Posts Tagged ‘photography’

©Angelo J. Sandoval
9.3.2014

I look toward the New Mexico sky,
the heavens above
sun sets approach the day
evening sets in,
the clouds, fire red
turning bright orange as the sun sets.

The clouds, silent
as the day passes
the clouds witness the
beauty that is New Mexico
and the ugliness, just the same

These silent clouds hold in them
the secrets of negativity,
the load voices of a people from an Enchanted Land.

These silent clouds
burn with the Sun’s rays
as Father Sun
makes his way behind the
Jemez Mountains.

These silent clouds
keep secrets hidden
in their soft fluffy woolly body
the secrets of enchanted dreams
and repulsive nightmares

These silent clouds
protect word of
prayers uttered by
enchanted hearts and souls
the clouds silence has
no room for judgment
only a healing presence.

The glow of fire sun as it sets
The clouds take your words with them
as they fade in the night sky

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©Angelo J. Sandoval
    8.28.2014

I look into the heavens
old man Cloud,
I notice his face
pale white pressed on
blue skies.
Rains have come by his grace.
Expressed expression
of sadness are evident
as old man Cloud has
one eye closed in
painful emotions.
Old man Cloud
Saddened by the horrors
Death dying
children suffering
adult world horrors.
Violence defaces
Mother Earth
Old man Cloud
mourns
mourns

Old man Cloud
Fades from Father Sky
broken
defeated
Old man Cloud
mourns

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Less the one hour before midnight on December 11, 2013 I am seating on my couch watching La Mananitas a La Virgen de Guadalupe on Univison. I have been watching Las Mananitas for at least the last 12 years. I remember the first time I found out about the 2 hour long program, I was excited. I made sure to get my VCR ready to record the live event to add to my collection of videos. To my surprise, my grandma told me that Las Mananitas comes on every year on the eve of Guadalupe’s feast day. I was extremely excited to be able to witness the beautiful songs that were being shared by many individuals at the Basilica. I made a promise to myself to one day go visit Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe at her Basilica.

As far back as I can remember I have had a great devotion for La Virgen Morena. It wasn’t till some time in my later years in high school that I was given an article that talked about the images within the image of Guadalupe. I became extremely interested in the secrets that where hidden in plain sight. The advent of home based internet had become a reality in Cordova. I spent hours searching for more information about the image of Guadalupe and found the account of her appreciation in Spanish, English and Nauha. I was in heaven. I was learning about an image that has been around 471 years. Today it’s been 482 years since the appreciations took place. I spent a lot of time researching her image and learning about her Catholic meaning only to find that there is a meaning that is older then what I had ever imagined.

Though all this background is great to discuss with you, I want to get to the real reason for this blog post. This post is to give honor to La Guadalupana for all she has done for me with her intercessional prayers during some difficult times in my life.

My connection and deeping devotions to la Guadalupana began in the summer of 2005, I found out earlier that year that I was going to become a father for the first time. I was not prepared to be a father. I had no home, no stability; I was still in college and living a fairly free life style. Well, as we all know life happens and bam I am going to be a father. Not many people know this, but I had a difficult time accepting the reality of parenthood. In July of 2005 I made a trip from Juarez, Mx to the Federal District in Mexico City, Mx. I was part of a group of about 20 total, including the instructors. Every city or village we stopped between Juarez and Mexico City I visited every church I could offering prayers. Searching for answers to my soon to be role in this world, a father. We arrived in Mexico and we visited the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, I visited as many churches and chapels within the grounds. At the end our time there I had found peace of heart and mind that I would be a great father to my soon to be born child. I visit and took a few pictures as a reminder of my trip and the esperanza I had found being in the home of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. I returned home full of esperanza and I haven’t turned back since. I am now the father of two beautiful daughters, Esperanza and Isabella. Both sleep under a blanket with the image of La Guadalupana. My faith in her intercession is as deep as my roots in my home town of Cordova.
Since my visit to the Basilica, my increased interest in photography and my new interest in poetry I have photographed many murals, statues and other images of Guadalupe. My first poem about Guadalupe I wrote while I was in El Paso during a week of field work with my master’s program. I was a student at New Mexico Highlands University. This poem reflects how Our Morenita is always with us. How she is always just around the corn and available to use for prayer and guidance.

A few years ago El Santuario de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe had a statue erected in front of the Santuario. I remembered that when the statue was being brought over from Mexico it was held up by customs. It was held for a few days or weeks. I don’t remember the exact time. I wrote poem to reflect that La Guadalupana was with her children, always. She became a victim of the border injustices that many of our people are facing daily. This poem reflects on how La Guadalupana accompanies her children though their tribulations.

In 2012 I took Amanda to celebrate her birthday in Alburquerque. We met up with our friend Ruzita while we were there. Ruzita took us to see a carving of La Guadalupana made by her father many years ago. This is a beautiful image and profession of faith. It was an honor to have been able to see this great image. The devotion and faith that went in to create this image was increditable. I was humbled by the great faith and work that went into creating this image.

This was a sad year for my family. My Tio Onivas passed away. He was one of the most faithful children of La Guadalupana. He would sing her song almost daily. He would sing at the top of his lungs and he could care less what anyone thought. His faith and devotion was deep in his heart and soul. One of his last wishes was that an image of La Guadalupana be painted on his casket, he asked local tattoo artist, Johnny Baca to paint the image for him. Johnny honored my Tio’s request, but instead of painting her image he used a wood burning. I know my Tio was happy with the work Johnny created for his casket.

The last few months I have been busy at work and not put time aside to write poetry, but I do take the time to photograph any image I find of La Guadalupana. I have created an extensive collection of images of Guadalupe. I know she is with me daily because she makes her presence known when I least expect it. For example, I took Amanda to see Ozomatli in concert for her birthday. As we are traveling south on 2nd street on our way to have dinner at El Paisa with our friend Andrea I spot a two murals with La Guadalupana. The next day I make a trip to photograph the image. It was a beautiful mural. During that same trip we went to Santa Fe and visited the Santuario of Guadalupe at night. I took some great photos and a poem soon came to me. This was the first time I had see this statue at night and it was a powerful view. Again, I knew that Guadalupe would be by my side no matter what I was going though.

In this blog I have provided links to my poems and images of Guadalupe. I hope she inspires your to create beautiful poetry, that she guild you in times of need and give you hope in good and bad times. My devotion is deep and I wanted to share a small piece of my faith with you on the eve of her feast as the night moves toward her feast day. I hope you have enjoyed the poems and images. Please share your stories on the comment section of this blog!

Here are a few more images for your devotion and prayers.

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Let us meet this month’s Speak, Poet feature, Rich Boucher. Rich is a contributor the 2nd Anniversary blog post Reflecting on the 2 year anniversary of Speak, Poet and a contributing Poet to my anthology,  “Palabras O Muerte: Vivan Los Escritores”.

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A past member of five national poetry slam teams (Worcester, Mass. (x2), Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del. and Albuquerque, N.M.), Rich has published four chapbooks of poetry and for seven years hosted an open reading and slam in Newark, Delaware. Since moving to Albuquerque in March of 2008, Rich has been performing and writing steadily in the Duke City, and is a regular contributor/editor at localpoetsguild.wordpress.com. In 2012 Rich was named to the first inaugural Albuquerque Poet Laureate Selection Committee for a two-year term, and his participation helped to select Hakim Bellamy, the City of Albuquerque’s first official Poet Laureate. Rich’s poems have appeared in Artistica, Red Fez, Adobe Walls: An Anthology of New Mexico Poetry, Apeiron Review, Boston Poetry Magazine, Brawler, The Bicycle Review, The Camel Saloon, CARNIVAL, Citizens for Decent Literature, Crack the Spine, Dead Beats, Delaware Poetry Review, Epigraph, Eunoia Review, Extract(s), Fickle Muses, Grey Sparrow Journal, HyperText, The Lake, Leaves of Ink, Lyre Lyre, Neon, The Rag, The Malpais Review, Clutching at Straws, Shot Glass Journal, Missive, Mutant Root, ppigpenn, Poydras Review, quarter after, Sparkbright, The Subterranean Quarterly, The Mas Tequila Review, The Yellow Ham, Visceral Uterus, Borderline, 200NewMexicoPoems,The Legendary and The Nervous Breakdown. In January of 2012, Rich appeared on the album, “Dylan – Philadelphia pays tribute to a Legend”, an album featuring various Philadelphia artists performing covers of Dylan songs to benefit Amnesty International and the End Hunger Network; Rich’s contribution to the album was a spoken-word rendition of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages”. Hear some of his poems at richboucher.bandcamp.com. In March of 2013, Rich’s poem, “In Memory of My Neighbor, Carol, Who Has Not Died Yet” was named one of Brawler’s Best Poems of 2012”. 

Through out my time in school, weather it was high school or collage literature, especially poetry were my least favorite subjects to take. Slowly I began to find poets and poetry that talked about events, people and history that I could identify with, but the list was short. Not many brown poets. The focus in class were on poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson and Shakespeare to name a few. I wondered where all the Chicano/Mexicano/Indigeno poets were at.

The summer of 2011 I was spending a week in Alburquerque with my new job. I received an invitation by Andrea J. Serrano to a poetry reading, Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido. Amanda and I attended the inaugural reading featuring Cathy Arellano and Ara Cruz. I didn’t know that this reading was going to become a monthly event. Then I received an invitation in July then August and so on an so forth.

Since the first reading in June of 2011 I was standing behind my camera taking photos of all the poets who have come through Speak, Poet. After a few months I realized that I was capturing the faces of poets of all walks of life, from all backgrounds and ethnicities. It was a great thing that was taking shape. At that point I knew I had to make every effort to attend Speak, Poet every month to capture every poet who featured and who stepped up to the Mic-less open mic. Finally, what I was once searching for was becoming a reality. Poets who I could relate too. I knew that this was the beginning of a great thing.

In April of 2012 I started a blog dubbed after the nickname given to me by Andrea Serrano. The nickname was El Razafotografista. I started my blog initially to promote my photography and poetry, but then realized that part of promoting my photography I could promote the poets from New Mexico. I started to take images I had taken at past readings and posting them on my blog and Andrea would allow me to copy and paste biographies of the featured poets. I realized that by creating those blog posts I was creating in cyberspace a corner where youngsters could read about poets who they could identity with. I was beginning to create a collection of faces that were writing words that many of our youth could identify with. My search for Chican@ poets was over. I had found the treasure I had been looking for and now I am sharing this treasure with all of you.

Standing behind the camera waiting for the right moment to push the shutter button, to capture that expression that gives the viewer a glimpse into the emotion the poet was expressing at that moment, as he/she spoke their truth. I has been a honor to have met and photographed many of Nuevo Mexico’s greatest poets and I know there is hidden, talented poets out there I hope to photograph in feature readings at Speak, Poet.

In this blog post I have invited Andrea Serrano, Cathy Arellano, Amanda Salinas, Fernando Lopez, Rich Boucher and Michelle Otero to give a reflection on their thoughts regarding the last two years of Speak, Poet. Here are their reflections and thoughts. I hope you enjoy these heart felt words and the photography that started my endeavor to document and promote as many Nuevo Mexicano Poetas.

GUEST WRITERS

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Logo by: Fernando Lopez

When I was asked to do the logo for Speak Poet I was excited. I wanted to give back to something that meant a lot to me. I remember a friend, and fellow artist of mine and a conversation we had on how the most abundant and significant plant is the corn stalk. At that point I pretty much knew what I wanted to say in the logo. Andrea Serrano our host and founder of Speak Poet mentioned she wanted the Albuquerque’s city’s skyline in the logo. So what I tried to do was make that skyline unmistakable, and giving that our voices are our microphones. I wanted to have the mic bursting out of the corn stalk, representing each of us. Standing strong and radiating behind the city. The task was fun, and it is my hope that I captured a bit of what Speak Poet is.

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Andrea Serrano and Fernando Lopez unveiling the new Speak, Poet Logo.

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Andrea J. Serrano

In June, I canceled Speak, Poet for the first time in two years. My dad had just gotten out of the hospital and we found out that his prognosis wasn’t good. I was exhausted and the thought of hosting an event terrified me. I didn’t think I could handle it and without explanation, I put a simple message on Facebook – and that act alone took a lot of energy. The next month, when I was ordering the cake for the two year celebration, I found myself worrying that no one would show up. What if June’s abrupt cancelation was so offensive that no one would return? What if there was no more Speak, Poet?

I find that I often worry about Speak, Poet. I worry that there won’t be enough food, or that people will be uncomfortable. I worry that the building will be locked and I worry that I will fall down the stairs. I have learned that a small dose of anxiety before an event is normal and when it comes to Speak, Poet, there is no need to worry: the community always shows up
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I never have enough words to describe what a blessing the Speak, Poet family has been in my life. What started out as an experiment has become a cornerstone to my creativity. I know that on the second Thursday of the month, I’ll be doing what I love and I’ll be among friends and family who never cease to amaze me with their words, their courage, their laughter and their presence. I love when someone reads for the first time; I love when Rich Boucher taunts the crowd into shouting “SPEAK, POET!” I love seeing our friends from Northern New Mexico join us each month and I love the sight of looking up and seeing so many genuinely loving faces. The fact that all of this is captured by El Razafotografista means we are capturing a story of community.

We weave stories, create connections and leave with our hearts a little fuller. Speak, poets, and speak loudly.

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Rich Boucher

Together We Will Find the Right Words:
A Reflection on the Second Anniversary
of Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido

I remember that it was a really hot June night, a real slow scorcher. And I remember thinking when I saw the place (El Chante: Casa de Cultura) how many times had I walked right past it and not given it a second look? I remember loving that the reading took place in a HOUSE, a real house with two stories to it and a front porch. It reminded me of the Art House, the little place on Delaware Ave in Newark, Delaware, by the University, where I’d hosted an open mic and slam night for years before I moved to New Mexico. I remember feeling excited to check it out, and very much wanting this night to be a booming success for my friend Andrea Serrano. Andrea and I had grown to be friends and colleagues in the local poetry scene here in Albuquerque, well before the start of this reading, and I was behind her endeavor one hundred percent. I remember my girlfriend Rhiannon and I finding seats and watching the place just fill up. It was obvious from the first night that this place would be packed to the rafters easily and every night. I remember so many strangers’ faces, strangers who through poetry would soon become the friends I’ll be forever grateful for. I remember hearing for the first time a night of poetry where much of it was in Spanish and I remember listening and learning and slowly growing to love the sound of the poetry of New Mexico in the mother tongue of this land.

From that first night, where I debuted my poem “Dark Jade” (my anti-Sushi poem that I was happy to crack Andrea up with) and where I heard the work of Cathy Arellano and Denver’s Ara Cruz, and where I heard and met so many other excellent poets from all over New Mexico, and where I have personally witnessed a poetry reading doing good works for the community (and for individual members of the community), the phenomenon that is Speak, Poet has only grown in strength even as it has had to find a new home. I’m so fortunate to have even been the tiniest cog in this shining wheel. I remember Andrea confiding to me how nervous she was; I remember telling her that I’d been there, that I’d known what it’s like to wonder if anyone will really show up at all. To wonder if this thing has legs, to wonder if it has wings. Well, after tons of excellent features and open readings full of beautiful moments over a span of two years (so far!), there’s no reason to wonder about the future and promise of Speak, Poet anymore; there’s only the next milestone to reach for ahead of us.

Very Gratefully Yours,

Rich Boucher

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Cathy Arellano

Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra, y Sonido…Y qué ?!

Andrea Serrano had a dream, and every month poets, spokenword performers, filmmakers and photographers, singers and dancers, painters and sculptors, gardeners and farmers, activists, students and teachers, queers, Chicanos with Xs and without, African, Native, and Asian Americans, and more—we gather. Every month our voices, words, and sounds bathe dreams and pierce nightmares.

Many times I’ve craved Speak, Poet. My livingroom, your livingroom, our kitchen, our front porch, our stoop, our circle with the mic-less open mic. Live, up close, in person, and in color. I’ve driven my car holding my breath until poetry–in and out all of its forms–washed over me. Each month community reveals themselves, introduces their families, and brings back their dead. I’ve wanted, needed to share my poetry, my concrete homeland, my queer body, me. And, I—visitor, outsider—have been heard, seen.

Speak, Poet where community says, Y qué to the crooked boss! Y qué to the derelict law! Y qué to the unjust jail! Y qué to the jail-like school! Y qué to the language police! Y qué to all the people that would keep us out, alone, separated, unheard, unseen. The community of Speak, Poet; the community that is Speak, Poet: Incredible. Truly.

Speak, Poet touched me so deeply that I wanted my students to have their minds blown, their consciousness cracked, and their souls soothed. This fall marks the first year anniversary at Central New Mexico Community College of CNM Speaks: Poetry and Spoken Word Open Mic. Yes, I copied. Do you blame me? Each time poets conjure their worlds on campus or a student speaks her or his poetic fact or fiction, or someone says, “I needed that” or “I’m going home to write”—or, they pull out paper and pen and write something on the spot and read it (!), I know the rite is right.

I humbly offer sincere gratitude to Andrea for having the vision and the ovaries for birthing Speak, Poet. And thank you to every member of the Speak, Poet community who sustains it with each breath.

Finally, won’t the poems that have bounced off the mic-less open mic make one helluva anthology?

Y qué! Y punto final!

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Amanda Salinas
Photo used with permission.

Looking back 2yrs at Speak Poet, I think about hearing all the poets and seeing how they stood up there with such confidence. I remember when it was my turn to get up and read my poem, my very first poem writen and performed I was so nervous I’m not sure I read my poem out loud instead I whispered it quickly and promptly got sick outside! Andrea Serrano the creator of Speak Poet encouraged me to write, keep writing, and believed in me enough to have me as a feature for “Voices to listen for” A proud night for me and I still thank Andrea today for the encouragement. Speak Poet has been wonderful and I look forward to driving from Chimayo/Cordova just to see everyone and hear their poetry. Speak Poet has become a place where I feel comfortable enough to share my truth knowing everyone there always has nice things to say a hug or smile to give just when you need it, even if they don’t know it. Andrea Serrano gave me a second chance at featuring a long side JoseLuis Ortiz and all though yet again I was nervous and didn’t quite use my time wisely I didn’t get sick again! It has been an honor to be a part of the Speak Poet family and hope 2yrs leads to many more come!

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Fernando Lopez

I moved to New Mexico in 2009 with a stack of bad break up poems and a mound of past regrets. I was an artist and poetry was just something kind of new to me. Never, would I have considered myself to be a poet or a writer. I couldn’t imagine myself being the type, writing for the sake of writing. How I grew up, such things were unheard of and pointless. The first time I heard anyone speak in that way was in fifth grade when my teacher Ms. Kelly showed us a video of Martin Luther King Jr in his famous “I have a dream speech”. It was then that something sparked in me. His speech would resonate with me, not only for what it meant but for the ferocity in his voice when he said it. I never realized such power existed, that simple words could mean and change so much. The first time I read at Speak Poet I remember a feeling just like that, it was infinite. I felt that I was a part of a revolution of artist and freethinkers standing in the company of one another sharing, peeling themselves to the very core with their words. For the first time, I heard my own voice and even though my hands shook and my voice quivered with every word. I got that same feeling I did when I heard that speech. What I love about Speak Poet is its mixture of seasoned poets (like those in this blog) and we, the people not so seasoned, yet equal, in our love of the word. A thanks to our host Andrea Serrano for giving us a gift, a safe place, a place of camaraderie and community, a place we all can call our home, a home for our words. Even my two younger sisters (teenagers) read for the first time there, I was so proud. Not long ago I got stopped by someone whom I never met before, asking me “hey you’re that poet from Speak Poet right”? And I was like, yeah I’m that poet.

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Michelle Otero

Speak, Poet is Nana’s kitchen after a big meal when your sisters and tíos and cousins and their kids and the neighbors and your niece and the nice güero boyfriend she brought home from college linger around the table and tell stories. Your tío who lost hearing in one ear during the war tells that one you love about the night he and your dad were walking home along the acequia after the dance and came face to face with La Llorona. Mama remembers the mean priest who used to shout, “You did what?!” from the confessional. He once gave her ten rosaries for penance. Your boy cousins take turns telling the time they were wrestling in Nana’s shower and broke her door, and she chased their naked bodies through the hallway and out into the yard.

Someone gets hungry again, and there are burritos and buñuelos and punch in rainbow colors. And it seems there are more people than when you started, and there’s no room to sit, and it’s hot, but everyone wants to be in the kitchen because that is where we are fed.

You remember those who have passed, those who were wounded. Someone pulls out a guitar. And you don’t know how it happens, but before the night ends, your niece, the shy one with the güero boyfriend, is reading something she wrote, and it’s the story of her and all of us, how we come together, how we are fed.

COLLAGES FROM PAST READINGS

Here are some post reading collages of Speak, Poet. The collages aren’t in any particular order. This is part of the Speak, Poet family and community. Thank you to all who have and continue to support this great community event every month.

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If you’re on Facebook please visit the Speak, Poet: Voz, Palabra y Sonido fan page. Also, drop by El Razafotografista and Campana de Esperanza Fotography Fan pages. For biographies of many of the poets whom have featured at Speak, Poet visit the archive of my blog. Like our pages and support great community events and local businesses!

To all of you who have participated in our family and community of Speak, Poet please share your reflections on the comment section of this post.

After a month’s hiatus, Española Poetry Explosion is back. July’s feature is Damien Flores. Join us July 31, 2013 from 6:00-8:30pm. There will becat least two rounds of the open mic. Let me introduce Damien Flores:

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Damien Flores hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received a BA in English and Chicano Studies from the University of New Mexico in 2009 and was recipient of the 2008 Lena Todd Award for creative non-fiction from the UNM English Department. He was named “Poet of the Year” in 2007 & 2008 by the NM Hispano Entertainer’s Association. Flores is best known as a member of the ABQ Poetry Slam Team as well as the two-time National Champion UNM Loboslam teams. He organized the College Unions Poetry Slam in 2008 and is also a four-time ABQSlams City Champion.His published works include: “A Novena of Mud” and “El Cuento de Juana Henrieta,” released by Destructible Heart and Culture Lab Press. His work has appeared in Bomb Magazine, The Daily Lobo, Duke City Fix, and The Underground Guide to Albuquerque. Flores has also been anthologized in Malpais Review, De Veras: Young Voices From the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Anthology, The 2006 National Poetry Slam Anthology, and A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Scene. Damien Flores is currently an educator in Albuquerque and hosts the Spoken Word Hour on 89.9 KUNM-FM.

On Tuesday June 18, 2013 we gathered at El Rincon de Los Trujillo’s, the residence of Pilar Trujillo, Adán Trujillo y familia. In a place and space where ancient wisdom has been passed down for generations. Wisdom that has sustained the people from Chimayo and many other mountain desert communities.

On this 18th day of June 2013 we gathered as community to learn ancient wisdom and knowledge of the people of Central Mexico. We learned about the hidden knowledge within the Aztec Sun Stone/Calendar. Our cosmetic identity and mission on this earth was brought to light by Maestro Mazatzin.

In this post photos of the evening are being shared. I have asked several community members to share a short reflection about the evening’s platica. It was an honor to have been able to document these great gathering.

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This image of the Aztec Sun Stone was taken in 2005. The Stone is at the Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

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Reflection by Pilar Trujillo:

It’s been quite some time that I’ve taken a deeper interest in learning more about who I am as a spirit in this sometimes ailing and painful body that can be wracked with emotions. I find myself yearning for the wisdom of my ancestros, knowing that for centuries they knew how to live in harmony with the tierra and each other. The Aztec calendar has long been something I’ve wanted to know more about. So when I heard that Maestro Mazatzin Aztekayolokalli was going to give a presentation in Albuquerque about it, I decided to go. But on the morning of the presentation, I didn’t feel well. I wanted to see him, but did not want my chronic health issues to flare up.

I really believe that if we open ourselves up to what Creator wants for us, things fall into place without strain. This was evidenced with how seamlessly the gathering was organized. It started when compadre Jorge García made a comment on compadre Luis Peña’s Facebook post saying that he wanted to bring Mazatzin up to the norte so that all of us could make a connection with him. I immediately offered our land and home for the following evening as a space for a plática. Then Luis offered to help with outreach. Our comadres Annette and Beata offered food. And just like that, the gathering was set. Several other people helped with food, drinks, documentation, setting up, etc. That’s the power of focusing your intentions and actions on a common cause: things get done!

The plática by Mazatzin was amazing. I keep reflecting on what it means to be an instrument of harmony, which is what an Azteca really is. I also learned a lot about myself in a very short amount of time, like how my day sign is Dog/Izkuintli, which gives me a lot of admirable traits, but must be balanced with rest and restoration or else I’m of no use to anyone.

As we wrapped up the evening with Maestro, I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I mentioned this to him as we chatted after the plática. And he agreed. Yes- we have all been waiting for this for a long time: to be re-introduced to who we really are, to our most sacred selves, our cosmic identities. El es Dios!

Reflection by Annette Rodriguez:

Earlier I’d been reading about the trials in Guatemala, where former President Efraín Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide against 1,771 indigenous Mayans. His scorched-earth attacks in the 1980s displaced at least 29,000 Mayans, and were meant to destroy the Ixil communities completely. When the verdict against him was read, the assembled Ixil men, women and children stood and called out to the judges, “¡Tantiuxh!” (“Gracis!/Thank you!”). My spirit was in mourning as I walked toward the gathering with Maestro Mazatlin. I thought of the centuries of loss, of pain, of displacement of our indigenous communities throughout what we now call the Americas. I thought of the distance between us all.

Yet, once across the field, as those I hold dear and those I am destined to hold dear assembled, I found strength as Maestro Mazatlin re-introduced us to our undeniable relationship to one another, and our responsibility to one another. The evening was an invitation to deeper and lasting alliance and affiliation. Rather than a romantic connection to an imagined Aztec past, we were invited to act in our real present. Reminded to recall, in each sacred day, our connection as colonized peoples and to continue the struggle to practice, to understand, and to connect as we always have, as our elders and our people have maintained since time immemorial. I am a daughter of Zacatecas, whose family was displaced to the Arizona and Southern New Mexico copper mines. Across a state-imposed distance, we retain our love of and connection to Juchilipa. I have often felt a cultural divide from Northern New Mexico, but I was deeply moved to be in a space with and created by hermanos y hermanas from Califas, Central México, the Norté, Sandia, Santa Clara, and Zuni Pueblos, and beyond.

As we gathered, Jorge Alberto Garcia Atilano discussed anti-Mexican state policies and social structures, like those we see in Arizona, Texas, and even in our local Whole Foods Markets. And in that moment, I saw that our action of assembling, learning and teaching was an act of resistance—on this evening, this was our shared responsibility. Maestro Mazatlin’s unfolding of histories of conquest and resistance, and his invitation for us all to reflect and act in relation to one another, to our responsibilities granted us by the creator, opened up rich potential for continued dialogue across borders, in the space and time we share.

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On May 17th and 18th El Santuario de Chimayo will be the site of a velacion y ceremonia that comes from Chalma, Estado de Mexico, Mexico. Danzantes from many parts of New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest will come together to honor El Cristo Negro de Chalma. I have been participating with this ceremonia for about 6 or seven years and I have been celebrating with my family for the fourth year. Amanda and I are the pardrinos of the Cendal, which is a cloth decorated with flowers that dresses the cross. This is our second year as padrinos. It has been one of the greatest honors bestowed on my family. As the days come closure to Friday we prepare the Cendal for the velacion y ceremonia. This time of year has similar spiritual gifts as the ones I gain during Cuaresma and Semana Santa. It is a time for spiritual healing, reflection, growth and re-energizing me for one more year of working with the ills that affect my community.

The Danzantes we have met in the past few years have become more they just friends. We have become familia. We have connected with a common spirituality that is difficult to describe with words. It can only be described in that prayer we share and offer for each other. I am also honored that the Danzantes have entrusted me to document this ceremony for them with my photography and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn about it as well. In respecting the sacredness of the ceremonia I don’t share the images I capture except for a couple which are at the end of this text. I believe that it is my obligation and duty as a photographer to respect the sacredness of ceremonia.

Many blessing have come to my little family of four. We have been given the opportunity to participate in a ceremony that has been here since pre-colonialization by Europeans. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful group of people whose heart and soul as huge as the universe. This weekend will be filed with prayer, blessings and great gente coming together in honor El Señor de Chalma y El Señor de Esquipula. Please come and join us in prayer.

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Photos used with permission by the Danzantes. Always keeping in mind that Danza is a sacred ceremony and a prayer. Please respect the photos by not downloading if you are not a danzante or do not have their permission. Thank you for understanding and respecting this sacred tradition.

On May 23 Española Poetry Explosion will be featuring from Alburquerque Cathy Arellano and Maneul Gonzalez two great poets. Lets meet Cathy and Manuel.

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Cathy Arellano writes poems and stories about growing up brown, coming out queer, and living as true as she can which is kinda crooked. Her poetry and prose collection Salvation on 24th Street will be published by Korima Press in Fall of 2013.

Also in 2013, three of her poems will be published in Feminist Formations out of the University of Arizona’s Women’s Studies Program. Cathy has had other work published in various publications, including Huizache (Literary Arts Journal of University of Houston-Victoria), The Malpaís Review, The Más Tequila Review, Turtle Island to Abya Yala: A Love Anthology of Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women, Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About, Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose, El Tecolote (San Francisco Mission District neighborhood newspaper), Cipactli (San Francisco State University’s La Raza Studies Program Journal), Fourteen Hills (San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing Program Journal), San Antonio’s Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s La Voz, La Bloga, and Duke City Fix. She was awarded the Hispanic Writer Award for the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference and a Literary Arts Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Cathy teaches Developmental English at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque. Occasionally, she teaches Creative Writing in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Program at the University of New Mexico. As much as she loves teaching in the classroom, she’s very happy to facilitate groups in the community, such as “Fact, Fiction, and Funk: A Writing Workshop for Women of Color” which she led at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

She looks forward to raising her and her partner’s son Amado and is curious to see how he finishes raising them. Cathy can be reached at carellanopoet@yahoo.com.

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Manuel is a performance poet who began his career in the poetry slam. He has represented Albuquerque many times on a national level as a member of the Albuquerque poetry slam team. Manuel has appeared on the PBS show, Colores, in “my word is my power.” He was one of the founding members of the poetry troupe The Angry Brown Poets. Manuel Teaches workshops on self expression and poetry in high schools and youth detention centers. He also works with an art therapist to help incarcerated young men express themselves. He is one of the coaches and mentors for the Santa Fe High Poetry Slam team. Manuel is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. His mother’s family is from Barelas. His father’s family is from a small town in Northern New Mexico called Anton Chico, and his father was the lead singer of the band Manny and the Casanovas. He identifies himself as being Chicano.The history, culture, and spirituality of his people are among his inspirations. “I’m proud to be from New Mexico, and to me it’s more than just green chile and desert. It’s seeing the value of famila and respect. It’s the rio grande valley and Santuario de Chimayo. It is feasts, dance, poetry and prayer.” His connection to his culture helps him connect to his students. Manuel Teaches poetry as a means for self expression. Looking within oneself and examining ones roots is the essence of the type of poetry he works with. Emotions, feelings, experiences, and prose in an historical and cultural context is the goal of his workshops. Self esteem, finding something to say, figuring out how to say it eloquently, and letting your voice be heard are just some of the benchmarks in Manuel’s workshop.

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Pow Wow
(c) Angelo J. Sandoval
       4-28-13

The beat of the drum
sounds on the streets
of Burque
Indiginous people gather
drum groups create the heart beat
a heart beat
a resilient heart beat
that has continued to beat
though times of
oppression
suppression
genocide attempts
with diseased blankets
cut of feet
trail of tears
battles in Santa Fe
Wonded Knee
reclaiming Alcatraz Island

Today, descendents
of warrior ancestors
gather and dance
colourful regalia
powerful feathers
the sound of chimes
together as one

The heart beat of
Turtle Island
strong as
drum groups
created prayer songs
as dancers offered
prayes with movement
ancestors of these land
honored by descendents,
of enduring Nations

Please keep in mind that Native American Dance is a prayer. I respectful ask that the images in this post not be downloaded for any purpose. Lets remember to respect the sacredness of the dancers prayers.