Thursday, September 19, 2013

Live Wire Literary Journal

Last night, I took my English class on a mini field trip to the release party for Fullerton College's brand new literary journal, Live Wire.  I was a little conflicted about it, because my students have an essay due next week, and I wanted to talk more about paragraph development.  But that's kind of boring, and I believe inspiration is as important as knowledge, so we left the confines of the classroom and entered a world of inspiration.

I actually had a poem included in the journal, the first poem, and I got to be the first reader of the night.  My poem is called "Broken Spanish" and I wrote it for my friend Juan.  The president of Fullerton College actually mentioned my poem in his welcome address.  He said something like, "When I read 'Broken Spanish' I wondered what led that person to write that poem."  When my turn came to read, I began with, "President Vurdien, let me tell you why I wrote this poem," and I talked about Juan, about immigration, about Mexican American civil rights struggles, about segregation in Fullerton, about local history, about all the things over the past few years that have led to what I call "My Mexican Awakening."  And then I read the poem:

Broken Spanish

Por Juan, who has worked harder for his American Dream than anyone I know.

Orale, Juan,
Lo siento
Para Los Estados Unidos
y el pinche immigration policies.

Lo siento para tus hijos
who are citizens,
pero tu, tu eres "ilegal"

They say your English is "broken"
pero mi Espanol is terrible.

I think, yo pienso que,
es el color de your skin,
that los politicos no gustan.

Pero, let us remember
la historia.
California used to be Mexico.
And so, creo que it is yo, not tu,
who must learn the other's

Entonces, Juan,
this poema es para tu, 
mi amigo.
Lo siento.

I am trying to learn,
pero yo,
like muchos Americanos,
tend to forget things.

As I read it, I got pretty emotional because the poem deals with things that I have deep feelings about.  This idea of "confession," of speaking aloud things we tend to keep to ourselves (or in our journals) was a theme running through the whole night.  Listening to all these writers from all different ages, backgrounds, and experiences read aloud the secrets of their hearts and minds, reinforced for me the importance of literature, and the importance of publications like Live Wire, and the communities and conversations they inspire.

After the reading, we returned to our boring classroom, but (as I'd hoped) with heads full of ideas and inspiration.  We had a lively chat about the event, and a few people who'd never raised their hands in class before spoke their minds.  Writing, and the sharing of writing, has this power--to open doors of conversation, to give voice to the silences, to inspire us to keep expressing ourselves and sharing our unique, important voices.  Viva Live Wire!

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