By Anjanette Gautier, ¡Ahora Sí!
There is a street corner in the city of Laredo, known as the doorway to the United States and Mexico, where two streets converge like the history of the Tejana writers. It was upon the sight of this corner sign, Malinche and Guadalupe, that the writers and editors of the first ever Tejana literature anthology, Inés Hernández-Ávila and Norma Elia Cantú, decided upon the name for their book. On Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th, the editors, along with other of the participating writers, will present their book "Entre Guadalupe y Malinche" and hold a literature symposium at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center.
The symbolic meaning of these two iconic figures, for which the streets are named after, synthesizes the identity of the chicana woman. It is here, where the "root of the tejana reality is found, deep within the history and the contemporary reality," explains Cantu, professor of Latina/Latino Studies and English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
La Malinche, the native woman who betrayed her people by aiding Hernán Cortez, the conqueror, is the symbol for the creation of a mixed race. She also represents the oppression and colonization, of women, culture and history. Guadalupe, the virgin who appeared to the indigenous people, carries with her all what is divine. She embodies passion, love, and commitment to the less fortunate.
Both women serve as inspiration to analyze the role that history, culture, language, and political events have had in the work of the more than 50 Tejana writers and eight visual artists that take part in this anthology.
The symposium offers an opportunity for other writers and the public in general to come and celebrate this book, explore as a community the topics presented, and delve in the art of writing, said Ire’ne Lara Silva, organizer of the event. Lara Silva, a poet and published writer, with five years of experience organizing the Flor de Nopal literary workshops, is also featured in the book along with other local chicana figures like Susana Almanza, and our own Statesman contributor and poet Liliana Valenzuela.
Other very well known authors in the book are Gloria Anzaldúa, Emma Pérez, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Carmen Tafolla, and Pat Mora, and artists such as Carmen Lomas Garza, Kathy Vargas, Santa Barraza, and more.
"There are many writers coming from all over the state and even from Norway to attend this symposium," said Lara Silva. There will be a reading with the authors on Friday at 7 p.m., and on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and until 6 p.m. there will be writing workshops, poetry readings, and the opportunity to have a dialogue with the writers, she explained. All the events are free and open to the public.
Many feel intimidated by the terms feminism or chicana identity, however, Cantu explains that "the equality that feminism calls for affects all, including men. Similarly, the topic of tejana may be culturally focused on Mexican Texans but it speaks to all of us, and not just those in Texas!" The work presented by this anthology, and by the authors who will attend the symposium cover a more universal topic, "it speaks about how to survive everyday hardships and how to imagine new futures as individual and as a society," said Lara Silva.
This is an opportunity "to appreciate the diversity and talent that exists in our community," said Cantú. "It took us almost twenty years to finish this book," but the effort has taught her that "you can’t deny or abandon the work that matters, as Gloria Anzaldúa said ‘Do work that matters." Bringing together all this talent and giving Austinites and Texans the opportunity to explore the life experiences of tejana writers at the ESB-MACC this weekend, is an experience that matters.
(To check out the Spanish version of this blog, click here.)
IF YOU GO…
WHAT: Entre Guadalupe y Malinche book presentation and symposium (in English)
WHEN: Friday 26, 7 p.m. and Saturday 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
WHERE: Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St.