Saturday, August 30, 2008

Moratorium Remembered, Oaxaca Under Assault

I had hoped to wax ebullient, cantar la celebración, deliver idylic prose on the beauty of poetry as well as both political and cultural convictions restored at Teocintli in Boyle Heights, where veteranos del movimiento such as David Sánchez, an original Brown Beret, and Carlos Montes joined two successive generations of resistance in the floricanto tradition. De verdad, quería decir cuanto me impactarón los poemas compartidos por Felicia Montes, Nico, y Javi--estos dos últimos miembros del la colectiva llamada Los Poets del Norte. Commemorating the August 29th, 1970 Chicano Moratorium against the war in Vietnam, a small yet insistent group gathered to rally around the same root causes, the painfully similiar conditions that continue to plague people in marginalized communities. I wanted to proclaim how positive it was to see Ollin's Scott Rodarte and visit with El Random Hero himself, who has agreed to be part of the Brooklyn & Boyle magazine staff.

But the glow is dimmed this morning when I read that on the very day we commemorated an attack against our community 38 years ago, the federales in Mexico stormed a community radio station in Oaxaca organized and sustained by the Mixteca people who are allied with La Otra Campaña. Everywhere the repression rears its ugly head. And here, in addition to the belleza and collective energy over the recognition that our work as "artivists" (nod to Ms. Montes for the term) must continue, I was still basking in the residual peace and joy leftover from the gathering of poetas románticos at East Side Luv a couple of weeks ago. Rubén "Funkhuatl" Guevara delivered a line in one of his poems at the Moratorium commemoration last night. "I am a weapon," he intoned. The phrase is allegorical and it expresses my particular conundrum. Rubén was also part of the genesis for the "Literoticana Chicana: Una Noche de Luz, Deseo y Lengua" reading where about a eighty people joined six poets for a celebration of passion and romance and language in verse. How can we cling to our humanity, make consistent attempts to share life, love and consciousness in the face of the buffeting realities at home, in Iraq, in Oaxaca? No tengo la respuesta. raúlrsalinas, RIP, my Xicanindio poet-mentor, friend and fellow literaloco-literatonto and an AIM activist who worked alongside Leonard Peltier in prison before being released and establishing Resistencia Bookstore so many years later, used to throw up his hands in the air and shrug. "Sometimes it just bees that way, bro."

In all fairness, I had meant to meander into the realm of ennui, of the perhaps even somewhat shmarmy sweetness, the sacharine roll call like a litany of rose petal blossom gossamer whispers. Wanted to say how Ruben Guevara and Gloria Alvarez and Rafael Alvarado and Reina Prado and Corrie Greathouse--the poets who comprised the "literoticana" experiment--were stunningly warm and magnetic on the Luv stage. And I also sincerely wanted to follow up with a heartfelt expression of gratitude for la familia Esparza and everyone who dropped by the potluck BBQ in honore of August birthdays, great friends, beautiful artists, heart broken poets, restless dreamers and rambunctious dancers. Al fin, I'll leave that to chance and simply end with a recommendation that you read Ruben Mendoza's essay on the "Phantom Sightings" exhibition at the LACMA. It is beyond doubt, the most effective, cogent and fully actualized critique of the exhibit anyone has written.

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