o embotellamientos de tránsito que se formaron, primero en el Viejo San Juan cuando el festival se hizo en el Cuartel Ballajá, y luego frente al Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico en plena Avenida De Diego, son tapones literarios de guaguas llenas de estudiantes de las escuelas de Puerto Rico que se dan cita para encontrarse de frente con los escritores de carne y hueso. Algo que a generaciones anteriores les fue vedado porque la Cultura con mayúscula ha sido siempre salvaguardada por los intelectuales de las torres de marfil. Si una cosa ha logrado el Festival de la Palabra, pese a todas las polémicas que ha desatado, es conciliar ese encuentro entre autoras y público de una manera directa. Y he aquí el link o vínculo para quien lo quiera corroborar: http:// Como esta entrevista la hicimos electrónicamente, días después me llega esta respuesta:

cultura -un lugar que necesita un lugar más amplio que las academias, las bibliotecas y los museos, incluyéndolos- pero que se plantea un campo cultural más libre, accesible a todos, y a todas más allá de naciones, identidades y posiciones ideológicas excluyentes. Por eso hacemos el Festival. Yo no lo hago, yo tan sólo me atreví a iniciarlo pero ya, a un lustro de vida, este Festival es de todos los puertorriqueños. El del 2014 se lo dedicaremos a Julia de Burgos ¿Podría ser de otra manera? Julia fue la primera mujer en vivir en carne propia nuestra entrada a la modernidad, intelectual, pero campesina, grifa y mujer; americanista e internacionalista, y a la vez nacionalista, íntima y a la vez política. Por eso hemos escogido a Julia. Van a haber muchas sorpresas en este Festival de la Palabra que se celebrará del 12-19 de octubre en Puerto Rico y del 23-26 de octubre en Nueva York. Ojalá superemos nuestras expectativas. Daniel Torres Ohio University

Sobre el Festival, creo que te diría esto... El Festival de la Palabra propone a Puerto Rico como lugar de encuentro entre Latinoamérica y sus diásporas y como participante en diálogos culturales a nivel global. Creo en la literatura puertorriqueña y en nuestro poder de ver el mundo desde una perspectiva fundamental para entender la globalización, la multiculturalidad y la cultura de diálogo. También veo a nuestros escritores, editores, libreros y educadores formando una industria cultural que plantea otro lugar para la


fall read recommendations



The Soviet Circus Comes to Havana and Other Stories By Virgil Suárez C&R Press Hard copy: $19.95 Soft: $8.00 First collection of stories in more than two decades from the prolific, multi-genre writer. Whether they are based on his boyhood in Cuba or set throughout the United States, the stories are filled with heart and imagination. CLASSIC POETRY Y MáS

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz SELECTED WORKS

Juana Inés de la Cruz (Author), Edith Grossman (Translator) With an Introduction by Julia Alvarez W.W. Norton, 2014; Hardcover: $26.95 Latin America's great poet rendered into English by the world's most celebrated translator of Spanish-language literature. (See Grossman’s essay in this issue.)


Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys

Set in Maine, in a town where a Somali community remains apart from the local residents, a young man is charged with a hate crime that may very well have been committed in ignorance. The boy’s crime, his defense, and the dynamics between “the Burgess boys"—now grown men (the nationally acclaimed lawyer and his bumbling public defender brother) provide an intimate portrait of family dynamics and secrets. From the family to the community at large, we see the influence of others’ perceptions on identity and who is considered an outsider. Paperback: 352 pages Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 8, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 0812979516 ISBN-13: 978-0812979510 Bkg photo: ©2014 Patricia Quintana, USA; Books: ©2014 Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, USA


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA

announcements ANA CASTILLO

has two new publications in 2014: Massacre of the Dreamers (essays) 20th anniversary updated edition. University of New Mexico Press Give it To Me (novel) The Feminist Press NY


was recently awarded an 18-day Ragdale writing residency that is scheduled to take place in February 2015. Visit



Workshopista and teaching assistant to Dr. Castillo at the California Institute for Integral Studies. Congratulations to Cristina Rose on being conferred a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Dr. Smith (far right in red) has taken a position in the Women's Studies Program/ Division of World Cultural and Gender Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. EMILIA GARCĂ?A

(featured in our last issue) will be participating in a group show in Miami from October 11th to October 23rd: Curator's Voice Art Projects Gallery in the Wynwood Arts District. The artist will have a solo show at CalPoly Pomona University in Pomona, California from September 28th to December 5th. ANNE KEY

Memoirist, workshopista, feminist priestess, publisher and burlesque diva published Stepping Into Ourselves: An Anthology of Writings on Priestesses in 2014.



ur winter 2015 theme is healing

All Ana Castillo workshopistas are invited to submit original, unpublished work in any genre or media for consideration. Send your Microsoft Word submissions to: Please note: Only Microsoft Word formatted files will be accepted. PDFs and e-books are not accepted. La Tolteca ‘Zine welcomes new books to review: P.O. Box 1405/Anthony, NM 88021


Photo: ©2014 Claudia Hernández, USA

La Tolteca Zine – Fall 2014 "Se Habla Español" Issue  

With essays by Edith Grossman, Sandra Cisneros, Indran Amirthanayagam and others. Interviews, new poetry, and more...

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