Tuesday, August 23, 2005


THE EL BARRIO Art Fest 2005 was a truly awesome experience, one of the best events of my book tour so far. The music was fantastic, the spoken word/poetry pieces were powerful, and the art exhibits were excellent. The Fest took me back home to my raices and I was honored to be in the presence of such talent. It was wonderful to interact with participants and fellow artists, especially mi gente.

I HAD A Free Book Giveaway raffle (free) for Choose Me. Elisa Ortiz was the lucky winner! In addition, I sold several copies of Choose Me. One potential customer (African American guy with a Latina mate) wanted to purchase a copy – with a hundred-dollar bill! But alas, I could not find anyone with change (the Fest was free). I told him he could purchase the book at any bookstore, or online and he said, “but it won’t be signed by you.” (Sweet, or as Boricuas like to say, “que lindo.”)

I HAD COMMISSIONED an artist to air-brush the Choose Me cover art on T-shirts (for promotional purposes only). I met Mr. Turtel Onli, a Hyde Park “rhythmistic” artist, at an art festival (Palmer Square Art Fest) the previous Saturday. My sisters, niece and nephew all wore the T-shirts. We got a lot of compliments, attention, and people who expressed an interest in purchasing a T-shirt.

I SINCERELY HOPE the participants will continue to support the Puerto Rican arts and cultural community. It was a chance to experience the diversity of Puerto Rican culture and prove that we are not just about frituras and reggaeton. (I feel a poem coming on—see end of entry.)

THERE WAS A photographer who wants to feature me in a photography book on positive images of Latinos. She started off by asking me if I read in Spanish, and I replied, “Bien slowly” (her release forms were in Spanish). So she proceeds to tell me about her book, which sounds like a great concept. I was like, “where do I sign up?” even when she said she couldn’t pay me. I told her I didn’t care, I would be honored to participate in such a project (by the way, she bought the book).

AFTER BEING AT the Fest for 8 hours (artists had to be there two hours prior to start time), my body ached as if I had run a marathon. Maybe it was sitting for long stretches of time, with no food except two coconut ice creams, but I woke up so tired Sunday morning that I didn’t want to go anywhere. I even let my daughter use the car to go to work—so you KNOW I was tired!

THANKS TO MY wonderful supportive family who showed up (sisters, son, niece, nephew, two uncles, two aunts, three cousins, and their friends), I had plenty of people to cover my table so I could get up and enjoy the music and performances and absorb the exhibits).

MY NIECE, ENJOLI, and nephew, Delwin (aka Toogie) gave a wonderful, dramatic reading from the Prologue in Choose Me. My nephew, in particular, did an awesome job reading in his deep, baritone voice (you wouldn’t know it by looking at his 105-pound body). I’m telling you (and I’ve told him before), the boy should be an actor, and hopefully he will study acting (as an elective) when he starts Northeastern U this Fall. My recently-SIU-graduate niece also did great (even though she redesigned her Choose Me T-shirt to look “cute”).

El Barrio Art Fest 2005

the diversity of Puerto Rican culture
was evident at
El Barrio Art Fest 2005
mi gente, with music, art, words
proved that we are not just
about frituras and reggaeton
refrains of “black woman with the blonde wig on,
black woman with the blonde wig on”
and Pinero’s “scatter my ashes on the Lower East side”
by griots of Urban Theatre Company
and dreadlocked breakdancing boricuas
influenced by the sacred beats of
bomba y plena of my Wela’s generation
& Batey Urbano’s poem of gentrification
& Cecelia’s abichuelas sin arroz
& Lola’s no-face ragdolls
conjured up images of
¿y tu aguela ‘onde ‘ta?
honoring the African
in all of us
took me back, back, way back
home, home to my raices
to Puerto Rico
where I wasn’t born
but my heart still lives

— Xenia Ruiz

Love, Peace & Soul
Amor, Paz y Alma


At September 07, 2005 4:09 PM, Blogger Dee said...

Great blog. Love the t-shirt. Keep writing.

At September 08, 2005 11:48 PM, Blogger LaEquis said...

Thanks for the compliment & thanks for visiting, Dee!


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