the louderARTS Project

Joaquín Zihuatanejo

Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a father, a husband, a poet,a spoken word artist, and an award-winning teacher. He was born and raised in the barrio of East Dallas where his grandfather, Silas C. Medina, showed him what the novelist, Rudolfo Anaya, describes as the Path of Light. Through his poetry he strives to capture the duality of his culture, the Chicano culture. His is a mestizo culture that is steeped in duality, and in his poetry he depicts the essence of barrio life, writing about subjects as varied as his grandfather's garden, the experiences of a youth that was plagued by gang violence, a heritage that is steeped in sacrifice, and borders. He writes of borders that are both actual and metaphorical, borders that plague a people seen as immigrants in their own homeland. Joaquín is a member of the 2004 Dallas Poetry Slam Team and current Grand Slam Spoken Word Poetry Champion of Dallas. Joaquín and Dallas Slam placed third out of sixty competing teams from the United States, Canada, and the UK at the 2004 National Poetry Slam competition in St. Louis. He performs his work at various conferences, poetry recitals, and poetry slams throughout the country. He will be touring the East Coast this fall including a feature performance at the prestigious poetry venue, The Nuyorican Poets Café, founded and made famous by legendary poet and playwright Miguel Piñero. He recently competed in the Step to the Mic Spoken Word Competition in Stockton, California finishing in the top ten out of some 100 competing poets. As well as being a featured poet at the Austin International PoetryFestival last April, Joaquín's work was published in the 2004 Di-verse-CityPoetry Anthology. He has been the keynote speaker/performer at several conferences related to issues concerning Mexican Americans. He has self-published two collections of poetry, Barrio Songs and I of the Storm and has just completed his first spoken word CD, Barrio Songs, A Spoken Word Collection. He has had the privilege of being selected as the poet to open up for award winning poetand novelists Maya Angelou and E. Lynn Harris at their recent recitals at universities in the North Texas area. Joaquín currently lives in Denton, Texas, with his wife Aída, his two daughters, Aiyana and Dakota, and their two guinea pigs, Pancho and Cisco.

zihuatanejos at wmconnect dot com




Abuelo's Garden
(para mi Abuelo
for my grandfather)

Bendito, Bendito, Bendito
sea a Dios
os angeles cantan y daban a Dios
los angeles cantan y daban a Dios

Memories of mygrandfather's garden come back to me
differently than other child of the hood memories
Memories of my grandfather's garden come back to me
in well water voices
in deep chest hymns
that begin as a gurgle deep in the belly and rise to the throat
slowly
I remember little of the day my friends jumped me in
I remember fists flailing and afterwards
those deep, fleshy embraces
only Latinos know how to give
but Abuelo's garden comes back to me with aromas, with tastes
with corridos sung to the sun
with novenas sung to the moon
thanking both sides of life
the light and the dark
for their bountiful harvests
Ay, Dios mio,
all those nights we knelt together in brown earth
it was always about harmony, about balance
He'd intone deeply thanking the life giving soil for its gift
and I'd follow suit
carefully pulling up cilantro, manzanilla and yerba del manso
always making sure metal spade never touches fragile root
sweet, ancient Abuelito,
how could I be anything but a poet after these moments we shared
Don't you see,
In my Abuelo's garden chiles grew
In my Abuelo's garden children grew
In my Abuleo's garden poems rose from the earth
like the twisting arms of la llorona
desperately reaching out for her missing children
In my Abuelo's garden all of these things would rise
slowly
because beautiful things take time to bloom
In my Abuelo's garden all of these things would rise
slowly,
like well water voices,
like deep chest hymns,
that begin as a gurgle deep in the belly and rise to the throat
slowly singing,
always singing,

Bendito, Bendito, Bendito
sea a Dios
os angeles cantan y daban a Dios
los angeles cantan y daban a Dios



© Joaquín Zihuatanejo



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