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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: social change, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 19 of 19
1. How university students infantilise themselves

Like their forebears in the 1960s, today’s students blasted university leaders as slick mouthpieces who cared more about their reputations than about the people in their charge. But unlike their predecessors, these protesters demand more administrative control over university affairs, not less. That’s a childlike position. It’s time for them to take control of their future, instead of waiting for administrators to shape it.

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2. Why the future of social change belongs to community research

People don’t exist as isolated entities, and social programs, movements, or data analytic methods that assume they do are not aligned with reality—and may be doomed to fail. We all know that providing therapy or tutoring to a child may be less effective than hoped if the child’s parents, peers, school, and neighborhood are not also operating in a way that’s conducive to the child’s growth and well-being.

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3. Photography and social change in the Central American civil wars

By Erina Duganne

Many hope, even count on, photography to function as an agent of social change. In his 1998 book, Photojournalism and Foreign Policy: Icons of Outrage in International Crises, communications scholar David Perlmutter argues, however, that while photographs “may stir controversy, accolades, and emotion,” they “achieve absolutely nothing.”


Camera Lens, by Jkimxpolygons. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In my current research project, I examine the difficult question of what contribution photography has made to social change through an examination of images documenting events from the Central American civil wars — El Salvador and Nicaragua, more specifically — that circulated in the United States in the 1980s. Rather than measure the influence of these photographs in terms of narrowly conceived causal relationships concerning issues of policy, I argue that to understand what these images did and did not achieve, they need to be situated in terms of their broader social, political, and cultural effects — effects that varied according to the ever shifting relations of their ongoing reproduction and reception. Below are three platforms across which photographs from the wars in Central America circulated and recirculated in the United States in the 1980s.

(1)   In the early 1980s, the US government adopted a dual policy of military support in Central America. In El Salvador, they provided aid against the guerilla forces or FMLN while in Nicaragua they backed the contra war against the Sandinistas. Many Americans learned and formulated opinions about these policies through photographs that circulated in the news media. The cover of the 22 March 1982 issue of Time, for instance, featured a photograph of a gunship flying over El Salvador. Taken by US photojournalist Harry Mattison, the editors at Time used the photograph as part of their cover story questioning the use by the US government of aerial reconnaissance photographs of military installations in Nicaragua to establish a causal link between the leftist insurgents in El Salvador and Communist governments worldwide.

(2)   In addition to these reconnaissance photographs, the Reagan administration also turned to photography in an eight-page State Department white paper entitled Communist Interference in El Salvador, which was released to the American public on 23 February 1981. In this white paper, the US government included two sets of military intelligence photographs of captured weapons, which they believed would help them to further provide the American public with “irrefutable proof” of Communist involvement via Russia and Cuba in Central America, and thereby justify the escalation of US military and economic aid to the supposedly moderate Salvadoran government. The aforementioned article in Time also questioned the validity of the sources used in this document.

(3)   While photography played a prominent role in debates over the existence of a communist threat in Central America, beginning in 1983, a number of artists and photographers — Harry Mattison, Susan Meiselas, Group Material, Marta Bautis, Mel Rosenthal, among others — put photographs from the Central American conflicts, some of which had circulated directly in the aforementioned contexts and others which had not, to a different use. Rather than employ photographs to perpetuate or even question the accuracy of communist aggression in the region, these artists and photographers instead used the medium to examine the imperialist underpinning of the Reagan administration’s foreign policy in Central America as well as the longstanding geopolitical and historical implications of US involvement there. To this end, they produced the following: the 1983 photography book and exhibition El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers, which was edited by Harry Mattison, Susan Meiselas, and Fae Rubenstein and toured various US cities in 1984 and 1985; Group Material’s 1984 multi-media installation Timeline: A Chronicle of US Intervention in Central and Latin America, on view at the P.S. Contemporary Art Center in Queens, New York, as part of the ad hoc protest organization Artists Call Against US Intervention in Central America; and the exhibition The Nicaragua Media Project that toured various US cities in 1984 and 1985. Together these three photography books and art exhibitions provided, what I call, a “living” history for photographs from the Central American civil wars.

In his 1978 essay “Uses of Photography” that was anthologized in his 1980 book About Looking, cultural critic John Berger argues that for photographs to “exist in time,” they need to be placed in the “context of experience, social experience, social memory.” Using Berger’s definition of a “living” history as a model, my research project offers a novel way to think about how, within the contexts of these exhibitions and books, photographs from the conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua functioned as dynamic, even affective objects, whose mobility and mutability could empower contemporary viewers to look beyond the so-called communist threat in the region that was perpetuated through the Reagan administration as well as the news media and begin to think more carefully about past histories of US imperialism and global human oppression in Central America.

Erina Duganne is Associate Professor of Art History at Texas State University where she teaches courses in American art, photography, and visual culture. She is the author of The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography (2010) as well as a co-editor and an essayist for Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain (2007). She has also written about her current research project for the blog In the Darkroom.

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access — and simultaneously cross-search — an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

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4. Transforming conflict into peace

By Valentina Baú

My research has focused on the use of participatory media in conflict-affected communities. The aim has been to demonstrate that involving community members in a media production provides them with a platform to tell their story about the violence they have experienced and the causes they believe led to it. This facilitates the achievement of a shared understanding of the conflict between groups that were fighting and lays the foundations for the establishment of a new social fabric that encompasses peace.

This is, by no means, an easy process. It is also one that requires the co-implementation of different types of interventions that strive to rebuild peace in those areas. However, what is often lacking in post-conflict contexts is a communication channel that allows people to reconnect. In the aftermath of civil violence, communities are left divided and in need of information to make sense of the brutality they have undergone. Victims and perpetrators live side by side as neighbours, and dynamics based on resentment and hatred hinder the return to a peaceful environment. The mass media are often unable to address the tensions that have remained within communities as a legacy of the conflict; hence, it is crucial to provide a platform where formerly opposing groups can articulate their views.

By drawing on the experience of a participatory video project conducted in the Rift Valley of Kenya after the 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence, when the country underwent a period of intense ethnic violence, I was able to demonstrate the potential of Communication for Social Change in post-conflict settings through the use of participatory video.

Social change is a process that seeks to transform the unequal power relations that affect a community. The literature on conflict studies tells us that, in order to achieve social change, what firstly needs to be targeted in conflict interventions is change both at the individual and relational level. Changing individuals requires adjusting their feelings and behaviours towards other groups, while changing relationships is about creating a meaningful interaction between members opposing groups, which results in the improvement of inter-group relations. This can be represented as follows:

Framework participatory change

I argue that, from a communication perspective, these changes can be achieved when people participate in the production of a media story that allows them to both reflect upon and become aware of their situation, as well as to share their experience and create an understanding among groups.

In particular, collaborating towards the creation of media content, listening to one another and becoming producers of their own story, allows communities to transform conflict at all levels:

Individual change – participatory video activities contribute to instating participants’ confidence in re-establishing peace, helping them identify themselves as agents of change, and also guiding them in the discovery of new skills. The storytelling process people engage with encourages reflection on their actions during the violence and greater awareness of their present situation and the need to rebuild peace.

Relational change – the participatory video-making process can establish harmony among those who work together in the mixed-tribe workshops. These involve both those who are in front of the camera but also who cover other roles during the production process. Those who watch the final videos through public screenings can exchange views and develop an understanding of the situation for both victims and perpetrators.

Social change – Thanks to the power shifts resulting from newly-developed perceptions of the conflict and of their post-conflict environment, members of different groups begin to engage in dialogue. The existence of different realities of the violence and of the need to move forward are acknowledged, laying the foundations that are needed to begin to build a new social fabric.

A Communication for Social Change approach to peacebuilding recognises how changes at the individual and relational level can be addressed both through the media content production process and the screening of the final media outputs in the community. Within this context, participatory video is seen as a catalyst that can initiate processes of conflict transformation that lead to a wider social change.

Valentina Baú is completing a PhD at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). Both as a practitioner and as a researcher, her work has focused on the use of communication in international development. Valentina has collaborated with different international NGOs, the United Nations and the Italian Development Cooperation, in various African countries. Her doctoral research has looked at the use of Communication for Development in Peacebuilding, particularly through the use of participatory media. Valentina Baú is the author of Building peace through social change communication: participatory video in conflict-affected communities, in the Community Development Journal.

Community Development Journal is the leading international journal in its field, covering a wide range of topics, reviewing significant developments and providing a forum for cutting-edge debates about theory and practice. It adopts a broad definition of community development to include policy, planning and action as they impact on the life of communities.

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Image credit: Flow chart of social change, by Valentina Baú. Do not re-use without permission.

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5. Oral history, historical memory, and social change in West Mount Airy

By Caitlin Tyler-Richards

There are many exciting things coming down the Oral History Review pipeline, including OHR volume 41, issue 2, the Oral History Association annual meeting, and a new staff member. But before we get to all of that, I want to take one last opportunity to celebrate OHR volume 41, issue 1 — specifically, Abigail Perkiss’ “Reclaiming the Past: Oral History and the Legacy of Integration in West Mount Airy, Philadelphia.” In this article, Abigail investigates an oral history project launched in her hometown in the 1990s, which sought to resolve contemporary tensions by collecting stories about the area’s experience with racial integration in the 1950s. Through this intriguing local history, Abigail digs into the connection between oral history, historical memory, and social change.

Abby Perkiss. Photo credit:  Laurel Harrish Photography

Abigail Perkiss. Photo credit: Laurel Harrish Photography

If that weren’t enough to whet your academic appetite, the article also went live the same week her first daughter, Zoe, was born.


How awesome is that?

But back to business. Earlier this month I chatted with Abigail about the article and the many other projects she has had in the works this year. So, please enjoy this quick interview and her article, which is currently available to all.

How did you become interested in oral history?

I’ve been gathering people’s stories in informal ways for as long as I can remember, and as an undergraduate sociology major at Bryn Mawr College, my interests began to coalesce around the intersection of storytelling and social change. I took classes in ethnography, worked as a PA on a few documentary projects, and interned at a documentary theater company. All throughout, I had the opportunity to develop and hone my skills as an interviewer.

I began taking history classes my junior year, and through that I started to think about the idea of oral history in a more intentional way. I focused my research around oral history, which culminated in my senior thesis, in which I interviewed several folksingers to examine the role of protest music in creating a collective memory of the Vietnam War, and how that memory was impacting the way Americans understood the war in Iraq. A flawed project, but pretty amazing to speak with people like Pete Seeger, Janis Ian, and Mary Travers!

After college, I studied at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, and when I began my doctoral studies at Temple University, I knew that I wanted to pursue research that would allow me to use oral history as one of the primary methodological approaches.

What sparked your interest in the Mount Airy project?

When I started my graduate work at Temple, I was pursuing a joint JD/PhD in US history. I knew I wanted to do something in the fields of urban history and racial justice, and I kept coming back to the Mount Airy integration project. I actually grew up in West Mount Airy, and even as a kid, I was very much aware of the lore of the neighborhood integration project. There was a real sense that the community was unique, special.

I knew that there had to be more to the utopian vision that was so pervasive in public conversations about the neighborhood, and I realized that by contextualizing the community’s efforts within the broader history of racial justice and urban space in the mid-twentieth century, I would be able to look critically about the concept and process of interracial living. I could also use oral history as a key piece of my research.

Your article focuses on an 1990s oral history project led by a local organization, the West Mount Airy Neighbors. Why did you choose to augment the interviews they collected with your own?

The 1993 oral history project was a wonderful resource for my book project (from which this article comes); but for my purposes, it was also incomplete. Interviewers focused largely on the early years of integration, so I wasn’t able to get much of a sense of the historical evolution of the efforts. The questions were also framed according to a very particular set of goals that project coordinators sought to achieve — as I argue, they hoped to galvanize community cohesion in the 1990s and to situate the local community organization at the center of contemporary change.

So, while the interviews were quite telling about the West Mount Airy Neighbors’ efforts to maintain institutional control in the neighborhood, they weren’t always useful for me in getting at some of the other questions I was trying to answer: about the meaning of integration for various groups in the community, about the racial politics that emerged, about the perception of Mount Airy in the city at large. To get at those questions, it was important for me to conduct additional interviews.

Is there anything you couldn’t address in the article that you’d like to share here?

As I alluded to above, it is part of a larger book project on postwar residential integration, Making Good Neighbors: Civil Rights, Liberalism, and Integration in Postwar Philadelphia (Cornell University Press, 2014). There, I look at the broader process of integrating and the challenges that emerged as the integration efforts coalesced and evolved over the decades. Much of the research for the book came from archival collections, but the oral histories from the 1990s, and the ones I collected, were instrumental in fleshing out the story and humanizing what could otherwise have been a rather institutional history of the West Mount Airy Neighbors organization.

Are you working on any projects the OHR community should know about?

I’ve spent the past 18 months directing an oral history project on Hurricane Sandy, Staring out to Sea, which came about through a collaboration with Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (remember them?) and a seminar I taught in Spring 2013. That semester, I worked intensively with six undergraduates, studying the practice of oral history and setting up the project’s parameters. The students developed the themes and questions, recruited participants, conducted and transcribed interviews. They then processed and analyzed their findings, looking specifically at issues of race, power and representation in the wake of the storm.

In addition to blogging about their experience, the students presented their work at the 2013 OHMAR and OHA meetings. You can read a bit more about that and the project in Perspectives on History. This fall, I’ll be working with Professor Dan Royles and his digital humanities students to index the interviews we’ve collected and develop an online digital library for the project. I’ll also be attending to the OHA annual meeting this year to discuss the project’s transformative impact on the students themselves.

Excellent! I look forward to seeing you (and the rest of our readers) in Madison this October.

Caitlin Tyler-Richards is the editorial/media assistant at the Oral History Review. When not sharing profound witticisms at @OralHistReview, Caitlin pursues a PhD in African History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research revolves around the intersection of West African history, literature and identity construction, as well as a fledgling interest in digital humanities. Before coming to Madison, Caitlin worked for the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.

The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow their latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.

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6. The Hunger Games are playing on loop— And I am tired of watching

Say you wanted to take over the world—how would you do it? Let’s agree it looks much like the world we live in today, where some countries hold inordinate power over the lives of people in others; where global systematic racism, the shameful legacy of colonization and imperialism, has contrived to keep many humans poor and struggling.

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7. Art Is Not Business!!!!

I've been thinking a lot about art-making, about ownership of art and the internet. One of the things I love about the 'net, and here I mean NON-PROFIT blogging, non-profit journals, etc., is the way in which it snatches the creation and analysis of culture from corporate control. It unchains criticism from the side of the elite, snatches it from the dominant culture and puts it in the hands of everyday people. It is incredibly democratic, populist, and as such, subversive.

I remember in graduate school catching high holy hell for my love of sampling, of the ways that hip hop artists take from the past and fuse it into something else. (And yes, Virginia, where there's a buck to be made, I wholeheartedly support recording artists, visual artists and writers getting their due.) But there is something about participatory culture, communal creation that keeps grabbing people by the throat, blurring the boundaries, something irresistible.

A while back I read a book that made me think about art as commodity, art as communal property and here are my thoughts about the book and its ideas.

"Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk." --- Henry Jenkins

"Get a life," William Shatner told Star Trek fans. Yet, in Textual Poachers, Henry Jenkins makes the case that fans already have a "life," one that gleans from popular culture, then revisions and redrafts its ownership into something akin to new mythology. Further, it is a consumer-driven culture, one outside the control of the corporate universe. I was initially drawn to this book in its exposition, when I read Jenkins' repudiation of fans as cultural dupes, social misfits, mindless TV and movie junkies. Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, author of: Textual Poachers, Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, makes a well-argued case than fans are active participants in a burgeoning underground of cultural consumerism as "owners."

These owners are skillfully producing new genres, i.e., fan fic, as well as being a kind of nomadic poacher, constructing mythology, alternative social communities, and cultural representation.
Having attended fan conventions, corresponded with fans via websites and Listservs, he offers an insider's perspective. Approaching this as an ethnographic study, Jenkins is able to identify major areas of fan interest (Star Trek, Beauty and the Beast, Alien Nation, etc.)

Given the date of publishing, Jenkins did not have access to the blowup in fandom that occurred after the first two seasons of the X-FIles, when it moved from cult favorite to cultural phenomena, to say nothing of the fandoms surrounding today's cult hits, Battlestar Gallactica, Lost, Heroes.

In addition, he describes the fan community as initially white and female. Although now, more and more men and people of color are swelling the ranks of fanfic, and there seems to be gender and racial parity in the blogging community. Further, according to Jenkins, fan groupings contain more working-class and middle class people than other "art" related constituencies.
He goes on to say some more intriguing things.

That the fan community sees itself in opposition to the capitalist control of culture, choosing to create what he terms meta-stories. Meta-stories are the online writing of non-industry people, based on television shows and movies. Through these meta-stories or fan fic, fans clearly express alternative "ownership," and in fact, have begun to impact the original "producers." For example, Jenkins reports that several studios monitor fan websites in order to gauge trends when considering television or movie sequels.

In addition, fic writers push the envelop for what themes their favorite icons now contain. Fic writing has dealt with: alternative endings/or plot extensions of film and televison series, explicit sexuality, queer-oriented alternate plots, gender roles, and the construct of emerging literary genres, etc. And we have only to look at the surge of interfacing today between "hard" network broadcasting, pod casts, film and TV episode downloads with alternate content, to see a major shift in how pop culture, already underway full steam, is experienced.

As a fan (X-Files) and fic writer myself, I found it a useful delineation of a fiercely loyal, now international, subculture of renegade consumers of culture. Everyday people are becoming outlaw storytellers, seizing modern-day archetypes and making them our own.

Lisa Alvarado

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8. Conspiracy Culture: From Kennedy to The X-Files

"Everything is some kind of plot, man." - Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

Agent Scully: "What makes you think that is a conspiracy? That the government is involved?" Kurt Crawford: "What makes you think it isn't? - Memento Mori / The X-Files

"The paranoid person is in possession of all the facts." - William Burroughs

Conspiracy theories are a particular and salient feature of post World War II America. From McCarthyism to postmodern novels, The X-Files, and gansta rap to feminist polemic, there is widespread suspicion that sinister forces are conspiring to take control of our national destiny, our minds, and even our bodies. Conspiracy explanations can no longer be dismissed as the disorganized ramblings of far right crackpots, the left wing intelligentsia, and the techno cognoscenti.

Particularly as evidenced by the popularity of a show like The X-Files, mainstream America became more than willing to embrace the idea that there is a cabal of men planning our futures, that we cannot trust institutions, that the enemy is closer than we were taught to believe. We have lived through grassy knolls, Cointelpro, the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, infiltration and disruption of a host of Chicano groups, especially La Raza Unida Party, as well as CIA-led coups in Chile, Iran, Namibia.
Events of the last decade bear witness to this brave new world.

While the major spin on 9/11 identified virulent Islamic terrorist bent on destroying us, there were still news threads that linked the Bin Laden family with the Bush family and the Bush family to international oil interests. We had Dick Cheney heading the shadow government from deep in the bowels of the earth, and FEMA hawking duct tape and plastic sheeting as protection from invisible enemies. Can anyone say "WMDs"?

Conspiracy Culture author, Peter Knight, a lecturer in American Studies in Manchester, attempts to provide his own analysis using such diverse sources as Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, Don DeLillo's Underworld, Oliver's Stone's JFK, and soon his new flick, W, The X-Files, and a host of internet sites.

He explores how conspiracy theories developed from the 1960's through the 1990's. The focal points of these theories range from the Kennedy assassination, alien abduction, body horror, AIDS, crack cocaine, the New World Order; as well as what he terms "the usual conspiracies...of patriarchy and white supremacy."
I found this level of research, its detail, and its scope impressive.

Beyond this, we part company. When it comes to his analysis as to why ideas of conspiracy have proliferated, Knight is completely ahistorical. He posits the growth in the wider acceptance of conspiracy as policy to intellectual inferiority and sloppiness, poverty, and a spiritual paucity.
I was astounded at this polemic disguised as dispassionate deductive reasoning. I personally remember when, in the late 70's in Chicago, Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was murdered in his bed by Chicago police - police who were aided and abetted in that execution by moles paid by the FBI through the Cointelpro program of "neutralization."

Semiautomatic assassination appeared to be a fairly neutralizing force in communities and the community of social change as a whole. That level of challenge to the government, to capital, to imperialism and its domestic and international control has yet to be re-created, although perhaps we see the seeds of its rebirth in the resistance to the Iraq war.
Rather than Knight's position that a conspiracy theory's popularity is solely due to a lack of sophistication, education, and contemplation, I believe the proponents are literate, distrusting the narrative of authority, and suspicious of the authorized narrative as to the health of the body politic. In a nutshell, what message may be taking root in a deep and irrevocable way is: Trust no one.

See Scully, I told you this was coming.

ISBN-10: 0415189780

Bad news:

Journalist Teresa Puente was laid off from the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board Today. She was the only Hispanic on the board and also wrote a twice monthly column. Puente also was the only writer at the Sun-Times that regularly covered Latino issues and immigration.

Also, her colleague, Deborah Douglas, the only African-American writer on the editorial board, was laid off Wednesday. This means there are no people of color on the editorial board any more.

To voice an opinion on this matter please send an email to:

Michael Cooke, Sun-Times editor, [email protected]

Tom McNamee, Editorial page editor, [email protected]

Cyrus Freidheim, publisher, [email protected]

Finally, GOOD NEWS:

The National Museum of Mexican Art celebrates Folk Art Week!

October 17 - October 26, 2008
10am - 4pm

1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago, IL.
For more information, please call 312-738-1503 or visit www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

Artist Demonstrations:

Ceramic Sculptures by Demetrio Garcia Aguilar, Ocotlan de Morelos, Oaxaca
Textile Weaving by Celia Santiz Ruiz, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
Huichol Yarn and Beadwork by José Benitez Sanchez, Santa Catarina, Jalisco
Wood Carvings by Jacobo & Maria Angeles, San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca
Wooden Masks by Orlando Orta, Tocuaro, Michoacán
Amate Paintings by Marcial Camilo Ayala, San Agustin Oapan, Guerrero
Sugar Skull Demonstrations by Alejandro Mondragón Arriaga, Elvira Garcia Zinzu & Elvira Mondragón Garcia, Toluca, Estado de México

Wishing for more good news,

Lisa Alvarado

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9. Words to Live By

Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself
William Hazlitt

Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
Denis Diderot

Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it.
Hannah Arendt

makes nothing happen.
It survives
in the valley of its saying.
Maxine Kumin

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.
Dennis Gabor

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.
Audre Lorde

To help kick off the poetic year, I would like to feature ACHIOTE PRESS

Achiote: a shrub or small tree indigenous to Central and South America. Introduced to the Pacific and Asia by the Spanish in the 17th century, Achiote now has firm transnational roots. Achiote produces pink flowers and red spiny seed pods. Peoples have used the seeds as a dye for clothing, arts and crafts, as body paint in times of war and celebration, as spice and coloring for food.

The editorial board named the press after the Achiote tree because they believe poetry has the very same powers to enrich our surroundings, inspire our passions, enhance our senses, and heal our wounds.
Achiote represents the unrepresentable, transnational, migratory, and adaptive. Achiote Press asks what it means to bear witness, to use adaptation as resistance, to cross borders, to map ourselves onto a dislocated world, to speak in exile, and to suffer diasporic hunger.

Achiote Press was founded in 2006. Every season, they publish two chapbooks: a single-author chapbook and a chap-journal featuring poetry, prose, essay, or translation by authors from diverse cultural and aesthetic backgrounds. In addition, we publish special project chapbooks, including chap-anthologies and collaborative work.

The press is not currently reading manuscripts. Please query if you would like to be considered your poetry or your artwork for a future issue.
Achiote Press is located in Berkeley, California.

Craig Perez, Editor

Jennifer Reimer, Editor
Jason Buchholz, Art Director

Ballast (excerpt below)

Ballast IV: Flung Out Like A Fag-End

The ships that sank never really stood
a chance; the captured in the holds, less.
In water, gravity numbed at the cost of oxygen
made their breaths catch for a taste
of weightlessness; space, centuries before
the Buzz became news. Odd, how we explore
the high and deep, rarely the middle - that belt
of rarefied air which balloons occupy, where
the brutal cargo would have avoided the fury
of waves. Battered, at worst, by hurricanes, there
was still the likelihood of a short period of calm
at the axis - a respite from evil winds - before
the centrifugal drag of the eye wall: a flutter of
freed bodies floating to the ends of the world
to feather new nests, a basket falling, an envelope
drifting, a fire augmenting the speed of migration
from Africa beyond a fast-fingered jazz solo, minus
the 500 years of insult: in the bodies, fire;
in the basket, gifts; in the envelope, odds on whether
the seeds of the scattered would have avoided Katrina
- the dancing wind that exposed the unchanging water
-borne illness of prejudice caught in the holds of
the ships that made it across the sky's reflection two
centuries before the eerie shimmer of a hot air balloon.

Ballast X: Final Cries

If the river cries blood, it is not the sun's
reflection rosy beneath a retiring light, it is
not riverside berries, betrayed by skins too gorged
to contain the sweetness of their juice. It is not
a dream. It is our forebears, battered and branded by gain-
seekers, dripping iron, rusting, as they hover tethered
in baskets strung to sun-shaped fabrics that consume
fire to rise above the desire for freedom. Their voices -
like them - know nothing of the borders to come, slip
between clouds to metamorphose into birdsong. They
inhabit the air, absorb its language by osmosis, observe
its scattering versatility - the way it hisses and dances.
Some escape, diving into the spaces where hurricanes are
sown, to learn the equations that govern pressure; how
the cold air is enough to make them pop like champagne
bottles on ice. The fliers bequeath the inheritance of falling
gracefully; a blessing for dancers, a curse in love. Yet
in the end the method matters little. The sea being mirror
to the blue of the skies, the ship is the genetic cousin
of the balloon - both anchored to the Xs of density,
surface area and flotation. The question is of ballast,
that which gives weight to the ship, balloon, story; and this
interpretation is a vessel to reclaim the history of love, a history
of hatred, discrimination, survival, science, music... language.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer of poetry, prose and articles, and author of the poetry chapbooks: eyes of a boy, lips of a man (1999) and M is for Madrigal (2004), a selection of seven jazz poems. A former associate writer-in-residence for BBC Radio 3, and writer-in-residence at California State University, Los Angeles, he is also the Senior Editor at flipped eye publishing - where he has overseen the production of four award-winning titles. Nii is the current International Writing Fellow at the University of Southampton and his debut novel, Tail of the Blue Bird, will be released in June 2009 by Jonathan Cape.

Cover art by Ketzia Schoneberg. Ketzia Schoneberg creates portraits of individuals of other species in order to show the viewer a mirror - an image of the earthy, biological and spiritual origins we share with other creatures. She does not sketch before beginning a painting; when entering the studio she doesn't know beforehand what her subject or palette will be. This approach keeps her work honest both technically and energetically. She uses live models and photographs as starting points for all of her work. Ketzia's educational background includes undergraduate work at the San Francisco Art Institute, art studies at Kibbutz Yavne in Israel, a BFA from San Francisco State University and graduate work at New Mexico State University. She has been showing her work nationally for over 15 years, and makes her home in Oregon. View more of Ketzia's work online at www.ketzia.com.

Teaching Thinking

Hugo García Manríquez. Author of two books, No Oscuro Todavia, (2005), and Los Materiales (2008). His work has appeared in Mandorla, Damn the Caesars, New American Writing, and others. His translation of William Carlos Williams' poem, Paterson, will be published in Mexico next year.

Originally from Strasbourg, France, François Luong currently lives in San Francisco. Other work of his has appeared or is forthcoming in Cannibal, Parthenon West Review, New American Writing, Mirage #4/Period(ICAL), and elsewhere. He is also working on a translation into English of Chutes, Essais, Trafics by Rémi Froger and into French of Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists by A. Rawlings.

Evie Shockley is the author of A Half-Red Sea (2006) and two chapbooks,31 words * prose poems (2007) and The Gorgon Goddess (2001). Her poetry and critical pieces appear in numerous journals and anthologies, recently including Foursquare, The Southern Review, No Tell Motel, Ecotone, PMS: poemmemoirstory, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Mixed Blood, Center, and Jacket. She currently serves as co-guest editor (with Cathy Park Hong) of Jubilat. A Cave Canem graduate fellow and recipient of a Hedgebrook residency, Shockley teaches African American literature and creative writing at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Roberto Harrison edits Crayon with Andrew Levy and the Bronze Skull Press chapbook series. Two full-length collections of his work appeared in 2006: Counter Daemons (Litmus) and Os (subpress). Elemental Song, a chapbook, also appeared in 2006 through Answer Tag Home Press. Recent work can be found in Chicago Review, Brooklyn Rail, Court Green, War & Peace 3: The Future, Cannot Exist, and string of small machines.

Cover art by Mary V. Marsh. Mary V. Marsh has exhibited paintings, drawings and artist books in many venues, including solo shows at the San Jose Museum of Art, Berkeley Art Center, and the San Francisco Public Library. She received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1992. Old library books and checkout cards are reconstructed to explore memory, propaganda, and consumer society.

Lisa Alvarado

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10. Martín Espada on Barak Obama

Litany at the Tomb of Frederick Douglass
Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York
November 7, 2008

This is the longitude and latitude of the impossible;
this is the epicenter of the unthinkable;
this is the crossroads of the unimaginable:
the tomb of Frederick Douglass, three days after the election.

This is a world spinning away from the gravity of centuries,
where the grave of a fugitive slave has become an altar.
This is the tomb of a man born as chattel, who taught himself to read in secret,
scraping the letters in his name with chalk on wood; now on the anvil-flat stone
a campaign button fills the O in Douglass. The button says: Obama.
This is the tomb of a man in chains, who left his fingerprints
on the slavebreaker’s throat so the whip would never carve his back again;
now a labor union T-shirt drapes itself across the stone, offered up
by a nurse, a janitor, a bus driver. A sticker on the sleeve says: I Voted Today.
This is the tomb of a man who rolled his call to arms off the press,
peering through spectacles at the abolitionist headline; now a newspaper
spreads above his dates of birth and death. The headline says: Obama Wins.

This is the stillness at the heart of the storm that began in the body
of the first slave, dragged aboard the first ship to America. Yellow leaves
descend in waves, and the newspaper flutters on the tomb, like the sails
Douglass saw in the bay, like the eyes of a slave closing to watch himself
escape with the tide. Believers in spirits would see the pages trembling
on the stone and say: look how the slave boy teaches himself to read.
I say a prayer, the first in years: that here we bury what we call
the impossible, the unthinkable, the unimaginable, now and forever. Amen.

~~~ Martín Espada


Tips for Better Life

1. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. Sleep for 7 hours.
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
5. Play more games.
6. Read more books than you did the previous year.
7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
9. Dream more while you are awake.
10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
11. Drink plenty of water.
12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
14. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
15. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
16. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
17. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
18. Smile and laugh more.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Don't compare your partner with others.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
25. Forgive everyone for everything.
26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
27. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
28. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
29. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
30. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
31. The best is yet to come.
32. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
33. Do the right thing!
34. Call your family often.
35. Your inner most is always happy. So be happy.
36. Each day give something good to others.
37. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
38. Share this with someone you care about

Lisa Alvarado

0 Comments on Martín Espada on Barak Obama as of 1/21/2009 5:55:00 PM
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11. Valadez is on the truth

what i'm on
Luis Humberto Valadez


Publication Date: March 19, 2009

Camino del Sol: A Latina/Latino Literary Series
64 pages
6 x 8
ISBN: 978-0-8165-2740-3, $15.95 paper

Luis Humberto Valadez is a poet/performer/musician from the south side of the Chicago area whose work owes as much to hip-hop as it does to the canon and has been described by esteemed activist writer Amiri Baraka as "strong-real light flashes."

His debut poetry collection
what i'm on is frankly autobiographical, recounting the experiences of a Mexican American boy growing up in a tough town near Chicago. Just as in life, the feelings in these poems are often jumbled, sometimes spilling out in a tumble, sometimes coolly recollected. Valadez's poems shout to be read aloud. It's then that their language dazzles most brightly. It's then that the emotions bottled up on the page explode beyond words. And there is plenty of emotion in these poems. Sometimes the words jump and twitch as if they‚d been threatened or attacked. Sometimes they just sit there knowingly on the page, weighted down by the stark reality of it all.

José García
put a thirty-five to me
my mother was in the other room
He would have done us both

if not for the lust of my fear


This new Mexican American/Chicano voice is all at once arresting, bracing, shocking, and refreshing. This is not the poetry you learned in school. But Valadez, who received his MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at Naropa University, has paid his academic dues, and he certainly knows how to craft a poem. It's just that he does it his way.
Luis Humberto Valadez works as a coordinator and consultant for the Chicago Public Schools Homeless Education Program.

Recordings of Valadez performing his poems can be found at MySpace.com, Reverb Nation, and other Internet sites.
VALADEZ BLURBS: “Brave, raw, and exposing of a young mans consciousness. Luis’s work is not confessional in the limited, put-it-in-a-box way that big publishers like to market their material to liberal guilt.” -Andrew Schelling, author of Tea Shack Interior

“In voices colloquial and church, reverent and riotous, serious and sly; in rap and fragment, sound and sin; from gangs and minimum-wage jobs to astrology and Christ, Luis Valadez makes his fearless debut. This poetry is a painfully honest disclosure of identity and anger, and it is as mindful of falsity and as hard on itself as it is playful, loose, and loving. Sometimes the language is clear and cutting, while other times it disintegrates into sonic units and primal utterances: Luis calls upon the whole history of oral and verbal expression to tell his story—going so far as to write his own (wildly funny and disturbing) obituary.” —Arielle Greenberg, author of My Kafka Century

“On the trail blazed by innovators like Harryette Mullen and John Yau, Luis Valadez sends wild, canny, charged, and vulnerable prayers from the hard camp of contested identities. Each line, each word, is a blow against “impossibility” and the heavy pressure to be silent as expected. Interrogations of tradition(s) as well as celebrations, the irresistible poems in Valadez’s first collection exist at the exact fresh moment of deciding to live and to love.” —Laura Mullen, author of After I Was Dead

“Valadez’s work is not simply fierce language poetics… here is a writer—the genuine article—whose style is that of a truth-speaking curandero, offering sacred cantos to anyone interested in illuminating that inner revolution called corazón. To read his work is to discover the future of American poética! “
—Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Skin Tax

“Valadez’s impressions abruptly transport the reader from swaggering elucidation to raw pain. In a sometimes-resigned glance around for divinity, what I’m on triggers equally sudden heart-rippings, laughter, and cinematic naturescapes.”
—Claire Nixon, editor Twisted Tongue Magazine

Holly Schaffer, Publicity Manager
University of Arizona Press

355 S. Euclid Ave., Ste. 103
Tucson, AZ 85719
Ph: 520-621-3920, Fx: 520-621-8899

[email protected]


Lisa Alvarado

1 Comments on Valadez is on the truth, last added: 2/20/2009
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12. Teatro Vista, Tanya Saracho and Our Lady

TEATRO VISTA, THEATRE WITH A VIEW is firmly committed to sharing and celebrating the riches of Latino culture with all Chicago theatre audiences. This commitment stems from the belief that there are as may similarities as there are differences, and that perhaps the answer to breaking down the walls of prejudice and stereotypes lies in understanding these differences. Ultimately, it is through this "view" that Teatro Vista intends to bridge the gap between Latino and non-Latino cultures in Chicago.

A Message from the Founders
Henry Godinez, Director-Founder Edward F. Torres, Artistic Director-Founder WE MET IN 1989, while working on a play together here in Chicago. We both felt that it was a shame that Latinos weren't getting roles outside of stereotypical casting. So we founded Teatro Vista. We hoped that all of Chicagoland could enjoy the sort of theatre that we had envisioned. Our Mission Statement is from our hearts and we hope that our "view" is one you share. We hope you like our "Theatre with a View" and will visit us in person, as well as our website, as often as you can.

Our Lady of the Underpass by Tanya Saracho 

The same week that Rome announced a new Pope, a woman driving home from work spotted an image of the Virgin Mary on a discolored wall of the Fullerton Avenue underpass.

Playwright Tanya Saracho renders the voices of those who were drawn to that wall, exploring issues of faith and desire in present day Chicago.
Tanya Saracho (Playwright) Tanya Saracho was born in Sinaloa, México and moved to Texas in the late 80's. As the proud Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Teatro Luna: Chicago's All-Latina Theater Ensemble, Tanya's writing has been featured in most of Teatro Luna's ensemble-built works including Generic Latina, Dejame Contarte, The Maria Chronicles, SOLO Latinas, S-E-X-Oh! and Lunatic(a)s.

Tanya's play Kita y Fernanda has received productions at Teatro Luna (2003) and 16th Street Theatre (2008) along with a reading at Repertorio Español while a finalist for the 2003 Nuestras Voces playwrighting competition. Other Awards include: The Ofner Prize given by the Goodman Theatre, Finalist for the Christopher B. Wolk Award at Abingdon Theatre in NYC, nominee for the Wasserstein Prize and winner of the Khan Award.

Her solo play Quita Mitos received a world premier with Teatro Luna, in November of 2006 and has toured colleges and festivals, including the International Hispanic Theatre Festival and the Goodman's Latino Theatre Festival. Other productions include: Jarred (A Hoodoo Comedy) and Lunatic(a)s.
Tanya is working on a fellowship in collaboration between The Goodman Theatre and the Institute for Women and Gender Studies at Columbia College on an interview-based piece titled 27 where she will interview one woman from each of the 27 countries that make up the Latin Diaspora.

She is also under commission from Steppenwolf Theatre to adapt Sandra Cisnero's "The House on Mango Street" slated to open in the fall of 2009. Directing/co-directing credits include: Solo Tu, Lunatic(a)s, the remount of Generic Latina, Piece of Ass for Estrogen Fest, The Maria Chronicles for both the Goodman's Latino Theater Festival and the critically acclaimed full-length run at Teatro Luna, and S-e-x-Oh!, Que Bonita Bandera and Three Days for SÓLO Latinas. Also an accomplished actor, Tanya's performing credits include Neil Labutte's Fat Pig with Renaissance Theatreworks in Milwaukee, Migdalia Cruz' Another Part of the House with Teatro Vista, Living Out with American Theatre Co./Teatro Vista, Electricidad at Goodman Theatre, and Angels in America and La Casa De Bernarda Alba with Aguijon Theater. Tanya is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and her voice can be heard around the country in radio and television commercials.

Sandra Marquez (Director) has been a proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista, the mid-west's only Equity Latino theater company, since 1997 and served as the company's Associate Artistic Director from 1998-2006. In 2005 she made her main stage directorial debut with Teatro Vista's production of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by Luis Alfaro. Previously she had conceived and directed an ensemble studio piece for Teatro Vista called Vampiros y Bebes. Other directing credits include student productions at various venues as well as her work with Yollocalli, the Theater Summer Outreach Program under the auspices of The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and The Goodman Theater which served the young people of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Teatro Vista acting credits include Icarus, Another Part of the House, Santos and Santos, Living Out (for which she was Jeff nominated). Other credits include The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner), Victory Gardens (Anna in the Tropics); The Goodman Theater (Mariela in the Desert, Electricidad, Massacre, Zoot Suit & A Christmas Carol); Steppenwolf Theater (Sonia Flew, One Arm, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Boiler Room); Madison Repertory Theater (Our Town).

Ms. Marquez is a member of AEA, AFTRA, and SAG and has worked in many industrial films and national commercials. Film and TV credits include Timer, Stranger than Fiction, Early Edition, Prison Break, Women's Murder Club and Big Bang Theory. Ms. Marquez has been on faculty at Loyola University, Eastern Michigan University and Columbia College of Chicago. Currently she is an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University where she has been teaching since 1995.
Teatro Vista...Theatre with a View is at the forefront of the Latino theatre movement in the U.S. Chicago and ensemble based Teatro Vista is universally redefining the American landscape through the use of new, provocative and unique voices that reflect the Latino experience in the U.S.

After 18 years of existence it has empowered and encouraged "first voice" among the community and its artists.

Our Lady of The Underpass opens to Rave Reviews:

"Absolutely don't miss this really special piece!
Saracho's ear is terrific." – Kelly Kleiman, WBEZ Dueling Critics

"It is quite the artistic achievement."
Randy Hardwick, chicagocritic.com

"Our Lady veers — just like real life — from laugh-out-loud hilarious, to gut-wrenching to enraging to contemplative."
– Catey Sullivan, examiner.com

"This is brilliant work that is worth the trip to see. Director Sandra Marquez has assembled the perfect cast to bring these characters to life."
– Alan Bresloff, steadstylechicago.com

"The details of the monologues are perfect..." – Laura Molzahn, The Reader Newspaper

NOW Through MARCH 29

(To read our reviews visit this link:www.theatreinchicago.com)

Tickets are available now! To purchase please click www.teatrovista.tix.com or call 773-404-7336



Support Chicago HOPES, an educational program for the city's homeless children, at:

Casa Aztlán

1831 S. Racine Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 666-5508

Acknowledging the strengths of Mexican families, Casa Aztlán seeks to sustain the strong cultural identity of the Pilsen community by organizing and educating residents and providing supportive services in order to combat social violence, discrimination and poverty.

what i'm on
With a performance by Luis Humberto Valadez

what i'm on

Camino del Sol: A Latina/Latino Literary Series
, 64 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8165-2740-3, $15.95 paper

Luis Humberto Valadez is a poet/performer/musician from the south side of the Chicago area whose work owes as much to hip-hop as it does to the canon and has been described by esteemed activist writer Amiri Baraka as "strong-real light flashes."

His debut poetry collection
what i'm on is frankly autobiographical, recounting the experiences of a Mexican American boy growing up in a tough town near Chicago. Just as in life, the feelings in these poems are often jumbled, sometimes spilling out in a tumble, sometimes coolly recollected. Valadez's poems shout to be read aloud. It's then that their language dazzles most brightly. It's then that the emotions bottled up on the page explode beyond words. And there is plenty of emotion in these poems. Sometimes the words jump and twitch as if they‚d been threatened or attacked. Sometimes they just sit there knowingly on the page, weighted down by the stark reality of it all.

José García
put a thirty-five to me
my mother was in the other room
He would have done us both

if not for the lust of my fear


This new Mexican American/Chicano voice is all at once arresting, bracing, shocking, and refreshing. This is not the poetry you learned in school. But Valadez, who received his MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at Naropa University, has paid his academic dues, and he certainly knows how to craft a poem. It's just that he does it his way.
Luis Humberto Valadez works as a coordinator and consultant for the Chicago Public Schools Homeless Education Program.

Recordings of Valadez performing his poems can be found at MySpace.com, Reverb Nation, and other Internet sites.

“Brave, raw, and exposing of a young mans consciousness. Luis’s work is not confessional in the limited, put-it-in-a-box way that big publishers like to market their material to liberal guilt.” -Andrew Schelling, author of Tea Shack Interior

“In voices colloquial and church, reverent and riotous, serious and sly; in rap and fragment, sound and sin; from gangs and minimum-wage jobs to astrology and Christ, Luis Valadez makes his fearless debut. This poetry is a painfully honest disclosure of identity and anger, and it is as mindful of falsity and as hard on itself as it is playful, loose, and loving. Sometimes the language is clear and cutting, while other times it disintegrates into sonic units and primal utterances: Luis calls upon the whole history of oral and verbal expression to tell his story—going so far as to write his own (wildly funny and disturbing) obituary.” —Arielle Greenberg, author of My Kafka Century

“On the trail blazed by innovators like Harryette Mullen and John Yau, Luis Valadez sends wild, canny, charged, and vulnerable prayers from the hard camp of contested identities. Each line, each word, is a blow against “impossibility” and the heavy pressure to be silent as expected. Interrogations of tradition(s) as well as celebrations, the irresistible poems in Valadez’s first collection exist at the exact fresh moment of deciding to live and to love.” —Laura Mullen, author of After I Was Dead

“Valadez’s work is not simply fierce language poetics… here is a writer—the genuine article—whose style is that of a truth-speaking curandero, offering sacred cantos to anyone interested in illuminating that inner revolution called corazón. To read his work is to discover the future of American poética! “
—Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Skin Tax

“Valadez’s impressions abruptly transport the reader from swaggering elucidation to raw pain. In a sometimes-resigned glance around for divinity, what I’m on triggers equally sudden heart-rippings, laughter, and cinematic naturescapes.
—Claire Nixon, editor Twisted Tongue Magazine

Holly Schaffer, Publicity Manager
University of Arizona Press

355 S. Euclid Ave., Ste. 103
Tucson, AZ 85719
Ph: 520-621-3920, Fx: 520-621-8899

[email protected]

Lisa Alvarado

1 Comments on Teatro Vista, Tanya Saracho and Our Lady, last added: 4/6/2009
Display Comments Add a Comment
13. Gratitude, Martin Espada and Acentos

1. Give what you want to receive. The flow of Abundance is already all around you. To step into this flow is easy. Give to someone else the very thing you would like to receive. And give it freely without expectations of receiving, as if you already had more than enough. If you want more kindness in your life, be kind to someone, if you want more happiness in your life, make someone else happy, if you want more money in your life, share a little of what you have. Give it away easily, like you already had all that you need and there is plenty more from where that came from. 

2. Trust and know. The next step is to trust and know you have just stepped into the flow of abundance and are now aligned with what you want. Know there is more than enough to go around. 

3. Take Action. Participation is an important part of Abundance. While you are knowing you are now aligned with the flow of the abundance you want, it is also important to participate and help make things happen. Follow your inner knowing and your intuition and do your part to help create the abundance you would like to have. Continue to participate until you are receiving what you want.

4. Be Grateful. Gratitude is a vital step in the flow of abundance. It is a powerful magnet which keeps us in the flow and aligned with receiving all the wonderful things we desire. Fill yourself with gratitude all the time, even about the small and seemingly simple things in your life. There is always something to be grateful about. When you notice a little of what you want flowing to you, take a moment and be grateful for what you have received, regardless of how big or small it may be. Be grateful and say thank you. 

5. Pass it on. When you receive a little abundance take a moment and pass some of it on and assist someone else in feeling a little more abundant. When you pass on some of what you receive, do it easily as if you already have more than you need, expecting nothing in return. When you pass it on in this way you are now starting the process all over again and have once again taken the first step to "give what you want to receive." In this way the flow of abundance continues and becomes more and more each time.

Martin Espada

From Our Friends at Acentos:

Acentos Writers Workshop welcomes Martin Espada
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 7pm.

Acentos Writers Workshop welcomes Martin Espada to Eugenio María de Hostos Community College on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 7pm sharp. FREE!

We are extremely excited to announce that Martin Espada will facilitate a workshop for Acentos.
Called “the Latino poet of his generation” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published sixteen books in all as a poet, editor, essayist and translator, including two collections of poems last year: Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas (Smokestack, 2008), released in England, and La Tumba de Buenaventura Roig (Terranova, 2008), a bilingual edition published in Puerto Rico.

The Republic of Poetry, a collection of poems published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Another collection, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Other books of poetry include Alabanza: New and Selected Poems (Norton, 2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990). He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Robert Creeley Award, the Antonia Pantoja Award, the Charity Randall Citation, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the Premio Fronterizo, two NEA Fellowships, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

His poems have appeared in the The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, The Nation and The Best American Poetry.
He has also published a collection of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (South End, 1998); edited two anthologies, Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press (Curbstone, 1994) and El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry (University of Massachusetts, 1997); and released an audiobook of poetry called Now the Dead will Dance the Mambo (Leapfrog, 2004). His work has been translated into ten languages. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is now a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he teaches creative writing and the work of Pablo Neruda.

Espada will facilitate a 2 hour poetry workshop for free. Yes, I said free. We are welcoming the community at large. Yet, there will not be massive chaos. There will be a registration process. If you have not e-mailed [email protected] to register, you will not be able to take the workshop. Notice, this workshop is on a Friday evening at 7pm.
Bring your pens, bring your paper, bring your hearts. Palante papi, Siempre palante.

Eugenio María de Hostos Community College
Savoy Building, 120 East 149th Street, corner of Walton Ave, Multipurpose Room, Second Floor New York 10451 • Phone 917-209-4211 7pm sharp! Directions to Hostos Community College

Hostos Community College is located at a safe and busy intersection just steps from the subway station and bus stop.
By subway: take the 2,4,5 IRT trains to 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard) and the Grand Concourse.By bus: take the Bx1 or cross-town Bx19 to 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard) and the Grand Concourse. By car:From Manhattan, take the FDR Drive north to the Willis Avenue Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway (87N). Proceed north to Exit 3. Take the right fork in the exit ramp to the Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard) From Queens, take the Triborough Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway. Continue north to Exit 3. Take the right fork in the exit ramp to the Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard).From Westchester, take the Major Deegan Expressway south (87S) to Exit 3.

Turn left at the light. Turn left again at Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard)
.From New Jersey, take the George Washington Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway south to Exit 3. Turn left at the light. Turn left again at Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard)

Fish Vargas

Lisa Alvarado

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14. Threshold Collaborative: a lesson in engaged story work

By Alisa Del Tufo

Stories are powerful ways to bring the voice and ideas of marginalized people into endeavors to restore justice and enact change. Beginning in the early 1990s, I started using oral history to bring the stories and experiences of abused women into efforts to make policy changes in New York City. Trained and supported by colleagues at Columbia Center for Oral History and Hunter College’s Puerto Rican Studies Department, I was able to pioneer the use of oral history to leverage social change.

In 2007, I became an Ashoka Fellow and had the space to organize my ideas and experiences about oral history, story gathering, and participatory practices into a set of teachable methods and strategies. This resulted in the creation of Threshold Collaborative, an organization that uses stories as a catalyst for change. Our methods aim to deepen empathy and ignite action in order to build more just, caring, and healthy communities. Working with justice organizations around the country, we help design and implement ways to do that through engaged story work.

This is why when a colleague who runs a youth leadership organization in Pennsylvania wanted to share the ideas and voices of the area’s marginalized youth, we helped to create a school-based story-sharing initiative called A Picture is Worth…. This project came to fruition after the New York Times gave Reading, PA the “unwelcome distinction” of having the highest poverty rate of any American city. Reading also suffered from elevated high school dropout numbers and extraordinarily low college degree rates.

Threshold went to the I-LEAD Charter High School in Reading, which offers poor and immigrant youth another chance to succeed. After spending time at the school — meeting and talking with teachers, parents and learners — we brainstormed a project that would incorporate the personal stories of 22 learners into an initiative to help them learn about themselves, their peers, and their larger community. Audio story gathering and sharing were at the core of this work. The idea was to support them in identifying their vision and values, link them with their peers, and thereby align them with positive change going on in Reading.

With the support of I-LEAD, assistance from the administrators and teachers, the talent of a fabulous photographer Janice Levy, and of course, the participation of the students, Threshold was able to launch an in-school curricular literacy class, which revolved around story gathering and sharing. The project uses writing, audio stories and photography to create powerful interactive narratives of students, highlighting their unique yet unifying experiences. A Picture is Worth… also provides an associated curriculum in literacy for high school students. The project fosters acquisition of real-world knowledge and skills, and encourages young learners to become more engaged in personal and scholastic growth, by combining personal stories with academic standards.

We also gathered and edited the stories of all 22 learners and have linked them with the wonderful photos done by Levy. You can find these powerful voices and images on our Soundcloud page. Here is one of the photos and stories:


Now, we are growing this project to be able to share it with schools and other youth leadership programs around the country. Through our book, curriculum and training program, we hope to inspire youth justice programs to see how young people can contribute to positive change through the power of their stories.

More information about the project can be found at apictureisworth.org, as well as on Facebook.

Alisa Del Tufo has worked to support justice and to strengthen empathy throughout her life. Raising over 80 million dollars, she founded three game changing organizations: Sanctuary for Families, CONNECT, and Threshold Collaborative. In the early 1990s, Del Tufo pioneered the use of oral history and community engagement to build grassroots change around the issues of family, and intimate violence. Her innovations have been recognized through a Revson, Rockefeller, and Ashoka Fellowship.

The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow the latest Oral History Review posts on the OUPblog via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.

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15. Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera

Gente: La Bloga is fortunate enough to have an interview with Juan Felipe Herrera, whose life's work has been the poetry of sinew and bone, of La Raza, of people's movements and people's poetry, and whose new book was profiled in La Bloga.

But before you drink in our conversation, take a look at some info about his latest work -- a remix/compilation of truly razor-sharp and brutally beautiful writing.

And if you haven't read my review, take a look here.

From City Lights Publishers:
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border:
Undocuments 1971-2007
by Juan Felipe Herrera
February 15, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-87286-462-7 $16.95

1. This newest book, 187 Reasons Why Mexicans Can't Cross the Border is a collection of a life's work in many ways. Some reviewers have described you as a moviemento elder statesman. What's your thoughts on that description?

Elder statesman...ha! Well, if the movimiento was still alive...Things have changed, the Chicano Movimiento probably started when Cesar Chavez went on strike in McFarland, Ca., with the rose workers in 1964 and it ended about ten years later when Luis Valdez's Teatro Campesino gave its last debut in Mexico City at the TENAZ International Teatro Festival, the same year Gary Soto inaugurated his first book, The Elements of San Joaquín, which signaled a new trajectory in our poetics.Rather than a movimiento, since '74, we have streams, fugues, variations, implosions, counter-currents all at the same time.

The upside/downside?
There's no up or downside to it.

Given that, what's the importance for you in mentoring younger voices?

Mentoring is most important aspect for me. teaching and learning at the same time, expanding our thinking, and our action, our sense of community and self.

2. What do you think is the poet's responsibility to make social commentary, particularly in the current anti-immigrant (read Mexican) climate?

As a Chicano and person of color, it is part of my poetics to respond to and transform and transcend the negative, narrow and easy explanations, summations and projections of who we are. Oddly, we are perhaps the most misunderstood ethnic group in the U.S. To begin with, we are not immigrants. To end with, a Mexican is always connected to the indigenous history of the Americas.

And given your perspective, do you have a particular spin on what constitutes 'Mejicano/Chicano (a) themes?

There are no themes...they are all in flux... perhaps a most pertinent theme today is that of going beyond ethnicity and history without foregoing an activist perspective. Something is askew if only the military, corporate trade systems and the internet are global and the rest of us, in particular ethnic enclaves operate in closed communities and political segments.

3. There's been a critique swirling around concerning spoken word for a while -- that many times it ends up limiting and ghettoizing poets, particularly younger poets, who do not develop a critical grasp on other genres. Can you comment?

Spoken word has its own cultural systems, canons, genres, institutions, actors and audiences which generate its values. Academic poetry, although related, is another cultural arena and another class sector. The less borders between these is best.

Another way to put is that Spoken Word by its very nature is public, oral, interactive, spontaneous, experimental and subversive. Because of these transgressive and explosive qualities, Spoken Word thrives at the margins. Otherwise, it would be more like its fair-haired cousin, text-centered academic poetry, which lives closer to the center of the literary capitalist paradigm, more or less. The problem arises when poets begin to quote themselves and cease to speak and also, as you say, loose touch with the larger world of conversations and silences.

4. What are your ongoing sources of inspiration?

I don’t rely on specific inspiration sources. All is inspiration – twigs, people, clouds, shapes, names, words, sounds, colors and forms. Nature and culture are just two of thousands of possible channels of and for inspiration. Deep inspiration probably comes from the unnamable. That is why we want to write it, even though it is impossible.

Something like love.

5. How does your relationship to family feed your creative and personal life?

My familia provides contrast, balance and a natural and organic play of feedback to my life as a whole. This is more significant and meaningful than providing thinking-talk-feedback to my writing. Deep and sincere relationships are at the core of creative life. Without these, we are just fooling ourselves and others.

6. Where would you like to see your work evolve over the next ten years?

I just finished a writing a musical for young audiences, Salsalandia, for the La Jolla Playhouse.It is touring – with a beautiful cast and production crew – throughout the schools and communities of my hometown, San Diego. I am thrilled by this.

The play is about a White & Mexicano “blended” family and it is about loss and painful border realities. Yet, it is funny, serious -- there are songs and dances and deep journeys all in the mix. Cristian Amigo composed the music – we had worked together in Upside Down Boy, the first Latino musical for children in New York. I want to write more theatre, and also, for dance and possibly opera. Pavarotti is one of my heroes. So is Lanza – whom my mother loved. Imagine, my campesina mamá? And all the great Italian composers.

Musicals, children’s animation and opera – here I come!

7. Who are some of your favorite poets and why does their work resonate for you?

The Post War Poets of Poland and Middle Eastern Europe move me – Rózevicz, Szymborska, Herbert, Celan, Rodnoti, to name a few. Because they speak of brutality with clear boldness, wet hearts, and razor-sharp precision. We are in such a time. Our words must not get over-excited or too under-stated. We must navigate between archipelagoes of world kaos, natural beauty, suffering lives and global military order. To do this, we must be daring, tender, unyielding and precise as rain.

8. Tell us something not in the official bio.

I have always been a clown. I love solitude. The most simple things in the world move me to tears -- like clouds, mountains, an elder woman crossing the street, the voice of sincerity.

I have been a cartoonist since 8th grade. Water is my favorite drink with fresh-squeezed lime juice. I have five Sharpei dogs – Rocko, Tai, Pei-Pei, Lotus and Duddy Li.

Lisa Alvarado

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16. raulsalinas lives

Juan Felipe Herrera will grace La Bloga next week with some
thoughts about raulsalinas...

Here's some things to ponder....

Politico, Prisoner, street poet...aside from these obvious roles,
what is the lasting impact of raulsalinas?

What are both the specific and universal messages in his work?

What were his spheres of influence as a writer and poet?

How has he personally affected your writing, your ethos, your sensibilities?

How would you summarize his example as to what it means to be a man,
a Chicano (a), a creative person, a spiritual person?

Share your thoughts and your stories here with us next week....

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17. Juan Felipe Hererra on raulsalinas

photo of raulsalinas by Bruce Dye

From Lisa, La Blogista: We hope this stirs and ignites you. Please leave a comment and more importantly take raulsalinas' example to heart....Gracias to Juan Felipe Herrera

hail raúlrsalinas :: 1934 – 2008 :: hail liberationlove
raúlr was in red. he came in lower-case, strutting down thru the brown cadre in red, a red bandanna across his forehead & taut around his black tresses down to his shoulders, smilin, boppin’ slow & glowin’ hard, in blue tramos planchados & curled to show the calcos spit-shined black solid, bluish tattoos, turquoise rings & gold medallions, a slung-fine chain swingin’ down the black spaghetti-thin belt, under the amber light in the center of the waiting audience, this is where the street-royal carnal found his calling, throttled the mic & peered into the brown cadre huddled on the floors, some of us squeezed against the shadowy aisles, the rest of us in crescent shaped circles, in strange awe, smeared hot against each other’s shoulder bones, the dark jeweled man in red stood under that first-time sparkle-light, his veined muscled arms swayed at his sides, then, he spoke, his bold baritone sounds found a silky-river way into our head, then coursed through our blood as if we were one blood, what was he all about? what was happening to us? where were we headed, now that we had been set off in motion? raulr was riffin’, blowin’, boppin’, snappin’ spittin’, talkin’-singin’ for the new freedom-body, without the locks, fetters & guards of officialized history, policies, and summations of our multi-dimensional self. november 13th, 1973, raulr appeared in the morning, at the floricanto first national chicano literature conference at USC, thirty-eight years old, one year after he had finished doing his time at leavenworth penitentiary, i sat in the center row, dressed in a tzotzil tunic i had brought back from chiapas in ‘70, miguel mendez, tomás rivera, teresa palomo acosta, zeta acosta by the doorway, then raulr popped the mic again & flowed into “un trip thru the mind jail y otras excursions,” he was speakin’ black, caló, tex-mex, chicano & some kind of san francisco beat mantra chakra choppin’ language meant to pierce your awareness: who are you? who did you think you were? what is oppression? how is it constructed? how many of your rooms does it occupy? who else resides in these chambers? is there a way out? then, the baritone voice slid back into the crimson body under the lights – raúlrsalinas ambled away, into the fresh trembling borderless nation. raúlr’s nation was borderless, he had crossed it, on foot as on the page & the stage, speaking, riffin’ & teaching human verses & unity actions – from working class “barbed-wired existence” barrios, from the land of high school force-outs, from grave stones of bullet-riddled camaradas, from “narcotic driven nerviosidad,” from suicided “colonias” & familias, to “ex-convictos activistas doing good in cities of chavalos gone bad,” to “trenzas indigenas,” dedicated to a revitalized [email protected] collectivity, to “cantor de cantinas, pasándole poems a perennial pachukos prendidos, hoping to ease their pain,” “cantando colores de flores in arco iris danza,” ”learning en la lucha,” honoring the oak tree at the margins of a desolate collective capitol, honoring “indias, comadres wearing ski-boots so essential para caminar.” raúlr too was a walker, a walker-writer of the [email protected] inferno & finder-seer of "rainbow people spirit." raulrsalinas was a true liberator: a kind fire-word man of soul-jazzed languages, a writer within & without prison walls, a socio-political mind-jail wall-breaker-scribe-singer, a collector, reader & translator of stolen cultura-tablets, a speaker of & for tender homage & eulogy to the invisibilized, a fearless warrior seeking the paths to our indigenous selves, lands & pueblos, relentless in responding to the “animales transnacionales” & militarized hydra machines, a shaman in demin, re-conjuring herstories of unwritten pachuka murders & oppressions across the southwest & pacific northwest, undoing the anthropological & sociological tyrannies of el pachuko, that is, all of us, in lower-case motion – raulr sings in a mid-fifties bebop alto & baritone gold-gilded sax voice, from pine ridge to chiapas, from el barrio de la loma to the diné rez, from shoshone & arapaho tierras to la selva lacandona, healing-gathering, healing-working – “respeto, paz y dignidad,” raúlr offers his life-quest harvests to all of us. what else, raúlr? you were speaking of lower-case love – everything we all are, have been & will ever be. in liberation --juan felipe Herrera, 2/25/08


And from poet Oscar Bermeo:

Just wanted to pass along that last week, there was a tribute to raulsalinas

Among the readers sharing their thoughts and presenting the work of Raul

Alejandro Murguía
Tomás Riley Francisco
J. Dominguez
Marc Pinate
Naomi Quiñones
Leticia Hernández-Linares
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Nina Serrano
Jack Hirschman
Darren de Leon


More teatro news, Denver-style

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare Thursday – Saturday, February 28 – March 1 Thursday – Saturday, March 6 – 8 7:30pm King Center Rawls Courtyard Theatre Auraria Campus, Denver Tickets: $12 General Admission $5 UC Denver students Sponsored by: Theatre, Film and Video Production Department.

José Mercado, new Assistant Professor of the Theatre, Film & Video Production Department, directs a contemporary telling of a classic comedy driven by mix-ups, coincidence and slapstick humor, with the events confined within the action of a single day. The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s earliest, shortest and most farcical play. It tells the story of two sets of identical twins and the wild mishaps that occur through mistaken identity. Before joining the faculty at UC Denver, Mercado was head of the theatre department at North High School where he directed "The Zoot Suit Riots", the first high school production to play at Denver Performing Arts Center’s Buell Theatre. Prior to teaching, he worked as an actor in Los Angeles after earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre from UCLA. He is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and Actor’s Equity Association. He is also a member of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs.


Women and Creativity Conference/Lisa Alvarado Shameless Self-Promotion Department

Gente: I've been blessed enough to have been asked to perform The Housekeeper's Diary at the conference -- Friday, March 7, at 8 PM at the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts, as well as a reading for high school students at the Center's Wells Fargo Auditorium, Monday, March 10th at 10 AM.

Conference Info: Women and Creativity 2008 is organized and presented by the National Hispanic Cultural Center in partnership with more than 25 local arts organizations, artists, writers and independently owned-business. This year, we have an inspiring offering of more than 50 exhibitions, performances, workshops, classes, and engaging discussions in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Women and Creativity
partners invite you to dedicate an afternoon, evening or entire weekend in March to attend events and workshops that awaken and nourish your own creativity and support the creativity of our communities. Although we shine a special light on women’s creativity during this festival, we invite and encourage the participation of men at all events.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center, along with our partners in Women and Creativity 2008, believe that creativity, art and self-expression are central to sustaining healthy individuals, organizations, business and communities – so, join in and celebrate the creative women in your community and the creativity inside yourself.

There will also be a fabulous PEÑA FEMENINA Sunday, March 9th at NHCC's LA FONDA DEL BOSQUE;

Other Artists:
Alma Jarocha,
Leticia Cuevas, Anabel Marín,
Otilio Ruiz, Victor Padilla

Jessica López

Bailaora Xicana, Flamenco
marisol encinias, vicente griego, ricardo anglada

Lenore Armijo


National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th St, SW Albuquerque, New Mexico


Teatro Luna Fabulousness!

Teatro Luna has a BRAND NEW SHOW opening on March 6th, but you can catch it now! This Saturday and Sunday see a sneak preview of Teatro Luna's most intimate show yet... SOLO TU, a collection of
four interwoven solos all about different women's experiences with PREGNANCY.

One woman thinks she's finally built the perfect family - Mom, Dad, Cute Kid- until an invasion of mice makes her wonder what's really going on. Another woman finds herself caught up in the worst kind of Baby-Daddy-Single-Mama Drama. Meanwhile, a woman in her third year of trying to get pregnant decides her pregnant friends make her want to vomit, and her close friend wrestles with pro-life activists, hospital robes, and how she feels about having an abortion in her 30's.

Saturday @ 7:30 pm and Sunday @ 6pm

SHOW RUN: March 6-April 6 2008
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays @ 7:30 pm
Sundays @ 6pm
Chicago Dramatists 1105 W. Chicago Ave, at Milwaukee
Tickets $15, Student and Senior Discount on Thursdays and Sundays only, $10
$12 Group Sale price, parties of 8 or more
For tickets, visit www.teatroluna.org

Lisa Alvarado

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18. Palabra Pura Celebrates Poetry Month

Palabra Pura Series: Lorna Dee Cervantes and Rigoberto González
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 7:00pm

Note correction to starting time of event

Time: Doors open at 6:00 PM, Reading begins at 7:00 PM
Cost: Free admission.
Location: Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBT Community Center, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL

Lorna Dee Cervantes is an internationally acclaimed Chicana poet from San José, California. Her poetry has appeared in nearly 200 anthologies and textbooks, including The Norton Anthologies of Modern, American, English, Contemporary & Women's Poetry. She is a recipient of many honors, awards & literary fellowships including the NEA, Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Award and a Pulitzer nomination for DRIVE: The First Quartet. A fifth-generation Californian of Mexican and Native American (Chumash) heritage, Lorna Dee Cervantes was a pivotal figure throughout the Chicano literary movement. In 1976, she founded the influencial small press & Chicano literary journal, MANGO Publications, which was the first to publish well-known writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ray Gonzalez and many others. Cervantes holds an A.B.D. in the History of Consciousness and was an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She currently resides in San Francisco and teaches at SFSU and offers intensive poetry workshops from her home, the Mission Poetry Center. She is readying several new books of poetry for publication and completing her novel and a full-length screenplay. Visit her on her blog at http:lornadice.blogspot.com

Rigoberto González is the author of seven books, most recently of the memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A story collection, Men without Bliss, is forthcoming. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and of various international artist residencies, he writes twice a month a Latino book column, for the El Paso Times of Texas. He is contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, on the Board of Directors of Fishouse Poems: A Poetry Archive, and on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/ Latino activist writers. He lives in New York City and is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University/Newark.

And reasons why I love them both:

Poem For The Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, An Intelligent, Well-Read Person, Could Believe In The War Between Races
Lorna Dee Cervantes

In my land there are no distinctions.
The barbed wire politics of oppression
have been torn down long ago. The only reminder
of past battles, lost or won, is a slight
rutting in the fertile fields.
In my land
people write poems about love,
full of nothing but contented childlike syllables.
Everyone reads Russian short stories and weeps.
There are no boundaries.
There is no hunger, no
complicated famine or greed.

I am not a revolutionary.
I don't even like political poems.
Do you think I can believe in a war between races?
I can deny it. I can forget about it
when I'm safe,
living on my own continent of harmony
and home, but I am not

I believe in revolution
because everywhere the crosses are burning,
sharp-shooting goose-steppers round every corner,
there are snipers in the schools...
(I know you don't believe this.
You think this is nothing
but faddish exaggeration. But they
are not shooting at you.)

I'm marked by the color of my skin.
The bullets are discrete and designed to kill slowly.
They are aiming at my children.
These are facts.
Let me show you my wounds: my stumbling mind, my
"excuse me" tongue, and this
nagging preoccupation
with the feeling of not being good enough.

These bullets bury deeper than logic.
Racism is not intellectual.
I can not reason these scars away.

Outside my door
there is a real enemy
who hates me.

I am a poet
who yearns to dance on rooftops,
to whisper delicate lines about joy
and the blessings of human understanding.
I try. I go to my land, my tower of words and
bolt the door, but the typewriter doesn't fade out
the sounds of blasting and muffled outrage.
My own days bring me slaps on the face.
Every day I am deluged with reminders
that this is not
my land

and this is my land.

I do not believe in the war between races

but in this country
there is war.

Cactus Flower
Rigoberto González

It's a sweaty forty-minute walk through the desert from the main road to the wooden shack. Though the desert is flat and Rolando thinks he can see for miles into the faded blue horizon, the shack remains invisible until it suddenly shoots up from the ground, becoming distinguishable from the clumps of golden tumbleweeds and the sand hill leading up the ravine, everything blanketed by the brightness of the sun. The leaves of the fresh head of lettuce he brings from the fields wilt inside his oily fingers. He thinks about his toes shrinking back from the steel-tipped boots, his scrotum pulling away from his sticky underwear. The smell of dirt rises pure off the ground. His hand trembles at the thought of an empty shack, of nobody inside to open the door for him and take the lettuce from his hands, of no one to gasp in gratitude to assure him that despite the journey through the sweltering heat the leaves at the center are cool and crisp. His fears dissipate with the presence of his wife standing at the doorway, still as a cactus flower in her diaphanous white blouse, which she wears not so he can peek at her small white bra or at the pudgy abdomen he likes to grab while she's washing her hair bent over a bucket of water. She wears it, she tells him, to let the faintest breeze blow on her blouse, so she can spread her arms and cool her sweaty undersides. She's posing that way now, arms outstretched, but this far back it's hard to tell if it's the desert breeze come her way or if she's greeting him. He looks forward to tonight when they will feed each other lettuce leaves and chew them slowly as caterpillars devouring the moisture. Suddenly his eyes go blank, victims to the beads of sweat mixed into the dust he picked up from the fields, giving the sweat a more powerful sting. He rubs his eyes with the sleeve of the blue flannel shirt, taking in the sharp contrast of the smooth cloth to the coarse skin of his brown hand. Out of focus, he tries to reclaim the image of his wife in her white blouse, and then saddens, thinking Mirinda may not have seen him coming at all because she no longer stands at the entrance to the shack and the door is shut, the padlock hanging heavy like a heart gone solid and cold.

The candle flame twitches violently, threatening to leave him blind. The weather changed during his nap, and he woke up surprised in the dark. The wind hurls small stones against the wooden walls and bumps the window shutters repeatedly. Only when the wind blows is Rolando painfully aware of the imperfections in the small one-room home he built for himself in the middle of the desert, what the residents of the nearby town call "el dompe" because they drop off their useless vinyl couches and urine-stained mattresses into the nearby ravine though this area is no longer a county landfill and no longer uninhabited. The whistling and hissing of the dust storm outside disrupt his concentration so he sits without a word in his throat, slurping the Campbell's soup as loud as possible to convince himself that the silence the wind has forced on him has not upset his late-evening meal. Mirinda remains expressionless, staring across the table at the way his large hand holds the tin spoon too delicately, as if she knows he's scooping properly to please her. Even with the dim light she's beautiful, her features sharply defined and smooth as mariposa lily petals. The shadows make her face grow thin, distant as a portrait; but the flickering flame dancing gracefully in the deep ebony of her eyes keeps her within reach. She is tangible and touchable like before. She is here again to disregard the shadows as they flutter wildly like moths above her head. If they flee they will take her with them. But until then they soothe him, giving him this gift, this light, this woman, who said she was going to leave him and who didn't leave him completely. Forgotten are the elbow cramp, the stiff neck and aching shoulder blades. He has the urge to find the pretty marigolds he promised her when she agreed to follow him here to this desolate place, far from the run-down trailer camps and low-income housing projects where beauty like hers withers and dies. No, instead they are closer to the ground they left behind in the deserts of Chihuahua, a space so large it is like living inside breath itself. The peaceful evenings are long and familiar. The peaceful evenings bloom with stars. Stars love Mirinda so much they confuse her for the moon and crown her head. Suddenly the wind breaks in and snuffs the candle out. Mirinda disappears. He wants to stand and ask her to forgive him for those pretty marigolds. The wind roars. He keeps quiet, knowing that with such a wind his plea is weak and will remain unheard.

The wind grows stronger when he rises at four in the morning to pack his lunch and set off on his forty-minute trek back to the road where the bus picks him up to deliver him to the lettuce fields. When he opens the door the moonlight bursts in, lighting up the wooden table, the tiny unmade bed with the yellow faded sheets, the gas-tank stove, and Mirinda's white dresser. The looking glass Rolando gave her stares out the door, confronting the moon with its own light. He squints at the glare, grabs his denim jacket and tries to find the stone silhouette of his wife standing near the darkest corner. He shuffles out swiftly and doesn't catch a glimpse of her. At dawn the desert is cold. He shivers at the thought of the weary march getting back after work. Red flashlight in hand, he walks behind the shack, bends over the broken-down Pinto to check for damage on the windshield. The green paint looks clean, smooth as skin, so he rubs his hand across it then draws back quickly when a nettle on the surface stings his thumb. Suddenly he's alarmed to be outside. The landscape of desert rocks and manzanita patches appears shrunken, pulled in toward the shack, which becomes its dead center. He feels trapped, like the snowman in the glass bubble Mirinda enjoys shaking up at the swap meet to watch the tiny white particles drop. For him the particles strike sideways, strike hard. He moves quickly back around inside, exchanges the jacket for a thicker coat and grabs the brown paper sack, tightening the grip to remind himself how many of yesterday's burritos he will have for lunch. He steps out and shuts the door. The padlock snaps. He wishes to retreat, crawl beneath the yellow faded sheets, which will always smell of Mirinda's nape, of a strong sunlight filtered in through the dampness of her long black hair. He walks a few paces forward, hesitating because there's something he forgot. He's afraid to turn around, afraid that when he looks the shack will have vanished and he will find himself alone and vulnerable as the snowman or the palo verde that looks twice as solitary at night. He keeps on walking, sensing his distance from his home, a length that doubles when he thinks Mirinda's not inside stirring like the delicate perfume she rubs into her earlobes so that any sound she hears is savory and sweet. Mirinda, savory and sweet, desires no earring over this, the lip clamp of his mouth that nibbles nibbles nibbles on the flower-scented skin above her jaw. He dares to grin; he's compelled to whistle. He remembers he didn't eat the lettuce.

Rolando doesn't wait long for the bus. It's an old school bus painted over in white with the agricultural company's name on both sides. He doesn't have to see it to know it's coming because it's backfiring all the way down the road. In the early mornings the sloppy paint job looks clean until it stops in front of him and the old yellow coat shows through the wild strokes of white. The doors squeak open and the fat driver in a red plaid shirt greets him with a nod of the head, shifting into gear before Rolando finds a seat. Rolando paces reluctantly toward the space next to Sarita Mendoza, who wears a sweatshirt with words in English neither of them can read. She likes to save a place for him near the front. Before he takes a seat, Rolando nods at the other lettuce pickers. Don Carlos calls him by the wrong name. He wants to relax for the next twenty minutes until he arrives at the fields. He wants to tilt his head back and listen to the small transistor radio don Carlos behind him is holding. But Sarita Mendoza wants to talk.

She likes asking questions. She asks about his wife because she suspects Mirinda doesn't exist. She accuses him of lying to keep her from making a match of him with one of her daughters. Today she invites Rolando and his wife to a family bautismo. He politely refuses. She asks why. The glassy look of her eye makes him nervous. The bus hits a bump on the road and he hears the blades of the short-handle hoes rattle in the back. He wants to look down at the oval blister beginning to callus on his right palm. He wants to pick at it but doesn't, imagining a more intense pain against his hand as he thrusts the hoe into the ground. Instead he traces Sarita Mendoza's chapped lips, smiles and tells her he'll be celebrating his third-year anniversary this weekend. She jokingly says he's a liar. Rolando laughs with her, trying to think up an answer in case she asks where he's taking his wife to celebrate. She asks. He still hasn't thought of anything, so he simply says it's up to Mirinda. Can Mirinda travel to México? Sarita Mendoza leaves her mouth open, the dry lips are cracked at the corners; one corner is clotted with blood. He answers no, though he should have said yes because now Sarita Mendoza says he should have married a woman with papers. All of her daughters have their documents in order and they can all work in the fields, cook in the kitchen and perform both chores in bed. Rolando shakes his head. He should try to stop by the bautismo anyway, she suggests, since she's never met this mysterious woman he keeps hidden away in "el dompe." She's heard so much about Mirinda she's willing to wear out her old huaraches on a trip to the middle of the desert just to meet her. And if there isn't anyone there it won't matter because she will bring one of her daughters along just in case. Rolando looks away, embarrassed. He watches his cut lip grin on the dirty window. He didn't comb his hair. He forgot his baseball cap. The red bandanna in his back pocket has been used on his nose all week.

He wants to correct Sarita Mendoza and tell her she's heard very little about Mirinda, that woman, that goddess, that light. Mirinda, passion and appetite, can eat a whole coconut by herself, using up an entire afternoon with a dozen limes and a bowl of rock salt by her side while his heartbeat races to compete with that fervor she has for breaking the shell with her hands—a fever that finally peaks with him taking her fingers in his mouth and pressing his tongue beneath her nails to suck the salty juice. Mirinda, fury and fire, becomes as silky as her sleeping gown when he braids his limbs into hers, sweating off the humidity from their skins, surrendering themselves like cactus owls on that tiny bed that prompts them toward one another no matter what direction they stretch. Mirinda can touch every place on him at once and make each place jump twice. Mirinda is more than a woman, more than a wife—she took his body in her fleshy arms exactly three years ago and she still holds him there. And when she said she was going to leave him, she said she was going to dissolve his soul, so he didn't let her leave, not entirely, taking her neck in his hands and widening her mouth and forcing his power on her love until it burst into the air like a puff of dandelion seeds, an explosion of stars in the sky, an outbreak of marigolds. Such beautiful flowers. He's dizzy. Sarita Mendoza gazes at him and he blushes.

When the bus finally stops she leaps up and hurries to the back, her gray sweatshirt coming up on her stomach. She wants to get a good hoe, one with a clean sharp blade that won't give her trouble when she's digging into the ground. The rest of the workers scurry right behind her. Everyone hops off through the emergency exit door. Rolando looks past the window and at the lettuce fields, the heads looking cool and bright. Beyond the lettuce fields grow the grape fields and next to them sit the onion fields and rise the orchards, all of them blossoming so majesticly in the desert. He works this land year after year, intimate with its furrows and soils, yet he despises it for breaking his body down, for keeping him alive and sucking back all that strength. He imagines returning the following season, the fields lush and ripe again, displaying no evidence that he ever touched them. He imagines Mirinda, buried beneath the broken-down Pinto, unable to comb her long black hair or unable to darken her plucked eyebrows slim as marigold stems or unable to redden those fleshy points in the middle of her upper lip. She left her reflection behind in the looking glass. She returns to the desert to reclaim it and be whole again, then she thins out into air to become that void he sees when he holds up her mirror. When the white-haired foreman taps on the window, Rolando slowly rises from the seat, unashamed to be the last off the bus. The air is chilly and smells of soil freshly watered, the scent of cool lettuce lifts off the ground. On the other side of the road lies the barren desert. At the other end of the desert Mirinda's ghost waits patiently inside the tiny shack for him to step inside and breathe her scent of dusty wood. When he arrives each afternoon, the shack listens carefully, detects his slightest movements, excites its joints and rusty hinges and entreats Mirinda to respond.

Lisa Alvarado

0 Comments on Palabra Pura Celebrates Poetry Month as of 4/10/2008 6:13:00 AM
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19. Luis Omar Salinas: Casting a Giant Shadow

in the greenrooom with Alurista is Luis Omar Salinas

I received an email this morning from Juan Felipe Herrera: "Yesterday, in Sanger, Califas, we lost another great carnal, hermano and singer of the heart. He was ill for some time....."

The body of the living word is now diminished by the passing of Luis Omar Salinas...

Going North
(for my grandfather)

Those streets in my youth
hilarious and angry,
cobblestoned by Mestizos,
fresh fruit
and dancing beggars.
Gone are the soldiers
and the nuns.
My Portuguese friends
have gone North.
The school girls
have ripened
I hum Spanish tunes
waiting for the bus
in Fresno.
These avenues
I watch
young, open collared
like my grandfather
who died in a dream
going North.

Gracias, Luis....

A postscript....This ran in today's Fresno Bee

3 Comments on Luis Omar Salinas: Casting a Giant Shadow, last added: 6/1/2008
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