Friday, March 31, 2006

Lorna dice y dice -- prolific Xicana poet in Dallas this weekend!! Don't miss her!

My grrl Lorna Dee's in town (Dallas) for the Writes of Spring confab. But you gotta know that she and i have quite a little history: back in 1988, when i was doing the Naropa Institute summer program, she excitedly approached me at some Boulder bar open-mic, insisting that i submit work to her (now-legendary) litzine RED DIRT. Of course, I never submitted poems cuz i just wasn't doing that back then--i was into performing and sharing my work live onstages throughout the southwest. After that, de vez en cuando we would cross paths, like the time when raulrsalinas of Resistencia Bookstore brought her (AND Jose Montoya of the "Royal Chicano Air Force") to do workshops and perform in Austin. Back in '96 or so. She did a slammin' performance of her classic poem "Coffee", wherein she passionately lists off every single person by name who was murdered (we know it was the Mexican gov) in the Acteal Massacre. Tremendously powerful. Several years later, Lorna Dee contacted me--from her office in the Creative Writing Department at UC-Boulder--about joining her for a new project in Mexico. She had the idea to start an annual summer writing workshop at Isla Mujeres (Women's Island) off the coast of Cancun (a four dollar ferry ride floats you to the 5-mile long by half-mile wide--at its narrowest--sleepy little island), and she wanted me to be there as co-facilitator (literary bar-back, if you will).

The workshop, dubbed Taller Ixchel--after the Mayan goddess--was an opportunity for Chicanas (and other women) to meet up for a week of writing, thinking, lit discussions, some impromptu performances (i'll never forget one cypher in a late-night cantina), and, of course, plenty of swimming, drinking, and eating (mmmm, barracuda...mmmmm, Pacificos). We did this for two summers in a row with about 15 different women joining us from the States. Lorna Dee made sure we had the sweetest digs for our island stay, but i'd say that the second summer at la Mera Mera Mansion, the super-deluxe rental with three floors, oceanside pool, and volleyball court was damn near too much. (Imagine Lorna Dee giving a short talk on poetics as we encircle her in the pool on/in our own separate floaties.)

Lorna Dee's a prolific writer, but she doesn't publish often. Poetry collections such as EMPLUMADA and CABLES OF GENOCIDE: POEMS ON LOVE AND HUNGER are two of her earlier releases. Prior to the 2006 release of DRIVE, her last book was published in 1991. That's a long time between books, and when it's a book by Lorna Dee Cervantes, that's like a long time between sips of sumptuous, mineral-laden, thirst-quenching, natural springs water. Drink up, folks. The water is fine.

From Publishers Weekly:
"One of the first Chicana poets to achieve wide U.S. recognition, Cervantes did so with just two books, Emplumada (1981) and From the Cables of Genocide (1991); this substantial, versatile follow-up consists (subtitle not withstanding) of five distinct collections, that can be considered as discrete works. All show fire and range, and all draw on Cervantes's life on the streets as a teen and on her left-wing activism as an adult. The first, How Far's the War?, comprises poems of activism and protest against a global spate of injustices, from Latin American dictatorships to shortages in Eastern Europe: "La plumage de justicia hangs from the broken/ arrows of palabras [words] breaking the media block/ Of Truth and Consequences of Free Trade Agreements." The last, Hard Drive, collects warmly convincing poems of erotic and parental love, remembered, promised and achieved: "Come,/ and let us eat/ up the hours/ between us." BIRD AVE, perhaps the strongest, concentrates on Cervantes's youth, recalling "what girls/ did in/ the barrio/ to get/ their 15/ minutes of fame." About 10 poems are abbreviated appropriations of very famous poems by Bishop, Williams and others, with new titles. But this five-in-one volume reestablishes Cervantes as a singular voice."

And, finally, here's the exhortation (poem advertisement?) that exploded outta me the very night that i sipped from DRIVE for the first time:

drop everything (for lorna)

drop your underwear to your feet
drop your drawers to the floor
drop your quarters outta your pocket
forget to pick up the magic penny from the street
drop your lines on opening night
drop your knees as if to make things right
drop everything drop everything
drop the beat
drop the rhythm drop a beat, drop the music
if you have to , for a minute
even the tears that must be dropped
they must be, drop the rain, make sure you
let it go, let it drop
let the spills tranquil the rivers, make certain
song on the levee
but drop everything drop everything drop everything

drop mathematics
forget that subtraction scuffs the world
drop the fingers on the keys
drop the dripdry clothes
drop the coins into universal slots like eyes
newly-opened from the dark
drop the gumdrops, the cordial gems
that gum the teeth, drop even them,
drop all things lemon and cough and dew
drop the droppy droppping things
but drop everything drop everything drop everything

drop your people off at work
drop the names of all the fools
that forget to drop their egos at the door
drop the bop, drop the bebop, drop the flop and the flipflop

drop in, drop out, drop out and then drop back in again,
but i tell you, you gotta drop everything drop everything
drop everything i mean
everything, drop it drop it hard
drop it like it’s hot drop it like it’s hot
drop it like it’s hot
but drop it
and then let the other shoe drop
let everything drop
drop everything drop everything drop everything drop every---

and please,
(ya gotta)

drop your bad english accent
drop all pretensions
drop even your i-n-g’s
drop kick your jesus through the
goalposts of life
drop the mail in the mail drop
drop the clothes off at the cleaners
drop the dollop of whipped cream
in the coffee cup
drop a penny in the blind man’s tin plate
but drop everything drop everything drop everything
drop drop drop drop
drop the needle in the haystack
drop the pinprick in the hysteria
drop the pindrop so it’s noisy
drop the windchop so drop the sail
and drop the drama
with your egg soup
on your drop down menu

drop your shoulders
drop your weapons
why resist
drop your classes

drop the subject
and the object
drop the preposition
and drop the proposition
and all your plans,
yes, drop your plans,
drop acid and drop the charges,
drop the ball, fumble it even, just drop it/but drop it,
drop your hatcheck
drop the formality
drop the temperature
and drop your boyfriend,

drop it drop it drop everything

and please
read lorna dee cervantes

march 2-3, 2006
(wreck room to my room)
after reading DRIVE at the Wreck Room on a thursday night accompanied by a bottle of Rahr Blonde and to the beat of
African drum music on KNON-FM.

Advance yourself with your own DRIVE experience. HIghly recommended.

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