Tuesday, March 09, 2004

pobre viejo 

"Buenos dias, don Walt!" I called. "I have been
waiting for you. I knew you would one day leap
across the Mississippi!
Leap from Manhattas! Leap over Brooklyn Bridge!
Leap over slavery!
Leap over the technocrats!
Leap over atomic waste!
Leap over the violence! Madonna!
Dead end rappers!
Peter Jennings and ungodly nightly news!
Leap over your own sex! Leap to embrace la gente
de Nuevo México! Leap to miracles!

I always know that. I always dreamed that.

[excerpt from Walt Whitman Strides the Llano of New Mexico, Rudolfo anaya]

Monday, March 08, 2004

texto y contexto 

Now I see one reason why prof. Murguia made an exasperated noise when I mentioned "Literatura Chicana: 1965-1995" and said "oh no, read "Literatura Chicana, texto y contexto". Oh so very much better. I'm glad they both exist and I will finish reading the 1965-1995, but T. y C. blows it right out of the water.

The introduction explains everything I have been struggling to express lately. And succinctly and clearly and un-boringly. I should have started reading here in January!

WHY IS THIS BOOK NOT IN PRINT!? I will go nuts with this, thinking of all the awful books published and re-published and literary agents who spend their lives looking for good things and not having the sense to know good things. I know why, and even the book itself knows why. Still, I have to shout it.

"It is impossible to separate the fulfillment of a people's artistic and esthetic sensibility from the question of their access to power in ecomonic and political terms, as well as to education and social justice. the scarcity of chicano literature is primarily the result of an exclusionist and intolerant American society that has maintained a purist and static view of literature. The basis for what is literarily valid and thereby publishable has been the degree of conformity to pre-established literary, ideological and linguistic norms - norms which reflected the interests of the groups in power." (p. xxvi of the introduction) <--- I will forward this to the Sanjo Nonprofit that has been so frustrating [boldface emphasis is mine]

"Chicano writers were faced with two alternatives, neither of which was adequate:
1. if they adhered to Mexican models in order to publish in Mexico, their writing would have to be directed to a Mexican readership; therefore they could not reflect the Chicano experience.

2. If they wanted to write and be published in the United States, they would have to relinquish the Spanish language and the attendant conceptual and philosophic orientation in language..."

The contexto is so good- the idea of "chicano literary heritage".

I only wish for an index, and a fatter book.

moco pome 

As I fell asleep last night I could not get the goofy "moco pome" out of my head.

And if you see
A moco on my
Bigote -

Don't suffer
My shame and
Don't punish
Me with silence...

Tell me about it!

So silly but actually, generally applicable to everything, not just boogers, and an admirable sentiment. If I'm being an idiot... Tell me about it! (that's why I have comments eh?)

I think part of the funniness is the "POME" part where you want to go "po-me" at first not realizing that we have switched languages to an odd spelling of "poem".

Sunday, March 07, 2004


I forgot to say this. It was kinda cool to see Gómez-Peña in a crinoline and red high heels performing with the queerest of the queer the other night at 848. I don't care if he is actually a Real Pervert or was just dressing up in a costume, and in fact if he is not a Real Pervert it's actually even better and braver to come do that and that's what coalitions are about. It nice to see hybridity and postmodernism put its macho where its mouth is.

The mechanical conductor/Hitler elocutionary declamacion cyber-arm was quite oddly disturbing.


So brilliant and masterful & such perfect fluid limpid grace of language and leaping (right there in the middle between "Wouldn't one's" and "Alas, a sealed-forever heart!" holy mother of god there is a golden moment of poetry!

pues que dificil a ser politico y apasionado pero no didactic, What a stripping. "My heart laid bare" claro que he read or lived Rimbaud. living in the moment of uncertainty.

There are ways in which gaba readings of El Louie sentimentalize in the worst way and how it is easy for us/them to hear. it gets coopted very easily. I have seen it in action. Louie being buried over and over! I am glad he is not dead but it's painful to see the "hmmmm" moment of his humdrumization and burial and exhumation as the myth and oh the barrio/ghetto but do you palo alto poets ever cross the lines of your own highway? The "hmmmm!" and the nod and little smile AS IF SOMETHING ESSENTIAL HAD BEEN UNDERSTOOD. It's not FOR usthem that way. No. This is not that.

I'm not the man... but I am The Man... and this applies to forgiving the rapists as well as anything else (better gendering/un-gendering poem than any "mayan princess" blowhardia)

I hope this is Fair Use:

In the cold compassion
Of my bosom
Habrá perdón
My destructors?

To find warmth
Hard-frozen -

When the thaws of
Primaveras have
Come and have gone
   Sería imposible -

Wouldn't one's
Uneasy adversary
   think the same
   heridas that
   expose the heart
   of the heart

Surely welcome
El calor de los
Rayos - rays of
Warmth, however
   Wouldn't he?

Indeed, si el acero
Which pierces deja
Una funda que repela
El calor

   ...sealing hurts
   forevever. Y las
   recompensas se vuelven
   las red-hot scars

That defy the time-healing-time
That fails, and so, and so,
The mind inherits
the burden of
Del pasado.

Mind is not,
Alas, a sealed-forever heart!

La mente, al contrario,
Is an omniscient,
Unyielding thing

And remembers!

Where does it find
Compassion to forget long
Enough to


-- José Montoya, 1971 from In Formation: 20 Years of Joda

Busting open language and logic is necessary

also note the movement between formal and informal english (as I am less good on formal vs informal spanish i can't always tell but I feel it sometimes)
in other poems you get english dialects, hick, brit, etc...

ThE CRYPTOGRAPhA's traitorous footnotes anotaciones

montoya notes 

I have to say... "Pobre Viejo Walt Whitman" is a great poem. I have read it 50 times and am still having that "huh? I'll read it again" moment. Every time I read it again, in this enjoyable circularity, I feel a deeper intuitive understanding. It is unsettling in the best way.

It is rare for a poem by one poet about another to achieve this level of depth, vision, and un-boringness. I feel sure that no one else on the planet has said what Montoya has said about Whitman. I am trying to jump blind into the stone footsteps of a dinosaur following printed dance instructions, a chart with shoeprint footsteps, and my feet don't fit and my eyes are in a different place, how can I imagine what color the dinosaur is? What, what, what? Thank you!

Commenting up 20 years of Joda and noting translations for myself like insane gaba cryptographer, laughable, but, here I am with "dictionary of chicano spanish" in hand and then figuring out other things - often simple things that throw me for a loop. "hechen" and I'm like huh? again, instantly guessing echar from context with a slangy "h" but wondering if it's a play on hecho, created constructed made. I think yes.
Y qué nos queda, hermanitos?

To look out at a gravel path

Esperando al contratista.
Ahí viene el troque, hechen
Los sacos!

beginning wikipedia edits and investigation 

Already the Wikipedia is being so helpful.

Bilingualism useful terminology I will now go back and apply to stuff i was trying to say earlier

non-convergent discourse this often happens when people are trying to talk to each other in 2 languages

Thursday, March 04, 2004

another funny etymology 

I just had a "Beavis and Butthead" moment while reading the preface to In Formation. Montoya mentions that if you mispronounce joda with an english J sound it sounds like "chora", "barrio slang for phallus". I realized maybe this is the etymology of the word "choad".

heh heh heh.

Yes, I am easily amused... like Beavis...

paz and montoya 

In high school I had a giant poster of Octavio Paz on my wall.... like a rock star...

I have a funny image in my mind now. a diptych. one side is that photo of Paz and the word CHINGA and other side is a photo of Montoya and the word JODA superimposed

If it were a triptych what would the third panel be?


I realized last night that earlier my neighbor had used some variant the word "blichear" as we were talking about doing our hair. (mine is purple, hers has red streaks). I was wondering about how these words are made. For instance I said "blogear" the other day. Why blogear and not blogar or blogir? It just FELT right. I guess -ar verbs are the most common. But why did I want to make it -ear? I am not sure.

I will look online and see what other people say. I am not sure what verb people use (or what "bitácoras" means. will investigate.) For sure people say "el blog" and "unos bloggers" and "emailear". Pues este aparece bastante &uuacute;til: diccionario del cyberspanglish

I also hear "el Web" said around here (in the public library usually) - not "el Red" much less "la Telaraña Mundial".

Just got my Dictionary of Chicano Spanish. This independent study class is tempting me to madness with the used book buying online. Only $5.00 for a fabulous dictionary! $6.00 for "Action: The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Theater Festival" which turns out to be a 500 page hardback book with an interesting color cover. What a bargain.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

background reading 

Meanwhile I am reading this book "Literatura Chicana 1965-1995" and Francisco H. Vásquez talking about the "Black Legend"; he calls it the "historical curriculum" of anti-Spanish, anti-Catholic statements, that can be traced to the sixteenth century." (p. 20) Well blow me down because I was just reading Hakluyt's voyages for the bazillionth time and was noticing Hakluyt's setup of the england/spain tension, protestant/catholic etc. Sebastian Cabot sounded so reasonable and good in the precepts he set forth and from then on, the English merchants try to echo those sentiments but then they burn some town or drake goes gallivanting across the world burning and killing and pirating in the name of war, protestantism, queen and country and other english joining in the sudden free for all grab for Africa enslaving people at a fairly high rate... I noticed an interesting voyage in around 1560-something where the English merchants were lured in to the coast of what i think was the Dominican Republic by some caribs or arawaks or whoever, guys waving gold around as if they wanted to trade, but it was bait so they could kill them and burn their sailing ship. Because they were already living in mountain refuges as guerrillas on their own island. Anyway. It stood out as very odd to me, the holier than thou rhetoric of the English, when they were doing the same things as the spanish were. No inquisition -- capitalism was their inquisition. That is the connection to Vásquez's article "Chicanology: A Postmodern Analysis of Meshicano Discourse" which has a lovely chart of Feudalism vs. Capitalism. I love this sort of chart though it is easy to pick holes in it (like J. Bruce Novoa's)

"...power is tolerable only on the condition that it masks a substantial part of itself. Its success is proportional to its ability to conceal itself." (p. 21)

What FHV ends up saying about "chicanology" as a tool of domination -- ie the idea of "chicanoness" or "hispanicness" or whatever -- yeah that is very familiar to me from the moment in the late 80s where I realized that anyone talking about "the gay community" was not my buddy, since there WAS no "gay community" that thought one was and had a particular position and particular needs. Possibly there were a lot of gay communities with varying degrees of shared goals. But somoene saying "the interesting thing about the gay community is blah blah blah" or "What the gay community wants" -- no. They were using that gayology as a tool of power - like orientalism. Anyway I get that that is what V&asquez is saying. Although the concept of the "whateverness" is useful, and can be good, and identity politics can be useful, it actually (I fear) can be even more useful to "the dominant culture" or whoever is in power already. In the war of myths... who is more likely to be heard... there must be counter myths to counter the dominant ones...

This is rambling. But...

later on the idea of "Fellowships of Discourse" (p. 32) "Their function is to preserve, reproduce, or circulate discourse according to strict regulations and within a closed community." and he cites examples of closed or restricted circles of discourse. I wondered as I read it, possibly this is the source of some of my discomfort, as I eavesdrop in the parking lot on some guys talking, or at the playground on some moms, who don't figure I know what they are saying, and now as I think about writing something in academic discourse world about poetry not particularly directed to me, (except, maybe it is, who knows? And I am a poet too and so feel the right to cross whatever boundaries) I might be an unwelcome spy in the house of Aztlán...

I think in my encounters with the sanjo non-profit organization, I have been seeing some of those pitfalls awaiting me that Gómez-Peña talks about - impresario etc.

All this processing - rather boring for anyone else - but it seems very necessary that I keep it in mind as I try to write my somewhat lame encyclopedia article on Montoya which I will start for real tomorrow morning. I think for one thing, the article - I have written some preliminary outlines and stared at them in dismay, very bored with them - I think as it will go in the english and the spanish versions of the Wikipedia, I must make a stab at writing it in spanglish and declare why I am doing it, and that it is important to do it that way! How dull to write something like this (I am not a reporter) or this (I am not a museum curator) I think I will stand beside Laureano Albán as an encyclopedista (?how to spell it?) poet... JODA is right and claro the spanish wikipediaists will ream me and rewrite it ... that's okay... because the english wikiistas will let me get away with murder of 3 languages at once...I bet you 5 bucks that is how it goes down.

translating something into spanglish 

I have been wondering about the process in my head sometimes and what it would be like to translate something from either spanish or english into spanglish. I mean, when I talk it, it comes out different from when someone chicano talks it or someone from guatemala. But we can still understand each other. I think what is happening when I talk spanglish, I am going through a process like this:

1) generate verbal thought in english
2) translate as much as I can of it into spanish
3) start saying it

what comes out in my spanglish, yes, it is "bad spanish" and often based on english grammatical structures because of my ignorance. The spanglish that Ilan Stavans talks about is Englishy worlds put into Spanish grammatical structures. It seems similar to the difference between people in Japan adopting and adapting English words, I don't know, chokkura, or something, for chocolate. That happens amazingly rapidly and fluctuates very fast especially in youth and cybercultures. Versus the sort of Japanese-style English you see on Sanrio notepaper, "winkipinki is happy with the nice flowers in her warmy palace." What? heh heh. I think my Spanglish sounds like that Sanrio English. they are very different linguistically. (since I am not a linguist I am going to have a hard time talking about this very well.)

Applied to poetry, both ways can be beautiful word jazz.

Anyway back to translating into Spanglish. I thought of trying it but didn't do it. Now I just read that Stavans translated the first chapter of Don Quixote into spanglish and people in his classes were doing stuff like translating the declaration of independence and the constitution and stuff. "Yo plegio alianza a la bandera de los Unaited Esteits de América..." "We la gente de los Unaited Esteits, pa'formar una unión más perfecta, establisheamos la justicia, aseguramos tranquilidá doméstica, provideamos pa'la defensa común, provemos el welfér, y aseguramos el blessin de la libertad de nosotros mismos y nuestra posterity, ordenando y establisheando esta Constitución de los Unaited Esteits de América." (student who did this was unnamed but I think it is brilliant and lovely)

I had not noticed people around here doing the pa' thing but I do it I think from listening to venezuelan music all the time. possibly it is a new york thing. Actually probably a caribbean thing

Now one thing about those bits I just typed. I feel perfectly comfortable or at home reading them. In bilingual poetry what I tend to like is that fluidity. Not the style of poetry that is all in english but then has spanish bits set off to one side in italics.

Monday, March 01, 2004

razor edges 

Reading "Razor Edges of My Tongue" by Leticia Hernández-Linares. "Cars that go boom". Also "Sweat". "Spangliku". I like the zine-ness of the inside covers. I have nothing coherent to say about the poetry, yet.

Oh this is handy. Full text of a bunch of poems from Calaca Press. They have some mp3s for free. Their cds are good! Buy them, o imaginary readers of this blog! and the books too.

Meztli Chingona by Olga Angelina Garcia Echeverria... I dig it...

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