Blessed Be Ralph Maradiaga
Blessed Be Ralph Maradiaga

Blessed Be Ralph Maradiaga and Galería de la Raza

Blessed Be Ralph Maradiaga

Blessed Be the Latino Cultures of San Francisco

On October 8, 2014 I  participated in the Lunada Literary Lounge at the Galería de la Raza in San Francisco, offering my recollections and a poem, Blessed Be Ralph Maradiaga. Ralph was the co-founder of the Galería. My poem to him, “Blessed Be,” was published in El Tecolote at the time and is in my book Heart’s Journey, Selected Poems 1980-1999.

The older I become the more urgent my need to tell the history I have lived through. Already its landmarks are leaving and we, its cultural workers and artists, are being relocated dispersed and scattered by the forces of gentrification. Yet, we are held together by memory, a shared culture, and passion for equality, justice and peace. It was on a lovely full moon at the historic Galería de la Raza that I had the opportunity to pass on a story of what happened and is still happening in that iconic spot.

This event takes on new meaning for me now in 2017 since the publication of my historical novel Nicaragua Way. The setting of the novel is in the San Francisco Mission District where the Galería is located and the reading took place. The protagonist of Nicaragua Way, Laura Almendros, worked organizing artists and cultural workers for the Friends of Nicaraguan Culture (which I co-founded) to support the Sandinista revolution that triumphed in 1979.

This was a moment when the Nicaraguan people tried to build a new society while under attack during the Contra War. My poem Blessed Be brings the literary and artistic cultures of this San Francisco barrio setting into view, offering readers some insight into the people and places that brought me inspiration for the creation of the novel. I hope this video and poem contributes to keeping the memory, our shared culture, and passion for equality, justice and peace alive.

Blessed Be

For Ralph Maradiaga
Co-Founder of Galería de la Raza

Blessed be
what you have done on earth
May it grow and spread
May its flowers
be abundantly beautiful
and its fruits plentifully sustaining

Servant of art
Magician of film and Xerox
of making each day move spirit forward
Form shining through content
celebrator of Day of the Dead
laughing at death

Blessed be laughter
and your students’ memory of your example
Blessed be
the corner you filled with color
and the light that shown through you
Blessed be
human transparency
creativity
community
Blessed be
the gift of life
and the struggle for tranquility
Blessed be

July 1985

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; paulrichards@estuarypress.com

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