MILLICENT BORGES ACCARDI
Poet and author
May 22, 2013
Photos: Millicent Borges Accardi Facebook
Afiota! It means being fearless. Not afraid to take chances and tackle projects people say you cannot do or are ill-suited for. It means being resilient and independent, like so many Portuguese-Americans are in the United States. Having had to make their own way, with perhaps careers and jobs that were new to them. That is the "lot" of the immigrant. Someone who is doctor or teacher in their home country becomes a carpenter in American. Immigrants have to be flexible. Everyone in our family was a hard worker. I saw my dad go through night school to get his high school diploma. I saw him working at Sears and side jobs on the weekend. I had an aunt with a large family as a single parent who worked as a checker at a grocery store, taking on seasonal work in the fishing/canning industry in New Bedford MA as well as summers in the cranberry bogs.
Being Portuguese means often having to explain what "Portuguese is," that it is not in Argentina or the capital of Brazil. Being Portuguese also means making food like linguisa sandwiches and kale soup. It means Christmas candy that looks like glass and baking pão caseiro bread. I think being Portuguese shaped me as a writer, inspired my perspective of life as being significant and worthwhile and that my contributions to community, no matter how small made a difference. I have had the pleasure the past few years of organizing a literary reading series called Kale Soup for the Soul, events featuring Portuguese-American writers reading work about family, food and culture. This has been a way of connecting to our community, as well as a way of educating a broad audience about our culture and literary work. I have also been honored to have interviewed over 30 Portuguese and Portuguese-American writers. This has been quite a journey for me.