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1. Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family

Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Día de los Muertos or Day of the Death is approaching. In preparation for this amazing festivity, reading Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with Oaxacan paper mache artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate is a great way to start the celebration.
Weill’s latest bilingual book gives a glance of the vast Mexican art. Anita is a young calacagirl, who introduces each member of her skeleton family.  With short and catching sentences in English and Spanish, each character reveals its beauty to the young readers. Each page shows a colorful encounter starting with Anita’s brother Miguel (el travieso/the brat), followed by her cute baby brother Juanito, then her stylish mother, next her handsome father, as well as her adorable grandparents, and last but not least her cat and dog. 
The astonishing art created by Canseco Zárate pops-out automatically like jack-in-the-box. The wonderful sculptures in paper mache are a pleasure for the senses.
Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family is a must read for the season. Reading gives you wings. Visit your local library to check out more exciting stories.
For additional information about Cynthia Weill’s books and artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate’s calacas click on the following links:
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->


Latino/a Rising is the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres.

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

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

Please support this project  

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

Michael Sedano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pola Lopez and her work

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

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

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

Vanessa Acosta

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

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

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

Musicianship and heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los Angeles
Veterans Job Hopes Gain 10,000 Possibilities

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

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

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

Xánath Caraza



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


Keynote Presenters:


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

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

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


Latina/Latino Studies Program at UMKC


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






5:30-                                      WELCOME

Leo Morton, Chancellor 

Miguel Carranza, Latina/Latino Studies

Theresa Torres, NACCS

Juan Betancourt, ALAS

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

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

7:30               RECEPTION                                                  SU THEATER FOYER

Low Rider Car Display                                 Administration Bldg Parking Lot – Cherry Street        




10:00-11:30       CONCURRENT SESSIONS

Session 1.1          Moderator:                                                                                                        Room Bloch 211

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

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

Session 1.2  Moderator:  Viviana Grieco                                                                                 Room Bloch #212

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


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

Session 1.3 Moderator: Morgan                McMichen                                                          Room Bloch 213

ROUNDTABLE:  María Vásquez Boyd, José Faus, Miguel Morales

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

Session 1.4 Moderator: Erica Hernandez Scott                                                                    Room SU 302

WORKSHOP: Judy Ancel and Saira Gordillo

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

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

Victoria Santiago & Claritsa Santiago

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

Jessica Rodas

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

Joseph Salazar and Idaima

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

12:00-1:00 LUNCH           

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

1:30-3:00                     CONCURRENT SESSIONS 2


Session 2.1 Moderator: DJ Ferman                                                                                           Room Bloch 211

ROUNDTABLE:  April Bermudez & Matthew García

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


Session 2.2 Moderator: Jessica Rodas                                                                                     Room Bloch 212

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

TITLE: Maestras: Past, Present, and Future


Session 2.3  Moderator: Morgan McMichen                                                                        Room Bloch 213

READING: Xanath Caraza, Natalia Treviño and Minerva Margarita Villarreal

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


Session 2.4  Moderator: Jorge Palomares                                                                              SGA Chambers/SU

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

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

Session 2.5          Moderator: Vanessa Aguilar                                                       Room SU 302

TITLE:  Researching Women and Gender in the Midwest

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

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

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


3:15-4:45                     CONCURRENT SESSIONS 3

Session 3.1          Moderator: Norma Cantu                                                                            Room Bloch 211

Panel: Gloria Anzaldúa

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

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

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


Session 3.2  Moderator: Patrica A. McHatton                                                                       Room Bloch 212

ROUNDTABLE: Randy López, Jackie Madrigal

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


Session 3.3  Moderator: Morgan McMichen                                                                        Room Bloch 213

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

TITLE: Gathering Words: A Special issue of Diálogo


Session 3.4          Moderator: Amelia Montes                                                                        Room SU 302

Panel:  Brown Mujeres Navigating Predominantly White Midwest Spaces

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

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

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

4:45-5:00                                              BREAK

5:00-5:30     FEATURED SESSION                                                                      SU Theater


5:30-  Plenary Talk                                                                                                SU Theater

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

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

7:30        RECEPTION                                                                                                                         SU THEATER FOYER


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

8:30 A.M.            BUSINESS MEETING                                           SU Theater

9:00-10:30          CONCURRENT SESSIONS 4

Session 4.1      Moderator: Jessica Rodas                                                                   Bloch 218

Panel: Education Matters

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

Hannah K. Noel:  Developing a Responsible Pedagogy

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

Session 4.2 Moderator: Alice R.                                                                                                                 Bloch 213

Panel:  Chicana Studies at Kansas State University

Yolanda Broyles-González:

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

Isabel Millá

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

Norma A. Valenzuela

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


Session 4.3 Moderator: Alberto Villalmandos                                                                                      Bloch 324

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

TITLE:  Queridos: Midwestern Gay Latino Poets


Session 4.4. Moderator: Theresa Torres                                                                                                                SU 302

WORKSHOP:  José García

TITLE:  West Side Chronicles - City Life Chicano Style


Session 4.5 Moderator:                                                                                                                                 SGA Chambers

ROUNDTABLE: Gabriela Díaz Sabates and Marcelo Sabates

TITLE:  Reshaping the Multicultural Landscape at a Midwestern University

10:30  BREAK

10:45        CLOSING PLENARY

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

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


In Other News


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

Norma Cantú, Reyna Grande and Xánath Caraza

Las Esmeraldas, ESU

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

During my keynote at Emporia State University


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

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

University of North Georgia, Dahlonega Campus

University of North Georgia, Gainesville Campus, LSA



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

Before my poetry presentation
My poem "Frente al mar"

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4. Six-Word Memoirs Rock This Blog

Olga García Echeverría

Wonderful things can happen while procrastinating...

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

I am all over the place.

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

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

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

Got chorro from too many churros...

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

Memoirs can be fleshed or flushed.

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

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

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


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

Portrait of Urrea by Eric Nishimoto

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Too young
an existential
--Geronimo Flores


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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. Latino anthology needs your support. Now.


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manuel Ramos


Vanishing Chicano Culture and the Gentrification of Denver’s Northside

I have been thinking about the Northside a lot recently. 

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Jaramillo's Mural, Primavera

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gentrification is real.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


So what are we willing to do?

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

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

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

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

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

Con Safos,
~Bobby LeFebre

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

by Ernest Hogan

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

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


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

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

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8. Pig Park

By Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

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

From the Publisher

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Sedano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video by Concepción Valadez

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

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

Luis J. Rodriguez Named Los Angeles Poet Laureate

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

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

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

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

News & Notes
Teatro Summit Sweeping Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

News & Notes
Anaya Lecture Slated for Albuquerque

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

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

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

Looking Through Chain-Link at McAllen Station
by Victor Avila

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

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

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

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

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

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

song for Shenandoah… for Luis Ramirez
by Richard Vargas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and still we come
again and again

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

we are
coming home
coming home

coming home
to you

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

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

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

por Oralia Rodríguez

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

© Oralia Rodríguez 

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

Before the Darkness
by Jeff Cannon

I fold a homeless leaf weary
writing to the air

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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11. The Violent Foam: Returning to Poet Daisy Zamora

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

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

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

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

Noticia En El Supermercado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carta A Una Hermana
Que Vive En Un País Lejano

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

                                    “Carta del desterrado,” Li Po

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

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

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

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

Letter To A Sister
Who Lives In A Distant Country

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

                                    “Exile’s Letter,” Li Po

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

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

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

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

Tierra De Nadie

                        A mis poetas que quiero

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

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

No One’s Land

                        To the poets I love

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

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

Under permanent crossfire. 

Daisy Zamora

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia Alanis about her forthcoming novel

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

Deep Down Dark

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

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

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13. A Storyteller and Hero: James Foley

Guest Post 
by Luivette Resto           

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

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

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

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14. Isaac Goldemberg's REMEMBER THE SCORPION

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

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

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

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15. Napí

Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Nature and its colors serve as an inspiration for writer Antonio Ramírez and acclaimed Oaxacan artist Domi to create Napí.Their creativity portrays the one-of-a-kind beauty and the heritage of the Mazatec region located in Oaxaca, Mexico. Simple words, filled with sentiment, are the ingredients that make Napí a priceless tale.
Napí is a mazatec girl who loves to dream. She enjoys listening to her grandfather’s stories while sitting near the river. As her náa or grandmother braids Napí’s hair, the stunning sunset covers the Mazatec region with bright orange, intense violet and dark green. A starry sky is the perfect blanket for Napí’s good night sleep. Napí dreams that she is a white and tall heron. By being a heron, Napí flies high in the sky and admires the gorgeous region as her wings flap in the air like if they were dancing with the wind. Napí wakes up each morning in her comfortable and cozy bed thinking about what the next dream will be about.
Visit your local library to check out more cheerful stories. Remember, reading gives you wings!
Find more of Domi’s great illustrations at:
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16. Ajua Arepa • News 'n Notes • On-line Floricanto

The Gluten-free Chicano's Arepa Antoja
Michael Sedano

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

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

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

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

Three bites short of a whole Arepa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amara holds an arepa

Mail bag
Heritage Studies Celebrated in SanAnto

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

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

from Juan's email:

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

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

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

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

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

Mail bag
Poet Laureate Feted in Houston

Details at AP's website here.

Call for Papers

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

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

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

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

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

por Betty Sánchez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Gilberto Ramos
by Joseph Ross

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

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

a rosary of white wood,
a constellation she hoped might

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crossing the Line
by Robert Neustadt

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

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

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

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

Thousands of children crossed a line of water and sand.

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

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

Nothing Is Right Until You Say It Is
by Joe Morales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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17. “Dark Matter”: Video Poems, la Poesía de Ruben Quesada y más

Por Xánath Caraza
Ruben Quesada (Photo by Sam Logan)
Poetry matters!  Today on La Bloga, we celebrate la poesía del lunes with Ruben Quesada.  His work includes video poems as well as conventionally written poetry.  His themes are multifaceted, postmodern and artistic, involving life-issues such as death and race. Themes of the Midwest and LGBT empowerment have been importantly part of his work.  Continuing with the theme of celebrating poetry, for today’s La Bloga article, in addition, I’ll share some upcoming presentaciones en el mes de octubre para Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind.
Ruben Quesada, Con Tinta Advisor
Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal and Luis Cernuda: Exiled from the Throne of Night. His writing has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, The Rumpus, Superstition Review, Guernica, Ostrich Review, The California Journal of Poetics, Miramar, Boat, Third Coast, Rattle, Palabra Magazine, Packing House Review, Pilgrimage, THEthepoetry, Poetryseen, Quiddity, and Solo Nova. Quesada, Con Tinta Advisor, writes about postmodern poetry that, "within each poetic tradition there comes a time when the reliability of the speaker comes into question and someone new arrives to present their authority on the matter of the human experience." His work is here to do just that. Through his poems he explores art, death, love, race, and sexuality in a way that elevates the everyday to the mythic. However, the work never loses sight of the here and now and how the way we interact with the world, with each other shapes our lives. It is important to him that poetry, the composition and the evolution of diction, syntax, and content be arranged with purpose in order for each component of craft (line, sentence, stanza, text) to be worthy of recognition. Chaos is not a sign of beauty and chaos, which lacks organization is not beautiful. For him, a poem's content must reflect the human experience to produce feelings of exaltation that affect the mind and the senses.
Ruben Quesada in Palabra Pura, Chicago, IL
As a writer and reader, Quesada has struggled to find visionary ideas, values, and models that reflect who he is as a gay Latino in the Midwest. He wonders who is urging readers to resist or question social conventions? He discovered after speaking to numerous gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered writers and editors that their experience is not much different. Whether an LGBTQ person was in a metropolis or a college town, their experience in public never felt welcomed. As he points out, many social and political revolutions have been born through art because it has the power to make us question right and wrong. He does this in his poems and in the poetry he chooses to publish as an editor. He is Poetry Editor for Luna Luna Magazine, Cobalt Review, Codex Journal and The Cossack ReviewThrough these magazines he is helping to bring the voices of a new generation of poets to readers. He wants to be sure to give space to voices that might be otherwise underrepresented. Too often the voices of people of color or queer voices who are not able to be heard. Quesada is working to give them their space, so their experiences can be shared, discussed, and understood. He achieves this by also being the co-founder and creative consultant for the reading series, Stories and Queer, which creates performance space in local communities for queer and POC with simultaneous live broadcast and digital archive. Too often, underrepresented individuals in small communities are expected to move to the “big city” to feel safe or to find community, but this may not be a feasible option, especially in an economically depressed society. The social, political, and economic marginality of people of queer people and people of color and what sustains them is essential in understanding and redefining what it means to be a queer person or a person of color in America.
Storytelling is a central component to all of Quesada’s literary and academic pursuits. He is extending the opportunities for storytelling beyond the page and live performance through the creation of video poems. This can be seen in his video poems for “Dark Matter” and “Mechanics of Men.” “Dark Matter” is a video translation of his own poem, while “Mechanics of Men” is a translation of a David Tomas Martinez poem. These video poems show the dynamic nature of poetry that it can extend beyond the page into a filmic medium. These translations allow the poet to shape the poem with image and sound to highlight aspects of the work that might be the main focus of the poem on the page. This challenges both the poet and the reader to engage with the poem in new and unexpected ways.
Challenging expected lines of thought is something he also brings to his teaching at Eastern Illinois University where he teaches English and creative writing for the performing arts at Eastern Illinois University, including courses on composition, queer theory, graduate and undergraduate poetry, dramatic writing, including playwriting and screenwriting with a focus on horror, as well as a graduate course on digital storytelling.
In his teaching, he stresses the importance of knowing where a poet or thinker sits in the larger tradition of their field. Quesada mentions how Wallace Stevens described the poet’s role as on which to attempts to reconcile the “pressure of reality,” in other words, the sense of being in the world; the purpose is to understand one’s own place in relation to history. Postmodern poetry as a tradition requires an examination of what came before it in order to evolve. If a poet or student does not do this, the work will not be able to push in new directions because they will be unaware of what is innovative and what is not. Being innovative is key. It is through innovation that change can occur. Quesada asks his students to think in terms of the bigger picture and beyond their own community to have a greater understanding of the world around them. This is true of his poetry students as well as students in the other genres he teaches. In all his classes he is equipping them to not only craft their writing well in terms of technique, but to tell their story as well as examine their relation to the world around them. The poet/student must turn toward Eliot’s “impersonality of poetry” and present the world through a personal, direct, and often fragmented experience resounding of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. He wants his students to be active members of their community.
He incorporates technology components into each of his classes, so that students are best prepared for an increasingly digital world. This is accomplished by making assignments and text available online and through incorporating the creation of digital stories whenever possible. Digital stories, similar to the video poems he creates, allow students a new way of approaching and constructing a persuasive argument, a poem or even an informative project. He asks them to consider how to convey their points only through image and sound. A digital story, a video, may also broaden the reach of a poem or an argument for those you may have access to YouTube, but not necessarily to books or written material.
Through his queer theory classes, he is able to educate students about LGBTQ history and have them consider how LGBTQ people are represented in the media and entertainment. By increasing this awareness it allows students to see the historical and current societal factors that leads to prejudice and oppression of LGBTQ people. Film is an important and accessible storytelling medium, which is why he has taught screenwriting classes. It has also led him to pioneer the study of Queer Horror, which examines films that may not be traditionally thought of as horror films. It looks at films that construct a primarily heteronormative filmic world can create a horrific world for a queer character, a character that is seen as unnatural in the presented world. Examining these films in a different way, students can examine the world in a different way, which expands their critical skills and tasks the student to be daring and unexpected.
La Poesía de Ruben Quesada
Ruben Quesada
(from Next Extinct Mammal)
                        City of Bell
Every morning, I discovered the artichoke colored walls
that had been painted and repainted, again and again,
to conceal the names of Tortilla Flats or Grape Street
gangs. Inside, a toothsome smell—dust and incense—
as if ashes of locos and homies had been put to rest
on countertops and floors. As if nobody dared pass
through the glass double doors, not for a gallon of milk,
nor a suitcase of Coors. All year round above the register
hung a Kung Hei Fat Choy sign and at the end of every aisle
sat a golden Buddha, an altar with incense haunting us
through the night. And for twenty years or more
it stood like a waning Godzilla with a sign on the door
in creamy vanilla that read: Yes, we cash checks!
(Previously appeared at THEthepoetry)
            After Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii
And there once was a time on earth when giants and gods prevailed. But here
decisions about life are made by men who die for the sake of valor.
O, mortals, you women who hold back your gleaming hearts from cliffs’ imminent with grief  
curb your cries and instead boldly speak; take the oath and follow into war!
Guard your men against death’s wretched spell; unravel a shadow of black silk—
your body, a shadow fixed to sky, against him forged to die, arms outstretched
like curtains of thick lead to protect against blades. Atomic love, embrace
and conquer death’s sharp edge with your voice; lay your curved silken skin onto his.  
Beloved, filled with light and twisted with torment, your spinning body cries
like a god out of time: Be brief, love! Jagged fiend, cut yourself out of me!
(Previously appeared at The Rumpus)
Antelucent, we lie—your body moons against mine. Earlier,
I stoked sweat on your neck in the humming of this light.
In the dark I listen, now resigned you mumble
about the arms of a pinyon pine, say it points to a falling star
against the bruised pool of sky. We hear the grackles crackle
above a church lot. Then headlights shine on your face
splitting your face, listless lips, half-open eyes—staring out
you wait for the occult wreckage of night to vanish from this world
holding out until its final moment, until you fall asleep
and get lost. Your body light like tulle carried off
by a strong current—taken from me—as I helix in the light.
(Previously appeared at Cimarron Review)
In this blood that haunts my skin,
in the folds of my brain are burrowed
the harrowed words to describe you.
And when the universe was young,
smooth and featureless, it possessed
the means to give you breath, to deliver
your body to me: an exchange of quantum
particles whose covalent bonds
were broken one cloudy afternoon
in your darkened room where the laughter
of the neighbor’s dog forced you awake,
back to life from the ghost of heroin.
What more could the periodic table offer?
Already you were Nitrogen, Sulfur, even Gold.
(Previously appear in Pilgrimage Magazine)
Lord, you who
have never left me
like the fading shadows
that ascend at days
end. You settle
like a silent stone
in the sweet arteries
of my hand: golden
crocus forming
your forgotten body.
How it must feel
to let go of the light,
to submit to the fright
of being set free.
In praise of you
let me sing this once,
a glimmer
of your dying light,
a crown of fire
in the night.
In Other News

Here is my reading schedule for the month of October in addition to a book review by Héctor Luis Álamo of Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind  (Mammoth Publications, 2014).  Viva la poesía!
Poem on amate paper, "Luz de octubre/October Light" by Xanath Caraza
University of North Georgia: “Exploring Linguistic Diversity among Latinas”, October 7 – 8
Emporia State University, Keynote Speaker for Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Banquet 2014, October 15
Homegrown Reads at South Branch Library, Local Author Fair, Kansas City, Kansas, October 25 

0 Comments on “Dark Matter”: Video Poems, la Poesía de Ruben Quesada y más as of 1/1/1900
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18. Spotlight on La liz gonzalez: A Poet's Journey into Novel Writing

Olga García Echeverría

liz gonzalez  con sus perritos

I came to know the Los Angeles Chicano/a literary scene back in the 1990's when it was bustling with some pretty incredible artists. I still have a clear image of seeing Luis Alfaro on stage for the first time. He was roller skating in a circle while reciting poems about his father and about growing up in Pico Union. I was mesmerized by Alfaro and his work, as I was by other local artists. Marisela Norte and Gloria Alvarez were two of the first poetas I ever saw read live in LA. Seeing these strong, brown mujeres at a mic, soltando sus poemas was (and still is) empowering, and it fueled my own desire to delve into and develop my own poetic voice. Another significant artistic influence of that time was a literary group called ¿Y Qué Más? This group was my first exposure to a Chicana/Latina women's literary collective, and it was the first time I ever heard la liz gonzalez read her poetry.

What I have always appreciated about liz' work is that it does not fit neatly into boxes. As a fourth generation Chicana who was born and raised in San Bernardino County, she brings into her poetry and prose the complexities of her identity, challenging assumptions of what it means to be Chicana. For example, in her poem, "The Four Food Groups in Grandma's Summer lunches," gonzalez describes some of the meals made by her maternal abuelita. gonzalez' words paint immediate pictures--thick slabs of spam fried in lard, canned spinach, and powered leche mixed with good old tap water.

My assumption upon first hearing and later reading this humorous poem was that perhaps la poor liz didn't grow up eating a lot of traditional Mexican food. However, this was just me jumping to quick conclusions, putting la liz into a box. Those quick lunches (that her grandmother made to avoid cooking in the summer heat) are only a glimpse of liz' cultural/culinary history. liz shares that actually she was raised eating tamales from scratch, "not the masa, but everything else was made from scratch. And I was also raised eating mole and drinking chocolate de la olla...My maternal grandmother cooked Mexican food for us on a regular basis when I was growing up." liz has another poem where she describes that same spam-frying abuelita getting down making buñuelos.

Even the label "fourth generation" has layers. liz' maternal great-grandparents both have roots in Mexico, but they grew up in San Bernardino. Her father, however, was a more recent immigrant who was raised on the Texas/Mexico border. "At seven, he picked cotton. At fourteen, he lived and worked with his family on a strawberry ranch in New Mexico. From what I understand, he did not go to school past ninth grade. When he died, he was a laborer at Kaiser Steel. I was three."

Language is another stratum. On the surface, liz hablar poco Espanish. Her attitude about this is complex. "If someone says I'm a coconut or not Chicana or not Mexi enough because I don't speak Spanish, I have an ¿y qué? attitude, but for the most part, I'm sorry I'm not fluent." Like many Mexicanos/Chicanos of their generation, liz' grandparents witnessed and experienced the discrimination that came with speaking Spanish in the U.S. "My grandparents advised my mother not to teach us Spanish because of segregation. It had recently been stopped, but they were still concerned. And when I tried to practice Spanish with Grandma, she told me she wanted to learn 'educated English'--the way I was being taught to speak in school--because she had to quit school so young, and having to leave school had broken her heart."

For the past 20 years, liz gonzalez has been sharing her poems and stories with audiences in California (and beyond). Last week I had the opportunity to interview liz about her writing, her teaching, her perceptions of Chican@ lit, and her current novel in progress. Here is a transcript of our online conversation and an excerpt from her novel at the end.  
Welcome to La Boga, liz. I never tire of asking writers this same question: when did you first start writing and why?
In 1991, I was a theater arts major at California State University, Los Angeles. Bluepalm, the dance-theater duo Jackie Planeix and Tom Crocker, were scheduled to teach a collaborative workshop at my school. The workshop was to culminate in a weekend of performances. My roommate at the time encouraged me to audition. Fortunately, I was one of the 15 students accepted. Soon after the course began, three or four of us students were each assigned to write and perform a monologue. I was mad, frightened, and honored all at the same time. I had never considered writing creatively. However, I knew it was a great opportunity to work with Bluepalm, so after much frustration and many false starts, I wrote the monologue and found my voice and the seed of creative writing was planted in me. I am eternally grateful to Bluepalm, specifically to Jackie Planeix who was my director, for giving me that life-transforming assignment.

I recall first hearing your work back in the 1990's via the female poetry collective ¿Y Qué Más? How did you get involved with this group and how did it influence or shape you creatively?

Shortly after I graduated from CSULA with a BA in 1993, I found myself longing for a Chicana/Latina arts community, a community I automatically had when I was a student. I contacted fellow alum Martin Hernandez and asked him if he knew of any Chicana or Latina art groups that were looking for members. Within a few months, Martin called and told me that some Chicanas he knew were starting a poetry collective. I had never written poetry, but I tore a couple of entries that looked like poems out of my journal and took them to the first meeting. Maria Cabildo, Adela Carrasco, Frankie Hernandez, Cathy Loya, Evangeline Ordaz, Michele Serros, and I became the Chicana poetry collective ¿Y Qué Más? That’s when the writing seed inside me sprouted. We workshopped and performed our poems, and the group introduced me to Lorna Dee Cervantes’s and Sandra Cisneros’s poetry. Before that, I hadn’t read any literature written by Chicanas or Latinas; it was powerful to learn that these Chicanas were expressing truths and validating their and our—Chicanas, women’s, Latinos…--voice, existence, and experiences. Michele Serros and Maria Cabildo told us they were participating in Michele T. Clinton’s Multicultural Feminist Workshop at Beyond Baroque Literary / Arts Center in Venice, near my studio apartment in Mar Vista. I started attending the workshop, and Beyond Baroque became my creative writing home.

You shared with me that you have been teaching writing for most of the years that you've been writing. How do you balance teaching writing and actually writing? Do these two things feed off each other or is there a burn-out effect?

Balancing teaching and writing hasn’t been easy for me. Before I went to grad school, when I was a receptionist at a 9-6, Monday through Friday job and mainly wrote poetry, I didn’t face any challenges with writing. For many of my teaching years, though, I suffered from frequent migraines, and would be woken by a severe headache most every morning. In addition, I’m a slow reader and writer. I love the composition students, but the energy it takes to teach in front of a classroom, grade papers, and lesson plan were taxing. I rarely had a day without schoolwork. After looking at text all day, I longed to go outside, take in some art or music, and not bury my face in more text, even though it was my own writing.

What are some of your strategies to deal with these challenges and how have you kept the writing momentum going?

In recent years, I have lightened my teaching load, teaching only at two schools: composition at a community college and creative writing online through UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
I also came up with strategies for managing schoolwork to benefit my students and me. For example, my partner usually drives when we go out, so I sit in the back seat and read and grade students’ papers and manuscripts. I also read my own writing and write notes for revision in the car. Thank goodness that he prefers to drive and that I don’t get carsick. Another example is that I stopped pressuring myself to read and write feedback on all my online creative writing students’ work within two days, each week. Every Friday, I’d end up in bed with a migraine. I allowed myself to take a week to give them feedback, the same for my comp. students. The quality of my feedback improved, and I rarely get migraines.

I really appreciated the posting you shared on FB by Daniel Peña, "Is Chicana/o Literature Dead? (A: No, not really): A Teacher's Ramblings" where the author discusses the complexities of defining Chicana/o literature today. Peña states, "Contemporary Chicana/o literature is simply the act of the Mexican diaspora writing ourselves into dignity. Not only in literary fiction or non-fiction but in Science Fiction too and Slam poetry and screenplays made for television--pretty much any genre or medium you can think of. Contemporary Chicana/o literature is not so much crystalized in a set canon as an ongoing vision under constant revision." Your thoughts in response to this as it pertains to you, the way you identify yourself, and your work?

Peña states that he asked his “academic and writer buddies” questions about what is Contemporary Chicano/a literature and that, “their responses were radically different, but if anything tied all of their answers together, it would be that definition.”

I agree with the conclusion Peña came to and am not surprised that his “buddies’” responses were so different because our experiences and tastes are so varied. While some will think a specific piece of Contemporary Chicano/a literature achieves “writing ourselves into dignity,” others might think that same piece degrades or stereotypes us. Because we are so diverse, some contemporary Chicano/a literature isn’t going to represent us or speak to us as individuals, and I think that’s okay as long as the work is well-intended and well crafted. Not all the work that’s out there speaks to me, but what’s important to me is that our wide range of voices and stories are read and seen. 

That said, I would add that Contemporary Chicano/a literature shares our many different experiences and voices. One of the reasons I am writing my two novels-in-progress is that I want to write stories I haven’t seen and want to read.

Although I self-identify as a Chicana, I do not identify my writing as Chicano/a poetry or fiction, for some misinterpret the term or get false expectations of the work. However, I do not mind if booksellers, academics, librarians, etc. categorize my writing as Contemporary Chicano/a literature as long as the bookshelves carrying these books are not off in back corner. A few years ago, I couldn’t find an anthology of Latino fiction at a major bookstore because it was in the small Chicano/Latino literature section behind the children’s books. If I hadn’t asked someone to help me, I wouldn’t have found it.
In our email exchanges, the issue of language arose. I made a comment about you taking an ¿y qué? attitude about not speaking fluent Spanish. It was an attempt to describe you as someone who owned her linguistic space--regardless of the language(s) used. However, in retrospect I think the issue is more complex. Can you speak briefly to your feelings about and use of Spanish in your work?

I studied Spanish in college and can speak some, but I don't have anybody to speak it with, so I am sorely out of practice. I understand more than I can speak. Palabras bubble up from time to time, especially when I'm writing, and I'm always happy that they're still part of my fabric. There are Spanish words that we grew up with, like chonies and diablita, that I still use.

I feel a loss that I don't speak Spanish fluently and can't speak when I meet people who speak only Spanish. And one of my dreams is to attend an immersion program in Mexico. It's also a missing connection to my father--a long cuento I'll spare you. I feel that if he had lived, I would have a connection to my first generation side and would probably speak Spanish.

You are currently working on a novel. How did you begin to make that transition from poetry to novel writing? How does one type of writing inform the other for you?
I began writing short creative prose before going to grad school, maybe around 1995. When my maternal grandfather died in 1990, I based my eulogy that I presented at his funeral mass on his memoir, which he had shared only with me. My maternal grandmother loved my eulogy so much that she asked me to give her eulogy when she died. Since she didn’t have a memoir, I started tape-recording her telling me her stories about growing up in the Westside of San Bernardino, California, in the 1920’s. She was born in the Westside in 1911. Over about ten years, we spent many fun and intense afternoons together in her kitchen, reliving her childhood, taking breaks to dance, eat lunch, and drink a beer. I didn’t know about oral histories back then. She just talked, and I asked any questions that came up. (Grandma passed almost five years ago, and I gave her eulogy at her funeral mass.)
While I was in grad school, I realized that Grandma’s stories would make a great book. From research I conducted, there isn’t much information and there aren’t any creative writings about female Mexican-Americans or Mexicans in San Bernardino in the 1920’s, and Grandma’s life and her character are compelling. Grandma gave me permission to turn her stories into a book as long it was presented as fiction, “because,” she said, “nobody will know what’s true and what’s not.” Writing the book as a novel also gives me leeway to add details about San Bernardino and Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the 1920s that she didn’t know. Mama offered to transcribe the hours of tape recordings for me, which was a huge help.
My initial vision of the novel was to have short vignette chapters, a la Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street. As a poet whose poems were rarely longer than one page, vignettes seemed doable. However, when my good friend, novelist Renee Swindle read the few vignettes I’d written, she told me they weren’t working; I needed to write chapters at least ten pages long. It was hard to generate enough content to fill three pages and beyond, and I’m a slow writer. I thought I couldn’t do it. Eventually, my vignettes grew into bona fide chapters. However, the benefit of having written poetry before writing fiction is that it’s easier to vivify and tighten my prose.

So is that your novel in progress, the one about your grandmother?

I put down what I call “Grandma’s novel” in 2007 because I didn’t have the energy to conduct and digest the research I wanted to incorporate into the book and to weave a well-crafted work that does Grandma’s stories and the history justice. At the time, I was teaching composition, literature, and creative writing courses at three schools and suffering from frequent migraines. I decided to write another novel as my first novel, one that would be easier to write and that would help me hone my craft. Fate happened again during my writing residency at Macondo Foundation’s Casa Azul in San Antonio the same year. Every night before I went to bed, I reviewed a file filled with drafts of poems and short stories that I brought with me to inspire a novel idea. After reviewing the file, I put a wish out in the universe: “Tell me what to write when I wake up tomorrow morning.” The third or fourth morning, a bad-baby-poet-poem I had written when I was in ¿Y Qué Más? started developing itself into a story. I had to jump out of bed and onto the laptop to catch what was being dictated to me. My new novel was born.

I love that a "bad-baby-poet-poem" was the seed to your current novel. Can you give us a synopsis?

It’s 1974 in San Bernardino, California. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Quintero’s father disappeared with his pregnant girlfriend, leaving Mama, Rachel’s mother, with all the bills and no child support for Rachel and her younger sister Natalie. Mama has to sell Rachel’s beloved childhood home in San Bernardino and move the family to a cramped townhouse in nearby Muscat (a fictional town). Natalie finds comfort and stability with her Grandmother and best friend; both live in the old neighborhood. Rachel and Mama are like loose helium filled balloons caught in a breeze, flying aimlessly. Rachel struggles to find her grounding as she starts high school where she doesn’t know anyone, and she longs to be close to Mama again. Adjusting to being an abandoned wife and newly single mother, Mama reacts by drinking and going to happy hour after work and a nightclub on Friday nights. Rachel is the protagonist, but the novel follows Rachel and Mama on their journey. For me, it’s a like a Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, and Thirteen with people of color and funk and R&B added to the rock soundtrack.

la liz was cool enough to share a short excerpt from that working novel with us at La Bloga. Many thanks liz gonzalez for taking the time to share some of your insights on writing with our readers. Best wishes to you estimada escritora, and we look forward to seeing and reading both of your upcoming novels.

This excerpt is from the first chapter, which takes places on Rachel, the protagonist's, first day at high school in a new town.

     All the picnic tables are full except one beneath a shady tree where a tall Mexican Janis Joplin sits by herself. She takes a shark bite out of a sandwich so thick it barely fits in her mouth, and her cheeks puff out like a blowfish. The bright blue and yellow wooden bead necklaces around Mexi JJ’s neck, her tie-dye spaghetti strap tank top, and rust-colored hip hugger bell-bottoms are straight out of Woodstock. She’s a stoner for sure. Chris asks if we can sit with her. Mexi JJ peers at us through her blue-black tumbleweed hair hanging in her face and nods. Not shy at all, Chris introduces us, explaining that she just moved from Mississippi and I just moved from “some city” nearby, as we climb onto the bench across from her.
       “I’m Minerva,” Mexi JJ mumbles, giving a show of her chewed up food. She must have the munchies. Yep, super-stoner stuck in the 60s.
     Chris pulls the lid off her blue Tupperware bowl and holds the container out to me. “My Mama makes the best black eyed peas. Would you like some?”
     A strong whiff of dirt and lard hits my nose. “Not today. I packed a big lunch.”
     Chris holds it out to Minerva.
     “Does it have meat in it?” Minerva mumbles again, food falling out of her mouth.
     “Of course. Black eyed peas don’t taste right without bacon.”
     “No thanks. I’m a vegetarian.”
     “Vegetarian?” Chris turns her head sideways, studying Minerva’s sandwich like it’s on display in a science class. “Is that why your bread looks like cardboard?”
     I take a closer look at Minerva’s sandwich. The bread is brown, and there’s no meat, just avocado, lettuce, a slice of white cheese, and some green roots that look like pubic hair sticking out of the sides.
     “It’s squaw bread, man. Made it myself. Want a bite?”
     “No thanks. I prefer white bread,” Chris says in her sweet Southern belle voice.
     “You mean wonder-why-it-doesn’t-kill-you bread?” Minerva holds her sandwich up in the air. “This bread will save your life. Nutrients, man. Nutrients.”
     “Pardon me, but I’ll stick to my Southern slop.” Chris shovels a spoonful of her stinky peas into her mouth.
     I hide my peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with white bread behind my paper bag so Minerva won’t lecture me.
     “I’m trying out for the school’s tennis team tomorrow,” Chris announces. “Do either of you know about tennis?”
     “Oh, brother.” I roll my eyes.
     “Well, I don’t know y’all’s sports. My daddy says that Mex’cans play soccer, except y’all call it football, which I find hilarious.”
     “Pancho Gonzales is one of the best tennis players of all time,” Minerva says. “And he’s from Los Angeles.” 
     Mexi JJ’s got brains.
     Minerva talks about other famous Mexican-Americans we never heard of. She calls them Chicanos. “You must know about Cesar Chavez. The grape strikes?”
     We both shrug.
     “Robert Kennedy went to visit him in Delano. It was all over the news.” 
     Chris and I look at each and her, shaking our heads no. Minerva gasps as though we haven’t heard of electricity.
     “How do you know so much?” Chris asks.
     “My dad and his books. He’s gone to protest rallies since I can remember.” Minerva pulls her hair up, out of her face and off her neck, like she’s going to put it in a ponytail. Even without make-up and with that wild hair sticking out everywhere and those small-as-dimes onyx eyes, she’s pretty enough to be on the cover of a rock album. A natural pretty.
     “My dad always says.” Minerva makes her voice deep: “You can’t depend on the, the…” she glances at Chris, “the man to tell you what you need to know.” I think she left out “white” for Chris’s sake. Minerva lets her hair drop in her face again and goes back to eating.
     I stay quiet, embarrassed that I don’t know more about my own people. Nobody in my family talks about Cesar Chavez or Pancho Gonzales. For all of my father’s bragging about being a proud Mexican, he never mentioned the important things Mexican-Americans are doing, let alone read books about them.

Photo by  Eliot Sekular, Lummis Day 2014
liz gonzález, a fourth generation Southern Californian, was born and raised in San Bernardino County. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have appeared in numerous literary journals, periodicals, and anthologies. She is the author of the limited edition chapbook Beneath Bone, published by Manifest Press (2000). Three of her poems are forthcoming in Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. She recently received an Irvine Fellowship at the Lucas Artists Residency Program, Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, California. Currently, liz lives in Long Beach, California, with her dog Chacho and her partner, sound artist Jorge Martin. She works as a writing coach and consultant, working one-on-one online and in-person with writers at all stages of their process and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. For more info. www.lizgonzalez.com

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19. Sílabas de Viento/Syllables of Wind: An Interview with Poet Xánath Caraza

Argentine poet, Carlos J. Aldazábal describes Xánath Caraza's new collection of poetry as "a type of invocation, a kind of silent mantra."  He continues by writing:  "Syllables of Wind is also a travel book.  With her gaze wandering across the land, the poet projects her sensitivity so as to celebrate or lament, to depart or return, in a cultural pendulum that allows her to express what we all have in common as human beings, the great themes of poetry (death, love, life), from her American and indigenous particularity" (Introduction).  

Aldazábal's description captures the unique aspects to Caraza's work.  Caraza's poetry reveals Mexican Indigenous, African roots while also claiming a North American Midwest identity.  Her work underlines our literary transnational roots:  Chicana, Mexicana, India, Africana, Norte-Americana (specifically Midwest).  And as for Caraza's work emanating from the Midwest, all too often, North American Latina/Latino writing is attributed to regions on the west or east coasts.  Not so here.  Latina/Latino and Chicana/Chicano writing from the Midwest is finally being recognized.  

We are happy today to talk about all of this with Xánath Caraza.  

Xánath Caraza:  First of all, gracias por la entrevista y por tu interés en mi trabajo. It is always a pleasure to share with La Bloga readers.

Amelia Montes:  You have published four books of poetry: Corazón Pintado, Conjuro, Lo que trae lamarea/What the Tide Brings, Noche de Colibríes, and now, Sílabasde Viento/Syllables of Wind. 
In the preface by Carlos J. Aldazábal, he described this collection as anthropological.  Do you agree? 

Xánath Caraza:  If we understand anthropology as the study of human kind as a whole, then my poetry is anthropological.  I do observe and take notes, either mentally or on paper of people, places, music, food I experience.  However, my poetry has also been named ecological poetry since Mother Nature is always with me through my poems.

Amelia Montes:  What does the title Sílabas de Viento mean to you? 

Xánath Caraza:  Sílabas de viento means music and poetry in the first place for me—this title is my interpretation of the pre-Hispanic concept of poetry from Nahuatl, in xochitl in cuicatl, flor y canto in Spanish, or flower and song in English.  For me, Sílabas de viento is the waves of sound emerging from our mouth/throat/corazón, from the center of our being.  

Poets Xánath Caraza and Dennis Etzel Jr., at the Big Tent Reading Series at The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas.  http://www.ravenbookstore.com/events/reading-big-tent-8 (photo by Denise Low)
Amelia Montes:  The poems in this collection emphasize your many identities:  African, Spanish, Indigenous, North American (specifically Midwestern).  Tell me how these came together for this collection. 

Xánath Caraza:  In my travels, as well as in my daily life, I observe carefully, and when I travel I try to make the experience as meaningful as possible.  I do not consider myself a tourist. There is always an educational purpose for my trips.  At a personal level, many of my journeys have been motivated by the search of my roots, not just my family’s roots, but our orígenes as mestizos, as Americanos, as Chicanos.  And many of those observations are translated into poetry that reflects my African, Spanish, Indigenous y North American background, as in my poem “Serpiente de Primavera/Serpent of Spring/Koatl Xochitlipoal”: “…Palabras encadenadas con sílabas de huehuetl.  Soy hija de los latidos de congas y teponaxtlis, hija de la luz con el canto del cenzontle atravesado en el pecho…”/ “…Words link to syllables of huehuetl. I am a daughter of the beating of congas and teponaxtlis,daughter of the light with the song of the cenzontlefalling across my chest…”/ ….  Tlajtolsasali ika piltlatolmej tlen ueuetl.  Najaya ikonej iuitontli tlatejtsontli uan teponaxtli, taluili ikonej ika stsontlitototl ipan no yolixpa.  Asultikueyiatl nech tokilia mojmostla…” or for example, in the poem, “Amanecer in Tarifa/Daybreak in Tarifa”, I was very impressed by being literally in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and two continents, Europe and Africa.  In addition, I was impressed by being in this in-between space of religions, Spain and Morocco, two world religions, Catholicism and Islam.  Both were brought to the Americas through colonization, one to more of an extent than the other. 

Amanecer en Tarifa

Luz dorada del amanecer
Ilumina dos tonos
De azul en el mar
Marruecos frente a mí
Espejo de Andalucía
Cual  eslabones que se
Vuelven a conectar
Sonidos semejantes
Sabores que se intensifican
En su propia realidad
Rumores de gente
Que viene y que va
Dos idiomas, dos religiones
Amanecer en Tarifa
Estrecho de Gibraltar

(Tarifa, Cádiz, España, verano de 2012)

Daybreak in Tarifa

Golden light at daybreak
Illuminates two shades
Of blue in the sea
Morocco in front of me
Mirror of Andalusia
Links in a chain that
Similar sounds
Flavors that intensify
In their own reality
The murmuring of people
Who come and go
Two languages, two religions
Daybreak in Tarifa
Strait of Gibraltar

(Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain, summer 2012)

Xánath Caraza and Angela Elam from "New Letters on the Air" (Literary Radio Show).  Xánath was featured on Park University's Ethnic Voices Poetry Series.  "New Letters" recorded the event.  Here is the link: http://www.park.edu/Mobile/ethnic-voices-poetry-series/2014-2015-series.html
Amelia Montes:  When you create your collections of poetry, do you plan the books first—with a theme or idea?  Or do you simply just write poems and then when you have a certain number, do you begin to see connections in order to create a cohesive book? 

Xánath Caraza:  For me, it may work both ways.  I am constantly writing; therefore, sometimes I go over the poems I’ve written and see if they fit into the book I want to put together.   However, Noche de colibríes was planned as an Ekphrastic book of poetry from its beginning.  On the other hand, Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind was originally a different poemario. It actually had a different title, Piedra verde, because of the presence of the green color and Mother Nature in my poetry, but it evolved and suddenly it turned into Syllables of Wind.  When I was working on the final draft, I realized that many of the poems had a place and a date of birth. I had originally not planned on leaving this information in the actual book.  These notes were only for me, and deciding to leave the information about the location and date of each poem suddenly made sense. I think that it reinforces the idea of Syllables of Wind or poetry traveling in the wind.

Amelia Montes:  Because I am writing about Midwest writers, I want to know from you how the Midwest figures into this book. 

Xánath Caraza:  Many of the poems were written in Kansas City, as you can see at the bottom of the page of each of the poems.  They may refer to Morocco, Bosnia or Mexico, but were written in Kansas City.  Other poems are about the Midwest and they were also written somewhere else. I am a hardworking Midwestern Chicana author, J.

Xánath Caraza reading at The Writer's Place for Riverfront Reading Series.  Link:  http://www.writersplace.org/calendar/2014/9/12/riverfront-reading-xanath-caraza-and-special-guest
Amelia Montes:  What writers inspired you in the writing of this book?

Xánath Caraza:  I started Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind in the summer of 2012 in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.  I was there because of a writer’s residency to finish my short story collection Lo que trae la marea/What the Tide Brings.  I took a short break and visited Morocco for the first time and during my weekends I took short trips to ciudades literarias.  I started with Granada, la capital mundial de la poesía and the city where Federico García Lorca summered.  As well, I visited the small towns where Lorca was born and spent his childhood, Valderrubio and Fuente Vaqueros; therefore, Lorca is present in many of my poems. Other literary cities that I visited for those weekend excursions were Úbeda and Baeza.  Úbeda is where San Juan de la Cruz, one of the great Mystical poets, spent his final years.  What is more, Antonio Machado lived in Baeza, where he taught and wrote many of his poems.  Also, Oscar Wilde is in sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind as well as Mark Twain among others.

Amelia Montes:  Many of the poems here are ekphrastic poems.  Tell me how this kind of poetry serves you in your writing. 

Xánath Caraza:  It is an honor for me to be able first to use images from other artists to create and write about their work in the form of a poem or a short story, and second I love promoting those artists, too.  Color comes to me or I go to color.  It makes me happy and I hope my poems bring happiness for others.  However, there are other poems in Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind, which were written first and then artist Adriana Manuela created a painting for my poem.  I feel blessed by the gift of Adriana Manuela, artist of the cover art for Sílabas de viento, too; she created a whole series of paintings for my poems and we had an art opening in Puente Genil, Andalusia, Spain, to showcase her work and my poetry. The Spanish versions of the poems and her art can be seen in a special issue that the literary journal El Coloquio de los perros published.  Here is the link:
Xánath Caraza at The Writer's Place
Amelia Montes:  Who is your audience for these poems? 

Xánath Caraza:  Anyone who enjoys poetry is my audience, any Chican@/Latin@ who wants to connect with la poesía.  Any bilingual reader who would like to see, through the eyes of poetry, un pedacito del mundo que he tocado is my audience.

Amelia Montes:  Is there something you’d like to add – to say to our La Bloga readers? 

Xánath Caraza:  Espero que Sílabas de Viento/Syllables of Windlos envuelva de poesía antes que nada.  I would also like to add that this book is one of three books that were partially written with the support of the award Beca Nebrija para Creadores 2014 from the Instituto Franklin in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain.  I hope that other Chican@s apply for and enjoy this grant in the future, y, muchas gracias Amelia, viva la poesía! (http://www.institutofranklin.net/es/hispausa/ayudas/ayuda-nebrija-de-creadores)

Amelia Montes:  Here's hoping, dear La  Bloga readers, that you will get your own copy of Sílabas de Viento/Syllables of Wind or any of Xánath Caraza's other books to read, enjoy, give as gifts.  Xánath Caraza, traveler, educator, poet and short story writer is the recipient of the Beca Nebrija para Creadores 2014 from the Instituto Franklin in Spain.  Her poem, "Ante el río/Before the River" was selected by the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum in 2013 to promote Day of the Dead.  Caraza was named number one of the 2013 Top Ten "New" Latino Authors to Watch (and Read) by LatinoStories.com

Check out Xánath Caraza's website for upcoming readings and news!  Click on this LINK!

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20. Let Them Teach You

Photo credit: Getty Images

By guest poet Marisol León

Let my students teach you about violent inequality, warfare, and repression.

About armed struggles fought against U.S.-backed militaries in their native countries, and the murders of their brothers and sisters in L.A. neighborhoods-turned-war-zones.

About death. Displaced families. Fear. Sleepless nights. The sound of el tiro de gracia.

Let them teach you about the war of terror waged against their ancestors.

About countless narratives of resistance, including those found in the obituaries of their great grandmothers, uncles, and classroom “legends.”

About the African Diaspora—un pedacito de la historia negra,/de la historia nuestra to the sound of Afro-Colombian rhythms and beats.

Let them teach you about unfair and unjust immigration laws.

About their parents’ forced migration, the vast majority dragged by that/monstrous, technical/industrial giant called/Progress/and Anglo success

About their parents’ sacrifices and unfulfilled dreams… how painful it is to accept that for them life […] ain't been no crystal stair.

Let them teach you about the cuts to their education, and no, they’re not just referring to the current “budget crisis.”

About the inefficiency of tracking and test scores, and how a classmate never identified as “gifted and talented” fought his way into a Stanford program for gifted youth.

About endurance and strength of mind, let them remind you that you’re pretty young, so keep living your dream and don’t let no little pink slip stop you from what you want.

Let them teach you about past and future revolutions, and their visions for other worlds and utopian societies.

About their wants and needs: Wouldn’t you like to have clean streets, no violence, a government that tells the truth, a community that values peace?

About the steps they are taking to make sure their voices are heard and their worlds are built.

Let them teach you the meaning of solidarity, environmental justice, and grassroots development.

About their Solidarity Garden… and how the organic seeds they once planted are now strawberries, squash, cilantro, and tall stalks of maize.

About setting aside differences and working collectively—guided by common values of respect, humility, and human dignity.

Let them teach you about fighting for their rights through community organizing, never forgetting that our word is our weapon.

About marching, protesting, and staging a sit-in and walkout—all despite the criminalization of student activism on campus.

About the protest chants and gritos that brought together students, teachers, and parents, as new words […] formed,/Bitter/With the past/ But sweet/With the dream.

Let my little brothers and sisters teach you…

All they have taught me.

[Author’s note: I used to teach with the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2009, I was laid off due to the budget cuts and wrote the poem below for my students as a parting thank you gift. I shared it with them on the last day of school. Everything in italics either comes from a piece we read in our English class, or from my students' writing. “Let Them Teach You” first appeared in Diálogo, an interdisciplinary, blind refereed journal published since 1996 by the Center for Latino Research at DePaul University in Chicago.]

Marisol León

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:The daughter of immigrant parents, both born and raised in rural Jalisco, Mexico, Marisol León is a proud Chicana from Mid-City Los Angeles. Her older sister, Susana, helped raise Marisol and instilled in her a sense of responsibility to use her education as a vehicle for community empowerment. As a first generation college student at Yale, Marisol founded La Fuerza, Yale's Latin@ Student News Magazine; her work on the publication was later recognized by The National Association of Hispanic Journalists through its Rubén Salazar Memorial Scholarship. While studying Latin American campesino social movements in college, Marisol traveled, researched and lived with Brazil's Landless Rural Workers' Movement. After graduation, she spent a year in Chiapas, Mexico, organizing indigenous and campesino communities with Friends of the Earth-Mexico.

After a year of informal teacher training in popular education, Marisol returned to Mid-City Los Angeles to work as an educator at her former middle school. A passionate writer, she has published autobiographical pieces, editorials, and research articles in the Los Angeles Times; Windows into My World: Latino Youth Write Their Lives; Yale Journal of Latin American Studies; Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice; Diálogo, a publication of the Center for Latino Policy Research at DePaul University; and an upcoming piece in the Inter-American and European Human Rights Journal. Marisol is a graduate of Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall), Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education, and Yale College. She is happiest when surrounded by former students, family, and loved ones; while listening to oldies, norteñas (Cornelio Reyna, Cadetes, Las Jilguerillas, Ramon Ayala), and 90s hip-hop; and when she gets to make her beautiful 16-month-old godson laugh again and again. And again.

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21. Review: Comezón. Castillo Anaya Lecturer. DDLM Call. News 'n Notes.

Review: Denise Chávez. The King and Queen of Comezón. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 2014.
ISBN 978-0-8061-4483-2

Michael Sedano

October to October, it’s been one of the most productive years in Chicana Literature. Last October, Alma Luz Villanueva's scintillating erotic opus Song of the Golden Scorpion, kicked off this golden year. Spring brings Ana Castillo's sensational erotic novel Give It To Me. Denise Chávez rounds out this spectacular year with a family-safe portrait of a small town where people live up its name, Comezón.

The King and Queen of Comezón marks a crowning achievement in the writer's career, a long-awaited next novel after 2001’s Loving Pedro Infante. The novel chronicles six months in the lives of this small New Mexico town. The author challenges herself to keep multiple stories careening against each other in complicated sets of connections between richly drawn characters.

Covering the months between the pueblo’s Cinco de Mayo festival and el Diez y Seis de Septiembre, Chávez captures the reader’s interest not only in the number and complexity of interpersonal connections but in her way of keeping interest high through her storyteller's voice, hyperbole, and intersecting views of the same events.

The novel’s structure is a metaphor for a yearning, an itch, a comezón. The author lays out landscapes, facts, and characters. Events in a chapter approach a key nexus only to have the chapter end, the expectation unsatisfied, satisfaction delayed as Chávez switches gears, starts something else then reintroduces an ongoing situation in a different light, stringing the reader along wanting more. The entire book is a delightful self-inducing comezón.

In fact, the delayed gratification of finding out what happened is so delighting, I stopped reading two thirds through, just for a day. The storytelling grows so delicious I want to savor the anticipation of seeing how the author resolves all these matters, some bizarre, others lethal. Although related with a comedic voice, there are dark notes, leading one to wonder will consequences become what the characters or readers deserve?

Complexity abounds in the tiny community, revolving around three key characters, Arnulfo Olivares and his family, a corrupted priest, and a bar owner. A rich cast of supporting characters populate the periphery of the central interactions.

Arnulfo treats his family like crap and his wife takes it. The transplanted Spaniard priest lusts after la coja Juliana. Juliana lusts after el padrecito, but her disabled body makes her housebound and unschooled. Isá lives a slave in the household with love hate relations with the two daughters, doña Emilia, and Arnulfo. Rey, a decent man, doesn’t know the hatred Don Clo harbors against decency.

Chávez describes Rey up as the one likeable man in the world. A redeemed alcoholic and retired migra officer, Rey keeps notebooks of the people he helped deport. One woman particularly moves him. As Comezón spins out of control, Rey stands as the sole source of stability. Rey’s comezón can get him killed, but first Don Clo will enjoy tormenting a suffering Rey.

It's a key storyline. Chávez draws it out, like the other threads, presenting some in direct narrative, other in passing detail woven into one of the other stories. For instance, the reader sees Doña Emilia fall ill and has a stroke as her chapter concludes. Later, we learn almost in passing that the stroke hospitalized her.

Chavez holds anxiety to a low pitch but frequently reminds readers that Arnulfo has cancer, that Doña Emilia appears to accept her husband's absent heart, that el Padre sinks deeper deeper deeper. And, with the devil, Don Clo, heading to Rey's bar, the anxiety from knowing danger lurks around the next page but doesn't come yet is the author’s gift of a comezón to the reader. Turn the page to scratch that itch of wanting to know what happens.

Ultimately, The King and Queen of Comezón is a novel not of longing but of redemption. Sadly, rather than allowing the plots to speak for themselves, Chávez goes out of her way to spell it out in the novel’s final paragraphs. I wonder if the author lost confidence in her own clarity after three hundred pages?

There is, for me, a serious lacking in the novel. The author displays a lack of confidence in her reader through heavy-handed translation. Irritatingly often, when the text says something in Spanish, the writer supplies an apposition translating into English. Chávez does it well, here and there. But mostly the code-switch translation distracts from the prose, sounds unnatural in many instances, and avoidance should be an element of style for writers of Chicana Chicano Literature. The weakness is not Chávez’ alone, this lack of confidence in the readership is endemic to U.S. literature.

Chávez illustrates how unnecessary translation has become--especially in the age of search engine machine translation and given her likely readership--in the novel’s final pages with a burst of untranslated language wondering how the hanged man in the church had been killed. Hopefully he’d been shot first and then hanged and burned. If not, hijole, se chingó. It was true that Luisito had been a chingadaquedito, but really and truly alguien lo chingó un chingo a la puta chingada madre, and there you had it.¡Chingao!

Persistently unnecessary translating aside, Denise Chávez’ masterwork The King and Queen of Comezón has ample opportunities for joy in the fabric of the novel. For instance, there’s a wonderful roll call of old-timer Spanish names signaling the generations and presence of raza on the land for countless generations.

The first time I spotted Chávez’ use of triplets for emphasis I noted it as clever emphasis in the instance. Then the triplet repetition began cropping up every few chapters and I smiled at them considering the technique stylistic grace notes the author whips out to add ornament to needful passages, to reassert the narrator’s presence over the story.

Chávez then rewards the attentive reader with the queen of all triplets. This time instead of tagging the repetition to the end of a phrase, she leads with the technique. “No good, no good, no good things could come of this” the narrator relates. Later, in case you were paying attention, Chávez pastes in a naturally-occurring cognate of the technique in quoting song lyrics to the expatriot Mexican national anthem, “Volver, volver, volver.”

Indeed, The King and Queen of Comezón is Chávez’ crowning achievement. Future term paper writers will find it a rich lode to mine for essays on literary voice, views on religion, women’s roles, male worthlessness, storytelling, local color, love, code-switching, and comezónes. Coincidentally, there's a beautiful symmetry to this most productive year, in that Ana Castillo is this year's Anaya lecturer. Denise Chávez delivered the 2011 Anaya lecture.

You can order The King and Queen of Comezón from your local independent bookseller. You can order the paperback from the university press direct.

Denise Chavez greets Librotraficante Jesus Treviño  ©msedano

Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture Honor Awarded to Ana Castillo

La Bloga friend Teresa Marquez sends news the Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya lecturer for 2014 is legendary Chicana writer Ana Castillo. Castillo is enjoying an Anaya year. She was the featured guest speaker at this year's CSULA Anaya Conference, where her talk included a reading from her sensational novel, Give It To Me. Below read the press release Teresa forwards.

Ana Castillo is this year's guest speaker at the 5th Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Southwest Literature Lecture Series.

UNM Department of English hosts Ana Castillo for fifth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest

On Thursday, October 23, the UNM Department of English will host the distinguished writer Ana Castillo as the featured speaker for the fifth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest. Castillo will speak at 7:00 p.m. in Room 101 of George Pearl Hall (the School of Architecture and Planning), with a reception to follow. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Ana Castillo is one of the leading figures in Chicana and contemporary literature. A celebrated poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar, Castillo is the author of the novels So Far From God and Sapogonia, both New York Times Notable Books of the Year, as well as The Guardians, Peel My Love like an Onion, and many other books of fiction, poetry, and essays. Her most recent novel is Give it to Me, and the 20th-anniversary, updated edition of her groundbreaking book The Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma will be published this October by the University of New Mexico Press.

Dividing her time between Chicago and Southern New Mexico, Ana Castillo is a celebrated writer deeply committed to higher education as well as contemporary literary culture. Castillo holds an M.A from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Bremen in Germany. She is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Colby College. Along with her own work as an author, she edits La Tolteca, an arts and literary zine dedicated to the advancement of a world without borders and censorship, and she serves on the advisory board of the American Writers Museum in Washington, D.C. Among other teaching positions, Castillo was the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University, the Martin Luther King, Jr Distinguished Visiting Scholar at M.I.T., the Poet-in-Residence at Westminster College in Utah, and, most recently, the Lund-Gil Endowed Chair at Dominican University in Illinois. She has received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters, and her other awards include a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry, and the Sor Juana Achievement Award from the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago. In 2013, Castillo was awarded the Gloria Anzaldúa Prize by the American Studies Association.

The UNM English Department established the annual lecture series on the literature of the Southwest in 2010 through a gift from the renowned fiction writer Rudolfo Anaya and his late wife Patricia Anaya. "The English Department cherishes the fact that Emeritus Professor Rudy Anaya was on our faculty for so many years. A founder of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, he still inspires us with his joyous approach to life, sense of humor, and eloquent articulation of Hispanic culture and the beauties of the Southwest. He has long been an internationally known man of letters, but we take pride in the fact that he began his career in our department," says Professor Gail Houston. "We feel privileged to have received his generous donation, and there is no better venue for celebrating Southwest literature than the University of New Mexico English Department. We look forward to sharing this free event with everyone at UNM and in the community."

The annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest features foundational figures such as Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz (2010), Las Cruces writer and playwright Denise Chávez (2011), Taos writer John Nichols (2012), and Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday (2013). For further information, visit the Anaya Lecture Series website at http://english.unm.edu/anaya-lecture-series/, contact the Anaya Lecture Committee at anayalecture@unm.edu, or contact the UNM English

News 'n Notes
San Antonio • Oct 1-5 • Veteran, Writer, Playwright Barrios Joins Troupe

Visit the theatre's webpage for details on this performance piece giving Veterans the stage to tell audiences about military experience, from enlisting to basic training, overseas movement there and back again.

Veterans hope to help non-veterans understand living in uniform and what happens after they resume civilian life. The monologist read their own words, for a number of them, like Barrios, decades afterwards.

Telling: San Antonio begins its run this week through Sunday in San Antonio's Tobin Center for Performing Arts at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater.

Tickets and details at the studio's webpage here.

Oct 6 • Calavera Poem Submissions, La Voz

La Voz de Esperanza is a monthly news journal our of San Antonio, featuring stories, news, poetry and artwork submitted by the community. The editors issue the following:

Squeeze a song of love or mockery out of your heart, get it to dance in traditional 4-line stanzas of (about) 8 beats per line, or 3 lines of 5/7/5 syllables (17 syllables total) haiku formation, y viola!

Send it to lavoz@esperanzacenter.org by 10/6/2014

No pay, puro glory

Oct 27 • Call for Submissions • La Bloga Day of the Dead On-line Floricanto

from the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070: Poetry of Resistance


Dear Poets, You all are invited to submit poems with the theme of “El Día de los Muertos / The Day of the Dead” that will be posted on POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 for the following weeks.

The poems could be “Calaveras” (poems making fun of public figures), poetic remembrances of those who have passed, and memories of past events.

The Moderators will select the best poems for a special edition of La Bloga On-line Floricanto for Tuesday November 4, 2014.

The deadline to send poems to be considered for this special issue is Monday, October 27, 2014. We will continue publishing poems on other themes, as well.

See the Poets Responding page (click here) on Facebook for submission technology.

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22. The Little Devil and the Rose: Lotería Poems / El diablito y la rosa: Poemas de la lotería

By Viola Canales

ISBN: 978-1-55885-792-6
Format: Paperback

Pages: 143

In her ode to “The Umbrella,” Viola Canales remembers a family story about her mother, who every Saturday as a child “popped open her prized child’s bright umbrella / as did her little sister / and followed their mother’s adult one / from their Paloma barrio home / to downtown Main Street McAllen / walking like ducks in a row / street after street,” until one Saturday “the littlest one disappeared / inside the wilderness of Woolworth’s.” Warm-hearted recollections of family members are woven through this collection of 54 poems, in English and Spanish, which uses the images from loteríacards to pay homage to small-town, Mexican-American life along the Texas-Mexico border.
Cultural traditions permeate these verses, from the curanderaswho cure every affliction to the daily ritual of the afternoon merienda, or snack of sweet breads and hot chocolate. The community’s Catholic tradition is ever-present; holy days, customs and saints are staples of daily life. San Martín de Porres, or “El Negrito,” was her grandmother’s favorite saint, “for although she was pale too / she’d lived through the vestiges of the Mexican war / the loss of land, culture, language, and control / and it was El Negrito to whom she turned for hope” to bring enemies together.
Fond childhood memories of climbing mesquite trees and eating raspas are juxtaposed with an awareness of the disdain with which Mexican Americans are regarded. Texas museums, just like its textbooks, feature cowboy boots worn by Texas Rangers, but have no “clue or sign of the vaqueros, the original cowboys / or the Tejas, the native Indians there.” And some childhood memories aren’t so happy. In “The Hand,” she writes: “In the morning I arrived at my first grade class / knowing no English / at noon I got smacked by the teacher / for speaking Spanish outside, in the playground.”
Inspired by the archetypes found in the Mexican bingo game called lotería, these poems reflect the history—of family, culture and war—rooted in the Southwest for hundreds of years.

Viola Canales is the author of Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (Piñata Books, 2001) and The Tequila Worm (Wendy Lamb Books, 2007), winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the PEN USA Award. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she was a captain in the U.S. Army and worked as a litigation and trial attorney. In 1994, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Small Business Administration. She lives in Stanford, California.

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23. Chicanonautica: Our Hijo de la Chingada Conquistador Heritage

by Ernest Hogan

Seems I can’t do anything without it causing controversy. Though the overwhelming reaction to the cover of Digital Parchment’s new edition of Cortez on Jupiter had been positive, there has been some objection to Pablo Cortez being depicted as a futuristic conquistador.

I understand people’s reaction to the symbolism. The conquistador in his helmet is seen as a villain while the “pioneer” (originally from the French for “foot soldier” as in “peon”) in his coonskin cap is idolized a hero. But as my great-grandfather Hogan said about the Wild West, who the good guys and bad guys are depends on who’s in charge at the time.

I like the cover. It's similar to an idea I had when the first edition was in the planning stages. The conquistador I envisioned was more of an H.R. Giger monster, but this new one is more commercial -- doing the important job of catching the eye of cybershoppers and getting them to read the synopsis.

A good book cover makes people think, “What the hell?”

Also, in way, Pablo Cortez is a conquistador. He conquers, not Jupiter, but the society he lives in.

Like it or not, as Hispanics/Latinos/Chicanos/Nican Tlaca we carry conquistador DNA. Otherwise we’d be Indians. It’s our whole hijo de la chingada thing, or as my grandmother once so delicately put it:

“The soldiers would come into the villages, and take the girls away on their horses  . . . and then they would be their wives!

We live in a world they made -- especially here in Aztlán, where we walk in their footsteps, and the extermination of the natives was not complete, the difference between Nueva Hispana and New England. 

As I wander like Don Quixote seeking adventures or like the Aztecs searching for the place to build their metropolis, I often feel like a doomed warrior on an absurd mission in an alien land. Though I do identify more with Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico than Cortés, Pizarro or Aguirre.

Hmm . . . Was Columbus a conquistador? He was working for the same bosses.

It’s given me ideas that I may never get around to writing:

What if space explorers acted like conquistadors rather than idealistic bureaucrats?

What about a badass mestizo gunslinger who wears a conquistador helmet?

Or an Aztec anti-conquistador, going to Europe to deconstruct their culture?

Ernest Hogan’s Cortez on Jupiter is available for pre-order for a new Kindle edition with new cover and introduction. There will be a softcover edition, too. Stay tuned for details as they develop.

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24. New Books

New Books

I've been busy with several book-related events, which means my blogging time has been reduced. But it also means that I've come across several new books (recently published or new to me.) I haven't got to all of these yet but here's a small taste of what is going on in Colorado with new authors, stories, and genres.

Crazy Chicana in Catholic City
Juliana Aragón Fatula

Conundrum Press, 2012

Juliana Aragón Fatula's book of poetry has been around for a few years but I had never managed to read it. That changed when we met at the recent Latino@ Book Festival in Pueblo, Colorado. This "crazy chicana's" poetry will slide under your skin and stab deep into your heart.
See this review by Daniel Olivas of an earlier version of the book.

In the Preface, the author says: 

I moved from Denver to Southern Colorado in 1998 to be near my mother. My mother and I spent the last ten years of her life laughing, crying, and sharing stories. These stories morphed into the poetry in Crazy Chicana in Catholic City. Some of my poems arose from a need to purge myself of all of the black secrets that were consuming me. My style of confessional poetry stems from my desire to tell my story and in doing so aid others who are survivors.

From the poem, Bloody Cookies

Her first husband, the Bull,
Broke her nose so bad
They couldn’t fix it;
She looked like a retired boxer.


Daughters of Earth, Sons of Heaven
Daniel Ricardo Casias

AuthorHouse, 2014

Daniel Casias is a Pueblo attorney, hearings officer for the Colorado parole board, martial arts instructor, and a municipal court judge.  He's also an old friend from law school. When I saw that he had published a book I worried that our deep, dark secrets from those Boulder years would now be revealed outside the confidential sanctuary of late night, bar stool chisme.

Not to worry, this is not that book. Here's what Dan says about his story:

Since he was a small child, Daniel Casias has been a student of history, science, science fiction, human nature, martial arts, and Eastern and Western philosophies. Using this life experience, he weaves his fictional tale of the origin of our species as if the legend, lore, and religious writings left by our ancestors were taken as literal fact.

Dan has written a great opening sentence:

When Rico came out of the alcoholic blackout, the only problem he had was that the car he was driving had left the road about one hundred feet back.


Lucia: A Oral History Spanning 1943-1966
Lucia D. Rivera Aragon, Ed.D


Writing a memoir was a popular topic in Pueblo at the Latin@ Book Festival. I encouraged the writers to tell their stories as part of preserving the true history of the United States. Lucia Rivera has already accomplished part of the preservation with the publication of her memoir. 

From the jacket synopsis:

In this inspiring memoir, award-winning educator Lucia D. Rivera Aragon shares the story of her life, which includes being deported as an illegal immigrant and working her way from student to elementary school principal to college professor, all accomplished while raising a family and coming of age in the era of Civil Rights.

Here are a few lines:

I was born to the union of Juan Mendoza Rivera – ……who had been born in San Antonio, Texas but raised in Monterrey Nuevo Leon, Mexico– ….and my mother Blasa Carrizales Rodriguez, ….. who had been born in Monterrey Nuevo Leon, Mexico but raised in Pueblo, Colorado.

The Widow of Dartmoor
Warwick Downing

MX Publishing, 2014

Warwick "Wick" Downing is another attorney-author. He's written eleven novels, including a series of courtroom mysteries that I consider some of the finest examples of legal thriller writing. In terms of how a lawyer actually operates in the courtroom, these books are as realistic as one can find on the written page. He recently published his latest novel and celebrated with a reading/signing party at the home of friends. Wick explained his book and, at the audience's insistent urging, read a few paragraphs. The book is a "Sherlockian adventure" and sounds intriguing, to say the least.

From the book jacket:

The Widow of Dartmoor is a sequel to The Hound of the Baskervilles. Beryl Stapleton felt joy on learning that Jack, her husband, was sucked into the Grimpen Mire. Free of his evil, she opened a fashionable dress shop in London. Her enterprise was a success ... until she was caught, at two A.M., dragging the body of a murdered man into an alleyway.

And from the book:

I am Edward Greech, solicitor, getting along in life…I would tell you of the legal adventures of one whose memoirs would be far from dull. He was a barrister who called himself Jeremy Holmes. It was widely assumed that his uncle was Sherlock Holmes, the famous – some would say notorious – consulting detective.


The Portal of Light: Kabbalah, Emmanuel and the Church
Anthony Garcia

From the author:

In the late summer of 2011, a leather case contained two Cuaderno-Notebooks arrived for translation. Surprisingly, the second notebook was a 7,000 word mystery play that I titled the Jornado de Exódo-Journey of Exodus, an alternate version of the Emmanuel birth as the principle story of the play. What was discovered was the concealment of a hidden journey in the play. The sacred writers of the old world, their use of theology, history, literature, philosophy, astrology and religion-spirituality are hidden in the historical remnant. Within their internal Ladino-Judaic circles was the fear of discovery, inquiry and silence to survive. To the outside world, their public faith was Christianity. Their interior world was not. Living in plain view, suppressing their ingrained culture, language and religion, they survived.

That's it for this week. Keep on reading.


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25. Sasquan, and Milán with the accent

As a Chicano writer of fantasy and science fiction, in 2013 I was invited to participate on eight panels of the World Science Fiction Convention, also known as WorldCon, the biggest annual gathering for sci-fi/fantasy, including the prestigious Hugo Awards for best fantasy and sci-fi of the past year. I felt more overwhelmed by the number of panels than I felt honored, so I trimmed it down to five. You can read about my Con experience in the series Strange Chicano in a Stranger Con.

My panels were part of Lone Star Con's "Spanish Strand," the organizers' effort to diversify a normally very white-attended event. Honored to be involved in that, at the conference I turned out to be one of just a handful of Latino spec fans or writers. For WorldCon to improve Latinos', and other's, participation, I made a few recommendations in my report. Apparently, I should have made more, like, including some as special guests.        

The 2015 WorldCon, Sasquan, will be held in Spokane. According to their latest (Aug.) progress report, the line-up of guests of honor looks much like 2014 LondonCon and 2013 LoneStarCon, as well--a bunch of white people. You need to go back to 2011 for the last time a non-European, non-white person received such an invitation, Peruvian-born Boris Vallejo.

Vallejo invited because?
It's funny to see a Sasquan graphic of brown, green and purple aliens, wondering if that indicates a growing awareness of the need for the American sci-fi/fantasy too-white community to diversify itself more than it did at LoneStarCon. Or perhaps that was meant to be a one-time effort. Especially given that next year's con will be held in the Northwest, in a city named Spokane and for a con named Sasquan.

Spokane was named for a Salishan tribe, the Children of the Sun. Sasquatch, the Big Foot creature that's the take-off for the Con's title--was the original Halkomelem tribe's name for the creature. And here's a map of the tribes who were forcibly removed so that SF/F fans can enjoy next year's event without having to worry about "Indian raids" or paying anything to those tribes.

People like to say that I'm "frustrated" or "bitter" bringing up such history, so to pre-empt that, here's the short version. The city of Spokane's land wasn't settled in the 1800s; it had been lived on, in and with for thousands of years by Salish-speaking tribes, renamed the Flathead tribe. Beginning with the 1855 Hellgate (appropriate?) Treaty, the U.S. gov't, military, and illegal white squatters took over 20,000,000 acres of homelands, built railroads through their villages, forged signatures of their leaders and eventually ratified the "relocation" to the Jocko (Flathead) Reservation. The Salish practiced a belief in nonviolent resistance to meet the threats of bloodshed and starvation they faced if they didn't relocate. To keep tribes from exercising to at least hunt outside of the reservation, in 1908 the Swan Valley Massacre sealed the deal. Included in the desecration of a way of life were American heroes like U.S. Grant, James Garfield, and maybe some ancestors of those who'll attend Sasquan 2015.

Sherman Alexie, SF indio author
So, next year, instead of simply trying to diversify the Con's attendance as WorldCon did in San Antonio, organizers could consider INCLUSION of Native American SF/F authors as invited guests. Maybe Sherman Alexie, author of Flight will be available. If he's not, I don't doubt he could suggest other First Nations authors who've written spec lit. At the least, I could provide some names.

But I'm not done being "frustrated and bitter." Since the Con is on the West Coast, why don't organizers realize what was begun in LoneStarCon with the Spanish Strand should be continued by INCLUSION of Latino SF/F authors? Putting aside my own literary obscurity, there are many who could help increase Latino participation from populous California and the Northwest--for instance, Victor Milán or Junot Díaz (writing a new sci-fi) as Special Guests. Or how about some youth for Toastmaster, for a change, like Matt de la Peña or Amy Tintera? There are many more, but at the moment, none on the Con's agenda who would interest Latinos into attending. Chingau, what if they were interesting to Anglo attendees?

spec author Matt de la Peña
Here's two other points, adjusted, that I suggested to WorldCon organizers:
• If high school and college Latinos (add Native Americans) are desired, more day passes need to be made available to nearby communities. Attendance could turn significant and be a good investment where it is normally not available.
• Con organizers should allow for one very famous gringo author on every panel related to Latinos (add Native Americans) in order to attract sufficient, Anglo attendees. Small audiences for such issues can be interpreted as belittlement.

Amy Tinter SF novel
If you want to contact them, here's the word from Sasquan organizers: "Make Sasquan a truly unique convention. We're always looking for program suggestions. If you have any, drop by our Idea Forum. We'll be sending out invitations to be on programs, between this fall and next spring. Sasquan would like to hear from you if you're interested in being considered as a Program Panelist and/or Events Performer. Fill out our Panelist/Performer Volunteer form."

By the way, I hope Sasquan doesn't fall into minority-bloc mentality and use an Asian SF/F writer to fulfill a "quota." In 21st Century U.S., Asians are definitely in and easy, all over the screen and on the tube whenever the historically under-represented Others need to be assuaged. An Asian SF/F writer would be good diversity for WorldCon. What I've been talking about is INCLUSION of Latinos and Native Americans. They are different, even if not as accepted and respected.

To pre-empt another point, someone might suggest I volunteer to help diversify WorldCon's exclusion of us and the indios. Bastions of white privilege should fix themselves, not expect our free time and labor to divest themselves of what we point out to be exclusion-problems of their own making. I would help. As soon as WE saw more reasons for doing so. Like I did at LoneStarCon. And, if I have a new book coming out, as a Chicano spec writer I hope to attend Sasquan. I hope its program and speakers list gives me and others more reason than that for doing so.

The accent in Milán

I recently had an exchange with SF author Victor Milán where I pointed out that the accent in his last name didn't appear on the cover of his latest book, Dinosaur Lords. In La Bloga's Latino Spec Lit Directory, we hadn't established what he considered himself, but now that's settled. Here's how it went:

1st response: "Thanks, Rudy. Also thanks for including me in the Latino Spec Lit Directory. My father was puertorriqueño; I have considered (and characterized) myself as a Latino writer pretty much throughout my career. Also, thanks for reminding me about that accent mark...."
2nd response: "All done. Wrote to Editor Claire asking for the change. For them as don't know: that's not an affectation. Milán is my family name. It's not on my birth certificate, but they didn't do none o' that there furrin stuff in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-1950s. But I've used it as my name pretty much everywhere the "ick" (as a long-ago lady friend amusingly termed it) was an option. Also, those who have followed my work know that Victor Milán is my professional name as well as my actual surname. And so appears on much if not most of my published writing.
"It shouldn't be hard to change. It's not as if it's incorporated into the swell painting or anything. And when the becomes a Bigassasaurus of a blockbuster movie, the accent's gonna be on my name in the credits, too. So there."
- Victor Milán

Es todo, hasta Sasquan(?),
RudyG, aka mestizo (part Latino, part-Native American) spec lit author Rudy Ch. Garcia

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