Speak the People / the Spark / el Poema: Celebrating Juan Felipe Herrera

Speak the People / the Spark / el Poema: Celebrating Juan Felipe Herrera


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C. [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome the Deputy Librarian of Congress, Robert Newlen. [ Applause ]>>Robert Newlen: Good
evening everyone and thank you for the applause. That’s very nice to have
at the end of the day. Welcome to the Library of Congress. We’re so glad you’re here, and the first thing I think we
should do is thank the Fresno State Chamber singers. They were terrific. [ Applause ] They gave a terrific concert with
our Poet Laureate this afternoon and what a wonderful start to
our evening, and as I speak, we are being livestreamed
to Fresno State. So Fresno State hello how are you? [ Applause ] I love Fresno and I
wish I was there. Each year we close the
library’s literally season with an event honoring our Poet
Laureate consultant in poetry. Tonight we celebrate our
amazing 21st Poet Laureate as he concludes his
second and final term. Juan Filipe Herrera has
been one of the most popular and successful Poet Laureates ever. [ Applause ] From the moment he was appointed, he
has tirelessly championed the power of poetry to connect us and
empower audiences across the country by telling everyone “You
have a beautiful voice.” He has put his own beautiful voice
to work for all of us as well. As Laureate, Juan Filipe
has written poems that address pressing
social issues and poems that capture the sublime
in everyday life. He even wrote an inspiring
poem each focuses a story for his first meeting with
Carla Hayden our 14th Librarian of Congress. But he doesn’t just
wheeled a skilled pen, Juan Filipe has been one of the
most active Poet Laureates ever. In his first term, he
launched the online initiative “La Casa de Colores;
The House of Colors.” It includes the epic crowd
source poem “La Familia” which echoed the diverse
voices of America. He also produced the
video series “El Jardin; The Garden” in which he
walked viewers through some of the library’s surprising
treasures. For his second term, Juan Filipe
focused on connecting with youth. He launched “The Technicolor
Adventures of Catalina Neon”, an online collaboration with
illustrator Juana Medina which swept second and third graders into the wonders of
the creative process. He also launched “Wordstreet
Champions and Brave Builders of the Dream.” A yearlong project with
Chicago public libraries and the Poetry Foundation, which
excuse me, Chicago public schools, Chicago public libraries,
and the Poetry Foundation which gave educators new
strategies for teaching poetry. For his final project,
Juan Filipe created the “Laureate Lab-Visual Wordist
Studio”, and innovative space in the library of California State
University in Fresno; his hometown. Here, Juan Filipe mixed
poetry, song, and art in wonderfully dynamic
programs for his local community. That’s for one Filipe
dreamed up today’s celebration which he has named “Speak the
People/the Spark/el Poema.” We begin this evening with the
discussion of Latino culture and its contributions to
our national heritage. Joining Juan Filipe here on
stage will be Martha Gonzalez, a Chicana artivista musician
and assistant professor of Chicano Latino studies at
Scripps Claremont College, as well as a singer,
songwriter, and percussionist for the Grammy Award
winning band, Quetzal. Hugo Morales, the founder and
director of Radio Bilingue, the leading Latino public radio
network and content producer for the nation’s broadcasting
system, and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow,
and Louis Pererra; excuse me, Louie Perez, the songwriter,
percussionist, and guitarist for the
multi-Grammy Award winning band, Los Lobos which he
cofounded in 1973. Their discussion titled “Let
Us Gather in a Flourishing Way” after Juan Filipe’s seminal
poem will be moderated by Rafael Perez-Torres who
is a distinguished author, literary critic, and
English Professor at UCLA. Following the discussion and after
a short break, we are delighted to welcome Martha and other members
of Quetzal to the stage for one of their amazing performances. I have to confess to
you, that I did a lot of practice of the Spanish names. I was a French major in college,
so when I got to El Jardin, I wanted to say [foreign
word spoken]. But I have to say that I
was able to get through this because of the wonderful Maria
Rona [assumed spelling] who is here with the Library of Congress. Marie, thank you for getting
me through, for coaching me. I’m going to need a
lot more in the future. In my last two minutes I’m going
to go off script just a moment. Several weeks ago the
library received the archive of a wonderful photo
journalist, Bob Adelman. Bob sadly died over a year ago
and his archive has come here. He was an extremely
interesting photo journalist. He was a confidant of Martin
Luther King and Andy Warhol. How’s that for a range? But he took wonderful photos and my dream is one day we’ll
have an exhibit of his works here. When we received the gift, we
had a celebration of Bob’s life and Juan Filipe composed a poem
in his honor, and it was so moving and so inspiring, and
captured Bob so beautifully. So, I became really I guess inspired
by Juan Filipe’s his ability to write this, this
wonderful poem and I decided that I would write
a poem in his honor. Now, I know that takes
a lot of chutzpa. I’ve never written a poem in
my life, but what can I say? Juan Filipe inspired me. So my poem consists
of fifty stanzas, no. [ Laughter ] I promise I can read it
to you in under a minute, but I have to say I
really enjoyed writing it. Juan Filipe’s tenure here has just
been so joyful and has enriched me so much and just opened me up to
the whole potential of poetry, but I wanted to do something to
thank him and really honor him. So here it goes. My poem is titled, “JFH.” J; Juan, a journey full of wonder
and surprise revealed as poet, performer, writer, cartoonist,
anthropologist, teacher, activist, poet laureate, yet a son of
migrants whom never forgets. F; Filipe, Allen Ginsberg
revealed from time to time, through landscapes and language, a
panoramic vision always reminding us of risk, of children, of suffering,
of family, of anguish, and time. H; Herrera, humble yet full of
the devil and full of Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie, and
Spalding Gray, and Frida Kahlo, and Cat Stevens, and Rosa Parks,
and farmers, and sorrow, and loss. JFH, Poet Laureate, poet for life. The end. [ Applause ] Well, thank you for flattering
me with that applause. I feel a little better and
nobody threw anything at me. So, without further ado, may
I present our Poet Laureate, Juan Filipe Herrera and
our distinguished guests. Thank you so much. [ Applause ]>>Juan Filipe Herrera:
Thank you so much. That was great. That was beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much. [ Applause ]>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Well, thank
you all for coming out tonight. We very much appreciate
it and I think we’re in for a very special
evening of stories and music, and I’d just like to say it’s
my great honor to be here, it’s my great privilege to be here
and to welcome you all this evening at the closing ceremonies
recognizing and celebrating the tenure
of Juan Filipe Herrera as our Poet Laureate
of the United States. [ Applause ] I just, I think his
poetry is significant to us because it sings to our hearts. It touches each one of us, but
it also speaks of the earth. It speaks of history. It speaks of time. It connects us profoundly
to felt sense of place, both in terms of being in a
specific geography, but also living in history and being connected
to an extensive history. He makes us feel located
in a continuum of belonging whether it be our
roots as Americans indigenous to the continent or be it as
the result of our ancestors or us individually flying or
walking or swimming, however we got to the United States to become a
part of this union, and this union that Juan Filipe as U.S.
Poet Laureate represents. We’re here to recognize Juan
Filipe’s voice as has contributed to our sense of belonging in the
world; our sense of connection to each other and our
sense of recognition of ourselves through his poetry. So, I’d like to invite Juan
Filipe to read first off a poem, “Let Us Come Together
in a Flourishing Way” which our evening is dedicated
to and then to talk may be for a few minutes about
his experiences with the Flor y Canto
Movement in the 1970s, the Chicano Poetry
Movement that brought arts and social activism together
and brought them together in a collective dedicated
to transforming the world in which they lived and the world in which them thought
we would be living in. So, Juan Filipe please I invite
you to share your words with us.>>Juan Filipe Herrera: You want me to share some words
about those times?>>Rafael Perez-Torres:
About those times, but if you would read the poem. If you would read the poem for us.>>Juan Filipe Herrera: Okay,
I just didn’t know which words.>>Rafael Perez-Torres:
Yeah, that would be perfect.>>Juan Filipe Herrera: Yes
this is 1971 and I was walking down Campbell Hall in
UCLA and out of nowhere I, the phrase “Let us gather in a
flourishing way” just came to me, and I really enjoyed that phrase. I said, “That’s something
that I want to write about.” Let us gather in a flourishing way with sunluz grains abriendo los
cantos que cargamos cada día. En el young pasto nuestro cuerpo
para regalar y dar feliz perlas pearls of corn flowing árboles
de vida en las cuatro esquinas. Let us gather in a flourishing
way contentos llenos de fuerza to vida giving us strength, for
life, giving us nacimientos, giving birth, giving new beginnings to fragrant ríos dulces frescos
verdes turquoise strong carne de nuestros hijos rainbows. Let us gather in a flourishing
way en la luz, in the light, y en la carne, in the flesh of our
heart to toil tranquilos in fields of blossoms juntos to stretch los
brazos together tranquilos in peace with the rain en la
mañana temprana Estrella, early morning daybreak star on
our forehead cielo de calor, heaven of heat and wisdom to meet
us where we toil siempre always in the garden of our
struggle and joy. Let us offer our hearts a saludar, to greet our águila rising freedom
a celebrar woven brazos branches ramas, stones and piedras nopales
and plumas and feathers piercing and bursting figs and aguacates,
and avocados ripe mariposa, butterfly fields and mares claros
and clear oceans and clear seas of our face to breathe todos,
all of us en el camino, on the road, on this road. Blessing seeds to give
to grow maiztlán, the secret city en las
manos de nuestro amor. [ Applause ]>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Can you
tell us a little about that period and then the period that
came just after that?>>Juan Filipe Herrera: Okay. It’s kind of indescribable. You know, you put, you put let’s
see you put [foreign word spoken], you put affirmative action,
you put [foreign word spoken], you put [foreign name
spoken], you Jimmy Hendrix, you put [foreign word spoken], you
put Chicanas [foreign name spoken], [foreign name spoken], you
put [foreign name spoken], you put the Chicano
Moratorium, you put leaving home for the first time ever; first
time, first generation wild to go to that place called, I
don’t know is it UCLA? Is it a new time, a
new epic, a new world? I was so used to being to live
with my mother and my father in little tents, in little trailers
and then in apartments and so forth and that day came when that
big envelope from UCLA came. [Foreign name spoken], who I had
met in 1962 when we were both in middle school who became one
of our pioneer in Chicano poets who started cracking
the anthropology books and one day he says, “Juan Filipe.” I go, “Yes.” “Today I’m a Chicano.” I said, “Well, what
were you yesterday?” [Laughter] And so it
was like that, you know, I was playing in the
last coffee houses that were still alive in the mid60s. One of them was in La Mesa,
California and was called, it was called Bifrost Bridge. So we would go there and [foreign
name spoken] and I and we’d jump in and he’d play congas and he
borrowed congas and I get up there with harmonica that
that I didn’t know how to play while there was a guitarists
playing blues while people in the audience would
be drinking cider, hot cider with cinnamon sticks in it and the folks song movement
was you know flourishing and I’d be off key while the people
were singing “I’ve been a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a
king you know something like that. And so you put all
that stuff together and then you put the explosion of
the Farm Workers’ Union Movement and the pilgrimages from all the way to Sacramento [foreign language
spoken] and you put trips to Mexico, trips to Cuba, and trips back
and living on rice and water. One of our fabulous ideas was living
on rice and water in San Diego and San Francisco, and getting
very excited about the fact that we actually had a voice
and that we wanted to cast it in as many ways as possible and we
soon we started to work in groups and form groups, form theater
groups, political theater groups, student groups, collectives
and work with other collectives in San Francisco for sure. And the women began to gathering
cottages and they rented cottages as a collective and all of a
sudden they were like living in their own world and woman
world and asserting their world in their own terms, and the [foreign
word spoken] were going up in L.A., East L.A., and San Diego and all
across California, and the Southwest and Texas, and San Antonio. So all that is taking place while
this poem is beginning to cook and to be recited because all of a sudden it was
really not about rioting. It wasn’t about being a poet. It was about standing up and
speaking and for our communities and to open up and break open
those vaults that had been there, had been buried that had our
stories, our words, our symbols and signs, and in many ways
our people and we wanted to break open those vaults and step
into freedom and words and poems and songs and music were a part
of that effort and project, and I’m so happy that we’re
here today echoing these things and actually recreating and staring
a new with our great panel today and everyone that’s here in
our chamber seniors once again. [ Applause ]>>Rafael Perez-Torres: And the
idea of voice and sharing voice and collecting voices is one
of the things that we want to talk about today as a panel. In order to get to some
sense of both the legacy that Juan Filipe has left us
collectively as Poet Laureate, but also how he’s working
within a tradition of Latino literary cultural
tradition that brings many of us together and that
carries with us certain values that have transformed
the national culture and that have productively
contributed to the national culture and so I’d like to introduce the
rest of the panel to you and I’d like each of them in turn to
maybe just talk a little bit about how they came to the
idea, the realization of voice, having a voice, wanting to
share a voice and wanting to share their voice with
others to form new collectives and to both think in terms of the
social world that they inherited and that we have inherited and
that we envision transforming, but also the esthetic world, the
cultural world, the artistic world, that these artists have worked
very hard as well to transform and transform the media that each of
these individuals has used in order to challenge the nature
of that media as that media challenges the
nature of our social order and our social hierarchies. So, Martha if you don’t
mind I’d like to introduce to you Martha Gonzalez, my friend
and Chicana activista, artist, and artivista as she calls herself a
musician, a feminist music theorist, assistant professor at the
Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/Chicano/Latina/Latino
Studies at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She is a brilliant scholar, as
well as a brilliant musician and she has received fellowships
from the Fulbright Foundation, from the Ford Foundation and from
the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation which if very impressive
for a young scholar who’s just a, I won’t say starting out. In fact, she’s contributed
quite a bit already to our field both musically
and intellectually. And her academic interests
and this is what’s beautiful about her career, is that
she, her academic interests and you musical interests intertwine and combined are completely
inseparable and are beautifully
organic, and indeed, her own academic interests
are fueled by her musicianship as a singer, songwriter for
the Grammy Award winning band, Quetzal who will be performing
later today for us and Quetzal as you know has made
considerable impact in both the Los Angeles music
scene, but the Latino music scene and the folk music scene
in the states more broadly. She and her partner Quetzal
Flores have been instrumental in catalyzing the transnational
dialogue between Chicanas and Latina communities
in the United States and the Jarocho communities
in Bejucos, Mexico. The Jarocho is a form of
rhythm and a form of music that is typically traditional
of that region of Mexico and it’s just an extraordinarily
rich form of music that has very, very deep roots both in indigenous
sounds and in African sounds. In 2014, her stomp box which was
featured earlier on the stage. You may have seen it. It was used as a platform.>>Martha Gonzalez:
That’s an old one. I mean a borrowed one.>>Rafael Perez-Torres:
A borrowed one. It’s called a tarima which is
a stomp box used for dancing. Her tarima was acquired by the
National Museum of American History, because of the wonderful work that
she and Quetzal have undertaken in terms of musicianship and
their work for the community. Quetzal has just released a new
album, “The Eternal Getdown” which is being released by
Smithsonian Folkways Label and it is my great pleasure to
introduce to you Martha Gonzalez. [ Applause ]>>Martha Gonzalez: I’d like to say
first of all that it’s a real honor to be up here with these
wonderful artists, these thinkers and our very own Poet Laureate. It’s such an honor for me to be here
and I really, I’m, I was all torn up in the bathroom and I just
couldn’t; because I had thought like what am I doing here? Anyhow, a little while ago; TMI. But I had to say that
because I really feel so much influence directly and
some indirectly by all of these men up here in some way and so
I’m very happy to be here. And I’m also proud to be one of
the few women up here as well, the only woman up here, but right. [ Applause ] But so you know there are many
others and when I’m thinking about voice, I think there are two
things I’d like to say about that and one of the things
is first of all you need to see an example, right. To find your voice for me, was
seeing somebody else express like the beautiful words that
our Poet Laureate said today, where you hear yourself as you were
saying earlier, they put a mirror to your face and show you just
how beautiful your culture is and how it’s not bad to
mix English and Spanish and to even create new
language like Spanglish, right. And to say it such a way that
makes you so, fills you with pride where you fluff up like a happy
chicken, you know, because you’re so excited to be there
and most of all, as you mentioned Campbell
Hall, I too went to UCLA. I have an undergraduate
degree at the Music College and I know even though
this wonderful man walked, graced the hallways
of this place, I’m, unfortunately there
are elements at UCLA that haven’t necessarily
changed that much, but I imagine it was even
more desolate back in the day. But in my time, you could run
into great scholars and of course, but to know that Juan Filipe
Herrera has been there and to know that he’s influenced our, the
trajectory and body of work that we have as poets is,
is extremely impactful. Now so for me, has been to see
witness and readings such as these, such as [foreign names
spoken], Cherrie Moraga, so many poets that
reflected my experience. So with the first thing
it’s an example. The second thing I think for me has
been the opportunity to have a mic in your face and to be able
to say something yourself, once you’re like somebody
puts a mic in your face and they say, “Okay, go ahead. Say what you’re thinking. Say what you want to;
what are you thinking? What do you want to contribute? What do you want to say?” And at some point,
you take it seriously and you’re given the opportunity
and then you’re like “Wow, nobody’s ever asked me what I think? What I envision for the future? What I can imagine? What I stand to create? Right, what I stand to contribute?” And that’s another defeat. So, first is was the example of
seeing these [foreign word spoken] and other wonderful
poets express themselves, but then for me it was
also having the opportunity and I think my band Quetzal and
when I met my partner Quetzal Flores where he said, “We would
do covers” and then he said “Why don’t you write something?” And I said, “What? Tell me what to sing.” And he goes “I’m not going
to tell you what to sing. You’re the singer. Sing, sing something.” I was like “Damn, what
am I going to say?” So the next thing you know I
had to write and when I had to write I really started
paying attention to wordsmithing and how things were
being put together and that became really
exciting, and so the example and then the opportunity.>>Rafael Perez-Torres:
Okay, thank you. [ Applause ] Next I’d like to introduce
Hugo Morales who is the Executive
Director of Radio Bilingue, the national Latino
public radio network. Hugo is a Mixteco Indian
from Oaxaca, Mexico. My family’s home state, we have
quite a bit in common there. He immigrated to the U.S. at
the age of 9 with his family to Sonoma County and he
joined his father working in the California farm
fields at the age of 9. He attended public
school in rural California and eventually attended Harvard
College and Harvard Law School. And even during those years he
continued to work in the fields with his family during his summers. Hugo cofounded Radio Bilingue
in Fresno, California in 1976. With other farm workers and artists, Radio Bilingue now has 12 full
power FM radio stations serving the Southwest and the U.S.
Mexican border and has 60 radio station affiliates
in the United States and Mexico. In 1994, Hugo received a
MacArthur Foundation Fellowship which you may know of by its
alternate name which is the “Genius” Fellowship and he subsequently received
a CPB Edward R. Murrow Award and a Cultural Freedom Award
from the Lannan Foundation. Hugo is married to Amy
Kitchener a member of the board of American Folklife
Center in Washington, D. C. and they have twin boys age 8. They make their home
in Fresno, California. But tonight he is here
with us in Washington, D. C. and it’s my great pleasure
to introduce Hugo Morales. [ Applause ]>>Hugo Morales: Gracias Rafael. Gracias [foreign language spoken]. Thank you very, very much
[foreign language spoken] Rafael. So, He a, Rafael asked me
to talk about, you know, what made me raise my
voice or speak out. You know, I’m an Indian,
Mixteco from Oaxaca. In ourltura, in our culture
traditional Indian culture we, as children we’re not supposed
to challenge or talk back or ask questions of
adults or question adults. So as a child it was very difficult. Obviously, because we couldn’t
ask anything of the adults. Even in school it was a
one-way experience in the sense of the teachers essentially
lecture or give the lesson.>>Louie Perez: I think
that your mic is a little.>>Martha Gonzalez: We want to
make sure your mic is working.>>Louie Perez: There we go.>>Hugo Morales: Okay, yeah? Okay much better [applause]. So, anyway which I’ll
talk about a little later about technology and
raising your voice. So, anyway so I, it was very
interesting because you know as a child like any child you
have a lot of question, right? Like what’s the world
about among other things. But I could not ask that of
my elders and I was raised by a single mom because
my father Rafael was in the United States
you know working. So, anyway so what happened is a
child I was actually very timid and a momma’s boy. I was always with my
mother and being protective. So, but then my father legalized
[foreign word spoken] in 57 and then the next year he
brought the whole family. I have an older brother
who is 4 years my senior and then I have a younger
sister, a year younger. So we joined him in Healdsburg, California which is
in Sonoma County. And so it was very
interesting because there’s where I got introduced
to multiculturalism. I was able, I did pick fruits and
other crops with poor Black kids, poor White kids, Filipinos
[inaudible] and so on, and so all this kind of came
together you know at the age of 9. And so, and we lived in a
you know, I think if looked around in different fields,
we lived one labor camp which we stayed there in Healdsburg. So it was very interesting for us. It was very exciting
to see migrant workers like Filipe’s family to come by. We were always wondering like
you know meeting new kids in the summers. So, anyway so it was around I think
19; when I was like 12-13 years old, I was, I really realized
I had to speak out, of course I was brought here to the United States I didn’t
have any bilingual education or a second language
or anything like that; I picked up English on my own. So by the age of 12, I
developed tuberculosis so I was in a sanitarium for a
whole year in isolation. So, with no bath, no bathroom,
no radio, no TV except books. So that was the gift that
I was given in that time. And so I began to read about
what some of the people thought that were not farm workers
thought about poor people about maybe they deserve
to be poor, right? They didn’t take advantage
of opportunities. And so that’s when; and
other things they thought, negative things they
thought about us poor people. We were dirty, we weren’t deserving,
etcetera and also we deserved to be poor because we
didn’t have the initiative or the energy or the intelligence. So that’s when I decided
to speak out. And so after that, this was in 1962, this is way before the
Farmworker Movement. After I got out of course the
Farmworker Movement began and so after that I began like out
of high school wear my U of W pin whenever I could, you know
in high school and then I ended up at Harvard College and Harvard
Law School and then when I got to Harvard, I started a radio
show, WHRB and that had a; the radio station which is
student run, had a restriction that only Harvard College
graduates could operate it, but yet there were no Puerto
Rican students enrolled at Harvard College at the time. So what I did is I called, I
did a callout to the community from the radio station which
is the entire Boston area and that’s how I got Woody
[inaudible] to participate on the radio and I just, so I
gave the voice in a way, you know, to the Puerto Rican community
in Boston back in 1970 to 75. And then also to other
Lainos, so in fact I ended up being the engineer shall we say,
the sound engineer of all things and so on, and then I got
the idea of Radio Bilingue because I could see my brother
establish the first radio show north of San Francisco on Sundays on a
commercial station in Santa Rosa, and I saw all the farm workers
listening in Sonoma, Napa County and that’s where I learned
the power of radio and so now on Bilingue we get to listen to Juan
Filipe Herrera, invite the audience to be part of the longest poem in
the world and hear the other voices of workers and people
throughout the world. So, anyway that’s what
made me speak out.>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Thank you. [ Applause ] And to my left is Louie Perez
who is an American songwriter, and American percussionist,
a painter, a pros writer, a guitarist,
composer. For the multi-Grammy Award
winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated band Los Lobos.>>Martha Gonzalez: Whoo! [ Applause ]>>Rafael Perez-Torres:
You may not know, however, that that Louie is the
group’s primary lyricist and he is a keen observer
of the human condition. If you know his work
which has been showcased on every Los Lobos recording
beginning with “The Time to Dance in 1983 and up through their most
recent album “Gate of Gold” in 2015. That has also co-wrote songs with
his writing partner David Hidalgo for two critically acclaimed albums by Latin Playboys their side
project, and he wrote songs as well of Tony Kushner’s 1994 theatrical
adaption of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Person of Szechwan.” He is co-writing a book based on a
song he wrote called “Evangeline; The Queen of Make-Believe”
and this play premiered at the Bootleg Theater
in Los Angeles. His songs, his many
songs, have been covered by extraordinary artists including,
Waylon Jennings, Jerry Garcia, and Robert Plant among others. His pros has been published in
many places and he has served as the director for a
number of album packages and as artistic director
for a number of albums including Los Lobos Box
Set, “El Cancionero Mas y Mas” which was nominated
for a Grammy Award for Best Box Recording Package. As a visual artist, Perez has
shown his painting and sculptures since 1975 in many prominent
galleries and museums across the nation and
across Los Angeles. He is currently working on a career
retrospective book of his lyrics and we’re going to work
together to get that finished, and this is a book
of lyrics, writings, and arts that will be published
soon and it’s my great pleasure to introduce Louie Perez. [ Applause ]>>Louie Perez: And you forgot to mention I’m also Hugo’s sound
technician [brief laughter]. Yeah, it’s really an honor
to be here to celebrate with Juan Felipe Herrera. We were talking a bit
in the Greenroom about when we first met back
in the early 70s in Balboa Park at [inaudible] Island, San
Diego way back when our hair was about a foot longer
and a lot darker. And it’s great to,
it’s great to be here. The thing started, this crazy
thing called art started with me a longtime ago when I
was a kid growing up in East L.A. And actually, you know, it was kind
of like a process of elimination. I was a terrible dancer and I, you
know, couldn’t swim to save my life and I was even a worse baseball
player, so I became a musician. As an inspiration, I think you know,
I was listening to Mexican music that my mother played at home. She sang at home and
inspired me in many ways. Of course I listened to radio. Mexican music when I was very little
and by the time I got old enough to be able to reach the knob on
the radio, I discovered choice. And that’s when Jimmy Hendrix,
James Brown and everybody in between came into my life. My mother bought me a guitar
when I was about 12 years old in her own sort of
youth diversion program. I think it was probably partly
to keep me off the street because she loved music too. That was an inspiration. She also inspired me by
the things that she did. I was also, you know,
grew up without a father. He died when I was about 8 years old and thank goodness for
strong women, right? [ Applause ] She taught me by her example
of, by feeding homeless people on my front porch, you know. One day when I came
up the walk, she was, there was homeless person
drinking out of my Kool Aid mug that I had sent for in the mail,
and I was kind of appalled by that. And then I realized that mother
was actually teaching me something. She was teaching me that in this
life we really don’t own anything and if we do we have to
share it with others. So, musically you know,
I listened to everything that I could get my hands on and
Los Lobos was formed in 1973; four kids growing up in East L.A.
And we put away electric guitars because we were all in rock
bands and we formed this band to play traditional Mexican music
which was unheard of at the time. You know, we were typical
early 70s kids with long hair and flannel shirts and beat up
chains playing Mexican music so it was kind of unheard
of at the time. But, at the same time
running as a parallel, was the Chicano El Movimiento
and we lent our musical services to see the travelers and the United
Farmworkers and just about anything, any Chicano cause that
was, you know, happening at the moment
which there were many. We found a regular gig and playing
[inaudible] all over California at all the state colleges
and universities. My work has always been inspired by my early life growing
up in East Los Angeles. It’s a wellspring of beauty
and pain and sorrow and joy, it’s a [foreign word
spoken] this thing that all Chicanos have become
a quite acquainted with, and so I draw from that
from all of my work. It’s a bottomless amount of and
bountiful amount of experience that I can draw from and I can’t
say enough about where we come from and it’s something that I’ll
never forget and still carries, I carry with me close
to my heart to this day.>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Yeah. [ Applause ] So, I think our speakers
have each noted they’re, the way in which they’re connection
to locale, to region, to place and then the influence of others
who came before that the importance of parents, the importance of role
models, the importance of figures who we can, whose model
we can draw upon. Whose images and whose lessons
we can draw upon in order to move things forward, in order to
transform and move things forward and earlier Juan Filipe in his
poetry had stated this afternoon in the previous event, are ancestors
give us their voice, right? Our ancestors give us
their voice to speak again. That’s a beautiful
sentiment and I think that that encapsulates the sense
of tradition and the commitment to tradition that is a part of
Latino culture, Latino heritage and but part of what gives
Latino communities a sense of strength and a sense of purpose. But I’d like to ask each of our panel members what tradition
signifies, what it means to them? What is tradition as far
as being a wellspring, but also perhaps being
a source of concern? Are there traditions that
perhaps are best left behind? What, how do we, what is the
significance of tradition as we move forward and tradition as
that which connects us to the past and allows us to move
into the future? How do you see tradition
as working or tradition as working in the; please Hugo.>>Hugo Morales: Well for me, for me as Mixteco I think
there’s some traditions that are best left behind. I think the violence against women
for example should be stopped. [ Applause ] Alcoholism I think should
be stopped among my people. There’s just too much, too much
alcohol consumption among Indians. And to me, it appears to be
it’s like a conspiracy by the, I don’t know by whom, definitely
corporations to keep us drunk and not work for our own
well-being and our families. It’s just such a terrible
thing to see drugs and violence among our Mixteco
native peoples and it is, you know, there’s a lot bright talented folks
and so I’d like to see that go away, but what I do want to say
is there’s incredible amount of treasures among our Mixteco
people like in the arts. You know, pottery for example or
mask making, dance of the diabolos that celebrates our spirit as
Indios and our spirit in our hearts and we dance to the beauty
of our people and the beauty of the future and our souls. That, you know, that’s
it and our music to me just really hits our heart,
because it’s not sophisticated but yet it really hits our
heart whether it be strings or whether it be wind bands. It’s just so beautiful. It really brings the sense of community together
and it’s so beautiful. And also, our sense of organization;
a lot of people at least in California who know are familiar
with the Mixteco communities, is these folks are the most
organized people among the Latinos and in some communities we
are, and it’s because you know in our own homeland we’re
not united, but we come here and we’re discriminated against,
you know, we’re not in a place. Let me just give you one example,
in Madera County which is just north of Fresno County, is the highest
population of Mixtecos outside of Mexico and there, you know, all
of us Mixtecos are farmworkers, there in Madera County
right above Fresno County, and where do we get our
greens right, our good stuff? It’s from the [foreign
word spoken] you know, it’s from the [foreign
word spoken] you know, it’s on Sundays I guess
the only day we don’t work. So what does the mainstream do? Is in the fairgrounds they
charge people one dollar to come; every head is one dollar. I mean, I don’t see people go on
a, you know, I don’t know the giant or whatever, whatever it called. You know, any kind of grocery
store and having to pay to get it. You know, but that’s the kind of
exploitation you know that we face. So, I see that there’s a
lot we need to preserve as Indios and also our identity. I think that’s one of the things
that my father really instilled on me, on us as a family. So we should be proud to be Indios. We all have a rich history. We have a rich traditions and
there’s a lot for us to contribute to this community to make America
even better than what it is. So, anyway that’s what I see.>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Excellent.>>Martha Gonzalez: With
these changes that you talk about I think are really
important because if that’s the; I believe that tradition
is a social construction. So when the people want to change
something that is not beneficial to say like women like what you
brought up, then we have the power to do that, the [foreign
language spoke]. You know, they have that capacity to
change it to talk and to you know. But I think it’s really,
there’s always a balance in also in traditions, right? Where you know for example,
my dad believed very strongly in doing certain things and then
the circumstances, you know, he left when I was 11; I also grew
up in Boyle Heights East L.A., and when he left; before he
left he didn’t allow English in the house whatsoever, you know. That was a tradition of the
home, right, no English. Nothing he couldn’t understand
and then when he left, you know, music and English, you
know, the rock and roll, all of this other stuff, R and
B started coming into the house, you know, and so with the
circumstances where the man was out of house and so my mom was like,
“Yeah, sure go ahead and listen to whatever you want” you know. And so we were like “Yeah!” But, that’s in, in the
context of our you know home that was very prominent right? But, so when I think about tradition
in general whether in cultures, deep traditional cultures and
others I think that there’s always, it’s always good to have;
when I think about my dad, I think it’s great that he
didn’t allow English in the house because I was able to learn the
language to a certain extent in a way that was really
important to me later, right, in terms of expression
and all of these things, but in terms of allowing new
sounds really opened my eyes to other things as well. So to have the balance of
people in every tradition, the diehards that like
just want to keep it; they believe that tradition is
nonstatic, that you just need to keep certain traditions certain
ways and then to have other people that are really, they
say like “You know what, tradition needs to change. Tradition is fluid. Tradition is ever changing.” I think I believe in
both of those things. We need those two like,
you know, yes/no. You know, we need that balance
and some of the things we need to really change, but I think
there’s every person plays a role. I don’t know. What do you think?>>Juan Filipe Herrera:
You know, those are a, you know it’s such an interesting
thing about tradition isn’t it? You know, everyone is
a vibrant human being and every group has a vibrant life, and every culture is a
vibrant living of beautiful; has a beautiful system
between all those things. And what happens is that when
you put power into the picture, if you put a drop of power
or a gallon of power, then one group becomes traditional
and the other group becomes modern. And then we have the use of,
what’s seen as traditional which is actually a vital
human group, way of life taken and used commercially
and that group somehow through various processes is
kind of kept at the margins. So that’s when we run
into problems, you know, where we have [foreign word
spoken] Indian women’s weaving and I’ll just call them blouses for
the moment or apparel with weaving and patterns used commercially
when in fact, if you really step into the culture and you
really look it’s kind of, just kind of marketed really without
any deep notions of it and used in fashion malls and it’s a, and
cartoons and it’s in a number of corporate displays and platforms. And the group where the material
comes from is kept at bay; it’s kept on the side
and on the outside. And when in fact, if you look
at those patterns and they say “Mayan” territory, perhaps in most
our cultural weaving traditions, those symbols, and colors, and patterns have many deep
stories connected to them. And they’re kind of like stories of
the creation stories of the universe and the story of a village, and
the story of tejedor the weaver. So that’s when it gets
critical when I look into it, when I think about it is
that one group has tradition and the other group doesn’t and
then the other group uses those “traditions” to kind of display
itself as a cultural democratic or plural group and yet the
resources are not really going to those whose “traditions”
are rooted in. So, that’s what gets me because
everyone has traditions and yet somehow various groups
or at time, you know, we say well we don’t
have any more traditions. You know, we’re kind of modern
now and you know we’re kind of just being ourselves
and being human beings, worrying of materials
and items and pixels. And the other group is,
you know, chewing corn and you know burning a [foreign
word spoken] and we have to respect the [foreign word
spoken] and the burning, but when you don’t really
know anything about it and you’re separating everyone. So for me it’s most important
to create unity and to have kind of a deeper connection with everyone
and to open the flow of resources and let deep knowledge flow
from all peoples, in particular, those that we think have
traditions which they do, but not in a plastic
corporate manner and a vibrant human evolving manner, which to this very
day all groups have. We just have kept each other apart
and we have pushed either one way or another our beautiful groups,
indigenous groups to the outside and feel that we are on the inside. But in fact, we are on the outside.>>Rafael Perez-Torres: That’s
very, and the notion of tradition as transforming the future rather
than being separate from the future or tradition as opposed
to the modern. I think that Juan Filipe and
everybody and that Latino culture in general is seeking to
explore and understand. And as part of this we’re,
our program’s running down, but I’d like Juan Filipe
if he could to read a poem which actually written by students
as first and then written as part of Juan Filipe’s World’s
Longest Poem Project which is one of the Poet Laureate Projects that’s
been going on, and if Juan Filipe as in order to close us out
this evening and in order to share both your
words and the words of others bringing different voices
and multiple voices together, if you would please
share that with us.>>Juan Filipe Herrera: This
is so beautiful, you know, I think everyone here that’s
here right now, just by hanging out and saying hello again. We’ve all talked in one or another
of sharing our work already. We’ve all said, “Hey why
don’t we do this together and what are you playing? Well that base guitar
and what about you? Well, I’ve just got
this guitar recently. I had a [inaudible] and you
know, remember the radio? Yeah, we used to do
[foreign word spoken]. Why don’t we just back
into it Martha? You know, hey let’s
write a song together.” So you see, you see, so you see
that’s how to do it don’t you think?>>Martha Gonzalez: Yeah.>>Juan Filipe Herrera: That’s
how we all can do it, right. That’s how we can do it. Yeah. It’s a, you know, art
and creativity are open doors; art and creativity those are
open doors like the singers. They are a collective prism of
open doors and we get inspired. We want to sing too. We want to stand up there with you. We want to clap. That’s the idea and that’s
what this is all about. So, what happened is I went to
Wyoming to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and there’s a beautiful
migrant community there and the Teton Library there’s
a lot of beautiful work with the migrant students
and in the high schools and the junior high schools,
Jackson Hole Middle School and Jackson Hole High School. So I went into the middle school
and to the 8th grade class and all of us said, “Well you
know how are you?” And then a student said, “Well, Juan
Filipe, we saw that you had a poem.” “Oh very good, very good.” “And we noticed that
you wrote a poem called “Every Day We Get More Illegal.” I go, “Oh really? Is that poem you’re talking about?” “Well, okay. Uh-huh.” “Well, you know, it’s
typically a good poem Juan, but you know we kind
of rewrote it for you.” [ Laughter ] “Ah, okay I think I’m
going to sit down now. You go right ahead.” And that’s what they did. You know, they, this is
it and I’m telling you, it is a much better piece. It is, and the name of the poem is
“Every Day We Get More Illegal.” Left for America on planes,
buses, vans they said, I remember. Under the silver darkness it
is all in between the light. I imagine going through a tunnel to
a better life, to a better future, yet, we stay broken slash. “I haven’t seen my parents
in 9 years” my mom said. My grandma, my uncle, my
entire family left in Mexico. Rare visits by the lucky
ones, expired visas, boarders that divide means
they won’t come anymore. I don’t know half of
who I am missing. My dad’s tarantula, my turtle,
my mom’s dog left behind. Depression, our hopes
and dreams, our culture, our language, taken away. How could America be the land of the
free if we can’t feel it walking, working with our mind, our life. Jackson High Middle School
6th grade Latino leaders.>>Martha Gonzalez: Oh, wow. [ Applause ]>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Please join
me in thanking Juan Filipe Herrera for being Poet Laureate
for this wonderful year. [ Applause ]>>Alright don’t go away or I
should say, take a 10 minute break. Go the restroom, go an look at the
beautiful exhibits that are right in the foyer featuring some
of the wonderful collections from the library and those of you
in Fresno State who are listening through the Washington Post live
feed just go get something to drink and then come back, stretch
your legs and get ready to dance and listen to Quetzal. [ Music ] [ Applause ] [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Martha Gonzalez: So we a, like to
tell stories as well through poetry and music from the great
tradition of Juan Filipe Herrera. We have been our direct descendants
of the movement that he and people like Louie Perez, [foreign name
spoken] and so this next song is about struggle and the
struggle that we saw in Mexico after seeing a child being a fire
breather on the streets for change and it wasn’t because he was some
part of some prestigious circus, but because he was trying to make
a living for he and his family and it was one of the
saddest things I’ve ever seen and this song was written
as a result of that. [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>That’s Dr. Martha
Gonzalez everybody. We call her [foreign word spoken].>>We’d like to invite our, one
of mentors and like Martha said, the person who can
call us his spawn. Is that what you said?>>Martha Gonzalez: The
movement he spawned.>>Oh, okay. Sorry, I misinterpreted that. Louie Perez, Louie
Perez, coma estas Louie. Louie Perez! [ Foreign Language Spoken ] [ Applause ]>>Martha Gonzalez: So we
talked about tradition earlier, and I want Louie to say
something a little bit about what he told me
backstage after the talk, the panel about tradition but as
he’s setting up, since we’re talking about tradition, sorry, I’m
still out of breath, okay. This tune is a traditional
tune that we’ve rocked out. It’s called [foreign name spoken]. And of course we learned
rocking out traditionally by [foreign name spoken]
right here with Louie Perez and Los Lobos give it up
[foreign word spoken]. [ Cheering ] [ Music ] Yeah. Here we go. [ Music ] [ Applause ] Louie! [ Applause ] Tylana Enomoto on violin also. [ Applause ] We are California up here you all. Not too far away from East L.A.
[inaudible] and Monterey Park. Japanese, Thai, but speak Spanish. California. [ Applause ] Louie [foreign language spoken],
but we’re going to call him back up here in just a little bit. So, we’re storytellers and we’d
like to narrate what’s happening out there and also make connections
between the past and the present. Some of our problems, but
also asking questions, some of our solutions that
we see that are possible and this song is called
“Critical Time.” And it actually spawns,
there’s that word again. The title of our new album on the Smithsonian Folkways is
called the “Eternal Getdown.” Here we go. [ Music ] [ Applause ] [ Music ]>>Everybody okay out there? This is such a beautiful theater
to play nice quiet music right? Everybody here is okay though,
we’re all still alright? Okay.>>Martha Gonzalez: I must say
you guys seem pretty conservative when we were doing the
panel, but you’re kind of [foreign word spoken] right? You’re rockers, you’re rockers. You like the rock. Not too loud? We’re kind of worried about that. So, the ushers gave us
permission they said it’s okay to dance in the aisles. You just can’t roll down the
aisles stuff like that okay? And if you get up and dance
I promise nobody’s going to take your seat. Okay? [ Music ] [ Applause ] Okay, you didn’t the Poet Laureate
was an MC, you know what I’m saying? Wow! What’s up with that? You know what I’m saying? Juan Filipe, treasure trove. We want to call up
another treasure trove come on out here again Louie Perez. Where is he? Get it up for Louie! [ Applause ] Louie Perez. [ Applause ] We can’t find him. Louie, where’s Olivia
Pope when you need her? Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie,
Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie. Imagine I feel like. Alright, we’re going to play
another one for you while waiting. Okay? While we’re waiting
for him as soon as he gets here we’ll stop
the, wait there he is! Yeah! [ Cheering ] [ Music ]>>Louie Perez: Alright
thanks a lot. I just want to thank Betsy and,
Betsy Peterson and everybody for getting us altogether
and bringing us out here. It’s very cool. [ Applause ] And of course we’re all here to celebrate maestro Juan
Filipe Herrera’s tenure here, and again, thanks. Here’s a song about the little house
in East L.A. a room that I grew up in many, many years ago dedicated
to the child in all of us, alright? It’s called “Seeing
Behind the Glass.” [ Music ] [ Applause ] Thank you. [ Applause ]>>I can’t tell you what an honor it
is to be here with you guys tonight. I’m so honored and I have
had the best time ever. So thank you so, so very
much for sharing this night. [ Applause ]>>Martha Gonzalez: Well,
and it was real pleasure. I think we’re alright. We’re going to do a song called
“Para Sanar” which means to heal, and so this song is in the great
tradition and talking really about the kinds of things that I
saw as a child Mexicanos do to heal, and yes we went to the medical
doctor, western medical doctor, but we also went to [foreign
language spoken] and you had the, you had grandma rub the egg allover
you and you lit the green candle when you wanted the job and you know
you had a little powder and like a, you know, you fed somebody
your hair when you wanted them to fall in love with you. That’s how I got this
guy right here. Who knows what else he ate. Just kidding no. So, potions from the
[foreign word spoken] and the [foreign word spoken]
that’s what we call it. This song is about healing by any
means necessary through words, in life, in [foreign word spoken]. [ Music ] Yeah! Thank you so very much! Loue Perez! [ Applause ] Quetzal Flores! Quetzal Flores. Juan Perez on base. We have [foreign name
spoken] on drums. Tylana Enomoto on violin. Juan Filipe Herrera on
beautiful vocals a long, long legacy [foreign words spoken].>>Dr. Martha Gonzalez you guys.>>Martha Gonzalez: Oh thank you. [ Applause ] Oh, thank you. Are we all? I thought we were done! What’s happening? [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Thank you so very much and thank
you for an amazing sound crew, everybody here at the
library, thank you so much.>>Rafael Perez-Torres: Let’s give
it up, let’s give another hand, oh there we go; let’s
give another hand for the Quetzal and Louie Perez! [ Applause ] Juan Filipe, Juan Filipe come on up! Come on up! Come on! [ Applause ] There we go the band is complete. [ Cheering/Applause ] Alright everybody, you should have
some surveys, fill them out please. Tell us what you thought of tonight. I hope you liked it. In [inaudible] Pavilion Juan
Filipe will sign some books. Have a great night. [ Cheering/Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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