|UFDC Home||myUFDC Home | Help|
1 IN By MARILISA JIMNEZ A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Marilisa Jimnez
3 To Mami, Papi, Losmin, Abuelo Daniel, Abuela Basilisa, Abuelo Ramn and Abuela Mara (Yin)
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the University of Florida English Department and the UF Office of Graduate Minority Programs for their support of my doctoral education. In particular, I would like to thank my graduate committee. I especially want to thank Dr. Kenneth Kidd who se motivation, professionalism, and kindness is truly exemplary. I could not have worked out my ideas for this process without the insight and help of Dr. Anastasia Ulanowicz whose support both moral and scholarly has been a blessing. Thank you to Dr. Hedr ick, Dr. Page, and Dr. Gonzalez for making this a more well rounded discussion and recommendation s throughout I also want to acknowledge my fellow doctoral student Emily Murphy for listening to my ideas about chapters and suggesting theoretical readings. I thank my parents, Carlos and Carmen Jimnez who taught me that I could do anything and that education was an opportunity never to be wasted. My sister, Losmin, taught me that I could be a woman of faith no matter where I go or what I do. To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the source of everything I can say or do
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 RICAN NARRATIVE ................................ ....................... 10 1898 and Post Boo ks ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 18 ................................ ................................ ............ 36 .............. 41 2 PURA BELPR LIGHTS BIRTH OF PUERTO RICAN CULTURE IN THE U.S. ................................ .............................. 52 ................................ ....................... 56 Storytelling without a Storybook ................................ ................................ .............. 67 Of Juan Bobo and Johnny Appleseed: Folklore and the Harvests of the Renaissance ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 85 The Children of the Renaissance ................................ ................................ ............ 95 3 NICHOLASA MOHR WRITES BACK: A DIASPORA CHILD IN A GARDEN OF MULTICULTURALISM ................................ ................................ ............................ 99 Cuentos de Mama y de Hada: Urban Folklore and Remnants of Island Lore in El Bronx Remembered ................................ ................................ ...................... 105 ........ 125 ..... 145 4 THE LETTER OF THE DAY IS : A GIRL NAMED MARIA, SESAME CULTURE ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 150 Maria ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 156 ................................ ................................ ............................... 174 ................................ ................................ ..... 187
6 5 ORTZ COFER AND THE RISE OF THE BETWEEN CHILD ................................ ................................ 196 Jimnez Ortz Cofer and the Poetic Discourse of Betweenness ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 202 Putting Together the Pieces: Ortz Cofer and Poetry as Translation and Stealing 211 Belpr Mohr, Ortz Cofer and Children between the Generations ..... 228 Li ving in the Fire and/or the Sacrifices of the Between ................................ ......... 245 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 256 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 266
7 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S Diaspora child A child of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Post O.B. Post Operation Bootstrap
8 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy By Marilisa Jimnez M a y 2012 Chair: Kenneth B. Kidd Major: English Piri Thomas, the self si C authors/artists presented in this study, is the inspiration for another kind of wonderland. For the greater Stateside and Island Puerto Rican community ture and media has served as a cultural and national bridge, uniting both Island and stateside communities; it also functioned as an entrance into United States national discourse and an outlet for resistance against U.S. colonialism. Island and U.S. write rs and artists, such as Pura Belpr, Nicholasa Mohr, Sonia Manzano, and Judith Ortz Cofer hav e used children literature and media as a repository for historical memory, as a foundation for a cultural and literary legacy, as a plea for U.S. identity, and as a way of positing
9 U.S. writers have been placed within the same tradition. Examining the Puerto Rican literature and media as an intellectual and creative space for constructing collective ideas of nationhood, language, and culture by both mainstream and ma rginalized groups. In U.S. li terature.
10 CHAPTER 1 PAST, NO After the Spanish American War, many Americans first encountered Puerto Rico through n People: U.S. Writing about Puerto Rico 1898 Felix V. Matos Rodriquez of literature d edicated to i ntroduc ing the new territory and the new position as a colonial empire to the U.S. public Citing military histories, resource assessment and investment guides, popular histories, academic studies, official government reports seems almost perplexed by the 1898 literature en adds as a kind of exclamation punctuating the previous list. Jorge Duany (2002), citing Matos Rodriquez, also locates undertaken by U.S. wr iters (anthropologists and newspaper c orrespondents among the first on site) eager to capture narratives and images of an impoverished Island population on the brink of so called modernization (60 61). Of the larger project to ility and relationship to its colonies, Matos Rodriquez We might also ask, however, on geographers? C onsidering the rush to capture history in the making and consequently empire in the making associated with these initial lit erary accounts, my dissertation analyz es the role of the U.S. colonial project. Similarly, at the inception of a U.S. literary tradition why the
11 within the Puerto Rican Diaspora community ? My dissertation consider s how the ch to act out anxieties about national and colonial identity, class and race, economic and cultural development, and national literature and culture. Em phasizing the child realm as a space for dialogue between colonizer and colonized also invokes questions Rodriquez asks, to the realm of k nowledge? Of history? Of fact? Of fiction? The U.S. culture) complicates all the markers of U.S. history and national culture that adults might prefer to simplify for children, such as language, national and geographical boundaries, and racial and national status. The question of whether or not Puerto Rican and /or U.S. Puerto Rican literature and culture should be examined as the product of an ethnic, U.S. minority, a postcolonial comm unity, or a Latin American nationality is pivotal within Puerto Rican studies. Lisa Snchez Gonzlez in her landmark study, Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (2001) argues that scholars should treat U.S. Puerto Rican liter consciously produced its own body of knowledge, based in its own specific assessment of its own unique predicament as a U.S. community of color Snchez Gonzlez contends that scholars, particular ly those on the Island, stifle critical discussion by insisting that U.S. Puerto Rican writing is simply an extension of Island national literature. Juan Flores, who has produced a formidable amount of critical work on Puerto Rican and U.S. Puerto Rican cu lture, has argued somewhat the reverse. As
12 Snchez Gonzlez also cites its association to Puerto Rican national literature and by extension to Latin American Divided Borders, 19). He also suggests that Island literature might be read as U.S. literature (153). I media, I have found it impossible to separate U.S. Puerto Rican writers from Island literature. For exampl e, i n the case of Pura Belpr I present a writer who seemingly wished to position herself as reconstructing Island traditions in the Mainland. Belpr also complicates classifications with regard to language which is a key factor when deciding if a writer imagines himself/herself as a Latin American or North American writer. Indeed, though she published in both English and Spanish, Belpr saw her texts as the continuation of a actually appears in Un Siglo de Literatura Infantil Puertorique a/ Literature (1987). Writers such as Mohr and Ortz Cofer specific construct ions of Island national identity which make it difficult to see their work as a dialogue exclusive of the Island. The use of postcolonial theory within conversations about Puerto Rico is also a controversial topic. Flores, for example, writes that nsights of theorists like Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak are no doubt of great explanatory value, as is the critique of From Bomba to Hip Hop 214). Flores specifies that for U. S. Latino /a communities such as U.S. Puerto Ricans, Dominican American
13 Jorge Duany insists that a postcolonial critique such 1 cannot explain constructions of national identity within the greater Puerto Rican community. presupposes that communities are imagined from a fixed locatio 7 ). H e suggests, as do I, that it is possible to imagine yourself as part of a geographical location political and legal relationship to Puerto my study as opposed to neocolonial 2 Rico, a to states like Massachusetts. Puerto Rico is politically and legally however, very much a colony of t he U.S. Those writers living and working within the Island and the U.S. represent a literature which exhibits colonial repercussions. Indeed, Puerto Rico has never politically or economically risen above the level of colony, first of Spain and then the U.S. It still remains an acquired possession without annexation govern ed by U.S. federal laws and economic policy A d isrupts the traditional pedagog ical approach to U.S. history as a narrative of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with justice for all. Amy Kaplan empha sizes the silence often associated with the U.S history of colonialism in her introduction to Cultures of United States Imperialism (1993): 1 (7). 2 The term neocolonialism has also recently been used to explain the economic and political influence of foreign governments upon other countr ies.
14 represented by Europe, or it stands fo r a monolithic West. United States continental expansion [and non continental I would add] is often treated as an entirely separate phenomenon from European colonialism of the nineteenth century, rather than an interrelated form of imperial expansion. The divorce between these two histories mirrors the American historiographical tradition of viewing empire as a twentieth century aberration, rather than as part of an expan s ionist continuum. (17) Kaplan implies building and empire building as up the field for examin ing U.S. imperi alist rhetoric s and practice s I begun publishing works on empire as with literature; the latter perhaps considered more of a contribution to Latin American studies 3 Y et, one could easily dismiss those studies as relating the literary histories of cultures outside U.S. parameters. T his dissertation gestures toward the contemporary view of the U.S. as empire by focusing on a group of U.S. citizens with a pattern of cir culatory migration from the continental U.S. to the Island. Puerto Ricans are arguably the exotic stepchildren of the United States the Ortz Cofer suggests in her literary s 2000 ). Puerto Ricans have lived in the United States before U.S. conquest, the earliest group comprised of political exiles fleeing Spanish rule (Acosta acquisition of the Island in July 1898, the subsequent J ones Act in 1917 3 Resistance and Survival: (2009).
15 sparked a massive exodus of this group of U.S. citizens ( ov er one million from 1917 1990; 470,000 from 19 5 0 196 0 alone) 4 As scholars like Edna Acosta Belen, Juan Flores, Sonia Nieto, and Lisa Snche z Gonzlez have shown, t he Puerto Rican Diaspo ra i mpacted everyday aspects of U.S. culture, from the U.S. popular imagination to public school education. In Harvest of Empire (2000), J uan Gonzalez narrates the P uerto Rican migration e ffect on the national consciousness : Until World War II, Mexican farm workers were the most familiar Latin Americans in this country. True, a Latino might occasionally turn up in a Hollywood film role, or leading a band of in New York nightclub, or as the fancy fielder of some professional baseball team, but outside the Southwest, Anglo Americans rarely saw Hispanics in everyday life and knew almost nothing about them. Then the Puerto Ricans came. (81) The coming of the Puerto Ricans impacted the landscape of U.S. child culture. In this dissertation, culture (books, puppetry, theatre, educational television, etc.) is a major site of contention and negotiation of U.S. and ayed such an important role in colonial protest that it would be impossible to discuss U.S. Puerto Rican and U.S. Latino /a the development of a literature about the U.S. as a colonial empire to perpetuating U .S. cultu re on the Island, to working through historical traumas and expressing a U.S. identity the U.S. Puerto Rico narrative grew up continued to revolutionize it. Moreover, the hi 4 For a more extensive review of migration data see Edna Acosta Puerto Ricans in the United States (2006).
16 inseparable from the U.S. Puerto Rican experience. Likewise, U.S. Puerto Ricans have The texts I analyze are i ntertwined with a broader rhetoric of of A uthors use words such as adoption, orphan, and stepchild to work through issues of national identity. Authors often seem to present narratives about children as a kind of allegor y about national and racial anxiety. The texts themselves They are d ifficult to place within any national literature which result s in abandonment by critics and readers. For example, a writer l ike Nicholasa Mohr explores the notion of encounter s with agents of the state such as teachers and welfare representatives depict U.S. Puerto Ricans as national --children belonging to neither the Is land n or the U.S. The U.S. government acts designating of these writers by the publishing industry also mimics a kind of rite of passage for minority d iscourse into the dominant discourse. Even within the critical conversation, t here is at times the sense that these writers, their work, and their critical audience have not yet fully developed. My edia from around 1900 to 2004. T he present published after the U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico in 1898 and, later, after industrial modernization during Operation Bootstrap 1948 My second chapter focuses on the 1 92 0s to 19 4 0s era and examines the literary and cultural interventions of Pura Belpr
17 Library. Belp r folklore provide s a context for my third chapter, an analysis of the gritty of Nicholasa Mohr published during the 1970s Nuyorican Movement. The 1970s spirit of civil rights and equality is central to my fourth chapter which examines the bilingual performance of one of the first Latinas on television Sesame Street emphasis on bilingual culture and her over 40 leads into the c ontemporary bilingual e xperimental poetry of Puerto Rican poet and author Judith Ortz Cofer Ortz Cofer bilingual Puerto Rican childhood I n this introductory chapter, I context ualize the work of these U.S. Puerto Rican begun by U.S. writers This dialogue con cerns the U.S. as a colonial power and Puerto Ricans as colonial subjects. First, I give a n overview of the post 1898 U.S. chil as to consider its main objectives and themes I go beyond Matos Rodriquez in that I present examples from those years immediately after 1898 and from books written in response to the 1940s 1960s intense economic development of Puerto Rico ( ). U.S. books about Puerto Rico mainly center on these t wo historical moments. W riter s these two historical moments suggests a perce ption that these events warrant ed a n orientation toward the Island for U.S. child readers. Writers also underline insecurity about relating U .S. history to children within a narrative about conquest and colonization. Second, I provide a synopsis of child publishing on the Island that frames the development of an Isl literature as a source of anxiety for Puerto Rican educators. Third, by introducing some
18 of the main themes and arguments within this dissertation, I present the case of Puerto toward more comparative U.S. Latino/a studies as a site of further study and contention. Post 1898 and Post Books focuses on the two periods of Island history perhaps of greatest economic and political interest to the United States: the 1898 conques t and the 1948 Operation Bootstrap The Spanish American War of 1898 provided countless sensational headlines for U.S. newspapers between Spain and the U.S. offic ially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in December 1898, a treaty making the U.S. the foremost colonial power in the Caribbean and Pacific through its acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Over forty years later, Operation Boo tstrap became the latest headline in the U.S. Puerto s to U.S. funded economic/industrial initiatives such as the building of highways and factories, engineered by Puerto Rican policy makers including such as Teodoro Mosco so and Governor Luis Muoz Marin A major part of this economic reform policy supervised by Moscoso and Mu oz Marin included a kind of later discuss. It is important to r emember that the underlined in this chapter were published in the States with no indication that they were read by (or written for) Island children, a matter I return to in my overview of the
19 Within post 1898 and post O peration Bootstrap (post O.B.) traditions, U.S. writers emphasize common assumptions about the some obvious (e.g. pedagogical, ideological) and some perhap s less obvious (e.g. re/creating history). These c and its people to which I will refer briefly. M y analysis of these U.S. c ive patterns : re/creating history, adoption/infantilization, progress, amnesia with regard to migration and poetry texts as revising key historical moments, such as the U.S. invasio n. Adoption/infantilization refers to how writers characterize Islanders as unwanted children inherited as wards of the state. The themes of progress and amnesia are interrelated in that early writers on both sides also tended to depict the Island as a par adise of progress, a place of unprecedented opportunity for different forms of capital. eye toward the massive Puerto Rican exodus which undermined all the promises of progress. The theme of poetry u nderlines the importance of language within Puerto Rican cultural identity as well as the tension between oral and written culture highlighted in this study. T hese patterns are d by U.S. Puerto Rican authors and artists. Also, while U.S. and U.S. Puerto Rican writers approach child readers as pupils, they do so in different ways. Many U.S. writers tend to emphasize the Island, the Islanders, and child readers r tabula rasa a theme closely associated with the project of colonialism and education, while U.S.
20 Puerto Rican write rs ( as I continue develop ing in the coming chapters ) tend to characterize children as containing the stories/histories needed for filling in gaps in historical memory. Matos Rodriquez refers to th e post 1898 group of (34). Writers hailed f rom the field of journalism, photography, religious educat ion and anthropology T hey wrote from the perspective of those on the post war frontlines. Matos Rodriquez specifies that although adopted the That is, e ven when childre authors never experienced the Island, they still wished to form part of a brand of literature that spoke to U.S. readers as a testimony of the new Island possession. They chose to blur the lines between fact, fiction, and history between storytelling a nd history lessons T he child characters they created within this Yet, Matos Rodriquez still sees this fantastic bl end of fact and fiction as [ping] geographical writings he surveys since it is a literature teaching North Americans how to e post 1898 tradition, also justifies U.S. policy on the Island (34). 5 5 Jorge Duany in The Puerto Rican Nation on the Move (2001 ) citing Matos Rodriquez, also appear s to about t he Island.
21 expansionist/exceptionalist r hetoric (indeed within Anglo imperialist rhetoric). 6 The majority of U.S. s Greater America The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ) resemble anthropological field guides, complete with a map, an economic and agricult ural break down of the Island, and a synopsis about the culture or lack thereof of the natives. Indeed, incorrect categorizations and justifications, beginning with the Anglicized re naming of the Island Porto R Stratemeyer 7 was an exotic land of buried treasure for young hunters and explorers. Writing under the pen name, Captain Ralph Bonehill, Stratemeyer plays the part of former officer in th e Spanish Young Hunte r s in Porto Rico or the Search for a Lost Treasure (1900) 8 : endeavored within its pages to give a fair description of the Porto Rico of to day, as it appears to the traveler from our States. This new island domain of ours is but little known to the majority of us, but when its picturesqueness [sic], and its mild climate, becomes a matter of publicity, Porto Rico is bound to b ecome a Mecca for thousands of American tourists, in search of health and pleasure (iv). Stratemeyer portrays the Island as a backdrop for exotic travel and adventure with no mention of its inhabitants. Another text in the explorer genre, this time directe d at young The Motor Girls in Waters Blue (1915). Penrose creates the 6 Orientalism (1975). 7 Stratemeyer was a ghost writer of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series among others. 8 Matos Rodriquez identifies Edward Stratemeyer as th mo Rodriquez, Stratemeyer
22 American Motor Girls. Inez assures the Motor Girls : [M] any here speak ze English as Interestingly, t he ideal Puerto Rican and U.S. Puerto Rican child is one gifted in the art of interpretation and translation. Inez in the true spirit of capitalism, teaches the Motors Girls two hyperawareness of how colonial acquisition should be memorialized for U.S. child readers. Like a blank page, the acquisition of colonial territories signal ed a new era of U.S. and Puerto Rican history which required a somewhat unfamiliar narrative framework relating the possession of land and people. The distinction between American military forces and European colonizers of old was beginning to blur. The ad option of an eyewitness role in such texts also underlines the perceived absence of any previous historical identity belonging to the Island and its people. The project of validating history creating a historical account and revisiting key moments or tra ditions associated with Island memory, extends into Both U.S. and U.S. Puerto Rican traditions feature a heightened preoccupation with history and c is seemingly mark a historical e xplain s and justif ies ; i t is also a place where one can create a beginning so as to have hope in the present. Although Matos Rodriquez focuses on the post 1898 literature, his statements about the overall task of U.S. writers applies to both the post 1898 and post example, he analyzes U.S. view s of an ahistor ical Puerto Rico as motivated by a desire to represent the Island as a place of societal and political chaos. A n Island in
23 ruins justifies U.S. intervention. Matos (42). He highlights a statement by author Joseph Sea Porto Rico: The Land of the Rich Port no exciting historical periods. For this reason but little space is given to the annals of the Rodriquez 42). Sim ilarly, America, The Latest Acquired Insular Possessions (1900) 9 provides many such examples of casting of Puerto Rico (and perhaps similarly child readers) as a kind of blank page, starting with the of The Morro at the entrance of San Juan harbor, like calle rs leaving cards as an indication of a described occurred prior to the U.S. victory over Spain. The author assigns U.S. ownership of the Island at first sight and not after military turnover. He/she also dismisses the over 400 year Spanish presence on the Island with a telling description of the remains of the former empire: When the [U.S.] flag was raised over San Juan, it overshadowed one house that, if insensate things c ould ever awaken to feel emotion, would surely have groaned and crumbled. That was the White House that Juan Ponce de Leon built and lived in nearly four centuries ago: but the White House survived the American flag, although all th at is left of the old co nqueror himself is a handful of dust in a leaden casket that rests in the Dominican Church of San Juan. ( Greater America 11) 9 ls.
24 I read th e U.S. history. The thin the gaze of the unknown writer, a U.S. argue s to more than the old Spanish buildings and the dust of old conquerors (as opposed to new ones), but to the as well. depicted as a kind of blank people that were acquired by default as the author write s political power] was made without the consent of the Porto Ricans, but there is reason had seemingly no volition of their own T the largest in the number of people whose allegiance has The reference to California erases the record of the military force used to subdue the inhabitants, both in the case of California and Puerto Rico. The author pretends to speak for both the lack of volition as well as th Years later, in a 1966, Post Island Boy, John Rambeau, Nancy Rambeau, and Richard E. Gross echo the theme of Puerto Rican migrants as weak willed, history less people: about their lives. In Puerto Rico, they were Puerto Ricans, who were also American citizens. In New York, they are no longer just Puerto Ricans. They are blacks, or Hispanos, or just immigrants. The fact that they are American citizens means nothing. Most of them are not allowed to feel that they are really part of American life. Perhaps it is no wonder that many of them live for the day. They want to enjoy themselves today. They cannot worry about tomorrow. (44) Rambeau et al describe a racially and nationally ambiguous people who, no matter the location, live in obscurity due to the repercussions of U.S. rule. In this passage,
25 Americanhood itself which strips other s of c both representative of U.S. conquest, American identity presented as a state of nothing reflects anxiety a bout the U.S. as an imperial power rather than as a new site of liberty apart from Europe an empires. Puerto Ricans, in this passage and within the greater U.S. tradition of writers, possess neither a grounded identity before the U.S. nor one aft Island Boy was designed by Rambeau et al as a school textbook too. The book seems designed with the purpose of justifying the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican migrants into U.S. cities. Indeed, migra nts created a great deal of unrest within the New York School system and countless reports were released Puerto Ricans Students in U.S. Schools 13) As a textbook Island Boy n posing child readers with a past, no U.S. Puerto Rican authors like Pura Belpr and Nicholasa Mohr also attempt to fill a perceived void of history with chil narratives. B elpr in particular, seeks to prove the cultural heritage of the Puerto Rican child through the same medium perhaps most responsible for demeaning it However, as I argue in chapter five, Puerto R ican authors tend to uphold children as the keepers of words and narratives. That is, children possess stories within them which the best literature will help draw out. As opposed to viewing children solely as the subjects of narratives, artists such as Mohr, Judith Or tz Cofer and Sonia Manzano present children as
26 creat ing literature and art, as augmenting languages and cultures and as refashioning subjugated spaces. The theme of tabula rasa within imperialist rhetoric coincides with a strong rhetoric of infantilizat ion within the post 1898/post O.B. texts. 10 The author of Greater America in addition to present ing exchange of governmental rule tends to place Islanders withi n the same role of object With Spain gone and no other nation to claim the Islanders, Islanders seem like wards the U.S. happened to inherit after its i sland will ever lead to foreign complications. The island lies so near to the American continent as to be almost part of it; and no nation has objected to its annexation to the 7). The author encourages child readers to think of Puerto Ri can U.S. writers within this tradition continually present chaos and i ncivility. Along with a nt racial and political ambiguity of the natives. A s Matos Rodriquez writes, chaos and ambiguity government; civic and administrative corruption; banditry and i (42). White Boots (1948) capitalizes on this t heme o f chaos and infantilization The book relates the Island misadventures of White Boots, American patriot considering 10 Some Thoughts Concerning Education presents the development of tabula rasa as a concept in education which relates to nation building.
27 the tie to Boston) that is more refined and wanted in the North American gaze than any native Islander. White Boots boards an extravagant ocean liner with his Boston aristocratic family; he then gets lost in the luggage cargo upon arriv They sell him to a culture from the chaos her middle class readers might have perce ived within a racially ambiguous Puerto Ric o. sold into the emphasizes the Island as a savage place when describin Island: Down a steep hill the fat man went with the Negro, B oots and the smaller boy behind him. Three wheeled carts, piled high with oranges and avocado pears, barred their way; taxi cabs honked at them. They passed open caf s where brown skinned people sat at little tables, while loud phonographs blared fourth Puerto Rican music in a minor key. They moved under grilled balconies where women called down to ask if the dog was for sale. Crippled beggars helped out their hands cr Centavo, c entavo Half clad children trailed after them, curious about the strange Boston Terrier. But the Negro paid no heed and doggedly trailed after the big man. (20) The 1948 publication date places release a little before if not a t the beginning of Operation Bootstrap which may explain the emphasis on abject poverty funded economic cl ad brutish race) emphasizes subjects in dire need of U.S. economic and even cultural
28 parenting. P clad book, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (1962), published by the United Nations and the American Geog raphical Society, and written by Earl P. Hanson reflects anxiety about racial Nicho lasa Mohr, whose works I analyze in chapter three, takes up this rhetoric of adoption, infantilization, and political orphanhood within her essays and fictional works like Nilda (1973) and El Bronx Remembered (1975) up the moral of the U.S. books. Promises of progress, whether through U.S. industry, military control, political freedom, or travel, drive the post resulting from the burgeoning, U.S. funded and Puerto Rican administered factories, libraries, public schools, and cooperatives drive the post O.B. books. The simple presence of the U.S. on the shore would seem to spark progress, as the author of Greater America writes the healing arts of civilization year interlude between 1898 and 1944 during which U .S. appointed governors (mostly military officia ls) did little to deliver on U.S. branded freedom, opportunity, or citizenship. 1944 marked the first ever election in which P uerto Ricans participate d in a gubernatorial election plac ing Muoz Marin in power. Greater America touts the promises of U.S. citizenship (a right established 17
29 Americans on the Island in 1899. The author ironically highlights the tension between U.S. promises of correspondents sought a young Puerto Rican boy in order to begin p atriotic celebration s 11 yell would call for independence rather than presidential appointed governors and, for the most part, a military regime. As Gonzalez underlines for the subsequent 30 years after the acquisitio Child readers learn that the boy quite disconcertingly could make just as much noise as well as his Puerto Rico: Bridge to Freedom (1963) perhaps best captures the kind of celebratory rhetoric about progress characteristic of the post O.B. books. The book is exceptional in that it touts a sense of U.S. Puerto Rico cama raderie by featuring one of the only (if not the only) forewords from then governor, Muoz Marin. Further, Bridge to Freedom emphasizes a key theme identified by Matos Rodriquez within U.S. promises of progress by characterizing Even the title highlights an international consensus at the time of Puerto Rico as Rodriquez 40). Matos a bridge or a test case of U.S. Latin American relations rendered with extraordinary power from the 1940s to the 1960s 11 The book claims to have been authored by several correspondents, although it is not clear if these are anthropologists or reporters sent to the Island after the war.
30 under the local leadership of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and recently resuscitated in a more Pan Caribbean version was created d uring the early decades The image of the bridge, so pr evalent within both U.S. and Puerto Rican rhetoric (a bridge between the U.S. and Latin America between nation and state) extends into depictions of Puert o Rican and U.S. Puerto Rican culture. The bridge image appears to capture U.S. Puerto Rican sentiments of writers like Juan Ramn Jimnez Juan Flores, and Judith Ort z Cofer. For example, t he child characters of U.S. Puerto Rican invention often embody a bridge or portal. 12 In chapter five, I explain how Ortz Cofer maneuvered between as a means of avoiding the essentialist national identities she saw as constrict ing her (Puerto Rican or American). In the tradition of anthropological literature, Mc G Bridge to Freedom opens problems inspired thi emphasizes U.S. Puerto Rico camaraderie, yet it also gestures toward the tradition of the native informant. M uoz citizens in Puerto Rico are very like you in their passion for liberty and love of Marin, however, centers his argument on the cultural differences rather than the similarities between Puerto Rican and U.S. children. Again, I 12 (69).
31 you largely in thei r cultural background. Puerto Rican children learn Spanish at their as they grow older thrill to the cadences of poets like Rubn Daro Garca Lorca, and their own Llorens y, Muoz upbringing, yet his description provides a rare glimpse (and a rebel yell) for U.S. readers of a distinct Latin American culture with a separate language and literary heritage. His decisio n to mark this difference in language suggests a form of protest considering early U.S. educational policy toward the Island included English only books and instruction. English textbooks dominate as the main literature of contemporary Island public school children, though Spanish remains the language of instruction. Muoz Marin, then, emphasizes the thriving bilingual, industrial, and progressive society imagined during the years of Operation Bootstrap. A bilingual, industrial paradise coincides with the i mage of the bridge, closely associat ing multilingualism with productivity and diplomacy, a message repeated in the bilingual performances of Manzano and the writing of Ortz Cofer The Island according to Muoz Marin, acts as level United Natio and as an experiment for developing agricultural nations into industrial modernization (viii). Bridge to Freedom pictures the new highways, the city buildings, the side by side U.S. and Puerto Rican flags, and the urban renewal and housing projects. Pu erto Rico constitutes the very definition of thriving according to Mc G Bridge to Freedom and the other post Getting to Know Puerto Rico (1955), Jack Young People of Puerto Rico Growing Up in Puerto Rico (1958) U.S. writer s present the state of the Puerto Rican economy
32 O.B., how can these writers explain the stead y exodus of Puerto Ricans (over 470, 000 during the 1950s often reflect a kind of amnesia with regards to the Puerto Rican Diaspora. For the U.S. produced texts, the Diaspora stands as a sobering reality. If U.S. freedom and prosperity were as readily available on the Island as stateside, why would so many opt for living stateside? What drew them? U.S. writers fall silent when it comes to explaining the discrepanc y between jobs created and those coming out of agriculture seeking the new avenues in industry (Gonzalez 63). In terms of U.S. and Island cooperation, the se expelling much of its population in its pursuit of progress. I ndeed, as Edna Acosta Belen writes, migration was central to economic reforms created by Island policy makers, including Mu oz Marin (77). G overnment officials encouraged overpopulation and unemployment. Th e Puerto Rican government packaged migration initiatives to U.S. policy makers and corporations as a traveled to the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, and the Northeastern U.S. as f cheap agricultural and factory labor They were coaxed by free travel funded by U.S. companies and the Island government (Acosta Belen 78 79). More over, th e kind of anthropological/geographical narrative of agricultural wasteland turned u rban metropolis within the post denies any Puerto Rican presence within the U.S. According to these texts, Puerto Ricans exist only on the Island saluting the flag and driving on new expressways. They never enter
33 the U.S. landsca pe. The early folkloric account of Pura Belpr replicates this kind of romanticized place of dreams. The stories she chooses to tell and write, for the most part, reflect an Island mythology of virgin land, Spanish heritage, jbaro farmers, and equal space for all to dream. Puerto Ricans exist within the storied traditions of the Island, wearing traditional jbaro garb and never set foot in the U.S. The only child character she depicts within the U.S. lives in a n utter state of displacement which stunts his ability to interp ret his new surroundings. 13 Again, if the Island indeed offered such spiritual riches for children, if things were simpler, the fruit trees bigger, the sun brighter, why leave it behind? On both sides, an unarticulated trauma, veiled behind these gaps in m emory, haunts the literary account. U.S. and U.S. Puerto Rican writers present the Island as a paradise of progress. The U.S. writers focus on economic/political advances. For U.S. Puerto Rican writers, the Island can stand as a source of artistic/creative progress that usurps oppressive conditions. Writers like Mohr and Ortz Cofer take issue with the romanticized dreams of the past. In this light, we might better understand why interventions like Mohr and Ortz Cofer They present childre n with alternatives (besides forever dreaming of returning) for negotiating their position in the world. Returning to Muoz s about Puerto Rican children learning my dissertation analyzes poetry as a kind of metaphor for Puerto Rican bi cultural, bilingual identity. The word poet, viewed as both a position within and without literature, also seems to capture the tension between oral and written 13 See Santiago (1969). For a more thorough analysis of this work, see chapter two.
34 culture within this U.S. Puerto Rican artistic works. Every author and artist associated nstructed Puerto Rican child ren as deeply artistic and poetic Children are often associated and even compared to spoken and written verse. So meone has asked me why title this wo suggesting that U.S. Puerto Rican works simply purport familiar notions of children as divine innocents. However, as I explore in chapter five, the ideal child character with in Puerto Rican culture is actually a kind of a vengeful thief. He/she is a hustler a deviant. My title is a quote from Nuyorican author and writer, Piri Thomas, who some might say published one of the most memorable works of the late 1960s 1970s Nuyoric an movement, Down These Mean Streets (1967). g uel Algar n and Miguel Pi Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings (1975), and Pedro talents of a U.S. A lthough the scholars like Flores, Efran Barradas, and S nchez Gonz lez have established the over 150 year literary legacy of U.S. Puerto Rican letters, Nuyorican works remain among the most influential and memorable works Thomas s dedication to minority youth advocacy using his experimental style of received national attent ion when PBS released the documentary film Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas (2008). The cameras show Thomas, a former prisoner of New York fabled Sing Sing, lecturing male youth in a San Francisco juvenile detention center abo ut the craft of poetry. For Thomas, poetry and violence go Violence
35 is wisdom, poetry is spi tell another person, you tell it to a piece of paper and that piece of paper goes out to (PBS). I n the U.S. Puerto Rican tradition, poetry ties to a form of protest that aggressi vely steals back what the colonizer stole first, mainly language. Children are cast as deviants who enact revenge on the colonizer. Language, as developed in chapter four and five, is not inherited, but rather something children learn to perform, manipulat e, and steal. Children take phrases, lines, stories and make something viable out of the societal rubble. Rather than signal ing a utopian vision of the future, the poet plunders the colonizers riches so as to have a more viable present. P oetry stands in as a metaphor for Puerto Rican sentiments of hybridity translation, and colonial resistance. Interestingly, the author of Greater America in 1900 made a somewhat similar claim All the Porto Ricans are poets ( 43 ). seeks to describe t he /she observed during the first, U.S. led Fourth of July festivities on the Island This celebration evidently happened on the he els of the acquisition in 1898 to the make shift celebration. Considering the Puerto Rican tradition of bomba, itsel f a n improvisational musical tradition of African origin rooted in challenge and protest, and utilized Spanish as a main language for entertaining the predominantly English speaking correspondents and military forces th i s p erformance suggests perhaps one of the earliest acts of subversion by Puerto
36 Ricans toward U.S. colonialism. 14 The poet, in Puerto Rican and U.S. Puerto Rican tradition, always steals the best words and always has the last word. e Island how U.S. and U.S. Puerto Rican writers assume that child readers/audiences mainly occupy the position of pupil though with varying degrees of agency. This conceptio n of importance placed on Puerto Rico relationship, compels my project. Indeed, when Island researchers and writers present U.S. colonialism as a hindrance to the development of a national chil key to nation fallen into the hands of education officials and professors affiliated wit h the University of Puerto Rico, though this area needs more critical research than I am able to present here. Un Siglo de Literatura Puertorriquea/ A Century of rline relevant trends within the overall project centers on U.S. the Island, though in my fi nal chapter I present some ways we might see these often divisive identities in a dialogue. However, I want to offer here some contextual points about the c haracter of 14 For more on Puerto Rican musical traditions like bomba see Juan Flores From Bomba to Hip Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latin Identity (2000) and Frances Aparicio and Candida Frances Musical Migrations: Transnationalism and Cultural Hybridity in Latino America (2003).
37 Island publications and the rocky relationship between Islan U.S. publishers. Previously, I emphasized t hat U.S. writers addressed an audience of predominately white, U.S. children. I found no record that these U.S. titles ever made it to the Island However it is certain that English langu textbooks (those written originally written in English and those translated) formed part of the English only campaign in Puerto Rico (Figueras 24). I t is also possible that these titles occupied New York Public Library shelves at t he time of Pura Belp r partially triggered her interventions. Consuelo Figueras writes that books and English textbooks comprise the bu years under Spanish reign, any sort of Spanish Island culture marks a form of U.S. colonia l protest The presence of Spanish, however, may uphold Spanish colonialism They also locate the rise of Island majority of Spanish century. Evidently, most Island children outside of the very rich had limited access to 15 15 poverished areas offering library services. There was also the teatro Teatro Escolar bcame the officia l theatre program of Puerto Rican schools and it was mainly produced an d acted by teachers
38 Ironically, the first U.S. commissioner, Martin G. Brumbaugh, identified the need for more English and Spanish readi ng materials, although education officials mainly invested in English materials. Pieiro and Figueras identify Manuel Fernandez Juncos, a writer Belpr cites as one of the great Island folklorists, as the main translator of Spanish. Pi eiro specifies that One of Juncos greatest contributions was the Antologia puertorriquea y verso para la literatura escolar (1907) which legends, dramas, and folklore were deeply rooted in th In other words, pedagogical, informational, or even folkloric platform. P ieiro lists 1935 as the year of the Festival of Children and Poetry in Puerto Rico instituted by Spanish poet laureate, Juan Ramn Jim nez (25). Jim analyze in chapter five, is among the first to articulate fundamental ideas about the distinctive character of the Puerto Rican child a theme that also overlaps with U.S. Pu erto Rican writing. However, late nineteenth century Caribbean and Latin America writers and thinkers perhaps because of the U.S. encroachment on the islands and the continent, such as Jose Mart (a man Pieiro cred and Rubn Dar o Mart and other school officials. For more information on Teatro Escolar see Manuel The Development of Teatro Escolar, the Theatre Program of the Public Education System in Puerto Rico from 1960 to 1990 (2005)
39 published La edad de oro (1889) an Inter Gonzalez (who includes a whole chapter on this w ork in her study Resistance and Survival ) specifies he Dar o, praised in Mu oz Bridge to Freedom as part of the separate literary heritage marking the Puerto Rican child, partnered with J im nez and Rabindranath Tagore, in the production of a series of poetry anthologies for Island school children titled Versa y prosa para ni os (1935 1937) By the 1930s, Latin American writers issued a trend of sentiments expressing n ational character and philosophy and Puerto Rico, quite defiantly, followed suit with the 1934 publication of Insularismo by Antonio S. Pedreira (1934) (Flores, Divided Borders, 18) The rise of Latin American and iterature during th e 1930s, as in the project of U.S. writers echoes with the nation s and have been wishy w ashy at best when it comes to supporting the sustained r won the top honor. From 1950 to 1990, the Editorial (Figueras 25). Editorial also published a weekly educational magazine, Escuela, for elementary and secondary public schools. Figueras notes that the Editorial
40 historically us ed their own private funds as a means of publish ing and distribut ing their work. Perhaps, it is because of the low production of books that researchers like Pieiro include U.S. Puerto Rican writer s Pura Belpr and Nicholasa Mohr within Island seems debilitated by the lack of support from U.S. companies, although a few authors continue publishing more artistic wor k such as Georgina L (which won a Belpr Honor in 2010) and Rosario Ferr 16 Even so, contemporary bibliographies rel y heavily on folklore and school textbooks, something I find problematic since it perpetuates rimarily didactic and folkloric Figueras implies that the U.S. basically resisted the development of a rooted sense of separate Puerto Rican identity. Perhaps, no greater sentiment exists on and empire building than when scholars view the stagnated development o loss. why the works of Belpr and Mohr have been grafted into the Island tradition something never before seen in adult literature by Island representatives like Figueras and Pi eiro 16 Children Lzaro include El Flamboyan Amarillo (2004) and Julia: Cuando los grandes eran peque os (2006). Titles by Ferr include Sonatinas (1989) and El Medio Pollito/The Half Chicken (2001).
41 literature and culture ha s developed a s a level of craftsmanship and experiment alism perhaps diff icult for Island artists due to the lack of financial support provided by U.S. literary and media outlets T he dissertation chapters on U.S. Puerto Rican writers that follow this introduction emphasize the potential for creativity and experimentation withi which can resist stereotypes F olklore, as Belpr furthers, is a rich medium and even a form of colonial protest (see chapter two). However, folklore at times perpetuates a stagnant view of culture (food, music, festivals, etc.) whic h U.S. Puerto Rican artists like Sonia Manzano, Sesame backgrounds. This perspective enhances how we see Nicholasa Mohr and Judith Ortz Cofer onists I Ortz Cofer we see children as actors within the U.S. landscape and not frozen within ideal s of the nation bu ilding, history making, and colonial protest provokes my thinking through some fundamental questions within the present the fields of U.S. Latino/a Studies Latin American and Puer to Rican Studies. A t the Intersections of U.S. reputabl e field of inquiry complete with journals, conferences, and an international and interdisciplinary community of scholarship. Contemporary s cholars have even begun organiz ing themselves into different schools of thought, such as those pursuing issues more w ithin the social sciences realm, such as those interested in issues of a history of childhood
42 ructions of the self. 17 Another group may prefer literary analysis and even argue for a more liberal approach to what we see as texts so as to include different materials important within heatre in Artful Dodgers (2010) The increasing growth and relevancy of the field within the large scheme of literary and cultural studies has perhaps placed us in an advantageous position from which we might examine how it has developed in rather hegemoni c ways. By this, I mean that when it comes to fundamental questions within the overall field of s literature such as drawn on a heritage of Anglo lite rature to create theory. Within my own study, since what is often construed today as literature so often concerns Anglo British and Anglo American writing (e.g. Romantic and Victorian literary tradition of age narratives) I often underline such traditions as a point of comparison, as an intersection, a way we might engage and rhetorics of childhood within a comparative view of literature and media Emer study, (2005) English is mainly a monolingual phenomenon, mostly dealing with the wealth of speaking cou ntries and referring to critical material written in English. Researchers who do not write in that language generally remain 17 Axelsson, Thom and Patrick Ryan, Jonas Qvarselbo, Par Wide College, Columbia University (June 2011). Axelsson et al are developing a study on the differences between chil 26.3. (Fall 2001): 140 150.
43 ately describe and explain the crossing of Even with regard to scholarship emphasizing non Anglo culture, scholars still seem to lump non Anglo bilingual cultures into one, In Ethnic Lite Literature (2009), a study that includes Latino/a and African American literature, Yvonne s may not have been trained in ethnic evolved as a discipline without the same kind of awareness and methodologies for complexities of nation, race, ethnicity, class, literacy, and language as other academic disciplines. At the same time, scholars within U.S. Latino/a studies rarely consider the position oppressed peoples. That is, margina lized. Since Latin American and Caribbean writer s also face marginalization in academic literary studies, Ann Gonzalez writes that Latin American and Caribbean the periphery of the periphery (2). Gonzalez American for example, with regards to the agenda authors might have toward children:
44 and Britain is most often any literature that has not been chosen or condoned by adults, rebellious stories that resist the good boy/good girl image. Latin American sense. While U.S. and European literature s train their children to become better members of the dominant class, Latin American children, who have a long history of domination, first by Spain and then by the United States, have other lessons to learn: for example, how to res ist submission or submit with dignity; how to fight the odds and insist on cultural, if not political independence; how to get what they want without appearing to so do and without angering the dominant class; how to speak through silence and have the last laugh (1). Although Gonzalez seems to emphasize rather than experimental / artistic, her perspective gestures for more comparative Beyond discussions about reader r esponse theory or the importance of access to culturally relevant literature for minority children within U.S. within the U.S. Latino/a narrative. If a prolific writer happened novelist, such as Nicholasa Mohr, it is often treated as a matter of coincidence or even similar example has played out in the case of Pura Belpr, a pioneer of th e U.S. Puerto Rican narrative. Although she is often celebrated as the namesake of Belpr is also grossly understudied in U.S. Latino/a and Puerto Rican studies. Belpr represent some of the first (if not the first) published narratives of Puerto Rican history and culture in English in the United States, some of the first literature by a Latino/a author published in the States in English, yet scholars ha ve difficulty justifying the relevance of her texts to the greater body of U.S. Puerto Rican literature. Writers like Lisa Snchez Gonzlez one of
45 speeches and folktales, may emphasize the literary and yet without a sense for how this work interacts with a larger tradition of U.S. and British s materials within a study of historically oppressed major platform for subaltern groups. Returning to one of those fundamental questions within the field of child t hroughout this study, I am interested in how U.S. Puerto Rican writers create certain kinds of child characters depending on the historical, societal and cultural issues important to the comm unity at the time. I emphasize three child character types not as a formula or category for containing difference but as a way of marking a progression in character development over the history of the U.S. Puerto Rican community and how this progression l inks with a sense of perceived community identity. Each coincides with first generation and /or second generation memory of the homeland though in varying degrees In addition, on in, from, and to the Island. F irst, there is the displaced child, a character prominent before the 1 970s and perhaps best expressed by Pura Belpr in works like Santiago (1969). The displaced child is a type that always looks back at the homeland and, i n so doing, never really exists within the U.S. landscape. This child may have been born in the homeland, yet all that is necessary for displacement is the inability to imagine oneself as part of the new site. The displaced child may have the tools to resi st Americanization, but he/she must identify with past folk characters and within a view of culture which features a
46 paralyzing nostalgi a He/she longs for his/her homeland and dreams of returning to it one day, perhaps to fight for independence or perhap s to simply take part in the dream of prospering enough financially in the U.S. so as to return and repossess those things lost (or at least perceived as lost) during migration. Second, there is the Diaspora child (abbreviation for child of the Puerto Rica n Diaspora). Nicholasa Mohr beginning her writing career in the 1970s, perhaps best expresses this child through her cr eat ion of yet possessing a second generation memory of the homeland. The Diaspora child is the child that must dispossess the homeland by owning his/her Mainland identity Indeed, this child claims the U.S. as the homeland. He/she demands his/her rights to promises of U.S. freedom and the American dream. The Diaspora child resists stagnant images of culture and may even participate in reinventing them, yet always in a way that locates him/her within the new site. Post 1990s, we have the rise of the t hird type the Betwe en child, a hybrid child type alluded to since the beginning of the overall narrative (every major author involved in the U.S. Puerto Rican narrative revises this child type at some point). However, the author who best (or perhaps elaborates on the complex ities of this type of child) is Judith Ortz Cofer The Between child is not just a merging of the two previous identities ; he or she stands for the creation of a third culture. The Between child chooses to claim both the The Between child intersects with major themes of history, artistry, poetry, translation, and hybridity within Puerto Rican culture. This child type is marked by a high level of linguistic aptitude, particularly since this child literally acts as a translator /interpreter for adults left paralyzed by migration This child is also He/she can perceive the
47 past and the future, yet occupies the present choosing to flourish in gaps between constricting national identities. Between children thrive on the tightrope cast over the divide although this is never presented as the ultimate solution to the Puerto Rican plight As I show in this chapter, t hough some U.S. Puerto Rican authors gesture toward an id eal future, writers like Ortz Cofer show s us how sometimes existing in the present (with all its dysfunction and unrest) may prove more productive than clinging to an idealized past or future Within my research, I revisit some familiar literary movements that make this study relevant to scholars of other disciplines and areas within literature studies In chapter ry and cultural work, I present a different perspective on the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. I argue that there was a Spanish Harlem Renaissance which occurred sometimes even in the same buildings and at the same time as the well known Harlem Renaissance. U.S. Puerto Rican and other Latin American immigrants and migrants converged at the New York Public Library (even the 135 th Street Branch, a landmark of the Harlem Renaissance, today known as the Schomburg Center f or Black Culture). As Arturo Schomburg (a Blac k Puerto Rican) concentrated building an archive of global African heritage, I argue that Belpr (also Black Puerto Rican) decided to build an archive of oral and written folktales in order to refute stereotypes about the culturally deprived Puerto Rican m igrants. and other Latin American immigrants (of varying races) came to the 135 th Street and 115 th Street Branches to hear stories, poetry, and participate in plays and festivals
48 se the work re established Island identity (as tied to a nationalist tradition of folktales) within the U.S. s Back: A Diaspora C hild in a Garden of folktales and the British and Anglo American shape our early reading) acted as a mirror for historically oppressed peoples? What does it mean for an author to say Nilda and El Bronx Remembered invite us to consider how a child of the Puerto Rican Diaspora might remake certain folkloric traditions and The Secret Garden (1910) heritage after years of living as an ex patriot in colonial India. Mohr
49 as a way of limit ing colonial critiques. Because language is such an integral part of Puerto Rican and U.S. Puerto Rican identity, c hapter four and ch apter focus on specific issues of language, bilingualism, and translation. In chapter four Sesame l television during the late 1960s into the 1970s and beyond. Jim known as the Sesame Street Workshop) created a kind of televised Head Start program that would reach disadv antaged, minority pre schoolers. African American and Puerto Rican inner city youth made up the initial target audience for this educational experiment supported by the Public Broadcasting Service. At the time, middle class America had received a steady in flux of scandalous news stories and popular culture city. 18 d bilingual muse of communicatio n that would reach the youngest members of this U.S. but she also branches out as a staff writer, challenging the show and the construct s of Puerto Rican a nd Latino/a culture. A study of Sesame Street allows me to think through particularly how the show negotiates language diversity I direct attention to the differences between the way Spanish (and other alternate U.S. language 18 Oscar Lewis, The Culture of Poverty
50 literature. In other words, what about television and performance allows for perhaps a more liberal expression of bilingual/multilingual identity? I also highlight and complicate d ependence on performance itself as a kind of universal language for children. Ortz Cofer and the Rise of the Between child literatures (i.e. geographical, linguistic) through my discussion of Judith Ortz Cofer and the Between child The Between child is that child who challenges national associations and acts as a la nguage interpreter and thus an interpreter of history and culture for literature. Is a text written in mixture of Spanish (or any other language) and English still p art of our American story? Ortz Cofer forces a consideration of English as the field of English literature so much so that it is now necessary (in order to progress as a fie does the figure of the Between child (a kind of prophet, poet, historian, and messiah through the progression of the Puerto Rican narrative? Within this chapter, I uncover the roots of the Between child in Puerto Rican literature through my discu ssion of Puerto Ramn Jim nez the Spanish poet laureate who
51 Jimnez chil dren above national associations. Overall, my goal case study for how we can begin participating in more comparative conversations about childhood, literatur highlights how the literary histories of multilingual and multiracial peoples can fall off our radar as literary historians. For example, in the next chapter about Pura Belpr, I begin with a d iscussion of a picture book, (2008) by Lucia Gonzalez the endearing images of Belpr, migrant children, and their parents that one might expect and incorporate these clippings within the illustrations provokes me to think about history similarly as a kind of snapshot. My project asks us to think about who or what has been excluded from the frame of U.S. literary history. What do we leave out when ks have quite a bit to say about history.
52 CHAPTER 2 BIRTH OF PUERTO RICAN CULTURE IN THE U.S. centere d museum and repository, featured performances of based on Lucia f Puerto Rican a community living on the fringes of society. The play an d picture book, like the memorialize Belpr as a legendary trailblazer and heroine within her own American fable a legacy she welcomed by calling As a s toryteller the role perhaps closest to her heart and one she occupied as a kind of weaver of history B elpr Island folklore reframed the past for children directing their gaze away from economic, urban disparities and onto a majestic Isl and of dreams a place where el pueblo always found clever ways to triumph over oppression. P erhaps no other literary figure provides a better illustration of how attempts to capture historical memory ( whether artistic or scholarly ), a s Juan Flores writes (Flores 49). Those who study Pura Belpr h er many faces and revisions are forever coming up to her only to lose sight of her once more. Belpr story is one rich in contradiction Her storytelling and folklo re played a central role in the evolution of the U.S. Puerto Rican settlement in New York; however, her position within literary studies remains enigmatic. Julio Hernandez ) and Lisa
53 Snchez Gonzlez Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (2001) are pioneer scholarly works on Belpr. Those efforts portray Belpr as a woman whose revolutionary efforts in chil literacy and activism directly influenced U.S. Puerto Rican and Latino/a culture from the 1920s to 1980s. Her consideration within any canon, U.S. Puerto Rican or otherwise, however, has been limited given that, with the exception of a young adult n ovel, Firefly Summer (1996), 1 of print or unpublished respectively. Her status as a black Puerto Rican in 1920 30s Harlem also contributes to the perplexity surrounding her legacy, since Belpr complicates traditional approaches to study ing race and the Harlem Renaissance (Nuez 54). In addition, scholars of Puerto Ric included among the more traditional literary canon and rarely, if ever, within ethnic an enormous oversight given her dedication to children and her U.S. analyze some of the breaks surrounding her memory in an attempt to gain a clearer portrait of her role in the Puerto Rican Diaspora. Beyond the fable, I am interested in what Belpr believed her work accomplished I explore how Belpr participated within 1 This novel was recovered from her a rchives; it was probably written around WWII, but was never
54 U.S. literary traditions while also using them as a means of subversion. I also examine her revival of Island traditions as symbolic of a rebirth of Puerto Rican identity within the ts within two literary contexts during her early career at contexts, I analyze Belpr preservation of Puerto Rican folklore, and her belief that her sowing of folktales within Puerto Rican children resembled the activity of U.S. folk hero, Johnny Appleseed. The 1920 30s, as Juan Flores, Virginia Sanchez Korrol, and Efran Barradas have written, coincide with the first phase of migration and the forming of a colonia within Harlem which later progressed into other neighborhoods within Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and prominent place within a strong Harlem network of cultural, literary, and civil liberties puertorriqueo 2 sense of cultural citizenship 3 within a displaced Puerto Rican cultural nation. 4 She supplied this early community with enduring rhetorical and imaginative structures which encouraged their development into a non assimilating U.S. identity. Her vision of storytelling and folklore as a process of seed sowing, the very definition of diaspora 2 Edna Acosta Belen and Virginia Sanchez The Way it Was and in building a strong network served as a means of asserting identity and protecting civil liberties (16). 3 ethnicity, or native right to belong, in the sense of participating in the nation 4 underlies the idea of a cultural nation. That is, that culture itself can transcend g eographic and legal definitions of nationhood (25).
55 provides an invaluable context for understanding how U.S. Puerto Rican and Nuyorican ideology evolved, perhaps as a result of her planting, into the kinds of defiant, dual identity expressions asser ted by Nuyorican authors during the 1960 70s. newly migrated Puerto Ricans (and other Spanish speaking immigrants) viewed the NYPL as a hub for storytelling, lectures and poetry readings. However, beyond the arvesting subsequent generations of Boricuas. The first Puerto Rican author to publish a literary work in the U.S. as early as 1931, Belpr marks an imagined progression from the rural Island jibaro to the hybrid (though perhaps reluctant) Nuyorican found Santiago (1969). Yet, she believed the revival of Island folklore, born anew in English, was imperative for the creation of a U.S. identity. The birth/re birth o f a new P uerto Rican identity within the U.S. meant recreating the year history which resisted the dominant U.S. view of Puerto Ricans as vagrant, culturally deprived newcomers even as it upheld certain forms of Spanish colonialism. demonstrated modes of resistance against coloniza tion for th ose oppressed, such as craftiness/ trickery and civil disobedience. fixtures w ithin an imagined global community for children. Yet, as early as 1899, American
56 U.S. produced texts deeply nationalist project which proved the existence of Puerto Rican history prior to the American invasion in 1898. Belpr, as I will show, encouraged children to defy assimilation along with the textual and national boundaries created by the dominant culture. Her emphasis on storytelling, theatre, and puppetry rather than solely literature, reveals a revolutionary strategy against U.S. colonization Candle opens with an illustration by Lulu Delacre of a Puerto Rican mother and her two bundled up, children walking through the cold streets of East El Barrio [ but] Pura Belp r brought the warmth and beauty of Puerto Rico to the children of El Barrio The book places Belpr within the context of the Great Depression, unpublished papers and interviews illustrate that her Harlem was also once the Harlem of Langston Hughes and Arturo (sometimes referred to as Arthur) Schomburg. During th e 1920 30s, Hughes emerged as one of the more recognizable U nlike Hughes but similar to Be lpr, Schomburg was born a black Puerto Rican, migrated to New York in the first migration, 5 and worked as a librarian at the 135 th Street NYPL. th Street Branch, and her interactions with Harlem 5 The first migration of Puerto Ricans (1920 1930s) from the Island to New York begins after the Jones Act in 1917 made Puerto Ricans American citizens. Many working class Puerto Ricans migrated from the Island at the time and received special ID cards proving their citizenship.
57 Renaissance figures like Scho librarian, emphasize how Puerto Ricans and African Americans developed into a 54). highlight the partiality of the existing memo varying races, may have seen Harlem as a welcoming neighborhood. Belpr in an oral history narrates this sense of cooperation: [At the 135 th Street Branch] It was meeting an entirely different group of children. dramatic work. I had Reading Clubs, and I was very happy there. It was an Spanish tradition, to have this open doo r of black literature and black activities. (10) Belpr for both black and Puerto Rican children highlight s how easily it might have been to identify as African American during this time Such racial categories hav e perhaps veiled our ability to see her activity within the traditional narrative of the Harlem Renaissance the 135 th Street Branch overlaps, yet, today the library has been renamed the unnoticed as unresolved in the minds of literary scholars. Barradas writes that [his] as similation into the culture of U.S. blacks represented the road many other Caribbean emigrants would see, much later, as a solution to the writes that she moved wit
58 assimilation into black culture, always identifying as Puerto Rican (qtd. in Nuez 63). homburg reveal that, when she spoke with him at the library, she did so in Spanish (Nuez 69). Schomburg and Belpr share a common interest in the preservation of culture, although their cultural preferences and approaches to using the library help contra st the viewed historical preservation as a means of disproving cultural inferiority. The NYPL hired Schomburg in 192 6 as the curator of his collection of cultural artifacts (l iterature, art, music, etc.) which he believed refuted notions of African inferiority. The collection, similar to the cultural activities associated with the Harlem Renaissance, created a space within the U.S. for the celebration of black culture and a mor e unified black identity. By contrast, hired by head librarian Ernestine Rose in 1921, Belpr possessed of mouth Puerto Rican folktales which became a practical asset to Rose as she rushed to accommodate the increasing Puerto Rican population arriving in Central Harlem as Belpr recounts: thought the best thing to do was to secure the services of a Spanish (Lpez and Belpr 88 89). changing local colors and character of Harlem. space in the library for newly arrived Puerto Rican migrants who, unlike Black Americans, had no tangible artifacts within reach that gave them a sense of history or identity. In terms of U.S. or world history, the Puerto Rican migrant arriving in New York
59 City did so with a virtual blank slate of history and a nebulous racial identity, making Puerto Rican and support the development of a colonia within Harlem meant she denied this temptation but also took on the daunting task of fillin g in history. As she understood it, creating a Puerto Rican identity within the U.S. meant bridging a gap in history. In what was perceived Black culture, meant re sisting a language barrier which may have veiled the elements of resistance and renaissance in their efforts. 6 contrast the Black and Spanish Harlem communities with regard to age and gender. centered on creating cultural pride in the adult community, while Belpr, hired to assist both Spanish speaking adults and children, generated cultural pride mainly f rom the institutional professional space. tradition within both U.S. and Puerto Rican society that women should work with those of her male, Puerto Rican contemporaries, to publish with major companies like Harper & Row and Frederick Warne, since, at the time, women like Anne Carroll Moore 6 Puerto Rican studies scholars have established the existence of a core of Puerto Rican writers within the U.S. before what seems like a 1960s 1970s explosion of Nuyorican lite rature. Juan Flores, Edna Acosta Belen and Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez present writers such as Bernardo Vega, Jesus Colon, Pura Belpre and Luisa Capetillo within the early U.S. settlement. Placing early writers like Belpre within contexts like the Harlem Renaiss this community.
60 nce children, the collection was mainly an adult space for scholars and writers. Yet, outside apshaw Smith observes in Literature of the Harlem Renaissance (2006), Harlem Renaissance thinkers and writers unity galvanization, magazine, The Brownies Book (1920 child to the movement for black social progress and artistic d at the 135 th Street Branch in 1937, who built a professional friendship with Belpr and lore, The Tiger and the Rabbit (1944). Smith, however, asserts that other influential Harlem writers shared in the project of writing for children as well as adults. Within this early Spanish Harlem community, no other Puerto Rican migrant authors directe d their artistic and literary efforts toward instilling cultural pride in children, at least not during this burgeoning era. This is not to say that early Puerto Rican migrant authors such as Bernardo Vega 7 and 7 Memoirs of Bernardo Vega (1977). Eugene Mohr, in The Nuyorican Experience: Literature of the Puerto Rican Minority of notice from the early settlement. Although Vega writes about the early settlement, he actually wrote the account in the 1940s and the work was published in 1977. Flores published an English translation of
61 Jesus Coln 8 did not consider Puerto Rican ch ildr work work of writers such as Coln, a friend and fellow community activist, might signal further gender distinctions between the patriarchal Puerto Rican and African American cult ure. More importantly, given the lapse in publication between Belpr and Coln (exactly 30 years), it appears that the Puerto Rican community had more difficulty building a published repertoire of artists and writers that would represent this early communi ty. Belpr, as the only author to publish during this period under a major label, is the exception among her contemporaries, disenfranchised community 9 Moreover, the op en door granted to Belpr within the as a subversive medium for nationalist and even revolutionary rhetoric. 10 The lack of literary publications proclaiming Puerto Rican pride and solidarity, however, minimizes ling and writing at the libra ry evidences how Puerto 8 A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches (1961) is also studied among the first accounts of Puerto Rican life in the United States. Like Vega, Coln writes about the early PR settlement but his work was not pub lished until 1961. 9 Schomburg and Coln published essays in newspapers before Belpr published with Warne in 1931; however, Belpr is the first to publish a literary publication in English in the United States during this ing ( Justicia, Grfico, etc. ) exemplifies other writing outlets for this community during this time. 10 Schomburg was an avid socialist while Coln, a member of the communist party, was under investigation by the House Committee on Un American Activities during the 1950s. Belpr, a proclaimed poli ups Learning from the Left (2005).
62 Rican migrants participated in a cultural revival, although at times in non textual ways, taking part in their own Spanish Harlem Renaissance. which, i speaking patrons. As a th Street Branch with her sister. Upon entering the reading room, Belpr noticed then libraria the thoughts of my friends in the island made me feel lonely for the first time. I thought, st person In her rhetoric Belpr usually e quate s storytelling with community and a sense of home She describes L young people as a kind of provision of spiritual subsistence As she observ ed Latimer, community within the library. 11 assistant, Belpr landed a hasis on the library as a center for community organization and artistic expression influenced her. th Street library staff in recognition of the thriving African American and Puerto Rican commun ities. Moore, as hiring practices 12 beyond the 135 th th Street Branch deve 11 Sanchez 9). 12
63 13 The ghettoization of the library with regard to minority patrons and librarians suggests a similar ghettoization of the deed, Harlem children and beloved storytellers like Augusta Baker and Pura Belpr may have rarely ventured to Fifth L and influential services. Though somewhat ideal in terms of personalization, neighborhood specificity as Jacquelyn Eddy writes, set foundational trends in the emerging U.S. literary world of the 1920s 1930s, it is interesting tha t even today, spe like the Belpr Medal, repeat a similar pattern that signals inclusiveness though not n credited with transforming the 135 th 135 th Street Branch readings and lectures by the important writers of the day including Countee Cullen, th rebirth of Puerto Rican culture, 13 Nuez writes that when another librarian of color, Regina Andrew s, applied for work of the NYPL, she was told to apply directly to the 135 th Street Branch were she was employed. Rose would later have to defend her hiring practices at the branch after the Amsterdam News published a story stating that the NYPL would not offer African Americans jobs at any other library branches (68).
64 first at the 135 th Street Branch through her storytelling, and, later, at the 115 th Street Branch in 1929 which truly became, as Hernandez of the Spanish Belpr narrating her arrival a t the 115 th Street branch portrays her 1930s East Harlem neighborhood as one in which it would have been difficult to ignore the profes sional and creative presence of immigrants and migrants. As she frame s [The Seventh. Lenox. And extending then almost to Fifth. But it was a Renaissance. It was the Renaissance, the Spanish Renai there th Street, and (Belpr Remin isc ences, 12). Her description of this early group contrasts with the tendency t o portray Puerto Rican migrants as wholly impoverished economically and academically. Belp r streets, particularly one such as Lenox Avenue, a well known Harlem Renaissance center signals her parallel ing of t he two communiti Her reference to this group as e cultural history. This was a barrio in which budding and renowned Latin American artists, poets, and actors shared their latest projects at the 115 th Street Branch the Grace Aguilar Branch, and other Spanish Harlem venues (such as El Club Obrero Chileno) to part ake in this enaissance. With Rosa Zubillago, the adult librarian at the 115 th Street Branch, Belp r theatre, poetry, and storytelling programs for Latino/a patrons For example, s he helped organized poetry readings by Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral (19) Delgado emphasizes
65 (430). 14 A 1940s flyer from Belpr gran poetisa / the grea t poetess) Julia de Burgos. 15 T hrough the speeches and essays she read at the NYPL Belpr was a messenger in her own right. Her rhetoric played an integral part of the renaissance. Her unpublished writings represent some of the earliest work by a U.S. Puerto Rican interpret ing the origins and intricacies of Island culture to U.S. audiences. Before the lectured on topics such as folklore and puppetry as a way of introducing English and Spanish speaking audiences to Puerto Rico the origin o f thousands of the newest New Yorkers. Such audiences may have only heard of the Island through newspapers and racially ambiguous, and history less land. A skilled orator, she often began her lectures with question s directing audiences to the nuances of Island traditions: What is folklore? It is his cultural heritage, ancient heritage wh ich represent three races the Mongolian by the Taino Indian, the Caucasian by the Spanish Conquistador and the Negro by the African. A rich folklore preserved and polished by the creative telling and retelling of a people who endowed it with pure Puerto Ri can charactericks [sic] The merging of these three cultures represents the Puerto Rican culture. ( 14 Nuez also suggests that activities such the poetry and art gatherings at the 115 th Street Branch speaking community similar to that being played by t he 135 th Street 15 http://iarchives.nysed.gov/dmsBlue/viewImageData.jsp?id=169445
66 Belpr harmony between the three races is itself an oversimplification of Island natio nal mythology; yet purported by U.S. writers after the Spanish American War. B elpr emphasi s on gestures toward the kind of self interpretative rhetoric sweeping Latin America during the 1930s. Yet, she adds the revolutionary element of expressing Puerto Rican ness stateside and in English which challenges elements of both traditional Puerto Rican nationalism ( e.g. Spanish only) and U.S. nationalism ( e.g. English only). 16 I nteres tingly, although other U.S. Puerto Rican writers may have written mainly for adults, Belp r s with similar projects in the Caribbean and on the continent. I ndeed this Spanish Renaissance with organiz ers/writers like Belpr at the helm and the 17 of such reputed Latin American artists into the NYPL parallel s the spirit of the Generaci n del ( and really much of Latin America at the time) underlined by Island scholar Mercedes Lopez Baralt in her Insularismo s Generation including Pedreira and Burgos expressed the trauma of 1898 and ough the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, the Spanish Civil War, and the great Depression of (11). Baralt writes that literally, think ing through the issues of the nation). Within an increasingly U .S. dominated Caribbean and continent p hilosoph izing Latin American nationhood became an 16 For more on L atin American rhetoric during the 1930s, please see my discussion in the first chapter along with Juan Flores Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity (2010). 17 The comings and goings and forth movement. It d forth between the Island and the U.S.
67 urgency. This urgency compelled writers such as Jose Mart Rubn Daro and Juan Ramn Jim nez to author distinctly Latin American poetry and prose for children. As in Belp r highlights the U.S. as a relevant site for discussing Latin American and Caribbean identity with in th e desire to self interpret, and the assertion of a unified, community identity work together within a cultural renaissance. Storytelling without a Storybook wide tradition, at the 135 th Street Branch within th e context of the Harlem Renaissance. 18 I consider lighting at the 135 th Street Branch as a symbolic ritual that signaled the birth of Puerto Rican narratives within the United States. 19 al so underlines some presumptions a bout the role of storyteller s in an urban metropolis As a role, t he storyteller highlight s the tensions between orality and textuality, between rural and industrial life In Belpr as a means of challenging notions of child literacy ( i.e. storytelling r equired a published text ) and even history. Belpr duties as librarian (shelving books, translating for patrons, etc.) placed her on the frontlines of the emerging colonia an ideal location for surveying the lack of Puerto Rican and other Latino literary representations. She possibly encountered texts such as Greater America ( 1900 ) or (1915), both of 18 Sanchez at the 115 th Street Branch, however, like Nuez, I emphasize that Belpr began her storytelling career at the 135 th Street branch and then carried her experiences eastward into Harlem. 19 Perez and Martin a (1931), capitalizes on the
68 which represent the Island as a U.S. commodity. illustrations appearing in an edition of one of her Juan Bobo publications, Belpr likely experienced a similar outrage while viewing the demeaning portrayals of Puerto Ricans in such U.S. resistance against dominant ideologies, including U.S. nationalism and c hild education. Throughout her essays, Belpr credits Moore, along with Rose and Gould, with a as a gateway into U.S. culture. Belpr, ence, and mutual as Belpr learned, could provide a community with forms of resisting assimilation and prejudice. Belpr received extensive training, including an int ernship organized by creative, imaginative texts promoting internationalism as opposed to informational or moralizing literature. Ideal books included fairytales and folklore that introduced children wide storytelling ng the 1920s, such as post World War I U.S. nationalism 20 and the scientific, psychology movement. Moore avidly refused scientific approaches to children and their literature, claiming instead that fairytales, folklore, and poetry 20
69 proper literature, the child learned to approach society as a member of a global knowledge of children, nurtured a wonder and love for reading in children. and folklore as naturalistic remnant s of the past as Jacqueline Eddy writes, suggests NYPL storyteller s literally drew the curtains on the outside world. By lighting the candle, a symbol of antiquity and imagination, the storyteller defied the structured, utilitarian ption of overlaps in a postmodern world. Again, during the 1 930s era in which Belpr began her public storytelling career European theorists such as Walter Benjamin ( in addition to Latin American writers such as Mart and Jim nez ) had begun reflecting on the importance of oral culture and narratives, within local histories. Benjamin reflected on his ideal storyteller who related to to the masses of information arising from an increasingly, mechanical world (84). Benjamin mourned the caused a decline in personal, relatable ex perience within communities counsel is less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of A s in Islan d folklore celebration of rural life, B enjamin associates his ideal of story tell ing and oral culture within images of the r ural which s eemingly subvert the influence of industrialization and mass media : who has stayed at home, making an honest living, and who knows the local tales and
70 This view of storytelling might extend into subaltern groups and their desires to maintain local histories and cultures. 21 The modern, mechanical world encroaching on personal with the so called arts of civilization strikingly resembles the image of the colonizer subduing native culture. A s I discuss i n my previous chapter, colonialism carries the goal of eras ing a sense of local history as part of nation and empire building. The sense of fleeting local histories and nation building is a theme traceable to the nineteenth century at least when as Island theorist s like Flor Pi eiro de Rivera demonstrate poetry and written folklore were seen as part of a project preserving typical oral traditions (17). 22 In t erms of preservation, however, the storyteller, even as Benjamin implies when he refers to him (91). Through Moore, Belpr could also learn that philosophies had an influence beyond Fifth Avenue particularly with regard to the ism through books sparked the 1920s, a trend Belpr possibly benefited from given that Perez and Martina was published close to this time, possibly since Frederick Warne & Co, acquaintances of 21 Local Histories/Global Designs: coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and Border Thinking (2000). 22 From the late nineteenth century into the mid 1930s, Puerto Rican folklorists like Manuel Fernandez Juncos and writers like Marti, Dario, an d Jim nez seemed compelled to publish and anthologize Americanized continent and Caribbean. Again, Belpr seems to echo this sense of Latinidad through he r o Puertorrique o 1).
71 Moore, saw the Puerto Rica n folktale as a contribution to international 23 literature (92). Belpr may have found her profession while watching Latimer, but she counteracting the lack of Puerto Rican authored narratives. skinned, lively woman with trilingual skills (she also spoke French), an interest in children, and an unwritten archive of Puerto Rican folklore, a tradition Belp r always touted as combining Spanish, Taino In patronage. Belpr arrived at the 135 th Street Branch with a deep rooted knowledge and love of folklo re. Like the NYPL, Belpr also viewed storytelling and folklore as practice s invoking the rural past. Indeed, t he stories she told children reproduc ed often seen as original types wit h in Puerto Rican culture. A r evival of Taino culture is particularly associated with strong nationalism on the Island, resisting the Spaniard and the North American, even as it denies the influence of African cultures on the Island 24 I read Bel pr 23 I believe this reflects how U.S. publish ers viewed Puerto Rican literature as foreign and not domestic. 24 Jorge Duany, in the Puerto Rican Nation on the Move, common discursive practice to narrate the nation by excluding certain autochthonous id eological movement has historically faced decimated during the first half of the sixteenth century, although their cultural and biological characteristics influenced the local population. Second, Puerto Rico changed colonial masters in 1898,
72 foste ring of jbaro and Taino mythology as part of her vi sion of Puerto Rican children as displaced children. One of the strongest examples of Belpr commitment to jbaro mythology comes in her final work, Firefly Summer, a novel published posthumously. Teresita, 25 the 13 year old protagonist dreams of returning to farm life after an extended period in a San Juan school. Belpr suggests a critique of the lack of schools in rural areas; something Teresita seems to believe disrupts the natural order of thin gs: Cidra Gone were the hours she spent watching the preparations for the planting of tobacco, but clear in her mind was the picture of the cool foothills, mou ntain slopes with carefully laid out ; 24 ). Teresita finishes her school exams earlier than the other students s o she can return to her beloved finca. As she leaves San Juan, landmarks like La Forta leza and La Plaza Cristobal Coln fail to charm the te enager: Someday there will be enough schools for all the children of the fincas. I s own fincas and can send them to the city school. But t here are all those children could not afford to come, and the few schools available are miles away. (22) A and learns of the financial troubles Firefly Summer reinforces a vision of the Puerto Rican child as belonging only the foothills of his/her native land regardless of the luxuries of the metropolis, whether Puerto Rican or U.S. from Spain to the United States, so that nationalists first turned to Spanish, not indigenous, culture as a form of resistance against Americanization. Third, the massive importation of African slaves throughout most of the Spanish colonial perio d complicates any search for the pure pre Columbian or European reproduces both types of nationalist rhetoric seen in her version of Once in Puerto Rico. 25 Belpr and she was from Cidra, Puerto Rico. Given autobiographical character.
73 In Taino legends, Belpr reproduces an ideal of the l and as the indigenous inhabitants once named it: Borinquen 26 Taino legends often portray the race as dignified victims of the for the land Moreover, t he se stories emphasize the Taino as a lingering presence residing with in the earth which see mingly cause the rocks to cry out For example, in transforms into a tree in order to save himself from an attaching tribe The narrator tells Similarly, i n stones (Belpr Once in Puerto Rico 16 ; 33 ). The Taino, then, is represented as a kind of monument of the past preserved within the Belpr the English language reconstructs simultaneously making this folklore a part of U.S. heritage while always keep origin. She suggests that no economic or political circumstance should disrupt the native land Just as folktales and storytelling could invoke an ideal of the past, Belpr env isioned these practices as reinforc ing this sacred tie to family, land, and nation in New York children Belpr often prefaced her stories and speeches with a short illustration about folklore as instrumental to A s she writes in her preface to The Tiger and the Rabbit : Growing up on the island of Puerto Rico in an atmosphere of natural story tellers was fun: a father whose occupation took him all over the island; a grandmother whose stories always ended in a nonsense rh yme or song, 26 The name Boricua is a term of endearment used to denote one who is of Puerto Rican descent. This name is also one used within nationalist ideology.
74 setting feet to skip or dance; elder sisters who still remembered the tales told by their mother ... No one ever went to bed without a round of stories. (Belpr x) Within this picture of folklore and child rearing, Belpr represents Puerto Rican culture as one in which the average person practically live s in vers e. T he people in this passage ( much like Belpr also portrayed herself ) possess an internal archive of stories. Her description also refut es notions of the Puerto Rican child common theme she may have encountered in U.S. on: [specific ally Puerto Rican children], as it is also used for all children residing that is 400 [years] old, culturally deprived. The fault of the term lies with those who lack the knowle dge of the background, and the respect for the culture of these children. when he knows the value of his own. (qtd. in Snchez Gonzlez 77) Belpr cleverly reverses the rhetoric by characterizing the dominant culture as ignorant rather than the child. As before, her strong associations with folklore, home, nation, and child the fairy tale shelv home with her ability to locate a place for her nation within the library, in this case, a space on the bookshelf. 27 If, as Moore believed, folklore cultivated in children the notion 27 ging and space on the library hour. 27 The desire for a place on the shelf may have been associated with a desire for cultural capital and influence. In a scene pic turing Belpr, the children, and the parents, Delacre lines the library shelves with original clippings of 1930s stock exchanges (Gonzalez 20
75 of a global community, then shelf space could also signify representation and influence within that community. Absence signal ed as a U.S. colony, and five years after the U.S. made Puerto Ricans American citizens, revea Belpr rationalized that no stories meant no history and, perhaps, no hope for the present or about child blowing out the wishing candle at the end of each story 1 2 ). Belpr recalled her confrontation with preservation effort on behalf of Puerto Rican migrants. More specifically, she credited her concern with the folktales I knew for the Puerto Rican child in this new land I knew that the knowledge of his folklore would develop a sense This statement further reveals that B elpr imagined the Puerto Rican child as a displaced child or exiled child, although cknowledge s that a new identity, apart from the Island, had been born She wished to give this child tools for resist ing humiliation an d the dreaded Americanization (loss of Spanish language and Puerto Rican traditions) Belpr, on the verge of creating original clippings of name registries of immigrant arrivals into New York.
76 so me of the first U.S. Puerto Rican narratives, 28 decided that a revival of Island culture grounded this emerging identity. Although the Island had become a distant reality for Island born patrons, and the States would serve as the birth place for subsequent 29 As in her description of her family of storytellers, Belpr again suggests s tories as satisfying an innate hunger for origin. York Public Library no one tells a story unless the book from where the story comes is on the table with your flowers and your w n.d.). Although Moore and the NYPL celebrated storytelling as a critique of modernity, ling clearly promoted its mission as a text borrowing institution, but also, as Nuez writes, downplayed any other forms of literacy outside of published texts. Actually, the NYPL considered storytelling such an important aspect of their mission within chi Davis, who taught storytelling courses at the New York Public Library School. In 1925, writing for ch ildren. The class led Belpr, as a prospective storyteller, through an almost audition like process requiring her to lead a story hour observed by Davis. In her 28 I am not the first to include Belpr within a foundation for U.S. Puerto Rican narratives. Sanchez Gonzalez also includes Belpr within a group of distinguished writers, Schomburg William Carlos 29 Hernandez, Mariposa. (2001). Puerto Rico naci en m
77 to use not have a book to place on the table along with the bowl of flowers and the wishing Tyler Twenty Four Unusual Tales for Boys and Girls (1921). Although Belpr does not disclose the tale she read, the book by Tyler, also a NYPL librarian and storyteller, chose preference for written folklore. 30 texts allowed children outside the library the enjoyment of the same stories presented at story hours and provided non NYPL storytellers with the texts as resources for other community story hours. Tangible books offered accessibility and preservation beyond that own career, in a sense, proves that cultural and literary legacies occur without tangible representations or continued preservation of written texts since, Be of print for over thirty years, yet she established an undeniable, continued legacy within the greater Puerto Rican community. impa ct one might make on literary history without texts. Indeed, an archive photo reveals an older Belpr in full form: her hands up, the story hour book shut on her lap, 30 these stories in the clubs and story hours of the New York Public Library, might lik e to have a few of their favorites in one book; that other boys and girls might be interested in reading them; and that the
78 and surrounded by an audience of mesmerized black, white, and Latino/a children (Centro). Snchez Gonzlez paperwork, we must realize that what literacy and papers signify cannot and should not stand in fo supplement speech acts and the predicament of accounting for literary activity that, without a traditional text, seems unaccountable. Her insistence on performing unpublished tal es also highlight s her belief that Puerto Rican culture would persist even speaking audiences, Belpr includes a brief history on the pers istence of uniquely Puerto Rican folklore over 300 years under Spanish rule. She emphasizes that the Island possessed no printing p resses during the a unique folklore generationally through the oral tradition. Belpr, interestingly, does not include this example within her translation of this speech for English audiences; this implies she reserved this subversive critique on colonialism for Spanish speakers. Essentially she implies that, even if U.S. presses never acknowledge Puerto Rican culture, the culture will continue thriving as it did under similar colonial conditions. The relic; yet Belpr emphasizes storytelling as a subversive activity that de centers narrative histories The storyteller professes the dangerous purposes) a dmission that stories are not fixed, but belong to a community and could change depending on the person retelling it. As Belpr emphasized during another
79 clai m a story as their own. e his/her handprints on a story as e videnc e of its subjectivity. A lthough literary texts are idealized in terms of preserv ation, the storyte is perceived as exist ing out side the literary establishment by empower ing el pueblo with a sense of authorship. Several of the folktales within Belpr emphasize this sense of el pueblo overcom ing dominant ideologies and oppress ion Her two folktale collection s The Tiger and the Rabbit and Once in Puerto Rico (1975) contain several tales which portray colonial oppression as a battle of wits more than a battle of force. The s trength and dignity of a community c ould route the colonizer. The titular story from The Tiger and the Rabbit features a typical Latin American trickster tale 31 : Long, long ago all the animals were friends and lived in peace with one another, except the Tiger. For the Tiger had p romised himself to eat small animals, especially the Rabbit if he ever crossed his path. But the Rabbit was very clever and known for his quick wit. He knew that the Tiger wanted to eat him, and though he considered the beast stupid, clumsy, and a fool, h e managed to keep away from his path and thus avoid trouble. But this was not always possible, since both them liked to roam about (Belpr, The Tiger and the Rabbit, 1) 31 The trickster is a type found in other form of literature by marginalized groups such as Native American and African American traditions. Gonzalez writes about the prevalence of the trickster character within Latin American culture, a character whose marginal position causes him/her to cr in Latin America all find ways to cover their tracks and hide what they do; they speak on multiple, sometimes even contradi ctory, levels to multiple audiences: children, adults, colleagues, and peers. Yet the message is always fundamentally the same. How to get what is necessary without direct confrontation e read alongside a text such as
80 Within an allegory of colonial hierarchy, t he T iger 32 represents the colonizer, the high est animal on the food chain who refus es to play nice yet the The Rabb it intentions so as never to mistake the Tiger for a friend. The forget the Tiger is a threat. Interestingly, Belpr describes a colonial relationship typical of Latin America and the Caribbean in which the colonizer and the colonized live in such close practically partners. When the Tiger threatens to eat the Rabbit, the Rabbit convinces The Tiger own enormity will make it difficult to find e howling of the wind, the crashing of the trees, s own displacement within a land not rightfully his He must de pend on the native Rabbit who knows what to do in the e vent of a hurricane. The Rabbit convinces the Tiger that his best option is to remain still while the Rabbit ties him ( no less than with t he same cord of rope the Tiger previously use s as threat) to a tamarind tree. The Rabbit 32 Ann Gonzalez analyzes a tale from Costa Rica about a fat Lion and a monkey as representative of U.S. relationship (i.e. interference) in Costa Rica. The United States in Latin Am erican tales is often represented as a tiger or lion. Belp Dance of the Animals (1972), a picture book, also contains a story in which a group of lions organize a feast for all the animals. Only a pair of dogs realize that the lion s are actually inviti ng the smaller animals so they can later eat them.
81 essentially puts a leash on t he colonizer as the other small animals gather to poke fun at the harnessed beast The tale ends when, after a series of tricking the Tiger, the Rabbit rides off on the Tiger s back in order to escap e a pack of foxes. This action demonstrates the dysfunct ional use and abuse within colonial relationships, such as ternal community injustices. The Rabbit always remains one step ahead of the Tiger He must simply work around his threats. Other tales such as strength to persuade the colonizer or route his attack. Again, such a tale the indigenous Taino 33 Iviahoca, a Taino Instead of the trickster tradition, illustrates a kind of civil disobedience founded on sacrifice and empathy: Se or Salazar, I know you must have a mother. Because of her you can understand my suffering. My son is young and loves his liberty. He should live to enjoy it. I am old. If he were in captivity, my last remaining days wo uld be in agony. But if I knew he was free, I could pass those days in peace, whatever tasks and trails might come to me. Take my life and my services for his liberty. Heaven will reward your good deed. (39) Ivai a eech. She then risks her life for General Salazar by delivering a letter to Juan Ponce de Leon Her bravery leads to him from the war on the Tainos. Belpr nes trickster and civil disobedience 33 Duany writes about the trouble with indigeneity in Puerto Rico and how Puerto Rican folktales adhere to the practice of preferring to celebrate Taino heritage in lieu of African. As far as I have read, Belpr does not include African folklore.
82 tactics In the story, thousands of Puerto Ricans assemble in the streets, curiously enough, with lighted candles so as to deter British fleets in San Juan Harbor, as Belpr narrates: The English spies on watch sent an headquarters. Great movement could be seen within the capital. They heard a loud ringing of bells and could see strange glimmering lights toward the west. lish general. (70) The British interpret the lighted candles as symbol s of conglomeration and resistance. The mass of people, each with a candle in hand, symbolizes the importance of each protester. Perhaps i n her own reenactment of Belpr outsmart ed the rules concerning published texts earning her the right to tell her unpublished stories to children, lit candle in hand. Davis only gave the they were the first children to hear the stor would expect to see a book when hearing published narratives. Rican literary traditi on within the U.S. Even from this inception, I note that this narrative is characterized by a sense of existing outside established cultural, national, racial boundaries. As a storyteller, already a subversive figure, Belpr transformed an U.S. tradition i nto an act of resistance. Just years after the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico, she
83 persuaded U.S. society, represented by the NYPL staff, to acknowledge the birth of a wi thout an official political or legal status as an independent nation, the Puerto Rican cultural nation had claimed a position within the global community. This early stage of th Street Branch established within the NYPL and Harlem that ual rebirth within the imagination of Puerto Rican children throughout Spanish Harlem. Indeed, and Spanish, throughout the library system, as well as in schools and PTA However, it is intriguing that, within the same library that Hughes, Cullen, and Schomburg gathered to celebrate a new Negro identity, and later at the 115 th Street Branch, Puerto Rican migrants and their children gathered candle to commemorate their Island heritage as the beginning of their American story. As the Puerto Rican community grew into other parts of Harlem, Belpr continued e.g. the Union Settlement, the Educational Alliance, and Madison House in the Lower East Side) as means of reaching children and parents, especially Spanish speaking parents who may have found the NYPL unwelcoming (Hernandez Delgado 429). After building th e The
84 Cristobal Colon Club, 34 which produced a number of puppet shows around Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. At the 115 th Street Bra nch, she instituted an annual Three Kings Day Festival, complete with an appearance by the Three Wise Men and a play based on Perez and Martina. Her travels around Harlem, from La Casita Mara and La Milagrosa, the first Puerto Rican Catholic and Evangelic al congregations in New York City respectively, to her partnership with La Liga Puertorriquea and the Porto Rican Brotherhood (both formed in Harlem during the 1920s), trace the emerging settlement and renaissance of Puerto Rican culture that would give S panish Harlem its name. 35 th Street Branch c ultivated a n environment in Spanish Harlem for the continued interest and celebration of Latino/a culture for at least the ten years 36 of her tenure. Her work ostensibly for children in fact impacted the greater Puerto Rican and Latino/a community by promoting a system for cultural pride and mobilization similar to the Black Renaissan ce was two fold: first, through her storytelling, lectures, and speeches, she initiated distinctly Puerto Rican folkloric and historical narratives into U.S. culture, and second, her cultural projects set the scene for a revival of Puerto Rican and Latino /s 34 Colon. The statute has been immortalized by a popular saying on the Island used for expressing an indefinite a 35 Sanchez From Colonia to Community (1983) on the Puerto Rican colonia in New York reveals that several of the Puerto Rican organizations formed during this period were headquartered in Harlem. 36 Hernandez Delgado and Nuez both sugges t that, as African Americans became the prevalent minority around 115 th Street, the Puerto Rican era of the library came to a close. Belpr was transferred to the New York areas with the strongest concentrations of PRs throughout her career which ended in 1980, the same year she died.
85 culture that, as I explore in the following section, contributed to the cohesive identity Of Juan Bobo and Johnny Appleseed : Folklore and the Harvests of the Renaissance Juan Flores wr requires a proliferation of ideology and culture, a reality I believe Belpr understood and actively pursued in her storytelling career ( The Diaspora Strikes Back Wished to be Li k 37 Belpr draws a comparison between her work and the legacy of Johnny Appleseed, an American folk hero famous for planting a formidable crop of apple trees still visible today. She wanted her legacy remembered as Delgado 436). Her imagined kinship with Appleseed, although endearing, also reveals her resembles her participat tradition into a statement about Puerto Rican identity. The image is that of Belpr, on a lone path through the New York wilderness, hands in the soil, planting a harvest for the coming genera tions of both Puerto Rican and American children. With this comparison in mind, I want to examine some of the possible harvests that Belpr may have desired through her figurative planting. Rican Folklore, The first harvest I believe she implied was a harvest of subsistence brought about by 37 I did not have access to this unpublish within Hernandez Perez and Martina
86 the figurative story by this time had witnessed the immense need of two concurrent migrations (1920s post citizenship; 1940 50s post Operation Bootstrap 38 ) of Puerto Ricans to New York. She implies in her analysis of the two migrations that the second group of migrants arrived less prepared for the realities of big the work were great, the need even greater. The City schools were filled with new confronted the overwhelming poverty and social struggles prevalent within this community of However, a revival of stories and Island culture could provide temporary solace: In the present struggle to fight poverty, hunger and fear, to bring a semblance of peace and securit y into the home, the need for serenity and beauty seem to be forgotten. Food alone cannot accomplish the task; it needs an elevation of the spirit. Through the power of a story and the beauty of its language, the child, for a while, at least, escapes to a world of Belpr draws clear parallels between storytelling and food and storytelling and security. The story seeds satiated a need within the child bey ond physical hunger. More than physical hunger, story the paper, she illustrates this point through the example of a Cuban mother who 38 This was t he name given in the United States to Luis Muoz economic and political restructuring of the Island, including the creation of the Free Associated State (Estado Libre Asociado).
87 d there was some one now, who not only could interpret for them and offer entertainment, but some one who understood their Delgado 429). The second harvest Belpr suggests is a harvest of resistance where story seeds produce resistance against Americanization. Belpr believed her planting, like Belpr viewed a combination of literary (publications) and cultural projects (storytelling, puppetry, festivals) as a more effective strategy for group mobilization and pride rather than literary work alone, something evident in her 1945 letter to Frances Clarke Sayer, NYPL superintendent of Work for Children me. I will still be carrying on, in my efforts to contribute, through my future writings something which the children will Delgado 432). How very typical of Belpr to blend a sense of endearment with a rhetoric of revolution. To bilingualism within the U.S. Many of h er publications including her most popular, Perez and Martina, incapable of learning proper literacy skills, s uggesting that teachers, in order to properly a remarkable argument given that she made these statements at least thirty years before multiculturalism
88 became a term within the American educati onal vocabulary. Belpr maintained that the colonial relationship of Puerto Rico to the United States which made the Puerto Rican s even through their process of Snchez Gonzlez 76). Snchez Gonzlez notes that, although ommunity, she still reminded society that these U.S. citizens learned and would continue to learn Spanish as a first language. As Snchez Gonzlez Belpr prefers to call attention the unique cultural and linguistic syncretism that Boricuas experie nce in the States, a syncretism unique ways, with its own built Snchez Gonzlez to the extent that she writes that biling similate, or Americanize, immigrant children during this time included discouraging children from speaking their native languages (Tyack 229). In addition, U.S. educational policy on the Island included the enforcement of English as the official language o f instruction, though this
89 policy was later revoked. 39 By defending the Spanish language as a part of the Puerto In addition to defen ding t the third harvest Belp r suggests is a harvest of nationalism through the nationalist themes invoked in her retelling of Island folklore. Her work combines a sense of upholding Spanish colonialism as an affront to the North American while also reinforcing the nativist Taino movement which resists the Spaniard. Indeed, folklore as a genre propagates some of the most beloved national myths within any country. Folk traditions and mythology U.S. history under Taino and then Spanish rule as the true origin of the Puerto Rican child, regardless of n retracing the history of Puerto Rican folklore for U.S. audiences, she quotes Puerto Rican folklorist Rafael Ramirez de Arrellanos Puerto Rican Folklore (1926) : Firmly believing that the be st preparation for the future is a complete and exac t knowledge of the past, we present this collection to our people, so that in these pages he may see his life, his feelings, his habits, his customs, his sorrows, his joys, his songs and games all the activities of those who left behind a country already f ormed, with a dignified and noble history, with maintained that the folklore 39 See Malavet
90 Belpr believed her work as a folklorist participated in a literary project that joined with the Puerto Rican national canon or the insular canon. This differs with Snchez Gonzlez since part of her goal is to present Belpr within a U.S. literature independent from Island literature (19). I do not believe Belpr saw her literary work, at least not her folklore, as forming part of a U.S. can on. In this way, Belpr resembles the early group literature and not the later group of writers, such as Nicholasa Mohr, who wrote about the U.S. as her home (Flores Divided B orders 144 146). In fact, she may have desired the generations of Puerto Ric an children with that collective psychology formed part of Further, Bel pr also opens and closes her The Tiger and t he Rabbit with national anthem (105 111). Belpr The Rainbow Colored Horse (1978) and Perez and Martina, contain nationalist themes foster ing la patria 40 A child could imagine themselves as forming part of a Puerto Rican national ancestry rather than as subjects of a U.S. colony. T he Rainbow Colored Horse depict s the Island as a magical wonderland where adventure awaits at every turn New York children hearing the tale 40 The homeland
91 step into the world of the traditional, agricultural campesino. The story about a magical, multicolored horse that helps a young farmer win the heart of a rich, young lady, contains d istinctly Puerto Rican scenery and pastimes: farmer Tano and his sons rock on hammocks and play the cuatro. 41 Even second generation c hildren can envision the land they left behind as a place of dreams. 42 Island memories of a majestic paradise would haunt future generations of Nuyorican writers who either never returned or gringos Perez and Martina Her most told tale, the story became her first p ublication, her first audio recording, her first puppet show, and her first play script which children performed yearly at her organ ized Three Kings Day Festivals. 43 it has never been published. The story is readers and parents understand that this tale forms part of a traditional Island upbringing, something Island born parents may have consider priceless. Perez and Martina perpetuates national mythologies of race, specifically the cockroach, represents a prim and proper Spanish dame, who spends most of t he time cleaning and keeping a proper home (8). The illustrations by Carlos Snchez depict an 41 Puerto Rican four stringed instrument similar to a guitar. 42 Nicholasa Mohr repeats this pattern of imagining the Island as a mystical place of dreams in her novels. 43 The popularity of this tale with U.S. audiences, as opposed to a Taino legend or more obvious ly anti U.S. colonial tale, suggests that publishers may have sought to purport Puerto Rican culture as a product of Europe. In the recording, Belpr speaks with a Castilian accent, something which she struggles to do, as was noted by reviewers at the time It is not clear whether she was told to do this or whether she chose to. Most who heard her stories do not note her as speaking with a Castilian accent.
92 black lace shawl, red flamenco dress, and black fan. Since Snchez based his illustrations on the puppet s built by Belpr for her traveling puppet theatre, this would indicate that Belpr wished for children to envision Martina in her typical Spanish dress. Also, since children performed d acted out these traditional Spanish nuances as a source of cultural pride. however, is somewhat in question as the story begins. As Snchez Gonzlez features es tablishes position with the Island or in Spain, making it possible for Martina to represent Puerto Rican women who b a source of Snchez Gonzlez 86). 44 Her dec ision to buy face powder as part of her courting ritual one skin was perceived as sign of beauty and standing. standing gives her a privileged status when Island suitors come to court her she can discriminate and she d oes. Specifically, Martina uses language and dialect as a marker for pure Spanish heritage ; in fact, the tale itself represents a defense of the Spanish language as a refined language of royalty. For Martina, each suitor seems to represent a native, non pure Islander. Martina scorns the sound of their 44 This was a slang term/insult used to describe those left behind in the colonies.
93 33). Her favorite Perez, a type of Spanish co urtier, wows her with his skill in music, dancing, and oughout the story; he is a gentleman with a royal mansion in Spain. Perez even sings a song celebrating his ties to Spanish am a little is my domain / At night I watch the sun set in the sky, And sometimes see the King and Queen pass by (37). Th e song becomes a subversive act on the lips of a young Puerto Rican boy, asserting his alliance to Spain and Latin American, within Harlem. Perez wins Martina by speaking to her in proper While the story mainly touts Spanish heritage, Perez and Martina, as in other examples of Belpr es, also issues a warning to the colonizer. The genteel Perez eventually marries Martina, yet there is certainly no happy ending: Christmas was coming, and Martina thought to give Perez a pleasant a Christmas dish So she went to the kitchen and took a kettle. Then she put some rice and some coconut juice, some almonds and some raisins. She mixed these up and put in some sugar. Then she put in some water and put it all in the kettle to boil. Then she went around the house making it tidy for the grand affa ir. She had hardly departed when Perez the Mouse came in. He immediately
94 He followed the smell to the kitchen. There he found the kettle, but it was too high for him to see what was inside. So he brought in a stool, and stepped upon it. going to ha He then stuck in his paw and tasted it. When he did so, he knew he had never tasted anything like that before. He peeped in again. Then he noticed a fat almond getting brown all over. unfortunately he lost his balance and fell into the kettle. He screamed and called for help. But who could help him? (Belpr Perez and Martina 44 50) Snchez Gonzlez reads e tale as sexual, implying his genteel, Spanish ways were no match for the too hot, Islander Martina (90). However, as Perez dainty high heeled feet hang out of the boiling kettle, he also represents a sense of greed for the delights and riches of the I sland, whe ther women, land or other Greed the narrator severely punishes. Also, like the Tiger who fears h s omewhat celebrated, meets his tragic fate p recisely because he is un accustomed to native ways and a colonizer The planting of Perez and Martina as a story seed nurture s of Puerto Rico Ultimately, the story features anti colonial, nationalist themes which emphasize Puerto Rican rather than Spanish or U.S. pride. story hours, celebrating la patria may have begun to que territory. Furthermore, Belpr may have sought to reproduce nationalist rhetoric within children which coincided with her
95 belief in Puerto Rican independence. 45 who per haps as adults, would return to the Island and carry on the cause for independence. The Children of the Renaissance seeds, with harvests of subsistence, resistance, and nationalism, undergirde d the formation of a Puerto Rican colonia in New York. Sanchez colonia eventually developed into a unique American group of color known as the Nuyoricans whose presence within New York captured American imagination in the 1950s 70s, through a proliferation of pop culture including Broadway musicals, salsa, and poetry slams at the Nuyori Although Belpr held fast to Island folklore throughout her career, one of her final, o s Santiago (1969) captures her conception this new Puerto Rican or Nuyorican. The story, though certainly not a negation of Isl and culture, represents an admission that the Nuyorican child, embodied in the character of U.S. soil. Santiago is a little boy whose teacher s pend s his time looking at pictures of his pet hen that he was left behind on the Island. He wants his stories about her. He constantly refers to the hen, Selina, throu ghout the story, both at 45 Sanchez Gonzal supported independence (100).
96 home and in the classroom; every moment he believes he sees her out of the corner of his eye. When Santiago asks two grown men whether they have seen the hen, one of expected and wanted in his New York City classroom. He sits in his class but continues to long for the Puerto Rico of his past. Santiago contrast s the modern city against the jibaro farmer. With all the modernization of the city and its sophistication, Santiago still longs for a piece of rural island memory. Belpr seems to acknowledge how a continual desire for the Island blocks total acclimation, and in turn assimilation, to city life, a Santiago takes his teacher and classmates to his apartment to see the pictures of Selina and a carved gourd made by his grandfather on the Island. The gourd depicts the never forget his native land. seeds in a Harlem community seemingly void of history. In the case of Piri Thomas, Nuyorican author of Down These Means Streets Branch, her final library post, with more books than the quota. Thomas stuffed the extra books in
97 rules throughout her career, such as claiming national pride even without legalized nationhood. Rules and boundaries could always be outsmarted. one that breaks pros cribed rules in literature; such as that you must have a text before you can have a literary legacy. Indeed, today, perhaps no one within literary circles can An initia year storytelling career throughout New York, leads one to the conclusion that the figurative seeds she planted were the stories themselves. However, although I do believe she likened stories to seeds, and bel ieved in the possible harvests that they would grow, I suggest that she also viewed the children as seeds. As she grew older and the number of children at her story hours grew, Belpr found it more difficult to have a close relationship with her patrons. I expansiveness of her project: When one wonders at the great distances that have been covered over room in whi ch this work became a reality and where the children where the children were close by. But this is a fleeting thought, for, as Frances Spain It seems a very long time since the first vision of Ernestine Rose; but the seeds she planted have taken roots, grown and the harvest has been good. (NYPL and Folklore 8 9) possibili ty of reaching as many children as possible, highlights the true drive and pursuit behind her colossal undertakings: the Puerto Rican child. It is her pursuit of the child, her
98 interest and concern for this new type of Puerto Rican living in U.S., which sh e credits as the impulse behind her publications and storytelling in the figurative New York wilderness. It is this pursuit of the child which seemingly plucked her from a life of obscurity and pione ros a fabled literature (58). Belpr pursued the child because the child was the figurative seed of the coming generations. If she could nurture children as s eeds, then these children, the children of the renaissance, would secure a remnant of Puerto Rican culture in the U.S.
99 CHAPTER 3 NICHOLASA MOHR WRITE S BACK: A DIASPORA C HILD IN A GARDEN OF MULTICULTURALISM Tales for Little Rebels (2008) anthology features representing Puerto Rican childr en in literature, even within a project promoting and Nel gloss over the colonial encounter which translated this reluctant, little zabeth, an Island girl given her recollections of the 1 lizabeth casts a backward glance at the Island, telling readers she hopes to return to her native land as soon as her father saves enough money. A displaced child a fixture within an attempt to document ghetto life a child with no sense of authorship wit hin her own narrative such was the typical portrayal of Puerto Rican Diaspora children in popular culture until Nicholasa Mohr published her landmark novel Nilda (1973) Rican fi ction and U.S. Puerto Rican child protagonists. In her fiction, author and graphic artist Mohr continually associates existence with es that her writing career began as an act of intervention in the tradition of Belpr Mohr, recalling the literary worlds she encountered 1 Pura Belpr, Santiago chapter.
100 1970s, then her work critiq ues not only Anglo literature, but those literary portrayals which assign no place for U.S. Puerto Ricans within U.S. culture. Though Belpr toured ound a book [at the library] that included Puerto Ricans or, for that matter, other Latinos. My family, my friends, and all of us in my community did not 2 Like Belpr before her, Mohr sought a representation of herself on library bookshelves pr ecisely what animal fables and tales of Island j baros could not critical readings of U.S. history continued by Nuyorican authors like Mohr, Mohr is the voice of a gene ration of Diaspora children 3 born and bred en Nueva York She speaks Diaspora children. I remind readers that he r work is indeed fiction since there has been a tendency to categorize Mohr as an autobiographical or testimonial writer. Instead, I 2 Scholastic, Scholastic.com. 3 using this term. One, to veer from the geographical terminology confusion (U.S. Puerto Rican, Nuyorican, Neorican, Diasporican) that dominates discussions of the Puerto Rican Diaspora). Second, I think the term opens up my study to other immigrant, Diaspora, and migrant cultures which may find this discussion helpful. Third, to break away f
101 and playfully subversive ways in which she challenges traditional Puerto Rican and Anglo American texts and imagery. Reading Mohr should involve the consideration of multiple literary and cultural traditions (inherited through the U.S. colonial project) which she both relies on and resis ts. Her diverse perspective offers reinterpretations of certain myths of childhood (present both in Puerto Rican and Anglo American culture) which iconography : onc e upon a time, imagined wonderlands, secret gardens. Her focus on studies by offering alternate readings of the American dream t he lure of the Island and the representa tion of minority children in literature. In particular, reading Mohr should cause us to reconsider vital questions within the for example: worl ds and adult worlds? El Bronx Remembered and Nilda the works I address here is organized around a discourse of political orphanhood and adoption which probes at notions of child subjectivity. She co ntributes to an literature studies about the idealization of children as innocent others. 4 4 Marah Gubar discusses the Artful Dodgers: (2009). Popular notions of children as innocents, perhaps, can be traced to the Romantic Movement and Romantic poets such as William Words worth. the so th century England continued and perhaps even cemented childhood as a cultural construction The Case of Peter Pan began a dialogue about children as ldren. room for child agency. The displaced child that I underline and the child of nature share similarities, in that, both feature children within a co nstruct of an idealized, rural past. However, the biggest difference
102 agency and self authorship within their postcolonial realities. These children, born in the USA, oppose the displaced child type used by writers such as Belpr and Molnar, a model depending on the Island as a fixed point of origin that essentially banishes Diaspora children from U.S. society. Instead, Mohr presents her child characters as cast off, nation less children or orphans contending for their right to a place (or adoption) within the U.S. imaginary. This view will, in later chapters, contrast with writers like Judith Ortz Cofer who present children as neither displaced children nor as adopted children, but as a third Between Some critics, such as Barbara Roche Rico 5 Rico rightly argues that Mohr, one of the first U.S. Latina authors, has received relative critical silence when compared to other Latina writers such as Sandra Cisneros or Julia Alvarez (3). With th e exception of critics such as Roche Rico, Lisa Snchez Gonzlez or Eugene Mohr, literary discussions of Mohr are dominated by interviews and book reviews within education and library journals touting the importance of multicultural education. 6 These sour ces often feature Mohr as containing the stories/histories and ideal form of literature within them. That is, author s are on a search to draw out the narratives that are already within children, as opposed to filling them with literature. Also, the displaced child contains the tools to resist colonial ideologies, however, must do so in a way that always lead him/her bac k to the homeland. 5 Roche Frontiers Vol. 28, No. 3 (2007) 160 178. 6 School Library Journal in which he interviews Mohr along with Lawrence Yep and Bruce Brooks. He also Roni Natov and Geraldine DeLuca also The Lion a nd the Unicorn Vol. 11, No. 1, June 1987. Myra Reading Teacher Vol. 45, No.2, October 1991. Mohr has also published a variety of essays on the autobiographical connections in her writing, however, she often re
103 a kind of interpreter of her own work, suggesting a tendency to view her writing as 7 rather than as narratives contributing aesthetically and historically to U.S. fiction. Roche Rico consideration and places unrealistic expectations on her work by those looking for 1). Even Mohr has said that only two of her works, Felita (1979) and Going Home (1986), were meant for children, literature, something she has discussed within the context of ce nsorship. Mohr implies from an adult readership and publishing it as juvenile fiction, Mohr suggests, may serve way there is not even the possibility of conf rontation. And, those enjoying such eminence and affluence need have no fear that the literature of the people of color will in any way impinge or threaten their well ts celebrating diversity and U.S. multiculturalism evades her unsettling accounts of U.S. colonialism. civil rights multicultural 90) both published in The Americas Review. 7 I purposely draw a reference here to Piri Thomas since Mohr herself has said that publishers were writes that publishers
104 movement suggests a stifling of her political critique on U.S. co lonial relations. However, platform for subaltern resistance employed by U.S. Puerto Ricans since the n. C is a political medium that has shaped how dominant and minority cultures imagine childhood and, within my study, how these cultures imagine the development of their narrative histories. Mohr has expressed frustration with in a 1999 essay titled The New Advocate Mohr did not exist Chil literature form s part of function as a kind of theory which I apply to h er texts. I focus on what I see as her appropriations and reinterpretations of Puerto Rican folklore and Anglo, Golden Age El Bronx Remembered challenges the concept of folklore and displaced children within he r creation of a kind of urban folklore for U.S. Puerto Ricans. This folklore develops the concept of childhood as a Nilda as incorporating The Sec ret Garden (1911) a text loaded with tension in terms of exile and postcolonial relationships. 8 Though n o one has studied this connection between Burnett 8 My use of the term postcolonial when referring to the U.S. Puerto Rico relationship by no means implies that Puerto Rico is post colony, since the Island remains a colony o f the United States. Rather, I employ it to denote the relationship and consequences after colonization. Puerto Rico has always, sadly, never been a sovereign nation.
105 treatment of this classic, and its central image of the garden can illuminate our understanding of how Nilda imagines her position in the world. Reinterpreting Golden Age texts allows for a discussion of the differences between the socio economic (e.g. class and sp ace) and political make form a narrative about the Diaspora in which I view Mohr as a rgu ing for 9 within the U.S. literary landscape Cuentos de Mama y de Hada 10 : Urban Folklore and R emnants of Island Lore in El Bronx Remembered A notable shift occurs between the 1920 1930s Spanish Harlem Renaissance which I proposed in my previous c hapter and what Snchez Gonzlez calls a 1960s representing the Diaspora. Writers like Mohr and Piri Thomas argue more explicitly against racial injustice and employ, as Snchez Gonz lez inherited a dialogue of resistance from earlier writers employing less traditional mediums, such as storyteller Belpr or newspaper columnist Jesus Coln (103). As a self narrative discourses representing U.S., European, Latin American, and indigenous Island cultures. Her diverse narrative perspective functio ns as a kind of collage of cultural difference; for example, she frames Nilda with a poem by Spanish poet 9 From The Secret Garden 10
106 Frederico Garca Lorca, organizes Nilda as a kind of Euro American bildungsroman but, as Roche Rico suggests, also includes elements of Latin America n magical realism (170). Nilda U.S. groups of color ( Snchez Gonzlez 106). Many scholars, including Snchez Gonzlez Pilar Bellver Saz, and Roche Rico focus on how Mohr an d other U.S. Puerto Rican writers such as Thomas and Esmeralda Santiago revise the b ildungsroman but rather as a contradictory and flexible situation in which characters not only ca n, but must create new models of social agency in order to situate themselves more Snchez Gonzlez 106). Given pe rhaps kunstlerroman better describes her narratives of development; however, a may perpetuate Euro American trad itions beyond bildungsroman Island folklore. Island folklore, in particular, can represent elitist, pro Spaniard standards that govern the Puerto Rican national canon. Flor Pieiro de Rivera in Un Siglo de Literatura Infantil Puertorriquea / A Century (1987), published by El Editorial de la Universidad time guardian of national culture, 11 identifies Belpr and Mohr as the firs t and second generation of Diaspora 11 El Editorial has been a key player within some of the debates about representing Puerto Rican culture, both in the U.S. and on the Island. For example, the press recently accepted English manuscripts for strict adherence to only Spanish language text as
107 ever, Pieiro makes a distinction between Belpr and Mohr: The first generation of writers found its inspiration in memories of the folklore, the scenery, the history and personal experiences of the Puerto Rico of its childhood. The second generation base s its writings on memories not of the island, but of the Hispanic areas where its life is rooted. This present generation is interested in social problems, searching for new structures to replace the depressing conditions of the Barrio. (42) Pieiro also h comparison to her four page analysis on Belpr, Pieiro includes only a paragraph on Mohr, listing only Nilda and El Bronx Remembered. There is an element of authenticity within these two texts which Pieiro endorses as Puerto Rican, though not in the same way she sanctions Belpr. Using an Island paradigm (commitment to Spanish, focus on national culture, landsca pes, and customs etc.) as a guideline for authentic Puerto many Diaspora writers, 12 within her discussion. She attempts to unite Belpr to a canon of authentic Isla nd literature, something Belpr desired, but has difficulty placing Mohr. The limited visibility within Island literature, coupled with the minimal impact of U.S. Puerto Rican literature on the U.S. canon, designates Diaspora texts within a kind Beyond Borders: American Literature and Postcolonial Theory (2003). 12 The exc lusion of Diaspora voices from the U.S. and Island canons is an important argument within Puerto Rican studies scholarship, and one that I do not wish to discuss in detail within this chapter. I believe this situation has influenced the trope of orphan hoo
108 of orphan category of literature. 13 Mohr assesses this orphanhood within her perspective of the U.S. Puerto Rican predicament, calling herself, and Puerto Ricans, in family and l adoptive parent relationship, Mohr contends, which portrays Puerto Rico as a child, specifically an orphaned child that Americans adopted Puerto Rico, it is not a real country. So, am I supposed to be forever grateful because someone adopted us and took us in? The Spaniards first and the mi this sense of political orphanhood, presenting Puerto Ricans as legitimate, U.S. heirs. She offers the Diaspora child a new folk culture that locates Diaspora characters w ithin in the U.S. metropolis. Texts like El Bronx Remembered present a radical reimagining of U.S. Puerto Rican history. I read El Bronx as the literary presentation of a new folk culture complete with characters, landscapes, and moral lessons, which resists the Spain centered, academic sanctioned, Island folklore which Belpr believed best represented the resistance by purporting that migrant children were not culturally de prived, Island folklore contains its share of racial, classist, and linguistic prejudices. The racial and class hierarchies of the Spaniard, the Negro, and the indigenous Taino, the lower status 13 The problems with placing U.S. Puerto Rican literature within both Island and U.S. canons is a long standing dilemma within Puerto Rican studies (see Juan Flores, Efran Barradas, Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez).
109 of woman, and the Romanticization of the Spanish settlers, ar e all problematic elements within retold folktales like Perez and Martina (1932) For example, Martina rejects and mocks each of her native Spanish, favoring the Spanish employment at the New 14 folklore, through storytelling and texts, were available to children like Mohr within the 1940s 1950s Spanish Harlem and South Bronx libraries. Yet, although she affirms that Mohr emphasizes storytelling as ritual and strategy for survival within migrant homes: uld say, 'Don't lose hope, sit back and relax, and I'll tell you a story.' Our family would gather around the storyteller, fascinated by the ancient folk tale or modern adventure. Our problems and burdens began to seem lighter, and life appeared promising. originated stories. Such family tales may even center on the daily struggles with prejudice and poverty in the city, ser ving perhaps a similar function as the traditional folk tale in terms of cultural transference. Some examples of family Felita locating to a wealthier neighborhood, Felita seems inconsolable when a group of white children up hemline: 14 Mohr, Nicholasa. Growing up in the Sanctuary of My Imagination (1994)
110 (55). When Felita turns down her offer, Abuelita then urges Felita to tell her story. Felita recounts her trauma into a site of magical myth making. Folklore for Mohr, then, combines the urban experiences of the migrant community with a sense of magic. When she writes that the library books and popular culture portrayals such as West Side Story did not contain representations of her community, Mohr underlines the absence of the everyday Barrio heroes and heroines from the U.S. imaginary: Where were my mother and aunt? All those valiant woman who left Puerto Rico out of necessity, for the most part by themselves bringing small children to a cold and hostile city. They came with thousands of others, driven out by poverty, ill equipped with little educa tion and no knowledge of my heroes. When I looked for role models that symbolized strength, when I looked for subjects to paint and stories to write, I had only to look to my own. And my source was boundless, my folklore rich and the work to be In this passage, Mohr essentially argues for rewriting U.S. Puerto Rican lore from the bottom up. If the Puerto Rican Diaspora consisted of some of the poorest, working class Islanders, why should they inherit a folklore celebrating Spanish classism? Instead, the
111 unlikely hero and heroines of the Diaspora, mainly women and children, would form the ives. In El Bronx Remembered, narratives such as fairy tales and folktales within her piercing commentary of urban life. The collection of short stories reframes the Diaspora community as a group with es tablished U.S. roots. Her dedication to El Bronx unites the text to a myth of assoc iates herself with a matriarchy of storytellers (the Mamis and Abuelitas) capable of magic and fantasy which, as I will show with respect to El Bronx and Nilda can stil l function within stories of urban violence and injustice, though not without its share of interruptions. She prefaces the collection with a short narrative on U.S. Puerto Rican history for those unfamiliar with Puerto Rican New York which may include U.S. readers designates these stories as the heritage of a long standing U.S. community, countering those who might view an influx of Puerto Rican narratives 15 into U.S. fiction as a sudden occurrence. It is significant that, in recapping and remapping U.S. Puerto Rican history, Mohr weaves in folkloric tropes which transform the epoch, landscape, and people grou ps of this U.S. culture. For example, she contrasts basic information about Puerto Ricans 15 litera ry landscape, did it occur to anyone to speak of a Puerto Rican literature emanating from life in this history of Puerto Rican literature in the U.S., bot h in English and Spanish.
112 of and space. This is a story where humble villagers, instead of setting off for th eir quest on foot, board airplanes and ships to reach their promised land. Mohr also locates the promised the post World War era of economic and political advancement that, arguably, catapulted the U.S. into a dominant world power. Mohr situates the Diaspora com munity period of progress, post World War II. The elements of myth and nostalgia at work in her rant El Bronx understanding that they are meeting a generation of people which has since passed, frozen within a time of great optimism. Mohr also outlines a new landscape whi Rather than cafetal plants or tropical rainforests, Mohr introduces the reader to the urban spaces of El Barrio and El Bronx within New York, a city with a level of notorie ty and expectation rivaling any fantasy land. Mohr explains how areas like the South Bronx with Hispanicized names is reminiscent of the old conquistadors who acquired an d
113 renamed land in the name of their native country. However, as Mohr emphasizes, only subjectivity rather than dominance. Mainstream readers, some for the first time, must gr By imagining Puerto Rican characters within U.S. soil, Mohr radically presents the concept of a Puerto Rican America. El Bronx in particular features Mohr sketches of characters and caricatures of the types and personalities one mig ht encounter in 1940s 1950s Puerto Rican New York. The heroes of this folk culture are working class, urban city dwellers as opposed to the rural jbaros and animals with Spanish alliances. Mohr allows read ers a window into the life of characters such as Graciela Fernandez in and Alice i characters never found before in U.S. fiction. It is also significant that these characters, as Snchez Gonzlez vern 16 Mohr uphold the U.S. Puerto Rican community as its own culture with its own customs and language. heroines navigate their child protagonists confront identity confusion, they are not children in perpetual limbo. 16 Sanchez person direct or indirect discourse and third (107). It is in teresting that c the speech patterns and colloquialisms of the Diaspora community within her fiction, citing it as improper grammar and usage.
114 Diaspora children, instead, vie for a place within U.S. cul ture, and at times challenge ethnicity and color when she decides to stand in line wi th her Jewish friend, Mildred. El Bronx r, the ex ample, Belpr New York City. The only remedy for such feelings of displacement within the displaced child model is a return (either literally or artistically) to the Island. Instead, Mohr views marginality coincides within concepts of na tionhood and global community. 17 Within this metaphor of spacelessness or shelflessness a displaced child visibility within an imagined global narrative if they are without nation and without a representative book. The children, like their nation, are orpha ned from the world of 17 As mentioned in the previous ch apter, within the 19 th century, fairy tales and folklore increasingly became part of library catalogues in Europe and Latin America as a reflection of nationalism. After two subsequent World Wars, 20 th century trends in fairy and folklore and nationalism t ook on another level of patriotism. 20 th projects of Anne Carroll Moore reflect this connection between national character and folklore. (See Jack Literature, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling (2009).
115 in the margins, but to transform their subjugated spaces into productive arenas through self authorship and artistry. In fact, as I show fur ther in Nilda, marginality functions as a training ground that develops the child into an artistic and poetic (even prophetic) figure, a concept that will develop through later chapters. Marginality as the substance of creativity and defiance coincides wit relegate the post e an unprecedented source of creative Mohr also distinguishes herself from other writers like Jesus Coln or Belpr by highlighting Diaspora children as pioneers alongside adults in her stories. In the preface, Mohr identifies the daily inte ractions of children as prominent, if not the most prominent, locations of cultural exchanges within migrant and immigrant communities: can actually serve as an argument for how these Diaspora children, along with immigrant children, experience greater consequences (e.g. identity confusion, humiliation) than adults as a result of migration. In addition to adult governed realms, such as the among competing immigrant groups within child governed realms, such as on the continually reminds Yvette that she is stand ing in the wrong line, police some of the societal boundaries within the school and neighborhood.
116 Roche to a shared mythology contrasts with immigrant or American Dream mythologies in that ins tead of of the American Dream, that is American expansionism through colonizati on. Also, desire to unite U.S. Puerto Ricans with U.S. national mythology. El Bronx, then, presents a kind urban folklore which inverts some of classic folkloric and mythological structures such as class and gender hierarchies, heroes, landscapes, etc. Anglo and Island readers have come to expect from this tradition. she sarcastica expose an underbelly of urban life that does not, as Belpr and the NYPL did, draw the curtain on war, death, and poverty. 18 Mohr exposes societal turmoil from the domestic realm 18 Eugene Mohr in The Nuyorican Experience problematic assumptions that her texts are somehow innocent or not as gritty as her male contemporaries such as Piri Thomas. Approaching works like El Bronx as encouraged the quality of criticism juve has, it is because of the prejudices that have surro
117 of exposing hypocrisy within agents of socialization such as the school and the nation, El Bronx is a tale in which Mohr ushers readers into a world where it is not uncommon for children to encounter a dead body during play time. The familiar folkloric ph rase frames a story rhyme contributes a playful though eerie quality to the nar rhymes seems to invite readers to look behind a shroud of simplicity and innocence gave me a smack, I gave her one back / Bouncey, bounce varying in her degree of street smarts, recites a different rhyme as she takes a turn aps signifying that these are typical preservation she exhibits in the story. The third girl, who maintains complete composure when the girls stumble upon the body, recites a rhyme that hi nts at her past experiences with violence and death:
118 the story, recites the most confirmation / On the Day of Decoration / Just before my graduation. One, two, three a Memorial Day), which may prevent her from processing the brutality of the scene the girls later encounter. For example, while the other two girls alternate between thinking the man is dead and a sleep, the second girl never diverts from the illusion that he is and tied with a di scourse of American patriotism during the war. The patriotic words, score critiques which a reader cannot assess without breaking from an idealist view of children as innoc remarkable access not just to the adult world, but the underworld of gang and street life; this is exemplified by the facility with which the girls, a candy s world. As they observe the body, the girls stand in a dark hallway which may represent
119 the societal darkness of urban life encroaching on these children. In order to comprehend t trying to make things out. After a while, their eyes adjusted to the dark and he became to the a bnormal sight of a dead body. The adjustment (or maturation) happens only after prolonged exposure to societal darkness which seems both unjust and inevitable. with death. By the end, the girls revert into a kind of childlike reasoning, deciding that baby found a dime/ The dime turned red/And the baby fell down dead! (67) Like William Blake 19 before her, Mohr highlights innocence and experience as inseparable, Nature literature studies and which enforces a distinct barrier between adulthood and childhood, usually understood to be innocence (Gubar 5). Though usually discussed within the context of 19 th work, I believe this paradigm still drives much of our discussions of childhood and 19 Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789). Blake chose to depict children within two sides of life which he referred to as inno cence and experience. Images of innocence in these poems depicted children within more rural, spiritual settings, while experience portrayed children suffering from the decays of society such as poverty and abandonment. I believe, Blake, perhaps more than other Romantic writers demonstrates innocence and experience, light and darkness, as sort of two halves of the same coin.
120 children within the field, whether we pr e scribe to it or not. However, here, precocity or s interaction with societal maladies does not have to result in ruin or Diaspora children pass from innocence into experience and back again it is innocence in the face o f experience (5). Within El Bronx, Mohr also dispels some of the mystique surrounding the image of the Island jbaro, arguably, the most prevalent metaphor and symbol of Puerto Rican Gibaro (1849), as well as fundamental articulations of national character such Antonio S. Insularismo: Ensayos Sobre el Caracter Puertorriqueo (1926) revolve around the mythical jbaro, a kind of Puerto Rican Adam. As the emblem for the Partido Popular, the Democratic, pro Commonwealth party in Puerto Rico, the jbaro continues to thrive as a modern articulation of national, political ideology. 20 Accompanied by symbols of rural life (straw hat, bohio, hen, and machete), jbaro folktales su ch as the Juan Bobo (Simple John) tales included by Belpr in her repertoire 21 feature the innocent farmer partaking within a type of sinless, abundant paradise. By sinless, I imply The Rainbow Colored Horse (1978) present jbar os like Tano enjoying the beautiful landscape as he plays his quarto with the intense poverty in rural Puerto Rico the lack of education, food distribution, and income produced by Spanish and U.S. colonization which propelled the Diaspora never interru pt ing farm life. The Island represents an Eden untouched by the kind of societal darkness so prevalent in 20 emblem for the party features the silhouette of the jbaro. 21 (1962)
121 22 reflects the jbaro type in his inability to acclimate to city life and his desire to reclaim his pet hen in Puerto Rico. Considering the prominence of jbaro mythology within Puerto Rican national typology, like anti Santiago or anti jbaro tales demonstrating the devastation awaiting city dwellers who cling to the jbaro myth. premise: Gracie la Fernandez, a Diaspora mother desperate to feed her family, nearly Joncrofo, a Hispanicized pronunciation of 1940s film actress, Joan Crawford, represents the rural Isla nd fantasy which Mr. and Mrs. Fernandez and their five children cherish as continue s feeding it (the hen/the dream) even though it never lays an egg (materializes). Joncrofo symbolizes the fantasy, and absurdity, of returning to an idyllic Island past: a coddled, sterile hen eating cockroaches along the floor of a New York tenement. Jonc rofo is also an anachronism representing the impossibility of maintaining a national identity based on the Island of old in the contemporary U.S. metropolis. Through Mr. disillusionmen t which many working class migrants experienced as hard work failed to reward the sacrifice of leaving the homeland: k. 22 Belpre, Pura. Santiago. (1969)
122 in Puerto Rico a big one! Wi th lots of land, maybe a hundred acres, and a more Mr. Fernandez imagines Joncrofo, a symbol of the migrant dream of returning to jbaro roots, as confine d within the U.S. metropolis, but liberated within the Island. The hen acts almost as an extension of the family itself; it represents a piece of the family they strive to become after sharing in the American Dream. However, once Mrs. Fernandez begins ref it was hard to his cold, and her children a full plate of rice with chicken. This silly hen was really no use ali brutality within rural farm life which rarely enters the jibaro fantasies. Interestingly, Mrs. idyllic Island past is suddenly ruptured by images of survival; without productivity, the hens on an actual Island farm were not coddle d as pets, but prepared as food. As Mrs. Fernandez begins preparations to kill the hen, she still worries about disturbing the innocence of her city
123 ied to find their mother twirling the hen by the her mother slaughter animals for foo emphasizes a type of violence and basic survival within the rural farm for which city children are unprepared something perhaps even more horrifying than their exposure to drugs or gangs. However, after Joncrofo survi ves the attack, Mrs. Fernandez decides The children leave the kitchen and Mrs. F ernandez places a traumatized Joncrofo under a golden sky and the flowers were Though Mrs. Fernandez, in the face of her children, struggles to give up the the Island fantasy which cripples migrants between two impossible dre ams the American and the Puerto Rican. The theme of Island fantasies and attachments as example, Uncle Claudio, as his nieces and nephews recount, returns to Puerto Rico s hortly after his arrival because he cannot give up the social status he enjoyed on the m,
124 the same outfit he arrived in, pictures Uncle Claudio as the epitome of Puerto Rican ale blue tie, white shoes, and a very pale beige, wide masculinity contrasts with a kind emasculation perceived by the children in an earlier scene when Uncle Claudio, stating his reasons for wanting to retur of an Island boy, Little Ray, who dies as a result of the terrible New York winter which he seems biologically incapable of withstanding. Little Ra y never learns English, in fact (he tells the children the Island has stricter code o f conduct for children) yet, as readers, we know he will not go on with the next generation of Diaspora children (28). His inability to acclimate, both linguistically and physically, to his new environment makes him weak and prone to disease, costing him h is life. Little Ray is also a kind of fantasy child in that his close association with the Island, like Joncrofo, inches him closer to his death in El Bronx. His kindness and manners, possibly associated with his Island upbringing, cause the children to se his coffin, seemingly the only fate in El Bronx for such a child (35). In the narratives of Joncrofo, Uncle Claudio, and Little Ray, Mohr implies a generational shift. A new culture had formed which w as no longer displaced and not this new culture and its heroes as a competing Puerto Rican mythology resists the myths of the Island though it is not without its share of romanticism; even the title El
125 Bronx Remembered hints at a sense of nostalgia and loss within this portrait of a generation. However, in Nilda, separate existence from the Island, and an experienc e deserving a rightful place in U.S. letters, addresses the silences apart from Island literature, directing her critique toward Anglo literature. becomes even more compl ex when analy zing her decision to transpose Nilda with a lik e The Secret Garden. Barrios Wonderlands and Secret Gardens My study of U.S. Puerto Rican literature examines, in part, how Puerto Rican and Dias pora childhood portrayals react to Anglo narratives of childhood, especially since Anglo narratives have been central within contemporary studies of U.S. childhood and conten tion within U.S. literature requires the inclusion of narratives representing varying ethnicity. Critics should also consider that those childhood narratives by authors representing U.S. colonial history may mimic Anglo narratives as a means of subversion. 23 For example, in Nilda, Mohr sought to create the first Puerto Rican child protagonist in U.S. literature, but in doing so I believe she is responding to classic Anglo end) who locates a secret world which provides her with a sense of purpose and The Secret Garden and, in varying degrees, 23 The Location of Culture (1994) about the how subjugated cultures incorporate elements of a dominant culture within their practices and ritual. This re presents difference and that difference is the location of contention (125).
126 in Wonderland (1865) enables Mohr to highlight the unique experiences of Diaspora children while also locating Nilda Ramirez within a familiar literary world populated by or spaces ; however, the privileging of an underdog child hero (a child who overcom es all odds to gain success) occurs more commonly in North American than Latin American literature. As Ann Gonzalez writes, trickster characters are prominent within Latin America (as seen in Belpr igures are socially Canada within this motif as a result of colonial relations] is an indivi dual who, against the odds, achieves success, defined in terms of the American Dream, through p Interestingly, Nilda, reflecting an interwoven discourse of colonialism, incorporates trickster (through the private fantasies Nilda forms around her oppressive environm ent). American culture; she is not simply an extension of a Latin American nationality.
127 expe Curious, Nilda went towards it and started to push her way through. Struggling, she pushed away the bushes with her arms and legs and stepped into an opening of yards and y within the confines of a six room tenement (she shares the space with eight other family members including an infant) or within inner city classrooms that restrict her on m ultiple levels (e.g. physically, linguistically, creatively), but the secret garden is a welcome moment of relief at the center of the tale for both Nilda and the reader. For E. Mohr, Nilda a central image within the novel, also links Nilda with Golden Age typology an d a critique of empire. Humphrey Carpenter asserts the importance of garden imagery The Secret Garden des cribes and celebrates the central symbol [the garden] of the Arcadian movement in 24 garden as a symbol of adult desire for utopia a return to a paradise lost. Howeve r, apart from the tradition of garden imagery within literature concerning womanhood and childhood, Phillips emphasizes The Secret Garden as a powerful commentary on 24 This is really the only moment where Carpenter discusses The Secret Garden although the entire The Arcadian movement, for Carpenter, refers to an unprecedented celebration of ch ildhood innocence in 19 th century English literature which gave rise to the Garden, Winnie the Pooh, etc.).
128 po imperialism (343). By blowback, Phillips refers to the unsettling of domestic British ers Mary Lennox, who experience identity confusion while attempting to find a place within retation of the consequences of U.S. Empire, this time for the children of Puerto Rican Diaspora. Like Belpr in this case, wild, unwanted seeds. The garden scenes also conta characters share similar interests with their Anglo compatriots, she presents them as developing in fundamentally different ways. As Snchez Gonzlez faced with oppressive structures of power that continually interrupt her world and rough a postcolonial Nilda as a study in difference from the ways and a child reative space within the actual world. The garden scene suggests a splitting of the novel into two sections (Nilda, before the
129 realm. Pre and creativity ; it is not a physical sp ace but a state of mind. Readers filter the story cutouts, paper, and crayons that she keep s under her bed, exemplifies her ability to began to divide the space, adding color and making different size forms. Her picture began to take shape and she lost herself in a wo rld of magic achieved with some forms, lines, and color. She finished her picture feeling that she had completed a voyage all by this strategy of coloring around and r eshaping disturbing situations, as when she imagines pricking Mrs. Heinz, a social worker who humiliates Nilda and her mother over Mrs. Heinz. She imagines M ow she is all gone. Disappeared, just like that! Poor as a tangible experience which she conjures during moments of transition and loss, Nilda also shows her cousin, Claudia, a drawing of the garden, and the trail leading to it, at the very end of the novel. This moment cements the
130 garden as representative of an actual place of purpose and opportunity beyond simple fantasy and the constrict ing social conditions of the Barrio (Mohr 292). Mohr emphasizes child agency through creativity and imagination, suggesting that Diaspora children can and must transform subjugated spaces into what Snchez Gonzlez ver, Nilda envisions this space as a kind of proactive, self fashioned wonderland. If Nilda is going to experience a journey into a fantasy realm, she must take charge of the experience, drawing her wonderland over and around the actual world as a kind of graffiti. 25 summer heat. Jacinto and some of the other men break open a city hydrant, creating a momentary oasis for adults and children. Some chi ldren even wear bathing suits or jump into the water naked, a moment that Nilda sees as transforming the street into a 8). This sense of Nilda drawing over and around the actual world contrasts with Anglo texts such as The Secret Garden secret, magical spaces as happening with relative ease. Though fantasy realms may the child and the reader general ly experience an uninterrupted voyage into the other world with clear boundaries between the magical and actual, such as a garden door, a rabbit 25 158). I believe this coincides with he r presentation of the
131 hole, or a wardrobe. In The Secret Garden, for instance, Mary Lennox finds the key to the secret garden and tak inside the wonderful garden and she could come through the door under the ivy any Dickon, the central c hild characters, spend several uninterrupted hours within the garden as if it were their own private kingdom. Mary actually considers the garden her to who m she allows entrance. Colin, the master of Misselthwaite Ma Pevensie siblings remain within their magical spaces over several episodes, awakening from a dream or walking out of the wardrobe at the end of the tale. 26 Additionally, like Mary and Colin, Alice and the Pevensie children are portrayed as conquering the fantasy worlds they encounter (e.g. Alice is crowned Queen in Looking Glass World, the Pevensie children are the Kings and Queens of ability to subdue the magical world that a prolonged wonderland experience, where a child quickly accesses a portal and persists within a secret space for a long period in the text signals luxury and even imperialistic entitlement. Phillips h Empire in India and her characterization of lower class areas of England such as 26 See Carroll and C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia
132 ition as an Anglo Indian, I suggest class politics have also figured into the child and adult spaces in contrast to Mohr. Gubar has argued that Golden Age authors like Burn ett thought of children as much more socialized and connected to the adult world than has been suggested (5). 27 to construct child characters that were intellectually and culturally on par with adults an d separate child space or to maintain a barrier between adult and child worlds depends Nilda as imagining, dreaming, and living differently from an Anglo c hild; this impacts the construction of a secret world, particularly with regards to space and time. El Bronx, Nilda contains none of the nurseries or playrooms prevalent in classics like Peter Pan or Mary Poppins. 28 space ; her home experiences several additions and losses in family members as the story progress. Nilda must give up her room to both her aunt and later her b 27 Separation between the adult and the child is an important point of contention within children studies. 28 Clearly, this is with regard to time, in terms of the 19 th century rise of childhood and the notion of children having a separate world from adults, however, with regard to race and class, it is still relevant that children in Ang class distinction.
1 33 missed her bed and her room, especially her window. Her own bed used to be by the window and she could look and see the sky anytime she wanted. She missed the priva ad shapes and colors in the concrete lead her to a gruesome discovery: The different shapes of the worn out surfaces of concrete and asphalt developed before her eyes into dragons, animals, oceans, and planets of the universe. She continued looking for the new and wonderful worlds that lay hidden underneath the concrete. Nilda was completely absorbed when she saw tiny red dots all about the same size of a dime. She bent down to exa mine the shiny surface and as his stomach. His light blue shirt was streaked with crimson and his hands were drenched in blood. His face twisted in pain, he looked at Nilda, his dark eyes pleading for help. (36) Ni moment of innocence suggesting a deeper reality: transforming blood, shed in violence, El Bronx, f childhood as an equal relationship between innocence and experience, never a forfeiting of one over the other. Recalling El Bronx would be slaying by telling the children that the hen had a moment of madness a
134 neys into a dream must occur between interludes of city noise, adult reprimands, and violence. e reader Snchez Gonzlez consid experiences at an Irish Catholic charities camp, a free summer camp for Puerto Rican and other minority children. As Nilda and the children board the train to the camp, signs of t the unfamiliar landscape of upstate New York: White churches with pointed steeples. Barns and weather vanes. Neat patches of grass and flowers. It reminded her of the mo Hardy pictures, she almost said out loud. In those movies Mickey Rooney and his whole family were always so happy. They lived in a whole house all for themselves. She started thinking about all those houses that so swiftly passed by the train window. Families and kids, problems that always had happy endings. A whole mess of happiness, she thought, just laid out there (Mohr 9) Andy Hardy films, and the image of Nilda en looking out of the train window at a world apart from the inner city, also probes at the class and racial division which literally color a Diaspora sees on the movie scre en or outside the train window, not to the children heading for
135 the charity camp. over her face as ev images of alienation and humiliation. Continuing the trend of orphanhood, the scene where the campers line up to receive their nightly meal from the nuns resonates with Oliver Twist complete with a serving of gruel. Nilda and the other female campers fall whimpering comi ng from the other cots woke her, but each time she closed her eyes, intermitt ent dreaming also occurs during another episode in which she imagines we could bu s much in the same way that Nilda does, by editing out the interruptions (54). More than mere escapism, 29 serves as a critique of the social order, protocol, customs, and mythology of the actual, 29 Secret Gardens, Carpenter implies that a desire to escape the childhood death rates, u ncertain political conditions, and overly religious instruction d. Gubar has recently
136 governing Wonderland by i nviting the reader into one of the most notorious and marginalized U.S. underground world which pokes fun at the sometimes nonsensical politics of order, particularly within the U.S. Puerto Rico colonial relationship. B ecause many critics treat Nilda as an autobiography, they miss the experimental and satirical aspects of the text. Mohr evokes this descent into the Barrio during a scene where Nilda walks home during her lunch hou r and must pass through a series of dark, urine invested tunnels on Park off very little light. Nilda squinted her eyes as she stood at the entrance trying to see inside year old Nilda, who sometimes sings in the tunnels, already has an awareness of crime and keeps her money in her shoes, advice from her brother who through within upper New York society, represented by Park Avenue, a symbol of New York 30 containing both words and pictures, also enabl Nilda Burnett, mainly by claiming that Golden Age authors did not separate children from the adult world. 30 which is really an irony since she started out as a graphic artist.
137 words to express the essence of the characters and to make a statement about their illustration, pictu res a mangled mess of Barrio residents (women, men, and children) government and the C atholic Church. A row of Barrio buildings are sketched in the daydreaming, presumab those of Inside this Barrio underground, readers engage with a series of caricatures and y highlights that, for Diaspora children, anyone from adults to children, Puerto Rican or teacher, Mrs. Reilly, and Olga, a young girl from Spain, both ridicule Puerto R ican she really has no one to provide her with direction or validity.
138 represent a project of internal colonialism within U.S. education. Mrs. Langhorn is a thieves: her classroom of U.S. Puerto Rican children. Mrs. Langhorn lectures against what she perce hone st. H O N E S T She was a short plumpish woman close to si xty years of age. Her thinning grey hair was cut short and done up in a tight permanent wave. She had a fitting dresses she wore were made of a crepe materials, usually dark in color, and most had stains that years of dry cleaning had permanently set into the fabric. Her bosom caved in and her stomach extended out. She always wore low heeled shoes in need of a shine. (51) reader to see the she is the antithesis Mrs. Langhorn, a caricature of the U.S. education system, seeks to impart children with idealist notions o f U.S. progress, history, and the American Dream. Mohr, through Mrs. Langhorn, highlights the impossibility of this dream particularly since this idealist vision offers no place for children who look and speak like Nilda. Mrs. Langhorn lectures Nilda and t
139 was developed from a wild primitive forest into a civilized nation. Where would we all be today Langhorn implies that she perceives the children (thieves) as challenges to American im perialism, making her instruction part of the civilizing process. Like a cartoon villain, through her lectures but, further symbolizing the imperial project, through violent force orn speaking Spanish within the classroom. skin broke and the knuckles swelled; her hands stayed sore all day and hurt for a long time. This was especially upsetting to Nilda when she looked forward to working on her a of the rules as well as the opposition she must endure in creating her secret place. models at Nilda represents strategies for confronting and pushing past injust ice. Spanish, within Mrs. Lan g
140 renders Puerto Rican parents as void within the criteria for raising good Americans. Without proper parentage, the children are, in a sense, wards of the state in need of proper upbringing m ade possible only through the U.S. school system. ining Latin American heritage. Mrs. Reilly, the Spanish teacher, teaches the children Spanish Latin America culture (213 Castilian, the real Spanish; I am determined that this is what we shall lear n and speak in of a teacher speaking with an American accent while demanding that her students e better. However, you must practice and stop speaking that dialect you speak at home; it is not helping underlines the burden of children like Nilda who, as colonized individua ls searching for
141 identity and place, negotiate between varying sets of nonsensical, cultural standards established by the colonizer. Like a mad tea party of sorts, Nilda and the other U.S. Puerto Rican children are incapable of performing the standards for a place as proper Americans or Latin Americans. Nilda and the children, like Alice, are left with no space at the metaphorical table. ch for a space within U.S. culture. Nilda wonderland; it is also a symbolic place of exploration and dialogue, within the U.S., for Diaspora voices. Mo scattering within the concept of Diaspora. While Belpr speaks to planting a harvest, Mohr speaks to cultivating something already planted creating an intriguing connection between these w done by Belpr and the older generation of U.S. Puerto Ricans? Like her desire to build procl aiming the U.S. as a new point of origin outside of the Island paradigm. R oche Rico scattering geographical and cultural dispersion; it is also a sowing a propagation of new forms, new opportunities for artistic expression and cultural exchange Puerto Ricans migrating from the Island and those born stateside; however, unlike Belpr Mohr interprets this difference as a gain and not a loss. Belpr hoped Diaspora children would foster a love for Puerto Rico which would eventually return them to their
142 homeland. However, Mohr claims the U.S. as the homeland, and through her narratives, holds her homeland accountable for its parentage of Diaspora children. she attempts to c first vision of her garden a lso connects her to a memory reflecting her own ambiguous national identity. She remembers the roses of India, a country which she left for her generation memory of the Island also reflects a sense that she is distanc ing herself from one country (Puerto Rico) in order to pursue another (the U.S.). Considering The Secret Garden as a critique on returning to the homeland after Empire, Mohr inverts the traditional narrative of the homeland. In Puerto Rican literature, the homeland is usually the Island, yet Mohr memory of national foliage and landscape, which she associates with ideas of belonging and place, and a memor y carrying her to the end of the text, happens not on the Island, push the overgrown branches and shrubs in order to behold The Secret Garden,
143 almost synonymous with social and geographical order (e.g. Chinatown, Little Italy, and Spanish Harlem). She is not American enough for the Mrs. Langhorns of the city and Reillys who demand distinct cultural boundaries from children in terms of national identity. The parallel between these two texts enables Mohr to liken Nilda to Mary by placing Nilda within the role of orphan. The child orphan, as Phillips writes, may ac orphanhood, however, is specifically a political orphanhood a child without a nation to c laim her as its own. Perhaps, Mohr desires readers to see Nilda as Mary, who before begun to wonder why she had never seemed to belong to anyone even when her father and mother had been alive. Other children seemed to belong to their fathers and Once in the garden, Nilda finds a sense of order and belonging that proved impossible within the city. In upstate New York, Nilda experiences the kind of spiritual renewal and healing that Mary, Colin, and Dickon enjoy in the English countryside. Moh r and CUTED (Mohr 154). Furthermore, Nilda models this belonging within the garden through a
144 ook off her socks and sneakers, and dug her feet into the earth like the roots of the shrubs. Shutting her eyes, Nilda sat there for a long time, eyes closed, feeling a sense of pure happiness; no one had given her anything or spoken to her. The happiness was inside, a new feeling, and although it was intense, Nilda societal boundaries wh ich would render her and her community mute and nonexistent. Nilda positions herself as an American rose, growing wildly in a scattered garden which, though ignored and perhaps unwanted, continues to form part of the New York landscape. Once again, there i s something about marginality that somehow privileges of her new life. It is Nilda, the orphaned Diaspora child, who finds the secret garden and then leads two other female campers into the secret space. She leads the two girls up branches out the offering them, inviting the girls into the garden, Nilda offers the garden as a platform for d ialogue and the three girls in the garden (each girl blending into the other, arms outstretched,
145 playing, and a rose at the feet of each girl) further emphasizes Nild American little girl. Upon returning to the Barrio, Nilda uses the garden as a point of reference; it is the evidence that a productive, nurturing place where she can thrive r face and, for a moment, she remembered the camp, the trails, her garden, and the silence. That is (168). a Garden o f Multiculturalism ake action. When Mr. request reveals her desire to beautify and remake the unwanted garden. Mr. Craven ). Through Nilda and texts like El Bronx Mohr essentially makes a similar request of the U.S. temporarily; however, she claims the feelings and creative energies sparked by the garden for the remainder of her life. Toward the end of the novel, reader s gain a greater the garden an d the gift ask her daughter a thought into
146 ike nd I to have something 31 It is also significant that the novel ends with a scene in which Nilda shows her drawings of the garden to her cousin, Claudia. the garden suggests that Nilda has already found the tools she can use for demystifying an oppressive social order in the United States and succ essfully reconceptualizing finding the tools, I believe Mohr wishes for readers to see the path as an invitation. They too can develop the creative strategies necessary fo r surviving in a hostile environment. 31 Virginia Woolf
147 preservation of the soul. In the Lorca poem, thi to maintain childlike innocence even within depressing conditions. Artistry and creativity ing to survival. Survival is realized not by passively accepting social restrictions, but by carving out opportunities from what one is given. girls at the camp, can fo llow Nilda into her secret garden, partaking in a cultural perspective radically different from their own. In fact, by the end of the novel, readers listening to her story o f heart break and resistance. Perhaps, this sense of gaining insider knowledge 32 into another culture, particularly subaltern cultures, is the most admirable, democratic promise of onzalez writes, seems to offer greater access into the mentality and ideology of subaltern groups. 33 However, Mohr also offers a kind of cautionary tale against the uncritical, optimistic spirit of post civil rights multiculturalism. I say this because her work has yet to receive the kind of critical attention of other ethnic writers. Instead, we have looked to Mohr as a kind of cultural guide and her texts as works testifying to ghetto life. Some of her original 32 Theory into Practice, 38 (3), 120 129. culture of origin would posse 33 Citing Gayatri Spivak and John Beverly respectively, Gonzalez argues that though critics have argued that would carry any sort of authority or meaning for us without altering the relations of power/knowledge Clearly, peripheral groups find even they can and do speak to each other and to their children (who are even more marginalized than they are), often through oral storytelling, myths, and legends 4 5 ).
148 reviewers saw Nilda 34 However, i t seems critics have done little more than celebrate Mohr as a voice hardship appraisal i ivileged though not excusive Rico writes that Mohr, like many female --and the indifference, apathy, or antagonism of early reviewers by d evising their own polemics, Growing Up in the Sanctuary of My Imagination (1994) as the beginning for how to understand Mohr. It is easy speaking to the importance of diversity and pluralism within the U.S. However, critics have turned a blind eye toward specificity within an optimist vision of multiculturalism in which a Puerto Rican rose scattered in the U.S. land scape is just another ethnic rose. Critics have missed the specific ways in which Mohr holds U.S. ideology accountable for its imperialism and its promises of democracy and pluralism to the colonized. The n so important in my study demonstrates this desire for pluralism and inclusion ; however, the organization of that equal ghettoization. In this chapter, I have argue should shift away from her autobiography and toward her art toward the experimental and provocative 34 The first quote, from the School Library Journal the second, from the Amsterdam News (1973) both cited on the cover on the first edition of Nilda
149 portraits within fictions like El Bronx Remembered and Nilda. I have argued that we can aesthetic practices by studying her appropriations of to study Mohr as an imp limits our ability to examine many writers who have used children literature and culture as a me ans of experience and resistance. Nicholasa Mohr is the child whom Belpr sought. She grew up in the Barrio where Belpr began her planting of Island folklore as a way of harvesting Puerto Rican identity within Diaspora children. Yet, Mohr did not recognize herself in Island folklore or in the her experimental fiction, asserts a new U.S. identity by advocating a new folk culture and creating, for the first time a Diaspora heroine, an exceptional child, who defeats 35 her own secret garden. The concept of the Diaspora child as an exceptional, poetic child within a training ground of marginality and linguistic and cultural diversity will be explored in the coming chapters. 35
150 CHAPTER 4 THE LETTER OF THE DAY IS : A GIRL NAMED MARIA, A wooden casita, built over an abandoned lot in East Harlem foregrounds an icon child viewers by 1 The casitas, rural Island dwell ings sandwiched by modern skyscrapers, exemplify a pattern within the art of the Puerto Rican Diaspora: the building of a structure whether imaginative, physical, or, in this chapter linguistic over a U.S. given. Big Bird among the casitas also 2 approach, and imposition, toward U.S. culture imprints and bends the dominant culture in the Sesame Street universe, particularly since Workshop 3 the producers of Sesame Street Maria gave a face and voice to a Diaspora community seriously underrepresented in the childre work of Pura Belpr, Nicholasa Mohr, or Judith Ortz Cofer U.S. Puerto Ricans and 4 1 Sesame Street .com. < http://www.sesamestreet.org/video_player/ /pgpv/videoplayer/0/07ee9f76 1562 11dd a62f 919b98326687/big_bird_visits_a_casita > 2 By Diaspora, I am referring to the Puerto Rican Diaspora community. 3 he Sesame Street Workshop. They have productions in at least 11 countries around their world, including Israel, Palestine, and Germany. However, I will refer to it as the CTW since many of the sources on Sesame Street refer to the group as CTW. 4 Denise Ag (1992).
151 television shows, the strong presence of Maria on Sesame Street forces a consideration address for this community. I turn to Ses ame Street at this point in my study for several reasons. Sesame Street has and continues to play a critical role in representing the multilingual lives of Diaspora and Latino/a children. contention withi Flores 5 and Eugene Mohr emphasize, is distinguished by its defiantly bilingual nature, particul arly in the post civil rights era. For example, the Nuyorican movement of the 1970s (led by poets such as Miguel Piero and Piedro Pietri) was characterized by radical experiments with language such as code switching (the interchanging between English and Spanish without translation). For Flores, language is an issue linked to identity and memory. The bilingual aspects of Diaspora art and literature, Flores languages bifurcate memories, lodged at the points where English breaks Spanish and Spanish breaks another pattern within my study : the concept of marginality as a catalyst for artistic and poetic expression. The notion of the marginal Diaspora child as poet develops further when examining the role of language, specifically the depiction of children as 5 Juan Flores, From Bomba to Hip Hop. terature. U.S. Puerto Rican discourse, as 58).
152 linguistically gifted through their manipulation of English and Spanish. However, the segregated space where books, authors, librarians, and awards are contained by ethnic labels, making multilingual and transnational perspectives difficult to categorize. For Spanish words and phrases, she limits code switching given her relationship to her (Rodriquez 93). Here, Mohr implies that performance seemingly transcends certain limits within literature. My reading of Maria and language pedagogy by which I mean focuses on this relationship betwe en performance (e.g. miming, music, theatre) and language. Like the casitas, Sesame Street presents Spanish as difficult to ignore since it has augmented the structure of official English. Bilingual characters like Maria and Luis collide with a variety of characters and cultures. Maria personifies bilingualism as a communicative gift which can benefit everyone on the Street. She is particularly intriguing in that, unlike Belpr both performative and literal Clare Bradford writes, reflects the language related power struggles of colonial societies, 6 such as naming and ordering territories, this kind of language 6 In Unsettling Narrative (2007), Clare Bradford dedicates a chapter to language and the notion of Papunya School Book of Country and History
153 experimenta tion and interaction is nonexistent (Bradford 20 43). Despite its turn toward says little about the use and exchange of foreign languages, and even less about Spanish, 7 My aim here is to examine what happens when languages mix and how Sesame Street sometimes enables exchanges like non translated dialogue and segments completely in Spanish. Languages do not exist behind borders, an idea t hat bilingual books tend to enforce when, apart from a literal line drawn on the page, foreign words are managed by either translating them or providing their meanings in context. The result is a repetition of words and phrases even when representing conve rsations between native speakers. Language is central to what is sanctioned as literary and non literary which the question of access with regard to historically disad vantaged children, among them African American and U.S. Puerto Rican pre by early research and self ican community perceived as violent and impoverished a group of preschoolers which producers may have felt had more access to television than literature. Similarly, S esame Street p ortrayal of bilingualism allows for a consideration of the complex relat ionship between language and literature. In her study The Case of Peter Pan, Jacqueline Rose directs scholars to (2001), a picture book from Australia depicting the life a s egment of the lives of Aboriginals. Bradford Caribou Song: Atihko Nikamon (2001). In terms of the Caribou book, she writes about how words are glossed, giving readers enough information about a ce memory. I would say these examples still enforce monolingual discourse. (25;55) 7 (2005)
154 the transformation that occurs before language becomes literature. Language and literature are closely related, yet like the spilt layout of a bilingual book where authors do their best to tell the same story side by side to no avail, they are two different things: the question of language becomes the question of literacy, and the question of literature hands over to that of literary language ( how and what to speak, what to read and to what end?). By this almost imperceptible shift, both language and literature are released as objects of policy policy by means language an d the literature available to the child fall inside institutions which constitute them differentially and with different values and meanings at different times. (118) authors seem particularly self conscious about this transformation, perhaps be cause these texts help form our opinions of what constitutes literature. While s 8 By thinking against lite rature in um that helps us multilingualism. Yet, this is not a study in linguistics, nor is it a comprehensive study on 8 Against Li terature deology of the Literary (from dissidence, but only within the centralized power system represented by the state and a national language, which existed like the literary text itself, hould (25). Also, avenues like theatre and television feature children as participants and not only subjects (Gubar 33). I believe this is something t hat requires more attention overall.
155 these subjects. I explore what I call pedagogy of language. Maria, a representation of the U.S. Puerto Rican migrant, acts as an illustration w ithin both and take Sesame Street compel us to see is rawing on popular portrayals such as West Side Story (1955) while still opposing stereotypes of migrants languages, English and Spanish. Second, I examine the role of performance i n Sesame Street Sesame Street are interrelated to the point that the show presents performance as language and language as a performance. Maria, particularly in her performances as a mime, illustrates the Sesame Street presents pre school children with the theatrical concept of people, and their languag es, forming an ensemble. For over 40 years, this concept of ensemble has enabled Sesame Street 9 literature. 9
156 Rumble: Language as Duel and a Girl Named Maria Sesame Stree t, a pear, an chosen for the song symbolize the U.S. Anglo (domestic apple and pear) and Hispanic cu ltures (the more tropical banana and pineapple acquired through trade and colonization) which, as in a fruit bowl, are forced to live together. However, the happy compromise between fruit does not come without a fight: Apple: Hey, pear, this banana here s manzana. Banana (to the pear) : Si, Buenos dias, pera. Pear (to the banana) : What did you call me? Banana: Pera. Pineapple (to the apple and pear): But, pera is pear in Spanish. Pear: It is? Hey, who are you anyway? Apple: Pia. You sure could pass for a pineapple. Banana: Yo soy un banana? Pineapple: A ha, and man zana is the Spanish word for apple. or New York City. The banana/platano represents the Hispanic immigrant who, without knowledge of Engl ish, innocently begins speaking Spanish to his Anglo companions
157 who react in fear at the notion of having Spanish names. The pineapple represents the realizes that there is enough room for everyone in the fruit bowl; two names are better than one. The song illustrates a principle within pedagogy of language: the coexistence of languages leads to tension and compromise. To be bilingual is to participate and perhaps pacify in a battle between two languages. Languages, particularly in bilingual cultures, engage in a duel, according to Puerto Rican writer, Rosario Ferre. 10 since Queen Elizabeth sank King Fel book, Ferre suggests that languages face each other on opposite sides of the page as if on a battlefield. Here, placing languages side by side heightens a sense of rivalry rather than camaraderie something o presented as conveying the same message through equal representation; there is no consideration of the competition b etween languages. Additionally, there is a presumption that languages never interact, but stay safely confined behind the border. The result, I believe, leads to a mixed message, as illustrated in Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta an d Caesar Chavez/ Lado a Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Caesar Chavez (2009). and English narratives (separated by a black bar) telling the story. An illustration by Joe Cepeda, perhaps, attempts to 10 Rosario Ferre, Duelo de Lenguage/ Language Duel (2002). The text is a b ilingual poetry anthology.
158 unconsciously unite the narratives: Chavez and Huerta are pictured holding hands precipitate the very issues this bilingual book seeks to inspire (e.g. partnership between cultures and languages), all the while leaving the reader in the thick of a duel. Readers must east initially, since no one can read both sides simultaneously. 11 12 Sesame Street likewise admits the Muppets Telly and Rosita, interprets the division between languages as a space for dialogue. The skit begins with Telly standing in a park, a narrator (human cast member Telly looks down at his stomach, saying, he screen splits, revealing Rosita at the beach with a picnic aring her even through the dividing blue line. As the narrator continues repeating the prompts, the line between Telly (English) and Rosita (Spanish) becomes inconsequential: 11 The use of interlinear books such as the interlinear Bible translations may help remedy this situation, although I would say you still need to make a choice over which language to read. 12 This phrase is part of Sesame Street goals/learning objectives for its first season. We should remember that the show is made up from what is called the CTW model: Independent researchers that test the school children, curriculum supervisors or educators who suggest learning objectives to production, and content producers that write the scripts (Fisch and Truglio xvii).
159 Rosita: Vamos a c omer. ) Hey, Rosita, what did you just say. Spanish. Mmm, hmm. Telly: Great! ¡ Vamos a comer, Rosita! Rosita: Si, Telly! ¡Vamos a c omer! Rosita: Ay, no hay problema, Telly. You can share some of mine (pushing the sandwich to the Telly, across the blue line) Here you go ... (Telly reaches over the blue line and grabs a sandwich. Rosita and Telly both laugh) Rosita and Telly (in unison): ¡Vamos a comer! U ltimately, the skit illustrates the necessity of interaction, even between languages, in suggests that though there is a division, either side can easily cross the line. The notion of dueling languages enables us to see language as a border, but also as a weapon and even an actor. Maria is a kind of bilingual muse of communication on Sesame Street, though notions of rivalry and battle underlie her creation. Indeed, Maria is a creation of the pated in writing scripts for the character and ensemble. As a character, the 1970s, teenaged Maria provides a glimpse into how the CTW imagined the Puerto Rican and Latino community within urban America. By the time Maria arrives at Sesame Street, the Puer to Rican Diaspora had been fixed into U.S. popular culture, mainly as a source of anxiety. Puerto Rican
160 Barrio, El Bronx, and Loisada ( the Lower East Side), as Mohr affirm narratives. However, New York and Island (PR) educational officials, along with sociologists and psychologists, developed two popular labels for the Diaspora: the 13 the New York Department of Education 14 migrants with regard to economic progress and stability. The New York Public Library, under an initiative led by librarians Pura Belpr and Lillian Lopes (the Sou th Bronx Project) identified the predominantly Puerto Rican South Bronx of the 1970 80s, as needing special services due to the low education rates and poverty. 15 The consensus among psychologists and anthropologists like Dan Wakefield (1959) 16 Benjamin Mal zberg (1965) 17 U.S. culture ha d when referring to cycles of dependency within the urban poor, emerged from Oscar L La Vida 18 (1966), a study on the lives of Puerto Rican migrants in New York. 13 This phrase i s taken from a special 1955 commission by the New York Department of Education that was formed to investigate the educational patterns of Puerto Rican migrants in New York. (Nieto) 14 The New York Department of Education had an Island (PR) official on it bo ard and studies were conducted on the Island as well. 15 Oral History with Pura Belpre (Columbia University Oral History Project, 1979); NYPL files 16 Island in the City: Puerto Ricans in New York New York: Corinth, 1959 17 Mental Disease among the Puerto R ican Population in New York State, 1960 1961, Albany, NY: Research Foundation of Mental Hygiene, 1961. 18 La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family Living in th e Culture of Poverty San Juan and New York New York: Random House, 1966.
161 Researchers credited migration for every sort of malady from overpopulation to mental illness. 19 In (2006), Robert W. M La Vida U.S. prosperity and equality (33). National consciousness shifted toward targeting urban poverty and juvenile delinquency, both issues directly invoking the Puerto Rican migr ant. Like La Vida, West Side Story both the play and later the film, immortalized the Puerto Rican migrant as trapped not only in a culture of poverty, but of gang violence and social unrest. During the late 1960s, educational reformer s 20 not race, as the source of social and educational inequality (Morrow 37). Reformers, including President Lyndon Johnson, believed that early education would remedy the perceived correlati on between poverty and social mobility. Eyes turned toward the pre school child or the pre literate child who would eventually enter the public school with considerable disadvantages in comparison to more affluent (mostly white) children. The Pre School M ovement, the ideology that undergirded Sesame Street focused on educating pre school children as an avenue for social mobility and equality. Joan Cantz Cooney, the ducational programs with the newly approved medium of public television. 21 19 Benjamin Malzberg 20 Morrow empha sizes that this line of thinking was problematic as it critiqued poverty itself as opposed to the economic system. 21 The Killian Commission recommended public television in 1967.
162 As Maria sits at her window during many a show opening in the early 70s, she symbolizes the anxieties and hope for reform associated with the urban, bilingual Puerto Rican that led to programs like Sesame Street. Manzano remembers producers telling her. 22 targeted U.S. Puerto Rican children as representatives of the larger Latino community while designing curriculum and content that raised self esteem. 23 r esulted from taking fragments of a formerly negative portrait of the Puerto Rican migrant and transforming it into a positive image of productivity and mobility. Although Manzano has exercised more control over her character, it is important to remember th at producers fashioned the early Maria by drawing on images of Puerto Rican culture West Side Story 24 which, at the time, was a ubiquitous icon of Puerto Rican youth and fem ininity. I see producers as invoking West Side Story iconography in their casting Maria as a kind of beautiful peacemaker and intermediary, both roles which shape de 666, the frame closes in on Maria, dressed in her nightgown, at her fire escape, tossing her hair, holding a book, and looking dreamily at the stars. The image mirrors a pivotal 22 23 G is for Growing: Thirty Years of Sesame Street Research (2001). Researchers found that children in the Puerto Rican group were more likely to feel ashamed of the color of their skin than white, Asian, and African American children. (Fisch and Truglio71). These children also had trouble identifying the color of their skin. 24 Charles Rosen, the set designer for Sesame Street od memorialized in the Leonard Bernstein musical (Murphy 1).
163 scene in West Side Story when Maria meets Tony on her fire escape which, in turn, Romeo and Juliet 25 escape. Maria climbs down and walks down the street with David, arm in arm. Perhaps, the most outright homage to Maria com es when the Spanish, opera singer and flamingo, Placido Flamingo, falls in love with Maria while visiting the Fix escape during the night where he again sings a tune that is almost identical to 26 The camera foregrounds Placido as Maria opens her window and tells These allusions to West Side Story work in two ways with regard to language instruction. First, they associate Maria with a strong femininity (beauty, love, and romance) 27 which can endear her to children as a motherly ideal of wom anhood. In later marriage, pregnancy, delivery, and even breast feeding. 28 Maria touts feminism (taking a position on a construction crew as a response to 1970s feminism) whil e still possessing enough feminine charm to melt Oscar the Grouch (he affectionately calls 25 Playwright Andrew Laurents based West Side Story as a contemporary Romeo and Juliet. 26 27 Maria has played the love interest of both David, the loveable, African American neighbor and It Shop. 28 Maria and Luis are in Love; Baby video
164 oducers appropriate role as a trustworthy teacher which she employs when instructing children i n various subjects beyond Spanish (reading, hygiene, relationships, etc.). For example, in the skit ons on healthy eating. Maria hugs the children, examines the suggested vegetables, and gently language instructor, however, places Maria in a culturally relevant role sin ce, in Puerto Rican culture, women are often charged with conserving and teaching Spanish to Diaspora children. 29 Second, beyond underscoring the k), invoking West Side Story also introduces the darker elements of gang rivalry from the play into Sesame Street. I see both Marias as caught in a rumble: Maria travails between rival white and Puerto Rican gangs while Ma ria theory, the duel between Spanish and English is, perhaps, just another version of a knife fight. Though Sesame Street for equality, ultimately leads to a peaceful co existence between languages, this co 29 Growing Up Bilingual by Ana Celia Zentella
165 out in the streets, as in West Side Story but she will cause rivals to drop their weapons. 30 A Spanish speaking Maria, presented as a model of instruction, disarms a major stereotype perpetuated by 1950 1960s educational studies that discriminated against Puerto Rican students. As Sonia Nieto has surveyed, such studies repeatedly labe l 31 Sesame Street instead, develops the learning and not a deficiency. Migration as a result of colonialism seemingly shocked educators accustomed to a pattern of U.S. immigration in which students forsook their native languages, such as Italian or Yiddish. Researchers studying children on the Island and Stateside insisted that school performance necessitated full assimilation ( e.g. English only) into U.S. culture. Low scores and high drop out rates, according to tests and curriculum were, in some cases, deliberately discriminatory (Nieto 16). 32 Manzano herself was a product of this derisive school environment. As a Bronx high school student, Manzano painted her nails in class, while teachers spent minimal time expe 30 Scene w ith Maria where the gang members drop their guns. 31 Nieto 32 Nieto also writes that some New York City teachers went so far as to design curriculum and classroom activities ridiculing Puerto Rican culture and language (16 17). Nietro references a case study she did on
166 33 teacher re Similar to Belpr and Mohr, Manzano believes her performance intervenes on how can I contribute to a world that does some key differences between her interventions and those of Belpr or Mohr. f a rural casita and a jibraro farmer, a cultural and racial diversity and highlights a certain Roman t ization of the homeland, Street speaks t o the existence of an established community at home in the U.S.A. Perhaps due to the prominence of visual culture, Manzano has arguably been able to exercise a wider influence upon the image of Puerto Rican identity projected toward U.S. children than Mohr and Belpr combined. was one of the first, and remains one of the few, Hispanics on television. Though Sesame Street producers originated the character of Maria, Manzano be lieves her 33 Oral history with Sonia Manzano, Archive of American Television, http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/sonia manzano
167 interpretation has extended the character beyond stereotypical imaginings of Puerto Rican culture. 34 t ca rt. After discussing her desire to see more authentic pieces on culture (something writers handed Manzano the provided that she stay within the curriculum. Manzano points to her first written piece on the show during the 1980s as an example of transcending stereotypes. In the skit and biling ual song, Maria and Luis perform a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. For In Maria, children see an example of bilingual culture presented as more than just a mish mash of lang uages, but as a give and take negotiation of power. Other characters like Luis, Grover, and even Big Bird introduce Spanish words to children on the show, but Sesame Street locates Maria within symbolic settings that hint at her strengths in communication, problem solving, and literacy. Linking bilingualism with masterful communication and problem 34 Interestingly, in later years, although Maria and characters like Luis are still featured, they are not as prominent as new characters like Leela, the newest cast member, representing the Indian American community. Maria was one of the first Hispanic ch aracters on television. Maria and Luis were the first Hispanic married couple on television and are still one of the only few. Manzano has won 15 Emmys for her writing on Sesame Street.
168 presenting bilingualism as an asset. Even while sitting on her fire escape, the early Maria is often seen holding a book or reading. In her over 40 year residence on Sesame Street, a la Belpr. Maria then progressed to partnering with Luis at the Fix It Shop (a hardware and repair store) whi ch later Luis and Maria (as a married couple) converted into the Mail It Shop (a post office). Other cast members often benefit from communication skills, such as in the Sesame Street film, Follow that Bird (1985). After Big Bird is ado pted and leaves Sesame Street, it is Maria whom Big Bird entrusts with a letter for the cast. Maria calls the cast around her as she emphatically reads the letter sense for reading between the lines allows her to quickly sense his homesickness. She Big Turning the so Street its most recognizable icon. ference is exemplified in Episode 1316 from the 1979 season. The episode is also an example of Sesame Street 1980s mainly incorpor ated
169 g water 35 ) and non translated dialogue by bilingual characters (e.g. Luis tells a young, African 36 By including non translated dialogue, producers presume and reward a multilingual audience. In Episode 1316, Maria travels to her homeland of Puerto Rico for her 21 st birthday celebration. Maria and Olivia (her African American best friend) a rrive in Puerto Rico and immediately take a bus that tours them through the Island. The camera captures Puerto Rican landmarks such as San Juan del Morro and La Fortaleza, while a Spanish salsa vamped version of theme song plays in the back ground: Sesame Street, this ideal community of cultures and languages, is not a fixed place in Manhattan, but a kind of state of mind that transcends geographic borders. Inde ed, the CTW has taken its educational/cultural/linguistic philosophy around the globe by I interpret the first scene between Maria and her Island relatives as symbolic of almost ambassadorial role. As Maria and relatives embrace in a Spanish style by 37 in the distance. Maria and her family begin speaking entirely in Spanish without subtitles or translation, a gesture 35 y research that indicates words which children should recognize during pre school age. The words are usually presented in flashcards or, often on the Sesame Street, through the appearance of a word on screen. Also, as per the curriculum, Sesame Street bega n incorporating Spanish sight words in 1972 1973 season (Fisch 31). The show was accused for stereotyping Latino and Spanish by a group in New Mexico, according to Morrow, which led to their casting of bilingual characters like Maria and Luis (Morrow 155). 36 37 Pun intended. Side by side, as we have seen, can reveal anxiety about difference rather than a spirit of cooperation.
170 addi ng an element of authenticity and, once again, rewarding a U.S. audience of Spanish speakers. Maria hugs her cousin, Yamira while stretching out her arm toward z During ea hand while also clasping the hand of one of her Puerto Rican relatives. At one point, hers. Th e scene prevents the viewer from seeing the monolingual Olivia as an outsider, but also avoids any awkwardness for native Spanish speakers by allowing Maria and her relatives to speak as they would without a monolingual present. The scene also familiarizes children with the linguistic format of the show, mainly switching between t any diplomatic conversation, in order for one language to be heard, the other must fall silent. pedagogy of language touts diplomacy 38 teaching of Spanish evidences the tensions and clinking of swords between rivals, even Sesame Street began presenting a trend in pop culture spotlighting Latino/a literature. 39 38 The 2009 Annual report lists diplomacy as one of the goals within S esame Street education objectives. 39 Flores writes about the proliferation of Latino narratives after The Mambo Kings by Oscar Hijuelos won a Pultizer Prize in 1990 (167). This award made the literary world take more n otice in Latino/as readership.
171 regular skit on the show, representing time allotted for a segment dedicated only to the teaching of Spanish words and phrases. Sesame Street al so introduced a bilingual Spanish teachers; however, other characters such as the Count, Grover, and Mr. This underscores Spanish as a practical language beyond a specific ethnic minority. Sesame Street, however, opts out of teaching the Spanish alphabet, although it does teach the American Sign Language Alphabet which presents children with al ternate commitment to focusing on sameness rather than difference. The Spanish alphabet, per haps, crosses an uncomfortable line into difference considering Spanish requires particularly evidences the ruptures between minded monster, Latino boy and girl listen as Grover announces with its unfamiliar tilde, presents a challenge as it is the one Spanish letter not found in the English language. Child viewers awkwardly receive the spelling and meaning to words requiring unfamiliar letters that are enunciat ed, yet not introduced or taught. It is
172 significant that this silence happens with regard to letters the building blocks of language. Pre schoolers learn both letters and numbers as a basic code that helps them order their world. I interpret this silence as a signal that regardless of Spanish words and phrases favoring of the English alphabet positions English as the clear victor in terms of the official U.S. code. English is flavored and accented, though never ruled, by Spanish, as il although English i Sesame admission that U.S. English has been augmented (i.e. built over, embellished) by the rhythms of Spanish. Unofficial linguistic structures and intonations, like the casitas, testify to the presence and influence of Spanish within English. This carries the implication that any official English in the U.S. is a product of cultural influences, including the Hispanic. Within a duel of languages, Sesame Street navigates between speech and silence between cultural specificity and homogeneity emphasis on sameness means that sometimes language is, at times, presented in a nglish speaking pre your the message unifies, the performance relies heavily on ethnic stereotypes of Latinos
173 (i.e. Rosita and her chorus of Muppets wear fruit hats and Mexican sombreros). Th e isode 3986 (2002) with a much more culturally specific lesson about the role of language as a seeks guidance from various characters who each interpret the mysterious word. Meanings change according to the character, suggesting the subjectivity of lang uage and translation; for example, Snuffulepagus, a melancholy elephant like Muppet, e ventually take the baby bird to the Mail It Shop in hopes of using the internet for more information on Paraguay. Of course, entering the Mail It Shop means encountering resident communication superstar, Maria. As Maria helps Alan and Big B ird with the comp Eres de Paraguay ? 40 beak opens in awe upon hearing her native language. Through Maria, Big Bird, Allen, and th Fatima and got separated from her parents on a trip. Mother and father bird arrive by 40 Are you from Paraguay?
174 with a new meaning. Children are exposed to the concept that one word can mean individuals with relationship to culture and family. Word meanings are also subject to individual expression or performance. Performing Language: Rhythm is Go nna Get You duel also presents language as an actor. In my reading of Sesame Street portrayal of Spanish and th e Diaspora community, I underline two additional principles within the translated dialogue: performance is a type of language and language is a type of performance. esembles a televised musical theatre in which performance (e.g. elementary and social curriculum. Performance also frames t song consists of English and Spanish lyrics; the Spanish lyrics repeat only a key phrase in the English lyric. Howev er, the musical arrangement blurs any audible division between languages by merging the lyrics in a way that makes it seem like Bob and Luis It Shop,
175 the interchangeability of English and Spanish, yet, visually invoking a subtle subordination of Spanish as an al ternate but unofficial U.S. language. In addition to framing the relationships between languages, performance also serves as the basis for segment features Maria walking by a flo wer pot. She sees, smells, and holds the flower ll o In addition to mode of performance targets a perceived audience of pre s chool, pre literate children. The child audience is represented by child actors 41 and Mu ppets like Big Bird (who is six years old) and Elmo (who is three years old), all who depend on humans like Maria, Luis, and Bob. 42 Producers created the show as a kind o f television version of Head Start, 43 organizing production around a school readiness curriculum targeting Sesame Street could reach children outside of Head Start. 44 In ter literature studies, I think is important to note that producers interpreted illiteracy in three to five year olds as a product of socio economic disadvantage and not simply youth. A key assumption, both for Head Start and Sesame Street eng ineers, is that low income pre schoolers (especially black and Puerto Rican children) received inadequate literacy 41 Sesame Street originally solicited regular children (non actors) to assist on the show. Producer/co creater Jon Stone discusses the use of Muppets represent the child audience ( 40 Years of Sunny Day s DVD). 42 ask an adult for assistance with reading. 43 44 G is for Growing
176 within this at risk community seems to further suggest that children had greater access to television rather than literature. 45 Sesame Street actually testifies to a distinction between literacy education and literary education since it attempts to impart reading skills without using literature, something educators initially resisted and continue to resist. 46 through performance on television. However, the correlations between race, class, and access to literature suggest the importance of other mediums (e.g. musical theatre), aside from literature, with in the study of minority Performance on Sesame Street presents children with a view of reading and literacy as a practical, everyday affair. n oral history interview coincide with this notion of reading as a practical rather than academic (i.e. know that it was for reading a label or a traffic sign. What is reading good for except for adoption of this anthropological concept of the world as a readable text 47 importance while problematizing its institutional role. Performance enables the show to 45 Statistics show that children who are not read to at home are less likely to watch Sesame Street than children who do get reading instruction at home. However, low income children were more likely t o watch Sesame Street rather than more affluent children (89;134;135) 46 G is for Growing Also, some researcher speak out against television as an interference to literacy (134). 47 -Paul Ricouer
177 an audience of pre literate children with access to liter ary tools. Communicating with pre literate children requires language of mance languages and performance arts such as miming, music, and theatre. Maria also helps illustrate these alternative forms of communication. Throughout her years on Sesame Stre et, Manzano as Maria has performed the role of Charlie Chaplin in several pantomime skits. 48 In a 1974 skit teaching children about exits, Maria/Chaplin finds herself trapped in a room. She walks into walls, banging her head, seemingly ignorant 49 are heard yelling, stressing the importance of reading. Yet, Maria/Chaplin, continuing to ignore the sign, opts for walking through the wall as he sh ow as masterful communicator, I find it very telling that she, rather than another Sesame Street Chaplin work s in two ways with regard to language: First, merging Maria with Chaplin 48 Ex 49 Morrow writes that Sesame Street show and then use these voices for production. The voiceovers were another way of representing the child viewer as part of the show (102 103).
178 (an i con 50 for silent performance) reframes her multilingual skills, this time, as extending beyond merely speech which, in turn, posits language as a performance. Second, by the of performance as a means of subverting traditional literacy and literary constructs. story, or an object (animate or inanimate). The mime is a relevant image within lang uage, childhood, and postcolonial theory. For example, Walter Benjamin writes that language is a manifestation of what he sees as 51 Language emerges from the miming of sounds and utterances which cr at being a shopke Bhaba emphasizes mimicry as an expression of resistance, in that, miming never produces an exact replica but always suggests a slight difference. In view of these This language, independent of sound or text, seems possible only in performance and 50 51 Benjamin writes that script also incorporates mimetic modes of behavior, although in less ephemeral ways.
179 allows for individual difference universalism and specificity. 52 simultaneously furthers the concept of a silent, universal language while promoting individuality. The skit helps children explore 53 Maria/Chaplin walks adjusting her mustac he and suit, suddenly seeing a slight variation in the mirror. Her the show). Like Maria, Linda demonstrates linguistic diversity on Sesame Street through her use of Am erican Sign Language. Portraying Maria and Linda as reflections of each other highlights their common role as performers who regularly communicate with the audience using alternative linguistic symbols. Together, Maria/Chaplin and Linda/Chaplin posit langu age as a system apart from the literal and the audible. Indeed, it is a system where the performer and the symbol are one. Interestingly, Sesame Street through silence. 54 The pairing draws out the subversive qualities of mimicry, since from conformists. After a few moments of mimicking each other, Maria/Chaplin turns to the camera and mouths 52 Episode 1032 53 Many theorists including Michel Foucault, Mikail Bakhtin, and Jacques Lacan analyze the formation of human subjectivity as predicat ed on language and dialogical relationships. 54 during Mari Chaplinesque skits.
180 For pr e other in speed hat falls to the floor. The two Chaplins in the mirror project a powerful image which discovery of o back forms part of a friendly competition fostering non conformity where the objective is to usurp the mirror th both Chaplins standing arm in arm as they look into the camera, each pointing toward a tool for resistance by challenging the conc 55 is a lesson on narrative patterns and sequences, such as logical outcomes in a story plot. The comedic performances of Gordon, the science teacher, playing the role scenario encounters what seems like one disastrous circumstance after another. In order to 55 Episode 2407, July 26, 1988
181 and Maria/Chaplin. He is seemingly safe in his game show studio while Maria/Chaplin, walking i n a park with a stack of newspapers, seems unaware of her position as a character governed by an audience or script. In the first scenario, Maria/Chaplin walks through the park as she tucks her newspapers and cane under her arms. Yet, as Gordon begins to s ing the theme song, she suddenly freezes with one foot suspended en audience 56 Maria/Chaplin slips and falls backward, her facial expressions revealing a sense of suspicion. She stands up slowly, still hurting from the fall, as Gordon introduces the that the bench has only one two doomed by the scripted s cenario. As she begins preparing to sit and read her newspapers, Gordon begins swaying and smiling as the ominous theme song begins playing. In mid squat, Maria/Chaplin once again seems suspended in action as the 56 Again, these voices could come from Sesame Street the show. This misfortune and rebellion.
182 Instantly, the bench comes apart as Maria/Chaplin falls with her stack of newspapers to the delight of Gordon and the audience. She remains on the floor this time, looking into sounds of thunder in the distance. She freezes as Gordon begins swaying to the tune. scenarios, Maria/Chaplin quick ly unfreezes and begins rising from the ground, shakes her head at the audience. She is a character in rebellion about to usurp the plot lasso e Interestingly, it is only when Gor pouring into his game show studio. performance. Literature (the script), represented by Gordon as the host, is portrayed as a sourc e of predictable, stifling control while performance (the mime), represented by Maria/Chaplin, wins the ultimate favor of the audience through its playfully subversive a brought about the storm, suggesting the power of audible and written language for creating and ordering circumstances. 57 In this skit, power was initially assigned to 57
183 Gordon. His use of language allowed him control of the script, the narrative, the audienc e, and the character. However, mimicry and silent performance allow Maria/Chaplin 58 to thrive using a language discernible only to the audience, though not to the literature reliant Gordon. Like Belp r p erforma nce enables Maria/Chaplin to gain power by outsmarting the stagnant rules of literature. The script continues, affecting only Gordon, even when the character has managed to perform her way out of the plot, resulting in shouts of victory from the audience. In the end, Maria/Chaplin clicks her heels together and dances out of the commenting on the place of the multilingual within a monolingual society. To speak Spanish in a predominately English language society, to e nnunciate Spanish words and letters where there have only ever been English ones, to switch from English to Spanish and back wit hin and without 59 Sesame Street. Sesame Street miming audible language as analogous to singing a so ng, dancing with a rhythm, or playing an instrument. Episode 4046 (2003) and Episode 3901 (2000) emphasize the musicality of speech by presenting speech as an activity similar to singing. They also 58 Curs kisses from a beautiful princess. Grover reads the sto ry which dictates the action of the actors, though they sometimes forget to do as Grover says, which angers Grover tremendously. In the end, the actors G rover alone with his book. 59
184 suggest musical sounds and rhythms as infectious. In a mus ical theatre format, Episode 4046 features the intermingling of speech and song. These musical intonations arise there is something in the air why, he also has a sudden urge to sing. Gabi residents. Even a group of sheep chime in by contr chorus. Episode 3901 unites singing and speaking as one and the same by introducing children to the mechanics of opera. Big Bird persuades residents to completely forgo sings the contents of his menu, and Gordon s against the annoying habit of singing instead of speaking. Yet, Elmo responds to Oscar Before long, and much to his outrage, Oscar unwillingly begins mimicking the notes in the song even as he enunciates his protests. Elmo leaves with the children while a dumbfounded Oscar remains unable to speak without singing. In both examples, singing
185 intonations. Also, anyone can sing because sounds and rhythms are transmittable even to those who may resist. 60 help illustrate how Sesame Street blends the musicality of s peech, music, and language instruction. At dusk, Maria and Luis sit on the famous Sesame Street stoop with a group of multiracial children. luciernaga. Can you say that? Luccc ie rrrr several times, asking each of the children to repeat the word. One of the boys, into the came copying the sound at home. Continuing the theme of music as infectious, Telly asks Baby Bear i f he wants to leave so they can continue looking for the fire fly, yet, a r 60 Episode 4165 (2008)
186 learns the proper pronunciation and meaning of the word. within Episode 3917 (200 1). The episode features, among other things, the previously mentioned salsa with Elmo walking down Sesame Street in pursuit of a catchy rhythm he hears, but cannot identify. The audible trail leads him to Maria and Luis, who are teaching Gaby the new dance, so Ma 2 3 2 3, 1 2 and dances the beat, suggesting the transferability of this new rhythm through mimicking speech (i.e. soun d of the beat) and movement (i.e. silent performance). Once he has mastered some of the steps, Elmo begins his search for a salsa partner for enticing 2 3 rhythm and recommends that Elmo E the modified counts of E E E. As suggested earlier, a salsa dancing letter illustrates how Spanish can and has modified the English language, in this case, with Puerto Rican intonations and rhythms. Moreover, this example portrays English letters as music al notes that have been augmented to the extent that they have been incorporated into another cadence. Equating letters with musical notes, again, links the
187 concept of language with performance, particularly language as performance. As in a song or dance, language requires the mimicking of sounds (or notes) and gestures. Mimicking movements and sounds is presented as something anyone can do (i.e. Elmo invites the viewer to da 2 3, 1 2 3. Or like the E E, E E Ensemble: There is a Place for Us 61 The interrelationships of performance, language, miming, and music promoted on Sesame Street has implications in terms of th e incorporation of foreign languages like Spanish into U.S. society. These interrelationships underline the tension involved when interacting in a multilingual society. The notion of language as music frames linguistic diversity within a theatrical metapho r. Languages, like instruments, form an ensemble interrelationships, I want to emphasize (particularly in my interest, rhythms a ssociated with Puerto Rico like salsa 62 ) as coincides with early casting of Maria as a beautiful and perhaps, beguiling, arbitrator between Puerto Rican an d U.S. culture. Sesame Street further demonstrate the 61 West Side Story 62 Salsa has its origins in Puerto Rico and Cuba though it is traditionally cons idered a dance from Puerto Rico.
188 least two Sesame Street episodes. On the show, Puente acts as type of Puerto Rican pied piper; his beats enrapture the cast and the child extras as they all dance and sing Timb emphasizes music, and in turn language, as charming even the most resistant bigot: Oscar : Whoa, hold it. Who are you and what are you doing? Puente: My name is T.P. Tito Puente. And I was about to start my band and play a number. Oscar: Oh, yeah. Well, my name is Oscar the Grouch and I was about to start a Grouchketeer meeting here. So, I sug gest you and your little band here go play somewhere else. Oscar: Is your music lively and does it have a nice catchy rhythm that people love to dance to? Pue nte: It sure does. Puente: Hey, wait a minute, Mr. Oscar. I have a feeling we could get even Grouches like you to dance to our kind of music? Oscar: Oh, yeah! Puente: (defiantly) Si. Yeah. (sarcastically, to the camera) You know, I think this might be fun to watch. Puente (to the band): Arriba muchachos!
189 As Puente begins playing, the Grouchketeers (children dressed like Oscar) 63 are the first group to st art dancing, perhaps suggesting the malleability of children with they are ashamed to do in front of their leader. For shame, each grouch ducks into their respective tras h can. The camera later catches them swaying behind Puente. Losing his resistance, Oscar begins unconsciously tapping his fingers to the beat. The tapping turns into full dancing and swaying and Oscar also hides in his trash can. Puente continues playing t he drums as the children gather around him. His music ultimately makes the reclusive Oscar leave the safety of his trash can, a notable circumstance for regular viewers. Oscar dances frenetically in front of the drums; his movements are depicted as uncontr once again, banging notions about sound and rhythm with regard to language. In terms of the democratic, pluralistic nature of Sesame Street, s exposure to the music melted his harsh exterior and he not only listened but took part in its performance. This coincides with the As Maria advises the Muppet Lu Lu, who refuses 63 Since Oscar lives in his life in a trash can, the Grouchketeers don tin, trash can lids on their heads and green t shirts.
190 64 gestures toward the notion of U.S. like the salsa dancing letters, illustrates the fluidity of language and culture. Languag e and culture are moldable, performable aspects of everyday life. Anyone, even a Grouch, can incorporate the sounds and cadences found in Puerto Rican culture. However, emphasizing linguistic/musical rhythms as uncontrollable and seductive suggests a probl ematic exoticization of Puerto Rican culture. Yet, regardless of imperfections, the show boldly accepts the early days, Sesame Street displays a raw, ex perimental quality (in the ensemble of performances, writing, and producing featuring people from diverse cultural and show displays in managing rivals (such as samen ess and difference and English and Spanish) and switching codes (such as silence and speech) does not compromise its vision of peace. T he ary world in terms of access as well as racial and linguistic representation. First, children who may never read books like The Secret Garden, Perez and Martina, or Nilda watch Sesame Street. Many children and adults, U.S. Puerto Rican or otherwise, will Maria. The case of Sesame Street is one that highlights the gap between literature and minority 64 Episode 3920 (2001)
191 communities constructed either through ambiguity, scarcity, or indifference projected from both sid es. A s much as authors like Belpr and Mohr contribute to an ongoing of print, undersold titles and the lack of critical interest tells another story. Although Belpr is the namesake of a literary award, the literary world (scholars, educators, booksellers) has historically been indifferent to U.S. Puerto Rican writers. Yet, as creative artists, Belpr, Mohr, and Manzano are united by a common project to represent Pue rto Rican culture as rich and varied. These women all underline the importance of building given (e.g. the education system and literary establishment) which foster cu ltural pride. Librarian and storyteller Belpr began a pattern of going outside the schools and texts by implementing storytelling programs and puppet shows within the U.S. Puerto Rican community around New York. Likewise, Mohr highlights the importance of the library and art as a means of filling in the gaps left by the New York City school system. Mohr also creates characters that draw and build over the racist and stifling environments they encounter by transforming marginalized spaces into thriving, cre ative training grounds. Manzano, through her performance as Maria, illustrates the U.S. Puerto Rican established linguistic codes. She emphasizes the role of educating childre n on cultural and linguistic differences before even entering the school system. Manzano also Nilda, even making a world outside the lines. Sesame
192 Maria, as a personification of bilingualism, maneuvers in and out of languages, rules, and artistic forms. adherence to Spanish has complicated their represe ntation in predominantly monolingual literary market. However, Sesame Street limitations of traditional U.S. dialogical relationships (e.g. English only). Remaining outside the literary and inhabiting a world constructed through performance supports the 65 contexts as non translated dialogue. Spanish is not a foreign language to children who ar e still learning the basics of communication and literacy, such as letters and numbers. Third, performance on Sesame Street portrays English and Spanish as a colliding and mixing much in the same way that children might experience in their communities. Eng lish and Spanish are performances introduce children to the concept of language as a performance, much ng language as a mimicking of sounds and gestures removes language from the realm of inherent linguistic codes and into the realm of transferring and molding language, perhaps even creating new, unofficial languages. 65 Switching Strategies by Lat Yo Yo Boing literature tends to s upport notions of child socialization and enforces the language of the State. This is not a monolingual one.
193 Finally, the notion of ensemble sever al characters and languages simultaneously performing for an audience, posits the greatest challenge to the literary world. Within the Sesame Street universe, since languages are presented as a product of the people who speak them, individuals are also pre sented in the context of ensemble. Episode 1056 and prompts children to choose the out of features Maria, David, Gordon, Susan, Mr. Hooper, Luis, Olivia, and Bob surrounded by a group of children and G ladys (a cow Muppet). The song begins and the camera pans because, you see, we (pointing to cast and the children) are all people and Gladys is equality that were so prominent during the civil and post civil rights. The 1960s 1970s 66 67 Sesame Street universe. Fa ith in these ideologies, and in the malleability of children, critiques by quickl 66 duction of a Beloved Community: An swer to th and 19 th century Christian movements, however, she credits Dr. Martin Luther King for pronouncing the conce pt during his civil rights work. She believes Sesame Street best illustrates the concept (7). 67 was used to refer to set of public programs with regard to poverty and equality.
194 world. I have said that this ghettoization has contributed to the sense that a type of child, culture, or language can register as non existent without a properly labeled national or ethnic identity. What Sesame Street do) is present children in the context of a group of players all playing a part on the same As a performer and script writer, Manzano believes her presence on Sesame Street helps counteract the stereotypical portrayals of Puerto Rican and Latinos in U.S. society. According to Manzano, outside of Sesame Street she was offered roles where auditions before Sesame Street and, today, when she does audition for another role, she still gets offered the part of Latina soccer mom that now has a catering business because she used to be Her role on Sesame Street, objects to those who would present Puerto Rican and Latino culture as stagnant, d and Sesame Street portrayal of Spanish as well as the role of historic, bilingual characters like Maria. My
195 analysis provides a context in which we can examine the complexities of language and priority within the next chapter on children as translators.
196 CHAPTER 5 DITH ORTZ COFER AND THE RISE OF THE B ETWEEN CHILD In Greater America: Our Latest Colonial Possessions ( 1900 ) the unknown author claims to have witnessed Islanders perform ing an impromp tu poetry and music session for U.S. soldiers during the first Fourth of July celebration Consider ing the early date, t he p erform ers presumably spoke and sang in Spanish which suggest s that the meaning of such songs and poems for U.S. soldiers either positive or nega tive was lost in translation O f this performance, t he author writes, (43). inhabitants throughout th is early text make it easy to disregard this statement as sim ply another caricature. Yet, it is difficult to disregard the continual references by U.S. Puerto Rican writers to poetry as an essential practice of the community Greater description of the first Fourth of July overlaps with t he tense and varied relationship among notions of poetry, translation, and protest described within U.S. Puerto Rican Pura Belpr once said She touts poetry and storytelling as form s of or al culture integral to Latino/as in 1930s New York. 1 The Spanish poet and lover of Borinquen, Juan Ramn Jimnez, declare s Reading poetry only served to unlock th 1 Oral History with Pura Belpr, interviewed and transcribed by Lillian Lopes. Belpr discusses the emergence of the U.S. Puerto Rican community with regards to organization in addition to the NYPL such as La Liga Puertorriquea an
197 2 Representing the 1960s Nuyorican movement, writer and poet Piri novel, Nilda (1973) creates a gifted child character the 21 st century, poet and prose writer Judith Ortz Cofer intensifies this correlation between Puerto Rican childhood and poetry, so much so that for Ortz Cofer a bicultural, bilingual lifestyle is itself an act of poetry. From Jim nez to O rtz Cofer references to poetry seem linked to writers about t he cultural work of literature and the arts, even the tensions between oral and literary culture. T he title poet 3 refers to the task of the creative writer, verse writer and performer, a nd artist. Yet, Puerto Ri can and U.S. Puerto Rican narratives, as the products of a bilingual culture, also emphasize poetry as the arduous and imperfect task of the translator. T his chapter, in part, explore s h ow poetry within U.S. Puerto R ican and Puerto g is closely associated with notions of hybridity or translation, and colonial resistance. Poetry is purported to be a form which convey s the hustle and a l ife in constant transit and linguistic exchange. represent s the high value assigned to language in this culture along with the conception of language as a performable, fluid practice. As in Belp r storytell ing, the poet represents a figure outside the literary establishment who 2 iding in Puerto Rico during his later years. He became active in creating a tradition of poetry for children on the Island and decided to be buried in Puerto Rico. 3 These authors seem to reflect a construction of poetry that is similar to Sir Phillip Sidn should never be censored since it had the potential to encourage morality within the public. He used the refer to various kinds of literature and artistic roles. However, it is clear that U.S. Puerto Rican writers seem interested in the oral component of poetry (the sounds and switches
198 empowers el pueblo Poetry is also characterized as a state of being ( ) and as a practice of breaking and arranging languages in a way that helps one survive in the present Ort z Cofer marks a progression in how earlier authors view ed children in relationship with literature and art as an expression of the past and future She casts the poet as a kind of interpreter o f the present. Rather than leading the way to a perfect, Promised Land, the poet helps others thrive in the moment withou t casting a blind eye Within th is narrative, children are often characterized as these ideal poets/interp reters Adults covet youth for its perceived adaptability to constant flux Adults, unlike children, are ostensibly less equipped to hustle words which are likened to stolen treasure. They need children in order to function in the present. We have seen m any character s within the U.S. Puerto Rican narrative, such as the trickster, the underdog, the displaced child, and the Diaspora child. However, the ideal child character emerging from contemporary narrative s is a third hybrid child who acts as a bridge between past and present generations. This Between child resists the typical romantic conception of children since this child character is linked to deviancy and violent resistance against the colonizer a s Ortz Cofer demonstrate s 4 Far from the days of Belpr trickery and civil disobedience, Ortz Cofer shows how Between children 4 C hildren as gifted with language, and as natural born poets has often been discussed in terms of British Romanticism and poets like William Wordsworth and William Blake. Joseph Child Poets and the Poetry of the Playground or the spontaneous poem s children create during recreational activities. Educational researcher Morag Kind of Music: Children research. Richard Flynn (2006) also argues for recovering poetry as a kind of lost discourse for American school children
199 making something new out of it. 5 She characterizes this child as a little hustler and thief. She demonstrates how this poet translator negotiates among nations, generations, and languages Yet Ortz Cofer never upholds the work of these utopia Ortz Cofer own upbringing and edu cation represents postmodern Puerto Rican identity: born on the Island, raised in Patterson, New Jersey, educated in the southern United States, the Island, and England, and now a tenured professor in Georgia. Ortz Cofer disrupts the traditional immigrant /migrant plot since her characters Ortz Cofer work highlight s an ongoing narrative of Puerto Rican writers/artists yearning for a unified cultural and literary legacy Every major provided at least a glimpse of th is character yet Ortz Cofer fleshes out this deviant figure and exemplifies i ts capacity for creative and political revolution. Through a discussi on of poetry as a kind of metaphor for bilingual culture, this chapter marks the development of th is Between child character ; a ch aracter which fosters a comparative conversation between Island and Mainland Puerto Ricans. F aith in the ability to literally speak for el pueblo drives 5 Walte r Benjamin, whose work on translation I engage with in this essay, writes about how children even those things adults may no longer see as attractive or produced in play, materials of widely differing kinds in a new, intuitive relationship. Children thus prod Cofer characterization of the Between knowing the value of these things, make someth ing different out of what was taken. However, Ortiz Cofer depicts children as stealing things that are prized (although perhaps taken for granted) precisely because they are items of wealth. Also, Ortiz guage as much as fighting back with it. It is a much more aggressive image of youth.
200 th is narrative about children who stand in the gaps between divisive national identities. I trace th is devel opment by focus ing on t wo qualiti es associated with the Between child poetic interventions: betweenness and translation. F irst, I concentrate on the notion of and its relationship to poetry tracing it back to the Island Pi eiro de Rivera and poet Juan Ramn Jim work on how Ortz Cofer portrait of poetic hybrid children reacts to and against Jim nez. She appears to draw on the concept of trasladar a Spanish / and the concept of interpretar creative license for those translating. The not ion of t ranslation as a creative though imperfect practice, as theorists like Walter Benjamin have also suggested d emonstrates its capacity for resistance, such as when Ortz Cofer pictures poetry as Third, continuing m y discussion of the role of translator as interpreter, I focus on how Ortz Cofer depiction of children interpreting for adults coincides with the work of Pura Belpr and Nicholasa Mohr political critiques Moreover, Ortz Cofer take on c hild ren as interpreters extends She suggests that, l U.S. P uerto Rican narratives have 6 pro po sing the creation of new Englishes. 6 critique reaches across Euro American boundaries.
201 Ortz Cofer destabilizes the traditional organiza tional binaries of Puerto Rican literature and culture, particularly when Ortz Cofer born in the U.S., yet Ortz Cofer s p e a k s o f a i n d e p e n d e n t o f g e o g r a p h i c a l b o u n d a r i e s dysfunctions Her desire to merge cultures and literatures has been met with its share of critiques. 7 However, Ortz Cofer participat es within a narrative, begun before her, by writers fixated on the child the Island, and the path of for a dialogue between U.S. and Island identities, even if that space seems more like a gaping wound. the same bibliographies as Island ones. The section s that follow place Ortz C ofer portrayal of the novels Call Me Mara (2004) and The Line of the Sun (1991) in conversation with Jimnez, Belpr, Mohr, and Manzano 7 For one, Lisa S anchez Gonzalez has read Ortiz The Line of the Sun recreational re Although Sanch ez Gonzalez focuses her critique on The Line of the Sun, she indicates in a citation that she believes that the Ortiz project with the intentions of revisiting and reinterpreting the past. Sanchez Gonzalez writers about Ortiz Gonzalez seems to consider Ortiz es Ortiz Cofer as writing assimilationist narratives. However, I am more interested in Ortiz controversial. Specifically, Sanchez Gonzalez believes Ortiz assimilation that validate the dominant culture.
202 Jimnez Ortz Cofer and the Poetic Discourse of Betweenness Preciosa seras sin bandera / sin laures/ ni glorias/ Preciosa te llaman los hijos de la libertad. ( Precious you will be with out flag/without laurels/ even without glory/ Precious is what you are called by the children of liberty. ) Preciosa, Rafael Hernandez (1947) Carmen Fayonville identifies Ortz Cofer by postcolonial theorist Homi Bhabha (131). Bhabha narrates that is skeptical of cultural totalization, of notions of identity which depend for their 8 A third identity beyond the center and exclusionary binaries (i.e. Puerto Ric an or American) a h a specifies, is a ttractive Puerto Rican Studies scholar Juan Flores uses the above passage by Bhabha ans in the From Bomba to Hip Hop 55). For my purpose of examining the little figure of I Judith Ortz Cofer 8 Rutherford, Jonathan. 1990. The Third Space. Interview with Homi Bhabha. In: Ders. (Hg): Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 207 221.
203 without fear and confusion as to where I belonged I belong to Women in the Line of the Sun 108). Traveling along a bridge, walking a tight rope, entering in and out of a door; all these descriptions -Ort z Cofer Manzano, and ly emphasize Puerto Rican youth as a state of betweenness. Recalling Manzano and view of bilingual culture Ortz Cofer conceives of betweenness as a necessary advantage rather than a handicap. The bridge seem to operate outside the locations of exile, creating its own position and culture Moreover, Ortz Cofer suggests that life in the between necessitates a literature of liminality which provides a place to stand in the gap. Ortz Cofer by a child protagonist Mara tells readers in Call Me Maria a link in the bridge, a knot on the tightrope. T hough not the first, Ortz Cofer is perhaps the most fluent and cr itical writer on the experience of betweenness in Puerto Rican culture. Betweenness is, in many ways, eaders. As a poet, Ortz Cofer furthers this discourse of betweenness by drawing on its original language poetry. Betweenness, specifically childhood betweenness, is an integral theme within Puerto Rican literature; moreover, betweenness is part of the f from the Island to the mainland. Though Island and U.S. academics tend to categorize
204 literature where, similar to Ort z Cofer one side to the other Maybe even to linger in this state of transit This invitation traces back to deep of recovery where children represent hop Un (1987). A theoretical text meant as a bibliographic introduction, Un Siglo evidences catalogue a distinct Puerto Rican rese relationship between poets and children. P oet s and child ren are often associated as helping creat e ideal literature. In English letters, one has only to think of William Blak opening in his Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1799) in which he too introduces the cohabitation of child and poet as necessary for literary creation: Piping down the valleys wild / Piping songs of pleasant glee / On a cloud I saw a child / And In a book that all may read / So he vanished from my sight. / And I plucked a hollow reed. / And I made a rural pen, / And I stained the water clear / And I wrote my happy songs / Every child may joy to hear. (Blake Archive) description of this encounter marks a progression between oral and written culture. This progression also marks a tension between performance/orality and the written text, a sense that something is lost in translation. A similar desire to restore what is lost between written and oral culture as well as between Spanish and English
205 y on a broad tradition of poet child interaction Pieiro also situates Un Siglo as a national response highlighted by the UN (3). Printed on cover, the UN logo for this landmark year (a child reaching up toward an adult, the adult reaching down, figures locked in an adult embrace forms a circle suggesting a kind of symbiotic relationship. The two figures actually form one, le social paradigms. Un Siglo, t relationship, seems to reference the Island and its writers; however, Pi list of writers defies lasa Mohr, Ester like Mendoza within a narrative tradition that furthers an ideal of Puerto Rican childhood. Indeed, Belpr writes the prologue to this volume, reinforc ing her status as a modern Un Siglo ] sows flourish even in arid soil and bring After listing the authors, Pieiro transitions into
206 the notion of an ideal literature by invoking the le gacy of poet laureate and Island Ramn Jimnez: Juan Ramn Jimnez used to ask Puerto Rican children what gift they would like and they always replied that they wanted a book. This was so even though they carried textb ooks. The poet saw in the brightness of the (14) She by adopting The bibliography is our early The definition speech during his initiation of the 1935 Festival of Children and Poetry in Puerto Rico, t[ing] a powerful influence and songbooks existed in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, yet Pieiro highlights the 1935 Festival of Children and Poetry 9 a s beginning a tradition of highbrow yet accessible books for school children. As a result of the festival, poets such as Jimnez and Nicaraguan Rub n Dar o headlined a series of free poetry anthologies amation of the poet child relationship as the beginning and, future, of these ideal books: 9 This is also within the few years that Belpr published her first folktale Perez and Martina (1931) and a movement in Latin America to publish for children, making the 1930s a significant period for the
207 The Puerto Rican child, attracting all the colors o f Paradise, the poor child above all, has moved me profoundly I have met this poor child often, walking that difficult road of his first life, in the city and the country; I have stopped him in front of me, I have stopped in front of him and I have asked As in his poetry, Jimnez seems fascinated by contradic tions and binaries. His description of this child captures a dual v ision of Paradise and poverty. The poverty on the Island, as Belpr and Mohr suggest, was a leading factor in the Great Migration, though prosperity did not necessarily follow relocation. L ike Belpr, Jimnez connects literature to a type of spiritual sustenance. However, Jim nez emphasizes this child as capable of obtaining a form of sustenance through his/her internal poetry. Children contain literature and create it as opposed to simply r eceiving or being conditioned by literature. In the eyes of this child, Jimnez asserts that he saw a promise of an ideal infancy, a book revealed to us during the 10 Pieiro ascribes this description (th ose those of the old and new generation of writers, naming Belpr and Mohr, but also leaving room for later writers like Ortz Cofer The implication: within t he eyes of this poor, little poet met by Jimnez o n the road, a scroll containing U.S. Puerto Rican and emphasizing a different shade of Paradise was school children, Jimnez is godfather and sage 10 The original is uestra infancia, y que se nos ha revelado en la I have translated the phrase differently from Pieiro. The quote implies that children come into the world with a heavenly vision of a n ideal literature/book.
208 Through Jimnez Pieiro positions child ren as the progenitors of Puerto Rican literary tradition since children contain the scroll needed for interpreting the present state of literary projects. Looking more closely at Jimnez, his philosophy of children as poets, prophets, and originators of l iterature seems grounded in anxiety about historical and political continuity. J imnez idealizes poetry as a means of drawing out the secrets within the scroll. As he wrote in his 1936 introduction to Verso y Prosa Para Nios, poetry nurtures poetry 11 and spiritually uniting the essential qualities of his/her people, the child was a poem. Jimnez n arrates another instance of his interactions with these children; children whom he believed contained the possibility of reconciling what was culturally and even racially irreconcilable: The old man and the old woman of Puerto Rico, with all the echoes of the life of their race, with all the colors and adornments of body and soul repeated by the years, their labyrinths grafted into their skin, all these things squeezed together, dry and final, they are impossible. Inside, the child, as a synthetic prelud e, reunites the possible and impossible. We cannot forget the material and immaterial vision, this logical and illogical, this death and life of a child walking on a path, through a door, under a palm tree, under the sun or rain or moon. All of the paradis iacal oasis within this clear and nebulous exceptional island of life and death, is still soft clay, a marvelous compendium, within these little, indescribable beings...(22) 12 11 Versa y Prosa d in 1957 but Jimnez intro within this volume is dated 1936. 12 The original El Viejo, la vieja de Puerto Rico, con todos sus ecos vividos de raza, todos sus colores y matices de cuerpo y alma repetidos por los aos, sus injertos laberinticos, apretado todo en seca unidad ultima, son imposibles. El nio rene en si, preludio sintt ico, este posible y este imposible. No se puede olvidar la visin material e inmaterial, ljica e iljica, viva y muerta de tal nio por un camino, en una puerta, bajo una palma; al sol o la lluvia o la luna. Todo el oasis paradisiaco de esta clara isla nu blada de vida y muerte tan excepcionales, esta amasado, compendio maravilloso, en estos pequeos seres indecibles, islillas There is no English versin of this volume so I translated it from the Spanish.
209 man and old woman seem cast in stone, imprinted by the years. They embody the contradictions and instability of their colonial history to the extent that they seem incapable of articulating in the present. Yet, the child, as a kind of poem/history in proce of these little poems within images of historical trauma ittle white, copper, and black forms ) (22 ). The description suggests a conglomeration of races while also emphasizing violent conquest. Children, as like the previous generation, these children project a raw, powerful rhythm (a product of historical violence) into the between. It is this state of betweenness that makes ch They Jimnez messianic qualities by describing children as entering and e xiting through a door Betweenness, then, implies not only an identity or position, but a lso a practice. Jimnez on past generations (el Viejo/la Vieja) together with present history. More than a poetic ft, however, allows the child to usher in a kind of a political, messianic kingdom. Jimnez further contends that since he
210 he unique and total kingdom of poetry that is over 13 Jimnez posits te from the ruling and political authorities, Ortz Cofer bridge by emphasizing the need for a literature that fills the gaps of inequality and historical trauma left by coloniali sm. Both poets, generations apart, reveal a similar vision when contemplating the colonial fragments within Puerto Rican culture. However, as I will show, although Ortz Cofer celebrates children as poets, she dwell s much more on the darkness surrounding t h ese little figure s H er child characters use poetry as a means of getting what they want from society ; even enacting revenge rather than an idealized sense of peace in the kingdom However, i y and texts and media ha ve played such a crucial part within the Diaspora Through this lens, historical recovery transforms into a proc ess of gathering the literature (the scroll) already existing in children. A scroll bearing the breaking Ortz Cofer 13 El afan por el reino total y unico de la poesa sobre su tierra y bajo su cielo, aislado suficientemente en poesa por su mar, estere contento. Que mi libro sea, pueda ser para el limpio apoyo, estimulo fiel y buena compaa.
211 children. This interpretive lens also destabilizes essentialist views of Island identity by tracing the origin of betweenness, particularly within fun damental articulations of Island character Santiago ), the Island is a source of stable, Latin American identity and Spanish heritage. The displaced child always looks back to the Island in order to navigate the present, never fulfilled within the U.S. landscape. T he displaced child possesses tools to resis t certain aspects of colonialism, but one could say this child type does not exist within the U.S. landscape. W folklore, the Island represents an impossible dream due to its perfection; it is a tability one can never obtain. The Diaspora child must dispossess the Island in order to embrace his/her U.S. position. However, the Between both positions. Jimnez, and Pieir o through Jimnez, establish the Island child as an inherently diverse identity of shifting colors, nations, and rhythms, as Jimnez writes tage, Isla nd or Mainland. Moreover, writers present betweenness (and thriving therein) as something the Puerto Rican child does best. Developing this quality in children, and encouraging them to embrace it is the key to survival. Putting Together the Piec es : Ortz Cofer and Poetry as Translation and Stealing Por que la estrella de mi bandera no cabe en la Americana ( Because t ) --Sola Andres Jimnez
212 betweenness as tied to language; th e B etween Jim concept of mess iah, the child and the Word seem linked and the Word 14 holds the power to impact history. Perhaps, it is this stro ng association between the child and the Word that elevates children to the status of ideal poets and, further, ideal translators in Puerto Rican culture. I Walter Benjamin highlights the association between ideal translation and poetry within the minds of those searching for e children gathering toget Benjamin writes t hat the relationship between the original language and the language of match one another in the smallest details, although they need not be like one another. In the same w ay translation, instead of resembling the meaning of the original, must the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language, just as 14 Here I am nez also appears to do. However, it is not my intention to dissect this child characters role as messiah but rather to mark a progression between Jim ld and Ort z z Cofer does not place so much emphasis on the role of messiah, perhaps because her writing dwells more on societal imperfection and practical strategies for survival.
213 frag ments are part of a vessel (78). Within a culture already viewing children as possessing the fragments of a greater history, it seems to follow that the same children languag e scroll, again, underscore translation as kind of violent and imperfect practice. The original vision remains somehow unattainable which may explain why children are forever chasing the best words and adults are forever chasing children Ortz Cofer through child poets like Maria from Call Me Maria, suggests a partial ideal of faithful translation. If we consider Ortz Cofer as picking up on a tradition within Puerto Rican e n her reading of Island and Mainland literatures, her desire to Ortz Cofer reveal more of the c omplexity (e.g. the hypocrisy within the colonial project from both and present Puerto Rican identities. Unlike Jim nez, s he focuses on the chasing down of words and in unfinishe d task of putting together the pieces. Her revision of this child type emphasizes children as little hustler s /thie ves 15 rather than innocent messiah s Her narrative perspective 16 15 Artful Dodgers on E. Nesbit called by stea ling in Judith Ortiz Cofer. 16 Not assimilation that rejects the Puerto Rican roots because El Museo del Barrio, for example, has cultural artifacts. El Teatro Pregones puts on plays in Spanish and English. This is pluralism: it is taking
214 (Hernandez 97; 98) She celebrates the poetic interventions of these children yet always characterizes them as dangerous. In Ortz Cofer ist identity paradigms is also exemplified through language. Ortz Cofer seems fascinated by the mechanics and rhythms of Spanglish which in Call Me Maria, Ortz Cofer only or Spanish only narratives as limited when representing migrant life. For example, Mara leaves the Island and her mother, an English teacher, in order to accompany her father to the Ortz Cofer Call Me Maria 9). Ortz Cofer word tristeza as opposed to simply sadness, coincides with her view of writing, and incorporating Spanish, as a process of memory. She has said that Spanish in her Wh mother say something like la muerte lleg a la casa, it was a dramatic statement. The same as when they talked ab Spanish was magical to me. (Hernandez 101) Within English, Spanish serves as a reminder to readers, monolingual or bilingual alike, eading or hearing comes from the minds and the thoughts of Spanish Ortz Cofer the best of both cultures and making a third culture. This is not the future, it is the present, the only thing opia. There are still drugs, and crimes, and welfare and all that
215 lish operates within a sphere of memory that English alone might not reach and vice versa. 17 Benjamin also implies that successful translation means that the translator allow  his language to be powerfully (Benjamin 81 ). Recovering memory through language, similar to recovering the pieces of a scroll or the vessel, lies within the Between discernment of these linguistic boundaries (i.e. where Spanish ends and English begins/where English ends and Spanish begin (110). When she first hears Spanglish, Mara quickly discerns its mechanics: I am beginning to hear this new dialect invented by people who can dream in two languages. I used to think it was broken English, but it really does have its own rules of grammar: Oye, vamos to the marqueta ahora, or La mae stro has me entre un rock and a hard place. I mean, you have to dive in feet first before it starts making sense. ( Ortz Cofer Call Me Mara, 18) Ortz Cofer chaotic environment as an ideal for training young poets. Ana Celia Zentella has implied that the barrio children she interviewed in her 17 From Bomba to Hip Hop. He writes: In what language do we remember? Is it the language we use w hen we speak with friends and family in our everyday lives? Or does choice of language of memory involves transposition, a translation in the literal sense of moving across: trasladar lf language and place, and between identity and memory, is especially salient today. Spanish, English, Spanglish, all in the plural and in lowercase, make for an abundant reservoir of e xpressive codes with which to relate (to) the past. For language is not only the supreme mnemonic medium, the vehicle for the transmission of memory; fifty years of Puerto Rican history have shown that language can also be the site and theme of historical action, the locus of contention over issues of identity and community that reach far beyond our preference for, or reliance on, this or that word or grammar. (Flores 57)
216 the same inter sentential switching rules and strategi uch of the best Latin@ poetry and prose 18 Indeed, poet Miquel Algarn declare d the Spanglish rhythms spoken and heard daily by children 19 For the poor New York Puerto Rican there are three survival possibilities. The first is to labor for mo ney and exist in eternal debt. The second is to third possibility is to create alternative behavioral habits. It is here that the responsibilities of the poet start, for there are vocabulary to express them. The poet is responsible for inventing the newness. The newness needs words, words never heard before or used before. The poet had to invent a new language, a new tradition of communication. (Algarn and Pierio 9) Algarn furthers Spanglish as the language of a new manifesto of the oppressed S panglish was certainly part of the literary sensation and genius associated with the Nuyorican Poets like Algarn, Piero, and Pietri. s friend, Whoopee, further highlights the implication (i.e. threat) of Spanglish to essentialist notions of identity, e Between child and his/her discernment of the gaps surrounding essentialist identities evidences the need for a third culture. The persistence and need for a third cul ture unsettles any ideology of pure language or race, exposing the impact of the colonia l encounter on both conqueror and conquered is the product of a violent struggle where English has English. Each time children speak this 18 in Bilingual Games: Some Literary Investigations (2003) 19 Nuyorican Poetry: An Antho logy of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings (1975)
217 language, they persist in the battle. analy sis suggests the practice of 20 between languages as p art of a new hustle for surviving the barrio Instead of trading illegal commodities for dollars, children like Maria trade illegal words for their livelihoods Each switch represents a cont raband word smuggled into another language. This is a much rougher portrait than Jim nez more romantic version of children. Even in the British Romantic tradition, writer s might depict ideal children as challenging the proscribed rules of education but n ot so much as participating in an illicit activity 21 Ortz Cofer disrupts perceptions of children as ingnues since children like Maria know exactly how the rules are being broken; yet thrill in doing so. Call Me Maria, Between 22 Indeed, Ortz Cofer style suggests that only through the abstract language of poetry (and the switches between codes and genres) can readers access this migrant life in translation. Language and culture succumb to the hands of the child poet who one, can learn the rules better than anyone, and two, as a bilingual, has access to more rules and more her, tells her class: There are more than one million words in the English language. All the poems yet to be written are contained in the 20 Rican gangs in New York. 21 question and answer series which resembles catechism. This child is generally praised for her idealism and persistence. 22 This is the subtitle for Call Me Maria.
21 8 dictionary. A poem is made by choosing the best words and put ing them in the best order. Words are weapons. Words are tools. also implies, is the practice of ordering and arranging words and lines. She contemplates the poetic office as both a necessary and everyday role. Mr. Golden, esta bien, I believe you, since you declare I am a poet, since it is imperative that I be a poet, I will be a poet. But how do I become a poet? I live in a small world with few exclamation points and many question r of the wall of our eyes of my father Uma? Will I have to make poems out of common ordinary things no one except me cares about? (104) Maria exercises her poetic faculty by gat cultures in her life. Similar to gathering coincides with a kind of history gathering illustrated in her favorite game her fellow Between child, Whoopee). Maria and Whoopee attempt to discern the histories of those walking around their ethnic barrio by zapatos, by the way they walk, the sounds of their voi accesses every tone, movement, and rhythm in creating her instant histories; it is toward the end of the novel.
219 More than a p sari, her Nuy closet and co say anything, I point to each piece of my outfit and say a name: Mami, Papi, Uma, 23 that has diffic show Cats ludicrous singing her heart out about a hard life, and this after erstand the meaning of my fashion statement. si quieres. Ven ac, mi Abuela says that she knows who I am and who may be if I choose. I have Who are you today, Maria? I will say 98) 23 This is an intended reference to Joseph from the Book of Genesis, a young prophet and dreamer, the
220 In Call Me Ma ria, Ortz Cofer likens poetry to the practice of translation/interpreting and to acts of thievery. Her furthering of Between children as translators a nd thieves emphasizes this child type devious nature. The Spanish language contains an implicit relatio nship between poetry and interpreting/translation/crossing over, something relevant and helpful when considering Ortz Cofer child characters. Interpreter or intrprete carries the element of performance since the word can refer to an actor or/and poet. Intrprete poem (even if it is not an original composition). Intrprete contains the admission that wh at I am seeing and hearing is a series of choices that have created a separate original. Yet, intrprete can also refer to a person performing as a translator (i.e. someone standing between a message and a receiver). As Benjamin suggests in his theory of t ranslation, interpreting/translating is not so much about reproduc ing the original as it is about creating somet hing new. The ideal interpreter balances between Ortz Cofer positions Maria as a poet, narrator, and interpreter w ithin Call Me menagerie of poems and stories. Outside the novel, readers must consider that Maria stands between them and the narrative. In the case of those characters said to speak mostly Spanish like Mami and Abuela, readers only decipher what M aria has decided to translate. 24 Within the novel, Mara functions as a cultural and linguistic 24 Ortiz In the Line of the Sun, features a similar case. Mid novel, readers learn that the first half of the novel has been a clever mythology concocted by (between) child narrator, Marisol. In In the Line of the Sun, 187; 287). Per haps, Ortiz Between child narrators such as Maria and Marisol mirror the creative hen I am creating a character who speaks in
221 intrprete/interpreter for her family members, each symbolizing an aspect of Puerto Rican identity, including her Papi (Mainland, Spanglish identity), Mami (mode rn, bilingual Island identity) and Abuela (traditional, monolingual Island identity). Readers [ing] Ortz Cofer means for Mami to stand for the collapses traditional Island/U.S. language labels. As an Island bilingual and En glish teacher, Mami also represents the shifting colors of Island betweenness; it is ambiguous et speaks English so well that it is the reason Papi and Mami fell in love ( Ortz Cofer Call Me Maria, seems to blossom only when he begins speaking his native Spanglish in th e barrio (8; Trasladar is another word which Maria seemingly embodies. In Spanish, trasladar can refer to translation but also to the act of crossing over, from one side to another. In decisions to act out their inherently hybrid identities within a particular geographic location of the Puerto Rica n spectrum. Unlike Maria, both parents deny their betweenness which restricts their ability to thrive in both places. As Mami tells Maria Spanish, that character is speaking Spanish to me in my head, and hearing these people speaking in Spanish, and I was transcribing what they were saying into English. My
222 we have never spoken the sa since both parents speak and understand each of these to a degree. They have forsaken poetry, the official language of the b etween (the third) state, which as Jimnez and Ortz Cofer both highlight, operates outside of geographic and nationalist realms. It is only Maria, the child poet and interpreter, who can trasladar 25 the breaks between her parents and, outside the text, speak for her parents to readers. As the interpret Maria advocates for Mami and Papi at various points in the novel. Maria reveal the Island and Mainland hypocrisies regarding Ma ria deeply admires her kind of wants Maria to adopt. Here, Mami uphold s an illusion of linguistic purity S he purports a n ideal of pure English e ven when English as a blemished product of a colonial relationship validates rejection of a view in which h e is always seen as an ou tsider for speaking Spanglish. Maria both defends and reprimands Mami when she visits Maria and Papi in the barrio. Mami is quickly categorized as an Island snob; her 25 Juan F
223 colorful a pparel makes her the object of ridicule within the barrio. Interestingly, Maria t pajara el gufeo, goofing off, Spanglish style. The catcalls and verbal abuse inflicted by the ones who snobbish around the gate keepers, as Whoopee ca ll the old woman who sit, watch, and comment on everything that happens on our street, are Unlike Mami or even Papi, Maria and Whoopee, as Between child ren, possess an uncanny ability to name and maneuver within t he socio cultural hierarchy of the barrio. A skilled interpreter, Maria view s this scene through the perspective of the gatekeepers (112). The old so called ne ighborhood rampant with Island nostalgia. For example, Maria had previously heard them stand up on the top step like poets inspired to recite verses to their nati (109). tween her and the gatekeepers, in order las malas lenguas 113). Mami seemingly reminds the gateke epers of something they perceive as lost. The oldest women are reduced to silence, realizing mi seem frozen within an ideal of pure barrio and/or Island cultur e. A s Ortz Cofer has said, these older women, including Mami, The young Maria however, finds her footing in the between.
224 Those child poets/ interpret s standing in the between must also practice a kind of thievery. In other words, Ortz Cofer rendering of t his child type, a poet and i nterpreter Ortz Cofer actually suggests that any linguistic prowes s that Maria possesses has come through her plundering of language. I n Call Me Maria, poetry stands in as a metaphor for the appropriation of language within a history of conquest and rebellion. Within the novel, local drugstore, seemingly a victim of racial profil ing. The manager commands Maria to empty the contents of her purse on a drug store counter: Without touching any of my things, as if I carried the bubonic plague in my handbag, he inspects its contents, poking around inside with a pen he has pulled outsid e of his pocket, letters scrolled in gold on its side: We value our customers. This is what he finds: half a roll of breath mints (tropical flavors), two lipsticks ( Brown Sugar Babe and Hot Spice Girl), hairbrush, pink sunglasses with slightly scratched le nses, envelope with a letter I am still he looks me over as if I were hiding something in my clothing or maybe hidden deep within my bushy foreign hair. (63) spicions appear to stem from prejudice, yet Ortz Cofer leaves ambiguous the source of the alarm trigger. Even after the guard finds no proof of theft: plunder in her posses sion? Maria leaves the store, understanding that the guard of theft, one eluding the local authorit ies. The thief is a mysterious character who,
225 It begins With your second last name Gone missing from your mailbox, It is hard to explain to yo ur relatives Back on the Island. Your mother says You had it When you left home, Where is it now? You cannot claim Whose is responsible for these crimes in the barrio? Who needs a Puerto Rican accent, a second last name, or the answer to the question, Where are you from? desperately enough To break a into a basement To steal it From a fifteen year old girl Named Maria? (67 68)
226 ealing more than the obvious markers of her cultural identity; the thief succeeds at stealing her childhood. The notion of lost childhood as associated with cultural markers like an accent and a second last name suggest s a few things about this dialogue of thievery. First, since Maria experiences the transition from Island to Mainland as a child, she attributes a sense of stable cultural identity to childhood which, as time passes, seems farther away. Second, her poetic reflections on childhood (including t his narrative of poems memorializing both the Island and the barrio) reflect her desire for a stable cultural identity. Third, Maria might perhaps fill in the holes left by this thief through an act of revenge (i.e. stealing back her cultural stability). T stolen English word, concealed in the heart of a foreigner, set off the alarm at the drug store. Ortz Cofer through Maria writes: I confess, I had to steal English B ecause what I had Was never enough. The sly taking started as a word here, A word there. It was easy. I slipped words
227 Into my pockets, my crime unnoticed as the precious palabras spilled out of unguarded mouths, And when they were left behind Like empty glasses and china after a banquet, or like familiar jewelry, The everyday gold Tossed anywhere at bedtime. (125) However, only a Between child forever chasing after words, recognizes the value of a word for creating a place to stand in the gap. Maria describes the words she stole as English only because the so called rightful heirs dreamed / their long, luxuri ous dreams, / spoiled children / unaware of the real value, / native, Between children are the least expected to steal English, yet the best prepared to do so. English fills in the places ravaged by the thief
228 reflects the child poet of yet she does not lead us to a kingdom of peace and safety but to a place where we learn to take things by force. Maria knows the value of a word and arranges them like fine jewelry. She comprehends that words are the seeds of poetry and history, that rules are meant to be broken, and that she who possesses the most words wins. Maria can thrive in the between, help others avoid the fall, interpret the present, and, as a child rich in English and Spanish, she glories in the shifting colors of Puerto Rican id entity the new creation 26 : Belpr Mohr, Ortz Cofer and Children between the Generations Verde Luz, El Topo In the narratives of Pieiro, Jimnez, and Ortz Cofer the B etween child emerges as a child skilled in the poetry of translation Ortz Cofer specifies t his child as a kind of heroic deviant who crosses the same precipices that endangered the previous generations. Pieiro and Jimnez suggest betweenness as an intri nsic quality within all Puerto Rican children, Island or Mainland. Yet, more than simply highlighting the existence of such children, Ortz Cofer illustrates the Between protagonist who, embracing this quality, rearranges ) the histories, traditions, and languages surrounding her. She delves into the literary and political implications of children who, without the fear of losing an essentialist identity, create opportunities for dialogue across linguistic and national bound aries. Adults in these narratives benefit youth; however, this is not the same sort of search for the Peter Pan (1911). 26
229 T he Peter Pan fable among many things, suggests a certain desire to stay a child forever so as to evade death such as when Barrie implies that c is able to visit subsequent generations of children and re hatch the drea m of Neverland because he never grows old. T he impossible dream child of th e Puerto Rican narrative is a child sought for his/her perceived malleability (i.e. their ability to adapt to different languages, cultures, locations ). In a culture marked by conti nual migration and instability, youth is coveted as a defense the failure to navigate and communicate in the present (i.e. the new site, the new language) Ortz Cofer portrait of children negotiating for older generat ions dwells on the sacrifices children make as they figuratively lay down so others may pass. For example, when Maria first moves from the Island to the barrio, she feels literally torn in two. The separation from Mami and the Island, the constant struggle between Mami and Papi, ultimately take their toll. Maria tells the reader about her two names: Maria Alegre (what her mother called her on the Island) and Maria Triste (what she calls herself on the Mainland). Indeed, Maria often feels she must perform fo r her parents. She plays the ( Call Me Maria 4). She plays the clown for Mami, picking up a pair of maracas and farewell from the barrio, a pivotal moment (hence the title) comes when Maria no longer chil d helps bridge the gaps between divisive identities, this child also personifies a bridge, and to an extent, a
230 portal In the tradition of Nicholasa Mohr, Ortz Cofer emphasizes children as pioneers who pay a heavy price for migration and colonialism. Ever the Between child herself, Ortz Cofer inspires a dialogue about the importance of children as cultural bridges among post writers of previous generations, Pura Belpr and Nicholasa M ohr. Ortz Cofer of Between U.S. colonialism. Placing Judith Ortz Cofer and Pura Belpr in conversation offers a comparison of what Svetlana Boym calls restorative an d reflective nostalgia. In The Future of Nostalgia and/or postcolonial literatures, contains a discourse of exile and a project of (re)creating librarian, Belpr focused on building a casita for Puerto Rican migrants and their Public Library undergirded the formation of the early Puerto Rican colonia in New York and aided in a renaissance of Puerto Rican culture within the U.S. Her project coincides, for the most part, wi Like Belpr saw representation within the globa l community as symbolized by Puerto Rican folktales on library shelves e.g. the Taino and jibraro mythology) for migrant children was also a way of thinking about, and to an extent
231 securing, the present and futu re (Boym 41). Nostalgia was also a means of rebellion for Belpr, of providing cultural artifacts as an affront to stereotypes of migrant children as 27 Surely, after seeing the folkloric heritage of the Puerto Rican 28 Belpr does not linger on past devastations, yet only provides a glimpse. Ortz Cofer portrays contemporary Between child protagonists like Maria as new creatures, a third culture, not merely an amalgam of Island and U.S. culture. The nature of this new creature is perhaps best described through Ortz Cofer growing through concrete. Maria des I saw my mother growing stronger as she planted herself more and more firmly in her native soil, opening up like a hibiscus flower, feeding on sand and sun. I saw my f ather struggling against the imaginary sand that cut his skin, I heard him losing his voice sand in his throat, sand in his lungs, he said. I will go with Papi. I will explore a new world, conquer English, become strong, grow through the concrete like a flower that has taken root under the Ortz Cofer Call Me Maria 14) Here, S he has witnessed the advantages and disadvantages of clingin g to these terms as a means of identity and native environment). Maria represents a new era and rebirth of her people with the strength to thrive within (and break through) the limits of her surroundings. Belpr, the 27 ntions on Sesame Street. 28 From my first chapter, Island Boy future
232 create a rebirth of Puerto Rican culture within the U.S. 29 Belpr acknowledged that a Puerto Rican culture was tied to a specific Island national mythology which resists U.S. colonialism and Spanish col onialism, though she often year rule of the Island. Through education and literature, this new creature, then, would preferably Belpr would most assuredly lead children on a one way trail back to the Island, even if they would find t allowed children to cultivate cultural pride shelter from a society viewing these children as subjugated orphans. Ortz Cofer ever, is rooted in reflective nostalgia. While restorative nostalgia seems driven by a search for roots, as Boym points out, reflective nostalgia and cities, devastated civilizations sometimes built one on top of the other. Ortz Cofer Ortz Cofer implies that along with language and culture she inherited a sense of nostalgia, a la Belpr and Mohr, through oral storytelling: 29 e: The Rebirth of Puerto Rican Culture in
233 When my mother moved to the United States, she took [storytelling] with her. She would get together with the women in her building and they would do the same thing, exc ept that then it became nostalgic: cuando estaba en casa hacamos esto y lo otro. They passed on not only culture but yearning. I grew up with my mother yearning for la casa, la mam, la isla. the immigrant experience, this constant feeling of homesickness that you probably has an element of Where is home? I want to go there. (Hernandez 100) object of a subjective question. Home is a reflective, creative process rather than a gather exploration. For me writing is self Ortz Cofer highlights cuentos or storytelling (even survival stories) within the family, as opposed to an offici al, folkloric tradition. Yet, though Mohr portrays the child as an artist refashioning subjugated spaces, Ortz Cofer /interpret underlines significance for bridging historical narratives, and like Jimnez, for containing, writi ng, and interpreting history. For Ortz Cofer the children of the renaissance build alternate 30 These alternate means of survival (from stealing English to leading the generations) suggest a critique beyond built upon civilizations and language upon language) within English literary history. work in Spanish Harlem suggests a view of children as portals back to the Island of old rather than as U.S. Puerto Rican texts, suggest children as providing an entrance into U.S. literary 30 Jorge Duany, The Puerto Rican Nation On the Move.
234 erto Rican child, yet Belpr as the annual Three Kings Day Festival) were just as much for the adults as for the children. For example, a relatively unknown play, Rememb ranzas Tropicales/ Tropical Memories 31 (n.d.) by Belpr requires child actors to dress as coffee plants, embodying the Island and transforming the harsh city into an enchanted Isle. Remembranzas child. Though restorative writers like Belpr generally discourage children from embracing betweenness, within Remembranzas, in and out of tim e, a child like is version of the child, as the beginning and the end of history, reigns from a position outside of time and so can lead adults into both the past and futu re Remembranzas and Ortz Cofer Between children as portals and bridges, respectively, for older generations of cultures and literat ure. Both the play and the fable also employ allegory as a means of making intensely political statements. Carmencita, the would be Between Remembranzas, acts as an interpreter of dreams and a guide through history for her Abuelo. Belpr sets the play 31 The play is called Remembranzas Tropicales in the original Spanish by Belpr. Lori Marie Carlson translated the play into English, but there are a few places where I have decided to translate words differently than Carlson.
235 dream of the orchard coming to life, and then ends with Carmencita (outsi de the dream) trying to wake him. Throughout, Carmencita is able to interact with Abuelo, as if she stands outside of time. The tropical garden setting also reinforces the pattern of seed and garden imagery across Belpr, Mohr, and Ortz Cofer It is remarkable how these writers, across periods and, to a certain extent, unaware of each other, return and desiring to secure a remnant within exile, like Mohr position within U.S. discourse, or like Ortz Cofer (i.e. a literary genealogy). 32 Sitting in his huerto, an elderly man with no visi on of the future or capacity to interpret the harvests of the which implies a time of abund ant fruitfulness and offspring. In other words, the older and even child bearing, something Belpr further emphasizes when Carmencita 33 32 Ortiz In as I show later in the discussion. 33
236 revealing her intention to console Abuelo: one, Carmencita implies that she and Abuelo represent the fruit or offspring of this Golden Age, or, two, that she and the other child actors on stage represent this offspring. However, considering that children likely played the coffee plants, the fruits ( like the seeds and harvests of the renaissance) and the children seem one and t he same. as in ties of her ancestors. Indeed, youth is clearly a coveted quality underlined by all the authors in this narrative. Carmencita, dressed as a campesina, still wears the traditional dress of her es that of her Abuelo (Belpr Remembranzas 35). Within this dreamscape, Carmencita and Abuelo seem forever in transit, walking through the orchard, but never reaching a physical Yes, I know, sweet pineapples filled your cart when you traveled to town; how the sugarcane and the coffee allowed you to grow what I see: star apples, lemon trees. I know that your oranges were excellent! Bu t time passes, Instead of a green field, Carmencita sees a field of devastation. Indeed, Carmencita can restorative nostalgia that has made him and his dreams infertile. Through Carmencita,
237 a rich port (i.e Puerto Rico) and profitable investment plundered and drained of its resources. 34 C armencita and Abuelo have essentially changed roles; she is the wise sage and he is is repressive memory and into an escapist dream. The moment emphasizes how Belpr distinguishes remembering from dreaming; mainly memory is unchangeable while dreams are re directions indicate that the child actress playing Car to both induce Abuelo into sleep while causing his d representation of children dressed as coffee plants further marks the distinction between her conception Ortz Cofer concrete, the coffee plants invoke frailty: I am the most beautiful, The most tender of plants. 34 ideal of gender (40).
238 My pure white flowers, Similar to jasmine; My leaves are so green, so delicate, That trees and fruits Grow all around me, Worrying that the sun will burn me, Worrying that the sun will burn me. All plants take care of me. They take care of me well, And all of them hope for My blessing a nd my health. (36 37) natural resource: the Puerto Rican child. Beyond taking the form of a traditional cultural f endangered species. The image of the other plants coddling the coffee plants, striving to secure the plant/the investment in children. Her involvement in c folklor e seem ingly supplant s the Belpr however, appears to assign adults a greater responsibility for sustaining children than writers like Jimnez, Mohr, and Ortz Cofer who present children as self sustaining through an in nate source of art and poetry. And, yet, adults like Abuelo seem crippled by idealism, reassigning children to perhaps
239 Remembranzas children. Children are new creatures, but must take the old form. Children guide adults in and out of time, but they cannot survive on their own. After the dream sequence, child. The pink veil symbolizes the idealism of the past which has entangled Abuelo. However, the butterflies around the veil invo ke the hope of a new creation. The Between child does Carmencita only in a dream and in a vision, weaving in and out of a timeless vacuum. Carmencita tells the audie as she leads the older generation, the miraculous Carmencita seems incapable of performing one last miracle: showing us what the future looks like. Here, even the present would qualify as the future. Ortz Cofer Between child) and a representative of the older generation walking toward the future, Fable of Our Ortz Cofer which Ortz Cofer In Search of Ortz Cofer felt she would n ever have if she had been looking to English literature for people
240 that looked or talked like her. Also, that literature is a kind of creative genealogy where Ortz Cofer emphasize writing as entering a conversation with those models and mentors that precede them. I use the term creative genealogy to stress that part of what Ortz Cofer and Walker highlight, though perhaps even more implicit in Ortz Cofer is that a com in order to enter and engage in a conversation. Whereas Walker reflects on the Ortz Cofer reflects on her belonging to is none other than perhaps the wickedest stepmother of all Ortz Cofer However, in the tradition of Nicholasa Mohr, Ortz Cofer Onc e upon a time a young girl lived in the house of English. The girl loved English, although English was not her mother tongue; she was her stepmother tongue. Mother English was both beautiful and cruel and she preferred the company of men. (92) Ortz Cofer distinguishes this fabled family line by language as opposed to race, ethnicity, or nationality. As she does in Maria, Ortz Cofer challenges the notion of In the tradition of Mohr, Ortz Cofer highlights the rightful, though subjugated, place of these stepchildren within the house of English. English may wish to subdue or hide her stepchildren, but she can never succeed at denying their lineage.
241 Ortz Cofer s ] the company of ; such as Lord Byron and Percy Shelle views as her subordinate children, mainly women and foreigners: her disdained not only women but also the foreign, the dark, the strange. The threat of spoiling her beauty by associating with mongrels send English into a panic, and because her stepdaughter was not acceptable by her standards, being an ugly child acquir ed through a politically motivated union, she locked her up in a room whose original use she had forgotten. But the girl continued to love English because she had been brought to her house at a tender age and knew nothing and no one as well as she knew Eng lish. (93) Ortz Cofer high progeny highlights the impossibility of strict categorizations (English Literature, Caribbean Literature, American Literature, Spanish Caribbean, African American Ortz Cofer English coincides with my own project in terms of placing Puerto Rican writers within a geography, what would we leave out if we study her as an African American writer (should we even do so?), although
242 Using language as a parameter, could we study Judith Ortz Cofer as growing out of Island tradition without leaving out issues of U.S. identity Juan Flores once argued that La Charca (18 94) should be taught within a tradition of U.S. literature since it speaks to U.S. colonial identity. 35 How might we do so in a productive way? C American constructions of rature? Can we see those who write about childhood and aking a cue from artists like Ortz Cofer Belpr, Mohr, and Manzano, I am certainly inviting u s to do so. Ortz Cofer tegorizations and the notion of marginality as a breeding ground for creativity. A little girl conspiring with the lovers of English ( in this case, include Percy Shelley and John Keats) and great devotees 36 ( these include Virginia W oolf and Emily Dickinson) further underlines the presence of children within the creation of an ideal literature. The old and new generations of literature converge around a child who can 35 ADE Bulletin 91. (Winter 1985): 39 44. 36 Ortiz Cofer depicts the love of English for women writers in this fable demanded, a woman had to pay a high price, often surrendering her reputation, her sanity, and sometimes even her life. English was like a riters have that contained the works of women who made their pact with English: Woolf, Dickinson, Stein, Plath, Sexton. It was a great discovery becau se inside one of the books was the key that unlocked the door to the room
243 see the connections among the fragments. Ortz Cofer also emphasizes a patriarchy and matriarchy of literature in which minority writers might c laim parentage. The little moment occurs when she discover s a shelf filled with the work of wom m to share and the s memory of the child she once imprisoned. After a lifetime o f locking her family members belonged in the house of English, speaking to one another in interesting new words she brought here without my co I read this group as reinforcing the notion of Ortz Cofer represent a host of Between children (of vary nations and races) who have taken the ultimate revenge. Not only have they broken into and plundered /the language hostage, leaving her paralyzed in her own hous e. The little girl, once reviled by English, bec and confinements have kept them from engaging in a new and expanding discourse. ithout the ability to interpret the
244 present discourse. She is seemingly mute and fearful as a result of her impossible ideals of pure literary lineage. Ortz Cofer while Abuelo only saw the past promises. Ortz Cofer the little girl sees an o (i.e. the possibility of making new connections) (93). Ortz Cofer narrates that t Her old ways have left her defeated and immobile; otherwise she would never invite her stepdaught engaging in the present discourse. Ortz Cofer implies that English needs these people, these Between children, if it is going to regain its productivity. After all, rememberi ng have taken possession of all the choicest words. Th e little girl She brings a solution to the house of English (of cou rse, only after more productive exchange. Within this vision, Ortz Cofer gives us a glimpse of the future of English with only one word. It is not a frightful fall, or a disappear a gathering of English and her stepchildren. What might such a gathering look like? Perhaps, it looks like Salsa tepchildren also implies that the study of English should include a study of the new kinds of Englishes posited by
245 minority, ethnic, or postcolonial communities (even given the status of English as a global language of trade). These new Englishes may inclu de the written and oral poetry English, Russian English, Italian English, etc.) incorporating code switching. Studying English might encompass a comparative, irs (i.e. Shakespeare and Ortz Cofer under the same roof). As in Call Me Maria, Ortz Cofer represents language and words as capital, even more specifically as loot, taken through conquest by the colonizer and re captured by the col onized through violent force. L iving in the Fire and/or the Sacrifices of the Between Vamos Borinqueos vmonos ya Que nos espera ansiosa Ansiosa la libertad (Let us leave, Borinqueos, let us leave now For liberty awaits us, anxiously). La Borinquea In th e U.S. Puerto Rican narrative, since interpretation/translation links to poetry a child translating for an adult is deemed a creative act. This child has room to arrange the conversation as he/she sees fit. Ortz Cofer and Belpr (like Jimnez and Pi eiro) under score the Between great political implications. Remembranzas exemplifies how children interpret within colonial spaces for other members of their subjugated class, while O rtz Cofer necessity of these children for those in power. Again, the speak for the monolingual adult (either colonized or colonizer) marks him/her as a
246 desirable object in matters of love and war. W ithin these narratives, children represent the first line of defense and communication for bo th colonizer and colonized. Such an image is plagued with contradictions: while adults during migration and colonialism wish to protect and guide children ( e.g. really children who end up protecting and guiding them. While adults praise and elevate the raw creativity and linguistic giftedness of the child, it is only so adults can utilize th ese talents to enter discourse. If a child is a cultural and linguistic bridge then this means that adults lite rally step over children. Ortz Cofer and Mohr highlight how m igration and colonialism disturbs the traditional adult child power relationship Both depict a very different picture from the idealized symbiotic circle of parent and child gracing the cover of Un Siglo. Within the translation relationship, child adult interactions appear more as a tug of war rather than a circle of peace. The tug of war is perhaps never more apparent than when children must translate legal matters for adults. As Mohr illustrates in works like Nilda and El Bronx Remembered and Ortz Cofer in The Line of the Sun, the U.S. colonial system undermines the parental/authoritative role of migrant adults. However, I note that writers like Belpr, Mohr, and Judith Ortz Cofer do not depict precocity in children as a sense of wonder and creativity. Mohr and Ortz Cofer show how children bear the brunt of migration, enduring the humiliation aimed at their monolingual loved ones. They emphasize the hypocrisy of an a dult the emphasizing childhood, such as Charles Dic kens whose precocious child character
247 sketches appear strange and almost monstrous, within Mohr and Ortz Cofer it is adults who end up looking cartoonish and deranged. 37 For example, both Mohr and Ortz Cofer emphasize the awkward situations and even foo lish behavior of adults that arise when family members and white authority figures rely on migrant children as interpreters of state matters. Ortz Cofer from In the Line of the Sun narrates her experience as interpreter between her mother and (the whole tenement of El Building, a mostly Puerto Rican residence) home: Once again I found myself in the role of interpreter for the world of my mother who, after all the se years, still believed it operated like an extended family: in the times of need and tragedy people naturally came to your rescue. She never quite understood why I had to make ten phone calls before we got an appointment with the man from the navy office I learned something in those days: though I would always carry my Island heritage on my back like a snail, I belonged to the world of phones, offices, concrete buildings, and the English language. I felt truly victorious when I understood the hidden moti ves in my conversations with adults, when they suddenly saw that I understood. Their acknowledgment of my insight was usually accompanied by either irritation at my presumptuousness or a new tone of respect in their voices. ( Ortz Cofer In the Line of the Sun 273) Ortz Cofer through Marisol, dispels any conception of children as ingnues, easily fooled and inept when it comes to adult devices. Children belong in places of influence. Marisol knows exactly what the Red Cross worker, Mrs. Pink, means when she tells nded by the rubble of 37 The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist; Jo to a certain extent in Bleak House.
248 Mohr so it is inter esting that when Nilda ; such as translation, Mohr depicts it as a moment of confusion. D iscerning adult motives can also uncover cruel realities. To illustrate, Nilda intervenes betwe en her Aunt Delia and a white police officer who has caught Aunt Delia selling illegal numbers. Yet, applying Ortz Cofer child interpret s, t he white police officer Nilda explain the law to Aunt Delia in Spanish (a kind of contraband) also represents an year old Nilda m ust a gesture that depicts Aunt Delia as both linguistically and physically impaired without her lottery organizer who m the officer ignores), Nilda again plays the adult by putting her fing er to o take away 38 (243). 38 es in English. However, since Nilda is translating for her aunt in this moment once might presume that Delia is speaking Spanish
249 performances as an adult that it even more unsettling when such adults force her to mple, Mrs. Heinz (the social worker that Nilda imagines stabbing with a nail file) demonstrates just how commonplace it was for Diaspora parents to depend on their children as interpreters. In social services office, Mrs. Heinz assumes that Nilda will spea can speak English, Nilda outside of the adult role of interpreter, embarrassment. Beyond language interpretation, Nilda serves a protective role for o these places alone; she always brought Nilda with her. Ever since attendance Perhaps, M ami realizes that if she admits her dependence on a child advocate to another adult she will lose any semblance of equality that she has with Mr. demeans Mami and Nilda by suggesting that Mami keeps a dirty, scandalous household
250 comes from realizin her daughter. Also, as readers, we must watch as a child capable of negotiating within perhaps wors t of all) keep silent. Nilda only speaks when Mrs. Heinz demands that Nilda answer questions about bath when other hand, Mami represents the greatest betrayal. Leaving the office, Nilda questions her m ity of a all. I have o sell out our children. Maybe as a result of witnessing others demean her mother, or maybe as a W hether Nilda is speaking for or silenced by an adult, she is never rewarded within this ad ult run, child employed system. In a world where children negotiate for adults, adults stand to gain in terms of progressing toward state benefits. For Antonia I.
251 Castaeda, child ren interpreting for adults such as Nilda represent an ethical predicament, a moral consequence of co nquest. 39 The child translator, she points out, Castaeda persuades scholars to notice the s e child interprets these B etween children which colonial power arrived on the shores of what Europeans named the North American continent, they had to communicate with peopl e living here. Europeans did not initially speak indigenous languages; somebody had to translate, and that 40 cultural issues are at state for child translators? How do they interpret for themselves the cultures they must translate for others? What are the politics they confront each time they translate cultures?...Who are these children who spe (128). Writers like Belpr, Mohr, and Oritz Cofer give us a window into the lives of Ortz Cofer perhaps, this lack of systemic rew ards compels their invitation for children to refashion the spaces they inhabit Mohr through art and Ortz Cofer through poetry. 39 and opens up the deb ate about children as translators. However, I would say we need more scholars working in this area of translation in order to think through the questions of trauma, history, childhood, and translation asked by Castaeda. 40 Castaeda lists Malintzin Tenepal like Sacagawea who was about 13 14 when she helped translate for Lewis and Clark.
252 Ortz Cofer emphasis on the Between child (a child who thrives on hybridity) offers child readers options for construct ing their own bridges outside the subjugated spaces and beyond geographical, linguistic, and political constraints. Moreover, Ortz Cofer writing suggests a shift away acting like adults which depends on a sentimentalized notion of children as socially inept Instead, she asks us to recognize these children as a present reality which may foster productive exchange s across cultures and languages. Manzano pictures the movement of these children 41 considering that it captures the graceful, poetic agility of the child interpreter along with the element of danger (death defying leap) and sacrific Indeed, these little poetic thieves persuade us to further consider the different ways little coffee plants or on the nati onal stage like Marisol or Nilda. The Between child is the dream child of the Puerto Rican imagination, and perhaps even of global imagination. He/she illustrates the importance of language as a tool for creating identity and implementing conquest. Languag e is such a vital part of Puerto Rican identity that this dream child lives in constant translation and exchange. Yet, instead of total confusion, the Between poetry. The trail is long and narrow; only a skill ed performer may make the journey across unless, you take the hand of a Between child and watch them l ie down in the 41 Emmy Legends online archive).This image of the bridge and Strange Dislocations and her work on
253 gaps so you can cross over. As opposed to the Displaced or Diaspora child characters this ch aracters helps us consider the possibilities o f writing theory and creative works without allegiance to either nationalist or assimilationist views. What would such a literature look like? Or perhaps, what kind of creative works (literatures and new mediums) does character gesture toward that would ot herwise remain ignored? What conversations might we have? In terms of a comparative conversation between the Island and the Mainland, t he narratives I have presented in this chapter ask us to reconsider the Island as a real, flawed location within Puerto Rican letters. Thus far, the authors reviewed in this study have portrayed the Island as a point of origin, a point of no return, and a limiting fantasy which, though powerful, must be forsaken for U.S. survival. Discussions of authentic Puerto Ricaness se either of the Island or of the U.S. Few writers/theorists even look beyond the New York metropole for U.S. Puerto Rican experiences; something Ortz Cofer continues. It did not 42 viewed himself/herself as working in exile. Ortz Cofer c hild persuades us to look past views which paralyze discussions about authentic Puerto l iterature and culture. 1 1 years after the U.S. conquest of Puerto Rico, authentic Puerto Ricanness could, quite problematically, imply embracing one colonial power (Spain o r the U.S.) over another. Uniting with a national literature seems the solution for securing 42 Rafael Ocasio, Callaloo Vol. 17, No. 3, Puerto Rican Women Writers (Summer, 1994), pp. 730 742
254 a place on the bookshelf. 43 It also seems that while national sovereignty is a desirable not. Of course, both sovereignty and orphanhood imply a form of independence and separation. Reconstructing the Island as an impossible, mythological paradise (a trend highlights the denial of a very real, very economic ally for over a century have struggled to gain support and acknowledgement from the U.S. publishing industry. 44 Perhaps, it is only in recent years, that writers like Ortz Cofer have been able to move beyond stereotypes of Island and U.S. identity. Yet a ll the major writers, from the Island to the Mainland, associated with the Between child. T his child charac ter showcases children as the crux of the Diaspora. They possess the heart of a poet which is also the heart of a thief. They keep the secrets of the kingdom. They gather the best lines from among the generations. Ortz Cofer shows us that t he Between chil made up of words which she has rightfully stolen. These words form a bridge over the ruins of the past and the uncertainty of the future. This child leads us to a place where we take things by force. The way into this pla ce is on the backs of these children. T he brilliance 43 I am r traditions, resp ectively, but also to theorists such as Sanchez Gonzalez who argue that in order for U.S. Puerto Rican literature to gain a proper place within U.S. literature, it needs to disassociate with Island narratives. That is, Island and Mainland authors should no t be included in the same tradition. 44 Consuelo Figueras whose work I mention in the first chapter. The Pura Belpr Medal has never been Cofer who won a Medal in 1995. The Medal specifies that children medal, no book written fully in Spanish has won the award. Only one Island author, Georgina Lzaro a No Island author has won a medal.
255 of these little luminaries may turn to darkness when we consider the cost but perhaps that price is worth our redemption. A space for dialogue; a place in history.
256 LIST OF REFERENCES Acosta Bel en, Edna and Judith Ortz Cofer Ortz Cofer MELUS 18.3 : ( Autumn 1993): 83 97. -------------------------and Carlos E. Santiago. Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Contemporary Portrait Latinos, explor ing diversity and change. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006. Agosto, Denise E. Sandra Hughes Hassell, and Catherine Gilmore Clough The all white world of middle school genre fiction: Surveying the field for multicultural protagonists. Children's Literature in Education 3 4, 257 275 (December 2003 ) Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feelings. New York: Morrow, 1975. Beyond the Borders 151 166 -------------------------.Candida Jacquez. Musical Migrations: Transnationalism and Cultural hybridity in Latino/a America. New York: Palgrave, 2003. Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Th eory and Practice in Post Colonial Literatures London: Routledge, 1989. Austin, J L. How to Do Things with Words Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962. Banks, James A, and Cherry A. M. G. Banks. Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education San Fr ancisco: Jossey Bass, 2001 Partes De Un Todo: Ensayos Y Notas Sobre Literatura Puertorriquea En Los Estados Unidos San Juan, P.R: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1998. Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. New York: Aladdin Classics, 2003. Pura, and M C. Sanchez. Perez and Martina: A Portorican Folk Tale New York: F. Warne, 1932. ----------------The Tiger and the Rabbit: And Other Tales Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1944. ---------------and Symeon Shimin. Santiago New York: F Warne, 1969. ---------------and Christine Price. Once in Puerto Rico New York: F. Warne, 1973. ---------------. Reminiscences of Pura Belpr White: O ral H istory, 1976. Transcribed by Lillian L opes. Columbia University in the City of New York, 1976
257 ----------------and Antonio Martorell. The Rainbow Colored Horse New York: F. Warne, 1978 -----------------N.d. Pura Belpr Papers, Centro de Estudios Puertorrique r ----------------N.d. (essay) Pura Belpr Papers. ----------------N.d. (speech) Pura Belpr Papers. -----------------. (speech) Pura Belpr Papers. -----------------N.d. (speech) Pura Belpr Papers. ----------------Belpr Papers. ----------------Pura Belp r Papers. ----------------Your On! Seven Plays in Spanish and English. Ed. Lori Marie Carlson. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1999. ----------------Firefly Summer Hous ton, Tex: Piata Books, 1996. Benjamin, Walter. and Hannah Arendt. Illuminations New York: Schocken Books, 1969 ----------------------. 82. ----------------------Reflections on the Work of Nikolai Leskov. 83 110. ----------------------Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings Boston: Harvard University Press, 1996. 406 413. Beverley, John. Against Literature Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. Bhabha Hom i. T he Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 2004. Blake, William The Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Institute for Advance Technology in the Humanities, Library of Congress. The Blake Archive. www.blake archive.org. Uploaded: February 16, 2012. Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days. Sesame Street Workshop, 2009.
258 Sesame Street .com. < http://www.sesamestreet.org/video_player/ /pgpv/videoplayer/0/07ee9f76 1562 11dd a62f 919b98326687/big_bird_visits_a_casita > Bradford, Clare. Unsettling Narratives: Postcolonial Readings of Children's Literature Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007. Brown, Monica. Illus. Joe Cepeda. Side by Side/Lado a Lado The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. New York: Harper Collins, 2009. B urnett, Hodgson Frances. Illus Tasha Tudor. The Secret Garden. New York: Harper Classics, 1998. Carpen ter, Humphrey. Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children's Literature Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985. Carroll, Lewis, and John Tenniel. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland New York: Books of Wonder, 1992. Castaeda, Antonia. Lethal Weapons: Cultural Politics and the Mapping Multiculturalism. ed. Avery Gordon. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Literature Association Quarterly. 26.3. (Fall 2001): 140 150. Cofer, Judith O. The Line of the Sun: A Novel Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press, 1989. -------------------. Woman in Front of the Sun: On Becoming a Writer Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000. --------------------. Call Me Maria. New York: Scholastic Press, 2004. A Puerto Rican in New York, and Other Sketches New York: Mainstream Publishers, 1961 ---------------, a The Way It Was, and Other Writings Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1993. Color September 18, 2010. El Museo del Barrio. http://www.elmuseo.org/en/event/target free third saturdays september Dain, Phyllis. New York Public Library: A Universe of Knowledge. New York: Scala, 2006. Duany, Jorge. Th e Puerto Rican Nation on the Move: Identities on the Island & in the United States. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
259 Eddy, Jacalyn. Bookwomen: Creating an Empire in Children's Book Publishing, 1919 1939 Madison, Wis: University of Wi sconsin Press, 2006. Judith Ortz Cofer MELUS, 26.3. (Summer 2001): 129 158. Fernandez, Juncos, Manuel. Antologa puertorriquea prosa y verso para lectura escolar. New York: Noble and Eldrige, 1907. Rosario. Language Duel =: Duelo De Lenguaje New York: Vintage, 2002. ------------------Sonatinas. Rio Piedras: Ediciones Huracanes, 1989. ------------------. El Medio Pollito. Rio Piedras: Edici ones Huracanes, 1 978. Figueras, Bookbird 38. No.1 (2000): 23 Fisch, Shalom M, and Rosemarie T. Truglio. "G" Is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street Mahwah, N.J: Erlbaum, 2001. Flores, Juan. Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity 1993. --------------. From Bomba to Hip Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity Popular cultures, everyday lives. New York: Colum bia University Press, 2000. --------------. New York, NY: Routledge, 2009. Follow that Bird. Dir. Kevin Kwapis. Sonia Manzano, Carroll Spinney, Jim Henson. Warner Home Video, 1985. Greater America: The Latest Acquired Insular Possessions. Boston: Perry Mason Company, 1900. Gonzalez, Ann. Resistance and Survival: Children's Narrative from Central America and the Caribbean Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009. Gonzalez, Juan. H arvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. New York: Penguin, 2000. Gonzlez and Lul Delacre. The Storyteller's Candle San Francisco, Calif: Children's Book Press, 2008. Gubar, Marah. Artful Dodgers : Reconceiving the Golden Age of Chi Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
260 Hernandez, Carmen Dolores. Puerto Rican Voices in Engli sh: Interviews with Writers. Westport: Praeger, 1997. Hernandez Libraria Library Quarterly, 62 4 (1992): 425 440. Puerto Rican Voices in English. New York: Praeger, 1997. Jimnez Juan Ramn Versa y prosa para ni os. Con prologo del poeta. Mexico: Editorial Orion, 1957. ---------------------------. Platero y y o. Barcelona: Plaza y Janes, 1987. Kaplan, Amy. Cultures of United States Imperialism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993. Lzaro Georgina. El flamboyan Amarillo. New York: Lectorum, 2004. Lewis, C S, and Pauline Baynes. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe New York: Macmillan, 1988. Lewis, Oscar. La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty San Juan and New York New York: Random House, 1966. Turned Puerto Rican perspectives, edited by Edward Mapp. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1974. Lurie, Alison. Don't Tell the Grown Ups: Why Kids Love the Books They Do New York: Avon Books, 1991. Malavet, Pedro A. America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico Critical America. New York: New York University Press, 2004 Malzberg, Benjamin. Mental Disease among the Puerto Rican Population in New York State, 1960 1961, Albany, NY: Research Foundation of Mental Hygiene, 1961. Answer to Journal of American Culture. 29.1 (2006): 3 13. Manning, Jack. Young Puerto Rico: Children of Puerto Rico at Wor k and at Play. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1962. http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/sonia ma nzano -------------------perf. Sesame Street. PBS. 1971 Present.
261 Matos 1898 Centro 11.1 (Fall 1999): 35 50. McFadden, Dorothy Loa. Growing Up in Puerto Rico. New York : Silver Burnet Company, 1958. McGuire, Edna. Puerto Rico, Bridge to Freedom New York: Macmillan, 1963. Mickenberg, Julia L. Learning from the Left: Children's Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Mohr, Eugene V. The Nuyorican Experience: Literature of the Puerto Rican Minority Contributions in American studies, no. 62. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1982. Mohr, Nicholasa. Nilda. N ew York: Harper and Row, 1973. ---------------------. Felita New York: Puffin, 197 9. -------------------. El Bronx Remembered. New York: Harper Collins, 1975 ---------------------. Going Home New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1986. ---------------------. In My Own Words: Growing Up in the Sanct uary of My Imagination. New York: Julian Messer, 1995. ---------------------The Americas Review. 15.2 (Summer 1987): 87 92. ----------------------The Americas Review 18:1 (Spring 1990): 81 85. Morrow, Robert W. Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. New York Magazine. November 1, 2009. http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/topic/61744/ Nieto, Sonia. Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. ---------------Handbook on Multicultural Education. 388 410 ---------------Harris, Violet J. Teaching Multicultural Literature in Grades K 8 Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon, 1992.
262 Nuez, Victoria. eer at the 135th Street New Centro Journal, 21.1 (Spring 2009): 53 77. School Library Journal. January 1980. O'Sullivan, Emer. Comparative children's literature Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2005 Ocasio Rafael. iety of the Puerto Rican Reality: An Interview with Judith Ortz Cofer Callaloo, 17.3 (Summer 1994):730 742 -----------------. An Interview with Judith Ortz Cofer The Kenyan Review 14.4 (Autumn 1992): 43 50. Pedreira, Antonio S. intro. Mercedes Baralat. Puertorriquea San Juan, P.R: Biblioteca de Autores Puertorriqueos 1957. Penrose, Margaret. The Motor Girls in Waters Blue or the Strange Cruise of the Tartar. Cleveland: Goldsmiths, 1915. Reflections of the Class Politics in The Secret Garden. The Lion and the Unicorn. Vol. 17. No. 2. (December 1993. Reprinted in T he Norton Critical Edition of The Secret Garden. New York: W.W. Norton Company, 2006. F. (1987). Un siglo de literatura infantil puertorriquea = A century of Puerto Rican children's literature Ro Piedras, P.R.: Editorial de la Uni versidad de Puerto Rico. Quintana, Alvina E. Reading U.S. Latina Writers: Remapping American Literature New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Rambeau, John. Nancy Rambeau and Richard E. Gross. Island Boy. San Francisco: Field Educational Publications, 1969. Social Research 38:3 ( Autumn 1971 ): 529 562. Roche Rico, Barbara. ritical Assessment of the Fiction of Frontiers 28 3 (2007): 160 179. Latino Cultural Citizenship: Claiming Identity, Space, and Rights. ed. William V. Flores and Rina Benmayor. Bo ston: Beacon Press, 1997. Rose, Jacqueline. London: Macmillan, 1984.
263 (Hg): Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 207 221. Korrol V. From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1917 1948 Contributions in ethnic studies, no. 9. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1983. Lisa. Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora New York: New York University Press, 2001. Sesame Street. Public Broadcasting Service. Prod. Sesame Street Workshop. 1969 Present Air Date: March 1, 1982. pisode 666. Air Date: November 4, 1974. vember 27, 1972. http://www.sesamestreet.org/video_player/ / pgpv/videoplayer/0/091c53d7 d2d5 4f4c aa90 507833791020 3664. Air Date: November 27, 1997. 1977.
264 Tito Puente and the Timbalon. Sesame Street Workshop. 2009 Annual Report : Can You Tell Me How? http://www.sesameworkshop.org/inside/annualreport. Sipe Theory into Practice, 38 .3 (1999): 120 129. Smith, Katharine C. Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance. Bla cks in the Diaspora Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. Sommer, Doris. Bilingual Games: Some Literary Investigations New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. http://www.sesamestreet.org/video_player/ /pgpv/videoplayer/ 0/71add8e7 1548 11dd 8ea8 a3d2ac25b65b Steedman, Carolyn. Strange Dislocations: Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780 1930. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1995. Stratemeyer, Edward. Young Hunters in Porto Rico. Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Co., 1901. Tor Regina. Getting to Know Puerto Rico New York: Coward McCann, 1955. Torres MELUS, 32.1 (Spring 2007):76 96. and Carmen H. Rivera. W riting Off the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008. Tyack, David B. The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1974. Tyler, Anna Cogswell. Twenty four Unusual Tales for Boys and Girls. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1921. Vega, Bernardo, and Iglesias C. Andreu. Memorias De Bernardo Vega: Contribucin a La Historia De La Comunidad Puertorriquea En Nueva York R 1977.
265 Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. Wakefield, Dan. Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem New York: Corinth Books, 1959. Watso n, Helen Orr. Illus. Margie C. Nichols. White Boots. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948 Wells, Elizabeth A. West Side Story: Cultural Perspectives on an American Musical Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2011. Zentella, Ana C. Growing Up Bilingual: Puerto Rican Children in New York Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1997. Zipes, Jack D. Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales. New York: Routledge, 1992.
266 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Marilisa Jimnez was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and raised in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. She moved to Long Island, New York with her family at the age of five with no knowledge of English. She developed a love for literature, theatre, journalism, and writing fro m an early age. She holds a B achelor of S cience in c ommunication and a M aste r of Arts in English from the University of Miami. She began her doctorate in English at the University of Florida in August 2008.