Ariana Brown – “Volver, Volver” (CUPSI 2014)


How does one lose an accent? coat the tongue in ice and watch the frosted
muscle forget all its memories? Mexico, a country which once included a third
of the United States, is home to the largest Spanish speaking population in the world. My grandmother attended public school in Texas
in the fifties, before it was legal to speak her native tongue in a classroom. As a child, my mother tells me I am African
American Mexican. This means nothing to me. Often, she instructs me to speak like I have heritage,
respect, a mouth of my own. But in Texas, Mexicans who speak Spanish are also called niggers. 1. Nigger wraps itself around the coils of my
hair and speaks. The beginning of mirrors is the beginning of the end. I am six years old and ending all
over. 2. 48% of the world’s black population resides
in Latin America. 3. The first time I heard mariachis was in a
restaurant, or at a parade, or an outdoor theater somewhere. I remember admiring the lone woman in the group,
her green polyester, the way she made her whole body a song, the whole song a mountain, her
mouth a red sun spilling with hurt. 4. Years later, at a play in my hometown of San
Antonio, a stranger asks me a question in Spanish. I answer, pronouncing each syllable with the
pride I inherited. Frustrating, how it is easier to communicate
with a stranger than my own grandmother, that despite four and a half years of Spanish classes,
I am still afraid that in front of my family, my shivering tongue will shake to a western rhythm, dry out, and
die. 5. In Austin, it is normal to insult a Mexican
street name, extract its religion and graze it irreverently down to Gwad-uh-loop instead of troubling oneself
with Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexican people, la morena dark like we are, sacred like our
names have always been. 6. I am always amazed that the ability to forget
history is a choice for some people, instead of an ancestral battle against hating the self and all its
words for being. 7. Can you still be considered an immigrant if
you are travelling to a place that was yours to begin with? 8. When I correct other people’s Spanish, I
am often met with a laugh and the occasional “I’m white” as if that was an excuse to be anything but sorry. 9. Each letter in the Spanish alphabet will almost
always make the same sound, no matter what word it appears in. despite the excuses, pronunciation
is not difficult. 10. My mother’s favorite mariachi song is “Volver,
Volver”, a story of unrequited love and the desire to come home. 11. In times of crisis, the mouth will bake the
air inside it: choose to remain silent to survive. The slow heat produces a small sun. To keep the sun from
breaking on its way out of the mouth, the tongue must reacquaint itself with the work of legacy. 12. The work is never done.

87 thoughts on “Ariana Brown – “Volver, Volver” (CUPSI 2014)

  1. This performance was so visceral and so beautiful. Her pain was so apparent that feeling with her was as easy as drifting off to sleep. Superb poem.

  2. This poem is good. But Spanish is a colonel language. There are very few native South Americans because the Spanish killed them all. 

  3. IM AMAZED. Goosebumps all over, for the third time now. Her words reached out to my very own emotions and sorrow about this topic, incredible.

  4. México es y será tu hogar por siempre! Tu casa está en un mapa tu hogar está en tu corazón.
    Saludos de una Libanesa/mexicana

    Mexico is and it will be your home forever! Your house it's on a map, but your home it's on your heart.
    Greetings from a Lebanese/Mexican.

  5. "Can you still be considered an immigrant if you're travelling to a place that was yours to begin with?"

  6. 2:25  These are my feelings EXACTLY, I am not hispanic but in spanish class people fail at pronunciation. Spanish is easy to speak (though I cannot roll my Rs), and when people can't figure out what sounds to make as they are reading out loud, I kinda question the ability to read.

  7. This is amazing. I write poetry and this was just freaking great. I loved it, it had me on the edge of tears the whole time. I really hope Ariana continues down this path and ends up putting a body of work out. I would definitely buy it and support it. Congratulations, hope to hear more!

  8. so it's okay to speak English with a Spanish accent, but speaking Spanish with a "white" accent is being disrespectful? (not trying to hate, this was a beautiful poem)

  9. Awesome…!
    Just a clarification:
    Is not just in Austin that is normal to insult a "mexican street name". It is everywhere, even in Mexico itself, even we as Mexicanos insult the sole name of the nation that we claim to be proudly from by pronouncing it as Mecsico. Si somomos mexicanos entoces digamoslo correcto. Next time someone ask we are you coming from. Say it right, it is Mexico (or even bether "Meshíco" the sound of the nahuatl original name) no mecsico. Don't be lame..!

  10. No tenia idea de tanto dolor, tu poema me ha conmovido. Con todo respeto, un abrazo desde México a todos ustedes que han vivido lo mismo, y aun así no niegan sus raices.

  11. Linda, Hermana. stumbled upon this learning Volver Volver Volver, I had to share this my daughter, after spilling a tear or two, who will feel this; thanks for your words apasionado, paz, Tbone

  12. I love her poems so much, she speaks so eloquently, and I understand the frustration she must feel when people butcher her language and then laugh it off
    BUT
    I have a right to my skin colour too. There was one sentence that fully raised my hackles. Being white does not equal having to be sorry. I have never set foot in America or Mexico, and neither have any of my ancestors in the history of human beings. I am a New Zealander and we have a culture of our very own – I don't belong to "White" culture, because there is no such thing as white culture. I wish I could just live my life and meet people with a friendly smile without worrying "oh, they're not white, I'd better be extra careful to not be white too." Teach acceptance of all, not acceptance of one at the expense of another.

  13. You simply left me speechless. Not only are your words out of this world but you are also a magician at portraying your poetry. I loved it.

  14. Your palabras are a regalo, en este mundo and forever after ,siempre, senorita Brown, Gracias, Chaltu may , thank you🖤🖤🖤🖤

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