Ramon Mesa Ledesma, author of Migrant Sun, is an Indie author with stories to share of the Latino Migrant Experience in the United States from his personal experience. I met him recently and we talked about his work. He is a soft spoken man with a powerful message.
The thirty thoughtful poems in Ledesma’s Migrant Sun are worth reading. They loudly resonate the human experience of those who have lived the migrant life, with its challenges, hopes and dreams.
One of sixteen children, author Ledesma was born in Toppenish, Washington and spent his formative years in migrant workers camps throughout the Pacific Northwest.
He says, ” These poems are of the brutal struggles of hard work in dangerous times. These poems are about the papa who never wavered under difficult challenges of working and raising a family in a foreign country as a migrant laborer and a mama who dedicated herself to loving and protecting her children at all costs, in a man’s world, twice over.”
Ramon poignantly reveals the realities of growing up between cultures in the poem But I’m Not Mexican Anymore that begins:
When I was six, I went to school.
All the children were happy.
I stood clutching sister Raquel’s hand
And listening to the chatter all around me.
Worried—I looked up and said,
“No entiendo nada!”
What was I to do?
She smiled, patted me on the head
And walked out of the door.
I lost her in a blur of tears
But I’m not Mexican anymore.
The poem traces his life through various stages continuing to the present. The ever-present refrain But I’m not Mexican anymore echoes the confusion felt by many migrants as they live a life between cultures whether young or old. Those of us who have not had this experience will be richer for the reading, and more compassionate.
Ledesma’s life story is a powerful one. He is a Vietnam veteran who earned a BA in history, sociology and anthropology from Eastern Washington University and a Master’s in counseling. He has recently retired from a private family counseling practice and a counseling agency that provides counseling for poor families. He is a writer and comes across as a profoundly kind man who cares about the world of migrants and the importance of sharing their stories, which are also his stories.
Tomas and the Magic Race Cars is another of his works. A fictional story, geared to middle schoolers with plenty of resonance for adults, he tackles issues of loss, divorce, a multi-language household, and anger management through the eyes of a young boy. And yes, there is a bit of magical realism in the form of two doting neighbors—the Garcia’s— in a hat tip to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the type of stories Ledesma recalls hearing in his home growing up. His chapter book, (in the language of young readers) is a nice blend of languages and cultures, with Spanish words intermixed with English and a glossary towards the back. The colorful illustrations by Jess Arashi Hara support the story in a graceful manner.
He was a guest recently on Skagit Talks, a radio interview program on KSVR fm, community radio in Mt Vernon, Washington. The interview will be broadcast on July 29, 2014. A link takes you to the interview:
Take a moment to listen, and then reward yourself by supporting this Indie author of merit. His work is available through local indie bookstore Village Books, of Bellingham, Washington and in other venues.
Village Books states: “Migrant Sun is a book of poems, essays and pictorials of an immigrant Mexican family living in labor camps and working in the fields of the Pacific Northwest during the nineteen-forties and fifties. It’s a poignant tale of love in hard times, racism, forgiveness in the face of brutality, but most of all, how the bonds of a struggling family were ultimately more important than any differences they may have had within their family or that existed outside of it.”
His new book, Migrant Earth will be published soon.