Friday, April 28, 2006

A Big Song and Dance About Song Nuesto Himno

Poem on Your Blog Weekend

I just read about this Poem on your Blog Weekend over at fellow NYC blogger Ron's blog and it seems only fit to post well a poem and step up and put my poems where my earlier blog post is and to pledge along with Ktrion to post new writing fearlessly.

Untitled

Before I knew any better,
I knew you.
We namelessly shared Avenue C fluorescent lit hipster deli aisles
selling overpriced bottled american dreams of youth and health
neither one of us was buying.
The smell of your weed and whiskey had already
made love to the smell of my red wine and sex
without the slightest contact between our physical bodies.
Our sensual fingerprints had been sharing the same room for months
as witnessed by communal poems drunkenly scribbled on the walls.

I heard you,
familiarly accented sound waves,
between inhales of cigarette smoke and long swigs of beer.
I didn't need to see you
before feeling
sing-songy accented vibrations
that impregnated me years before
and penetrated more than my wandering womb.
Yes,
I tasted that tongue
before it was slipped inside my mouth
when we finally went underground,
together.

Ranking oppression

People really need to head over to Blackademic and read Nubian's post on the ranking of oppression in the feminist movement, its role in the Duke Rape case, and some of the disgusting but not surprising comments from people who still don't/won't step back to get it.

Writing My Voice

Soy egoista. Well at least I like to play off like I am. Like when I get up on stage at a tertulia and spit broken spic Spanish poems with fucked up grammar and then smile graciously as people tell me how honest my work is, how real, how it has personality, and is pure and unrestrained by rules like I planned it that way. Scary thing is that I don't feel that fucking brilliant. I don't feel that fucking deep or talented. I feel lazy and stupid and like I said last night in a poem I am working on:

I live in the only sovereign state that I know, the state of insecurity

Despite all the kindness and ego stroking accolades I feel like my writing, the process and its results , is immature and insecure. Despite the years of being considered a poet, a writer, a blogger - I have hidden myself from criticism and critique.

Does it come from the fact that the first time I took stage to perform something outloud, at age 16 my mother said that a ghetto spic Puerto Rican accent came out and I was made to feel ashamed of that. Or maybe its the insecurity of language, the broken Spanish poems, the spanglish the English that doesn't allow to me fit into the niche of being a Spanish writer or an English writer. I once dated a Latino writer who was critical of the way I used language, saying it cheapened me and my work. His male privilege, his educational privilege with his MFA trumped my female uneducated voice. At least that's how it felt. There is no capital, no money, no time for me to run off to writing workshops and school. How about the rejection letters, the not playing by the rules and not spitting out the Spic Chic Lit I see in the chain bookstores.

I treat my writing like a privilege. It comes after editing the work of others and helping children learn proper grammar while developing their own style and voice. It comes after making sure my child's homework is done and making sure she is fed, clothes, and educated. It comes after everything. Scraps of stories and poems languish , missing deadlines and submission dates. There is no room of my own. My writing is interrupted constantly by requests and vacuuming and cries for food and attention and I feel guilty saying no, I am working on something that is mine. Thus I devalue my own work, my own voice.

My writing, the process and its results, is layered like my life. Complex.

After my performance the other night one man asked why I hated men. Another man who missed my performance asked if I did my angry poetry. Another man complimented the rawness of my work but added that he was happy to hear me writing about love. Because apparently writing about abortions and rape and colonialism, and identity , and sex is unbecoming. Writing about a relationship, especially a heterosexual relationship, that's an acceptable, more palatable theme.

Only one women, a mujer, said something to me about understanding the voice and style that I choose, that I am in my writing.

Mil gracias to Pomegranate Queen for making me think more about this and for opening the online discussion on the theme. A thousand and one thanks for her stepping up and creating a new space where women and trans writers of color can share, critique and give our writing, the process and results, the value it deserves.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Miercoles, Another Tertulia

Mil gracias to all of you who gave me so much love at last night's tertulia. It was wonderful to see each and every one of you, especially the people I hadn't seen in a minute. I monopolized the stage for a bit but no one really seemed to mind and it felt good to be in front of a crowd after about a month of not performing. Last night there were Gypsy Junkies, bellydancers, jokes, stories, and of course poets. There are pictures, unfortunately none are of me because someone (I'm not naming names)forgot to.
Better yet just come to the next tertulia so you can see it all in person.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

NYC - Fusion Atomica Tertulia Featuring la Mala

Obviously that's not me, it's my friend and fellow poeta Diego Vargas at the last Fusion Atomica tertulia. This Wednesday (tommorow), April 26th, Fusion Atomica presents its Tertulia featuring Latino/Spanish language spoken word, writing, and music. This week's featured poeta is yours truely, la Mala, with my usual mix of Nuyorican politics and angry single mami putita rants. Hell I may even do a love poem. The event is free and the spot, D'Antigua offers plenty of options for food and drink. I will be performing in English and Spanish.

Wednesday, April 26
Tertulia Fusion Atomica @ D'Antigua Lounge/Restaurant
84-16 Northern Blvd Jackson Heights, NY
9 pm until .....
#7 train to 82nd Street

For more info visit - http://www.fusionatomica.com/home.php?id=5
or email me at mamitamala@yahoo.com

Monday, April 24, 2006

You're So Articulate (for a spic)

I thank the cosmos daily that I am no longer in the corporate world so that I don't have to hear the "You're so articulate" line only to then be called into the Managing Director's office so I can give his Latina housekeeper instructions in Spanish since I was the only Spanish speaking (and Latina) person on the floor. But now that I work at home , that doesn't mean I've escaped people's surprise that as a single Rican mami I can put words together to create sentences that say something. At la MapucheRican's school, I attended a workshop and the Vice-Principal said "You're so articulate" and expected me to be grateful for her compliment.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weblogger Meetup Pics

Ok before Mr. Latino Pundit kills me (not actually of course) I am posting the pics from last week's meetup. They can be found on my Flickr. Sorry for the delay but working at home and having your kid off from school do not work together.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hola New York Webloggers

It was great to meet all of you last night at the Weblogger Meetup. I will be posting the pics la MapucheRican took later today as well as creating links to all here on the blog. Until then a shout out to : Ronn Taylor, Mr. Latino Pundit, NYC Curmudgeon (who was absolutely amazing with la Mapu), David from the Captain Humphreys Project, Ms. Urban Latin Female, y la mujer sin blog but who loves blogs.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Think the Current Immigration Debate is Just About Race

Friday, April 07, 2006

NYC Public Schools : Not English Only

Well not if I can help it anyway. Many peeps read up on recent going ons in my daughter's elementary school. I have been working for years...and I mean years at finding various ways to ensure equal access to information and services for all parents within the school regardless of the home language. The school administration really has to be pushed though to do things like provide translation at meetings and have documents going home with students translated. Some of it is a lack of commitment on the part of the school and some of it is an absence of parents stepping up ( I mean I can't be the only bi-lingual Latina parent willing to confront the admin on this...or am I?).

I presented the President of the Parent's Association with a number of issues I wanted addressed including translation services, some sort of training for teachers on diversity ( I know...feh... but do you know how hard it is to get a teacher fired?), resource lists for parents and families and my grand proposal for the year, satellite meetings. This means additional Parent Association meetings offered in three additional languages (Spanish, Chinese, and Russian) to encourage parental involvement, improve equal access to information and services, ensure that non-English dominant parents have an equal say in policies but also to provide safe space. Surprisingly enough the idea to have the satellite meetings was approved, no problem. Later in a planning meeting I was given a warning to design and word the flyer for the inaugural Spanish language meeting in a non-offensive way. The concern wasn't about offending the non-English parents but rather the English speaking parents- you know- diosa forbid they have to confront their own language privilege, which really in this school goes along with race privilege because when I have translated at meetings its the white people rolling their eyes and sighing, thinking I'm not really translating but sending secret coded messages to all the Spanish speakers to take shit over. Because you know that's what "we" do when "we" get together.

Now if only I could get some parents to pull their kids out with me on Monday so we can go to the rally at City Hall on Monday.

On a somewhat unrelated post, the Parent Association President informed me at a meeting we had that he had read my blog, this blog and said it gave him alot of perspective as to where I was coming from. I sometimes forget how public this space can be, and most of the time I'm ok with being public...my familia, my lovers, boyfriends...not so much (my current partner has asked me not to write about him here for example). I have to admit though I became a little flustered at the thought of the PA President reading my sexual exploits, abortion stories, and stripper stories, but hey the personal is the political no?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ask and Ye Shall Have

The teal dress. I look insanely tired in this pic, not to mention not a chicho in sight. There is some nice cleavage though. I will wbe wearing the dress tommorow night and will take some pics to show the chicholiciousness. Ha ha

The Chichos are Coming

An ex-boyfriend of mine once named me "la reina de los chichos" and even got his then 6 or 7 year old son to call me that too. That ex-boyfriend, who said he loved me, had somewhat of a Jesus complex, thinking that just because I stopped stripping while I was dating him he had saved me. That ex-boyfriend 12 years my elder had the bad habit of pinching fat from my ample hips and speaking to my chichos as if they were separate from me. It wasn't : "Mala, are you hungry?" it was "Do the chichos want to be fed?". Hips and fat that carried babies and sat in jail cells were mutilated and animalized. I was not the sum of my internal and external "parts". I was just pedazos...de carne...de grasa.

A few weeks ago I slipped into a teal jersey knit dress that showed enough to be sexy but was still classy. I was going on a date to a nice restaurant for cocktails. My mother gave me the once over before saying, "Don't take this the wrong way...." followed by a long pause.
Usually when my mother says not to take something the wrong way it means she is about to utter something that can only be taken the wrong way. Maybe she was going to insult my latest choice in romantic partners. Maybe she was going to criticize me as a mother for daring to go on a date on a school night.
"You're not fat, but you should get a girdle, faja to keep your chichos in place."
la faja magica, the amazing pantyfaja and what seems like endless products like them flash across the screen in between novelas and cover the back pages of Spanish language magazines. They promise to hold my chichos in place. Hide my chichos. Where exactly do chichos belong? Where exactly should I hide them? Is it ever appropriate to show off my chichos, to say, "Yes this roll on my left side came from the slamming pernil abuelita made and this one over here I've had since I had my child."

My mother was right. I am not fat. I have the privilege of not being looked down upon or having a million stereotypes thought about me, my eating habits, my hygiene and my health as so many people who identify as fat do (and plenty of people who don't identify as fat too). But I still have chichos and I'll be damned if I'm going to hide them or squash them into submission.

Love me. Love my chichos.