Driving toward Elon, North Carolina back in February, I didn’t know if I could manage one event—much less the eight I had promised. Chemotherapy seemed to have drained me of all vitality. But when I walked inside the classroom and saw copies of All the Agents and Saints upon the students’ desks, a spark of energy started swirling inside of me. Back in the hotel, I promptly collapsed, but when I returned for the next event, the current surged stronger than before.
Thirty-two events and seventeen cities later, I feel revived at the cellular level. My oncologist warned that it would take a year to fully recover from treatment, but the book tour quartered that frame. My deepest gratitude to everyone who supported me on the Resurrection Tour. You directly contributed to my healing. Gracias/Niawen/thank you.
Among the tour’s highlights:
* Returning to the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, where the second half of the book is based, and presenting it to the subchiefs of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.
* Summoning up the courage to tell my first Moth Story—without any notes—before an audience of 1,300 at the Majestic Theatre as part of the San Antonio Book Festival.
* Returning to Bluestockings, the same New York City bookstore where I launched Around the Bloc fourteen years ago, and reuniting with many of the same friends I did that epic night long ago.
* Gathering at Spain’s oldest university for a congress on Chicana/o Literature with so many heroes of our canon: Ana Castillo, Helena Maria Viramontes, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Norma Cantu, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Lucha Corpi, Amelia de la Luz Montes, Xanath Caraza, y mas.
I write you now from a sunlit studio at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I am holding a two-week writing residency. First up is a story about the literary heritage of Iceland (which I just visited) and how it is being compromised by “digital minoritization.” Language and cultural identity: the topics I will never tire of exploring. Then I’ll focus on my next book project.
Every evening after supper, I join the other artists and writers here for a walk down a tree-lined hill toward the gate, beyond which sprawls the highway. A painted wooden sign that says REAL WORLD hangs there. We all touch it, but do not walk past it. Given the inordinate trauma emanating from our southern borderlands, and the innumerable reverberations throughout the world, this ritual feels obscene. Yet I do it anyway, lest I go mad. However devastating things feel right now, I take heart knowing you are out there. Thank you for that, as well.
And happy summer, from my heart to yours.