Archive for the ‘Sonnets and Salsa’ Tag

“HealthCare” — ” But, No On Cares” from Carmen Tafolla’s Poem, “HeathCare, The Sign Says”   1 comment

Carmen Tafolla Collage blogCarmen Tafolla — Images by kenne

It was a little over six years ago that I first met Carmen Tafolla. She was the March 2007, guest reader at Montgomery College’s (now Lone Star College – Montgomery) “Writer’s In Performance” series. I was impressed!

Carmen, a native of the West-Side barrios of San Antonio, Texas is an excellent writer, but first and foremost a storyteller. Often her readings include taking on the persona of the person in the poem, as shown in two of the photos in the above collage (older women and a child). Carmen is very inspirational — she touches your heart.

As a storyteller, Carmen follows the instruction from a historian, which she writes about in the poem, “The Storykeeper:”

Ask the whispers, she whispers,
breathed out in unguarded moments,
when the soul is too worn down to hurt more,
in the numbness of the night,
when the father wrestles with the unwritten history,
pleading to save it, speak it, bury it,
staring at the pluma across the room,
avoiding the paper.

from the poem “The Storykeeper” in the book of poems, Sonnets and Salsa

Even though I like to think I’m relatively up to date with the southwest literary world, I was surprised to learn yesterday that last March 2012, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro appointed Carmen Tafolla as the inaugural poet laureate — an honor well deserved.

The University of Arizona houses one of the best-known centers of poetry, “Poetry Center,” in the country; yet after doing a site search, I learned that Carmen Tafolla has never read there, which I difficult hard to believe — wondering out loud (in print), WHY! The Poetry Center should invite this unique Southwestern voice to read in Tucson.

We do know that many in Tucson are aware of Carmen Tafolla, since one of her books, “Curandera” was banned  Tucson Unified School District’s unprecedented censorship and massive removal of Latino and Mexican American literature and texts from its classroom. As a result, and in honor of the book’s 30th anniversary, Wings Press reissued a special “Banned in Arizona!” edition, of “Curandera.”


(The title of this posting, “HealthCare” — ” But, No One Cares” is a line from Carmen Tafolla’s poem, “HealthCare” the sign says.)

Capturing the Word — Carmen Tafolla   Leave a comment

Images by kenne

It has been over three years since Carmen Tafolla did a reading at the Lone Star College – Montgomery, Writers In Performance Series.  To see Carmen do a reading is to witness more than a poetry reading; it is to witness a performance.  Carman’s poems reflect her Chicano identity through her ancestors, and often in her readings she portrays the strong, self-empowered women who are a common theme in her works.

La Miss Low didn’t talk much
tried to raise her chin like a noble figure,
to let her Silence
(Guardian of the Princess)
speak for her,
speak complex, sensitive things,
to hold her face expressionless,
revealing the nobility of her soul.
To model a high example
for these
uncultured children.

From the poem,  La Miss Low

In Carmen Tafolla’ poetry, I listen and hear the voices of the common people, the wisdom of their experience revealed in their views.

“This hand?’
This hand?
It was an accident.
You do not understand –
Poquito aqu
í, poquito allá –
that’s how Dios meant it, yes, to be.
It doesn’t bother me too much.
In fact, it gives me less to work about.
Less people who will trust their broken chairs to me.
Yet I can still these roses plant,
Like that one, standing by your feet –
‘Las Siete Hermanas,’ for they always bloom together,
like sweet sisters – seven in each bunch.
And I can still make chocolate, stirring strong,
The fingers do not slow me down –
These two, cut off, nor this one, sews back on.

From the poem Poquito allá

Now that we live in Tucson, I am experiencing her poetry in let another perspective – so inspirational, so real!


Poem selections from: Sonnets and Salsa

Posted December 9, 2010 by kenneturner in Books, Capturing the Word, Poetry

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