During the last spring semester at SMC, I taught English 57: Latin American Literature. A former student of English 2, Critical Reading and Intermediate Composition, Annie Getman enrolled immediately. By the time I started teaching the class, I was a month into my first project period at Antioch University, for my MFA. I was developing a manuscript for a novel, writing like the madwoman that I am, possessed by Federico García Lorca's DUENDE. I would wake up at 5:00 or 6:00 AM, four times a week to write for four to six hours. Sometimes, for longer. Madness and discipline well-balanced can render a honed elixir of creative and technical imagination.
Annie was fascinated by the works of Latinx poets and writers, but soon became enthralled with Jorge Luis Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths, Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Memories of my Melancholy Whores, in addition to gaining profound insights in the poetry of Roque Dalton, Maria Sabina, Coral Bracho, Pablo Neruda, Xul Solar, and Delmira Agustini...just to name a few of our shared favorites.
During my brief lectures contextualizing nations, critical approaches, themes, and motifs for the texts that I've curated, Annie would doodle and draw on her notebook, capturing the body language of her classmates, and even mine. But she'd be quick to raise her hand and contribute to class discussions, stirring ensuing debates. One time, Annie walked in class over to my desk to share some academic and personal news. She had dyed her hair with a rare yellow, and she wore an overall with stains of oil paint and watercolors--she was a vision. I knew that her outfit and even her mien were going to inform the outfit and behavior for one of my characters in the scene that I had drafted that morning. Fashion is essential for the characters in my novel because they express their identities through their choices for attire. Another time, Annie came with a long pink flannel coat, and a T-shirt reading "Shhh" on the upper corner above where the heart is, and that's how I imagined the wardrobe for the scene that I wrote the next morning.
I invited Annie to pollinate my work with her creative ideas. I knew that her crafty insight would spark my imagination, and I sensed that my words recited by my daughter Magaluna, and accompanied by the tender mellifluousness of Federico Ramos' guitar would aid Annie to re-imagine this scene from her own perspective.
Brook sketched while repeating to themself in their mind their mother’s words from the journal. They recited it surprised of their memorization:
Brook translated Cassandra’s words onto an image, entitling it An Ekphrasis of Cassandra’s Vow of Love. On the page there laid a milky way glistening on the beach, and a sunflower, emerging from under the sunlight with soft penciled lines with a grainy effect and graphite smudged by Brook’s fingertips. The negative space rendering a translucid veil or an almost transparent cloud; water, as a glass panel over the sand, revealing from beneath multiple sparks. Cassandra’s entry closed with Natalie Merchant’s lyrics from “Wonder,” so Brook sang it in their mind, humming imperceptibly.
On Juneteenth I was scheduled as the first graduating reader at Antioch University, Los Angeles. I read this excerpt from Sunshower's [The Turn] included in Chapter Three, "Words Writ on Wild Waters." In the video you'll see me wearing a flowery two-piece suit because one of the themes in my manuscript is flowers. My husband ironed my Romantic white shirt while my daughter embraced me meditationally. Magaluna and Federico sang a song and played music on cue during my Zoom recitation--the trigger words were for the former, "singing out loud," and for the latter, "memorization." You'll see a metaphorical bow when I put a Top Hat. Maybe, because I am a performer, and a fashionista, but surely, because the four letters of my daughter's name, Maga, is the word in Spanish for Magician, and it's just a hopeful way to read into its magical pulse and not the something ugly that it means these days. Also, because Magicians' make magic tricks on "galeras de los magos" and chapter three is structured drawing to the notion of the Three Steps of a Magic Act, as conceived by author Christopher Priest in his novel The Prestige, and that Chris Nolan's film explains it via the superb acting of Michael Caine--its Three Steps, The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige.
Today, I exhale. Hope and Faith linger in the Air. Magic not always can be explained though acts of magic happen all the time, even in the darkest of the days. Even when we aren't fully aware. But be aware. Become magic and justice yourself.