Xanath Caraza: Women Who Lead in the Arts

By Chris Howard-Williams

On October 24, the UMKC Women’s Center will be hosting an event titled Women Who Lead in the Arts, a panel discussion that will feature local, leading women in arts careers.  Leading up to this event, the Women’s Center blog will highlight each of the women who will be involved in this unique discussion. Today, we focus on Xanath Caraza.

If you were to take a quick glance of Xanath Caraza’s biography on her website, you would notice an introductory sentence that identifies her simply as “a traveler, educator, poet, and short story writer.”  What follows after that humble beginning is a list of publications, recognitions, and awards that are too numerous to list here. Along with lecturing in Foreign Languages and Literatures at UMKC, Caraza is the Literary Curator and organizer of the Annual Day of the Dead Celebration at the Writers Place in Kansas City from 2010 to the present.  In 2018, she received First Place in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards – “Best Book of Poetry in Spanish by One Author” for Lágrima roja and “Best Book of Bilingual Poetry by One Author” for Sin preámbulos / Without Preamble.  She writes for the publications Seattle Escribe, La Bloga, Smithsonian Latino Center and Revista Literaria Monolito.  

The list continues, but it stands in stark contrast to that simple opening introduction.  In fact, it seems to hint at the notion that Caraza is a woman who is comfortable occupying many diverse and sometimes contrasting fields.  Originally from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Caraza has found a way to honor and celebrate her heritage while embracing the world in which she currently resides.  Many of her works are available in both Spanish and English, which seems to act as a bridge between these two worlds. It is as if we have been invited to share in the rich experience of Caraza’s world through the medium of her written word.  We are truly excited to have her as a part of this panel discussion!

In closing, consider the following poem, reprinted here with permission from Caraza, and contemplate the journey that this “traveler, educator, and poet” invites you to take down the Hudson River in New York.

From HUDSON BY XÁNATH CARAZA; translated by Sandra Kingery

34.

Medita en este navegar mecánico.

 

No queda nada,

solo el angustiante ulular

del viento antes

de llegar al agua.  

 

Tiemblan las suaves manos

al escribir, son las dueñas de

los pensamientos salvajes,

de la ira de los oprimidos.

 

Agua del Hudson:

despierta y desenraiza

el dolor: las pesadillas

de niñez que se hacen realidad.

 

34.

Meditate in this mechanical navigation.

 

Nothing remains,

only the agonized keening

of the wind before

it reaches the water.  

Soft hands tremble

as they write, they possess

fierce thoughts,

the fury of the oppressed.

 

Water of the Hudson:

awake and uproot

the pain: the nightmares

of childhood that become reality.

The Women Who Lead in the Arts panel discussion will take place on October 24 at 1:00-2:30 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325, 800 E. 51st St.  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, contact the Women’s Center at (816) 235-1638 or visit womens-center@umkc.edu.