Monday, December 14, 2009
Sandra Cisneros' Pre-Birthday Party
Poet and fiction writer Sandra Cisneros turns 55 on Dec. 20, but she happened to sneak into her hometown a little early to celebrate her birthday and the holidays with family and friends. Sandra's brother Quique threw a fabulous bash at his house in suburban Chicago, which included many of Sandra's other brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.
It was also a mini-reunion of participants of Galeria Quique, a cultural venue from the mid-1980s held at Quique's former Printer's Row loft. Galeria Quique was a one-night-only showcase that took place once a month, featuring live performances/exhibits of poets, artists and musicians, followed by a dance-until-midnight party. At Galeria Quique, multi-ethnic crowds converged and attendees included the likes of politician Luis Guiterrez, TV host Phil Ponce, muralist Marcos Raya, and New York poet Sharon Mesmer (who will always be a Chicagoan).
Afterward, Galeria Quique stragglers would head over to Cafe La Fonda, an uptown 24-hour spot that featured what the group came to refer to as "Emergency Tacos." This later became the title to a poetry anthology chapbook featuring Sandra Cisneros and six other writers. Sandra recently referred to Galeria Quique and "Emergency Tacos" in a 2009 issue of "Oprah," as well as in the foreword of the 25th anniversary edition of "House on Mango Street."
Sandra Cisneros, Quique, Sandra's cousin Licha, my husband Carlos Cumpian, and yours truly, all former Galeria Quique cast and crew, posed for photos. Quique's wife dug up a long forgotten VHS tape of some Galeria Quique footage, during which we cheered and hooted as one funky scene after another appeared on the TV screen.
Artists such as Felipe Ehrenberg and Jose Antonio Aguirre made cameos on the video. Seeing the tape together truly brought back memories and bonded us all over again. Sandra hopes to eventually get a dvd version of the tape to place among the archives of the Macondo Foundation.
As Sandra Cisneros celebrates her 55th birthday, she has a special request. Macondo Foundation, a grassroots San Antonio-based organization that nurtures and supports writers from all backgrounds, needs a shot-in-the-arm. Sandra asks for a donation of $55 to the Macondo Foundation in honor of her 55th birthday. Or attend her birthday blast down in San Antonio on Dec. 20 (be sure to wear your leopard garb) where you can meet her and hand her your donation check in person.◦