Remembrances of Raúl, Part Three

More memorials and memories of Raúl Salinas.

In memory of Raúl Roy “Tapon” Salinas (1934-2008), we continue to offer these words from those who knew him and worked with him.

Maneja Beto playing a song inspired by Raul Salinas in 2004 at a Resistencia Bookstore/Red Salmon Arts benefit in 2004, as filmed by Andrea Melendez.

Carlos Cumpian, editor/publisher, March Abrazo Press, Chicago, Illinois, and author of Coyote Sun, Armadillo Charm:

Raúl Salinas was from my hometown, San Antonio, Texas, but he was born 20 years before me. I only met him after his psychological REBIRTH from prisoner to people's poet. His mind/heart transformation helped to prepare a place for the next generation of poets and artists that would also endure academc and social hostilities just as he did.

Raúl first mentored me with his printed work in his poetry classic, a trip through the mind jail. Raúl had a first-rate, honest to roots performance style that blended words from barrios black, brown, red, with American Jazz. I loved his readings over the 25 years I knew him.

I had the honor and privilege of introducing Raúl a few times both in San Antonio and in Chicago. Raúl won over many new readers in May 1991, when he came up to Chicago for the memorable across the generations poetry reading Netzahualcoyotl Festival hosted by Chicago's Mexican Fine Arts Museum. Three others who read there are now also in poet's heaven.

In spring 2000, he visited my Chicago barrio high school and made connections with young Mexicans and African Americans and opened their eyes to Chicano culture. Raúl was a leader, he will always be a leader, he lead from "the trenches" which means he worked with his community, but his community can't be limited to one city, it's now a whole country that embraces his memory and literary contribution.

Be strong, raulsalinas presente!
Andrea "gaia" Melendez, filmmaker, Austin, Texas:
Raul Salinas,

You were there when a young chicana feminist activista emerged from east/southside Austin, TX neighborhoods in 1992 … guiding, supporting, and fighting for the development of us youth … I remember you sitting with me in my expulsion hearing fro Johnston High School as I was going through a turbulent time in school as a young activist. it is only recently I began to fully understand and appreciate how blessed I have been to have you in my corner … to be emerging and transforming and have such powerful examples. to see that in my fight I am not alone … to experience that in my search for our indigenous spirituality that was subtracted from us, that in you, you have kept that spirit alive and you share it with youth like me … to connect my fire with your fire … to have your fighting spirit continue to provoke each of us … to provoke us to be direct, to be articulate, to not be afraid, and to be that which we are supposed to be. Raul, I am so grateful for the challenge which you leave us each with … the challenge to fight hard and smart and with love and faith and determination … I am so grateful for the challenge you leave us with. With all of my love and respect … ancestor … I welcome you forever in my heart and soul.
Lawrence Salinas, poet, read this poem at Raúl Salinas' memorial service, February 16, 2008, in Austin, Texas.
Who is this man?

Raul, Roy, "Tapon" Uncle Roy,
"El stupido" as my grandmother sometimes called him

Who was this man who ran wild in the barrios of East Austin "con los pachucos" instead of being a "father."

Who is this man who was by his own mistakes
(some of which I too have made)
Not only got himself imprisoned but also imprisoned my mom, my broth my sister and me.

Who is this man I could never call "dad" because he wasn't there.

Who is this man, who was out of sight but not out of mind who, as a lil kid, would often creep into my thoughts as I watched my friends go to father-son days at school or watch episodes of "mis tres mijos (my three sons) the Brady Bunch, or God forbid, Father Knows Best … longing for my own episode to run, but quietly knowing it never would.

Who was this man who I wished could have been like Ward Cleaver but in reality is more like ELDRIDGE Cleaver!

Who was this man who I've tried so hard my whole life to be un-like because of shame, embarrassment, and let's not forget the ever-present Catholic guilt … that today as I look at my own life, I find ironically, I am so much LIKE him.

Who is this man I curse every father's day as I make that painstaking annual pilgrimage to the card shop looking for that "perfect" card only to end up with the "Snoopy" one that lacks the love but hey, fulfills my obligation.

Who is this man – I hate for giving me the bad traits; but thank my MOTHER and HIS mother for the good ones, and secretly laugh because I find the more I "resist" to be NOT like him; the more I find I AM!

Who was/is this man that was such a stranger to me?
Yet whose blood runs through my veins – forever connecting us…

Who is this man whose name I carry
But do not really know him

Who is this man who caused me to struggle to understand why he seemed to have so much time for other "kids in need" but so little time for me?

Who is this man ya'll come to hear, to see?
You say to him, "I love your poetry, you're an inspiration, you're so this, you're so that … "

Who is this man some have called over the years: artsy, a thinker, a writer, an activist, a lecturer, a "maestro" … and today, who would've thought, even an internationally "renowned poet"

Who was this man some once called a "ladies man" – un romantico, I can relate to that … hey, you know what they say bout' the apple not falling far from the tree.

Who is this man whose image I once saw as a child, with blurry, yet rose-colored glasses; but today I see with the clarity and understanding of a man.

Who is this man?? He's my father … and in some ways, he's ME …

March 19, 2005

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More Raúl Salinas
Elegies and Celebrations
Elegies and Celebrations
Thanks from Resistencia Bookstore and a poem by Raúl Salinas.

Belinda Acosta, Feb. 28, 2008

Red Salmon Arts, Café Libro to Honor Raúl Salinas
Red Salmon Arts, Café Libro to Honor Raúl Salinas
March 7, 2008 Café Libro at Resistencia Bookstore will honor Raúl Salinas.

Belinda Acosta, Feb. 27, 2008

More by Belinda Acosta
Margaret Moser Tribute: Marcia Ball
Marcia Ball
“She’s a music writer who writes to enlighten”

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: Eliza Gilkyson
Eliza Gilkyson
The best advice she ever received? Keep your dogs clean.

June 30, 2017


Raúl Salinas, Resistencia Bookstore, Lawrence Salinas

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