Monday, August 29, 2011
True believers at the Albuquerque Cultural Conference
Everyone there was a true believer. They believe in justice, equality, women’s rights, the need to fight racism, but mostly, they believe in poetry.
They believe in the healing and changing power of words, and some of them believe even in it’s revolutionary potential.
The Albuquerque Cultural Conference took place on the weekend of August 26-28, 2011.
The weekend began with a poetry reading, fifteen poets, who read from their books, much of which have been published by West End Press and Wings Press. In fact, the two presses publishers, John Crawford of West End and Bryce Milligan of Wings, were co-organizers for the conference.
Over fifty true believers stayed for three days for a series of workshops and panels, in an old building near downtown. There were high temperatures and with little air conditioning , but it didn’t seem to matter.
They didn’t even seem to sweat. At one point, one of the participants couldn’t hear a speaker very well, so he got up from his metal folding chair walked to the window air conditioning unit and turned it off, so everyone could hear her better. He was saying with his actions that her words meant more than their temporal comfort.
These believers not only attended sessions back to back for over ten hours a day, but they also participated in every discussion, had something to say. And many of them were accomplished writers with multiple books, such as Margret Randal and Gerald McCarthy, but still, they stayed to say what they had to say and to hear the others.
And it mattered. What they spoke of, whether about the resilience of the oppressed, the e-book, or the need to increase awareness of Chicana consciousness and move away from indigenous fundamentalism, which has traditionally been used as an agent of male dominance, what they said mattered, not only to them, but to the pending cosmic energy that is reality. They believe in dialogue.
These writers and activists are salt of the earth, people who assert positive change, who believed that their voices, like all voices, are important to move toward change, toward justice.