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border talk

featured guest
 Dagoberto Gilb


Border Talk Discussion - Join one now
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Photo Credit: Frank Arnold, Book People


6 Questions Your Questions >

P.O.V. kicked off the discussion by asking Dagoberto 6 initial questions, the same 6 we are asking all the featured guests.

P.O.V.: In your work, you consider the notion of 'borders.' What is a border to you?


Dagoberto: A border is the divide between two unblended, say, colors. In my region, there is Mexican culture and there is American culture, Mexican people and American people. I have lived in the interior and on the exterior border of being Mexican and American. It is a contrast and a tension of both the inner-self — its phobias and intuitions, its shake up of vanity and pride — and an outer-world of age-old resentments and unique opportunities.

P.O.V.: What's an important border that you've crossed in your life?

Dagoberto: I wanted to be intelligent, to feel smart. To be as wise as a book. I started at a junior college with that as my goal. Often, young and dreamy, I would see this as almost an icon, an image of, like, an old, bespectacled man on a wooden ladder, in a dimly lit library, reading a huge and forgotten yellow-paged book from the top of a dusty shelf in the darkest corner. Am I intelligent now? Did I get smart enough? (If anybody knows me and knows the answer, please do not howl with laughter here and interrupt those thinking I am in deep thought.) I learned I could never be that man in the library. But from my yearning, blending it with what was me and my experience and understandings, I grew (through reading old books of wisdom but having to have jobs that had nothing whatever to do with those books). And I did what I set out to do: I've written books. Whether they are full of any wisdom or intelligent insights whatever, whether they are just a passing entertainment, I became a writer, the one I dreamed of being.

P.O.V.: If you could erase any border in your world, what would it be?


Dagoberto: I don't like this question at all! It forces a nice answer about the world, because what can you say about your beliefs here that isn't self-absorbed and self-centered or silly, knowing that there are so many in the world with serious trouble?

I WANT WORLD PEACE. I THINK THE BORDER OF HATE SHOULD BE ELIMINATED SO THAT PEOPLE WOULD LEARN TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. or I WANT TO ERASE THE BORDER BETWEEN LA PANZA AND LA CINTURA IN ALL MAN AND WOMANKIND. or I WANT TO ERASE THAT STUPID SLASH (/) ESA GENTE DE LA VIDA LOCA PUT WHEN THEY SAY 'LATINA/O' or 'CHICANA/O'. IN SAYING AND BELIEVING THUS, IN SPIRIT OF INITIATIVE AND COOPERATION, I HEREBY DECLARE THAT I SHOULD NO LONGER BE REFERRED TO AS A CHICANO OR LATINO WRITER, BUT INSTEAD AS A CHICANA OR LATINA WRITER/PERSON.

P.O.V.: When and how are borders useful?

Dagoberto: When they are not clashing for attention, they create a stunning, beautiful visual contrast of color — or a taste that is like a ceviche taco with Thai sauce. If the border is a fence that had to be climbed over, after it's been cussed and cursed and stoned, I honor the accomplishment, as physical challenge, because the people who have crossed it have worked harder than is common, and have therefore become stronger and more worthy for what they have gained.

P.O.V.: This episode of P.O.V.'s Borders concentrates on borders as a physical reality, in terms of people moving from one place to another and having to cross mental and literal borders to do that. What, in your experience, is the most contested border?

Dagoberto: As valuable as it is to consider a "border" a metaphorical line that each of us crosses — some of us going back and forth easily, documented so to speak, while others meet it by need or in dread — it can be too easy to forget that there is a real border, a real linea, a legal and political fence that is not just a symbol, but the international divide between the United States and Mexico. Without commenting on the necessity or inevitablity of this border, that real linea has a history of war and consequent subjugation and has forced the "mental" borders of both people whose lives have descended from the Mexican side of it and those who have not. It has been and still is the most difficult, dangerous border in the region.

P.O.V.: Expand our borders. What's a book, movie, piece of music, website, etc. that challenges or engages with the idea of 'borders' that we should know about but perhaps don't?

Dagoberto: Movie: "Giant," a history of a rich Anglo Texas and the way Mexican people were treated and thought of up into the 50s. Book: "Pedro Páramo" by Juan Rulfo. Music: I've been listening to Esteban Jordan recently.


Read more! Check out Dagoberto's dialogue with Borders visitors...

about Dagoberto Gilb

 

Dagoberto Gilb spent twelve years as a highrise carpenter with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and is the author of The Magic of Blood, which won the 1994 PEN/Hemingway Award.

more...


The Magic of Blood


Read an excerpt from
The Magic of Blood
by
Dagoberto Gilb


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Dagoberto GilbDAGOBERTO GILB
   

 

 

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