Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is annually held on May 5th as the celebration of Mexico’s victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Today, Cinco de Mayo is largely celebrated in the town of Puebla and in the U.S. by Mexican Americans. The way we choose to celebrate here at ALU is by reading titles that represent Mexican culture and identity. Consisting of books such as, Itzel I(Guernica Editions) by Sarah Xerar Murphy, and Mexican Poet Alberto Blanco’s poetry collection Circling Beacons (Guernica Editions) translated by Jennifer Rathbun.


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Select Titles for Cinco de Mayo 

Itzel I by Sarah Xerar Murphy

The first of two-part novel, Itzel I tells the story of three disparate characters swept up in the drama of the Mexican student movement of 1968 whose ending in the Massacre in Tlatelolco on October 2nd, a date now always commemorated in Mexico, changed their lives forever. Broad in scope and exuberant in style in the best tradition of Latin American literature, this book roots its readers in the ebullience of Mexico’s daily life and language, even as they are made to confront the horrors of history, to examine the difficulties of friendship and family.

Circling Beacons by Alberto Blanco, and translated by Jennifer Rathbun

Circling Beacons is recognized as Blanco’s masterpiece, thanks to the fact that it introduced a new tone in Mexican poetry. The carefully structured architecture of the book does not oppose, but rather plays with the spontaneity of its masterful images. Poems inspired by surrealism, symbolism, Zen and English metaphysical poets, it is distinguished, above all, by the lessons learned in classical Chinese poetry. Blanco shows himself to be a true master of language in Circling Beacons by creating multiple layers of imagery and interpretations on each individual poem and the collection as a whole.

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How will you be celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Let us know in the comments below, or on social media at @alllitupcanada.