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Cooking Tamales For The Beatles: Guest DJ Sandra Cisneros

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
January 10, 2013

(With apologies to Sandra Cisneros’ poem “You Bring Out The Mexican In Me.”)

We brought out the Dolores del Rio in her

The soul sister

The Joni Mitchell fan

The teary bolero singer

The teary opera fan

The loving daughter

The emancipated daughter

The spirit communicator

The Beatles fan

The aspiring ballerina

The Chicana from Chicago

Okay, I’ll leave the poetry to the real writers. But a conversation with Cisneros did bring out the poet in me, and during our far-reaching conversations on this episode, we touched on many of the themes she explores in her books and poems. Over the decades — and in books like Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, The House on Mango Street and her recent Have You Seen Marie? — Cisneros reminds us how the nuances of a bi-cultural life here in the U.S. contributes to a larger picture of identity, alienation and acceptance.

Though she grew up in Chicago and I grew up in California at roughly the same time, Cisneros’ characters can seem very familiar to me: They are my friends and my family. Her music choices reflect that, with Baby Boomer soul and pop that carries traces of our Mexican grandparents’ music.

After going through her music selections for this show, I’m grateful to know that I’m not the only one who sees a direct connection between vocalist Chavela Vargas melting our romantic souls with a ranchera and opera great Maria Callas laying us out with a heartbreaking aria. You’re going to hear music that you don’t normally hear on Alt.Latino this week — and that’s okay, because Cisneros’ selections reflect the experience of millions of Mexican-Americans who can hear a little of themselves in all kinds of music. As we’ve seen with her writing, that discovery doesn’t set us apart. It brings us closer together.


(Pido disculpas de antemano a Sandra Cisneros por reinterpretar su poema “You Bring Out The Mexican In Me.”)

Nosotros hicimos aflorar a la Dolores Río en ella

La hermana del alma

La fanática de Joni Mitchell

La emocionada cantante de boleros

La emocionada fanática de las óperas

La hija querida

La hija emancipada

La comunicadora de los espíritus

La fanática de los Beatles

La aspirante a bailarina

La Chicana de Chicago

Bien, dejaré que escriban poemas los escritores profesionales. Pero en una conversación Cisneros hizo aflorar al poeta que llevo yo adentro, y durante nuestras profundas conversaciones durante el programa de hoy, exploramos muchas temáticas que ella toca en sus libros y en sus poemas. A través de las décadas- y en libros como El Arroyo De La Llorona, La Casa En Mango Street y su reciente ¿Has visto a María? — Cisneros nos hace pensar en las realidades de la vida bi-cultural en Estados Unidos, y contribuye a un entendimiento mas profundo de la identidad, la alienación, y la aceptación.

Crecimos en la misma era- ella en Chicago y yo en California. De todos modos, los personajes de Cisneros se me hacen muy familiares: son mis amigos y mi familia. Las canciones que eligió compartir con nosotros hoy reflejan esa experiencia común: soul, pop, y la herencia musical que nos dejaron nuestros abuelos mexicanos.

Luego de hablar con Sandra, me siento aliviado de saber que no soy el único que ve una conexión directa entre la vocalista Chavela Vargas y la diva de la ópera, Maria Callas. Ambas nos derriten el corazón.

En el programa de hoy, escucharán música que normalmente no tocamos en Alt.Latino. Y esta bueno eso- porque la música que escogió Cisneros refleja la experiencia de los millones de mexicano-americanos que se identifican con todo tipo de géneros musicales. Y esa variedad no nos separa- es precisamente lo que nos une. [Copyright 2013 National Public Radio]

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