The Río Puerco valley puckers and shines, like scalded milk
spilled from the sky's bucket.
Late in the summer, the land and its dry riverbed
crumble into the colors of crushed wheat.
A voice-over stitches the air: Esta historia comienza
en el fin.
Nasario walks an arroyo and stops by a bush
in the low shade of a cliff.
When he was a child, his Grandpa Lolo brought him here
to see the bear—a small brown bear
feasting on gooseberries.
Fiddle notes slide sideways . . . like a girl in a satin dress
gliding into the cypress arms
of a Spanish guitar.
Thorns rustle against the dust.
Nasario takes a series of objects out of a wooden box
and lays them tenderly
on a table--
his mother's two frying pans (new in the 1930s)
a child's shoe
a rusty cup
an array of hand-tools with worn handles
a man's work-boot curled at the toes--
"And this is the scale
my father would hang with gunny sacks of corn
before we took them to Jemez Pueblo
to trade with the Indians
for apples, peaches, apricots, grapes--
because we had no fruit in the valley."
The stories the viejitos told crackled with magic--
witchcraft, animals, landscape.
Nasario, crowned in cumulus cloud, remembers:
"En ese tiempo el Río Puerco era como una flor."
An evening primrose opens its pale petals; pink
phosphorous dots the desert floor.
"The only thing you hear out here anymore is the whistling
of the wind," Nasario says.
"But back then we heard
the fluttering of crows in the cornfield,
coyotes howling at night—it was like a symphony
of animal music."
The frame of a small house releases its broken adobe bones
to the earth—ashes to ashes.
Crees que las piedras nos recuerdan?
Nasario reads "Mi Casita" in his voice of rustling leaves.
And the shadow
Y la sombra
con cada rendija
que la cobija.
-Anne Valley-Fox, January 12, 2017
Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Anne Valley-Fox was raised in Santa Monica, California and schooled at University of California at Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement. There, she began writing poetry in classrooms with Josephine Miles and visiting poet James Tate; in her senior year she was awarded the Eisner Prize in Literature. She cut her poetic teeth on the San Francisco poetry scene for several years before moving to northern New Mexico with her first-born son, Ezra. Her poetry books are Sending the Body Out, Fish Drum 15, Point of No Return and How Shadows Are Bundled. Her nonfiction books include Telling Your Story (with Sam Keen) and five volumes of oral histories compiled from archives of The New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project. In 2016 she received a William Matthews Poetry Prize from the Asheville Poetry Review.
Her most recently poetry collection, Nightfall (Red Mountain Press) is a collection of vivid poems from an American poet in her seventh decade. www.redmountainpress.us.
Our Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to edit this film ends Tue, Jan 31.
See the trailer, read our story, join the journey
There are all kinds of Perks for donating, chief among them, the support you give to a story that belives in land and community and connection.
For Immediate Distribution
January 24, 2017
Contact: Shebana Coelho, cell 609-651-5840,
A SANTA-FE BASED ORAL HISTORY DOCUMENTARY ABOUT LAND AND COMMUNITY IS JUST A RIVER AWAY FROM REACHING ITS CROWDFUNDING GOAL
The Indiegogo campaign for the New Mexico oral history documentary, Nasario remembers the Río Puerco is one week away from the end and $4000 away from reaching the amount needed to edit the film for broadcast consideration by New Mexico PBS. The production team is based in Santa Fe, recently ranked by Moviemaker magazine, as the “#2 small city to live and work as a filmmaker in North America.”
Nasario remembers the Río Puerco is a new documentary that follows celebrated folklorist Nasario García doing what he loves: wandering through landscape and memory amid the ghosts towns of New Mexico's Rio Puerco valley, reviving recuerdos of his youth when the ranching villages thrived and viejitos elders told stories beside a river that once ran.
To see a trailer, read the story of the film, and contribute, visit the Indiegogo site
http://bit.ly/NasarioFilm or the film’s website www.nasarioremembers.com
Since December 14, the campaign has raised over $18,000 towards editing expenses.
In this last week – and with about $4000 left to raise, the campaign is reminding audiences of several Perks for donation still up for grabs, notably:
The Hispanic villages of the Río Puerco valley, located near Cuba NM, and southeast of Chaco Canyon, thrived between the 1900s to the 1950s. Using interviews with Dr. García, oral histories, archival photos and evocative footage of the landscape, this hour-long film recalls the stillness and vividness of a tactile past, one that the landscape and the ruins still remember. The film is directed by Shebana Coelho, who previously adapted Dr. García’s first book of oral histories into the stage play, When The Stars Trembled in Río Puerco that was performed to full house audiences at Santa Fe’s Teatro Paraguas and Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center in 2014.
“I imagine this film as an encounter about land and memory,” she says, “about home and belonging, and that mysterious feeling that has drawn people to New Mexico for ages – because the stories are alive on this land and when a storyteller arrives, and the listeners gather, the land offers up its own memories. Do ruins remember us? I believe they do. And especially now, more than ever, I believe we need stories of diverse voices reconnecting us to community, story and spirit.”
Coelho is an award-winning director and writer whose documentaries have been broadcast on PBS, Discovery Channel, and BBC Radio, among others.
The fiscal sponsor for the film is New Mexico Film Foundation, whose executive director is Dirk Norris. The film is presented by the multimedia oral history project, Recuerdos Vivos New Mexico/Living Memories. For more information, please visit www.nasarioremembers.com, Facebook @NasarioRemembers or email email@example.com.
Toni and Juan García sing about Mañana, Tomorrow and listening to them, our fiscal sponsor, Dirk Norris New Mexico Film Foundationwrites: "How many times did Toni and Juan García sing this song while sitting in the shadow of Cabezon Peak in the Río Puerco? Are their families there too? Do our memories create our future?"
We have 13 days left on our Indiegogo campaign to edit this film about landscape & memory with celebrated folklorist Nasario Garcia. Now is the time to donate to preserve these stories of New Mexico for the future. http://bit.ly/NasarioFilm
See our trailer, Read our story, join the journey. Thank you! Nasario remembers the Río Puerco Nasario Garcia
Photos by Kelvin DuVal, Dirk Norris, Shebana Coelho
What a wonderful event - the Past was Present on Thursday evening! Thank you Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse Cecile LipworthThanks to all who came and packed the place! We at Nasario remembers the Río Puerco were so grateful to share our story in speech and film! Thanks to Anne Valley-Fox for her beautiful poem for Nasario and the film, Dirk Norris New Mexico Film Foundation Kelvin James DuVal Iren Schio David Fant and director Shebana Coelho who came and shared their words art and presence on behalf of the project. And of course Nasario Garcia! who brought his stories and what is is left of the Rio Puerco: Three Left Shoes, his, his mother, his father's - found in the rubble of his house.
Help us keep what is left of the Rio Puerco alive...help us preserve and re-imagine this encounter with the cultural heritage of northern New Mexico, land story connection - and you.
Join us in the journey to make this film. We have 2 more weeks left of this Indiegogo campaign to edit this film. http://bit.ly/NasarioFilm
READ THE FULL ARTICLE BELOW
Remembering the Rio Puerco Folklorist and historian Nasario García and film director Shebana Coelho worked together on Nasario Remembers the Río Puerco, a documentary centered on stories García has written and collected from the people who once lived in the now- abandoned area along the river southeast of Chaco Canyon. Courtesy Kelvin DuVal
Remembering the Rio Puerco
By Tripp Stelnicki
The New Mexican | Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 10:20 pm
Once, by the Rio Puerco, a young Nasario García went for a ride with his grandfather, who was called Lolo. Across the arroyo, García saw a bear. He called out in warning.
Lolo said, “Oh? He’s my friend. Come.”
They rode their horses across the arroyo to a thicket of berry bushes, not far from the watchful bear. Lolo picked two or three. “Try these,” he told his grandson. “They’re good, aren’t they? That’s why the bear comes here, and he comes here all the time.”
That is one of García’s recuerdos, or memories, from his early childhood days growing up near the Rio Puerco. For the first time, García, 80, of Santa Fe, a folklorist and historian, is sharing his Rio Puerco recuerdos on film.
On Thursday, García and film director Shebana Coelho will be at Collected Works Bookstore to preview clips from the documentary Nasario Remembers the Río Puerco and speak about his recuerdos.
The ranching villages near the Rio Puerco in the shadow of Cabezon Peak in Sandoval County emptied when drought dried the river and overgrazing spoiled the land in the 1950s. All that remains of the people who made their lives in the valley 50 miles west of Rio Rancho are crumbling ruins.
Some of García’s memories are commonplace: seeing his first bear or galloping through the village as a child, dodging the prairie dog mounds. Others veer into magical realism: a cousin, returning home from a date after curfew, having been clawed bloody by a bobcat but miraculously bearing no wounds. There were vibrant fiestas, marches and dances late into the night, where a boy was obligated by tradition to dance with his mother, grandmother and sisters before he could dance with anyone else.
His recuerdos share a common protagonist: the landscape. The stories belong to his village of Ojo del Padre and his stretch of the Rio Puerco Valley, its hills, its arroyos, its buttes, he says. The film “projects the past into the present, and hopefully into the future,” he says.
The idea for the film occurred to Coelho, who wanted to show the storyteller among the landscape, to hear García tell his stories where they are set.
“A storyteller can tell stories over and over again, and there’s something different in the telling,” Coelho says. “Nasario has spoken these stories, and he’s published them, but I realized there was a film because we haven’t seen Nasario on the land. That’s a different encounter. ... What happens? For someone who listens, who doesn’t know the story, what does it wake up in you?”
Nasario Remembers the Río Puerco shows García wandering through the arroyos, the ruins and the memories lingering there. The film includes a series of García’s vignettes, Coelho said, as well as tableaus re-created with artifacts recovered from the dilapidated, disappearing homes.
“The feeling of the stories is so strong when you go to the Rio Puerco,” she says, “because there’s just enough left.”
Valley residents began abandoning their homes after a fire destroyed a wood-and-stone dam crucial for supplying the acequias, García says. Subsequent droughts didn’t help. His grandfather was one of the last to leave, he says, in 1958. Since then, the largely dried-out valley has belonged to ghosts.
There’s one story García hasn’t told often: At age 9, in 1945, when his family left their ranch by the river for Martineztown, an Albuquerque neighborhood, he was glad. “I was tired of eating pinto beans, I was tired of eating corn, I was just tired of the way of life,” he says. “It was very difficult for a young boy.”
He didn’t think much of his valley until he went to Spain many years later for graduate study. On weekends, he and his wife would travel to the small villages in the Spanish countryside, where they saw the fiestas. “When I came back, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to talk to my grandparents,’ ” he said.
He wasn’t yet a trained interviewer or folklorist, but García considers that initial conversation with his elderly grandparents about the valley one of his career’s most illuminating. His curiosity was inflamed. “I wondered about all these people who used to live here,” he says. “Where are they? I started connecting dots, and I started interviewing them.
“The connection between Spain and New Mexico took me back to the valley,” he says.
Coelho found García when she heard him tell a story about his grandmother at Collected Works Bookstore. She approached him after the reading, and a partnership was born: Coelho adapted a book of García’s oral histories into a stage play, When the Stars Trembled in Río Puerco, which was performed in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in 2013 and 2014.
For the film about the Rio Puerco, Coelho and the filmmaking team are seeking donations through Indiegogo.com, a crowd-funding website, to finance the months of editing ahead. PBS has expressed interest in airing the film, Coelho says, and her dream is to premiere the documentary there during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
A sense of Hispanic heritage is at work in García’s drive to preserve the past. He remembers asking a class of Hispanic students what each of them was doing to preserve their culture.
“A kid raised his hand, and he said, with a straight face, ‘I go to Taco Bell once a week, and I buy a burrito grande,’ ” García says. “My heart fell down to my feet.”
García’s recuerdos can help stem that cultural tide, just as they preserve the spirit of a fading valley. When García returned to the Rio Puerco to film a scene this past year, he came to the spot where he saw his first bear and Lolo told him not to fear. The berry bushes were still growing.
Contact Tripp Stelnicki at 505-428-7626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOWNLOAD a pdf of the article to read offline
From director Shebana Coelho: The first time I heard Nasario Garcia speak, I heard the dust of the Río Puerco in his voice and saw the river beside a yellow plain. The things he spoke of made me feel I had been raised there - and I was born in India! But this is the gift of Nasario – wherever you're from, his words take you back to where he grew up, and to a time when you listened - to the silence of the llano, the songs of crows, and most of all, the stories that the viejitos the elders spoke.
I was so inspired by meeting Nasario that I - who had never written a full length play before – wrote and directed one, an adaptation of his first book of oral histories called, When the Stars Trembled in Río Puerco. It was performed at Santa Fe’s Teatro Paraguas and the National Hispanic Cultural Center in 2014.
A few months later, I began looking at footage I had filmed of Nasario when we went once to see the Rio Puerco ruins. And I saw the film. Nasario remembers the Río Puerco
My vision is to create a visual poetic encounter between images and words, Nasario and the land. I hear the voice of a narrator, a woman’s voice speaking in lyric about the past and future. I believe that the past is not only sepia behind us; it’s as real as what’s on the table in front of us. I believe what is calling us back is also calling us forward – to live in peace with the land, close to our truths, under the stars, all in our own unique way. Nasario may have printed his stories, even spoken them to an audience, but this magic of Nasario with his feet on a landscape that also remembers him – this encounter hasn’t been seen. And what it brings out in those who see the encounter, the visions I have from my imagination encountering those memories, that land - that's the story of 'Nasario remembers the Río Puerco.'
I'm very aware of the context in which we are making this film, and doing this campaign, in a time of great division, at the edge of a great unknown - I feel now, more than ever, side by side, with doing what we can for each other, we have to live our full light, follow what calls to the full degree it is calling - and for me, now, this is what is calling, these stories of land, community, and connection.
I'll be speaking about this on Thu 1/12 at Collected Works at 6pm, at our event, The Past is Present: Screening clips from "Nasario remembers.."We'd love to see you there! See our trailer, and other clips from the film in progress, meet us all including and especially Nasario. If you can't come, meet us online - at our Indiegogo page to raise funds to edit this film: http://bit.ly/NasarioFilm
We have a "Be a Credit to us" Perk that we especially want to feature - where you can be in the credits for a small donation. Our dream is for this to be a true "crowdfunded" project, where many people giving little can make a project possible. Thank you...and see you in the story...
"Nos estamos acabando. We’re dying out." These words spoken by an elder of the Río Puerco valley began the story that Nasario Garcia has been listening to and telling all these years. For over 30 years, the memories given to him by viejitosand comadres, elders and sisters have been transformed into numerous award-winning bilingual books of oral histories, children’s stories, fiction, and memoir about the Río Puerco region, an iconic New Mexico landscape, northwest of Albuquerque and southeast of Chaco Canyon. He is the recipient of the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico.
Nasario grew up the way rural New Mexicans had for generations. His parents built their own adobe house, raised their own food, hauled their water from the river, and brought up their children to respect the old ways. In all his books, but especially his award-winning memoir, Hoe, Heaven, and Hell, lauded most recently by a Latino Book Award, he describes life in the Río Puerco, between the 1900s and the 1950s, when there were four Hispanic villages - San Luis, Cabezón, Guadalupe, and Casa Salazar - with ranches and water, and people lived close to the land and under the stars.
For decades, Nasario has been speaking his stories. But to see him with his feet on the land, letting the story rise through the the dust and the sand, the magic of what happens when a storyteller returns to the land that also remembers him - that story hasn't been shown. And that's the film -"Nasario Remembers the Rio Puerco"
When you meet Nasario, you'll see The Past is Present. He'll be at Collected Works on Thu 1/12 at 6pm - Please join us to see more of the film and hear more from him.
In a note to friends a few weeks ago, Nasario wrote: "From a one-room schoolhouse in my native Río Puerco valley where I grew up to my retirement as a university professor has been a marvelous journey replete with a multitude of personal and professional memories.But the capstone to the dreams in my life is reflected in the film Nasario Remembers the Río Puerco currently in progress..." It's our dream too. See the trailer read the story, join the journey.... http://bit.ly/NasarioFilm
1/6/17 update: We're a TOP PICK of the WEEK, at the Albuquerque Journal! More here
The Past is Present: Folkorist Nasario García remembers the Río Puerco