When Chicana feminist Gloria Anzaldúa released the groundbreaking book “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” she triggered an awakening among many Latinas, including me, struggling to find their place in the world.
Growing up on the border means having plural identities, a cultural fluidity that runs through the veins. When I left the borderlands to live in Austin more than a decade ago, I was confronted with my own multiple identities for the first time. Too Mexican for some and not Mexican enough for others. Anzaldúa taught us that existing between two worlds was not only OK, but it was powerful.
Anzaldúa’s work has been celebrated in everything from scholarly research to documentaries, and now her words have inspired the anthology “Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan borderlands,” edited by Austin-based poet Ire’ne Lara Silva (who was featured in our Emmy-nominated project “Austin Gente”) and poet Dan Vera.
The unprecedented collection, which showcases more than 50 diverse poets who reflect on the idea of borders and Anzaldúa’s work, will be the focus of a poetry symposium on Feb. 18 at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. A free workshop on how to write poetry and essay hybrids starts at 3 p.m. followed by a reception and reading at 5 p.m. Visit austintexas.gov for more details.
It’s not easy for Austin lovers of foreign films, especially Latin American films. It takes some legwork to find regular screenings in the city.
But you can treat yourself and a valentine to the classic Mexican film “Like Water for Chocolate” at 8:45 p.m. Feb. 17 at one of my favorite places to catch Latin American movies — the East Austin dance studio Esquina Tango on Pedernales Street.
The 1992 award-winning drama about forbidden love was the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S. at the time. The screening is part of the studio’s Noche de Película, or movie night, series, which features subtitled films every third Friday of the month. The laid-back events are BYOB and there’s a suggested $5 donation. Keep up with the movie schedule at esquinatangoaustin.com.
For 25 years, the Latino art gallery La Peña has been opening up its heart to Austinites with the popular Toma Mi Corazón, or Take My Heart, fundraiser. The gallery distributes wooden hearts to crafty Austinites, from artists to local celebrities, who then convert the pieces into artwork. The hearts are auctioned at the Toma Mi Corazón annual exhibit, which raises funds for the gallery’s community outreach, art and education programs.
Even Austinites without celebrity status can create a corazón if they swing by the Congress Avenue gallery to pick up a heart and drop off the donated artwork by 5 p.m. Saturday.
At a time when Austin faces the ongoing displacement of arts and music venues, supporting the longtime organizations promoting Latino arts and culture has become even more significant. La Peña, which launched in 1981, has a $10,000 fundraising goal. Veteran Trinidadian artist Brian Joseph will be among this year’s contributors.
The Toma Mi Corazón party begins at 4 p.m. on Feb. 11, followed by a silent auction at 6 p.m. Keep celebrating at the after party at 8 p.m. with food and refreshments. Admission is $10. Visit lapena-austin.org for more information.