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1176. My Blood, In the Flow

de la tierra

My blood and I, we’re getting to know each other these days. Doing dialysis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday keeps me hyper aware of the blood that flows inside of me. Two fifteen gage needles pierce the vein in my left arm, one for the blood that flows out to be cleansed by the artificial kidney and one for the blood that returns to me. I watch the blood through yards of clear tubing that wind from my body to the machine.

My blood is a carousel of pretty ponies being ridden by girls with long red locks. I like to look at it and wander inside. One drop of blood carries a snapshot of last night’s dinner, tomorrow’s potential diseases, the shadows of my ancestors. One drop of blood is a flowing fingerprint. It is a crystal ball.

Under a high definition darkfield microscope, one drop of blood shows erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets along with potential parasites, toxins, infections and more. Last year I had my finger pricked by a naturopath and oozed a little blood onto a slide for my first live blood analysis. I sat back to watch the blood’s performance on the monitor and applauded as my blood cells clumped together and wiggled around doing the conga to the Miami Sound Machine.

But the doctor wasn’t smiling. “That’s rouleaux,” he said, referring to the stacked cells, an indication of poor oxygen distribution in the blood. Not too long after that appointment I was hospitalized for two weeks due to low platelets and rouleaux turned out to be the least of my problems. I needed blood—lots of it—whole blood, plasma and platelets. Bags of blood were special delivered to me in the hospital. I blessed each one, amazed that the blood of others would conjoin with mine in red matrimony.

Those days were the beginnings of my obsession with blood. The underlying cause of my lack of blood was kidney malfunction, I learned. Healthy happening kidneys produce erythropoietin, a hormone that faxes the bone marrow an order to cook up some blood. I danced around the hospital corridor with an Ipod blasting Juanes’ “Mi sangre” into my ears, rocking out and jiggling the kidneys, urging them to get with the program. But in the end, shots of genetically engineered erythropoietin were my saving grace.

The first blood I remember seeing was during an outing in the countryside in Colombia when I was four years old. I don’t know the cause, but blood poured down a boy’s leg, staining the top of a huge boulder that he was standing on in the middle of a river. Another similar memory took place when I was with my family in Miami Beach and my brother’s leg was gashed with a broken bottle. I watched his blood soak into the golden sand. Besides that, the blood that I remember in my childhood was for human consumption—the fast dark blood of chickens that flows after their heads are sliced off, the dry reddish brown of bulging blood sausages, the red flesh of carcasses strung out for sale at la carnicería.

Blood became most personal when I was playing kickball in sixth grade and discovered a dark wet stain on my pants. Eventually I came to love my bloods, which were supposed to come monthly but came only every once in a while. Other women complained about their periods, but I celebrated mine. I dipped into my papaya to fill my painter’s palette with red and used the color to paint on typing paper and bathroom walls. Mostly, my blood art consisted of psychedelic swirls.

Dialysis is an ongoing live blood

1 Comments on My Blood, In the Flow, last added: 3/15/2010
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1177. Rediscovering John Rechy's City of Night

March 10th marked the birthday of one of the pioneers of LGBT literature, John Rechy.   To celebrate and festejar John Rechy I invite you to read two reviews.  One is a review of his last book, About My Life and the Kept Woman, by fellow bloguero Daniel Olivas:  http://labloga.blogspot.com/2008/04/rechy-remembers.html .   The second one is of his first work, City of Night.  It is my honor to introduce you to a new guest columinist, Andrew J. Peters.   Al rato!

Rediscovering John Rechy's City of Night

by Andrew J. Peters

Among his many accomplishments, John Rechy has a special place in the history of gay American literature. His début novel City of Night, released in 1963, was one of the few overtly gay-themed works to achieve commercial success in the pre-Stonewall era. While earlier authors contributed critically-acclaimed portrayals of same-sex love, usually of the tortured, unactualized variety—Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room for example, Rechy broke ground with his insight into the homosexual underground where men created identities such as "hustler," "fairy," and "daddy" beneath a society that criminalized their desires. Rechy's dispassionate depiction of urban subculture was carried forward by such great authors as William Burroughs and Paul T. Rogers.

Rechy also happens to be the only writer of Latino descent among the gay novelists of his time. But while City of Night takes inspiration quite literally from Rechy's personal search for identity, his story sheds sparingly little light on issues of culture. Besides the autobiographical narrator, there's only one Latino character in the entire novel: a ferocious drag queen rendered in two gripping pages. The narrator's interaction with her is brief but central to the novel's theme of the triumph of self-expression over social sanction.

That Rechy chose not to address race is to some degree a matter of his narrator's make-up and his particular journey. He's on a mission to bury his childhood innocence which was indelibly scarred by his father's abuse, thus his relationship to other characters is sexualized, brief and transactional. Still, it is through the narrator's "scores" and sexually-compulsive encounters that he gradually comes to learn about himself: the hustler Pete who swaggers with heterosexual bravado but reaches out with growing desperation for emotional connection to the narrator; a score named The Professor who chronicles his hustler "angels" in a scrap book but breaks off with the man he loves at the insinuation of reciprocal affection; the thirty-something Skipper who touched fame for a moment while he was kept by a Hollywood director but was tossed aside for the next young thing and spends his days and nights in a skid row bar.

Rechy's omission of culture reflects the real life choices of many gay men of color in the 1960's (and beyond). His literary canon exemplifies the challenge to integrate racial and sexual identities prior to the relatively

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1178. UFWOC grapes. Great deal on bilingual books. Biblioburro.

Hace mucho tiempo, when we were fit enough to carry a picket sign and young enough to walk a picket line holding it, supporting the United Farmworkers (UFWOC) was an easy decision. Hell, back then some of us couldn't even afford to buy grapes, so it wasn't such a sacrifice to stand up for the basic civil/human rights of those who provide our food.

If you've been out of that loop, you may be surprised to hear that the struggle is not over. And needs our support, again. Below is a message from UFWOC that deserves your read, if not more:

Tell 3,000 stores about Giumarra Vineyards' abuses

Retailers are in a special position to keep their suppliers accountable. This is why farm workers out at Giumarra Vineyards, the nation's largest table grape grower, are seeking their help in keeping their employer accountable.

We know from experience, however, that it is you--the consumer--whom grocers are most responsive to. Please let Unified Grocers, a Forbes Fortune 1,000 company made up of over 3,000 independent retailers, know that as a purchaser of Giumarra's Nature's Partner produce, they have a responsibility to hold this company to higher standards.

The conditions at Giumarra are deplorable. Go here to see what Giumarra employee Domingo Valderrama says about how his company treats farm workers:

You may be surprised to hear that Giumarra can get away with denying workers water or breaks during the hot summer months of CA's Central Valley, where temperatures climb to the triple digits. Not only is this a grave injustice, it is also illegal. However, this company has a long history of such violations.

State enforcement of the law has proven to be inadequate in protecting these workers. In order to be able to ensure their own protection, farm workers need union representation. Giumarra goes to great lengths to avoid losing any power over the farm workers toiling in their fields. In the past, they've harassed and intimidated workers who have tried to gain union representation.

In order to make sure that Giumarra cannot do this again, we need you to tell the buyers of Giumarra's and Nature's Partner's produce to demand this company uphold the law. Join Domingo in saying, "Si Se Puede!" Click here to send this message to them.

Keep up with the Giumarra campaign at: http://action.ufw.org/giumarra

Super offer

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1179. Gente Telling Their Stories

Rights in a Foreign Land: Women, Domestic Violence, and Migration
Araceli Calderón González

Melissa Sánchez writes in the Yakima Herald-Republic about Araceli Calderón González and her book published last year in Mexico, Rights in a Foreign Land: Women, Domestic Violence, and Migration. You can read the entire article, which I recommend, at this link. Calderón, a writer who currently makes her home in Greeley, Colorado, has collected stories and poems from 17 women from Mexico who have migrated to Yakima, Washington. The women have all been served by La Casa Hogar, which has helped roughly 4,500 immigrant women since it was started in 1995.

The article notes: She had come in 2006 to collect stories from immigrant children for a book to be published in Mexico. But Calderón sensed a greater story in their mothers and in the other women she met here.

"It made me cry to wonder why these immigrants come to Yakima," said Calderón, a children's book author and literacy advocate. "Why do they leave home? Their communities may be poor, but they're so beautiful."

What Calderón discovered upon returning over the next two years was a narrative of domestic abuse that follows Mexican women into the United States, and the healing process they would begin inside a yellow house on South Sixth Street. It's an issue that receives little attention either here in the United States or in Mexico.

The book's forward, written by Elena Poniatowska, commended Carole Folsom-Hill, executive director of La Casa.

"Here and now, she tells them time and time again. She teaches them that life is worth living. She opens the way for them so that they may open the way for their children."

I don't know if this book is available in the United States. I would appreciate any information about the book and the author.


The Farthest Home Is in an Empire of Fire: A Tejano Elegy
John Phillip Santos
Viking, April

[publisher's blurb]
In his acclaimed 1999 memoir Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos told the story of one Mexican family- his father's-set within the larger story of Mexico itself. In this beautifully written new book, he tells of how another family-this time, his mother's-erased and forgot over time their ancient origins in Spain.

Every family has a forgotten tale of where it ca
me from. Who is driven to tell it and why? Weaving together a highly original mix of autobiography, conquest history, elegy, travel, family remembrance, and time travelling narration, Santos offers an unforgettable testimony to this calling and describe

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1180. remembering that chicanito

I was a librarian in Fort Lupton, Colorado the only time I met Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado. He had driven from Arvada to do a reading at our school as was a common offering of his in small farm towns across Colorado. Lalo arrived a half-hour early and I found him resting (alone) in the counselor's office, sitting with a genuine smile, the one often seen photographed on the rear covers of his many publications. And there I stood, a first year librarian in his twenties clinching a sagging bag of stapled chapbooks for Lalo to bless with an inscription. Lalo inscribed every volume and from a leather satchel he handed me a copy of his first book.

Published in 1969, Chicano: 25 pieces of a chicano mind is a member of an exclusive fraternity of movimiento classics that (not for the lack of voice, message, or beauty) somehow continue to remain prisoners of an era; its readers of today most likely mirror those of yesterday. Hopefully, this mini review will render a reader or two or three.

In the introduction, Delgado writes, "If my poems help the Chicanos to view themselves more clearly or for the Anglo or the Black man to also understand them, I have helped. If they don't, mine has been a sincere crime..." You will find that the only crime is not having read the poems assembled in Chicano.

En cultura, costumbre, y sentimiento viven estas poemas; each poem dances to the beat of a Chicano heart. It is in the simplicity of Delgado's words readers realize the harsh reality survived by the chicanito he writes of in by far the book's finest poem, Stupid America. Refraining from abridging the poem with synopsis or abstract, you will find its contents in full below.

Stupid America (a poem by Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado)

stupid america, see that chicano
with a big knife
on his steady hand
he doesn't want to knife you
he wants to sit on a bench
and carve christfigures
but you won't let him.
stupid america, hear that chicano
shouting curses on the street
he is a poet
without paper and pencil
and since he cannot write
he will explode.
stupid america, remember that chicanito
flunking math and english
he is a picasso
of your western states
but he will die
with one thousand masterpieces
hanging only from his mind.

While Delgado's work can almost never be found in chain bookstores, fans old and new are sure to liberate single volumes of his many published chapbooks from the leaning stacks of dusty used bookshops. Yes, his titles are rarities and cause para un pisto when found on those luck days as there is no denying Lalo's masterpieces endure and no longer hang only from his mind, they hang from ours as well.

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1181. Cultures & Celebrating Cuentos: National Latino Children's Literature Conference

Image © 2009, Rafael López, Book Fiesta.

For more details visit www.latinochildlitconf.org

Conference Description

This April 23rd and 24th celebrate the rich traditions and diversity within the Latino cultures at the National Celebration of Latino Children’s Literature Conference. Discover how to meet the informational and literacy needs of Latino children via high quality, culturally-relevant literature and the latest educational strategies. Engage in unique networking opportunities with librarians, teachers, educators, and researchers from across the nation as we explore how to make intercultural connections and serve this rapidly growing, uniquely diverse population.

As the number of Latino children and their families continues to increase, so does the need for understanding these diverse cultures. This exclusive conference provides a forum for sharing current research and practice addressing the cultural, educational, and informational needs of Latino children and their families. At the same time, the conference also examines the many social influences that Latino children’s literature has upon the developing child.

Beginning Friday April 23rd at 1 p.m. on the historical University of Alabama campus, nationally-recognized Latino children’s literature expert Oralia Garza de Cortés will launch the recurring conference theme “Connecting Cultures and Celebrating Cuentos” with a powerful keynote address. Participants will then have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions related to Latino children’s and young adult literature, library services to Latinos, and literacy education for Latino children. Immediately following these small group sessions, award-winning Latina author Monica Brown and award-winning Latino artist Rafael López will discuss the collaborative synergy behind their work.

Friday evening, award-winning Latina author and storyteller Carmen Tafolla will celebrate El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day), Latino children’s literature, and cultural literacy with a free community event at the Tuscaloosa Public Library. This Noche de Cuentos (Evening of Stories) begins at 7 p.m. and includes storytelling, refreshments, and free books for the niños.

On Saturday April 24th, Dr. Monica Brown energizes participants and opens the day’s events with a keynote address at Mary Hewell Alston Hall. Breakout sessions for both practitioners and researchers as well as graduate and undergraduate students will follow and include a variety of topics related to Latino children’s literature and literacy. Research posters will also be on display throughout the conference.

Lunch will be served at the Ferguson Center and will be followed by an engaging keynote at Mary Hewell Alston Hall with award-winning artist and illustrator Rafael López. Afterwards breakout sessions will include topics related to education, literacy, storytelling, and library services for Latino children. Storyteller and award-winning author Dr. Carmen Tafolla will bring down the house with a grand finale performance followed by a book signing with conference authors. Attendees will hav

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1182. Review: Waking Up in the Land of Glitter. Art News: Circle of Women Stamp Project

Monday, March 8 observed "International Women's Day. Tuesday's La Bloga extends that observation one additional day with a pair of women-related columns. This way we can have two days for women, and only 363 days not for.

Kathy Cano-Murillo. Waking Up in the Land of Glitter. NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2010.
ISBN: 9780446509244

Circle of Women Stamp Project

Michael Sedano

Kathy Cano-Murillo stands as one of the prime expositors of what I want to term Situation Comedy Literature, though some might say "Chica Lit". The term comes out of my memories of television's "My Little Margie," "Our Miss Brooks," and "I Love Lucy." A woman puts herself in a sticky predicament and by dint of clever machination and blind luck makes everything work out in the end, always leaving its audience with a heart-warming chuckle and a half hour or hour of mindless entertainment.

Covering Waking Up in the Land of Glitter's 302 pages (336 including appendices), requires a little more than an hour, but with the passage of a couple days or a long airplane ride, the reader is sure to be left with the pleasure of largely mindless entertainment. That's a good thing, despite--or because of--the formulaic, almost stereotypic characters and abbreviated plotting.

Three women share a common interest in crafts and crafting. Estrella--Star to everyone but her parents--and Chloe are whitewashed twenty-something Mexican Americans who meet and strike up a mutual animosity. Ofie, Star's best friend, is young thirties basket case who takes refuge in crummy craft projects. Star calls herself an artist but doesn't make art; she books talent into her family's restaurant-cum-gallery and is in love with an accomplished artist. Chloe--Crafty Chloe--is a local television celebrity on the arts beat, "a role model for artistic Latinas". She does a regular crafts spot but secretly hates crafts. Chloe's assistant does all the crafting and seethes in the background as Chloe shines in the klieg lights taking all the credit.

Things fall apart between Star and Theo after she spraypaints happy faces across his masterpiece mosaic mural. Cute as she is, Theo cannot bear the string of vast projects undertaken with half vast ideas that is Star's modus operandi in life. On and off camera, Chloe lives a lie. Sexually manipulated by a sleazy station manager, shacked up with a passionless loser, as well as stealing the assistant's craft creations, to her mind Chloe's ambition justifies her sins. Poor Ofie. Obese, frumpy, a dismal housekeeper, she spends more money on craft supplies than running her suegra-dominated household. Ofie's craft work sounds disastrously pathetic.

The "waking up" part of the title reflects how Star, Chloe, and Ofie come to realizations of the emptiness of their lives and learn to see value in others. Poor Ofie. Her friends laugh about her creations behind her back even as they reinforce her behavior to her face. Learning this truth, she breaks down and cuts herself off from her new-found friends.

Star's irresponsibility comes of being la consentida of hippie new age parents who indulge their only child's every whim, until the grafitti vandalism incident. They fire her from the family business and demand she pay rent to live in their home. Forced to stand on her own two feet she makes small to giant steps, becoming more self-assured by learning to work in mutual respect with peers, especially her chola prima Star had blamed for Star's own misbehavior.

Chloe's awakening comes of realizing that Star and Ofie have a freedom and happiness that Chloe has walled off from her own life, just to be a big teevee personality. Hers is a public humiliation, broadcast all over Phoeni

2 Comments on Review: Waking Up in the Land of Glitter. Art News: Circle of Women Stamp Project, last added: 3/9/2010
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1183. Spotlight on Maceo Montoya

Maceo Montoya grew up in the small town of Elmira, California. He comes from a family of artists, including his father Malaquias Montoya, a renowned artist, activist, and educator, and his late brother, Andrés Montoya, whose poetry collection The Iceworker Sings won the American Book Award in 2000.

Montoya graduated from Yale University in 2002 where he majored in History and Ethnicity Race & Migration. He also received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2006. He has completed several public art commissions, including murals with the Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland and Taller Arte Del Nuevo Amenecer (TANA) in Woodland, California, where he has worked as an instructor.

In addition to several solo exhibitions, Montoya’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Caras Vemos, Corazones No Sabemos: The Human Landscape of Mexican Migration to the United States, which has traveled to museums throughout the country, and Inter-viewing Paintings, a survey of contemporary Eastern and Western painters at the SOMA Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea.

He lives in Woodland, California where he paints and writes. His first novel, The Scoundrel and the Optimist, is available now from Bilingual Review Press. The following is an excerpt from Montoya’s novel.

Chapter 1 from The Scoundrel and the Optimist

Of Filastro Agustín's seven children, the only one he couldn't bear to beat was his youngest son, Edmund. There were, to be exact, three reasons for this. First of all, Edmund was a very fragile boy. His head seemed much too large for his puny body, his limbs merely an assortment of sticks. Filastro firmly believed in good solid beatings, not just for his own children, but also for his nephews and the neighborhood riffraff, not to mention his wife (and when drunk, just about anyone). But Filastro also firmly believed in one's right to live, and he had reason to worry that his sickly-looking child might very well die if dealt too serious a blow.

The second reason follows the first. Filastro, worrying about his son's fragility, took him to the doctor and asked point-blank: "Doctor, I'm worried that if I beat him I might kill him! What is your opinion? Is it safe?" The doctor examined the boy from head to toe, checked his pulse, peered into his tonsils, and hit his knee with a small mallet. "I think this boy would be perfectly fine with a good beating from time to time," said the doctor in his final analysis. "Well, that's fantastic!" Filastro exclaimed, his face radiant. "But," continued the doctor, "there's something you should be careful about."

"And what is that?" Filastro asked.

"His psychological state," replied the doctor.

"His what? Just what in the hell are you talking about?"

"It means that bones and flesh heal, but feelings do not."

"What do you take me for, a sissy, doctor? Don't give me that schoolgirl shit. What do I care about feelings?"

"You must care," the doctor implored. "If his psychological state is damaged, you never know what might happen. Dreadful consequences! Remember, Filastro,

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1184. Yolanda Cruz: Reel Indigenous Women Have Nerve

Olga García Echeverría

I'm not really sure if real women have to have curves (I know some flacas who are pretty bad-ass), but in my opinion female filmmakers, especially indigenous female filmmakers like Yolanda Cruz, have to have a lot of nerve.

Film, afterall, has traditionally been a male-dominated field, and when we consider the historical representations of indigenous people in the media, such as the stereotypical savage or the noble indian, we can appreciate the challenges faced by contemporary filmmakers like Cruz.

Yolanda, though, isn't one to feel limited by past or present. Like many visionary artists, she's about cultivating and creating, even in times of economic crisis and even within a field where far too often the voices of women of color are excluded. With seven award-winning films to her name, the last of which is a feature-length documentary, Yolanda's proven that she's not intimated by the industry and that she's serious about increasing the representation of indigenous people in the media.

Born in the mountainous region of Cieneguilla, Oaxaca, Yolanda has been defying traditional gender roles since her early years. “As a child, I was taught certain gender-specific things, such as embroidery, knitting, and cooking. At the time, the idea was that these things would help prepare me to be a good housewife, but I wanted more than that."

Although the treatment of women in Mexico is definitely an issue, Yolanda makes it clear that it is not always the case that women are oppressed. "There were four girls in our family. Although my father always wanted a boy, which he eventually got, he taught us girls not to limit ourselves because of our gender. He pushed us to do non-traditional things too, such as work on his car. I was also surrounded by a lot of strong women in my family and community. I actually didn’t feel limited by my gender. If anything I felt stronger about the issue of class.”

When Yolanda was six, her family migrated from her home village to the city. She notes that although the people in the city were also from indigenous backgrounds, many were second generation and had lost many of their indigenous roots, such as language. "In Mexico, there is a lot of discrimination toward indigenous people, especially against those who retain their native language and customs. More than anything I think this discrimination has to do with ignorance. When I first arrived to the city, I had to create my own space and let others know that they couldn't mess with me. I had to break-out of the negative stereotypes that others had of me and prove them wrong.”

Yolanda also broke away from traditional expectations by becoming a filmmaker. “I grew up in a culture where the goal, especially in regards to education, is to get a good job that pays for life’s immediate needs. Art isn’t necessarily that type of job. But I wanted to be different. For an indigenous woman to choose a career in filmmaking is a challenge because as it is there aren’t many female filmmakers out there.”

Yolanda first got involved in film during her college years. “As a student I was involved in theater and photography and that eventually evolved into film. For me, film was a much more active medium than photography. I wanted something interactive that could be used as a tool for organizing and giving voice to the community that I belong to."

Yolanda's chosen medium has definitely proven effective. Her first student project at UCLA, Entre Sueños, a short film about an indigenous woman seeking her identity, was chosen for the Sundance Film Festival in 2000.

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1185. Montemayor. Tato Laviera. Robert Arellano. Writers wanted.

R.I.P.: Montemayor, Mexican Literary Giant, Renaissance Man

In a world of clipped discourse and fleeting images, Carlos Montemayor stood apart from the mainstream. A student of ancient and modern languages, Chihuahua’s native son promoted Maya, Zapotec, Guarani and other indigenous poetry of the Americas. The 62-year-old scholar wrote acclaimed books, received prestigious literary awards and contributed regularly to publications including the daily La Jornada and the national news magazine Proceso. A lover of the musical arts, he found time to sing opera.

Mexico’s literary giant and Chihuahua’s Dean of Letters is now dead. Born in Parral, Chihuahua, in 1947, Montemayor succumbed to stomach cancer early on the morning of February 28 in Mexico City. Less than three months earlier, in December 2009, Montemayor was handed Mexico’s National Arts and Sciences Award by President Felipe Calderon.

A novelist, poet, essayist, teacher, translator, researcher, and tenor, the multi-lingual Montemayor was perhaps most of all a defender of the dispossessed.

As a young university student in Chihuahua City in the 1960s, Montemayor witnessed first hand a mass movement of small farmers for land. He even met youths who felt compelled to take up arms for the first guerrilla movement in Mexico after the Cuban Revolution.

Later, while residing in Mexico City, Montemayor was stunned to hear the idealistic young people in Chihuahua who were willing to lay down their lives for a greater cause officially described as bandits, cattle rustlers and delinquents.

“This is what really affected me, because I knew their honesty, their cleanliness, their integrity, their militancy, their generosity, ” Montemayor once told a Mexican reporter. “This impression of how the official version can brutally destroy the truth of human life marked me forever.”

Coming of age in a time of social and political upheaval, Montemayor was considered by many to be Mexico’s leading expert on left-wing guerrilla movements. After carefully researching the movements from all angles, and talking directly to survivors of the struggles, Montemayor wrote two novels that dramatically retold the stories of the armed uprisings of the 1960s and 1970s.

Montemayor’s classic 1991 work The War in Paradise relived the guerrilla movement and dirty war that jolted the southern state of Guerrero in the 1970s. A later novel, Arms of the Dawn (2003), employed the same technique of historical fiction to retell the story of the 1965 attack on the army barracks in Madera, Chihuahua, by revolutionaries led by Arturo Gamiz and

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1186. WTP Conference, Biennial of the Americas, Chicano Music Pioneer


Dangerous Liaisons: Feminist Engagements with Race, Sexuality, Class, and Gender in Theatre and Media- 35th Annual Women and Theatre Program (WTP) Conference Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) August 2, 2010 – Los Angeles, CA University of California, Los Angeles

What would it mean to create a “dangerous liaison” between the feminist and the queer? What are some of the experiments and pursuits made towards interrogating how the theatre and media influences the production and reception of race, sex, class, and gender in feminist and queer performances? This call for papers asks for explicative representations of how feminist and queer performance intersects with race, sexuality, class, and gender to perform/critique the “dangerous liaisons.”

ATHE’s conference theme this year is Theatre Live: Theater, Media, and Survival, and though theater and media are at the centre of the WTP’s conference theme as well, we deploy the concept of “dangerous liaisons” as we interrogate the influences of theatre and media on feminist and queer communities, performance, collaborations, and other related issues. The WTP wishes to use the 2010 conference as a moment to explore ways to include those who have been excluded from political processes, to examine the impacts of theatre and media on feminist and queer communities, to build and explore collaborations among marginalized groups. Some topics suggested by our membership include:

Media and Performing the Body
Construction of Sex, Sexuality, and Gender in Popular Culture
Cultural Icons of Feminism and Queer (Mothers, Divas, Monsters, Superheroes, etc…)
The Body and Representations of Femininity
Female Sexuality in the Theatre and Media Representations of Ethnic Sexualities and ‘Otherness’ (dis/ability, ethnicity, queer, etc..)
Eroticism as Power Race and Gender in Media
Class Differences in Feminist and Queer Communities
Feminist Beliefs of Religion, Spiritual, Secular, and Sexuality
Feminist Activism and Pedagogy on Immigration and Marriage Equality

The Conference Committee encourages proposals that incorporate innovative formats, numerous voices, partnerships and active dialogue. You are urged to go beyond the traditional 3-speaker presentation for seminars, roundtables, performances, workshops, and poster sessions.

SUBMISSION PROCESS: Submissions for the

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1187. Latinas Peeling it Off, Beowulf, Borges, & Writing our Own Books

Guest post by Mayra Lazara Dole

I’m sure it’s every literary person's fantasy to awaken next to a voluptuous Latina. For valor, you grab Beowulf, the Old English heroic epic poem you were reading before falling asleep, and quickly flip to the page you left off.
Your eyes veer over to the seductress you just met...

For some reason she's in your room and suddenly, you remember spooning her last night.

She slips on a spandex mini-dress decorated with mandarin orange ruffled sleeves. With a flick of a finger, she turns on the CD player and sensual music fills the room. Her hips jiggle, feet shuffle, shoulders shake and bootay bounces as she cakes on neon glitter eye shadow.

Your Ping Pong eyes bounce from her stiletto heels clickety clacking towards you, to her EXTRA LARGE…

gold hoop earrings and fruit-filled sombrero.

In a Spanish accent, and sultry, dripping-in-caramel-voice, she whispers into your hair, “I’m going to serve you breakfast in bed, Papi (or Mami). You'll be having melons. I’m saving the ripe banana for desert, before I set off to teach Borges at the university. Afterwards, I'm giving a lecture on deconstructionism and why 'the interpretive movement in literary theory rejects absolute interpretations and stresses ambiguities and contradictions in literature.' Later on tonight, I'm flying to Venezuela to save female authors from oblivion..."

You wag your head in disgust and wish she'd STOP the literary nonsense and either peel your banana or sing to you, I'm Chiquita Banana and I've come to say/You eat the banana in a special way...."

Now, let me show you why some Latinos and people of color would love the opportunity to write our own books:

What it looks like when authentic Latinos and people of color write our own stories: (check out the footwork/moves of the guy in the chartreuse shirt and white pants).
Oops, gotta go! It's time to shake my maracas and whip out an exquisite breakfast in bed for my special mujer!


Here is a brilliant, artistic manipulation of how advertisers make Americanos think we look like and behave in the kitchen. Do you blame me for loving it and wanting to RUN to buy Tostitos and salsa or perform a little cha-cha-cha of my own in the kitchen?).




1 Comments on Latinas Peeling it Off, Beowulf, Borges, & Writing our Own Books, last added: 3/5/2010
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1188. Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers

Poetry, Fiction & Creative Nonfiction
Judge: M.T. Anderson
Prize: Publication in Hunger Mountain online
$250 to first place winner in each genre, $100 to runners-up

Hunger Mountain is looking for talented high school students to enter poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction in the Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers. They accept any form of poetry. Fiction can be experimental or traditional. Creative nonfiction can be personal essay or mini memoir.

The Judge for the competition is National Book Award Winner and New York Times Bestselling author M.T. Anderson, author of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; Burger Wuss; and Feed.

For complete guidelines and to learn about past prize winners please visit www.hungermtn.org

Please send work to the following address:
Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers
Hunger Mountain
Vermont College of Fine Arts
36 College St.
Montpelier, VT 05602

(Rosa y el ajusticiador del canalla)

A film by: Ivan Acosta (Author of EL SUPER)

Latin Jazz USA and MVD Visual are pleased to announce the release of Rosa and the Executioner of the Fiend for worldwide distribution on March 23, 2010.

Ivan Acosta, is the writer of the award winning film, EL SUPER, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary at the Bronx Museum of Arts, this week. Acosta has written 12 theater plays and 7 screen plays, including his feature film, AMIGOS, Candido - Hands of Fire, and How to Create a Rumba. The original script of Rosa and the Executioner of the Fiend won 2nd place at the International Literary contest, “Letras de Oro”.

The film relays the story of Rosa, a Holocaust refugee, who has lived alone for more than 50 years in an apartment across the United Nations. When an intruder gets hold of her place, she takes him for a thief, a rapist and then a Nazi agent. But he is none of that. His mission is "to execute the greatest fiend the world has ever known". The drama that connects these two fictional characters is linked to five real episodes: the escape of thousand Jews from Germany aboard the St. Louis, in 1939; their arrival in Havana and their entrance denial; the indifference by the United States that send them back to Europe; and the tragedy of the Cuban children who participated in the (Pedro Pan Rescue Project), and a historical U.N. General Assembly of world leaders.

This DVD is in English with Spanish titles.


Graciela Lecube - Rosa (HOLA) Life-Time Achievement Award, 2006
Gabriel Gorcés - Amaury
Ruben Rabasa - Landlord
Susan Rybin - Social Worker
Ino Gómez - Secret Service One
Jules Santos - Secret Service Two
Ileana Canales - TV Reporter
Ricardo Razuri - Supermar

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1189. Review: The Subject Was Roses. UCLA 40th Fête All It Was. Guest poet Angel Guerrero.

Michael Sedano

Frances Conroy conducts an acting lesson on upstaging your fellow actors in the Mark Taper Forum’s production, through March 21, of Frank D. Gilroy’s “The Subject Was Roses.”

Conroy’s imposing presence over this cast including Martin Sheen and Brian Geraghty is reason enough to make the trek to the top of Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill and foot the $9 parking tab. That such superb drama comes with it makes a lucky bonus.

Costume Designer Laura Bauer dresses Conroy’s Nettie Cleary in faded floral prints, their lost vibrancy a poignant mirror for Nettie’s defeated ethos. Conroy conducts her character with affectless facial expression and gesture. Despite the joyousness of the setting—an “Eisenhower” soldier’s jacket on a hanger, a “Welcome home Timmy” banner hanging above the living room—without saying a word, it’s obvious Nettie is a lifelong casualty of her own life. Tellingly, only in the final speech of the first scene does Nettie’s son, Geraghty, call Nettie “Mom.” As a whole, the family is walking wounded tiptoeing around their tired rituals of abuse and emotional extortion fueled by bitter regret.

Michael Ritchie’s tenure as the Taper’s Artistic Director has been marked with more misses than hits, particularly his failure to sponsor new work. It’s refreshing to note he’s done something right in bringing back this 1965 Pulitzer Prize for Drama gem as a last-minute replacement for the planned revival of David Mamet's 1988 "Speed-the-Plow."

Gilroy’s play exists in movie form, featuring Jack Albertson and Patricia Neal. Neal was nominated for an Oscar, Albertson won an Oscar in the role Sheen fills at the Taper. Interestingly, Sheen played the Timmy role on Broadway, and the film.

I suppose Martin Sheen is well-known to anyone who follows popular media. For sure, he is the “name” in this play, and is the only actor of the three to get warm applause when he walks on stage. He does a grand Irish accent and pulls off sly humor as the tightwad who doesn’t want his wife to know how much money the family owns (fourteen thousand three hundred fiftyseven dollars).

I did not recognize the name Brian Geraghty, only today learning he’s in a hit movie, “The Hurt Locker,” where he plays a U.S. soldier in Iraq. The actor has the thin frame that fits the role of an Infantry soldier, the character earning the Combat Infantry Man badge designating extended time on the battlefield engaging the enemy. With the Hell this kid's been through, it's a wonder he puts up with the crap his father dishes out. With one neighbor’s son killed, another crippled, the Cleary family feels itself lucky to have Timmy home unscathed. But the play’s not about returning combat veterans nor the toll of war on civilians. Conroy’s focus is the dysfunctional family that threatens, gangs up on one another, leverages emotion as a substitute for affection.

I had not shared Frances Conroy’s work heretofore, but hers is a name I’ll remember now. A Juilliard alumna, her stage career includes Obie and Tony awards, and her television work includes four Emmy nominations for “Six Feet Under,” garnering a Golden Globe for that role. With such credentials, Conroy’s dominance on the Taper stage is no star-is-born surprise. But none of that matters, th

2 Comments on Review: The Subject Was Roses. UCLA 40th Fête All It Was. Guest poet Angel Guerrero., last added: 3/4/2010
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1190. An interview with Ray Gonzalez

Ray Gonzalez is a full professor in the MFA creative writing program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He is the author of eleven books poetry, two books of short fiction, three collections of essays, and a memoir. Gonzalez is the editor of a dozen anthologies including, most recently Sudden Fiction Latino (W. W. Norton), which he co-edited with Robert Shapard and James Thomas. Gonzalez kindly agreed to sit down with La Bloga and discuss his new poetry collection, Faith Run (University of Arizona Press).

DANIEL OLIVAS: You have quite an extensive publishing career. Do you see Faith Run as being in any way different from your prior poetry collections? How have you evolved as a poet?

RAY GONZALEZ: I don't think it is different from earlier volumes of my poetry, though there might be more poems about rock and roll music and famous poets that have influenced me. There are probably fewer poems about the desert Southwest and El Paso, Texas, where I grew up. I think my recent work has been more surreal than my older poetry because of the influence of prose poetry, which I write a great deal now, and the impact of the ever changing poetic scene in the U.S.

DO: You divide this collection into three parts. What is the thematic purpose of this division?

RG: In general, I find it hard to read a book of poetry, cover to cover, that is not divided into sections. In Faith Run, perhaps the opening section sets up the idea of a native leaving home for good and there are various poems about the art of poetry. The second section contains most of the poems written about older poets, something about their lives in relation to mine, and what I have learned from there. The third section has most of the poems about family and pondering the idea of someday moving back home with the sense that my faith in the desert landscape must keep up or keep running with me, if I do go home. The title Faith Run is about an older poet having faith in where he came from, while at the same time believing that the modern world of writing, publishing, teaching, and editing has things to offer that mean something to someone who grew up in a very isolated part of the country.

DO: One of my favorite poems in the collection is "Allen Ginsberg's Mother" which begins: "Naomi Ginsberg went insane / and never returned to her family." You go on to talk about Elizabeth Bishop's mother also going insane. And then you talk about your own mother who "whispered and prayed / for my sins." The poem is both funny and frightening and brings up interesting connections between mothers and their creative children. Can you talk about this poem a bit?

RG: I have taught the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Elizabeth Bishop a great deal and have learned that when a poet writes about family, and their frailty and weaknesses, that other poets are often good models about how to approach writing about such difficult topics.
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1191. Corn Women of East LA: 13 Years of Art and Activism

Olga García Echeverría

It's 5:30 PM on a Friday evening and while many Angelenos are unwinding and getting ready for the weekend, a small group of female artists/activists are rolling up their sleeves and gathering at Casa Grande in East LA.

The purpose of their meeting?

To strategize and finalize logistics for this year's International Women's Day Celebration.

Actually, they're working on a month-long salute to women's herstory because...because...well, simply because one day of Viva La Mujer just isn't enough for them. These are corn women, afterall, officially known as Mujeres de Maiz, and the corn women of East LA don't mess around. For starters, they've been organizing art events for the past 13 years. Rumor has it that during meetings, they bust out 7 page agendas and sometimes hold each other hostage for 3-4 hours. Ay! I would need to sneak a swig or two of tequila to keep up with them.

There's so much to say about Mujeres de Maiz, but there's one thing I want to make clear--estas mujeres estan bien locas. They've been working for free for the past 13 years, they burn sage, wear sea shells and feathers on their ears, strap giant wings made of corn husks on their shoulders and show up to City Council meetings to defend the arts. When they aren't planning events or juggling jobs to pay bills, they delve into their own art; they paint, poet, make films, sculpt.

This year's celebration will feature art shows, teatro, music, poetry readings, workshops, and vendor markets. Also, este año se aventaron las mujeres by organizing an amazing musical show that will feature the prominent Afro-Peruvian singer, Susana Baca. If you don't know Baca's music yet, you must check her out. She's a 2002 Grammy Award winner and one of Latin America's musical treasures. She's traveling all the way from Perú to come share canción and corazon in Boyle Heights. She'll also be performing a collaborative set with local musicians, such as Martha Gonzalez of Queztal, CAVA, and La Santa Celicia. Baca in el barrio? If you're local, don't miss this! If you miss this and you're local, well, then you're just plain loco. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq-v6EZ0oTA&feature=PlayList&p=9227ECD3A553F3A6&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=31

This week, I was able to crash one of MDM's organizing meetings. The women, most of whom have been with the collective since its inception, were kind enough to delay their agenda and chat with me about MDM and this year's event. Core members of the collective and Board of Directors are Felicia Montes, Gina Aparicio, Margaret Alarcon, Lily Ramirez, Claudia Mercado, and Maritza Alvarez.

During our 15 minutes together, Mujeres de Maiz shared more than I could possibly include in this small bloga (son bien platiconas las muchachas). The following excerpts, therefore, by no means attempt to offer a comprehensive history of the 13 years of Maiz herstory, rather they briefly highlight a few of the women's pensamientos and insights.

Why and how was Mujeres de Maiz formed?

Felicia: A need to create a space for women was why we started Mujeres de Maiz. We were questioning: Why is it that we never see women on stage? Originally, we were inspired by community groups such as the Peace & Justice Center and the Popular Resource Center. One event in particular, “Caught Between a Ho

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1192. Bits from the Web

A few literary bits and pieces available with a quick click of your mouse:

A recent announcement noted that Professor Laura Lomas won the 2009 Modern Language Association Prize in U.S. Latina and Latino Literary and Cultural Studies. Lomas is an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark. The award was made for her book, Translating Empire (Duke University Press, 2008), in which she analyzes how late 19th century Latino migrant writers developed a critique of U.S. imperialism through their translations of American literature. Translating Empire is about the Cuban journalist, poet, and revolutionary José Martí and other Latino migrants living in New York City in the Gilded Age, who translated contemporary North American literary and cultural texts into Spanish. Read more about Lomas and her book here ...


Francisco Lomelí's tribute to Luis Leal can be found at this link to the Santa Barbara Independent. A few lines from the article:

He is generally regarded as one of the founding members of contemporary Chicano literary movement. His fame is such that many in his multiple fields refer to him as “el maestro de maestros” (the teacher of teachers) for directly mentoring generations of students, teachers, and scholars. His students regarded him as a walking encyclopedia with a prodigious memory, even at times providing exact pages of works where specific topics could be located. His life reached a crescendo with his l00th birthday in 2007 with a dual conference at UCSB and Mexico City dedicated to him along with a book (100 años de lealtad/100 Years of Loyalty; In Honor of Luis Leal) that consisted of over one hundred contributors and 1,456 pages: a monumental work for a scholar who has touched so many lives with his erudition, generosity, encouragement, example, and humor.

More tributes to Professor Leal can be read at this link.

La Bloga pal Mario Acevedo is ready to launch his latest Felix Gomez romp. This one's entitled

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1193. Oh! How I...

I still see you. I
see you in the
stars as I fly
the night's sky.

In sadness, I wait
for the evening. I
wait for the moon
to eclipse the sun.

Slowly, but surely
ends of you begin
to twinkle. And then
the rest of you.

Measured alongside
the titans and
dippers. Oh! How I
begin to fly.

Zoom, zoom, zooming
I trace you as you
were when, wondering
how you are now.

A poem in memory of three family members who have passed in as many weeks. Ay los miro.

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1194. Poema, Book Signing...

Balada para violonchelo


Por Lydia Gil

La silueta de un hombre

con sombrilla

ha quedado grabada

en la arena

frente a su ventana

Si estuviéramos allá abajo

palparían nuestros pies desnudos

pedacitos hirientes de caracoles

y cigarrillos enrollados

en algas gelatinosas

Pero desde aquí,

donde aún se escuchan

las cuerdas

de un férretro sonoro

presenciamos el milagro

de cómo van

y vienen

las olas

Embriagadas de salitre


nuestra plegaria afónica

dos palomas roncas

de cantarle a la vida

Chelo, olas, voces



El maestro abre la ventana

y volamos las dos al mar

Queda la ventana abierta

y un bostezo mudo

ante la

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1195. New Books, New Theater, New Film, New Cover


New Books
[publisher blurbs]

The Name Partner Carlos Cisneros
Arte Público, March

In this hard-hitting and timely novel about a drug company that puts its shareholders' profits over safety, Carlos Cisneros takes the reader on a whirlwind ride as his protagonist struggles with his responsibilities to his client, his family, and his own personal ethics.

Women Who Live in Coffee Shops and Other Stories

Stella Pope Duarte
Arte Público, March

Set against an urban backdrop of seedy motels and dilapidated houses next to industrial buildings and railroad tracks, Stella Pope Duarte's award-winning stories follow characters who make up the city's underbelly. Some strut through the lethal streets, flamboyant and hard to miss -- flashy divas, transvestites, and prostitutes, like Valentine, "one of the girls who decorated Van Buren Street like ornaments dangling precariously on a Christmas tree." Others remain hidden, invisible to those who don't seek them out -- bag ladies, illegals, and addicts.

Winner of the University of California, Irvine's Chicano/Latino Literary Prize, this collection of short stories set in Phoenix reveals the hard-scrabble people living on the razor-edge of city life.

Hasta la Vista Lola!
Misa Ramirez
Minotaur, January

When Lola comes home to her parents’ house to find a horde of relatives mourning her death, no one is more surprised than she is. The news had reported that one Lola Cruz, PI was found murdered in an alley, causing great alarm in the Cruz family. Before Lola can say “boo,” a cop comes to the house. It turns out the dead woman had a driver’s license with Lola’s information. Between avoiding an unsavory ex-boyfriend, sorting out mixed signals from the very interested but not yet committed Jack Callaghan, and filling in as a waitress at her parents’ Mexican restaurant, Lola tries to find out who the woman was and why she stole her identity. Was the woman hiding from someone who meant her harm, or is there someone out there who wants Lola dead?

This is a follow-up to Ramirez’s debut novel, Living the Vida Lola.

Chilean theater group visits Denver, Su Teatro

From the unquiet mind of Guillermo Calderón comes a haunting futuristic drama about war in the Americas: Diciembre. Performed by

5 Comments on New Books, New Theater, New Film, New Cover, last added: 2/19/2010
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1196. Taking the high road for poetry

guest post by Melinda Palacio

I was surprised, though I shouldn't have been, by a conversation I had with a literary agent who gave me some "free advice" and suggested I give up poetry and devote all of my creative energy to writing novels. As someone approaching the writing life from solely a monetary perspective, the literary agent just didn't seem to get it.

I'm very proud of my poetry publications and could not imagine a literary life without poetry. True, I'm building a literary career without the assistance of an agent and I write what I want, be it fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Sometimes working with a small press is just the right therapy for a poetry-fearing world.

As someone who works in multiple genres, I never know what I'm going to write when I sit down with a word or image. Sometimes the form gets out of control and the poem I had in mind turns into a short story. A year ago, I decided to make a trip I had been avoiding. I joined my sister Emily and we visited our father in Folsom prison. The weight and importance of this trip didn't surface until several weeks later when I started writing about the experience.

In one weekend I wrote twelve poems about my prison visit. When I started sharing some of the poems with fellow poets, my friend Susan Chiavelli announced that I had a chapbook in the making. Several of Susan's questions led to more poems. By March, some of the poems were published in literary journals; by May, I submitted my chapbook to seven contests. On August 31, Arthur Dawson of Kulupi Press called to inform me I had won their Sense of Place Chapbook Competition. This great news came after finding out my novel Ocotillo Dreams had been accepted for publication by Arizona State University Bilingual Press.

I didn't know which stars were aligned when I received the winning news; I was happy to see my hard work paying off. In June, I received a scholarship to attend the Squaw Valley Community of Writers for a week of poetry, hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of the high Sierras. Squaw Valley is not too far from Folsom prison, and apparently, I hadn't finished my series of prison poems. Perhaps, I'll never be finished with the subject? During my week with the Community of Writers, I wrote one poem a day. For some poets, such as our poet Laureate, David Starkey, who committed himself to write a poem a day for an entire year, writing a poem a day seems like a piece of cake. Each day, I worried that I would come up empty handed.

Luckily, the creative juices kept flowing and on one of those days I wrote "Jail Bird Bop for Pops". The poem was a surprise and a success. In the editing process of Folsom Lockdown, Arthur and the editors at Kulupi agreed to include my new prison poem in the chapbook. Many poetry contests specifically state that you cannot add new poems once your manuscript has been accepted for publication. I was pleased to have such flexible editors. They also allowed me

5 Comments on Taking the high road for poetry, last added: 2/21/2010
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1197. How I Became One of Botero's Gorditas

and Why I Can No Longer Be One

by tatiana de la tierra

Botero’s fat naked ladies dance circles all around me. Facing the front of my bed, one painting exhibits a nude lying on her side on top of a bull, her legs in the air, her eyes closed, one hand wrapped around the bull’s horn.
The bull, a happy stud, is grinning. In another painting, the robust rear end of a redhead gordita winks out at me. Her arms are above her head; looking pleased, she is oblivious of the dark little butterflies that swirl around her. Another painting has a group of corpulent high society ladies in various stages of undress who are drinking and smoking to excess. Raucous party animals, you get the feeling that, despite the man who’s crashed out on the floor beneath a chair, these women might end up in a luscious fat girl orgy by the end of the night.

Given how fatness is loathed the world over, others may have alternate interpretations to these and other paintings by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero. I’ve read political, cultural and socioeconomic critiques surrounding Botero’s penchant for hugeness, which he applies equally to men, saints, birds, trees, Colombian cocaine dealer Pablo Escobar and the tortured prisoners of Abu Ghraib. I don’t know how Botero’s artistic intuition guided him to exaggerated figures and fleshy femmes, but I’ve gleefully adopted the images in a fat pride sort of way and have plastered them all over my home.

Better yet, I became one of Botero’s gorditas—a sensuous, irreverent colorful Colombian fat chick who lived it up in the flesh. Despite the serious and insidious fat bashing that’s always prevailed in my world, I reveled in my plus-sizeness. I threw my weight around at the right moments and barreled into jerks that crossed my path. I enjoyed myself as a voluminous woman of power and didn’t let anything stop me from getting down and dirty when I was sufficiently enraptured with someone of my liking. I did the mundane—laundry, groceries, errands—and I sang and danced and coasted around in a horse-drawn carriage in queenly fashion.

Being fat handily placed me in the category of Other, a position of comfort to my rebellious nature. My massive body made me special. I took up space and commanded attention by merely existing. I thumbed my nose at the obesity hysteria and didn’t deprive myself of chocolate croissants, coffee gelato or organic butter. I cursed retailers and designers in shopping sprees when I couldn’t find the coolest threads in my size at reasonable prices. I rolled my eyes at the abnormally thin feminine models representing the ideal woman in the media and felt like mainstream society had a skewed view of beauty.

I do think that beauty is beyond poundage. Beauty is a combination of factors, some of which you cannot physically see. It has the potential to exist in any weight, in any color, in any physique. It radiates from the inside of my external fatness.

I feel a tight bond with my fat, my body of armor, my faithful companion. But now my beloved fat, my squishy

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1198. W. W. Norton releases landmark anthology of Latino "sudden" fiction

Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America (W. W. Norton; $15.95; 336 pp.; paperback original)

Edited by Robert Shapard, James Thomas, and Ray Gonzalez; Introduction by Luisa Valenzuela

From the publisher:

This collection was conceived by Robert Shapard and James Thomas, editors of the successful Flash and Sudden Fiction series. For this new anthology Shapard and Thomas decided to focus on Latino literature: “For years we loved Latin American short-short stories. We found them by accident in books and journals where we were seeking American stories for our Sudden Fiction and Flash Fiction anthologies. . . . Naturally, we wanted to bring some of this writing to our readers as soon as we could.” Conscious of the challenge of narrowing down a selection that would span not only the United States but also all of Spanish-speaking Latin America, Shapard and Thomas sought the advice of Ray Gonzalez, an expert in the field of U.S Latino and Latin American literature, who would become their coeditor. “He said it had never been done,” Shapard and Thomas remember, but “he was enthusiastic, so we were encouraged to try.”

The trio then had to come to some decisions—how short was “short” for this anthology? They ultimately decided not to worry about all the subgenres within short-short fiction and settled on a 1,500 word limit. Then they combed through bookstores, libraries, blogs, and zines, debated over the selections, and finalized choices. They decided to make a compilation that would give readers an amazing sense of the styles shared by U.S. Latino and Latin American literary community. Gonzalez says of the final product, “this is a historic gathering of writers, because the U.S. Latinos are writers who have never forgotten their ancestral roots. By placing them alongside Latin Americans, we are showing how the short-short form transcends borders.”

* With over 60 stories, this landmark anthology features work of stories by literary stars such as Junot Díaz, Helena María Viramontes, Luis Alberto Urrea, Sandra Cisneros, Dagoberto Gilb, and Roberto Bolaño

* Contributions by masters such as Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, and Jorge Luis Borges

* Works by writers on the rise such as Andrea Saenz, Daniel Alarcón, Lisa Alvarez, and Alicita Rodríguez

* To view the table of contents, visit here


Robert Shapard kindly agreed to answer a few questions for La Bloga about the making of Sudden Fiction Latino:

DANIEL OLIVAS: Why did you decide to focus on sudden fiction by Latino writers?

ROBERT SHAPARD: Our reading took us there. We’re always looking for good stories. Over the years we read translations from around the world and found that we especially liked the Latin American writers, who were open to very short fiction—suddens, flashes, micros—unlike the Koreans, for example, who like long, long stories. In those same years we read American writers, too. We became aware of many outstanding Latino writers. But we didn’t connect them. After all we’re talking so many different peoples, cultures, family histories—and in Spanish-speaking Latin America 18 or 19 countries. We’re not geographers. We’re just happy to think in terms o

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1199. Review: Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet. Black History Month Review: Nigger for Life.

Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Translated Margaret Jull Costa. NY: Penguin Group, 2009.
ISBN: 0399156038 isbn13: 9780399156038

Michael Sedano

Happily serendipitously, my tour of Pasadena Public Library's New Book Shelf turned up a "new" Captain Alatriste novel. But curiously, I learned the "new" label is a bit misleading, as the book has a 2003 copyright from a G.P. Putnam's Sons edition. One day, perhaps, I'll make sense of the publishing industry's vagaries. I had not seen the novel heretofore, so it's new enough for my eyes, perhaps yours.

If it's new to you, you're sure to enjoy it. If you read it in 2003, you've already dug it, and can leave a comment below how you took to the story. Arturo Pérez-Reverte fills this fifth Captain Alatriste / Íñigo Balboa novel with the literary ambience of seventeenth century Madrid, less with the swashbuckling action that made earlier Alatriste novels happy exciting page-turning reads.

As the title suggests, the King plays a central role in the regicide plot. The womanizing Phillip IV becomes Alatriste's rival for the same woman, putting the Captain on the collision course plot that ends well, but by the skin of his teeth.

Sadly, the novel bogs down after the first swordfight in the opening pages, but picks up as now-16 year old Balboa accompanies playwright Francisco de Quevedo into the royal apartments, as the artist's scribe. There, Íñigo finally enjoys the pleasures of his scheming paramour and maid-in-waiting to the Queen, Angélica de Alquézar, along with her dagger in his back. Love hurts, the young man learns.

The evil nemesis Gualterio Malatesta returns to the scene, first escaping Alatriste's hands, later capturing Alatriste intending to toss the soldier to the Inquisition's chief torturer and frame the Captain as regicide. Alatriste, bound hand and foot, beaten bloody by hired swords, looks to be at his last gasp. Even Malatesta shudders at thoughts of what the Inquisitor can do.

Readers familiar with Arturo Pérez-Reverte's earlier works will enjoy the character development of storyteller Balboa. A homeless ruffian, boy-soldier, his master Alatriste ensures the boy takes a classical education at the feet of acknowledged literary lions, hence these novels, told by an aged Íñigo decades past the events of the novels.

Those not yet acquainted with Pérez-Reverte's Golden Age of Spain novels owe themselves a treat by reading the series. Start with this one, or go to the first. Any sequence works. Each comprises a stand-alone story, with Balboa's narration linking elements from earlier and, presumably, future tales. In the current volume, Margaret Jull Costa proffers an outstanding translation that reads smoothly absent cultural lacunae that mar so many translated-from works.

Honoring Black History Month. Self-published collection, "Nigger for Life."

When I was in first grade, a clueless child from Arkansas named Ramsey threatened every kid he met with the same refrain, "I'm gonna shoot you with my nigger shooter!" When it was my turn, my response was "that's a sling shot, what's a 'nigger shooter?'" Redlands CA in the 1950s. Gente in my family and in the neighborhood didn't use that word so it was new to me. "You're a nigger," Ramsey informed me, brandishing the weapon. I decided against kicking his ass, instead electing to ignore Ramsey for the rest of his life. Menso Ramsey then thought to menace Lonnie Washington with the stick. Lonnie, one of the tinto kids at Lugonia School evidently had a keen

4 Comments on Review: Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet. Black History Month Review: Nigger for Life., last added: 2/25/2010
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1200. 2010-2011 Tejas Star Book List

The Tejas Star Book Award was created by the Region One ESC Library Advisory Committee to promote reading in general and for readers to discover the cognitive and economic benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism. All the children of Texas will have the opportunity to select their favorite book from the Tejas Star list.

Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup
Written by Argueta, Jorge
Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
2009 Groundwood Books/Libros Tigrillo

The Party For Papá Luis/La fiesta para Papá Luis
Written by Bertrand, Diane Gonzalez
Illustrated by Alejandro Galindo
2010 Piñata Books-Arte Público Press 978-1-55885-532-8

Abuelo vivía solo/Grandpa Used To Live Alone
Written by Costales, Amy
Illustrated by Esperanza Gama
2010 Piñata Books-Arte Público Press

My Colors, My World/Mis colores, mi mundo
Written and illustrated by Gonzalez, Maya Christina
2007 Children's Book Press

René Has Two Last Names/René tiene dos apellidos
Written by Colato Laínez, René
Illustrated by Fabiola Graullera Ramirez
2009 Piñata Books-Arte Público Press 978-1-55885-530-4

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