This past weekend, I attended the Santa Fe International Literary Festival. Perfect spring weather inspired my husband and I to ride our bikes over; held in downtown Santa Fe near the plaza, this event was packed with author speakers, book signings and booksellers from all over. The festival felt like a good intro to summer reading.
We heard one author speak: David Treuer, whose recent book “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” aims to shatter myths about Native American life, serving as a kind of response to the often-read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.
Another highlight was stumbling upon the open-mic reading during the lunch hour right when we arrived!
Earth Day is around the corner. I’m grateful in these moments for the work of all who are doing their part and who encourage us to do the same: Schools with gardening programs. Land trusts. Farmers and ranchers trying new sustainability practices. Advocates for responsible recreation. Companies inventing nature-friendly products and services.
Here are a few stories that caught my eye over the past few months.
I recently heard about the artwork of Christopher Gregory-Rivera on an episode of the Las Raras podcast. Christopher Gregory-Rivera’s recent work, called “Las Carpetas” (“The Files”), examines the history of government surveillance on the island of Puerto Rico. The “carpetas” he refers to are files with information about Puerto Rican citizens — targets of FBI and Puerto Rican Police Department surveillance over the course of 40 years. These individuals were deemed “politically subversive” or somehow connected to the Puerto Rican Independence Movement.
A Puerto Rican artist based in New York City, Christopher Gregory-Rivera compiled and photographed an impressive number of original documents to create this series, which documents files, photographs, videos and handwritten notes. The result is both aesthetically beautiful and emotionally sobering.
One of the most interesting facts I learned when hearing about “Las Carpetas” is that there is a Spanish verb used in Puerto Rico that came from this time: “carpetear.” This verb is now commonplace and means to gather information on someone, especially for political reasons.
When Arabic-speaking Muslims from North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711, they introduced unique architecture, philosophy, and social norms to the territory. The Arabic language deeply influenced the local vernacular Latin dialect, which eventually became Spanish.
In the 15th century, this territory was now the Spanish kingdom and was presided over by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Despite the Inquisition, the Spanish language already deeply reflected Arabic influences. Some Arabic words also shaped the English language, as you can see by a few nouns in this list.
Historians traditionally viewed this period of Islamic rule as a time of “convivencia,” or living together, because it’s been widely accepted that Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in relative harmony and abundance. In modern times, however, historians question this seemingly idyllic picture. You can read more about the Muslim and Arabic influences in Southern Spain and the diverse views of life during this period in this “Beardy History” article.
Finally, with all the sweet holiday treats not so far behind us, I leave you with one more Arabic word: “as-sukkar,” meaning “azúcar,” or sugar!
The 2022 holiday season has arrived! At first, it seemed to come “on little cat feet” like in Carl Sandburg’s poem “Fog.” Now it’s in full swing: carols playing in every shop and winter-themed coffees, sweet treats, and cocktails. Here’s a cheery scene from the café table I’m writing at this morning:
Client projects are especially inspiring to me at this time of year, and 2022 seems even more robust because events and offerings are in person again. Some of my translation and editing projects this season range from descriptions of health and wellness fairs and services here in California to annual reports that describe leaps and bounds made over the year; holiday recipes from Mexico to a collection of essays from writers and artists living in Alaska.
I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and look forward to connecting in 2023!