Candles for Gloria


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Dear Comadres, Compadres, Friends, and Estudiantes:

I'm writing to you with sorrowful news about the passing of our querida hermana/maestra/visionary sister-writer, Gloria Anzaldúa.  I am sorry to have to pass the news in this "electronic" way. Several days ago, Gloria died in her home due to, what we understand to be, complications from the diabetes she suffered for many years.

To some of you Gloria was an dear friend; to others, a teacher on the page.  To all of us, she was a source of profound inspiración in the way she made writing her life's warrior work.

Sunday night, a small group of friends gathered together in Oakland and built an altar in Gloria's honor. We prayed for her passage...that it be full of light, that as she greets her ancestors, may it be the powerful homecoming she so deeply deserves.

What I ask, in Gloria's name, is that where ever you are... In your home, on campus, in your organizations that you build an altar for Gloria, as well. With flores, her writings, photos, velas, the ways you wish to honor her and help her make this passage.

I'm sure as the news settles, larger memorials will be organized around the country, especially in Tejas and California...Nueva York, the places where Gloria resided. In the meantime, honor her with your prayers, as you believe.

Con todo corazón,
Cherríe Moraga

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Dear All:

We have lost our 'manita, querida Gloria, who taught us much about the things that matter, and whose writing will continue to reach the generations. The machine continues to do its work and as we have said over and over, as Gloria said, we must be bigger than it, go underneath it, around it, and finally, smash it with our logics, our poetics, our words and our actions.

I know Gloria believed that her spirit would reside among us, and so it will, to continue the work and play that is so vital to all gente's survival, to art and to beauty. May she walk always in beauty, around, below, and above her, an hermana to us all.

Deena Gonzalez
Los Angeles, California

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Gloria's passing has moved me in ways I can never imagine. An altar is in place in my home and the message has been passed on to many others.

Since MALCS is taking place in Seattle in August we will have a plenary devoted to her work as well as a ceremony to celebrate her life. We will keep all informed should you decide to join us.

Rusty Barcelo
Seattle, Washington

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I am very sorry to hear the news of Gloria Anzaldua's death. Her work paved the way for new forms of political, personal and literary expression. I am thankful, not only for its break with the hold that patriarchy had on our culture, but by breaking out of the Chicano mold, it also forged a new identity... a Latino identity.

I still remember the response of my friends and myself to her publication, This Bridge Called Our Back. One afternoon, I received a call from a Cuban- American friend. She left a very animated message on my answering machine, "Sandra," she said, "You must go out and buy this book immediately. It is about everything that we have been talking about!" And she was right. Gloria Anzaldua's work was groundbreaking and, as you say, visionary. Let us hope that we, once again, hear a voice that embodies the radicalness of her spirit.

con amor,
Sandra Benedet
Evanston, Illinois

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Gloria and her palabras bravas will always inspire us all.

Adaljiza Sosa-Riddell
Davis, California

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Gloria meant so much to so many. She was such a warrior and an inspiration and will be missed but never forgotten. We burned candles and brought out her work and sent support and strength and love and revolution to her and for her. We're sending the same to you.

Nayiree
Rain and Thunder Collective, Oakland

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Gente,
I am so shocked and saddened by the news of Gloria's death that I really can't even begin to fathom what that loss means to Chicanas and Third World queers and feminists the world over. But we all know that Gloria single-handedly changed the way we have come to understand, study, analyze, deconstruct, and/or teach Chicana/o identity and the borders that runs up the back of every single Chicana and Chicano.  Perhaps because she is "una chicanita de Texas," and a fork-tongued, jota fronteriza rebelde like me, not to mention una amiga y maestra, her passing is extremely personal and painful to me (as it is, I'm sure to many of us), and feels like a loss of a higher part of myself.

Perhaps one of the lessons that her death teaches us is to honor the work of independent scholars como ella who, despite her contributions to the fields of Chicana/o Studies, Women's Studies, and LGBT Studies, suffered the injustices of marginalization, delegitimization, and exclusion from her own colleagues/colegas, as well as from institutions that will, no doubt, suddenly begin to capitalize on her name through fellowships and endowed chairs.  Regardless of it all, Gloria nunca se rajó, and she never stopped writing, teaching, contributing, and living her example of mestiza consciousness.

May we all continue to build on the foundation that she started with Borderlands/La Frontera, and may we continue to learn how to see "through serpent and eagle eyes." Gracias, Gloria, hermana fronteriza, for all your wisdom.

Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Los Angeles, California

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Gloria was a one-woman hurricane whose words profoundly changed my sense of self, my intellect, my identity, my way of being in the world.   I struggled with her Borderlands/La Frontera like no other text, and I will always find meaning, inspiration, healing in her words.

Go in peace, Gloria, and be with us always.

Susana Gallardo
Palo Alto, California

 

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I just want to thank Ms. Cherrie Moraga for her letter regarding Gloria Anzaldua's passing.

Her death has struck me more profoundly than I ever thought possible and her writing and life's work will continue to move mi alma y mi ser.

Le haré su altar tonight with my 2 year old daughter, Ciuapilli Dolores Lopez.

Gracias.

Mari
New Haven, Connecticut

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It's nice to have someplace to go to mourn the passing of Gloria Anzaldua and know there are others doing the same. I never knew someone I didn't know personally could make such an important impact on my life.

Bethany De Herrera-Schnering
Antonito, Colorado & Baltimore, Maryland

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Yours is the 49th announcement I receive
Fw: gloria anzaldua has died
but she has not
she is just crossing borderlands
hiccuping on her way to heaven
like she did the day I met her
at the Santa Cruz Bookshop,
logos it was, in the basement
hiccuping in front of Adrianne Rich,
and I looked
and she shyly, smiled,
the only person I know who could shyly be proud
so big

and we had a Chicana conversation,
matter of fact
because we were both rural chicanas in the basement of a bookshop, and we
knew the meaning

she, so short
but three times taller than I
looking with her eyes of glaze
at the spaces Chicanitas could
fit in on the book shelf
yes, yes, yes,
lets interview each other,
let's go for a walk,
let's,let's, let's
¿do you know so and so?
and the big white man repeatedly
overlistening to us
on the stool behind

she, taller than us
between hiccups
and Adrianne Rich

she, too tall to be dead,
she, just on her way to
somewhere new,
Aztlán has earned a new dimension
la gloria

gabriella gutiérrez y muhs
seattle, washington

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I met Gloria en Tejas. It seemed fitting to meet her en Tejas, not far from where we both grew up. She was the keynote at the Texas Lesbian Conference that year and I was moved by her words, her courage, her clarity and brilliance. It must have been 1989. Borderlands/La Frontera had just been published and I asked her to sign my copy. What I loved most about her at that meeting is that she was so genuine, humble and well, she was a tejana happy to be around other tejana jotas. I loved how she used those self-identifying terms so unabashedly. "I'm a tejana jota, marimacha, dyke," implying that she wasn't from Lesbos.

Through the years we kept up and I saw her more often when I lived in Santa Cruz for a couple of months. I visited her house and witnessed her writing habits. She'd rise mid-morning or afternoon and begin to write in the evening, write the whole night through and fall asleep when the sun was up. I don't think I was the first one to say to her, ?gloria, eres vampira o que? She has given us so much that I can't even begin to list her intellectual/ emotional contributions. She was our own. Our Chicana theoretician. Prendí una vela hoy para ti Gloria.

Emma Perez
te extrano

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Plegaria y Ofrenda

No lo supe y lo sentí …

Your passage to the other side
Left an empty space
In our lives and our hearts

No lo supe y lo soñe …

Eyes lifted toward the cosmos
Warrior of the word, woman of thought
The door to Mictlán awaits you

Lo sentí y no lo supe …

Physical body left behind,
Soaring amid the stars–
Eternal in books
Forever in conscious minds
Beacon of thought,
Keep us mindful about life
Reminding us
It is between knowing and not knowing,
Que nos conocemos y sabemos,
Other ways of seeing
And being in the world--
Changing it and being changed

Lo soñe y no lo supe …

Aguila / snake all in one,
Seeing and transforming lives—
Espíritu, alma y amor—
Gloria del saber para siempre
¡Presente!

Me dijeron y llore …

Josephine Mendez-Negrete
San Antonio, Texas

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Over the years, I ran into Gloria at universities, bookstores, and cultural arts centers where she gave talks on being a queer Chicana. In graduate classes, I’ve discussed her theoretical works with students as they’ve told me how her words changed their lives. But the Gloria that I knew, whose memories have flooded back since I heard of her death, is the Gloria with whom I shared a little house in Austin in 1977. I was a 21-year-old student, involved in local lesbian activism and campus Chicana/o politics. She was a graduate student in her mid-30s, not yet out, who was teaching at Mexican American Studies.

I remember watching her cook beans in the kitchen as she put every spice we owned into the pot to make them picosos enough. I remember her constant admonition, “Read more! Read more!” I remember her writing the poem, “Holy Relics” and feeling goose bumps the first time she read it to me. I remember her watching intently as I set up an altar to Tonantzin/Guadalupe with a statue my mother had sent me when I went away to college. I remember walking with her through the UT Austin campus, her talking excitedly about ideas and poems and books. And I remember the day she left for California, leaving me a box of books and knick-knacks. I’ll be back for them, she told me. They have since become one of the many boxes I move with me from place to place. Que en paz descanse.

Yolanda Chavez Leyva
El Paso, Texas

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Gloria, your physical form has passed on, pero tu alma se queda among us. You are a true inspirational role model para nosotras las “Soldaderas de la Nueva Era.”  Thanks Gloria for paving the path for the new generation of Chicanas, who’s voice, because of you has grown, strengthen, and been heard.  Today two candles have been lit …

Marlene Chavez
San Jose, California

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Among the Jews, we have a cultural myth that there are 36 tzadiks -- holy, righteous, spiritual people -- who keep the world's moral compass. Gloria was definitely one of them -- a fiercely honest, always generous inspiration to us all. We became friends and sometime writing companeras in 1986, and her contributions to Sinister Wisdom (the journal for the lesbian imagination, for which she was contributing editor from 1984) helped make it possible.

I know she made me a better writer; I hope her guiding, sensitive intelligence and example made me a better woman. As others have said, she is everywhere in the many borderlands we inhabit. Nevertheless, the world is smaller place without her presence. I know we will turn our grief to positive action -- and continue to honor her with the transformative power of our love.

Elana Dykewomon

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Gloria, I never got to meet you or to know you personally. How I longed to do so. At first I read your writings which struct me as emotional and dramatic but I loved them. As I kept reading your books. I began to understand that your words would equally become as passionianate as yours--not emotional or dramatic. Proud and courageous words. Yet they are humble enough to remember them. Enough to make you want to meet you some day. You took our Chicanismo, cultura y our queerness to a new frontier and lengths

Although I was slow to see this, during your lifetime, you created THE BOOK OF GLORIA. A book of all your life's writings and teachings. Written with an honesty as that of a child's. Yet with all the wisdom of the muses and a courage that inspired others. It even has maps with routes of our raza's Aztlanismo and more. it is full of exciting theories, ideas. it is full of colorfull new phrases about nuestras raizes, comidas, familias, our cultura, nuestra gente, nuestro tejanismo y de nuestro espiritu que nunca muere.

I am not a scholar or a thereotician. I am but a lifelong and simple student of Chicana/Queer History. I will always be a Chicana/lesbian first, no matter where I am or who I am with.

Gloria, I knew how ill you were, and I knew you would not be here with us too long. I did not know it would be this soon. But with you Gloria, anytime, would always have been too soon. It always is with a spirit such as yours that had accomplished so much..

En Hora Buena..............naciste como brocha de plata y acabaste como brocha de oro......  que ya en paz descanses.

Maria Norma Montellano

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Yo no soy un teacher, a PHD, a famous writer, or "feministia", but yo soy un "mujerista" - a womanist, a Chicana, a Mestiza, and a student. I remember going into this bookstore in houston; and my dad said "now you can only get one, so chose carefully". So I went straight to the "ethnic/sexuality studies" section of the bookstore. I picked out this one black book that was falling apart and it said, Borderlands/ La Frontera -The New Mestiza. I remember reading the backcover explaining how she was, "caught between two cultures" and how she so much wanted to be apart of both of her cultures just as much. And being a chicana from the suburbs - I was like, I not alone. When I told my dad, "this one, this is the book i want"; he laughed at me. I asked him why he was laughing at me. And as he preceedes to buy the book for me he says, "well mi hijita, she has some pretty radical ideas" (looking back i can't help but laugh). He then tells me he knows that because he read some of her stuff too. Even though I did read it and was in awe of this woman's genius, I can honestly say i still didn't understand it. That was only until i asked one of my professors at UTSA: "I was wondering if you could help me understand this concept I was reading about... I think it's pronounced Mess-teesa, it's by some chick; i can't even pronounce her name i think it's Anza....something ". She responds, "you mean Anzaldua", and then preceeded to educate me on chicanismo/a. And it was because of that converstation I finally realized what i wanted to study in college, Chicano/a Studies.

The day I found out she had passed away was ironically the same day I had my final in my Chicano/a studies class. It just seems unfair, I still can't believe it. I still await the email that this is all a hoax and that it's not real. When I read about it, that song by Johnny and Santo, "Sleepwalker" -the song played at the end of "La Bamba" when Richie dies, was playing in the background, I couldn't help but cry. Even though I had never met her; through her writings, poetry and prose I felt like she understood me and what i was going through -because she had gone through that stuff too. My life is now different because of her. I now claim "yo soy un Xi-can-a, not a Xi-can't-a".

Raquel Rodriguez
MEChistA, Austin, Texas

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Gloria Anzaldua was an incredible woman who literally changed the face of the academy and opened up for the door for other Chicanas such as myself to follow. We will always honor and remember her legacy.

Bernadette Marie Calafell
Syracuse, New York

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The summer of 2000 I interned at Third Woman Press in Berkeley, run by Norma Alarcón and staffed with one paid employee and the rest volunteers. It was a laid-back affair that resulted in many afternoons listening to my immediate superior having in-depth convos about sex with her current boyfriend ("...ayy. I came like six times...!") and also trying to rebuild the old databases for marketing, reading manuscripts & learning just what a labor, mixed up with love, life, nasty divorces, and not surviving without the support of your hermanas it is to run a small, women of color press. To date there are fewer presses for, by, and about women of color than I can count on one hand. The culmination was bringing my mother to the old, dusty warehouse to meet Norma and the exchange that occured, my mother thanking Norma for being an educated Chicana and Norma thanking my mother for being the "bridge" that brought her there. It was the first time I ever heard my mother refer to herself as Chicana and it was the last time I ever condescended to her in thinking that she had no interest in the political work and theory that had changed my life.

First on the list of works that woke me from my mostly-sheltered, the racists will like you if you are well-spoken and never make trouble childhood slumber was Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua. I picked up an old copy sometime in the Winter of 1999 after having read small pieces in college classes. I remember it was a sunny day in Santa Cruz, California and I was taking the bus home to San Diego. I was seriously ill with lupus, as yet undiagnosed, but in denial that anything was wrong, taking massive doses of Excedrin for migraines when the debilitating headaches would hit, ignoring the pain and swelling everywhere else, and relying on the small kindnesses of friends to convince me to live for another day. That book had been calling to me in a serious way like una sirena that would lure me from the boat that housed me from the truth and dump my ass into the ocean where I could swim amongst Yemayá's children and feel the vibrations of Coatlicue as she unfurled her skirt from the underground. As I sat tucked into an old Greyhound bus doing its whirlwind tour of every agricultural town in Califas, viejos dressed in cowboy boots and dirt from the fields eyeing me suspiciously, I cracked open the old book, covered, I imagined, with the sweat, spit, and come of past revoluciónistas. The first pages caused hairline fractures along my skull and as I grasped all that she was saying, I swear that my head burst open, flinging bits of radioactive, revolutionary palabra onto my compañeros on the bus.

I can say without doubt that Borderlands/ La Frontera will always be the most influential theoretical/artistic work I have ever encountered. During my internship at Third Woman Press I plotted ways to get Norma to take me to meet Gloria. I knew even back then that diabetes was having serious impacts on her health, limiting her ability to work and keeping her shut up in her home in Santa Cruz. It was so strange and shocking to realize that she could be affected by such a mundane disease, just as my grandmother was, living a life that revolved around insulin shots and stubborn sugar binges followed by depression and guilt. Just like me. My sister. My mother. I have no idea, really, what it was like for Gloria to deal with the diabetes. I know for myself how hard it is, how starting in high school I have struggled to get past one of the strongest legacies left by mother's mother and her mother: the hate for my woman's body. How just as I said ¡ya basta! I was diagnosed with a disease that required strict diets, constant attention to not only numbers on a scale, but numbers on a glucometer and above all, self-blame for not being disciplined enough, good enough, THIN enough...

Ay Gloria, the sadness of your passing did not hit me until today, when I saw it in print. Yesterday, my novia called me to tell me, waking me from an all-day slumber brought on by tiredness and depression. It did not register, caught up as I was with my own struggles with my body. I could have joined you then, al otro lado, bone tired as I was with these faulty parts, kidney and intestines that start again, stop again, doctors who make me feel like shit.  I could have joined you then.

Last week before I ever knew you were parting, Gloria, I revisited a poem and realized that it should have been for you. I rewrote it, Gloria, so that you would receive your due:

RISE OF THE SKY GODS
In deference to Gloria Anzaldúa

Act one: Eve
A beautiful dark thing with skin of glowing amber jewels
undulates; her cunt courts goddesses, her core craves heat
while her meek companion warns of impending doom from Above.
When he swoops down, jealousy fills His every atom. Nascent
Creator cuts her long body lengthwise, leaving the right side for darker
gods.
She becomes an incomplete set of ribs, half of what she was.

Act Two: Coatlicue
A low desert rattler suns its long spine in midafternoon.
Her hooded eyes never look up to see her fast-approaching fate.
When the eagle is upon her she can only shake her tail like an angry fist,
Strike again and again as the bird feints and jabs with talon and beak.
Later she hangs limp, her conqueror perched upon some cactus:
El México begins his reign; the new gods remain placated.

Act Three: Boiga irregularis
An eight-foot immigrant departs for distant shores,
coiled up like extra rope in the belly of a Guamanian plane.
Its brown brothers, it is said, have killed seven of the eleven
bird species on the other island: cold-blooded menaces, serpentine
saboteurs.
When a good-natured moke with strict orders crushes its head underfoot,
Its final thought is, It's the ones from the sky they should look out for.

Aché
Monica Dacumos

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Gloria was truly a remarkable woman with the clarity of vision of a Dolores Huerta, the kindness of an internationalist that practiced her beliefs as a fighter for equality, love, and respect, and the commitment to her writings in the spirit of a Sor Juana . To know Gloria was to learn about her love for el/la Mar. Gloria loved the ocean; there is a picture of her jumping in the water in Santa Cruz that got published where my job was to make her laugh, but it was the ocean that brought her joy and laughter. Her smile and happiness is captured in this one photo for like Alfonsina Storni, Gloria amaba el/la MAR.

Beatriz Lopez-Flores
Berkeley, California

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Gloria's passing leaves me with a heavy heart. I am indebted to her revolutionary writings and her poetic way of living in this cruel, wonderful, ugly world. I feel that I owe my feminist consciousness to her spirit and vision. Her words move me into places of rage, awe, compassion and articulation, and it is her insight (along with Cherrie Moraga's and other resounding women of color), that revealed to me that anti-oppression work is more than academic theory and jargon -- it is life, it is necessary, it is beautiful, it is to have a heart larger and more fierce than any of the systems that would work to shatter our compassions. I build an altar for Gloria and all that she longed for, all that I long for, and for all the justice and grace that fills me with hope and agony. I weep for her physical exit from this place, and for her passion, which I know will live in my own solitary heart as we hungry, loving people continue to carve away at the beast of oppression and individualism. There is power in the margins, in the borders, in an angry heart. I thank Gloria for that knowledge, and I dedicate this day to her. In peace.

Erin Fairchild

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I am a Mestiza from Guatemala, living in Canada y desde mi corazon moreno te mando una plegaria profunda...con mis ojos llenos de lagrimas...a ti querida Gloria, por tu piel, tu corazon, tu nunca domesticada alma. Nunca te conoci en persona, pero cuando supe como te chingaste la vida en los campos de los hijos de la chingada ricos....bueno pues, me comunique contigo, me enlace con vos porque yo vengo de alli, de los de mero abajo, de los olvidados de la tierra. Me imagine tus manos asperas como las mias y la piel curtida como la mia y la de tantos millones y entonces en la distancia cercana pasaste a ser una de las mias, jodida, clara, politicamente revolucionaria. Lo unico que no compartimos fue el ser lesbiana pero si una ferrea etica anti-heterosexista y pro-queer.

As you did many times I do want and will not translate the words above because they will not sound the same. Your sudden death brought me to my survivor's memories and all the pain I have felt at my father's assassination, my brother's violent death, my sister's kidnapping and the more than 200,000 crimes against the humanity of Mayas and Mestizos in Guatemala.

Your notion of a 'new mestiza,' for me means more than acknowleding multiple cultural roots and belongings, being able to honour our Indigenous roots, always inferiorized, especially in Latin America, despite many beatiful discourses about respecting Indigenous rights and identities. Your courage gives me hopes that one day we can influence changes in Latin America where racism against Indigenous Peoples, despectively called 'indios' is rampant.

I wish all those who knew you closely and the rest of us could honour you in life as we are doing now but perhaps, as you believed, the spiritual energy that runs like Quetzaltcoalt will carry our prayers, words, and tears for your death but also the recognition that you were a dignified, siempre rebelde, lesbiana querida chicana and a true mentor for you did not back down in front of the powerful and was visionary enough to enter into a dialogue with many.

Even after your death you are still building communities...look at us...from up there... how many are being connected through your passing away. Ahora vas a ser la llorona espiritual and I hope a bridge that can keep those who believe in true social justice, one that always includes people like you and I at the centre, corajudas/corajudos, solidarias/solidarios, criticas/criticos, no pendejas/pendejos, mejores siempre and as dreamers. Por vos y para vos querida mujeraza, mis plegarias combativas. En estos momentos me acuerdo de un verso de Neruda, que yo uso cuando el racismo, colonialismo y guerrerismo de este capitalismo salvaje me ahoga. El decia algo asi como: No puedo dejar de sonreir porque es lo que los milicos quieren, destruirme el alma, porque es lo unico que sus balas no penetran...ni su ideologia. No puedo dejar de sonreir aunque me sienta el mas triste del mundo porque entonces los que me oprimen triunfaran y no les puedo permitir ese triunfo. I am sure you did the same querida Mestiza.


Maltiox Ixoc (Gracias mujer en Maya-Tz'utujil)
Egla J. Martinez
Toronto, Ontario

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I was one of Gloria's comadres in writing from 1992 to 2004 and lived in the upstairs of her house for ten years. Though I am usually a woman of many words, I am speechless about Gloria's passing. My partner Lori and I were the ones who found Gloria in her bed after she left this world. What I want to tell you all is that it felt profoundly peaceful in the house, and that her body and expression did not show any signs of suffering or distress. It just seemed as if she had left and gone somewhere else very interesting. Perhaps part of her was always in that place anyway.

It's Thursday night now, the night Gloria and I almost always met at Lulu Carpenter's cafe in downtown Santa Cruz, she with her big glass of decaf (her special treat) and me with my apricot tea, our computers back to back, almost touching on the small red table. I wrote my memoir and my master's thesis with her there; she wrote the Prieta stories and her dissertation.  Sometimes we'd take a break and she'd read me the astrology column from the local free rag, looking up dramatically after each sentence.

The last time I saw her was two weeks ago when she took me out for my birthday. We even talked about her near death experiences. My feet hurt because I had new shoes and she insisted on driving me to the bus stop. I jumped out of her car at a busy intersection and of course I didn't know I'd never see her again.

I know I have so much more to say, but I'm too in shock to say more now. It's so hard for me to believe she is really gone. I have been completely consumed with the aftermath of her death--from having to call her family and closest friends, to getting out the obituary which AnaLouise Keating and Randy Connor wrote. Much harder than finding her body was having to call and break everyone's hearts. And now I am witnessing and feeling all these waves of grief from all of you around the world. Thank you so much for making this electronic altar. Reading this it's the first time I've been able to cry.

Irene Reti
Santa Cruz, CA

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When I heard about Gloria's passing, I was stunned. A friend had emailed me with the news.  As I sat there in front of my high school students, waiting for the bell to ring, the words about her passing froze me.  I cried, for Gloria, for all that she has meant to me and others, and for the loss that our community mourns. I went home, lit a candle, read her work, wrote some thoughts. I've always said I have a 'trinity' of chicana mujeres who have inspired me and lit my way to be a scholar and writer--now, one third of my trinity has passed.

While I only met her once, I feel privileged to have been able to speak to her and share a few brief moments with her two years ago in Berkeley. She is part of the reason I have chosen to go back to graduate school and finish my PhD. I dedicate the rest of my years in graduate school to Gloria, because if it weren't for her and her work, her struggles, her inspiration, I would not have a place here. Gracias, Gloria. "Contiga en la lucha."

Melissa Hidalgo

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A truly extraordinary woman has died but her writings, strong presence, creative ideas, compassion and warmth for all will live on.  I am honored to have known Gloria since the late 70's. I remember her telling me about a book she and Cherrie Moraga were editing in 1980. This was A Bridge Called My Back, the most influential and innovative book about and by women of color at that time. Reading it as a white woman changed my life. Borderlands was a gift to us all. Gloria was also the first poet to tell a different story of La Malinche.

On my altar for Gloria sits all her books, including her two children's books that she autographed for my daughter. We treasure those books.

Jacquelyn Marie
Oakland

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It is Gloria's spirit that gave me a new outlook on myself and the world. Reading Borderlands as a college fresh-woman 2000 miles away from Tejaztlan was one of the biggest growing experiences in my life. She was so confident and secure in her own skin and I wanted to be the same. The world lost a beautiful soul and I pray that she finds peace in her afterlife. I will never forget her and I won't let anyone forget her. I will instill her teachings in my future daughters and sons...Gloria, gracias and may God bless you.

E. Angela Herrera
Ithaca, New York

~   ~   ~

 

Thank you for your life, for your courage, and your wisdom. Gloria, your life challenged our hearts and minds to witness the realities of this world. Your courage to speak the truth brought down the wall of silence for many of us who could not find our voice. And your wisdom, provided us light in the darkness of oppression. A life, a women, and a scholar who consistently calls each of us to our better selves.

"I am visible--see this Indian face--yet I am invisible. I both blind them with my beak nose and am their blind spot. But I exist, we exist. They'd like to think I have melted in the pot. But I haven't. We haven't." --Gloria Anzaldua

Pueda las estrellas lo tienen esta noche.

Alejandro Marcel

~   ~   ~

 

Me siento muy trieste. I guess I just couldn't come to terms with Gloria's death. I never met her, but saw her once at a conference. Gloria's writing inspired me to finish my dissertation. She was referred to me by Dr. Scheurich, one of my committee members. I was about ready to quit the academic BS. The way I wrote wasn't acceptable, it wasn't academic. Dr. Scherurich told me that I had compassion in my writing and that it was O.K. to write how I felt. I still didn't believe him until I picked up her book. Wow! Finally, someone had put in words what I was feeling. To Gloria I owe my Phd. It was because of her that I decided that I had to finish my dissertation and tell my story. I wish I could have met her, but I plan to continue telling our "herstory". Con amor.

Velma Perez
San Antonio, Texas

~   ~   ~

 

I first met Gloria when I was starting a women's bookstore (Old Wives Tales) and she was working on This Bridge. Her work, her writing, her vision always inspired me to think harder, reach wider, vision more inclusively -- and to always strive for something even better than I could yet imagine. She was one of my heroes in a daily way. Her very presence in this transient world has been a gift to us all.

Carol Seajay

~   ~   ~

 

I write this with tears in my eyes – thank you to all of you for helping me to cry about Gloria’s death. I believe a great light has gone out of our world with her passing. Gloria was in the midst of several writing projects when she died. I believe if she had died 20, 30 years from now, she would have been in the midst of several writing projects . . . .

I met Gloria through my partner Irene, because they were housemates for the first several years Irene and I were together, until Irene and I moved in together. After I got over my initial shyness, I loved to hug Gloria whenever I saw her (and she liked that). I am not that tall myself, but I towered over her, and I enveloped her. I felt this powerful, wordless affection for her.  Once or twice a month, I would stop by the café where Gloria and Irene were writing and chat with them for a few minutes. When I saw Gloria at the café, she was often working on the umpteenth draft of something. Her published words that have inspired so many of us – she worked incredibly hard to bring them out just so . . . . I came to think of her as a sculptor as much as a writer.

Gloria, I will miss your emotional presence – the way you could shift from grave attentiveness to playfulness and back again in a moment. I will miss your rapt interest in everything around you. I will miss the amazing depth of your eyes inward and your vision outward.

I think Gloria loved life. But I also think she is a very old soul, and since she has been free of her body these past several days, I think she has been both comforting all of us and making ready for her next adventure.  May her memory be a blessing . . .

Lori Klein
Santa Cruz, CA

~   ~   ~

 

Dear Gloria,

Like many in the global women of color community, I got news of your passing six times on my email at work and was shook. I passed the next few days with tears for your death behind my eyes until I could grab the time to sit at my altar, put your books, my aloe plant and new squash seedlings, brown little girl doll next to the picture of you with your ear stuck into that big flower, listening and grinning, that's been pinnd on the wall above it for many years. Light a candle, flip though your books and pray, sending you some love for your journey. And remembering.

So, is it stupid to feel this way for somebody you never met? For somebody whose words were family, bread, for you? Hell no. I found This Bridge when I was maybe fourteen years old, on one of my mama's every two month trips to Boston from Worcester aka Wormtown Mass, to buy- as a writer above also said, "just one book, honey, $20 max." I picked this one and she scanned it suspiciously but bought it for me anyway. Many times I would sit on my bedroom floor pouring over those words, and again at 22 on the floor of my cheap crappy apartment with my second copy after my first was lost or stolen.

As a mixed-blood woman whose roots stretch to Sri Lanka, Eastern Europe and Ireland, your borderland words helped me find a road to walk down. I think your work was invaluable to Chicanas and Latinas first, but women of many other colors found such strength in your words. So many mixed women I know wove ourselves together through your truths. The juicy, gritty ways you wrote out of your life, walking to the piers with Yemaya, reading tarot and seeking healing, was light years away from the dried out "theory" taking up too many feminist classrooms. It was something real in our mouths, something that fed us, something we could use.  As I sat at my altar, I thought of all my girls, from SF to Brooklyn to the Carolinas to Lanka, this web of black, brown, red, gold and white women, men and others, who I know are all sitting at our altars finding ways to honor and send blesssing to your spirit. Look at what a web we make, of what you taught continuing.

Blessings on your journey, Gloria. And thank you, over and over again.
xoxox

Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha
Toronto, Ontario

~   ~   ~

 

I've lost two Glorias in the past four months: mi mama, my guiding
beacon in life, my everything; and now Gloria Anzaldúa, a scholar that changed the way I look at the world. Two mujeres from Texas, two women who meant so much to me personally.

Words don't seem to express our collective loss.

Julia Gonzales
New Haven, Connecticut

~   ~   ~

 

In south Texas, we have a way of referring to people like Gloria--- we say “es gente.” In a literal translation it means “she’s real people” but it really translates into “being among the living” “to have decency and gentility” or “having consciousness” that comes from the generosity of spirit.

Gloria has meant so much to us all who lived and work with borderlands feminist studies. I met Gloria at the Albuquerque NACCS Conference in 1990. We shared dinner alone one night, and I kept asking all sorts of silly questions about Borderlands and This Bridge. She did not seem bothered by it, but she did have a certain way of looking inside of you that made you feel different as if she was calling my awareness to something deep inside. She embodied grace and higher consciousness and you definitely felt it in her presence

In the end, “Borderlands” she said “was about knowing yourself.” She was the “mestiza consciousness” to many, but her idea for that is really about transcendent love. Her love of women of color, of poor working class women and of queers meant that she really loved and understood this world in a profound way.

Gloria’s passing is an incredible loss to this world… especially to Chicanas.

Es gente.

Ellie Hernandez
Santa Barbara, California

~   ~   ~

 

This quarter I found myself teaching at Santa Clara University, a new course, Women of Color in the U.S. I had not been in the classroom for three years. I decided to use Gloria's Making Face Making Soul book, it was one of the few books that I felt really brought out the internalized stuff that weighs us down, that keeps us divided, makes us surrender what is most precious.

In order to survive the racism, we assimilate, we give up our language, our music, our Indian roots. But somehow she was able to not only hold on to all those things---she used these as a source of strength. She has inspired me to claim the Indian in me and to figure out what it means to do so. Through her books she has provided the base from which to teach my classes and the knowledge that I'm not alone when I feel alone. It is up to the rest of us to fill the vast void she has left.

Having lost my parents in the last few years, I know it's true that once we have loved and built strong relationships those we have loved remain with us forever. Her spirit is with us.

Guadalupe Friaz
San Jose, CA

~   ~   ~

 

'Gloria Anzaldua' has been a name that rolls off my tongue constantly. When asked to recommend or refer a book, Borderlands/La Frontera is on the list. This mestiza has molded me into a gutsier person, humiliated only by my discreetness.
Anzaldua's words have thundered my many ancestors within me, opening the windows that were not yet used as a girl, taking her hope that we (chicanas) comprehend the importance of the rattlesnakes in our veins.

I am undoubtly grateful to this courageous woman. Not only did she pave a road for chicana writers of South Texas, but for chicana writers in their entity. After all, we do pertain, whether in color or voice, expression or gesture, spirit or strength, to the Borderlands of our heritage.  Gloria, Thank You for your hopes! You will be greatly missed, and forever, greatly admired.

with great respect and wishes for your search,
Lina Suarez
Mcallen, TX

~   ~   ~

 

In dark corners
we huddle en masse
holding each other
mourning the loss
of yet another elder
as we sit in circle
singing songs
of remembrance
asking questions like
where do we go from here
who will be left
will life ever be the same
but tearstained letters
and storied words and deeds
indeed
sustain the flame of flickering candles
velas of freedom
as la Gloria shouts out
at shadows
reflecting our own bodies
smashed against the wall           of liberation
beaten and battered
we are             still whole
forever healing
as we put pieces
of memory together
collectively fighting the real enemy
and what it means to forget
on this day and everyday
we remember you Gloria
Mother
Grandmother
to us all.

marcos andres flores
austin, tejas

~   ~   ~

 

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua--another feminist, Lesbian, writer of color dying long before her time. Joining the ranks of other great women. How long before the health of sisters becomes a priority instead of just another problem to be lived and solved by minorities?  So much done in such a short time. So much to do to save others.

Judith K. Witherow

~   ~   ~

 

I never met Gloria Anzaldua in person. I would have liked to have met her because This Bridge Called My Back represents the first volley of artillery fire that began to shatter my late 1980s and early 1990s "yuppy-in-training" attitude and persona. I was a business student at UT Austin taking a required American Studies course with Professor Shelley Fisher Fisken. There on the syllabus I saw this strange title: This Bridge Called My Back written by a Latina. I must have read some parts of that book ten times because there was little in my business-oriented background to prepare me for Anzaldua's poetic, yet gut-wrenching analysis of la frontera. "But wait," I thought to myself, "I'm from la frontera too. How come I never noticed all this stuff Anzaldua talks about? Did watching too much "Dallas" and "Dynasty" programs on TV blind me to the realities all around me, or have I been slowly brainwashed by the dominant culture to ignore my "brown girl from a working class neighborhood" reality and try to trade it in for a "brown girl in corporate America" sueno Americano." These were hard questions for me to address and those were tough times in general. Although I graduated with a business/advertising degree, I only worked in that field for one year--enough to save up for my first year of grad school.

Most people who read Gloria's work probably feel validated by the experience right away. When I picked up this incredible book, it rocked my world and challenged me almost beyond my capacity to respond. With me, Gloria was not preaching to the choir, she was transforming my life and thought process. This is why I would have liked to have met Gloria Anzaldua in person, para darle las gracias por brindarme una gran educacion que jamas terminara. Y bien pues, Gloria Anzaldua, tu viviras por siempre a traves de tus obras y tus estudiantes, que somos todos los que apreciamos tu trabajo.

Que en paz descances, guerrera de la frontera.

Gabriela Gonzalez
Palo Alto, California

~   ~   ~

 

I was deeply saddened to hear of Gloria's death. Her words in both poetry and prose touched and inspired me. She made the world a different and better place.

My thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family who must feel her loss acutely.

Peace,
Annemarie Perez
Los Angeles, California

~   ~   ~

 

When I received an e-mail on May 17 about Gloria's passing, I, like so many others, thought it was a horrible hoax. Two months ago I lost my only brother to diabetes, the so-called "disease of civilization." Still emotionally raw from his death, I realize of course that my initial stoic reaction to Gloria's passing from the same dreaded disease was a form of self-protection. How could such a vitally creative woman be gone? Yet she isn't gone--she will always be among us: in our thoughts, in our laughter, in our reactions to the world's injustices, in our quiet moments, in our tears.

Sometime in 1991, I was fortunate enough to conduct a phone interview with Gloria for "Off Our Backs." Coincidentally, I had received my first book contract in the mail that same day, and when I shared that news, she only wanted to talk about how being a published novelist would change my life. She was correct, of course, and I will never forget that extended conversation, and the difficulty I had in steering it toward her endeavors, not mine. She was unselfish, always willing to listen to others, to offer consejos. A few years later, I was again fortunate enough to be invited to a dinner in her honor at UCLA and remember how I was able to observe her in the presence of others. There was a kindness, a sweetness in her that is indeed rare. She was a beautiful soul and her light radiated to everyone.

Soon after her passing, I dreamed about an owl on my patio fence. The owl stared at me with a deep, penetrating stare, and I knew it was Gloria in the dream, for owls symbolize both wisdom and death. When I awoke, I felt at peace because I know she is happy and safe wherever she is now. How privileged I feel to have known her for only a fraction of her time on this earth. Her invincible spirit will be with us always.

Gloria, I send you muchos abrazos and cannot thank you enough for your inspiration. Descanse en paz,

Terri de la Pena
Santa Monica, CA

~   ~   ~

 

I was only eighteen years old when I first heard the name "Gloria Anzaldua" while researching Sandra Cisneros' work. I was researching how to overcome cultural barriers. Cisneros had always been my idol, but when I saw what a strong voice Gloria had, and how she helped open the door for the future generation of Latina writers, I immediately looked up to her. Through her work and her life, she has inspired me. I saw immediately how she spoke con ganas. She held nothing back, I liked the way she encouraged Latinas to be more open about their identity and sexuality. Whenever teased about my Tejana accent, I have learned to ignore the ridicule, and take pride in myself and in my voice. Gloria encouraged me to overcome the cultural boundary but still remember who I am and where I come from, that's one thing we cannot erase. She touched my heart by helping me be a more loving person, I have always had a soft spot for the gays and lesbians, taking them in and comforting them in their pain. Whenever they want to hide or feel depressed or inferior, I tell them of Gloria and her books and they immediately find comfort and understanding. I am glad I have read her books and am able to tell more people about her.

Her death shocked me, I always saw her as one of those strong mujeres I would one day meet and be able to say, "you inspired me...".

She is no longer with us,
yet she is still with us in spirit.
Her voice lives on,
we shall forever hear her palabras,
a message to us,
an eternal song.

Gloria touched my life, and inspired me to strive even harder in all that I do. As a young college student and aspiring Latina writer, residing in Texas, I hope to be a teacher like Gloria was, I too hope to touch lives and influence people. Mujeres like Gloria give the young generation hope. It's like someone telling me,
"Don't look down, look ahead.
Don't be quiet, speak loudly.
Don't slouch, stand tall.
Don't fall behind, step ahead.
Don't have shame, have pride."

Elsie J. Contreras
Edna, Texas

~   ~   ~

 

Desde el otro lado del río Bravo lloramos también por la muerte de Gloria Anzaldúa, sus ideas, sus utopías y sus audacias teóricas y políticas cruzaron la frontera en sentido contrario al que lo hicieron sus abuelos. Sus críticas al racismo del feminismo anglosajón, nos ayudaron a develar el racismo del feminismo hegemónico en America Latina, clasemediero y urbano; sus reflexiones sobre las identidades frontera nos iluminarion nuestros esencialismos identitarios y descentraron nuestras certezas nacionalistas. Sus denuncias de la homofobia en el feminismo y en el movimiento chicano, fueron un espejo para ver la homofobia que permea a la sociedad mexicana desde la izaquierda a la derecha pasando por el feminismo y el marxismo. Su convicción en la posibilidad de construir una sociedad más justa basada en el respeto a la diversidad, nos inspiró y nos ayudó a replatear nuestras propias utopías. Desde Tepoztlán, Morelos, la tierra de Quetzalcoatl y de Zapata, lamentamos su partida y la recordamos con cariño y admiración.

Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo
Mexico D.F.

~   ~   ~

 

Gloria Anzaldua's decidedly unique approach -- both in content and form -- charted a different way of thinking, wrenching us from our western-trained mindset and sensibilities. For those of us with complex identities, we found a place in Gloria's writings. She helped us come to terms with our hybridity, our "border crossings," and yes, even with our confusions. She gave us the words to describe our experiences and, ultimately, how we envision ourselves. Gloria's work and her story were absolutely indispensable to my generation of Chicanas, and with religious fervor we incorporated them into our curricula. As chair of a women's studies department, I can say with confidence that our women's studies students leave our courses knowing her work and understanding the significance of her contribution to women of color theory and feminist thought. Gracias La Gloria, por tu "conciencia de la mestiza."


Marta López-Garza
Los Angeles, California

~   ~   ~

 

Though as a feminist Latin American studies scholar I often included the wonderful range of Gloria's writings in my syllabi over the years, it is as a borderlands dwelling Jewish-Southern Baptist lesbian trying to find home myself that her power, love, and grace touched me the deepest...always helping me to find a sense of home in a caldron filled with so many opposites...to be enlivened by them rather than diminished by them...to treasure the struggle and the love together...siempre adelante, hermana, siempre adelante hacia mas luz, mas sombra, y mas amor.

C. Truelove

~   ~   ~

 

a candle seems lame
for you, fire espiritu
travelling again

tatiana de la tierra
(can't get you off my mind and heart)
25 de mayo de 2004, buffalo, nueva york

~   ~   ~

 

You must have been accustomed to people you had never met before coming up to you and speaking to you like a long-time friend. I had known you for years through your writing, when I finally met you in person. November 15, 2002 at the Esperanza Center in San Antonio. I was going through a really difficult time, wondering if I had taken a wrong turn in heading into academia.  I was falling, and your words held me up that evening. I remember how your energy just filled the room.

I waited in line to meet you after. You took at least five to ten minutes with each person, taking the time to listen. I told you that Borderlands/La Frontera was the first book I ever read by a Chicana from Tejas. I was 21 years old and had just graduated from college when I found it at the bookstore. As a mixed-race/chicana/tejana, it was the first time I really saw myself in the pages of a book. Now, a graduate student at UT-Austin, I was teaching your work to my students. I told you about my personal struggles and how your writing had fueled my desire to pursue my PhD. You listened as I told you that I found the world of academia so isolating now, that I was not sure if I would really get through this. You smiled knowingly and said, “you will…you will.”

Gloria, I set my dissertation defense date just the week before you left this world. I will be leaving Tejas this summer. You were and will continue to be an inspiration to me, and to so many others. Thank you for your words, your life, your vision. I will carry you with me always.

Julie A. Dowling
Austin, TX

~   ~   ~

 

Many times we found each other at Les Amis coffeeshop in Austin, back in the '70s when you were working on your masters at UT. We talked about writing, and about daily life, but I couldn't see much of you then, through the academic patina you were burnishing. When you moved to San Francisco and came out and sent me back the first exquisite poems from your new life, I was so startled and so moved. Then every time I saw you or heard of you, you had transformed again, like a bromeliad with many different blooms coming out from one another. This Bridge Called My Back convened a movement. Borderlands/La Frontera showed me how those who are looking deeply can read through the surface of one culture to the others it tried to drown. It dispelled the self-anointed normalcy of European culture. I who am atheist have Guadalupe all over my house, even in Canada, and argue about her meaning now even with priests, because of you. Remember Carmen Tafolla's poem about Chicana literature, how the professor told thegraduate student it couldn't be "quality literature" worthy of study? You made that professor (who was surely a real one) eat those words! I always wanted to read more and more then, and you were brooding over your drafts, living in them, keeping them warm, savoring each moment of writing, not in a hurry to finish. Someone will publish them all now, surely, and like so many you charmed and instructed and opened up, I will be waiting to know you more.

Frieda Werden
Vancouver, BC

~   ~   ~

 

thank you Gloria for the bridge you made me go through.

love,
manuela messina
Italy

~   ~   ~

 

Nepantleras walk the bridge between flesh and spirit, life and death, the in betweenness of earthly existence. Earth, a temporary space in an ever expansive, ever multiplying universe in which souls learn lessons, to teach, to do and undo, to create and destroy. We live here on this space, trapped and free, simultaneously.

Gloria lived among us, and now she has left, hovering over us, working the source of our healing, our confusion, our clarity. Working with radical people grasping for spirit, she is. Out of body, out of flesh, yet in the world, with us, for as long as we need her . . .
************************

I only met Gloria over email, to receive her comments in the process of writing and editing a piece for this bridge we call home. I received her personal self only over cyberspace. Yet I have been touched persistently, at different moments, at crucial moments when I longed to live free, to hold a vision for how to live queerly, to affirm desire, place, culture, revolution, community, solitude, through Gloria's writings. Through her I have found the courage to make many crossings, at many crossroads, at border checkpoints, at transformational moments of despair, in liminal political personal communal sexual spiritual spaces. I had hoped to meet her in the flesh. Now, with so many who loved her, I mourn her leaving.

I hope that all who loved her find comfort and peace.

Indigo Violet
Northampton, MA

~   ~   ~

 

I grew up where she grew up, in the Rio Grande Valley the only child of a Mexican father and a German American mother. I remember as a child thinking how I did not fit in and how i would hear the white kids knocking the Mexican kids in front of me because i looked "white" and i would say "I'm Mexican" and they would say "Not Mexicans like" and i was confused with this idea for a really long time--- where did i fit? what was i? It wasnt until i was back in college at the age of thirty (after having originally starting at Gloria's Alma Mater; Pan American University back in 1989). at Illinois State University where by accident I came accross her work in a compilation of literary theory. When i read these excerpts i cried from a feeling of empathy and the feeling that someone else had indeed been where i had been; i was not alone.... I found Borderlands/LA Frontera at a Barnes and Noble and devoured the book... I was a very wonderful experience to know that the outsider was not alone outside, but that there were thousands of us.... what else can i say? thank you Gloria for writing what you wrote for leaving us all something that helps understand ourselves.... the worst part about her leaving is we wont get anymore words from her....

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts,

Juventino Manzano

~   ~   ~

 

We can shed tears that she is gone,
or, we can smile because she has lived.
We can close our eyes and pray that
she'll come back, or, we can open our
eyes and see all she has left.

Our hearts can be empty because we
can't see her, or, we can be full of the
love she shared.
We can remember her and only that
she's gone, or, we can cherish her memory
and let it live on.

Requiescat in Pace, beloved friend.
Rose Provenzano
Baltimore, Maryland

~   ~   ~

 

Gloria Anzaldúa's writing electrified my thinking about racial identity, about sex, bodies, and writing, itself, and I am grateful for every one of her words. I have always read, taught, and written about Anzaldúa with a sense of anticipation for her future words, looking out at a horizon of ground she would break next. When I learned of her death, like others I first felt a void, the emptiness where her future words would have been. Then, after reading these dedications and declarations to Gloria, I realize that there is not a void but a passionate groundswell in her memory. The ground will continue to break. Just as diabetes caused a "shift" in her conocimiento, her death will keep us all shifting.

Suzanne Bost
Dallas, Texas

~   ~   ~

 

The deepest sadness at Gloria's passing compelled me to write this email. I was first introduced to her work by an outstanding professor at Humboldt State University, where I currently go to school. I'm graduating next semester & as an English major, I must write a thesis that 'sums' up what I've learned as a critical thinker. My intention had always been to write either about Gloria or June Jordan or bell hooks. Now with her passing, the choice is obvious. For me it's very fitting that Gloria be the focus of the summation of my college career. Her work has helped me in so many ways -- to understand better my place in this world, hell, to even understand that I have a valid place in this world. That is easily one of the greatest gifts I could ever hope for in my short 28 years...and all from an amazing woman I never even knew personally. Thank you Gloria.

Shannon Moore
Humboldt, California

~   ~   ~

 

Gloria considered herself a "teacher, healer, translator, mediator." Although I never met her in person, her writings inspired me, and I am saddened by her passing. Her writings made a deep impression on me when I received Interviews/Entrevistas to review for Texas Books in Review and read her words from a 1991 interview. She said, "When I was writing my children's book I read a lot of children's literature. I looked for Native American, Chicano, African American, and Asian American. More than any ethnic group most of the Native American books were written by white people. Some were beautiful and some were racist and misrepresented Native Americans. The same with Chicano children's lit. Here were these white people writing about Chicano themes, using stereotypical scenarios. That really upsets me. From the first year of school, these children get indoctrinated, get used to seeing themselves through the eyes of the dominant culture." (Routledge, p. 190)

In 1983 Gloria said, "I really do believe that we have to create our souls, we have to keep evolving as souls, as minds, as bodies--on all the different planes. If it takes adversity to force us to learn, to do, to create souls, to evolve, then we're going to get adversity." (Interviews/Entrevistas, p. 75) What a beautiful soul she created and shared with us!

Sherry York

~   ~   ~

 

Me siento muy afligida, deeply saddened by the passing of Gloria Anzaldua. This sense of loss at the passing of someone I never met, its a lot like how I felt when Audre Lorde left us. The world is less safe without these great sisters; the journey lonelier. I will go back to Gloria's writings, again and again. Her work was central to my own work in mulitculturalism and living in la frontera. Her name, the very first entry in the bibliography of my thesis. Next Tuesday I will preach at the Capital Pride Interfaith Service here in Washington, DC. I will dedicate my words to her memory. This Cuban embraces you, my Chicana sisters, in your sorrow.

Mari Elena Castellanos
Washington D.C.

~   ~   ~

 

It is with much sadness i write to you Gloria.  my ego asks you for another
decade and my spirit says "she done here, she making new paths for us in the next life..." And i say thank you Gloria for years of community building and activism. You are missed and honored, always remembered. Aloha `oe,

Tei Okamoto
San Francisco, California

~   ~   ~

 

Gloria se fue a la Gloria, pero we have and will always have her great poetry, her prose and her spirit; a True Tejana, a Feminist and a real Chicana author, sin bacilar. Her presence as we read her works will be felt. Gloria, ahora si duerme, mereces tu descanzo.

Enriqueta "Queta" Ramos

~   ~   ~

 

Dearest Gloria:
Thank you for writing Borderlands/La Frontera, a book that made me realize that I wasn't the only one walking in two worlds belonging to neither. Your passing makes Heaven a much better place to visit now.

Shirl Ann Mora James
Lincoln, Nebraska

~   ~   ~

 

My first writing residency was at Hedgebrook, on Whidbey Island in Washington. The first or second night there the other five writers and I sat in the farmhouse with a fire blazing and read through the journals the previous residents had left and marveling at our good fortune to be in the presence of the spirits of these amazing women writers and rebels. We read name after name, until one of the writers said, "Look!" and we all crossed the room to look at Gloria's name inscribed there. Together we breathed her name. "Gloria Anzaldua was here." Then someone said, "No fucking around tomorrow, mujeres. It's gonna be all about writing to change the world." We were awestruck, and her example informed our stay. Rest in peace, Gloria. Your example is still informing our stay.

Natalie Smith Parra

~   ~   ~

 

I feel so terrible finding out so late about the passing of one of the rarest and most brilliant writers of our people. Gloria Anzaldua's writings gave me comfort that someone else Mexicana y feminista thought the same way I did about the politics surrounding our identity. It is hard enough to live as a Mexican-American woman in this country. It is frightening lonely to live as a Mexican-American feminist among La Raza. If it were not for the writings of Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, and Cherrie Moraga I would not see the point to reading, writing, or even living. I cried as soon as I heard the news. I cry for the loss and the loneliness I feel. So few Chicanas are as uniquely perceptive, analytical, and as damn brilliant as Gloria Anzaldua. I need to read all her works again, so I don't feel so alone.

Xochitl Primavera
Seattle, WA

~   ~   ~

 

I met Gloria at the first Latina Lesbian Open Mic at UC Santa Cruz in the ARC, I think in 2002. The night before I called my older sister, Carmen, who is a big fan of hers to let me know if she would've liked me to give Gloria a message. I told Carmen how intimidated I was of someone so important to my life, how I craved words to share with her, but none came to mind. Carmen told me, "why don't you ask her what inspired her to get through school, since that seems to be one of the main themes in your life right now."

The next night I read my poems with all the passion I found in me that night. I read them to her. As the event was dying down, I saw her outside by herself, so I decided to approached her then ('cause it was my chance). I asked her my only question and she responded with "I enjoyed you're poetry in there. You should keep writing! It is with that same passion I keep going. You just find a way you know?" Her eyes seemed so deep when she told me those words. Someone then interupted us to let Gloria know how big of a fan they were too. It was the first and last time i saw her. Gloria, thank you so much for the emotions you created in me! They are unbelievable.

with so much love
Virginia Marisol Lorenzana
Santa Cruz, California

~   ~   ~

 

(I am whispering your name Gloria, as I write this message.) I want to let your sisters know that there was a beautiful memorial in your honor this past weekend in San Francisco and a living altar for you will remain awhile in the Women's Building.

To the grieving community, if you like, you can visit the altar, add something, give the flowers some water, or bring some fresh ones. At this altar you will see the love and spirit that joined more than 100 women and men, jotas, queers, dykes, straight allies, transfolk, bisexuals and those who even do, as Cherrie said of you Gloria, those who do "queer" queerly. (!)

The Women's Building is located near the 16th Street Bart at 3543 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. The altar is truly beautiful and filled with the love that was passed from Gloria to us.

Jamie Lee Evans

~   ~   ~

 

We have not met. I am a person, once a student, whose life you have helped to make clear. In that sense, I am your student despite this being the first time that I’m trying to communicate with you. I read Borderlands/La Frontera in my junior year of college while studying in Nicaragua. As I read your words - those words that told me I was okay, that I did not have to exist in narrow alleys separating my being from myself - I knew that I had found a text indelible to my life and a writer who had tapped deeply the water beneath life’s roots.

I had been tortured for a long time by some seemingly irresolvable contradictions of identity: Chinese by ancestry and acclimated to the United States, a biological male who never enjoyed self-identifying as a “man.” Reading your work, it suddenly all made sense, that I could be both; that I did not have to exist in the narrow binary of either “this” or that,” but that I could be “this” and “that.” Both Chinese and of the United States; both colonized and colonizer in thinking and sometimes in action. Accused of being a traitor by both sides. Both man and woman; having a body not reflective of the spectrum of my soul. Accused of being a traitor by both sides. 

You built a mirror for yourself and in this mirror, too, I saw myself.

What’s more, I saw that “what’s wrong” is not who we are: It isn’t us who need to be assimilated, erased, blotted out. The problem, you wrote, is the system of ideologies that cleave apart our lives and bodies, that creates “the other,” that demands we see everything in terms of irreconcilable opposites, that began the splitting of the world and is paving the highways of this path to world annihilation.

Your work has illuminated for me a threshold between choosing to process my seeming contradictions as a personal/political project and choosing to acquiesce to suffering/auto-genocide. Becoming more aware of the threshold also revealed where my life had taken a wrong turn: I had relied only on the rational, the linear, what you call the “right handed” world and in so doing I starved the creative, the dark, the “left handed” world that moves by circles. I am crossing this threshold.

“Thank you” is not enough, but thank you for acknowledging, visioning, and inspiring. I hope that I can meet you one day to say this to you face to face.

With Faith and Struggle in my Heart,
Anonymous

~   ~   ~

 

I knew Gloria since the early 1980’s. I was a young writer in San Francisco. Of course I had read her work and we always had a lovely connection when we met, but I was not a close personal friend. (Years later I remember we spoke on a panel together on the subject of Spirituality and Politics at Outwrite, the national G/L/B writers conference). I spent a year in Asia in the mid 80’s. I had gone to spend a year in China. It was the first time I’d ever been in Asia in my life. I was 29, 30, wandering around with a backspack. I quickly became disillusioned with China and decided to go to India. A few short months earlier they had opened the first overland border crossing from China to Pakistan, so I decided to make a big circle and travel by land out of China over the Silk Road through Pakistan into India.

Once you leave the central part of China the people in the northwest have brown hair and green eyes. They are Yigurs -- Muslim in religion, and wear shaved heads and long beards, the women, veils. This area was a stone’s throw from what at that time was the U.S.S.R. and sandwiched between that country and China. Between Pakistan and India there was tremendous animosity. You could see it in the newspaper every day in Pakistan, in the rhetoric -- an intense, active hatred of its neighbor. India and Pakistan still kept armed troops at 18,000 feet in the frozen mountains around the disputed Kashmir, troops which had been there since the 1940’s. And yet, to my outside eye, the people had exactly the same customs, food, clothing, racial heritage. Due to the division after WW II they were separated into two countries – their chief difference being their religions.

As I moved through these different areas over a period of weeks I thought a lot about borders. About their arbitrariness. Their permeability. Because what I saw moving across these political, sometimes cultural, sometimes religious borders was the alikeness of their human condition. The people everywhere all aspired, they all were in struggle, they all labored under various constraints. I was pondering the word, Borders, Boundaries. And Gloria came to mind. I had an image of her, of her in the southwest, that brown, bare, ancient, desert part of the north American continent. I came to understand what she meant in her thinking on this subject but in a larger picture, on a world scale. This image of her and the southwest stayed with me for a long time as I traveled these artificial, manmade “borders.”

A couple months ago I saw a special on educational TV about how scientists have been able to trace DNA back to its origins in Africa, and follow its route around the world. It had traveled by water up to the northwest area of China -- India wasn’t there, it hadn’t collided into Asia -- and at that point split. The DNA went east to China and the rest of Asia. And then it went West into Europe. They even found this man who was the DNA descendent of the original ancestor at this critical genetic crossroads. He looked just like the shaved headed, Eurasian, green eyed men I saw there. When they filmed him he looked bewildered and jiggled his baby daughter on his lap in his wood shack home.

A lot of people spoke at the memorial about how Gloria will reach out to us from the other side. I felt like I was on the other side, out in the hinterlands, before email and cell phones and the global village, and even though I was did not know her well, she spoke to me. Her web cast large.

Canyon Sam
San Francisco, California

~   ~   ~

 

In honor of the woman-warrior-poet who so many years ago instructed: "put your shit on the page." I and so many others have benefited from your voice, your courage and your spirit. It is a thrilling and marvelous thing to occupy a space/world peopled by such an extra(or)dinary woman such as yourself. "So long as (wo)men shall breathe and eyes can see / So, long lives this and this gives life to thee."

In friendship and love,
Cheryl
Lexington, Kentucky

~   ~   ~

 

In 1992 I left Santa Cruz and the people who meant the most to me for Germany. After 12 years, I got back to this country mid-April. I missed you by a month, Gloria.  I came back to write in my mother tongue and it would have meant so much to hook up with one of my first teachers - teacher of words and images, teacher of life, teacher of friendship... What I learned from you I take with me on my continued journey toward life-death.

How can someone die of diabetes in the most highly developed country in the Western world? This place is insane.  Spiritually speaking: you were an early bird. Everything happened to you early - that is one of the reasons that, without making much ado about it, you were a healer.

I am glad your face was peaceful.  Soar on Gloria.

Audrey Berlowitz
Durham, North Carolina

~   ~   ~

 

I teach poetry to inner-city kids, kids who have never really read any poetry, sometimes not even Shel Silverstein. I read them Gloria Anzaldua's "To Live in the Borderlands" and it never fails to open up even the angriest, wildest kid.  I then have them write their own "borderlands" poems telling of ways that they are split. They write of divorce, pets, parents in jail, sports, violence, being foster kids, Jesus, their homelands, etc.  I have never taught a poem with quite the resonance of that one.

I remember seeing her read once, and she read a few poems and them aimed the mic at the audience, asking us to talk with her.   We all just sat there, used to poets being very "precious." She was open and raw and exciting in her presentation and I have never forgotten that.

Maureen O'Brien
Connecticut

~   ~   ~

 

le doy gracias a nuestra hermana gloria por el amor que nos ofrecio al escribir, al existir...she guided us blind ones, put the words in our mouths...in countless ways because of you we speak...

i was as broken as a young displaced chicanita could be cuando me llego la Gloria and rescued me on her devout seaside sunset walks...

she reminded me i could, she brought jamoncillo and tonantzin back into my life
and afternoons of dancing with words, i couldn't wait to get there...la Gloria always just a step, a breath away...

daily, she listened to her soul and those around hers
calmly she asked, and what of today
and waited

she has come closer, not farther from us all

she asks that we listen

in a time of such violent and rampant destruction
upon the face of this world

she asks to speak
through us

the spirit of Gloria lives
teaches, breathes,
ignites beauty, peace and joy
in our hearts

let us listen to, let us remember her spirit
and do it justice
by making our world a better place

en lucha y libertad,
clarissa rojas

~   ~   ~

 

For the past two years, I have been working on a Master's thesis based on the insights and philosophy of Gloria Anzaldua. Her contributions to my field, rhetoric, form a permanent challenge to and diversion from the hyper-rational death trip charted out by Western man from Aristotle onwards. On each rereading, Borderlands/The New Mestiza opens up new vistas for feminism, literature, history, sociology and perhaps new disciplines which will follow upon her work. Her passing leaves a great big hole in the world, yet what she left continues to inspire me to surpass received wisdom and find a core of spiritual knowledge within. Gloria, gracias para todos!

Alex S. Johnson
Dominguez Hills, California

~   ~   ~

 

Gloria was a great inspiration to me with her wisdom, her kindness and generosity. I mourn the passing of a great spirit, someone who was a friend and careful mentor. To our little group of "Quelites" writers, she was a shining light. She was someone who encouraged me to reach deeper for words than I thought I could, someone I will not forget.

Kleya Forte-Escamilla
Davis, California
 

~   ~   ~

Mándenos sus pensamientos en Gloria /
Send your thoughts and wishes

Please note: this is simply a link to send an email message.  If it's not working for some reason, simply send your own email to altar@chicanas.com.  Si esta link no sirve, por favor, mande su mensaje por su email program regular a altar@chicanas.com

Please try to keep your reflections a reasonable length.  As the saying goes, "use as much space as you need, but not all that you want."

~   ~   ~

rev. 9pm 10/6/04

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