If you go to poets dot org and type the word ‘Chicano’ into the search bar there, the results are dismal. Sure, a couple of names come back – just as you will find the same five or six names at each and every big box book store’s “Hispanic” section. This is, of course, a gross misrepresentation.
It was things like this that pushed me to publish in the first place, but these days they just leave me tired. I’ve spent some 20 odd years trying to carve my name into the tree of literature but no matter how hard I carve, nor what tool I use, the tree won’t give. That’s telling to me, and in more ways than one.
So many of us say ‘fuck the tree,’ and spend the rest of our literary career wandering aimlessly and leaving unread pages of brilliance and folly in our wake, only to be swept away by time into obscurity.
And yes, it leaves me tired.
I’m tired of begging the mainstream lit world to acknowledge my existence. I’m tired of trying to explain the importance of supporting indie lit. I’m tired of marketing and networking and social media and the racket. I’m also tired of being taken for granted.
I often wonder if in half a century any of this will matter. Will these books survive? Will my words outlive me? Doubtful. And you will probably find the same five or six names in every big box book store’s “Hispanic” section. So it goes.
This isn’t to say that I believe I deserve anything other than a shot; but most Chicano artists that I’ve known never even get to the starting line. We are, if not misunderstood, then certainly invisible.
You won’t find Chicano poets
in the national archives
We don’t officially exist
You find us in your heart
on the wall
and in the streets
We are everywhere
We are forgotten