Achiote Seeds, Spring 2008
with poems by Brenda Cárdenas, Cristina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico
cover art by Celia Herrera Rodríguez

What You Believe

That you can communicate with dogs,
though they don't listen to you.

That women are impenetrable,
except for the obvious.

That children should like you.

That it's possible to be a hero.

That the good things in life are bad for
you: mothers, malted milk balls, cocaine.

That there is a God but He's overlooked you.

That you'll have a family one day.

That the cheap should suffer.
(Are you listening, Dad?)

That you'll wake up one morning dead,
and without pain.

- Cristina García

Cristina García was born in Havana and grew up in New York City. She attended Barnard College and the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. García has worked as a correspondent for Time magazine in San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was nominated for a National Book Award and has been widely translated. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, and the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award.

Brenda Cárdenas' chapbook of poetry From the Tongues of Brick and Stone was published by Momotombo Press (Institute for Latino/a Studies, University of Notre Dame) in 2005, and her full-length book Boomerang is forthcoming from Bilingual Review Press. She also co-edited Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press, 2001). Cárdenas' work has appeared in a range of publications, including The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, The Wind Shifts: The New Latino Poetry, Poetic Voices Without Borders, U.S. Latino Literature today, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, and the Poetry Daily web site, among others. With Sonido Ink(quieto), a spoken word and music ensemble, she co-produced and released the CD Chicano, Illinoize: The Blue Island Sessions in 2001. Cárdenas is currently an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Gabriela Erandi Rico (P'urhepecha & Matlatzinca). A Mexican indigenous writer, poet, and emerging scholar, Gabriela Erandi was born in Michoacán, México and grew up following the migrant farm-worker trail along the American West Coast. After graduating from Stanford, she participated in INCITE's Sisterfire! Cultural Arts Tour for Radical Women of Color. As an Ethnic Studies doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley, she's interested in exploring the performance and commodification of indigenous identity and spirituality in Mexico as well as the displacement of Mexican indigenous people through urbanization and international migration. Her poetry has been published in various magazine and anthologies including We Got Issues! A Young Woman's Guide to Living a Bold, Courageous and Empowered Life (2005), Antología Annual de Mujeres Poetas en el País de las Nubes (2005, 2006, & 2007), Ahani: Indigenous American Poetry (2006), Mujeres de Maiz (2007), and Seventh Native American Generation (2004 & 2008). She is the 2007 recipient of the Xochiquetzalli Award for Xicana/Indigenous Women's Poetry and will also appear in Rosa Linda Fregoso's forthcoming anthology on feminicide in the Americas.

Emmy Pérez is the author of Solstice (Swan Scythe Press 2003). She has received poetry fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work in Provincetown, and for her prose writing, the James D. Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation. Her work has appeared in North American Review, Notre Dame Review, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, LUNA, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, and other publications. Audio recordings of some of her poems are forthcoming online at From the Fishouse. Originally from Santa Ana, California, she currently lives in the U.S./Mexico borderlands, where she is an Assistant Professor in the M.F.A. program at the University of Texas Pan-American. She also teaches poetry in local detention centers.

Celia Herrera Rodríguez is a painter, performance and installation artist, whose work reflects a full generation of dialogue with Chicana/o, Native American, pre-Cuauhtemoc, and Mexican thought. Hers is a conceptual art, inspired as much from the intricate embroidery work of her Mexican female elders of Sandias Tepehuanes (in the state of Durango, México) as the iconography of the pre-conquest Mexicans. Herrera Rodríguez performs in conjunction with her installations. In performance, the cultural symbology of her paintings moves into the three-dimensional world of a materialized Mexican Indigenous history. The result is a living codex of contemporary Xicana Feminist thought. She is currently teaching Chicana/o Art in the Ethnic Studies Department of University of California, Berkeley and at the Center for the Arts and Public Life at the California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA. Most recent exhibitions include a 'banner,' 13.5' x 7.5' watercolor on Japanese paper, entitled "A Prayer in 4 Directions: the Mother-Waters;" Estandartes 2004, Tijuana; III Bienal Internacional de Estandartes, Centro Cultural de Tijuana; a solo exhibition of her installation work in January, 2006 at the Carl N. Gorman Museum, University of California at Davis; a solo exhibition as artist-in-residence at the Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College of Chicago, fall 2006; and a showing of watercolor paintings at the Triton Museum's Watercolor Bay Area Focus in January, 2007.