Welcome to ESL 100, English Surely Latinized,

inglés con chile y cilantro, English as American

as Benito Juárez. Welcome, muchachos from Xochicalco,

learn the language of dólares and dolores, of kings

and queens, of Donald Duck and Batman. Holy Toluca!

In four months you’ll be speaking like George Washington,

in four weeks you can ask, More coffee? In two months

you can say, May I take your order? In one year you

can ask for a raise, cool as the Tuxpan River.

Welcome, muchachas from Teocaltiche, in this class

we speak English refrito, English con sal y limón,

English thick as mango juice, English poured from

a clay jug, English tuned like a requinto from Uruapan,

English lighted by Oaxacan dawns, English spiked

with mezcal from Mitla, English with a red cactus

flower blooming in its heart.

Welcome, welcome, amigos del sur, bring your Zapotec

tongues, your Nahuatl tones, your patience of pyramids,

your red suns and golden moons, your guardian angels,

your duendes, your patron saints, Santa Tristeza,

Santa Alegría, Santo Todolopuede. We will sprinkle

holy water on pronouns, make the sign of the cross

on past participles, jump like fish from Lake Pátzcuaro

on gerunds, pour tequila from Jalisco on future perfects,

say shoes and shit, grab a cool verb and a pollo loco

and dance on the walls like chapulines.

When a teacher from La Jolla or a cowboy from Santee

asks you, Do you speak English? You’ll answer, Sí,

yes, simón, of course. I love English!

And you’ll hum

a Mixtec chant that touches la tierra and the heavens.

Gina Valdés grew up on both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border. Her work has been published in journals and anthologies in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. She is the author of two poetry collections, Eating Fire and Borders and Bridges, both from Bilingual Press. The poem is published by permission. Photo by Veronica Cunningham.

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Comments

David Dodd May 6, 2010 @ 1:29 a.m.

Some of these Mexican gals can sling poetry like a taquero slaps filling into a tortilla. So much great linguistic twisting going on here! Simón and Sí, woman! Great job again, Reader, in finding the really good stuff. Next female poetry reading I catch wind of down here, I'm requesting that you put it into the calendar, anyone who chooses to attend will not be disappointed.

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SurfPuppy619 May 6, 2010 @ 8:40 a.m.

Some of these Mexican gals can sling poetry like a taquero slaps filling into a tortilla.

Now that is an interesting anaology!

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nan shartel May 15, 2010 @ 8:34 a.m.

ooooooooo and the sauces she uses Refried..it makes my mouth water

love this one Reader...and very satisfying composite of American and Mexican word salad..Brava!!!

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David Dodd May 15, 2010 @ 6:29 p.m.

Nan, it's even better when you listen to them read. I was astounded, there is so much passion in the poetry of the women who write here, and it's even more intensified when they read their own stuff!

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nan shartel May 16, 2010 @ 10:44 p.m.

i'd love that Refried...to listen..where might i do that amigo???

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David Dodd May 16, 2010 @ 10:59 p.m.

Nan, there are poetry readings here in Tijuana sporadically, and often it's just the women reading. I'll let everyone know when the next one happens, but I'll certainly attempt to attend one and take some video for those who can't make it to south of the border.

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MsGrant May 17, 2010 @ 9:16 a.m.

That would be awesome, RFG. Thanks!

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nan shartel May 18, 2010 @ 11:46 a.m.

ur just the best Refried...and if i know early enuff it would be a pleasure to attend...thx homey!!!

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David Dodd May 18, 2010 @ 1:46 p.m.

Actually, the last one I attended was at the Dandy del Sur. Nothing like hoisting a cold one and listening to the poetesses get their game on. A lot of people think of Tijuana as this gimmicky tourist trap, but the Tijuana that the tourists seldom see contains an amazing amount of art and culture.

And the gals were really good. Granted, the vast majority of the poetry is in Spanish, but I can't imagine that their point wouldn't get across in spite of the language barrier.

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nan shartel June 6, 2010 @ 9:59 a.m.

Tijuana is a mix of Mexico's most tasty chilis Refried...i just love the place...and ur so right about getting a point across regardless of language

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nan shartel June 6, 2010 @ 10:06 a.m.

In 2004, art exhibits and poetry readings were held at iconic cantinas such as Zacazonapan and Dandy del Sur. Bar Turístico in Plaza Santa Cecilia was (and still is) a meeting point for Universidad Autónoma de Baja California students, intellectuals, artists, and journalists.

does this still happen Refried???

found it in this great blog http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

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