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  • Feminist Latina Poet Maria Enriquez: Mi Sombra, My Shadow
Feminist Latina Poet Maria Enriquez: Mi Sombra, My Shadow
Contributor
Written by
Lyn Jensen
March 2015
Contributor
Written by
Lyn Jensen
March 2015

  When Maria Enriquez worked as a hairdresser at her shop in Long Beach, California, she’d write poems while waiting for customers. That’s when she wrote the poems featured in her self-published book, Mi Sombra My Shadow.  She spent four years writing the poems and preparing the book.  Even after four decades in America, her English remains shaky, so she wrote the poems in Spanish and hired a translator to provide English versions.

  Members of Southern California’s Spanish-speaking community especially may recognize her as a former radio personality, where she often used the name, “La India Chona.” She says she got the nickname when she wore a Mexican folk costume in a parade. She carried a baby doll. Spectators teased her with shouts of, “La india chona!” which she says loosely translates to “Be careful with the baby!”

  “Since I was young, I used to write rhymes and poems,” she says of her path to poetry. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, in 1952 and moved to the USA in 1976.  She became an American citizen in 2003.  Besides dressing hair, she’s been a nurse, seamstress, and parks-and-rec counselor—but she’s now on disability retirement. One husband and two adult children are long out of the picture, leaving her free to dedicate herself to poetry and art.

  She recalls her days on radio, explaining, “In 1980 I wrote a funny rhyme alluding to Humberto Luna, radio program announcer, KTNQ Los Angeles, and gave it to him. Since then I participated [on his show] with my poems until 1993.”

  Enriquez’ book Mi Sombra, My Shadow is laid out with the Spanish and English version of each poem occupying facing pages.  Some of Enriquez’ work is for special occasions, events, and persons.  There’s a tribute to longtime Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, and a few holiday poems.  However, most of the themes are romantic, focusing on love, family, spirituality, and everyday emotions.  Educators looking for contemporary Latina literature may be wise to seek out Enriquez.

  Although the book was formerly available on the Barnes & Noble site, now to get it you’ll have to meet or tweet Maria. To order a copy, tweet @MariaCEnriquez (“India Chona”) and ask where and how to send payment ($10).  This feminist poet says she’s got about 60 more poems completed and is hoping to feature those in a second book.

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