Follow posts tagged #julia alvarez in seconds.Sign up
“The White House has disinvited the poets to a cultural tea in honor of poetry after the Secret Service got wind of a plot to fill Mrs. Bush’s ears with anti-war verse. Were they afraid the poets might persuade a sensitive girl who always loved to read, a librarian who stocked the shelves with Poe and Dickinson? Or was she herself afraid to be swayed by the cooing doves, and live at odds with the screaming hawks in her family? The Latina maids are putting away the cups and the silver spoons, sad to be missing out on música they seldom get to hear in the hallowed halls. . . The valet sighs as he rolls the carpets up and dusts the blinds. Damn but a little Langston would be good in this dreary mausoleum of a place! Why does the White House have to be so white? The chef from Baton Rouge is starved for verse uncensored by Homeland Security. NO POETRY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! Instead the rooms are vacuumed and set up for closed-door meetings planning an attack against the ones who always bear the brunt of silencing: the poor, the powerless, the ones who serve, those bearing poems, not arms. So why be afraid of us, Mrs. Bush? you’re married to a scarier fellow. We bring you tidings of great joy— not only peace but poetry on earth.”—“The White House Has Disinvited The Poets” by Julia Alvarez. Alvarez wrote this piece after Laura Bush, wife of then-president George W. Bush, cancelled a tea for poets because many quest speakers planned on protesting the War on Iraq.
“It was strange how when held up to the absolute phrase - the one toy I really want - nothing quite filled the hole that was opening wide inside Sandi. Not the doll whose long hair you could roll and comb into hairdos, not the loom for making pot holders that Mami was so thankful for, not the glass dome that you turned over and pretty flakes fell on a little red house in the woods. Nothing would quite fill that need, even years after, not the pretty woman she would surprise herself by becoming, not the prizes for her schoolwork and scholarships to study now this and now that she couldn’t decide to stay with, not the men that held her close and almost convinced her when their mouths came down hard on her lips that this, this was what Sandi had been missing.”
How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (1991) by Julia Alvarez
“Some things I have to say aren't getting said in this snowy, blonde, blue-eyed, gum chewing English, dawn's early light sifting through the persianas closed the night before by dark-skinned girls whose words evoke cama, aposento, suenos in nombres from that first word I can't translate from Spanish. Gladys, Rosario, Altagracia--the sounds of Spanish wash over me like warm island waters as I say your soothing names: a child again learning the nombres of things you point to in the world before English turned sol, tierra, cielo, luna to vocabulary words-- sun, earth, sky, moon--language closed like the touch-sensitive morivivir. whose leaves closed when we kids poked them, astonished. Even Spanish failed us when we realized how frail a word is when faced with the thing it names. How saying its name won't always summon up in Spanish or English the full blown genii from the bottled nombre. Gladys, I summon you back with your given nombre to open up again the house of slatted windows closed since childhood, where palabras left behind for English stand dusty and awkward in neglected Spanish. Rosario, muse of el patio, sing in me and through me say that world again, begin first with those first words you put in my mouth as you pointed to the world-- not Adam, not God, but a country girl numbering the stars, the blades of grass, warming the sun by saying el sol as the dawn's light fell through the closed persianas from the gardens where you sang in Spanish, Esta son las mananitas, and listening, in bed, no English yet in my head to confuse me with translations, no English doubling the world with synonyms, no dizzying array of words, --the world was simple and intact in Spanish awash with colores, luz, suenos, as if the nombres were the outer skin of things, as if words were so close to the world one left a mist of breath on things by saying their names, an intimacy I now yearn for in English-- words so close to what I meant that I almost hear my Spanish blood beating, beating inside what I say en ingles.”—Julia Alvarez, Bilingual Sestina
Cita a Favoritos.(from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents)
“They lay their machetes down on the side of the road, out of the way. Above them the sky is purple with twilight. The sun breaks on the hilltops, spilling its crimson yolk.”~ Pg 21
“They grew up in the late sixties. Those were the days when smoking a little dope and sleeping with their classmates were considered political acts against the military Industrial complex.”~pg28
“His face grew red with fury , but hers was more terrible in its impassivity, a pale ivory moon, pulling and pulling at the tide of his anger, until it seem he might drown in his own outpouring of fury.” ~pg 30
” [it’s] better to be a happy nobody than a sad somebody.”~ Pg 46
” It was more sardines in a can than you could shake sticks at”~ Pg 49
“Eve is lovely, a valentine hairline, white gossamer panties”~Pg 69
“Ignacio, offers to take Manuel Gustavo on as his own illegitimate son. He’s never married and is always ragged about being homosexual. so two men are of the hook with one bastard.”~ Pg 119
“What are you girls up to? he fires at us. we meet his look with bulletproof smiles„ stone faces on which, with his myopic macho vision, he can’t make out the writing on the walls.”~pg 129
” with patience and calm, even a burro can climb a palm”.~ Pg 138
” I ended up in the front seat right under the cavernous cobalt-blue nostrils [ of Dona Charito]”. pg 246
” Your head is in the clouds, girl. Watch out for the thunderbolt!” Pg260
” Thank you is bare, put butter on my bread…Thank you very much, I buttered.” ~ pg 276
” I was womanish, and up, up the rib cage, where the heart sat like a crimson drum itself among ivory drumsticks, and then the drumming rose like wings making my shoulders shrug, my arms lift, my wrists flick and down came the drumsticks” ~pg 277-78.
Sometimes it touches me more when i hear
a phrase in Spanish rather than English.
We’re walking in the campo and a friend
warns me to steer clear of that thorny bush,
Esa mata hay que respetarla.
(That plant is one you have to respect.)
My old niñera answers my compliment
that she is looking younger every year,
Los años no perdonan a nadie.
(The year don’t forgive anyone, doña!)
She calls me doña who once ran my world
proof of her point that time topples us all,
but her saying it in Spanish goes deeper
and stirs the sediment at the bottom
of my heart, so the feeling is stronger,
more mixed in with everything else I am,
leaving nothing unfeeling which is why
I’ve been accused of overreacting
when I change countries and forget myself.
It’s puzzling then that I write in English,
as if I have to step back from myself
to be able to say what I’m feeling
the way sometimes we have to get away
from the place we were born or from someone
we love in order to know who we are.
Yet as I write in English I murmur
the world over in Spanish to be sure
I’m writing down the truth of what i feel.
(Que escribo lo que siento de verdad.)
— Julia Alvarez, The Woman I Kept to Myself