Last week was the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. Coincidentally, Librotraficante's underground library was set to open at the main YWCA branch here in El Paso this past Saturday. The American Library Association states that "while books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read."
I'm proud to have witnessed such efforts this weekend in my hometown. The vision and dedication of Tony Diaz from Librotraficante and Cemellí de Aztlán and Sandra Braham of the YWCA is inspiring. People were moved to tears during and after the organizers and guests spoke about the importance of saving our books for future generations. The company producing Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima as a movie (release date is September 21, 2012), donated 40 copies of the book, 20 in English and 20 in Spanish. I watched a woman brush away tears while signing out one of these copies and will never underestimate the power of a book again.
If Arizona is banning Mexican-American studies and confiscating books as if they're illegal drugs, what is going to happen to the education and supporting literature of other cultures, the very cultures like our own who helped define America over the past decades?
How can we help save these books? Donate a book, read one of these books and share it with a friend or family member, host a book club, help sponsor an upcoming event, just go out and witness an event such as this in your local area.
"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." - Mother Teresa
Purpose has been on my mind lately. Passion has been on my mind lately too. I'm working on my statement of purpose and a few critical essays for the upcoming MFA application season. After reading too many essays and comments about the "To MFA or not" debate, my mind's become a little foggy. What is it really that I'm seeking? Why am I wanting to pursue my MFA? One answer: To become a better read and writer.
I came upon this essay by Junot Díaz yesterday afternoon: "Becoming a Writer." To quote from his last paragraph: "...a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway."
The fog is beginning to clear, and I'm still writing. I hope you are too.
Yesterday marked 35 years since Elvis' untimely passing. I know I'm a day late, but what better day than a Friday to celebrate The King? Here's a found poem I wrote comprised entirely of titles from a good number of his songs:
You don’t have to say you love me
a found poem crafted from titles of songs
Elvis Presley sang
Apron strings, a pocketful of rainbows,
the grass won’t pay no mind.
Baby, let’s play
house. A boy like me, a girl like you, even the bullfighter
was a lady. How would
you like to be rubberneckin’
in blue Hawaii while little sister is shopping
around? There ain’t
nothing like a song wearin’
that loved look. The
wonder of you, your blue
suede shoes, it’s impossible to make the world
go away. I want you,
I need you, I love
you, and though it’s a sin, kiss me quick
in the Kentucky rain.
I’ve never been
to Spain, I didn’t make it on playing guitar. Write to me
from Naples, surrender until it’s time for you
to go. It’s now or never in this heartbreak hotel,
just let me make believe for a while. Suspicious
minds, don’t be cruel, even a house that has everything