In preparation for the composition of VERDAD (True), I was granted access to interviews from the Latinx Oral History Project housed in the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, Northern Illinois University. I worked there with director of the Center, Dr. Christina Abreau.
These interviews were eloquent and deeply inspiring. I recognized many common themes woven through each person’s unique story. Powerfully, it is clear that regardless of the age of each interviewee, at the center of each person’s story is “the child” who is caught up in the story’s past and its future while the living vividly in the present. Each story was rich in memory: memories of life, customs and family; memories of reasons why the family migrated; memories of school; and so on… It struck me that children caught up in the flow of their family’s actions have no agency. The “child” lived at the center of each of these interviews. What happened, how it felt then and how it feels now puts us right next to the child in the story, whether we want to be there or not. I worked the poetry of Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral to create VERDAD (True), inspired by true stories of Virginia Olivares, Elisa Flores Mejia, Ruben Molina, Juan Molina Hernandez, Gabriela Salas, José Luis Escalante, Erik Flores, Elisa Flores Mejía, Luis Navaes, Maribel Toboda and Maria Isabel Valdovinos-Bhatia.
1. Es Verdad (True) An invocation that, regardless of circumstance, faith leads to us believe that El Angel Guardián is with children wherever children go.
2. Peicecitos (Little feet) The little feet of children are a metaphor for innocence. The poem asks the question “how can people pass and not see you?”
3. Me adormici una noche (That one night I fell asleep) The poem is a reflection on the pain of being separated from the child.
4. Un Angel Guardián (Guardian Angel) The Guardian Angel is with us. 5. Devuelva (Return) A reflection on leaving and returning; celebration of cultural soul, cultural roots and heritage; joy of cultural bond; hope, anticipation, joy in the return.