In Mexican culture, death is a lover; a friend; a playful huckster who throws on a tux, grabs his skeleton bride and clip-clops over to the church to get hitched. Passing into the next world is an act to be embraced, not feared, and on the first two days of November, Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead in honor of those who have passed on. "The spirits of the dead are not seen as evil ghosts haunting the living but as visitors come back to spend a little time with those they left behind," says Linda Rodriguez of the Latino Writers Collective, a Kansas City-based literary group. "So it's a family reunion of sorts, and Latinos put on terrific family reunions." Poetry has long been a part of that tradition, she adds, lending heart and humor to the colorful festivities. In her poem "Calaca Comedy Central," Rodriguez writes, "Lord Death just bares his teeth in an everlasting grin and dances, loose-limbed and clacking, bone on bone, holding out his sombrero at the end as he mimics a hacendado's formal bow." Hear more inspiration from beyond the grave when the Latino Writers Collective hosts a poetry reading, in honor of the holiday, tonight at 6 in Room 106 of the University Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (5000 Holmes).
Thu., Oct. 30, 6 p.m., 2008