A spider’s web is stronger than it looks. Although it is made of thin, delicate strands, the web is not easily broken. (Charlotte’s Web, EB White)
During Texas Halloweens we had no need for decorations.
The entrance to our house in San Marcos was laced with webs that regenerated as quickly as connective tissue. My daughter and I had the nerve to hang fake webs—later we’d find very, very real spiders outnumbering the plastic ones.
I’m not an arachnophobe.
Growing up in New York meant seeing spiders mostly anthropomorphized in narratives like Anansi trickster tales, Spiderman comic books, and E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (whose title character gives birth to a spiderling whose name I shared).
Two Octobers ago I met my very own Charlotte. Let’s call her Nancy, and this her belated obituary.
A crew of hyphenated Americans travels to Mexico’s oldest canoe race
by Nelly Rosario
DURANGO, México—Follow the locals. Own a Velox Attack. Break your paddle.
This is how an American wins the oldest and longest kayak race in Mexico, held every July. Tommy Yonley is the first U.S. racer to compete in the 49th Río Nazas Gran Regata. Boasting more than 100 competitors and thousands of spectators, the three-day race in Durango state is 90 miles of hard paddling down the river that inspired the event’s motto: Lagunero, conoce tu río.
The locals know their river, or at least fear and revere it.
Without an outlet to sea, the flow of the Nazas is bipolar: raging floods one season, no river at all the next. Droughts caused the regata to be canceled twice in its history, and during dry season the racers train on irrigation canals. “Competitors from other regions tease locals for not having ‘a real river to practice on,’” jokes Jorge Ramírez, a past Junior Division winner. Even if they could practice on the Nazas year-round, veteran racer Carlos Garza says that the river’s character changes between training runs and the race itself.
Those who’ve seen this devil dry know where his bumps are.
The earliest locals called the river Tlahualilo, Nahuatl for “the devil”. Then came the Spaniards, who took particular interest in the nasas they saw being used for fishing and renamed the river after those small baskets. The Nazas basin is itself a basket, a vein in the desert that has also earned it the title the Nile of Mexico. Hoarding of the river in the past caused violent feuds among the area’s cotton barons, sometimes resulting in the dynamiting of dams, until the government appointed a commission for equitable distribution of the waters.
The office of Darío Medina, Municipal President of the City of Nazas, is decorated with nasa miniatures. He’ll tell you in simple terms why the river remains an issue in local politics today and why his constituents prefer to call it Padre Nazas: “He feeds us.”
RGB: Batey Macorix is the wild result of a dance-theater collaboration between myself and choreographer Sita Frederick. The text I composed for this piece borrows from Afro-Dominican and Caribbean vernacular, as well as from the color-building language of digital graphic-design tutorials, to highlight the inherent absurdities of racial categorization.
Thursday, May 2, 2013 • 5:00 PM • SAC 2.304
John L. Warfield Center for African and
University of Texas- Austin
Thank you to Sheila Maldonado, Mayanish scribe, for passing the baton.
What is the working title of the book?
Three Eyes. Pretty original. The title’s derived from Los Tres Ojos, a complex of three underground lagoon ‘eyes’ in the Dominican Republic, each of whose waters exhibit different chemical and physical properties.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve been thinking a lot about sight, perception, what the eye means in its literal form. As the organ that detects light, the eye represents the kind of optimism I’d like to see more of in literature.
What genre does your book fall under?
Speculativish fiction, science writing, anatomical art.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m supposed to say Zoe Saldaña. I would actually love the fire brought on by legendary Cuban actress Daisy Granados.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The eye sees everything but itself: What happens when a doctor gets a taste of her own medicine?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
t= 299,792,458 meters/c
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Our cultural obsession with the ocular. The fact that the eye’s complexity momentarily threw a wrench in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. The fact that among my childhood friends were two blind sisters who were my neighbors in Brooklyn and happened to attend a school for the blind near my father’s job in Manhattan. The fact that I have 20/18 vision. That ‘eye’ and ‘I’ are homophones, that ‘ojo’ is a palindrome.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It has pictures!
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m currently working on the collaborative graphic-novel and literacy-education initiative, desveladas: a fotonovela. Along with poet Sheila Maldonado and multimedia journalist Macarena Hernández, we’re remixing the fotonovela as comic reportage, poetry, memoir, and graphic novel. The intersecting narratives of three insomniacs whose passports are denied at the Sleep Border unfold through video stills, photographs, documents, and original text that we’ve compiled since 9/11. From this book project will emerge a photo-writing and digital-literacy workshops to be taught at public schools.