Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I asked 3 questions of 3 Latina writers at the HerKind blog here.

I've been reading Pema Chodron and hopefully learning a lot. Trying to learn about radical acceptance and "maitri"-- The complete acceptance of ourselves as we are. "Trying to fix ourselves is not helpful. It implies struggle and self-denigration...Does not trying to change mean we have to remain angry and addicted until the day we die?...Trying to change ourselves doesn't work in the long run because we're resisting our own energy. Self-improvement can have temporary results, but lasting transformation occurs only when we honor ourselves as the source of wisdom and compassion." She talks about a practice called Tonglen which I am going to try to implement. It is difficult as I often have an "us" and "them" attitude about things, but the basis of all of this is compassion for oneself and others. When one is traumatized, it is difficult to have compassion for oneself and therefore others. Also, interestingly regarding forgiveness, she says one must forgive themselves first. Overall, I like this book better than the first one I read by her which came highly recommended. Not sure why this one isn't the one recommended. I guess I like it because it is more hands on regarding how to practice and implement these things.


I've been reading some Czeslaw Milosz poems, so far specifically dealing with poetry and poetry in Poland. He has one Ars Poetica which I read. Also, I found a book at Tattered Cover for 4.96 called POETRY IN PERSON: Twenty-Five Years of Conversation with America's Poets edited by Alexander Neubauer. It is very interesting. So far I've read interviews with Philip Levine, Louise Gluck, Robert Hass, Muriel Rukeyser and Maxine Kumin. The two most interesting for me were the ones with Levine and Gluck. Levine talks a lot about Detroit and his love for the people and factory life there, in terms of both not being a "nightmare" for him. This was compelling as I feel similarly about El Paso, Texas. He talks about his twin brother and how that comes to play in a poem. I like that these interviews took place in 78' and 79'. The Gluck interview was probably the most interesting read for me. She talks a lot about white space and silence. Also, she mentions things like ellipses, collage and fragmentation, which I would have not ever expected from Gluck because she is labeled as "mainstream." So these "new" ideas apparently were being knocked around in 1979. The Rukeyser one was probably the most unnerving for me to read. I found her somewhat bitter and haughty, although her poem was the bomb!!!! So, poets can be flawed individuals which is a good thing since I am flawed, but I'm also precious ;)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

It seems the times are changing. My friend Janet Gates used to always say, "the one thing you can count on is change." She passed away in 2008, along with my friend Sharon, who used to say, "all you have to do is get through the day." I am proud to have dedicated my collection SEVEN to these beautiful women who died too young.

The times are always changing, and today the "browning of America" is in full force. I think Richard Rodriguez first coined that term. Speaking of changes, I have always struggled with my own identity. Culturally I was confused. My adoptive step-father wanted to beat the "hispanic" out of me. He tried very hard to instill shame about identity. I never knew my real father until I was 35 I believe. I count the women in my life my cultural makers. And yet today, being Latino/a will soon be being in the majority, so yes, times have definitely changed, but there is still a long way to go, at least in some instances. People are still rebellious about the variances of culture. They are still reactive to the celebration of diversity. They are still hostile to cultural pride. They still see things as pure or impure, culturally one must be "authentic" and this term in and of itself is charged. What does it mean to be authentic?

I was raised when I was very young on the U.S. Mexico border by a grandmother born in Mexico. Does that make me Latina? I was charged and political throughout graduate school because there was such resistance to anything deemed "political" in art. Does that make me Latina? Overall, I'm tired of struggling with these issues and have decided I define myself. Note I am not even touching "Chicana" or the preferred "Xicana".

But the rage for La Raza isn't with me most days. Although I nearly blew a gasket reading what an old grad school colleague (?) wrote about the inaugural poem by Richard Blanco. So, I am full of contradictions and know only that everything is constantly changing, and surprising images bombard us daily.

Today, I read a bit of TRES by Roberto Bolano. It was pretty good. I enjoyed it. The speaker speaks of the text, which I find very post-modern adopted. The speaker seemed to write in an autobiographical manner of being without a Visa in I believe Spain and being poor at 28. For some strange reason this gives me hope. But poor at 48, oh I just don't know. Our culture judges our status by our economic value, our monetary power. I'm losing that battle gladly, although there are anxieties about the future, but I must stay grounded in the now.

I bought 3 books today. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE: EMBRACING YOUR LIFE WITH THE HEART OF A BUDDHA by Brach,  THE PLACES THAT SCARE YOU: A GUIDE TO FEARLESSNESS IN DIFFICULT TIMES by Pema Chodron, and a book of interviews of twenty five poets titled POETRY IN PERSON: Twenty Five Years of Conversation with America's Poets.