Bonnie Ilza Cisneros is a fourth-generation Tejana educator in a line of South Texas teachers. Bonnie holds a Creative Writing MFA from Texas State University, is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, and was awarded a NALAC artist grant in 2018. Moonlighting as DJ Despeinada, she spins all-vinyl soundscapes of the borderlands and consciously centers women and BIPOC musicians in her sets. Bonnie’s poems and essays appear in El Retorno, Chicana/Latina Studies, Porter House Review, Buckman Journal, River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, and El Placazo Barrio Newspaper. Her essay, “The Ana Files” was anthologized in Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, and she led a series of memoir workshops entitled Altar-ing at the San Antonio Public Library. She edited a collection of Altar-ing participants’ home altars, ancestral recipes, and personal playlists in a zine published by the Latino Collection and Resource Center. Recently, she has been curating Siempre Verde, a quarantine DJ residency, art project, and journalism experiment at Evergreen Garden, recording radio shows for WFMU.org, and trying to stay healthy and creative in San Antonio with her partner, two m’ijas, and a flock of four gallinas.
At a time when I thought my DJ life was obsolete, Ruby City and SpareParts adapted their annual Bubble Fest as an online event. They asked me to record a backyard DJ set for the festival, and I was so relieved to be working again. My husband served as cinematographer, and we sorted through tech issues as we went. I chose songs that would be conducive for families at home to feel hopeful and calm during quarantine. The mise en scéne will always evoke emotions of early pandemic for me: the sunflowers, the kids\' bubble machine, our chickens. Home.
On Sunday, November 1, 2020, All Saints’ Day and Día de los Muertos Eve, DJ Despeinada, a Chicana spiritual activist from the borderlands of South Texas, broadcast a show entitled “Missing my Muertos” on WFMU’s Radio Row. El Día de los Muertos has ancient indigenous roots in what is now known as México with rituals and iconography that evolved after the European conquest and subsequent colonialism. More recently, the sacred season has morphed even further due to Coco-fication (thanks, Disney), also known as the pizza effect, in the form of plastic calaveras and Day of the Dead-themed paraphernalia sold at dollar stores and high-end boutiques alike. But the bottom line remains the same: this is the season when the dead come home. The show will feature music I gathered from my own private playlist of grieving and healing. As Nick Cave and friends insist: death is not the end.
On Valentine’s Sunday 2021, DJ Despeinada will pour her heart out for y’all with a selection of love songs from both sides of the border. She’ll weave in intriguing research, share juicy chisme, and perchance recite a love poem or two. Get ready for love!