Tying in with the common book, <a href=”http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520275140″>Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies</a> by Seth Holmes, this week’s selections included: a prose piece from Richard Rodriguez titled “Mexico’s Children” from <a href=”http://books.wwnorton.com/books/978-0-393-32600-0/”>Short Takes</a>, ed. Judith Kitchen, and a poem by Rafael Campo titled “The Common Mental Health Disorders of Immigrants”, section I, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his book <a href=”http://www.rafaelcampo.com/”>Alternative Medicine</a>.
We opened the session with an internal meditation focusing on centering and breathing. I asked that we think of 3 words or images that described the day so far and to write them down along with any observations about their bodily awareness. Then, I asked that we think of three words or phrases that someone has said, or might say, about your cultural or ethnic background and write those down. Next we read “Mexico’s Children” by Rodriguez, a Mexican-American man who writes about being brown in America. This selection focuses on the dislocation of Mexicans who work in the US as laborers but often travel back to Mexico when harvest season is over. It is about identity and memory. We focused on the various ways that Rodriguez points out these issues. Then we wrote about our own childhoods and now from a cultural perspective. I suggested that we might consider an image or metaphor that is a bridge between then and now.
Next we read the 1st section of Campo’s poem about Mental Health Disorders, called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Campo is Cuban-American and a medical doctor who teaches and works in Boston, MA. This poem also looks at immigrants and considers their crossing over the border from Mexico to the US and its attendant stresses compared to the stresses in a “reality” TV show called Survivor. From this poem we either used a few words or a whole line to begin our own poem about a health issue that we are familiar with from our own family backgrounds or personal lives.
We closed the session with another internal scan of our bodies and breathing to see what, if anything, had changed as a result of our writing.
[posted on behalf of Suzanne Edison]