Monday, June 17, 2013

Destiny Brought Us Together: Dinorah Cortés Vélez and Teresa Vázquez at Palabra Pura, Wednesday, June 19

Last December, shortly after the Guild Complex invited me to be the curator of their June 2013 Palabra Pura evening, I left for Puerto Rico to spend the Christmas holidays. I didn’t have an idea of whom I was inviting as guest poets. As the emcee of the first five years of Palabra Pura, I knew that all the local Latino poets that I know had already been invited. I was hoping to invite someone that had never been invited before; give new voices a chance to be part of this great bilingual poetry series. The people of the Guild Complex wanted me to give them the names of the participating poets and, even worst, a theme for the evening I was going to curate. Here I was in Puerto Rico with a hundred family parties and holiday celebrations, having the book release of my new book, invitations for other readings and book presentations, all without a clue of what I was going to do. I was able to spend some time with a good friend of mine, Professor Leticia Ruiz of the University of Puerto Rico/Aguadilla Campus, who did the presentation of my book. I shared with Leticia some of the new poems of my new manuscript and, while we were talking about my poems and the subjects that I was writing in what I hope to be my next book, she suggested that I should buy a book by an author unknown to me, Dinorah Cortés Vélez. Leticia pointed out that Dinorah’s book, El arca de la memoria: una biomitografía, (The Chest of Memory: A Biomythography), had some connections with my poems. The next day I went to a bookstore and got Dinorah’s book. When I read the bio included in the book, I was surprised to find out that she was living in Milwaukee. After reading a few pages of the book, I felt in love with it. I knew right away that she was predestined to be one of my guess poets for Palabra Pura.

I still had to invite a second poet; this time, new technologies came to the rescue. One night I was on Facebook and I noticed a familiar name left a comment in a friend’s post. I immediately contacted her to ask her if she was the same Teresa Vázquez that was included in the anthology, Between the Heart and the Land / Entre el corazón y la tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest, that Brenda Cárdenas and I co-edited for MARCH/Abrazo Press in 2001. When Palabra Pura started, Teresa was one of the writers I put on a list of poets we needed to invite, but the email that I had was no longer active. Teresa was one of my favorite poets from the anthology. We share the same last name and she is also from the Caribbean (in her case Cuba, pero es lo mismo). She is so spectacular that, even though we don’t look anything alike, I used to introduce her as mi hermana. Teresa has a beautiful voice that you always want to listen to. She did performances that included original spoken words and music that explored “the continuums of sound and meaning.” Thank God she recorded her work in the audio chapbook A Woman Loving. People not only wanted to read her poems; they wanted to hear her voice reading her astounding words. Since the time that the anthology was published and we used to do readings together, Teresa moved to Indiana where she currently works. Luckily, she is not that far and she still has family in Chicago. I’m so happy that I finally found Teresa so she can participate in Palabra Pura. 

Let's enjoy one of their poems:

*Secuencia de Eva
En el Jardín del Edén
palidece la serpiente.
Siseante de ponzoñas,
a Eva dirige su inquina,
no porque a menos la tenga,
sino que, formidable rival,
más a Dios se le parece 
en su poder gestar vida.

Dispensador de menstruos
y parturientos dolores,
Dios dizque pasa factura
a la imprudencia de Eva.
Pletórica de lunas,
sincronizada su hora 
con el divino reloj:
en un tic tac reverbera
sapiencia del acto creador.

*Sequence of Eve
In the Garden of Eden
the serpent turns pale.
Hissing poisons
it directs its spite at Eve,
not because it thinks less of her,  
but instead because, formidable rival,
she better resembles God 
in her ability to gestate life.

God, dispenser of menses
and labor pangs,
makes Eve pay, so they say,
for her imprudence.
Bursting with moons,
her hour synchronized
with the divine clock,
the wisdom of the creative act 
in one tic toc. 

*By Dinorah Cortés-Vélez from Cuarentena y otras pejigueras menstruales (Quarantine and Other Menstrual Trifles) (Editorial Isla Negra, Puerto Rico, 2011).Translate by Dinorah Cortés-Vélez and Michael Roeschlein.

**Sin Querer / Queriendo
Lo que no se dice
Lo que no se puede decir
Lo que no vale la pena
Los deseos que se aguantan
Cuando uno no tiene palabras
Para donde la imaginación logra llegar
La vista gorda 
La mano grande
Los mangos bajitos
Como el que no quiere las cosas
Sin querer, queriendo
A veces, sí es fácil
Estar parada
En la senda del peligro.

**Without Love / Wanting
What is not said
What cannot be said
What’s not worth the trouble-
Reigned desires
When one has no words to describe
The place where imagination has succeeded in taking you
The averted glance
The big hand
Easy fruit
Eaten like someone who didn’t want it
Without meaning to, wanting
Yes, sometimes it is easy
To stand
In the path of danger.

**By Teresa Vázquez from Between the Heart and the Land / Entre el corazón y la tierra; Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press, Chicago, 2001).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.