“el sol” The sun pulls him deeper into his womanpart dreams and mi voz se convierte en golondrinas que volan hacia todas direcciones “el sol” Flying into bird pieces, he begins to sing his song in all the streets and alleys of the North American continent, like DaddyWhitman as much as Daddy-Mestizo, giving jive-names to special places “sanjo,” “juaritos,” “la feniquera,” “el valle,” “en las junglas nuevayorquinas,” singing through the “borracheras y putismes of amsterdam to alabama. …” When the sunny afternoon cools off, his swallows fly back into his head while he sips a lukewarm beer and lets his thoughts flow off the tip of his pen. Finally it is the day of his leaving. Artfunding for his mota and whiskey has run out. He has lunch with the Director of the Santa Fe Council on the Arts, Suzanne Jamison, and promises to write a line or two about the arts i saw, the suicidal tree print was riotous, the hollywood indian at the indian art fest, and the quasi indio things “nos sentamos” Then he begins the long mind-float downstream and back home to El Paso, scrawls his last words of the Sanchez Report on the dashboard and across the windshield, throwing thumbs down to a couple of popular artists and big names of Southwest Art & Literature, but blessing the sufferers the retired activist Raza Unida man, Juan Jose Pena, and the habitual felon Nonie Tenorio who had declared that he would fast and die to Ricardo, who understands the wish for a fasting “death of hope filled hallucinations” in the face of life imprisonment. Permission to live, permission to die. He also salutes his oldest brother Manolo, recollects becoming closer through drinking and singing together. He pulls into the city limits of his border birthplace, the two-faced El Paso, “southernmost city of New Mexico, westernmost city of Tejas” you are loved for being a landing pad for many a people seeking quivara, and you are hated for being an illusion to those who seek meaning in the sunsets o’er your mountains where he waits for funding again to go exploring. The editor said I could be subjective in this review, because I knew Ricardo from some of those towns beyond Horizon City and once shared a home of bookstore basement reality, working families together to make the bucks and to survive between phone calls from Arts Councils with hot Art questions that only poets can answer. But I didn’t trust my Spanish or my own good instinct for rare treasure, so I turned to another part-time instructor who shared community college office space with me this summer. I knew she was teaching Spanish even though her accent was decidedly Southto-Midwest, and I also wanted to hear what she might say about this amazing ability I find in Ricardo, to invent a language covering a golondrina heritage -international bird talk of alleys and countries and highflying spaces, a language improvised from multifabrications, how very nize, bro, and spenditudinous. The Spanish teacher took the book home but wouldn’t give into it. “Oh yez,” she said, “he’s arrogant, and has his moments, but this you see should be a ‘vee’ and not a `bee’, a spelling sin we teachers see most commonly in these border people.” She spoke to me wit de beeg blue ays from underneath a blonde fedorish wig. I asked her where she learned her Spanish to get this job at the college. “Oh, I took it,” she sez, “for many years but couldn’t speak it until I finally gave myself over to Mexico and lived there.” “How long?” “Six weeks.” Now hadn’t Ricardo already warned us of graduates from the D.H. Lawrence School of Manito Thought? I took the book from the pseudo-educated gavacha, insulting her now in my newly expanded vocabulary, expanded as always from exposure to Sanchez word play. So forget the attempt to throw objectivity into the atole pot. My head is now rattling and over-stimulated with odd art dialogue and weird new words and visions of the complex territory called Mestizoland,. where Ricardo rules. In Search of Rivera BY DAVE OLIPHANT THE SEARCHERS: COLLECTED POETRY By Tomas Rivera Edited by Julian Olivares Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1990 112 pages, $7.00 FROM THE BEGINNING of the Chicano movement, poetry played prominent role in motivating la raza and in publicizing its need for political muscle to effect social and economic change. As recently as the September 16 issue of the Observer, a poem by Tino Villanueva \(in Spanish with a facing-page translation by James Poet and literary critic Dave Oliphant lives in Austin. ation then existing when Chicanos suffered silently in the face of biased textbooks that branded their people as “more treacherous than Indians.” Ten years later, in 1969, Ricardo Sanchez looked forward to leaving prison and to forming part of the Chicano movement, ready to “pick up a gun” for la raza chicana, “to fight our common enemy.” The poem by Sanchez, which dates from the last year of a violent decade, is included in his Selected Poems from Arte Publico Press, which has now brought out The Searchers: Collected Poetry by Tomas Rivera, author of the now-classic “… y no se lo trago la tieral … and the earth did not devour him,” winner of an award for the best Chicano novel of 1969-70. with Villanueva and Sanchez a vision of a better day for la raza, all three having experienced the evils of prejudice and exploitation in their native Texas, Rivera did not express his anger so directly or vehemently as his fellow Texans. Instead, Rivera, in both his prose and poetry, employed a subtler art in his struggle against those who denied the Chicano’s cultural values, abilities, and human dignity. Not that Rivera did not at times resort to an open attack on those who made him “eat shit / in a taco laughing, all laughing.” Certainly one of the most disturbing sections of the title poem of The Searchers levels a searing indictment against misguided public school regulations and the treatment of migrant workers: We are not alone when we were whipped in school for losing THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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