Bendición: The Complete Poetry of Tato Laviera

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Poetry, United States on 2016-01-17 02:17Z by Steven

Bendición: The Complete Poetry of Tato Laviera

Arte Público Press
346 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-55885-800-8

Tato Laviera (1950-2013)

Introduction by: Laura Lomas
Preface by: Nicolás Kanellos

“i think in spanish / i write in english / i want to go back to puerto rico / but I wonder if my kink could live / in ponce, mayaguez and carolina.” Born in Puerto Rico but raised in New York City, Tato Laviera’s poetry reflects his bilingual, bicultural Nuyorican existence while celebrating the universality of the human condition and his European, indigenous and African roots.

Tato Laviera explores identity, community, urban life, oppression and much more in these multi-layered pieces that spanned his too-short life. Many deal with themes specific to the immigrant experience, such as the sense of alienation many feel when they are not accepted in their native or adopted land. In “nuyorican,” he writes about returning to his native island, only to be looked down upon for his way of speaking: “ahora regreso, con un corazón boricua, y tú / me desprecias, me miras mal, me atacas mi hablar.”

Music and dance, an integral part of Puerto Rican life, permeate Laviera’s verse and pay homage to the Caribbean’s African roots. “i hear merengue in french haiti / and in dominican blood, / and the guaracha in yoruba, / and the mambo sounds inside the plena.”

Including all of his previously published poems and some that have never been published, these are bold expressions of hybridity in which people of mixed races speak a combination of languages. He skillfully weaves English and Spanish, and frequently writes in Spanglish. The importance of language and its impact on his identity is evident in poems entitled “Español,” “Bilingue” and “Spanglish.” Known for his lively, energetic poetry readings, Bendición represents an internationally recognized poet’s life work and will serve to keep Tato Laviera’s words and the issues he wrote about alive long after his death.

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Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora

Posted in Anthologies, Autobiography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Poetry, Women on 2016-01-17 01:22Z by Steven

Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora

Arte Público Press
248 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-55885-746-9

Edited by: Marta Moreno Vega, Alba Marinieves and Yvette Modestin

Afro-Latina women relate their personal stories and advocacy for racial equality

“My housewife mother turned into a raging warrior woman when the principal of my elementary school questioned whether her daughter and the children of my public school had the intelligence to pass a citywide test,” Marta Moreno Vega writes in her essay. She knew then she was loved and valued, and she learned that to be an Afro-Puerto Rican woman meant activism was her birth right.

Hers is one of eleven essays and four poems included in this volume in which Latina women of African descent share their stories. The authors included are from all over Latin America—Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela—and they write about the African diaspora and issues such as colonialism, oppression and disenfranchisement. Diva Moreira, a black Brazilian, writes that she experienced racism and humiliation at a very young age. The worst experience, she remembers, was when her mother’s bosses told her she didn’t need to go to school after the fourth grade, “because blacks don’t need to study more than that.”

The contributors span a range of professions, from artists to grass-roots activists, scholars and elected officials. Each is deeply engaged in her community, and they all use their positions to advocate for justice, racial equality and cultural equity. In their introduction, the editors write that these stories provide insight into the conditions that have led Afro-Latinas to challenge systems of inequality, including the machismo that is still prominent in Spanish-speaking cultures.

A fascinating look at the legacy of more than 400 years of African enslavement in the Americas, this collection of personal stories is a must-read for anyone interested in the African diaspora and issues of inequality and racism.

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