Like the faded murals in the side alley streets of La Misión, Salvation on Mission Street captivates with such a hard and honest tenderness, it hurts, in a good way. These poems and stories are what it’s like to be from somewhere. To have had a home that not even gentrification can erase. The Mission, siempre, por vida y puro amor! Thank you, Cathy.
Levi Romero, author of Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across
the Chicano Homeland and A Poetry of Remembrance: New
and Rejected Works
Salvation on Mission Street by Cathy Arellano is a historical document. It is not the history of a Mexican American family - it is all our history. A much needed chronicling of the Mission during these hyper-pace times of a new, sharing economy SF that has moved away from passing histories hand to hand, mouth to ear, oral history to written word. Our collective has been reduced to a discarded pdf, spam, or a handful of characters. Arellano’s collection of poems and prose is a reminder of the humanity that still resides –defiantly!– amid monstrous luxury developments. Down there at the street level, there are still folks who are at the heart of what the neo-residents want and desire. Salvation on Mission Street saves us all as we read and follow the Martinez Family history from address to address recalling joys of family gatherings, new love, personal loss and the fight and struggle for what was, what is and what needs to be. Cathy Arellano has succeeded in—man, bro, she f------ did it! She made it. She wrote a wonderful ode to life, love and the Mission.
Norman Zelaya, Mission Poet, Maestro, Regular homeboy
This compilation of sweet short stories and poems about family, love and loss in San Francisco’s Mission District made me smile, laugh, and feel the pain of heartbreak. Each page brought to life the Martinez family’s everyday life, celebrations, and losses during a special pocket of time for a community that is currently going through its own losses. Having grown up in the Mission District, I felt a sense of pride revisiting the colorful places, events, and traditions that we experienced as youth, as well as the racism, police brutality, and homophobia that has always plagued the community and compromised the lives of Latinos. I felt connected to Barril with her love, fears, sadness and a sense of injustice. As a young queer Latina who often seems like the odd girl out, she tries to figure out her place in this family, amongst her group of friends and in this community. She quietly observes and admires from afar as she tries to fit in. She doesn’t always succeed in fitting in but does come out stronger and wiser with each experience.
Karla Castillo, Counselor, San Francisco State University
(former Program Manager, Mission Girls Services for Latinas)
Cathy Arellano walks a sure foot from narrative poem to performative story to lyric fiction in this first collection, the seedling for new Mission Literature. Highly recommended for young and old alike; seasoned poets or literate laborers will aprovechar this book — con gusto. Buy Salvation for salvation, then pass it around.
Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Emplumada
I attended several readings in Albuquerque where Cathy Arellano was one of the featured readers, and her street-smart style and delivery never failed to convey the love and respect she has for familia, the neighborhood, and her people. She is a Chicana storyteller par excellence, and her writing is packed with minute detail, rich imagery, and laced with the warmth and wit of the barrio. And she knows her history, too. Not the crap they teach in the public schools, but the history they don’t want us to know. Sit up and take notice as she speaks out against the gentrification (another term for “modern colonization”) of her beloved Mission neighborhood. Cathy Arellano’s first collection of prose and poetry is a welcome addition to our culture’s literary canon.
Richard Vargas, author of Guernica, Revisited
and Editor/Publisher of The Más Tequila Review
Cathy Arellano’s narrative of the Mission past and present provides the reader a visual inside to a changing community from long gone “familiar times” to the current days of constant upheaval produced by shifting community through gentrification. Her story is one of a colorful and vibrant community, of people’s lives, and constant change. Arellano shares a tightly woven narrative that makes you feel the warmth of the sun for which this neighborhood is known. You don’t need to have grown up in the Mission to understand the stories of our youth. Wherever your community, childhood memories will flush to the forefront as you read her stories because they are universal and commonplace. You will recognize your voice in hers in the accounts about family, relations, crushes, death, and change. As a reader who grew up in the same neighborhood as Arellano, I am taken back to the Mission, to experience the emotional recollections of old storefronts and hangouts.
Kathryn Blackmer-Reyes, Librarian,
San José State University