Austin poet and activist Raúl Salinas has died. I was touched that once he had commented on my art. I will remember the Xicanindio who called me a Xicanindia. I will remember the cave like nest of a bookstore filled with the smell of sage and inscense and books about resistance, revolution, and a strong people with a long history. I will remember the tatooed braided silver haried elder who always had a story and a laugh for me when I would visit. I will remember that my art, my politic, my spirituality are all a part of me. I will remember Raul.
By Omar L. Gallaga
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The author and longtime fixture at South Austin's La Resistencia Bookstore wrote several influential books of Chicano poetry, including "East of the Freeway: Reflections de mi Pueblo," and "Un Trip Through the Mind Jail y Otras Excursions."
His most recent book, "raúl salinas and the Jail Machine: Selected Writings of raúl salinas" was published in 2006 by University of Texas Press.
The bespectacled, pony-tailed writer, born in 1934 in San Antonio, aligned himself with the Beat poets and had used stints in prison that began in 1957 on drug-related charges in California, as fodder for his work.
The poet said he was reborn in prison, where he said he got in touch with his "Native spirituality and indigenous self."
He would go on to teach many writing and social activism classes, whether it was at schools such as St. Edwards University or at juvenile detention centers across the country.
Salinas was actively involved in city politics and also played host at La Resistencia, which opened in 1981, to art and spoken-word events. The cultural group he created, Red Salmon Arts, continues to host performances and artist events.
He told the Spanish newspaper ¡ahora sí! in 2005, "This is my world," Salinas says, "I have to navigate it. I've always combined my art, my politics, my spirituality, as part of my total being."