Escribiendo Baladas

letra

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

El otro día, a las 4:30 de la mañana, no podía dormir. Mientras todavía estaba en la cama, cogí un cuaderno y una pluma de mi escritorio con la intención de escribir. Tuve en mente trabajar en mi manuscrito corriente pero cuando puse pluma a papel, una canción salió.

Cada día escucho música, y usualmente es Regional Mexicano. Me gusta la música de Gerardo Ortiz, El Bebeto, Roberto Tapia, La Arrolladora Banda el Limón, Voz de Mando, Banda el Recodo, y tantos otros, pero más que todos – ya saben – Mi cantante favorito es Espinoza Paz. Lo que algunas personas no saben es que Espinoza Paz es un compositor, no sólo para sí mismo, sino para muchos artistas que terminan teniendo un gran éxito con sus canciones. Realmente admiro su habilidad con las palabras.

De todos modos, no me sorprende mucho que todos estos años de escuchar la música Regional Mexicano finalmente resultó en escribir una canción. Qué pena que no sé como escribir la música para acompañar la letra.

He escrito poesía, pero creo que esta es mi primera canción en este género, (¡y en mi segunda lengua!) Espero que más canciones me vienen porque fue divertido escribirla. Sería increíble escuchar a alguien cantandola algún día, pero por ahora, aquí está.

PD – Gracias a Dios, esta canción no tiene nada que ver conmigo y con Carlos! Todo está bien con nosotros!

PERDONAR Y PERDONAR
por Tracy López

No es fácil,
perdonar y perdonar,
pero una vida sin ti,
no me puedo imaginar.

Me duele cuando me trates así,
Me rompes el corazón,
pero más me duele vivir,
con una mala decisión.

[CORO:

No me ruegues más,
Todavia te quiero,
Ya se me olvidó,
lo que pasó.

Ya sé que eres humano,
Y los humanos a veces se equivocan,
pero ya lloré suficientes lágrimas,
y siempre eres tú que las provocan.]

No es fácil,
perdonar y perdonar,
pero ni un día sin ti,
me puedo imaginar.

Me duele cuando me decepcionas,
me rompes el corazón,
pero más me duele existir,
con esta maldición.

-REPETIR CORO-

No es fácil,
perdonar y perdonar,
Seguir dejándote maltratarme,
no me puedo imaginar.

Me duele decirte adiós,
lo siento, mi corazón,
pero más me duele aguantar,
una mala decisión.

2nd CORO:

No me ruegues más,
Todavia te quiero,
pero no se me olvidó,
lo que pasó.

Ya sé que eres humano,
Y los humanos a veces se equivocan,
pero ya lloré suficientes lágrimas,
y siempre eres tú que las provocan.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

That other day at 4:30 in the morning, I couldn’t sleep. While still in bed, I grabbed a notebook and pen off my nearby desk with the intention of writing. I had in mind to work on my current manuscript but when I put pen to paper, out came a song.

Each day I listen to music, and usually it’s Regional Mexican. I like the music of Gerardo Ortiz, El Bebeto, Roberto Tapia, La Arrolladora Banda el Limón, Voz de Mando, Banda el Recodo, and so many other, but more than all of them – you already know – My favorite singer is Espinoza Paz. What some people don’t know is that Espinoza Paz is a composer, not only for himself, but for many artists who end up having great success with his songs. I really admire his ability with words.

Anyway, it doesn’t surprise me much that all these years of listening to Regional Mexican music finally resulted in writing a song. It’s just a shame that I can’t write music to accompany the lyrics.

I’ve written poetry, but I believe this is my first song in this genre, (and in my second language!) I hope more songs come to me because it was fun to write. It would be amazing to hear someone sing it someday, but for now, here it is.

PS – Thank God, this song has nothing to do with me and Carlos! Everything is good with us!

[Note: I translated the song to English below but I think it loses it's charm. If you read/understand Spanish, I recommend you scroll back to the original Spanish version above.]

FORGIVE AND FORGIVE
by Tracy López

It’s not easy,
to forgive and forgive,
but a life without you,
I can’t imagine.

It hurts me when you treat me this way,
You break my heart,
but it would hurt me more,
to live with a bad decision.

[CHORUS:

Don't keep begging me,
I already love you,
I've already forgotten,
what happened.

I know that you're human,
and humans make mistakes,
but I've cried enough tears,
and you're always the one that causes them.]

It’s not easy,
to forgive and forgive,
but even a day without you,
I can’t imagine.

It hurts me when you disappoint me,
You break my heart,
but it would hurt me more to exist,
with this curse.

-REPEAT CHORUS-

It isn’t easy,
to forgive and forgive,
Allowing you to keep mistreating me,
I can’t imagine.

It hurts me to tell you goodbye,
I’m sorry, my heart,
but it hurts me more to endure,
a bad decision.

2nd CHORUS:

Don’t keep begging me,
I already love you,
but I don’t forget,
what happened.

I know that you’re human,
and humans make mistakes,
but I’ve cried enough tears,
and you’re always the one that causes them.

We Need Diverse Books!

Image created by:  Icey Design

Image created by: Icey Design

The past couple days, I have had the immense pleasure of helping organize #WeNeedDiverseBooks with some amazing people – (You may have seen me tweeting already from my @Latinaish account as well as my personal @TracyDeLopez account.) The campaign is described in detail below, but it is basically a call for more diversity in books – something many of us have been talking about for a long time. I remember when Latinas for Latino Lit launched with this same mission, and through that I had the opportunity to express my views on the topic, as well as host authors René Colato Laínez and Meg Medina here on my blog. So I am really excited to see so many people coming together, from la comunidad Latina and beyond – to hopefully bring about some real change in the publishing industry. I hope you’ll join us! – Tracy López

A Joint Message From The Organizers of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, And Details On How You Can Get Involved:

Recently, there’s been a groundswell of discontent over the lack of diversity in children’s literature. The issue is being picked up by news outlets like these two pieces in the NYT, CNN, EW, and many more. But while we individually care about diversity, there is still a disconnect. BEA’s Bookcon recently announced an all-white-male panel of “luminaries of children’s literature,” and when we pointed out the lack of diversity, nothing changed.

Now is the time to raise our voices into a roar that can’t be ignored. Here’s how:

May 1st at 1pm (EST) – There will be a public call for action that will spread over 3 days. We’re starting with a visual social media campaign using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. [People are already using it, so join us!] We want people to use Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and post anywhere they can to help make the hashtag go viral.

You can also support #WeNeedDiverseBooks by taking a photo holding a sign that says:

“We need diverse books because ___________________________.” Fill in the blank with an important, poignant, funny, and/or personal reason why this campaign is important to you.

The photo can be of you or a friend or anyone who wants to support diversity in kids’ lit. It can be a photo of the sign without you if you would prefer not to be in a picture. Be as creative as you want! Pose the sign with your favorite stuffed animal or at your favorite library. Get a bunch of friends to hold a bunch of signs. However you want to do it, we want to share it! We will host all the photos at WeNeedDiverseBooks.Tumblr, so please submit your photos by May 1st to weneeddiversebooks@yahoo.com with the subject line “photo” or submit it right on our Tumblr page here and it will be posted throughout the first day.

At 1:00PM EST the Tumblr will start posting and it will be your job to reblog, tweet, Facebook, or share wherever you think will help get the word out.

The intent is that from 1pm EST to 3pm EST, there will be a non-stop hashtag party to spread the word. We hope that we’ll get enough people to participate to make the hashtag trend and grab the notice of more media outlets.

The Tumblr will continue to be active throughout the length of the campaign, and for however long we need to keep this discussion going, so we welcome everyone to keep emailing or sending in submissions even after May 1st.

May 2nd – The second part of our campaign will roll out with a Twitter chat scheduled for 2pm EST using the same hashtag. Please use #WeNeedDiverseBooks at 2pm on May 2nd and share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

May 3rd – At 2pm EST, the third portion of our campaign will begin. There will be a Diversify Your Shelves initiative to encourage people to put their money where their mouth is and buy diverse books and take photos of them. Diversify Your Shelves is all about actively seeking out diverse literature in bookstores and libraries, and there will be some fantastic giveaways for people who participate in the campaign! (More details and giveaway entry HERE!)

We hope that you will take part in this in any way you can. We need to spread the word far and wide so that it will trend on Twitter. So that media outlets will pick it up as a news item. So that the organizers of BEA and every big conference and festival out there gets the message that diversity is important to everyone. We hope you will help us by being a part of this movement.

Libros for All Kids

meg-medina-books

Hola! This is a guest post by Cuban American author, Meg Medina, as part of the Latinas for Latino Lit 2nd annual Día Blog Hop, which we’re proudly participating in for the second year in a row. Check it out! (And then check out the other L4LL’s Día Blog Hop posts from other Latino/a children’s and YA authors.)

Libros for All Kids

A guest post by: Meg Medina

Something happened to me recently at the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference that gave me a glimmer of hope against the dismal  - and now familiar – news that we are still publishing too few kids’ books that feature Latino characters.  

I had been asked to talk about my young adult novel, YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS.  It earned the Pura Belpré medal and the CYBILS Fiction Award, among other nice distinctions, and it was one of the measly two percent of children’s books by or about Latinos that was published last year.

If you’re unfamiliar, my novel is set in Queens, New York, and is the story of 16 year-old Piedad Sanchez who finds herself in the cross-hairs of a school bully.

After my talk, a librarian named Erica came to find me. It’s always such an honor when someone tells you they connected with your story. But I was especially happy to hear from her. She grew up in suburban Wisconsin with all brothers. There were no Latinos to speak of in her world.

“I read your book and I thought, oh my God, that’s my story.”

I could have kissed her whole face.

She’s right, of course. It is her story. It’s her story exactly the way Charlotte’s Web once felt like my story as a kid, even though I’d never seen a live pig and I lived two-hundred miles from the nearest farm in New York.

It’s no secret that I write stories that feature Latino kids and their families – the whole glorious ajiaco that I grew up with and that shaped how I move through the world.

But I do not write stories only for Latino kids. I write books for all kids about the universal problems of growing up. You remember that horror, don’t you? The frustrations with your family? Being betrayed by peers? Falling in love with creeps? To me, it doesn’t matter if a girl is named Fern or Piedad. What really matters is that her story is told with honesty and compassion.

When I think of books and what we want reflected in them, I say that it’s wise to cast a wide net. All kids benefit from stories that not only affirm their own experience but that also that allow them a peek at those same experiences through a slightly different lens. The magic of such books is in that beautiful spot where the unique and the universal hold hands like good and faithful friends.

meg-medinaMeg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. The first American citizen in her family, Meg was raised in Queens, New York by her mother – and a clan of tios, primos, and abuelos who arrived from Cuba over the years. She was the fortunate victim of their storytelling, and credits them with her passion for tales.

Meg’s work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people, and she brings to audiences stories that speak to both what is unique in Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls.

Her books are: MILAGROS GIRL FROM AWAY; TIA ISA WANTS A CAR, for which she earned the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award; THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, a 2012 Bank Street Best Books; and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, which was the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Medal, which is presented annually by the American Library Association to a Latino writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy. She lives with her extended family in Richmond, Virginia.

Follow Meg’s blog at www.megmedina.com

Connect with Meg on Facebook and Twitter

No Tengo Gato

chicomesa2

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Muchos escritores tienen un gato querido para hacerles compañía, pero yo no tengo gato – Yo tengo a Chico, un perro que piensa que es gato. Últimamente cuando estoy escribiendo, se sube en el banquillo y se sienta a mi lado. Él ocupa mucho espacio y a veces no es muy cómodo, pero aún así no lo cambiaría por un compañero de trabajo humano. No habla demasiado. Eso es lo que me gusta de él.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Many writers have a beloved cat to keep them company, but I don’t have a cat – I have Chico, a dog who thinks he’s a cat. Lately when I’m writing, he climbs onto the bench and sits right by my side. He takes up a lot of space and sometimes it’s not very comfortable, but I still wouldn’t trade him for a human co-worker. He doesn’t talk too much. That’s what I like about him.

Finding My Heroes – a guest post

Today I’m honored to share a guest post from children’s author and Salvadoran, René Colato Laínez, as part of a “blog hop” and giveaway by Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL).

Twenty Latino/a authors and illustrators plus 20 Latina bloggers, (well, 19 Latina bloggers and this gringa), have joined up with L4LL for this event. From April 10th to April 30th a different Latino/a author/illustrator will be hosted on a different blog. (Click here for all the posts!) Today you can read René’s touching article right here on Latinaish.com and then see the details to enter the giveaway below.

Without further ado, I present, René Colato Laínez.

Rene_Colato_Lainez

Finding My Heroes

by René Colato Laínez

I learned to read and write in El Salvador. As a child, I loved to read the comic books of my heroes: El Chavo del ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, Mafalda, Cri Cri, and Topo Gigo. My favorite book was Don Quijote de La Mancha.

When I arrived to the United States, I tried to find these heroes in the school library or in my reading books, but I didn’t have any luck. I asked myself, are my heroes only important in Spanish? I knew that the children from Latin America knew about my heroes but the rest of the children and my teachers did not have any clue.

One day, I was writing about my super hero and my teacher asked me, who is this CHA-PO-WHAT? COLORADO and then, she suggested, “It would be better for you to write about Superman or Batman.” On another occasion, a teacher crossed out with her red pen all the instances of “Ratón Pérez” in my essay and told me, “A mouse collecting teeth! What a crazy idea! You need to write about the Tooth Fairy.”

I started to read and enjoy other books but I missed my heroes. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher said that our next reading book would be The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will never forget that day when I was holding the book. It was written by a Latina writer and I could relate to everything that she was describing in the book. The House On Mango Street became my favorite book. I said to myself, “Yes, we are also important in English.”

I write multicultural children books because I want to tell all my readers that our Latino voices are important, too, and that they deserve to be heard all over the world.

My goal as a writer is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hope for the future. I want to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.

My new book is Juguemos al Fútbol/ Let’s Play Football (Santillana USA). This is a summary of the book: Carlos is not sure that football can be played with an oval-shaped ball. Chris is not sure that it can be played with a round ball. It may not be a good idea to play with a kid who is so different… He doesn’t even know how to play this game! Wait. It looks kind of fun… Let’s give it a try! Enjoy and celebrate the coming together of two cultures through their favorite sports.

To conclude, I want to share this letter in English and Spanish. Everyone, let’s read!

______________________________________________________________________________________

Dear readers:

When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. In many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the books I read transported me to the entire universe.

Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.

I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a book and you will find wonders. Books are full of adventures, friends and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.

Saludos,
René Colato Laínez

En español:

Querido lectores,

Cuando era niño, el lugar favorito de mi casa era una esquina donde estaba una mecedora. Me mecía de adelante hacia atrás mientras leía un libro. Enseguida la mecedora se convertía en una alfombra mágica y volaba por el cielo. Conocía a nuevos amigos. Vivía nuevas aventuras. En muchas ocasiones, hasta llegaba a tocar las estrellas. Los libros que leía, me podían llevar a cualquier parte del universo.

¡Los libros me inspiraban tanto! Yo también quería escribir sobre ese mundo maravilloso que visitaba. Así que comencé a escribir mis cuentos, poemas y aventuras en un diario. Cada vez que releía y volvía a escribir un cuento, este se llenaba de nuevas grandes aventuras. Hoy en día escribo libros para niños y es un honor compartirlos con muchos niños alrededor del mundo.

Los invito a viajar conmigo. Tomen un libro y descubrirán maravillas. Los libros están llenos de aventuras, amigos, y lugares hermosos. Lean y toquen las estrellas.

Saludos,
René Colato Laínez

René Colato Laínez is a Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books, including Playing Lotería, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René lives in Los Angeles and  he is a teacher in an elementary school, where he is known as “the teacher full of stories.” Visit him at renecolatolainez.com.

The Giveaway

L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles here on the L4LL website.

To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th, 2013. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

Amor Salvadoreño – un poema

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Image adapted from photo by jicriado

Image adapted from photo by jicriado

Por el Día de Amor y la Amistad escribí unos poemas para Carlos. Aquí hay uno de ellos.

Amor Salvadoreño – un poema

¿Quieres que te diga cómo es nuestro amor?
Te puedo decir que nuestro amor es
más alto que el volcán de San Salvador
más profundo que el Lago de Ilogpango
más caliente que los días de mayo, y
más largo que el Río Lempa.

Nuestro amor es
más sabroso que una pupusa
más refrescante que una Coca-cola en bolsa
más chulo que La Chulona, y
más comodo que una hamaca amarrada entre dos palmas en la playa.

Nuestro amor es
más emocionante que los cuetes en Nochebuena
más íntimo que la gente apretada en el ultimo bus de San Salvador a Mejicanos
más divertido que las ruedas durante las Fiestas Agostinas, y
más apasionado que palabras entre Areneros y FMLNistas.

Nuestro amor es
más joven de corazón que un cipote jugando capirucho
más coqueto que novios en una pasarela
más rico que los que compran en La Gran Vía, y
más feliz que la mara cuando La Selecta mete un gol.

Nuestro amor es
más rítmico que una cumbia
más fuerte que los Vientos de Octubre
más interesante que el chisme de las vecinas, y
más salvaje que un chucho aguacatero.

¿Quieres que te diga cómo es nuestro amor?
Te puedo decir que nuestro amor es
más grande que nuestro querido El Salvador.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I wrote a few poems for Carlos for Valentine’s Day – here is one of them. [This poem has some untranslatable parts and loses something in English, but I didn't want to leave my English-speaking friends out so I gave it a try. Note: This poem is full of cultural references that may confuse even native Spanish-speakers who aren't Salvadoran.]

Amor Salvadoreño – a poem

You want me to tell you how our love is?
I can tell you our love is
higher than the San Salvador volcano
deeper than the Lake of Ilopango
hotter than the days of May, and
longer than the Lempa River.

Our love is
more delicious than a pupusa
more refreshing than a Coca-cola in a bag
more beautiful than La Chulona, and
more comfortable than a hammock tied between two palm trees on the beach.

Our love is
more exciting than fireworks on Christmas Eve,
more intimate than the people pressed together on the last bus from San Salvador to Mejicanos
more fun than the rides during Fiestas Agostinas, and
more passionate than words exchanged between Areneros and FMLNistas

Our love is
more young at heart than a kid playing capirucho
more flirtatious than novios on a footbridge
richer than those that shop at La Gran Vía, and
happier than everybody when La Selecta scores a goal.

Our love is
more rhythmic than a cumbia
stronger than the winds of October
more interesting than the neighborhood gossip
more untamed than a street dog.

You want me to tell you how our love is?
I can tell you our love is
bigger than our beloved El Salvador.

The Search For Salvadoran Characters

jreading

In response to the New York Times article regarding the lack of Latino authors and books for children, Latina bloggers have launched the “Latinas for Latino Literature” campaign which works to identify the problems in today’s publishing world that contribute to this lack of diversity so that we can provide ideas for changing the situation to the benefit of not only Latino readers and writers, but to the benefit of the industry itself as they tap into this growing demographic. Look out for forthcoming Google hangouts, Twitter parties, and follow-up posts as this coordinated effort to bring quality books to an emerging group of readers continues.

I kneeled on the coarse, crimson carpet at the library, the third library I had visited that week, trying to find something, anything, on the shelves about El Salvador – the native country of my new husband. I often left libraries and bookstores defeated, with a stack of novels about Mexico, Mexicans, migrant workers – stories that I ended up loving, and still love – but what I really wanted was a book with Salvadoran characters, and I couldn’t find any. Any book I did manage to find about El Salvador would be non-fiction, and usually about the civil war.

When I became a mother of two boys, two Salvadoran-American boys, I wanted desperately to buy them books and read them stories with characters they could relate to. Again, visits to the library and bookstore turned up books featuring Mexican and Mexican-American characters, when we were lucky.

These days, the library selection has gotten better, and the online selection is a dream come true compared to what I faced when my boys were younger. I’ve read books about Cubans and Puerto Ricans, Argentinians, Venezuelans, Guatemalans and Paraguayans, and thanks to Sandra Benitez, an amazing book called “Bitter Grounds” with a diverse Salvadoran cast. I stayed up late turning the pages, almost not believing that after so many years, I was finally reading a book with Salvadoran characters.

Why am I writing this? – Because I want the publishing industry to know that I am here – an avid reader, hungry for these books for myself, for my husband, for our boys, and for the children out there whose parents won’t go to the trouble I’ve gone to – the children who are at the mercy of whatever their school librarian decides to put on the shelves.

I want it to be known that I hunger for even more diversity, for Latin American characters and characters of Latin American descent from all walks of life. Don’t stop telling the story of the migrant worker, the immigrant, of Mexicans – but let us hear other voices too. We want to hear from characters who are rich, who are poor, and everything in between. We want characters who are white collar workers, and blue collar workers. We want characters who are beautiful, ugly, inspirational, relatable, flawed, ordinary, outrageous, wise, hilarious, serious, complex – in other words, we want all the diversity of voices that are available in the general market. Please, keep seeking out fresh authors and publishing their stories – We are here waiting for them, (and in some cases, some of us are here writing them, too.)

A few of my favorite books for children. Click the image for more.

A few of my favorite books for children. Click the image for more.

These are some of my favorite Middle Grade and YA books. Click the image for more.

These are some of my favorite Middle Grade and YA books. Click the image for more.

These are some of my favorite books for adults. Click the image to check out more.

These are some of my favorite books for adults. Click the image to check out more.

Do you feel there’s enough diversity in the books commonly available in bookstores and libraries? Which Latino/a author or book most influenced you and why?

Chécalo: Other “Latinas for Latino Literature

Mixing Traditions for a Bicultural Christmas

(Free Gift Tag! Go ahead and print this image to attach to gifts for familia y amigos!)

(Free Gift Tag! Go ahead and print this image to attach to gifts for familia y amigos!)

Most of you know that I write for several websites each month. I usually share those links on the Latinaish Facebook Page, but I wanted to link this one up here for those who might not be on Facebook since this particular post is so relevant to my usual content on Latinaish. I also took the opportunity to make a bicultural/bilingual gift tag for your Christmas gifts (see above!) Feel free to print it out and use it!

Now for the post:

Mixing Traditions for a Bicultural Christmas

Fifteen years ago I married Carlos, a Salvadoran immigrant who spoke little English. Because we were young, pregnant, and poor at the time—instead of moving to our own place—I moved Carlos into my parents’ house where I was still living. From the outside it didn’t seem like the most ideal situation, but living with my English-speaking Anglo parents turned out to be a unique opportunity for Carlos to get a crash course in English and American culture.

Of course, living in such a situation made our diverse backgrounds that much more apparent—especially during holidays, and especially during Christmas…[READ MORE HERE]

Street Sounds of Soyapango

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is below!

Como escritora, me baso en la memoria de los sonidos del ambiente para llevarme de vuelta a otro lugar y tiempo. Cuando trabajo en una de mis novelas que se lleva a cabo en El Salvador, cierro los ojos y recuerdo lo que he oído.

Puedo oír el tráfico, los carros al ralentí, los bocinazos de los carros, los autobuses que pasan, y el chirrido de los frenos cuando hacen sus paradas.

Puedo oír las campanas del paletero, la voz cantarina de la mujer que vende quesadillas temprano en la mañana, los loros que hablan en los árboles, y baten sus alas verdes.

Puedo oír un aguacatero ladrando, una mujer barriendo la acera, los niños placticando en su camino a la escuela, los murmullos de un borracho caminando por la calle.

Puedo oír la lluvia a media tarde comenzando a caer – las gotas de lluvia caen gordas y lentas al principio, pero después hay un aguacero ensordecedor que ahoga todos los otros sonidos.

— Tu turno! Piensa en un momento y lugar. ¿Qué sonidos oyes tú?—

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

As a writer, I rely on the memory of ambient sounds to take me back to a different place and time. When I work on one of my novels that takes place in El Salvador, I close my eyes and remember what I heard.

I can hear the traffic, cars idling, cars honking their horns, buses passing by, and the screech of their brakes when they make their stops.

I can hear the ringing bells of the man pushing his ice cream cart, the singsong voice of the woman selling quesadillas early in the morning, the parrots talking in the trees and flapping their green wings.

I can hear a stray dog barking, a woman sweeping the walk, children chatting on their way to school, the mumblings of a drunk walking down the street.

I can hear a mid-afternoon rain begin to fall, the fat rain drops slow at first, and then a deafening downpour that drowns out all other sounds.

—Your turn! Think of a time and place. What sounds do you hear?—

Let America Be America Again

On Independence Day I always think of the Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.” Hughes is one of my favorite poets – a visionary writer who was ahead of his time and created works that still resonate more than 50 years later.

This poem is often controversial and has been called unpatriotic by some – but I think that it reflects reality, told in an unapologetic, honest way. We are a nation that values chest thumping patriotism and fosters an attitude of superiority – a belief that we are the favored children of God and our nation is uniquely blessed as a result. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. I believe that we can love the United States and be thankful for the freedoms we have while being truthful and vocal about its imperfections at the same time.

On this day I am thankful to live in a country that allows me to say this without fear of repercussions and I am hopeful that we will continue to create high expectations for ourselves, as individual citizens, and as a nation. May we all do our part to live up to the dream.

Image source: Brittney Bollay

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!