"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Painting of Lalo and Lola Delgado by Emanuel Martinez unveiled at UTEP; Book Review: Free, free at Last by "Tigre" Perez

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Unveiling of Painting 
Lalo and Lola Delgado 
(by Emanuel Martinez)
 Inauguration of the 
Lalo Delgado Collection

Painting by Emanuel Martinez of Colorado

Last night, a painting by Chicano artist Emanuel Martinez  of Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado and Dolores "Lola" Delgado was unveiled at the University of Texas at El Paso, Lalo's alma mater.

Lalo Delgado was a student in the 1950s, and also a staff member at UTEP during the height of Chciano(a) student unrest on the campus.
Display at UTEP
Photo by Ray Rojas
The evening began with an introduction by Dennis Bixler-Marquez, Director of UTEP Chicano Studies. He described the making of the Chicano Collection at the UTEP Library's Special Collections and how Lalo was special to UTEP and El Paso.

Above, Ana Duran and family
Photo by Ray Rojas

Ana Duran, daughter of Lalo Delgado, spoke next describing the process in which the painting was requested and painted. George "Ron" Waldie, who worked with Lalo in the Colorado Migrant Council, and was the benefactor of the painting. He spoke next make several remarks about Lalo's famous smile and activism.

The artist, Emanuel Martinez spoke of the times he bumped into Lalo during the Chicano Movement and how the last line of "Stupid America," which compares a child "flunking math and english" to Pablo Picasso, influenced his art:

"stupid america, remember that chicanito
fluncking math and english
he is the picasso
of your western state..." 

Many family member from El Paso, Cd. Juarez, and Colorado were in the room as well as local activists who worked with Lalo and former UTEP students who were influenced by Lalo. Homero Galicia, who teaches in UTEP's business college and who was one of the co-founders of the New Organization of Mexican American Students (NOMAS), MECHA predecessor, spoke of Lalo's work in the Segundo Barrio with Salvador Ramirez "El Huevo" and the success of their Juvenile Delinquency Project.

Lalo Delgado has a special place in the heart of UTEP and El Paso and his fondly remembered.


UTEP MECHA Flyer upon Lalo Delgado's visit in 1999

Photo, Emanuel Martinez and George "Ron" Waldie
Photo by Ray Rojas


Should death surprise us in the street,
a demonstration, a march, or an assault.
Someone else will replace us for we now
know that our war cry has reached our
brothers in arms in the United States,
the Americas, and the world.....
– Raymundo “Tigre” Perez

by Raymundo Eli Rojas

When Free, free at last (Barrio Publications) came out in 1970, the Vietnam War was still running and Laredo, Raymundo “Tigre” Perez' home, was in the midst of Civil Rights strife.

The poems within Free reflect the transformation of consciousness and the exposure of injustices by Gringos. When reading one can tell that some were poems written with intention to be read publicly by their author. Free has a mix of English, Spanish, and Spanglish poetry iced with some pensamientos and free-hand thoughts.

Covering a host of issues, Tigre attacks the established Democratic Party and vendidos who pretend to speak for their people:

The vendidos speak for our people
Our civil rights lay in the gutter.
For years we asked for a voice, el partido viejo
compro la gente.

What caught my eye in Tigre's poetry were many references to “the living dead.” This is also found in his poetry in Los Cuatro. Just a year before, in 1969, George Romero released his cult classic zombie flick “Night of the Living Dead.” Now you may chuckled a little, but for those film buffs of readers, a light bulb has gone off.

Now largely seen as a reflection of the Vietnam War and the violence of the times, I'm guessing Tigre saw its significance of Romero's movie way back in the day as the draft lived en la mente of every young man, and Vietnam became synonymous with death – “living dead.”

Mad Man

Silent, unseen world that revolves within me,
No sounds, no joy that the living depart from the dead,
Call of the wild, call of the mind
Dressed between fantasy and reality
Walking toward the horizon, the living dead.



I'm the light of the living dead
I'm the heart of Revolution.
Neither chains nor dictatorship will detain me.
Running free, I'm the wind.
My soul is firm as our land...
I'm the light of the living dead....

Tigre's poetry is justice poetry of its time. Easy to read and comprehend by those in the movement at the time, and easy to read by today's readers, as opposed to poets who make it their mission to make their writing incomprehensible as possible to la gente.

“Move without the support of halt of the people,and
all their hate shining down on us, they can't
“The Viet Nam War doesn't bother you unless it soon sits with you.”

Tigre's poem “Theatre of Death” is more blunt about the war:

I'm the son of havoc.
The stepfather of hate.
The sound of marching troops.
Voice of the thunder of guns
the Theatre of Death.
As the bells tool I the laughter of hell,
you tell me I'm wrong.
Your society expects the ugly worm
to shed and become a butterfly.
Memory of jungle of steel full of smoke,
mist, and death.

The poetry of Tigre Perez calls for justice, movimieto; it calls for gente not to be apathetic. As in “Navidad 1969,” he asks the gente not to be too comfortable on that joyous day: “ Pero nosotoros abemos que nuestra raza no sera feliz por mas que quiera...Todo los carnales en Viet Nam y en oras partes del mundo sirviendo al Tio Samuel.”

The title poem, “Free, Free at Last,” describes a day in prison, hearing not echos of war, but Tigre hears the movement for civil rights outside of prison -- Tigre is unable to join.

Filled with Spanish verse and some rhyme poems, Free, Free at Last takes the reader back to a time when law enforcement could kill with impunity (has much changed?); ranchero's treating farmworkers inhuman (has much changed?); and daily reminders that you may be taken to war against your will, to fight for a country that does not love you.

Poets are prophets, people often say. Was Tigre a prophet?

Sure much has changed and much has stayed the same, but for the positive change, we have many pathmakers to thank, but often we thank none. Prophetically, Tigre in his poem “And tomorrow” asks future generalizations not to forget those who blazed the trails:

As I write to you people of Tomorrow, you shall
forget why you are free.
Tomorrow you'll read this aged word, ask, ask
who's he? Quein sabe?
Just a chicano in the eve of Revolution hammering
gringo shackles, so you'll be free
And Tomorrow...

The link we share with you today is: Northwestern Acquires Curbstone.

Your calo juarense for today is: papira - Baraja - Deck of cards
                                           -- Glosario del Calo de Cd. Juarez, Ricardo Aguilar Melantzon

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