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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Richard Rodriguez Interview

I'm constantly depressed by the Mexican gang members I meet in East L.A. who essentially live their lives inside five or six blocks. They are caught in some tiny ghetto of the mind that limits them to these five blocks because, they say, "I'm Mexican. I live here." And I say, "What do you mean you live here — five blocks? Your granny, your abualita, walked two thousand miles to get here. She violated borders, moved from one language to another, moved from a sixteenth-century village to a twenty-first-century city, and you live within five blocks?

I know Mr. Rodriguez is referencing the mindset of gang members, but his words also apply to many Chicano/a poets of my generation. Including myself. Lately, I've been struggling with my poems because I feel they're too safe, too limited. My poems only roam through five or six blocks. I want my poems to be like the abuelita in Rodriguez's interview: I want them to violate borders, to move from one language to another.

Sigh. Time to tear my poems down again. Time to rebuild.

6 comments:

Steve Fellner said...

I am a bit concerned that you would excerpt this part of this interview without offering any critique of the harsh neo-conservatism. Rodriguez is a jerk; even in this passage there is such condescension to the gang-members. He shames them for not living their lives like their abualita! He doesn't even try to understand them--instead we get his ridiculous self-righteous scolding.

Wat about his weird take on bilingual education, multiculturalism?

If you need to have a touchstone, go back to Rodriguez rather than this asshole...

Steve Fellner said...

I mean go back to Donald Justice.

Eduardo C. Corral said...

Steve, just by naming myself a "Chicano" poet, I've set myself apart from Rodriguez's. viewpoints. And this divide is well-known terrain among Chicano/ Latina scholars. I spent my undergraduate career thinking and talking about this divide. I'm tired of it. I'm more interested in bridges.

Steve Fellner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
javier said...

What we need is an abuelita poetics.

Steve Fellner said...

Javier,

That is very funny. I looked at your blog; I was happy that you offered a supplement to what Eduardo gave people here. Rodriguez has seriously hurt his community in a similar way that Camille Paglia has hurt women.