Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review with Q & A: Codeswitch: Fires from Mi Corazon by Iris De Anda



Review and Q&A: CODESWITCH: Fires from Mi Corazón
Author: Iris De Anda, http://irisdeanda.com
Pages: 128 
Publisher: Los Writers Underground Press

I found myself exhausted after the first section (Rage), It was intense and powerful. Iris De Anda sections off her book Codeswitch into what she calls four-chambers: Rage/Coraje, Love/Amor, Revolution/Revolucíon, and Evolution/Evolucíon. There's no doubt in the heart and conviction of this poets purpose. 

I tried ingesting too much, too fast and was happy to see the next section was called Love. In Rage she pushes the reader to the limit with a fight, a grito, a punch in the gut and a realization that there is more to come. 

"Who's throwing the dice
keeping the score
talk of evolution
contemplate redemption
of the human
here comes the Revolution..."

-excerpt from Wake Up

You can hear the war drums and anxiety in the air. In Batalla, She reminds us that Cinco de Mayo is not a commercial holiday, but a constant battle of a people and generations fighting a revolution every day within our communities.  

"This is not my abuela's memory
History distorted as it may be
is not for sale..."

I could empathize with the author in "Nowhere Girl" a heart wrenching litany of despair and angst. De Anda did a beautiful job in following the first section (chamber) with Love. It is  salve to the soul after a riot. 

I took special liking to "Sage for The Silent Ones", Like incense going up to heaven...an offering to the souls of children in Newtown, the Gaza strip, along our borders and all over the world. Such a timely piece that of course-continues to remind us of those seeking hope. 

It's rage, love, revolution, evolution...most importantly though, It's not just poetry...Iris De Anda finds a way to heal.


Q & A with poet, author, activist and practitoner of the healing arts-
Iris De Anda

1. How did evolve into the poet you are now? I started writing when I was 13 years old. I think I always wanted to make music, so I would write ideas for songs. Then when I was 15 I read some of these lyrics at my first open mic. I was hooked on the idea that people could relate to my words. I kept writing for myself for years. Then while attending UCSC I had a friend who read my work and said I should be doing Spoken Word. I began sharing again on campus. Then I withdrew from school. Who needs to pay so much $ for creative writing degree? I continued to write for myself. Then in 2010, I was invited to read again for the first time in 10 years. This peaked in me the curiosity that even after all this time there were words I needed to share.  It hasn't stopped since.

2. What book are you reading now? I am currently reading:

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1st time I read him cause he showed up in my dreams and introduced himself).

Mastery of Awareness living the agreements by Do~na Bernadette Vigil

A Course in Miracles

I tend to read roughly three books at a time. So many books, so little time.

3. In your collection Codeswitch: Fires from mi Corazon, I found myself exhausted after the first section (Rage), It was intense and powerful. Can you describe the process of putting it all together and what you wanted the reader to feel? When I decided to put the book together a lot of the ideas came organically. The title came to me before drifitng to sleep one night. The idea for the 4 Chapters or Chambers came from the title. I think our intention gives everything meaning and I wanted there to be a symbolism of me laying my Corazon on the line. The 4 Chambers are cycles I've gone thru. It's my own personal medicine wheel. The emotions that drive my writing and the fact that they change in time with me. I wanted the reader to feel the rage that comes so naturally to us all at some point in our life, the love that follows that tunnel, the revolution which means our turn for change, and the evolution that follows. Anger will only fuel you for so long but love is everlasting. Things happen in life that will draw upon that rage yet the desire to change those things must come from love. 

4. Can you describe the community of poets you work with? And who are they? I am lucky to be surrounded by a beautiful and diverse group of poets. Some of the groups I work with are Poets Responding to SB1070: poetry of resistance, the here and now poets, the Revolutionary Poets Brigade, Poesia para la Gente, and Las Lunas Locas amongst many others who influence and inspire me.

5. What's your favorite comfort food? My favorite comfort food is burritos de asada. I was vegetarian for years and years and then suddenly I wasn't. Shh.


Reviewed by: Edward Vidaurre

Edward Vidaurre has been been published in several anthologies and literary journals among them La Bloga, La Tolteca Zine, Bordersenses, Interstice, La Noria Literary Journal, Boundless Anthology of the Valley International Poetry Festival 2011-2013. He’s had two books published -'I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip' (Slough Press 2013) and ‘Insomnia’ (El Zarape Press 2014). He also co-edited TWENTY-Poems in Memoriam and Boundless 2014 the Anthology of the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival. He is the founder of the reading series-Pasta, Poetry & Vino. Vidaurre lives in Edinburg, TX