Sunday, March 20, 2011
Maria Aponte... A Chamaca Chica and her Journey
Maria Aponte shares her passion and journey with Chamaca Arts....
Born and raised in New York City’s East Harlem, (El Barrio) Maria has worked extensively in Latino Theatre. She studied at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, The Actor’s Playhouse, and Henry Street Settlement. She has performed in various theatre productions. Maria wrote and performs her one-woman show Lagrimas de Mis Madres; a biography of the women in her family which made its debut at the Asia Society in 1996, as part of a multicultural theatre production called, Tides of Intolerance produced by Shotgun Productions. Tides of Intolerance, dealt with discrimination against women of color. Ms. Aponte also wrote and performs a performance piece based on the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Mexico’s first feminist poet and playwright called I Will Not Be Silenced. Maria performs her work nationally for conferences , colleges and universities. She has been published in the Marymount Review, the literary magazine of Marymount Manhattan College. Studied at Iowa University Summer Writer’s Workshop and, holds a BA in English Literature from Marymount Manhattan College. In March of 2000, Lagrimas de Mis Madres was published by Marquette University and Western Michigan University in Caribe Revista de Cultura y Literatura. Maria is also an educator and career/academic counselor at Fordham University and is currently pursuing her Masters in Latino Studies.
Life Journeys are My Inspiration by Maria Aponte 3/6/11
Growing up with a terminally ill mother as a single child in El Barrio in the 1960’s was not a topic I would find the courage to talk about until I turned 39 years old. I never experienced childhood because I was my Mother’s caregiver, keeper and, sometimes, her Mother, starting at the age of 9. As a young woman I just did what I knew best- survive, duck and cover when things got bad.
My safe place was the theatre. I knew from the 2nd grade that I would love the theatre, not film – but the stage. When I came into acting during the mid to late 1970’s I studied my craft and I only wanted to be an actress. I did not realize that roles were limited for Latinas at that time. The few roles available were stereotypical. Today I see a constant tidal wave of Latinos making it into the business, through theatre/film/art/poetry.
I am grateful for the work/accomplishments/ achievements that I see. However, I never forget that it took much sweat/tears/hurt/rejections to open those doors of expression. It is those women & men who opened these doors who I honor/respect and pay homage too. In order to say and feel and believe this I had to step back and take a journey within myself. I had to learn to open my mind/heart/soul to what was going on within me –not the outside world. To find the courage to change yourself and the choices you make in life is not easy. To stick to the idea that each day you take one thought, one action that YOU are responsible for- not those around you and work on changing that so you can be a better person, a better contributor to society is not easy.
However, when you can make that commitment to yourself then your life changes. Things turn around. I feel that when you become aware of who you are, all of your senses follow and your world changes. When I made that commitment to myself to change – my life changed. My surroundings changed and, more importantly, the women that crossed and continue to cross my path were movers and changers. It is these women who inspire me to be a better woman/teacher/mentor. I learned to respect myself and in doing so I have allowed others to respect me.
When I started this journey as an actress all those years ago on a dusty stage in a now non-existent building in Manhattan – little did I know that one day I would find the courage to tell my story in my own words. Little did I know that in changing I would be a better person for it. Today I’m in my mid-50’s. I have no shame about my age. As a matter of fact, I talk about my age and share where I am today because I want to be accessible to younger women.
You don’t have to do it alone. When its time for your door to open it will do so. I was single most of my adult life. I was the one who would sing/yell at the top of her lungs in the middle of the living room Gloria Gaynor’s anthem for single women I Will Survive. I never thought I would get married but I did. However this only happened because I was ready. I did the internal work to change my life. When that process happened my life changed and new doors opened as a writer/poet/teacher. This is what my Spiritual Sisters taught me and continue to teach me. I try my best to keep those that love me around me and give that love back. I also am a strong believer in giving without expectations. I find that the rewards have no price tag. My blessing to you is this: may you find your door. In the meantime, walk the journey. Don’t go too fast. You might miss something that you may need. Find inspiration in what you do. Listen to your Heart and Spirit. When the door opens the brightness and love that streams across will be what is for you.
Join Maria Aponte and friends for some creative fun .......
Thursday, March 24 • 7:00pm - 9:00pm
East Harlem Cafe 104th Street & Lexington Avenue, NYC
Poetry Performance by Maria Aponte with musical accompaniment by Chacho Ramirez and Dwight Brewster. Special Guests: Authors David Perez & Veronica Golos reading from their recently published books. Artisan Mia ArtbyMia Roman will be exhibiting & selling her artwork and wearable pieces.
A Poetic word by Maria....
Out of the Brown Paper Bag
Jutted rocks scattered throughout the road, bare feet crossing over, getting cut, skin opening, letting small rivers of blood flow from my being, the journey is long up ahead. As I look up see trees- dark branches entangled in an embrace, triangles of arms, legs, torsos. Different shades of white, brown, and black a piece of tissue, with bright red lipstick. My heart jumps with fear, a piercing pain goes through my heart—it can’t be! No it can’t be!
Don’t want to cry no more, long hair found in intimate parts of the bath. Long hair when these brown limbs own no long hair. The trees looking like shadowy figures in the night, wishing it were daylight so I can see. OUCH!
Another cut on my foot, another blood river. Looking up, the sky is covered with patches of crossing shadows in misshaped patterns of chaos—never really being able to make them out. Something pushes me. An invisible hand on my lower back guiding me, don’t want to go- yet it is destiny to proceed.
Blast of light, early morning, still enjoying the warmth of good lovemaking, feeling serene, more hair- this time on my shampoo! My heart stops, links connecting like a chain phones ringing in the night/changed plans/ full weekends cut down to half days. Asking questions, getting no answers!
Frustration/Anger/Hurt/ Fear- Betrayed.
Jutted rocks cutting into my feet, scattered rocks all over the road. My tears flow clear but of blood. Blood tears flow from my heart. Compassion squeezed out and my soul drying up. Rocks cut into my feet. Finally, looking down, I see that the road is smooth, not jutted with rocks. I look ahead, the branches are smooth, arms embracing, entwining, like intricate lace, making a pattern of flowers. There is light up ahead. The road brightens. My feet are healing. My heart lightening, my soul embracing, compassion returning for I am realizing that I no longer have to carry other people’s pain.