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1176. Denver Zoot Suit re-performance

From Jose Mercado, one of Colorado's premier teatro directors, comes the following:


Please read Tina Griego's column in The Denver Post concerning the upcoming performance of Luis Valdez's wonderful acto.

Opening Night!: Special “Taste de las Americas” tickets include dinner & ticket to Zoot Suit and can be purchased here.

For tickets for the show only call 866-464-2626 or click here.


Tina Griego's article says it all, so I won't repeat it since you can go to her link to read all about it.

Having had the pleasure of seeing the first performance of
Zoot Suit six years ago, I highly recommend this event. Opening night tickets are hefty since they include Tastes of Colorado, but tickets for the other nights are $10 for students and the 70+.

Es todo, hoy,

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1177. You Should Visit Denver

Today I have a guest contribution from the inimitable Flo Hernandez-Ramos, Project Director for the Latino Public Radio Consortium. Flo got a little upset because of a snub to the Latino aspects of and contributions to Denver, but instead of stewing in her juices she came up with a nifty response - her own Guide to Latino Denver. This Guide is hot off the press and just this week was made available to the visiting National Association of Hispanic Journalists, who are in town for their annual conference. The pamphlet is laid out in an attractive format that doesn't get justice on our blog and I am using only a few of the photos and images, but the information is all here. It just might encourage you to wander around the Mile High City this summer.

The Guide adds considerably to a column I did for La Bloga a while back, Five Reasons It's Great to be a Chicano in Denver. Hope you enjoy the guided tour of the city I call home - and you know how home is: messy, sometimes too familiar, but always comfortable.
There are no Latinos in Denver. At least according to the in-flight magazine of a Denver-based airline whose name will not be mentioned but those cute animals should know better. The article was titled “The True Denver” and purported to list the attractions that would give the tourist an “authentic” experience. I read and re-read the article, but alas, there was no mention of the numerous Latinos, African-Americans, Native Americans or Asians that make Denver a truly great city. But why was I surprised? Over the years I have had the good fortune of visiting various cities and not once in the guides strategically placed in hotel rooms and lobbies has there been much more than a cursory mention of that city’s people of color.

Thus was born this Guide to Latino Denver. As a courtesy to visitors to the Queen City, the Latino Public Radio Consortium will give you some idea of the influence Latinos have on Denver and how you can rub elbows with the locals. Latinos must be doing something right in a city where we constitute 31% of over ½ a million people and which has streets (Peña Boulevard, the main thoroughfare connecting DIA to I-70), parks (Martínez Park, 10th & Raleigh), schools (Lena Archuleta Elementary, 16000 Maxwell Place) and buildings (Richard Castro Social Services, 12th & Federal) named after Latinos. But remember, this is only the perspective of a Mexican-American; other Latinos from Denver can add much more. When you meet them, ask them for recommendations too. Enjoy.

Flo Hernández-Ramos
Project Director, Latino Public Radio Consortium

2 Comments on You Should Visit Denver, last added: 6/26/2010

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1178. Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush

Luis Alberto Urrea's fantastic short story Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush was recently published by Cinco Puntos Press as a graphic text with illustrations by renowned artist and political muralist Christopher Cardinale.

As the story unfolds, we soon realize why Cardinale was indeed the perfect artist for this project. Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush is the story of a graffiti artist, "Rey de Graffiti en todo México", whose paintbrush is always ready to denounce injustice, hypocrisy or simple ill-manners in whatever surface is available at the time... If you'd like to read my review, you can find it here.

Warning: this is not for kids! I found my 6-year old reading it intently, especially the part in which Mr. Mendoza's paintbrush strikes the narrator's buttocks. She thought it was hysterical...

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1179. Latino authors and illustrators honored for outstanding works in children’s literature

For more details contact
Contact: Macey Morales

Public Information Office (PIO)

Recipients of prestigious Pura Belpré Medal 
accept awards, sign winning books

CHICAGO – Hundreds will gather for an event that celebrates the most influential Latino authors and illustrators of children’s literature.  The Pura Belpré Celebración will serve as a national backdrop for the presentation of the coveted Pura Belpré Medal, an award that recognizes Latino authors and illustrators of children’s literature. The event, open to registered conference-goers, will take place from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, 2010 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel/East State Ballrooms, during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual conference taking place from June 24 to June 29 in Washington, D.C.

Given annually, the Pura Belpré Medal is awarded to a Latino writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is known worldwide for the high quality it represents and serves as a guideline for educators, parents and bookstores for the best of the best in Latino-themed children’s  literature.

The event will honor the following 2010 Belpré Medal winners and honorees:

  • Julia Alvarez, author of “Return to Sender,” published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.
  • Rafael López, illustrator of “Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros,” written by Pat Mora and published by Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and David Diaz, author and illustrator of “Diego: Bigger Than Life,” published by Marshall Cavendish Children.
  • Georgina Lázaro, author of “Federico Garcia Lorca,” illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro and published by Lectorum Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Scholastic Inc.
  • Yuyi Morales, illustrator of “My Abuelita,” written by Tony Johnston and published by Harcourt Children’s Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • John Parra, illustrator of “Gracias. Thanks,” written by Pat

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1180. On-Line Floricanto: Poets Respond to Arizona Racists

"Lightning On a Black Night Over The Chuska Mountains" by Kristopher Barney
"The Stone Garden" and "I Am" by Luis Ascencio-Cortez
"To the Poets / A los poetas" by Edith Morris-Vásquez
“A.R.I.Z.O.N.A” by José Gutiérrez
"Rubbish" by Luzma Umpierre
“Kokopelli Pauses” by Alma Luz Villanueva
"Prayer For The Civil Disobedient" by Iuri M. Lara
"Rimas contra las cárceles de papel" by Octavio Merecias Cuevas
"Broken"- Rosa Escamilla


By Kristopher Barney


there’s a part of me that becomes alive
becomes deadly aware of everything
in all the insane moments of my life
in every cloud shape
in the shapes of my homeland
in the faces
in the rough texture of brown bodies
where one can find
trails of beauty
parts of the eternal
passions ignited in the sensuality of the touch
that gives me goose bumps
the magic that happens
too sudden and less often and
yes i miss you and my mind
runs a separate road of longing of
absorbing beauty through silence and the
internal dialogue over the value of life and
words & actions given to
souls lost somewhere between
this world and the next
a dual battle between gods and men & the
gentle children who
walk in the first days of freedom
we still have it inside of us
this sense of freedom
everything before Columbus
before all the bullshit
this fragrance
this look in the eyes
in bodies tanned by desert wind
and blue sunned skies
beautiful brown bodies that
fit right into scenes of
red canyon bottomlands
brown eyes
black hair
the beauty that only Native can appreciate
this spirit that brings songs to me
in this early morning
all that i take in
when i’m on a journey
hell bent on easing the lonesomeness and
momentary heartbreak of coming to terms with
this life
with seeing
the organs of the earth split open
the trembling nature of anger taken hold
when i walk through this land
see coal trains and trucks hauling
coal to power plants and hear the endless rhetoric
and debates of NDN politicians
hear the worthless discussions over
how life contains so little value next to pleasing
the greed of corporations and
the shadows that implode
as shareholders withhold their investments
as the world of Wall St. becomes
covered in seaside oil sludge
when all so called transparency gets fogged
by the smoke stacks of power plants and cities
the death
the black winds that cover us all and yet
all i can think of is you this morning
the restless night
the wrestling to sleep
this wind that surrounds me in this a.m. moment
the images fading through overcast and sun’s
first light and the silent wishing to be
somewhere else
an escape from the torture of this life
the responsibility those like myself face
this road
this song
this act of pure resistance
this dance with eagle plumes and clouds
the lightning that strikes
through a black night over
the Chuskas……..

(c) Kristopher Barney

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1181. Night in the city: Noir goes local in short-story collections

Book review by Daniel Olivas

If you're a fan of crime fiction, then there is no better publisher to turn to than Akashic Books and its award-winning noir series of paperback anthologies tied to specific cities or regions.

Two of my favorites are Mexico City Noir (edited by Paco Ignacio Taibo II) and Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics (edited by Denise Hamilton), both priced at $15.95.

In Mexico City Noir, Taibo brings together a dozen stories that involve grisly, though sometimes funny, tales of mayhem, drugs and political dirty tricks.

His roster of talent is Eugenio Aguirre, Eduardo Antonia Parra, Bernardo Fernández, îscar de la Borbolla, Rolo Diez, Victor Luis González, F.G. Haghenbeck, Juan Hernández Luna, Myriam Laurini, Eduardo Monteverde and Julia Rodríguez. (Taibo also includes "The Corner," one of his own rather wry stories concerning a crime writer.)

The stories were translated into English by Achy Obejas, the acclaimed novelist of Ruins and Days of Awe. The importance of a talented translator can never be overemphasized: Obejas captures all the nuance, mystery and suspense one would expect from noir.

Juan Hernández Luna's "Bang!" begins: "I'm standing in front of the dark barrel of a gun, which is held by a guy who is watching me carefully and gesturing unsympathetically. I try to move but the guy makes a sign indicating not to or he'll have to shoot."

But the story swerves and turns in on itself as the narrator mocks not only his situation, but also the tropes of classic noir: "Dialogue. Right now there should be dialogue. Threatening phrases that indicate who has the power, and although there's a gun aimed at me, every word suggests I'm the one with the ace up his sleeve."

The story takes several turns until it ends in an existential meditation on a life that is both "bountiful and idiotic."

In the 15 tales collected by Denise Hamilton for Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, we enjoy a guided tour of urban crime in a city that some would call "ground zero" for pulp fiction.

This is the second Akashic collection to cover the City of Angels; the best-selling and award-winning 2007 anthology was also edited by Hamilton. This time out, she covers the city's dark corners with stories by Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, James Ellroy, Leigh Brackett, James M. Cain, Chester Himes, Ross MacDonald, Walter Mosley, Naomi Hirahara, Margaret Millar, Joseph Hansen, William Campbell Gault, Jervey Tervalon, Kate Braverman and Yxta Maya Murray.

Hamilton reflects the great diversity of L.A.'s population by including stories with characters who live (and sometimes die) in the many ethnic communities that make up the city. In Yxta Maya Murray's "Lucía" (excerpted from her enormously successful 1997 novel, Locas

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1182. As Texas textbooks go to the right, so go . . .

This concerns what your and our children may learn in years to come about U.S. history and the world. With the largest number of students in the country, Califas y Tejas wield great influence with textbook publishers, and the rest of the states suffer the consequences. The Texas State Board of Education made significant right-wing revisionist changes to textbooks they will use for years to come.

Among others, People for the American Way launched a campaign to try to stop the changes at major publishers. Here are just some of the "high"-lights you might see coming to a textbook in your neighborhood schools:

"Former Clinton White House Science Adviser Jeff Schweitzer summed up the revisions well, noting that the new standards:

  • Question the separation of church and state under the false premise that we are a Christian nation.
  • Relabel the United States a "constitutional republic" instead of a democracy (think the names of our two major political parties).
  • Remove the New Deal from a timeline of significant historical events, because Franklin D. Roosevelt's efforts were socialistic.
  • Describe Reagan's invasion of Granada in 1983 as a "rescue" and praises Reagan for his "role in restoring national confidence, such as Reagonomics and Peace with Strength." (No mention of Iran-Contra.)
  • Note Nixon's "role in normalizing relations with China and the policy of détente," but don't mention Watergate.
A picture of a business woman holding a briefcase was even pulled and replaced with a mother baking a cake. And while an attempt to remove Thomas Jefferson from a major part of the curriculum (presumably because of his liberal views on government and religion) failed, labor leader, civil rights icon (and PFAW board member) Dolores Huerta was removed along with others who did not conform to the Far Right's narrow ideals.

There were many more changes that simply cannot be allowed to be printed in textbooks to be used by students nationwide.

Take action to make sure Texas' controversial standards do not impact the education of students in other states."

The following petition was posted here, in case you want to sign it:

To Whom It May Concern:

Textbook publishers have traditionally used content which conforms disproportionately to the textbook and curriculum standards of one state: Texas. The Texas State Board of Education is currently a political body dominated by ideological extremists who are seeking to rewrite history and use social studies textbooks to advance a political agenda. Textbooks should be prepared by those with substantive subject matter expertise and not to promote a particular political worldview.

1 Comments on As Texas textbooks go to the right, so go . . ., last added: 6/21/2010

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1183. Some white editors say Latino submissions are “sub-par?” What?!

guest post by Mayra Lazara Dole

Many of the thousands of Latino writers submitting to big publishers and getting rejected are intellectuals or academics who write perfect English and Spanish, thus I was shocked to read about editors “throwing their doors wide to submissions by PoC” and saying “the work they're receiving seems to be sub-par, not polished, or in need of more work than they have time for in this highly competitive business.”

Most editors don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Writers must first go through agents. I don’t know a single agent in these times who’d present the work of a “sub-par” Latino writer to an editor.

Who are the editors stating these comments?

In my view, the remarks seem racist and hurtful to Latino writers. Shame on you!

Marcela Landres, ex-executive editor for Simon & Schuster says:

“If you are a Latino writer… all you can reasonably expect from your publisher is for them to simply print and distribute your book. Do not expect your publisher to invest more than the minimum of time and money in promoting your book…. Don’t assume your publisher or agent will actually tell you this. Most people are unwilling or unable to convey bad news; they’d rather point fingers when things go wrong. It’s just human nature.”

In order for Latino books to sell, not only do publishers need to promote Latino books in the same way they do white authors, they must have a huge Latino list of literary journals, newspapers, blogs, magazines, etc. Sending Latino books for review to your Caucasian list is important, but we need Latino reviewers too. (I have created my own list.)

If editors put the same effort in advertising and marketing Latino books, instead of discarding, rejecting and abandoning Latino writers and authors, I’m confident we can also become best-sellers.

Two Questions to editors who made these remarks:

• Do you think most Hispanics and POC are illiterate or semi-illiterate?--I'm always surprised when people aren't aware that a large percentage of Latinos and POC are highly literate.

• If you are receiving manuscripts from Latinos that aren’t up to par, why don’t you recommend professional book doctors to them as you do with your Caucasian writers whose novels need work?

The publishing business boils down to two factors:

• What white editors know will sell.

Many large publishers have made a mint with white vampire, zombie and werewolf novels. Now, most editors are searching for Horror, Dystopian, Paranormal and Steampunk. Obviously, in this economy unless Latinos wish to self-publish, it’s no longer about art, literary merit, or the love for the written word.

It’s all about TRENDS that rake in the mula. It’s understandable. If editors don’t publish books or authors that sell, they could be terminated.

Film director, Alejandro Agresti (Valentin and The Lake House—the latter’s stars are S

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1184. Tim Z. Hernandez

This week's focus is Tim Hernandez, poet, performer, and novelist. Tim is the recipient of several awards including the American Book Award for his poetry collection Skin Tax, the Zora Neale Hurston Award, and the James Duval Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation. Tim's interview follows my review of his outstanding novel, Breathing, In Dust, now available through Texas Tech University Press. Tim is one of those "writers to watch."


Breathing, In Dust
Tim Z. Hernandez
Texas Tech University Press, 2010

I have been an avid reader for more than fifty years and yet I continue to be amazed by the power of the written word. I can still be overwhelmed by the well-crafted paragraph that deserves multiple readings; or by a patch of gritty dialog that echoes conversations I remember distinctly; or by a descriptive phrase that manages to convey place, emotion and character, all at the same time. Reading occupies my mind like few other experiences, and to this day I am grateful for the subtle encouragement from parents and grandparents to read and exercise my brain. My reading is made all the more enjoyable when I know that the writer only recently set off on her or his literary journey and so the expectations are high. The promise of future excellent reading has been renewed – the world is better.

Tim Z. Hernandez is the latest writer I have read whose promise is obvious, whose talent is rich, and whose honest and unflinching debut novel, Breathing, In Dust, deserves a wide-readership and critical attention.

Hernandez comes from the San Joaquin Valley of Central California. His book is set in a fictionalized reflection of that land. Say “San Joaquin Valley” and we may reference Fresno, may understand the Steinbeck connection, and we most likely accept the importance of agriculture to the image of the Valley, one of the “breadbaskets of America.” Those of us not from this Valley may imagine verdant, massive farms; a hazy summer country life; a small-town American ideal. But Hernandez reveals an unfamiliar, hidden Valley. The people of Catela, the primary setting for the book, are swimming against the stream, drowning in day-to-day survival struggles, and losing the battle. Tim Hernandez gives his readers the heart of the American dream suffering from a weak and erratic pulse.

The San Joaquin Valley is plagued with poverty. For example, according to a 2009 article in the Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal, written by Lloyd G. Carter, the Twentieth Congressional District, which includes a portion of the western San Joaquin Valley down through Kings and Kern counties, has the “dubious distinction of being the poorest of the 436 congressional districts in America. The region is rife with social problems ranging from high unemployment to gang and drug problems, high teen-pregnanc

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1185. Paraíso Portátil- Portable Paradise

Paraíso Portátil - Portable Paradise

by Mario Bencastro (Arte Público Press)

A stirring collection of stories bring to life the impact of war and the need to leave one’s country due to violence and poverty

The watchman feels very fortunate to have a job in El Salvador after the civil war, when so many people are unemployed. It’s boring but easy work, taking care of a new house that belongs to a Salvadoran couple living in Los Angeles. When he thinks about his previous jobs—day laborer, coffee harvester, highway construction worker—he’s even more grateful. All he has to do is water the plants and cut the grass, and of course, keep thieves from stealing all the furnishings. And once a month, he reassures the owners that their beautiful home in their beloved homeland remains in good condition until their next visit. Then one day, everything changes.

Acclaimed Salvadoran writer Mario Bencastro examines themes of war, dislocation, and longing in this bilingual collection of stories, poetry, and one novella. Many of his characters are forced to leave their homelands because of violence and poverty. But once in the Promised Land, separated from family and friends and in a country whose language and culture they don’t understand, many find themselves overwhelmed by feelings of loss and nostalgia.

In “Dragon Boy,” a group of children orphaned by El Salvador’s civil war band together to survive, even as they are exploited by predators. In “The Plan,” a successful Swiss millionaire returns to his native El Salvador—which he left as a defenseless orphan—and executes his ruthless plan to take revenge on those responsible for the brutal killings of his family. And in “From Australia with Love,” a Salvadoran émigré plans to marry a countryman she met on the Internet, until they realize that they have met before.

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1186. Behind Me and Before Me

Excluding familia, there is only a thing or two which I enjoy equal to or slightly more than books. I was a middle school student the first time I saw a skateboarder. We were stuck in traffic as we entered the San Antonio Zoo and from a distance I became fixated on a thin figure spinning and spinning around in a circle. The length of his hair hovered and spun like the flimsy fan petals of one of those multi-lighted circus toys when pressed at full speed. Later on that evening on our way back to my tia’s apartment, my dad stopped at K-Mart and bought me my first skateboard.

Two Fridays ago I received a voice mail from the mother of a former student, “Jesse this is Stacy Hernandez, Adrian Hernandez’s mom, I was trying to reach you to let you know that Adrian passed away last night. Please reach me.”) I first met Adrian in August of 2009; he had fallen behind at a school in Wyoming the previous school year, and wanting a fresh start his folks decided to move to Greeley and enroll him at Maplewood Middle School. Adrian was the first student I sat down and spoke with at our school’s orientation for incoming students. He caught my eye as he strolled somewhat aimlessly from one table station to the next. I recall our school’s head coach attempting to recruit him for athletics as his size and build resembled that of a quarterback or hardwood center. I made my way slowly to where the coach had him cornered and overheard Adrian mention how he would consider it, but by the insignia on his shirt, the frayed jeans and his worn sneakers; it was obvious (to the two of us) that Adrian’s athleticism would be spent elsewhere. I strategically interrupted the coach’s pitch and introduced myself to Adrian as his new principal.

Before any talk of classes or extra-curricular activities, I probed him on his preference of skateboards for as any true skater knows; the first question targets the types of boards we skate. And as it would be for the remainder of the school year, Adrian would give me the low down on each of his new skate-decks; its pop, weight and shape were forever his key ingredients. These are conversations we shared while on lunch duty or when crossing paths during my hallway sweeps. At least a couple of times a week I found him buying time with the secretaries until I showed up from a scheduled meeting or observation. Before entering my office, he had to prove that he was getting along fine in his classes. The deal was that he’d start the year in the seventh grade and if at the end of first semester his behavior and grades validated a move forward, Adrian would start the eighth grade after winter break.

It took all but a couple of days into second semester for Adrian to find his place among the eighth grade students. Because the skate culture is one of the rare lifestyles that do not discriminate against age, ethnicity, race, and or gender, the company Adrian kept already existed on day one. But the girls, the girls were a different story as one after another proposed that our counselor schedule his classes according to each of their own.

Before either of us had realized it, the end of the school year was fast on our heels. The Tuesday before the last day, Adrian and a couple of his buddies spent the day in my office watching skate videos and eating pizza. We talked about the evolution of skateboarding and where it was headed. Along with the boys, I had agreed to hit the various skateparks throughout our summer break. Adrian was ecstatic that the warm weather had arrived and the books would be put away for a few short months. A few weeks before the end of the year I realized why this young man had made an impression on me nine months earlier. In (those final days) looking at him as he emerged from the front door minutes after the day's final bell, I saw myself as I was so many years ago. He walked by and in what was close to a whisper he'd say, "I'll see you tomorrow Mr. T." For a few seconds he'd hesitate with the street before him, the finger tips of his right-hand

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1187. Guest Post: Mayra Livingstone Dole

Some White Editors say Latino Submissions are “SUB-PAR?” WHAT?!

By: Mayra Livingstone Dole

Many of the thousands of Latino writers submitting to big publishers and getting rejected are intellectuals or academics who write perfect English and Spanish thus I was shocked to read about editors “throwing their doors wide to submissions by PoC” and saying that “the work they're receiving seems to be sub-par, not polished, or in need of more work than they have time for in this highly competitive business.”

Most editors don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Writers must first go through agents. I don’t know a single agent in these times who’d present the work of a “sub-par” Latino writer to an editor.

Marcela Landres, ex executive editor for Simon & Schuster says, “If you are a Latino writer… all you can reasonably expect from your publisher is for them to simply print and distribute your book. Do not expect your publisher to invest more than the minimum of time and money in promoting your book….Don’t assume your publisher or agent will actually tell you this. Most people are unwilling or unable to convey bad news; they’d rather point fingers when things go wrong. It’s just human nature.”

Who are the editors stating these comments?

In my view, the remarks seem racist and are hurtful to Latino writers.
Shame on you!
1 Comments on Guest Post: Mayra Livingstone Dole, last added: 6/16/2010
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1188. 2010 Américas Book Award

For more information visit

The Américas Award is given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. By combining both and linking the Americas, the award reaches beyond geographic borders, as well as multicultural-international boundaries, focusing instead upon cultural heritages within the hemisphere. The award is sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP).

The award winners and commended titles are selected for their 1) distinctive literary quality; 2) cultural contextualization; 3) exceptional integration of text, illustration and design; and 4) potential for classroom use. The winning books will be honored at a ceremony (fall 2010) during Hispanic Heritage Month at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

2010 Américas Award Winners 

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez. Knopf, 2009. 318 pgs. ISBN 978-0-375-85838-3.

What Can You Do with a Paleta? / ¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? By Carmen Tafolla, Illustrated by Magaly Morales. Tricycle Press, 2009. 36 pgs. ISBN 978-1- 58246-289-9.

Américas Award Honorable Mentions 

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Curbstone, 2009. 280 pgs. ISBN 978-1-

I Know the River Loves Me / Yo sé que el río me ama by Maya Christina González. Children's Book Press, 2009. 24 pgs. ISBN 978-0-89239-233-9.

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1189. Review: Women who live in coffeeshops. On-Line Floricanto.

Review: Stella Pope Duarte. Women Who Live in Coffee Shops. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2010.

ISBN 9781558856004.

Michael Sedano

Stella Pope Duarte's Vietnam war/Chicano movimiento novel, Let Their Spirits Dance, tells a powerful story that merits reading, both for its view of movimiento organization around the Vietnam war as well as Duarte’s skillful writing.

I know some readers--I among them--were put off by Duarte's stridently nationalistic stance at the conclusion of her Vietnam novel, the roll call of war dead Duarte limits to dead Chicano soldiers, to the exclusion other names. That was her author's prerogative, signalling that Jesse's life and death in Let Their Spirits Dance was the story of all those dead Chicano soldiers whom history and United States literature would otherwise ignore. All the men I trained with at Ft. Ord—not just raza--who followed orders and went off to die in Vietnam deserved to be noticed, not ignored. To me, the only color that mattered was the green uniform we all wore, hence my discomfort with Duarte's politics.

Ultimately, Duarte’s strategy proves prescient, doesn’t it? PBS’ WWII series planned to burn us out of our role in that history. Texas pinheaded textbook writers are erasing us out of US history. In today's Arizona, its "breathing while brown" law would stand Jesse and all those names up against a wall and demand they prove their citizenship. All those names Duarte omitted could walk past whistling Dixie without a care in the world. My apologies to Stella for resenting her insight.

It’s unlikely Duarte’s work in Women Who Live in Coffee Shops will engender even a whit of rejection from readers based on their ethnicity or Duarte’s focus. The thirteen stories feature either very young or very old people, and in addition to Chicana Chicano characters, Duarte peoples her tales with Italian, Polish, and Appalachian Anglos.

Here are Arizonans trapped in their own lives by poverty and its pernicious economic culture. But Duarte isn’t writing some bleeding heart tales of woe, but rather how hard scrabble people find ways to earn hope, or just a soupçon of satisfaction.

The title story, which comes fourth in the sequence, for example, has a host of locals—Chicana, black, Anglo--unite to protest the arrest of an Italian coffee shop owner. Duarte suggests Sal is guilty of something, maybe the revenge murder of a jewel thief, or something else. The piggish cops earn no respect from the locals, who relish poking a sharp stick in officialdom’s eye. When the child narrator’s mother hands Sal back the inciminating evidence she’d absconded in advance of the search warrant, it’s a measure of justice.

“Homage” shows how women and men readily close ethnic and class-based gaps. The first-person narrator is a clerical factotum in the county courthouse. Overdrawn and perpetually broke, she’s painfully aware of the fancy cars in prime parking spots, and the expensive consequences from the letters she and her co-worker stuff and put into the mail. She catches the eye and, owing to a studied vocabulary, the ear, of a mid-level manager. They flirt. He turns a cold shoulder to a needy Chicano couple. She nags. He has a change of heart. The couple will profit, and the clerk and the boss will have a date and who knows, a happily ever after future.

Readers will note how efficiently Duarte uses her words and material. In the coffee shop story, for example, a colorful bagwoman called Margaret Queen of Scots, is good for a couple of paragraphs, then forgotten as the plot turns to the central action. But as the collection closes, Margaret

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Rigoberto González is the author of eight books and the editor of Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing recently published by the University of Arizona Press. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, winner of the American Book Award, and The Poetry Center Book Award, he writes a Latino book column for the El Paso Times. He is contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, and is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers—Newark, State University of New Jersey.

Rigoberto kindly agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about the Camino del Sol anthology:

DANIEL OLIVAS: What role has the Camino del Sol series played in Chicano and Latino literature?

RIGOBERTO GONZÁLEZ: Whether the University of Arizona Press was aware of this or not, by championing this literary series devoted exclusively to publishing Chicano/Latino authors for the past sixteen years, the press has been keeping a cultural record of Chicano/Latino literature in the new millennium. The extensive and distinguished list of authors in the series is a veritable who’s who and this has made it an attractive place for early career writers to submit quality work. Thankfully, the series has always kept its doors open to new voices, fomenting an incredible community of artists that will sustain a dynamic and energetic list of talent as the press moves into the next decade. The reputation of Camino del Sol titles continues to grow, solidifying its place as one of the most important and visible Chicano/Latino literary series in the nation.

DO: How long did it take you to compile the poems, stories and essays that were eventually chosen for the anthology?

RG: I had read or reviewed for The El Paso Times most of the titles by the time Patti Hartmann (the acquisitions editor of the University of Arizona Press) approached me about undertaking this project. But I did have to reread most of the titles (close to 50 books) with the help of my graduate assistant Diego Báez. Together, we read, selected and retyped all of the entries within one year. Few of the authors had any idea this anthology was being put together and none had any input on the selections. I wanted to create a narrative of sorts, reflecting the political and social changes that were in the air, and as editor I made the choice to strategize independently. But I was guided by the power and beauty of the writing. This was, I felt, the true testament of the series--how the authors’ language, voices and ideas remain relevant to the times and environments we live in.

DO: Did you notice a difference between the earlier pieces and the newer ones?

RG: Whatever I come up with in terms of an answer is immediately proven false. About the only thing I can come up with is that the series eventually owned up to the inclusive term Latino. From 1994 to 2001, the series published exclusively Chicano writers, but then came the Caribbean writers like Virgil Suárez and the late Rane Arroyo, and more recently the South American writers Braulio Muñoz, Kathleen de Azevedo and Marjorie Agosín. There’s still room for other traditions and nationalities, and it will be exciting to see what will come next.


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1191. 3,480 Miles from Colombia: An Earthling's Call to the Motherland

by tatiana de la tierra

“La madre es lo más sagrado que hay, madre no hay sino una, papá puede ser cualquier hijueputa.” (The mother is most sacred; there is only one mother, any motherfucker could be the father.) –from No nacimos pa’ semilla by Alonso Salazar J.

Colombia is a firefly in my mind’s eye, flickering in phosphorescent magic for a moment before disappearing into total darkness. Colombia is inside of me, yet it is nowhere to be seen. I think of her as mine by birthright—those are my mountains, my vallenatos, my dusty winding roads, my chontaduros, my Shakira. But really, it’s the other way around. I am the one who belongs to her.

Colombia is my motherland, my matria, my entrance into the planet of Earth. That tiny spec of earth where I was born has defined me forever. Forget the fact that I don’t even remember Villavicencio because I went to live in Bogotá when I was a few months old. Forget that I came to Miami with my family when I was 7 and visited Colombia countless times since yet haven’t been there in 9 whole years.

Forget that some things have faded, that I latch on to old memories—eating fresh fried snapper on the beach in Santa Marta, getting nauseous on all those curves while driving through the mountains in Tolima, licking the walls at the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá, plopping into a pew inside the church in Villahermosa after being overcome by a drastic change in altitude, taking the long walk to visit my ancestors at the cemetery in El Libano, dealing with that prickly reality of guerillas that came to extort us at my family’s farm in Palmira, hanging out in nightclubs when I was 5 with my Abuelita Blanca in Bogotá, burying my 38 year-old brother in Barranquilla. These memories at my fingertips are just a few of many more that exist in circular time. I am here now and I was there then yet in a way I am here and there simultaneously. Memories of my homeland intercept the reality that I live in Long Beach, California, approximately 3,480 miles from Bogotá.

My brother’s death put my romantic relationship with Colombia on hold. Why go back to the scene of the crime, to the site of indescribable pain of the end of my brother’s life? Yet Gus loved Colombia and lived there in the complexity of our identities. He was born in Bogotá, grew up in Miami, and relocated to Colombia when he was 29. I interviewed him once in Santa Marta and asked how he identified. He said, “You know, I’m here but I don’t feel like I’m Colombian. I feel more like American-Colombian and when I was in the United States I felt like I was a Colombian-American.” When I asked him what he thought about being Colombian and living in the U.S. he said, “I was proud to be Colombian… I love my country.”

A country is an odd thing to love, considering that we are all children of mother earth, which has no delineated territories. Pachamama is the alchemical mixture of soil, seed, ash, rock, water, fire and flower that gives us our bones and our first breath. We are born through our mother’s wombs to be gifted with the citizens

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1192. un video, una biblioteca

This, my third unemployed Saturday searching for a teaching position. The Denver Post affirms my future is as uncertain as many others' in the Great Recession that may become our Permanent Condition:

"Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been warning that 300,000 school teachers may l
ose their jobs if the federal government doesn't bail out public school systems."

But if I despair, I can watch my daughter Marika's video of kids performing this May at the Barnum Elem. Talent Show. It covers the most important loves I nurture in my students: Love of animal and plant life, the Earth, the arts, their culture and fellow man, education and lastly, family.

A poem, a chant and a song. The performance won't win any competitions--they're just first graders--but I share it in case you need something uplifting, something to inspire you to keep searching for what your life lacks at the moment. For faster download, click the Small version. More info about the video content at the bottom of this post.

Biblioteca de Cuentos

A friend Juan V. sent me a site called Biblioteca de Cuentos.
There you will find a list of authors and stories or passages from larger works, all en español. Isabel Allende, Carlos Castaneda, Octavio Paz, Edgar Allen Poe y más. You click on an author's work and a screen open with a graphic and the stylized text for you to read. As my friend said, "Para los que tengan el tiempo de pasar en la compu aqui les va algo divertido." The Castaneda passage spoke to my search for a new job:

"Un camino no es más que un camino.

Que lo abandones cuando tu corazón así te lo indique no significa ningún desaire a ti mismo ni a los demás.

Pero tu decisión de seguir esa senda o apartarte de ella no debe ser producto del temor ni la ambición.

Luego hazte esta pregunta: ¿Tiene corazón este camino?

Todos los caminos son iguales, no llevan a ningún lado. Atraviesan la maleza, se internan o van por debajo de ella.

Si ese camino tiene corazón, entonces es bueno. De lo contrario, no te servirá de nada …

de "Las enseñanzas de Don Juan”, de Carlos Castaneda

about the poem, chant and song:

Children love many things. These activities touch on some of the most important. Performed by forty of Mr. R. Garcia's first grade students from this and prior years. [BTW, 90% of these kids attained grade level or advanced in reading.]

First poem, written by the 15th century prince of Texcoco, engineer and poet, Nezahualcoyotl, appears in microprint (in blue oval) on a 100-peso Mexican note. It refers to the love of the arts (music), animal (bird) and plant life (flower)

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1193. Arizona?

We soon may see copycat versions of the notorious SB1070 in several states, but not everything coming out of Arizona is bad. (Hey, I got family in the Phoenix area.) As proof, here are a few books scheduled for publication later this year, all from the University of Arizona Press. Now if only the rabid anti-Mexican Arizonans would read some of these ---

[text from the University of Arizona Press Fall/Winter 2010 Catalog]

Each and Her
Valerie Martínez

In 2004 twenty-eight women and young girls were murdered in Ciudad Juárez and the surrounding areas. The tragedy escalated to fifty-eight murders in 2006, then again to eighty-six in 2008, and current estimates top four hundred deaths. Now poet Valerie Martínez offers a poetic exploration of these events, pushing boundaries—stylistically and artistically—with vivid poems that contextualize femicide.

Martínez departs from traditional narrative to reveal the hidden effects and outcomes of the horrific and heart-wrenching cases of femicide. These poems—lyric fragments and prose passages that form a collage—have an intricate relation to one another, creating a complex literary quilt that feels like it can be read from the beginning, the end, or anywhere in between. Martínez is personally invested in the topic, evoking the loss of her sister, and Each and Her emerges as a biography of sorts and a compelling homage to all those who have suffered. Other authors may elaborate on or investigate this topic, but Martínez humanizes it by including names, quotations, realistic details, and stark imagery.

The women of Juárez, like other women around the world, are ravaged by inequality, discontinuity, politics, and economic plagues that contribute to gender violence. Martínez offers us a poignant and alarming glance into another world with these never-before-told stories. Her refreshing and explosive voice will keep readers transfixed and intrigued about these events and emotions—removed from us and yet so close to the heart.

Valerie Martínez is the author of several books, including World to World, published by the University of Arizona Press. Her poems, essays, and translations have also appeared in The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, and The Latino Poetry Review. Martínez is the Poet Laureate for the city of Santa Fe for 2008–2010.

The Good Rainbow Road

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1194. It's all about the music

This will be quick - too much going on this week, sorry for the short post. And I know this may be too local - but it's what I got. Here's the latest entertainment schedule from Rick's Tavern, the best place in Denver to enjoy the music our parents and abuelitos listened to when we were young kids, and that we dance to now as older kids. This month features Dwayne Ortega and the Young Guns as well as a Festival of New Mexican and Tejano Music. Great sounds para tirar chancla. If you can't read the poster, click on it for a better view.

A few other miscellaneous notes - the latest batch of music I brought into the house made me think I was missing a class or two up in Fort Collins at good old CSU. 1968 all over again. New music from Jimi Hendrix (Valley of Neptune - the album that was going to be next), and "lost" music from the Rolling Stones' epic Exile on Main Street (10 "new" songs.) Meanwhile, gente is in the streets, marching, protesting, and getting busted. The suddenly very warm weather reminds me of too short summers hanging around the campus, a party every Friday night, Chicana students mesmerizing me with their creativity and pride, and lazy days where nothing gets done, and yet we all survived and thrived in what now seems like a soft-edged, ephemeral world of dreams and illusions and hope.

Speaking of the old days, and ancient news, I came across a very strange note about my new book, from some obscure online discussion group. The message thread was entitled Novel by Brown Supremacist Glamorizes Chicano Terrorists - obviously the guy hadn't read King of the Chicanos. The weirdo said: The timing of this novel, like the trailer for the movie Machete, seems targeted to inspire race riots by young La Raza (THE RACE) militants. Give me a break.

Jesse's post yesterday mentioned "The Chief" - Ubaldo Jimenez. Cy Young candidate. All Star. Best pitcher in the majors. I admit it, I am a fan. This young pitcher is the real deal. As Jesse said, ¡Claro que sí!

Come back soon - there's much more in store here at La Bloga. Author interviews. Reviews of new books. Literary news. Poetry - weapon of love - aimed at SB 1070 - weapon of hate. ¡Ándale!


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1195. Three who left the school building

Teaching in U.S. public schools isn't a job or just a career; it's a lifestyle. Those unfamiliar with the work envy teachers their summers off and Xmas holidays. But what comes with the job are 10-12 hrs./day and weekends and holidays spent preparing lesson plans, grading papers and filling out forms. Plus, summer hours preparing for the coming year. For a starting teacher in Denver this works out to be $15/hr. With a master's it goes up to $16.50. Excluded from this is what can easily be $3k out-of-pocket that doesn't get reimbursed. We're not in it for the money; we even pay to be a teacher.

In this Great Recession, having any job is good. I know because I'm presently out of work and seeking a new position with such ridiculously low pay. Like Joe Navarro below, teaching is my passion and calling.

Navarro's letter is a great overall treatment of what's wrong with how the country educates our children. Given the direction of the education discourse nationwide, what he writes about California is significant in that it will likely spread to encompass the remainder of the country. That's his letter's importance.

I won't summarize here my last three years working in one Denver inner city school; maybe I'll write a novel about it one day. I'll just tell you about one student who wasn't one of my bilingual students.

Let's call him Pacifico, because his name is antithetical to his school life and role in it. Pacifico's small for his age, white as a snowflake, unassuming, and worse, sports the thick coke-bottle glasses that should have been outlawed decades ago. I never witnessed any of Pacifico's disruptive behavior, but staff would tell me about various incidents. I've no reason to doubt so many testaments.

I'd often see Pacifico sitting waiting in the office
for the principal--in trouble again for hitting, cussing, throwing something, somewhere. I'd talked to him a couple of times in passing, but when I saw him repeatedly eating alone in the cafeteria one week, I went over to him. I assumed he'd been separated from others because of his lunchroom behavior.

"Why are you sitting alone? You being punished?"
"No, I don't like being with the other kids; they pick on me."
"You don't want to sit with your friends?"
"I don't have any."

After that I'd occasionally talk with him, advising him that he at least needed to learn how to stay out of trouble. Sometimes I'd just wish him a good morning--this to a six/seven-year-old who seldom seemed to have few good mornings in his school life. He always acknowledged me, sometimes even breaking out with a crack of a smile, but not often.

My final week of school, having joined the ranks of the not-coming-back-next-year, I tended to avoid staff gatherings and talking with anyone, but on the final day I had to go through the office to hang up my room keys for the last time.

Pacifico was there, possibly not in trouble. He came up close, looked me in the face. "I'm going to miss you." He hugged me like we'd always been the best of buddies, now parting, the message being that he too was leaving.

I don't know that Pacifico hugged everyone that day. Or only me. It doesn't matter. Nor do I know where he's going. Like Navarro below, I don't even know where I'm going.

I do know that should Pacifico grow up to be a sociopathic Columbiner and enter my school, his aim will at least hesitate when it turns on me. On the other hand, he may carry the memory of our moments as something positive that eventually contributes to his not entering a school in such a fashion.

Joe Navarro will tell you now about his torment of retiring as a teacher. I won't, and not because I'm nowhere near retirement. It will be because $15-16 an hour is worth it when it comes with the benefits of Pacifico moments. I

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1196. Interview with Young Adult author Alex Sanchez

by Guest Blogger Andrew J. Peters

Alex Sanchez has blazed a trail in YA fiction with honest, fresh and matter-of-fact portrayals of American gay teenagers. His début novel Rainbow Boys (2003) was selected as a "Best Book for Young Adults" by the American Library Association. His subsequent novels have been bestowed with the Myers Outstanding Book Award (Getting It, 2006) and the Florida Book Award Gold Medal (Bait, 2009).

While attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people remain a polarizing force in the adult world—California's Prop 8 and the Pentagon review of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' for example, young people increasingly accept teenagers declaring themselves gay, starting Gay/Straight Alliance clubs and attending prom with same-sex dates as benign, inspirational or even commonplace events. Accordingly, YA has changed, broadened to include an LGBT fiction niche, and seen a squall of critically-acclaimed publications such as Peter Cameron's Some Day This Pain Will Be Useful To You (2007), Brent Hartinger's Geography Club (2003) and Leanne Lieberman's Gravity (2008).

With seven books published in as many years, Sanchez stands out as a singularly steady YA voice, and his books have become a sort of anthology of the contemporary gay teen experience. Coming out, with all its internal and external challenges, is his standby theme, but his stories reach beyond into many topics – dating, divorce, AIDS scares, which have resonated for young readers, gay and non-gay, for nearly a decade. For older readers, there's the added draw of the subversive. Imagine Judy Blume with all the main characters gay and a sprinkling of non-gay characters on the periphery.

As a longtime advocate for LGBT teens, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to Alex about his work.

Andrew Peters: Alex, thanks so much for stopping by La Bloga. I think of you as a real pioneer. You're one of the first YA authors to launch a successful series with gay teen characters front-and-center. Given the conservative tendencies of the publishing industry, many gay-themed stories have not been embraced so whole-heartedly in the mainstream. What do you think made the difference for your books?

Alex Sanchez: I think much of my initial success came from writing the right book for the right time. Rainbow Boys, my début novel, portrayed characters dealing with issues that so many young people—both gay and straight—face in high schools today: safe sex, HIV, homophobia, along with the perennial teen struggles of figuring out identity, love, friendship, trying to fit in... I think that combination of timely issues and perpetual themes appealed to publishers.

AP: Your parents are Cuban and German. You were born in Mexico and moved to the United States when you were five. In past interviews, you've talked about the challenges of growing up in the States as a non-English speaker, receiving anti-Mexican taunts, and the ability to blend in as a light-skinned boy. How have these experiences shaped your personal sense of cultural identity?

AS: On one hand, I feel lucky to have two cultures—Latino and Anglo. I think that creates more empathy and an ability to see situations and issues from different perspectives. On the other hand, I never feel completely Latino or completely Anglo. Sometimes I have to work to feel I fully belong to either group.
AP: <

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1197. Arizona Meet BP

Guest essay by Álvaro Huerta

What does the State of Arizona have in common with PB, the British global energy corporation? Well, let me count the way.

First, both have been spewing toxins into America’s environment since late April. In the case of Arizona, on April 23rd, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law an unconstitutional and racist measure (SB 1070), whereby criminalizing undocumented workers and legalizing racial profiling against Latinos. As for BP, on April 20th, this corporate mammoth, in the spirit of the “drill-baby-drill” mantra, caused the largest oil leak disaster since the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill over two decades ago.

Secondly, both have been grossly inaccurate regarding their data to rationalize their claims. The supporters of Arizona’s immigration law, for example, argue that since undocumented workers account for the “rise of crime” in this state, the state government had no choice but to pass a law aimed at curtailing these so-called criminals. Yet, recent reports show that crime has actually declined in the desert state and the cheerleaders of this draconian law have yet to produce any legitimate data correlating recent immigrants with crime.

On the contrary, recent research shows that undocumented immigrants on average commit less crime than native-born Americans, especially once we take into account for age, gender and other factors to make valid comparisons. We need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. For example, if we know that recent immigrants are younger (and most likely male) compared to Americans, then we can’t compare these two groups equally when it comes to crime, especially since we know that young people are more likely to commit a crime than older folks.

Writing for the American Conservative magazine in a recently published essay, Ron Unz does an excellent job of examining the complex nature of Latinos (and other groups) vis-à-vis crime rates where he analyzes hard data to debunk myths perpetuated by Republicans and others in this country about the so-called Latino immigrant menace. Despite being a leading force against bilingual education in California in the 1990s, Unz actually puts his Harvard and Stanford educational background to some good use by closely examining the complex relationships between ethnic groups (whites included) and crime in this country.

As for BP, when the corporation first estimated the magnitude of the oil leak, corporate officials dramatically underreported the amount of oil being released daily in the ocean and, consequently, U.S. states in the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, corporate officials, according to news agencies, originally calculated the leak 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day, while U.S. Government officials estimated it at 12,000-19,000 barrels (504,000 to 798,000 gallons) per day. Other scientists, based on video evidence, have estimated it at 70,000 to 100,000 per day.

Thirdly, the actions of both the Arizona government and BP corporate leaders have caused more economic hardship for the residents of the already economically depressed regions. In the case of Arizona, the growing national boycotts against this financially struggling state have resulted in the loss of revenue (both current and future) that will further damage the fragile economy caused by the housing crises, loss of jobs, credit crises and, overall, current recession.


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1198. Guest Columnists: Nina Forsythe Reviews Bernardo and the Virgin. Jean Gillis on La Mission. On-line Floricanto: Poets respond to Arizona's hate laws.

Review: Bernardo and the Virgin

by La Bloga Guest Columnist Nina Forsythe

Silvia Sirias. Bernardo and the Virgin. Chicago: Northwestern Univ Press, 2007.
ISBN: 9780810124271 0810124270

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and especially since the attack on the Twin Towers by Al Queda in 2001, the attention of Americans has shifted from "Communist threats" to "Islamic fundamentalist threats." The Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution of the 1970s and the Contra War of the 1980s, including the Iran-Contra scandal, which provoked such alarm about the peril in "our backyard," have receded from memory. Most of us never had any idea how the events of those turbulent decades were perceived by Nicaraguans, but it's a perspective worth appreciating, both for its own sake and for what it might imply about the complexities of the Islamic world in today's conflicts.

One of the most fascinating news stories that hardly got any ink in the U.S. was a series of visitations by the Virgin Mary reported by a poor tailor and sacristan in the back-of-beyond village of Cuapa. The effects of the apparitions, beginning in May 1980, less than 10 months after the Sandinistas had finally toppled the Somoza dictatorship, reverberated throughout a deeply divided, war-ravaged nation.

This real event is the basis for a novel by Nicaraguan-American Silvio Sirias. Bernardo and the Virgin tells the tale of the seer, the apparitions, and how they touched the lives of the people of Nicaragua. At the heart of this work of fiction is the real-life tailor Bernardo Martínez, but woven around him are the stories of numerous fictional characters whose lives intersect, in one way or another, with his.

And what a motley crew they are. They run the gamut from a giddy, young girl impatient for love to an abrasive seller of religious supplies and her womanizing partner, from a right-wing crusading priest (and CIA operative) to a hardened Sandinista National Security agent, from a devoted 4’11” nun who carries around a 2” statue of the Virgin to a professor having a devastating mid-life crisis. They even include the ex-pat Nicaraguan community in the U.S. Some try to distort the Virgin’s message in various ways, either to undermine the church or to undermine the government, but most are preoccupied by their personal troubles. The stories range from deeply moving to humorous. One of the most hilarious chapters is, believe it or not, about a self-absorbed literary theorist.

The cast of characters, varied as it is, does not become unwieldy because their stories eventually intertwine. As a result, the reader gets a different perspective on an earlier character. Sometimes a later story undermines a previous interpretation; other stories provide a fuller understanding of an earlier event. Not all the characters are equally fleshed out; Father Damian Innocent MacManus, for example, seems more caricature than real. While there are such seemingly two-dimensional people in life, they don’t seem to fare will in fiction. Nevertheless, what we come away with in the end is an understanding of Nicaraguans during the latter part of the twentieth century: their suffering and longings, their losses and hopes, their mysticism and bawdiness, their idealism and resignation. The author writes that he hopes to “give readers some insight into what it has meant to be Nicaraguan during such tumultuous times.” In this entertaining and moving novel, he has done so splendidly.

Interview with author Si

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1199. World Cup/ El mundial de fútbol

 The World Cup is around the corner. This Friday, June 11, in the first match: Mexico- South Africa. Get ready and root for your favorite team!

For the little ones, take a look at  World Soccer Stars / Estrellas Del Fútbol Mundial written by Jose Maria Obregon.

Get ready and dance. These are two of the official songs of the World Cup.

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1200. Mexican Women, KING, NCLR & Habana Blues

UT Press announces the publication of:

Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration: Engendering Transnational Ties

by Luz María Gordillo

Weaving narratives with gendered analysis and historiography of Mexicans in the Midwest, Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration examines the unique transnational community created between San Ignacio Cerro Gordo, Jalisco, and Detroit, Michigan, in the last three decades of the twentieth century, asserting that both the community of origin and the receiving community are integral to an immigrant's everyday life, though the manifestations of this are rife with contradictions.

Exploring the challenges faced by this population since the inception of the Bracero Program in 1942 in constantly re-creating, adapting, accommodating, shaping, and creating new meanings of their environments, Luz María Gordillo emphasizes the gender-specific aspects of these situations. While other studies of Mexican transnational identity focus on social institutions, Gordillo's work introduces the concept of transnational sexualities, particularly the social construction of working-class sexuality. Her findings indicate that many female San Ignacians shattered stereotypes, transgressing traditionally male roles while their husbands lived abroad. When the women themselves immigrated as well, these transgressions facilitated their adaptation in Detroit. Placed within the larger context of globalization,

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