You Know What I’m Sayin’? by Daniel García Ordaz

What would a poetry pachanga be without the Valle’s own Poet Mariachi? He is, after all, a force of language and literature in our community. His play with words and music taught me to be comfortable with our cultural imagery in my own work, and his work has introduced hundreds of students how powerful our own identities can be.

As pochos, we are not used to finding our own voices and colors define themselves in the literature we are asked to read in school. But his work is sure finding its way into the hands of librarians and educators that are more than happy to share his unique style of rhyming and emphasizing the patterns of our language.

Daniel García Ordaz approaches his audiences by sharing a universal approach to the written word. He writes about what he knows – of belonging to immigrant roots, pertaining to an American dream, of legacies and family, accents and superstitions.

Maybe you’ll even run into a mariachi song in his book, You Know What I’m Sayin’?.

2015-17 McAllen Poet Laureate

McAllen Poet Laureate Announcement
McAllen Poet Laureate Announcement

So this happened…let me tell you why it means so much to me.

My abuelito (Eduardo Suarez, Sr.) passed away three years ago & he had so much pride in belonging to this community. Shortly before he died I asked him why he would choose to make McAllen his home – he had lived in so many other parts of this country, after all. After the Mexican Revolution, abuelo came to the United States as part of the Bracero Program. Why would he come back to McAllen after seeing the beautiful mountains of Washington, the wildflowers of Idaho, or the seasons in Michigan?

Abuelo stared back at me as if that were the most ludicrous question possible – to him, there was nothing more beautiful.

He explained that when he first crossed to the U.S. by bus, McAllen was the first city he saw. It was perfect. All the citrus trees, tejanos with sombreros, paved streets that went on for miles. He promised himself that one day, he’d have a home here. Abuelito worked for many decades building up a reputation as an honest man with a word of gold, saving up money, moving around the valley each time he and his family came back from working las labores.

Then one day, his dream came true – he bought a home in McAllen. His children grew up here, going to school here – his grandchildren belonging to this community. This was his pride. And I can see it now, why he loved this city. It is a place many can call home, whether born here or not because we are a raza demanding of ties and we love adopting others to become valleyites. Familia. This is what my home represents.

(Read MPL’s announcement here!)