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On November 3rd, KidLit TV was invited to the National Coalition Against Censorship to interview NCAC board members, artists, authors, and experts about up and coming books that celebrate diversity and free speech advocacy. NCAC’s mission is to promote freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms.
NCAC celebrated another year of free speech advocacy and saluted Lois Lowry, Larry Siems, Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole as 2015 Free Speech Defenders. The evening raised funds from generous sponsors, led by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to support NCAC’s mission, and featured performances from Fun Home, a tribute by Alison Bechdel, and inspiring words from each of our honorees. A special thanks to comedian Jena Friedman, who kept the audience laughing through the night as our master of ceremonies.
In an effort to get the book to the students who want to read it, Kelly Jensen from the book blog Stacked is collecting copies of Some Girls Are to send to the town's library, where people may check it out for free. In Kelly's own words:
Let's do something together with our collective reader, intellectual freedom loving power, shall we? Can we get this book into the hands of kids of West Ashley who want it?
If you'd like to donate a copy of the book, please visit Stacked to learn more. Kelly will be collecting the books until August 17th, then she'll ship them out. Here's more information from Kelly:
Some Girls Are is currently $1.99 on Book Outlet, and What Goes Around, which is a bind-up of Summers's Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are is $1. Right now, there are over 200 copies between the two of these books on Book Outlet. Let's make them all disappear.
Can you spring $1 or $2 or $10 to get this book to these kids? It seems like a cheap way to tell these teenagers that their voices -- their lives -- really do matter.
Go Kelly. Go Andria. Go Courtney. Go readers. Let freedom read.
The week between SPX and the Brooklyn Book Festival has evolved into a real “indie super week” on the eastern seaboard, as touring cartoonists barnstormed and socialized at a furious pace. The week perhaps culminated in the Bergen Street Comic/Fantagraphics Brooklyn Book Fest kick off party Saturday, where Eleanor Davis, Michael Deforge, Patrick Kyle, Simon Hanselmann, Brandon Graham, Farel Dalrymple and Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell converged with the locals, as captured on the Fantagraphics Twitter.
The fun continued the next day at the Brooklyn Book Festival, although I was really only able to go to my own panel and quickly tour the booths, where everything seemed to be buzzing along. My panel—with Don Mishkin talking about The Warren Commission Report, Liana Finck on The Bintel Brief and Vivek J. Tiwary on The Fifth Beatle—went well as far as I could tell, with all three talking about a personal connection to the material and using comics for historical exploration. Apparently a photographer from Wikipedia was there and insisted on updating my photo, which, Puffy Sunday everyone.
And the fun continues tonight with two great events! Swing by the CBLDF and then hop on the Fulton St G to go to Desert island for the next!
Celebrate the Freedom to Read with the city’s greatest graphic novelists at CBLDF’s Banned Books Week Kick-Off this Monday, September 22 at 6:00 p.m.!
Join us to wind down another successful Brooklyn Book Festival, and to celebrate the opening of Banned Books Week, which this year celebrates comics and graphic novels! Mingle with comics creators and learn what you can do in your community to protect the freedom to read!
This event is free to CBLDF Members and Brooklyn Book Fest partners. $5 – $10 Suggested Donation all others.
Location: BRIC (647 Fulton Street, New York, NY) Time: Monday, September 22, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Price: $5 – $10 suggested donation
Eleanor Davis Slideshow at Desert Island:
Monday, Monday, Monday! Eleanor Davis is giving her LAST performance of the How to Be Happy tour at Brooklyn comic shop, Desert Island, 7-9m. You may have gotten your book signed at Brooklyn Book Festival but you haven’t L I V E D until you’ve seen Eleanor give her talk on the relationship of art and the artist.
AND TOMORROW, Super Week well and truly winds up with Hanselmann, Kyle and DeForge at Parsons as part of Ben Katchor’s Comics Symposium:
The 100th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 8 pm at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public. Please note 8pm starting time.
Presentations: Michael DeForge, Simon Hanselmann & Patrick Kyle.
Having self-published comics for the better part of the last decade, Patrick Kyle will discuss the logistics of playing publisher while balancing careers as both a cartoonist and illustrator.
Michael DeForge goes through different finished and unfinished projects he’s thrown away before publication. He discusses the value of abandoning projects, scripted versus improvised storytelling and the importance of digressions in the writing process.
Simon Hanselmann will discuss the Australian comics scene, the virtues of Tumblr as a distribution platform, making money, ‘the future’ and his general comics making process. Also: various crackpot theories and obscure in-jokes.
I’ve never been a fan of people telling me what to do. I’m open to book suggestions, but when people tell me NOT to read something, I’m probably much more likely to pick that book up. Which is why I love Banned Books Week. I read my son his first banned book when he was […]
The convention season never stops, and West Coasters will be enjoying the sights and sounds of the Long Beach Comic Con on September 27-28th at the Long Beach Convention Center. Now in its sixth year, LBCC has found a spot for itself as a comics focused show on a seaside setting. You can check out the eclectic line-up of guests of honor in the PR below, and the programming is beginning to be announced, with two panels that regular Beat readers will probably enjoy, focusing on banned books and YA graphic novels.
Saturday the 27th at 2 PM room 103C
Forbidden Knowledge: Banned Books Week Event
Literature was the first form of entertainment and education passed down through the generations. Sometimes the books that have given so much to so many need protecting. Find out how you can help make sure the books you love will always be available to new readers. Joshua Hale Fialkov (THE BUNKER; THE LIFE AFTER) and SALON contributor and novelist Samuel Sattin (THE LEAGUE OF SOMEBODIES) will talk with moderator Alan Kesinger
Sunday the 28th at 3 PM Room 103A/B
YA Riot: Stories for a Young Adult Audience
Join best-selling YA novelists Leigh Bardugo, Cecil Castellucci, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl as they discuss the variety of forms young adult writing takes, from fantasy, to graphic novel and more, and their own approaches to writing in the constantly shifting world of YA.
Robin Benway, moderator
And here’s the genreal info:
To celebrate its sixth year, Long Beach Comic Con is unveiling new initiatives including the show’s first ever Guests of Honor, this year’s official sponsors including media sponsor the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex and programming devoted to a broad range of attendees — from cosplay enthusiasts to young adult readers. Long Beach Comic Con will be held on September 27 and 28, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention Center, where exhibiting publishers will include Archie Comics, Aspen Comics, Bottled Lightning, PaperFilms, Skybound Entertainment, Storm King Productions, Top Cow, and Valiant Entertainment, among others.
For the first time in its history, Long Beach Comic Con is announcing guests of honor for this fall’s show:
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Archie Comics’ AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE)
Mike Allred (Marvel Comics’ SILVER SURFER)
Laura Allred (Marvel Comics’ SILVER SURFER
Sandy King Carpenter (Storm King Production’s ASYLUM)
Joe Casey (Man of Action)
Amanda Conner (DC Entertainment’s HARLEY QUINN)
Chris Dingess (Skybound Entertainment’s MANIFEST DESTINY)
David Gallaher (Bottled Lightning’s THE ONLY LIVING BOY)
Joe Kelly (Man of Action)
JT Krul (Aspen’s JIRNI)
Mike Mignola (Dark Horse Comics’ HELLBOY)
James O’Barr (THE CROW)
Jimmy Palmiotti (PaperFilms’ SEX & VIOLENCE)
Jamie S. Rich (Oni Press’ Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks)
Duncan Rouleau (Man of Action)
Steven T. Seagle (Man of Action)
Marc Silvestri (Top Cow)
Richard Starking (Image Comic’s ELEPHANTMEN)
Babs Tarr (DC Entertainment’s BATGIRL)
“We’re thrilled to have more guests at this year’s show than we’ve ever had before,” said Martha Donato, Long Beach Comic Con Executive Director and Co-Founder. “We recognize that attending conventions is a major commitment for comic book creators and we want to honor and celebrate some of the people who’ve joined us for six years running, as well as the writers and artists who are traveling across the country to attend our convention for the first time.”
As in past years, attendees will be treated to a wide array of programming. Highlights include:
* Panels devoted to fan favorite comic book characters including Batman, the Crow and Hellboy.
* Comic Book Publisher Spotlights moderated by BLOODY DISGUSTING, COMICVINE, IGN, THE NERDIST and others.
* Hero Complex moderated panels of pop culture, running the gamut from Robot Chicken to Young Justice to Women in Comics.
* A Young Adult panel featuring best-selling novelists Leigh Bardugo, Robin Benway, Cecil Castellucci, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl
* A Banned Books Week discussion led by the Newport Beach Branch Library
* Cosplay panels.
* Horror programming with guests like Dan Brereton (NOCTURNALS) and Mike Huddleston (THE STRAIN).
* Kids programming with KaBOOM! and creators like Eric Esquivel (BRAVEST WARRIORS), Travis Hanson (TANNER JONES AND THE QUEST FOR THE MONKEY STONE), Mike Kunkel (HEROBEAR) and Hannah Nance Partlow (ADVENTURE TIME). There will also be interactive panels where Tone Rodriguez will teach kids how to draw the Simpsons and Futurama characters and Peter Paul will teach “how to draw your dragon.”
* Animation panels dedicated to popular cartoons like GARGOYLES, SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, X-MEN and DISNEY AFTERNOON, and appearances by Greg Weisman and the Man of Action.
* Screen Junkies Presents: Honest Trailers The Panel
* #MakeComics workshops where aspiring writers and artists can learn from comic book greats including Jon Bogdanove (POWER PACK), Tim Bradstreet (HELLBLAZER), Brian Buccellato (DETECTIVE COMICS), Joshua Fialkov (THE BUNKER) and Whilce Portacio (THE PUNISHER). Over two days, workshops will walk through the entire #makecomics process: from writing and drawing to running a Kickstarter and even publicizing the comic.
“Our programming has been a huge growth area for us this year,” said Phil Lawrence, Co-founder and Sales Director of Long Beach Comic Con. “We’re running more than 80 high quality panels over two days. There’s something for every fan, whether you want to hear about the latest from Image Comics or need tips for designing and building your first cosplay.”
Growth also extends to the show’s official sponsors. The CW’s The Flash, GenZe by Mahindra, the Laugh Factory, SGX Print, and the SUN NEWS have already signed on as official sponsors, and additional announcements are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
Enjoy an exciting weekend full of exceptional guests and exhibitors, and engaging panels, at Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday, September 27 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 28 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Long Beach Convention Center. Tickets are available now through the website: www.longbeachcomiccon.com.
“Our ticket sales are significantly up from last year at this same time,” said Donato. “If you’re thinking about attending this year’s show, I recommend buying your tickets in advance before we sell out and arriving both days before the show opens.”
Follow Long Beach Comic Con on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and information.
Last week I read about a girl, a teenager from Idaho, who, after her school banned Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, decided to start up a petition to campaign for the book to be unbanned. The book was on the curriculum for many schools in Idaho, but following a campaign by some parents it was removed on the grounds that it contained profanity and sexual and anti-Christian content.
The teenager, Brady Kissel, decided to mount a petition and got 350 signatures from fellow pupils asking the school to re-instate the book, but to no avail. The issue was picked up by Rediscovered Books, a local book store, who ran a crowd funding exercise to raise money to buy each of the 350 signatories a copy of the book. They raised $3,400, which was more than enough. Brady and the bookshop gave away copies of the book outside her school on World Book Day, but the story escalated further when some parents called the police to stop her, stating that Brady was giving children books without their parents’ consent.
The police, however, saw nothing wrong in what she was doing and let her carry on.
The national press then picked up the story and, eventually, the publishers of the book became involved and decided to provide a free copy of the book for anyone who wanted it. The American Library Association cites the book as the third most challenged/banned book in the States. Strangely enough, the Captain Underpants series tops the list, with Hunger Games coming in at number five. Most of the books that are challenged by parents fall into books aimed at the 14-18 age group. The expanding Teen/YA market probably has something to do with that.
You might say, well that’s the USA for you. But I’ve heard stories from authors in the UK whose books are sometimes excluded from a school because of their content. A “book ban” in the UK would happen, if at all, at school level, usually following a head teacher’s decision, not a formalised complaint or challenge to a school board or the American Library Association as in the States.
The States has a constitution which protects freedom of speech. Brady Kissel argued that, as teens, they too have the same rights as adults and banning a book contravened that. What actually happened every time a book was banned was that teenagers went out and got hold of a copy in another way.
I know some writers in the SAS have had their books banned in the States. But has anyone had their books banned by a school here?
The exciting news this week was that I got to host a couple panels regarding Banned Books (it being the week of ‘em and all). The first was at the Brooklyn Book Festival with David Levithan, Francesca Lia Block, and Lauren Myracle. I then cannibalized my own questions and used them in this, a Google+ Hangout alongside Lauren Oliver, Lev Grossman, and Lexa Hillyer. My sole objection: You cannot see my awesome shoes.
And yes. The Google offices do have free food, copious couches, and massage rooms hither and thither.
Speaking of the Brooklyn Book Festival, I was pleased as punch to see Catherine Jinks speaking there, live and in person. She mentioned this video which, through utter and total coincidence, I’d seen on my own a couple days before. Alfred. Is. Perfect. Look at his fingernails!
And speaking of awesome book trailers . . .
And yeah. Your book trailer might be awesome. But did yours ever have a snappy theme song? I’m just so pleased that our own Gregory K. (he of Gotta Book and The Happy Accident) is debuting his middle grade this year. Spoiler Alert: It’s good.
And…. okay. So, maybe I’m a pushover. Obviously this isn’t my usual video. But I just sorta liked the feel of this little paper studio and the kiddos who help out. The narrator I can live without (would that Mimi had narrated the whole thing herself) but I like the kids and I like the product. So sue.
And for the off-topic video of the day . . . was there any question what I’d go with? This video works better when you know beforehand that the father is trying to distract his daughter from the “scary” fireworks outside.
I also like the fact that he clearly did her hair that night.
The summer before my junior year at Island Trees High School, the Supreme Court ruled on the book banning case Island Trees School District v. Pico. That summer vacation, I read a lot of romance novels with the occasional Agatha Christie thrown in. But the banned books piqued my interest. What didn’t the school board want me to learn? I borrowed Down These Mean Streets from the library, and found that Piri Thomas’s memoir about growing up on the streets of Spanish Harlem was as far from ‘80s Levittown and Danielle Steel stories as you could get. But even though aspects of his life were vastly different from mine, at sixteen, I discovered truth and beauty in his words, some of which I copied into my high school journal.
“The worlds of home and school were made up of rules laid down by adults who had forgotten the feeling of what it means to be a kid but expected a kid to remember to be an adult – something he hadn’t gotten to yet.” (Piri Thomas)
The scenes that initially caused Down These Mean Streets to be banned weren’t among the many paragraphs I transcribed at sixteen. It was the honesty and power of Thomas’s language as he struggled to find his place in the world that made an impact on me. His book was the most meaningful thing I read the summer of 1982 and it cemented my belief in every student’s freedom to read.
In response to the number of books being challenged in the United States, 1982 was also the year Banned Books Week began. Unfortunately, challenging and banning books still goes on today. Between 2000-2009, over 5000 challenges were reported. (According the ALA, “a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.” http://www.ala.org/bbooks.) Shockingly, over 1200 instances occurred in PUBLIC LIBRARIES. Some of my favorite authors, such as Sherman Alexie, Jay Asher, and John Green, were among the most challenged in 2012.
As the ALA states in a recent press release, “Banned Books Week, Sept. 22 – 28, stresses the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book, no matter how unorthodox or unpopular.” For more information on Banned Books Week and supporting the freedom to read, visit www.bannedbooksweek.org .
Yvonne Ventresca (www.YvonneVentresca.com) is a young adult author whose debut novel, Pandemic, will be available from Sky Pony Press in May 2014.
Thank you Yvonne for sharing this article with us. This is the first time we have talked about banned books on this blog.
Not only do I read banned books, but I buy them as well. Let me start with a story.
At the end of August, on my final evening of a lovely trip to Cape Cod, I was checking out Herridge Books in Wellfleet. Herridge Books is a used book store tucked in a corner not far from Mayo Beach and Wellfleet Center. I was looking for Church Mice books, while my daughter wanted ghost stories. You could have
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 columns.
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. Churchill
Occupied America by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
so occupied are they in their heads stuck in screens smart phones computers the iOnly CU online society who'd rather text their talking fingers flying swiftly over keyboards to communicate into the ether O occupied America so sick of who's at war with whom 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 masses today will they cower in fear then proudly wave their death flag even higher who will win the next elections with Corporations as people 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 to vote while the dead still rise from their graves every four years to pull the lever at the voting box automatons speak the great computers calculating the numbers in the chosen ones favor who will it be you ask 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 at home
Copyright 2012 Odilia Galván Rodríguez
We Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skin by Maurisa Thompson
Sister We did not build pyramids with words that feared our skin We 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
Sister after years in this body I know at least the beginning
We did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hips We 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 homeland 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 firelight 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 in America 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 birds insects 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 gold robbers coal robbers bone collectors 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 conversations that 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 civilian causalities 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 colonial country 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 even then images are not enough in today's america images have not enough value or intrinsic value and what price can really be put on clean air clean water healthy soil healthy children/descendants? 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 sterilizations 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 wonder i stop i sometimes listen i watch i look to clouds and wind for inspiration and i dare to question and i have yet to ask of them for help for assistance 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 remains intact 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 illuminates my eyes....
Copyright 2012 Kris Barney
Recipe for Peace by 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 Procesional por 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. Ya estaba cargando banderas, fantoches vanos por las calles. Ni puedo yo, ídolo caído, bajarla a abrazar. Sequimos, 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 a atestiguar.
Copyright 2012 Jabez W. Churchill
Processional by 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, carrying banners, 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, to testify.
Copyright 2012 Jabez W. Churchill
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.
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 inbox Newly 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:
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
email inbox In Manhattan: Casa Azul Bookstore
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.
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-Olivera
New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B by 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 blackhole discovered
at the center of Andromeda Galaxy some
2.5 million light years away from Earth
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”
the color of politics red white and blue corrupted news passing bills making rules taking brown throwing rights into spirit wind overpowering the fight proving papers marking suspects police questioning human rights based on the color of where you were born how brown your skin shines in sun hides in shadows immigration control wearing green not addressing the reality of humanness her pink dress grey nail polish selling products in a manicured war them looking the other way promising people rainbows to follow their ever changing definition of equality fooling minds allowing justice of nazi mentality to control the masses of ancestors cries red blood flowing under brown skin the people must speak fast and slow freedom dissipated and in their control brown bodies piling up on the border shot for throwing stones for being brown killing first hiding bodies in news feeds conditioning generations to not care color scheming between the lines of genocide until the colors disappear blinding white against the light of politicians coloring Americans fear.
There was nothing More to do, Than to pick up The picket sign, White-hot summers Sand underneath us, A cloudless baby Blue sky, The grape pan, Halfway 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 Man’s neck, His map Of a desert face; He was counting The trays, But we dropped Our grape knives And picked up The picket signs
Huelga, Huelga, Huelga!
And we marched That day, On the tar, Softened by the sun, Carrying our Clorox Bottles filled With frozen water.
We knew then, That we were Not alone, 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 Teachers clothes, Brown face like ours, Black hair like ours, He had the smile Of a healer.
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 Latino second” 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 Finger pointing They laugh “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 Crushed hopes Broken dreams 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
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.
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 juntos luchamos y juntos debemos estar para mostrar que nuestra esperenza comienza cuando la gente comience a pensar.
"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.
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.
Publications: Poetry ACABALLOMÓNTAME by Proyecto Existir 2004. TÚ ERES EL HOMBRE PENSADO by Lulu 2012. Novel MUERTES ESCRITAS by Lulu Editorial. 2012. Short Story POST-MORTEM by Lulu Editorial. 2011 Drama BENIGNA; DETRÁS DE TI by Lulu Editorial. 2012
Most of his work is based on Women and Gender as an ideological paradigm.
I think it fitting that I follow up the last Video Sunday bit of teacher enthusiasm with this subsequent sneaky teacher taping. “We’re just smelling books, Mr. Lewis.” That would be Mike Lewis and though they acknowledge him at the start, it’s pretty clear they don’t know he’s taping until much later on. This should give heart to anyone worried about the fate of the paper book. Big big thanks to Mike Lewis for this video.
So happy Sunday to you, one and all. It’s not Banned Books Week, or Banned Books Month, or even the Year of the Banned Book, but even still this video was so nicely put together that I figured it deserved to be shown at a time of year that wasn’t designated “banned”. And naturally I liked that so many of the books read here were children’s as well as adult.
Well written too, come to think of it. It was created by Bookmans, a kind of used bookstore/everything else in Tucson, Mesa, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. Thanks to Ben Collinsworth for the link.
Now for fun personal stuff. As you may know I’m writing a book with Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Certainly finding videos of me on the web is easy enough but finding videos of Jules can be a bit tricky. Fortunately as part of their We Believe in Picture Books campaign, Candlewick has been soliciting and posting videos from folks of all stripes. I’m sure you’ve been following the various videos they’ve posted. Here we find my co-writer in the flesh talking about all things picture bookish:
Then the book trailers cometh. And this next one for Chronicle Books just sort of cements them as my favorite book trailer publisher. It’s for this year’s Project Jackalope from the Senior Producer of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Emily Ecton.
Not that Candlewick does a bad job. This one showed during SLJ’s Day of Dialog with slightly different music. It’s Jon Klassen sequel to I Want My Hat Back called (appropriately enough) This is Not My Hat. Gorgeous trailer.
And heck, Penguin too. I mean, tell me this trailer doesn’t make you want to go out and rip the book from the arms of young people so that you can read it yourself.
Not sure if this one counts as a book trailer. Is it a trailer if they read the whole thing? Basically, I figure that if you read anything in that magnificent accent you are allowed to read as much of it as you like. This book’s a pip but I can’t imagine it would be half as interesting to hear from an American mouth. We just don’t pronounce the word “kennel” correctly, do we?
Thanks to Lisa Abid for the link!
And finally, when the tough can’t find any off-topic videos, the tough go to BB-Blog and plunder what they find there. It’s a Caketrope (a zoetrope cake) in a Burton style. Yum!
A few months after I got home from the Army (42 years ago last week), my wife bought a season of Thursday opening nights at the Mark Taper Forum. I've been a season seat holder ever since, albeit now a Saturday matinee tipo. One of the productions that first dazzling year for me stands out, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. I was one of the audience members selected to sit as a juror in this world premiere performance of Daniel Berrigan's play, Directed by the Taper's Gordon Davidson.
A few years later, I'd see the Taper's dynamic New Theatre For Now series' opening night Zoot Suit, with Daniel Valdez as el pachuco, firing up a joint to spark the opening monologue.
It's experiences like those that keep me buying seats at the Taper, even after they remodeled the place and moved me from an aisle to center of a long row. It's definitely not the output from impresario Michael Ritchie that keeps me buying seats, because Ritchie starves L.A. audiences for quality fare.
A Mark Taper Forum season used to assure ticket holders would have immediate, important, home-grown productions, with road shows of highest quality to spice up a season, like Siobhan McKenna's Irish ladies. Nowadays, the free program offers up bios of east coast and out-of-town actors, directors, and tech people.
Sometimes Ritchie's preference for immigrant art hits the Mark, and saves a season. That's Red. The play's an exhausting fabulous ninety minute no-intermission hyper Socratic dialog between painter Mark Rothko and his assistant. The combination of actors Alfred Molina as Rothko and John Logan as the factotum works with drilling intensity. Theatre sleepers like me stayed alert for every moment of dialog. Silence works, too, like a frenzied scene when the pair drench themselves and a canvas in a red. Red comes to Music Center Hill via Broadway. Not the Million Dollar on LA's Broadway down the hill, but New York City where the production, Molina, and playwright John Logan, won big awards and grand reviews. Rightfully so. Logan writes some of the best dialog to treat your ears, ever. He stands out as an artist whose work should win him other prizes and enormous satisfaction.
A visit to the Center Theatre Group's promo site for the play is useful. Here Logan offers this précis of what Molina does to the written Mark Rothko. "Fred" the playwright calls the star, embodies "titanic anger, pomposity, seriousness, and rage, yet incredible sensitivity."
Logan's interview at the Music Center's website merits a couple of views for the writer's insights and the snippets of the characters measuring one another's understanding of things that come in red. There's another names-for-red scene that's even better. Wittgenstein would dig it.
It will be interesting to see where Logan takes his art from here. A big artist as subject, lofty romantic questions like "what is art?"make for high drama, deep tragedy. I'd like to see Logan make me laugh.
Red won't force tears so you'll exit the auditorium smiling that you've lived as part of an all-time great performance of a superb play. Red runs at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum through September 9, directed by Michael Grandage.
Status Quo: The People of the State of Arizona, complicity with Tucson Unified School District, persist in exercising the State's and Board's Constitutional power to ban books.
In northern Los Angeles environs, Tia Chucha's Bookstore and Centro Cultural have become Librotraficantes. The centro hosts a fund raiser and book drive in conjunction with the release of the Special Master Report.
Tia Chucha's, now a Los Angeles LibroTraficante, invites you to join us as we host a discussion of the anti-migrant hysteria gripping Arizona and celebrate culture and palabra! This will also be a fundraiser for the Raza Defense Fund and a banned book drive! Your book donations will be used to set up community libraries in the local area and beyond! for a list of banned books go here: http://librotraficante.com/images/BannedListAnnotatedBibliography.pdf
Visit Tia Chucha's website for details and scheduling. Events include a discussion featuring banned authors Rudy Acuna and Luis Rodriguez, and an Open Mic.
Mexican Cultural Institute Gallery Show of Movimiento History
Tourists strolling El Lay's Olvera Street looking for Pancho Lopez--if they know Lalo Guerrero's old song--will count themselves informed and fortunate to find the increasingly popular gallery of the Mexican Cultural Institute. Here's how the MCI describes its current effort:
Organized by the Chicano Resource Center of Los Angeles, this mixed media exhibit features more than 100 photographs, videos, paintings and archival documents relation of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Includes a special tribute to "Women of the Movement Then and Now". Exhibit open Thursdays through Sundays, 1 to 6 pm. Through September 9. Galería MCI is located in the basement of the Biscailuz Building at El Pueblo/Olvera Street.
La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • Penultimate Tuesday of August 2012
Frank de Jesus Acosta, Francisco X Alarcón, Seeyouma Nahash'Chid, John Martinez, Nancy Aidé González
"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta "Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón "Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid "Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez "Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González
Warrior Poets Rise! by Frank De Jesus Acosta
The stories flowing thru you are worthy to be told Set them free to strum a dormant heart-chord searching for its song Your words are an ancestor’s spirit voice returning in wisdom Your verse is soulful flor y canto ascending in sacred smoke The unfinished stanza of a departed relative’s poem The stories, requiems, & prayers of the warrior poet Are a confluence of hearts, minds, & souls Weaving the distal corners of creation, history, & prophesy Forming one great hoop of nations and relatives upon earth Flesh & spirit, 7 generations merging past, present, & future Let your words rise and flow in transformative love Lifting up the highest virtues of our collective humanity Rise Warrior Poets; Rise!
BRIDGE POETS / POETAS PUENTES by Francisco X. Alarcón
a los participantes de Poetas en el Puente: Manuel Luna, Ana Chig, Elizabeth Cazessús, Sonia Gutiérrez, Luis Gastélum, Sugar Born, Ricky Zamudio y Ensamble Wamba 12 de agosto de 2012 en Galería Mariposa/ Papillon Tijuana
Dzil Yijiin – Black Mountain Seeyouma Nahash'chid
Why has it come to be for Dine’ Why has it come to be for Kiis’aanii While we argue over this Holy Land Corporate AmeriKa rapes our Earth Mother of her seeds They have turned Kiis’aanii against Dine’ Dzil Yijiin extended so high Visualized high above where it touches Father Sky This is our existence The ancestors home The Clan people of the Dine’ and Kiss’aanii Our home of our sacred Indigenous tradition Our sacred Indigenous heritage This place where our ancestors spirits roam Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations Yet Corporate AmeriKa does not care They only want to ravage the sacredness of Dzil Yijiin Committing devastation and great sacrileges This most sacred of holy places Binds the Dine’ and Kiis’aanii to this land of their birth Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations The four sacred mountains They represent the holy ways of Dine' and Kiis'aanii In our tongue There is no word for relocation How can you stop our sacred ceremonies Our daily obligations On the top of Dzil Yijiin We make our appropriate offerings, songs, and prayers In this sacred way Our offerings and prayers will keep us strong How can we leave our sacred place of offerings We are tied to this Holy Land With out this Holy Land Dine’ and Kiis’aanii would not be able to survive We cannot just walk away from Creator’s gift We would be disgraced This Corporate AmeriKa is always devising some evil way To steal and take what is not theirs They are willing to tear our Earth Mother's belly apart They strip our Mother's flesh and kill the air To nourish their greed Clan people we must stand together as one In order to survive as part of our Mother's very heart Clan people we are connected to this Holy Land We will not be moved like the sheep we herd Here we are known by the Holy Spirit beings In this sacred way we will sing our blessingway song Clan people stand in unity This is our country Our Dine'taa’ Our beauty way
Our Silence Is That We Don't Know Their Names by John Martinez
She is locked in a hope chest In the back of a Van Crunched, in a fetal position, She listens to her own breathing, Thinking of her Mother mending Her Quinceañera dress, Of her father hammering On a tin roof
In the desert the cactus hum A separate melody, One of sun, sky And small drops of water, But without water, without air, She will blend into the dark square, Her name never comes through
His feet burned into tongues That lapped the floor of the desert, Feeling around for his place, His lips cracked into crushed glass, His throat, a tunnel of misplaced echoes, His name never comes through, But I know them both.
I also know the child with flower petal hands, Sleeping on his starving Mother She remembers when He was born on a winter night, Steam rose from her vagina, His life warmed her that day, but today, He is a small tremor, sandpaper hair, Eyes, half open like a broken doll, His name never comes through
We know of these tragedies, all of us, As we tuck into our fortunate lives, We know their howling, When the clouds bunch over Our perfect dens, they reach for us, Their tears fall like rain Onto our stucco houses, Our silence is that We don’t know their names
Coatl by Nancy Aidé González
Coatl By Nancy Aidé González Healing undulating wisdom astral metamorphosis illusions shed scales spitting strength in desert sand sibilant forked tongue flicking reptilian transubstantiation hiss hiss hiss through blurring abstractions shed old habits serpentine escort guide me through spiral paths of modification changing static rivers of time opaque blue eyes stare snake medicine, I drink.
BIOS "Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta "Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón "Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid "Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez "Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González
A graduate of UCLA, Frank de Jesus Acosta is the principal at Acosta & Associates, a California-based consultant group specializing in professional services targeting philanthropic, non-profit, and government institutions. A&A specializes in public and private social change ventures in the areas of violence prevention, community development, cultural fluency initiatives, and policy development. Recent clients include Walking Shield, Local Initiatives Support Council (LISC), The California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, California Endowment, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Policy Link, The City Project, Institute for Community Peace, and Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos. Acosta’s professional experience includes leadership tenures with: The California Wellness Foundation; the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); the Center for Community Change; and the UCLA Community Programs Office. In 2007, Acosta authored, “The History of the Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos Community Peace Movement,” Arte Publico Press, University of Houston.
Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet who lives in Lodi, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 2000. Her work has appeared in Calaveras Station Literary Journal, La Bloga, Everyday Other Things, Mujeres De Maiz Zine, and La Peregrina. She is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group based in Sacramento, California which honors the literary traditions of Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.
Family Circle has a well-balanced article on people who try to get books pulled from library shelves.
Suzanne Collins was the third most challenged work in the U.S. in 2011, criticized for being "anti-family" and "anti-ethnic," and for its offensive language and violence. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter was the most frequently banned series from 2000 to 2009 for being too focused on the occult and Satanism.
Guest Columnist: Sarah Rafael Garcia. "Memorias de Mis Besos Nobel"
As I entered the bookstore, I felt a literary spirit penetrate my skin. My body had an ever so tingling sensation that left my hair electrifying and my toes curled in the most sensual position. I was a bit overpowered and a little uncomfortable with the public experience but I went along with it. It felt so good.
I took each step with pure indulgence. I skimmed the tables for something that caught my eye but all I could think of was how excited I felt and took pleasure in the warmth that was spreading from my feminine spot to my inner thighs.
I slowly made my way through the isles, carefully placing my hands on leather-bound books and vibrant illustrations. I ran my fingers through Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. As something called for me to return to the front of the store, I took in a deep breath, attempting to hide my internal moans of pleasure. Then I remembered that Laura Esquivel's Malinche was sitting on the front table and I needed two copies for her autograph that I was there to get.
At that very minute, I saw him enter through the magical doors. A young, handsome man gallantly walked besides him, but my focus was on his distinguished presence and gray hair. He was the one that seemed extremely familiar and whose enlightening works ran through my head: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and the most notable to me, Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes.
I timidly kept my distance but forced my way to the cashier’s desk where he stood signing a book for the owner. My curiosity led me to study the young sales attendant’s reaction. While blushing, she nodded at me as if yelling out loud "Yes! Oh God, it is him!”
I leaned over to see his face. I needed confirmation. I was there to meet one of my top inspirations to become of writer, but I never in my wildest dreams expected to run into him. ¡Mi numero uno!
El que me hace soñar entre sus manos. El que me toca sensualmente con cada palabra. El único que siempre esta allí cuando lo busco. The one who has touched many lives around the world, with just a stroke of a pen.
There he was with his back turned towards me. He was taking a step farther away from my urges. He had one foot out the door, headed back to the fantasy world that he was in prior to this moment. A place that was so remote to me. Could I actually let him slip out of reach just like that?
As calm as I could possibly be while walking towards him, I stated loudly, "¿Con permiso, lo puedo saludar?"
As charming as he is known to be & before he could turn to see my face, he responded, “Solo si lo hace con un beso." With a mischievous smile, I replied, "¡Si gusta le doy dos!"
Then we casually intertwined into a normal conversation about me living in China, writing a book and reading two of his in the last year and a half. I stated how happy I was to be with him. He told me that our worlds could have crossed at many places, since he too spent time getting lost in the walls of the Forbidden City and his own stories. He was so charming and intriguing. His eyes were mesmerizing. I had no choice but to give myself to him. He had full control of the encounter. He inquired about my life and how I survived through such tough times. He made me laugh like a schoolgirl. He made me feel like I was the only woman and writer in the world, “No te preocupes, ya se que vas a hacer una escritora famosa. ¡Por que siempre comenzamos pobres y con hambre!”
I continued to succumb to his every gesture and hung on to each syllable his lips enunciated. He held my hands tightly and played with words as if he knew he was courting my literary whims to reach their climax. Then just like that; he wished me Buena Suerte and expressed his sincerity with a gentle embrace.
The same instant he walked out the door, he disappeared from my vision and returned to my world of passionate dreams. I was left flushed and wanting more. Immediately afterwards I did what every impressionable young woman would do. I shared my intimate moment with a good girlfriend. While describing each minute detail of my rendezvous with the Nobel Prize winner, I realized I had never even told him my name.
About Sarah Rafael Garcia
Sarah Rafael García was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Orange County, California. She started writing after her father's passing in 1988. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Sociology at Texas State University, is bilingual in Spanish and knows enough Mandarin to speak to pre-k students and taxi drivers in China. She has lived in Beijing and traveled to various countries including a three-month backpacking adventure in Australia. She is an active writer, community educator and published author who strives to advocate for human rights.
Since the publication of Las Niñas, A Collection of Childhood Memories in 2008, García has continued to share her writings and community outreach by founding Barrio Writers in 2009, a reading and writing program aimed to empower youth through creative writing, higher education and the cultural arts and hosting Wild Womyn Writers in 2010, workshops that create neutral spaces which empower womyn to explore their creative spirits, free themselves from societal restrictions and learn to embrace their natural instincts.
García’s essay “Crossing Borders” was published in Connotation Press in April 2011 and her spoken word piece "Without a Name" was aired on the 2012 EXSE Spoken Word Showcase and published in Label Me Latina/o in June 2012. Most recently, she is attending Texas State University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing while working on her next book. García’s writings, workshops and lifestyle promote community empowerment, cultural awareness and global sharing. Listen to Sarah Rafael Garcia read a story at Latinopia.
Banned Books Update
On this first Tuesday in the eighth month of the year 2012, Arizona continues to ban books in your name.
After reading last week's La Bloga Banned Books Update, a University of Nebraska researcher wrote Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone. Pedicone insists he has not banned The Tempest, nor any other book. Pedicone alludes kids can get the not-banned books by filing approved interlibrary loan paperwork.
The researcher asked if kids would be expelled for bringing in a non-banned banned book. Pedicone wrote back with his claim that nothing has been banned and if a teacher wants to use a book, Shakespeare's The Tempest, for example, the teacher has that liberty, provided the title is approved for use in that class.
Pedicone refused to answer the question about the kid's liberty. His silence is tacit admission that any kid bringing a non-banned banned book into the classroom will be banned from the classroom, along with that non-banned banned book.
On-Line Floricanto First Tuesday in August 2012
Arnoldo Garcia, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Alma Luz Villanueva, Alejandro E. Barajas, Iris de Anda
“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia: "Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist "Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva "El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas “Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda
My Land by Arnoldo Garcia
my country is the smallest country in the world. my country fits inside one-hundredth of one molecule in a touch between one strand of DNA my country has room for everyone every European every Chinese every Mexican every African every Indian every Asian Pacific Islander every queer every nomad of the earth every two-legged, four-legged, crawling, burrowing, winged- beings fit in my country. Everyone is welcome, everyone I'll happily give you my country as long as you promise not just to take care of her to let everyone live in her in peace in garbled flags in borders without pigment borders with human pores to breath freely to live breathing My country is everyone, is everywhere my country is small bothers no one invades no one drones no one doesn't stamp your passport doesn't ask for identity documents my country lets you be lets you exist as yourself lets you determine who you are my country has no borders other than those of humanity to humanity my country has no armies no prisons no police no homeless no one suffers at the hands of other humans my country is all the colors the clash of colors, the contrast the muddy blends, the stark yellows the pink sunrises, the red of your tongue mu country fits in your veins fits in the bat of an eye welcomes you to our bodily paradise you can have my country, if you want it's already yours walk slowly take your time my country is in no rush peace and freedom take their time rest a bit get up work hard, party in my country even the dead get a turn to dance every now and then there are no regrets there is only life and its mortal pleasures in my country oh! in my country you would be ideal you would fit right in like you always lived there like your ancestors had been buried there as a matter of fact I would encourage you to bury your ancestors here... to bring your ancestors here to my country to bury them here take care of them here take care of our country where everyone where every living being fits my country is so small that everyone fits. And in one of her pores fit all the suns and moon, my country, you and me...
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda
Elena has been doing a Chautauqua living history presentation of Teresita Urrea, la santa de Cabora, since 2001. The Arizona Humanities Council pays her honorarium and she travels all over Arizona introducing people to Teresita. She recently performed as Teresita at the National Hispanic Museum in Albuquerque and the Chamizal National Monument in El Paso. She's also performed at UC Davis, Border Book Festival in Las Cruces, Segundo Barrio in El Paso, and UT in San Antonio.
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; celebrating our stories, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds. As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena also does presentations about Morenci, Arizona. She 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.
Recently, Elena was nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. She is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems that were published not only on that page but also on La Bloga. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.
Alejandro Esiquiel Barajas was born in Sunnyside, Wa. He was born into a hard working farm-working family. Along with 6 siblngs in the family, everyone knew what one dollor's worth meant at an early age. It was in the year of 2007 that Alejandro began to write about this intricate life, but it wasn't until 2009 that he began to create courage to save his thoughts on a piece of paper. This has now evolved into a self-manifestation of several poems that transcend into different realms inside the mind. Alejandro's personal interest include, but are not limited to: strumming the guitar, waking with the sun, neighboring the shores, and skipping rocks endlessly until the arm gives out. Alejandro will be attending Western Washington University's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies for the next two years, where he intends to dive into Ethnic Studies/Critical Pedagogy. He also intends to further his studies until he recieves a PhD.
Guest Columnists: Lucha Corpi and Nuria Brufau Alvira. Translation and Voice: A poet’s and writer’s views.
La Bloga is honored and excited to present this two-part series by Lucha Corpi and Nuria Brufau Alvira, Translation and Voice: A poet’s and writer’s views. The pair examines the process of Nuria's translating Lucha's Eulogy for a Brown Angel into the 2011 Spanish novel, Loa a un ángel de piel morena.
In Eulogy, Corpi writes one of the best opening scenes in chicana chicano literature, a woman fleeing the police riot at Laguna Park, stumbles upon grisly infanticide. Corpi grabs the reader's attention and hurls the reader into a moral morass. The publisher notes:
Loa a un ángel de piel morena es una novela trepidante, de gran suspense, y llena de personajes diversos e interesantes. En el apogeo del movimiento chicano a favor de los derechos civiles en 1970, el cuerpo profanado de un niño pequeño yace inerte en una calle del Este de Los Ángeles, durante una de las manifestaciones socio-políticas más violentas en la historia de California. La activista política Gloria Damasco descubre el cuerpo del pequeño y, en ese instante, se enfrenta también el hecho de que su modo de percibir la realidad es un «don obscuro» que va más allá de la lógica «normal». En el transcurso de las siguientes cuarenta y ocho horas, dos personas más mueren asesinadas. Gloria no se permite sino el seguirle la pista a los asesinos hasta verlos entre rejas, así le lleve toda la vida. Cada paso en su investigación la conduce de Los Ángeles a la Bahía de San Francisco. Así mismo, la introduce en el camino de una conspiración internacional, una sangrienta venganza, y la violenta y trágica conclusión del caso en la pintoresca región vinícola de Napa, California.
In today's guest column, Lucha Corpi relates the writer’s experience in seeing her creation transformed in the hands of another, in understanding the uniquely creative writing process of translating chicanidad along with the words.
Next Tuesday, April 10, Nuria Brufau Alvira relates the translator’s experience negotiating the confluences of language, speech, cultural content, plot, and character, to fashion for Spanish language readers the same novel United States readers recognize as a classic of la literatura chicana.
La Bloga readers can order both novels via their local independent bookseller.
Lucha Corpi. Nuria Brufau Alvira. Loa a un ángel de piel morena : una novela de misterio. Madrid: Alcala de Henares Universidad de Alcalá, Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Estudios Norteamericanos "Benjamin Franklin", 2011.
ISBN 9788481389432 8481389439
Lucha Corpi. Eulogy for a brown angel: a mystery novel. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1992.
Lauren Myracle, author of SHINE, ttfn, and many more popular YA books, talks beautifully and honestly in this article about her books being banned and challenged, the horrible criticisms she’s received, the blizzard of fan mail she gets (a hundred emails a day!!), the awful mix-up with Shine and Chime with the National Book Awards…and SCARS is mentioned! The interviewer says at one point:
“Wall Street Journal writer Meghan Cox Gurdon said last year that teen literature has become too dark and depraved—too much rape, incest, violence. One of the books she cited, Scars, is about a girl who cuts herself. What’s your take?”
and Lauren Myracle says:
“I think she looked at a very small sampling of books. I think she herself was sensationalizing. For a girl who is cutting herself, to be able to read something like that and think, “I’m not alone,” what bigger gift can you give someone?”
Thank you so much, Lauren! (beaming)
I love how honest Lauren is in her interview, and how down-to-earth. Check it out.
Ain’t he just the sweetest thing? Author/illustrator Aaron Zenz recently wrote just the loveliest ode to his four top favorite children’s literary blogs, and then went and created original art for each. In my case he created this little Fuse guy (or possibly Fuse gal) based on the bright yellow Fuse you see at the beginnings of each of my posts (I put it there in lieu of my face because I can only look at myself so often before going stark raving mad). This, I should point out, is not the first time a little Fuse person has been created for this blog. Katherine Tillotson, an artist of outstanding ability (I’m biased but it also happens to be true) created not one but TWO little Fusemen in the past, both for separate birthdays.
I’m a fan. So thank you Aaron and, once again, thank you Katherine. Fusemen of the world unite!
*sniff sniff* Smell that? That’s the distinctive odor of a brouhaha brewing. Sort of a combination of burnt hair, dead goldfish and patchouli. And you wonder why I don’t cover YA books. Sheesh! One word: drama. Seems that a YA blog called Story Siren plagiarized the work of others for her own blog posts. Folks noticed and suddenly the internet was was heaping helpful of flames, burns, accusations, and other forms of tomfoolery. For a sane and rational recap we turn to our own Liz Burns who gives us the run down in Today’s Blog Blow Up. Ugly stuff.
And while we’re on the subject of YA (which I just said I don’t cover, and yet here we are), I thought we were done with whitewashing, folks. So what’s up with this? Harlequin Teen, you got some explaining to do.
In other news, book banning: It’s what’s for dinner. Take a trip with me to The Annville-Cleona School District where a picture book fondly nicknamed by some as Where’s the Penis? is getting some heat. If you’ve ever seen The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Adam Rex, then you know that calling it “pornographic” works only if you are unaware of what the word “pornography” actually means. I would like to offer a shout-out to librarian Anita Mentzer who has handled the whole situation with class and dignity. You, madam, are the kind of children’s librarian others should aspire to be. Well done. And thanks to Erica Sevetson for the link.
We may not yet have an ALA accredited poetry award for a work of children’s literature but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a Poet Laureate or two instead. Rich Michelson, gallery owner and
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Professor Cheryl Cowdy from York University was interviewed on CTV: “is Dr. Seuss Too Political?” because a grade-one teacher was actually banned from displaying a quote from Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle! (I LOVE that book.) The quote was: “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights.”
What a great quote, eh? I love how Dr Seuss often put positive-action thinking into his books, encouraging readers to treat each other equally (think The Sneetches with their stars on bellies and stars not on bellies). And I don’t understand people who try to stop kids from reading about things that can help! Or just reading, period. Book banning makes no sense to me.
But something Professor Cheryl Cowdy said in her interview resonated with me. She said she thinks children’s books are often banned because people think kids aren’t capable of thinking for themselves. That makes sense to me. People are afraid, and want their children to think the same way they do. But children have the right to make their own minds up.
I rode shotgun up from Deming to Silver City, New Mexico. We were heading up to meet with the vato who first published the phrase “the Chicano Renaissance,” Felipe Ortego. ¡Saludos Don Felipe!
The first time I read the phrase “the Chicano Renaissance” I understood Ortego’s enthusiasm. Anyone surveying the United States literary landscape between the late 1960s through the 1980s would share Don Felipe’s comprehension that el movimiento was producing a new cultural current, and his metaphorical “renaissance” echoed historic emergences like in Florence or London or Harlem.
A new renaissance is stalking America, the Chicano Renaissance, and this time, it really is. The “Chicano Renaissance” grew from regional small press and newsmedia publication. Taken up by big publishing, Chicana Chicano literary production joined the institutional rat race.
Early literatura chicana mirrored and helped create the community ethos that, in multiple languages, featured images of la tierra and farmworkers, noble outcasts or hagiographic antepasados, a separate eden, a battle against a blue-eyed devil, a lost and ruined homeland.
A catalog of such dominant themes fails to capture the elegance, wit, and capacity of Chicana Chicano writers of that time and now. Then, it was chest-thumping time.
Today, a writer is likely to see the label “Chicana Chicano Writer” as a boundary against work being considered simply “American Literature.” That’s an irony that an apex of success for a Chicana Chicano writer would portend the end of “Chicano Literature.”
Fortunately, there’s likely a new Chicano Renaissance on the horizon, one that portends global penetration of raza writing into every market where readers who have a computer or an e-book reader can choose to read all manner of Chicana Chicano literature.
How does it look from your horizon? Leave a comment below, how does it?
Banned Books Update
Arizona’s laws remain on the books. The day after Veterans Day, it’s a good time to acknowledge my 19 months in uniform defended their hateful power. But we draftees were not going to roll over and play dead, we would actually die, if it came to that, so Arizona could elect people like those. Oh well.
Carmen Tafolla’s landmark collection, Curandera, is banned in Arizona. That doesn’t prevent people in Arizona or any place in the world, from buying the 30th Anniv
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Hector Tobar. The Barbarian Nurseries. NY: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2011. ISBN: 9780374108991 0374108994
Héctor Tobar has taken the possible and made it impossible.
Is it possible to add another title to the wondrous list of Los Angeles novels?
Absolutely. In fact, name your favorite LA novel, from Chandler to De Lillo to Yxta Maya Murray, and add Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries to the top of the list.
Is it possible to find a better Los Angeles novel?
No. The Barbarian Nurseries stands alone as the quintessential cultural portrait of early twenty-first century Los Angeles.
In the novel’s three chapters—three books in one—Tobar begins with an ethnically mixed upwardly mobile family, a Mexican-American software engineer and a down East Anglo mother, caught in their own acquisitional excess and benign neglect of the hired help. The family implodes, stranding the Mexicana maid with two sheltered boys and a hazy notion of where to find the boys’ grandfather.
The final chapter jails the maid for fanciful Anglo-perceived crimes and sends her through the dual processes of a criminal trial and impending deportation.
Tobar takes pains to keep his characters at arm’s length so a reader doesn’t like anyone too much nor despise anyone irrationally.
Araceli, the maid, he paints as a crusty tipa, a Bellas Artes student who bottles her creativity behind pursed lips and curtness. Up until now, life’s greatest slap in the face was getting a scholarship to the instituto but getting no money for brushes and paints. She lives as an example of a character who may die with one thousand masterpieces hanging only from her mind.
Speaking of allusions, stay alert for that Chinese chalk. In preparation, read Olga Garcia’s poem “Sonia on Hope Street.” The poem echoes in one’s memory as Maureen diligently mops away the invisible knowledge locked away in jail with Araceli.
The Torres-Thompson family takes the cake. Actually, several, and all designer-made concoctions. He’s at a career dead-end and she’s stuck at home with two boys and a new-born daughter. We meet Scott sweating and cussing up a storm because his darned lawnmower refuses to cut the lawn as well as it performed for Pepe. Both Pepe, and Maureen’s nanny Guadalupe, had to go, to get expenses under control.
Although Tobar focuses the novel on the pendejadas of Scott, Maureen, and Araceli, he manages to draw the social milieu with broad strokes, as needed using a fine tip to draw out some fine detail from the jumbled landscape that stretches from the Anglo bastions of Orange County to the bus stops of H.P.
There’s the racist ideologue who takes up the cudgel in Tobar’s portrait of thought-absent obsession that sees only “ill” in “immigrant” then stands dumbfounded when her preferred “Just Us” shapes itself to reflect Justice, because bittersweet endings are better than sad ones, and because that’s how The System works. Tobar’s making up only some of this.
There’s the L.A. mayor who talks himself into being undecided whether to choose wishy or washy when it comes to taking a strong pro-comunidad position. In contrast, there’s the Mexican Consul in Santa Ana who is as bumbling a fool as the mayor is a cipher. Much as Tobar dislikes that character, the author gives a final glimpse of the empty man desolate
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Cecile Pineda. Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step. San Antonio: Wings Press for Cecile Pineda, 2012. ISBN 9780916727994
Last month as I was enjoying Robert Arellano’s Curse the Names, his doomsday novel informed by outlandishly consequential U.S. nuclear policies, I had simultaneously begun reading Nicole Pineda’s creative nonfiction thriller, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step.
Pineda’s doomsday take on global nuclear policies, the deception leading up to and growing out of the failure of GE’s nuclear design at Fukushima, Japan, cast a harsh emotional glare on what should have been a bright, fun read about nuclear disaster.
I had to stop. Not because I can’t dance, but I was terrified to step outside and breathe the air. It’s everywhere.
Pineda scared the living caca out of me. To get around that, I adopt a critical perspective derived from Chapter 104’s title, A Little Bit Goes a Long Way… Fear, like radiation, spreads. The main thing is, don't panic. That's a reading stance to adopt as one reads fact after fact Pineda’s massive research cobbles together to terrify you.
Just as Arellano’s character goes crazy thinking about a nightmare scenario, Pineda’s fact-driven scenarios spur a reader’s imagination to nightmarish personal fears involving one’s grandchildren and loved ones. A little bit of fear goes a long way toward coloring one’s reading. For Devil’s Tango, fear plays continuo behind the driving disharmonies of Pineda’s composition.
There’s the photographer’s story from Chernobyl. From the air, photos showed vast junkyards of radiation contaminated vehicles and other machinery. He couldn’t take a photo at ground level because all that junk, and more, had been swallowed up into the flea market economy. Don’t buy a desk or office chair within the million square miles of Belarus or Ukraine.
There are the soldiers whom Russian leaders sacrificed. Sent them to pick up nuclear waste with their hands, wearing their Army green fatigues and comfortable leather boots. Pineda doesn’t say if they spit-shined those boots.
Three hundred forty thousand soldiers--all of them--died. No record remains of their names, who they were, where they were born or died, or of their cause of death. Pineda denies the unspoken premise, if we don’t know their names, do they matter? QEPD, brothers and sisters. You did your duty. Russian army, U.S. Army, if you see a mushroom cloud on the horizon, you say “yes, sir!” put on your raincoat and march toward the smoke.
If Chernobyl is the boogeyman of nuclear safety, what shall the world consider Fukushima? In the first week after the earthquake, Fukushima has released more radioactive cesium than Chernobyl and all the bombs detonated during the years of atmospheric testing. One hundred tons of fuel…have melted through containment and fallen into the basement of the reactor buildings—something TEPCO admitted only much later. Thousands of tons of radioactive water have been released…contaminating the water and sea life for all eternity or 4.5 billion years, whichever comes first. (84) Scary stuff.
The scariest words Pineda writes are her allusions to all of us being wiped off the face of the earth. Relating a Siberian nuclear accident where years later, the ground still moves, the author observes,