Love for Lalo

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"stupid america, hear that chicano / shouting curses on the street / he is a poet / without paper and pencil / and since he cannot write/he will explode." -- Lalo Delgado

Given what's going on in Tucson, Arizona, these days, this kind of poem is coming back into style. Its author, Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado, died in 2004, but not until he'd published fourteen books, including Chicano: 25 Pieces of a Chicano Mind, perhaps the best known in his canon, and helped found Metropolitan State College's Department of Chicano/a Studies.

You could say that he was already acting the part long before then-mayor John Hickenlooper posthumously named Delgado Denver's Poet Laureate. Five years ago, MSCD further honored the poet with the inaugural Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival, which has become an annual tradition on the Auraria campus.

And Auraria, as most followers of local Chicano history know, was once home to the heart of the barrio in Denver, so it's most fitting to celebrate Lalo there, which is what will happen today from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Cajetan's Event Center. Festivities, which coincide with National Poetry Month, will kick off with a blessing ceremony by Aztec dancers Huitzliopotchli; readings by Delgado's own great-grandchildren and members of the Cafe Cultura spoken-word and poetry collective follow, along with a community breakfast and lunch. Those readings are sure to include what might be Lalo's most famous riff, a short, angry and beautiful free verse called "Stupid America," quoted above.

The fest at St. Cajetan's, 1190 Ninth Street on the Auraria campus, is free; visit www.mscd.edu/studentactivities/events for more information.
Tue., April 24, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 2012

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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