From: "Nelson Guizzo"
Difusión CAV" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [CAV] Granicero Ana
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 19:48:22 -0200
¿Quieres ver tu publicidad aquí?
Esta es una escritora muy bonita, que tiene titulo de RainMaker,
Trate en vano de comunicarme con ella varias veces.
Lean la historia pues es muy interesante.
Saludos a todos...
Author lives 'Impossible' dream
Jun 3, 2001 by ANA MENDIETA
Ana Castillo sits in her blue-walled living room clutching a soft beige pillow,
her hand displaying a big yellow cameo ring with the image of the Virgin of
She doesn't consider herself a Catholic, but she wears the ring out of
reverence. Besides, she believes in spirituality and positive energies.
You can feel the good, calm vibrations emanating from artworks in her Uptown
duplex-portraits artists have done of her, a bright- colored altarpiece and a big
painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, two small sculptures of indigenous women
from Oaxaca, three framed pictures of her 17-year-old son Marcel, and a painting
of the twin sisters Las Cuatas Diego.
A reknowned Latina writer in the United States, Castillo is getting ready to
devote her energy to her next challenge-a newly created five-year appointment she
begins this fall as a writer-in- residence at DePaul University, where she will
also be teaching Latino literature.
"I think it's going to be good for both of us. DePaul is a progressive
university and a community service institution," said Castillo, clad in a plain
knee-length black dress and black sandals, bare legs, her thick black hair
slightly falling on her face and full red lips. Definitely looking young at 47.
Castillo accepted the position mainly because her son Marcel loves Chicago and
will attend DePaul University.
"(Motherhood) completely changed me as a woman. I was a very different woman
before. I did not have the compassion I have now."
In her fifth and latest book of poetry, I Ask the Impossible, Castillo compiles
an eclectic collection of poems about love with compassion, her son Marcel, the
Aztec gods, death, friendship, the Zapatista revolution and even Nastassia
Other recent works include a children's book, My Daughter, My Son, The Eagle,
The Dove. Her book of essays Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma won
the 1995 Gustaves Myers Award for outstanding book on human rights. In 1993, she
garnered the Carl Sandburg Literary Award in Fiction for her novel So Far From
God. She has been a teacher and guest lecturer in more than 20 colleges and
universities during the past 25 years.
Castillo began working on I Ask the Impossible in 1990 after her father's
death, and it was ready for publication in 1997. But then she switched publishers
and the book finally came out last year.
Love me withered as you loved me new, says the poem "I Ask the Impossible,"
which opens the book.
"I sort of pictured my mother and father as they were growing older, but my
father did not grow old, he died young (at age 57)," she said.
The walls turn from blue to yellow in the hallway of Castillo's home, and the
posters and paintings continue telling her life story all the way to the
Two of those art pieces are "My First Holy Communion"(1996) and "Carmen La
Coja" (1998), both painted by Castillo herself. Carmen La Coja (Carmen The Limp),
the protagonist of her 1999 novel Peel My Love Like Onion, takes a life of her
own in the picture, where she comes out of a lotus.
In the kitchen, a wooden table, dyed emerald green and with hand- painted
birds, stands like a monument from the Mexican state of Jalisco. Behind it there
is a wooden Russian china cabinet from the 19th century, also dyed an emerald
green. On the walls, pottery dishes from Puebla.
They are all as much part of Ana Castillo as Carmen La Coja, the title of the
newly released Spanish language version of Peel My Love Like an Onion.
Carmen La Coja, a Chicana version of Bizet's tragic opera heroine Carmen, is a
flamenco dancer with a leg rendered useless by polio who ends up keeping her two
lovers and becoming a famous flamenco singer.
But she is also the symbol of Castillo's particular theory on feminism for
Chicanas or Mexican-American women, which she calls Xicanisma.
It's a feminism deeply rooted in culture but one that hasn't reached an
ideological cohesiveness, Castillo said. That feminism should be reached through
"In her case (Carmen La Coja), she did something that was very likely not the
thing I would encourage my students to do. She already knew she was
disenfrachised . . . and she went out with the gitanos (gypsies), who were even
further . . . disenfrachised."
Castillo advises her female students who want to become professional "to take
assessments of who we are as a people, but as individuals they have to be
accountable to themselves and to their own consciousness, what can you do, what
can one person do: 'I am Puerto Rican, I am from Logan Square, I know I am not
going to represent all Latinos, maybe I can't even represent all the Puerto
Ricans, but I can work here.' '"
This need to respond to an individual consciousness stems from Castillo's
experience in the Latino nationalist movement of the 1960's and 1970's, where she
said she never subscribed to "a strong nationalist line" but to the plea of other
women of color.
"Very early on I started assessing the differences for myself as a woman from
the male point of view. My bond is with women who were not responsible for what
(Ferdinand) Marcos brought to the Philippines or for the Maquiladoras (young
women, usually between 14 and 20 years old, who commonly work in bad conditions
and earn below the minimum wage in manufacturing jobs along the
U.S.-Mexican border) working for American companies."
Author lives 'Impossible' dream
by ANA MENDIETA
<< Page 1 Continued from page 1. Previous | Next
Thanks to the success of her literature, Castillo can now speak up for the
labor rights of the Maquiladoras or the Carmen La Cojas of the world.
"I don't see myself anymore as a helpless, anonymous voice. It also gives me a
great sense of responsibility to speak about them."
Xicanisma also includes the ideas of traditional healing and spirituality, both
an essential part of Castillo's life.
Cultural healers or curanderas are in her blood line.
Her grandmother was the neighborhood curandera in the late 50s, as Castillo
grew up in Chicago's Near West Side, on the site of the University of Illinois
From her grandmother, Castillo learned about therapeutical massages and the
natural healing powers of herbs.
It was a first step. After all, curanderismo (natural healing) is part of the
Mexican indigenous culture. Castillo just didn't expect to have the strong
revelation that she had in Mexico.
In 1997, after her mother died, Castillo traveled to a small town in central
Mexico and met an indigenous Nahua man who was a curandero and a granicero
(rainmaker). A granicero has the power to control the rains.
"When I saw him and told him that my mother had just died, he said: La
tenemos que coronar (We have to crown her)," she recalled.
A few months later Castillo was crowned as a curandera and a granicera.
"When you have this type of blessing you have the support of the elder
graniceros, it goes back to the time of the Aztecs. But you also have
responsibilities, which are to pay respects to the universe, to God and to the
native deities," she said.
One of her recent tasks as a curandera was to conduct a marriage ceremony of
two friends in Baja California. The spiritual powers of healers and rainmakers
influenced her latest book, Spirits, Sex, Eternal Love, which will be published
"I do have a very rounded sense of our spirit, who we are, our bodies, beyond
the material issue of race, gender and ethnicity," she said.
She approaches her own artwork-her first holy communion self- portrait, Carmen
La Coja or a wild pig from a friend's ranch-as a healing measure only for
Aware of her widespread recognition as a writer, Castillo only has one regret:
that not enough Latinos read her books.
"There are about 600,000 Mexicans in this city. If half of them bought I Ask
the Impossible, it would be nominated for best seller," Castillo said. "I have
seen with my own eyes working class Mexicans go to Hacienda Tecalitlan and peel
$200 in cash to see one group one night. That is
O.K., but why can't you take $20 and buy your child a book and read with
Confessing she reads everything, including The National Enquirer, Castillo said
she has been influenced by Latin American writers such as Argentinian Julio
Cortazar or Mexican Elena Poniatowska.
In Spirit, Sex, Eternal Love, Castillo revealed the protagonist is called
Madame X and the action takes place in Chicago, where Castillo returned to live
It is always about the journey, whether you are Quixote or Arawak, it's always
about the journey is the first line of the book, Castillo said.
"The only thing I can do is to tell you about my journey. But to tell you that
I am going to define the journey, I can't," she said, folding her arms and
showing her cameo ring with the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Poet, novelist, artist, xicanista
Lives in: Uptown
Last book published: I Ask the Impossible (2001)
Working on: Spirit, Sex, Eternal Love
My Daughter, my Son, the Eagle, the Dove (2000).
Peel My Love Like an Onion (1999). Carmen La Coja (Spanish version, 2000).
So Far From God (1993).
The Mixquiahuala Letters, 1986.
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