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Caracol: La Revista de la Raza

September 24, 2012

Image of poster for Floricanto Cuatro, including a poem by Tigre of Laredo, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, November 1977 [E184 .M5 C368]

Image of poster for Flor y Canto Cuatro, including a poem by Tigre of Laredo, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, November 1977 [E184 .M5 C368]

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Special Collections would like to highlight Caracol (1974-1979), a San Antonio arts and politics journal published during Texas’ Chicano Literary Renaissance. The title translates as “snail,” and is explained in the September 1978 issue:

In the indigenous tradition CARACOL is a symbol of fertility. The spiral designates a journey. You may start in the center with yourself and travel to the outside world that surrounds you, or you may start on the outside and travel to the center.

According to the Handbook of Texas Online, the title is also a reference to Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem, “The Chambered Nautilus.” In this poem, the image of a nautilus shell is used as a metaphor for life’s journey and imaginative engagement with the world.

Intended as a forum for raising Chicana/o consciousness, Caracol addressed both personal experiences and socioeconomic issues through  poetry, short stories, drama, reviews, and political commentary. Like its Austin-based counterpart, Tejidos, Caracol played an important role in the flowering of Chicana/o literature during this time period by publishing many new, self-taught, and working-class Tejano writers. These periodicals helped to build a network of chicana/o writers and readers both within and beyond Texas.

"Pa Delante Vamos" by Angela de Hoyos of San Antonio, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, January 1978 [E184 .M5 C368]

“Pa’delante Vamos” by Angela de Hoyos of San Antonio, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, January 1978 [E184 .M5 C368]

Writers of the Chicano Literary Renaissance frequently combined English and Spanish in the same text, as in this poem by Evangelina Vigil from the November 1977 issue of Caracol:

“For Teresa: Upon returning from a weekend in San Antonio 5/6/76”

i feel dizzy from activity
movement movement movement
all around
intoxicating swirls of motion
like gentle breeze through my hair
barbas de oro
entre los nogales
de san antonio
y las chicharras
cante y cante
canciones de tristeza
seasons in
seasons out
never ending spiral motion
de las planetas

"The Present is a Time for Struggle: The Future is Ours" by Rebeca Huerta of San Pablo, California. Front cover of Caracol, September 1978 [E184 .M5 C368]

“The Present is a Time for Struggle: The Future is Ours” by Rebeca Huerta of San Pablo, California. Front cover of Caracol, September 1978 [E184 .M5 C368]

slow motion
astrological explosions
of human souls
connected to el ombligo
of indio space
indio time

no me sueltes la mano manita

And also in this poem, published in the July/August 1979 issue as one of several written by students of Profesor Juan Pablo Gutierrez in the Migrant Program at Fly Junior High in Crystal City, Texas:

“El Accidente”

Cuando se bajó el farmer
Del tractor estabal componiendo
Los discos and he went in front
To get some fierros and he
Forgot the screwdriver…
When he put the discos down,
Se rebentó el cordón del cloche
Se arranco el tractor y la
Llanta se calló pa abajo

Photograph of Linda Guerra, San Antonio model and actress, taken by Arnoldo Villarreal. Front cover of Caracol, February 1979 [E184 .M5 C368]

Photograph of Linda Guerra, San Antonio model and actress, taken by Arnoldo Villarreal. Front cover of Caracol, February 1979 [E184 .M5 C368]

Y le machucó la pata
La llanta de atrás
Y los discos
Le mocharon la pierna…

Although known for publishing new writers, Caracol also published work by established authors, including poems by San Antonio Chicana poet Angela de Hoyos. The November 1977 issue featured a selection of de Hoyos’ poems reprinted from her 1975 collection Arise, Chicano and Other Poems, including the title poem:

“Arise, Chicano!”

 In your migrant’s world of hand-to-mouth days,

your children go unsmiling to a cold bed;
the bare walls rockaby the same wry song,
a ragged dirge, thin as the air…

I have seen you go down
under the shrewd hell of exploit – your long suns of brutal sweat
with ignoble pittance crowned.
Trapped in the never-ending fields
where you stoop, dreaming of sweeter dawns,

Pen, ink, and charcoal drawing by Jesus "Chista" Cantú of San Antonio, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, March 1979 [E184 .M5 C368]

Pen, ink, and charcoal drawing by Jesus “Chista” Cantú of San Antonio, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, March 1979 [E184 .M5 C368]

while the mocking whip of slavehood
confiscates your moment of reverie.

Or beneath the stars (offended
by your rude songs of rebellion)
…when, at last, you shroud your dreams
and with them, your hymn of hope.

Thus a bitterness in your life:
wherever you turn for solace
there is an embargo.
How to express your anguish
when not even your burning words
are yours, they are borrowed
from the festering barrios of poverty,
and the sadness in your eyes
only reflects the mute pain of your people.

Arise, Chicano! – that divine spark within you
surely says – Wash your wounds
and swathe your agonies.
There is no one to succor you.
You must be your own messiah.

Angela de Hoyos, San Antonio, Tejas

"Larga Jornada Humanidad Tratando de Captar Fe y Justicia" by Don Miguel Angel Tellez of San Antonio, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, July/August 1979 [E184 .M5 C368]

“Larga Jornada Humanidad Tratando de Captar Fe y Justicia” by Don Miguel Angel Tellez of San Antonio, Texas. Front cover of Caracol, July/August 1979 [E184 .M5 C368]

UTSA Libraries Special Collections holds 14 print issues of Caracol [E184 .M5 C368], ranging from  February 1975 to July/August 1979. A complete run of the journal may be viewed on microfilm in section 8 of the Chicano Studies Library Serial Collection [E184 .M5 C461]. In addition to the online title list, a printed guide is available in the microfilm room under the call number E184 .M5 C461.


Sources:

Goodyear, Russell H. Goodyear, “Caracol,” Handbook of Texas Online (Texas State Historical Association), accessed September 11, 2012.

Palomo Acosta, Teresa, “Chicano Literary Renaissance,” Handbook of Texas Online, (Texas State Historical Association), accessed September 11, 2012.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. jessica ruiz permalink
    December 6, 2012 6:23 pm

    is there a way to get copies of the issues?

    • Juli McLoone permalink
      December 10, 2012 1:50 pm

      Physical copies of Caracol are available for use in the special collections reading room in the John Peace Library. Photocopies of specific pages can be requested at a rate of 25 cents per page. Copies can also be obtained by making print-outs from the microfilm.

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