Friday, April 27, 2012

April 26, 2012: a good day

The Madison Building of The Library of Congress (exterior)
view of outdoor announcement kiosk outside Madison Building

The Mary Pickford Theater in the Madison Building (interior)
Introducing Blas and Lorraine
(photo credit: Dan Vera)
Lorraine M. López and Blas Falconer
(photo credit: Dan Vera)
discussing The Other Latin@
(photo credit: Dan Vera)
in The Mary Pickford Theater
(photo credit: Dan Vera)

Le Bon Café

Yesterday morning I was a half hour early for my 11 AM rendez-vous with Blas and Lorraine in the lobby of the Capital Hill Suites, which is located on the corner of C and 2nd St. SE, Washington, D.C.----literally across the street from the LOC's Madison Building. So I wandered along 2nd and slipped into Le Bon Cafe. The woman who took my order struggled a bit, I noticed, with her English but I couldn't place her accent. I took my small latte and croissant and walked over to a small round marble table, sat down, draped the strap of my canvas POETRY bag over the metal backing of the chair opposite me and pulled out a yellow legal pad, and finally got down to it, scrawling:

1) What need or gap was this project filling? Could you each give some context, including your own personal investment in a book of these characteristics.

2) How did you decide which writers to invite? Did you receive more essays than you had room for? Might you consider editing a volume 2 in this area?

3) In her blurb on the back of the book, Marjorie Agosín refers to this book as "a collection of essays that explore the plurality as well as the differences found in Latino voices and their journeys in their past (my emphasis). Could each of you give us a glimpse into your thoughts about what you see on the horizon for Latino poetry and prose, respectively?

That was it. That was the extent of my preparation for the forthcoming noon colloquium at The Library of Congress, though I had just finished reading, for the second time, Blas and Lorraine's co-edited anthology, so maybe I was adequately prepared.

I'd recently returned from being on the road for a good stretch: three nights in Pueblo, CO; two nights in Boulder, CO; one night in Denver, CO. Then a 6 AM flight to South Bend, IN where I spent another four nights, before boarding a bus to Chicago Midway to fly back to DC direct. 

The truth of the matter: I was a bit tired, and wasn't sure how the day would go. The event at the LOC was conceived many months ago and, along the way, had morphed into two events. The impetus was to provide a platform for The Other Latin@, primarily.

As I read over my questions, I heard something: voices. The sounds of spoken Spanish. I turned my head and saw and heard the woman who had taken my order chatting with a co-worker, another woman I hadn't noticed when I walked in. They sounded Central American. Every now and then a moment like this surfaces--hearing women, working-class women, speaking Central American Spanish in Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia.

I rose, bused by small plate, cup and saucer and walked out of Le Bon Café. The noon session a half hour away suddenly seemed to take on, I don't know, added significance. There I was, in a suit and tie, who never wears a suit and tie....and I thought of her, my mother: dead fifteen years. I began to think, vaguely, about her journey to San Francisco when she was in her early 20s, about her life in the United States...

As I got closer to the hotel, I saw another two women up ahead of me, each pushing a stroller towards me. They were Latinas, in their early forties I guessed. The children in the strollers were not their own. As I approached them, one of them looked at a me. I looked at her. There was a moment of unspecified recognition. Neither of us spoke. We didn't have to. I smiled. She smiled back.

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