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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Silver shooting star chaos

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Hello all,
(on the cusp of fall),

I just got home from El Paso. My baby and husband are both asleep now-- hubby is completely worn out from three days taking care of baby alone. Speaking of cusps, baby's fifth tooth is now poking through!

I still feel happy-giddy from the conference I went to. It's called REFORMA and it's the part of ALA that focuses on Latino literature and serving Latino people. It was fun to be in a place where pretty much everyone could speak Spanish (both in the conference and in the hotel and in the whole city). I was a little frustrated because (although I'm fluent in Spanish) French kept trying to weasel its way out of my mouth. I kept saying oui instead of si and maintenant instead of ahorita. (I was in France in July/August, so French is stubbornly clinging to its space in the Foreign Language part of my brain, elbowing out Spanish.) It's mystifying how the language parts of the brain work, isn't it?

I was BLOWN AWAY by the other authors there! I was on a panel (of award-winning authors of Latino literature-- Red Glass represented the Americas Award) with the lovely picture book author and illustrator Yuyi Morales (winner of Pura Belpre award among many others). There's a low-quality pic of us above (taken at the book signing with my cell phone camera), and another one of her, below, performing with these fantastic puppets she makes.


And here's Juan Felipe Herrera (winner of Tomas Rivera award, among many others). He was really, really funny.

These are two people I could listen to speak for hours and hours and hours without tiring. They are great story-tellers, not just through the written word, but in their speaking and performing. They (along with Carmen Tafolla, Lucia Gonzalez, tatiana de la tierra, and Freda Mosquera) did a spectactular Noche de Cuentos show. Wow!

Even though it was 11:00 by the time it ended, which is past my bedtime, I felt energized and wanting to learn more about oral story-telling. I want to find some good story-telling workshops or conferences to go to.

I feel like the pathway from my mind/soul to paper/computer is well-traveled and fairly confident as far as telling stories... but from my mind/soul to my mouth is a different matter entirely. It's like the thoughts get lost and mangled on the way to my mouth. It feels so much easier for me to write them down.

But as someone wise said (Nietzsche??) "I'm always trying to do that which I've never done before so that I may learn to do it." Well, someone along the lines of Nietzsche said something along the lines of that.

One thing that Nietzsche did say was, "One must have chaos within to give birth to a shooting star." I have that quote hanging in my lil writing trailer. I often feel I have chaos within-- lots and lots of it-- and sometimes that makes me feel distraught and overall yucky, but then I remind myself about the shooting star thing. If everything was always perfect and easy in life, I wouldn't feel motivated to write anything. I'd just kinda float around, content. And if I did manage to write anything, the characters would be flat, happy, boring people. Well, that's what I tell myself at least to make my chaos within seem useful. That's the silver lining.

I am terrible at remembering quotes. The only way I remember them is if I write them down and put them in an obvious place in front of my face, like taped to the wall just over my computer. I think that's part of the bundle of reasons why a storytelling workshop would be good for me. I never can tell jokes off the top of my head either. I really admire people who can. So, I will give this story telling/ performing thing a try.

Here is Yuyi's latest book. It's called Nochecita or Little Night and the story and illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful-- the colors start at sunset and end up at night-- a rare mix of soft warm reds that melt into twilight blues.

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