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Poet Xanath Caraza Summons The African Roots Of Mexico

Israel Nazario's painting La Nina Que Corto La Flor (the girl who picked the flower) was the inspiration for Caraza's poem De Tus Manos (Out of Your Hands).

Kansas City poet XanathCaraza recently published the poetry chapbook Corazon Pintado, a book of "ekphrastic poems" – or poems that respond to other works of art. 

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Yanga, Yanga, Yanga

Today, your spirit I invoke

Here, in this place

This, this is my poem for Yanga

Mandinga, malanga, bamba

Rumba, mambo, samba.

Caraza says the poem Yanga was inspired by the African history and rhythms of her home state of Veracruz, Mexico. Yanga was a historical figure who came to Mexico as a slave, and escaped, eventually founding a free community that became town bearing his name.

Many of the other poems in the book are accompanied by the paintings that inspired them.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents podcast.

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
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