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1. Opinion: Puritans, then profiteers over Día de los Muertos - QEPD

My guest contributor today is the one and only Flo Hernandez-Ramos. Flo gave an interview to and wrote a column for Colorado Public Radio about Día de los Muertos. She kindly consented to sharing her opinion piece with La Bloga's readers. I remember when Flo and only a few others publicly celebrated Day of the Dead here in Denver, years ago. She wasn't the first one to do so but she was among the first to help make the day a very public event. She set up an annual altar at radio station KUVO, where she worked, helped organize displays at art galleries and other venues, and patiently explained the true meaning of the celebration to anyone who wanted to listen.

Also - recent losses to the literary and music communities that La Bloga serves.  

Opinion: Denverites were puritans, then profiteers over Día de los Muertos

By Flo Hernandez-Ramos Oct 27, 2014

Listen -- Audio: CPR's Chloe Veltman talks to Flo Hernandez Ramos about Dia de los Muertos

A Día de los Muertos altar in memory of Teodora Hernández and José de Jesus Hernández
(Photo: Courtesy of Flo Hernandez-Ramos)

It’s hard to go anywhere in Denver at this time of year without seeing fancifully-decorated sugar skulls peering out among Halloween decorations in the windows of bars and stores.

The candy skulls (“calaveras”) are a core image of Día de los Muertos, a two-day commemoration on Nov. 1 and 2 each year of those who have passed away.

Long history in Denver

The annual Mexican holiday that sees death as part of the circle of life has been around in Denver for as long as there have been Mexicans living in Denver, which is to say, for a long, long time. Unlike the festivities in Mexico, where entire villages turned their cemeteries into fiesta venues, in the United States Día de los Muertos was always a private, family celebration.

Paper mâché skull by Los Ramirez Castaneda

(Photo: Courtesy of Flo Hernandez-Ramos)

But since the early 1980s, in line with the growth of the Mexican population in this country and the desire of Mexican Americans to celebrate their cultural roots, the holiday has moved into the mainstream -- not just in Denver but throughout the U.S.

Día de los Muertos originated in Mexico about 4,000 years ago among the indigenous populations. It bears some similarity to Memorial Day in the United States, in the tradition of people putting flowers on the graves of loved ones.

Día de los Muertos decorations are far more elaborate than those associated with Memorial Day. People festoon graves and altars with food, flowers and folk art depicting skulls and skeletons from all walks of life.

There is nothing ghoulish about the holiday. But that’s not how Día de los Muertos was perceived when it was first introduced in the Denver metro area.

In the early 1980s, Denver artist Patricio Cordova proposed a Día de los Muertos art exhibit to The Pirate Contemporary Art Oasis, a Northside collective at West 36th Avenue and Navajo Street.

The Pirates were all Anglos, but committed to thinking beyond their own cultures.

“People embraced the idea because of its edginess,” Pirates leader Phil Bender says. “The Pirates’ logo was a skull and crossbones, so there was an affinity with the sugar skulls and the folk art of Día de los Muertos.”

But the broader Denver community was not unanimously willing to embrace the Mexican holiday.

Even though movies like “Bloodbath at the House of Death” were popular in 1984, Latinos and non-Latinos alike were squeamish about Dia de los Muertos.

To them, it was macabre.

“People in the U.S. were willing to see people being killed on the big screen,” says Mercedes Hernández, program director of Denver’s KUVO jazz radio station in the mid-1980s. “But they didn’t want to think about death and its personal effect on them.”

From macabre to franchise

How things have changed.

The holiday is now so popular in “los Uniteds” that it has become a franchise.

Safeway sells marshmallow skull lollipops. Disney tried to trademark the phrase “Día de los Muertos.” World Market offers a line of Día de los Muertos decorations, plates, party favors, wine and beer. And the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting its first Calavera Ball on Nov. 1.

But the commercialization of the Mexican holiday in mainstream U.S. culture today threatens to destroy the essential meaning of Día de los Muertos.

Skulls painted by children for Cherry Creek Library Calavera Contest
(Photo: Courtesy of Flo Hernandez-Ramos)

At this point, the Mexican holiday has become almost indistinct from Halloween, with people blending Día de los Muertos and Halloween festivities together.

For example, the animated film Book of Life by Guillermo del Toro, a story based on Día de los Muertos, is marketed as a Halloween adventure. And in Colorado Springs, the Cottonwood Center for the Arts is hosting a Halloween/Día de los Muertos celebration on Oct. 31.

It opens with a zombie dance and offers henna tattoos, belly dancing and the construction of mini-altars. And not everyone is happy about it.

“It’s a prime example of the disrespect and the unconscious attempt to usurp another culture's holidays,” wrote artist Jerry Vigil on his Team Muertos Facebook page .

Similarly, the meaning of Halloween also seems to have been lost in the scuffle between culture and commerce.

Halloween has its roots in an ancient Gaelic belief that on Oct. 31 the boundaries between the world of the living and that of the dead overlap and souls roam the earth.

Scottish and Irish immigrants introduced the holiday to the United States in the 1800s. Beginning in the 1900s, Halloween became a more commercial enterprise through the production of costumes, decorations and the custom of trick-or-treating.

In more recent times, the popular U.S. holiday is a billion-dollar industry of ghouls and gore. And Día de los Muertos may be headed down that same slippery, bloody slope.

One can argue about the “true meaning” of Día de los Muertos. For some it is the honoring of loved ones who have passed; for others it may mean winning first prize at a costume contest as a calavera. But for everyone, the sugar skull is here to stay.

Flo Hernández-Ramos was CEO of Denver jazz radio KUVO for 23 years and recently retired as the executive director of the Latino Public Radio Consortium. 

Flo's 2014 Altar - A Work In Progress



We note the recent passing of two pioneering Chicano writers:

Juan A. Contreras: an El Paso educator, Chicano poet and writer well known in literary circles throughout the Southwest. Contreras was 64 when he died on October 20. According to the El Paso Times, Contreras participated in the University of Southern California's historic Flor y Canto literary festival in 1973, a three-day event featuring dozens of emerging Mexican-American poets and writers. He often lectured in El Paso and Juárez and throughout the Southwest.

"We must have the same dream with a vision that one day our children will be judged not by the accent of their tongue, but by the creativity in their expression and the power of their voice," Contreras once said, referring to Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" civil rights speech.

Juan Estevan Arellano:  a Chicano writer who tried to showcase the unique culture of New Mexico, Arellano gained international acclaim in 1994 when he won the Premio Nacional de Literatura José Fuentes Mares prize in Mexico for his 1994 novel, Incencio.

It was a ground-breaking work because it was written in New Mexico Spanish — a fusion of Spanish and indigenous languages birthed out of the region's isolation from exploration to frontier days, said Vanessa Fonseca, a University of Wyoming Latino Studies professor. As posted by My San Antonio,  Arellano's wife, Elena, said he died at the family's home in Embudo, New Mexico, from heart failure on October 29. He was 67.

We also express our condolences to the family and friends of Jimmy Trujillo, long-time volunteer DJ at radio station KUVO, esteemed musician, and latin jazz expert. Jimmy died in Denver on October 29 - he was 52. His memory and music live on in the hearts of many who listened to Jimmy in several different bands, on the air, or at numerous events as a speaker and teacher.


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2. Chicanonautica: The Evolution of La Catrina

It’s the end of October, and it’s happening on a weekend: Halloween and Los Días De Los Muertos, that I modestly proposed be made into a three-day fiesta in my novel Smoking Mirror Blues

And we see her, popping up on the interwebs, and coming to your barrio soon -- La Catrina, the skull-faced lady with the fancy hat.

She first showed up in a zinc etching by José Guadalupe Posada somewhere around 1910, 1913-ish -- ¡LA REVOLUÇIÓN! Posada intended her as a caricature of the rich, catrina, in spanish meaning well-dressed, rich, fop, dandy.

The etching, and image, without the benefit of an internet or social media, struck a cord with Mexican culture, and became a popular icon.

Diego Rivera modernized her between 1947 and 1948, providing her with dress and feathered serpent boa in his mural Sueno de un Tarde Dominical en La Alameda Central -- originally in the Hotel del Prado on Alameda Park, but moved after the building was damaged in the earthquake of 1985 and torn down. It’s now in the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, Mexico City, Tenochtitlán, La Capital Azteca. Rivera also made her an avatar of Aztec Mother Godess Coatlicue, adding another layer to her idenity.

Since then, she’s evolved. Today’s Catrina wears the sugar skull face make up, and is glamorous -- taking us back to the 18th century Scots meaning, enchantment, magic, and the fact that the word is an alteration of grammar, which in the Middle Ages refered to occult parctices associated with learning -- and sexy in ways not yet franchised by Hollywood and the fashion industry. It’s a different, subversive concept of beauty, similar to that of the Goths, whose style is being toned down and absorbed by nerd culture, that is in danger of becoming another corporate marketing strategy.

I keep hoping the nerds will see beyond the suburban bubble that they are kept in, get inspired, go wild, and scare the crap out of those who are trying to control them. Encounters with La Catrina can help with this, because no one can control La Catrina. She’s a goddess -- like her sister Santa Muerte -- the return of an ancient, elemental thing that cannot be tamed.

Have a weird and wonderful Dead Daze!

Ernest Hogan’s Dead Daze novel, Smoking Mirror Blues is still available in the original trade paperback edition, and as ebooks through Kindle and Smashwords. A new Kindle version of his first novel Cortez on Jupiter has just become available. 

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3. Los Gatos Black on Halloween

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Let’s celebrate together with Los Gatos Black on Halloween written by Marisa Montes and gorgeously illustrated by Yuyi Morales.  Montes’s vivid narrative has the power to delineate the beauty of Latin American culture page by page. The fusion of Spanish words in the story creates a smooth seasonal spirit. It’s like an invitation to a wonderful journey of pleasant emotions.
Everything is ready to rock under the full bright moon! Surrounded  by spooky sounds, the pumpkins, mummies, wolfman, zombies, los gatos black, las brujas on their broomsticks, los muertos crawling out of their coffins, and los esqueletos with their white shiny bones arrive one by one to the colorful haunted mansion. The party is perfect until a loud rasp at the door. This unexpected twist gives the monsters a terrible problem. Monsters are scared of niños especially on Halloween night. What will happen next? A complementary glossary is available at the end of the book. Delightful pictures by Morales are the perfect complement for this breathtaking and mysterious story. BOO!
Visit your local library for more eerie and creepy tales. Reading gives you wings!      

Enjoy the read-along Los Gatos Black on Halloween video:

* * *

Los Monstruos: Halloween Song in Spanish  

by Music With Sara

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4. Calaveras for Coachella • Veterans Job Fair • El Sereno Street Festival • Sci-Fi Anthology

Michael Sedano

It’s that time of year when cultura shows. Gente paint their faces to resemble skulls, erect spectacular memorial altars, hold processions, art shows, and craft sales to honor our dead. It's Dia de los Muertos and calacas rule the day.

Calaca cultura captures artist imaginations to create particularly gratifying art and collectibles. It's a time turn-of-the-20th-century artist Jose Guadalupe Posada's popularity increases with countless tributes to Posada's style. In classrooms, activities remind kids the calaca motif in Mexican art antedates European incursion.

Calavera frieze recreates Templo Mayor wall, Museo Nacional de la Antropologia

Calaca glitz sparkles across the US Southwest, Dia de Los Muertos splashes cultura across local news with an array of entrepreneurs hosting events from humble sidewalk congregations to this-year-better-than-last-year extravaganzas at cemeteries and concert grounds.

One elegantly cool small show was the Crewest/Gregg Stone annual calaca show. Stone donated ceramic skulls for emerging and established artists. They painted and elaborated the small skulls then exhibited in Crewest’s annual Top of the Dome shows. Be sure to click the link.  I collected several over the years. Sadly, Crewest gallery closed its doors and the annual shows with them.

The idea of decorated skulls rekindled this year in the form of giant papier mache skulls destined for Dia de los Muertos USA, a Coachella Valley DDLM extravaganza making its premiere event. I’ve found the skull I’d love to add to my collection, it’s shown in process in the video below, Margaret Garcia's tiled skull.

Margaret Garcia invited La Bloga to have a look as she, volunteer Bonnie Lambert, and two apprentices, put the finishing touches on the massive beauty headed to the Imperial Valley city of Coachella. The truck is due in a few days so she's on deadline.

Garcia's assembled a professional crew. Artist Bonnie Lambert volunteers her work and has been a key part of the team from its earliest hour. Be sure to visit Bonnie's gallery at this link.

 A pair of apprentices join the team with masonry and tile experience. Monumental scale art projects like Margaret Garcia's tiled calavera skull are job creators.

 In a project imagined by producer Rodri Rodriguez and Art Director Juan Rodriguez, artists were offered a papier mache skull to paint and decorate. Garcia told them she was happy to have the massive object but would not paint it. She saw the skull covered in tile. She also smothered it with love, as in labor of. But seeing this wonder, who wouldn't want to own it?

Over the past weeks, Garcia has been documenting her process on Facebook. Videos illustrate how she covers the papier mache with successive layers of fiberglass fabric. The crew trowels Portland cement across each curve and contours it by hand. Final layers brush on cement slurry for a smooth finish of its concrete skin that's the substrate for the tile.

Garcia buys tile shards, decorative beads, ceramic figures, adding her own found pieces. She lays cement mixture across the skull, section by section, sinking sinks shards into place.

Walking around the creation finds a corazón surrounding a woman and man at dawn, setting out on a journey. Her blue shawl evokes Lupe, the curlicue at their feet at once suggest the black moon of tradition and a Mexica glyph, perhaps flor y canto symbols since flowers abound behind the couple.

Treating the eye at a wider scope, Garcia outlines the valentine heart in green shards with a tessellated lotus blossom pattern. The tight regularity of that pattern is hypnotic against the randomness inside the corazón. Other places geometry is irrelevant to pleasing gatherings of intensely bright colors and ceramic motifs.

A sirena floats quietly above an eyebrow. A gecko rises from a lobe. Eye concavities sparkle with blue beads in raggedly concentric circles.

With tile layed in place, the crew mixes grout into a stiff but pliant mixture. Owing to the irregular joints and surfaces, grouting is done by hand. Press the ball of putty onto the surface then work it tightly against both sides of the gap until the surface is tile, then a black line, then tile; no gaps, few exposed edges.

I arrive as the work takes on an extra laboriousness. The team is scraping away with razor blades,  the task complicated by irregularities and the importance of avoiding scratches and gouges.

Margaret uses a Dremel tool’s abrasive bit to raise clouds of black dust. She works with artist’s precision, getting mostly grout and not clamshelling her ceramics nor dulling their shine. Garcia is due for a break so we go for ceviche.

Someone changed the grouting plan, Garcia reveals, getting it done instead of getting it done right. Grout that smears across its boundary needs to disappear, that's expected. Working to plan would have made the touch-up far less laborious. No one complains, they find the blade's preferred angle and scrape scrape scrape away the sandy black grit. The whole crew knows someone messed up. So it goes.

The crew is happy for the botana we bring for their lunch.

Excess grout gone, the tile gleams with appreciation.

The skull is a labor of love and explosion of creativity. Garcia's muse, Rhett Beavers, arrives from a landscaping task to scrape for a while.

Margaret Garcia's tiled calavera skull is a marvel of sculpture and cultura that belongs in the Norton Simon or my yard. I’m sure I cannot afford it, but I do have the perfect spot for it.

My Calaveras

One of my DDLM treasures is the chuparrosa skull, a gift from Gregg Stone. It's extremely fragile, as witnessed by the lost wing tip on the right of the foto. Lástima. Please do not touch.

Chuparrosa skull by Gregg Stone. 

Mexico City’s Zona Rosa struggles to awaken with the first stirrings of sanitation crews cleaning up after Saturday night’s raucous club-goers scattered McDonald’s bags and other trash on every available horizontal surface. I heard them from my window last night. By habit, I'm up early and heading out to walk las calles.

I aim for the antiques market where there’s usually a Sunday patio sale. I’m in luck.

The sleepy kid is probably a college student. Half-shaven, he's laid out his wares on a shabby blanket. Glass, china saucers, rusty hardware, assorted detritus of estate sales and a packrat eye for junk. I spot an expertly-hewn sandstone gargoyle. He knows its value but offers a discount. I'm not prepared to spend a hundred fifty bucks so I turn to his books. I scan the spines noting lots of Mexican history, some mass market art books, and a thin folded spine. I pull out a grey cardboard pamphlet and it’s a treasure. Posada.

In 1952 the Mexican Typographers Union struck a small collection of Calaveras and calaverones from Posada’s zinc plates. Printed on aging tissue paper they're impossible to display and eventually will be eaten by the paper. But at forty dollars the portfolio of eight letter-size sheets are one of those strokes of good fortune that happen to others.

Calaveron detail

Calavaititas, size of a nickel coin

Last Day for L.A. Veterans to Register for Jobs Fair

Today is the final day for Veterans in the Southern California region to enroll to participate in the inaugural "10,000 Strong" Hiring Event. This will be a reverse hiring fair featuring a coalition of partners led from the Mayor's office.

reverse hiring fair is when pre-screened, veteran applicants attend the 10,000 Strong Hiring Event and are interviewed on site with employers who are currently looking to fill positions for their companies. Pre-screening allows for the best possible match between a veteran and a job opportunity.

Every veteran who enrolls by October 28th will be assigned an employment specialist who will help them prepare for the event future job searches if this event fails to match a Veteran's abilities to an available job.

The 9-5 interviewing event gets rolling November 5th 2014 at Goodwill Industries' Community Enrichment Center at 3150 N San Fernando Rd. Los Angeles, CA 90065.

Veteran Job Seekers must enroll by October 28th to receive assistance with resume and interview preparation. No Veteran will be turned away.

El Sereno DDLM in Fifth Year

That Coachella affair that Margaret Garcia's skull is in looks like a magnificent experience. For gente who cannot make the road trip past Palm Springs, Los Angeles' El Sereno takes a namesake approach to the celebration with a street festival now in its quinto iteration.

Artists, poetry, art, crafts, local businesses like Connie Castro from Hecho En Mexico restaurant will be on hand to greet and welcome locals and travelers from ancient lands.

Giving & Taking
Maximize Your Crowdfunding

It’s such a sound strategy, crowdfunding, that it’s a growth sector of the information industry. Google the term. Anyone with a computer can create a crowdfunding pitch, and a montón of them have.

Using homophily as the basis for asking strangers to give you money is a potent tactic. Who hasn’t received those emails? Lately there's been an upswell supporting an important book that Big Publishing won’t touch, the Latino/a Rising anthology. The editor is soliciting submissions and contributions. If the submissions are worthy, and the money sufficient, the book gets published.

Crowdfunding works. Thousands of people have asked for and gotten millions of dollars from generous publics. Crowdfunding works for the credit card companies, too. Amazon Payments, for example, charges 2.9% plus thirty cents, to collect money for a crowd sourcer. In other words, if you give ten dollars to the project, fifty-nine cents goes into Amazon’s pocket and your causa receives $9.41

Call me a cheapskate. OK, that hurt. But I’m not giving money to Amazon or Paypal or some other card processor. That’s why crowdfunders need to include a mailing address in their pitches. A mailed-in check comes with no hidden processing fees, so when you give that ten dollars, ten dollars goes to the project.

There is a difference. A crowdfund is a pledge, not a donation. If the plea reaches deaf ears, no money goes out of your card to the project. With a check, you've given the money, no-strings attached. The project is at liberty to return your check or not. But then, that's what giving looks like, a one-way money flow.

So I’m offering a mailing address so you can support the Latino/a Rising project to publish a speculative fiction anthology that would introduce a broad cross-section of raza writers to the huge worldwide audience for sci-fi and related genre literature.

Mail your check to support Latino/a Rising to: Matthew David Goodwin, 246 Ardmore Ave., Apt. C, Upper Darby, PA 19082

Yodoquinsi in Late-breaking News from Oxnard

Remember this is a unique opportunity to hear prehispanic instrumental group Yodoquinsi.

October 31 2014
5:00 o'clock pm
Downtown Sol
328 W 3rd St , Oxnard , CA 93030
(805) 240-7765

This is the first time that Yodoquinsi has come directly from Mexico. It's a rare opportunity to see and hear a live full range of pre -Columbian instruments.

Thanks to the support and hard work of the Mexican Consulate in Oxnard, Downtown Sol, in coordination with Ollinkalli Cultural Arts Center is able to share this concert with the Ventura County community.

For more information or to reserve your seat contact Downtown Sol or Yenelli Law


Yenelli Law
Ollinkalli Cultural Arts Center
805 901 6171

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5. Spotlight on Anna Mavromati

Anna Mavromati

Anna Mavromati is already making her mark in Southern California literary circles. Lisa Glatt, author of A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That (Simon & Schuster), calls Mavromati “a uniquely talented writer, a young writer to watch” who writes short stories that are “full of depth and heart and stunning moments of insight.”

Mavromati, as with most writers, makes her living from teaching, in her case English and journalism at Santa Monica College and El Camino College. Her short stories have been published in Day Old Roses Journal, Champagne For Breakfast, Per Contra Journal, Shaking Lit Magazine, RipRap Journal, and elsewhere. Mavromati has also worked and published as a freelance journalist for a number South Bay and Long Beach newspapers. She earned an MFA in fiction writing from California State University, Long Beach, and now lives in Redondo Beach, California.

Sally Shore will feature Mavromati’s work on November 9, at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood, as part of The New Short Fiction Series. For more information on Mavromati’s upcoming Federal Bar program (including ticket prices and directions), visit here.

Anna Mavromati kindly agreed to sit down with La Bloga to discuss writing and literature.

DANIEL OLIVAS: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

ANNA MAVROMATI: I started “playing” with writing at an early age. When I was around five or so, I used to write little “books” (in spiral-bound notebooks) where I would come up with stories and illustrate them with stick-figure drawings. I think that was around the time I learned what the word “author” meant, and the idea instantly appealed to me. I liked hearing stories and I wanted to tell them too. At that age I also wanted to be a Disney Princess and Indiana Jones when I grew up, but looking back, being a writer was always an idea I was drawn to. I guess the seed for that was planted pretty early in me

When I hit my pre-teens and I still loved stories and loved reading, then I started thinking more about writing as a potential future career. I started writing for a community college newspaper at age 16, fell into journalism, and in college I finally found my way to fiction writing.

DO:Who are some of your important literary influences?

AM:I feel like that list is constantly growing!

I remember reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in one of my first years of college and really connecting with it. Not only did I absolutely love the novel, but I loved the idea of Mary Shelley as the mastermind behind it—the 19-year-old mistress whose writing was on par with the infamous male authors of her time. As an 18-year-old girl, going through my first string of “serious” boyfriends and trying to figure out what to do with my life, I found Mary Shelley to be such an inspirational figure.

I also grew up in a generation that adored J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and to this day I largely credit it with continuing my interest in the literary arts growing up. I still look back on that phenomenon with some awe.

In graduate school I was drawn to the works of Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich—women who wrote poetry the way I wanted to learn to write my fiction, with this really distinct, honest-sounding voice and style. I love the work of today’s magical realists like Aimee Bender and Karen Russell as well. I love the surrealist, fairytale quality of their work, but also, once again, I love the way they use language to craft these strong personifying voices for their characters. In graduate school I fell in love with a lot of modernists, particularly the work of the “Lost Generation”: Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were incredible. And of course, Raymond Carver is another big one I got into in college as well.

DO:What do you hope readers get from reading your fiction?

AM:You know, I’m not sure. Not because I don’t feel like I have messages and intentions in my writing, but because I’m pretty open about what readers end up taking away from the story. It could be completely different from whatever I had in mind when I wrote it—and in most cases, that’s a beautiful thing.

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6. “Latinas and Latinos in the Midwest: Past, Present, and Future” The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) FOCO in Kansas City, Missouri

Census numbers tell it all. There were 3.5 million Mexicanos living in the Midwest in 2010 with present research projecting that the numbers continue to increase.  We are now, in 2014, nearing the 4 million mark.  Given these numbers, the idea of Latinos living in the Midwest can no longer be viewed as unusual, especially because the numbers are increasing. It is because of this Midwest Latina and Latino presence that three professors at The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), were committed to hosting a weekend for academics, poets, fiction writers, community organizations, to come and have a conversation about the various aspects of Latinidad in the Midwest. 
Left to Right: Dr. Miguel Carranza, Director of the Latina/Latino Studies Program;
Co-Chair of conference, Theresa L. Torres; Co- Chair of Conference, Norma Cantú
Thanks to the Co-Chairs of the conference:  Professors Norma Cantú, and Theresa L. Torres, as well as the Director of the Latina/Latino Studies Program, Dr. Miguel Carranza. Their commitment to "doing the work that matters," brought many faculty and students from various areas of the Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico) and from Monterrey, Mexico. We came together to share their Midwest research, writing, personal experiences within and outside of the university. 

The success of this past weekend’s NACCS Midwest FOCO conference was also a testament to the many academic Latina and Latino programs/departments, and community organizations that presently exist or have been recently established.  At UMKC, the Latino program is fairly new, yet already organized enough to bring NACCS to its campus.  At Kansas State University, Dr. Yolanda Broyles-González has established the Department of American Ethnic Studies. 
Faculty from the new Department of American Ethnic Studies
(left to right):  Dr. Norma Valenzuela,  Dr. Yolanda Broyles-González, Dr. Isabel Millán
In addition to posting the census numbers of Latina/Latino growth in the Midwest, Dr. Rogelio 
Dr. Rogelio Sáenz, Dean of the College of Public Policy (University of Texas, San Antonio)
Sáenz, in his keynote speech last Friday, described more detailed numbers which reveal a primarily young Midwest population. (Dr. Sáenz is Dean of the College of Public Policy at University of Texas, San Antonio.)  Because the majority of Latinas/Latinos in the Midwest are young, there are opportunities for them to influence local, state, national elections and the societal institutions present in their regions, many years into the future.  But they need education, and support. 
Dr. Nancy "Rusty" Barceló

Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló echoed Dr. Sáenz’s comments by calling Ethnic Studies and Latina/Latino Studies programs to assist in the changing demographics, to forge an agenda “to increase our presence and our visibility. Community engagement is making a comeback,” she said, “and Latino studies is at the center.  We need to revisit our obligations and work toward societal change.” 

In addition to the more academic keynote talks, Alberto López Pulido (Chair of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego) and Rigo Reyes, (a founding member of the Amigos Car Club in San Diego) showcased their film:  EverythingComes from the Streets, a documentary on low rider culture which is also present in the Midwest.  An example is the “Slow and Low:  Community LowriderFestival” that occurs in Chicago, Illinois. 

Award-winning poets also gave readings: Xanath Caraza (who teaches at UMKC); Natalia Treviño (recently received her MFA at The University of Nebraska’s MFA Program and she is now a professor at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, TX); and Minerva Margarita Villarreal (who traveled from Monterrey, Mexico). 
From left to right: Poets Minerva Margarita Villarreal, Natalia Treviño, Xánath Caraza
There were a multitude of panels by students, professors, and community organizers.  One such panel was a roundtable entitled, “Chicana Testimonios:  Growing up Chicana in Kansas:  Three Generations of Experience.”  All three women are from Topeka, Kansas, and described a rich history, culture, and specific issues concerning Latinidad in that area.  They also discussed their efforts in providing new organizations to enrich the diversity of needs among the various generations. For example, Christina founded the Tonantzín Society to educate and support Latino art and culture, with a focus on Mexican/Chicana/Chicano culture.  

Three Generations of Topeka, Kansas Mujeres
From left to right: Valerie Mendoza, Graciela Beruman, Christina Valdivia Alcalá
I was very happy to bring two graduate students to the conference from our University of Nebraska-Lincoln English Department: Bernice Olivas (Composition and Rhetoric) and Visnja Vujin (American Literature/Chicana and Chicano Studies). Bernice and Visnja are presently either primarily studying and teaching Latina/Latino and Chicana/Chicano literatures or incorporating it into their main area of study. They gave excellent papers on pedagogy and Gloria Anzaldúa. 
From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:  Graduate student, Visjna Vijun,
Professor Amelia Montes, Graduate student, Bernice Olivas
This is only the beginning!  The Midwest NACCS FOCO is now a vibrant entity and plans are already in the works for the next one. Hoping to see you next year and wishing you a great week!

I leave you with poems from our conference poets who read this weekend:  Minerva Margarita Villareal; Natalia Treviño; and Xánath Caraza.  

Poem by Minerva Margarita Villareal (translation by Amelia M.L Montes)


La casa que construiste fue arrasada
Vi cómo sucedió           
cómo se desprendían paredes y ladrillos
El techo voló
Left to right:  Minerva Margarita Villareal, Dr. Norma Cantú
Dr. Cantú reads Minerva's poem in English;  
sobre los huesos
y el paisaje entre la hierba abrió
echó raíces bajo las plantas de mis pies
Estoy anclada
y esta casa mojada por la lluvia
esta casa azotada por el viento
hecha polvo
y materia que crece
Esta casa soy yo


The house you constructed was devastated
I saw how it happened,
how the walls and bricks cracked open
The roof flew
over bones
and the grassy landscape exposed,
threw roots under the plants of my feet
I am anchored
and this wet house, wet because of rain
this house whipped by the wind
made into powder
and matter that grows
I am this house. 

Poem by Natalia Treviño from Lavando La Dirty Laundry

Mexican Bride

Natalia Treviño
Centered above her king-sized bed
in Nuevo Leon, a large crucifix, a resin-bloodied
crumpling Body of Christ—the only art
hanging from her smooth plaster walls.

A lamination of Mary, Mother of Sorrows tucked
across and below the frame of her vanity.  Wedding
gifts for all new brides, decorations surrounding the spirit
in the bedroom.  As if the dimensions of the body.

nailed at the limbs would lead new husbands
to handle the living curves of their brides.
As if a slain nude, thorned at the crown above her
head, could help rigid legs relax, for fire. 

Poem by Xánath Caraza from Sílabas de Viento (translation by Sandra Kingerly)


Llueve en la América profunda
Llueve en el corazón
Se abren los trigales con el viento
Desde las nubes grises
Se desprenden gotas
Que alcanzan las espigas
Las mueve, las alimenta
Llueve en las praderas
Sopla el viento en la Esmeralda tierra
Se provoca la tormenta
En los maizales
Sonidos huecos de lluvia entre las hojas
El viento corre entre los dorados campos
Los doblega y levanta en un eterno vaivén
Siento la humedad en la piel

                        (Iowa City, octubre de 2012)
Xánath Caraza

It is Raining

It is raining in deepest America
It is raining in the heart
Wheat fields open with wind
Drops slip
From gray clouds
Reaching stalks
Moving them, feeding them
It is raining on the meadows
Wind blows on emerald land
Provoking storms
In corn fields
Hollow sounds of rain on husks
Wind runs between golden fields
Bending and lifting them back and forth
I feel damp skin

                                    (Iowa City, October 2012)

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7. A Northside of people OR developers' gentry Highlands

In John Carpenter's ancient 1981 film Escape from New York, convicted bank robber Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is sent into futuristic 1997 to rescue the US President from Manhattan, which by 1997 is a gigantic max-security prison. The film was called sci-fi, but today's gentrified Manhattan or San Francisco or Denver makes the film alternate history, a future not based in reality.

Two recent news and developments in Denver's gentrification made we wonder about my Northside neighborhood, which I and Bloguista Manuel Ramos have often written about, realistically, facetiously, or soberly, as Ramos wrote:
"One of the regrettable things that has happened to Denver’s Northside, where I've lived for more than thirty years, is the rise and victory of the 'suburban aesthetic': boxy, boring housing lined up in rows; a uniform 'non-conformist' style from clothes to music; restaurants that are destinations rather than good places to grab a bite to eat; an obsession about 'making it,' a flaccid, common denominator cultural perspective. A great neighborhood has to be more than that."

A Highlands developer's dream
Gentrification is defined as: "revitalizing neighborhoods, the movement of young, often single, professionals into low-income, heavily minority, neighborhoods near urban employment centers. Low-income and minority residents are pushed out by gentrification as the local culture and consumption patterns are taken over by upwardly mobile professionals."

Progress is defined as a gradual betterment; the process of improvingor developing something over a period of time; the act or process of growing or causing something to grow or become larger or more advanced."

Bolded words above took on different meanings as I sat on my front patio this week, wondering how gentrification had "revitalized, improved" or made the neighborhood "more advanced." It is "larger" in terms of population density, with condo and apartment complexes going up like Peyton Manning's touchdown-record.

Gazing down the street, from house to house, this is what I know. When people moved into these houses that were built in the 1940s, they were looking for homes to start families, places to raise their kids, within walking distance of neighborhood schools [3 within 5 blocks], and maybe not far from their jobs.

A home the developers didn't raze
In both of those two houses (imagine following my finger) live steelworkers, in that one a factory worker and his grocery clerk wife, in that one a retired railroad worker, in the corner one a postal worker, in that one lived a president of her union, and next door, a federal government worker, Until recently, I was a teacher. All of those people belonged/belong to unions--there's more I don't know about--which were part of the community culture. Finding a gentry-neighbor who's part of a union or who would support a union picket is as hard as finding cheap houses around here.

Next door to me lived a Chicano who I went to college with and was part of the Chicano student movement. Across the street, a woman who was one of its poets. The three of us, at least, had that in common. Student radicalism, Chicano pride, nonviolent protest. None of the gentry on my block come from such backgrounds.

A home, not an investment
Across the street lived two girls who went to the Northside middle and high school with my two kids, one of whom lives five blocks away. Next door and two houses down, and in others sprinkled down the block, live/lived other kids who went to the same schools. They called themselves Northsiders, Vikings and attended North High School. Many stayed together at the same schools until they graduated or went on to college. With charter and split or hybrid schools all around us, the few gentry kids won't have neighborhood schools in common.

I can see the house where the Italian old lady [her son still lives there] use to drink on her porch. She was the same woman who would take care of neighborhood Mexican kids when their mother was late getting home. Or would feed Chicano children who she knew didn't have enough to eat when they got home from school. A steelworker from another house would regularly mow the two lawns of old ladies who couldn't push a mower or afford to pay anyone. A welder who lives over there and the guy who live there will weld something for you for free or run his snow-blower down other people's sidewalks. Another guy helped me with my fire-pit and another has fixed my car for me and neither would accept money. Of course, sometimes neighbors paid for work or bartered. I wonder whether today's gentry neighbors, with some exceptions, would act so neighborly for kids who might have lice in their hair, or let their gentry kids play with them, or even imagine that hungry neighborhood kids might be part of their responsibilities.

Really--you'd want to live in this?
South of me lived a Chicano, then a Mexican family, then another Mexican family that had migrated without papers from the same region of Mexico. Next door to them, another family from that region. North of me lived a paperless Mexican family, and I can count five others on the block that are still homes to Mexicanos. Counting us, there's six Chicano families still around. Decades ago, I had no doubts about why my family moved here. Because there were Chicanos, working class, Mexicanos who spoke Spanish. Good decent-priced restaurants with a chorizo breakfast, or bars with affordable shots or a variety of tequilas, or clubs with live music and no cover and cheap beer, or Catholic church bazaars where you ate good, danced in the street and saw and talked with your raza neighbors. With the gentry here, most of that is disappearing. I know that in a lot of cases, the gentry see that as Progress.

Kurt can't save us from Highlands
Our Chafee Park pocket of ranch house bungalows is zoned for families and no apartments. The developer-gentry may try to change that. (Over mi cuerpo muerto.) The old Northsiders moved here to find homes. Yes, they expected the house's value to rise, at least from inflation. But they moved here to stay, except for Mexicanos and Chicanos who got trapped by balloon payments, ARMs and under-qualifying loans. The four families I know about who lost homes had to move east to Aurora where ethnics can more afford to live or rent.

Architecture: Highlands-ugly
The developers have created another circle of Dante's Hell. Apartment buildings are going up, yes, like a Broncos' score. Monthly rents average $1,145. "Over 9,000 new apartments were built in 2013, 8,700 more are expected this year, and another 8,700 in 2015. 55,000 people will migrate here next year. "People are definitely looking at Colorado as the place to be. We have become an area where young professionals are moving. Entrepreneurs can start their businesses anywhere in the country, and so they are choosing areas where the lifestyle matches their preferences."

You buy this, you breathe the chems
I think of the new Northside--the developers renamed us Highlands, without our input--as Legoland. Like Ramos described above, apartment and condo boxes are slapped together with OSB instead of plywood like the old homes. It's 2/3 cheaper and the gentry will only see the outside. It doesn't matter that California wants to requirespecial warnings for these "chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm, wood dust known to cause cancer." The median price for these boxes is $263,000. It's about money, investment, flipping houses and moving on. Not about neighbors and community.

This month in the Denver Post, Fine Arts Critic Ray Mark Rinaldi published "Did diversity miss the train in Union Station's architecture?" (The place is only ten minutes from my house.) The whole article is worth reading, but here's a sample:

Not Union Station; just big Lego

"The urban playground at Union Station isn't drawing people of color and it may be the building's fault. Walking through the station, it doesn't look at all like Denver in 2014. More like Denver in 1950, Boise, Idaho, or Billings, Mont. If, that is, you are white and not paying attention. Or if you think diversity doesn't matter. If you do, you can't help but feel like something is off amidst all the clinking of martini glasses. If you are a tourist, you might get the idea that Denver doesn't have people of color. Or worse, you might think it's one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. That's not the case.

"The architecture's roots are in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, Asia and South America.
"Yes, that's all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn't take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there's no nod to the present. Is Union Station Ready for the Next 100 years, as its marketing proclaims?"

Rinaldireceived over 316 comments. I won't't be surprised if the paper's conservative owners demoted or restricted him to articles about Bronco Stadium architecture. Here's a sample of the comments:
"So writing a racist article is OK if it is against white people?"
"White guilt is a large part of any college education now."
"We should just blow up all beautiful old buildings so that nobody is ever made uncomfortable by being reminded of what their ancestors didn't accomplish."
I don't know how many comments came from developers or gentry. But none of this sounds like the old Northside's neighborly ways of Italians, Chicanos, Mexicanos and others living next to each other. It certainly doesn't sound like tolerance.

Highlands next improvement?
If you missed it, check Bobby Lefebre's La Bloga post from last week, Vanishing Chicano Culture and the Gentrification of Denver’s Northside. "He is the driving force behind the We Are North Denver movement that has shined a bright spotlight on the massive changes happening to the Northside - good and bad. When racist flyers recently appeared in the neighborhood, Bobby responded with action that focused on unity in the community. He wrote the following article originally for his website, which you can find at this link." Like Ramos said there, "As a resident of the Northside for more than thirty years, I agree with much of what Bobby says in this piece. Both Bobby and I would be interested in your reactions."

The Northside that's become the developers' and gentry's Highlands is a great candidate for a new Darwin Award for City Suicide. Already the signs of super-congestion, unflavored architecture and an unaffordable lifestyle and life have settled over my neighborhood like a new Brown Cloud. It didn't and doesn't have to be that way. Richer, whiter neighborhoods were inoculated from turning into Legoland. For instance, there's the Bonnie Brae Neighborhood Association whose zoning committee reviews all zoning requests. It's one of the most charming, coveted, million-dollar-homes areas in the West. Take note developers--of million-dollar-homes. Not made of cheap, toxic OSB or intended to look like Legos. And how about some solar?

Old Northside home, family-friendly
Except for the Lefebre and Rinaldi articles, I don't know why I wrote this. I'm not lamenting so much as remembering. Why we came here. What here is. And was. What it shouldn't become. What it shouldn't lose. Its ethnicity. Its multi-national neighborhood quality. Its sense of community. It's the Northside.

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, a.k.a. a Northside who's not quitting. Or moving.

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8. Disaster Strikes in Threes

Melinda Palacio
The calm after the storm

So the saying goes, disasters strike in threes. After I fell down the stairs and broke my leg, I wanted to count those two events as disasters two and three. Number one was earlier this year when our house was broken into. The good news on that was I had nothing to take. The burglars made a mess of the house, overturning drawers, taking out every box, stuffed into my closet. The rascals tore open a pretty envelope that I was saving to use when the mood struck me to surprise someone with old fashioned postal mail. I was even offended when the thieves didn't take any of my jewelry, opting instead to throw earrings and bracelets to the floor. However, what they did take was a jar of quarters. Somewhere, dirty thieves needed to do laundry. I hope they feel good about themselves in their clean clothes.

The work of messy thieves.

So the break-in and my broken leg counted as numbers one and two. Fate would not allow me to count the surgery as number three. The proverbial third shoe finally dropped three weeks ago when a broken washing machine caused the house to flood. A fifty-cent plumbing part nearly destroyed the house. Luckily, we have flood insurance which will cover the cost of the demolition (now finished) and restoration. As with my million dollar leg, a fall that resulted in a giant medical bill, I am very fortunate to have health insurance and flood insurance.
What used to be the kitchen. Walls, floors and ceiling flooded.

The good news is that the house will be even better than it was before and we will be able to get rid of the carpet on the stairs that caused me to slip and break my leg. Perspective is key here. After having been rushed to the emergency room with a dislocated ankle, my foot facing the wrong way, and a broken fibula, most other disasters like the house flooding, the ceiling caving in the kitchen, complete with sink, cabinets, and appliance, walls and floors needing to be demolished and rebuilt, doesn't seem that horrible. I'm able to continue writing. There are two rooms in the house that were unaffected. And luckily, I had my laptop with me and was not in the house when the disaster happened.
My million dollar leg
I spent the entire summer in the bed office due to my broken leg and I get to spend the next couple of months there again due to a near total house flood and forced remodel.

My leg is healing well, although it will be another couple of months until I am up and running, or dancing. In writing news, I took Rudy's challenge and entered the William Faulkner WisdomCompetition, I made it to the final round in Poetry. Congratulations to winner Claire Dixon. Entering poetry competitions is sobering and challenging, but it's nice to be recognized for work that has already been published. Last week, Nicole Thompson featured me in Latin Post.

Blas Falconer, Melinda Palacio, Michelle Detorie after the Mission Poetry Series reading.

A highlight of this summer was reading in the Mission Poetry Series with Blas Falconer and Michelle Detorie. The September day was gorgeous. With perfect weather on one of the last days for tourism in Santa Barbara, along with a street closed by the Sol Food Festival, the audience could have been sparse, but instead we had a crowd eager for poetry. As my friend reminds me, It could've been worse. 

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9. Pat Mora talks to La Bloga

Pat Mora
LYDIA GIL:  How has your work as a poet shaped your writing for children?

PAT MORA:  Wonderful question! I believe there can be a close connection   between writing evocatively for children and writing evocative poetry. Both invite the writer to compress and to play with language(s).

LG: Día has been a phenomenal success across the US; what were your expectations when you first proposed it?

PM: I smile at your statement. I feel Día, has so, so far to go to reach its full and necessary impact. My dream, as I've been stating the last few years, is now that Annual April Día celebrations (often on or near April 30th) become as firm a tradition as Mother's Day and Father's Day. I want to stress that Día is a daily commitment, día por día, and that it celebrates not only the importance of literacy but also the wonder of children. In 2016, we'll celebrate Día's 20th Anniversary.

LG:  How do you respond to the claims of a lack of diversity in children's writing today?

PM: It's a fact. According to the census bureau, about a quarter of students in U.S. public schools are Hispanics/Latinos. In 2013, of the more than 3,000 children's books published in this country, 57 were about Latinos, 48 by them. Yes, we need to speak to publishers, reviewers, etc., and we need to work with educators and librarians to purchase and enthusiastically share books written and illustrated by culturally diverse authors and illustrators, BUT we also need to be an active part of the solution. We need to buy and give and share those books. Publishing is a business, and we need a nation of readers.

LG: What is the role of bilingualism in your writing? 

PM: I grew up in a bilingual home and have always been bilingual. Since my educational and professional experience has been primarily in English, I am English dominant. I feel blessed, however, to be bilingual and to be able to think and speak and write in both languages.

LG: Could you comment on the process and experience of writing with your daughter?  How many books have you written together? 

PM: Writing with my daughter Libby Martinez, a lawyer by training, was great, great fun. We've published two books together, and we laughed and laughed on the phone working on both. Libby is an excellent writer and is very creative. Publishing children's books is becoming more and more challenging for many reasons. I so hope that Libby finds success and joy in this work.

LG: What would you say is your biggest responsibility when writing for children?

PM: I'm smiling again. Certainly I feel a responsibility to be inventive and to do my very best to create a poem or book that will in some way delight my young readers for whom I have so much respect. They are our future readers--and our future.  

The National Poetry Series
is pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 Paz Prize for Poetry:

Nueve Monedas by Carlos Pintado from Miami Beach, Florida
Chosen by Richard Blanco, to be published by Akashic Books

Honorable Mention: Un enigma esas munecas
by Lourdes Vázquez of Miami, Florida


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10. Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family

Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Día de los Muertos or Day of the Death is approaching. In preparation for this amazing festivity, reading Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with Oaxacan paper mache artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate is a great way to start the celebration.
Weill’s latest bilingual book gives a glance of the vast Mexican art. Anita is a young calacagirl, who introduces each member of her skeleton family.  With short and catching sentences in English and Spanish, each character reveals its beauty to the young readers. Each page shows a colorful encounter starting with Anita’s brother Miguel (el travieso/the brat), followed by her cute baby brother Juanito, then her stylish mother, next her handsome father, as well as her adorable grandparents, and last but not least her cat and dog. 
The astonishing art created by Canseco Zárate pops-out automatically like jack-in-the-box. The wonderful sculptures in paper mache are a pleasure for the senses.
Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family is a must read for the season. Reading gives you wings. Visit your local library to check out more exciting stories.
For additional information about Cynthia Weill’s books and artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate’s calacas click on the following links:
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Latino/a Rising is the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres.

There is a growing movement of people who are interested in the incredible U.S. Latino/a writers and artists who have turned to science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres. Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fictionwill introduce the public to the work of these writers and artists.

With the exception of Edward James Olmos’ Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica, positive U.S. Latino/a characters have been largely absent from mainstream speculative fiction novels and films. Films such as Men in Black and Alien Nation, and shows such as X-Files, express the anxiety that the mainstream has concerning Latinos/as and recent immigrants.  Latino/a Rising will contest this trend, showing how Latino/a writers and artists are transforming the genres.

Please support this project  

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11. Magulandia lands in Santa Paula • 10,000 Strong Veterans

Michael Sedano

Magu. When Magu died his many friends grieved his absence because he was so vital and so young and so alive. You can't miss him, though, because sabes que? Magu lives. There's Magu photo-bombing Eloy Torrez, resisting the urge to make rabbit ears. Always liked a good laugh, Magu did.

The legendary artist, Gilbert Magu Lujan, is all over the walls in Santa Paula's Art Museum where In Search of Magulandia, this year's 21st De Colores Art Show, opened last Saturday, October 18 and will run through February 22, 2015.

The Santa Paula Art Museum occupies a solidly built 1920's two-story building in the heart of a scenic valley where agriculture and oil helped form a town that is finding community through culture. The Limoneira Building was Union Oil Co's founding Hq.

Museum Executive Director Jennifer Heighton worked with Curators Xavier Montes and Vanessa Acosta to mount the dual shows. A companion exhibit opened at the city's Agricultural Museum, a restored railroad warehouse where Los Fabulocos performed and the Magu-painted Family Car was surrounded by superb exemplars of Magu's sculpture and paintings.

At the Art Museum, the 1950 Chevy coupe with the FAMCAR license, together with Mario Trillo’s delivery van, greeted visitors at the side entry, where shade added to the welcome on the open sky Spring-like afternoon. Danzantes opened the doors at two in the afternoon and the place soon rocked with gente taking in the tributes to el maestro.

Jennifer Heighton beamed as she passed among the throngs moving about the gallery, posing for fotos with artists and one another. Angel Guerrero and Sergio Hernandez showed portraiture while Paty Diaz (with daughter Leylany Rodriguez) and Manuel Unzueta created symbolic references to Magu's love for cars.

There are some precious gems among the work on display. All endeavor tributes to Magu’s iconography. Artists paint trokitas, pyramidal dogs, indigenous motifs, color, smiles. They attempt to capture Magu's attitude; he painted with disarming innocence that takes a big bite out of comfortable ideas and perspectives.

The show brings together dozens of Magu's friends and running mates, also in the show artists who knew Magu, artists who studied Chicano Art and knew of Magu. The work includes variety from pastiche to portrait to allusion to school-of tributes. The artists speak in acts of friendship and love for Magu, his art, and what Magu championed. It is an altogether invigorating and encouraging exhibition.

There's always something. I missed a knee-high wood sculpture set on the floor beside a support beam--a couple of times--and in the crowd couldn’t bend to study it when I noticed it.

Spirit-infused artists showed up to make the opening a distinguished gathering. This particular group knows how to have fun. Oscar Castillo and Mario Trillo captured images. Pola Lopez and Victoria Plata relaxed with the Family Car. David Botello shared fine points of the giclée Manuel Urrutia bought in the gift store. Urrutia did what visitors need to do more of when visiting museums, buy stuff. Mario Trillo photo bombs David and Manuel.

A museum visitor's friend captures a moment with J. Michael Walker, whose piece is obscured by the phone. Walker's stunning work merits such widespread acclaim that one day this visitor's relatives will want copies of the foto he's snapping. Be sure to click on the links to individual artist webpages, like this one for Michael's.

Pola Lopez tells a rich story of her first meeting Magu. They knew of one another by reputation and their work. Pola had constructed a work featuring the Family Car in a landscape populated by feminist symbology. Entitled Not a Hood Ornament. Magu was apprehensive she was calling him on the carpet.

Lopez'work is an appreciation. Magu learns this and Pola and he become lifelong friends. Pola's narrative of creating this tribute to her first Magu encounter will have visitors triply engaged with Pola's wonderful kiss, Magu's smile, and the artist's expressiveness. Peace Offering lettered down the left edge shares their history while also remembering her friend, qepd. 

Pola Lopez and her work

Museum Executive Director Jennifer Heighton beams delightedly when spotted circulating through the lively crowd who pack the gallery. The turn-out for the show is historic. Gente galore wander in and about the red-brick walls, enjoying the ambience, the food and beverage, the plein aire style found in side galleries where gulp-prices on large paintings give one pause. It's discover day for many, their first visit to town.

The large crowd mills about the big room until they begin claiming chairs for the presentations. Magu's son, Otoño, will be playing later with el Conjunto Los Pochos. All the Magu kids, and their mom, have come to celebrate Magulandia with his friends. 

Vanessa Acosta sparkles with excitement and indefatigable energy reserves. She and museum staff and Xavier Montes have worked months inviting, receiving, hanging, making arrangements. Here now, then gone in sixty microseconds, Acosta may have discovered teleportation. The museum publishes a beautiful full-color glossy commemorative pamphlet. Santa Paula Museum of Art does things first class for Magu and his friends.

Vanessa Acosta

Big X, as Montes is called, gives free music lessons to local kids--Jarocho to Beatles but mostly musica--through Strings of De Colores, a museum-sponsored non-profit. Details at the link on donations and mailing address for non-card donors.

Montes conducts the music with fervor and the musicians perform with puro ganas. Calling out the chord, he sings as well as coaches them through an able and extended performance. These kids are wonderful music makers. Performances like these will eventually coax out the dollars to help the museum wire the place for sound.

As X collapses in joy and exhaustion with the concluding notes, one of the Angels on Harps leaps from her instrument and claims victory of kids over loving music teacher. He challenged them to make all that practice pay off and it was Carnegie Hall day in their home town art museum. They all triumphed today.

Musicianship and heart

Museum Executive Director Jennifer Heighton, David Botello with Botello's Magulandia painting. Exquisite in detail and symbol, Botello's portrayal would be extra fabulous adorning one of those big walls downtown, or at the Smithsonian. Docents would spend hours pointing out the history and significance Botello places onto the canvas. It, along with Family Car, one day will be in the Smithsonian. Heighton can claim art world bragging rights on having launched the wall.

The Agricultural Museum waited after a pleasant stroll passing an old Moreton Bay fig, crossing the railroad tracks and a route step march along the tidy tracks to the pea gravel then the door.

Magu's own work hangs in a corner of the huge space. Collectors owing quintessential Magus shared freely with curators Montes and Acosta. Free-standing sculpture on display encourages 360 degree appreciation of Magu's clay and corrugated work. Seeing these seminal works together is seeing the beginnings of Chicana Chicano art.

Here In Search of Magulandia allows gente to get up close to Family Car unimpeded by barrier tape and stanchions. People were respectful of the finish and kept proper distance. It is a show of generosity and respect for this audience.

Paul Dunlap enjoys sharing the 1950 Chevy Coupe Magu painted. They were friends. Dunlap, back to camera, treats the car like the gem it is. He trucks Family Car to wherever he shows it. He drives it low and slow from the Art Museum to its place of honor in the museum. Sadly, La Bloga did not photograph the car wheeling on the street.

Santa Paula Art Museum hosts the main show through February. Travelers heading to El Lay from Fresno and parts north can detour from the 5 via Highway 126. Travelers to and from Santa Barbara will delight in the detour up the 126 from Ventura to Santa Paula, then the canyon road to Ojai, back to Ventura.

Leaving the Agricultural Museum and Magulandia, sharp-eyed witnesses watched a velocipede cruise past the Moreton Bay Fig tree, followed at a proper distance by a lass who didn't dare display any ankle  as she pedaled along the dusky road.

Getting to Santa Paula is its own adventure. Go. See the show. Add value to the journey by joining the museum. You can renew that membership every year; this trip through Magulandia happens only this once. Through February 2015.

Los Angeles
Veterans Job Hopes Gain 10,000 Possibilities

Magu was proud to be Veteran of the United States Air Force. Veterans everywhere welcome any effort with genuine possibilities for meaningful full time work.

Time runs short to apply for the October 28 deadline to get in on this Los Angeles program. Click this link for details.

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12. NACCS Midwest Focus: Latin@s in the Midwest: Past, Present, and Future in Kansas City

Xánath Caraza



From October 23 – 25, 2014 in Kansas City, the Latina/Latino Studies Program (LLS), University of  Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) will host and organize the NACCS Midwest Focus: Latin@s in the Midwest: Past, Present, and Future.  The conference theme–Latin@s in the Midwest: Past, Present, and Future–recognizes the rich historical and growing presence of Latin@s in this region. Our goal is to promote awareness and further develop knowledge and analysis of historic, current, and future developments that impact the Latin@ population.


Keynote Presenters:


Dr. Alberto Pulido: “Everything Comes from the Streets” Documentary on Lowrider Culture

Dr. Rogelio Saenz: “Demographics: Latinos in the Midwest”

Dr. Rusty Barcelo: “Navigating Our Midwest Latina/o Journey in Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future”.


Latina/Latino Studies Program at UMKC


The mission of Latina/Latino Studies (LLS), a program based in the College of Arts and Sciences, is to function as a vehicle for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teaching, research and outreach focusing on Latinas/os-Chicanas/os in the U. S.  The LLS program will provide an awareness and understanding of the wide diversity of Latino communities, cultures and backgrounds.  The development and expansion of our curricula will serve to empower our students with the concepts and skills to better understand a rapidly growing Latina/o population.  The LLS program will engage students, scholars and the greater Kansas City community in collaborative projects, programs and service learning efforts.  These efforts will foster new curricula and advance research and outreach scholarship to create new knowledge to better understand the cultural, economic, and historical experiences and contributions of U. S. Latinas/os-Chicanas/os and their diasporic origins.






5:30-                                      WELCOME

Leo Morton, Chancellor 

Miguel Carranza, Latina/Latino Studies

Theresa Torres, NACCS

Juan Betancourt, ALAS

6:00               Introduction to the Video:  Everything Comes from the Streets

7:00               Question / Answer Session with Alberto Pulido, Director and Co-Producer and Rigo Reyes, Co-Producer

7:30               RECEPTION                                                  SU THEATER FOYER

Low Rider Car Display                                 Administration Bldg Parking Lot – Cherry Street        




10:00-11:30       CONCURRENT SESSIONS

Session 1.1          Moderator:                                                                                                        Room Bloch 211

ROUNDTABLE: Gustavo Carlo, Sarah Killoren Francisco Palermo Katharine Zeiders and Cara Streit

TITLE:  Socializing Agents and Experiences Associated with Latino/a Children and Youth Well-being

Session 1.2  Moderator:  Viviana Grieco                                                                                 Room Bloch #212

ROUNDTABLE: Valerie Mendoza, María Torrez Anderson, Fatima Rodríguez Al-Makhim, Christina


TITLE: Chicana Testimonios: Growing up Chicana in Kansas, Three  Generations of Experience

Session 1.3 Moderator: Morgan                McMichen                                                          Room Bloch 213

ROUNDTABLE:  María Vásquez Boyd, José Faus, Miguel Morales

TITLE: The Latino Writers Collective: Creating and Sustaining a Community of Writers, Advocates, and Educators

Session 1.4 Moderator: Erica Hernandez Scott                                                                    Room SU 302

WORKSHOP: Judy Ancel and Saira Gordillo

TITLE: They Just Cut Our Program’s Budget. Now What Do We Do?

11:30-12:00                 POSTER SESSION                   SU Theater Foyer

Victoria Santiago & Claritsa Santiago

TITLE: ESL Misconceptions: Making a Good Program Even Stronger.

Jessica Rodas

TITLE: An Evaluation of Organizations in Kansas City in Improving the Health of the Latino/Hispanic Community.

Joseph Salazar and Idaima

TITLE: Assessing Obesity of Latino Children in Southwest Kansas via Ventanilla de Salud para Niños

12:00-1:00 LUNCH           

1:00-1:30  POSTER SESSION                                      SU Theater Foyer

1:30-3:00                     CONCURRENT SESSIONS 2


Session 2.1 Moderator: DJ Ferman                                                                                           Room Bloch 211

ROUNDTABLE:  April Bermudez & Matthew García

TITLE: (dis)Placed Ecologies, (dis)Placed Communities: Social Art Practice and the Homeland


Session 2.2 Moderator: Jessica Rodas                                                                                     Room Bloch 212

ROUNDTABLE: Patricia Alvarez-McHatton, Dea Bermudez-Marx, and Erica Hernandez-Scott

TITLE: Maestras: Past, Present, and Future


Session 2.3  Moderator: Morgan McMichen                                                                        Room Bloch 213

READING: Xanath Caraza, Natalia Treviño and Minerva Margarita Villarreal

TITLE: La Poetry en el Midwest y en México: Chicanas/Mexicanas con Ganas


Session 2.4  Moderator: Jorge Palomares                                                                              SGA Chambers/SU

ROUNDTABLE:   Moises Orozco, Eduardo Coronel, Daniel Muñoz, Jonathan Mendoza, Wendy Ramírez, Angeles Rivera-Centeno, Alberto Jimenez

TITLE:  Meaningful Connections between Latina/o students at a Community College in Illinois

Session 2.5          Moderator: Vanessa Aguilar                                                       Room SU 302

TITLE:  Researching Women and Gender in the Midwest

Linda Garcia Merchant: Five Layers Of Performance Art: Creating the Films, ‘An Evening with La Tess”

Andres Lazaro Lopez:  A Conceptual Note on Latino Professionals: The Future of Latina/O Scholarship On Paid Labor

Kandace Creel Falcón: Railroad Settlement Narratives: Invisibility And Chicana Feminist Interpretations Of Mexican Women’s Representations in Early 20th Century Kansas


3:15-4:45                     CONCURRENT SESSIONS 3

Session 3.1          Moderator: Norma Cantu                                                                            Room Bloch 211

Panel: Gloria Anzaldúa

Visnja Vujin:  Gloria Anzaldúa’s Female Borderland Identities in Sandra Cisneros’ Fiction

Sarah Becker: Beyond Borderlands: Spiritual Mining and the Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers, 1943-2004

Norma E. Cantú, Vanessa Aguilar Maritza Fernandez: Researching Latina Traditional Culture in Kansas City: An Anzaldúa Third Space feminist Approach


Session 3.2  Moderator: Patrica A. McHatton                                                                       Room Bloch 212

ROUNDTABLE: Randy López, Jackie Madrigal

TITLE:  ¿Qué hiciste en la escuela hoy?: How High Schools Can Make Meaningful Connections with Spanish-Speaking Households and Get Them College-Ready


Session 3.3  Moderator: Morgan McMichen                                                                        Room Bloch 213

ROUNDTABLE/READING:  Elizabeth Martinez, Xanath Caraza, Andres Rodríguez

TITLE: Gathering Words: A Special issue of Diálogo


Session 3.4          Moderator: Amelia Montes                                                                        Room SU 302

Panel:  Brown Mujeres Navigating Predominantly White Midwest Spaces

Belinda Acosta:  Brown Body: White Faces: The Brown Female Body as Authority Figure in The Predominantly White Classroom

Bernice Oliva: Naming The Whole World A Borderland: Performance of the Teacher Self

Amelia Montes: Directing an Ethnic Studies Program in the Midwest: Challenges and Successes

4:45-5:00                                              BREAK

5:00-5:30     FEATURED SESSION                                                                      SU Theater


5:30-  Plenary Talk                                                                                                SU Theater

Dr. Rogelio Sáenz, Dean, College of Public Policy, University of Texas at San Antonio

Title:  Latinos and the Changing Demography of the Heartland: Implications for the Future of the Midwest

7:30        RECEPTION                                                                                                                         SU THEATER FOYER


8:00—11:00       REGISTRATION—                  STUDENT UNION FOYER

8:30 A.M.            BUSINESS MEETING                                           SU Theater

9:00-10:30          CONCURRENT SESSIONS 4

Session 4.1      Moderator: Jessica Rodas                                                                   Bloch 218

Panel: Education Matters

 Heather Hathaway Miranda: ¡Sí Se Pudo! ¿Sí Se Pudo? Latina/Latino Student Activists in The 1990s

Hannah K. Noel:  Developing a Responsible Pedagogy

Uzziel Pecina: Leadership for English-Language-Learner Programs: Uniting Policies, Practices, and Parents to Support Secondary Students

Session 4.2 Moderator: Alice R.                                                                                                                 Bloch 213

Panel:  Chicana Studies at Kansas State University

Yolanda Broyles-González:

TITLE:  Jenni Rivera Enacting Mujerismo (Womanism): Change And Continuity Of The Oral Tradition

Isabel Millá

TITLE:   Engineering Chicana Heroism In Border Dystopian Sci-Fi Film

Norma A. Valenzuela

TITLE:  The Evolution Of A Transnational Imaginary In United States Latina Drama: Mujeres In Search Of “Home”


Session 4.3 Moderator: Alberto Villalmandos                                                                                      Bloch 324

READING:  Miguel M. Morales, Ruben Quesada, Joseph Salazar

TITLE:  Queridos: Midwestern Gay Latino Poets


Session 4.4. Moderator: Theresa Torres                                                                                                                SU 302

WORKSHOP:  José García

TITLE:  West Side Chronicles - City Life Chicano Style


Session 4.5 Moderator:                                                                                                                                 SGA Chambers

ROUNDTABLE: Gabriela Díaz Sabates and Marcelo Sabates

TITLE:  Reshaping the Multicultural Landscape at a Midwestern University

10:30  BREAK

10:45        CLOSING PLENARY

Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló, President, Northern New Mexico College

TITLE:  Navigating our Midwest Latin@ Journey in Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future


In Other News


Reyna Grande in Kansas City, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Norma Cantú, Reyna Grande and Xánath Caraza

Las Esmeraldas, ESU

Gregory Robinson, Ph. D., Xanath Caraza, Kevin Rabas, Ph. D., ESU

During my keynote at Emporia State University


University of North Georgia: “Exploring Linguistic Diversity among Latinas”, October 7 – 8

Univesity of North Georgia, Dahlonega Campus, lunch with LASO
After lunch with Alvaro Torres, Ph. D. and Maria Guadalupe Calatayud, Ph. D. with LASO students 

University of North Georgia, Dahlonega Campus

University of North Georgia, Gainesville Campus, LSA



Festival del Libro y la Palabra, Acapulco en su Tinta 2014, October 9 – 11 

Before my poetry presentation
My poem "Frente al mar"

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13. Six-Word Memoirs Rock This Blog

Olga García Echeverría

Wonderful things can happen while procrastinating...

I was putting off writing the day I bumped into Six-Word Memoirs on the Web. http://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/index.php  I love writing, but unlike the truly disciplined who sit down at a set time everyday and go there, I struggle.

I am all over the place.

I have no set time to write. Nor do I have a specific format. My words end up on scraps of paper, on the computer, in journals, on the "Notes" section of my phone. Sometimes my writing time is in the middle of the week at noon. Sometimes in the wee hours of the night. Sometimes in the mornings. Sometimes, sadly, not at all. Still, the constant desire and effort to keep the words flowing is present and persistent.

Erratic writer constantly seeks literary inspiration.
I found some of that inspiration in Six-Word Memoirs recently. Larry Smith and Tim Barko, founders of SMITH Magazine, debuted the Six-Word Memoirs project in 2006. The idea for the project was inspired by Ernest Hemingway who is said to have once been challenged to write a novel in six words. According to literary legend, Hemingway answered the challenge (over dinner and on a napkin) with: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." There are different version of this story, some with doubts that it ever really happened. Whether it happened or not, the legend has functioned as muse, first for SMITH Magazine and now for over a million people who have joined in on the fun, trying to script their memoirs into six words. Scripting one's life in six words may initially seem impossible. When I first started playing with the format, I found it difficult because I was trying to find the right six words to say it all.
Can six palabras encapsulate una vida?
I doubt it. But really the idea of the Six-Word Memoir is to capture a fragment of the self, to express in an abbreviated space an idea, a memory, a snapshot of who we are or who we were or who we are becoming. The more of these little memoirs that I write, the more I realize that what is captured in this format doesn't have to be extraordinary. The everyday is perfect food for these memoirs.
Usually go to bed thinking, "Pancakes!"

What I love about the Six-Word Memoir is that it is highly accessible and it can be birthed anywhere--while in line at the grocery store, while walking or driving, in the shower, when taking a break from grading, while cooking. Counting words on fingers is addictive, and yes, there's an App. Also alluring is that these short snapshots can be fleshed out. One of my favorite sections of the Six-Word Memoirs website is the Featured Backstory, where writers share the story behind their six words. This is where the real writing practice can happen. I most likely won't go back and flesh out every six word memoir I have written...

Got chorro from too many churros...

But there are a few that triggered something deep and tugged at the heart. What writer doesn't need or want a strong literary jalonazo? Since my serendipitous encounter with Six-Word Memoirs, I've written dozens, and I've gone back and fleshed out a few on my computer. Maybe they will become future poems or stories. Or maybe they will remain just what they are--little memoirs that sprouted and then disappeared into oblivion. Es todo.

Memoirs can be fleshed or flushed.

In any case, they're writing exercise and writing seed, two things I consider essential not just for me but also for my students. Anyone who has ever taught writing knows it's a hard job, and I am always looking for engaging ideas for writing assignment. In the past weeks, I've incorporated Six-Word Memoirs into my classes. In one class, I had students write six words about a significant memory, and then pair up with a classmate and share the backstory. Imagine 40 students all jabbering about their lives at the same time. Music to my ears. For homework, they had to write a 600 word vignette that incorporated figurate language and fleshed out the memoir. I'm still reviewing my students' papers, but thus far the assignment has resulted in some pretty amazing stories. I am not the first teacher to take the six word format into her class and create a lesson around it. Many others have being doing it for years, and some of them have shared their results on YouTube and/or on the Six-Word Memoirs site. Students seem to respond well to the six word format for reasons already mentioned--they're fun and accessible. They also reinforce that good old writing teacher mantra:

We all have stories to tell.
We all have stories to tell.
We all have stories to tell.

This past week, I reached out to a few dozen people and asked them to help out a blogging sister and write a Six Word Memoir for this blog. Here are the memoirs of those who responded. Mil gracias amig@s, your memoirs were the highlight of my week and they truly rock this blog.


"I flip tortillas with bare hands."
--Catherine Uribe
"Things that should not be said."
"Cosas que no hay que decir."
--Gloria Alvarez
"Need an opinion? I got one."
--Sandra Munoz

Portrait of Urrea by Eric Nishimoto

"Married Cinderella: lived happily ever after."
--Luis Urrea

"La Dolce Vita Vida Loca sometimes."
--Suzanne Lummis
"Bronx girl. All on the page."
--Lilliam Rivera

"She read to me. I wrote."
--Cheryl Klein
"A decolonized mind frees the spirit."
--Maritza Alvarez


"Lived a thousand lives in one."
--Liz Vega


"Lottery winner of love, not money."
--Deidre Harris


"Full of shit and feeling satisfied."
--Doug Carroll

"Ewok Feminism: The Myriam Gurba Story."
--Myriam Gurba

"I like you but you're stinky."
--Alazne Carroll Vega

"El cielo often speaks to me"
--Amelia Montes

"Mind is full no more comments."
--Gabby Carroll Vega

"She has scars on her head."
--Pat Alderete

"Mom said never marry a Mexican."
--Persephone Gonzalez

"Saved by dog and Betty White."
--Wendy Olsen

"My dedos danced mambo every day."
--Sonia Guiterrez

"Nice Southern girl fights the power."
--Bronwyn Mauldin

"First loves are nice, I bet."
--Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

"Gooks as silent villains--rewrite erasure."
--Bao Phi

"I haven't had time for babies."
--Celina Martinez

"Dead immigrant father. Pochafied fourth-generation daughter."
--liz gonzalez

"Meditations on Street Vendors and Salvation."
--Erika Ayon

"My greatest passion is to think."
--Manuel Velez

"Stop holding-out on my treats, bitches!"
--Xiquis The Great

"Chaotic mornings but not with donuts."
--Maria Figueroa

"I awaken
turning boulders
to dust"
--Alejandra Sanchez

"Too young
an existential
--Geronimo Flores


"Push pedal word! Breathe green Poet."
--A.K. Toney

"Malflora poet scripted in East LA."
--Veronica Reyes

"I've got a costume for this!"
--Cristy McMahon

"My Tongue is a Snazzy Tool."
--tatiana de la tierra

"I dreamed. I danced. I wrote."
--ire'ne lara silva

What about you, Bloga readers? Wanna share your own Six Word Memoir? Post it in the comments section. We'd love to read it.
Wait! There is a literary announcement... 
Five Queer Women With Loaded Tongues. 
If you're in Los Angeles, please join us this coming Wednesday, Oct 22, at 9PM
for The LA Word: Exploded Guns where 5 LA women writers take out their literary pistolas and shoot out some verse.
Cheryl Klein, Pat Alderete, Wendy Olsen, Bronwyn Mauldin, and Olga Garcia Echeverria will be reading at the Laemmle 7 in North Hollywood (lobby area) as part of the 2014 NoHo Lit Crawl.  
5240 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Bueno, gracias. Goodbye. Hasta next time.
Long live the Six-Word Memoir!

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14. Latino anthology needs your support. Now.


On Thursday, bloguista Ernesto Hogan's posted Chicanonautica: Latino/a Rising about the prospective publication, Latino/a Rising, called "the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres."


Editor Matthew David Goodwin already accepted stories by Kathleen Alcalá, Ana Castillo, Junot Díaz, Ernesto Hogan, Daniel José Older and Sabrina Vourvoulias, among others. If I can cut a story of mine down, and it makes the cut, the anthology will include my cross-genre Chicano/Mexica/alien/Diné SF/F/folklore tale, whose title doesn't matter yet. But even if mine doesn't make the cut, the anthology deserves and needs more support, not only mine.


Latino/a Rising currently has 66 Backers who've pledged $2,553 of the $10,000needed to reach their goal. Only 14 days remain. Thus, this first-time Latino publication will happen only with more backers. With your support, whoever and whatever you are.

If you're a spec lit reader, fan, author or artist, you already have your own reasons for kicking in to ensure it reaches its goal and gets published.

If you've read the works of the authors listed above, you have your own reasons for seeing more of theirwork reach print.

Whatever you call yourself--latino, chicano, mexicano, Mexican-American, Hispanic, pocho, puertoriqueño, dominicano, or quién-sabe-qué-más --you should contribute to support your gentereach a readership that we have been historically shut off from.

If you want to see latinoheroes and heroines on the big screen, instead of the dominant Anglos or acceptable Asians, supporting latino lit can get such stories in front of the film industry. For instance, before it was a movie, Blade Runner was a short story. It happens to short story writers, just not often for latino writers. Yet. You can help change that.

Even if you individually are not sure you like science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres, but want your kids, young relatives and all latino youth to have such stories available to them, you should support this. We, and especially the youth, need more diversity in literature. Like Junot Díaz explains, we especially need Inclusion, where the main characters are latinos, not just the minority guy who's going to be the first one killed by the monster.

This Kickstarter campaign has the usual incentives--copies of the E-book, the print edition, T-shirts, etc.--so if for no other reason, your contribution will add goodies to your stash of Xmas or birthday gifts.

Now, for all of you non-latino readers and writers, here's the last suggestion. If you basically agree that latino writers should have more access to publication, you can contribute to this anthology to make that a reality. Period.

I'd guess that whoever contributes, for whatever reason, the present line-up of authors and the explosive possibilities of spec lit will make your contribution worth more than you can imagine. Maybe even more than the authors did. I'm already imagining what a book-signing event of Latino/a Rising will look like with authors Kathleen Alcalá, Ana Castillo, Junot Díaz, Ernesto Hogan, Daniel José Older and Sabrina Vourvoulias up front. [Check it out--so many women?] And maybe me. If I can just make this damn long story shorter...

Please help spread the word by Sharing and forwarding on your networks. Gracias.

Es todo hoy, because I have a story I have to trim. Chingos.
RudyG, aka Rudy Ch. Garcia, possibly appearing in an upcoming anthology you made possible

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15. Vanishing Chicano Culture and the Gentrification of Denver’s Northside

Bobby Lefebre is a Denver activist, performance artist, poet, and Northsider. He is the driving force behind the We Are North Denver movement that has shined a bright spotlight on the massive changes happening to the Northside - good and bad. When racist flyers recently appeared in the neighborhood, Bobby responded with action that focused on "unity in the community." He continues to raise his concerns, and the concerns of many long-time Northside residents, in a variety of venues. He wrote the following article originally for his website, which you can find at this link. We are now sharing it with La Bloga readers. As a resident of the Northside for more than thirty years, I agree with much of what Bobby says in this piece. Both Bobby and I would be interested in your reactions, comments, etc.

Manuel Ramos


Vanishing Chicano Culture and the Gentrification of Denver’s Northside

I have been thinking about the Northside a lot recently. 

The Northside my family has known and loved for over 70 years. The Chicano Northside. 

The beans, rice, and green chile Northside. The gatherings at La Raza Park broken up by the Denver Police Northside.

The all my homies live on the same block Northside. The let’s go watch Spanish-language movies at the Holiday Theater Northside. The I don’t get paid till Friday, but I have credit at Sunnyside Drugstore Northside. The Bobby needs to get baptized, call up Our Lady of Guadalupe Northside.

The Monte Carlo hittin’ switches bouncing on Federal Northside. The North High pride Northside. The “should I get a Devil from Lechugas or a Mexican hamburger from Chubby’s?” Northside. The Chicano Power, “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” Northside.

The mom and pop shop small business Northside. The hold all your parties at the VFW Hall Northside. The “where are all these yuppies coming from?” Northside. The slowly but surely vanishing Northside.

Jerry Jaramillo's Mural, Primavera

Last week, Jerry Jaramillo’s 33-year old Chicano Mural—Primavera— was removed from a wall on 41st and Tejon and people are pissed.

When I saw the mural being scraped away, my heart base-jumped head-first into my stomach. Seeing the red brick vacant of the image that defined that building since 1981 was jarring and surreal. The mural sat on the North wall of the historic Souden building, which was erected in 1909.

Since the 1970’s, Servicios de La Raza has owned and operated out of that building providing culturally relevant services to communities in need. The erasure of the Primavera mural is a salient metaphor for the Northside in transition. The neighborhood is changing just as it always has. When my family moved into the Northside in the late 1930’s it was unmistakably and unapologetically Italian.

My family was, and still is, unmistakably and unapologetically Chicano. The Italians scoffed at the arrival of my family, just as members of my family and community are scoffing at the arrival of the new demographic quickly calling the Northside home.

Northsiders commonly ask, “Where are all these yuppies coming from?” Well, I think I figured it out. Decades ago, when White people engaged in White Flight to escape the perceived ills of living in the inner-city, they bought round trip tickets. Their children have boarded on the return vouchers and are rapidly arriving with their cash, canines, and social, economic and political capital.


I am a fourth-generation Northsider and wear that badge like a sacred heirloom passed down.

Watching everything I love about my neighborhood slowly walk into a mere memory is disheartening. It seems like every day there is another institution, business, or mural being cleared away to make room for the new.

As Chicanos, we have been educated to understand that we are indigenous to the Southwest. Our ancestors have migrated across this land since the beginning of time, so when people tell us to go back to where we came from, it is insulting and perplexing at the same time. The indigenous connection to our geography further compounds our attachment to the place we call home; politically and philosophically, we truly believe we belong here.

We affirm that we have inherited the land beneath our feet and it belongs to us, regardless of who carries the deed. For us, land and identity are inseparably entwined. Space has always played an important role in our cultural identity; if you don’t believe me, revisit the story of Tenochtitlan. I identify as much as a Northsider as I do Chicano. My identity is colored with my experiences— good and bad—growing up in Northwest Denver.

As much as I am emotionally tied to the issue of my neighborhood gentrifying, I am also academically tied to the rich, diverse history of cultures and people that have called the Northside home.

It is very important for me to note that my focus on Chicano permanence does not negate the right for others to live among and share community with us. Cesar Chavez said it best, “preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect of other cultures.” It is irresponsible of us to not contextualize the entire history of the neighborhood when taking a strong stance against neighborhood change.

Before the neighborhood was gentrified, it was Chicano/Mexicano. Before it was Chicano/Mexicano, it was Italian. Before it was Italian, the Irish, German, Scottish, Polish, Welsh, Cornish, and Jewish were also here. Before any person of European decent stepped foot here, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe called parts of this land home. These cultural snapshots of the past have defined the neighborhood psychologically, culturally, architecturally, and geographically.

It is also important to remember the role ethnic enclaves play in cultural preservation. Often, marginalized groups find it imperative to their survival to stick together. They create community by forming close-knit cultural networks to meet basic needs and promote positive self and collective identity. They rely on one another to exchange resources, information, and knowledge.

As time passes, the local economy grows and ripples outward until the enclave becomes a thriving, prosperous neighborhood. Then, after years of hard work and sacrifice, folks become more stable and slowly begin to move away. As they leave, they create vacancies for the next generation of folks trying to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” The aforementioned historical template of change in the Northside is not happening with the new demographic moving in.

It is happening in the Northside, like it is happening in Five Points, like it is happening in San Francisco and Harlem. Poor people have been displaced, businesses have been bought out or evicted, and the fabric of the hood is a growing, clumsy, complicated patchwork. There is tension between the established and newly arrived residents. This tension, unfortunately, is only discussed honestly in ethnically segregated silos.         

Gentrification is real.

Many Latinos in the neighborhood feel they are being pushed out and that the White people moving in fail to recognize their part in displacing an established culture. On the other side of this seemingly dismal reality though, other long-time residents and home owners have willingly sold their property benefiting financially from the rise in the real estate economy. In some instances, folks have sold their homes for five-times what they paid for them back-in-the-day.

Although some will disagree with me, selling one’s home knowingly and willingly to make a sizeable profit should not be viewed as “selling out.” Instead, it should be celebrated as a well-informed business decision that was, unfortunately, jump-started by the controversial process of gentrification. Would it be nice if more Brown people held on to their homes and stood in the neighborhood? Of course it would!

When they leave, so too do their stories. You can’t blame anyone for selling their property to secure retirement, pay for their grandchildren’s college tuition, or to ensure a better future.

40 Year Legacy Servicios de La Raza from Servicios de La Raza on Vimeo.

According to public record, Servicios de La Raza has sold the Souden building (which housed the now gone Primavera mural) to Paul Tamburello and associates for $632,500.

Servicios de La Raza is purchasing a new building close to the New Corky Gonzales Library near Colfax and Federal, where they can better serve the communities that need their services most. Recently, I interviewed Rudy Gonzales, Executive Director of Servicios de La Raza, and he affirmed that part of Servicios’ decision to sell their building rested in the demographic shift of the neighborhood.

As the face of the Northside changes, so too does the depth of people’s pockets and access to resources. Servicios strives to provide and advocate for culturally responsive, essential human services and opportunities for low-income members of the community to help them overcome problems that contribute to the perpetuation of the vicious cycle of poverty. Those populations in need, although still present in the Northside, are slowly vanishing.

When Servicios vacated the building and it was subsequently boarded up in preparation for renovation, new owner, Paul Tamburello, nailed a sign to the front of the building that read:


We would like to restore this building to its original design. If you have any historical photos please call (303) 991-6204.


When I first saw that sign, my initial reaction was, “that’s cool!”

I would much rather see the building retain its original character, than to have it smashed and replaced by some ugly cookie-cutter structure on a beautiful block of brick. My second thought was, “Hmmmm. What will happen to the mural?” Many have taken stabs at Paul Tamburello for his role as serving as a catalyst for the gentrification of the Northside. After all, he is the man behind projects and operations like Little Man Ice Cream, Root Down, Linger, and the “Lohi” Marketplace.

The Denver Post has called him “The father of rejuvenated Highland,” and his name has become synonymous with modern design and development throughout the Northside. With the removal of the Primavera Mural, Tamburello is again facing heat from the hood. The hood is upset that it has lost another iconic cultural image and all fingers are pointing to Tamburello asking him to explain why.

But who is to blame? Is anyone to blame at all? I argue we can be no more upset with Servicios de La Raza for willingly selling the building— which inadvertently led to the removal of the mural—than we can be with Tamburello’s decision to change the aesthetics of the space to meet the demand of the new.

So what do we do when we have a difference in cultural values? Long-term residents are sad to see the Chicano iconography wiped away, but there are others who find the restoration of the building to its original character to be preserving history as well. Either way, the scraping of the mural is indicative of a much larger issue.

The scraping of the mural is indicative of the hood’s inevitable transition. It’s indicative of the intricacies and symptoms of gentrification. It is indicative of the ways Chicano culture, Brown culture, and marginalized culture is devalued and discredited in dominant society. 

As I am writing these words, they taste bitter. The words taste bitter because I love my neighborhood and it hurts to see it commodified, rebranded, and deliberately dissipated.

These words taste bitter because they are spiced with contradiction and mixed feelings and hard truth. There are some things I know for sure, though. I know my neighborhood is being gentrified. I know that gentrification is a complex issue of race and class and power and economics and it creates winners and losers.

Gentrification, sitting like a prize trophy on capitalism’s most prestigious shelf, is fueled by White privilege; it’s a direct descendant of our nation’s ugly. Gentrification is a manifestation of racism, colonization, and greed. It’s the American way. And it is not going anywhere anytime soon.

I also know, however, that every newcomer to the neighborhood is not inherently bad. Not everyone moving into the neighborhood is an appropriating snob. Not everyone moving into the neighborhood is on a land-grab conquest. Just as we have misguided perceptions of the newbies, the newbies have misguided perceptions about us long-time residents.

Paul Tamburello may be controversial, but he is not inherently bad. I know this because, just as he has worked with Servicios de La Raza on their real estate transactions, he and his colleague helped my wife and I buy our first home last year—right here in the Northside.


So what are we willing to do?

It is not too late to ensure our story outlives us all. Talk to your families and document your history. Our elders are living museums. They are libraries made of flesh and bone and they are the gatekeepers of our collective memory.

Let’s honor our past by ensuring Northside communities of all backgrounds are not erased. Let’s work together to preserve our diverse traditions and cultural artifacts; even if preservation means creating things anew.

Let’s engage in difficult conversations with the people we perceive to be different from us.

Only by stepping outside our comfort zones will we be able to build bridges where rifts exist. Join the conversation by visiting We Are North Denver on Facebook, or on our website, www.wearenorthdenver.com . What does cultural preservation mean to you? What would you like to see stay in the Northside? What would you like to remember? What do you miss?

I don’t know about you, but I refuse to say goodbye to the Northside of yesterday. There is room for us all in the midst of neighborhood change. We just have to step up, define our space, and fight like hell for it like we always have. 

Con Safos,
~Bobby LeFebre

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16. Chicanonautica: Latino/a Rising With a Mariachi of Mars

by Ernest Hogan

The world probably isn’t ready for it, but I’ve learned that the world is never ready for all the good stuff. So don’t wait. Do it now.

So why not Latino/a Rising, the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres? Editor Matthew David Goodwin already has Kathleen Alcalá, Giannina Braschi, Pablo Brescia, Ana Castillo, Daína Chaviano, Junot Díaz, Carlos Hernandez, Adál Maldonado, Carmen Maria Machado, Alejandro Morales, Daniel José Older, Edmundo Paz-Soldán, Alex Rivera, and Sabrina Vourvoulias onboard.


Latino/a Rising will not only include literature. There are many Latino/a artists who are using science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres in their art work. And this anthology will include some of their most interesting artwork.
And a Kickstarter campaign has already started.
Wait a sec, I think I forgot something . . . oh yeah!
There’s going to be a story by yours truly in it, Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails.
The Paco of the title in none other than Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars, hero of two of my stories The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Marichis of Mars and Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas that originally appeared in Analog.
And yes, I’m working on more stories that I hope to assemble into an epic -- suitable for adaptation into a major motion picture or miniseries -- novel . . .
Meanwhile, contribute to the campaign. Help turn these wild Latino/a dreams loose on this troubled planet!

Ernest Hogan is trying to find time to finish a number of stories while publicizing the new edition of Cortez on Jupiter, and helping get High Aztech ready for re-release. There are also other projects he keeps remembering.

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17. Pig Park

By Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935955764
ISBN-13: 978-1935955764

From the Publisher

It's crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga's neighborhood is becoming more and more of a ghost town since the lard company moved away. Her school closed down. Her family's bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls to haul bricks to help build a giant pyramid in the park in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something's not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. Then there's the new boy who came to help, the one with the softest of lips.

Claudia talks about racial identity and the real-life Chicago neighborhood that inspired the setting for Pig Park in her essay for Latin@s in Kid Lit: I wrote Pig Park recognizing that the world my children will be a part of isn’t exactly one thing, and that this is the type of world many kids are increasingly growing up in. Read more here.


"The story of a community working together is uplifting … Martinez uses nicely specific physical details to relate Masi’s experiences, and the moments in the bakery seem particularly authentic and are suffused with love."Kirkus Reviews

"Martinez uses diversity to her advantage, showcasing Masi, her family, and all of the people living in this town… Overall, this is a quick read that touches on family issues, young love, and the strength that comes when times get tough."VOYA Magazine, *starred review*

"Between those yummy covers is an equally delicious book... The novel tackles that age-old question of how far, how much, what exactly would you do for something that matters to you?"All Brown All Around

"Filled with a first crush, an absent parent, fear of losing home and friends, and community engagement … readers will appreciate its strong characters and identify with the protagonist’s teen angst."School Library Journal

"Martinez creates an emotional dilemma for Masi, caught between a romantic crush and her family’s struggles, yet... suggests a fairy-tale undercurrent within the novel.”—Publishers Weekly

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez grew up in El Paso, Texas. She learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old westerns for her father who always misplaced his glasses. At age six, she already knew she wanted to create stories. Her father encouraged her to dream big and write a book or two one day. Although he passed away when Claudia was eleven, her mother, family and many others continued to encourage her writing.

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18. Poets Laureates Farewell and Welcome • Chingón LATC Fest • On-line Floricanto

Laureate Closes Term Poetically: The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World

Michael Sedano

The “crown jewel” of the University of California system shifted from Berkeley to UC’s Riverside campus last week, where faculty member and California Poet Laureate emeritus, Juan Felipe Herrera
closed out his two-year term with a Unity Poem Fiesta.

Stephen Cullenberg, Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, rounded up a cohort of sponsors to give the event first-class cachet from entry onto campus to the siting of the free lunch, poetry tables, and presentations on a main campus walkway. Hundreds of passersby, if for only the minute’s traverse, shared The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World.  Click here for sponsor details.

A major bugbear of attending University public programs is paying nine bucks parking to attend a free event. UCR took care of it, free parking. Organizers set aside the closest-to-campus parking lot for poetry. Making sure drivers find their free parking, directional signs line the highway approaching campus.

This superb planning put smiles on faces following the signs to the fiesta a quarter mile distant. Reaching the walkway, the first tent greeting visitors is the free lunch. A soft tacos bar—three per eater, asada, pollo, vegetables--with the trimmings.

In the shady park, multiple hydrating stations offer iced water, juice, coffees. Another proof of top-notch planning, there’s ample supply of cups.

Ambience goes unnoticed in events like these, and this is the curse and compliment of being among the organizing staff. The curse is not being noticed for your crucial role, the compliment is visitors aren’t supposed to notice planning, preparation, attention to detail. Nothing staff can do about the intense desert sun. Empty rows of folding chairs close to the speeches and readings weren’t enough to lure any but a few gente from the cooling lawn and deep shade.

Herrera, Chancellor Wilcox, Dean Cullenberg, Winer
The speeches met their epideictic obligations but the speakers kept their style informal and affectionate. They spoke of Herrera the poet, Herrera the person. Mixed in were accolades for the Laureate, the Professor, the Friend. Dean Cullenberg read his remarks bilingually. It was heartfelt and it worked. Chancellor Kim Wilcox and Andrew Winer, chair of the Department of Creative Writing, also took the lectern.

African-Colombian music from UCR’s Mayupatapi ensemble opened the preliminaries, but poetry was the order of the day. The ceremonies begin with 4th and 5th graders from Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary in Moreno Valley.

The kids perform a beautiful choral reading of their composition Roses are red violets are blue There's only one unity between me and you! The poem was composed by the students as an element of the Poet Laureate’s The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World Project.

The highlight of the fiesta is the Unity Voice Choir assembled from myriad regional poets and writers, including La Bloga friends Liz Gonzalez and Iris de Anda, along with La Bloga’s Michael Sedano.

Improvising from a chapbook assembled from the Unity poem, the choir performs call-and-response voice music. The bass and drums of Trokka Rhythm & Spoken Word Percussion Group, featuring poet John Martinez on congas, add to the enjoyment of both the choir and the audience. Martinez lays down some complex beats.

Herrera has invited poets from across California to join him today. They form the heart of the Unity Voice Choir. Herrera begins the aural feast by reading off the chapbook page. The choir follows along, guided by the book. Inspiration conquers page and Herrera calls out rhythmic and singsong variations, short gasps or multisyllabic chant, puro a la brava taking off on rhyme and reason that have the choir laughing to keep up. The words call out all manner of inspiration from fruit to vegetable to love.

Puro fun, this closing segment of the California Poet Laureate Project, The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World.

Video by Concepción Valadez

The Unity Poem Fiesta sent-off the California Poet Laureate in grand style and highest spirits. Herrera’s work as Laureate lends significant prestige to the University, one more signal of UCR’s rapid coming-of-age as a major cultural force for the Inland Empire. Read about the Unity Poem Project here.

Click here to read the California legislation creating the California Poet Laureateship.

Luis J. Rodriguez Named Los Angeles Poet Laureate

A nourishing sign of poetry continuity arrives even as Juan Felipe Herrera closes his two years as the California Poet Laureate. The day after the UCR fiesta, the Mayor of Los Angeles announced the Los Angeles Poet Laureate is Luis J. Rodriguez.

A candidate for Governor of California, Rodriguez lost in the primary despite articulating a philosophy of unity and opportunity. The Los Angeles Laureateship reminds gente that foremost Rodriguez is a poet. Given Rodriguez' activist nature, Los Angeles should look forward to eye-opening poetry initiatives that reflect the City's objectives for the Poet Laureate program:

Enhance the presence and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts in Los Angeles;
Create a focal point for the expression of Los Angeles culture through the literary arts;
Raise awareness of the power of literature, poetry, and the spoken word;
Inspire an emerging generation of critical thinkers, writers, storytellers, and literary artists;
Bring the literary arts to people in Los Angeles who have limited access to poetry or have few opportunities for exposure to expressive writing;
Encourage both the reading and writing of literature; and,
Create a new body of literary works that commemorate the diversity and vibrancy of the LA region.

La Bloga sends abrazos and felicidades to Luis J. Rodriguez, Poet Laureate of the City of Los Angeles.

News & Notes
Teatro Summit Sweeping Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Theatre Center in the heart of Los Angeles is the site of an historical gathering of professional raza theater companies from across the nation. If LATC's publicity sounds ambitiously chingón that's because they stand behind their work.

A vibrant company that hires local actors and develops plays by local writers, LATC recognizes an obligation to widen the artistic horizons of what people get to see on stage. Per LATC's website, Encuentro brings

a month-long celebration of Latina/o theater from October 12 through November 10. This groundbreaking month-long event is the first theater festival in the U.S. to bring together more than 19 theater companies and 150 artists from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to present 19 works that represent the multi-faceted Latina/o experience on stage – from violence at the border and pressing immigration concerns to the complexities of romantic relationships and families.

Visit the teatro's website for tickets and curtain times.

News & Notes
Anaya Lecture Slated for Albuquerque

The UNM Department of English hosts distinguished writer Ana Castillo to deliver the 5th annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest, on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. in George Pearl Hall room 101. A reception will follow. George Pearl Hall houses the School of Architecture and Planning and is located on Central and Cornell NE. The lecture is free and open to the public.

On-line Floricanto for the 14th of the Tenth
Victor Avila, Richard Vargas, Oralia Rodríguez, Jeff Cannon

The Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070; Poetry of Resistance commend four poets in the second of this month's pair of La Bloga On-line Floricantos.

Looking Through Chain-Link at McAllen Station
by Victor Avila

Although this young girl is not Ruby Bridges
and has never heard her name
she has the same heart of forgiveness
for those looking to blame
this anonymous child for every ill in the world
as she tries to get sleep in McAllen Station.

In her dreams she looks into the eyes of an ambiguous nation
and sees two completely different faces.
One speaks with empathetic eyes that understand her suffering.
While the other face...speaks about God's love and mercy
but seemingly, only on Sundays.

She's awakened by the hum of fans on the ceiling-
beside her, a younger sister who is still sleeping.
She notices a orange butterfly just outside the window.
She wonders what it would be like to have wings
that could fly over any wall or any border.

No, her dreams of becoming a butterfly will not be denied.
Certainly not by those who shout venomous words
that she can't understand. She's beginning to learn
that forgiveness is greater than hatred found in some hearts.
And that humility is a sign of true strength no matter the circumstance.

It's as if God has polished her heart
and it now reflects His light for the world to see.
Her love is His love and a beacon for all
including those who protest her presence through ill-conceived notions.
Yes, the butterfly has flown and left McAllen Station
And flutters northward beyond the reach of ignorance and hatred.

Victor Avila is an award-winning poet.  His poetry was recently included in two anthologies: Occupy SF-Poems From the Movement and Revolutionary Poets Brigade-Los Angeles. He is also writes and illustrates the comic book series Hollywood Ghost Comix.  Volume Two will be released in November through Ghoula Press.  Victor has taught in California public schools for twenty-five years.

song for Shenandoah… for Luis Ramirez
by Richard Vargas

“The Devil has the people by the throat…” Annina, explaining to Rick why she is leaving her country.              Casablanca

oh Shenandoah, strip mined and bare
by the sweat of men cursing in broken
English as coal-black dust streaks their
European faces with eyes on the
look-but-don’t-touch prize

mother to Tommy and Jimmy
Dorsey who gave our soldiers
big band swing music as they
dodged bullets on the way to
victory over Berlin and Tokyo

land of Mrs. T’s Pierogies
and a meager slice of the
American dream worth
$12, 562 per capita income
at the start of the 21st century

some say the name
is derived from indigenous tongues
means “beautiful star daughter”

small town once proud once
thriving thirty thousand strong
today’s headcount barely five thousand
Shenandoah hangs on like another
forgotten whistle stop crying out
for new blood new people
until we heed your call

we climb your walls and
wade through muddy brown river
we walk and run across deserts
hide in bushes and seek shade
while drinking warm water from
discarded plastic Coke bottles
tied to our waists with twine

we die with swollen tongues from border heat
we smother in the trunks of cars and asphyxiate
packed like sardines in 40 ft. trailers left to
bake in the noonday sun for the jobs you
don’t want and the wages you refuse

the grass will always be greener
the grass will always be greener
the grass will always be greener

Shenandoah, we claim you
cut your lawns
bus the tables
wash your dishes
take out the garbage
sweep your sidewalks
shore up crumbling walls
patch the cracks in your
weathered face with flowers
that bloom in the spring

the bass of a tuba
vibrates dirty windows
shakes the dust off
worn and faded curtains
we bring tortillas and pico
de gallo to your table
Tecate and pan dulce
the laughter of children
breaking open Spider-Man
piñatas on birthdays
we are grateful because
for us a day’s hard work
is a gift from God

Shenandoah, your children walk
the streets angry and drunk on
the sweet lies of corporate media
mouthpieces singing empty and false:
The Mexicans are coming!
The Mexicans are coming!
The Mexicans are here!

a man’s head kicked hard
with the force of a hate unleashed
from the dark side of fear and loathing
will crack like a melon dropped
on the pavement and its juices
will slowly leak and stain the street

a religious medal hanging from
the neck and stomped into a man’s
chest will imprint the holy face
of the savior deep into the skin
brand him in the name of
twisted salvation
Jesus salva
he convulses
Jesus salva
he foams at
the mouth
Jesus salva
he is still

hiding behind screen names
on the internet a new generation
of minutemen join in
take aim and post comments:
“these boys sacrificed their futures
in much the same way a marine
sacrifices his life on the battlefield
we are being invaded
if i was on the jury no way
these boys would be convicted
more dead illegals will discourage
future border jumps”

sometimes a moment
is an hour, a week, a year
sometimes a decade or
a century passes in the blink
of an eye when all it takes
to recall the history of
our people buried deep
in our genes is the
sound of one word
is the humiliation of
tired and hungry ancestors
enduring its ugly sound
while picking Texas cotton
and California grapes from
sunup to sundown
is the mean reminder of
all that can never be and
all that will be denied
is the neighborhood
where houses can be rented
and the side of the railroad
tracks that are off limits
after dark
is long drives down
dusty roads looking
for crops to pick and ditches
to dig in a strange land
where wages are determined
by skin color

and still we come
again and again

Shenandoah, why are you weeping
why are your shoulders hung low
do not hide your face in shame
your sad cry rolling through
the valleys and bouncing off
the mountains is not in vain
no matter how many miles
there are between us
how many walls are raised
to keep us out

we are
coming home
coming home

coming home
to you

“This poem began to take form while I was a student of Prof. Jesse Aleman at the University of New Mexico. He provided early criticism that helped me shape the poem into what it is today. A few years later, at the National Latino Writers Conference, (National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM) I had a one-on-one session with poet/teacher, Francisco X. Alarcon, and he gave the poem an in-depth critique that led to the final edits. I am grateful for their consideration and professional input.”

Richard Vargas was born in Compton, CA, attended schools in Compton, Lynwood, and Paramount. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee. He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980. His first book, McLife, was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, in February, 2006. A second book, American Jesus, was published by Tia Chucha Press, 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published April 2014, by Press 53. (Once again, a poem from the book was featured on Writer’s Almanac to kick off National Poetry Month.) Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, and was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference. Currently, he resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he edits/publishes The Más Tequila Review.

He will be reading at the following Midwest venues in Oct. 2014:
10/15: Left Bank Books, St. Louis
10/16: The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Indianapolis
10/17: Rainbow Bookstore Co-op, Madison, WI
10/19: City Lit Books (w/Diana Pando and Carlos Cumpian) Chicago

por Oralia Rodríguez

Tumultos de cenizas
ríen, al no poder llorar,
los cuerpos
se volvieron flores deshojadas
son llevados
en brazos por el viento,
la muerte danza, danza
en un eterno letargo,
las bombas
marcan su ritmo.
Las sombras se abrazan
al escuchar los alaridos
de los jazmines mutilados,
el dolor vuelto a nacer,
el estómago es un nido de alacranes,
¿Dios, Dios,
aún estas ahí?.
La humanidad se viste de indiferencia
las palabras son menos que sal,
el cielo vomita lumbre,
el laúd esta de luto,
ahora guía al cortejo
de trozos de ilusiones, sueños y esperanzas,
que ni la embriaguez
los gobiernos como perros se disputan,
muerden, ladran, engañan
en la tierra de nadie.
La Tierra cual cántaro de sangre,
las bestias, se jactan, besan los trozos
que encuentran a su paso
Cuando la mar se seque sabrá
del dolor,
que muerde mis adentros,
la verdad, ¿cuál verdad?
Tan simple, tan llano
son genocidas.

© Oralia Rodríguez 

MARIA ORALIA RODRIGUEZ GONZALEZ. Poeta y pintora, nacida en Jerez Zacatecas, radicada en Tijuana B.C. Estudió la Licenciatura en Informática en el Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana, y la Licenciatura en Educación Primaria en la Normal Fronteriza Tijuana. Trabaja como docente de educación básica. A participado en antologías en México y Argentina , en encuentros literarios. Actualmente estudia la maestría en Cultura Escrita en el Centro de Posgrado Sor Juana y el Diplomado de Creación Literaria del INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE BELLAS ARTES en el Centro Cultural Tijuana.

Before the Darkness
by Jeff Cannon

I fold a homeless leaf weary
writing to the air

Then your distant light falls on me
potent fire thread
I uncurl from that brown devouring mouth
Eating me
Swallowing me into the sad stomach of
its Detroit trashed home
where boarded windows weep
life less rooms eat me with
their endless moans
the food betrayed dreams can only place
on empty tables

Lift me poet light from this dungeon
i am alive
must speak despite the words that fail me
words no longer moist
more brittle autumn whispers than
volcanic passion that rose before
the clamp
darkness pressed against my throat

Save me poet light
warm me by your sounding
the way Neruda passed the vibrant ocean
to everyone imprisoned

I am your wounded kin
my fleshless palm still presses against
the open wound
spurting what’s left of me against
dead concrete side walks
angry roads, death fumed cars, mad driver driven

Since the vocabulary of love got stopped
at the border
the guards couldn’t find its number
sent love back into the desert to die

my word brothers, my verse sisters
i may be sinking ankle caught but
not ready yet to descend into oblivion
without at least
another swing
before the bullets

© Jeff Cannon, 08/08/2014, 12:09 am, at desk with thanks to my sister and brother poets, in particular this time to Francisco X. Alarcon.

Besides the honor of this second poem in La Bloga, Jeff Cannon appears in Boundless 2014 and in Goose River Anthology: 2014. Jeff is the author of three books of poetry: Finding the Father at Table and Eros: Faces of Love (2010, published by Xlibris Corporation), Intimate Witness: The Carol Poems by Goose River Press, 2008, a testament to his wife’s courageous journey with cancer. He first appeared in the anthology celebrating parenthood, My Hearts First Steps in 2004. He has been a featured poet at Manchester Community College, CT and at local Worcester poetry venues as well as in New Hampshire. He is the father of two daughters, retired and “can’t stop writing” although he does not read out as much as he would prefer.

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19. Ajua Arepa • News 'n Notes • On-line Floricanto

The Gluten-free Chicano's Arepa Antoja
Michael Sedano

Traffic noise thrums with a different urgency that morning. I look up the avenue and see traffic cops and barricades. An NYC tianguis has popped up on the boulevard where I intend a stroll and some chow. Cops entertain themselves blowing their whistles at thronging cars. Through the rumble of buses and countless taxicabs it’s unlikely closed windows and stereo sound systems let even the shrill xrii-xriii reach the drivers. Traffic complies with the gesturing cop’s finger and detours left or right. It's life in the big city.

I step off the sidewalk and into the middle of Fifth Avenue. Pop-up booths line both sides of the closed-off block. I do not need sunglasses and more sunglasses. I don’t own an iPhone so I don’t need iPhone gadgets. Alpaca carpas and sweaters catch interest for a moment but I’m quickly distracted by the aromas of Italian sausage and peppers, Mexican asadas, and, from a few booths up, Arepas. Whatever that is.

The cocinero explains Arepa ingredients are puro corn and no flour nor wheat nor barley, nor in any of the meats and cheese. That sounds safe and The Gluten-free Chicano is about to order his first ever Arepa when gluten-free terror strikes. The whatifs win--what if I get sick when I’m in New York city for fun?--and I walk away, all antojado for the Venezolano specialty.

That was last year, a trip to enjoy the Poets Forum activities at the Academy of American Poets (link). This week serendipity rewards The Gluten-free Chicano with his first assuredly gluten-free Arepa and sabes que? It won't be the last.

Three bites short of a whole Arepa

I'm off to a camera show, and my walk takes me past some new businesses. There's a yogurt place, something else, then a hand-printed sign in a storefront makes me hitch a step. On my return walk I'm on the look-out for that “Gluten-free Sandwich” window.

Amara is on Raymond Street in Pasadena, next door to the large municipal parking lot, first 90 minutes free. It's a short walk from the Gold line's Del Mar station.

Amara prepares coffees, sweets and sandwiches. Their website features their choclatier and coffee specialties, along with arepas. The proprietor assures me he's familiar with el celiaco, era médico back home. In his new home, he's a restaurateur. Así es, pero ni modo. This is his place, and Alejandro knows celiac issues. No whatifs at Amara.

I order La Propria. Arepa names both the bun and the inside, a synecdoche of the whole for the part.

Manna from heaven must have been an Arepa. Split the arepa, spoon in some carne deshebrada, add creamy gouda cheese morsels, and The Gluten-free Chicano knows he’s been delivered from the wilderness of bread-like analog food.

The pan element of the Arepa at Amara is light, fluffy, and delicately flavored. Made with P.A.N. corn meal and water, this pan is an incredible discovery for gluten-free eating and cooking.

Alejandro and Amara welcomed The Gluten-free Chicano with incredible warmth and hospitality, which appears the standard at this worthwhile enterprise. Next time you're in Pasadena, the Arepas are on me.

Amara holds an arepa

Mail bag
Heritage Studies Celebrated in SanAnto

La Bloga friend Juan Tejeda, a principal in the daring Aztlán Libre Press, invites gente to come to San Antonio Texas for the epitome of cultural tourism. La Bloga urges travelers to select intriguing activities and plan a few days drinking in Texas' best city and Palo Alto College's engaging seminars.

Click the poster for a larger view, or, mejor, for a full list of scheduled events including times and locations, visit alamo.edu/pac/NAHHM. You may request information through the Office of Student Engagement and Retention at 210-486-3125.

from Juan's email:

We have been working hard since this past summer to organize Palo Alto College's inaugural Native American/Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration 2014 in San Antonio, Tejas. We have a great schedule of activities that includes scholarly presentations, workshops, a free Chicano Batman and Sexto Sol concert, film series, readings and book signings by prominent poets and authors.

The focus of this over-a-month-long celebration is engaging our students and community on the important fact that we are Indigenous/American Indian first and foremost, and native to this continent now called America, otherwise known as Cemanahuac, Abya Yala, Turtle Continent. In an age when most of our students call themselves Hispanic, the issue of our Indigeneity has not been addressed properly, nor our mestizaje and connection to the Indigenous populations of the Americas and our positions as Mexicans, Xicanas/os and Latinas/os in the U.S.

All events are free and open to the students and community, except for a small fee charged for the Luchadora! theater production for those 19 years and older. And there is free parking and free aguas frescos.

Late-breaking News!
Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero Free Workshop

San Antonio Poet Laureate and Palo Alto College Poet-in-Residence, Laurie Ann Guerrero, will be conducting a free one-month Creative Writing Workshop beginning Oct. 14. Details on image, click to enlarge. Guerrero is an alumna of Palo Alto College.

Mail bag
Poet Laureate Feted in Houston

Details at AP's website here.

Call for Papers

On the Eastside of the city of La, at the juncture of the 10 and 710 freeways, lies California's semi-official raza university, California State University Los Angeles. CSULA, through the leadership of La Bloga friend Roberto Cantu, holds a significant annual conference exploring junctures of las culturas on ambos sides of the frontera. 2014's theme was Rudolfo Anaya. Next up, los de abajo.

Cantu and the conference co-sponsors invite scholars to submit papers on themes surrounding the Mexican Revolution and its novels. For details, visit the conference site (click here).

October On-line Floricanto: First of Both
Betty Sánchez, Joseph Ross, Robert Neustadt, Joe Morales

La Bloga and the Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070: Poetry of Resistance share two sets of poems this month. Today, it's La Bloga's pleasure to share the first four of the month's dual delights.

Carne De Cañón por Betty Sánchez
For Gilberto Ramos by Joseph Ross
Crossing the Line by Robert Neustadt
Nothing Is Right Until You Say It Is by Joe Morales

por Betty Sánchez

Me llaman niño sin acompañante
Aunque ese no fue el caso
Cuando salí hace meses
De mi tierra
Mirando siempre adelante

Mi madre vendió un riñón
A su ambiciosa patrona
Para pagarle al coyote
Mi pasaje al infierno
Alias el norte
Que de libertad pregona

Mi tía Evelia se despojó
De su parcela y sustento
Para enviar a sus dos hijos
Al país de la abundancia

Rosita la vecina de mi infancia
Lavó ajeno tres veranos
Para escapar del abuso
De su padrastro y su hermano

Rogelio el hijo del cerrajero
No deseaba terminar
Como los demás del barrio
Siendo mara salvatrucha
Lloró incesante a su padre
Y obtuvo su bendición
Para irse al otro lado
Por ésta te juro viejo
Dijo besando la cruz
Que dólares mandaré
En cuanto consiga asilo

Mercedes la de la esquina
No conoció a su mamá
La dejó siendo pequeña
Al cuidado de su abuela
La anciana al enterarse
Que viajaríamos en grupo
Sacó dinero de un jarro
Para que fuera a buscarla

Con esperanza y con miedo
Nos brindaron triste adiós
Sin siquiera sospechar
Que al dejarnos ir solitos
Nos convertían sin querer
En ser carne de cañón
Al frente de los peligros
Vulnerables al abuso
Y la vejación de extraños

Partimos de Honduras
Cargando en el morral
Sueños y demonios
Derramando lágrimas
Emprendimos la ruta migratoria
Ignorando el infortunio
Que nos seguiría
Como una sombra funesta
Sobre nuestras cabezas

Tan pronto como
Abandonamos el hogar
Pisamos suelo hostil
Y actitudes áridas
Por nuestro atrevimiento
De anhelar un futuro mejor

Cada tramo de terreno
Que logramos recorrer
Arrastraba una historia
De miseria consigo

Cruzar las fronteras
No fue el desafío
Atravesarlas constituyó
Un acto de fe y valentía

El hombre de aspecto duro
Que nos sacó de San Pedro
Nos abandonó en Corinto
Sin podernos regresar
Proseguimos el camino
Hacia un futuro inseguro

Guatemala y México ignoraron
Nuestra condición de niños
Aduaneros y civiles
Nos trataron por igual
La fatiga y la desdicha
Se incrustaban en los huesos
Buscábamos refugio
bajo los puentes
En lugares solitarios y oscuros
Cubriendo nuestro dolor
Con cartones malolientes

Rosita y Mercedes
Vendieron su inocencia
Para saciar el hambre
Rogelio escapó de las pandillas
Pero no de la muerte
Por disentería y fiebre
En un albergue en Tabasco

Mis primos y yo hicimos
Trueque de pintas de sangre
Por un par de mantas
Para cubrirnos del
Escalofriante temor
Que nos producía
Viajar en el tren
Que llamaban la bestia
Un monstruo de mil cabezas
Semejantes a la nuestra

Perdimos cuenta del tiempo
Las semanas y los meses
Perdieron todo sentido
Eran solo pesadillas
Repetidas y con creces

Los que corrimos con suerte
Llegamos a la línea fronteriza
Junto a tantos otros miles
Queriendo cruzar de prisa
Para encontrar familiares
Otro hogar trabajo y visa

Pobres ilusos
Nosotros y nuestros padres
La bienvenida esperada
Se torno en una réplica
Exacta de lo ya acontecido
Carne de cañón de nuevo
Hacinados en jaulas
Durmiendo en el piso
Considerados indeseables
Objetos de escrutinio público
Temas de agendas políticas
Crisis nacional
Números, casos, estadísticas

Nos llaman niños sin acompañante
La estampita de la virgen de Suyapa
No cuenta en los reportes

Los derechos de los niños
Son solo un papel decorado
Con frases dignas sin valor alguno
La ley no nos protege ni nos acusa
Nuestros parientes no protestan
Por riesgo a ser deportados

Los que quedaron en el camino
Son olvidados
Nadie reclama
Sus huesos calcinados en el desierto
O bajo las vías de un ferrocarril
Que carga en sus lomos
Vidas engarzadas
Destinos similares
Otros mas se pierden en la indiferencia
De un mundo que no reconoce su humanidad

Tú que me lees
Y me ves a través de una pantalla
Que lloras al pensar en mi desgracia
Que me discutes en los medios sociales
Y me envías libros y juguetes para
Hacer mi estadía en esta prisión
Más llevadera
Que harás cuando sea enviado
De regreso a mi patria
A enfrentar la muerte
Que se disfraza de pobreza
De desempleo
De violencia …
© Betty Sánchez 1 de Septiembre de 2014

En honor a los niños indocumentados y en recuerdo de mi propia travesía que recorrí cargando sueños y demonios

Madre, abuela, maestra, poeta…en ese orden. Residente del condado de Sutter; trabajo como Directora de Centro del programa Migrante de Head Start.
Soy miembro activo del grupo literario, Escritores del Nuevo Sol desde  Marzo del 2003.  He sido invitada a colaborar en eventos poéticos tales como el Festival Flor y Canto, Colectivo Verso Activo, Noche de Voces Xicanas, Honrando a Facundo Cabral, y Poesía Revuelta. Ha sido un privilegio contribuir en la página Poetas Respondiendo al SB 1070, Zine 10 Mujeres de Maíz y por supuesto en La Bloga.

For Gilberto Ramos
by Joseph Ross

15 year-old Guatemalan boy who died
in the Texas desert, June, 2014

Before you left, your mother
draped you with fifty Hail Marys,

a rosary of white wood,
a constellation she hoped might

guide you. But Texas does not
know these prayers. It knows

that desert air is thirsty
and you are made of water.

It drank you slowly. Your name
only linked to your body by the string

ofaves still around your neck,
the small cross pressing against your

wooden skin, the color of another cross.
You left home on May seventeenth

with one change of clothes and two
countries ahead of you, your brother’s

phone number hidden on the back
of your belt buckle so the coyote

couldn’t find it. The coyotes pray
in the language of extortion.

The phone number was eventually
found by a Texas official whose name

your brother couldn’t remember. She called
and spoke in the language of bones. He translated

her news into “pray for us, sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.”

His prayer meant “brother,” a word
he kept moist, just beneath his tongue.
Published in the Los Angeles Times 8/31/14

I was born in Pomona, California, just outside of Los Angeles. After studying English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, I taught high school in Southern California and then went on to receive an M.Div. at the University of Notre Dame. I taught in Notre Dame’s Freshmen Writing Program before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2000, where I founded the Writing Center at Carroll High School, taught at American University, and currently teach in the Department of English at Gonzaga College High School.  www.JosephRoss.net.

Crossing the Line
by Robert Neustadt

Little children cross the line.
legions of children,
seeking the love of a mother,
a father, a place to be.
A place where you can eat.
A place where you can stare at your feet,
or clouds that look like bunnies,
and not have to worry that
they’ll cut your throat,
or rape your sister,
or rape you and
cut your sister.
Thoughts. Thoughts of nine year olds?
Such are the thoughts of little children
riding the train, with hungry bellies,
cutting lines across thousands of miles,
riding rails on top of box cars.
Miles and miles and, yes, occasionally smiles.
Dreams of mami.feel the wind, it feels like we’re flying.
Rails of worry, wheels of Beast.
Don’t sleep, they’ll throw you off.
Don’t slip,
labestiawill suck you in and slice off your legs.

Swim the river, cross the desert,
Find the Migra, find Mamá.
We’re here, we made it,
the United States!.
Have we arrived?
New York, is near?

Cages. Children in little cages.
It’s like the zoo with children-as-animals--
sad young polar bears, locked inside refrigerated cages in a desert zoo.
No children with balloons on strings,
no squeals of laughter, no organ grinder music.
Just kids, never-smiling, inside cages.
This is no American Dream,
rather another segment of an endless nightmare.

Green-clad agents watch,
with guns on their belts, and tasers and clubs,
they guard the little brown children,
who dared
to cross
the crooked
that divide
and those
who don’t
have the right
to eat,
to stare at their feet,
to find happy dreams in clouds,
to be.

Thousands of children crossed a line of water and sand.

Do we really want to hold that line?
Incarcerate children like dogs in the Pound?
Do we really want to cross that line
from human to inhumane,
shifting in shape from human to soulless steel-gutted beasts?

Robert Neustadt is Professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University. Over the last four years he has been taking students on field trips to the US/Mexico border. He co-produced and contributed a song to Border Songs, a double album in English and Spanish about the border and immigration (http://www.bordersongs.org). All contributors donated their work and the project donates all of the sales revenue to a humanitarian organization, "No More Deaths / No más muertes." Each album of Border Songs purchased provides 29 gallons of water for migrants in the borderlands. So far the album has raised approximately $65,000 for humanitarian aid.

Nothing Is Right Until You Say It Is
by Joe Morales

You, dreamer that cries in heartbreak
whose voice wails with the injustice of it
whose voice echoes against a wall of grief
gathering round the coffins
in the long sleepless watches of the night

traveler from ancient places,
you praise the finger pointing north
in awkward persistence
if you walk far and hard enough
will the sweet smell of freedom follow?

you of time, you of silent merit
you relinquished of childhood
fair flower how do you so calmly grow?
even as you are among us, you're about to let go
even if your disrespected you’ll forgive
even if you act responsible you'll be criticized
even as you walk away you’ll remember

you’re one acquainted with the night
coyotes and vampires glisten in your window
making their morbid and evil way
hacking through old neighborhoods
while slithering through, accumulating slime,
hopelessness littering the horizon

about suffering you were never without
for you all human nature seems at odds
you see violated ones with gentle hearts die
too eager for the predictable, too late for change

you’ve been standing in line patiently, quietly
too long to measure, while others perished
you’ve now raised your voice
for weary hearts and ears to hear

for all who’ll lend a hand
for those who will fight
who'll challenge the injustice, hypocrisy
give credence to inalienable rights
knowing humanity grows if nurtured
you lend your voice

Joe Morales is an artist, poet, writer, singer/songwriter and producer from Boyle Heights now living in South San Gabriel.  Married and has three children. Retired but continues to expand boundaries, generate interesting projects and cultivate new friendships.

0 Comments on Ajua Arepa • News 'n Notes • On-line Floricanto as of 10/7/2014 2:31:00 AM
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20. Napí

Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Nature and its colors serve as an inspiration for writer Antonio Ramírez and acclaimed Oaxacan artist Domi to create Napí.Their creativity portrays the one-of-a-kind beauty and the heritage of the Mazatec region located in Oaxaca, Mexico. Simple words, filled with sentiment, are the ingredients that make Napí a priceless tale.
Napí is a mazatec girl who loves to dream. She enjoys listening to her grandfather’s stories while sitting near the river. As her náa or grandmother braids Napí’s hair, the stunning sunset covers the Mazatec region with bright orange, intense violet and dark green. A starry sky is the perfect blanket for Napí’s good night sleep. Napí dreams that she is a white and tall heron. By being a heron, Napí flies high in the sky and admires the gorgeous region as her wings flap in the air like if they were dancing with the wind. Napí wakes up each morning in her comfortable and cozy bed thinking about what the next dream will be about.
Visit your local library to check out more cheerful stories. Remember, reading gives you wings!
Find more of Domi’s great illustrations at:
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

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21. Isaac Goldemberg's REMEMBER THE SCORPION

Lima, 1970: A tremendous earthquake has just struck the Peruvian capital, and mayhem reigns throughout the city. Tensions are high, with a population both reeling from the disaster and mesmerized by the results of World Cup matches being broadcast from Mexico. Enter Detective Simon Weiss, tasked with solving two shocking and apparently unrelated murders: the crucifying and beheading of a Japanese man in a pool hall and an apparent murder-by-hanging of an elderly Jewish man. Joined by Lieutenant Kato Kanashiro, whose deep ties to Japanese-Peruvian culture inform the case in surprisingly personal ways, Weiss traces the histories of two very different criminals and their crimes. Weiss and Kanashiro's banter is hilariously recorded with Goldemberg’s deadpan police procedural narration.

While painting a vivid snapshot of Latin American life in the 1970s, Remember the Scorpion tracks the wreckage of the Second World War—fought in the far-flung theaters of Europe and the Pacific—and reconstructs it in the conflicted psyche of a South American detective. Confronted with a pair of crimes that have their source in the horrors of World War II, Weiss must uncover the surprising relation between the perpetrators and their crimes, while searching deep within himself to conquer his own demons.

Best known for his incisive depictions of Jewish-Peruvian life, Isaac Goldemberg is one of Peru’s most celebrated writers. His 1976 novel The Fragmented Life of Don Jacobo Lerner was described by the New York Times Book Review as "a moving exploration of the human condition” and named by a panel of international scholars as one of the 100 greatest Jewish books of the last 150 years. Remember the Scorpion is his first foray in the hard-boiled genre.

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22. A Storyteller and Hero: James Foley

Guest Post 
by Luivette Resto           

Journalist James Wright "Jim" Foley (1973-2014)

It has been over a decade since I graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with an MFA.  Yet, it was there in the musty hallways of Bartlett Hall that I met and had my first conversation with James Foley. He was pursuing his fiction degree while his best friend and my compadre, Yago S. Cura, was focused on poetry. We were all young and “aspiring” at the time. We survived New England winters, anticipated the fall, and complained about the lack of graduate courses that explored the politics of writing. We even petitioned one year along with other likeminded graduate students who knew that writing wasn’t just for the self. That it was about telling stories. Documenting what others were afraid to document.
            For Jim, Amherst wasn’t going to be his only stop on his journey to tell others’ stories. He continued on this courageous and compassionate path and became a teacher and mentor. One masters wasn’t enough for him. In 2008 he earned his Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. His ability and drive to voice what others couldn’t or weren’t allowed made him a freelance journalist for the Global Post. After graduate school many of us went our separate ways, but as fate would have it, Yago and I ended up in Los Angeles and the bonds of musty Bartlett Hall and anti-climactic thesis defenses never weakened. Knowing how inseparable Jim and Yago were in grad school, I had to ask “How’s Jim doing?”
            Unfortunately, in 2011 during one of our catch-up conversations Yago informed me of Jim’s captivity in Libya. A website with a counter had been created, and Jim’s family pleads to Secretary of State Clinton for their son’s release on CNN. And we did what poets do when one of our own storytellers gets silenced. We held a poetry reading in his honor to raise awareness. Avenue 50 Studio graciously allowed usinto their space as some of LA’s finest poets, SA Griffin, Billy Burgos, Dennis Cruz, Annette Cruz, and Jeff Rochlin, spoke out for Jim, a man they had never met proving that sympathy has no boundaries.
            Jim came home from Libya after 44 days.
            As poets we felt relief when saw the counter turn to zero and Jim’s broad smile on TV, standing next to his family. His time in Libya didn’t deter him from his passion to document what many of us weren’t aware of in the U.S.
            In 2012 he entered Syria and was kidnapped on November 22. For two years I would ask if any word had surfaced about Jim, and Yago would say, “No, not yet. But hey no news is good news, right? All we can do is hope and pray.” A miracle happened in 2011, and we held onto the idea that miracles can strike twice.
            On August 19, 2014, that two year-old question was finally answered in a brutally public way. There on the afternoon newsfeed was Jim’s face looking back. The war came home for me in that instant. I couldn’t feel anything for a few weeks. I refused to watch the video. That is not the image I want to have of Jim. That wasn’t his legacy. I reached out to my grad school classmates after ten years. We consoled each other with virtual hugs and Jim stories. And once again we will gather in Los Angeles, but this time to send Jim home in the only way many of us can---through poetry.

            On November 23, 2014, at 2pm at Avenue 50 Studio, almost two years since his kidnapping in Syria, La Palabra Poetry Reading Series will hold a poetry tribute with the original poets from three years ago plus many more poets and musicians. At the end of the reading, Iris de Anda will lead everyone one in a healing prayer as we send Jim our intentions of gratitude.

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23. Kids' Spanish mag to close. Virginia Alanis novel. Deep Down Dark.

Two years ago, my first children's story in Spanish appeared in the national magazine, Iguana. El Viaje de Clarisa la Flaquita is a fable written in Spanish. It follows the journey of a brown, skinny, young girl ant who learns to struggle against and overcome problems that life never seems to stop throwing in her path and was inspired by the burdens carried by first-grade, immigrant children I use to teach. I'm still proud of that story and was glad it would be available for some time, which is why I was not happy to receive the following (bold type - my emphasis):

"Dear Iguana family and friends,
I am heart-broken to inform you that the last issue of Iguanawill be Nov/Dec 2014. Cricket Media (Carus Publishing) has decided to stop production of all Spanish language magazines. The company is shifting its focus towards China. As a result, Marc and I are no longer employed by Cricket Media. It is unfortunate that Cricket Media did not fully commit to growing the brands despite the evidence that subscriptions were increasing. 
We are in the process of getting Iguana back. However, it is currently financially infeasible for us to continue publishing Iguana. Marc and I want to thank all of you for your continued support and loyalty over these past ten years. It is thanks to you that Iguana was able to enrich the lives of many children. We hope that our paths may cross in the future and we can work together again.
Thank you, thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts. 
Christianne Meneses Jacobs, Founder/Editor, Marc Jacobs, Art Director

"Querida familia de Iguana y amigos:
Con el corazón destrozado les anuncio que la última edición de Iguana será la de noviembre/diciembre 2014. Cricket Media (Carus Publishing) ha decidido dejar de publicar todas las revistas en español y enfocarse en el mercado en China. Como resultado, Marc y yo ya no estamos trabajando para Carus. Desafortunadamente, los ejecutivos de Cricket Media no estaban completamente comprometidos en desarrollar las revistas a pesar de la evidencia de que las suscripciones estaban aumentado. 
Estamos en el proceso de que nos regresen Iguana. Sin embargo, en estos momentos se nos dificulta economicamente continuar publicando Iguana. Marc y yo les queremos dar las gracias a todos por su continuo apoyo y lealtad en estos últimos diez años. Es gracias a todos ustedes que Iguana pudo enriquecer la vida de muchos niños. Esperamos que nuestros caminos se vuelvan a cruzar en el futuro y podamos trabajar juntos otra vez.
Gracias, muchísimas gracias desde el fondo de nuestros corazones. 
Christianne Meneses Jacobs, Fundadora/Editora y Marc Jacobs, Director de Arte"

Whatever the merits of my fable, kids in my classrooms loved this magazine. I bought copies for school libraries and always had back issues in my room. Now, the magazine is threatened and might never publish again. As Virginia Alanis notes below: "Each month, approximately 50,000 US Latinos turn eighteen years of age." So, it's difficult to understand how Iguana's publishers are ceasing its publication. That they are "shifting focus toward China" might make sense; there are more Chinese kids than U.S. latinos. But here is the original press release when first taking over Iguana.

"Cricket Magazine Group’s Iguana to bring Spanish language, learning and culture to 7-­12 year-­olds
"In an interest to [sic] better serve the 50 million Latinos in the U.S., Cricket Magazine Group/Carus Publishing, a division of ePals, proudly announces the addition of Iguana magazine, its first Spanish-­language magazine for children, ages 7­12. Iguanawill expose children to the beauty of the Spanish language and the richness of Latin American culture and heritage. The magazine received a 2009 Children's Publication Award from the National Association of Multicultural Education.
"Iguana is a Spanish language magazine for children who grew up learning and speaking Spanish. Each issue engages children with interesting text, beautiful illustrations, and intriguing photographs across a wide variety of new and interesting topics including history, geography, science, technology, language arts, math and more. Iguana's interesting content motivates children to read, reinforcing reading skills in Spanish and encouraging Latino cultural preservation."

It appears Carus is  dropping their "proud" commitment to "better serve the 50 million Latinos in the U.S." But you can see for yourself what a great full-color, illustrated magazine Iguanawas, at this interactive sampler. It will be missed by more than me.

To get Carus Publishing's explanation for shutting down Iguana, I contacted them this week, and their computer answered: "We received your correspondence and will respond within two business days." That would be this coming Tuesday, and if I receive anything I'll append it to this post. You can contact Christianne M. Jacobs for further information about Iguana's future (revistainfantil@yahoo.com) or Karen Dudra (kdudra [@] caruspub.com) about Carus Publishing's decision. I assume publishing rights to my Clarisa story will revert to me, so I'll be seeking to get it published as a picture book.

Virginia Alanis about her forthcoming novel

"I wrote Love Field so readers could inhabit the 1980s and 1990s and smile at the things I took so seriously as a young woman. Even though I created outrageous characters and situations in my novel, I remained true to the basic thematic elements of a coming-of-age novel. I think of Love Field as Jane Eyre for Latinos, literary fiction about a girl in high school who runs away from home rather than return to Mexico with her family. She has the added baggage of making an early marriage, a jealous husband, and murderous in-laws—all while attending college."
Alanis's debut novel, Love Field, will be published in 2015, but in the meantime you can read her summary.

Deep Down Dark

"On August 5, 2010, thirty-three miners were trapped underground following a mine cave-in at the Chilean town of Copiapó. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and novelist Hector Tobar obtained exclusive access to the miners and tells their story in his novel Deep Down Dark. Latinopia asked Tobar how the novel came about.

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia, author of El Viaje de Clarisa la Flaquita, in print for a limited time

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24. The Violent Foam: Returning to Poet Daisy Zamora

In 2007, LisaAlvarado posted (for La Bloga) a short description of poet Daisy Zamora’s book, Riverbed of Memory.  Lisa wrote:  “Zamora writes poetry about the horrors of war, its causes and its aftermath. What’s stunning about the book is its elliptical, subtle portrayal of its subject matter . . . I found in Riverbed of Memory examples of how to write about strongly charged material indirectly, helping the reader to understand the enormity of catastrophe by describing the shadow it casts.” 
Daisy Zamora,born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua, was a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in the 1970s, actively fighting to end the Somoza dictatorship.  Today she continues to be a well-known activist and advocate for social justice and women’s rights.  She is unflinching and passionate in her political and creative work.

This past year, one of my students chose poems from Zamora’s earlier book, The Violent Foam,to translate.  We worked together, discussing the Spanish words and phrases she chose, the framing of the work to create her trademark riveting poems. 

Perhaps I have returned now to Daisy Zamora because of what is currently happening in our world, and because of all those, like Zamora, who are passionately involved in social justice. I think of Malala Yousafzay from Pakistan, so brave and unrelenting in her commitment to education for all, specifically young women. This weekend hundreds of people are gathering in Ferguson, Missouri, (called “Ferguson October”) to protest the killing of Michael Brown (as well as John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant & many others), calling for justice. Palestine and Israel; the Ukraine crisis with Russia; the Middle East; the Ebola plague crisis; 43 students disappeared in the state of Guerrero, Mexico; thousands of children escaping the violence and threat of death in their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, only to be detained and placed in U.S. customs and Borderholding cells. There are so many people in all these places, names who will never appear in newspaper articles, on Twitter, Facebook, whose voices will not be heard. 

Daisy Zamora, in her poetry, reminds us, encourages us, to think about the mothers, the family members, the community of peoples, who are struggling and in grief, or those in caregiving roles: 

Noticia En El Supermercado

                        . . . a vida é uma agitacao feroz e sem finalidade
                                                            Manuel Bendeira

Entre las verdudas oigo sus discusiones:
Hablan del supervisor, reniegan de los turnos,
de si la fulanita no llegó a tiempo
del mísero sueldo que para nada alcanza.

Hoy temprano hubo un accidente
en la carretera frente a mi casa.
Acababa de bajarse del bus una muchacha
y una camioneta la mató
cuando intentaba cruzarse al otro lado.
Un gentío rodeaba su cadaver
y algunos comentaban conmovidos
que no parecía tener mas de dieciocho años.

De repente cesa la habladera.
Aguien dió la noticia
que se regó como un temblor oscuro y sordo
por el supermercado.

¿Cómo decirle a doña Mariana que su única hija
que tanto le costó,
que apenas iba a martricularse en la Universidad
y se despidió tan contenta esta mañana,
yace en media carretera con el cráneo destrozado
mientra ella despacha muy amable la carne a los clientes?

News In The Supermarket
                        . . . life is a ferocious agitation without end
                                                            Manuel Bandeira

Among the vegetables, I hear their discussions:
They talk about the supervisor, grumble about shifts,
About so-and-so who was late,
And the miserable salary that doesn’t pay enough.

Early this morning there was an accident
on the highway in front of my house.

A girl stepped off a bus
and was run over by a station wagon
when she started to cross.
A crowd surrounded her body
and some were moved discussing
how she couldn’t be more than eighteen.

Suddenly the talking stopped.
Someone brought news
that spilled like a muffled tremor
through the supermarket.

How to tell Mariana her only daughter,
raised in such hardship,
who was on her way to register at the university
and said good-bye so happily this morning,
is lying in the middle of the road with her skull crushed,
while she politely serves meat to the customers?

Carta A Una Hermana
Que Vive En Un País Lejano

                        . . . Y fui enviado al sur de la villa de Wei
                                    --tapizada de bosquecillos de laurels—
                        y tú al norte de Roku-hoku,
                        hasta tener en común, solamente, pensamientos y recuerdos.

                                    “Carta del desterrado,” Li Po

Todavía recuerdo nuestros primeros juegos:
Las muñecas de papel y los desfiles.
Y a Teresa, la muñeca que nos caía mal:

La vida no retrocede y deseo conocerte.
Es decir, volver a conocerte.
Habrá, sin embargo, cosas tuyas que conserves.
Me interesa saber de tus lugares,
tus amigos, tan extraños a los míos
que hablan en otra lengua y buscan otros caminos.

Danbury, Hamden y Middletown,
Hartford y Meriden.  Todos lugares
tan familiares a ti y a tus recuerdos.
a través de la sangre he vivido dos vidas,
múltiples vidas.

Los Cocoteros ya están cosechando en el jardín
y el verano tiene rojas las gencianas del cerco.
Son hermosos y azules estos días,
transparentes y frescos,
Mis lugares amados son también los tuyos. 

Letter To A Sister
Who Lives In A Distant Country

                        . . . And I was sent South of the village of Wei
                                    --carpeted by Laurel groves—
                        and you North of Roku-hoku,
                        until all we had in common were thoughts and memories.

                                    “Exile’s Letter,” Li Po

I still remember our first games:
the paper dolls and the parades.
And Teresa, the doll we could not stand:

Life doesn’t go backwards and I want to know you.
To recognize you.
That is, to get to know you again.
Nevertheless, there must be things about yourself you still
I’m interested in learning about the places you are,
your friends, so different from mine
who speak another language and search for other paths.

Danbury, Hamden and Middletown,
Hartford and Meriden.  All places
so familiar to you and your memories.
Through our shared blood I’ve lived two lives,
multiple lives.

The coconuts are ripe for picking in the garden
and summer has turned the gentians at the fence deep red.
The days are blue and beautiful,
clear and fresh.
My beloved places are the same as yours. 

Tierra De Nadie

                        A mis poetas que quiero

Somos territorio minado en claridad,
quien traspasa el alambrado, resucita.
¿Pero a quién le interesa trepar en la espesura?
¿Quién se atreve a cruzar la tempestad?
¿Alguien quiere mirar de frente a la pureza?

Por eso nos han cercado en esta tierra de nadie,
Bajo fuego cruzado y permanente. 

No One’s Land

                        To the poets I love

We are a minefield of clarity,
And whoever crosses the barbed wire comes back to life.
But who’s interested in crawling through undergrowth?
Who dares sail a tempest? 
Who wants to come face to face with purity? 

That’s why we’re fenced off in no one’s land,

Under permanent crossfire. 

Daisy Zamora

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25. La Bloga chats with Conrad Romo about the 2nd Annual Lit Crawl L.A.: NoHo, October 22, 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.

If you’re looking for a wonderful and varied evening of literature in Southern California, look no further…the international Lit Crawl phenomenon returns to Los Angeles next week with the 2nd Annual Lit Crawl L.A.: NoHo on Wednesday, October 22, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in the North Hollywood Arts District. The full schedule is here.

Restaurants, bars, galleries, theaters and other hip NoHo venues are hosting an evening of innovative presentations with the best of L.A.’s literary scene. The 2nd annual Lit Crawl L.A.: NoHo is greater L.A.’s grassroots literary event and promises to be another magical, vibrant night for all!

Over 30 presenters from readings series to local presses are hosting events at 30 locations across the NoHo Arts District. Held in three 45-minute rounds, this progressive literary night is a chance to dine, explore, and stroll while enjoying readings, performances and even a literary carnival. More than 170 writers are appearing at events and the Los County Library’s Bookmobile and the Los Angeles Public Library’s Library Store on Wheels are joining us out on the streets for the literary fun.

And I am honored that one of my short stories (“The Three Mornings of José Antonio Rincón”) will be performedby an actor/magician and directed by the incomparable supporter of short fiction, Sally Shore.

The idea for bringing the Lit Crawl to NoHo started as a seed in the ever-active mind of Tongue and Groove‘s creator, Conrad Romo.  Conrad agreed to make a little room for us in his busy schedule to discuss Lit Crawl and all the wonderful things you’ll miss if you don’t show up.
Conrad Romo

DANIEL OLIVAS: How was Lit Crawl L.A.: NoHo born?

CONRAD ROMO: Well back in 2007, I had organized a two-day event with 12 participating literary series/presenters. I called it Palabrazilla. I’d been meaning to do something like it again, but for one reason or another hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Then maybe three or four years ago, I attended what was called a lit crawl in a small upstairs room of a Mexican restaurant in Silverlake. The readings that night were good, but I’d heard all the writers before and not much crawling took place as that was the only location.

Maybe a year later there was another event also billed as a lit crawl that took place at the Echo, again in Silverlake. It was co-produced by Nervous Breakdown, Good Reads and PEN. There was a great turnout of maybe 300 people packed into the room. It was hard to move. There were a number of good writers that night too and they had some judges that determined a winner of some sort. People were invited to go across the street to get a drink at a bar and that was the extent of the crawl. I was impressed with the crowd from both events, but at the same time I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more diversity in writing genres and ethnicity with the writers. And the absence of other venues where one could actually crawl, bugged me. I had heard that the Lit Crawl scene in San Francisco was spread out over a large part of the city and I wondered what would it be like to do something like that here in Los Angeles.

Sometime later I shared with Sally Shore my experience and thoughts of these two events. I don’t remember if I had called her or she called me, but she was gung ho from the get go. She had some connections with North Hollywood so that destination seem like a natural fit. I then contacted Roz Helfand, the former director of the West Hollywood Bookfair, and ran the general idea by her and invited her to join forces. I’m glad she said yes. We got the blessing from Jack Boulware, the Executive Director of Litquake and Lit Crawl in San Francisco and gave it a go last year. It was a success in many counts and this year using our collective experience I’m hopeful that we’ll double in size.

DO: For the uninitiated, what should one expect to hear and see at Lit Crawl?

CR: A whole hell of a lot of diversity. Thirty-four literary events at 30 locations over 3 rounds. And it’s all FREE. Wednesday, October 22 from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Take the metro if at all possible. We’ve got storytellers, page poets and spoken word poets, short fiction, personal essayists. We’ve got erotica, sci-fi/horror, YA, humor, Gay and Lesbian writers of all ages and a little something for everybody. I suggest going to the site and mapping out what appeals to you. Chances are that every hour you’ll find several things that sound good. Pop in and out of as many as you like. See the program schedule here.

DO: Because La Bloga focuses on all things Latina/o, who are some of the actors and authors to watch out for?

CR: If you mean Brownish writers there are quite a number and I’ll point out some but I urge you all to come out and appreciate the wide variety of high caliber writers of all colors that make up the NoHo Lit Crawl. But since you asked, starting with Round 1 at 7pm and spread out over 11 venues are: Daisy Sanchez with 826, Michael Paul Gonzales with Shades 7 Shadows, Ron Gutierrez with Tertulia, Emily Fernandez with Word Tapestry, Poesia Para La Gente has Gloria E. Alvarez, Jessica Ceballos, Luivette Resto, David Romero, Crystal Salas, Matt Sedillo.

And Round 2 has Janet Contreras, Johnny Garcia with Home Boy and the Los Angeles Review of Books is presenting Michael Jaime-Becerra and Maria Bustillos, you with New Short Fiction and Wendy Ortiz with Rumpus.

And Round 3 has Ramon Garcia + Gronk with What Books Press and Victor Vasquez with PEN. There are many others that I haven’t mentioned. I’ll be hosting something at the XMA studios with Write Club and Literary Death Match. There are a whole lot of others that I have not mentioned so spend some time on the site and bring a crowd with you.

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