51 - Fantastic Latin America
An angel falls from the heavens with such bad luck that he gets hurt and ends up needing the piety of a child and his family to recover. What no one anticipates is how much they will become fond of each other. In the comments we present today's narrator Valentina Ortiz and the interview with Matthew David Goodwin editor of Latinx Rising: An Anthology of Latinx Science Fiction and Fantasy.
The sage said: Humanity, my friend, has been circling for centuries around that invisible wall that hides the future; without ever succeeding in crossing it, or to see what is happening on the other side, despite its infinite curiosity. Maybe it should be so. Maybe we shouldn't complain about this.
Who knows if man is not yet ready to see the things that lie beyond today! Imagine the terror, the bewilderment, the discouragement that would take hold of us if we glimpsed our destiny! [...] ... We would fall into despair.
Once man is wiser, more serene, stronger, his senses will be so sharpened that they will be given to see, at last, what is behind the enigmatic wall...
The doctor continued: Moreover, this wall is not as impenetrable as it is presumed. There are cracks and crevices where one can peek out and glimpse something. In fact, prophets, visionaries, and Pythonesses have glanced at it. Because the unconscious and the conscious are linked by a faint passage, certain privileged beings may venture into it, and glimpse with more or less certainty the vast architectures of the future. Like watching from a very high balcony, they can only sense the labyrinth of streets and palaces of the city in darkness...
Taken from the story "The Sixth Sense" written by Amado Nervo. Read the full story: https://redescolar.ilce.edu.mx/sitios/micrositios/24mayo_amado_nervo/doc/17_El_Sexto_Sentido.pdf
Hello! Dear listeners of Tres Cuentos, the bilingual podcast dedicated to the literary, historical and traditional narratives of Latin America. I am Carolina Quiroga-Stultz, and today we meet again with the much admired Mexican writer Amado Nervo.
The initial fragment was taken from Nervo's fiction tale, "The Sixth Sense." For those who wish to read the full text in Spanish I am leaving the link in the transcript.
While looking for a story to close the season on Fantastic Latin America, I thought it would be great to find something that would connect us with the holidays. I was lucky because in a digital anthology I found several stories by Amado Nervo and among them a Christmas tale that he dedicated to his niece.
Although I found several versions of the same anthology, I have to confess that the best in terms of easy reading is the one you will find on the website DescrubreLima.com. This site is the result of an effort of the Municipality of Lima in Peru to bring people closer to literature. There you can download several books by Latin American authors. I will leave the link in case you are curious.
Today's story "The Fallen Angel" translated by Alexa Jeffress, comes to us in the voice of Mexican American Storyteller and Musician Valentina Ortiz Pandolfi, but I will tell you more about her in the comments.
On the other hand, as we have done the past two seasons, today we close this cycle with an interview with the academic Matthew David Goodwin, who has worked in recent years in the promotion of speculative Latino descendant literature in the United States.
Finally, I want to congratulate Allison in Vermont, Hillary in Maryland, Marco Antonio in Rhode Island, Cesar in North Carolina and Terra in Florida, who have claimed their literary gift for this Holiday season.
An angel falls from the heavens with such bad luck that he gets hurt and ends up needing the piety of a child to heal. The little one takes him to meet his family, and as the angel grows more fond of the children and they of him, together they will have to figure out how they can live together for eternity.
The Fallen Angel
By Amado Nervo
Translated by Alexa Jeffress
Reviewed by CQ and DH
Read by Valentina Ortiz Pandolfi
A Christmas story dedicated to my niece María de los Ángeles
There was once an angel that, spinning too much on a twilight moon sewn with violets, lost his footing and fell pitifully to the earth.
His bad luck would have it that instead of landing on cool grass, he hit a jagged rock in such a shape and form that the shy angel broke a wing, his right wing, it would seem.
He lay there, spread eagle and bleeding. Although he screamed for help, given that it is not typical for anyone on earth to understand the language of angels, nobody came to his rescue.
As he lay there, a boy who was returning from school passed by, and the angel’s good luck began. Since children do tend to understand the angelic language (though much less so in the 20th century), the boy, at first surprised and then compassionate, approached the miserable angel and extended his arm to help him stand.
Angels do not weigh much, and the boy’s light force was more than enough for the angel to help him rise to his feet.
His savior offered him his arm, and then the rarest spectacle could be seen: a boy leading an angel along the paths of this world.
The angel limped pitifully, and of course, what happens to those who never walk barefoot also happened to him: the slightest pebble pinched his feet horribly. His appearance was pathetic. With his painfully folded broken wing and his shimmering feathers stained with blood and dirt, the angel evoked compassion.
With each step, he let out a cry; his marvelous snowy feet began to bleed too.
“I cannot go on,” he told the boy.
And the boy, who had a bit of common sense, responded to the angel as an equal, as he had from the beginning:
“What you need is a pair of shoes. Let’s go to my house. I’ll ask my mom to buy you some.”
“And what are these shoes you mention?” The angel asked.
“Look here,” the boy answered showing his, “they are something that I break often and that cost me a good scolding.”
“And am I supposed to put on something so ugly…?”
“Of course… or you won’t walk! Let’s go home. Mom will rub you with arnica and give you some shoes there.”
“But I cannot walk any further… carry me!”
“Will I be able to?”
“I think so!”
And the boy lifted his companion into the air and sat him on his shoulder, just as a small Saint Christopher would have done.
“Thank you!” sighed the wounded angel. “This is much better. It’s true I don’t weigh much, right?”
“It’s just that I’m really strong!” The boy replied with a certain pride and not wanting to confess that the celestial bundle was lighter than one full of feathers.
Meanwhile, they approached the house, and I assure you that the spectacle of a child carrying an angel in his arms, the opposite of what occurs in religious images, was no less outlandish than before.
When they arrived at the house, a few curious children followed them. The men, very busy with their business, and the women, gossiping around fountains in the plazas, did not even notice that an angel and a boy passed by. Only a poet who wandered around that area, surprised, locked eyes with them and smiling sanctimoniously followed them for a good distance with his eyes… then he walked away lost in thought…
The mother’s piety was profound when her boy presented his broken-winged companion.
“Poor thing!” The good woman exclaimed, “your wing must hurt a lot, eh?”
The angel, feeling her poke around the wound, let out a harmonious lament. Since he had never known pain, he was more sensitive to it than the mortals.
The charitable woman swiftly bandaged his wing and, to tell the truth, it took a great deal of work because the wing was big and there were not enough cloths. Feeling more comfortable, and now far from the rocks on the path, the angel could stand and stretch his slender stature.
His beauty was marvelous. His translucent skin appeared illuminated by soft interior light and his eyes, of a deep blue with incomparable transparency, looked in such a way that every glance produced ecstasy.
“The shoes, Mom, that’s what’s missing. María and I can’t play with him until he has shoes,” the boy said.
And that is what interested him more than anything: playing with the angel.
María, his sister, who had just come home from school and did not tire of contemplating their visitor, was most interested in his feathers. Those giant feathers! never seen before! Feathers of a bird of Paradise, a heraldic quetzal… a chimera, that covered the angel’s wings. So much so that she couldn’t contain herself, and she deviously and flatteringly approached the wounded heavenly figure and whispered to him:
“Tell me. Would it hurt if I plucked one of your feathers? I want it for my hat…”
“María!” The mother angrily exclaimed, although she didn’t fully understand their language.
But the angel, with the most beautiful smile, responded to her, extending his healthy wing:
“Which would you like?”
“This shiny one…”
“Well take it!”
And he gracefully pulled it right out and offered it to his new friend, who, captivated, began to contemplate it.
Not a single shoe would fit the angel. His feet were very small, elongated in an exquisitely aristocratic form, incapable of conforming to American boots (the only kind available in the town). This caused him tremendous pain, even more than when he was barefoot.
Finally, the young girl had an idea:
“Let’s bring him some sandals. I saw Saint Raphael in them in the paintings of his journey with the young Tobias, and they didn’t seem to bother him at all.”
The angel said that, in fact, some of his friends used them to travel on land, but that they were made of a very fine material richer than gold and were adorned with precious gems. Saint Crispin, the good Saint Crispin, made them.
“Well here,” the girl observed, “you’ll have to settle for some less precious ones and leave the saints alone if you see them.”
At last, with his sandals and sufficiently restored from his suffering, the angel could come and go throughout the whole house.
It was adorable to watch him play with the children. He was like a great blue bird, a little feminine and with a lot of feathers, and even in his left-footed limping he showed grace and dignity.
He could finally move his wounded wing, and he opened and closed both wings with smooth movements and a silky sound, fanning his friends.
He sang admirably, and he told stories more beautiful than any invented by a son of man.
He never became angry. He almost always smiled and, every now and then, he felt sad.
His face, which was beautiful when he smiled, was incomparably more beautiful when he was pensive and melancholic. In that state he acquired a new expression that the faces of angels never had. It was one that could be seen on Nazarene’s face, who, according to tradition, rarely smiled and often cried.
This expression of dignified sadness was, perhaps, the only thing that the angel carried along his path on land…
How many days went by like this? The children could not count them. The company of angels and the familiarity with fantasy, have the gift of elevating us to superior planes, where we are exempt from the laws of time.
The fully recovered angel could fly now and, in their games, he delighted the children, launching himself into the air with supreme grace. He cut them fruit from the highest trees, and sometimes, he carried them both in his arms as he flew.
Those flights, that produced the greatest joy for the children, profoundly alarmed their mother.
“Don’t let them fall inadvertently, Señor Angel,” the mother cried. “I admit I don’t like such dangerous games…”
But the angel laughed, and the children did too, and the mother ending up laughing also, seeing the agility and strength with which the angel held them in his arms, and the infinite gentleness with which he placed them on the grass of the garden… One might say he learned from the Guardian Angel!
“You are very strong, Señor Angel,” the mother said with surprise.
And the angel, with a certain infantile and innocent superiority, replied, “So strong, that I could free a star from its orbit.”
One afternoon, the children found the angel sitting on a stone bench near the orchard wall, with an even deeper sadness than when he was sick.
“What’s wrong?” They asked in unison.
“I am,” he responded, “I am healthy, and now there is no excuse for me to stay with you all… they are calling me from above, and I must go!”
“You’re leaving? Never!” The girl replied.
“And what am I to do when they summon me?...”
“Well don’t go…”
There was a long pause full of anguish. The children and the angel cried.
Suddenly, the girl, more inclined to making her case, said:
“There’s a way for us to avoid separating…”
“What?” The angel asked anxiously.
“Bring us with you.”
“Very good!” asserted the young boy, clapping.
And in a divine daze, the three began to dance around like crazy.
However, after getting carried away, the girl remained pensive and murmured:
“But, what about our mother?”
“Ah yes!” The angel corroborated, “What about your mother?”
“Our mother,” the boy suggested, “won’t know a thing… We will leave without telling her… and when she is sad, we will come to console her.”
“It’d be better to take her with us,” said the girl.
“That is perfect!” The angel affirmed. “I’ll come back for her.”
“Are you sure?”
Golden raindrops fell fantastically as the evening sun set.
The angel gathered the children in his arms, and in one single leap, he sprung toward the luminous blue with them.
Just then, the mother reached the garden and tremulously watched them soar away.
The angel, despite the distance, seemed to grow. He was so translucent that she could see the sun through his wings.
The mother, witnessing the miraculous spectacle, could not even scream. She was bewildered seeing that ineffable group fly toward the sunset flames. But later when the angel returned to the garden for her, the good woman was filled with ecstasy.
Very well let's return from heaven from where more than a single angel may look down with curiosity and wonder if perhaps there will be another boy or girl to play with.
And speaking of dreaming, let me tell you that Tres Cuentos’ team plans to make several changes in hopes to increase our connection with our audiences, to bring more diverse stories and authors and, in general, bring latin@ descendant literature to more ears. This will take us several months of planning. If you are subscribed, you will know firsthand what is coming next and you can support us in the relaunch.
Well, it's time to tell you about today’s voice. Valentina Ortiz speaks the ancient Aztec words as well as the modern stories of Mexico. She has been on stage since she was 6 years old, as an actress, a musician and as a storyteller. She takes her stories to schools, assembly halls,
parks and theaters in Mexico, the US and other parts of the world.
She has published four books and produced 4 records with her original stories and music. She
now deeply enjoys multilingual storytelling, Spanish, Nahuatl, English, French.
Besides stories her other passion is music, percussion instruments of the world.
She has been a drummer and composer for over 30 years, participating in many Afro-Latino bands and playing in her own alternative projects.
Today, unlike the past eight episodes, we will not devote much time to the life of Amado Nervo, because in episode 41 "The Last War" you will find the biography of the Mexican writer. I will just add something that I found in the digital newspaper El Financiero that I think is interesting because it speaks a little of Nervo’s ability to predict the future.
Eduardo Bautista tells us in the article "Amado Nervo, the poet of love who became the first idol of Mexico", that his short and simple writing made him loved and admired by his readers. But even more interesting is what Nervo himself said about this style. “In the future, people will have less and less time to read, and that's why the shortest literature will be the most remembered." And I believe Nervo was quite right.
Now, it is 100 years later. We know how to communicate with emojis, photos, tweets, and the like, and the result is that sentences, paragraphs, and chapters intimidate many readers.
I hope that our program's initiative to bring literature to your ears will fit into that format of a portable, short, and enjoyable literature.
Without further ado, it's time to introduce today's interviewee. Matthew David Goodwin is an Assistant Professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at the University of New Mexico.
His research is centered on Latinx speculative fiction – in particular how Latinx writers are using science fiction, fantasy, and digital culture to explore migration. His study The Latinx Files: Race, Migration, and Space Aliens was released through Rutgers University Press in 2021. His research is intertwined with his work as an editor and translator of fiction anthologies.
He is the editor of Latinx Rising: An Anthology of Latinx Science Fiction and Fantasy and the co-editor of the collection Speculative Fiction for Dreamers (both with Ohio State University Press). https://latinxarchive.com/
To learn more about Matthew David Goodwin you can visit https://latinxarchive.com/
You can also find the books we mentioned in the links I'll leave in the transcript.
Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: https://www.amazon.com/-/es/Alex-Hernandez/dp/0814257984/ref=sr_1_2?__mk_es_US=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&keywords=Speculative+Fiction+for+Dreamers&qid=1639085607&sr=8-2
However, before presenting the interview, I wanted to clarify that Mr. Goodwin mentions proposition 187. I copied this information on it from the website "Library of Congress Research Guides". Here’s what I found.
“On November 9, 1994, California’s voters passed Proposition 187 (also known as the Save Our State referendum), a ballot initiative proposed by anti-immigrant organizations, which restricted undocumented immigrants from the state’s public services, including access to public education and healthcare. In addition, the proposition directed teachers and healthcare professionals to report any individuals suspected of being undocumented to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) or the California Attorney General. Lack of guidelines on how to suspect if someone was undocumented led many to argue that Proposition 187 would target and profile individuals who possessed certain physical attributes categorized as foreign.”
The website continues…
“Proposition 187 was approved during a turbulent period of economic recession in California, urging many citizens to view undocumented immigrants as scapegoats. Upon the proposition’s passage, Governor Pete Wilson advocated for the referendum’s immediate implementation, ordering healthcare facilities and school districts to deny services to undocumented individuals. Several organizations promptly challenged the proposition […]”
But the story does not end there. The website continues telling us that.
“A few weeks from the referendum’s passage, a federal judge ruled an injunction against Proposition 187 until a legal review could be executed, leading to disputes between each side and demonstrations in California’s colleges and universities. Ultimately, the state could not enact Proposition 187 after courts found it unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of [the] 14th Amendment, which protects any individual regardless of citizenship status. The proposition lost influence after California’s economic boom during the late 1990s but other states, including Arizona have introduced similar proposals.”
Well, there you have it. We are learning a little more about the love and hate relationship that this historic nation of immigrants has with the immigrants of today. Although if we look at humanity’s history, every time a country goes through bad economic times, blame and distrust of minorities and violence against them increases. Because it's easier to unite people around hatred against what's different than to accept that government measures, the economy, and future planning has failed. That's why we need literature, friends, because it helps us develop critical thinking.
All right, let's just talk to Matthew David Goodwin.
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT PENDING
As a fan of science fiction movies and television series, I always expect the cast to be racially diverse, but today more and more I also look for the production and original idea to have a Latino or Latina leading. The time has come for Latin Americans to make our voices heard, to vote and to have a leading role in the real and imagined future.
From this interview I also want to emphasize that speculative literature, also known as science fiction and fantasy, is not children's literature. It is narratives with which one can explore with greater flexibility such sensitive issues as immigration, the uprootedness of not knowing where you belong, the deterioration of the environment, and the future of humanity.
This New Year’s Eve I encourage you to check out the books Matthew mentioned, Latinx Rising, Latinx Files, and Speculative Fiction for Dreamers, and in this way support other voices and connect with younger generations.
To close the episode, the season, the year 2021 and say goodbye to Tres Cuentos, I will leave you with a rather comforting poem by the Mexican Amado Nervo. As I told you at the beginning of the season, changes are coming, and one of them is the name of the show and some aspects of the format. But all this and more will be revealed with the arrival of the new year, because as we say in my country, año nuevo, vida nueva (new year, new life).
By Amado Nervo
As I approach my sunset, I bless you, life,
for you never gave me any failed hope,
neither unjust work, nor undeserved punishment;
because I see at the end of my rough road
that I was the architect of my own destiny;
that if I extracted the honeys or the bitterness from things,
it was because in them I put ice or tasty honeys:
when I planted rose bushes, I always harvested roses.
... True, my vitality will be followed by winter:
but you did not tell me that May was eternal!
I certainly found the nights of my sorrows long;
but you did not promise me only good nights;
and instead I had some holy serene ones...
I loved, I was loved, the sun caressed my face.
Life, you owe me nothing! Life, we are at peace!
And that is all for today. In 2022 the program will come back with the stories of those Latin@ descendants who have made the United States their home.
Happy holidays and may the universe fill you with good adventures, love, peace and of course good stories and money.
Until the next cuento or story, adiós, adiós.
Tres Cuentos Podcast is produced with support from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program.
Tres Cuentos is an exercise of creative writing, researching, and retelling.
Special thanks to ….
Remember that you can listen to Tres Cuentos in any podcast app, Google Podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, iVoox, or wherever you find us listed. Also, check our website www.trescuentos.com
Last if you enjoy the podcast, consider subscribing to our newsletter through our website and sharing the episodes with your friends.
The music and sound effects were downloaded from the YouTube audio library and Freesound.org
The list of credits per song can be found in the transcript.
Thanks for listening, adios, adios.
“El sexto sentido” por Amado Nervo. Lee el cuento completo: https://redescolar.ilce.edu.mx/sitios/micrositios/24mayo_amado_nervo/doc/17_El_Sexto_Sentido.pdf
“El ángel caído” por Amado Nervo. Tomado del libro digital El país en que la lluvia era luminosa y otros cuentos misteriosos. Municipalidad de Lima. URL: https://www.descubrelima.pe/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/El-pa%C3%ADs-en-que-la-lluvia-era-luminosa-y-otros-cuentos-misteriosos.pdf
“A Latinx Resource Guide: Civil Rights Cases and Events in the United States: 1994: California's Proposition 187”. Library of Congress Research Guides. URL: https://guides.loc.gov/latinx-civil-rights/california-proposition-187
When We Found The Horizon - Late Night Feeler
Brain Trust - Wayne Jones
Flowers In The Rain - Sir Cubworth
No.9_Esther’s Waltz - Esther Abrami
Always Remember to Never Forget - The Whole Other
Dog Park - Silent Partner
Pablo - The Mini Vandals
Ibiza Dream - Chris Haugen
To Be A Ball Of Light - Late Night Feeler
Pooka – Kevin MacLeod
Dreamy Flashback by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Frost Waltz by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Marty Gots a Plan by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/