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SittieCates has been writing for more than ten years. She has covered topics about health, travel, recipes, writing, family, children and many more. The author of Sleepyhead? NOT!, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry and Prose and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You, she is currently working as a freelance writer.
Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Cates.
SittieCates: SittieCates is my virtual pseudonym. My real name is Jacqueline, which I mostly prefer my family, old friends and relatives to use. Most of my friends call me Cates. Online, a lot of people call me Sittie. I prefer having my pseudonym, “SittieCates”, written without a space to denote oneness or balance.
I have worked for traditional publishing firms as a Writer and Editor. I also taught English to Filipinos at a local school. I’ve handled students from Grades 3 up to 4th year High School. I was the Guidance Counselor and the Head of the English Department. Aside from those jobs I had at that school, I was also the adviser for the school publication and was in charge of the Theatre Guild.
After a few years, I became an ESL teacher for Koreans. Then, I had an offer at another publishing firm so I went back to writing and editing.
In between those full-time jobs, I tried to squeeze in time to engage in writing the stories that I love; not the articles that I usually spin at work. I’ve managed to publish a poem, a few short stories for kids and some articles in other local magazines published by other publishing firms. While my aim was to write about topics I really love in snippets of time available, I have to admit that there were lots of times when I was too tired to engage in that because of my hectic work schedules. You see, whenever I came home, all I wanted to do was collapse on my bed and pray that I would have a restful sleep so I could function well the next day.
When did the writing bug bite?
SittieCates: I’ve always wanted to write. My parents and siblings would scold me because I would write everywhere. They particularly hated it when I would write on the walls. It looked really messy, but all those scribbles were, in a way, special, because they held dozens of stories only I could understand.
I wrote my very first “nearly legible and more understandable” story when I was in kindergarten. It was part of an assignment. There was a blank page for that in the book, and we were tasked to write a story. We were encouraged to draw the characters, too.
So, I peppered the page with stick figures, the only drawings I could muster. J And I wrote a very, very short story about three girls who always wanted to sing. And when I say short, I really mean short because I only used a few sentences. The title was written as one word; it included all three names of the little girls in the story.
What particular genre/s do you prefer?
SittieCates: For the genre, I seem to gravitate more towards children’s stories. I published two ebooks for kids. One is Sleepyhead? NOT! and the other is Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. I have a third one that’s already with my illustrator. It’s about learning colors. It’s perfect for kids aged 3 to 5, but younger and older ones up to 8 would also love it.
I also love poetry. I’ve compiled a few of my poems and published them together with some essays in my ebook, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose. The ebook is inspirational and autobiographical. If you read it, you’ll get to know a few things about me. I’ve created an ebook trailer for this at: http://youtu.be/31TfRehsfSU. One of my favorite poetry lines that I’ve written in the ebook includes this one: “In the evenings when the wind speaks softly in my ear… When the stars give out a shine so enchantingly clear… When the soft beams of moonlight leave a trail of shadows in sight… I listen to the sweet, melodious sound of your voice at night.”
What other genre/s are you interested in venturing in?
SittieCates: I have a novel. Currently, I’m polishing that one. It’s my first novel and it’s a romance story, but there’s a little bit of twist there. J I’ll just announce that when it’s ready.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
SittieCates: That’s a good question, Shelagh. When I started writing, just like most authors, I wanted to share my works with a lot of readers. I wanted my works to be read and, hopefully, bring something helpful, amusing or inspiring to the readers – whether the story is for kids or for grown-ups. I truly wanted to give my readers that experience. Even though they may not always have a smile on their faces after reading what I’ve written, I wanted them to feel satisfied or complete, with nary a nagging and confusing thought bothering them afterwards when they close the book.
Could you tell us more about your current book bundle promo for kids?
SittieCates: I’d love to, Shelagh!
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I have published two ebooks for kids that are up at Amazon (at http://amzn.to/1dTolwE) and other retailers, priced and sold individually. These two are included in a book bundle at http://flipreads.com/sittie-bundle. The bundle, Sittie CASE, is offered at a very, very low price until January 31, 2014 only.
To give interested readers an idea of the children’s stories included in the bundle, here are the descriptions for both:
Mabel Robbins is a bright, sweet and cheerful kid who likes to play make-believe. She faces no trouble during the day. But when nighttime comes, her problem begins. She couldn’t sleep easily like the rest of her family.
Thinking that she is different, she seeks help to correct her sleeping problem.
But nothing seems to go right!
Will Mabel Robbins be able to find the “right” way to sleep easily? Find out now at Sleepyhead? NOT!
Sleepyhead? NOT! children’s ebook trailer can be seen at YouTube.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You
When Kaitlyn Zamorra learned to write letters to God from her parents, she started telling Him everything: the things that she likes and what she considers to be “no fun” at all. She also told God about a precious gift that was lots of fun.
But then, something happened. Her source of happiness seemed like it was going to be taken away from her.
Will she be able to save something that gave her lots of happiness? Or will Kaitlyn soon realize what’s truly “lots of fun”?
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You Children’s ebook trailer is at YouTube.
While the denomination there is in Philippine Pesos, interested buyers can avail of it in dollars by choosing Paypal as a mode of payment. I would suggest that readers check the FAQ at the site to know more about the file reading formats before they purchase and download the bundle.
Since it’s my first time to have a book bundle, I thought of celebrating it while the promo was running. So, I created a worldwide event on Google Plus. But not everyone could join. So, I transferred the event to Facebook, invited some friends and encouraged them to invite others. The Facebook party, which I named, ♥ The Sittie CASE Book Bundle Party ♥ has already started, and would end by January 31. Others can still join the event if they like, provided that they do so before the last day of January.
How do you develop characters?
SittieCates: I’m a people watcher. I observe people of different ages, professions, etc. I’ve been doing that since I was like 6 or 7 years old. It was just like a game before.
People may think I’m naturally talkative. But I’m only like that online. In person, I’m often what you may refer to as “unusually quiet”, especially when there are so many people around. It’s not that I’m a snob, but I merely prefer to observe people and things around me. That is if my nose isn’t buried in a book.
Often, I listen to how people talk. I take note of how they carry themselves, what clothes they prefer to wear, their mannerisms and other things. I also try to feel the underlying messages that their statements try not to reveal because, as I’ve observed, there are some who would tell you one thing but mean another thing, and I could somehow feel and notice that even if they try really hard to keep that to themselves.
It’s amusing to observe people because I feel that by doing this, I would be able to create the possible lead characters and antagonists of the story, sort of like getting inside their heads and seeing how they think. In real life, I try to capture all that. I try to incorporate these things in my stories so it would adopt a “real” atmosphere, especially in my upcoming novel. (Other character sketches I’ve had are kept in a notebook and I’ll be using those next time.)
What about the setting?
SittieCates: When I created the story setting for my upcoming romance novel, Bookworm, I had to struggle for awhile. I was trying to decide if a serious mood would be best or not. With regards to where and what time the story would take place, I chose what I knew, what I was familiar with, and injected that in the novel. Hopefully, the readers would love it.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
SittieCates: For most of the articles I’ve written, I would say that I’d go for the first-person POV.
But with stories, I try to experiment. I used both the first-person and third-person POV for my stories for kids. Sleepyhead? Not! was written using the third-person POV while Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You used the first person.
However, for my upcoming novel, things are totally different. It’s not going to use any of the POVs normally used in writing novels. I wanted to try something else. So, I decided to use a different approach, which you’ll all see when my novel will be published. And I sincerely hope you would all wait for that.
How does your environment or immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues color your writing?
SittieCates: I find that a part of me seems to come out – regardless of whatever I create (poems, songs, articles, stories, etc.). It may be about the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had or the experiences that I knew someone had.
Sometimes, I find that helpful. Other times, no, because when I’m faced with a certain character, and I see that character as someone I know, it wouldn’t help the tale at all, especially if something happens in the story. What I mean is that being the real person that that character is, when he or she is faced with a dilemma, obviously, he or she would do the same thing that his or her character’s “real” counterpart would do. When that happens, all creative juices would be blocked, and that wouldn’t contribute well to the story because I wouldn’t know what else to write. As you can see, for me, when that story character thinks, feels and behaves like the real-life counterpart, that’s the end of the story. You can’t move past that because you would say that the real person wouldn’t behave, feel or think as such. So, there’s no more ideas coming in. You’re blocked! I’ve encountered that when I was writing the first few drafts of Bookworm. It was really hard to move beyond that. So, I changed the story a bit, and tried to see a story character as not being totally similar to a real-life counterpart.
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve had.
SittieCates: Delighted to do so, Shelagh! Some of the links for the book reviews I’ve received for 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose” and “Sleepyhead? NOT! are at the tab marked as “Book Reviews Written by Others for My Works” at my two blogs.
I also loved this one that was posted on a retail site. It was for one of my ebooks for kids, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. It reads:
“A wonderful and delightful story, adorably illustrated, about a little girl’s faith and innocence as she starts understanding about change and learning to love her baby brother. Well done! Five stars all the way (the stars seem to be missing on this review). My child loved it, too!” ~ Patrick Heffernan, Author of Greywalker, a novel
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
SittieCates: People can follow me in a number of ways:
My Blogs: http://www.myownwritersnook.blogspot.com and http://www.sittiecateslovestories.blogspot.com
Facebook Pages: https://www.facebook.com/TheMusingsofaHopefulPecuniousWordsmith and https://www.facebook.com/SittieCatesLovesStories
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/114470887211929135419
Thank you for joining us today, Cates.
SittieCates: Thank you so much, Shelagh! I really enjoyed the interview. All the best to you and your site! And happy holidays to everyone! J
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RECITAL Lightning strikes a chord and Autumn tap dances on a floor of encrusted gold and ruby… while Thunder claps in appreciation — and Winter waits in the wings. Filed under: writing for children Tagged: autumn, ballet, dancing, fall, free verse, free verse autumn poetry, free2rhymeornot, freeverse, freeverse poetry, micropoetry, poems, poetry, poets, recital, […]
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In the mess we call home, there was an iphone and a starbucks cup and a beanbag with a tired bloodhound pup and there was one teen girl, with wavy curls and two preteens making scenes and a daddy on the computer, a champion “tooter’ and a fight with food – what manners.. how rude! […]
By: Andromeda Jazmon Sibley
Blog: a wrung sponge
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Here is a collection of my Instagram photos, updated daily. I am afraid
you will have to click on the photo to go to Instagram to read the
haiku. Unless I find a photo editor that works on my iPod and figure out
how to put the haiku directly onto the image, that is. Anyone help with
that? If you are using Instagram and know how to do it can you share?
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Today is that rollicking good time day when you are encouraged to carry a poem and share it with friends, family, strangers - pass it around like a smile!
It started in NYC several years ago and now is celebrated all over. Go to poets.org for ideas of how to celebrate and poems you can print to carry or share. At my library I am postings and passing out some of my favorites by Langston
By: Keith Schoch
Blog: Teach with Picture Books
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J. Patrick Lewis
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Often when I mention poetry during a workshop, at least one teacher laments, "I would love to do more poetry with students, but there's so much else to teach in my curriculum!" What I try to encourage (and I'm often helped big time by the workshop participants) is for this teacher to consider using poetry within her curriculum, as an integral part of her language, reading, and writing lessons, rather than as an add-on. In other words, I ask her to find a purpose for poetry. Now, before you poetry purists flame me and cry out, "Poetry is in itself worth reading!" let me explain that I agree with you. I fondly recall organizing poetry picnics in third grade, where we would spread sheets and blankets on the field adjacent to the school playground and share favorite poems as we munched on morning snacks. So yes, I believe in poetry for its own sake.But at the same time, I'm a realist. Many of us find it increasingly difficult to allocate the time to read poetry for its own sake; we would, in fact, like to discuss it beyond the month of April without needing an excuse or (shudder) a learning objective.So increasingly it seems that while teachers can name lots of good reasons for using poetry with children at an early age, they still wonder how they can continue to integrate poetry in later grade levels. I offer a few suggestions below. And even if you can't get through my ten reasons, do take the time to explore the recommended sites and resources appearing at the close of this post. I could in no way do justice to all the fantastic poetry books that are available, so I encourage you to share your favorite title in the comments section below.
1. Activate Prior Knowledge
Students are most receptive to new learning when they can connect it to what they already know. Poetry provides a quick and fun way to do this.
- The Year Comes Round: Haiku Through the Seasons by Sid Farrar and illustrated by Ilse Plume presents students with vignettes of each season in the signature haiku 5-7-5 syllable, three line form, focusing upon nature with a surprising perspective. Each month is represented by its own poem, and students can write their own after determining what makes a poem a haiku. Students can also unearth the literary devices employed by Farrar such as personification, metaphor, alliteration, and simile. A sample from the book:
Lawns call a truce with
mowers and slip beneath their
white blankets to sleep.
- Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds stays true to the form and function of haiku, with each poem offering a funny twist in the final line. Apart from pure enjoyment, this book shows students (especially some of your hard to motivate boys) that poetry can be simple and straight forward and even fun. in "why I wrote Guyku," Raczka says, "When I was a boy, I didn't even know what a haiku was. But I did spend a lot of time outside with my friends. Nature was our playground, and we made the most of it - catching bugs, climbing trees, skipping stones, throwing snowballs. Now...I realize that haiku is a wonderful form of poetry for guys like us. Why? Because a haiku is an observation of nature, and nature is a place where guys love to be." A sample from the book:
If this puddle could
talk, I think it would tell me
to splash my sister.
2. Establish Theme
Teaching with a theme and its accompanying guiding questions isn't new to most of us, and the majority of teachers maintain a ready repertoire of methods to establish themes for classroom novels or other literature units (see some ideas and a huge list of Universal Themes in my How to Teach a Novel Handout). The perfect poem, however, can lead to a wonderful writing reflection or discussion that allows students to construct the theme and essential questions for themselves.
Recommended Sites and Texts for Theme:
- The Children's Poetry Archive groups poems by themes, and my class always enjoys reflecting upon poems about death since, after all, every novel we read seems to be about death! Many poems on this site are read aloud by their authors, and my students especially love hearing The Carrion Crow read aloud.
- A common theme in upper elementary and middle school novels is Change. Encourage an in-depth study of Change using Paul Janeczko's examination of Nothing Gold Can Stay in his new Heinemann title Reading Poetry in the Middle Grades. This highly recommended book features 20 thought-provoking poems from contemporary writers, with extensive lesson plans which help students to better understand each poem, and to apply it to other texts and their own experiences.
- Students can compose and publish their own poems using the Theme Poems interactive from ReadWriteThink.
3. Explore Language
If you're anything like me, you struggle to teach students grammar in way that is motivational or memorable. How many of us can recall learning our parts of speech and verb forms in deadly dull exercise books? While drill and example books might have a place in instruction, I'd recommend some verse to liven up the process of language learning.
Recommended Texts and Sites:
- If you're seeking to help students learn parts of speech, check out the Language Adventures series
from Gibbs Smith. These highly engaging and hilarious books focus on discrete parts of speech through the incorporation of rhyme and humor, and later editions contain learning activities, definitions, and reproducibles related to the book's topics. Answer keys and additional activities can be accessed at
author Rick Walton's website
. There Rick offers some wonderful language learning activities (your lesson plan for next week might just be waiting for you there), as well as an amazing assortment of ideas for using his picture books (over fifty in print!).
- At The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares wonderful original poems and teaching ideas. One of my favorites is Getting Dressed, a wonderful poem featuring personification. In addition to the many poems she shares on the site, you can have her work for your very own in her newly published collection of poems titled The Forest Has a Song. In addition to the resources at Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's site, you can also download a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Poetry Activity Kit, featuring ideas for "Getting Dressed" as well as several other poems from HMH titles.
- Alphabest: The Zany, Zanier, Zaniest Book about Comparatives and Superlatives probably isn't a poetry book, since each page contains just three words (such as Fuzzy, Fuzzier, Fuzziest) but it reads like poetry, and helps kids understand how adjectives can be changed to compare two or more things. Author Helaine Becker sets the scene in a busy amusement park, and illustrator Dave Whamond delivers the goods with his spirited and wacky illustrations. Students can likewise choose a single adjective, and create images to illustrate its comparative and superlative forms.
|From Alphabest: The Zany, Zanier, Zaniest Book|
- Looking for poems with onomatopoeia? Check out Noisy Poems for a Busy Day by Robert Heidbreder and Lori Joy Smith. Short and fun, and easily replicated by students. Collect all your students' poems and create your own Busy Day anthology!
- Finally, check out this Figurative Language lesson on personification and alliteration from TeachersFirst.
4. Focus on Facts
Creating poetry is a wonderful way for students to share information they learned through class or independent study. What's fantastic about poetry is that it can bring life to otherwise dry and lifeless facts!
I can recall assigning fourth grade students to create poems for mathematical operations, and as a class creating couplets describing the most important names, places, events, and dates for the American Revolution. Students are incredibly receptive to these challenges! So after checking out some of the examples below, be sure to devise your own lessons to have students write informational poems in class as well.
- In Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors, Hena Khan introduces young readers to the world of Islam by describing its colors and traditions in simple rhymes. Each poem serves as a definition, and the terms introduced are explained in greater detail in the book's end. Mehrdokht Amini's gorgeous bright and intricate illustrations make this book itself a treasure, perfect for reading with groups or sharing on a parent's lap. A sample from the book:
Gold is the dome of the mosque,
big and grand.
Beside it two towering
- Animology: Animal Analogies, written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cathy Morrison, introduces students to word relationships (also known as analogies) through the simplest of rhymes. Bold, full spread pictures show realistic depictions of the animals in their natural settings. Like all Sylvan Dell books, this one includes the "For Creative Minds" follow-up activities in the back of book, which can also be accessed at the publisher's site, along with an e-book preview, a video trailer, a 48 page teaching guide, and other resources.
- Hey Diddle Diddle: A Food Chain Tale is another Sylvan Dell title featuring a wealth of support materials for classroom instruction (see the menu bar to the right on this page). In catchy rhyme, author Pam Kapchinske describes the the animals and complex relationships which make up a food web, the circle of life, and more specifically the ecosystem on a pond and forest habitat. Sherry Rogers' images capture each animal playing its part in this ongoing natural cycle.
5. Set a Scene
Before launching a science, social studies, or math unit, I often used poetry to set the scene. The poems I chose from myriad books would spark discussion, curiosity, and prior knowledge, ultimately building excitement and anticipation for the new unit. If only all textbooks were nearly as engaging!
- Water Sings Blue, written by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Meilo So, provides the denizens of the deep with their own voices, priming student curiosity about life in the ocean. One of my favorites is the poem "Old Driftwood," wherein this artifact is described as a "gnarled sailor"..."telling of mermaids/ and whales thi-i-i-s big/ to all the attentive/ astonished twigs." Another sample from the book:
The sea urchin fell in love with a fork.
With a tremble of purple spines,
she told her mother, "He's tall, not a ball,
but just look at his wonderful tines!
- Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night is a perfect poetry/informational text companion to Poppy or any other novel that takes place in the forest. Each of Joyce Sidman's wonderful poems about the nocturnal world of the woods is accompanied by a fact-filled sidebar, exploring the creatures described in the poems and in Rick Allen's beautiful relief print illustrations. The title poem in part reads: "Perched missile, almost invisible, you preen silent feathers, swivel your sleek satellite dish of a head." This small excerpt gives you an idea of the book's sophisticated verse! The author cleverly formatted the poem "Dark Emperor" in the shape of an owl, and if your students are interested in creating concrete poetry like this, you might find that shape templates are a good way to get started. And if you're not familiar with Avi's novel Poppy, be sure to check it out! Boys find it easy to root for this strong female character because "she is, after all, a mouse."
6. Inspire Writing
If you're seeking ways to get students writing, poetry is an effective vehicle to transport them to success. Take the opportunity to preview Poetry Mentor Texts online at the Stenhouse site; you'll be amazed at the simple steps to sophisticated writing using the lesson ideas presented there. In addition to Poetry Mentor Texts inspiring students to write their own verse, this book will also provide you with ideas for using poetry as a creative response format for other disciplines as well:
Poetry shouldn't be just a part of the language arts curriculum. It offers another way to communicate and demonstrate our understanding of a concept in content areas. It is a method for deepening comprehension and developing a level of empathy and knowledge that can be applied to real-world situations. Poetry can be used to informally assess science and math. It can help students link content areas.
Additional Recommended Texts and Sites:
- Students can extend or rewrite or revisit favorite or famous poems. In Casey Back at Bat, sports writer Dan Gutman revisits the classic American poem (the picture book version illustrated by Max Payne is one of my favorites). Choose similar narrative poems, and challenge students to extend them, revise them, or "answer them" with poems of their own.
- In an earlier post, I discussed writing "Valentines for Vermin" using Vulture Verses: Love Poems for the Unloved as a mentor text. The book closes with a request: "So many cards to write! So many animal friends! I may need some help. Do you know someone who is misunderstood? Will you help me write friendship notes, too?" Such a fantastic suggestion! Working in pairs or teams, students can research basic facts about other unloved animals that "scuttle, slither, buzz, and sting." A really fun and stress free way to get students writing creatively, with results which they'll be eager to share with others.
- If you're seeking inspirations for students to write poetry in a number of forms, you'll be amazed and delighted to read Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry or Leap Into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry. First, it's amazing that author/illustrator Avis Harley has found enough poem forms to write and illustrate not just one but two ABC collections, and second, she's done it by focusing solely on the topic of insects! So she not only presents and explains the poetry forms in detail, but these mentor texts teach students wonderful facts about dozens of creatures that crawl, climb, and fly as well. Extensions using other animal species are possible, although I can see these form poems being applied to almost any subject area.
- Students love the idea of fractured fairy tales, so a book like Monster Goose by Judy Sierra is certain to be hit. The author's creepy and comedic new versions of classic childhood rhymes will inspire your students to want to create the same. After sharing a few poems such as Humpty Dumpty (below), provide students with a collection of unrevised rhymes, and see where their imaginations can take them. See, too, if their accompanying illustrations can be as entertaining as those of Jack E. Davis, illustrator extraordinaire of Bedhead fame. Davis not only captures a key moment of each poem, but also cleverly establishes and then breaks the borders of each illustration, creating an off-the-page effect.
Humpty Dumpty swam in the sea
Humpty's sunscreen was SPF-3.
Because he was so lightly oiled,
Dear Humpty ended up hard-boiled.
7. See New Perspectives
One of poetry's transcendent powers is its ability to refocus, if not totally transform, our point of view. It's far too simple for students (and teachers!) to lose themselves in their egocentric viewpoints, and fail to consider issues from another perspective. Poetry open students' eyes to new ways of seeing.
- Make Magic! Do Good! by Dallas Clayton is a quirky and crazy collection of verses that collectively encourage readers to see the best in themselves, in others, and in every situation.
So much of modern day communication relies upon snark and sarcasm, it's refreshing to find poems that are open and honest and encouraging, while at the same time remaining zany and random, which kids also appreciate. I also think that the way the book cover turns into a poster is a pretty cool twist!
|From Make Magic! Do Good!|
- Perspective, or point of view, plays a huge role in history and its interpretation. Although not entirely accurate in historic detail, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere remains a classic of American Literature. Check out this previous post where I discuss several picture versions of the text, and the unique perspective supplied by each.
- In Daniel Kirk's Dogs Rule! and his later Cat Power!, the author/illustrator profiles some of the furriest and funniest heroes of each species. See my Words and Images in Perfect Harmony post for more details, as well as teaching suggestions.
- The National Geographic's Book of Animal Poetry is wonderful in that it often features multiple poems for a single animal. The zebra and the pig, for instance, are both celebrated by four different poets. Examining the poems, students can discuss what facts and features each poet chose to discuss. In what ways are their poems alike? Different? Older students can even attempt to identify the poem form used by each writer. After reading some of the examples in this book from both classic and contemporary writers, students can then try their own hand at describing animals both foreign and familiar. Such poems are an excellent addition to those animal reports and presentations which many teachers already include in their curriculum.
8. Ignite Curiosity
Much has been said in educational texts about inquiry learning. From my own experiences, however, I find that students are naturally inquisitive, and there's not much more we need to do but focus their natural curiosity. Poetry can do this!
- A Strange Place to Call Home, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Ed Young, is an intriguing exploration into diverse and unique habitats of the world. In the preface, the author explains: "Extreme environments such as deserts, glaciers, salt lakes, and pools of oil may not seem appealing, yet in these places, there is often less competition and more safety from predators. So over time, a variety of animals have adapted to these challenging conditions. This collection of poems celebrates some of these great adapters and the risky places where they live." End notes give further explanation of each animal and its adaptations to its specialized niche, along with notes about the poetry forms employed for each piece. Below is a sample poem, written in sonnet form:
TOP OF THE WORLD
Atop a rocky peak, the air is pure,
but the wind blows fierce and the climb is steep.
Each step must be confident and so sure,
there's little need to look before you leap.
The ice, the snow, the winter's biting cold
require a cozy, insulated coat.
What animal lives here, hardy and bold?
Behold this king of cliffs, the mountain goat!
Feasting in springtime on grass that is lush,
avoiding in summer the sun's blazing rays.
Browsing in autumn on stubborn dry brush,
learning to deal with the year's hardest days.
Living where enemies cannot intrude,
it succeeds indeed at this altitude.
- World Rat Day by...wait for it...J. Patrick Lewis is a fun collection of unusual but authentic holidays, celebrated here in verse. Where else could you learn about Cow Appreciation Day, Limerick Day, or Chocolate-Covered Anything Day? Students will enjoy researching these and other wacky holidays, and even inventing their own to commemorate people, places, and events that are important to them. (See a video trailer here at the Candlewick Press site).
9. Provide Pleasure
Okay, so you may think I cheated on this one. After all, I'm supposed to be giving you purposes for using poetry. But if we can't convince our students that one of reading's purest functions is pleasure, then I don't think we've really done our job.
So many poems and books of poems exist to fill this classification that I won't even begin to list them all here. So if you have a favorite poem or book you read with students for pleasure, please share it in the comments section below!
- A Dog is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan is an incredibly simple, yet funny and clever book about a dog who may not be a dog at all, but perhaps instead a cat...or is it a squid?...or a moose? This crazy dog sheds one disguise after another, and who knows what he'll be next? It's short, fun, and you'd better be prepared to read it more than once, although its simplicity, meter, and rhyme make it easily accessible to independent beginning readers. Also be sure to check out the cool stuff on the author's site.
- Do you have older students who are obsessed with zombies? The Zombie Haiku site offers a unique twist on this traditional poetry form, with submissions from famous contemporary authors, as well as poetry "fakes" by greats of the past.
10. Capture Character
Most of us have assigned biography reports, only later to be disappointed when some students fail to capture the greatness of the men and women they studied. What's awesome about biographical poems is that they encapsulate the essence of what makes a person's life memorable and meaningful.
- When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis features a satisfying mix of heroes and heroines from the world-wide struggle for human rights. Familiar names such as Jackie Robinson, Harvey Milk, and Mohandas Gandhi share the pages with new discoveries such as Sylvia Mendez (Mexican-American-Purto Rican civil rights leader), Muhammad Yunus (Bangladeshi banker), and Dennis Banks (Cofounder of the American Indian Movement and Anishinabe political activist). Several artists collaborate to illustrate the poems, which can also lead to a discussion of what each artist chose to represent the whole of a person's life in a single image. For more teaching ideas integrating these poems with informational writing, see the related post at Two Writing Teachers blog.
- Another collection of biographical poems, also be J. Patrick Lewis, is Freedom Like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans. These poems are notable in that they capture the content of each person's character, rather then the rote facts of his or her life. John Thompson's realistically rendered illustrations help to make this title a standout.
- Use the The Explorers' Graveyard lesson plan for sharing facts and findings when reading biographies. Again, the aim here is to get to what's worth knowing about this famous person.If you're looking for a funnier take of epitaphs, I recommend Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses by J. Patrick Lewis (yes, him again!), and illustrated by Simon Bartram. The hilarious and revealing tombstone tidings capture in the most clever way the humor of many professions. Take this one, for instance, written for a Book Editor:
She live on the margin.
Recommended Online Tools for Writing Poetry:
- My top pick is Instant Poetry Forms, which allows students to enter prompted words and verses in order to form (you guessed it!) instant poetry. Some of the forms are purely creative and student-centered, while others allow students to enter researched information (such as data on an early explorer) to create nonfiction verse. An excellent way to encourage your poetry-phobic students (usually the boys!). Each prompt generator includes an example of a finished poem in that style, so students can get a good idea of how the finished poem might sound.
- Rhyme Brain isn't just another rhyming site; instead, it has three functions: rhyme creator, alliteration creator, and portmanteau creator. The results for the latter two tools are pretty impressive, and lend themselves to some real playfulness with language.
- Poetry Splatter is a decent site for reluctant or struggling writers. Students are offered limited words to complete template poems. The results are fairly closed ended, but this might be a good place to start for those students who struggle to generate poems wholly on their own.
- At the PBS NewsHour Extra Poetry site, students can write poems based on current events using the poetry forms and examples found there.
- At WriteRhymes, it's as easy as "As you write, hold the alt key and click on a word to find a rhyme for it..." That's it. You can Copy, Save, or Print from the site.
Additional Recommended Resources for Poetry Month:
- Stenhouse Publishing has compiled a wonderful collection of poetry lesson plans and teaching ideas from about a dozen of their best-selling professional resources. Check out the Poetry Sampler, available as a pdf download directly from the publisher.
- ReadWriteThink is a go-to resource if you're seeking poetry lesson plans complete with interactive or printable components. From the search page, you can narrow down the 285 results by grade level, resource type, or popularity.
- If needed, here's an extensive glossary of poetry terms. I wish each term was accompanied by an example, but a good place to start regardless. If you can't find a term there, then you can likely find it in this Glossary of Poetic Terms.
- Bruce Lansky books and teaching ideas at Poetry Teachers. Sixteen poetry categories, fun ways to get students writing, and poetry theater (poems to download in read-aloud theater versions).
- The Children's Poetry Archive is a wonderful collection of poems selected just for children, and read by their creators.
- For older students (middle school and up), The Virtualit Interactive Poetry Tutorial features three study poems, as well as extensive online aids including Elements of Poetry (understanding language), Cultural Contexts (social, political, and economic currents) and Critical Approaches (literary criticism).
- Tweenverse is a fun collection of poems by Richard Thomas. No activities included here, but you'll several of these to be perfect as mentor texts for helping students write verse to reflect on their own experiences. See Summer Camp Souvenirs or Brother Trouble for a quick idea of what you'll find there.
- The Poets.org Educator Site provides teaching tips, popular poems to share, curriculum units and lesson plans, and suggestions for Poetry Month.
- Poetry for Tough Guys features poems written by Steven Micciche, mostly aimed at guys. Don't worry; it's still kid appropriate! Perhaps a good stop for reluctant boys to gain entry into verse.
Introduction: The Winter Solstice (December 21, 2012) Doesn’t Mark The End Of The World But The Start Of A New Era And Poem
by Francisco X. Alarcón
December 21, 2012 marks the conclusion of a b'ak'tun—a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which was used in Central America prior to the arrival of Europeans. Although the Long Count was most likely invented by the Olmec, it has become closely associated with the Maya civilization, whose classic period lasted from 250 to 900 AD.
Unlike the 260-day tzolk'in still used today among the Maya, the Long Count was linear rather than cyclical, and kept time roughly in units of 20: 20 days made a uinal, 18 uinals (360 days) made a tun, 20 tuns made a k'atun, and 20 k'atuns (144,000 days or roughly 394 years) made up a b'ak'tun.
Maya Date 184.108.40.206.0 (December 21, 2012)
The Long Count's "zero date" was set at a point in the past marking the end of a previous era and the beginning of the current one, which corresponds to 11 August 3114 BC in the Gregorian calendar. This means that the current era will also have reached the end of its 13th b'ak'tun, or Mayan date 220.127.116.11.0, on 21 December 2012.
The end of the 13th b'ak'tun did not mark the end of the calendar but the start of a Sun or new era. Most major current Mayanist scholars agree that there is nothing in the Maya or Aztec or ancient Mesoamerican prophecy to suggest that they prophesied an apocalypse of any sort in 2012. The Maya did not conceive the end of the 13th b'ak'tun as the end of creation of the work as many have suggested.
Tonalpohualli, Sacred Nahuatl Calendar
In the Nahuatl Calendar that is very similar to the Maya Calendar, the date December 21, 2012, corresponds to the following temporal coordinates:
The tonalli or day sign of December 21, 2012, is Nahui-Xochitl (Four-Flower). The digital (Four) corresponds to the number in the 13-day wheel of time. Xochitl (Flower) is the last day sign of the 20-day wheel of time. This tonalli is governed by Xochiquetzal (Flower Feather). the Protector of Poetry and the Arts. The new era in the Aztec tradition is called Xochitonatiuth (Flower Sun). Xochitl symbolizes beauty and truth, especially that which speaks to the heart who knows it will one day cease to beat. Xochitl reminds us that life, like the flower, is beautiful but quickly fades. Xochitonatiuth announces a new era whose main symbol is Xochitl (Flower), that stands for the best in nature and humanity.
In the Maya calendar the Long Count date 18.104.22.168.0 strongly signifies a new beginning. According to the Maya, the end of the previous era and the start of our current era will occur on a day 4-Flower with the Long Count date 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.0.0.0.0. falling on the winter solstice, the start of the return of the summer, further emphasizes the quality of a new beginning.
The thirteen day period (trecena) that starts with day Ce-Ollin (One-Movement) is ruled by Tlazolteotl. This trecena is governed by the goddess of cotton and weaving, of sexuality and childbirth, she who is the Eater of Sins and the Mother of all Seasons waiting for us at the end of our life journey. The year in the Aztec calendar corresponds to Ce-Calli (One-House). New Collective 2012 Winter Solstice Poem
The following poems come from a new Collective 2012 Winter Solstice Poem (Haiga) that sought contributions by poets and artists from all over the globe. We all are truly one. We all share the same dreams and aspirations of world peace, tolerance, and understanding with the whole humanity in balance with nature especially during the celebration of the new era (the Sixth Sun) in the Mesoamerican tradition that begins on the Winter Solstice (December 21, 2012) that in the Nahuatl calendar corresponds to the date "Four-Flower" (Nahui-Xochitl). In the Nahuatl tradition this new era is identified as the "Flower Sun" (Xochitonatiuh). We give thanks in advance to all who are wiling participate in making this human wonder something tangible and real.
"Xochitonatiuh / Sol Flor/ Flower Sun" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Ceremony" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"Cierta vez caminamos / We Once Walked" by Claudia Hernández
"The Sixth Sun" by Genny Lim
"Winter Solistice Era of Promise" by Karina Oliva
"Sexto Sol" por Graciela Ramírez
"Cuatro Flores" by Israel Francisco Haros Lopez
"La Cruz del Tiempo" by Arturo Mantecón
"A New Sun is Born - Nace un nuevo sol" by Aurora Levins Morales
by Alma Luz Villanueva
Climbing the Sixth Sun,
Sacred Sun Pyramid,
straight up, warm
Sun, cool morning
Wind God pushes me
up, I pause to
drink water, a boy
of four behind me
begins to cry, he's
thirsty, forgot to
bring him water, I
offer mine, he smiles
and drinks- work at
the top, not able
to climb to the top,
a great-grandmother in her
eighties is helped to
the almost top, her
family bracing her,
no one is bracing me, it
seems to be my path,
to climb the Sacred
Pyramid of the Sixth
Sun alone, the only
(grown) child I miss
is my youngest, but
la vida calls him,
as it should, his own
family, families in great
need, a daily warrior
in the world, and I
needed to come alone,
all one, to greet
the Sacred Sixth
Sun, and one thirsty
four year old boy.
Unable to climb to the
top, I circled, my
rattle singing, next
year I will be a
no one will brace me,
yes they will love me,
that's allowed, maybe
in my eighties when I'm
maybe, right now the
waiter has read my mind,
plays native flute, drums,
rattles, my birth
day gift, so well
deserved, bird song,
rattles, all day
sacred white butterflies
followed me, yellow
monarchs, little bees,
brash young men, “Hola
hermosa...I have a special
gift for you...Mi amor...
Take it it's free,” I
didn't do my usual come
back, “I'm old enough
to be your grandmother,”
now “I'm old enough
to be your great-grandmother,”
I just laughed, right now
the music is only rattles,
the sound of sweet
bones, the ancestors
winging home, I'm a
baby, I'm an
ancient, I'm not
born, I'm dead/transformed,
I'm newly born, always
to the song of rattles,
sweet bones, winging us
home, dancing us home-
I just told the waiter, my
grandson, youngest son's
age, “This music, flute, drums,
now only rattles, is
“It suits this place,
your presence.” (He
doesn't bullshit me
with senorita, I've
been called senorita all
day, I laughed, they
wanted some thing, my
smile, my money, my
life)- he's an eagle
dancer, a deer
dancer, a wind
dancer, a sun
dancer, I know
his mother loves him,
he loves his mother,
the women in his
family, sacred, he
knows I need the
sweet bones of the
ancestors, a pure
chocolate cake woven
with fruit, drizzled
a perfect birth day
cake- I sit by the
pool, too cold to
swim, a clay flower
painted senorita, I
* * *
An older man, probably
my age, asked me if
I'd done ceremony on
the Pyramid of the Sun,
without thinking I answered
yes, the two silver bracelets
symbols of Quetzalcoatl,
Sacred Sixth Sun,
I bought, 50 pesos each,
the third a gift,
he smiled, “Fuego,”
fire should always
be a gift, the
entire day, a
ceremony, the gift of
water and fire,
I hear the laughter of
my four grown
great-grandchild in the
cosmic womb dreaming,
the ancestors singing
the rattle song, all
my friends, some over
thirty/forty years, my
students seeing me whole, I
see them whole, we are the
gift. We are the
* * *
guide me/us to
some know it,
yet we all
Spirit laughing in the
young grass, the
large rocks tiny
red ants carry to
their mound/pyramid, bleeding
cactus fruit/flowers, ancient
breathed, laughing, I
hear him laughing,
some times weeping
for his children,
I sit facing
steps that he
climbs Full Moon
Mother blessing him),
flanked each side Sacred
Snake, Sacred Jaguar,
Sacred Eagle, Sacred
Shell, I hear him
laughing, take out my
bird rattle, Quetzalcoatl's
flute I bought here
thirty-four years ago
at the foot of Pyramid
of the Sun, lone vendor,
almost sunset, newly
married, we climbed to the
top that day, each
playing it, we became
Gods, today I play
bird rattle, snake/eagle
flute, weaving tears and
laughter, loss and gift,
folly and wisdom, marriage
to the Other, marriage
to the Self, silence
and song, stillness
and such dancing, today
I became fully
* * *
we all circle
we all circle the
we all circle the sacred
Pyramid of the Sun
rattles in hands
flutes to our lips
laughing weeping silent
singing limping dancing
we all enter
we all enter the
we all enter the Sixth
we all enter the Sixth Sacred
we all enter the Sixth Sacred Sun
we all enter the Sacred
Alma Luz Villanueva, Teotihuacan, Mexico, Into the Sixth Sun, October 2012CIERTA VEZ CAMINAMOSJUNPECH XOJB’EHIKpor Claudia Hernández
En lo más alto
del templo de La Danta
mi gente canta en pocomchi’
Su flor y canto se origina
de las montañas más
antiguas de Nakbé
a brotar como
como Luna llena
bajo un Sexto Sol WE ONCE WALKEDJUNPECH XOJB’EHIKby Claudia Hernández
At the peak of
La Danta temple,
my people sing in Pocomchi’
Their flower and song
comes from the oldest
mountains of Nakbé
Their sacred proverbs
to sprout like
a new Moon
under the Sixth Sun
© Claudia Hernández
Winter Solstice Era of Promise
by Karina Oliva
from the womb of hunab ku
flower of the sun
a change has come
spiraling from the milky way
foretold in her eyes
we are the sixth born
geometry on our palm
voices from the core
we will make this world
no more tolerance for war
children will guide us
wake up and transform
rooster crows in dawn of peace
her flowering leads
we are from the source
of creation, so create
a way to nurture
by Karina Oliva Nov. 21, 2012
por Graciela Ramírez
Sol y Flor.
El nuevo sol sonríe
Al ver risa en tus labios
Al llamar bella flor
Al magno Sexto Sol.
nace y muere
en miles de años.
nace y muere
en unas pocas horas.
© Graciela Ramírez
by Israel Francisco Haros Lopez
ojos de jade
abriendo la boca
de las aguas de quetzalcoatl
birthplace of the sun
birthplace of water
own me. re-member me
sacred obsidian dancer
illuminate the fire
in the opaque new moon sky
abre la boca
a tus países collapsing
the heart of hearts of the sky is opening
abre la luz de tus palmas
abre el vientre de pacha mama
con el canto de tus palabras
open the sun/tonatiuh/sol
con el sonido de tu pecho
you are nebula and soul
eres mi alma sin fin
eres mi otro sol
eres mi otro teotl
sing to me coyoxauhqui
remind me of the llantos de llorona
que sanan la tierra con cada gota
____________________LA CRUZ DEL TIEMPO
by Arturo Mantecón
The Cross of Time spins,
and the world turns from the north--
bows to eastern Sun,
Bows to eastern Sun--
new blooming morning glory--
mid-Winter Sun, heaven god,
flaring golden hair,
Flaring golden hair…
sixth flor de la guirlanda,
usher of beauty
© Arturo Mantecón
A NEW SUN IS BORN
by Aurora Levins Morales
a new sun is born
rivers of light cascade
through the open door of time
in each tight furled heart
a new sun is born
soft clouds unravel
history’s wintery steel softens, melts
petals of hope open wide
a new sun is born
fiery star of love
out of the rich black earth
a new sun is born
ancestral egg, great seed
ripening through centuries of pain
the flowering time is here:
a new sun is born. NACE UN NUEVO SOL
by Aurora Levins Morales
nace un nuevo sol
ríos de luz se derraman
por la puerta abierta del tiempo
en cada corazón encapullado
nace un nuevo sol
las nubes suaves se deshacen
el acero invernal de la historia se ablanda, se derrite
pétalos de esperanza se abren plenamente
nace un nuevo sol
ardiente estrella de amor
desde la tierra rica y negra
nace un nuevo sol
huevo ancestral, gran semilla,
madurándose tras siglos de dolor,
ha llegado la hora de florecer:
nace un nuevo sol
© Aurora Levins Morales
"Xochitonatiuh / Sol Flor/ Flower Sun" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Ceremony" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"Cierta vez caminamos / We Once Walked" by Claudia Hernández
"The Sixth Sun" by Genny Lim
"Winter Solistice Era of Promise" by Karina Oliva
"Sexto Sol" por Graciela Ramírez
"Cuatro Flores" by Israel Francisco Haros Lopez
"La Cruz del Tiempo" by Arturo Mantecón
"A New Sun is Born - Nace un nuevo sol" by Aurora Levins Morales
Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, born in Los Angeles, in 1954, is author of eleven volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992)m Sonetos a la locura y otras penas / Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company 2001), De amor oscuro / Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press 1991, and 2001).
His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008), was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association, and as an Américas Awards Commended Title by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award.
He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions. He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He is the creator of the Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that you can visit at:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poets-Responding-to-SB-1070/117494558268757?ref=ts
Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...
Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009). A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Three novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' My fourth novel, 'SCORPION HUNTER,' and new book of poetry, 'GRACIAS,' to be published in 2013. Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past fourteen years. And is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings.
Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past eight years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory.
Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She's a bilingual educator, poet, writer, and translator in the city of Los Angeles. She's pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. Her photography, poetry, and short stories have been published in The Indigenous Sovereignty Issue of The Peak, Hinchas de Poesía, KUIKATL Literary Journal, nineteen-sixty-nine an Ethnic Studies Journal, Blood Lotus, REDzine, Kalyani Magazine, Along the River II Anthology, among others.
She’s currently working on a project titled: TODAY’S REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN OF COLOR. This is a yearlong project that will tentatively culminate on November 2013, with a walking photography exhibit and the publication of a photography book.
The exhibit and the book will feature everyday women who are role models in our communities. Artists, activists, editors, writers, poets, painters, social workers, teachers, professors, therapists, and mentors share their stories of resilience through short-filmed interviews, creative photography shots of them, and exceptional artistic pieces that will also be included in the photography book.
Claudia’s main goal is to inspire and empower women. If she raises the necessary funds for this project, she hopes to give the book as gift to all the women who attend the opening night of the photography exhibit.
These interviews are available to the public on: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdIj9ANucaTRIdniOLBqfjg
Genny has performed in poetry & music collaborations with jazz legends
such as Max Roach, Jerry Gonzalez, Herbie Lewis, including local
musicians, John Santos, Francis Wong and Jon Jang. She has been
featured poet at World Poetry Festivals in Venezuela, Sarajevo and
Naples, Italy. Her award-winning play "Paper Angels," aired on PBS
American Playhouse in 1985 and was reprised in 2010 in San Francisco
Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square, receiving the San Francisco Fringe
Festival Best Site Specific Award. Her performance piece, "Where is
Tibet?" premiered at CounterPULSE, S.F., in 2009 at AfroSolo Arts
Festival and Women on the Way Festival in January 2011. She is author
of two poetry collections, Winter Place, Child of War and co-author of
Island:Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island.
A native born Salvadoran, mother, professor, artist, and poet, Karina Oliva believes in the practice of mutual empowerment and in the interconnectedness of knowledge, art, and experience. Her poetry has been published in Mujeres de Maiz Zines, La Bloga, and most recently in Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature. She continues to teach Chicana/o and Latina/o literature and topics at CSULA in the Chicano Studies department.
Graciela B. Ramírez. Poet, memoir writers, dreamer, educator. Born and raised in Mexico City, Graciela immigrated to the USA in 1965. After earning three Masters degrees as a returning student, she taught Spanish and Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) for 25 years. Graciela has written two books, yet unpublished: Sacraztlán, Una Épica Chicana, written in verse is a historical account of the Chicano Movement at CSUS. For 11 years Graciela was the Coordinator of “Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol / Writers of the New Sun,” a writers’ collective based in Sacramento. She also served as a Board Member of La Raza/Galería Posada of Sacramento. She has been a mentor to many writers and poets, a true role model, and an exemplary cultural activist respected by the whole community.
Israel Francisco Haros Lopez is both a visual artist and performance artist. His work is an attempt to search for personal truths and personal histories inside of american cosmology. The american cosmology and symbolism that he is drawing from is one that involves both northern and southern america that was here before columbus. The work both written and that which is painted is attempting to mark and remark historical points in the americas and the world.The mark making attempts to speak to the undeniable presence of a native america that will continue to flourish for generations to come.The understanding which he is drawing from is not conceptual but fact and points to the importance of honoring and remembering ancestral ways of living as a means of maintaining healthy relations with all humans,the winged, all those that crawl on this Earth, all Life, the Water, the Sacred Fire, Tonanztin, Tonatiuh,the Sacred Cardinal Points,everything inbetween, above and below and at the center of self and all things in the universe. Currently the visual motifs are drawn from both a pre-columbian america that had far far less physical, mental or spiritual borders . Recent works are exploring Xenophobia in laws such as "SB 1070" both in written and visual format. Israel considers himself an environmentalist poet seeking to awakening those harming our first mother Tonantzin.He also draws inspriation from the contemporary styles of inner city youth who use public space by any means necessary as their method of artistic expression. Israel also draws much of his inspiration from his peers and contemporaries who constantly show him innovative ways to approach cultural and political dilemnas. The written words cannot be without the painted image. The painted image cannot be without words. Neither the written work or visual work can be without sound without vibration, as all things on this earth carry vibration. As such his written and oral work is constantly shifting as it is performed or recording. The same poem,story,monologue or abstract diatribe shifts within the space it is performed taking into consideration audience and the theatrics and vibration of the moment. he is currently working on a chicano spiritual sci fi thriller the work in progress can be seen at :www.seedsong.wordpress.com
you can see his visual, audio and film/ed work at :www.waterhummingbirdhouse.com
Arturo Mantecón was born in 1948 in Laredo, Texas and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. His poems and prose have appeared in several reviews and anthologies. In 2011 his translation into English of selected poems by Leopoldo María Panero (title: My Naked Brain) was published by Swan Scythe Press.
Aurora Levins Morales is a chronically ill and disabled Puerto Rican Jewish writer and artist, currently living in Cambridge, MA with her Papá. She is the author of Remedios: Stories of Earth & Iron from the History of Puertorriqueñas, and Medicine Stories. Her blog can be found on her website, www.auroralevinsmorales.com.
I hope everyone has a magical Christmas Eve. I thought I would share a poem by Eileen Spinelli to help celebrate the feel of the season. You can visit Eileen at: www.eileenspinelli.com . Each month she shares a poem.
Filed under: Author
Tagged: Christmas Eve
, Eileen Spinelli
, Poem - Deep Snow
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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, children writing
, Muriel Harris Weinstein
, Play Louis Play
, When Louise Armstrong Taught Me Scat
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This was sent in by Barbara Johanson Newman was featured on July 14th, 2012. Click Here to View.
I would like to introduce you to Muriel Harris Weinstein. I think her journey to getting published in the Children’s Book Industry will be an inspiration to everyone one who reads this post.
Muriel taught elementary school for 22 years and sang every morning while driving to work. That says more for how much she enjoyed teaching than anything else she could say.
Today over 30 years later, she got her first picture book published. Here is Muriel and below her answers to my interview questions:
Children’s fiction hooked me. It always has as I read so much of it to my classes, my grandchildren and yop, my great grand children. And there’s that special something in them that lures me, that begs me to say. “Come… come and look and you’ll never want to leave.”
I must’ve been born under a lucky star, my first picture book, When Louis Armstorong Taught Me Scat, (about the joys of chewing bubble gum) was a Junior Library Guild Main Selection.
And two years later came Play Louis, Play! the true story of a boy and his horn, the biography of the grrrreat Louis Satchmo Armstrong’s young years. It has garnered a Junior Library Guild Selection, it has won the Paterson Prize, a national poetry award, that for the first time has expanded its sights to children’s lit, and it is a nominee for The Texas Bluebonnet Award and just came out in a Japanese edition and Amazon now has it on kindle and in paperback. WHEE! How lucky can anyone get???
I’m an octogenarian. WOW! that’s six syllables. That means that I’m in my eighties. I’m not a kid, although kids are my lifeline.
What was your first published book?
My first published books were work-books, The World of Vocabulary, which incorporated not only vocabulary but comprehension and grammar. We wrote them for one company, but they kept merging and with other companies, but we stayed on for over 35 years. The publishers were initially, Learning Trends & Globe, then Simon & Shuster, & Pearson. I was collaborating with my husband, Alfred Weinstein, who had taught English & then became a principal.
These books have been on the market over 35 years & are still out there today. I still collect royalties. It is amazing. that our books, which were later declared the most popular vocabulary & English workbooks on the market were initiated in the early ‘70’s and are still going strong today.
My first published Children’s picture book was When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat from Chronicle Books. The music teachers loved it. The reviewers from Kirkus and Booklist & other reviews, called it a tribute to Louis. I thought I was writing mostly about the joys of chewing bubble gum which I love, to this day It relieves stress and anxiety. I just chew away & off all my cares go. It seems to make me focus more on what I’m doing..
What was the inspiration for writing it?
Simple. I LOVE bubble gum. I chew it when I’m thinking hard. I chew it when I’m upset. I chew it when I’m anxious. I chew it a lot & I even blow bubbles. Have a picture of me blowing a HUGE bubble. That was not easy to get. It all started when a doctor saw a nodule on my throat & he suggested that I chew gum to promote the saliva. He said that keeping it moist was good for my throat. I did and learned that it calmed me…even was handy when I was hungry & had to wait a short while for lunch, but I was impatient and threatening to eat a bear.so the bubble gum helped me enormously.
How long did you submit to editors before it was published?
First of all, every time I submitted it, I edited it and it began to change…even now, when I look at it I’m dying to change a few things. Can’t tell ya’. Can’t snitch on myself… my other self will cry. Sooo, I guess it was a about 4 or 5 years. And then it took 2 years to become a part of Chronicle’s book list. They had to have the heroic nods from every editor or so it seemed to me. Then they didn’t have a meeting several times because they merged with another company… then the then head editor was on vacation… all kinds of reasons but I just chomped on the bubble gum and that saw me through it.
How did you feel when you found out about they wanted to publish your book?
WOW! I felt like a MACY BALLOON so pumped up…I felt like those huge sails on clipper ships with the wind blowing into its sail….have you ever seen how they swell???? EEEEnormous. I felt so good that I literally, wanted to stand on every street corner with fliers telling the world my book , When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, was puiblished.
Was Scott Treimel your first agent?
Yes, Scott Tremeil was my firsffffffffft agent but how he came to be my agnet is very interesting. I was a children’s conf. KINDLING WORDS, in Silver Bay, N.Y., the most northern part of Lake George, near Ft. Ticonderoga, near Lake Champlain, Canada. And we were asked if we wanted to read on Sat. night as that was the entertainment. So, enjoying reading, I signed up. When I finished, Scoptt cam over to me & told me that he knew a publisher who would love it
I was thrilled beyond words. First I never knew there was an agent in the crowd. Then for him to give me this info, I thought, “Geeee, is he terrific!!!
That Monday morning instead of getting info on Chronicle, I called Scott (found out his address & number). And I thanked him for his help, but wanted to know the name of an editor at Chronicle as I just didn’t want to mail it to the Children’s Dept. And Scott very helpful, gave me the name fo an editor, who, by the way, is no longer there and that’s how it got to them. Within one week I was told that they wanted it, but it took TWO YEARS for them to publish it.
How did you connect with Scott?
As I mentioned it above, he was one of the “hidden” guests of KINDLING WORDS & I didn’t know him from Adam. So I was just dammned lucky. We never signed a contract. We didn’t even have a handshake. There was just trust.
Is he the one who sold your first book?
Technically speaking, I sold my own book. I sent my book to them and they purchased it. But when it came to the contract, I asked Scott if he would protect it & handle it, I He said, “ YEAH, sure…no problem.. And he did. There wasn’t anything special in the contract. It was “boiler plate.” which meant, I guess, both ususal and the ordinary contract. But I could NEVER have sold it wihout Scott as he GAVE me the info about the publisher and he GAVE me the name of a good editor, etc… So I consider that Scott done did the deal. Yes, he came in on the sealing & signing of the contract.
Tell us about your second book.
My 2nd book, PLAY LOUIS, PLAY ! the true story of a boy and his horn is the bio of Louis Armstrong, which breaks all the rules of biography. That came about because I always loved Louis & when Chronicle asked me to write an Afterward about him for my SCAT book and stated that it should only be one page, I found that I couldn’t stop. I just had to write about him. I fell in love with a guy who was dead. He had such a remarkable disposition, such fine character, that I just kept going. Could not resist writing about him. I wanted to show the world, LOOK AT HIM! LOOK at what he does. Observe him. Learn from him.
Do you plan to continue to use the music theme with other books you write?
Of course, I want to write about music or musical themes or musicians or poets, who have music in their language, or artists who have music on their canvasses. In fact, some of my poetry is like a jazzy blues.
Tell us about the awards that you have won.
The Scat book, When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, is a Junior Library Guild Main Selection.
Play Louis, PLAY! the true story of a boy and his horn, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection. That book also won a prestigious poetry award, The Paterson Prize, which is the first year they included children’s prose. And I’m very honored. It also is a nominee for the biggest state award in the U.S., The Texas Bluebonnet Award which means that my publisher, Bloomsbury, had to print 20,000 books to be distributed to the students of Texas so they could vote this coming January…as they decide the winner. I wouldn’t care if I don’t win because I am in such illustrious company, Brian Selznick & so many others, I just can’t believe it.
It also has been printed in Japanese and maybe come out in Korean.
Amazon put it on kindle the first month it was out. I regard that as validation like an award. And it is coming out in paperback this coming Jan. 2013.
I have won several awards for my poetry which is really for adults. But I’ve written a small volume of nonsense poetry for kids and have never sent it out. Am now going to do that. So we’ll see.
Do you have anything new coming out?
Yes, I have another book coming out, a chapbook of poetry for adults, WHAT WOMEN WILL DO from Finishing Line Press, a publishing press in Kentucky, only for women. They believe in Emerging Poets. It is known throughout the poetry world and is highly regard.
How did you learn to scat?
I learned to scat listening to Louis’ & Ella’s records. Listening to them is a treat. Try it. It’s relaxing. I LOVED doing it… felt like areal jazz artist. In fact, if you go to my website www.murielharrisweinstein.com you can hear me Scat.
What are you working on now?
I’m now working on something that has taken years of research…I love research so it was hard to stop. I fall into such a mode of amazement that my mind is boggled by what people living in the past did… In fact, the ancient people without the knowledge that we have yet managed to create insulation, understanding of the human body, etc. I’m working On the Ancient Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut & her life…how she was denied what men were allowed & her struggle to attain some of those privileges. It’s about her life from birth onward…broked up because a pile of papyri were found & she wrote what we would call a diary. And it’s of her rise to power and how actually became a KING.
I see you are doing school visits. Can you tell us about how the kids interact with you? Do you have fun going back to school?
I LOVE going back to school. Went yesterday to the Little Red Schoolhouse on Bleeker St in NYC. Went with Patty McCormick… her book, NEVER FALL DOWN is one of the best 100 book published this year, a/c to The N.Y. Times.
So I go to this 5th gr. class & I tell them I’m home..I taught for 25 yrs & that when I enter a school, I smell it, I feel it, I am at Home. I’m extremely comfortable in front of kids. My feeling for them must shine out as they always behave well & enjoy listening. I say, enjoy, because they are quiet and so attentive. I wish I could do this once a week for the whole year…but I’m careless in calling & forget or get involved with calling the schools.
Do you feel that editors treat you differently when they find out you are an octogenarian?
The editor who bought the bio of Louis, never responded differently. She acted most normal & matter of fact alth’ she loved Louis, the attention was on the book, which I was thrilled with.
The teachers & administration of schools DO give me a great deal of respect… but it’s not unusual. I can see them being polite & thoughtful to others. After all, an author visiting is a wonderful situation. Yesterday, at the The Little Red Schoolhouse, one of the teachers asked me how old I was… I tell them the truth. And they are overwhelmed…. I think that’s what eggs me on. I love to startle them It’s such fun. Because they can SEE I’m much older, but they never expect to hear that I’m 89, going on 90 !! Aren’t you surprised?? I am …I’m shocked !!!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other writers?
I can pass on what was passed on to me in so many ways and to all writers. NEVER give up. That’s why I give my true age. You never know. And your creativity NEVER dies. Your mind continues to work in spite of the rebellion of the body.. So if you want to write, DO NOT GIVE UP !! And join a workshop or a group of writers you know…it’s important, I feel, to have a community of writers around you. In fact, I call it essential… Of course, there a few who do not need it, but most do… so try it. If you prefer your own company, by all means, enjoy it !!! Good Luck !!!
Hope you enjoyed your visit with Muriel. I know she inspires me.
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Review: In the Country of Empty Crosses
Arturo Madrid (author), Miguel Gandert (photographs). In the Country of Empty Crosses. The Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781595341310
The handful of protestant kids in Arturo Madrid's rural New Mexico public school struggled to voice their own prayer. Their pastor had forbidden them to participate in Catholic practices. "Forgive us our debts" the protestant kids insisted, while the Catholics prayed to be forgiven "our trespasses."
When Europeans first trespassed into indigenous tierra that would become New Mexico, those Mexican Spaniards set into motion a pattern for dominating what was there before they came, that would repeat itself when Anglos trespassed onto hispano land. Arturo Madrid’s memoir, In the Country of Empty Crosses. The Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico
, recounts impacts of that dominance.
Just as indios found themselves marginalized by the gente from down south, hispanos and their Catholic religion found themselves, too, squeezed out by foreign language-speaking interlopers as prickly as the barbed wire they strung after seizing land. Former landholders got their only compensation in the sound of a judge’s gavel echoing the Terminator’s command to the helicopter pilot, “get out”.
Interloper. As the old order changed yielding place to new, Arturo Madrid’s protestante familia found themselves interlopers in their own tierra not once, but doubly.
In the hispano community, they were outliers owing to their election of the anglos’ religion.
In anglo churches, hispanos were targets for missionary work, separate and unequal; bilingual hispanos attending the mainline services found themselves only a little more tolerated but advantaged as intercultural negotiators for gente who'd become interlopers on their own tierra.
Madrid opens the memoir with a telling illustration of hispano exclusion. Taking a sentimental journey to his familia’s former tierra searching for vestiges, the cosmopolitan Madrid—he is a Professor of Literature comfortable in elite Unitedstatesian circles—meets a local vato Madrid terms “the Marlboro man.”
The visitor asks the local if he’s familiar with a location, the long-abandoned places his bisabuelos settled. Madrid especially wonders where the old familia camposanto lay. The Marlboro man corrects the outsider, “you mean the campo herejes.” To some Catholic hispanos, protestantes remain heretics, 400 years after the last inquisitor left New Spain.
Madrid recounts a telling encounter with the anglo minister’s wife in Chama. Performing a self-imposed Christian obligation, Madrid and his mother knock on the parlor door with an offering of fruit and vegetables waiting in the truck. The woman cracks the door and gestures her visitors to go around to the back door. At the back stoop, the pastor’s wife asks through the door what she can do for the two Mexicans? Madrid’s mother issues a sharp rebuke, “do something for yourself” by accepting the crates of fresh fruit and vegetables loaded in the pickup.We cut across the lawn and make our way ccarefully through untended shrubbery still wet with dew. The warm air smells of pine needls and pinesap. As we enter the shade at the back of the manse, the fresh smell of pine is displaced by the acrid odor of moist coal cinders. The backyard is dark and bare. Tall firs cut out the light, making it cold and dank as well. I am glad to be wearing a light jacket. The manse has a screened back porch, and my mother pulls on the handle to the entry door, but it is latched.
Details like these add to the rich texture Madrid’s elegant prose creates throughout In the Country of Empty Crosses, the Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico
. Madrid has not written with retribution in mind, however near to revenge some incidents sound. Indeed, the author sets forth incidents as facts, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about the cultural fusions and transitions that would create contemporary mores of his tierra.
A few years later, Madrid encounters the Marlboro man’s brother, and receives a decent welcome and useful information. Back at the manse, as they drive away from the Chama parsonage, the rude woman seems to be abjectly ashamed. And she’ll have to schlep the heavy crates by herself.
Madrid’s literary occupation shines brilliantly in this readable text. The writer avoids easy sentimentality, packing detail and telling incident without imposing a political stance that might deflect from the memoir element. For example, recounting that his boyhood home in Tierra Amarilla was the site of a raid by chicano nationalists, Madrid doesn’t mention the murder of the anglo forest ranger nor name Reies Tijerina as the shooter. Since Madrid no longer lived in Tierra Amarilla when he learned of the tragedy, the event is not part of his cultural debt.
Throughout his 213 pages, the author doesn’t wallow in regret that the rural New Mexico of Madrid’s youth doesn’t exist anymore, despite his subtly pointed illustration of inexorable change. The retrograde attitudes of the various brands of Christianity on display in the author’s memory probably continue to divide communities today, but that may be a function of individual venality rather than culturally imposed norms. Madrid chooses to omit such considerations.
Chicanas Chicanos who, like me, grew up in rural Catholic settings outside New Mexico will recognize Madrid’s tierra and its denizens, and that’s another good reason people will enjoy reading the memoir.
Raza are more alike than different, though differences inevitably crop up. “The manse,” for example, is the pastor’s home. The term jumps out at me for its unfamiliarity. Madrid notes the Baptists were ascendant in the local protestant community; I wondered if the sect had subtly imposed a plantation mentality to go along with their manifest destiny?
I asked a preacher’s kid what his family termed their home. It was always “the parsonage.” Other friends told me they knew “the vicarage.” “Rectory” is the priest’s abode in Catholic parishes. Webster’s tells me “manse” is common usage among Presbyterians, and Madrid’s gente followed Presbyterian dogma, diluted by that Baptist influence.
Madrid’s writing flows elegantly, a tapestry of memory he weaves or unravels thread by thread, laying patterned motifs with a word or image on an earlier page that the writer expands into paragraphs and rich chapters later. Readers will note lilacs, railroads, sunflowers, smells and landscape motifs. The story so richly textured becomes deeply engaging to the point the book’s liberal display of excellently wrought photographs becomes invisible. Once noticed, however, the fotos enhance the pages, illustrating more the ambience of the chapter than necessarily a single sentence. Photographer Miguel Gandert’s captions appear in the afterpages.
The book itself is laid out like an art book, so much so that designer Kristina Kachele places the CIP page at the back instead of obverse the title page. She provides ample white space via wide margins, generous leading, a pleasing serif font, and a page size that sits the palm without burdensome bulk. The publisher elected a medium weight bright white coated stock that not quite ideally supports the photographs, but nonetheless holds much of the detail and care Gandert invests in his exposures.
Cultural baggage being what it proves to be, I did not “get” the title’s “empty crosses.” Catholics display the crucified Christ on a cross, protestantes don’t. Madrid sees the empty cross, too, as a symbol of redemption, though who’s redeemed remains ambiguous and subject matter for spirited discussions In the Country of Empty Crosses, the Story of a Hispano Protestant Family in Catholic New Mexico
is sure to engender.
Interview With Author Arturo Madrid
The past couple years it's been my pleasure to chat with Arturo Madrid at the National Latino Writer's Conference in Alburquerque. When María Teresa Márquez advised me Arturo's memoir was available, I looked forward to reading it and chatting with him about sundry matters surrounding our mutual experiences as country boys who fled their rural roots for big city life. The following approximates our recent telephone conversation. Any errors or mischaracterizations are entirely of my doing.
Michael Sedano (mvs) - You tell about that resentful anglo boy who challenged your selection to lead a school ceremony. Did you see the memoir as a chance to get even with tipos like him?
Arturo Madrid (am) - Laughs. No, although friends have told me there may be elements of that. But I want to recount accurately as far as I remember. There is so much in our history that bears examination I have no time nor interest in getting back at people.
MVS - You write about the pressures of being a principal's kid (his father) and son of a local government official (mother), how you were constantly under observation by all eyes. Did your research lead you to read the book Preacher's Kid
, about the same phenomenon?
AM - Several people told me about the book, so I might. I wanted to convey a different sense of history so my work didn't require much of that type reading. There are many contradictory tensions that come more clearly out of experience, observation, conversation.
MVS - The principal theme of the book is being an interloper. The anglos were interlopers on your tierra, yet you see yourself and before that, your parents as interlopers into protestant worlds. You don't spend a lot of energy investigating their motives nor addressing a justification for their determination to become cultural blenders.
AM - That was so far in the past and difficult if not impossible to know. They were biliterate and bilingual; their parents were literate people. That is what their society needed.
MVS - The Tierra Amarilla raid by La Alianza Federal de Mercedes was an awful event. You don't mention the murder or Tijerina.
AM - I heard about the incident while driving in my car, so it wasn't part of my experience. I met Tijerina years later and found him interesting and companionable. I didn't go into the raid because I was living in Texas and Tierra Amarlla wasn't my story.
MVS - You populate the book with lots of synaesthesia and visuals, there's a sense of longing in your narrative focus. What do you miss about your tierra?
AM - Living 20 years in San Antonio, in the city, I miss the open spaces and being able to see long distances, see mountains. I miss the smells of New Mexico, the piñon forest, the creosote bushes, the mix of smells after a rain.
MVS - Has time healed the divisions you recount? Have gente managed to subsume the hard feelings or do these divisions remain, perhaps as krypto cultural norms exacerbated by propinquity?
AM - In rural New Mexico people are occupied making a living and manage to put aside such divisions out of self-interest. It's different in the city where divisions remain and probably don't improve much because of propinquity and the nature of big towns.
MVS - What are you reading now?
AM - I'm reading Hilary Mantel's book on the French revolution, A Place of Greater Safety
. She's a wonderful historian and writer who won a Booker Prize. I enjoyed Fludd
. I'm also the judge for the Texas NACCS Book Award, and have five titles to read.
MVS - Miguel Gandert's photographs illustrate the book beautifully. But I got wrapped up in the story and tended to ignore the fotos the first time through.
AM - I've had that response from several friends. Miguel's photographs are so striking that originally the publisher wanted to limit illustrations to just a few but the images demanded to be included.
MVS - What do you want readers to know about Arturo Madrid as a result of reading In the Country of Empty Crosses
AM - I want them to think this guy can tell a good story, that he has a good sense of language, and beyond that he knows how to use language to create a wonderful environment.My 44th Anniversary
January 15, 1969 was a Wednesday. If I slept the night before, I don't remember. I had a 0700 appointment at the Santa Barbara bus terminal.
That final night my three best friends and I--Barbara, Mike, and Bryan--cruised the streets of Santa Barbara for one final look-see. At a stop sign--would I go south to Haley Street, or north and back to Isla Vista--a cowboy hat in the rearview mirror honked impatiently then he rammed his clunky pickup truck into us when I didn't pull away. Pulling around me, he honked and gave me the finger, screaming, "Fuck You, Four F." I exploded in laughter.
In the morning, with a Josh White tune running through my head, "there's a man going round taking names,"someone called my name. I hugged my wife and kissed her good-bye. I stepped onto the bus and in a few minutes, it pulled away. Barbara had kept up a brave mien all week as the clock ticked away. I glanced out the window to see she'd finally given in to her tears. Her hands covered her downturned face and she missed seeing me wave goodbye.
Forty-four years ago today, I reported as ordered by President Richard M. Nixon and accepted involuntary induction into the United States Army.
I was lucky that day. As a gruff Sergeant herded our skivvy-covered asses upstairs to the final set of examinations before taking the Oath, one Draftee sat red-faced under the sign that read "United States Marine Corps."The Gluten-free ChicanoLas Dos Gildas Make Tortillas de Harina
Last week's Gluten-free Chicano segment exulted in finding the palo his mother used in rolling tortillas de harina. Because wheat is poison to the gluten-afflicted, the GF chicas patas shared the recipe for egg and tortillita as alternative to making flour tortillas.
This week, Las Dos Gildas, the renowned cooking site, provides a suitable recipe for those forbidden treasures. Gilda Valdez Carbonaro has amended the recipe to feature vegetable oils rather than the lard that produces the authentic flavor of homemade tortillas de harina.
The Gluten-free Chicano recommends using lard in the same volume of oils. Click here for Las Dos Gildas' recipe. Rolling a perfect tortilla with your mother's palo will have to be a matter of trial and error.http://dosgildas.com/tortillas-de-harina/On-Line Floricanto. Antepenultimate Tuesday of January 2013Lacerated Dreams
by Xuan Carlos Espinoza-Cuellar
Mother in Chains by Colleen Whitehorse KrinardA veces ~ Sometimes
by Lupe RodriguezThe Stadium
by Kenneth SalzmannDream Warriors
by Dde TheSlammerLacerated Dreamsby Xuan Carlos Espinoza-Cuellar
it ain’t got to be so complicated
knowledge should be available
free and running like water streams and shit
love should not be incarcerated
neither should dreams be lacerated
amongst barbed wire fences and shit
no body parts should feed the desert
no last breaths should be taken at the edge of dreams
why is it gotta be so damn complicated?
Filling out papers and shit
Singing hymns and chants to the empire
Why should some hide their red
While others call it patriotism?
Yet, the sinister of their practice is glorified and praised and shit
Praised like Jesus.. en el nombre de Cristo Jesus
A pregnant woman left to starve
While pedestrians watched
And children recorded
Children beaten by life
Children who beat other children unconscious
Drug dealing children
Illegal alien children
Poor colored children
Why has shit got to be so complicated?
We as a society feed off their flesh
Their voice, their fall from grace
We feast off their broken spirits
Cash checks over their corpses
And we demand more
What type of society are we
That we demand doom
While claiming privilege and shit?Mother in Chainsby Colleen Krinard
bleeding silently at the edge of the road
mother stands weeping, watching, waiting.
they have stripped her naked.
and with greedy joy have bound and raped,
pillaged and plundered
her wholeness into tiny grains
of dust and rubble turned
by the kings
and queens of
and silicon ink.
her tears of broken waters fall
on muddied treaties trampled long ago
by a destiny so manifest
that it has lost itself
in lives of
ruin and contempt.
her soul yet waits for eyes of passion
and hearts of fire
and to hear her song
of coming home.
with ears of yearning
and arms outstretched she knows
this dance is not yet done.
come to me now
oh my children and friends
who know the joy of the
sounds of sunrise and
the quiet of the dancing stars and moon.
take your places around the table
once set long ago by dreamers
much like you.
find each other,
and in celebrating your homecoming,
restore us all.A veces ~ Sometimes by Lupe Rodriguez
I hear the voices of elders
so close to me
I can feel their breath....
their touch so soft...
afraid to awaken...
their touch and presence...
eyes shut even when awoken...
my palms extended and awaiting....
a touch no longer....almost forgotten...
es un sueno...just a dream...
A veces....sometimes I wish.....
I'd never be awoken of that dream....
que bonito sueno fue.....
what a beautiful dream it was.....
The Stadiumby Kenneth Salzmann
This is no game, remember,
Because the elevated rumbles still
Through the kitchen smells of each
Wave of ever-dark-eyed strangers
Ever cooking up strange dishes
Strangely spiced, and all the while
Slipping strange words
Into the spiced atmosphere
Hovering over 161st Street
To rise above the
Train's insistent jazz,
To swell into an unequivocal
Roar that will be joined by ghosts
As surely as forgotten ancestors
Will never let us go.
America is dark-eyed, too,
Against all its wishes,
And speaks in tongues,
And can't subdue
Its hunger for a common language.
(previously published in New Verse News [Oct. 2, 2006])
Copyright 2006 by Kenneth Salzman
Dream Warriors by Dde TheSlammer
We came to live the American dream
We just found some nightmares along the way
We want the dream for our families
The good job
Shoes for our kids
Food in the home
Walls that are built
Not just shacked together
But sometimes when you dream
The events of your days
Can shift your dreams into nightmares
Meantime we work honest jobs
Making it ironic that we have 2 jobs
Yet make half the pay
Working twice as hard
Dreaming of the America we were lied about
The America we would have died about
The America that is a daily bout
Of us vs your lack of acceptance
But lately nightmare ideologies
Are creeping into our daily lives
Making even our accents suspect
To these Freddy Krueger “protectors”
Carrying batons that resemble
Razor blades bound in leather gloves
Used to slice our innocence like we were children
Molesting our freedom
Uniforms that look like sweaters
Stained from the black oozing
From their standard issue hearts
And red stripes from the blood splatters
Of mandatory beating quotas
Faces burned with the fire
Of their hatred for us
But we are dream warriors
Using our wishes to give us the tools
To fight back against the deformed society
That says we disgust them
But I know why you really hate us
Its because we are living
The first American dream
The one we were introduced to
The daily celebration of Columbus Day
To arrive in an inhabited land
And say we live here now
and in response you tell us
Star of David
Skin tone mentalities
Arizona acted initially
To be in the middle
Of Nazi regime
Please by all means
Because instead of wrapping smallpox in blankets
We wrap weed in the papers we use
To keep you manageable
Your government has its papers for us
We have our papers we govern to you
No wonder you throw us in joints
That’s why we drive low-riders
To prove we aren’t always high
We're well grounded
As in not going anywhere
Hell isn’t a place you leave
Just to go back because
Our wings got tired
We are angels who didn’t fall from grace
We had our land ripped from under us
You opened the ground
And it swallowed us
It was just a matter of time
Before we ascended again
Without the use of rope
We aren’t the bane of your existence
We are the dark knights of your redemption
Robin you of your false sense of superiority
And you two-faced jokers
Who like to use and abuse us
You are out of our league
Our shadows shine brighter than you
We illuminate the American dream
So you can wake up and see
We have come back homeBIOSLacerated Dreams
by Xuan Carlos Espinoza-Cuellar
Mother in Chains by Colleen Whitehorse KrinardA veces ~ Sometimes
by Lupe RodriguezThe Stadium
by Kenneth SalzmannDream Warriors
by Dde TheSlammer
Xuan Carlos Espinoza-Cuellar. Xuanito identifies himself as a third world xueer/ista, mexican@, artivista, izquierdista, radical, proud person of size, estudiante y poeta. a person who believes in social justice and that poetry has the potential to revolutionize the world, cada palabra is a spark of consciousness, cada poema una transformacion profunda. A highly recognized poet and performer who dares to interrogate issues impacting our queer and immigrant communities. his performance ranges from cabaret to slam poetry. Xuanito has performed at several venues such as universities, gay clubs, book stores, pupuserias, glbt centers, straight bars and art galleries. his/her vision is one of reclaiming art from and to the margins, dignifying our forms of expression and use laughter to fight oppression and exploitation.
"Xuanito will slap you with knowledge and truth, and leave you wanting more."
Colleen Whitehorse Krinard, mother of six amazing and now grown life companions, has been writing songs and poetry since 1978. Singer, songwriter, poet, composer, writer, psychotherapist, social worker, energy intuitive, shaman, curandera, she has been called by one of her teacher-mentors, Dr. Arturo Ornelas of CEDEHC, Cuernavaca (Centro de Desarrollo Humano Hacia la Comunidad AC) ‘la bruja blanca que vuela con el viento’. Since being welcomed into this circle south of the border, her awareness of the history and current social-political issues pertaining to immigration and the relations between México and the Estados Unidos continues to grow and develop along with her process of moving towards fluency in Español.
Colleen holds degrees in Anthropology, Music, Social Work, and the School of Life. She has studied esoteric, metaphysical and healing traditions from around the world for over forty years, and utilizes and teaches her eclectic mezcla of this material in her Transformational Energetics sessions and classes. She has spent over twenty years working with people struggling with mental health, medical, and addictions issues in public clinics, offering specialized support in the treatment of trauma.
In the early years her work focused on personal themes; her poetry and songs were her way of coping with her experiences of becoming a single mother, a developing depression, and living with the after-effects of PTSD in her life. Pivotal changes occurred when she was exposed to a more global perspective of human history, economics and suffering through doctoral level coursework in Anthropology at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco, Ca where she learned about the creation of poverty and debt in the post-colonial Global South through the enforcement of fiscal structural adjustments and other colonizing economic policies.
Under the guidance of Dr. Wynne DuBray, Lakota Sioux, professor of Cultural Diversity and Mental Health in the MSW program at California State University, Sacramento, Colleen had the opportunity to identify and reconnect with her indigenous roots and values through a guided journaling project. Later, while working at Consolidated Tribal Health Project, a Pomo consortium in Mendocino County, California, between 2002 and 2005 she learned first-hand through the stories of her clients and their families of the traumatizing effects of racism, past and present affecting the People. At this time she also took classes in Native American studies at Sonoma State University, in Cotati, Ca, learning about both the legal-historical perspective of traumatization in a class on California Native American History taught by Raquelle Myers, Pomo, and David Lim, of the National Indian Justice Center in Santa Rosa, Ca, and also experiencing directly the resilience and creativity pouring out through Native American literature and poetry with Duane Big Eagle, Osage, Ok.
During this same timeframe Colleen was privileged to be in conversation with Edwin Lockhart, Sherwood Band Pomo, regarding local social justice issues as well as hearing about his personal shamanic process with fire circles, and how he was learning through dreams and visions, before his early passing.
Finally it was hearing John Trudell and his band, Mad Dog, in Boonville, California in live performance where the torch of passion lit the fire in her heart and planted the seeds for the application of her music and poetry to social justice issues.
Recently returned from five months living in Oaxaca, Mexico, she currently lives in Belen, NM, and works in a medical clinic in nearby Los Lunas, NM.
Colleen shares the following foundational concepts which guide her life and work:
we are not alone …
everything is energy …
everything is inter-connected …
life is a magnificent learning journey …
nature heals and sustains us and we owe a debt…
the full-meal-deal of life includes the light and the dark …
we learn by trying things out, mistakes are a good thing …
our obstacles are often the signposts highlighting our paths along the way …
we have an emergent need to learn ways to live increasingly in constructive and respectful relationship with nature in our modern lives …
why not smile, listen, share, learn, love and laugh as we go on our ways …
Kenneth Salzmann is a poet and writer who lives in Woodstock, New York. His poetry has appeared in such journals as Rattle, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Comstock Review, Home Planet News
, and many more, and in such anthologies as Beloved on the Earth, Reeds and Rushes, Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers
, and Child of My Child
. He blogs at www.kensalzmann.com
DDE The Slammer is an Indianpolis, IN native, but is born in Cancun, Mexico. He has been consistantly performing at opem mics and slams for the past six years. He has performed in several parts of the US as well as Germany. With poems ranging fom Mexican viewpoints (one of these poems had him practically banned from a restaurant in Indianapolis after he performed it) to video games to human trafficing to gas station danishes, his versatility can only be matched by the energy he brings. Self-titled leader of the "Bellyswag" movement, which is a movement that requires little movement, he has a large presence on stage in a figurative and literal stance. His CD entitled Common Sense Shoryuken
holds a variety of poems and yes, the cover does have the button combo for a Dragon Punch
Tough choice Should I walk 'Round lake? Through bush? Along beach? I have a hard life. (Today I chose the beach)
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By Robert P. Irvine
As we sit down to enjoy our Burns Suppers on Friday, it is worth pausing to ask ourselves just how well we know some of the songs and poems that are a feature of the occasion. Editing and presenting a selection of his texts in the order in which they were published, taking as my copy-text the version of the poem or song published on that occasion, has given me many new insights into the original contexts of Burns’s work. The advantage of this procedure is that it invites the modern reader to think about the Burns encountered by his first readers, the public Burns of the 1780s, 1790s and later, helping us (I hope) to bypass some of the cultural baggage that has accumulated around the poet and to come at his work afresh.
The results of this can occasionally be surprising. Let me take one example: ‘Bruce’s Address to his troops at Bannockburn’, often known as ‘Scots, wha hae’. This song was first published, anonymously, in the London daily Morning Chronicle for 8 May 1794. Under the owner-editorship of James Perry (born Pirie, in Aberdeen) this was the widely-read national journal of the Charles James Fox’s party in the Commons, bitterly opposed to the government of William Pitt and sympathetic to the French Revolution. Simply putting it in this context directs the reader to its original meaning, as a song celebrating not medieval Scottish resistance to English overlordship, but the contemporary mobilisation of the French people in the levée en masse in response to the new coalition ranged against their new republic. But the poem we find in the Morning Chronicle is not the one we think we know. It begins:
Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham BRUCE has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to glorious victorie!
That word ‘glorious’ is not in the version of the song we sing today. Where did it come from? Well, Burns added two syllables to the last line of each of his verses to make them fit a different tune, one suggested by his publisher, George Thomson. Burns liked this revised version, and sent it in manuscript to some of his friends. This was the song that found its way to the Morning Chronicle; it was also republished from that source in cheap pamphlets later in the decade. So if we are interested in the Burns that radical or working-class readers were reading in the 1790s, we need to read this version of the song, with the longer line ending its stanzas, and sung to a different tune, rather than the version that has come down to us from Burns’s first draft.
Or take the democratic anthem ‘A man’s a man for a’ that’, sung so movingly by Sheena Wellington at the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. This was first published, again anonymously, in the Glasgow Magazine for August 1795, like the Morning Chronicle a radical publication. Its famous opening stanza is as follows:
Is there, for honest poverty
That hangs his head, and a’ that;
The coward-slave, we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, and a’ that.
Our toils obscure, and a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.
Yet this stanza is missing from the poem in the Glasgow Magazine. Why should this be? We have no manuscript evidence that Burns ever wrote a version of this poem without this stanza, on which the magazine might have based their copy. But a clue as to the reason for its omission might lie in that phrase, ‘coward-slave’. Burns here, as elsewhere, uses the term ‘slave’ to mean ‘one who submits to tyranny’, who does not fight for his political liberty: a meaning familiar from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century political rhetoric. But the late eighteenth century had seen the rise of a campaign against slavery in quite different sense: the slavery endured by Africans in Britain’s West Indian colonies. The radicalism of the Glasgow Magazine included adherence to such modern causes. The same issue that includes Burns’s poem comments on recent complaints about the disruption that war with France was causing colonial trade; but, asks the magazine, ‘of what consequence are the present disappointments of the West India merchants, compared with the miseries of millions of Africans, whom their infamous trafic has reduced to slavery […]?’ It is possible that, in this context, Burns’s reference to ‘coward-slaves’, culpable in their own subjection, looked out-of-place, perhaps out-of-touch with current radical priorities, and the editors decided simply to cut the stanza that contained it.
The Glasgow Magazine version is also the origin of a variant in the opening line of the third (or fourth) stanza, which in all other versions reads, ‘A prince can make a belted knight’. In the magazine, this is ‘The king can make a belted knight.’ Again, this matters if we are interested in the song being read by its first readers, in this case Scottish radicals in the 1790s. But this song is clearly the product of a radicalism that cannot simply be identified with Robert Burns. It is likely that the editors substituted ‘The king’ for ‘A prince’ to make the song more pointedly sceptical towards the British monarchy in particular, rather than monarchy in general, than the version which came to them. We are familiar with the pressure from the government under which Burns worked as soon as he became an employee of the crown. But here is an instance where Burns’s work seems to have censored not by the state, but by his political allies, for whom ‘A man’s a man for a’ that’ as Burns wrote it was perhaps not quite radical enough, or radical in a slightly old-fashioned way. In this case as in so many others, returning Burn’s poems and songs to the versions and context of their first publication can help us qualify and complicate the simplifying versions of his work that have gained currency over the years.
Robert P. Irvine has written on Jane Austen and is the editor of The Edinburgh Anthology of Scottish Literature, 2 vols. (Kennedy and Boyd, 2009), R.L. Stevenson’s Prince Otto for the New Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Robert Louis Stevenson (forthcoming), and Selected Poems and Songs (OUP, 2013).
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Image Credit: By William Hole R.S.A. (The Poetry of Burns, Centenary Edition) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The post A fresh look at the work of Robert Burns appeared first on OUPblog.
By: Keith Schoch
Blog: Teach with Picture Books
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Looking for a fun writing activity that integrates well with Valentine's Day? Then look no further than Vulture Verses: Love Poems for the Unloved.This book is a funny and fact-filled collection of "friendship notes" written to some of the most unlovable creatures one could imagine. Through her poems and accompanying facts, author Diane Lang helps us see that even bats, turkey vultures, spiders, skunks, and mosquitoes (to name but a few of the animal dignitaries) deserve some love. The friendship note to the fly, for example, reads:
Oh fly, though no one seeks to ask,
Recycling is your secret task.
You eat the things that die or spoil
And make them part of growing soil.
So, though I shoo you from my plate,
You're someone I appreciate!
Below that we read:
Flies are specialists at eating things that are dead and decaying, getting them ready to become part of new, healthy soil.
Lovely paintings by Lauren Gallegos illustrate each animal at its most industrious, making even the most scream-worthy of the lot seem noble, or, at the very least, tolerable.
- The book closes with a request: "So many cards to write! So many animal friends! I may need some help. Do you know someone who is misunderstood? Will you help me write friendship notes, too?" Such a fantastic suggestion! Working in pairs or teams, students can research basic facts about other unloved animals that "scuttle, slither, buzz, and sting." Why are these creature seen as so horrible? What makes them worthy of our admiration? See if your students can write similar poems to change the loathsome to the lovable. Picture books such as Melissa Stewart's marvelous Animal Grossapedia will provide ample information and inspiration for even the most reluctant writers.
- As an additional challenge, ask students to write the above poems in the first person, as if they are the animal. They must defend themselves to humans, and justify the "bad rap" which they've been given. Students could be further challenged to write these poems without naming themselves (the animal could be identified at poem's end or in the title alone). Students can then read the poems aloud, and classmates can guess the identity of the nefarious narrator.
- What role do these animals play in other stories, whether fables, myths, or folktales? With what traits have they been branded? Have students create original fables using one of the creatures from Vulture Verses: Love Poems for the Unloved, or from their research project above. See my earlier post Animal Attractions for more ideas and suggested titles for fables.
- Diane Lang uses fantastic vocabulary in both her poems and follow-up facts. Discuss some of these words and challenge students to define them, using context clues alone. Why did the author choose these and not their simpler synonyms? If students completed any of the above activities, ask them to revisit their writing to substitute words that are more exacting and creative for those which are overused or ordinary.
Do you have a favorite reading or writing activity to celebrate Valentine's Day? If so, please leave a comment below!
Someone has altered the script.
My lines have been changed.
The other actors are shifting roles.
They don't come on when they're expected to,
and they don't say the lines I've written
and I'm being upstaged.
I thought I was writing this play
with a rather nice role for myself,
small, but juicy
and some excellent lines.
But nobody gives me my cues
and the scenery has been replaced
and I don't recognize the new sets.
This isn't the script I was writing.
I don't understand this play at all.
To grow up
is to find
the small part you are playing
in this extraordinary drama
From Lines Scribbled on an Envelope and Other Poems (FSG, 1969)
By: Cynthia Reeg,
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Are you all ready for a St. Patrick's Day celebration this weekend?
Try your luck at this Leprechaun puzzle.
Or if you'd like to discover how to write a Limerick, check out this information and write an example on a shamrock, no less.
And of course, there are always fun Irish stories to read. In A POT OF GOLD by Kathleen Krull, you'll be sure to find plenty of entertaining shenanigans.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Last week I posted a Haibun focused on my Clivia plants. Haibun is a Japanese haiku form made famous by Basho's 17c. book A Narrow Road to Deep North, a travel journal filled with haiku. Haibun combined prose writing with poetry; it is haiku wrapped in story. I'd like to continue the story of our Clivia plants in another haibun this week and share what happened at the Longwood Gardens Clivia show
I had to clear out the text messages in my cell phone this week. I found a poem there! You know how disjointed a text conversations can be, and reading it over you are going backward in time? There is something about the layers of meaning and the unique undercurrents in a conversation between familiars. There is no body language like f2f but there is a flavor, a vibe. It calls to the heart.
Happy Poetry Month!!
In years past I have used this space to post daily haiku and photos all through April. This year I am not going to use the blog to do it. I feel the need to change things up and be more mobile. I want to use my iPod touch to take photos and post haiku on Twitter. I am finding several hashtags in use today, the first day of National Poetry
Endeavor’s Memorable Fly-by: Outer Space in the Backyard
The early morning light lured me outside to take in the view on a sharp wintry day in Redlands. It was one of those early Sunday mornings I was home from school. I looked up at the noisy sky. Our home lay under the flight path of San Bernardino’s Norton Air Force Base. In the 1960s, Norton moved millions of tons of materiel from Berdoo to Vietnam aboard gigantic C-141 jets. First thing in the morning, C-141s painted black as if draped in mourning crepe, lifted off from Norton. Every fifteen minutes their roaring overhead signaled the Military Airlift Command’s efficiency. Their roar sounded an ominous reminder the Draft was looking for me, and thousands of teenagers more. I went back inside.
I was looking up at the sky again this week when the Space Shuttle rode piggy back across my backyard bit of sky, Mt. Wilso n’s radio towers above for background. I heard them before I knew them, as nothing ordinary roars with the power that rumbled my house in a sonic earthquake of harmonic sounds. And then it was gone from sight and I stared through empty space at the mountain.
Space. The final frontier. “What does ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ mean?” my kindergarten granddaughter, Charlotte, asks. This is the only time this event will happen, and you got to see it, I enthuse. Charlotte understands this event has never happened before, and will never happen again. So do her classmates. All the kindergarteners waved their arms and jumped around and went "ahgghh" when the big airplane and the little ones, too, cruised past, low and slow.
What a grand way for these 5-year olds to enter their space age. Last Spring, Charlotte declared when she grows up she will be a dancer and a scientist. She's going to make marvels. The space shuttle fly-by marks the end of one era, the launch of the next era of space. Her generation will build on what people of my generation, born in the aftermath of WWII, got to see from the raw beginnings.
When I was in kindergarten, space was airplanes out of Norton. I now and again stood in my backyard staring up at the noisy propeller planes cruising to and from the base. Hands cupped to mouth, I'd shout up, “Hey! Is Hairy Ass Truman in that plane?”
My dad worked at Norton. Once in a while he’d take me into the hangar where he did sheet metal. We'd go in the side door, past the time clock. Inside, the hard light filling open hangar doors silhouettes the hulking C-124 in eye-squinting contrast against the open sky. There were no wings. My father explained how the whole thing comes apart. I didn’t think about that. He fixed the holes in the airplane’s skin, and he also replaced the wings. Every time one of those beasts flew overhead in those days, I smiled. That was my dad’s handiwork in that airplane.
The space race took off in junior high, when the Russians got to space first with Sputnik. A U.S. answer, the Vanguard satellite, was built in Redlands, at Grand Central Rocket Company. The first launch was a spectacular disaster. The rocket exploded on the pad hurling the sofball-sized Vanguard onto the beach. The satellite came to rest beeping impotently in the Cape Canaveral surf. A classmate's dad built the Vanguard satellite. The man walked up to the beeping gold ball wanting a gun to put Vanguard out of its misery. Beep beep beep. Five years later, groups of us high school kids would stare up into a nightime summer sky and name communications satellites whizzing by.
Rocket science found a way to make weapons out of satellites. Many of these were launched from Lompoc, California’s Vandenberg AFB, just north of Santa Barbara. College years, the drive up the parkway from Goleta to UCSB, seeing the “pregnant guppy” was common. It was the cargo plane that ferried rocket motors up the coast to Lompoc. On campus, I lived in a decrepit structure overlooking the swamp and airfield. The roar of a pregnant guppy echoed the sounds of Redlands.
The first person to walk on the moon did it on black and white television in the middle of the day. I watched Armstrong from a bar stool in Hwaak-ni, Korea, where I had arrived the afternoon before the moonwalk, my fourth day overseas.
On the ride up to Bravo Battery the day before, the deuce and a half had bounced past a Korean man plowing a rice paddy with an ox, ankle-deep in brown water that looked like wet shit. It was; human caca. The wind blew in our direction. In the thick humidity, the incredible stink clung to my sweaty fatigues and penetrated deep into my nose filling my head with the smell of the third world.
And there, sitting next to me in the Admin Area bar, wearing his homespun traditional hemp fiber traje, was that farmer. As the ville did not have electricity, the Battery Commander invited the locals to share the event, and he'd taken a day off. If I’d had any money, I would have bought that farmer a twenty-five cent beer. “A small step for a man…” Talk about a “giant leap” for humankind.
Serving on a mountain armed with rocket ships named the “Homing All the Way Killer,” the HAWK anti-aircraft missile, never struck me as outer spacey, except for that farmer. And when the wind blew up the valley. Yet, the space age was everywhere—that missile system is a big lethal computer.
I saw my first zip-lock bag at Bravo—the missile parts arrived in them. I experienced space age adhesives when Robledo, a vato from San Anto, glued my fingers together with the stuff warheads are glued onto the rocket ship with. Instead of cranking a phone, I learned to whistle up a 60 Hz tone. "Wheeoouuuu" click; just like that the mountain is connected to anywhere in the world. It’s definitely space age to be buzzed by a MiG out of nowhere, then be knocked to the ground by a low-sweeping Air Force Phantom. “It if flies, it dies,” is an Air Defense Artillery mottto I remembered as that huge lumbering jet crossed the sky on its way to JPL.
Menso me. I’d decided I have plenty of space age memories and didn't need to photograph the Space Shuttle. The fly-by itself cannot be contained in a prosthesis for memory, and bla bla bla. As the flight comes into view and sweeps painfully briefly across the mountain vista, I jump excitedly and go "ahgghh." My waving arms feel the absence of the lens in my hand. The Shuttle does not return for a second fly-by. That’s what once in a lifetime means.Banned Books Update in Limbo
Tucson schools has consistently failed to develop an acceptable desegregation program for over 20 years. As a result, the Federal Court maintains supervision over the district. A key element is the Special Master appointed to develop methods to help TUSD meet its obligations under the U.S. Constitution.
The Special Master could order the schools to reinstitute the Mexican American Studies program that was banned along with all those beautiful books. Or, the Special Master could suggest a framework and toss the ball to negotiators from TUSD and the community and let them battle out the details of a lawful "Unitary Status Plan" or USP. Here's the Special Master's job description:
Although the Special Masters Report was, evidently, released on 9/21, the document won't be in public view until at least September 27, 2012, when the document will be released in English and Spanish.
In the background come rumblings of discord entre Chicana Chicano Democrats that could split the local movement apart. Inklings of a krypto coalition between racists and putatively moderate raza politicians point to a festering infection in the movimiento. Signs of the ugly schism include TUSD's decision to re-hire Superintendent Pedicone and pay him a big fat bonus.
La Bloga's Banned Books Update is digging for details and will report on this ugly development when there is concrete information to report.email inboxNewly Literate Gente
La Bloga's Inbox this week has this from Vanessa Acosta of Cultural Arts Tours & Workshops, forwarding great news for America: more Americans in the United States can read and write now.
Here's the news from The Centro Latino for Literacy:
email inboxIn Manhattan: Casa Azul Bookstore
t's graduation time at Centro Latino! This Friday, Sept 28th, Manos Amigas will celebrate a record 155 newly literate adults who will receive their completion certificates. They range in age from 19-73 and 69% are women. Their native countries include Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and Peru. 33% speak an indigenous language, including Quiche, Canjobal, Mam,and Zapoteco.
There's still time to purchase a ticket or make a contribution. Contributors Reception starts at 5:00 and the graduation is at 6:30 p.m For more information and to purchase tickets or donate on-line visitwww.centrolatinoliteracy.org/manos-amigas
|Sergio Troncoso, Tony Diaz, Martín Espada, Melinda Palacio, Luis Alberto Urrea|
Bloguera and Librotraficante Melinda Palacio read at Casa Azul Bookstore
last week, along with several La Bloga friends, recognizing efforts by librotraficantes to smuggle banned books into Arizona and wherever democracy has broken down. The event in NYC will not be a rare ritual but one element in an entrepreneurial strategy to keep literacy alive.
The Inbox this week has this from La Bloga friend Sergio Troncoso, news of Casa Azul's ongoing program of readings.Please come and support a new independent bookstore in Manhattan, La Casa Azul Bookstore, at 143 East 103rd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue. I'll be reading from my two books published in 2011 with the poet Renato Rosaldo:
Reading with Sergio Troncoso and Renato Rosaldo Thursday September 27, 6:00 - 8:00pm
Sergio Troncoso debates and challenges us on the mystery of familias, how they determine our identity and how we break free of them, from fatherhood to interfaith marriage to educating our children. From Tucson to the Philippines, from Palo Alto to Manhattan, Renato Rosaldo's readable poems tell of illness and racism, love and death—all in vivid tones. Savor these poems, slowly, what you inbibe will engage and enrich you.http://www.lacasaazulbookstore.com/Fall's First On-Line Floricanto
Francisco X. Alarcón, Tara Evonne Trudell, John Martinez, David Romero, Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-OliveraNew Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2Bby Francisco X. Alarcón
|Photo of Andromeda Galaxy by Clifton Reed: “This is the culmination of a lot of work, effort and study. You have my permission to use it any way you wish. BTW--this object is 2.5 million light years away. The time it took the light to travel here is older than human beings.”|
a new huge
at the center
light years away
has been named
today after Arizona
law SB 1070–2B
“this is the largest
blackhole we have
ever found in space
it swallows all matter
and even light can’t
escape its huge pull;
because it is a dark
force that we can only
detect by its gravity
we have named it
SB 1070-2B for being
as ‘dark’ as the new law”
© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2Bpor Francisco X. Alarcón
un nuevo enorme
de la Galaxia
a 2.5 millones
de años luz
de la Tierra
ha sido nombrado
SB 1070–2B como
la ley de Arizona
“este el mayor
agujero negro jamás
descubierto en el espacio
absorbe toda materia
y no deja que ni la luz
se escape de su imán
porque es una fuerza
oscura que solo podemos
detectar por su gravedad
la hemos nombrado
SB 1070-2B por ser tan
‘oscura’ como la nueva ley”
© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012De Colores of SB 1070by Tara Evonne Trudell
into spirit wind
based on the color
you were born
her pink dress
grey nail polish
in a manicured war
the other way
rainbows to follow
their ever changing
of nazi mentality
of ancestors cries
under brown skin
the people must speak
fast and slow
and in their control
on the border
shot for throwing stones
for being brown
in news feeds
to not care
between the lines
until the colors
© Tara Evonne Trudell 2012
He Had the Smile of a Healerby John Martinez
There was nothing
More to do,
Than to pick up
The picket sign,
Sand underneath us,
A cloudless baby
The grape pan,
Into the row.
We stopped picking
Because the chanting
Told us to stop,
We stopped picking,
Because it was time
And my father saw
The shitty money
Empty from his eyes,
The Foreman, with his white
Of a desert face;
He was counting
But we dropped
Our grape knives
And picked up
The picket signs
Huelga, Huelga, Huelga!
And we marched
On the tar,
Softened by the sun,
Carrying our Clorox
With frozen water.
We knew then,
That we were
That what we felt
About this field,
Was felt by others,
We were going to fight,
Because we could
Feel the poison
From the Crop Dusters
In our lungs,
Blurring our eyes,
Tightning our jaws
Because we knew
It was wrong
To work children,
With the sun,
Like a knife
On our backs,
To pay near nothing
For scorched knees
And burned faces
But this man,
He came to save us,
Yes, this man,
Dressed In School
Brown face like ours,
Black hair like ours,
He had the smile
Of a healer.
© John Martinez 2012Sweet Pocho Pieby David Romero
I’m as American as sweet pocho pie
Light flaky crust
Identity crisis inside
Like apples to oranges
We are pochos
Children of these lands claimed
Ambassadors of a great American immigration
That often doesn’t want us
Our ancestors were criminalized for speaking Spanish
Yet, we’re expected to speak it without an accent
Expected to fit a stereotypical appearance
While Spanish stations display the opposite
Ask a career professional on a Latino panel
How to succeed in America and they will answer
“Remember: you’re a professional first
As if the two were mutually exclusive
Pochos pronounce their last names wrong
Argue this has become right
My name is Romero becomes ROW-MARROW
Rolling rs seem as silly as caricatures of twirling mustaches
Saying my own name properly makes me feel like Zorro
Pochos can know more about African American history
Than their own
It can politicize them
Relating to the status of outsider
Like Detroit Red becoming Malcolm X
Or like a boy named Sue with something to prove
Pochos can make for the best of activists
Carrying chips on their shoulders
The size of boulders
Emblazoned scrolls upon these read
“Insecurity” “shame” and “guilt”
Enough for long marches and late nights
To connect with the people
They are ambassadors to America
For a great immigration
That often doesn’t want them
Teases them bare and naked
Points out how tenuous their relationship
To being a Latino is
How it so easily crumbles
Like a soft crust
More apple than orange
Sweet pocho pie
“Sold out” here
“Gringo! Gringa! Gringo!” They cry
Some pochos are sliced into a permanent state of denial
Cut themselves white or “other” for charts
Others go on a journey of discovery of their Latin roots
With all of the subtlety and discretion of Christopher Colombus
Leaving division and destruction in their wake
Promises of a piece of the pie with nothing inside
That’s why some in our communities fear us
Who are we?
Ambassadors to a great immigration
In an America that’s constantly changing
The children you wanted to have a better life
Then got mad at for having
The pochos you didn’t want
The pochos you taunt
For trying to be everything to everyone
We laugh, dance, scream, sing, argue and smile
We taste sweet as pocho pie
Smell the air
Look at the crowd
Feast upon their eyes
America loves sweet pocho pie
© David Romero 2012I Resign Myselfby Abyss Borboa-Olivera
I resign myself
to be blind to the all truth
I resign to false humility
I resign to lists of demands
I resign to good intentions
if there is no action to prevail
if there is no work to understand
if there is no country to take care of.
I resign to call you brother
if you don’t walk next to me
if you don’t fight for your freedom
to stand wholeheartedly beside me.
I resign to the fake liberty we have
or the censorship that censors our minds
I resign to keep dreaming
if tomorrow never comes.
I resign to be awake early
if I’m a wealthy gentleman
even when I read the newspaper
knowing that my government
has killed an innocent man.
I resign to be invited to your table
wishing for all the women to be alive
I resign to discuss prices
if you don’t know the price of life.
I resign to be a patriot
if I don’t raise my voice with yours
asking for tolerance for our women
that have no freedom or another choice.
I resign to be a poet
if I don’t stand for what I believe
I believe that a cause has get started
and you have been in complicity
because you don’t want to fight
in what we have called reality.
I resign myself
If I have the words to fight for thee
I resign myself
If you haven’t noticed our autonomy.
Our and our women’s freedom
depends upon a dream
showing to the world we can fight together
raising our voices to reality;
we fight together
and together we should be
to show that our hope starts
when people start to believe.
© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012
***********************************Renuncio a Mipor Abyss Borboa-Olivera
Renuncio a mí mismo
a ser ciego ante toda verdad
reuncio a la falsa humildad
renuncio a los pliegos petitorios
renuncio a las buenas intenciones
si no hay acción que prevalezca
si no hay trabajo que se entienda
si no hay un país que cuidar.
Reuncio a llamarte mi hermano
si tú no caminas a mi lado
si tú no luchas por tu libertad
de seguir completamente conmigo.
Renuncio a la falsa libertad que tenemos
a la censura que amaña nuestra mente
renuncio a seguir soñando
si el mañana no es para siempre.
Reuncio a despertar temprano
si soy un hombre acaudalado
aún cuando lea las noticias
sabiendo que el gobierno
a un hombre inocente ha encarcelado.
Renuncio ser invitado a tu mesa
deseando que todas las muejeres no estén muertas
renuncio a discutir los precios
si no conoces el precio de la libertad
Renuncio a ser un patriota
si no levanto mi voz con la tuya
exigiendo tolerancia para nuestras mujeres
que no tienen libertad ni esperanza.
Renuncio a ser poeta
si no tengo las palabras para luchar por ellas
renuncio a mí mismo
si aún no te das cuenta de nuestra autonomía.
La libertad nuestra y de nuestras mujeres
depende de un sueño inalcanzable
para mostrarle al mundo que luchamos juntos
alzando nuestras voices a las realidades
y juntos debemos estar
para mostrar que nuestra esperenza comienza
cuando la gente comience a pensar.
© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012BIOS
"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-Olivera
Francisco X. Alarcón (was born in Los Angeles, in 1954) is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions. He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He recently created a new Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that is getting lots of poetry submissions and comments. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poets-Responding-to-SB-1070/117494558268757?ref=ts
John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and The LA Weekly. Recently, he has posted poems on Poets Responding to SB1070 and this will be his 12th poem published in La Bloga. He has performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble (lead by poet Juan Felipe Herrera) and he has toured with several cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles. For the last 17 years, he has worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm. He makes home in Upland, California with his wife, Rosa America y Familia.
David A. Romero is an artist, activist and male model.
Romero is the author of Diamond Bars: The Street Version and Fuzhou, two collections of poems released by Dimlights Publishing. His work has been praised by writers and poets such as the Tony Award winner Poetri, the author of Up the Street Around the Corner Besskepp, and the West Coast Editor of Rock & Rap Confidential Lee Ballinger.
Romero has opened for Latin Grammy winning artists Ozomatli and Latin Grammy nominated artists La Santa Cecilia. He has featured alongside Taalam Acey as well as with a number of HBO Def Poets, including: Beau Sia, Paul Mabon and Thea Monyee.
Romero is the host of Between the Bars Open Mic at the dba256 Gallery Wine Bar in Pomona, CA.
Romero teaches writing and performance workshops on spoken word poetry. His many themes and prompts include: Poetry - The Language of Protest and Mementos & Metaphors - Poems of Family and Identity. Romero has led workshops for the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library, high school activists at the Santa Monica Mountains Peace Camp and students at the Juvenile Detention and Assessment Centers in San Bernardino, CA.
In April 2012, Romero collaborated with the Nogales High School Poetry Club to produce their first book, F-5. Later that year, he collaborated with the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library to produce a book of poems written by Angeleno middle and high school students.
Romero is an artist affiliate of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade (RPB).
"I enjoy performing funny poems, but I hope that after the laughs, people can stay and listen to the messages that I am spreading with my poetry against racism, against prejudice, against imperialism, against labor exploitation and against economic injustice. I believe in a world free from hunger or any other kind of scarcity."
Romero is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a double major in Film and Philosophy.
Check out his blog, "The Mexi-Asian Perspective: A Mexican's Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both," on www.projektnewspeak.com
. Visit his website, http://www.davidaromero.com/
Abyss Borboa Olivera, Poet, writer, actor and director for ENTRETELONES Theater Group, was born in February 1977 in Tijuana, Mexico. He studied Lengua y Literatura de Hispanoamérica at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. He is a Professor at Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana, and teaches literature at Preparatoria Federal Lázaro Cárdenas.
ACABALLOMÓNTAME by Proyecto Existir 2004.
TÚ ERES EL HOMBRE PENSADO by Lulu 2012.
MUERTES ESCRITAS by Lulu Editorial. 2012.
POST-MORTEM by Lulu Editorial. 2011
BENIGNA; DETRÁS DE TI by Lulu Editorial. 2012
Most of his work is based on Women and Gender as an ideological paradigm.
Review: Sabrina Vourvoulias. Ink. Somerville MA: Crossed Genres Publications, 2012.
ISBN-13: 978-0615657813 ISBN-10: 0615657818
In my neck of the woods, Pasadena Califas, birder excitement flies high with recent sightings of the rara avis, Least Bell’s Vireo. I’m a birder, and I’m excited at the prospect of renting a long lens and traipsing out to the wash next door to JPL to expose a few frames of this endangered species.
But that’s not what I’m most excited about right now. It’s the growing population
of Chicana Chicano speculative fiction finding its way to bookstores and downloads.
Not that raza literature hasn’t long contained fantasy and out-of-this-world elements—think of the dead baby in Ana Castillo’s So Far From God
who flies out of her coffin up to the rafters. Then there’s “magic realism,” a term some exogenous critic planted upon stuff the critic couldn't tolerate or didn't fully understand. Such writing bears no dissonance for raza writers and readers, whose tolerance for fantastic experience results from quotidian cultural experience, e.g. DDLM, Juan Diego and la Virgen, el cucuy.
Per some critics, "magic realism" is a worldwide movement. Yet, it’s still possible that one’s life-list of Chicana Chicano speclit sightings can include every specimen of the genre. Which is changing: the growth of Chicana Chicano speculative fiction / science fiction / fantasy / horror is as exciting news as spotting a tree full of Least Bell’s Vireo.
Books, unlike birds, don’t end up extinct, glass-eyed and stuffed behind plexi in some dusty museo display case. Books can be resurrected. For example, Bloguero Ernest Hogan--among the earliest practitioners of the art—recently began recasting his rare titles into eBook forms, as he’s recounted in his La Bloga Chicanonautica
And slowly but inexorably, new titles are finding their way through publisher back rooms into the light of day. A few years ago, now-defunct publisher Calaca Press advanced the puro sci-fi Lunar Braceros on the Moon 2125-2148
. In addition to Hogan, Blogueros Daniel Olivas and Rudy Garcia, are doing their part to keep spec alive. There’s Olivas’ gem, Devil Tales
, and Garcia’s currently touring novel Closet of Discarded Dreams.
The most recent newcomer to the speclit ranks is Sabrina Vourvoulias with an edge-of-your-seat dystopic novel, Ink.
In a tea bagger fantasy world, raza and immigrants from America, Asia, Caribe, Africa, wind up on the losing end of a U.S. civil war that cleaved the democracy into castes of citizens, non-citizen aliens, and “inks.”
Inks wear tattoos branding their country of origin and status, and have chips implanted in their necks to facilitate GPS tracking. “Show me your wrist” has replaced “show me your papers.”
But such profound measures hardly satisfy the most avid baggers. Gangs of crackers roam the streets, kidnapping inks to deport them into Mexico, with a wink from law and ordure.
A great story aside, the key to a successful speculative piece is linking the unknown to the known, constructing the fiction over a framework of actuality. For Vourvoulias this means a world where street gangs have gone corporate; where wingnuts control government but not the hearts and minds of all the gente; where private prisons run rampant; where technology is boon and bane and Ink-detecting devices are as widely available as iPods.
The odds stack heavily against them, but Inks fight back, supported by gente decente like Maryknoll priests, youths, congregants, artists, and artificial skin. The conflict driving the novel will fill readers with dismay, seeing parallels between what has already taken place—Japanese locked in concentration camps, narcos controlling swaths of territory in Mexico, rednecks with power—and the novel’s permutations of today’s ugly commonplaces.
In Vourvoulias' most delighting turn, she gives her Inks nahuales: panther, jaguar, bee spirits, or evil dwarves. These spirits jump in and out their dimension to comfort, rescue, or attack, their endangered Ink. With this dual dimensions set-up, the author develops her agon in suspenseful parallels between the bleeding dystopia and the engaged dimension of spirits.
The author skillfully avoids nagual-ex-machina devices except when absolutely required. The presence of one’s nahual isn’t enough to prevent a rape, nor save some souls. Vourvoulias is not reluctant to brutalize or kill her characters, nor subject them to unspeakable torture at the hands of depraved racists. But I repeat myself.
The United States has devolved into a living Hell for decent folk, and all Inks. Readers who allow themselves to be drawn into the fantasy will find Sabrina Vourvoulias’ story both depressing and constantly arresting, enjoying several surprises along the route. In the end comes an inkling of hopefulness for disbanding the tea bagger hold on liberty, but that’s not certain. Vourvoulias won’t let you off that easy.
The publisher distributes a book book and an electronic one. Whichever a reader elects, Ink’s
compelling story drives itself effortlessly, and a reader likely will devour it within a day or two. Ink
is fun, and scary as can be. Of course, that's the point of speculative fiction. Can it happen here? A little birdy tells me the known of this novel offers compelling evidence that Ink’s
world certainly could, and as current events illustrate, that world is lumbering toward Washington DC to be born.
Banned Books Update
The books are still banned. Tucson's school board gave a vote of confidence to the jefe in charge of banning books, along with a nice salary increase. SB 1070's "show me your papers" got a court go-ahead. Joe Arpaio's re-election campaign advances toward victory.
It's ugly out there. Vote like your freedom depends on it.La Bloga On-Line Floricanto Two Ten Twelve
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Maurisa Thompson, Kris Barney, Devreaux Baker, Jabez W. Churchill
“Occupied America” by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
“We Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skin” by Maurisa Thompson
“What Will It Take?” by Kris Barney
“Recipe for Peace” by Devreaux Baker
“El Procesional” por Jabez W. Churchill
“Processional” by Jabez W. ChurchillOccupied Americaby Odilia Galván Rodríguez
in their heads
stuck in screens
the iOnly CU
who'd rather text
their talking fingers
into the ether
O occupied America
so sick of who's at war
or don't care and
what new doom will
the yarn spinners spin
what Hollywood or TV
drama will they foist
on the eye glued
will they cower
in fear then
their death flag
who will win
the next elections
can we can leave
the driving to them
after all don't cha know
the One Percent
has it rigged
with new fangled
voter fraud schemes
the old ones too
like show me your papers
while the dead still
rise from their graves
every four years to
pull the lever
at the voting box
the great computers
calculating the numbers
in the chosen ones favor
who will it be
as if there
were really a choice
lift your voice
in a different way
take to the streets
and yell your stories
no matter how dumb
you think it is
leave your smart phone
Copyright 2012 Odilia Galván RodríguezWe Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skinby Maurisa ThompsonSister We did not build pyramids with words that feared our skinWe did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hips
the white parent in us
so many ways absent
your father left your mother nursing
you with stories she spoke in Spanish
middle passages coast island migrations
arms of earth always around you
you carried them in this country
talismans on your full lips
my mother’s subconscious praises
for baby blue blue eyes
a classmate’s complexion
all lovely pale and flushed
willowed legs slender thighs
her own hands mute awkward
they were scarred by a lifetime
of dick and jane and sameness
she struggled to hold my difference
in any form of embrace
I could not begin to say these things
until you gave me words beyond
textbooks beyond negro y blanco
eased the secret knot open
trigueña—color of wheat
beneath the nightfall of your hair
morenasa—first word that loved me
beautiful dark woman
the sound rippling gently through
the letters of my own name
what language still throbs
within our mingled bloods
Nele muu ina Oju inun ashe
come we must find and weave it
tuck its medicine in our pockets
I seek each time I glimpse
lightning behind my closed eyes
after years in this body
I know at least the beginningWe did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hipsWe did not build pyramids with words that feared our skin
Copyright 2012 Maurisa Thompson
What Will It Take?by Kris Barney
i burn cedar tonight
and lightning flickers all around the house
thunder booms and rumbles and
i think of yei dancers whose
voices and rattles will sound on
a night like tonight
after the frost melts into the earth
after all vegetation dies back and
aspens and cottonwoods turn yellow
Cedar smoke circles my body as
i rub the smoke on my heart with an eagle feather
as i watch every movement of
smoke wash over my face and my hands and
the fleeting moments that
burn and fade like
ponderosa logs on the fire and
i am tired of praying
i want something more to happen
i want my people to find the strength
inside them to do something
to address or to protect or to
regain honor in my eyes
i want to send a call to every warrior
every man or woman who loves
his/her family and
how tough can it be to say enough is enough?
how hard is it to stand strong in unity?
how hard is it to stand up
to speak up
to have courage?
or are we just too ill with colonial post trauma and
images of failed attempts to defend and resist?
do we give up or do we just endure
long enough to become another
commodity for corporate disposal?
So my people medicate themselves
be it NAC pills Marijuana Reds Whites and Blues or
wine bottles smashed against windshields and skulls
the webbed nets of disease and dysfunction
dreams bred out of anarchy and alchemy and
this song that runs wild in the purple red neon
as the blood hits the wind and
eyes are the doorways and
i lick i look
i fool myself with your smile and
the beads of sweat that collects down the curves
of your body as i kiss you into the night
and the constellations are the only ones
who hear our voices and white puffs of breath like
dancers painted white dancing by moon star and
i hold you closer and breathe in your smell as
suns rise and set and
i hear the hoof beat of horses and
i can taste the rain in my sleep and
rivers running across the desert and
mountains where the deer stop to watch
our passing and hawks circle into
the red iris of the sun
and i walked
and i ran
and i asked questions to the clouds and
rain confirmed in recognition
in voices as old as the ocean and
i drank from water clear and cold
glacier melt water and ice cold streams that
mourn for salmon and
the men and women who weep
my brothers and sisters who weep
our children who weep for parents who are too
traumatized by colonial gods and demons and
rumors of eternity
Our elders weep
silently in nursing homes or
prisons and mourn for the
beauty of their youth or
for relatives long dead
the stories that cannot
be translated into English
stories images and
memories hidden in the blood
on every highway
on every street downtown every city
on every metro train that connects
above to below
on every dirt road where children
board buses or airplanes and die for
wars created by the
wealth and gluttony of greed and
ones who suck the life
out of every living system of life
and i hear the wailing of rivers
whole rainforests and indigenous tribal relatives
fighting death and dams with arrows and spears
and all the marked and unmarked graves
unearthed by stripmine shovels and those who
rob the dead
those who sell trade and barter whole
corpses and the bone fragments
that line museum walls or
spark intelligent and curious
conversations at dinner tables
give rise to festive occasions and
celebrations of the
opening of another new strip mall
another ski resort
another oil rig
another mountaintop stripmine
another copper mine
another diamond mine
another uranium mine
another mine where they
mine and drain the blood out of
the bodies of babies and aquifers and
the dust and smoke of charred human remains
settle after wars for natural resources have claimed
another hundred thousand or half million to million
the lives of the innocent cemented to the lenses of
journalists and scenes that the media
only wants you to see and voices
crushed like how they crushed infant
skulls on the sides of kivas or pit houses or
hogans or long house walls
the blood always runs cleaner on the other side
so they say in the written history in every
where the guilt of massacres and genocide
is weighed and bought
by stock market trends and
designer shoes and bleached blonde images
emulated by every modern Native out there
who's impressed by the illusions of the
american dreams and promises of prosperity
those of my people who would sell more
than their souls just
to get him/her a piece of the action
and the blood of the
innocent continues to run when
you are able to deceive those who
dare not think for themselves or think
intellectually and really put it all out there
for the world to see but
images are not enough in today's america
images have not enough value or intrinsic value and
what price can really be put on
and here i look at the
black silhouette of the mountain
behind my house
i am immersed in the
melodies of this wind and
i think of life
all the lives of this earth
all the millions of ancestors and relatives
all the lives of animals
genetically generically modified plant life
the mass murders
the modern mass global extinctions
the crimes against humanity
the crimes against creation
the crimes and murders against
every living thing
every living breathing entity and
yet my people do nothing
but make excuses and
tell me to pray more or
to be more humble
or tell me to come into the fold of their religions or
to go into some deep part of the world and
find something to distract myself from
the horrors of reality
the wombs of creation and
i sometimes listen
i look to clouds and wind for inspiration and
i dare to question and i have yet to ask of
them for help
i have yet to crank things up a notch
i have yet to lay it all out on the line
i have yet to make things happen and
so i burn cedar tonight
i think of all my loved ones
i think of the recently deceased
i think of all the animals
i think of all my people and relatives
i will not pray for you all
a part of me is tired of praying
of going through the motions of prayer and song
i am tired
i have walked but i have not walked far enough
i have prayed
my feet have bled
my heart has been broken
my body is beaten but my spirit
i have no song to sing
no offering stronger than my
own blood to give
i walk now
surrounded by clouds
dark blue and deep purple and
a silver blue moon and this rain which
washes over my skin and i
sit on this hill and i watch the lightning far off
i watch it twist and bend and
the thunder booms in a voice
i have known all my life and
i have no tobacco
no corn pollen
no eagle plumes
no words to comfort me here and now
but only my two hands my two feet and
the scent of cedar smoke close to my chest
and this road of possibility
this lightning that
Copyright 2012 Kris Barney
Recipe for Peaceby Devreaux Baker
Bare your feet
roll up your sleeves
oil the immigrant's bowl
open the doors and windows of your house
invite in the neighbors
invite in strangers off the street
roll out the dough
add spices for a good life
cardamon and soul
cumin and tears
sesame and sorrow
add a dash of salt
pink as new hope
add marjaram and thyme
rub lemon grass and holy basil
on your fingers and pat the dough
bless the table
bless the bread
bless your hands and feet
bless the neighbors and strangers off the street
bake the bread for a century or more
on moderate heat
under the olive trees in your back yard
or on the sun filled stones of Syria
in the white rocks of Beirut
or behind the walls of Jerusalem
in the mountains of Afghanistan
and in the sky scrapers of New York
Feast with all the migrant tongues
until your mouth understands
the taste of many different homes
and your belly is full
so you fall asleep cradled
in the skirts of the world
in the lap of peace.
Copyright 2012 Devreaux Baker El Procesionalpor Jabez W. Churchill
La llevo encima de la cruz
arriba de mis hombros,
botas negras y medias de red
hasta el pelo tenido de henna.
No se baja.
fantoches vanos por las calles.
Ni puedo yo,
bajarla a abrazar.
carroza alegorica de uno,
penitente y su Maria Magdalena
por el camino.
Solo el rastro pasado del amor,
condones gastados a los pies,
promesa de noche sin luna,
mi Santa muda
Copyright 2012 Jabez W. ChurchillProcessionalby Jabez W. Churchill
I carry her upon a cross
above my shoulders,
black boots and fishnet stockings
up to her dyed henna hair.
She will not come down.
Already been there,
vain caricatures along the streets.
Nor can I,
a fallen idol,
put her down.
We carry on,
allegory of one,
a penitent and his Mary Magdalene,
upon the highway.
Only the faded scent of love,
used condoms at my feet,
promise of a moonless sky,
my Guardian Angel, silent,
Copyright 2012 Jabez W. ChurchillBIOS
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally, currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/
or contact her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.
Maurisa Thompson was born and raised in San Francisco, where she began writing poetry with her spelling words in 4th grade. She graduated from Swarthmore College, where she studied creative writing, and UC Berkeley, where she earned her M.A. in Education. She is a former student-teacher-poet of June Jordan's Poetry for the People, where she learned that "poetry means taking control of the language of your life," and that poetry can create what Jordan called "the beloved community," in which people from different backgrounds can come together and learn from one another while healing and addressing injustice. She currently works as a literacy teacher in San Francisco, and as as an editorial assistant for the Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research and the Black Scholar Press. She is member of Librotraficante BayArea Califas, a local chapter of a national movement of poets and writers raising awareness of the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona through public readings and activism around the banned books. Her published poems can be found in The Pedestal Magazine and Caxixi: International Capoeira Angola Foundation Newsletter.
Devreaux Baker has published three books of poetry. Her most recent, Red Willow People, was awarded a 2011 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. She is the recipient of a 2012 Hawaii Council on Humanities International Poetry Award and a 2012 Women's Global Leadership Initiative Poetry Award. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals including most recently; ZYZZYVA, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, La Bloga, Crab Orchard Review, New Millenium Writing, Albatross, Mas Tequila Review, Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology 99 Poets among the 99%, and Occupy SF Poems from the movement.
Review: Santino J. Rivera, ed. ¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature. Saint Augustine, FL, 2012. ISBN-10: 0615607306 ISBN-13: 978-0615607306
A literary anthology can be a snapshot or a portrait. Both supply value. Some snapshots present a marvelous glimpse of what the world looks like in that 1/250th second slice of time. Here, time and light come to a halt in mid act with no inkling if unheard pipes will trill or squeal. A studied portrait, in contrast, represents an artist’s determination to expose depth of character, make a significant statement about time and idea through an image that reaches beyond that 1/250th of a second exposure, out of the future through the present and into the past.
¡Ban This! is a snapshot. Editor Santino J. Rivera cast a wide net and attracts dozens of new and emerging voices. Rivera buttresses the nouveau with the solid quality of several well-respected artists. In putting the collection together, as any editor, Rivera treads a hazy line between all the stuff that’s fit to print and selecting only superb exemplars of the best stuff.
Aside from making a great gift,¡Ban This! will occupy a valued space in anyone’s reference shelves. The collection has some literary gems, particularly among the poets and a couple of de rigueur essays. The editor believes the collection informs a notion of an arroba aesthetic, that weird spelling that supplants gender inflection with unpronounceability. This aesthetic finds a tongue with the publisher’s disclaimer, that the company “assumes no liability should you get your feelings hurt. Except you. And you. And you, too.” The attitude is more the editor’s than most of the collected writers.
Do Xicanarrobas bleed politics, nurture anger, shake fists at power structures, live for confrontation? Not really. The editor makes a big deal about orthography and readers like me who reject that arroba barbarism. Then he avoids analysis, deferring to the contents of the anthology as the “definition” of “Xican@” literature.
What then, to make of a Chicana writer like Gina Ruiz, who wants to be funny? Ruiz’ playful fiction “Chanclas and Aliens” blends barrio iconography with weird science and the familiar refrain no good deed goes unpunished. Another writer, Xicano X gets wrapped up in his own hang-ups and strives to be offensive as a strategy for getting attention through asco and scatology. Where is the arroba aesthetic in that?
Despite the editorial shortcoming, ¡Ban This!
makes a valuable contribution to a bookshelf or library. Rivera’s assembled a magnificent variety of work valuable for the breadth of coverage, from poem to political science to science fiction to anthropology and history.
Half the book’s 332 pages publish short poems. Opting for quality, the first two poets out the gate are Francisco X. Alarcón and Luis Urrea.
Alarcón’s bilingual work features intricate architecture that defies conventional use of the page. Instead, an Alarcón poem may be read from left to right or top to bottom, or alternatively, read an English stanza then its corresponding Spanish stanza, plus the left/right/top/bottom opportunity. Alarcón invests his poems with multiple possibilities and resources, at once thoughtful and diverting.
Urrea’s lead poem, “Arizona Lamentation,” is a spectacularly difficult poem. Opening with the strident phrase, “We were happy here before they came”, the persona expresses resentment of newcomers. Except the persona speaks in an anglo voice, projecting fantasy history onto the land, “Then their envy, their racial hatred / Made us build a border fence / To protect our children. / But they kept coming.” Just as the alarmed reader is about to toss the book out the window at that crud, the persona shifts, “But their wagons kept coming and coming. / And their soldiers.” And in closing, the one voice again becomes displaced by the other, while between the lines their sentiments echo one another’s fears. What an intractable mess.
Oddly positioned, near the end but not the final piece, is Odilia Galván Rodriguez’ title piece, “¡Ban This!” The piece reflects well off Urrea’s. Spoken in a raza voice, Rodriguez’ poem is one of puro affirmation. Addressing book banners, the poem illuminates qualities and beliefs supporting raza peoplehood, not a subversion of the anglo internal colony. The poet’s restrained anger sounds loud and clear. It doesn’t need a gimmick, an “X” or an arroba, to declare unequivocally, “words live / we remember / them, our love, our stories ~ / history, cannot be erased / not banned”
Chicanas Chicanos write a lot of poetry. Maybe that’s why ¡Ban This!
has such a heavy proportion of it. The prose work--fiction, memoir, essay—offers a rich potpourri of information, but suffers from editorial neglect. As an editor, Rivera needed to get after sloppy spelling and stilted construction. Instead, it appears the editor simply cut and pasted submissions, favoring laissez-faire publication rather than exercise the editorial authority writers deserve.
Two seminal essays merit widespread reading. Roberto “Dr. Cintli” Rodriguez’ “From Manifest Destiny to Manifest Insanity,” and Rodolfo Acuña’s “Giving Hypocrisy a Bad Name: Censorship in Tucson.” The essays are scholarly, and entirely readable. That’s less true of other prose work in the collection.
David Cid’s “Silent No Longer: The Visual Poetic Resistance of Chicana/o Cinema in the Experimental Films of Frances Salomé España” is a recycled term paper. Cid gives interesting information but it’s nearly indigestible owing to that seminar paper style. Cid promotes the “Chicana / o” construction, rather than the arroba. In one sentence the trick gets away from Cid and his editor; one woman is labeled a “Chicana / o”.
Del Zamora’s Los Angeles Times piece, “Where Are The Latinos In Films, TV?” is one of those pointless Op-Ed pieces that complains only to close with irony instead of constructive ideas. “It’s either that or stop purchasing tickets and renting videos of movies and television shows that do not include us. After all, as one Hollywood executive explained to me, ‘We don’t have to put you in movies…there were no Latinos in Gotham City and you still came.”
Miguel Jimenez, “Veterans Empathize: HB2281 and The Attack On Mexican History And Culture” illustrates the cyclical nature of Chicana Chicano history. Jimenez’ memoir of his Iraq service echoes draft-era complaints that military service validates one’s identity as a Unitedstatesian, even in the face of rejection and exclusion.
Maria Teresa Ceseña brings a homily on self-identity, “The Turtle Caught in the Fire.” She opens with a powerfully composed non-fiction equivalent of spoken word art. Here Ceseña the academica advances a feminist rationale she defines as “oppositional consciousness”. She follows that introduction with her poem, “Piecing It Together,” then spins off from there describing a life experience in much the ways anthologies describe the status of a literature. Put the shards together under a blazing sun and for one moment achieve a freeze frame of where everything is, in relation to anything else. Except the point of the essay curiously is about giving up. Ceseña encourages dreamers that it’s never too late to change by giving up an old dream in view of what’s hot right now.
This reader is grateful for the end-wrapper from Mario Barrera, “Science and Religion in a Border Town,” a generous helping of humor to lighten the weight of the deadly earnest essayists who’ve preceded Barrera’s memoir.
Andrea J. Serrano's "Lament" exemplifies how Chicanas Chicanos respond to banning books. Not with a big knife in a steady hand, but a broken heart and a loaded ink pen.
Frank Sifuentes Moving On
La Bloga friend Frank Sifuentes' body is shutting down, surrounded by love and family, as it should be.
Frank's daughter sends along her father's news. I'm sure Frank would have preferred to deliver the news en propria persona, with a joke and a winding tale with a twist at the end. Nos wachamos, Frank.
Pictured below is Frank during a tense moment at the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto. Frank coordinated the event and was flying high, energized surrounded by so many artists, feeding off the energy in the green room and being out among 'em in the jam-packed audience.
The crisis. Oscar Zeta Acosta refuses to go inside, where a full house awaits the Brown Buffalo's reading. Outside, spectators mill about in panicky unease. The door opens and Frank steps outside. Zeta explains his refusal to go on. They negotiate and Zeta enters to take the stage.
|Tomás Atencio, Frank Sifuentes, Alurista, Oscar Acosta.|
Juan Felipe Herrera in background, and unidentified USC co-ed.
© michael v. sedano
A few years back, Frank laughed about the whole pedo. What he remembered better, albeit hazily, was his wild all-night drive through the streets of Aztlán. Frank, rrsalinas, Ricardo Sánchez doing tourist tripping, eventually evading cops on a memorable journey across LA to Acosta's pad.
Ay, Frank, so many stories, so little time.
Here's Frank at the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow
, that reunited dozens of artists from that first Festival de Flor y Canto.
You can hear Frank read at 1973's floricanto by visiting the USC Digital Library
archive.MailbagBarrios Interviews Junot Diaz
La Bloga friend Gregg Barrios
advises his recent interview with author-on-the-ascendancy Junot Diaz is at the Los Angeles Review of Books
It's a rewarding interview between two long-time compañeros, for, as Barrios points out:
Reading Díaz is to discover a new voice in American lit that continually amazes as it informs, his text a vast storehouse of literary references, footnotes, and genre-bending throwaways. His groundbreaking use of Spanish without italics or translation is deeply refreshing to Latino readers, as it is to any reader who recognizes it as part and parcel to the bilingual Latino experience. Closet of Discarded Dreams at Tia Chucha's September 14
Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural and Bookstore hosts bloguero and La Bloga founder Rudy Garcia on Sunday, October 14 starting at 2:00 p.m. Located at 13197-A Gladstone Ave, Sylmar, California, the popular bookseller and events headquarters provides a welcome atmosphere for a steady parade of writers.
Garcia will be at the Latino Book & Family Festival on Saturday, as noted in Monday's Daniel Olivas column.On-Line Floricanto for Nine Ten Twelve
Joe Navarro, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Fernando Rodríguez, Tracy Corey, Victor Avila
“It Must Be the Chicano In Me” Joe Navarro
“Search and Recovery” Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
“Indocumentado” Fernando Rodríguez
“Listen” Tracy Corey
“Ban This Poem!” Victor AvilaIt Must Be the Chicano In MeJoe Navarro
It must be the Chicano in me
But when I listen to the music of
Lila Downs singing from the depths
Of her soul or Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan
From Jalisco, the land of my ancestors
Celebrating el 16 de septiembre
I feel proud to be me
When campesinos demand fair wages
That their invisible hands have earned
Or when people openly declare,
“I am undocumented!” fearlessly
Yet knowing they will be forcibly
Detached from the only lives they know
I feel their plight and injuries
When I hear La Raza speaking
English, Spanish and Spanglish
At the mercado or in the park
And when I see mothers bringing
Their children to school in one hand
With younger siblings in strollers
I feel at home in my comunidad
At every tardeada, fiesta, baile or concierto
Where people dance and enjoy music
At marches where workers honor the
Tradition May Day and workers’ rights
At every gathering that honors heroes
Martyrs and luchas for human dignity
I feel the aspirations of my people
I extract pride from holidays
Inspired by people’s desires for
Self-determination and independence
And from magnificent murals and poemas
Honoring our indigenous traditions
And struggles to escape domination
…It must be the Chicano in me Search and RecoveryXochitl-Julisa Bermejofor Brooke
is not like search and rescue, not like the 10 o’clock news,
not like blond daughters sucked out through windows
in the dark night. There is no line of volunteers
combing the woods at the edge of a peach town,
no fleet of police dragging the lake, no pencil sketches
or time-stamped videos of dark men in black hoodies,
no midnight vigils blurred by hundreds of burning white candles,
no posters, no milk cartons, and no alerts.
There is plenty of desert silence between two women
scaling the Atascosa mountains like two specs of dust.
They search for a young man shot by his coyote and discarded
by a wash with cement blocks and black kites fallen from the sky,
or maybe black tires taken from a truck. They exhaust
unreliable reports in a futile act of deciphering hazy, hot landmarks.
They hike and carry what supplies they can slung over backs:
extra water, socks, electrolyte pills, a couple of apples, peanut butter.
Before the sunsets, they set up camp beneath the sky
and wait for the sun to rise so they can try again.
In the day, they search for what remains,
In the night, they fear what remains will look like,
and each woman secretly holds hope close to her chest
that if she crosses a bundle tomorrow, it will once again be branches. IndocumentadoFernando Rodríguez
Colgué el teléfono y una lagrima rodo
Del otro lado de la bocina mi hijo el mas pequeño
Aun residen en México,
Como quisiera poder abrazarlos,
La vida si que es dura
No se puede tener todo
Pero valdrá la pena, si le hecho ganas y me supero
Al colgar ese teléfono
Le pedí a mi dios valor, fuerza y paciencia
Para lograr lo que el güero tiene
Su familia a su lado
Veo como todos los días gente se divorcia, separa y junta
Sin saber el verdadero valor de una familia
Sin entender la dedicación,
Yo no soy nadie pa’ juzgar
Solo relato mi versión
Mañana es lunes y otro día de trabajo
Otra vez me la rifo manejando
Iremos para el campo
Pizcando paso mi vida
Para ganarme la plata
Con la que vive mi familia
En mi pobre tierra mexicana
La vida no vale nada
Y menos acá
La gente le da importancia
A un pedazo de papel
Que a la misma vida
El cuello blanco controla todo
Sin ensuciarse las manos,
Un simple campesino
Que me ensucio de barro
¡No controlo nada!
Tiene más poder un perro
Por tener esos papeles
Desearía ser importante
Para ayudar a mi gente
El teléfono acorta y alarga mi dolor
Escucho a mis seres queridos
Pero no los puedo abrazar
Tengo que ser conformista
Para poder aguantar
La dificultad no es vida
Pero no hay para mas…ListenTracy Corey ~ for my grandmother, Almira Miller (1924-2011)
Listen to your grandmothers. They are the voices
of your bones whispering to your wings
before grace has found you. When she warned
of that boy, hear her history, and when she closed
her eyes and kissed the baby, see her heart
wink at her feet for the blisters that delivered such beauty.
Listen to her cooking, informing you of the beauty,
of the beaches and the barrios that feed the voices
calling from the winding roads that lead to her heart
and breathe through her veins, giving air to her wings
that felt, when the nights got so dark, a longing that closed
the days with a notion of something that warned
her to listen. And when she did, she was warned
of a life begun again in subtitles, but a life of beauty
without the hardship of hungry days and closed
borders where her children spoke with their voices
bouncing in boxes rather than sailing on wings
that aren’t too heavy from the days to beat in the heart
that can listen because it can hear. And planted in her heart
she wrapped the deepest seeds of home’s garden, warned
of the days when nothing would feel so urgent as wings
to take her home, to the backbone of beauty,
and even the sorrow, just for the familiar voices,
enough to sometimes make you forget the closed
borders. Listen to the seeds she wrapped in the closed
petals of the bright flowers she planted in her heart
and you’ll hear the stories of so many, their voices
building a homesick choir that when warned
of wasted despair all they can recite is, “Beauty
is beauty, even when it flies on broken wings.”
Listen to their song, delivered on the aging wings
of your grandmothers, who know the secret to closed
borders is traveling hand-in-hand with beauty
in the exploding seeds of home’s garden, the heart.
And just for good measure, let despair be warned,
the secret is carried in the many voices
of secret-keepers who, despite being warned
by sorrow, listen to history and sing with their wings.Ban This Poem!Victor Avila
Before it is read
And the seed of its ideas spread-
Ban this poem.
For though subtle and unassuming
Consider this a warning
for those hard of heart and fearful of change.
Ban this poem-
Create a law and demand it!
Or it will be a curse to those who live by the tenets of hate.
Xenophobes and war-mongers
this is your chance
to rip up these thoughts before they escape.
Yes, ban this poem
before it is nailed into the door of our consciousness
or a transmutation will take place.
It will certainly gain entrance
and disrupt the lives
of those wrapped up in a barbed wire embrace.
For it does what a poem
is supposed to do
and tap into a humanity we thought once lost.
It is a glimmer of new awakenings,
and a fulcrum of tolerance.
It is a blanket for the homeless should the cold set in.
So ban this poem-It is dangerous.
And out of place with society's values.
Lock it up in the darkest of prisons for it is a contagion of enlightenment...
...And a missive of acceptance...a dispatch of hope.
So ban this poem.
YES, BAN THIS POEM!!!BIOS
Joe Navarro, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Fernando Rodríguez, Tracy Corey, Victor Avila
“It Must Be the Chicano In Me” Joe Navarro
“Search and Recovery” Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
“Indocumentado” Fernando Rodríguez
“Listen” Tracy Corey
“Ban This Poem!” Victor Avila
is a literary vato loco, teacher, poet, creative writer, husband, father and grandfather who currently lives in Hollister, CA. Joe integrates his poetic voice with life's experiences, and blends culture with politics. His poetic influences include the Beat Poets, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Alurista, Gloria Anzaldua, Lalo Delgado and numerous others.Fernando Rodriguez
writes from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. He is a 25 year old poet who believes in freedom, equality and despite racism in any of its many forms. This poem was written to create conscience about suffering of immigrants in this land.Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
is a high school teacher and native Angeleno. She is the creator and curator of Beyond Baroque’s monthly reading series Hitched and was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Award. Her manuscript, The Meditation for the Lost and Found, is in part inspired by 10 days she spent patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border volunteering with the direct humanitarian aid group, No More Deaths. Her poetry has been published in The Los Angeles Review, CALYX, and PALABRA. Tracy Corey
has lived in Los Angeles, Seattle and traveled throughout Mexico. She is the recipient of First Place in Poetry 2012 in the award-winning literary magazine, SandScript, and her photographs have been exhibited in Arizona and been used as cover art by an independent press. She has studied creative writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles, and the University of Arizona. She is the owner/operator of a small business that, among other things, edits and proofreads manuscripts for authors already published and/or seeking publication. She currently lives in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona.Victor Avila
is an award-winning poet. Two of his poems were recently included in the anthology Occupy SF-Poems from the Movement. He is also a writer and illustrator. Three of his ghost stories were recently included in Ghoula Comix #2.
Where once he was, but is not now
he left the lingering lap of warmth.
Satin black fur and ice sharp claws
ferocious endless hunger feed.
He left the lingering lap of warmth
to prowl beyond the lamplit round
preferring chills that numb the heart.
Satin black fur and ice sharp claws
leave empty bowl and scratchless post;
a limp and dusty catnip mouse.
Ferocious endless hunger
Blog: La Bloga
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Late Breaking News
Memorial Honors Frank Sifuentes, QEPD
Tempus fugit que no?
Frank's long-time friend, Jesus Treviño, has compiled a memorial including messages from all five of Frank's friends, and a video. Click the links to Frank's spoken word recordings at the USC digital library and Nuestrafamilia.http://latinopia.com/latino-history/latinopia-hero-frank-sifuentes/
Over there, across a couple of blinded-by-the-light grey roofs and assorted HVAC ducts, underneath the canopy, all old and faded. Behold the remains of América Tropical
, a mural painted on a Los Angeles wall by David Alfaro Siqueiros 80 years ago and whitewashed shortly thereafter.
"In a way, the whitewashing preserved it," one docent avers, pointing to the richer coloring at the right, a section that had been whitewashed earlier by disillusioned patrons whose vision of tropical America included lovely colorful people and happy native dancing girls.
What America got from el maestro is an undulating jungle surrounding a native nailed to a double cross upon whose crown perches a fierce eagle. ¡Ajua!
The mural also signals the benefits of painting on wall substrates. Nelson Rockefeller jackhammered a Diego Rivera fresco off the walls of that arts patron's building in Manhattan. In El Lay, where easy solutions prevail, city powers tagged the wall with their own gang color.
The mural, the only publicly accessible Siqueiros mural in the United States, is conserved. Numerous visitors ask about preservation, or repainting. The mural, whitewashed and exposed to ample ultaviolence by its south-facing wall, has faded past the point of ever being more than what it is.
A Getty-led conservation team has managed to remove the obscuring layer of paint and some tar stains, and has protected what remains from further degradation now that it once again finds the sun and elements. Black and white fotos exist of the mural, making impossible any ill-conceived wild hair notion to repaint.
Visitors to the observation platform must simply marvel at what that wall once said in its own voice. Downstairs, in the interpretive center, a trio of Siqueiros' muralist descendants--Barbara Carrasco, Wayne Healy, John Valadez--recreate America Tropical
in grand scale, reproducing those B&W frames taken back in 1932.
Opening day packed the space shoulder-to-shoulder. Such heavy demand must account for the elevator being out of service on my second visit. Access to the viewing deck, without that elevator, is restricted to able-bodied gente.
The spectacular corn mural in the stairwell is the compensation for stressed knees. Below, Angelica Garcia, a principal in a Fontana tax firm
, takes a breather for a snapshot with her daughter.
adds an important cultural dimension to school field trips to the birthplace of Los Angeles. I visited in 4th grade around '54. The place remains largely unchanged, a single file of curio and dulces-selling puestos down a cobbled pasillo flanked by restaurants, mid-scale boutiques, and recuerdos. ATIC fills a space midway down the street, next door where my primos' shop, Casa de Sousa, used to sell quality artifacts and espresso.
Thelma Reyna Reviews Pat Mora's Borders
La Bloga friend and guest columnist Thelma Reyna continues with her exploration of classic works
by Chicanas, a project Thelma's engaged in conjunction with Latinopia. The multifaceted Latinopia features historical and historic video features picked from filmmaker Jesus Treviños exhaustive archive of the movimiento, along with coverage of art, food, music, literature; la cultura en general.
Among the beauties of reassessing classic works is the likelihood of introducing readers new to these seminal expressions, to foundation literature that has influenced what they read today. Beginning at the beginning helps develop an informed critical understanding of everything read.
Among the classics Dr. Reyna has reviewed are House on Mango Street, Nilda, Loving In the War Years
. Latinopia currently features Thelma's appreciation of Pat Mora's poetry collection, Borders.
Her book goes on to evoke and explore borders large and small, known and unknown, old and new, faint and glaring. The poet draws on her lifetime of living on and near borders, beginning with her birth in El Paso, Texas, her home for most of her life before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, Mora has straddled the border between cultures and languages, has navigated the “like” and “unlike” for her entire life. As her book depicts, borders can be cruel or innocuous, but they ultimately reveal us to ourselves.
Cruel Borders of Hardship
Her book is filled with snapshots of people from all walks of life, people identifiable for their hardships as much as for their triumphs. Mora starts with the famous pioneering author and university leader, Tomás Rivera, whose hands “knew about the harvest,/ tasted the laborer’s sweat” but also “gathered books at city dumps
You can read Thelma Reyna's full review at Latinopia here.
The classics series also features polymath Luis Torres
, who reviews male writers, with Thelma Reyna covering women writers. La Bloga encourages gente to visit Latinopia's literary cornucopia.
Count on La Bloga to continue our de vez en cuando reviews of the old stuff
, too. You can join in as a reader, or a guest columnist
. For comments and questions, click the Comments link below, and be sure to subscribe to your comment to receive reader comments.
The Closet of Discarded Dreams Book Tour Makes Pasadena Stop
Author Rudy Garcia joined a handful of guests--writers and artists--in Pasadena to talk books, science fiction fantasy writing, Rudy's novel, and the upcoming Latino Book & Family Festival.
|Hugo Garcia tells J. Michael Walker and |
Alfredo Lascano about La Dolce Vita.
One aspiring novelist arrived early, expressly to quiz Rudy on the mechanics of getting his first book published.
Garcia replied with the classic question, "what's your book about, in 25 words or less?"
Rudy stopped the novice around the 800th word. The lessons from pro to beginner: know your own stuff and get it written, then worry about the rights.
Rudy Garcia noted the rarity of Chicana Chicano science fiction and fantasy titles, making The Closet of Discarded Dreams
a pleasingly unique opportunity for scifi readership, but uniqueness an obstacle to publisher decision-making.
Discussion ranged widely across writers, titles, and story lines, then divagated to revolutionary new waves in film, and authenticity in historical fiction, and other genres.
Discussion segued into an ideal moment for Rudy to take the floor and read two passages he selected that illustrate his book's surreal exposition and the author's ability to write funny.
Short story writer and poet Angel Guerrero basks in the ambiente of good friends, new friends, good reading and listening. Then cracks up at one of Rudy's funny passages.
, J. Michael Walker absorbs the performance from his artist's eye.
Novelist Sandra Ramos O'Briant observes as Jesus Treviño documents Rudy Garcia's reading in this living room setting. Treviño will showcase the reading in a future Latinopia
Beyond the reading at Casa Sedano, Rudy appeared at Tia Chucha's Open Mic on Friday, the LB&FF, then a reading at Tia Chucha's Sunday afternoon. The Closet of Discarded Dreams
heads to a science fiction writers conference in Colorado then San Antonio.Banned Book Update
No big news out of Tucson. Vote like Freedom depends on it, because it does. Give Obama a Democratic Congress and let the nation see the return of bipartisanship to government. Give the GOP power and they will ban more books, just as a beginning.On-Line Floricanto Mid-October 2012
Avotcja, Sharon Elliott, Tara Evonne Trudell, Andrea Mauk, Tom Sheldon
ALGO DE TI, Avotcja
The Fence, Sharon Elliott
Dual Citizenship, Tara Evonne Trudell
Second Story, Andrea Mauk
Columbus through tiny eyes, Tom Sheldon ALGO DE TIby Avotcja
Abrazando su propia negrura
Como el color de medianoche en la manígua
Un cuento vestido en sabiduría anciana
Una sabiduría agridulce
Sabiduría con sabor a colores de miles de flores
Bestial y arrogante
Una seda desenvoltura
A la vez inmóvil, pero misteriosa
Y como la noche de luna
Esclava de nadie
Eternamente libre como el viento
Siempre hay otoño,
Riendo, llorando, y bailando
En la negrura de tus ojos Indios
Tus ojos sabios
Tus ojos orgullosos
Tus pies ya caminaron por unos miles de siglos
En las tierras de tres continentes
Por los sueños de los afortunados
Por las pesadillas de los que nos engañan
Y porque tu eres quien eres tu,
Crecen las flores donde caminaste
Los Dioses me dicen
Que tu piel tiene el sabor de miel salvaje
Mientras que el viento canta tu nombre
Como yo ..… como yo
Y tu eres el color de amor
El color Moreno
El color prieto
El color Indio
El color de mi felicidad
El color de amor ….. eres tuSOMETHING ABOUT YOUby Avotcja
Embracing its own blackness
Like the color of a jungle midnight
A story dressed in ancient wisdom
A bittersweet wisdom
Tastes like the colors of thousands of flowers
Arrogant & wild
A smooth flowing freedom
That's at the same time stubborn, but mysterious
And like the moonlight
A slave of nobody
Infinitely free just like the wind
Autumn is always laughing, crying & dancing
In the blackness of your Indian eyes
Your wise eyes
Your proud eyes
Your feet have walked
Through thousands of centuries
On the lands of three continents
Through the dreams of the fortunate
Through the nightmares of those who deceive us
And because you are who you are,
Wherever you’ve walked flowers grow
The Gods tell me,
That your skin tastes like wild honey
While even the wind sings your name
And so do I ….. so do I
And you are the color of love
The color brown
Very dark brown
A dark red Indian brown
The color of my happiness
You ….. are the color of love!The Fenceby Sharon Elliott
Germany pulled theirs down
artifact of Nazis
pieces of brick
now inhabit the globe
of tyranny overcome
construct new fences
of wire and steel
to keep out ciudadanos
los que son
dueños de esta tierra
quienes que nos dieron
una bienvenida de corazón
nos regalaron una cama para acostarnos
con maíz y amor compartido
y que hicimos nosotros?
what did we do?
we accepted their gracious gifts
then stole their land
pushed them off
and their children
treated them as interlopers
in their own home
now we build fences
to keep them away
from what is rightly theirs
what hardened our hearts
blinded our eyes
withered our souls
money is a simple answer
privilege and power
foundation of those fences
bears more scrutiny
es una pobreza de alma
corazones sin sangre
como podemos vivir así
sin lo que alimenta a uno o el otro
tear those fences down
stand in our humanity
y en un solo golpe
tear those fences down
until we do
we will not be whole
we will continue to be ghosts
and afraidDual Citizenshipby Tara Evonne Trudell
when their truths
don't add up
who's in control
Americans hanging on
to every word
taking their minds
of righteous law
playing ping pong
of manifest destiny
running the game
people backed up
to our earth
erasing their borders
before we stand
their make believe
their misleading debate
loudly continues on
in a world
do not belong.Second Storyby Andrea Mauk
No matter where you live,
you exist on top of a
failed, conquered civilization.
You walk upon footsteps of buried wisdom,
upon people who understood
the whispers of the winds,
the nutritional medicinal value of
each plant and
the reason to respect each animal,
upon 'pagan' engineers, architects and astronomers
who learned the formulas taught
by the sun and moon and stars.
You walk on the skulls of those
sacrificed in ceremonies
we will never fully understand,
you guffaw at their Gods and
their nectars and their dances
as you marvel at the
modern technology that
distracts you away from the fact
that our planet, our earth,
our way of life is spinning out of control,
and you are standing on top of
land grabbed without regard to
the wisdom of civilizations
who may have understood
than we.Columbus through tiny eyesby Tom Sheldon
sister Marie taught us about an Italian sailor
who shaved every day and carried a bible
he brought us pork n beans
warm blankets n fry bread
he brought farmers and soldiers
and discovered us
bringing Original sin and horses n dogs too
all on ships sent to aid the white man’s domination of Mother earth...
Is it entirely appropriate that this most auspicious day, be a day of mourning, ashes and weeping. bios
ALGO DE TI by Avotcja
The Fence by Sharon Elliott
Dual Citizenship by Tara Evonne Trudell
Second Story by Andrea Mauk
Columbus through tiny eyes by Tom Sheldon
Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) is a card carrying New York born Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay & member of the award winning group Avotcja & Modúpue. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator/Storyteller & is on a shamelessly Spirit driven melodic mission to heal herself. Avotcja talks to the Trees & listens to the Wind against the concrete & when they answer it usually winds up in a Poem or Short Story.
Born and raised in Seattle, Sharon Elliott has written since childhood. Four years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Ecuador laid the foundation for her activism. As an initiated Lukumi priest, she has learned about her ancestral Scottish history, reinforcing her belief that borders are created by men, enforcing them is simply wrong.LaVerdadMusical@yahoo.com
Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry. Her production company, Dancing Horse Media Group, is currently in pre-production of her independent film, “Beautiful Dreamer,” based on her original screenplay and manuscript, and along with her partners, is producing a unique cookbook that blends healthful recipes with poetry and prose.
Guest Columnist: Las Comadres Para Las Americas Interviews Lorraine López
Editor's Note: La Bloga receives this interview from Condor Book Tours, an entrepreneurial public relations firm specializing in virtual book tours and Latina Latino authors. Condor's currently representing Las Comadres Para Las Americas' book, Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships. Las Comadres Para Las Americas, a 501(c)(3) organization is an informal internet-based group that meets monthly in many US cities to build connections and community with other Latinas.
I'm happy to join Condor and Las Comadres' virtual book tour widening the readership for a book about nurturing.
Las Comadres Interviews Count On Me Author Lorraine López
Las Comadres: How you were first introduced to Las Comadres?
Lorraine: Well – my book, The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters, came out about, I want to say 4 to 5 years ago I’m not sure. And at the time it was selected as a Las Comadres/Borders pick. That’s how I first became aware of Las Comadres. The same thing happened when my second novel came out – The Realm of Hungry Spirits – so I was interviewed on the air by Las Comadres. They publicized the book and it was just a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for me. Since then, I’ve learned about the organization and have been wholly impressed. I especially admire how after Borders® went under, the organization found a way to continue without that support.
Las Comadres: Do you have any favorites in Count on Me?
Lorraine: oh, I love Carolina de Roberti’s piece, which I read again this morning – very moving piece, just… very powerful. Also, Esmeralda Santiago’s piece I admire and Stephanie Elizondo-Greist, who is a contributor for one collection of ours, another anthology. I know her work and I’ve read her books and I loved her piece. I love the humor in it, the wit.
Las Comadres: Is there a character in the book that you most identify with?
Lorraine: That’s hard to say. I think there’re bits and pieces. I think because Carolina’s piece is so fresh in my mind – I would have to say that impetus to finish a book for someone. That resonates with me. I’ve never done that but I can see the feeling behind that, I can really empathize strongly with that; that desire, that motivation.
Las Comadres: Your story is the only story in the collection that addresses the bond, the Comadre connection between the mentor and the mentee. What do you hope readers get out of your expression?
Lorraine: I hope that they realize as the late Dr. Juan Bruce Novoa has said that this a great time to be a writer when we do have mentors, we do have people like Judith Ortiz Cofer, who are in a position to share their wisdom, share their resources, share pragmatic tips with this generation. This second generation and now even a third generation is emerging and so I hope that there is that recognition that yes, I need to avail myself of this resource of the wise women and men who have come before me and take advantage of this and to reach my potential through this help. There is nothing wrong or bad about it. It’s a great tradition, if fact. I hope that there’s that recognition that we are not alone. We are not alone as a Latina writer. You’re not alone. You have people who have found their way, established a path and you can rely on them. Whether it’s just by being in their physical presence- I was lucky enough to be in the physical presence of Judith Ortiz Cofer but you can also do this with books, by reading the works of pre-established writers who forged the way for us.
I hope that there is something that comes of this.
Las Comadres: Do you feel that there is a strong distinction and difference between saying that someone is a friend or saying someone is Comadre? And if so, how do you describe that distinction?
Lorraine: Comadre… The idea of Comadre, to me, suggests layers of mutual benefit; that symbiosis. Friendship is less layered. For me, friendship is… ‘yes, this is my friend. I enjoy this persons company’ but we are not beholden to one another in the way that comadrazgo does make one beholden to the other person. A friend might, for example- just a pragmatic example – a friend might send me an email. I am under no compunction to answer that for 24 hours. But, if my Comadre sends me an email, I need to answer it right away. If my Comadre calls, I always need to take that call. And it works the other way, too. We need to be…know that we can, as the book says, count on one another. There is that element of ‘yes, I depend on you and you depend on me’. We can be reliable to one another- we MUST be.
Las Comadres: What do you see as the reasons that a woman needs a Comadre in her life?
Lorraine: Wow! Well, first I would start with: Just for the purpose of having someone you trust and rely on. I think that is just the basic building block of human relationship that has depth and substance, knowing there is someone there you can trust and someone you can rely on.
Secondly – and I don’t want to say that men don’t need this as well but – I think relationships between men have been really firmly entrenched in professional systems and academic systems and we even have a name for it in the South, ‘The Good Ol’ Boys Club” and I think women have been locked out of that for a very long time. In fact, there is this big bru-ha-ha because the CEO of Yahoo! ® is now pregnant. The first pregnant woman to ever be a CEO of a major corporation and this is so exciting.Okay, this is 2012 but we’re talking it’s taken so long. So it’s evidence that we are not where we should be; we are not represented as we should be. So, I think, for women this kind of relationship is even more important. In my life it has been integral to my success and to my professional advancement, for sure. That is stated plainly in my essay. I think we need help and we need to help each other because we have been disenfranchised, and we have been marginalized so this is critical, ‘critical’ as such a relationship is.
And third, I would say… it’s just plain fun to have Judith in my life. She’s smart, she’s funny and that goes with the element of trust. You can’t relax and joke with someone you cannot trust.
She’s coming to visit in February to give a reading at Vanderbilt and that is getting me through the semester already, which hasn’t started. Just the idea that she will be here soon, and I can laugh and I can relax and I can be with someone that I trust and love and admire.
Those are three reasons. I’m sure I could continue but… It’s a source – almost like refueling. You meet this person who has become an integral part of your life and when you see her you feel invigorated, re-energized – so I guess that’s number four, (laugh).
Las Comadres: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Lorraine: Well, probably a negative thing. You know, I love my books. I always love my books and I love my writing. My ‘Homicide Survivors Picnic’ was a pen popular finalist and I got to go to D.C. That was a really wonderful day. I feel like that might be the zenith of my writing career and I'm glad to have had that and that’s great. It was also liberating, now I can feel ‘okay, I did that and now I can just write for me.’
So, that was pretty great but I think really, the best accomplishment, the thing I feel proudest about, apart from my children, I'm very proud of my children, is that when I was in a really bad situation, I didn’t do something terrible. I could have done something really, really terrible. I thought about doing something unspeakably terrible that would have changed me forever and I decided not to do it. I'm proud of that. I'm really, really proud at not doing the terrible thing.
Las Comadres: My last question is more like a fill in the blank… I am proud to be a Latina because: ______(fill in the blank).
Lorraine: Because this is the great time to be a Latina, and especially a great time to be a Latina writer. The world is just opening up for us in big and beautiful ways and I feel very lucky to be part of that.
About Lorraine LópezLorraine Lopez’ first book, Soy la Avon Lady, won the inaugural Miguel Marmól Prize. Her novel, Call Me Henri, was awarded the Paterson Prize, and her novel, The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, was a 2008 Borders/Las Comadres Selection. Lorraine’s short story collection, Homicide Survivors Picnic, was reviewed in La Bloga and was a 2010 Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize. She edited a collection of essays titled, An Angle of Vision. Her novel, The Realm of Hungry Spirits, was released in 2011. She has co-edited, with Blas Falconer, The Other Latin@. She teaches fiction writing at Vanderbilt University. Learn more about Lorraine at www.lorrainelopez.net
Arte Publico Announces Secret Discount
It’s a shame brick and mortar booksellers now fade into memory. In ten years, readers are going to recall warmly the golden age of books when most books came printed on paper people shopped for them off physical shelves and if the store didn't have a title you had to order off the internet anyhow. Long before implants, when readers schlepped around iPads.
Until my eyes give out, I'll be one of those tipos insisting on holding the books I read, although I admit to enjoying the swift enlargement of words with the pinch of a finger or a Command + keyboard shortcut, and the space-saving convenience of PDF review copies.
In his column last Friday, Manuel Ramos discerns the existence of a Golden Age for raza writing. Gente are producing increasing numbers of books and related media, there's a universe of literary ephemera like blogs and message board manifestoes. Spoken word art takes on a life of its own in cities across the continent. Writers expand the literary purview into personal essays, travel writing, mystery, speclit, YA, children's picture books.
Who knows what today’s gatekeeping system of east coast publishing houses will look like then, under the competitive onslaught of self-publication and academic and small press?
Gone are the days of driving or walking from bookstore to bookstore, of lingering through the shelves of a friendly bookseller, or leafing through Books in Print for the right edition.
With convenience comes access. Those local bookstores were another gatekeeper. Readers traded immediacy for the bookseller’s inventory policy. With mail-order buying via computer, buyers select from limitless catalogs of new and used books, and see their purchases arrive within a few days of ordering.
Better still, readers can order publisher-direct to gain access to the widest selection of related titles. A recent email from the industry’s premier publisher of latina latino writing, Arte Publico Press, sweetens the prospect. Use the code HOLIDAY12 when checking out and receive 35% discount on titles in Arte Publico’s catalogs.
December 2012 Floricanto to Begin TwelfthmonthArnoldo Garcia, Jabez W. Churchill, Tom Sheldon, Victor Avila, Elizabeth Cazessús
Launching the year's final month is December's first floricanto. This week, the moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance, nominate seven poems from five poets:"La comuna de la lengua / The commune of the tongue" by Arnoldo Garcia“Credo Particular / My Creed” by Jabez W. Churchill “Petroglyphs” by Tom Sheldon"Grail" by Victor Avila“Desierto en fuga” por Elizabeth Cazessús
La comuna de la lengua | The commune of our tongue [extracts]Arnoldo Garcia
a communionof commotiona commovementof movementswho will revolutionizethe skinof our languagesmakeour tonguesas invisibleas transparentas the most illegal of illegalsas the most undocumented of undocumentedas the most minority of minoritiesas the most queer of the queeras the most visible of the invisibleas the most remembered of the forgottenas the lowest of the lowliestas the most homeless among the homelandlessas the most human of humanitynessso when you put your words in the vibrating airanyone can step into themfeel at hometransliterating freedomsobliterating the mutenessmaking the worldinto jagged piecesthat fit together in their crags and ragged tendernesseseverythingdisperses in orderly chaosorganizes in spontaneous spring-times, whatever the seasonwho dares make the commotion togetherwho dares make the movement differentwho cares about tomorrow, the natural worldwho cares about the land, the communitywho cares about our bones, the windwho dares the sun to return for the sixth time, the continentswho dares to stop timeand return to the starting place?I am a human out of placeI am a human in a country no longer humanI am a human in every road, path, trail, a movementCongealing, coalescing, germinatingon the magnetic waves of tendernesson the gravitational fields of freedomon the bare arms of a campesinaa commotiona communitiona cosmomovement of neighbors.
I do not want a revolution of empleadosI want a revolution of emplumados.
No quiero una revolución de empleadosQuiero una revolución de emplumados.
Credo Particularpor Jabez W. Curchill
Creo en ambos dioses,el Padre y la Santa Madre,sin nombreen el traqueteo de los otrosy en sus hijos danzarinesengendrados como hojas,como luz,de la misma substanciadiscernible e inimaginablea que todo tiene que sacudir.
Creo que somos encarnadosdel mismo espiritu fotosinteticosin jucio,sin excepcion,destinados todos a la salvación.
Pero no creoque ninguna religióno propio evangeliose aproxime o se acerquesuficiente a la Creaciónpara que justifique criticarmenos condenaro aliviarnosde la responsibilidad particularde florecery en el viento deleitar.
My Creedby Jabez W. Curchill
I believe in both Gods,the Father and the Holy Mother,namelessin the rattle of the rest,and in their sonsand twirling daughtersbegotten as leaves,as light,being of the same substance,seen and unimagined,to which all things must flutter.
I believe we are incarnatewith the same Spirit,photosynthetic,without judgement,without exception.All, destined for salvation.
But I don’t believethat any church,any religious doctrine,approximates Creation,comes close enough to justify opinion, less condemnation,or relieve usfrom our individual responsibilityto fully blossom,revel in the wind.
Petroglyphs ©Tom Sheldon
Clues to the iconic ambiguity
appear like old vines
resting upon eroded hills
dug along the skirt of mesa
the poetic lore.....
tall tales and handed down songs
planted inside children
a shared realm
that live in stone still
faintly etched pictograms
so transparent one can look through
and see the world
Natural luminous things
like tracks in the snow
homecoming myths migrations
of stars ancient origins
of ragged mountains
in deer whose limbs
lie in latent flight
and the suns light
cast and reflected back
Grail for Palestine Victor Avila
A great weight rests on all our tonguesand the barbs around our heartsmakes us barricades of silence.
Tell me then, how can I speak to you if it's not by shouting?
I shout at the hard sky,I shout into the ear of a low hanging star.
I shout when my heart is withering like black fruit-Or when other hearts become brutal hammersof hate and venom.
A bitter knife carves obscenties into my tender stomachand I want to shout to stones,"Please, I am bleeding and my wound is great"-but the stones are pitiless tonight.
So I scream until my voice is filled with hoarse sobs.
And I wait for the wound to heal-I wait for the lost blood to become a great treewhich is heavy with fruit.I wait for lost emeralds to be resetin my God's sick crown.
I become a romantic with ten handsbut am not allowed to use one.
Ultimately, the barricades are not dismantledand the barbs are not pulled free,the weight is not suspended.
Tell me then, how can I speak to you if it's not by shouting?How can my Grail of Hope once again be filled?
DESIERTO EN FUGAElizabeth Cazessús
Salir al camino sin saber a donde ir-porque el saber no está en el mapasi no más adentro de la aventura-descubrir lo semejante,la naturaleza salvaje, lo sagrado desatender la ciudad que vas dejando atrás,sorprenderte como un niñover los campos sembrados, palizadas, osamentas de ballenas, anuncios extemporáneos, largos terrenos de chamizos, palo verde y serpientes extensiones que las nubes bañan de más alládunas en contraste con el mar y ese sentimiento al fondode arenas ensimismadas bajo la luz de sol.hasta que la mirada abarca sabes que son tuyos.Un solitario cactus a contraluz es todo lo que tienesdespués de que has pasado por las ruinas de otro cementerio de piedras y edificios escarpados por el fracaso.Tú, sigues ahí, con tu brazada extendida en el valle de los cirioscon su montaje improvisado y caminos espinosos Todo lo que no verán más tus ojos porque en este instante ya no estamos, ni somos lo que dijimos ser.Seremos otros a contra canto de este aroma del desierto en fuga.
"La comuna de la lengua | The commune of the tongue" by Arnoldo Garcia
“Credo Particular / My Creed” by Jabez W. Churchill
“Petroglyphs” by Tom Sheldon
"Grail" by Victor Avila
“Desierto en fuga” por Elizabeth CazessúsElizabeth Cazessús, Tijuana B. C. México, 1960.BLOG: El palpitar de las letras, letronomo.blogspot.com
Arnoldo García lives and writes in Oakland, CA. "La comuna de nuestra lengua" is part of a collection of poems and writings called La revolución emplumada (forthcoming). Arnoldo posts poetics, commentary, news & analysis on http://lacarpadelfeo.blogspot.com andhttp://www.twitter.com/arnoldogarcia C/S
Jabez W. Churchill. Born in Northern California, educated in Argentina and California. Single dad, currently teaching Spanish at Santa Rosa Junior College and Mendocino College. (S.R.J.C., since 1986), and California Poet in the Public Schools since 1998. Civilly disobedient since 1969. Submitting poetry for publication since 1979.
Publications:SONG OF SEASONS, Small Poetry Press, 1996CONTROLLED BURN, Small Poetry Press, 1996SLEEPING WITH GHOSTS, Kulupi Press, 1999THE VEIL, Kulupi Press, 2000SANTA CLARA REVIEW, Spring/Summer 2002americas review, 2003languageandculture.net, chapbook series, 2005FIRST LEAVES, Literary and Art Journal, 2009Most currently, in laBloga, Poets Responding to SB1070 and THE ARTS UNITED SAN ANTONIO, May and August, 2012Featured at the Summer Dream Poetry Festival in Vancouver, B.C. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Cuba, 2000. Spain, Summer 1999.
My name is Tom Sheldon and I come from a large Hispanic family with roots in Spain, Mexico and New Mexico. I enjoy writing poetry which allows me connection and a voice and I write daily. I've had a few small successes in having my poems published. Thank you for reading my work.
Victor Avila is an award-winning poet. Two of his poems were recently included in the anthology Occupy SF-Poems from the Movement. Victor is also a graphic artist whose work has been featured in Ghoula Comix.
Es maestra de nivel primaria, egresada de Esc. Normal Benito Juárez.1978/1982.Realizó Periodismo Cultural, 1983 a 1992 en Tijuana. Dirigió el sumplemento cultural Arrecife, de Sol de Tijuana.
Poeta performancera. Es autora de ocho libros de poesía: Ritual y canto,1994, Veinte “Apuntes antes de Dormir, 1995; Mujer de Sal, 2000; Huella en el agua, IMAC 2001; Casa del sueño, Gíglico ediciones, 2006; Razones de la dama infiel, Gíglico ediciones 2008; No es mentira este paraíso, Colección ed,.Cecut/Conaculta.2009.Enediana, Ed. Giglico, 2010.
Ha participado en varios encuentros internacionales de poesía:Los Angeles California, 1991; Phoenix, Arizona, 2003; Mujeres poetas en el país dela Nubes, Oaxaca, Oax.; 2000 y 2001; La Habana, Cuba, 2003, Chile Poesía Santiago de Chile, 2005; Poetas del Mundo Latino Morelia, Mich, México 2010; Puerto Rico, Ferias del Libros 2004 y 2007; Festival de Poesia, Puerto Rico,. 2011, Festival Latinoamericano de Poesía Cd. de Nueva York, Oct. 2012.
Ha participado presentando su obra. FIL de Guadalajara, No es mentira este paraíso y Feria del Libro del Zócalo,Cd. de México D.F. 2010.
Obtuvo la beca del FONCA, 1998.Ha obtenido los premios: Municipal de Poesía, en los Juegos Florales de Tijuana, 1992;Premio de Poesía, Anita Pompa de Trujillo en Hermosillo, Sonora, 1995;
Su obra ha sido traducida a los idiomas inglés y al polaco.
Esta incluida en las siguientes antologías: “Across the Line”, Junction Press, San Diego Ca. 2003; “Trilogía de Poetas de Hispanoamérica: Pícaras, Místicas y Rebeldes”, México D.F. 2004; Memoria del Encuentro Chile- Poesía, 2005; Antología de Poesía Hispanoamericana, “El Rastro de las Mariposas”, Lima, Perú, 2006; Antología de “Voces Sin Fronteras”, Montreal, Canadá, 2006; “Mujeres Poetas de México” (1945-1965), Atemporia, 2008; Revista, La Nueva Región de los poetas (Nowa Okolica Poetow), Varsovia, Polonia, 2008; San Diego Poetry Annual, Ca. E.U.A. 2008; Nectáfora, Antología del Beso en la Poesía Mexicana, México, D.F. 2009, Antologia del Festival Latinoamericano de Poesía, CD. de Nueva York, 2012.
Ha realizado recitales poético/musicales haciendo montajes con su propia obra y de autores hispanoamericanos, titulados:Ritual y Canto, 1995, “Veinte apuntes antes de dormir”, 1998, “Rosario Castellanos, mujer de muchas palabras”; “Voces Irreverentes, ” (Homenaje a Susana Chávez, poeta asesinada en CD. Juárez, 2010). “ Diosas de la Poesía Hispanoamericana”, Centro Cultural y Feria del Libro ,de Tijuana, 2011.
Acompañó alternadamente a Carlos Monsivaís, interpretando voces de la poesía de la popularidad, en la conferencia: Mamá Soy Paquito, Universidad de San Diego, 2009.
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Review: Walking the Clouds. Tucson : University of Arizona Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9780816529827 0816529825
A few columns in the past, Rudy Garcia and Ernest Hogan exchanged thoughtful columns about speculative fiction and raza writers and characters. Both Hogan and Garcia are accomplished writers of genre imaginative fiction that some might call science fiction or speculative literature.
Something Hogan said turned me on to this useful anthology. It's part college textbook and part top-drawer introduction to speclit written by indigenous-other-than-Mexican gente. In addition to US Indians and Canadian North American Indian writers, a Jamaican, New Zealander, and a couple Australian indigenous writers are included.
What Hogan and Garcia are specializing in is a most challenging literature to craft. Charged not simply with describing quotidian settings but with added responsibility of posing arresting drama against plausible futures or fantasy origins, to people scenes with actors and languages fit to the time and place. Do it well and you have Hogan’s Smoking Mirror Blues, and Garcia’s Closet of Discarded Dreams. There’s also Lunar Braceros on the Moon.
Mostly, though, they do it in obscurity. Vampires, werewolves, or wizards pretty much define the limits of most readers’ familiarity with speculative literature. But there’s a wide variety of stories within the umbrella term “scifi” or "speclit". That’s why the sweep of this anthology is so useful. If the limits of one’s language are the limits of one’s world, so too one’s literature. Hence, this collection of indigenous literature written in English can widen one’s perspectives on colonialism, conquest, and liberation.
The textbook element grows out of editor Dillon’s organization, dividing the selections to encompass a division of species within the science fiction realm. These include Native Slipstream, Contact, Indigenous Science and Sustainability, Native Apocalypse, and “Returning to Ourselves.”
In addition to sharing the indigenous perspective, the anthology offers a worthwhile introduction to the field of science fiction writing. The science species of writing is Dillon’s specialty. She notes, “One aim of this book is to distinguish science fiction from other speculative writing typically associated with Native thinking, such as the time-traveling alternative worlds in Native slipstream and contact narratives.”
Coming away from such a rich collection of disparate elements, I’m left with a sense that many of these indigenous writers share a pessimistic outlook on native prospects. The premise of dystopias is they arise out of defeat and cataclysm. Dystopia is a shared trope of scifi, such pessimism is not new from indian brothers and sisters. It would be new to have these writers contribute something unique to the conversation implicit in scifi.
Chicana and Chicano writers can take a lesson from the way many abjure simultaneous translation of non-English phrases. The words stand on their own; if you don’t understand they aren’t meant for you. One lesson I hope writers don’t pick up on is dialect writing. Fighting a writer’s aural scribbles makes reading a story an exercise in impatience.
In many cases, the snippets herein will lead curious readers to the whole works and onward into the writer’s oeuvre, so the anthology achieves its end. Walking the Clouds makes one of those cool stocking stuffers to thrill the hard-to-please readers in the familia.
The Best Gift Shopping in L.A.
|Chimaya's sale was last week.|
Tempus fugit worries the last-minute holiday shopper. The months of November and December teem with fabulous craft and art sales. Beginning with Dia de los Muertos events and continuing through the Christmas season, every weekend brings the best gifts that week.
The weekend of the fifteenth is truly the final leisurely shopping day of the season, and it brings the always heroic--for quality and quantity--Avenue 50 Studio Holiday Sale.
This is the eighth time up for Avenue 50, which this year combines the artful awesomeness of Two Tracks Studio
, and She Rides the Lion
The party and sale take over two days in northeast Los Angeles, Saturday, December 15th from 7:00pm to 11:00pm, and Sunday, December 16th from 12:00 noon to 4:00pm
The out-of-the-way location inevitably means museum quality work at neighborhood gallery prices. In this instance, the Avenues neighborhood: 131 N Ave 50, Los Angeles CA 90042.
The direct-from-the-artist sale includes a who's who of accomplished and up-and-coming artists. It's a sale not only of what's on the walls but entrée to the artist's portfolio and commissioned work.
Sergio and Diana Flores
Raquel Soto-EscobarOn-Line Floricanto From the ModeratorsFrancisco X. Alarcón, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Hedy Garcia, Treviño, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Carmen Calatayud
I watched the interpreter signing
Sharon Olds' poem and thought to myself, "Self, that has to be the toughest job in poetry."
The second toughest job in poetry is moderating a public poetry site and selecting up to five for submission to join an upcoming weekly La Bloga On-Line Floricanto.
All that reading and selecting, and have opportunity to write their own poetry.
Moderators of the Facebook group, Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance
, read the dozens-to-hundreds of unrefereed postings. Poets must engage the Notes feature of Facebook software to share
a poem to appear on the Facebook page.
Moderators read every posting then each rank orders personal picks. Poems that stand out garner near-unanimous votes from the panelists. When votes are close--chacun a son goût, sabes--senior moderator and group organizer Francisco X. Alarcón conducts a second vote or applies alternative filters to break ties and ultimately limit the submission to five poets.
This second-in-December La Bloga On-Line Floricanto is exceptional not only in bringing six poets to the limelight, but because the six include the founder and the five moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070:
Francisco X. Alarcón, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Hedy Garcia, Treviño, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Carmen Calatayud.
"Nochebuena | Christmas Eve" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Her Mother’s Travels" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"In December" by Andrea Hernandez Holm
"She Rides the Sky" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
"Growing Roots" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
"Moving to the Land of the Dead" by Carmen CalatayudNochebuena | Christmas Eveby Francisco X. Alarcón
This poem by Francisco X. Alarcón, with illustrations by Maya Christina Gonzalez, is from their bilingual book, Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems / Iguana en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno
, now availabe though Lee & Low Books. It is included here as as a celebration of the upcoming holidays. Feel free to share
--Francisco X. Alarcón
Poem by Francisco X. Alarcon; illustrations by Maya Christina Gonzalez, from iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems (Lee & Low Books)
Her Mother’s TravelsOdilia Galván Rodríguez
her mother never traveled
except in books
she never visited exotic places
no Eiffel tower or Egyptian pyramids
her mother never got to fulfill dreams
of playing tennis professionally
or of spending long summer nights
in the company of a lover
in that place where two rivers meet
her days were filled
with the push and pull
of assembly lines
of dealing with tired people
who didn’t want to do their jobs
hers to motivate them
to produce for management
by threatening or cajoling
this meant she was always
the witch, or worse
her mother never had real friends
yes, some long ago acquaintances
whose names are remembered
while fingering yellowed photographs
stuck on pages of mildew stained
names of women long moved on
or gone to the next world
women who didn’t care for her much
because she was so hard to love
her mother never had
kind words to say about anyone
her compassion was limited
to faraway orphans
she would send five dollars a week
to keep in clothes and shoes
give them a cup of milk
the ability to stay in school
she had their pictures
taped to the refrigerator
that place where two rivers meet
is a special place
is not from a book she read
but rather from a real place
a special one she still holds dear
she saw it once from a car window
on her journeys as a child
from state to state
her family following
the migrant stream
a place of many willows
of grass tall, a whisper of green-yellow
that reached up on toes to kiss the trees
grass so soft, not hard to navigate
lush enough to be pushed down upon
open enough to lie in
belly to belly
touching the bones of earth
red like the blood of ancestors
soaking up Iná MaKá’s power
most days she is lost
stuck in her oldest memories
mostly the unpleasant ones
but there are times
she travels to that place
a motion picture camera
playing inside her skull
when she sleeps
awake or in the state
brought on by purple pills
there she is held
as she lies in that tall grass
embraced by her lover
there she can remember
all the life she longed to live
all the love she wanted
to give and to receive
but never could
there she is healedIn DecemberAndrea Hernandez Holm
The sounds of a conjunto
Bring me comfort.
I gasp with delight
When I hear el acordeón exhale
Songs from my childhood.
I find solace in the memory
Of family love
And energy. She Rides the Skyby Hedy Garcia Treviño
Dressed in amber shades of moonlight
She called upon the morning star
Forget not yet my name
Forget not yet my name
For I will come again in springtime
And ride upon the wings of hummingbird dressed in turquoise, red and purple robes
She rides the sky
She rides the sky
She left her dreams
In spirit boxes buried on the left side of the mountain
And scattered stardust in the wind
She rode the sky
She rode the sky
And promised to return in spring
Disguised as Little hummingbird
In turquoise red and purple robes
She rode the skyGrowing Rootsby Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
Red sky, red earth,
A sunset after monsoon
Blessed the land
“Spread your roots here
I will nourish you,”
The land called
I knew then
This was the place
I was meant to be
I walked the land
The desert claimed me
Welcomed me home
Here I will grow old
Watch the ravens
Be visited by hawks,
Deer, javalina, quail,
Listen to coyotes
Singing in the wash,
Mourning doves cooing
Be sheltered by saguaro,
Mesquite, palo verde,
Smell the creosote
Here I am growing roots
Feeling at home. Moving to the Land of the Deadby Carmen Calatayud
Where the dead loiter and eat blue tulips
is the land I’m attracted to.
Where green grass is purple
and the sky a convoluted rainbow,
where rest is redundant and the sun
is all that’s needed to lift our lungs
for another breath.
Where the dead play for hours
and drink lemonade is the place
I’m drawn to. Where orange lips hang
from trees and bottles of singing potions
are left open till morning comes.
Where hibiscus is chewed like
bubble gum and the raucous pink petals
stain our hearts for the rest of heaven’s time.
Where the dead still use ashtrays as
décor is the home I want to live in.
Where doves as white as a blizzard
fly in and out of windows to laugh
arguments away. Where sugar sprays
like gunshot stars so children
awaken to sweetness. Where peace
resides in the bark of trees
and the leaves never drop.
Where the dead weave silk for pajamas
they wear all day is the town I’m moving to.
Where sheep sleep all day and drink rioja all night.
Where poems by Bukowski pour out of angels’
mouths and torch the campfire that melts
every disease of the soul.
Originally published in In the Company of Spirits
"Nochebuena | Christmas Eve" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Her Mother’s Travels" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"In December" by Andrea Hernandez Holm
"She Rides the Sky" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
"Growing Roots" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
"Moving to the Land of the Dead" by Carmen Calatayud
Francisco X. Alarcón, Chicano poet and educator, is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry, including, Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992), recipient of the 1993 Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He created the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070: http://www.facebook.com/PoetryOfResistance
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been
involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their
creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of
the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on
Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally,
currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly
open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information
about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/ or contact
her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.
Andrea Hernandez Holm is a graduate student in the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona, and holds an M.A. in American Indian Studies as well. Andrea's primary research interests include indigeneity, identity, and the intersection of identity with creative writing. She is an Instructional Specialist, Sr., in the University's Writing Skills Improvement Program where she provides tutoring services to undergraduate and graduate students and teaches writing workshops for high school students, graduate students, and the general Tucson community. She has also taught Mexican American Studies, American Indian Oral Traditions, American Indian Literature, and American Indian Religions at the university.
Andrea has worked as a research/publications specialist, a freelance writer, editor and writing consultant. Her most recent projects have included working as an editor for Veronica E. Velarde Tiller's book, Culture and Customs of the Apache Indians (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2010) and serving as the Project Researcher/Writer of the award-winning Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country: Economic Profiles of American Indian Reservations published by BowArrow Publishing (2005). Her essay "Prayers and other Ofrendas" appeared in Wisdom of Our Mothers (Familia Books, 2010). Andrea is also a published poet with works appearing in The Blue Guitar, La Sagrada, Tribal Fires, Collegiate Latino Underground, Red Ink, and the Cuentos del Barrio II art exhibition of the Tucson/Pima Arts Council. Two of her poems were selected for the 2010 commemorative issue of El Coraje, a Chicano Studies student publication produced for the Conference Combating Hate, Censorship and Forbidden Curriculum held in Tucson.
Andrea is currently a member of the moderating panel for the Facebook page "Poets Responding to SB 1070". She is also a member of the women's writing group, Sowing the Seeds de Tucson. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction essays appear in the group’s anthology, Our Spirits, Our Realities (2011).
Read interviews with Andrea:
"The battle over Mexican American Studies" by Chrissie Long, University World Newshttp://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20120824101851900
"Does Tucson need Three Poet Laureates to bring it back from the brink of censorship?" by Jeff Biggers, The Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/tucson-poet-laureate_b_1396176.html
Hedy M. Treviño’s poetry has been published in numerous journals and other publications. She has performed her poetry at numerous cultural events. She continues to write poetry, and inspires others to use the written word as a form of self discovery and personal healing. She is one of the Moderators for the Facebook page, Poets Responding to SB 1070
Elena Díaz Björkquist. “After living in California for 36 years, my husband and I decided to leave our beloved redwood forest and move to Arizona, the state of my birth, the state where my parents lived, the state where one of our sons lived with his daughters. It was with trepidation that we arrived in Tucson after a monsoon rain and were greeted by a gorgeous sunset. The move from redwoods to saguaros was blessed by that sunset and we made an easy adjustment to living in the desert.”
A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.
As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena has performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci, Arizona for twelve years. She recently received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.
Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems published not only on that page, but also on La Bloga. She was recently nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.
Carmen Calatayud's first poetry collection In the Company of Spirits was published in October 2012 as part of the Silver Concho Series by Press 53. In the Company of Spirits was a runner-up for the 2010 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, Gargoyle, La Bloga, PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art, Red River Review and the anthology DC Poets Against the War. Calatayud is a Larry Neal Poetry Award winner and recipient of a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellowship. She is a poet moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070, a Facebook group that features poetry and news about Arizona’s controversial immigration law that legalizes racial profiling. Born to a Spanish father and Irish mother in the U.S., Calatayud works and writes in Washington, DC.