Academic journal article MELUS

The Politics of Language: Latina Writers in United States Literature and Curricula

Academic journal article MELUS

The Politics of Language: Latina Writers in United States Literature and Curricula

Article excerpt

A few years ago Nuyorican poet Sandra Maria Esteves came to Mount Holyoke College to read from her new collection, Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo. A vibrant, warm, humorous woman, I was struck by the generosity but also by the passion with which she shared her poems. Esteves spoke of "creating poems from the ashes of charred histories / ... focusing the tip of this superfluous pen / from a ragged surface into a balanced line of dignity / opening doors to the unspoken..." (1990, 82), and I was struck once again by the fact that this literature deserves a much wider audience than it has thus far generally had. "Invisible," Esteves called her type of literature, reminding her audience that:

Images of women come in multiple shades.

Tints and lights of prism-fractured textures

forming semi-precious facets,

opaque, clear, crystalline,

capturing color blends of unrecorded histories... (36)

The incorporation of the literature of Latino/a writers into U.S. college curricula has traditionally been a thorny issue, principally because of a linguistic dilemma that places many of these authors squarely into a Catch-22 situation: English departments tend to shy away from writings that contain Spanish words and Spanish departments are loath to teach texts that are at least partially--or totally--in English. In this study I propose to look at some examples of Latina literature, to examine the reasons for the particular choice of the language in which they write, and to advocate for the inclusion of this literature into the curricula of both English and Spanish departments.


Who or what is a Latino/a? In his 1990 article on Latino writers, Earl Shorris ran squarely into this problem of definition: "No one is really quite certain about who exactly qualifies as Latino--or whether Latino, Hispanic, Spanish, Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Nuevo Mexicano, Puerto Rican, Neorican, Borinqueno, Puertorriqueno or other apellations are proper names.... How shall the category be defined? By ancestry? Surname? Subject matter? Or geography?" (27). In the creation of our book Breaking Boundaries: Latina Writing and Critical Readings, my co-editors and I had a similar struggle with the definition of this politically sensitive term, finally concluding that a Latina is a woman of Latin American origin or descent who resides more or less permanently in the United States, who may choose to express herself in Spanish or English or both, but who identifies with a Latin heritage rather than opting to assimilate into the dominant Anglo culture of this country.(1) The general preference for the term "Latina" over "Hispanic" is again a political statement, for the latter adjective is perceived as a term imposed on Latino groups by the Anglos (Ortega 163), yet a perusal of their work shows that even among the Latinos themselves use of this adjective is not yet universal (cf. the title of Evangelina Vigil's anthology, Woman of Her Word: Hispanic Women Write or Nicolas Kanellos's Biographical Dictionary of Hispanic Literature in the United States).

The cultural, linguistic and racial heritage of Latinos differs greatly. In the process of establishing their identity within the United States, these groups have suffered multiple forms of marginalization: economic, racial, linguistic and cultural; in the case of the Latina women who have had to function as "a marginal group within a marginal group" (Herrera-Sobek 10), one can add sexual discrimination as well. Within the restricted parameters of this study, I plan to limit myself to a discussion of several representative Chicana and Nuyorican writers who have written from within this highly charged setting and have consciously used their language politically as well as esthetically in order to address the two issues that are central to their survival ethnicity and gender (cf. Sanchez 1-23).

Latina writing in the United States is a fairly recent phenomenon, dating from the early seventies. Julio Martinez and Francisco Lomeli pinpoint 1975 as the year that Chicana writes first organized as an interest group (97), and the mid-seventies also marks the appearance of Miguel Algarin and Miguel Pinero's anthology of Nuyorican poetry, which included the voices of four women. The introductory chapter to Marta Ester Sanchez's book on contemporary Chicana poetry gives an excellent overview of the present-day Chicana literary scene, pointing out the struggle of these women to define themselves ethnically and sexually against both a U.S. and a Mexican tradition. Many Chicanas come from a rural culture--as opposed to the principally urban environment of the Nuyorican writers-and feel close ties to the land, often through their working--class parents or grandparents, especially mothers and grandmothers. Though many of these women insist on their blue-collar roots and choose to identify themselves as women of color, their level of education and the professions that they hold have really moved them into another world. Bernice Zamora, for example, has a doctorate in English from Stanford and has taught at Berkeley, while Lorna Dee Cervantes founded and published the Chicano journal Mango and has been a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts (Sanchez 87, 215). Similarly, Nuyorican Nicholasa Mohr is a successful free-lance writer, Sandra Maria Esteves directs the African Caribbean Poetry Theater, and Luz Maria Umpierre is a college professor. By means of their education and/or their writing, this generation of Latinas moves in very different spheres from those of the mothers and grandmothers remembered so nostalgically in their literature.


The language in which these writers choose to express themselves depends both on their upbringing and on the readership they hope to address. It is not an easy decision. When Sandra Maria Esteves published Yerba Buena in 1980, Louis Reyes Rivera made the following observation in the introduction: "When you speak the language of your oppressor, you either absorb all of its values or you recreate the tongue to change each image and syllable into weapons for the people's awakening" (xvii). This question of language choice is thus a priori politically charged. According to Eugene Mohr, the importance of language in Nuyorican thought and poetics is related to "the significance of language in personal and cultural identity. The Nuyorican's marginal position in American society often leads him to strained, ambiguous attitudes toward the use of English, the language of the oppressor--yet more often than not the Nuyorican's own first language." Yet in Mohr's opinion the alternative of speaking Spanish is "even further from the truth of the Nuyorican experience" (100). Esteves, who was born and raised in the Bronx, writes in English, in Spanish and in a mixture of the two. It is clear that she considers the loss of Spanish among the Nuyoricans an immense tragedy: "Pienso en mi sierra / los barrios de Nuevayork / mi madre calle / adonde se crio un tipo nuevo de este mundo / el Puertorriqueno que no habla espanol" [I think of my homeland / the neighborhoods of New York / my home street / where a new kind of person was raised/the Puerto Rican who speaks no Spanish] (1980,19).(2) Nicholasa Mohr, on the other hand, insists that her language is English even in the face of criticism from her own community:

My birth makes me a native New Yorker. I write here in the United

States about my personal experiences and those of a particular group of

migrants that number in the millions. Yet all of these actualities seems to

have little or no bearing on those who insist on seeing me as an "intruder,"

an "outsider" who has taken on a foreign language. Perhaps

even taken it on much too forcefully, using it to document and validate

our existence and survival inside the very nation that chose to colonize

us. (1989, 111-12)

Among the Chicanas, access to Spanish may be even more problematical, in part because many of the contemporary writers were raised before the beginning of the Chicano movement and its concomitant push to retain the mother tongue. In Bernice Zamora's family, which has lived in southern Colorado for two hundred years (Bruce-Novoa 1980,160), both languages were spoken, yet English was given preference: "Most of the Spanish I know is phonetically retained from childhood experience.... But English was considered the language of survival, and so it was encouraged" (Bruce-Novoa 1982, 209). German scholar Wolfgang Binder points out a common tendency to use Spanish in affective situations: in exclamations, terms of endearment, obscenities, and so on, as well as to refer to food and music (339), an observation that is certainly borne out among the writers examined for this study. For dramatist and short story writer Estela Portillo Tramblay, for instance, Spanish is "the idiom of my emotions.... I manipulate the English language better, but I also feel very much at home in Spanish. I would like to write in Spanish, but it doesn't come Spanish I am still groping, and if you have to grope you'll never be a good writer" (Bruce-Novoa 1982, 171). Lorna Dee Cervantes also writes principally in English but shares Sandra Maria Esteves's opinion that she was deprived of part of her self by not learning Spanish:

Mama me crio sin lenguaje.

Soy huerfano de mi nombre espanol.

Las palabras son extranas,

tartamudeando en mi lengua.

Mis ojos ven el espejo, mi reflejo:

piel de bronce, cabello negro. (40)

Mama raised me without language.

I'm orphaned from my Spanish name.

The words are foreign, stumbling

on my tongue. I see in the mirror

my reflection: bronzed skin, black hair. (41)

The above is the only poem in her book Emplumada that appears in both English and Spanish, and Cervantes confessed in a subsequent interview that writing bilingually was for her a "false" and "clumsy" voice that she never used again (Monda 106). Looking at the Spanish in the poetry of Esteves and Cervantes, one notices occasional errors in spelling, grammar and the correct use of accent marks. I am calling attention to this fact not from any desire to be pedantic nor to imply that Latinas should be faulted for not writing correct Spanish, but to point out that some writers are caught between the desire to identify with a Latin heritage and the insecurity with which they use the Spanish language. Part of the reason for this lies with the fact that the lingua franca of both the Nuyorican and the Chicana is not standard Spanish but an amalgam of both English and Spanish, a phenomenon described very accurately by Chicano critic Juan Bruce-Novoa: "The two languages inform one another at every level. There are certain grammatical usages, words, connotations, spellings which to a native speaker of Spanish or English, or to the true bilingual, appear to be mistakes, cases of code switching or interference in linguistic terms, but which to the Chicano native speaker are common usages, the living reality of an interlingual space" (1980,12-13).

The desire to connect with the Spanish language is one answer to the need to establish an ethnic identity different from that of the dominant culture. Another aspect of this desire is the longing for a spiritual homeland. Dieter Herms, a German specialist in Chicano literature, points out that the quest for ethnic roots is fundamental to this literature (304-9) and the same is true for many Nuyorican writers. While Chicanos evoke the mythic regions of Aztlan or pre-Columbian Mexico, Nuyoricans long for the bucolic, tropical beauties of their native island. There is a strong utopian dimension to this quest, and at heart both Aztlan and Puerto Rico are more a state of mind than an actual geographical location (Barradas 54). In Esteves's poetry, for example, the island always functions as counterpoint to the concrete wastelands of New York:

I am two parts/a person


past and present

alive and oppressed

given a cultural beauty

...and robbed of a cultural identity

I speak the alien tongue

in sweet boriqueno thoughts

know love mixed with pain

have tasted spit of ghetto stairways, it must be changed

we must change it

I may never overcome

the theft of my isle heritage

dulce palmas de coco on Luquillo [gentle coconut palms on Luquillo]

sway in windy recesses I can only imagine

and remember how it was

But that reality now a dream

teaches me to see, and will

bring me back to me. (1980, 20)(3)

At first glance the above may appear an exercise in cultural escapism, but the last stanza tells us differently. William Boelhower defines this strategy as a "politics of memory," a vehicle by means of which the subject "puts himself in contact with the foundational world of his ancestors, reproduces himself as a member of an ethnic community, and is able to produce ethnic discourse" (88). Boelhower is quick to point out that this process is not merely "regressive ethnic poetics," but a re-definition of time and space by "the very ability of the protagonist to stand between the American present and the foundational past of the immigrant generation without losing his 'ancient soul'" (92). However, not all Nuyorican writers share in this quest. Whereas Esteves does not describe an actual return to the island, Nicholasa Mohr does, and the encounter is not a happy one. The protagonist of her novel Going Home does not encounter paradise but mistrust and hostility. "I write about the alienation of the mainland Puerto Ricans and the conflict and rejection they face from the Islanders," Mohr states ("A Personal Odyssey into Fiction," 17).

Many Chicanas also engage in the politics of memory. Cherrie Moraga notes "a great nostalgia in our writing I don't feel is an accident. There's always a longing for a home, a lost home" (Alarcon 132). Tey Diana Rebolledo agrees. "One common theme in Chicano writing in general has been the nostalgia for a world lost.... The mythology of the past takes place spatially and emotionally: the past acquires enhanced meaning. These images contrast sharply with the stress and ambiguity of today" (1983, 153). Lorna Dee Cervantes finally went to Mexico in search of her identity because in the States she felt "marked by the color of my skin," spoke in her "excuse me" tongue and was tortured by a "nagging preoccupation / with the feeling of not being good enough" (36). While on the one hand, she revelled in the sounds of the pre-Columbian words, on the other, she confessed to being linguistically and culturally out of her depth:

I don't want to pretend I know more

and can speak all the names. I can't.

My sense of this land can only ripple through my veins

like the chant of an epic corrido.

I come from a long line of eloquent illiterates

whose history reveals what words don't say. (45)

Cervantes's poem on her visit to Oaxaca is an even more eloquent testimony to her cross-cultural dilemma:


I look for you all day in the streets of Oaxaca.

The children run to me, laughing,

spinning me blind and silly.

They call to me in words of another language.

My brown body searches the streets

for the dye that will color my thoughts.

But Mexico gags,


on this bland pochaseed.

I didn't ask to be brought up tonta [stupid]!

My name hangs about me like a loose tooth.

Old women know my secret,

"Es la culpa de los antepasados."

Blame it on the old ones.

They give me a name

that fights me. (1980, 44)(4)

So the Latina writer who, in Boelhower's terms, attempts a "genealogical recovery" (93) is thrown back to the awareness that hers is a cultural and composite amalgam that is neither English nor Spanish but Nuyorican and Calo, the special languages of these ethnic groups. Sandra Maria Esteves reminds the reader that in the barrio people speak "two languages broken into each other," and that this language is preferable to English and the Anglo value systems transmitted thereby. In her portrait of "la mujer borrinquena," for example, the latter says, "I am a Puerto Rican woman born in el barrio / Our men...they call me negra because they love me" (63). This insertion of Spanish or Spanish barrio words into texts by Esteves and Cervantes brings up a key feature and simultaneous problem with Nuyorican and Chicana writing: the linguistic dilemma in which many of these authors find themselves. In which language they choose to address their reading public depends, as mentioned before, both on their own ability in each language as well as the implied reader they wish to address.

The linguistic system in which many Latinos operate is not bilingual but rather, as Juan Bruce-Novoa calls it, interlingual: "Bilingualism implies moving from one language code to another; `interlingualism' implies the constant tension of the two at once" (226). There are many examples of interlingualism in Nuyorican and Chicana writings, of which one of the most eloquent is a poem by la Chrisx, which addresses a Chicana's cultural as well as sexual identity:

soy mujer [I'm woman

soy senorita I'm miss

soy ruca loca I'm crazy broad

soy mujerona I'm big woman

soy santa I'm saint

soy madre I'm mother

soy ms. I'm ms.]

soy shacking up

soy staying at home until I'm married or dead

soy dumping my old man, even though I'm pregnant with his child

soy getting married in Reno with the kids at home

soy getting married with 15 bridesmaids and champagne and cake

soy mother of 12, married at 14

soy staying together for the kids' sakes

soy la que se chinga pa' mantener a su familia [I'm the one that screws

herself to keep the family together] (Qtd. in Rebolledo 102)


The preceding poem points to the second political agenda of the Latina writers: that of gender identity, another place where they are caught between two cultures. Whereas many of these women writers identify with their ethnic roots through their mothers or grandmothers--Lorna Dee Cervantes and Cherrie Moraga come immediately to mind--they are also aware that it was often these same mothers who had denied them their language and their culture. And when the Latina chose to foreground concerns of gender over those of ethnic identity, she often found herself in the same bind as her Black sisters. Commitment to the ethnic advancement of her people implied allegiance to the culture as a whole, including acceptance of extant gender roles. As Margarite Fernandez Olmos observed of the mainland puertorriquenas: "The delicate balance between defending one's culture and traditions, and analyzing it with a critical eye are difficult choices for the Latina writer who feels a sense of responsibility towards all of her people and towards herself" (50). Cherrie Moraga is of the same opinion with respect to her ethnic group: "The Chicana feminist attempting to critique the sexism in the Chicano community is certainly between a personal rock and a political hard place" (105). According to Marta Ester Sanchez, the Chicanas who failed to give unqualified support to Chicano males were subsequently classified as "divisive and disloyal to La Causa," but, while Anglo feminism attracted them, "their ethnic position as chicanas precluded a smooth interaction with white women's groups" (5). Marcela Christine Lucero-Trujillo documents this friction in her well-known poem "No More Cookies, Please":

WASP liberationist

you invited me

token minority

but your abortion ideology

failed to integrate me.

Over cookies and tea,

you sidled up to me

and said

"Sisterhood is powerful"

I said

"Bullshit and allmotherfull" (Qtd. in Fisher 404)

But in spite of this unease with Anglo feminism, many Latinas are not afraid to engage in criticism of the patriarchal structure of their respective societies. Lorna Dee Cervantes was only eighteen when she wrote an angry poem called "Pare un revolucionario." In it she informs her man that "your voice is lost to me, carnal [brother],/in the wail of tus hijos [your children], / in the clatter of dishes / and the pucker of beans upon the stove," for while he is spreading his dream to brothers, he forgets that "I too am Raza" (Qtd. in Fisher 382). The use of explicit or even scatalogical language by a great many Latina writers is indicative of the frustrations and anger brought on by a desire to break with traditional values, what Bernardez would classify as an "assertive-constructive angel' aimed at breaking through cultural subordination (8). Sandra Maria Esteves, too, lashes out at a man who asks her to be his mistress, reminding him of her own pride of self:

I never reveled in washing clothes

or reached orgasms from dirty dishes

but I don't mind being part of someone who could help me to be

with all my transient contradictions

and I am a woman, not a mistress or a whore

or some anonymous cunt whose initials barely left an impression

on the foreskin of your nationhood..." (1980, 9-10)

And Bernice Zamora's "Notes from a Chicana COED" is a trenchant commentary on the fact that cultural sexual oppression does not necessarily disappear with higher education:

And when I mention

your G.I. Bill, your

Ford Fellowship, your

working wife, your

three gabacha guisas [Anglo girlfriends]

then you ask me to

write your thesis,

you're quick to shout,

"don't give that

Woman's Lib trip, mujer,

that only divides us,

and we have to work

together for the movimiento

the gabacho is oppressing us!"

Oye carnal [Listen, brother], you may as well

tell me that moon water

cures constipation, that

penguin soup prevents crudas [hangovers],

or that the Arctic Ocean is menudo [tripe soup],

because we both learned in the barrios,

man, that pigeon shit slides easier. (Qtd. in Sanchez 232)

Other voices have now been added to this discourse on gender identity: those of the Latina lesbians. Juanita Ramos's anthology Companeras: Latina Lesbians contains not only US. Latina voices but those of many Latin American women as well. A text that has long been part of the Latina canon is Cherrie Moraga's Loving in the War Years, in which she articulates her painful and passionate journey to affirm her own sexuality in the face of a culture that, if it judged feminism to be a betrayal of "raze" or "familia," saw lesbianism as "not only a white thing, but an insult to be avoided at all costs" (112). "I am everybody's pesadilla [nightmare]. Jota. Pata. Dyke" (137), she stated, acknowledging that in the creation of her text, "I got closer to my own dilemma and struggle--being both Chicana and lesbian.... I could see that this book was about trying to make some sense of what was supposed to be a contradiction, but you know it ain't cause it lives in your body" (Alarcon 129). In the process of working through her own situation, Moraga sees clear political implications for all women of color

The visibility of Third World Feminist lesbians choosing our sexual

partner against the prescribed cultural norms and our examining the

political implications of such a choice can provide, I believe, the kind of

political space necessary for other women of color to begin to ask

themselves some profound and overdue questions about their own

psycho-sexual identity. (138)

Moraga has made an effort to recover the brown color she claims her mother attempted to bleach out of her as well as the Spanish language she was never taught, and for her the latter is not only a linguistic but a sexual act. "Quiero decirte, re-learning Spanish scares me. I feel like the same and a different woman in Spanish. A different kind of passion. I think, soy mujer en espanol. No macha. Pero Mujer. Soy Chicana--open to all kinds of attack [I want to tell you, re-learning Spanish scares me.... I think, I am woman in Spanish. Not he-woman. But Woman. I am Chicana--open to all kinds of attack]" (142).


Having touched on some of the ways in which Latina writers use language in addressing issues of ethnicity and gender, one additional political agenda remains to be discussed: the publication and dissemination of this literature. Initially, the marketing of the writings of Chicana and Nuyorican authors was not easy, especially since many of them lacked the economic resources to begin to publish on their own. Both Lomeli (29) and Sanchez (Ch. I) have noted that male Latino writers, publishers and critics have not always been models of generosity towards the women, and Elizabeth Ordonez observes, "If the Chicano has been forced to found alternative presses, the Chicana has had to resort to alternatives of the alternatives, founding her own presses and journals and funding her own fledgling collections. This often makes the task of the interested reader and researcher difficult indeed" (339). I have found this to be more than true in doing the research for this study. On the one hand, up until recently there were so few widely disseminated examples of Latina writing that every critic writing on the subject tended to quote exactly the same material (this is also true in part in this very study). Many early works were published in limited editions by alternate presses or appeared in small journals of ephemeral duration, making it next to impossible for a library to back order. This turned into a geographical problem for me: here in Massachusetts I was far from the Texas and California publications where many of those Chicana writers published, so that their early works were often difficult to find. Nevertheless, with the firm establishment of Women's Studies, and the marketability of women-oriented texts, things have definitely changed. Random House took over publication both of Sandra Cisneros's popular The House on Mango Street and her new Woman Hollering Creek; Marta Ester Sanchez was published by a prestigious university press; and, as Cisneros herself observed recently, "Chicano book publishers, it would seem, have come

to realize that 'feminist or women's lit' sells" (73). Not that things are all roses yet: Cisneros faults Chicano presses for marketing some women poets as feminists who in her opinion are not, and Cherrie Moraga feels that many Latina texts still have to fight for critical recognition:

If the book did not emerge from, say, Arte Publico or Bilingual Press,

then you have to wait for the Chicanos to catch up. Even if the book

lands on the editor's desk, usually a man, there is no guarantee that that

person is going to pick it up. You wait for it to catch on, which is always

related to a political movement. (Alarcon 132)

Part of the problem of marketing and selling these texts once again catches Latina writers in a cultural trap: they come from an interlingual society, yet writing interlingually immediately limits readership. Poet Pat Mora articulates this dilemma when she wonders whether the insertion of Spanish into her writing "is a minus in terms of publication outlets, whether publishers are going to be uncomfortable with that.... I don't wish to be inaccessible to either audience" (Alarcon 125). Sandra Cisneros speaks of two tejana poets who "are consciously addressing their poems to a Tex-Mex audience, a bilingual audience, rejecting, and thus risking being rejected by, a mainstream market and audience" (78). Cherrie Moraga is even more visceral in stating her dilemma:

Some days I feel my writing wants to break itself open. Speak in a

language maybe no "readership" can follow. What does it mean that

the Chicana writer if she truly follows her own voice, she may depict a

world so specific, so privately ours, so full of "foreign" language to the

anglo reader, there will be no publisher. The people who can understand

it, don't/won't/can't read it. How can I be a writer in this? (vi)

Yet the Latina writer deserves to be heard within the mainstream of both U.S. and Latin American literature. Departments of English and Spanish must become more receptive to these writers, purity of language be damned. It's time, as Sandra Cisneros reportedly said in a recent talk, "to kick nalga." (No translation provided.) There may be some linguistic barriers to be overcome, but none of this is really insurmountable, and some writers have already solved them by publishing in bilingual editions (such as Carmen de Monteflores's Cantando bajito/ Singing Softly, for example), providing glossaries of Latino terminology, and so on. In the final analysis, the extra effort is well worth it. Evangelina Vigil underscores "the vibrant imagination, talent and intelligence" of the Latina writers included in her anthology (17), while Earl Shorris feels that in Latino literature one often finds "more vitality than almost anything else being written in America" (27). Mexican novelist Elena Poniatowska concurs. In a talk entitled "Mexicanas and Chicanas" she gave at Hampshire College in October of 1991, she praised the liberty with which Chicana women write, as well as their intellect and will power. In Poniatowska's opinion, "Chicanes have taught us with their life and literature and we have not yet known how to thank them." It is obvious that a concerted effort to incorporate Latino/a texts into college curricula, a place where they have until now fallen between linguistic cracks, is long overdue.

Chicana Pat Mora once said in an interview: "I...have a hope...that women (particularly Anglo) in this country begin to realize that there are voices they haven't heard.... I think that serious feminist writers need to begin to invite us to their conferences, to be part of their anthology. For some reason literary journals and the academic community seem blissfully unaware of our existence" (Alarcon 124). Mora speaks for many Latinas when she says of her writing: "I feel that I walk on the bones of talented women who were never heard" (214). That is the most compelling reason of all to pay attention to Latina writers, and, judging by the recent explosion of Latina publications, we seem at last to be on our way.


(1.) As Bebe Moore Campbell observed of the protagonists of Sandra Cisneros's Woman Hollering Creek, "These aren't European immigrants who can learn English, change their names and float casually in the mainstream. These are brown people with glossy black hair and dark eyes who know they look different, who know the score, and so they cling to their culture like the anchor it is" (6).

(2.) Unless otherwise indicated, this and all other translations are mine.

(3.) "Boricua" and "boriqueno" refer to "Borinken," the indigenous name for Puerto Rico. Luquillo is one of the island's most beautiful beaches.

(4.) "Esputa": spits. It is also a play on "Es puta": she's a whore. "Pocha": a Mexican American who has been assimilated into the U.S. culture.

(5.) Cisneros has indeed hit the big time: The House on Mango Street is on the list of approved texts for Stanford University's "new curriculum" and has sold over 30,000 copies since its 1984 publication (Sager 75); Woman Hollering Creek, published in the Spring of 1991, received immediate and enthusiastic reviews in The New York Times Book Review and Newsweek. In the opinion of the Newsweek reviewers, "The book's triumph is its title story, a story good enough to take its place in any anthology of American short stories" (Prescott and Springen 60).

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--. "Interview with Pat Moral" Third Woman 3 (1986): 121-26.

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--. Chicano Poetry: A Response to Chaos. Austin: U of Texas P, 1980.

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Cisneros, Sandra. "Cactus Flowers: In Search of Tejana Feminist Poetry." Third Woman 3 (1986): 73-80.

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--. Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo. Houston: Arte Publico P, 1990.

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