Showing posts from October, 2020

POETRY: Mowing Down Statues and Tipping Sacred Cows

Review by Patrick Fontes   Mowing Leaves of Grass By Matt Sedillo 126 pp. Flowersong Press. $15 In Mowing Leaves of Grass Matt Sedillo gives us something special. More than a book of poetry about a lived experience, more than a powerful insight into life as a Chicano growing up in the barrio, Sedillo combines a unique awareness of the Chicano experience, rooted in race and class, with an intellectual critique of American society and history. And the poet pulls no punches. We quickly learn from his verse that he is servant to no master; he is an iconoclast willing and ready to pull the curtain away from any Oz America might be shrouding in its past. “And I didn’t come to make friends; And I didn’t come to hold hands; I came to talk shit,” Sedillo writes in the poem “Raise the Red Flag.” His honesty is not latent. We don’t need to muse over a cappuccino while wondering what his verse means—it is clear and often brutal. If you know your ancient poetry, this is lik

A Shaman Taunts Death... for Justice

By William Alexander Yankes On August 11, 2020, a CNN-Chile TV caption announced an indigenous healer’s farewell to life: “Machi Celestino Envió Mensaje de Despedida: Será un orgullo dar la vida por mi pueblo.” Healer and spiritual leader “Machi” (in native Mapudugún language) Celestino Córdova Tránsito bid his “final farewell” from his hospital jail bed just hours before the 100th day of a hunger strike he began on March 4, 2020. His voice traveled transnationally: “It will be an honor to give my life for my people.”  He had resolved to lay down his life in an effort to highlight the tragic plight of Chile’s embattled and historically disenfranchised native Mapuche community. For him, the Mapuche people he serves share a kinship with both indigenous nations worldwide and with global human rights advocacy networks. The solemn missive represented Machi Celestino’s yearning for meaningful changes in indigenous rights across the world. Since the era of conquest and colonization in the 15t