Posted on 04-26-2012
Community honors beloved poet, humanitarian
By Toni Frésquez
Praise, good memories and unconditional love were abundant this week as friends and family gathered to remember humanitarian and poet Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado at the 5th Annual Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival held at the St. Cajetan’s Center on the Auraria Campus, sponsored by the MSCD President’s Office of Diversity; Chicana/o Studies Department, Student Activities, Center for Urban Connections, University of Colorado Office of Diversity and Inclusion, The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
Lalo’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren attended the day-long festivities that included poetry, art, music and food.
Dr. Felipé de Ortego y Gasca traveled from New México, to serve as the events keynote speaker.
Friend and fellow poet Ernesto Alvarado read his work in honor of Lalo and shared his thoughts on the late poet. “I had the privilege to know Lalo and when his name comes up, I think about his eyes,” said Alvarado. “I could see his heart in his eyes. I worked with Lalo at the Migrant council and his eyes were always full of love. And that’s the memory I will always carry of Lalo. It’s an honor to be here.”
In memory of Lalo, Alvarado distributed his poetry books free of charge because “that’s what Lalo always used to do.”
Poet Ghada Kanafani read her emotional tribute to Lalo, which she originally wrote in Arabic, had translated to Spanish and then English. “You know I have enough, my memory is full of the dead – I don’t want you dead. I will never say good bye. You are not gone,” Kanafani said to Lalo, “I have your words to prove it.”
Before Kanafani read the poem in Arabic, she explained, “I wrote the Arabic one just to honor his humanist, because that’s what he was – he accepted everyone.”
Upon his passing, Lalo’s daughter, Ana Duran and her family were able to learn more about their father.”He had boxes and boxes and boxes in a storage unit for ten years, and when he passed away and we cleaned the storage unit, we noticed the treasures he left us. He died a poor man but he left us riches -- his work, what he saved, what his memories were,” she said.
“And going through my father’s last interview before he died, they asked him ‘Lalo what do you want to be remembered by’ and he said, ‘simple things, very simple things. To always look for the beauty within you and the strength within you, and to never lose the language, because if you lose the language then you lose the culture.’”
Duran added, “He will always live through his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They will always be a reflection of him.”
The Delgado family has continued their patriarch’s mantra of generosity and presented $500 scholarships to Jessica Van Dyke and Yasmin Cervantes. “I hope they will appreciate they are part of a legacy that Lalo left,” said Yolanda Ortega. “And it is a legacy of love, of commitment, of talent and of perseverance.”
Dr. Luis Torres, Deputy Provost Metropolitan State College of Denver noted in detail the qualities of Delgado, especially for being an ‘occasion’ poet and the importance of that in the Mexicano and Chicano culture.
“If Lalo were here, he would have written a poem about today,” laughed Dr. Torres. “The occasion of this day.”
The Provost addressed Lalo’s unique persona. “He addressed our cultural crisis on the city streets, and he did with such style and such warmth and humanism.
“If you look at this painting,” said Dr. Torres referring to an art piece of Lalo by Carlota EspinoZa, “you wonder how could somebody have addressed that cultural crisis and still have that smile. He was always smiling, the way he addressed people, he left something very positive.”