Unbridled, Part IV: And the Sun Will Sing


Marit Rawley and The White World team surpassed our Kickstarter goal by more than four hundred dollars! A huge thanks to everyone who donated and helped spread the word. To read all about Marit and the project, please visit my special October 20 post.

In preparation for filming, we will perform a multimedia stage production of The White World as part of Women & Creativity, a month long celebration of women in the arts, sponsored by The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC). Mark your calendars for March 23-25, 2012, Wells Fargo Theatre, NHCC, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM, Sunday at 2:00 PM. Between now and then, check out The White World blog for regular updates on the project.

Flores, El Otoño y El Sol

Most Chicano kids from New Mexico grew up with abuelos or tíos who taught them life lessons through dichos.

Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.

Entre el dicho y el hecho hay un gran trecho.

Amor de lejos, amor de pendejos. (This one surfaced when I was seventeen years old and fell in love with a boy from northern New Mexico. Years later while in Chihuahua for a summer language immersion project, that love long behind me, I learned another version from my Chihuahuan host mother: Amor de lejos, felices los cuatro.)*

Gary Glazner founded the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (APP) in 2004. The goal was simple: to read classic poems to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, poems that they might have learned as children. What began with Gary visiting Sierra Vista Assisted Retirement Community in Santa Fe as a project of New Mexico Literary Arts, has evolved into a nationwide program with affiliates in a number of states and Germany. I’ve worked with Gary and APP since 2009, when the project was looking for Spanish-speaking poets in New Mexico. Since then, I have translated William Blake’s The Tyger into Spanish, sung Las Mañanitas and De Colores, and acted out Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Eagle, but one of my favorite aspects of preparing for and delivering an APP workshop is finding the perfect dicho to go along with a particular theme.

Last Wednesday was Día de los Muertos and the coldest day so far this fall. It was my third visit to The Cottages. Grumpier Old Men played on the big screen television in the rec room. As staff members retrieved residents from their rooms, I introduced myself one by one to the half-dozen people sitting on couches and recliners, their laps covered with wool blankets. Mary was sleeping when I arrived, but she opened her eyes just as I approached her. When I told her why I was visiting, she said, “I used to write poetry. I don’t know how much help I’ll be today, though. I don’t remember much.”

I recited  Purple Cow by Gelette Burgess, followed by some group and individual call and response. Then we moved on to the dicho. Mucha flor en primavera, buen otoño nos espera. In English: Many flowers in the spring, a good autumn will bring. I moved around the circle, inviting each person to repeat each line after me. Many flowers in the spring. Many flowers in the spring. A good autumn will bring. A good autumn will bring. I crouched next to Mary and offered her my hand. Many flowers in the spring. She held my fingers. A good autumn will bring.

“Do I make something up now?” she asked.

“If you’d like to,” I said, “or you can say the lines with me.”

Many flowers in the spring.

She closed her eyes tight.

A good autumn will bring.

Then she opened her eyes, looked right at me, and said, “And the sun will sing.”

*Tune in next week for translations.

Published in: on November 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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