vineri, 18 august 2017

i luv gloria

21 mayo 80
 Dear mujeres de color, companions in writing - I sit here naked in the sun, typewriter against my knee trying to visualize you. Black woman huddles over a desk in the fifth floor of some New York tenement. Sitting on a porch in south Texas, a Chicana fanning away mosquitos and the hot air, trying to arouse the smouldering embers of writing. Indian woman walking to school or work lamenting the lack of time to weave wr riting into your life. Asian American, lesbian, single mother, tugged in all directions by children, lover or ex-husband, and the writing. It is not easy writing this letter. It began as a poem, a long poem. I tried to turn it into an essay but the result was wooden, cold. I have not yet unlearned the esoteric bullshit and pseudo-intellectualizing that school brainwashed into my writing. 
- Gloria Anzaldua, "Speaking in Tongues" in This Bridge Called My Back  

miercuri, 26 iulie 2017


Margarita, a girl (Mexican, that is) on her kindergarten (American,  that is) graduation day:
We are all wearing white, white dress, slip, socks, and, Miss Fernandez, is it alright if our hair is black? (Qtd in Vicki Ruiz's From Out of the Shadows)

duminică, 16 iulie 2017

Little lamb, who made thee?

Little lamb, who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'ver the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

William Blake, The Lamb (1789)

If I were to believe in a god, I would most certainly not believe in Jesus or the Almighty. Not in the paternal, powerful, threatening and always punishing God, since there are so many things I fail to understand in relation to him: who would be so cruel as to give life to his son and then give him death or who would be so mean as to treat his children differently based on their gender?  
Besides, I can understand or, better yet, accept death but I cannot understand illness. Ok, in his never-ending affection towards us, his children, God decides to punish us for our curiosity. For our thinking outside the box attitude and our creativity.
He decides that we need to die, but why can't we die with dignity? Why must we be so old, so vulnerable and so sick? Why would our father let us suffer so much?!
"The only one I ever liked was Jesus, the baby, the boy. I was always impatient with the crucifixion bit, and I was always mad at his so-called father. God, [...] You know, my grandmother mainly prayed to the Virgin, and, in fact, she told me the Virgin appeared to her in dreams, and once, she said, in a vision. I think she secretly didn't like that God guy either. In fact, if anything, it was as though she emotionally lumped God and the Devil together. Distant, threatening - one threatened if you did, one threatened if you didn't. Both masculine, isolated entities. [...] That God guy has us in a bind. Too isolated, not enough joy. He needs a lover, that's what I think. [...] Yeah, I think God needs some pussy." (Alma Luz Villanueva, The Ultraviolet Sky)
I would much rather prefer the serene, peaceful, mundane Virgin of Guadalupe. La Virgencita. The ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill Virgin from Yolanda Lopez's paintings. Because divinity resides in the ordinary. we are god. god is us. god is the ordinary.

miercuri, 5 iulie 2017


Conceiving a Ph.D. thesis or even dreaming of ever doing so can be a tiresome and nerve consuming activity. Towards the end of the researching and/or writing process, one can get to hate not only all his/her professors and colleagues, but also the subject of the thesis itself. One's life-long, or at least college-long, passion, to put it differently. Yet, from time to time, one accidentally comes upon short phrases, passages that rekindle one's long-forgotten passions. I've just experienced this and want to share with everybody my recently rekindled passion, i.e. latina literature. Though when I feel I hate my thesis the most it is suffice to read only a few fragments from Gloria Anzaldua, this time it's Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street:
Esperanza rejects her inheritance of waiting "by the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow". (Cisneros qtd in Quinn-Sanchez's Identity in Latin American and Latina Literature)

sâmbătă, 24 iunie 2017

I love Joyce Carol Oates! However, (2)

I love Joyce Carol Oates' writings. However, I feel that her short stories are less great than her novels. Surely, they do  share some of the great elements of her novels (e.g. mystery, psychological depth, absurdity), yet they lack the value of Oates' novels.
What I did like about this collection of short stories, DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense, is not the psychological insight or the way she constructs the path towards the climax in each of the seven short stories (since these are far more great in her novel Daddy Love), but the feminist traces placed inside this book of mystery and suspense:
"[...] it was a time when breast, uterine, and cervical cancer were referred to as mother's shame and all medical problems related to women's reproductive organs were designated with vague distastefulness as female problems."

 "It was like my father to be rude sometimes. But it was not like my father to be rude to another man, especially a man who was wearing a suit, a white shirt and a necktie and eyeglasses."

"In marriage, one plus one is more than the sum of two. But sometimes in a marriage, one plus one is less than the sum of two."
Some other bits that I liked are the following:
"In a family, one day is not so different from any other. Especially when you are very young - a 'child'. The important thing in life is routine. You can depend upon routine. There is comfort in routine. There is even comfort in the boredom of routine, for where there is boredom there cannot be fear."

"Lula cried, Daddy why? Daddy said, Because I am Daddy, who decides how things end."

* I received an advanced reading e-book copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

marți, 21 martie 2017

Vers 13, Judith Ortiz Cofer


Mamacita's wordless song was her connection to the oversoul, her link with life, her mantra,
a lifeline to her own Laughing Buddha,
as she dragged her broom
across a lifetime of linoleum floors.

Orar: To Pray

After the hissed pleas, denunciations -
the children just tucked in -
perhaps her hand on his dress-shirt sleeve,
brushed off, leaving a trace of cologne,
impossible, it seemed, to wash off
with plain soap, he'd go, his feet light
on the gravel. In their room, she'd fall
on her knees to say prayers composed
to sound like praise; following
her mother's warning never to make demands
outright from God nor a man.

On the other side of the thin wall,
I lay listening to the sounds I recognised
from an early age: knees on wood, shifting
the pain so the floor creaked, and a woman's
conversation with the wind - that carried
her sad voice out of the open window
to me. And her words - if they did not rise
to heaven, fell on my chest, where they are
embedded like splinters of a cross

I also carried.

Women Who Love Angels

They are thin
and rarely marry, living out
their long lives
in spacious rooms, French doors
giving view to formal gardens
where aromatic flowers
grow in profusion.
They play their pianos
in the late afternoon
tilting their heads
at a gracious angle
as if listening
to notes pitched above
the human range.
Age makes them translucent;
each palpitation of their hearts
visible at temple or neck.
When they die, it's in their sleep,
their spirits shaking gently loose
from a hostess too well bred
to protest.


They poured it into his veins
until he became someone else, a drunken man as he tries
to rise from the hospital bed, where the stained sheets
are a testament of shame to the anonymous nights
spent with the stranger his body has become.

He slides down feet first
like a child, hoping his legs will not betray him.
But he gets dizzy looking down at the reflective tiles.

Hanging onto the rails,
he sees himself flat on the ground, until the nurse
leads him by the elbow into sunlight.
Outside, he is hurt by a world where every surface
is a mirror of steel or plastic.

No place
for an old man avoiding his own face like a good friend
he has offended.

Lost Relatives

On the great diaspora
of our chromosomes
we've lost track of one another.
Living our separate lives,
unaware of the alliance of our flesh,
we have at times recognized
our kinship through the printed word:
Classifieds, where we trade our lives
in two-inch columns;
Personals, straining our bloodlines
with our lovely hearts; and
Obituaries, announcing a vacancy
in our family history
through names that call us home
with their familiar syllables.

marți, 21 februarie 2017


  My first experience with Elif Shafak took the form of Three Daughters of Eve (2016) and left me somewhat disappointed. It is a well written book and I could easily recognise the author's talent and  her intelligent use of various narrative techniques, yet it could have been a splendid book had it not been for the few supernatural appearances, unrealistic experiences and some elements of the plot.
  It could have been a great book dealing with modern day problems like terrorism, religion and its place in the 21st century, feminism, Eastern and Western societies, democracy and so forth. Unfortunately, Shafak turned all these stringent problems into some sort of a classic professor-student love story.
  I could have happily written pages on feminism and motherhood; on how Peri evolved from a curious little girl who swore not to repeat her mother's mistakes into a brave, powerful and independent woman, who raised her three children in the spirit of feminism and globalization. I would have eagerly mentioned  Peri's promise to herself "not [to] live the life of her mother. She would not be inhibited, limited and reduced to something she was not". I would have bragged about a woman's power to overcome her condition, to surpass everyone's expectations, including hers, to succeed in a foreign land afraid of (Turkish) immigrants, to fight oppression and chauvinism. I would have proudly made Peri a spokesperson for Third World feminism.
  Sadly, Peri failed to become the woman of my imaginary essay on feminism. As her daughter comments, she chose to "drop out of Oxford, return to Istanbul, get married, give up your education, have three kids in a row and become a housewife. How original, bravo!" Through these choices, Peri proved her depressed and overly pious mother was right: "For Selma, Peri's education was less and intellectual awakening or the precursor to a promising career than a briefly interlude before her wedding."
  I loved Peri in the beginning of the novel. I loved her as she was chasing and fighting the thief that stole her purse. I loved her force and determination, as heedless as they were. But I ended up feeling disappointed. She lost all her dreams of being the only one in her family to graduate from college and of becoming a powerful woman with an important career. All because of her love for professor Azur. But, after all, isn't this what feminism is about?! Isn't feminism a woman's freedom to choose for herself?
  In short, the novel is an enjoyable book to read, yet it could have been better had it focused more on feminism, religion and Turkish society.

P.S. Alas, the open ending was so predictable!

* I received an advanced reading e-book copy from the publisher via NetGalley.