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1. A Children's Tribute to Gabriel García Márquez- My Name is Gabito

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Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Last week the world lost one of the most brilliant writers of the century. Gabriel García Márquez is considered a genie of modern literature. His words echo the unique and majestic essence of his intrepid spirit. García Márquez will live forever thanks to his master pieces full of imagination and beauty.

My Name is Gabito written by the award-winning author Monica Brown and delightfully illustrated by Raúl Colón depicts the childhood of the 1982 Nobel Prize Literature recipient Gabriel García Márquez.

Gabito was born on March 6, 1928 in Aracataca, Colombia. Gabito was nurtured by his grandparents along with a 100-year-old parrot named Lorenzo el Magnifico. His grandfather was an important figure for the development of Gabito’s talent.  Gabito loved learning words from his grandfather’s dictionary. Gabito realized that the more he read, the more imaginative his stories became.  Gabito witnessed the struggles of poor banana workers in his hometown. This situation created an urgent sense of justice and equal opportunity for all people. This life experience was evident in his novels because he often shared stories about the banana workers.

Gabito grew, grew, and grew. Gabito became one of the most famous Latin-American writers in the world.  As a result, Gabriel García Márquez became an international figure. Gabito wrote more than thirty books, some of his emblematic novels are Love in the Time of Cholera, Living to Tell the Tale, and the best-seller One Hundred Years of Solitude. During his lifetime, Gabito received the most prestigious awards for his merit. In 1982 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature reaffirming the remarkable gift to produce incomparable stories. Gabito married his boyhood girlfriend, Mercedes Bacha Pardo, and they had two sons named Rodrigo and Gonzalo. This is a phenomenal life for an incredible human being.

My Name is Gabito helps children learn and appreciate the extraordinary journey of Gabriel García Márquez, and it also allows them to discover the dynamism of the renowned author. His legacy will last for an eternity in our hearts and in our mind. Thanks to the Tlapazola community from Oaxaca, Mexico for spreading the legacy of the eternal Gabito.

¡Viva Gabriel García Márquez por siempre!

* * * 

My Name is Gabito/Me llamo Gabito Presentation 

for ELL Bilingual Reading Night

Monica Brown author of  "My Name Is Gabito/My llamo Gabito" talks  about how "One Hundred Years of Solitude" changed her life as a high school student. See more of the interview: http://www.colorincolorado.org/read/meet/brown/

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2. Conference Time. News 'n notes.

Michael Sedano

University Conference on Latino Culture and Science Fiction April 30.

The University of California, Riverside hosts a trailblazing academic inquiry into science fiction and speculative fiction written by raza writers in a gathering of casí all the raza writers of science fiction and speculative literature.

The April 30 conference arrives at a time of literary ferment when writers and readers come to the book market with higher expectations than publishers can understand.

The conference explores how six writers get their books to market, the role of sci-fi and speclit genres in United States letters, the nature of literary exclusion, and stories about what each writer brings to readers.

The morning panel joins almost all raza published authors of the genres into the same room at the same time. Hosted by UCR’s Professor of Science Fiction Media Studies, Sherryl Vint, the discussions will be classics among literary conferences. Mario Acevedo’s and Jésus Treviño’s vampire fiction meets Rudy Ch. García’s and Treviño’s dimensional surrealism. Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita’s lunar braceros meet el padrino of Chicano sci-fi Ernest Hogan’s mexicas in outerspace. Y más.

In the afternoon, Michael Sedano and UCR graduate students join the circle to include critical perspectives and readerly responses to these sci-fi and speclit genres, and to join the audience in speculation into what directions each sees raza speculative literature and science-fiction taking.

A grand event in the late afternoon, years in the making, puts a capstone on the conference.

See Rudy Ch. Garcia’s Saturday, April 26 column for building/meeting-room specifics.

The beautiful Riverside campus is freeway convenient off the 60/215, in Susan Straight country.

Conference on Rudolfo Anaya: Tradition, Modernity, and the Literatures of the U.S. Southwest May 2-3.

La Bloga friend Roberto Cantú brings the most arrestingly interesting academic conferences to Southern California and the east side of the LA basin. May 2-3, Cantú surpasses himself with a conference dedicated to La Bloga friend Rudolfo Anaya and literature of the US Southwest.

Scholars from New Mexico to old Germany will lecture, moderate, and sit panel presentations.

Four keystone fiction writers take the lectern during the conference, Ana Castillo, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Reyna Grande, and Mario Acevedo, fresh from his stunning appearance UCR's raza in spec lit and sci-fi conference.

The Anaya conference on the campus of California State University Los Angeles in El Sereno is free and open to public visitors for just the cost of parking or a short walk from the bus station. There is no light rail serving this campus directly.

A word of caution: parking rules are posted so you can read them and avoid a ticket. Be assured local regulations are strictly enforced.

The conference is sponsored by Cal State L.A.'s Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conference Series, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the Department of Chicano Studies, the Department of English, the Barry Munitz Fund, and the Emeriti Association.

See the conference website for details.

Writing Workshop With Ana Castillo

© foto: workshop at NLWC in 2011

Working with a seasoned writer to develop ideas, polish writing, glean insights from conversation often comes with the payoff of better writing, an improved attitude. This happens for beginners as well as polished authors.

The opportunity to work with one of Chicana Chicano Literature's most accomplished talents, Ana Castillo, should quickly fill the handful of seats available on May 3 through auspices of La Bloga friend Iris de Anda and Mujeres de Maíz.

 Visit the workshop Facebook page for your invitation. There is a fee for the workshop.

Writing Workshop for Newer Writers in East Los

La Bloga friend Sam Quinones organizes a writing workshop series for those who've never published before, Tell Your True Tale.

Students from recent workshops appear Saturday April 26 at the  East L.A. Public Library at 2:30 pm. The East LA Public Library awaits your attendance at 4837 E 3rd St, LA, 323-264-0155.

Quinones' workshops revolve around insisting stories fit in limited space. Tell Your True Tale approach forces writers to hone their thoughts and imagination, eliminate unnecessary words, make the hard choices that are part of strong writing, no matter the genre.

The Saturday event showcases the students' work with, according to Quinones, stunning variety and quality of stories: A vet returning home from Vietnam; a janitor in Houston trying to find her children in Mexico; of braceros finding their way north and back home again; a man learning confidence as he woos a woman; a bus rider in Los Angeles; a mariachi singing for a heartbroken family on Christmas Eve.

Find details on the workshops here.

Free Poetry Column Follow-Up: Veterans Land.

I noted in La Bloga's coverage of the Grand Park Downtown Bookfest that one organization performs Shakespeare with kids on the grounds of the Veteran's Center and elsewhere. The observation draws a response from the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles Associate Director of Veteran Affairs Kellogg Brengel.

I receive Brengel's words with appreciation for his organization's role in the VA's efforts helping GIs. LA is the homeless GI capital of the world. It's a moral outrage that so many of these men and women are walking wounded soldiers not receiving the care we owe them. I am a Veteran of the US Army but no one needs to be a Veteran to be outraged by this crud.

For Veterans and supporters of Veterans, a critical issue simmers just at the surface of efforts like the Shakespeare Center and other companies. Many, if not all, private or non-Veteran users of the West LA Veterans home lost a federal case and will have to vacate VA land, absent some amicable resolution that benefits Veterans more than others. A commercial laundry, the UCLA baseball team, an exclusive Brentwood girls' school, a theatre, all don't want to leave low-cost Veteran land for market-rate facilities.

Mr. Brengel notes the program goes into its third year on the VA campus, he says, supported by a veteran workforce. Working with the VA's Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, SCLA has hired a total of 61 veterans over the past two summers and because of our free admission policy for  veterans, active military, their families, friends and caregivers/VA employees, SCLA has given away 5,665 tickets to our summer performances.  

The veterans we hire are recruited from the VA's Veterans Community Employment Development program which helps find supported employment opportunities for veterans enrolled in VA services who are chronically unemployed, homeless, and/or receiving psycho-social rehabilitative treatment. 

Veterans receive paid on-the-job training and work in all aspects of the production including: production and venue crews, audio engineer, wardrobe assistant, ushers, parking attendants, and site-specific marketing. The transitional work experience this program provides has been a great success and we are very much looking forward to being back in the Japanese Garden for the summer of 2014. 

A ver.

La Bloga Welcomes Guest Columnists

Thank you for reading La Bloga. When you have a comment, a need to enlarge, clarify, or correct La Bloga's coverage of literatura, cultura, arte, o más, don't hide that light of yours under a bushel basket, dale shine. Contact La Bloga here for particulars of your Guest Column, or email labloga@readraza punto com. Of the eleven daily blogueras blogueros, eight began writing for La Bloga as Guest Columnists.

Late-arriving News

Just as I was putting La Bloga to bed, this opportunity pulls into sight.

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3. People, Places, and Poetry

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By Xánath Caraza

What contentment to report on such varying cultural activities as the visits of James Edward Olmos and Rigoberto Gonzalez in Kansas City, the presentations of Noche de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poems in Chicago and Wisconsin, in addition to another in Brazil, and Con Tinta’s celebration of National Poetry Month. 

James Edward Olmos at UMKC

James Edward Olmos in Kansas City brought excitement, energy and friendship.  What a pleasure it was to see him in person, to hear him talk and see him perform his presentation.  There is no doubt of his great commitment to the Latin@/Chican@ community.  His presentation was on Tuesday, April 15 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) to celebrate Cesar Chavez.  Muchas gracias a Erika Cecilia Noguera, Coordinator of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC, for her dedicated work and for making the Cesar Chavez Lecture possible.  After his UMKC presentation, James Edward Olmos continued his conversation with the Kansas City community at the Guadalupe Centers, where a reception in his honor was held. 

Erika C. Noguera, Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion

James Edward Olmos at the Guadalupe Centers

Another distinguished Chicano writer visiting Kansas City was Rigoberto Gonzalez, American Book Award recipient, on Tuesday, April 8 from 5-8 p.m. at the Student Union at UMKC. His visit was part of Literature for Life Week.  Rigoberto Gonzalez’s reading was followed by a Q & A and book signing.  Several members of the Latino Writers Collective, Kansas City, attended this important event.

Consuelo Cruz, Jose Faus, Maria Vazquez-Boyd, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Norma Cantu

Noche de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poems in Chicago and Wisconsin

Many thanks to my wonderful hosts in Chicago and Appleton, WI for making the presentation of Noche de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poems possible.  Miguel López Lemus and Kapra Fleming opened the doors of their home to receive the literary and artistic Chicago community on March 27 for an Art Salon. Thank you Chicago for your warm reception and endless support.


Appleton, WI was next on Saturday, March 29.  Several members of the Latino Community graciously attended the Art Salon for the presentation of Noches de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poemshosted by Yasser Bashi and Reme Bashi in their amazing home.  I have no words to thank their affable hospitality.   Among the people who attended the Art Salon was Paco, who I’m happy to say has been present during all my visits to Milwaukee and Appleton, WI.  I first met Paco in March of 2012 during a Poetry Workshop in Spanish I gave at Woodland Patterns Bookstore.  He then attended my presentation as part of Cantos Latinos in Milwaukee organized by Brenda Cárdenas.  I’m proud to say that I’ve been following Paco’s development as a poet and will continue supporting him.  Paco is an avid reader and poet, now a young man, who has graciously read all of my books.  So proud of you Paco.



I had the unique opportunity to be part of the 7th MECA (Muestra de Educación Ciencia y Arte) in Apucarana, Paraná, Brazil.  I had a couple of presentations, roundtable participation, book presentation, and classroom visits.  My main presentation was on Estructura de enseñanza básica en México: formación, práctica y carrera docente, y poesía.  Another highlight of my visit was the opportunity to meet the award winning novelist, Oscar Nakasato, from Apucarana.  I was able to exchange a few words with him and exchange books.  He is the author of Nihon Jin (Benvirá, 2011) winner of the Premio Benvirá de Literatura.  Iguaçu Falls was the last part of my intense trip to Brazil.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Dr. Barbosa and Dr. De Jesus many thanks for all your support and great organization.


CON TINTA NaPoMo 2014 is here, send your poem to creativexc@gmail.com and/or mouthfeelpress@yahoo.com (Mouthfeel Press) y celebra la poesía. This is Con Tinta's third year celebrating NaPoMo, more to come. Viva la poesía!

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Algunos poemas

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Dios mío… Me desmayo!
By Miguel López Lemus

Con tanta competencia es difícil ser poeta
A ver díganme! Como competir contra
“Como espuma que inerte lleva el caudaloso rio,
Flor de Azalea la vida en su avalancha te arrastro”
Me sentare a pensar con las plumas en la mano
Y las hojas de papel arrugadas en el piso como hojas de otoño
Acabadas de caer.

Bueno aquí voy:
Dios mío, me desmayo!
La veo venir, se acerca
Y el zancudo de cupido me atraviesa su saeta
Dios mío, me desmayo
Que me mira
Se me cierran las ideas, no pienso, quedo
sin palabras, sin nada que decir
Dios mío, me desmayo
Me sonríe, me platica, camina junto a mi
Yo enloquezco, me derrito como nieve en el calor.
Dios mío, me desmayo
Que me besa!
y yo pierdo la cabeza
que me traigan un doctor.

Yo pensé que era invencible
Que mi corazón de roca
Jamás habría de penetrar
Y ahora sé que no es de roca
Gelatina, tembeleque,
Nieve de limón.

Dios mío, me desmayo!
Me aprieta!
Y estoy a punto de decirle
Que la amo
Que es el sueño de mi vida
Que adoraría tener muchos hijitos
Que quiero una casa grande con jardín.
Dios mío, Me muero!
Me dice
“Ahorita vengo
Voy a ponerme algo más cómodo”
Estoy sudando frio
Me tiemblan las rodillas
La vista se me nubla
Me peino con los dedos
Reviso mi aliento entre mis manos

Madre mía, estoy llegando al fin
Envuelta en no sé que
Y yo pienso
Hasta aquí llegaron tus huesitos
Me decido
Proponerle matrimonio
Bajarle las estrellas y la luna
Traernos a vivir a su mama

Madre mía, estoy borracho
La belleza me ha drogado
Yo le digo
“Ahorita vengo
Voy por la estrellas
Por la luna por el mar
y por el sol”
© Miguel López Lemus

Por Xavier Oquendo Troncoso

A ti León y a ti Paco y a ti Manuel
Poetas olvidados
A quien el tiempo no dio tregua.
A ustedes que nadie les da una efemérides
En el calendario solar.
Y que sólo son culpables de las letras olvidadas
De las letras sumergidas en la muerte
Para que pasen madurez en el infierno.
Para que apenas lleguen a ser leídos en la calma,
Luego, después de un homenaje a los poetas oficiales
Ustedes brillen como el azúcar
En esos días de sol y nieve y poesía.
Allá, en el infierno,
Allá en el olvido.

© Xavier Oquendo Troncoso

Nobody Asked Us
By Sonia Gutiérrez

They had wished
that their winged thoughts
would always be eternally

But nobody asked us
why we turned pale
and why our arms one day
stayed bare.

Nobody asked us
if we preferred living
away from the bullet machines
that rang our ears.

And now, they don’t know what will happen
because nobody asked us,
The Trees, what we felt
or what we thought.

What I have always known
is that I never dreamed
of living chained to the sulfuric
waste of humanity.

Translation by Sonia Gutiérrez
*“Nadie nos preguntó” is forthcoming in Revista Ombligo

© Sonia Gutiérrez

En una esquina
Por Gerardo Cárdenas

Los relojes reventados en diminutos cristales,
detenidos a horas distintas,
desangrándose en un torrente de engranajes
como un toro que embiste los trazos febriles
de las luciérnagas.

Cruzo la plaza bajo la mirada de una china
no oigo lo que dice pero leo en sus labios
mi locura.
Me persigue señalándome con un dedo
yo que sólo quiero recoger los cristales hechos añicos
de los relojes que agonizan
y mueren sin descendencia
pero los pájaros son más rápidos:
                                                se los llevan
y los regurgitan en los picos de sus polluelos.

Al final de la plaza me desplomo
como un ovillo sin sombra;
las hormigas se compadecen
me cubren con una roída manta
para que nadie mire mis incontenibles temblores.

El teléfono me urge:
alguien ha dejado un mensaje
(tal vez una carcajada o una foto obscena).

La plaza se vuelve un estruendo de piares
ya sacuden sus alas de cristal incontables relojes.

© Gerardo Cárdenas

The Disappearance of the Poem
By Mark Statman

For John Yamrus

Because the
young woman on
the Amtrak

I couldn't figure out
her accent
she told me
Puerto Rico
It unseemed secretly something else
but she was pretty sure
as she should be

© Mark Statman


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4. Look What the Easter Bunny Dragged: Pedacitos of Literary Greats

Olga Garcia Echeverria

I don't have much to say about Easter. Like Thanksgiving and Santa Claus Day, it's a holiday that makes me feel awkward and rebellious. Pastel colors and Catholic mass make me nauseous. I've never been into wicker. I hate fake grass. I confess I have in my lifetime eaten my good share of chocolate bunnies and yellow marshmallow chicks, but nowadays I mostly feel resurrected by the literary word. Here are a few treats to sink your teeth into on this Easter Sunday. Enjoy!
Marquez On Writing from Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life by Gerald Martin 
(Alfred A. Knopf 2009).
GGM on his 1st Birthday
     I am a writer through timidity. My true vocation is that of magician, but I get so flustered trying to do tricks that I’ve had to take refuge in the solitude of literature. Both activities, in any case, lead to the only thing that has interested me since I was a child: that my friends should love me more.
     In my case, being a writer is an exceptional achievement because I am very bad at writing. I have had to subject myself to an atrocious discipline in order to finish half a page after eight hours of work; I fight physically with every word and it is almost always the word that wins, but I am so stubborn that I have managed to publish four books in twenty years. The fifth, which I am writing now, is going slower than the others, because between my debtors and my headaches I have very little free time.
     I never talk about literature because I don’t know what it is and besides I’m convinced the world would be just the same without it. On the other hand, I’m convinced it would be completely different without the police. I therefore think I’d have been much more useful to humanity if instead of being a writer I’d been a terrorist.
David Sedaris: An Easter Excerpt
One of the funniest stories I have ever read is "Jesus Shaves" by David Sedaris. His entire collection Me Talk Pretty One Day (Little, Brown and Company 2000) is hilarious and highly recommended. In "Jesus Shaves," Sedaris describes his experience as an adult second language learner in a French class in Paris, France. In their limited French, Sedaris and fellow students attempt to explain the meaning of Easter to a Moroccan Muslim classmate.  
    The Italian nanny was attempting to answer the teacher’s latest question when the Moroccan student interrupted, shouting, “Excuse me, but what’s an Easter?”
     It would seem that despite having grown up in a Muslim country, she would have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. “I mean it,” she said. “I have no idea what you people are talking about.”
     The teacher called upon the rest of us to explain.
     The Poles led the charge to the best of their ability. “It is," said one, “a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus and …oh, shit.” She faltered and her fellow country-man came to her aid.
     “He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two…morsels of …lumber.”
     The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.
     “He die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father.”
     “He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples.”
     “He nice, the Jesus.”
     “He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody make him dead today.”
     Part of the problem had to do with vocabulary. Simple nouns such as cross and resurrection were beyond our grasp, let alone such complicated reflexive phrases as “to give of yourself your only begotten son.” Faced with the challenge of explaining the cornerstone of Christianity, we did what any self respecting group of people might do. We talked about food instead.
     “Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb,” the Italian nanny explained. “One too many eat of the chocolate.”
     “And who brings the chocolate?” the teacher asked.
     I knew the word, so I raised my hand, saying, “The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate.”
     “A rabbit?” The teacher, assuming I’d used the wrong word, positioned her index fingers on top of her head, wriggling them as though they were ears. “You mean one of these? A rabbit rabbit?”
     “Well, sure, “ I said. “He come in the night when one sleep on a bed. With a hand he have a basket and foods. “
     The teacher sighed and shook her head. As far as she was concerned, I had just explained everything that was wrong with my country. “No, no, “ she said. “Here in France the chocolate is brought by a big bell that flies in from Rome.” 
     I called for a time-out. “But how do the bell know where you live?”
    “Well,” she said, “how does a rabbit?”
     It was a decent point, but at least a rabbit has eyes. That’s a start. Rabbits move from place to place, while most bells can only go back and forth-and they can’t even do that on their own power. On top of that, the Easter Bunny has character. He’s someone you’d like to meet and shake hands with. A bell has all the personality of a cast-iron skillet. It’s like saying that come Christmas, a magic dustpan flies in from the North Pole, led by eight flying cinder blocks. Who wants to stay up all night so they can see a bell? And why fly one in from Rome when they’ve got more bells than they know what to do with right here in Paris? That’s the most implausible aspect of the whole story, as there’s no way the bells of France would allow a foreign worker to fly in and take their jobs. That Roman bell would be lucky to get work cleaning up after a French bell’s dog-and even then he’d need papers. It just didn’t add up. 
     Nothing we said was of any help to the Moroccan student. A dead man with long hair supposedly living with her father, a leg of lamb served with palm fronds and chocolate; equally confused and disgusted, she shrugged her massive shoulders and turned her attention back to the comic book she kept hidden beneath her binder.

Adios Querida Doris Pilkington Garimara author of Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence

Doris Pilkington Garimara and her mother Molly

It's midnight, Easter Sunday, and I've just heard that author Doris Pilkington Garimara passed away last week of ovarian cancer. Among the many books she wrote, Pilkington Garimara documented her Australian aborigine mother's escape from a government camp and her amazing 1,500-mile trek home. Her book, Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence, brought to light the systematic racist policies to forcibly assimilate Australian natives by tearing them away from their families. Her book was later made into the highly acclaimed film, Rabbit Proof Fence. Like all great literature and art, Rabbit Proof Fence is a story that touches the heart in powerful and timeless ways. Through the years, I have returned to it numerous times--for its bravery, its mastery, and its poetic resilient spirit.
Last but not least, and in honor of our recently departed Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Doris Pilkington Garimara, I leave you with a few lines from one of my favorite Pablo Neruda poems. What is there not to love about Neruda?
This excerpt is from "Ode to a Few Yellow Flowers," which is translated by Ilan Stavans in All The Odes: Pablo Neruda.   
Polvo somos, seremos.
Ni aire, ni fuego, ni agua
solo tierra
y tal vez
unas flores amarillas.
We are dust, we shall become.
Not air, or fire, or water
we shall be
mere earth
and maybe
a few yellow flowers.


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5. Gabriel García Márquez sigue

"The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole."

Those aren't my words; they're from Gabriel García Márquez, who's given us some of the greatest in any language.

QEPD = Que en Paz Descanse is the Spanish equivalent to "rest in peace." After I posted notes about Marquez passing, an Anglo friend sent me condolences: "Lo siento," he said, "sorry."

I'll say the sentiment was good, but the intended audience was too narrow. Latinos don't need condolences from Anglos, about Márquez's death. He belongs to the world's peoples and in that sense, is relevant and part of us all.

Márquez, a political creature
There's the tendency to mention magical realism whenever Márquez's name comes up. That bothers me as an indirect slotting of his work, like it was "only" an example of latinoamericano speculative literature. Anymore than Crime and Punishment should be called genre horror or thriller. Some works and writers defy delimiting, like Márquez and his works. However much he defined magical realism, he also shred that envelope, passing into the realm of Classic.

Here's more of his words, not usually quoted:
The world must be all fucked up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.
I don’t think you can write a book that’s worth anything without extraordinary discipline.
With The Thousand and One Nights, I learned and never forgot that we should read only those books that force us to reread them.
Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.
If men gave birth, they'd be less inconsiderate.
The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.

Whatever type of reader you are, you haven't lived unless you've experienced at least one of Márquez's epics. Below are the openings to two novels. Go outside somewhere by yourself, read them once for meaning, sentido, then read them aloud for the music. This might make you wonder if you should read the entire book. You should.

from Love in the Time of Cholera:

(translation): It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before. The Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, disabled war veteran, photographer of children, and his most sympathetic opponent in chess, had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.

from One Hundred Years of Solitude:
Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo. Macondo era entonces una aldea de veinte casas de barro y cañabrava construidas a la orilla de un río de aguas diáfanas que se precipitaban por un lecho de piedras pulidas, blancas y enormes como huevos prehistóricos. El mundo era tan reciente, que muchas cosas carecían de nombre, y para mencionarlas había que señalarlas con el dedo.

a children's book on Márquez
(translation): Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, General Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.

Esquirere-posted a Márquez short story, The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother that you can read in full.

I'm not sad Márquez died. He was mortal and reached a logical end. I don't know how his last weeks, months, years were, given a cancer he suffered; perhaps he was grateful to end his time, even. But before that, he left his people, his species, with enough to prove that he'd been here and done good. Great. Phenomenal. So, while his energy has left his body, some remains locked in his prose, to be shared by those to come.

Salud al maestro Marquez!

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6. The Tony Garcia Interview

Anthony J. "Tony" Garcia
Today we hear from Anthony "Tony" Garcia, long-time Artistic Director at the world-famous El Centro Su Teatro. Tony is the driving force behind many of Denver's cultural highlights, recognized and honored by the local, national, and international cultural elite, as well as respected and loved by the community he so ably represents with his hard-work and intense commitment. Tony recently managed to squeeze in a few minutes for La Bloga -  and we are grateful;  he's a busy guy. Tony offers his opinion about a wide range of subjects including the current state of Chicano theater, Su Teatro's plans for the immediate future, what Su Teatro offers in the way of opportunities for writers, and key lessons taught to all of us by César Chávez.

[from Su Teatro's website]
Tony Garcia, Executive Artistic Director: Tony has been the Executive Artistic Director of El Centro Su Teatro since 1989 and has been a member of Su Teatro since 1972. He received his BA in Theater from the University of Colorado at Denver. Tony has received numerous awards and accolades for his artistic vision, including the 1989 University of California, Irvine Chicano Literary Award, a 2006 United States Artists Fellowship, an artist residency at the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and was named the Denver Post 2010 Theater Person of the Year. Most recently, he received the prestigious Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils Stanton Foundation. Tony is a past faculty member for the National Association of Latino Art and Culture (NALAC) Leadership Institute as well as a past board member, he is a peer trainer for the Colorado Creative Industries’ Peer Assistance Network, and a member of the Western State Arts Federation’s (WESTAF) Board of Trustees. Tony also is an adjunct professor at Metro State University in Denver.

La Carpa de los Rasquachis, written by Luis Valdez, directed by Anthony J. Garcia

And a little bit about Su Teatro, also from Su Teatro's website:
Su Teatro began in 1971 as a student-organized theater group at the University of Colorado at Denver. In 1989, Su Teatro purchased the old Elyria School in Northeast Denver and became El Centro Su Teatro, a multidisciplinary cultural arts center. 

Twenty-one years later in September, 2010 Su Teatro purchased The Denver Civic Theater at 721 Santa Fe Dr.

Over 40 years, Su Teatro has established a national reputation for homegrown productions that speak to the history and experience of Chicanos. Su Teatro has created more than 15 original full length productions that have toured widely to venues such as New York’s Public Theater, The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, TX and Plaza de la Raza, Los Angeles, CA. 

The artistic excellence of our programs and our relevance to the field has been recognized nationally through funding from The Shubert Foundation, Theatre Communications Group, the National Performance Network, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, and the American Composers Forum.


Manuel Ramos:     At one time there were Chicano teatros all over the place. What's the state of this type of theater today?  How big is this club?

Tony Garcia:  In the mid-70s there were as many as ten teatros in Colorado alone. In 1976 we brought them together in a festival. There were probably 50-70 and many would participate in national and international festivals, often hosted by a group called TENAZ ( Teatros Nacionales de Aztlan. ) Just recently there was a call for entries for a national gathering of Latino theater ensembles and more than 70 groups responded. This does not include the individual artists and spoken word performers. The Latino Commons was a gathering of individual Latino theater artists in Boston and an invited list of 67 showed up. The variety is great, we created a circle of our experience as teatristas, and we ran from Luis Valdez of El Teatro Campesino, whose company was formed in 1965, to college performers with less than two years in the field. I would say we are as healthy as we can be for artists. The work is less politically and socially driven then it was when we began. It is, though, no less important. We are still working our way through identity issues as our identities evolve. We are no longer just telling stories about Chicanos, because we are no longer just Mexican-Americans. We are Mexican-African-Americans, Mexican-Japanese-Pilipino-Americans. We are Puerto Rican-Cuban-Irish-Americans, so all of those elements are getting mixed into the stew. What we have in common is a real claim to the Americas. We see ourselves as in our native country, although we preserve the memory of another country. Of course the twist is that we are connected to a subculture of hybridity, which is second nature to us. Because that is what being a Chicano was all about.

MR:  Why has Su Teatro survived?  How would you describe the evolution of Su Teatro?

TG:  Su Teatro has survived because we know what we are, and there is a need for what we are. If our community did not need us then we would be gone very shortly. Very few artists and artistic organizations have been embraced as firmly as has Su Teatro and yours truly. Our community has watched us grow and our growth and successes are successes of our community. We are the conveyors of our community’s history, but not just in a sense that we regurgitate what the community wants to hear, we are fortunate to be in a position to challenge and inspire. So people don’t always hear what they want, but we work hard to engage them, to provoke them and to reflect well on them. We have been at this for a long time, and we have gotten better at telling stories. We have more tools than we had in the past. Our new space rivals many facilities in larger cities. People can come here and see a show that has solid acting, good production values and yet has an environment that feels like you are visiting family. The facility is very welcoming, we serve among other things tamales that people can take into the theater with them. It adds to the comfort level. We really want to challenge the idea that art is something that is out of the reach of most people. We call ourselves community theater, and some people in the arts community look down upon this, as somehow that means a diminished quality. But what we mean is that it is a community space, it is a space that is about giving access to our community. It is not easy to get on our main stage, only one or two new actors make it in those shows each year. That speaks to the quality of the actors in our shows. We do, though, offer a number of other opportunities in smaller and touring shows to help get you to the level of our main stage.

 As for our own evolution, we have really grown with our community. We have also been fortunate enough to have interacted on an international and national level with other groups; we have been exposed to models that work and models that may not work as well. This has helped a lot. We have also been exposed to the work on these levels and been able to gauge ourselves, get inspired by the others and be challenged as well. This has helped us to grow as artists, which is really important in being able to carry out your work. I get inspired from above, artists I feel are doing great work, and I also get inspired from below, people who are just starting out and growing. Bobby LeFebre and Jose Guerrero inspire me, two young spoken word artists in the company. Rudy Anaya inspires me as does Luis Valdez.  And Debra Gallegos and Yolanda Ortega ( two veteranas from our company) caused me to rewrite their characters based on the great elements they brought to the parts. 

MR:  How many plays have you written or co-written?  Where can our audience find these plays to read them? Anyone more special than the others?

Daniel Valdez
TG:  I have probably written around 20-25, I have tried to count them a number of times but I always end up getting distracted and don’t finish. The problem is that I am in a highly productive period, a lot because of my collaboration with Daniel Valdez (composer/musician director/actor) and it seems like every conversation becomes a new play that we begin building.  Danny has pushed me to write more music as well. I always wrote songs but I never really felt I had the skills or talent to polish them. So I left them to others to do that. But I know now that if it is good Danny will use it in the play. If it isn’t, meaning if I haven’t polished it, he won’t. If he uses the music, it usually sounds very good. That is motivation. So that output has grown. I am used to walking around with characters and dialogue occupying my brain; now I have melodies, harmonies, bridges and segues that run together and sound like every song I have ever heard. It is really torturous to have that much activity going on in your brain. I have to be careful when I drive.

I have published a first Anthology, it has four plays and a short film script. One of the projects I was supposed to do when I received the United States Artist Felllowship was to publish the completed collections. But I ended up writing much since that time.  We have talked about making them available on line. But in the meantime I have a full length script due by May 1st, a four part telenovela by the end of June, and the second story in a children’s trilogy called El Espiritu Natural. The first story, El Rio: Las Lagrimas de la Llorona, we ran in February and will tour in the fall. The second story is La Tierra. Artists, like parents, love all their children equally. There is something that we find endearing in all of them. I like Ludlow: El Grito de las Minas, because I like the story and the lead character reminds me of my mother. I like When Pigs Fly and Men Have Babies because it is so obnoxious. I like El Sol Que Tu Eres because it really was a beautiful production.  And of course we are always in love with the next one. And if people have an interest I will be glad to send someone a script

MR:  I heard you speak at the recent César Chávez celebration here in Denver. You made some excellent points about what Chávez should mean to us. And I know that working with youth is one focus of the work that Su Teatro undertakes. Is Chávez someone that today's Chicano or Mexicano youth cares about, or even knows? I worry about our lost history and am curious about what you see happening today with Latino youth in terms of cultural and political history, as well as changing the future.

 TG:  I wrote Papi, Me and Cesar Chavez because I was concerned that young people knew the latest reality show stars more than they knew César. I wanted people to understand the story. Being asked to speak put me in a position to think about the values and lessons that I learned from César Chávez. For the first time in my life I placed them in categories. Sacrifice:  César taught that we should be willing to sacrifice everything to achieve our goals. It is pretty hard to hear this when you have nothing. But the idea of sacrifice forces you to think about what has value. And we learn it is not the monetary things that make or change us. Discipline:  The discipline that was necessary to resist violence. As strange as it sounds, it is much more difficult to refrain from harming someone who harmed you. We learned that discipline is the value that will make the change needed in our lives. Discipline is what makes us better artists. If it was so easy everyone would do it. Memory:  César taught us to preserve memory. History is memory preserved. Memory is what connects us to our ancestors and our descendants. That connection is what allows us to outlive our lifetimes. Teach: César taught us to teach. The moment we learn something, we are responsible to teach it. This is how we move the next generation forward. I had an actor tell me,  "I don’t want to be a mentor." My response was that perhaps this was not the place for him. Someone who can not teach is probably someone who will never know. The last is to Honor: Although I really have built my career on sarcasm, we need to always remember to honor the gifts that we have been given. Whether it is an art, a skill, or an emotion, some people have a tremendous capacity to care, to be empathetic. Some people can love deeply or are eternally hopeful. Those are gifts that we may have received genetically, but they were given to us. We also must honor the sacrifices, the lessons, the discipline, and the history that brought us to this place. In our work with young people in addition to telling them about César Chávez, we teach them that the sacrifice was for them to have opportunity, and that their payback was to take advantage of those opportunities. Telling our stories is one of the greatest ways of preserving memory. I was fortunate that my mother was such a great story teller. But now more than ever we have so many great storytellers out there. We also need to teach our children to tell their stories, because in the end their stories will connect with ours.

MR:  What does Su Teatro have planned for this year?

TG:  Actually our season is winding down, but we will finish strong and then start off with a lot of momentum. In June we will stage Cuarenta y Ocho, a fictional telling of the 48 hours between the two explosions in Boulder in 1974 that left six people dead. It begins with an explosion and ends with an explosion that we all know is coming. We will remount Enrique’s Journey, my adaptation of the Sonia Nazario Pulitzer Prize winning story of a young boy who rides the top of the trains from Honduras to the United States to reunite with his mother. We are anticipating that the show will run in Denver for three weeks and then move on to Los Angeles for another three weeks, with a possibility of continuing into Seattle and then returning through Albuquerque. We will remount The Westside Oratorio, the musical retelling of the seven generations that inhabited Denver’s Westside neighborhood, before they were forced to move in order to build the Auraria Campus. We have a great opportunity to stage Real Women Have Curves by Josefina López, and then we will finish off the season with a gift to our audiences and we will once again present Chicanos Sing the Blues. It is a season of revivals, but every one of the shows will have a very different look than previously presented.

MR:  Many writers, hundreds actually, established and upcoming, read La Bloga. Are there opportunities for writers with your company? Any advice for aspiring playwrights?

TG:   We accept submissions all the time, but frankly many are not ready for production. And we don’t always have the resources to invest in the development. We receive a lot of plays that have significantly large casts ( six to eight is a good size. ) We are interested in plays about Latinos; we often get plays by non-Latinos that are really about how non-Latinos see us. I am not big on Latino adaptations of a Shakespeare, Chekov or that sort. We have done adaptations of the Greeks which we like, going back to the root. We have done bilingual versions of Spanish and Latin American writers.  Mostly though we are a company that develops its own work, that is primarily what we do. But we are into relationships as it is through relationships that we find out if there is a fit. These interactions take time. So I would say send me a script, keep in contact, keep me up to date on your activities. Come to a show if you are in town. See what it is we do. And most of all don’t take it personally. I also would suggest that you get your script read aloud, do this before you send it in. Get some friends - they don’t have to be actors. Plays are meant to be heard (not just in your head),  it will really affect the dynamic of what you write.

Tony Garcia Brings Theater to the People

MR:  Thank you, Tony. It's been a pleasure and all of us here at La Bloga appreciate your willingness to speak to our readers. People in Denver know that a night at Su Teatro is guaranteed to be an evening well-spent. Your work is always enlightening, entertaining, and passionate. And often belly-shaking funny. I encourage anyone who has a chance to watch a Su Teatro production to seize the opportunity. You won't regret it.



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7. Chicanonautica: Brainpan Fallout Adventures of a Young Chicanonaut

La Bloga readers may find my Mondo Ernesto serialization of Brainpan Fallout -- a Nineties experiment that went from the Phoenix area coffee house giveaway Red Dog Journal to the infant internet and gained me fans in strange places -- of interest.  The main character/narrator/hero is a young Chicano.

And I think I’ve finally gotten rid of all those pesky typos and mistakes that often ruined the jokes. Not that anybody’s complained, or even noticed them all these years.

I didn’t really think much about sneaking in a Chicano -- I had done it in Cortez on Jupiter. I had also researched The Red Dog Journal’s audience, going to the coffee shops, poetry slams, marijuana-choked parties, listening to their conversations. I was trying to create pulp fiction for them. They were predominately white, but considered themselves to be anti-racist, so why not?

I believe that audiences need to be challenged. Since then, as a bookstore clerk I’ve seen how genre readers get bored with the same old routine. They have their habits, but need things stirred up now and then. Maybe the adventures of Flash Gomez in the 20th century would do the trick.

With 20/20 hindsight, Flash was the prototype for the Chicanonaut: A Chicano going out of bounds, crossing the borders of his barrio into strange new worlds.

He wasn’t based on anybody in particular, but after it was going for a while, I saw a Univision news story about young Nueva York bike messengers. One of them said, “Llámame Flash.”

Brainpan Fallout is also an example of my groping for Afrofuturism, or at least an alternative to the all-white future that was still the default setting for most sci-fi. There are black characters involved in cyberpunkish activities, but with their own agendas. This was long before the current postcolonial trends.

I’m glad I had the chance to go mad scientist after things crashed for me, and like Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer, that “Everything that was literature has fallen from me.” I recreated myself in my own image, and took the chance to offer some advice to the younger generation as a vato who’d been around on the countercultural merry-go-round a few times on what to watch out for when they finally get flung into the gaping jaws of their future.

It’s also good for some laughs.

Ernest Hogan is busy drawing and writing about luchadores, and preparing to talk about Chicano sci-fi at the University of California Riverside for their Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program.

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8. Me And My Cat?

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

While waiting for the train at 7th Street/Metro Center station in Downtown Los Angeles, a young lady approached me for help. She was confused and worried at the same time; she needed to catch the train toward Long Beach. She was visiting Los Angeles for the first time to meet her nephew. Her words were filled with great expectation and excitement, but her spirit seemed intimidated by the speedy trains that passed by. Finally, we looked at the screen showing the Metro Blue Line schedule. The next departing train to Long Beach opened its doors welcoming all passengers aboard. When she got inside the train, it took only a few minutes before the train began moving. The young lady waved at me as the train vanished into the dark tunnel. I sat down for a moment in the waiting area for my train to arrive thinking about this experience. I put myself in this lady’s shoes and realized that life is a unique adventure full of amazing trips.

Me And My Cat? written and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura is a story that narrates the abruptly transformation of Nicholas and his cat Leonardo. Late one night, an old lady in a pointed hat climbs through the window into Nicholas’s bedroom. She brandishes her broom, fires out some weird words, and leaves. The following morning Nicholas is living “inside” his cat Leonardo and Leonardo is living “inside” Nicholas. Nicholas is shocked to look at himself in the mirror with long whiskers, sharp claws, and purring like a sweet little kitten, MEOW! Outside the house, Nicholas, who is inside Leonardo’s body, realizes that life is tough and complicated for a cat when he is chased by three mean cats and Mr. Stone’s furious dog. Hours later, Nicholas sees himself coming back from school and acting like Leonardo, the cat.  This behavior makes his mother very upset, so she decides to call the doctor. The doctor recommends sending Nicholas to bed early. That night, the old lady in the pointed hat pays Nicholas a second visit. She apologizes for throwing a spell at the wrong person. The old lady brandishes her broom and blurts out some mysterious words disappearing as quickly as a thunder. The next day everything is back to normal, Nicholas is ready for school and Leonardo is actively climbing over the shelf. At school Mr. Gough, Nicholas’ teacher sits on the table, scratches his back, licks his cheeks, and falls asleep.

Can you guess who the old lady in the pointed hat visited last night? Be careful, you might be next!

The story Me and my Cat? stimulates deep perceptions to the young readers. Thinking about others’ needs creates mature and responsible children. Teaching values like respect, tolerance, and acceptance are some ways to show sympathy to new generations for a better community and for a better world. Visit the local library today. Reading gives you wings! Purr

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9. Should Antonio Banderas Play Cesar Chávez?

Review: Cesar Chávez, the Movie.

Michael Sedano

Imagine the hushed auditorium, ticket buyers lean forward as one, dreading the unseen menace of the growers. Antonio Banderas shouts fluently to the grape pickers, “¡en las uvas si se puede!” and switches to English, “join us, they don’t pay you enough!” 

Lots of sky shots, close ups of a burning sun, sweaty faces, a wrinkled grandmother, a teenage schoolgirl, bunches of green grapes. Mandy Pantinkin as the evil major domo advances on Banderas Chavez, seen in profile flirting with the smudged-face beauty. Chavez tenderly touches her cheek, cut to Dolores Huerta bristling, America Ferrera wiping her brow. The abuela gives her chifle and the girl steps back, lips mouthing “tonight.” CU of a hopeful Banderas Cesar Chávez. John Malkovich, face all restrained vehemence, nods imperceptibly into the camera. Pantinkin leaps with murderous eyes.

CU of the schoolgirl calling warning, “on your six, jefe!” Chavez wheels on Pantinkin, catches a fist on the shoulder. Cesar Chávez grins, says “You get one free, vato, and that was it.” Banderas leg-sweeps Pantinkin who thuds onto his back. Banderas Chavez pivots on the back leg to straddle the stunned major domo. The hero raises a boot above Pantinkin’s terrified face. CU of Banderas Chavez’ agonized face, the temptation to violence heightened by tense music. Banderas does a heel stomp but arrests a millimeter from Pantinkin’s face. The villain imagines the boot pulping his face, in slo-mo, before he focuses on the Cat’s Paw heel. 

Malkovich turns and runs to the canal where he is carried away screaming by the powerful current. In an homage to 50’s horror films, a giant centipede gnaws at Malkovich’s legs and pulls him under. The scene ends with workers dumping their bushels of grapes on the unconscious Pantinkin. They walk out of the vineyard, arms linked singing, “yo ‘stoy con Chavez, y si señor, yo ‘stoy con Chavez, y la union….” In a slow dissolve to “tonight” we catch Banderas and the ingénue in steaming embrace, the movie’s scene of forbidden love and obligatory female nudity….

Cesar Chávez, the movie, didn’t have Banderas, Pantinkin, kung-fu scenes, torrid one-night stands, gore, and monsters. That had been my fear when I read some time back that some knuckleheaded Hollywood producer wanted to do the Cesar Chávez movie but with Antonio Banderas as Cesar Chávez. Who knows where a big box office actor would have taken a script. Ni modo because Michael Peña capably captures Chavez’ intensity and earnestness with quiet dignity. Which is expected. Sadly, I couldn’t understand the final conversation between Malkovich and Peña when Cesar pridefully says something about kicking the grower’s ass.

©michael v. sedano
The script is the problem with Cesar Chávez,  the movie Diego Luna directs and produced with a thundering herd. The movie begins with eight title animations. When the movie actually begins I’m not prepared and the first scenes whirl past in disorientation.

Fabulous casting makes this the best movie I’ve seen this year. Malkovich does his best to steal the movie from Michael Peña as Mr. Chávez, America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson as Mrs. Chávez and Ms. Huerta.

Rounding out the cast are a bunch of pretty decent actors whose characters are so eclipsed by Cesar’s leadership that I miss their names. There’s a tall, thin guy with a good smile. There’s a doubting Thomas vato who always fails to see the good instead badmouths Chavez’ speeches, but finally comes over to the union. The loyal brother nurses his fasting leader, otherwise comes into focus quietly on hand to offer sensible consejos.

The script follows along chronologically. Chavez moves to California discovers injustice. He works in an office, decides to take CSO philosophies into the fields. The movement struggles to be born. Pinoy workers organize. El Malcriado scares the heck out of prescient white growers. Pinoys with Larry Itliong strike, Chavez wins the Mexicans to solidarity with them. Bobby Kennedy comes to town to embarrass the local establishment, giving the farmworker movement a moral victory that impels the cause. Chavez goes on a hunger strike.

The big facts of el movimiento form the outline of modern history textbooks. And that outline is the problem with the script by Keir Pearson. The story strings together incredibly important and moving episodes in the historical Cesar Chávez career centering around the table grape and Gallo Wine boycotts. But, like bullet points unelaborated, the episodes come and go, one momentous event to the next.

Absent are the thought process, the philosophies, behind the decisions. Momentous events simply happen because information arrives in shorthand. Cesar’s decision to Fast evolves in four scenes. An asshole driver runs down a picketer. Aroused farmworkers drag the driver out and pummel him with fists and feet. Chavez loses his cool and leaves. Devastated, he confesses he’s failed as a leader for nonviolence, and by the way, that he’s not eaten now for two days.

This Fast goes on for 25 days, draws national sympathy for the UFW but more importantly solidifies campesino support. The gruff doubting Tomás shows up to sign the nonviolence pledge in an underexploited scene that cries out for melodramatic pathos. Instead, the actor gives us a head nod and a bit of eye contact.

The connective tissue doesn’t make it into the film. It’s an equivalent of telling instead of showing. With the big facts of the grape campaign and Chavez’ career already so well known, I wanted writer Pearson to challenge his writer’s chops, show what only film audiences can see and learn about the character of the men and women embroiled in tumultuous times. Not that something happened, why, how did these people move?

 The scenes between Chavez and his increasingly alienated first born, a son, yield some of that ethos-building here’s how insight; an apple here, an apple there, a below-par eighteen holes. This script sets up the distance between them but without close examination. The viewer gets outlines of a relationship nicely strung together like pearls on a string, an element of the whole yet each knotted separately from the others.

What was between Cesar and Dolores? goes a certain chisme thread entre la gente. Pearson’s script doesn’t get into that, but Director Luna does. Employing shot triangulation Luna implants a mild inference of an unscripted relationship. Cesar does something, the crowd reacts; quick medium shot of attractive Dolores with a smolder in her eye; cut to motherly America; back to Cesar and the event. Luna’s not subtle about it.

The campaign against Gallo is widely known. The producers make sure to stray from historical accuracy on that, creating a phony winemaker with an Italian name. It’s the only element in the story that weakens its credibility. There’s a second big gripe, the closing music. It’s a beauteous song, yearning and thoughtful, sadly not the uplifting energy born from “No nos moveran” used earlier in the film.

Grower villains are numerous. Grape, lettuce, strawberries, roses, carrots, who can remember all the names? Thus, the film creates a mash-up character that Malkovich devours, a Croatian immigrant whose defense of “foreigners” illustrates the subtext of grower resistance, less economic more misanthropy against Mexicans. The silent brown maidservant takes in all the crud, not that the assembled growers have compunctions about insulting the invisible Mexicana.

Audiences don’t know anything of this when they buy the ticket and won't miss it. Those who buy a ticket. By sales standards, Cesar Chávez is flopping. Even in limited distribution, the film isn’t filling bank accounts nor minds. Nonetheless it’s a satisfying film to go see. Cesar Chavez has all the right stuff, action, daunting fears, crises, victory, nobility.

Cesar Chávez’ story comes with urgency for its civil rights content. The film doesn’t overplay racism while laying it in full view, nor does it milk victimhood even a little. Like Bobby Kennedy tells the sheriff and district attorney, during lunch you pendejos read the Constitution. That’s what Cesar Chávez is about, puro United States values. Kids should see Cesar Chávez, all of them.

Cesar Chávez is a major success at summarizing the story of the twentieth century’s most dynamic Mexican Chicano personality, the kind of biography that people leave the auditorium elated, wiping joyous tears. It’ll take a few more months before word of mouth spreads and just as you wouldn’t be caught eating grapes during the boycott, you won’t want to admit you haven’t seen Cesar Chávez.

Click here to view Latinopia's historic footage of la peregrinación.

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10. Coming soon: "Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews"

Publication date: June 1 from San Diego State University Press
by Daniel A. Olivas

[If you'd like a PDF advance review copy, please write to me at
olivasdan@aol.com and put "ARC" in the subject line.]

In this candid and wide-ranging collection of personal essays and interviews, award-winning author Daniel A. Olivas explores Latino/a literature at the dawn of the 21st century.

While his essays address a broad spectrum of topics from the Mexican-American experience to the Holocaust, Olivas always returns to and wrestles with queries that have no easy answers: How does his identity as a Chicano reflect itself through his writing?  What issues and subjects are worth exploring?  How do readers react to the final results?  Can literature affect political discourse and our daily lives?

Olivas has explored similar questions through almost a decade’s worth of interviews with Latino/a authors that have appeared in various online literary publications.  While professors and students alike have already relied upon many of the interviews as source material for scholarly examination, twenty-eight of these incisive and frank dialogues are now collected in one volume for the first time.  Olivas dives deep to discover how these authors create prose and poetry while juggling families, facing bigotry, struggling with writer’s block, and deciphering a fickle publishing industry.  This roster of interview subjects is a who’s who of contemporary Latino/a literature:

Aaron A. Abeyta • Daniel Alarcón • Francisco Aragón • Gustavo Arellano
Gregg Barrios • Richard Blanco • Margo Candela • Susana Chávez-Silverman
Sandra Cisneros • Carlos E. Cortés • Carmen Giménez Smith • Ray González
Rigoberto González • Octavio González • Reyna Grande • Myriam Gurba
Rubén Martínez • Michael Luis Medrano • Aaron Michael Morales • Manuel Muñoz
Salvador Plascencia • Sam Quinones • Ilan Stavans • Héctor Tobar
Justin Torres • Sergio Troncoso • Luis Alberto Urrea • Helena María Viramontes

Things We Do Not Talk Aboutwill undoubtedly become a natural companion to the study and enjoyment of contemporary Latino/a literature.  Cover artwork is by Perry Vasquez.

DANIEL A. OLIVAS is the author of six books including the award-winning novel, The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press).  He is the editor of the landmark anthology, Latinos in Lotusland(Bilingual Press), which brings together sixty years of Los Angeles fiction by Latino/a writers.  Widely anthologized, Olivas fiction, poetry and essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, in many literary journals including Exquisite Corpse, PANK, The MacGuffin, PALABRA, New Madrid, Fairy Tale Review, Bilingual Review, and Pilgrimage.  He has also written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Jewish Journal, La Bloga, El Paso Times, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.  Olivas earned his degree in English literature from Stanford University, and law degree from UCLA.  By day, he is an attorney in the Public Rights Division of the California Department of  Justice in Los Angeles.

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11. Poet, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano's _Amorcito Maricón_: The Interview

In 2006, La Bloga's Daniel Olivas posted "Spotlight on Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano" featuring Herrera y Lozano's first book, Santo de la Pata Alzada, (click here for the 2006 posting).  Today, we are celebrating Herrera y Lozano's second full-length book of poetry, Amorcito Maricón.  

Montes:  Primero, felicidades on this new poetry collection!  It’s been ten years since your last collection, entitled, Santo de la Pata Alzada: Poems from the Queer/Xicano/Positive Pen.  In what ways does Amorcito Maricón mark a new writing journey in your growth as a poet? 

Herrera y Lozano: ¡Gracias, Amelia! It’s hard to believe it took nearly a decade to get to see another book come to fruition.

To answer your question, I think Santo de la Pata Alzada was in many ways a coming of age collection. In it (and through it), I was trying and often struggling to make sense of, and mourn, the loss of identities and beliefs, while affirming and celebrating newer and hopefully healthier versions of myself. I had gone from being a fundamentalist Pentecostal, closeted, and someone who self-identified as Hispanic, to an out queer atheist who claimed Xicanismo as a path through which to move in the world. I was angry and I was terrified. Most of what I knew to be true (the existence of a one and only white god, patriotism, and the promise of a colorblind world) had fallen apart. I was left with creating and understanding anew what it meant to be in this same body, but now with a consciousness that defied what was supposed to be infallible. I was also working through an HIV diagnosis that was supposed to make my world crumble, but was instead a source of strength, clarity, and pride. There are ways in which Santo de la Pata Alzada moved fast, as fast as I was moving at the time. Turmoil, physical relocations, diagnosis, and coming into adulthood were all happening at such an accelerated pace that it makes sense, in retrospect, that the book would reflect that. I was writing a new self into being.

While Amorcito Maricón is a continuation of my journey, I do think it marks a particular moment, a pause. This book moves at a slower pace, these poems are less declared manifestos and more snapshots, like Polaroid pictures of little and larger moments. I began writing this book just as I was learning to slow down, to challenge myself to be present and take in what and who was in front of me rather than fantasize about what the future held. If this book marks a growth in my journey as a poet, it is that I learned to stop moving long enough to notice, capture, and articulate (to the best of my abilities) what and who was in front of me.

Montes:  Amorcito Maricón book is divided into three sections:  
(I) “Sarape-Covered Couches,”
(II) “Caballero Saludos,” 
(III) “Below Selena or Zapata.”  I see these divisions this way: 
First—a joto coming-of-age journey;
Second—a touching, humorous, as well as searing section of desire and loss;
Third— a nod to Emma Perez’s “Sexing the Colonial Imaginary” by writing “Jotos into history” (she writes Chicanas into history). 
How do you see these divisions? 

Herrera y Lozano:  You captured the intent of these sections beautifully. The first section was my stepping into this book in the aftermath of Santo de la Pata Alzada. It was my way of answering the “What happens next?” question of my first book, which was definitely a coming of age collection. With “Sarape-Covered Couches,” I wanted to continue to pay homage to my queer brown forefathers, those abandoned by families and countries alike. For even when buried by their families, when their truths were hidden for the sake of family honor or shame, these men were abandoned still. I am a part of their lineage. I wanted to declare myself their descendant, a descendant of Reinaldo Arenas, Roy Lozano, and countless others.

“Caballero Saludos” is about defiance and hope as much as it is about loss. I wanted to confess, admit, and proclaim the deviances I have committed and invite the reader to savor these with me. I wanted to take pride in those acts we deem abhorrent, like desiring men, or worst yet, loving them. All while claiming that sacred Mexican masculinity I was raised to embody, the one that would never admit to caring for another man, much less desire or love him. I sought to claim this masculinity both through imagery and the presence of Spanish (this is where all the Spanish poems in the book live). I want the reader to imagine Pedro Infante coming home after a long day of work, whistling his way into the heart of a man who waits. I wanted to evoke Antonio Aguilar galloping across Mexico’s arid northern terrain as I attempted to describe the body of a lover. I wanted to take that which is most sacred to Mexicans – more sacred than Jesus –: el hombre mexicano, and make him vulnerable in his lovemaking, sus declaraciones de amor, and his fear of losing the ones he desires and loves.

“Below Selena or Zapata” is very much about writing us into history. I sought to follow the footsteps of the brilliant writer and poetic historian, Marvin K. White, who penned the stunning poem “Making Black History.” As with White, I wanted to insert our queer histories within broader cultural contexts, contexts that patriarchy and heterosexism have fought hard to keep us out of. I wanted to imagine Rodolfo Gonzales’ Joaquín as queer, just as Alma López fiercely claimed La Virgen de Guadalupe as one of ours. At the same time, I wanted this process of writing ourselves into history to be defiant of all things sacred by canonizing the late Gwen Araujo and Panamanian poet Ana Sisnett and rejecting the mythology of patriotism, hispanization, and a gay and lesbian mythos that insists on normalizing us in the name of equality, rendering us virtually asexual at best, and in its heteroinsistence, monolithically sexual at worst.

Montes:  There are such rich transnational and transcultural intersections in this collection, alluding to writers (Reinaldo Arenas, Sandra Cisneros, Pablo Neruda, and you just mentioned Ana Sisnett, Marvin K. White), singers, and composers (Manuel Esperón, Jose Alfredo Jiménez, Selena, even Madonna).  Was this your intention at the outset or did these connections organically come together?

Herrera y Lozano:  I think these transnational and transcultural intersections reflect my life’s journey. I love Gloria Anzaldúa’s notion of nepantla and imagine it is a place that is neither static nor enclosed. Rather, this third space that is at once in constant motion in itself while also being a place where other ways of knowing and being transect, coalesce, and are in conflict. This is how I make sense of the places I have lived, the people who have impacted my life, the writers who have held my hands and heart, and the music that has carried me through it all. These writers, singers, and composers are often witnesses, muses, and refuge for this errant writer and his nomadic pen. The writers, singers, and composers present in this book help tell the story that is Amorcito Maricón. 

Montes:  And in regard to “singers,” one cannot miss the music in your poetry, the rhythms you create.  For example, “Danzantes” catches the rhythm of the beat in lines such as, “the temple stairs I toss my beating heart down.”  Do you read your work out loud?  How do you work through the rhythms? 

Herrera y Lozano:  Often a poem comes to me through a line or beat in a song. A spark that triggers a memory that triggers a vision that triggers a line in a poem. This one line then becomes a title, the opening of a poem, or ultimately ceases to exist in the editing process. But as the poem is being crafted, I am constantly returning to that first line, beating the drum of a memory to conjure scents, tastes, images. I wish I could say the rhythms are an intentional part of my craft, but they are more subconscious and perhaps more effective because of this. It isn’t until I am done with the poem that I return to read it repeatedly until I find its beat. This is when I recognize it and through it, begin to edit again.

Montes:  Who are the writers and books that you come back to read repeatedly? 

Herrera y Lozano:  When I find myself stuck and need help falling in love with writing again, I return to the poetry of Sandra Cisneros (Loose Woman), Marvin K. White (Last Rights), Pablo Neruda (Cien Sonetos de Amor), T. Jackie Cuevas (Otherhood, USA), and the work of Rajasvini Bhansali. These writers I can (and do) read over and over and over again. They are a literary obsession.

Montes:  When you are writing, what does your routine look like? 

Herrera y Lozano:  I have spent years trying to develop a writing routine. I have none. I try to be proactive and sit at a table and tell myself I will write a poem. Y nada. The muses refuse to cooperate. Poems, in my experience, are caprichudos, selfish, and moody. They appear in the most inconvenient time. Typically, I will be driving or in the shower when a poem comes to me. I rush to jot down what I can without falling out of the shower or getting in a car accident, and hope the muse will return when I am finally at a place where I can write. Sometimes they return.

I am envious of writers who have succeeded at creating a routine. Imagine all I could get done if I had one?

Montes:  Do you first write in Spanish or in English or does it depend on the feel of the poem? 

Herrera y Lozano:  I think the language of the poem depends on the person and/or moment the poem is about, and how the poem begins to surface. Because poems are often to someone, they are in the language I would normally speak to that person, even if they never read the poem or know it is about them (usually the latter). In some ways, poems are imagined conversations and silent retelling of moments. It can take years to read a poem aloud and often those who informed or inspired it are no longer in my life. The poem becomes artifact.

For years I refused to consider the possibility of translating my poems. I believed that if a poem came to me in Spanish it should always remain that way. I am less militant about it now. There are a few poems I have translated into either Spanish or English (though none in Amorcito Maricón), though mostly as a writing exercise. I believe poems have agency, they decide what language they want to be in the world as and this is how they are birthed.

Montes:  Taking, then, the metaphor of birthing a poem, which poems seemed to manifest and present themselves easier than others? 

Herrera y Lozano:  I find it much, much easier to write about heartbreak. I blame and thank my grandmothers for exposing me to the horrible beauty of telenovelas, and my father for exposing me to boleros and gut-wrenching rancheras. By the time I was 8 years old, I knew what heartbreak was and how to describe it. It would be years before my first heartbreak, but when it happened, my pen was ready.

I love somber poetry. What Adelina Anthony calls the “Ay, qué sad” poems. Poems that don’t quite cross over into the realm of self-deprecation, but bask in the vulnerability that comes with renunciation and yearning. These poems come naturally.

Happy poems, not so much.

Montes: Which poems had longer gestation periods? 

Herrera y Lozano:  Erotic poems take time to complete. I spend so much time reliving or imagining moments in my head that with each pass through another image surfaces. Another suspiro, a laugh, a look comes rushing forward and I have to find a way to make room for it. I find that with heartbreak or even love poems, it is not as difficult to bring them to an end. There are only so many ways to say “ay, cómo me duele” or “I love you” in any given poem. But there are infinite ways to describe the act of making love.

Montes:  Nicely said, Lorenzo! These poems also insist on inhabiting Mexican and U.S. spaces, which also reflect your own life growing up in both countries.  How do these poems speak to your transnational identity and is there one poem in particular which you feel best illustrates this border fluidity? 

Herrera y Lozano:  I wouldn’t know how to write from the experiences of living in any one place alone. I was 10 when my family moved to Chihuahua from San José, CA, almost 17 when I returned to California, and 21 when I moved to Austin, TX. All three places have left their mark— and scars. “Making Chicano History,” I believe, is a poem that captures this transnationality: histories, folklore, pop culture, cultura, food, and music. I write from what I know and when all I know is informed by these experiences, they have no place else to go but on the page.

Montes: Yes, and some writers feel they must compartmentalize identity (Chicano in this poem, joto in this other poem).  Your poems seem to resist this and instead reach for a hybridity of identity. 

Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano
Herrera y Lozano:  My greatest struggle as a young person was having to decide between being queer and Xicano. Understanding that I embody multiple identities simultaneously and that they did not have to be separated, was one of the most life-changing lessons I have experienced. This has been my world for over 15 years. I would not know how to write from the sliver of one identity alone. I do not think that would be me anymore. All of who I am is present in me always. Why wouldn’t it be in my poetry?

Montes:  And what permeates throughout your writing are music beats and rhythms. Do you play an instrument?  If not, what has been your experience with music in your life?

Herrera y Lozano:  Sadly, I cannot even whistle. I auditioned to join a church choir when I was 17 and was gently rejected while everyone else was admitted. Apparently my lack of musical talent was so severe it could not even be drowned in a large choir. Yet, despite my musical shortcomings, music has played an important role in my life since I was a child. My father has an obsession with music and lyrics. I grew up with him blaring rancheras, boleros, cumbias, and banda at all hours. There was never room for our neighbors to doubt that Mexicans lived in our house. I still cannot recognize a Morrissey (sorry, Chicanas/os!) or AC/DC song on the radio, but have been able to recognize an Amalia Mendoza or Luis Demetrio song since I was a child. (There is also no Juan Gabriel song recorded by him or others that I do not know.)

Montes:  In addition to your writing, you are also an activist/advocate for fellow writers by your involvement with ALLGO , Macondo, and founding Kórima Press.  What is the importance of these organizations, this press, for Chicana and Chicano writers, specifically for queer writers?  

Herrera y Lozano:  Everything I know about the role of the arts in our communities I learned at ALLGO. It was my training ground, where I learned that a movement without the arts was static and stale. It was where I learned to rethink notions of legitimacy and to think critically the accessibility of the arts in our communities. Organizations like ALLGO and Macondo play crucial roles within a broader movement to surface and push forward the voices of those who established institutions might otherwise look over. Even when some of these artists are welcomed into the halls of these institutions, their work also becomes part of this greater mission of elevating and fomenting.

Kórima Press was born out of these same principles. I believe it is important that we both continue to bang on, and knock down, the doors of the literary establishment while also continuing to be subversive and rooted in the values that created artists out of us to begin with. Legitimacy that comes from our communities, not institutions.

Montes:  What does it mean for you to identify as a queer Chicano writer?

Herrera y Lozano:  To be a queer Chicano writer is to be a part of a lineage, to practice a craft that predates us all. It is to be a part of a large, ongoing conversation among writers of color who insist on making sense of the world and who we are, while also articulating a kinder world where we all exist and thrive in our wholeness. It is to embody the possibilities that our multiple and simultaneous identities, and intersecting experiences bring to literary traditions.

Montes:  Now this is a big question.  What is the state of Chicana and Chicano queer poetry?  Is it continuing to grow?  Who are the Chicana and Chicano Queer poets today?  What does the future look like for Chicana and Chicano queer writing?

Herrera y Lozano:  It is such an exciting time to be queer and Chicana/o. I remember coming out in 1999 and struggling to find writings by people who looked, loved, and desired like me. There were a few, which were hard to come by for those of us who did not have access to university and technological resources (it was surely difficult for those who had access, too). And while there were important publications at the time, today we count with a growing number of works by writers in our communities. Anthologies, single poetry collections, novels, plays, memoirs, the list continues to grow.

Of course, I must bring forth the writers of Kórima Press: Jesús Alonzo, Adelina Anthony, Maya Chinchilla, Joseph Delgado, Anel Flores, Dino Foxx, Joe Jiménez, Pablo Miguel Martínez, and Claudia Rodriguez. And of course, legendary writers like Rigoberto González, Emma Pérez, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Cherríe Moraga, Verónica Reyes, and Yosimar Reyes. While this list is nowhere near beginning to be comprehensive, it is a quick snapshot of who we have the opportunity to read today.

Montes:  Any other thoughts you’d like to send to our La Bloga readers?  

Herrera y Lozano:  Thank you for getting to this part of the interview, for sticking through my ramblings. And thank you for valuing queer Chicana and Chicano literature. There are many more where I came from, and they are coming, and they are fierce.

Montes:  Thank you, Lorenzo! Felicidades!

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12. Latino authors - NYRB's white-washed Children's Classics

This is our third post about New York Review of Books' omitting latino books from their Children's Classics list. Several authors from the Latino and Latina Writers Group(LinkedIn) commented and are excerpted below.

When we contacted NYRB, their response was that they didn't know of any latino children's books that should be on their list. That ignorance resulted in a white-washed list. By their definition, there are no latino classics in this category.

Comments by latino authors:

Kathleen Alcala, Permanent Faculty at NILA and Author:
I don't write children's books, but some of the best I have come across are now published and distributed by Lee and Low Books. Many of our top-notch Latino/a writers have also written children's books. NYRB could probably take the time to do the research.
Maria Victoria, Bilingual Author, Editor & Ghostwriter
I do write children's books, I have written them for years for my sons and now for my grandchildren, but only now I am starting to self-publish those stories via Createspace (Amazon). I don't have the time to wait for the industry to embrace our diversity. When I tuck my little ones in bed, I want them to be proud of their Mexican heritage and who they are: beautiful bilingual and bicultural children.

Mona AlvaradoFrazier, Independent Writing and Editing Professional:
Latinas for Latino Lit started last year in response to articles such as NYRB's. Pat Mora has a large list on her website and Reading is Fundamental has a list of multicultural books.

I blog about multicultural books because I believe it takes Latinos supporting Latinos to make these books visible; there are other bloggers doing the same. I beta-read for Latina/o authors because I want to help get them published. We all can do something. Currently, I have two Young Adult novels completed and am looking for an agent. I have one manuscript (protagonist is Mexican,17-year-old mother in prison) with Amazon's Breakthrough Novel competition. They had 10,000 entries, and whittled this to 2,000 (I made this round). On April 14th, Amazon will again cut 1500 entries. I'm hoping my YA novel makes the next round and that I can attract an agent.

Maria Victoria [above] is so right; it's difficult to continue to wait for "the industry" and the "literary gatekeepers," but it also takes funds to publish your own novel (approx. $2,000 to 5,000). I may take that route soon.

Lucha Corpi, Independent Writing and Editing Professional
I've written stories and poems for children, and a couple have been published in the Houghton Mifflin Spanish elementary series, for example, and other pubs. I've also written bilingual picture books--one published by Children's Book Press in S.F., now an imprint of Lee & Low's in NY, another by Arte Publico Press Piñata imprint.

When writing for a classroom series, you're given a list of rules/taboos as to what you can and cannot do or say, i.e. working in the fields OK, but you can't mention of La Migra or living conditions for children of migrant families, etc. After a while, I wasn't willing to write for hire when major publishers dictated what I could write or not about. I can control when and where I publish to make sure my books outlive me.

As a translator of stories for children, however, I had a chance to read English texts of world oral and literary traditions. I confirmed that in all the stories chosen for certain grades, there were common threads that made the stories "universal" and which I call the "human element," in general. We can't deny ourselves our rightful place in this universal culture. Perhaps in some honest and sincere way, a few major publishers want stories that can be sewn together into the larger tapestry of human experience. I don't find anything wrong with showing all the ways in which people from all cultures are simply human, whose literatures have many points of contact along those "universal" lines.

I also believe that as Chic@nos/Latin@s, we are part of a second universe--Mexico and Latin America, and of Latin@ culture. Each is unique in its own historical and cultural way, but socio-politically regarded as disposable once our use to White America is no longer important, desirable or necessary. Major publishers are not willing to publish literature that is "in their face," (about La migra, children of migrant families, etc.) that mirrors all the ways in which they have failed one of the culturally and linguistically richest and most diverse groups in the U.S.

Chicano/Latino publishers have been publishing that literature of resistance and protest, talking about taboo subjects to the extent they can. They have had to battle constantly to remain and help our literatures grow. However we may feel personally about them, we have to remember that theirs hasn't been a road paved with gold, either. So we need to support their efforts and buy their books directly from them instead of Amazon, etc. Most of the time, all we do is criticize them or tear them down, not realizing that when we don't buy their books, we are also hurting the same writers we're talking about here.

As a student of "classic" literature and the literary establishment throughout the ages, one last point about the word "classic" in literature or any of the arts. Ironically, the classics are those works, which were "popular" when their creators were alive, though they made no money from their popularity. They became "classics" when their creators had been dead at least 50 years.

I follow two rules: I do my job as a writer, and write, regardless of criticism or circumstance, and I make sure I publish with publishers who may not pay big bucks in royalty, but who will keep my books in print long after I depart this vale of literary tears. I buy and read books published by Chican@/Latin@ presses, and in general support writers and poets this way.

Who knows? One of these years, one of your poems or a story for children, or one of your books might become a classic. True that, if what I say is right, you won't be here any longer to enjoy the renown and the rewards and fruits of your labor.

Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, Scholar in Residence, Western New Mexico University:
It's not just the NYRB (with whom I have a long-standing peeve--since 1973 when it rejected my piece about Chicanos in favor of an Anglo piece about Chicanos by John Womack).

The real problem, however, is with the American Library Association and its annual awards for children's literature. Talk about a dearth! Armando's commentary should be a clarion call for American publishers.

Thanks to Arte Público for the children's books they've published.

Ideologically, we should not expect écrit oblige [great works] from myopic American publishers. Just as the history of the lion hunt will always favor the hunter until lions have their own historians, publishing will always favor the dominant group until Latinos have their own publishers. Hasta la victoria!

Armando Rendón, Editor of Somos en Escrito Magazine:
I gather we’re not getting too agitated about the NYRB list--Rudy has hit the main points in his response to Sara Kramer. My take is that we consider the context, a bastion of white privilege revisiting its own past, but largely unaware and painfully unconcerned with the present reality of millions of Chicanos and Latinos preparing to make our future. If any of us expect entities like the NYRB to empower us to advance in our art and yet maintain our integrity, that’s barking up the wrong ancestral tree.

We as American writers of a certain perspectiva must move on, concern ourselves with writing for the present generation, but having in mind the needs of millions of Latino youth to come. I refer to the critical need for us as writers to provide literary sustenance for the Latino and Latina youth who have already become the majority of first to 12th grade populations in New Mexico (57%), California (51%), Texas (51%), with Arizona (43%), Nevada (40%), and Colorado (30%) not that far behind. The number of literary works written each year for Latino youth is dreadfully low, maybe 2 to 3 percent of children’s books published each year in the U.S.

One cause we can address directly: Latina and Latino writers, established and aspiring, should direct some of their time and talents to writing for young people. My focus as a newcomer to writing for young people is on middle and high school youth because I can craft stories for them of my own recollections. Others might have the insight and mental dexterity to fashion those delightful little tales that can help form the imaginations and identity of toddlers and early school children.

Which causes me to reflect on an important insight that I read in one of the letters to the editor that appeared on 3/23/14, after the NYRB published its 100 best list. The correspondent, who hailed from the Bronx, wrote that a “well-written book …should represent humanity, and readers should be able to find something of themselves in it – no matter the protagonists’ background or color.” A fine point, one that exemplifies the finest literary works anywhere.
However, this notion taken to its logical extreme suggests that all books could be about white Anglo Saxon men, and that would be okay as long as we others could find “something” of ourselves in the text. That’s exactly the attitude that led to the present “lack of diversity,” or to be explicit, the racism by omission in children’s literature.

What I’ve come to realize is that writing for children today is a political act. Taking the word, political, to its ancient Greek root, polis, which stood for the state, the confluence of people who together make up a society. It follows from the converse reality that teachers, librarians, scholars, and parents face: the absolute dearth of books written for and about Latino boys and girls in the U.S. Thus, limiting the presence of Latino and Latina children in books for school kids is a political act, driven by generations of discrimination, oppression and racism.

Final point: while we need more books for Latino youth, we need to set and uphold certain literary standards. Is anyone taking on the task of drafting a set of guidelines appropriate to writing aimed at Latino children, a gathering of Latino writers, educators and librarians with an understanding of the pedagogical, emotional and intellectual/creative needs for these ages? Such a document could be a useful guideline for all of us, even eye-opening for the gatekeepers over at the NYRB.

More salient comments, Lucha. To pick up on one of the things you said, about writing for posterity. When you consider, for example, that in Texas, my home state (no apologies), the school population in 2050 if not earlier will reach 9 million and 6 of those millions will be Latino, we have to think for the future: what we write today will impact millions of kids, and not just Chicanitos but any child from the standpoint of opening up a vision of the world that's multicultural and multicolorful. Adelante!

(Rendón is also the author of the young adult novel, Noldo and his magical scooter at the Battle of the Alamo, which was just named a finalist for an International Latino Book Award.)

Barbara Renaud Gonzalez informed us about her book, The boy made of lightning, the first interactive book on the life of Voting Rights pioneer Willie Velasquez, independently published by AALAS, 9/2013. Original narrative, art, music, sounds and written in Tex-Mex, with pop-ups and translation; it was nominated for a Tomas Rivera Prize.

Also pertaining to this discussion, see Matt de la Peña's thoughts in the article, Where's the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss?

Acevedo strikes again

Good Money Gone, a novel co-authored by Mario Acevedo, is a finalist in the International Book Awards. Also, Mario’s essay, "Love Between the Species", has just been published in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (L. Lamson, edit.), a rare and revealing look at the writing secrets of speculative genre masters.

Es todo, hoy,

Author FB - rudy.ch.garcia
Twitter - DiscardedDreams

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13. 2014 Paterson Poetry Prize Reading

Melinda Palacio

Joseph Millar, Aaron Smith, Melinda Palacio, Maria Gillan, Richard Blanco

 Last Saturday, I enjoyed my fifteen minutes (or more) of fame. I'm still feeling the glow of being including in the finalists for the Paterson Poetry Prize. I had the pleasure of meeting three poets with varying and powerful styles, including our winner, 5th Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco of Beyoncé and Anderson Cooper fame, and finalists Aaron Smith and Joseph Millar. What a way to celebrate Poetry Month!
I'll skip the whiny details about my flights being delayed and then cancelled. Flying into Newark resulted in only a four-hour delay, but the airline gave me a one-hundred dollar voucher, which I'll use for an upcoming trip to Chicago where La Bloga will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the International Latino/a Studies Conference in July. I guess I'm going to complain a little bit more about my travel. On the way back, my plane was delayed by 12 hours, and then cancelled after midnight with no voucher or hotel stay because the problems was weather related. You win some, you lose some, I kept telling myself, and continued telling myself when I realized I had lost an entire day and a half at the airport in Newark.
Cancelled, delayed, bumped, and finally rerouted to Houston the next day.

Speaking of winning, I sure felt like a winner being included in the Paterson Prize for my book, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting (Tia Chucha Press). Our winner, Richard Blanco, delighted the audience with a reading from his latest book, Looking for The Gulf Motel (University of Pittsburgh Press). Blanco reads poetry like a dancer. His foot and hand movements are reminiscent of el maestro Martín Espada. I enjoy watching poets who read with their entire bodies, offering body, soul, and voice to the listener.
Richard Blanco

Joseph Millar
Next, Joseph Millar took the stage and read from Blue Rust (Carnegie Mellon University Press). Millar had a casual delivery that impressed me with his ease at being in front of a packed room, his ease at being a poet, and his ease at simply being. He's a cool cat who returned to poetry after two decades of working a various jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area. And he didn't miss a beat.
Maria Gillan

Maria Gillan, Founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College told us ahead of time that Richard would be reading first, but we didn't know the overall order. I may have been nervous and spacing out during that memo, but recall feeling joyous when she called me up to read at the historic Hamilton Club Building in downtown Paterson, a beautiful building that was once a gentleman's club. Paterson is a town that could use some maintenance and TLC for its gorgeous building and famous Paterson Falls.
Paterson Falls
Melinda Palacio
The Poetry Center

Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith brought us home and brought down the house with his reading from Appetite (Pitt Poetry Series University of Pittsburgh Press). I already felt as though I knew Aaron because we have a mutual poet friend in New Orleans, Brad Richard, who I had the pleasure of reading with two days before I left for Newark at the Reading Between the Wines Series at Pearl Wine co.
Aaron Smith asked me to sign his book before we read.
Aaron also bought my book and asked me to sign it. In fact, he bought all of our books, a wonderful gesture of poet to poet support and camaraderie. Aaron has allowed La Bloga to reprint his poem, 
Like Him, also featured on Poets.org, the Academy ofAmerican Poets:

Like Him

by Aaron Smith

I’m almost forty and just understanding my father
doesn’t like me. At thirteen I quit basketball, the next year
refused to hunt, I knew he was disappointed, but never
thought he didn’t have to like me
to love me. No girls. Never learned
to drive a stick. Chose the kitchen and mom
while he went to the woods with friends who had sons
like he wanted. He tried fishing—a rod and reel
under the tree one Christmas. Years I tried  
talking deeper, acting tougher
when we were together. Last summer
I went with him to buy a tractor.
In case he needs help, Mom said. He didn’t look at me
as he and the sales guy tied the wheels to the trailer, perfect
boy-scout knots. Why do I sometimes wish I could be a man
who cares about cars and football, who carries a pocketknife
and needs it? It was January when he screamed: I’m not
a student, don’t talk down to me! I yelled: You’re not smart enough
to be one! I learned to fight like his father, like him, like men:
the meanest guy wins, don't ever apologize.

 Upcoming April Events
April 30, UCSB Little Theatre, 4pm
May 2, First Friday Phoenix, 6:30 pm at Obliq Gallery

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14. Crowdfunding?

I'm sharing an article (below) on a recent initiative by one of my favorite publishers, Cinco Punto Press. Founded in 1985 by writers Bobby and Lee Byrd, Cinco Puntos is located just three miles north of the US-Mexico border in El Paso. Their catalog is brimming with culturally (and linguistically) diverse titles for adults and youth in every genre. Writers fortunate enough to work with the Byrds, call them "family," for these relationships are based on mutual trust, respect and admiration.  So when an initiative comes out of such an auspicious environment, we should all pay close attention . . . 

On Breaking Demographic Borders for Books With Crowdfunding
By Lisa Y. Garibay

EL PASO, TEXAS: What first catches a visitor’s eye on the Cinco Puntos Press Rockethub crowdfunding campaign page is the video. It features press co-founder Lee Byrd right up in the camera and thus the viewer’s face, delivering less of a “why you should donate” pitch than a homespun, off-the-rails monologue about her husband, poet and Cinco Puntos co-founder Bobby Byrd. Her anecdotes about Bobby’s and forthcoming book for which the campaign is fundraising are intercut with a home video of a previous grassroots outreach effort for his 2006 project, a CD that matched Bobby’s poetry with music by noted rock ‘n’ roller Jim Ward of Sleepercar, Sparta, and At the Drive-In.

The video’s content and quality are quite different from other much more composed, deliberate videos that are the result of standards and practices put into place by a few years’ worth of crowdsourcing. In other words, the video is very much in the spirit of Cinco Puntos Press, which has been doing things differently—that is, in ways that most other people in the profession would deem unworkable—with measured, ever-increasing success over its three decades. (An earlier Publishing Perspectives article on Cinco Puntos press offers more detail about their unique business model.)

The concept of crowdfunding (which is raising money to bring a fully fleshed-out project to fruition versus crowdsourcing, which brings resources and talents together to complete a project) hadn’t been on the Byrds’ radar until Rockethub’s founder Brian Meece traveled to Cinco Puntos’ hometown of El Paso, Texas. Meece conducted a public presentation for local entrepreneurs based on his successful partnership with the West Texas athletic shoe companySpira, which resulted in promotion by A&E and a tie-in with the popular reality show Duck Dynasty.

The Byrds had been looking into new ways to capitalize after their long-time author Benjamin Alire Sáenz received the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction last spring, resulting in a jump in sales. This capitalization included not only literal revenue streams or long-range investors, but also a better reaping of their audience.

Cinco Puntos’ third partner, Lee and Bobby’s son John, believes that the company has always been good at identifying market inefficiencies within the publishing world, and wanted crowdfunding to be part of that tradition. 

“Most books published are by white writers who live on the East Coast,” John told Publishing Perspectives. “So we realized that demographically there’s a large audience for non-white writers, so we’re seeking to capitalize on it and we’re really good at it, but we’re trying to connect with some additional capital so that we can take what we’re doing further.” 

“We realized that demographically there’s a large audience for non-white writers, so we’re seeking to capitalize on it.”

Crowdfunding was a big draw given that, ideally, it provides both capital and publicity, not just one or the other. “[Meece] was talking about it a lot as an opportunity to not only sell what you’re doing but to create a broader audience for it. We’re always looking for ways to push beyond the people that we know enjoy our books and are buying our books,” says John, whether those methods are within or outside of the traditional publishing framework.

(To read the rest of the article, click here).

What do you think about crowdfunding for the publishing industry?  Is is a potential game changer for Latino writers? Or just another way to highlight disparity?  ¡Opina aquí!

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15. L4LL’s 2014 Día Blog Hop

by Monica Olivera 

Last year, Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) launched the first Día Blog Hop in honor of Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros which is celebrated annually on April 30th. Established in the United States by poet and author Pat Mora, Día is a celebration of books and children. Libraries and schools across the country recognize it by hosting their own events. (You can find a complete list of these events here on the official Día website.) 

This year, we are happy to announce that we have increased the number to two dozen Latino authors/illustrators paired with top Latina bloggers in comparison with last year’s 20! Starting here on our site on April 6th, a different author/illustrator will appear on a different blog, writing an original short article or creating an original illustration in support of Latino children’s literacy. The Día Blog Hop concludes on April 30th here on L4LL, culminating with a special announcement.

To follow along, here is a schedule of the participating blogs and the authors/illustrators with which they are paired. As each article goes live, I will be updating this schedule with a direct link. Bookmark this page for easy reference! 

April 6th – Pat Mora on Latinas for Latino Lit 
April 7th – Amy Costales on MommyMaestra 
April 8th – Duncan Tonatiuh on The Wise Latina Club 
April 9th – Alma Flor Ada on La Familia Cool 
April 10th – Lupe Ruiz-Flores on The Other Side of the Tortilla 
April 11th – Magdalena Zenaida on De Su Mama 
April 12th – Christina Rodriguez on My Friend Betty Says 
April 13th – Lulu Delacre on Atypical Familia 
April 14th – René Saldaña on Tech Food Life 
April 15th – John Parra on Modern Mami 
April 16th – Graciela Tiscareno-Sato on Unknown Mami 
April 17th – Amada Irma Pérez on Mama Latina Tips
April 18th – Maya Gonzalez on PearMama 
April 19th – Talia Aikens-Nuñez on Growing up Blackxican 
April 20th – Monica Brown on Moms LA 
April 21st – Meg Medina on Latinaish 
April 22nd – Irania Patterson on Living Mi Vida Loca 
April 23rd – René Colato-Laínez on Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes 
& Mara Price on Ahorros para Mama 
April 24th – Laura Lacámara on Mami Talks 
April 25th – James Luna on Ezzy Languzzi 
April 26th – Kathleen Contreras on Family is Familia 
April 27th – Joe Cepeda on Justice Jonesie 
April 28th – Isabel Campoy on Growing Up Bilingual 
April 29th – Margarita Engle on My Big Fat Cuban Family 
April 30th – A special announcement on Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL)

Read More at http://latinas4latinolit.org/2014/04/l4lls-2014-dia-blog-hop/, Copyright © Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL)

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16. What If You Had Animal Teeth!?

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Being a mother is a fascinating role full of amazing experiences. On Monday, I took my son to his regular dental appointment.   Can you guess what happen? The X-rays showed that his baby teeth were preventing the new one from coming out. As a result, his gums were a bit swollen. The dentist suggested that it was necessary to remove a couple of his baby teeth to avoid pain or infections. My son was quite nervous, but as soon as his teeth were out everything was back to normal. On our way back home, my son wondered if animals also go through this painful process. In order to find an answer, we headed straight to the library. We got the best books on the topic. We learned that animals loose more teeth than humans sometimes. One thing is for sure, we all need our teeth in order to enjoy a delicious snack. Munch!

The book that we enjoyed reading the most is What If You Had Animal Teeth!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. It is appealing, brilliant, and educational. The book provides the young readers cool facts about the animal kingdom while it lets their imagination run wild thinking what it would be like to have beaver, camel or giraffe’s front teeth. The stunning artwork creates the perfect complement to understand the great and unique characteristics of each animal. The creatures that appear in the publication are: Great White Shark, Elephant, Rattlesnake, Naked Mole Rat, and Vampire Bat, among others. 

Taking care of your teeth hasn’t been so much fun. Brushing twice a day and using floss regularly can help your smile last a lifetime. Big smiles make the world a happy place to live.

By reading this book, you are killing two birds with one stone because it brightens your mind with good oral care tips while learning about nature. Reading gives you wings. Smile as much as you can!

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17. Are Chicanos The New Irish?

Michael Sedano

“I don’t have a culture,” the student complains, “how can I write a paper on my own culture? It’s easy for all them, but what about me?”

I sympathize with the young man and see his resentment dilute with confusion when I tell him he’s a white ethnic and is a member of a culture with its own traditions and communication issues “just like all of them.”

“What are you?” I ask, unnuanced despite a lifetime of having that question shoved in my ear by sundry tipos who look and sound like this student.

I point him in the direction of the cartoon bigotry of Thomas Nast, and ilk, in the latter years of the 19th century. Nast soldiered along in his society’s culture wars between Anglo and Irish white ethnics, calling Irish immigrants everything but a white man, drawing paddy caricatures that dehumanized Irish as apes. It is a social strategy meant to keep the Irish unequal.

The student produces an excellent paper that opens his eyes and softens his hard heart toward the “victim mentality" of the Chicana Chicano students in the class.

When the student presents his oral report, raza students get an eye-opening understanding they’re not uniquely los de abajo in US culture. The class talks about “meltable” versus “unmeltable” gente and the  melting pot metaphor of US culture, and get insight into the power of U.S. mass media to create an ethos that conditions attitudes toward other people.

Today, Irish ethnicity has a most-favored culture spotlight as witnessed in March when St. Patrick’s Day coerces the wearing of green at risk of a pinch, and all manner of folk sport their “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” tee shirt. My orange tee reads “Relax, Gringo, I was born here.”

How’d they do it, the Irish?

They went to the movies. Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald as lovable Irish priests was a major hit in 1944's Going My Way. Fitzgerald’s sentimental old priest steals the movie and ticket-buyers stream out daubing tears and loving the Irish. The 1949 John Wayne movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, features Irish grunts and a lovably gruff old-country Sergeant played by the professional Irishman Victor McLaglen. Wayne goes the full Irish monty in the 1952 megahit, The Quiet Man. Set in Ireland, the movie defines a montón of Irish stereotypes from fiery pelirroja Maureen O’Hara to the hard-drinking Irishmen of  McLaglen and Fitzgerald, a lovable parish priest played by Ward Bond, and an epic comedic fistfight that ends with the Irishmen drunk, unbloodied, and BFFs. Irish were now white.

It’s that moment in history for Chicanos. Not that we want to assimilate, but be seen as gente buena.

Media momentum builds. A few years ago there was Ugly Betty on teevee starring a Latina named America. How can it get much better than that?

This year’s Oscar awards has gente talking about Afro-Mexicans with the emergence of Lupita Nyong'o and her pride in being Mexican Kenyan. Beauty moves the heart of the savage xenophobe, like forcing a bigot or a nationalist to defend a counterattitudinal argument.

Cesar Chavez blazes a trail, but it seems the audience is blazing it right back at the film. People are not buying tickets. It’s tough to sell the story, evidently, since everyone knows how it turns out.

Sadly, there’s a smattering of critics, perhaps envidiosas envidiosos, who cavil that Mexicans, not Chicanos, made Cesar Chavez, that the film put money in Mexican pockets not U.S., that Chavez the man didn’t like wetbacks, and crud like this. Instead of finding ways to like a product, these tipos don’t talk about the film itself, preferring to trash the film on the basis of what it doesn’t do, or how it failed their biopic assumptions. Lástima.

Nonetheless, Cesar Chavez is out there in big theatres buying big ads. People are aware. If only subliminally, the presence of the film chips away at the malice and xenophobia that characterize U.S. culture. No movie is an island entire of itself, that’s my theory. Every frame benefits someone, can become part of the national consciousness. But the producers need to get people into those seats to have widespread impact and build momentum for other films.

In May, Richard Montoya’s Water & Power hits the screens of AMC theaters. I saw Water on the Mark Taper Forum mainstage a few years ago, and dug it. A powerful drama featuring Chicano characters--the members of Culture Clash for example--without being about Chicanismo, Water&Power stands a better chance of finding a big audience than Cesar Chavez has.

I didn’t get to see the preview screening of Water&Power last year when Montoya was gauging public support. I don’t know if the charm, power, and humor I saw on stage have survived the transition to film. One thing for sure, I’m hoping Montoya will bring droves of white ethnics into the moviehouses. He's not taking brown ethnics for granted, making a major marketing effort in the next couple weeks.

It will be encouraging to see raza come in droves to see Water&Power. And for that matter, start seeing Cesar Chavez. Sales drive showings, and heavy public demand can move Water&Power into the bigger auditoriums of the AMC chain, and lure other chains to ante up and cut themselves a part of the action.

2014 has a strong chance to turn back the clock to the 1940s when movies helped WASP culture reconstruct its view of Irish immigrants from noxious foreign scum and thugs to gente buena. "La lechuga o la justicia es lo que van a sembrar" Abelardo wrote. Today, he might add,  "y luego van a los movies."

Water&Power hits the screen El Drinko de Mayo weekend. See you in the auditorium, gente.

View the Water&Power trailer at its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=645374242166934&set=vb.234854799885549&type=3&theater

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18. Lucrecia Guerrero and The Tree of Sighs, y más eventos en Kansas City, MO

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Xánath Caraza

Greenlease Gallery, Rockhurst University

Lucrecia Guerrero visited Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO on Monday, March 24 and Tuesday, March 25.  Students and professors were looking forward to hearing the author of the Tree of Sighs speak and meet her in person.  Lucrecia graciously visited three different classes including my own, U.S. Latino Literature, in addition to the classes of Rocío Duncan, Ph. D. and Leslie Mercedes, Ph. D.  My students were particularly excited to meet Lucrecia since they were involved in bringing her to Kansas City.  Other organizations participating were Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society, the Global and International Perspectives Committee, and the Department of Classical and Modern Languages.  Special thanks to Rocío and Leslie. 

Next is a series of photos of a variety of Lucrecia’s activities in Kansas City, and, yes, Lucrecia and I had a magnificent time together.   We laughed, laughed and laughed again.  What a pleasure it was to have you in Kansas City, Lucrecia. 

La clase de U. S. Latino Literature

Firmando libros

At the American Jazz Museum with Glenn North, Poet Laureate

At The American Jazz Museum

Greenlease Gallery, Rockhurst University

Los Libros

Coffee Break

En La Plaza, Kansas City, MO

La clase de la Dra. Duncan

Lucrecia y la Dra. Duncan

Más Eventos:

Rigoberto Gonzalez

Rigoberto González in Kansas City, MO at UMKC on Tuesday, April 8 from 5-8 p.m.
As part of Literature for Life Week, American Book Award recipient, Rigoberto Gonzalez will be speaking and reading from his work.

Please make plans to attend his reading on Tuesday, April 8 from 5-8pm in the Student Union Room 401BC.

The reading will be followed by a Q&A and a book signing with refreshments provided.

CesarChavez Lecture by James Edward Olmos in Kansas City at UMKC on Tuesday, April 15 at 6 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium

In Brazil

LO QUE TRAE LA MAREA/WHAT THE TIDE BRINGS book presentation today Monday, April 7th, in Apucara, Paraná, Brazil.  

Lo que trae la marea/What the Tide Brings


CON TINTA NaPoMo 2014 is here, send your poem to creativexc@gmail.com and/or mouthfeelpress@yahoo.com (Mouthfeel Press) y celebra la poesía. This is Con Tinta's third year celebrating NaPoMo, more to come. Viva la poesía!

Algunos poemas

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Beauty Sleeping
By Barbara Curiel
Beauty is 14
so sleep eludes her
like a lost housecat.

Her dreams are haunted
by Beasts who in a blink
would snatch a girl
on the way home from school.

So Beauty casts spells
with baggy pants, black lipstick, running shoes,
but all the girls know these tricks
and still the front pages scream
the bones of factory girls in the desert.
Girls still disappear into clouds
of dust and the screech of tires
and some Beasts even appear
at a girl’s bedside in the night
pretending to be princes.

True, there are those who escape:
girls whose hairclips enchant
car trunk locks,
insomniac girls who hold vigil
until the Beast sleeps
then grab for keys,
girls who kick,
who take the knife
into their own strong hands.

At night Beauty resolves
to be one of these girls,
then checks every lock in the house,
counts the sleeping heads of her parents
and of her seven useless brothers.
At 2 a.m. Beauty turns
over in bed, wishes
she could sleep
for a hundred years.

Barbara Brinson Curiel, from Mexican Jenny and Other Poems, 2014, Anhinga Press, book chosen by Cornelius Eady as winner of the 2012 Philip Levine Prize.

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África de mi sangre
Por Rossy Evelyn Lima

África de mi sangre
mi abuelo mulato me heredó algo tuyo
¿te acuerdas de Cuba?
Traigo tus tambores en mi pecho.
Aunque de ti nadie haya hablado
te encontré en el trapiche, en el viaje, en el repudio.
África de mi sangre
mi abuelo español te trajo
a parir dolores en una isla bendita,
y a mí entre los dos me pintaron la cruz y el canto.
Emancipada tu lengua que repica en la mía,
te mezclaste con el impacto y floreciste,
vas arando en mi fisionomía,
con tu tierra y con tu voz negra.
África de mi sangre, te entiendo en mis caderas,
en los músculos que se tensan
al apretar con fuerza el tambor con el que te llamo,
mis palmas elevadas hacia el cielo,
mis hombros herederos de tu clamor.
África de mi sangre, ¿te acuerdas de Cuba?
desde allá se empieza a enredar
este hilo que me remienda por dentro.

From Ecos de Barro (Otras Voces Publishing, 2013)

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By Yolanda Nieves

 Your memories are lies you’ve convinced yourself are true.
-Reza Aslan

My earliest memory is orange;

round with two people in it
in a blue room
with a smell of onions
in the air

neither sweet nor bitter
I am out of place-

no word rhymes with orange.  

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          Staying in the flood 
          By Emmy Perez

            Why the tom
            Spraying the screen
            Window, why
Leftover from
Hurricane Alex
A spring after last summer
Weed seeds sprouting

Why the woodpecker's
Off and on wing
Pause causing
Vertigo, why
Confuse herons with
Egrets.  Aztlán:
Land of white herons.

Why the sap stains
Like accidents
Why the borderpatrol
Woman in a blue truck
With camper big
Enough to haul
Livestock. Why
The anacahuita
Flowers, why one
Giant swallowtail butterfly

Why the debris
Of paloverde flowers
Gathering on asphalt
Edges like
The path of hair
Under your belly button
Or a path of marigold
Petals welcoming
The dead home

And why the busted-
Up nopal like a bullet
Target or a Just-
Married sign
In April
Strung with
Tecate cans
Hitched to an
El Camino
Why is it still
Yellow roses?

~Emmy Pérez
published in Cuadernos de ALDEEU
Vol. 26, numero especial, Otoño 2013


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Por Javier Bozalongo

El agua evaporada del océano
no tardará en volver
como siempre regresan las olas a la orilla;
tal vez no sea hoy ni sea aquí:
las nubes viajan a merced del viento
igual que los recuerdos caprichosos
que aparecen en distinto lugar
a aquel que dabas siempre por seguro.

Es conveniente que al mirar al cielo
sepamos distinguir lo que nos muestra:
cirros a escasa altura
-de memoria cercana, sin interés alguno-
matizando la luz que el sol ofrece;
estratos de tamaño preocupante
que traen lluvia continua
oscureciendo el día como malos augurios,
como amores lejanos;
y cúmulos hinchados de veraniega luz,
con formas vanidosas
que nos hacen creer que no son nubes,
adoptando un estado más allá de lo líquido
para no convertirse, cuando llega el otoño,
en recuerdos que caen como hojas muertas.

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19. Chican@ and Latin@ authors show up in great numbers at the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books

Perhaps it is appropriate that today, César Chávez Day, I bring to La Bloga’s readers photographic reportage of the strong showing made by Chican@ and Latin@ authors at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books that was held on the beautiful University of Arizona campus the weekend of March 15 and 16. It is estimated that more than 120,000 people showed up over the course of this two-day event that has become one of the largest book festivals in the country.

But why do I believe it is appropriate to showcase these wonderful images today? Well, as several of us noted during our panel discussions, the very act of publishing our words is a political act. When we speak for ourselves, we diminish the power of those who attempt to speak for us. César Chávez knew this. We know this. And the the festival allowed us to share and discuss our literature in a perfect setting.

Before I display the beautiful images from the festival, I want to thank the festival organizers for bringing so many of us to participate in the celebration. I also want to thank the Arizona Daily Star, the University of Arizona Press, the many wonderful sponsors, and the enthusiastic volunteers who made the festival possible. So, enjoy these moments from the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books with the caveat that I could not document every Chican@ and Latin@ writer who participated, but I tried my best. Perhaps the best remedy for this is to come to Tucson next year!

Luis Alberto Urrea and Tim Z. Hernandez at reception the night before the festival.

Kristen Buckles (U of Arizona Press), Tim Z. Hernandez, Kathryn Conrad (U of Arizona Press), and me at reception.

Richard Russo wins the Founder's Award (here speaking at the reception).

Keynote speaker Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of PBS Masterpiece.

Even the ceiling was literary at the reception!

Rigoberto Gonzalez prepares for a day of panels at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Abby Mogollon and Holly Schaffer of the University of Arizona Press.

A parade breaks out.

Rigoberto Gonzalez and Tim Z. Hernandez signing books at the University of Arizona Press tent.

Rigoberto Gonzalez in the green room with Cindy and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Matt Mendez in the green room.

Luis Alberto Urrea and Sarah Cortez in the green room.

Rigoberto Gonzalez and Sarah Cortez at Pima County Public Library tent before panel discussion.

Art Meza and Santino J. Rivera in the green room.

Benjamin Alire Saenz and Tim Z. Hernandez.

Monica Ortiz Uribe pondering the ancient question: Do they have dessert at the dive bar?

At that dive bar: authors Philip Connors and Benjamin Alire Saenz lookin' like the "Color of Money."

After our wonderful magical realism panel, T, Allison Vaillancourt and me.

Tim Z. Hernandez in the Nuestras Raices tent before I interview him about his beautiful novel.

Rigoberto Gonzalez reading poetry in the Kiva room.

Tim Z. Hernandez reading poetry in the Kiva room.

Nothing better than seeing children at the festival.

Volunteer Gene Crandall who got me to where I had to be at the Tucson Festival of Books!

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20. Free Poetry. Print Reports. On-line Floricanto.

Free Poetry on Bunker Hill
Michael Sedano

The land rises steeply up Los Angeles' Bunker Hill, a green space flanked by massive cement government buildings. The terrain makes it a walk of multiple stairs and gently sloping ramps to land on wide paved terraces and sprawling lawns. Landscaping, and the gente at today’s Grand Park Downtown Bookfest, keep my attention on the ground, then I look up. All I could see from where I stood was the Music Center at the top of the hill. I turned and looked the other way and saw City Hall tower. Then I go in search of free poetry.

Grand Park Downtown Bookfest signals Los Angeles’ ongoing support for literacy—there are never too many bookfests--and the region’s renascence of poetry as a public activity. Today, poets will both read and compose on-the-spot poems; for free, just stop and chat.

Bookfest organizer Writ Large Press occupies a large space where books and authors invite passersby into the display. Next door is a tent where anyone can type a story on a real typewriter and publish it into their own book.  I watch amused as a teenager types a line then looks up wondering how to get to a new line. “I don’t know how it works.”

Saturday’s quest begins Thursday afternoon in Highland Park, at Avenue 50 Studio where Jessica Ceballos, Los Angeles’ indefatigable poetry promoter via Poesía Para La Gente, assembles a sign-making crew.

Starting with the rawest materials, Scott Doyle, Naomi Molinar and Lucy Delgado craft “Free Poetry” and “Poema Gratis” signage for Saturday’s event.

Saturday, I spot Doyle working 826LA’s display, urging passersby to contribute to the world’s longest story. Write, post, join in. It’s the best kind of yellow journalism from the grass roots.

826LA makes effective use of its prime location to draw people to stop for long periods, to read the world’s longest story, to ask a question of the writing and tutoring center’s volunteers. Visit 826LA’s website to learn its mission  “supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

Red Hen Press has another prime spot, a pair of eight foot tables at a main intersection. Billy Goldstein answers questions while author Nicelle Davis dresses like a cloud as a marketing gimmick for her book, Becoming Judas.

The Shakespeare Center Los Angeles tent occupies the corner diagonally from Red Hen. Marina Oliva explains her mission includes producing full-length plays. Assisted today by Giovanni and Noemi, they were giving away editions of Richard II. Marina explains the play is not on the bill this summer, Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream are ideas. Shakespeare Center supports Veterans and proposes an interesting drama program for returning Veterans here. 

Ceballos introduces me to Victor Robert, whose wordless book encourages a kid’s storytelling unconstrained by what words the author might put on the page, or a writer’s frustration at all the words not used instead. You can learn more about the book, Brian Wonders, at the author’s website here.

I introduce myself to Roxy Morataya, who occupies a table at the ‘Zines tent. I used to think ‘Zines an internet phenomenon that got supplanted by the blog. It’s a treat seeing contemporary ‘Zines. Exhibitors have covered two eight foot tables with ‘Zines. A 3-skein clothesline sways and frees some exemplars to a whirling wind that catches printed documents in a climatologic metaphor for literary ephemera.

 ‘Zines, like other literary ephemera, come in various forms, from multi-page saddle-stitch chapbooks to documents committed to a single sheet. Roxy traded me two quarters for an accordion-folded eight page handmade book she makes from a single sheet of typing paper.

Entertainment for the familia means kids’ entertainment. My eye is attracted by the plastic shakers I spy with my little eye on a table near the stage where Story Pirates keeps kids engaged and attentive. Sadly, I’ve missed Birdie’s performance, the ebullient woman at the table tells me. On video, I catch up with Birdie’s Playhouse on Birdie’s website.

 I catch up with the free poetry signs along the grassy knoll overlooking the stage, and the picnic lawn sloping down to the stage esplanade. Poets to the left of me, poets to the right. I see Karineh Madhessian emcee of La Palabra Reading Series, and Victor Avila, a regular On-line Floricanto contributor, greeting visitors.

I spot Brandon Brown and a beaming Lucy Delgado with her poem on a vinyl album.

Visitors are delighted to talk to real poets and take in the sight of so many in one place. Poets create on typewriters, with Sharpie pen on vinyl 33 1/3  rpm records, stuff handwritten cards in rubber gloves, find poetry on random pages of pulp novel, send along a linocut postcard with a poem.

Dane F. Baylis chooses flip chart paper and chalk crayon that needs a spritz of fixative before the poet scrolls the poem for visitors like the delighted Sofia.

Grand Park Downtown Bookfest makes a friendly warm-up for the upcoming gargantuan LA Times book festival that sprawls across the nearby USC campus. The only dour note are the white-shirted County cops. All whom I ask if they’d like a poem erect a wall of hostility. An LAPD cop is an exception, laughing with me that maybe later.

Other than those sour deputies, this year’s Writ Large Press and Jessica Ceballos and crew do everything possible to have a completely enjoyable show. As word of mouth spreads, I foresee visitors to next year’s Grand Park Downtown Bookfest looking forward to another comfortable and free-spirited afternoon with books and poetry.

Print Start-up
Art! The Magazine In New Edition

Print continues to challenge the marketing efforts of anyone with the ganas to launch a print product. Art! The Magazine this month reaches a milestone fourth issue.

Printed on coated paper in rich colors, the visual quality alone of Art! The Magazine makes every issue a collector's item. Text content adds richness to the already dazzling graphics and layout. The current issue's story on muralist David Botello comes with luxurious close-ups. The cover story on how gente are updating the calavera look is a timeless addition to DDLM lore.

Underpriced at $6.95, the magazine has yet to hit its advertising stride. That makes each issue content-rich, but limits the ability of the publisher to reach for ever more ambitious editorial content and more pages. Click here for availability and access.

Print Media Report
Brooklyn & Boyle Hitting It Bigger

A successful commercial print publication needs a fifty percent ad hole to begin to meet publisher needs and goals. Getting there offers immense challenges to any print publication. Brooklyn & Boyle's current edition comes with a satisfying ad volume. That's encouraging to anyone who roots for community media.

With continued ad expansion, Editor-Publisher and La Bloga friend Abel Salas may have built the momentum with advertisers to expand Brooklyn & Boyle circulation and coverage. It's already a highly admired community resource with a high pass-along endorsement. People talk about what they read in Brooklyn & Boyle.

Other weeklies still hold the lion's share of SoCal advertiser dollars, but they're missing the boat. Like Art! The Magazine, Brooklyn & Boyle's readers tend to be community opinion leaders. Advertisers and marketers wisely value word of mouth because a friend's recommendation is among the more powerful motivators. Word of mouth begins with opinion leaders, Brooklyn & Boyle readers.

For gente outside Brooklyn & Boyle's circulation area, the website doesn't hide behind a paywall. Click here to visit.

On-Line Floricanto First of April 2013
Paul Aponte, Tara Evonne Trudell, Betty Sánchez, Joe Navarro, Ramón Piñero

"Grand Canyon State" by Paul Aponte
"Crossing…" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Bracero" por Betty Sánchez
"I Understand Peace, Equality, Justice and Hope" by Joe Navarro
"i had a gun" by Ramón Piñero

by Paul Aponte

The Grand Canyon:

Majestic, riveting walls of time
Encrusted with history and life
Encrusted with aromas of water trickling on stone
& clean, fresh, crisp air.
Encrusted with colors & beauty of the cactus flowers,
wood betonies & red monkey flowers,
songs of Warblers & Western Bluebirds.
Encircled by morphic skies
watching over the flight of Falcons and Condors.
Rushing white waters like our bustling cities,
gentle trickles like restful small towns that care,
flowing strong waters, like our united people,
and restful pools like the knowing enlightened minds.
All rooted-in remnants of wondrous people
having once thrived all around this beauty,
that is in fact a Grand Canyon.

Why then?


Dining tables for giants
home of the Hopi & their history,
unique religion & philosophy.
Lakes, streams, waterfalls,
pine forests, complex formations,
greenery of plenty opening to
shockingly monumental red towers & mountains.
Plain old deserts shamed
by sudden resplendence
of curvaceous flowing low hills
painted by ancient god-artists
with colors that bring tears
at the inconceivable, shocking beauty.

Why then?

This painted desert,
this splendorous beauty,
protecting an “ancient planet”
a separate universe
a forest of reminders
petrified to tell
with hues of all kinds
reminding us


Guests, with a future likely shorter
than the wisdom of this petrified forest.

Why then?

The state of mind
poisoned we find
by fear, neglect, and pure disdain
of our humanity.

It has festered.

We see it in the horrific stench
of pundit’s turd words
of formulaic "News people"
reporting on nothing
to incite extremes
of the regurgitation by otherwise fine people
Slowly decomposing before our eyes.

The grand canyon growing wider
between the living and the dead.

One …
unwilling …
to let the true light in.

Spin, spin, spin.
Foghorn blowing in your face.

Now I realize
our true divine evolutionary path can be stunted and
we only get one chance.

Tiny Alice
in Wonderland
walking in a Grand Canyon
of beautiful flowers
of beautiful “people”,
So she thought.

“We don't want weeds in our bed!
… Move along, move along!” they said.
Flowers creating hatred, divisiveness, a grand canyon,
for no loving reason.

Spin, spin, spin.
Foghorn blowing in your face.

We yearn for the simple life
for simple thinking,
but something is stinking.
Because de-evolution is not the solution.
Respecting WWE reactions
without sanctions,
Hating jobless and homeless,
thereby providing less
is just a mess, non-sense
Screaming at hard working people
merely for being within sight
is not right.

Borders made by hoarders.

Spin, spin, spin.
Foghorn blowing in your face.

They keep trying to obfuscate,
The enlightened must keep trying to eliminate …
this grand canyon state.

The Grand Canyon
Towering sculptures of time, history, and life.
At the bottom
the tears of its true owners

moving fast away
applauded by those
In this grand canyon state.

by Tara Evonne Trudell

the mojave desert
I dreamed
my people
moving through
heat waves
and hunger pains
mothers fathers
willing life
dying to cross
a line
drawn in sand
drones hovering in air
dangerous spy tactics
always monitoring
the calculation
in military moves
real life
hunger war games
forcing survival
the extreme NAFTA
and CIA manipulation
the taking of land
the killing of people
corrupt government
holding private meetings
with drug lords
in slick suits
making up
hard core
to act on
with militarized force
feeding masses
misled lies
laced with hate
turning one side
the other
with neither side
existing at all
every day life
selling American
dreaming material
priced by elite thugs
and prison profiteers
in slick suits
making up laws
in corrupt politics
the buddying up
of corporations
filling systems
making a business
out of brown people
handcuffing butterflies
taking away
the freedom
to migrate
caught by ICE
profiling parents
the leaving
left alone
in terrified children
separating families
creating impossible reuniting
the written word
in small print
USA court documents
the taking away
of Mexico
in parental rights
when accusations fly
calling names out
USA labels
of being brown
in a country
too far
to care
when not close
to home
American comfort
family circles tight
the choice
to be unaware
what’s really going down
south of the border
the human race
running away
when excluding
their own
mechanical hummingbird
droning on
the keeping
of government control
gleaming profit
in big brother eye
the elite
banking on profits
of brown people
to survive.

c/s tara evonne trudell 3 de marzo 2014

por Betty Sánchez

Dedicada con todo mi amor y respeto
A mi abuelo paterno
José Sánchez Olivares, bracero

Viajaste al país vecino
Buscando una alternativa
A tu realidad
Una vida mejor
Dejaste tu tierra
Tu tata y tus chiquillos
Prometiendo volver
Con los bolsillos llenos

Jornalero migrante
Tu contrato jamás estipuló
El maltrato y abuso
Del cual serías objeto
Se te humillaba al llegar
Al exponer tu desnudez
Y despojarte de toda dignidad
fumigándote con DDT
Para desinfectarte de sueños
Y aniquilar tus deseos
De progreso

El patrón y el capataz
Se limpiaban el trasero
Con el convenio del bracero
Para ellos no eras
Trabajador de temporada
Sino un implemento agrícola
Mano de obra barata
Sin garantías laborales
Ni acceso a los servicios
Mas elementales

Mientras los nacionales
Aumentaban su producción bélica
Tú trabajaste incansable
De alba a crepúsculo
Reparando líneas ferroviarias
Piscando  capullos de algodón
Que recogías en sacos de lona
En los que se perdían
Tu pasado y futuro
Dejándote un presente
Pasajero y anónimo

Cosechabas hortalizas ajenas
Mientras tu parcela
Se marchitaba por el abandono
Y cambiaba de dueño
Impulsabas la economía
De un gobierno
Que nunca reconoció
Tu aporte a la nación
Ni te incluyó
En su historia

En barracas eras confinado
Literas militares
Con colchones mugrientos
Y porosos
Resguardaban el sudor
Y la angustia acumulados
En meses teñidos
De infortunio
Tu alimento
Se preparaba
En tambos grasientos e insalubres
Un puñado de frijoles o fideos
Insípidos y aguados
Sustentaban tus días
Repetidos de cansancio
Y miseria
Los baños de agua fría
No enjuagaban la fatiga
Almacenada en tus huesos
Desgastados y tristes
Tus labios agrietados
Pronunciaban en
Murmullos nocturnos
Oraciones que siempre
Se detenían
En el “venga a nosotros tu Reino;
Hágase tu voluntad
En la tierra como en el cielo”

Como letra escarlata
Llevabas en el pecho
La palabra extranjero
Sinónimo de inferioridad
Que te endosaba
Y vejación desmedidas

El rey del norte
Explotó tus derechos
El rey del sur
Te despojó de tus ahorros
Arduamente adquiridos

Hoy solo eres
Un recuerdo empolvado
En algunos libros
Que se hojean de prisa

Yo te rindo tributo
Porque gracias
A tu abnegación
Y duro esfuerzo
Tus hijos obtuvieron
Una educación
Que les concedió
Los privilegios
Que a ti se te negaron

¡Que vivan los braceros
Sus hijos y sus viudas!

La lucha continúa…

Betty Sánchez 10 de Febrero de 2014

I Understand Peace, Equality, Justice and Hope
by Joe Navarro

I understand peace, equality,
Justice and hope
Paz, igualidad, justicia
Y esperanza, even though
They sometimes remain
Elusive, the same as
Catching clouds and rainbows
The ideals are etched in
My vocabulario, en dos idiomas
I think of them in English
And español in hopes that
Two languages can cross
The threshold of oppression
I stopped dreaming in
Abstract lofty ideals that
No one can achieve without
Struggle, without un movimiento
This is what I learned that from an
Inspiration that roared from
The mind and lips of
A gentle man who stood
Unwaiveringly, face to face
With with the anti-human
Racial construct that declared
Itself superior to all on la Tierra
I was one of those chavalitos
Who listened to the spiritual discourse
For humanity against the dangers
Of racial, ethnic and international
Domination through violence,
Brutality and subjugation
I listen to the revolutionary cry to
Value la gente, human beings
Over commodities and a denunciation
Of crass materialism and racism
I listened to a giant, rich of corazón
A humble man who loved toda la gente
But despised the haters and dominators
A man who was a powerful orator
Who spoke out, even against
The threats of the most powerful
Nation on Earth, I learned from
The wise man, The Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr who lived and died
Awakening the humanity of
People who were tired of living
Under the heels of others
Then fear and loathing traveled
From the barrel of a gun into
His physical existence on la Tierra
Yet he arose again as winged
Consciousness, a free spirit that
Traveled far and wide into the
Hearts and minds of those
Who would listen and learn
Someone, like me

~Joe Navarro ©Copyright 2013

i had a gun
by Ramón Piñero

i had to shoot him
yer honor,
he unrespected me
i thought he had a gun
it was dark
it was loud
they were black
they were very black
listening to that
rap music they all like

i had a gun
they unrespected me
i had to shoot
they were black
so very black
and i had a gun

they were so black
and that booming bass
i could do nothing else
i had a gun
they did not
they unrespected me
with their music filled
joy; unaware that
i had a gun

i had a gun
i had to shoot him
i had to stop any
future thuggery
they were black
so very black

i had a gun

© Copyright 2014 All RightsReserved

The Poets
Paul Aponte, Tara Evonne Trudell, Betty Sánchez, Joe Navarro, Ramón Piñero

Paul Aponte is a Chicano poet born in SanJo, Califaztlan, and now a proud citizen of Sacramento.  He lived in Tucson, Arizona for 9 years where his two kids and his appreciation of the desert and its native people were born .  Paul, a member of "Escritores del Nuevo Sol", writes poetry in Spanish, English, and Spanglish, and enjoys breaking writing rules to communicate a truth in expression that can be seen in his writings.

My website:

Tara Evonne Trudell, a mother of four, is full-time student at NMHU working on her BFA in Media Arts with an emphasis in film, audio, and
photography. It is through this expression of art, combined with her passion for poetry that she is able to express fearlessness of spirit for her
family, people, community, social awareness, and most importantly her love of earth.

Betty Sánchez. Madre orgullosa de siete hijos y cinco hermosos nietos. En la actualidad resido en el condado de Sutter en el cual trabajo como Directora de centro del programa Migrante de Head Start.
Soy miembro activo del grupo literario, Escritores del Nuevo Sol desde  Marzo del 2004.  Contribuí en la antología poética Voces del Nuevo Sol y participé en el Festival Flor y Canto. Ser finalista en el primer concurso de poesía en español organizado por el Colectivo Verso Activo, me dio la oportunidad de dar a conocer más ampliamente mi pasión por la poesía y por extensión ser invitada a colaborar en eventos como Noche de Voces Xicanas, Honrando a Facundo Cabral, y Poesía Revuelta. Es un privilegio contribuir en la página Poetas Respondiendo al SB 1070 y por supuesto en La Bloga.

Joe Navarro is a teacher, creative writer, poet, a husband, father and grandfather, and has been an advocate for social justice and social change in labor, community, immigration, anti-U.S. intervention, education, anti-war and human rights issues.

Ramon Piñero. "Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to six of the coolest kids ever.
Nuff said...

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21. Chavela and the magic bubble

Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Bubble gum

bubble gum

in a dish

How many pieces do you wish?

Chewing chicle and blowing bubbles is one of my favorite’s hobbies. I love bubble gum but not as much as today’s character. Chavela and the magic bubble is written by the award-winning author Monica Brown and sweetly illustrated by Magaly Morales. Chavela chews gum all day long. She can chomp: pink, blue, orange, white, twisted rolls, gumballs, sour cherry, rainbow-colored, and even sugar-free chicle. Chavela is very good at blowing bubbles. She can blow big colorful bubbles shaped like balloons and tiny ones shaped like jellybeans. Chavela is a creative girl with a great imagination.

One day, Chavela’s abuelita shares stories about her hometown Playa del Carmen, the rainforest, the birds, and butterflies. Later, Chavela goes inside of a tiny corner store and an unusual package catches her attention. The package says Magic Chicle ‘Deep in the rainforest of Mexico there is a magical sapodilla tree.’ Her abuelita explains that gum is made from chicle, the sap of the sapodilla tree. She also mentions to Chavela that her great-grandfather was a chiclero (a person who takes care and harvests the sapodilla tree).

At home, Chavela opens the Magic Chicle and begins to chew piece by piece until nothing is left. Then she blows with all her might an enormous bubble that lifts her up into the sky. The wind is pushing her toward the rainforest, the land of the sapodilla trees. A girl holding a doll with a pretty blue dress greets Chavela and they begin to sing “Tengo una muñeca vestida de azul…” Chavela plays with the children under the shade of the sapodilla tree all day long. She is so tired by the afternoon that she falls asleep. As the moon rises, Chavela wakes up a little bit worried because she doesn’t know how to get back home. Suddenly, drops from the sapodilla tree fall on the tip of her nose. She realizes that by chewing and blowing with all her might, she will be able to return home. In a blink of an eye, Chavela is lift up to the sky heading north. Chavela’s abuelita is waiting for her with a smile and a pretty doll with a blue dress. Chavela’s trip and each piece of bubble gum is a connection with her cultural heritage. Remember that reading gives you wings!

To learn more about the harvesting process and the importance of sustainable farming practices visit http://www.gleegum.com/, the website of one of the few U.S manufactures of natural chewing gum. Also to learn more about rainforest and what you can do to help save then visit www.rainforestfoundation.org , www.savetherainforest.org and a Spanish link to read http://www.biodiversidad.gob.mx/publicaciones/librosDig/pdf/VegetacionMxC12.pdf

If you want to listen to the entire song “Tengo una muñeca vestida de azul” click the following link:

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22. Chicanonautica: What the Hell is Chicanonautica?

by Ernest Hogan

¡Guao! I’ve been doing this Chicanonautica stuff for well over three years. About time I pondered just what I’m doing, and what the hell Chicanonautica is, anyway.

I feel like a calaca in a spacesuit here. Just what is this all about?

Some of you may have seen it in a brief premature manifestation -- but that was just me, as usual, stumbling into a new frontier like the slapstick comedian that I am at heart. “One small step for a Chicano --” BANG! CRASH! TINKLE! “I meant to do that . . .”

I had discussed things with Rudy Ch. Garcia, and had the idea to cover the intersection of Latino culture and science fiction/fantasy/the fantastic, and report on developing situations in my home state of Arizona, which has proved to be a constant source of inspiration.

Then I had this drawing (yeah, I’m also an artist, to complicate things) I called “Calacanaut” of a calavera in a space helmet tricked out like a hot rod. Seemed like a perfect icon/alter ego/public persona for this gig.

Chicanonautica seemed like good catch-all label for this free-form rasquache/mestizaje/recombocultural party.

I’ve always been a Chicanonaut, boldly going where my insatiable curiosity led me, even if the dominant society -- and sometimes, even my fellow Chicanos -- didn’t think it was my barrio. Folks keep setting up their borders, and I keep wandering across them, searching for more of my cosmic barrio. 

I can’t cross a border/frontier -- frontera, in Spanish means both border and frontier, in direct conflict with Americano Wild West mythology -- without bringing my identity, my skin color, my ancestry, with me. I had no idea that it would be such a big, fat, hairy chingada with Nueva York publishing gangs when I started out to be a writer.

But lately, things have been changing. The publishers who have been marketing sci-fi to nerds for the last few decades are discovering that not all nerds are white boys from the Midwest. Some adjustments need to be made. Suddenly, the imagination and the future are everybody’s intellectual property.

We are in an age of postcolonialsim and Afrofuturism. I’ve got a feeling that Chicanonautica will fit right in.

Besides, I’ve found  Chicanonautica to be a good strategy for navigating our transmorgrifying world. I recommend it to you writers and artists struggling in the brave new realities. Go forth, have adventures, report back.

Those reports will read like science fiction.

Ernest Hogan is a Chicanonaut and doesn’t care who knows it. BANG! CRASH! TINKLE!

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23. An Opportunity. New Books From Old Friends. Good News Bit.

From Robert P. Moreira - riverSedge Literary Journal

Friends and Colleagues,

riverSedge, a literary journal that some of you may remember, is poised to resume publication through the English Department and MFA Program at the University of Texas Pan American. With a 37-year history, riverSedge has a proud past and, I hope, a bright future publishing art and literature from the best writers and artists today.

To do so I would appreciate your help. Please help spread the word that riverSedge is seeking the best unpublished short fiction, poetry, scripts, art work, creative nonfiction and graphic literature. We begin with contests for best fiction and best poetry with $1,000 prizes in each category. All submissions in these two categories will automatically be entered in the contests.

The fine print: persons currently affiliated with UT Pan American, UT Brownsville, and South Texas College are barred from submitting to riverSedge. Only submissions sent through the online service Submittable will be considered. Deadline for submissions is May 10, 2014.

Submission guidelines and instructions on how to submit can be found at https://riversedge.submittable.com/submit.

Thanks in advance for helping make riverSedge a success!

Robert P. Moreira, Managing Editor

For the contest, send up to 3 poems or 1 short story (5,000 words max); simultaneous submissions are okay; submissions in Spanish are okay; anyone affiliated (staff, faculty, student) with the University of Texas Pan American, University of Texas Brownsville, or South Texas College is ineligible to participate; all poetry and fiction submissions will automatically be entered in their respective contests. 

riverSedge is also accepting creative nonfiction, script-writing, graphic literature, and art. Our editors will consider work in Spanish and English and anything in between.
Deadline is May 10, 2014
Upload your submissions at riversedge.submittable.com. 

New Books From Old Friends

The City of Palaces: A Novel
Michael Nava

University of Wisconsin Press/Terrace Books - March, 2014

“An extraordinary portrait of one of the most critical periods in Mexico’s history. Nava breathes life into the stories of political, cultural, and social revolutionaries as they navigate change in their country and within themselves. This is a breakthrough novel.”
Rigoberto González, author of Autobiography of My Hungers

[from the publisher]
In the years before the Mexican Revolution, Mexico is ruled by a tiny elite that apes European culture, grows rich from foreign investment, and prizes racial purity. The vast majority of Mexicans, who are native or of mixed native and Spanish blood, are politically powerless and slowly starving to death. Presiding over this corrupt system is Don Porfirio Díaz, the ruthless and inscrutable president of the Republic.

Against this backdrop, The City of Palaces opens in a Mexico City jail with the meeting of Miguel Sarmiento and Alicia Gavilán. Miguel is a principled young doctor, only recently returned from Europe but wracked by guilt for a crime he committed as a medical student ten years earlier. Alicia is the spinster daughter of an aristocratic family. Disfigured by smallpox, she has devoted herself to working with the city’s destitute. This unlikely pair—he a scientist and atheist and she a committed Christian—will marry. Through their eyes and the eyes of their young son, José, readers follow the collapse of the old order and its bloody aftermath.

The City of Palaces is a sweeping novel of interwoven lives: Miguel and Alicia; José, a boy as beautiful and lonely as a child in a fairy tale; the idealistic Francisco Madero, who overthrows Díaz but is nevertheless destroyed by the tyrant’s political system; and Miguel’s cousin Luis, shunned as a “sodomite.” A glittering mosaic of the colonial past and the wealth of the modern age, The City of Palaces is a story of faith and reason, cathedrals and hovels, barefoot street vendors and frock-coated businessmen, grand opera and silent film, presidents and peasants, the living and the dead.

Kelly Cherry. Photo credit: Burke David.Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of seven crime novels featuring Henry Rios, a gay Latino criminal defense lawyer. The series has won six Lambda Literary Awards. In 2001 he received the Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award in LGBT literature. A native Californian and the grandson of Mexican immigrants, Nava lives near San Francisco.
“A magnificent epic about family, politics, art, revolution, and hope. This is a masterly work of old-fashioned storytelling, rich and spacious and moving, a novel that deserves to be compared to The Leopard, Love in the Time of Cholera, and Doctor Zhivago, but with its own intimacy and grandeur. I fell in love with these people and did not want to say goodbye to them.”
Christopher Bram, author of Exiles in America 

Confessions of a Book Burner: Personal Essays and Stories
Lucha Corpi
Arte Público Press - March, 2014

La Bloga recently reported on Lucha's new book, but I want to give this book and my friend another shout out.  I know Lucha has been working on it for some time and, personally, I am eager to see the finished product. Hope to get it soon. In the publisher's words: "In addition to examining a variety of topics relevant to today’s world -- including race, discrimination and feminism -- Corpi relates riveting family tales of mountain men and cannibals, preachers and soothsayers, old-style machos and women who more than hold their own. These confessions offer an intriguing vision of the rich and complex world of an acclaimed poet and novelist."


A while back I hinted at some potential good news. Turns out that what I thought would happen didn't. But, something much better did. I just signed a contract for the publication of a collection of my short stories -- working title is White Devils and Cockroaches.  I'll have more details soon. 


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24. Writing opp. Texas Mexican-American studies. Stop Keystone. Denver event.

Writer Submissions open

BorderSenses Literary and Arts Journal seeks to provide a venue for emerging and established writers/artists from the U.S.-Mexico border area and beyond to share their words and images.

We seek poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and book reviews in both Spanish and English from every corner of the world. We also cherish a diversity of visual artists. Translations can be accepted provided the original author has consented to publication rights and to reprinting.

The open submission period for volume 20 is:  March 5th to June 30th, 2014. Check our submission guidelines.

Mexican American Studies for Texas Children & Schools
Day of Action - Monday, April 7, 2014

1) E-mail all of the Texas State Board of Education at sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us and in the body of the e-mail put: To All Texas State Board of Education members (insures all 15 board members receive it) and simply tell  them you support the implementation of Mexican American Studies in Texas schools, and that this is important for the success of all Texas children and the State of Texas. 

2) Sign the petition for Mexican American Studies.

3) You can also call Texas State Board of Education representatives and tell them you support Mexican American Studies in Texas schools.
(SBOE members, districts they represent and contact numbers)
Martha M. Dominguez - D, El Paso 915-373-3563  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Ruben Cortez, Jr - D, Brownsville (956) 639-9171  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Marisa B. Perez - D, San Antonio (210) 317-4651  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Lawrence A. Allen, Jr. - D, Fresno (713) 203-1355  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Ken Mercer - R, San Antonio (512) 463-9007             sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Donna Bahorich - R, Houston (832) 303-9091            sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
David Bradley - R, Beaumont (409) 835-3808             sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Barbara Cargill - R, The Woodlands (512) 463-9007 sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Thomas Ratliff - R, Mount Pleasant (903) 717-1190  thomas@thomasratliff.com
Tom Maynard - R, Florence (512) 763-2801               sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Patricia Hardy - R, Ft Worth (817) 598-2968               sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Geraldine Miller - R, Dallas (972) 419-4000             qtince@aol.com
Mavis B. Knight - D, Dallas (214) 333-9575     sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
Sue Melton-Malone - R, Waco (254) 749-041            smelton51@gmail.com
Marty Rowley - R, Amarillo (806) 373-6278                 martyforeducation@gmail.com

We ask all of colleagues and friends from across the state and the nation to E-mail and call into the Texas State Board of Education this coming Monday, April 7, "Day of Action," and to spread the word on this initiative. This is in preparation for the SBOE meeting on April 8-9 in Austin where a vote is anticipated. There will also be a march and press conference from Cesar Chavez Blvd. to the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday, April 8 beginning at 9am. 

If you want to testify at the April 8-9 SBOE meeting in Austin, you may register on the website or by fax between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. this coming Monday; or, in person or by telephone with the appropriate agency office. You can also register for this.

See additional information from our friends at Librotraficante and MASTexas. Gracias for your support and action on Monday. 

Juan Tejeda
Chair/National Assoc. for Chicana & Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Committee on MAS Pre-K-12           

Recognition for a Chicana advocate

Next Saturday you can throw some chanclas around to the sound of some of the best Tex-Mex in Denver, and join in celebrating the good works of Flo Hernandez, chingona advocate of bilingual radio in the Southwest. 

Go to KUVO.org or RickGarciaBand.com for tickets and more info.

Stopping XL Pipeline
From 350.org comes this:

We’ve gone to DC to stand against the Keystone XL pipeline before -- but never like this. In the last week in April, a powerful alliance of ranchers, farmers and tribal communities will converge in Washington for a demonstration called “Reject & Protect,” and it’s shaping up to be the most beautiful demonstration against Keystone XL yet. We have the ingredients we need to make this action unignorable — what we need is your help to bring it all together. Can you pitch in to make a BIG impression on the President and help stop this pipeline once and for all?

It’s going to be a sight to behold. There will be dozens of riders on horseback. And Native Americans raising 30 tipis ready to go up on the National Mall. There will be demonstrations and ceremonies to tell President Obama that the risk to our land, water and climate from Keystone XL is too great to allow. And all of this will be led by an unprecedented alliance that won't back down.

The goal is to be the talk of the town during the crucial last week of April when President Obama will be making up his mind about the pipeline. This is our exclamation point on two years of powerful action against Keystone XL.

It’s a bold vision, and we don’t have much time to pull it off. If it’s going to work, it’ll take all of us. So please pitch in whatever you can, and let’s make this happen together.
P.S. If you can join the big “Reject and Protect” rally in DC on Sat., April 26th (date changed from April 27th due to permitting issues) please sign up to stay in the loop.


Es todo, hoy,

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25. Breaking Up With Los Angeles: Queer Little Chapbooks Part II

Olga Garcίa Echeverrίa
The latest chapbook that arrives in the mail is Raquel Gutiérrez’ Breaking Up with Los Angeles. The large stenciled-looking title, all caps, is painted in opaque gold.  On my copy, some of the initial letters appear partially cut-off. When I turn the book around, though, I see that the letters have bled onto the back cover. I wonder if this is intentional or if it is one of those lovely imperfections that comes with chapbook making. Anyone who has ever made chapbooks knows it can be highly laborious and at times painful. Fingers can get stapled or cut. The layout of the text can go berserk. Pages can accidentally get glued or inverted. Living space begins to look like a messy workshop full of scattered papeles and art supplies.

Photo "borrowed" from Raquel Gutierrez' website

Looking at Raquel’s cover, I can’t help but get nostalgic about my own chapbook making aventuras. The last time I put together a poetry chapbook was in 2010 with tatiana de la tierra. Inspired by the cardboard books of Latin America, we set out to make a limited edition of self-published cardboard poetry books. For months, cardboard book-making ruled our worlds. We loved cardboard. We explored its strengths and weakness. We folded it. We punctured it. We painted it. We hoarded and fought over it. We slept near our growing piles of cardboard; carton thoughts and energy seeped into our dreams; we were one with the cardboard, tatiana and I. And despite the cardboard cuts and mess, these little poetry books filled us with utter joy and self-publishing power. Of course, we blogged about it: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2010/05/cardboard-creations-homemade-libros.html

tatiana eating cardboard poetry

Raquel's chapbook isn't made out of cardboard, and it has its unique estilo and presence, yet it reminds me of tatiana de la tierra, Myriam Gurba (whose chapbooks I blogged about a couple of weeks ago (http://labloga.blogspot.com/2014/03/queer-little-chapbooks.html), and every other hardworking two-tongued, two-spirited escritora/artista out there creating arte a su brave manera. In the end, despite todas las diferencias, it's the same general fuerza that propels us forth and fuels creation, poesίa, self-published libritos. Locura. Passion. Because you have to be kinda crazy and in love with words to make your own books. Resilience is a must, and humor is a definite plus. There's no big bucks earned here. You can purchase Raquel's Breaking Up With Los Angeles for a very affordable seis dolares: http://raquelgutierrez.net/chapbook/ Or Gurba's latest A Flower for That Bitch for a muy barato $3: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Lesbrain. That's freshly made literature for the cost of a couple of tamales and a café or a champurrado. There's no glory or guarantees in rasquachi book making either. The writer usually distributes and hustles. Libritos! Libritos! Calentitos y deliciosos! Compren sus libritos! It's like blogging or writing a poem or knitting a bad-ass scarf or sweater. You may pour out your heart into your arte, spend countless hours refining the finished product, and get back a, "That's cute."

Photo by Kevin Campbell

Having moved from LA to the Bay Area a little over a year ago, Gutiérrez shares that her new chapbook Breaking Up With Los Angeles marks a “habitual haunting” of the city she broke up with. In her blog (http://raquelgutierrez.net/blog/) she writes: "This project is simply the receptacle for the ache...of leaving home...Poetry has always functioned as a site of no rules...A small holder of my psychic messes. A document. A textual object. Or an embrace for when all other embraces fail to keep me safe."

Using numbers instead of titles, Gutiérrez delivers 22 poems about loving, living in, and leaving Los Angeles. In poem #11, she write:

Partner with loss
Embrace change
Resist nostalgia

It's a mantra that thematically echoes throughout the collection. Whether she's recalling a nightclub in Hollywood full of joteria and Naco Power, a sighting on Silverlake of a truck with "lavender colored testicles hanging so low," the haze of Sour Diesel, her mother's laughter welcoming her home, or the busquedad of her "Ole Dad" and herself in cantinas, Gutiérrez weaves in and out of the cityscape, gathering poetic fragments of the distant and recent past, re-membering/re-constructing that which has been lost or broken, all the while resisting nostalgia.

But where one lives and loves, there are always those glimpses of nostalgia, no? In poem #7, Gutiérrez recalls a few of "the good things:"

telling white people to not speak Spanish to me
having everyone at Homeboy Industries know me by name

I want to stay..

Despite the grappling with grief and loss, and the resistance to nostalgia, there's a sense of love and longing for Los Angeles. For example, in poem #13, Gutiérrez leaves behind a poetic directive of her last rites:

scatter me in the mouth of Los Angeles
her stomach the desert
her shoulders the mountains
and her womb
the east Los Angeles freeway interchange

for the 5 brought me all of California
while the 101 took me to where it was possible
impossible on the 10 during rush hour
and the 60 carried my broken teenage heart home

Tributes to the recently deceased are also found in Breaking Up With Los Angeles. In poem #8, LA poet Wanda Colemen who inspired so many of us is remembered. The impact of her loss deeply felt:

Photo by Mark Savage

I mourned her from a lonely bedroom
Deep in the East Bay
Her departure underscoring
an exile from Angels
a burn, a light and tender

a severe degree
that severs me

Although this is her first chapbook, Gutiérrez isn't knew to the arts. She has long been a performer, curator, playwright, and cultural activist. She was a co-founding member of the now retired performance ensemble, Butchlalis de Panochtitlan (BdP), a community-based and activist-minded group aimed at creating a visual vernacular around queer Latinidad in Los Angeles. Raquel also co-founded other Los Angeles-specific art projects: Tongues, A Project of VIVA and Epicentro Poetry project. Raquel's work has been published in The Portland Review and Ambientes: New Queer Latino Writing (edited by Lázaro Lima and Felice Picano). Poems are forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom and Huizache next year.

During the past two weeks, I had an opportunity to ask Gutierrez a few questions over email. Here are my questions and her responses:

Can you share a little about your current transition from performance to poetry? Are you still doing both?

I like the insularity of writing poems. Performing relies on collaboration and a certain familiarity. Being in a new place, living away from Los Angeles, made me retract, reflect...I think I am done with the stage for now but when I read some of these poem aloud, there's a different rawness present that isn't so much about proving myself as an artist. I'm regenerating in a new way.

When I was in El Paso, Texas all I did was write about Los Angeles. I found that the distance and desert allowed to write about LA in ways that I may not have been able to do had I still been at home. Did you have a similar experience when moving to the Bay Area?

When I was living in New York I couldn't write anything about L.A. The distance of course helps, but I don't know if being in a new city leads to being able to produce writing about L.A. I think a new place coupled with the ability to inhabit certain truths makes the writing come easier.

What do you miss most about Los Angeles?

I miss the 24-hour-ness of L.A. The thrift store near the old Sears. La Estrella's fish burritos. The 110 freeway tunnel from Chinatown into Figueroa. The sun coming up on Bandini Boulevard.

Literary rock stars that you admire?

Rubén Martinez, Wanda Coleman, Charles Bukowski, Roberto Bolaños, Helena María Viramontes, John Rechy, James Baldwin, Chris Kraus, Ali Liebegott, Salvador Plascencia.

Are you taking on any new projects any time soon?

I'm excited about a chapbook press endeavor I am taking on called ECONO TEXTUAL OBJECTS. This [making chapbooks] was so much fun I don't want it to stop. I'm working on another chapbook for the Spring, along with chapbooks by friends and conspirators Félix Solano Vargas and Nikki Darling. These chapbooks are due out in May 2014.

In closing, even though you broke up with her, do you still love LA?

I'll always love LA.

To learn more about Raquel and her current projects, visit: http://raquelgutierrez.net/
To visit Raquel's blog: http://raquelgutierrez.net/blog/
To purchase Breaking Up With Los Angeles:

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