During his lifetime my father, Servando Cardenas, wrote hundreds if not thousands of poems. Unfortunately, over time, many of them were lost either in moves, in floods or perhaps discarded. Those that remain will appear in our next book entitled “La Voz de Amor” scheduled for release in the Spring of 2016.
The book is mostly a tribute to my father, but his works are worthy of publication and may be of interest to people who enjoy poetry and who read Spanish.
My brother Manuel Cardenas deserves much of the credit for preserving these poems. He saved many of them and had many of them transcribed from old newspaper clippings or from the originals typed by our father. Many of them were yellowing and weathering away over time.
Manuel also translated many of the poems into English, but the book will be done entirely in Spanish in tribute to our father, who was a patriotic American but who always remained close to his native language. Only on rare occasions did he allow himself the use of Tex-Mex or some variant of Spanish.
His last poem, a two-line verse, was one such occasion. In 1992 after I was elected mayor of San Diego he wrote:
“Mi hijo el menor
es el mayor.”
The Spanish word for mayor is alcalde but to make it rhyme he resorted to the Tex-Mex version of mayor. In perhaps one of his best known work, Los Pachucos he wrote:
Lo del día, lector ameno,
lo metí para hacer el consonante,
que yo en poesía por salir del paso
meto ripio tras ripio y adelante.
That is to say, he would use whatever word he had available to make it rhyme in order to keep it going. Since he was writing in the “pachuco” language this was probably more necessary then when he wrote in pure Castilian.
Los Pachucos was first published in Tino Villanueva’s Chicanos: Antología, histórica y literaria. It also appeared in Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature by Dagoberto Gilb.
Although Los Pachucos received much circulation and praise by modern chicano writers, it was not typical of his works. I suspect he wrote it to poke fun at the pachucos. Most of his work fit the Romantic literary genre popular during the time he wrote most of them.
All of them, it seems to me, involve notions of love, either romantic, familial, patriotic, cultural, or spiritual. That is how the book will be organized. The title of the book comes from the name of a weekly newspaper he published in San Diego in 1939, which he called La Voz. I added “de amor” in keeping with the theme of his poems. During the timeframe he also published three literary publications, Alma Azul in Mercedes, Alma in San Diego and Cumbres in Victoria.
One of our family’s favorite poems was one he wrote about his own father entitled El Retrato de Mi Padre. It was about his father but we all felt it described him as well. In one passage he wrote:
Era mi padre un hombre distinguido,
casta de hombres en estos tiempos rara;
Tenía de la moral un gran sentido,
palabra firme y una sola cara.
It has been a labor of love for me to do this work; not only thinking about my father but also of my brother Manuel who is no longer with us.
Since we do not anticipate widespread interest in this book we will have a limited printing. If you think you would be interested in having a copy please fill out the form below. You do not have to pay now or even buy it when it is out, but it will give us an idea of how much of a printing to do.