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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Banned books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Red Carpet | National Coalition Against Censorship 2015

National Coalition Against Censorship 2015 Red Carpet

On November 3rd, KidLit TV was invited to the National Coalition Against Censorship to interview NCAC board members, artists, authors, and experts about up and coming books that celebrate diversity and free speech advocacy. NCAC’s mission is to promote freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms.

NCAC celebrated another year of free speech advocacy and saluted Lois Lowry, Larry Siems, Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole as 2015 Free Speech Defenders. The evening raised funds from generous sponsors, led by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to support NCAC’s mission, and featured performances from Fun Home, a tribute by Alison Bechdel, and inspiring words from each of our honorees. A special thanks to comedian Jena Friedman, who kept the audience laughing through the night as our master of ceremonies.


  • Robie Harris (00:18)
  • Sheryl Oring (01:19)
  • Leonard Marcus (01:48)
  • Paul Zelinsky (02:49)
  • Lois Lowry (03:34)
  • Tim Federle (05:10)


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Red Carpet
Host: Rocco Staino
Executive Producer: Julie Gribble

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Red Carpet | National Coalition Against Censorship 2015-2

The post Red Carpet | National Coalition Against Censorship 2015 appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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2. Polis Books to Published Banned Book ‘Into the River’

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3. Show your support for Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows that I enjoy the books of Courtney Summers. You'll also know that I do not like it when books get banned. I get very upset. So when I learned that Courtney's novel Some Girls Are was pulled from West Ashley High School's recommended reading list - and note that it was a recommendation, not a requirement, for their summer reading program - I was very upset, on behalf of the author who wrote it, the teachers who recommended it, and the students who deserve the chance/choice to read it and discuss it. Some Girls Are is a powerful book about telling the truth, not being shamed into silence.

In an effort to get the book to the students who want to read it, Kelly Jensen from the book blog Stacked is collecting copies of Some Girls Are to send to the town's library, where people may check it out for free. In Kelly's own words:

Let's do something together with our collective reader, intellectual freedom loving power, shall we?
Can we get this book into the hands of kids of West Ashley who want it?

If you'd like to donate a copy of the book, please visit Stacked to learn more. Kelly will be collecting the books until August 17th, then she'll ship them out.
Here's more information from Kelly:

Some Girls Are is currently $1.99 on Book Outlet, and What Goes Around, which is a bind-up of Summers's Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are is $1. Right now, there are over 200 copies between the two of these books on Book Outlet. Let's make them all disappear.

Can you spring $1 or $2 or $10 to get this book to these kids? It seems like a cheap way to tell these teenagers that their voices -- their lives -- really do matter.

Go Kelly.
Go Andria.
Go Courtney.
Go readers.
Let freedom read.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
They Tried to Ban This Book Today, or, There's a Sticker on the Cover of This Book: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson: Too Cool for School?
I Read Banned Books: Celebrating Intellectual Freedom and Literacy

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4. NYC’s real super week and TONIGHT’S TO DOs with Eleanor Davis and the CBLDF

The week between SPX and the Brooklyn Book Festival has evolved into a real “indie super week” on the eastern seaboard, as touring cartoonists barnstormed and socialized at a furious pace. The week perhaps culminated in the Bergen Street Comic/Fantagraphics Brooklyn Book Fest kick off party Saturday, where Eleanor Davis, Michael Deforge, Patrick Kyle, Simon Hanselmann, Brandon Graham, Farel Dalrymple and Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell converged with the locals, as captured on the Fantagraphics Twitter.

The fun continued the next day at the Brooklyn Book Festival, although I was really only able to go to my own panel and quickly tour the booths, where everything seemed to be buzzing along. My panel—with Don Mishkin talking about The Warren Commission Report, Liana Finck on The Bintel Brief and Vivek J. Tiwary on The Fifth Beatle—went well as far as I could tell, with all three talking about a personal connection to the material and using comics for historical exploration. Apparently a photographer from Wikipedia was there and insisted on updating my photo, which, Puffy Sunday everyone.

And the fun continues tonight with two great events! Swing by the CBLDF and then hop on the Fulton St G to go to Desert island for the next!

jhill BBW 2014 NYCs real super week and TONIGHTS TO DOs with Eleanor Davis and the CBLDF

CBLDF Banned Book Week Kick Off

Celebrate the Freedom to Read with the city’s greatest graphic novelists at CBLDF’s Banned Books Week Kick-Off this Monday, September 22 at 6:00 p.m.!

Join us to wind down another successful Brooklyn Book Festival, and to celebrate the opening of Banned Books Week, which this year celebrates comics and graphic novels!  Mingle with comics creators and learn what you can do in your community to protect the freedom to read!

This event is free to CBLDF Members and Brooklyn Book Fest partners. $5 – $10 Suggested Donation all others.

Location: BRIC (647 Fulton Street, New York, NY)
Time: Monday, September 22, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Price: $5 – $10 suggested donation



howtobehappydesertisland NYCs real super week and TONIGHTS TO DOs with Eleanor Davis and the CBLDF

Eleanor Davis Slideshow at Desert Island:
Monday, Monday, Monday! Eleanor Davis is giving her LAST performance of the How to Be Happy tour at Brooklyn comic shop, Desert Island, 7-9m. You may have gotten your book signed at Brooklyn Book Festival but you haven’t L I V E D until you’ve seen Eleanor give her talk on the relationship of art and the artist.

AND TOMORROW, Super Week well and truly winds up with Hanselmann, Kyle and DeForge at Parsons as part of Ben Katchor’s Comics Symposium:

The 100th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 8 pm at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public. Please note 8pm starting time.
Presentations: Michael DeForge, Simon Hanselmann & Patrick Kyle.

Having self-published comics for the better part of the last decade, Patrick Kyle will discuss the logistics of playing publisher while balancing careers as both a cartoonist and illustrator.

Michael DeForge goes through different finished and unfinished projects he’s thrown away before publication. He discusses the value of abandoning projects, scripted versus improvised storytelling and the importance of digressions in the writing process.

Simon Hanselmann will discuss the Australian comics scene, the virtues of Tumblr as a distribution platform, making money, ‘the future’ and his general comics making process. Also: various crackpot theories and obscure in-jokes.


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5. Celebrating Banned Books

I’ve never been a fan of people telling me what to do. I’m open to book suggestions, but when people tell me NOT to read something, I’m probably much more likely to pick that book up. Which is why I love Banned Books Week. I read my son his first banned book when he was […]

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6. Long Beach Comic Con Programming begins roll-out

LBCC Logo Long Beach Comic Con Programming begins roll out

The convention season never stops, and West Coasters will be enjoying the sights and sounds of the Long Beach Comic Con on September 27-28th at the Long Beach Convention Center. Now in its sixth year, LBCC has found a spot for itself as a comics focused show on a seaside setting. You can check out the eclectic line-up of  guests of honor in the PR below, and the programming is beginning to be announced, with two panels that regular Beat readers will probably enjoy, focusing on banned books and YA graphic novels.

Saturday the 27th at 2 PM room 103C

Forbidden Knowledge: Banned Books Week Event

Literature was the first form of entertainment and education passed down through the generations. Sometimes the books that have given so much to so many need protecting. Find out how you can help make sure the books you love will always be available to new readers. Joshua Hale Fialkov (THE BUNKER; THE LIFE AFTER) and SALON contributor and novelist Samuel Sattin (THE LEAGUE OF SOMEBODIES) will talk with moderator Alan Kesinger
Sunday the 28th at 3 PM Room 103A/B

YA Riot: Stories for a Young Adult Audience
Join best-selling YA novelists Leigh Bardugo, Cecil Castellucci, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl as they discuss the variety of forms young adult writing takes, from fantasy, to graphic novel and more, and their own approaches to writing in the constantly shifting world of YA.
Robin Benway, moderator

And here’s the genreal info:

To celebrate its sixth year, Long Beach Comic Con is unveiling new initiatives including the show’s first ever Guests of Honor, this year’s official sponsors including media sponsor the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex and programming devoted to a broad range of attendees — from cosplay enthusiasts to young adult readers. Long Beach Comic Con will be held on September 27 and 28, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention Center, where exhibiting publishers will include Archie Comics, Aspen Comics, Bottled Lightning, PaperFilms, Skybound Entertainment, Storm King Productions, Top Cow, and Valiant Entertainment, among others.

For the first time in its history, Long Beach Comic Con is announcing guests of honor for this fall’s show:

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Archie Comics’ AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE)

Mike Allred (Marvel Comics’ SILVER SURFER)

Laura Allred (Marvel Comics’ SILVER SURFER

Sandy King Carpenter (Storm King Production’s ASYLUM)

Joe Casey (Man of Action)

Amanda Conner (DC Entertainment’s HARLEY QUINN)

Chris Dingess (Skybound Entertainment’s MANIFEST DESTINY)

David Gallaher (Bottled Lightning’s THE ONLY LIVING BOY)

Joe Kelly (Man of Action)

JT Krul (Aspen’s JIRNI)

Mike Mignola (Dark Horse Comics’ HELLBOY)

James O’Barr (THE CROW)

Jimmy Palmiotti (PaperFilms’ SEX & VIOLENCE)

Jamie S. Rich (Oni Press’ Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks)

Duncan Rouleau (Man of Action)

Steven T. Seagle (Man of Action)

Marc Silvestri (Top Cow)

Richard Starking (Image Comic’s ELEPHANTMEN)

Babs Tarr (DC Entertainment’s BATGIRL)

“We’re thrilled to have more guests at this year’s show than we’ve ever had before,” said Martha Donato, Long Beach Comic Con Executive Director and Co-Founder. “We recognize that attending conventions is a major commitment for comic book creators and we want to honor and celebrate some of the people who’ve joined us for six years running, as well as the writers and artists who are traveling across the country to attend our convention for the first time.”

As in past years, attendees will be treated to a wide array of programming. Highlights include:

* Panels devoted to fan favorite comic book characters including Batman, the Crow and Hellboy.

* Comic Book Publisher Spotlights moderated by BLOODY DISGUSTING, COMICVINE, IGN, THE NERDIST and others.

* Hero Complex moderated panels of pop culture, running the gamut from Robot Chicken to Young Justice to Women in Comics.

* A Young Adult panel featuring best-selling novelists Leigh Bardugo, Robin Benway, Cecil Castellucci, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston, and Margaret Stohl

* A Banned Books Week discussion led by the Newport Beach Branch Library

* Cosplay panels.

* Horror programming with guests like Dan Brereton (NOCTURNALS) and Mike Huddleston (THE STRAIN).

* Kids programming with KaBOOM! and creators like Eric Esquivel (BRAVEST WARRIORS), Travis Hanson (TANNER JONES AND THE QUEST FOR THE MONKEY STONE), Mike Kunkel (HEROBEAR)  and Hannah Nance Partlow (ADVENTURE TIME). There will also be interactive panels where Tone Rodriguez will teach kids how to draw the Simpsons and Futurama characters and Peter Paul will teach “how to draw your dragon.”

* Animation panels dedicated to popular cartoons like GARGOYLES, SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, X-MEN and DISNEY AFTERNOON, and appearances by Greg Weisman and the Man of Action.

* Screen Junkies Presents: Honest Trailers The Panel

* #MakeComics workshops where aspiring writers and artists can learn from comic book greats including Jon Bogdanove (POWER PACK), Tim Bradstreet (HELLBLAZER), Brian Buccellato (DETECTIVE COMICS), Joshua Fialkov (THE BUNKER) and Whilce Portacio (THE PUNISHER). Over two days, workshops will walk through the entire #makecomics process: from writing and drawing to running a Kickstarter and even publicizing the comic.  

“Our programming has been a huge growth area for us this year,” said Phil Lawrence, Co-founder and Sales Director of Long Beach Comic Con. “We’re running more than 80 high quality panels over two days. There’s something for every fan, whether you want to hear about the latest from Image Comics or need tips for designing and building your first cosplay.”

Growth also extends to the show’s official sponsors. The CW’s The Flash, GenZe by Mahindra, the Laugh Factory, SGX Print, and the SUN NEWS have already signed on as official sponsors, and additional announcements are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

Enjoy an exciting weekend full of exceptional guests and exhibitors, and engaging panels, at Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday, September 27 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 28 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Long Beach Convention Center. Tickets are available now through the website: www.longbeachcomiccon.com.

“Our ticket sales are significantly up from last year at this same time,” said Donato. “If you’re thinking about attending this year’s show, I recommend buying your tickets in advance before we sell out and arriving both days before the show opens.”

Follow Long Beach Comic Con on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and information.

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7. Freedom to Read by Savita Kalhan

Last week I read about a girl, a teenager from Idaho, who, after her school banned Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, decided to start up a petition to campaign for the book to be unbanned. The book was on the curriculum for many schools in Idaho, but following a campaign by some parents it was removed on the grounds that it contained profanity and sexual and anti-Christian content.

The teenager, Brady Kissel, decided to mount a petition and got 350 signatures from fellow pupils asking the school to re-instate the book, but to no avail. The issue was picked up by Rediscovered Books, a local book store, who ran a crowd funding exercise to raise money to buy each of the 350 signatories a copy of the book. They raised $3,400, which was more than enough. Brady and the bookshop gave away copies of the book outside her school on World Book Day, but the story escalated further when some parents called the police to stop her, stating that Brady was giving children books without their parents’ consent.

The police, however, saw nothing wrong in what she was doing and let her carry on.

The national press then picked up the story and, eventually, the publishers of the book became involved and decided to provide a free copy of the book for anyone who wanted it. The American Library Association cites the book as the third most challenged/banned book in the States. Strangely enough, the Captain Underpants series tops the list, with Hunger Games coming in at number five. Most of the books that are challenged by parents fall into books aimed at the 14-18 age group. The expanding Teen/YA market probably has something to do with that.

You might say, well that’s the USA for you. But I’ve heard stories from authors in the UK whose books are sometimes excluded from a school because of their content. A “book ban” in the UK would happen, if at all, at school level, usually following a head teacher’s decision, not a formalised complaint or challenge to a school board or the American Library Association as in the States.

The States has a constitution which protects freedom of speech. Brady Kissel argued that, as teens, they too have the same rights as adults and banning a book contravened that. What actually happened every time a book was banned was that teenagers went out and got hold of a copy in another way.

I know some writers in the SAS have had their books banned in the States. But has anyone had their books banned by a school here?

I hope not...

Twitter @savitakalhan
My website

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8. Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hang

The exciting news this week was that I got to host a couple panels regarding Banned Books (it being the week of ‘em and all).  The first was at the Brooklyn Book Festival with David Levithan, Francesca Lia Block, and Lauren Myracle.  I then cannibalized my own questions and used them in this, a Google+ Hangout alongside Lauren Oliver, Lev Grossman, and Lexa Hillyer.  My sole objection: You cannot see my awesome shoes.

And yes.  The Google offices do have free food, copious couches, and massage rooms hither and thither.

Speaking of the Brooklyn Book Festival, I was pleased as punch to see Catherine Jinks speaking there, live and in person.  She mentioned this video which, through utter and total coincidence, I’d seen on my own a couple days before.  Alfred. Is. Perfect.  Look at his fingernails!

And speaking of awesome book trailers . . .

And yeah.  Your book trailer might be awesome.  But did yours ever have a snappy theme song?  I’m just so pleased that our own Gregory K. (he of Gotta Book and The Happy Accident) is debuting his middle grade this year.  Spoiler Alert: It’s good.

And…. okay.  So, maybe I’m a pushover.  Obviously this isn’t my usual video.  But I just sorta liked the feel of this little paper studio and the kiddos who help out.  The narrator I can live without (would that Mimi had narrated the whole thing herself) but I like the kids and I like the product.  So sue.

And for the off-topic video of the day . . . was there any question what I’d go with?  This video works better when you know beforehand that the father is trying to distract his daughter from the “scary” fireworks outside.

I also like the fact that he clearly did her hair that night.

printfriendly Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hangemail Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hangtwitter Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hangfacebook Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hanggoogle plus Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hangtumblr Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hangshare save 171 16 Video Sunday: So hang, boys, hang

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9. In Honor of the Freedom to Read and Banned Books Week

Guest post by Yvonne Ventresca (@YvonneVentresca)

The summer before my junior year at Island Trees High School, the Supreme Court ruled on the book banning case Island Trees School District v. Pico. That summer vacation, I read a lot of romance novels with the occasional Agatha Christie thrown in. But the banned books piqued my interest. What didn’t the school board want me to learn? I borrowed Down These Mean Streets from the library, and found that Piri Thomas’s memoir about growing up on the streets of Spanish Harlem was as far from ‘80s Levittown and Danielle Steel stories as you could get. But even though aspects of his life were vastly different from mine, at sixteen, I discovered truth and beauty in his words, some of which I copied into my high school journal.


“The worlds of home and school were made up of rules laid down by adults who had forgotten the feeling of what it means to be a kid but expected a kid to remember to be an adult – something he hadn’t gotten to yet.” (Piri Thomas)

The scenes that initially caused Down These Mean Streets to be banned weren’t among the many paragraphs I transcribed at sixteen. It was the honesty and power of Thomas’s language as he struggled to find his place in the world that made an impact on me. His book was the most meaningful thing I read the summer of 1982 and it cemented my belief in every student’s freedom to read.

In response to the number of books being challenged in the United States, 1982 was also the year Banned Books Week began. Unfortunately, challenging and banning books still goes on today. Between 2000-2009, over 5000 challenges were reported. (According the ALA, “a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.” http://www.ala.org/bbooks.) Shockingly, over 1200 instances occurred in PUBLIC LIBRARIES. Some of my favorite authors, such as Sherman Alexie, Jay Asher, and John Green, were among the most challenged in 2012.

As the ALA states in a recent press release, “Banned Books Week, Sept. 22 – 28, stresses the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book, no matter how unorthodox or unpopular.” For more information on Banned Books Week and supporting the freedom to read, visit www.bannedbooksweek.org .

Yvonne Ventresca (www.YvonneVentresca.com) is a young adult author whose debut novel, Pandemic, will be available from Sky Pony Press in May 2014.

Thank you Yvonne for sharing this article with us. This is the first time we have talked about banned books on this blog.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: article, children writing, Publishing Industry Tagged: ALA, Banned Books, Freedom to Read, Piri Thomas

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We love listening to Chris Crutcher. He always has the most interesting things to say. Luckily his new novel, PERIOD 8, is full of things to talk about!

Watch Chris Crutcher discuss the truth and when to tell it, what it means to live a good life, and PERIOD 8. Make sure you stick around until the end for a special message to teachers and librarians!

Download the PERIOD 8 discussion guide and get talking . . .

Period 8

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11. Cheryl Rainfield on SCARS being challenged, and the need for “dark” books – for Banned Book Week

In the video below, I talk about Scars being challenged, why I wrote Scars, and the need for “dark” books – for Banned Book Week. I read banned and challenged books, and I hope you do, too!

Here are some of my favorite quotes about banning books and censorship:

“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.”
- Lyndon Baines Johnson

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. ”
- Joseph Brodsky

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
- Benjamin Franklin

“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”
- Heinrich Heine

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”
- Voltaire

Do you have a favorite quote about banned books or censorship? How about a favorite banned or challenged book? Let me know! :)

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12. Banned Books Week: Tintin in the Congo

Not only do I read banned books, but I buy them as well. Let me start with a story. At the end of August, on my final evening of a lovely trip to Cape Cod, I was checking out Herridge Books in Wellfleet. Herridge Books is a used book store tucked in a corner not far from Mayo Beach and Wellfleet Center. I was looking for Church Mice books, while my daughter wanted ghost stories. You could have

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13. Show me your INK. Banned books update. On-Line Floricanto in waxing October

Review: Sabrina Vourvoulias. Ink. Somerville MA: Crossed Genres Publications, 2012.
ISBN-13: 978-0615657813 ISBN-10: 0615657818

Michael Sedano

In my neck of the woods, Pasadena Califas, birder excitement flies high with recent sightings of the rara avis, Least Bell’s Vireo. I’m a birder, and I’m excited at the prospect of renting a long lens and traipsing out to the wash next door to JPL to expose a few frames of this endangered species.

But that’s not what I’m most excited about right now. It’s the growing population of Chicana Chicano speculative fiction finding its way to bookstores and downloads.

Not that raza literature hasn’t long contained fantasy and out-of-this-world elements—think of the dead baby in Ana Castillo’s So Far From God who flies out of her coffin up to the rafters. Then there’s “magic realism,” a term some exogenous critic planted upon stuff the critic couldn't tolerate or didn't fully understand. Such writing bears no dissonance for raza writers and readers, whose tolerance for  fantastic experience results from  quotidian cultural experience, e.g. DDLM, Juan Diego and la Virgen, el cucuy.

Per some critics, "magic realism" is a worldwide movement. Yet, it’s still possible that one’s life-list of Chicana Chicano speclit sightings can include every specimen of the genre. Which is changing: the growth of Chicana Chicano speculative fiction / science fiction / fantasy / horror is as exciting news as spotting a tree full of Least Bell’s Vireo.

Books, unlike birds, don’t end up extinct, glass-eyed and stuffed behind plexi in some dusty museo display case. Books can be resurrected. For example, Bloguero Ernest Hogan--among the earliest practitioners of the art—recently began recasting his rare titles into eBook forms, as he’s recounted in his La Bloga Chicanonautica columns.

And slowly but inexorably, new titles are finding their way through publisher back rooms into the light of day. A few years ago, now-defunct publisher Calaca Press advanced the puro sci-fi Lunar Braceros on the Moon 2125-2148. In addition to Hogan, Blogueros Daniel Olivas and Rudy Garcia, are doing their part to keep spec alive. There’s Olivas’ gem, Devil Tales, and Garcia’s currently touring  novel Closet of Discarded Dreams.

The most recent newcomer to the speclit ranks is Sabrina Vourvoulias with an edge-of-your-seat dystopic novel, Ink.

In a tea bagger fantasy world, raza and immigrants from America, Asia, Caribe, Africa, wind up on the losing end of a U.S. civil war that cleaved the democracy into castes of citizens, non-citizen aliens, and “inks.”

Inks wear tattoos branding their country of origin and status, and have chips implanted in their necks to facilitate GPS tracking. “Show me your wrist” has replaced “show me your papers.”

But such profound measures hardly satisfy the most avid baggers. Gangs of crackers roam the streets, kidnapping inks to deport them into Mexico, with a wink from law and ordure.

A great story aside, the key to a successful speculative piece is linking the unknown to the known, constructing the fiction over a framework of actuality. For Vourvoulias this means a world where street gangs have gone corporate; where wingnuts control government but not the hearts and minds of all the gente; where private prisons run rampant; where technology is boon and bane and Ink-detecting devices are as widely available as iPods.

The odds stack heavily against them, but Inks fight back, supported by gente decente like Maryknoll priests, youths, congregants, artists, and artificial skin. The conflict driving the novel will fill readers with dismay, seeing parallels between what has already taken place—Japanese locked in concentration camps, narcos controlling swaths of territory in Mexico, rednecks with power—and the novel’s permutations of today’s ugly commonplaces.

In Vourvoulias' most delighting turn, she gives her Inks nahuales: panther, jaguar, bee spirits, or evil dwarves. These spirits jump in and out their dimension to comfort, rescue, or attack, their endangered Ink. With this dual dimensions set-up, the author develops her agon in suspenseful parallels between the bleeding dystopia and the engaged dimension of spirits.

The author skillfully avoids nagual-ex-machina devices except when absolutely required. The presence of one’s nahual isn’t enough to prevent a rape, nor save some souls. Vourvoulias is not reluctant to brutalize or kill her characters, nor subject them to unspeakable torture at the hands of depraved racists. But I repeat myself.

The United States has devolved into a living Hell for decent folk, and all Inks. Readers who allow themselves to be drawn into the fantasy will find Sabrina Vourvoulias’ story both depressing and constantly arresting, enjoying several surprises along the route. In the end comes an inkling of hopefulness for disbanding the tea bagger hold on liberty, but that’s not certain. Vourvoulias won’t let you off that easy.

The publisher distributes a book book and an electronic one. Whichever a reader elects, Ink’s compelling story drives itself effortlessly, and a reader likely will devour it within a day or two. Ink is fun, and scary as can be. Of course, that's the point of speculative fiction. Can it happen here? A little birdy tells me the known of this novel offers compelling evidence that Ink’s world certainly could, and as current events illustrate, that world is lumbering toward Washington DC to be born.

Banned Books Update

The books are still banned. Tucson's school board gave a vote of confidence to the jefe in charge of banning books, along with a nice salary increase. SB 1070's "show me your papers" got a court go-ahead. Joe Arpaio's re-election campaign advances toward victory.

It's ugly out there. Vote like your freedom depends on it.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto Two Ten Twelve
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Maurisa Thompson, Kris Barney, Devreaux Baker, Jabez W. Churchill

“Occupied America” by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
“We Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skin” by Maurisa Thompson
“What Will It Take?” by Kris Barney
“Recipe for Peace” by Devreaux Baker
“El Procesional” por Jabez W. Churchill
“Processional” by Jabez W. Churchill

Occupied America
by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

so occupied
are they
in their heads
stuck in screens
smart phones
the iOnly CU
online society
who'd rather text
their talking fingers
flying swiftly
over keyboards
to communicate
into the ether
O occupied America
so sick of who's at war
with whom
or don't care and
what new doom will
the yarn spinners spin
what Hollywood or TV
drama will they foist
on the eye glued
masses today
will they cower
in fear then
proudly wave
their death flag
even higher
who will win
the next elections
with Corporations
as people
can we can leave
the driving to them
after all don't cha know
the One Percent
has it rigged
with new fangled
voter fraud schemes
the old ones too
like show me your papers
to vote
while the dead still
rise from their graves
every four years to
pull the lever
at the voting box
automatons speak
the great computers
calculating the numbers
in the chosen ones favor
who will it be
you ask
as if there
were really a choice
lift your voice
in a different way
take to the streets
and yell your stories
no matter how dumb
you think it is
leave your smart phone
at home

Copyright 2012 Odilia Galván Rodríguez

We Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skin
by Maurisa Thompson

We did not build pyramids with words that feared our skin
We did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hips

the white parent in us
so many ways absent
your father left your mother nursing
you with stories she spoke in Spanish
middle passages coast island migrations
arms of earth always around you
you carried them in this country
talismans on your full lips

my mother’s subconscious praises
for baby blue blue eyes
a classmate’s complexion
all lovely pale and flushed
willowed legs slender thighs
her own hands mute awkward
they were scarred by a lifetime
of dick and jane and sameness
she struggled to hold my difference
in any form of embrace

I could not begin to say these things
until you gave me words beyond
textbooks beyond negro y blanco
eased the secret knot open
trigueña—color of wheat
beneath the nightfall of your hair
morenasa—first word that loved me
beautiful dark woman
the sound rippling gently through
the letters of my own name

what language still throbs
within our mingled bloods
Nele muu ina Oju inun ashe
come we must find and weave it
tuck its medicine in our pockets
I seek each time I glimpse
lightning behind my closed eyes

after years in this body
I know at least the beginning

We did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hips
We did not build pyramids with words that feared our skin

Copyright 2012 Maurisa Thompson

What Will It Take?
by Kris Barney

i burn cedar tonight
and lightning flickers all around the house
thunder booms and rumbles and
i think of yei dancers whose
voices and rattles will sound on
a night like tonight
after the frost melts into the earth
after all vegetation dies back and
aspens and cottonwoods turn yellow
Cedar smoke circles my body as
i rub the smoke on my heart with an eagle feather
as i watch every movement of
smoke wash over my face and my hands and
the fleeting moments that
burn and fade like
ponderosa logs on the fire and
i am tired of praying
i want something more to happen
i want my people to find the strength
inside them to do something
to address or to protect or to
regain honor in my eyes
i want to send a call to every warrior
every man or woman who loves
his/her homeland
his/her family and
how tough can it be to say enough is enough?
how hard is it to stand strong in unity?
how hard is it to stand up
to speak up
to have courage?
or are we just too ill with colonial post trauma and
images of failed attempts to defend and resist?
do we give up or do we just endure
long enough to become another
commodity for corporate disposal?
So my people medicate themselves
be it NAC pills Marijuana Reds Whites and Blues or
wine bottles smashed against windshields and skulls
the webbed nets of disease and dysfunction
dreams bred out of anarchy and alchemy and
this song that runs wild in the purple red neon
as the blood hits the wind and
eyes are the doorways and
i lick i look
i fool myself with your smile and
the beads of sweat that collects down the curves
of your body as i kiss you into the night
and the constellations are the only ones
who hear our voices and white puffs of breath like
dancers painted white dancing by moon star and
firelight and
i hold you closer and breathe in your smell as
suns rise and set and
i hear the hoof beat of horses and
i can taste the rain in my sleep and
rivers running across the desert and
mountains where the deer stop to watch
our passing and hawks circle into
the red iris of the sun
and i walked
and i ran
and i asked questions to the clouds and
rain confirmed in recognition
in voices as old as the ocean and
i drank from water clear and cold
glacier melt water and ice cold streams that
mourn for salmon and
the men and women who weep
my brothers and sisters who weep
our children who weep for parents who are too
traumatized by colonial gods and demons and
rumors of eternity
Our elders weep
silently in nursing homes or
prisons and mourn for the
beauty of their youth or
for relatives long dead
the stories that cannot
be translated into English
stories images and
memories hidden in the blood
on every highway
in America
on every street downtown every city
on every metro train that connects
above to below
on every dirt road where children
board buses or airplanes and die for
wars created by the
wealth and gluttony of greed and
ones who suck the life
out of every living system of life
and i hear the wailing of rivers
whole rainforests and indigenous tribal relatives
fighting death and dams with arrows and spears
and all the marked and unmarked graves
unearthed by stripmine shovels and those who
rob the dead
gold robbers
coal robbers
bone collectors
those who sell trade and barter whole
corpses and the bone fragments
that line museum walls or
spark intelligent and curious
conversations at dinner tables
conversations that
give rise to festive occasions and
celebrations of the
opening of another new strip mall
another ski resort
another oil rig
another mountaintop stripmine
another copper mine
another diamond mine
another uranium mine
another mine where they
mine and drain the blood out of
the bodies of babies and aquifers and
the dust and smoke of charred human remains
settle after wars for natural resources have claimed
another hundred thousand or half million to million
civilian causalities
the lives of the innocent cemented to the lenses of
journalists and scenes that the media
only wants you to see and voices
crushed like how they crushed infant
skulls on the sides of kivas or pit houses or
hogans or long house walls
the blood always runs cleaner on the other side
so they say in the written history in every
colonial country
where the guilt of massacres and genocide
is weighed and bought
by stock market trends and
designer shoes and bleached blonde images
emulated by every modern Native out there
who's impressed by the illusions of the
american dreams and promises of prosperity
those of my people who would sell more
than their souls just
to get him/her a piece of the action
and the blood of the
innocent continues to run when
you are able to deceive those who
dare not think for themselves or think
intellectually and really put it all out there
for the world to see but
even then
images are not enough in today's america
images have not enough value or intrinsic value and
what price can really be put on
clean air
clean water
healthy soil
healthy children/descendants?
and here i look at the
black silhouette of the mountain
behind my house
i am immersed in the
melodies of this wind and
i think of life
all the lives of this earth
all the millions of ancestors and relatives
all the lives of animals
genetically generically modified plant life
the sterilizations
the mass murders
the modern mass global extinctions
the crimes against humanity
the crimes against creation
the crimes and murders against
every living thing
every living breathing entity and
yet my people do nothing
but make excuses and
tell me to pray more or
to be more humble
or tell me to come into the fold of their religions or
to go into some deep part of the world and
find something to distract myself from
the horrors of reality
the wombs of creation and
i wonder
i stop
i sometimes listen
i watch
i look to clouds and wind for inspiration and
i dare to question and i have yet to ask of
them for help
for assistance
i have yet to crank things up a notch
i have yet to lay it all out on the line
i have yet to make things happen and
so i burn cedar tonight
i think of all my loved ones
i think of the recently deceased
i think of all the animals
i think of all my people and relatives
i will not pray for you all
a part of me is tired of praying
of going through the motions of prayer and song
i am tired
i have walked but i have not walked far enough
i have prayed
my feet have bled
my heart has been broken
my body is beaten but my spirit
remains intact
i have no song to sing
no offering stronger than my
own blood to give
i walk now
surrounded by clouds
dark blue and deep purple and
a silver blue moon and this rain which
washes over my skin and i
sit on this hill and i watch the lightning far off
i watch it twist and bend and
the thunder booms in a voice
i have known all my life and
i have no tobacco
no corn pollen
no eagle plumes
no words to comfort me here and now
but only my two hands my two feet and
the scent of cedar smoke close to my chest
and this road of possibility
this lightning that
my eyes....

Copyright 2012 Kris Barney

Recipe for Peace
by Devreaux Baker

Bare your feet
roll up your sleeves
oil the immigrant's bowl
open the doors and windows of your house
invite in the neighbors
invite in strangers off the street
roll out the dough
add spices for a good life
cardamon and soul
cumin and tears
sesame and sorrow
add a dash of salt
pink as new hope
add marjaram and thyme
rub lemon grass and holy basil
on your fingers and pat the dough
bless the table
bless the bread
bless your hands and feet
bless the neighbors and strangers off the street
bake the bread for a century or more
on moderate heat
under the olive trees in your back yard
or on the sun filled stones of Syria
in the white rocks of Beirut
or behind the walls of Jerusalem
in the mountains of Afghanistan
and in the sky scrapers of New York
Feast with all the migrant tongues
until your mouth understands
the taste of many different homes
and your belly is full
so you fall asleep cradled
in the skirts of the world
in the lap of peace.

Copyright 2012 Devreaux Baker

El Procesional
por Jabez W. Churchill

La llevo encima de la cruz
arriba de mis hombros,
botas negras y medias de red
hasta el pelo tenido de henna.
No se baja.
Ya estaba
cargando banderas,
fantoches vanos por las calles.
Ni puedo yo,
ídolo caído,
bajarla a abrazar.
carroza alegorica de uno,
penitente y su Maria Magdalena
por el camino.
Solo el rastro pasado del amor,
condones gastados a los pies,
promesa de noche sin luna,
mi Santa muda
a atestiguar.

Copyright 2012 Jabez W. Churchill

by Jabez W. Churchill

I carry her upon a cross
above my shoulders,
black boots and fishnet stockings
up to her dyed henna hair.
She will not come down.
Already been there,
carrying banners,
vain caricatures along the streets.
Nor can I,
a fallen idol,
put her down.
We carry on,
allegory of one,
a penitent and his Mary Magdalene,
upon the highway.
Only the faded scent of love,
used condoms at my feet,
promise of a moonless sky,
my Guardian Angel, silent,
to testify.

Copyright 2012 Jabez W. Churchill


Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally, currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/ or contact her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.

Maurisa Thompson was born and raised in San Francisco, where she began writing poetry with her spelling words in 4th grade. She graduated from Swarthmore College, where she studied creative writing, and UC Berkeley, where she earned her M.A. in Education. She is a former student-teacher-poet of June Jordan's Poetry for the People, where she learned that "poetry means taking control of the language of your life," and that poetry can create what Jordan called "the beloved community," in which people from different backgrounds can come together and learn from one another while healing and addressing injustice. She currently works as a literacy teacher in San Francisco, and as as an editorial assistant for the Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research and the Black Scholar Press. She is member of Librotraficante BayArea Califas, a local chapter of a national movement of poets and writers raising awareness of the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona through public readings and activism around the banned books. Her published poems can be found in The Pedestal Magazine and Caxixi: International Capoeira Angola Foundation Newsletter.

Devreaux Baker has published three books of poetry. Her most recent, Red Willow People, was awarded a 2011 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. She is the recipient of a 2012 Hawaii Council on Humanities International Poetry Award and a 2012 Women's Global Leadership Initiative Poetry Award. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals including most recently; ZYZZYVA, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, La Bloga, Crab Orchard Review, New Millenium Writing, Albatross, Mas Tequila Review, Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology 99 Poets among the 99%, and Occupy SF Poems from the movement.

3 Comments on Show me your INK. Banned books update. On-Line Floricanto in waxing October, last added: 10/5/2012
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14. Final frontier. The final On-Line Floricanto for Sept

Endeavor’s Memorable Fly-by: Outer Space in the Backyard

Michael Sedano

The early morning light lured me outside to take in the view on a sharp wintry day in Redlands. It was one of those early Sunday mornings I was home from school. I looked up at the noisy sky. Our home lay under the flight path of San Bernardino’s Norton Air Force Base. In the 1960s, Norton moved millions of tons of materiel from Berdoo to Vietnam aboard gigantic C-141 jets. First thing in the morning, C-141s painted black as if draped in mourning crepe, lifted off from Norton. Every fifteen minutes their roaring overhead signaled the Military Airlift Command’s efficiency. Their roar sounded an ominous reminder the Draft was looking for me, and thousands of teenagers more. I went back inside.

I was looking up at the sky again this week when the Space Shuttle rode piggy back across my backyard bit of sky, Mt. Wilso n’s radio towers above for background. I heard them before I knew them, as nothing ordinary roars with the power that rumbled my house in a sonic earthquake of harmonic sounds. And then it was gone from sight and I stared through empty space at the mountain.

Space. The final frontier. “What does ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ mean?” my kindergarten granddaughter,  Charlotte, asks. This is the only time this event will happen, and you got to see it, I enthuse. Charlotte understands this event has never happened before, and will never happen again. So do her classmates. All the kindergarteners waved their arms and jumped around and went "ahgghh" when the big airplane and the little ones, too, cruised past, low and slow.

What a grand way for these 5-year olds to enter their space age. Last Spring, Charlotte declared when she grows up she will be a dancer and a scientist. She's going to make marvels. The space shuttle fly-by marks the end of one era, the launch of the next era of space. Her generation will build on what people of my generation, born in the aftermath of WWII, got to see from the raw beginnings.

When I was in kindergarten, space was airplanes out of Norton. I now and again stood in my backyard staring up at the noisy propeller planes cruising to and from the base. Hands cupped to mouth, I'd shout up, “Hey! Is Hairy Ass Truman in that plane?”

My dad worked at Norton. Once in a while he’d take me into the hangar where he did sheet metal. We'd go in the side door, past the time clock. Inside, the hard light filling open hangar doors silhouettes the hulking C-124 in eye-squinting contrast against the open sky. There were no wings. My father explained how the whole thing comes apart. I didn’t think about that. He fixed the holes in the airplane’s skin, and he also replaced the wings. Every time one of those beasts flew overhead in those days, I smiled. That was my dad’s handiwork in that airplane.

The space race took off in junior high, when the Russians got to space first with Sputnik. A U.S. answer, the Vanguard satellite, was built in Redlands, at Grand Central Rocket Company. The first launch was a spectacular disaster. The rocket exploded on the pad hurling the sofball-sized Vanguard onto the beach. The satellite came to rest beeping impotently in the Cape Canaveral surf. A classmate's dad built the Vanguard satellite. The man walked up to the beeping gold ball wanting a gun to put Vanguard out of its misery. Beep beep beep. Five years later, groups of us high school kids would stare up into a nightime summer sky and name communications satellites whizzing by.

Rocket science found a way to make weapons out of satellites. Many of these were launched from Lompoc, California’s Vandenberg AFB, just north of Santa Barbara. College years, the drive up the parkway from Goleta to UCSB, seeing the “pregnant guppy” was common. It was the cargo plane that ferried rocket motors up the coast to Lompoc. On campus, I lived in a decrepit structure overlooking the swamp and airfield. The roar of a pregnant guppy echoed the sounds of Redlands.

The first person to walk on the moon did it on black and white television in the middle of the day. I watched Armstrong from a bar stool in Hwaak-ni, Korea, where I had arrived the afternoon before the moonwalk, my fourth day overseas.

On the ride up to Bravo Battery the day before, the deuce and a half had bounced past a Korean man plowing a rice paddy with an ox, ankle-deep in brown water that looked like wet shit. It was; human caca. The wind blew in our direction. In the thick humidity, the incredible stink clung to my sweaty fatigues and penetrated deep into my nose filling my head with the smell of the third world.

And there, sitting next to me in the Admin Area bar, wearing his homespun traditional hemp fiber traje, was that farmer. As the ville did not have electricity, the Battery Commander invited the locals to share the event, and he'd taken a day off. If I’d had any money, I would have bought that farmer a twenty-five cent beer. “A small step for a man…” Talk about a “giant leap” for humankind.

Serving on a mountain armed with rocket ships named the “Homing All the Way Killer,” the HAWK anti-aircraft missile, never struck me as outer spacey, except for that farmer. And when the wind blew up the valley. Yet, the space age was everywhere—that missile system is a big lethal computer.

I saw my first zip-lock bag at Bravo—the missile parts arrived in them. I experienced space age adhesives when Robledo, a vato from San Anto, glued my fingers together with the stuff warheads are glued onto the rocket ship with. Instead of cranking a phone, I learned to whistle up a 60 Hz tone. "Wheeoouuuu" click; just like that the mountain is connected to anywhere in the world. It’s definitely space age to be buzzed by a MiG out of nowhere, then be knocked to the ground by a low-sweeping Air Force Phantom. “It if flies, it dies,” is an Air Defense Artillery mottto I remembered as that huge lumbering jet crossed the sky on its way to JPL.

Menso me. I’d decided I have plenty of space age memories and didn't need to photograph the Space Shuttle. The fly-by itself cannot be contained in a prosthesis for memory, and bla bla bla. As the flight comes into view and sweeps painfully briefly across the mountain vista, I jump excitedly and go "ahgghh." My waving arms feel the absence of the lens in my hand. The Shuttle does not return for a second fly-by. That’s what once in a lifetime means.

Banned Books Update in Limbo

Tucson schools has consistently failed to develop an acceptable desegregation program for over 20 years. As a result, the Federal Court maintains supervision over the district. A key element is the Special Master appointed to develop methods to help TUSD meet its obligations under the U.S. Constitution.

The Special Master could order the schools to reinstitute the Mexican American Studies program that was banned along with all those beautiful books. Or, the Special Master could suggest a framework and toss the ball to negotiators from TUSD and the community and let them battle out the details of a lawful "Unitary Status Plan" or USP. Here's the Special Master's job description:

Although the Special Masters Report was, evidently, released on 9/21, the document won't be in public view until at least September 27, 2012, when the document will be released in English and Spanish.

In the background come rumblings of discord entre Chicana Chicano Democrats that could split the local movement apart. Inklings of a krypto coalition between racists and putatively moderate raza politicians point to a festering infection in the movimiento. Signs of the ugly schism include TUSD's decision to re-hire Superintendent Pedicone and pay him a big fat bonus.

La Bloga's Banned Books Update is digging for details and will report on this ugly development when there is concrete information to report.

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Newly Literate Gente

La Bloga's Inbox this week has this from Vanessa Acosta of Cultural Arts Tours & Workshops, forwarding great news for America: more Americans in the United States can read and write now.

Here's the news from The Centro Latino for Literacy:
t's graduation time at Centro Latino!  This Friday, Sept 28th, Manos Amigas will celebrate a record 155 newly literate adults who will receive their completion certificates. They range in age from 19-73 and 69% are women. Their native countries include Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and Peru. 33% speak an indigenous language, including Quiche, Canjobal, Mam,and  Zapoteco.

There's still time to purchase a ticket or make a contribution. Contributors Reception starts at 5:00 and the graduation is at 6:30 p.m   For more information and to purchase tickets or donate on-line visitwww.centrolatinoliteracy.org/manos-amigas 

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In Manhattan: Casa Azul Bookstore

Sergio Troncoso, Tony Diaz, Martín Espada, Melinda Palacio, Luis Alberto Urrea
Bloguera and Librotraficante Melinda Palacio read at Casa Azul Bookstore last week, along with several La Bloga friends, recognizing efforts by librotraficantes to smuggle banned books into Arizona and wherever democracy has broken down. The event in NYC will not be a rare ritual but one element in an entrepreneurial strategy to keep literacy alive.

The Inbox this week has this from La Bloga friend Sergio Troncoso, news of Casa Azul's ongoing program of readings.

Please come and support a new independent bookstore in Manhattan, La Casa Azul Bookstore, at 143 East 103rd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue.  I'll be reading from my two books published in 2011 with the poet Renato Rosaldo:

Reading with Sergio Troncoso and Renato Rosaldo    
Thursday September 27, 6:00 - 8:00pm

Sergio Troncoso debates and challenges us on the mystery of familias, how they determine our identity and how we break free of them, from fatherhood to interfaith marriage to educating our children. From Tucson to the Philippines, from Palo Alto to Manhattan, Renato Rosaldo's readable poems tell of illness and racism, love and death—all in vivid tones. Savor these poems, slowly, what you inbibe will engage and enrich you.


Fall's First On-Line Floricanto
Francisco X. Alarcón, Tara Evonne Trudell, John Martinez, David Romero, Abyss Borboa-Olivera

"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-Olivera

New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B
by Francisco X. Alarcón

Photo of Andromeda Galaxy by Clifton Reed: “This is the culmination of a lot of work, effort and study. You have my permission to use it any way you wish. BTW--this object is 2.5 million light years away. The time it took the light to travel here is older than human beings.”
a new huge

at the center
of Andromeda
Galaxy some

2.5 million
light years away
from Earth

has been named
today after Arizona
law SB 1070–2B

“this is the largest
blackhole we have
ever found in space

it swallows all matter
and even light can’t
escape its huge pull;

because it is a dark
force that we can only
detect by its gravity

we have named it
SB 1070-2B for being
as ‘dark’ as the new law”

© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012

Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B
por Francisco X. Alarcón

un nuevo enorme
agujero negro

al centro
de la Galaxia

a 2.5 millones
de años luz
de la Tierra

ha sido nombrado
SB 1070–2B como
la ley de Arizona

“este el mayor
agujero negro jamás
descubierto en el espacio

absorbe toda materia
y no deja que ni la luz
se escape de su imán

porque es una fuerza
oscura que solo podemos
detectar por su gravedad

la hemos nombrado
SB 1070-2B por ser tan
‘oscura’ como la nueva ley”

© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012

De Colores of SB 1070
by Tara Evonne Trudell

the color
of politics
and blue
corrupted news
passing bills
making rules
taking brown
throwing rights
into spirit wind
the fight
proving papers
marking suspects
police questioning
human rights
based on the color
of where
you were born
how brown
your skin
in sun
in shadows
immigration control
wearing green
not addressing
the reality
of humanness
her pink dress
grey nail polish
selling products
in a manicured war
them looking
the other way
promising people
rainbows to follow
their ever changing
of equality
fooling minds
allowing justice
of nazi mentality
to control
the masses
of ancestors cries
red blood
under brown skin
the people must speak
fast and slow
freedom dissipated
and in their control
brown bodies
piling up
on the border
shot for throwing stones
for being brown
killing first
hiding bodies
in news feeds
conditioning generations
to not care
color scheming
between the lines
of genocide
until the colors
blinding white
the light
of politicians
Americans fear.

© Tara Evonne Trudell 2012

He Had the Smile of a Healer
by John Martinez

There was nothing
More to do,
Than to pick up
The picket sign,
White-hot summers
Sand underneath us,
A cloudless baby
Blue sky,
The grape pan,
Into the row.

We stopped picking
Because the chanting
Told us to stop,
We stopped picking,
Because it was time

And my father saw
The shitty money
Empty from his eyes,
The Foreman, with his white
Man’s neck,
His map
Of a desert face;
He was counting
The trays,
But we dropped
Our grape knives
And picked up
The picket signs

Huelga, Huelga, Huelga!

And we marched
That day,
On the tar,
Softened by the sun,
Carrying our Clorox
Bottles filled
With frozen water.

We knew then,
That we were
Not alone,
That what we felt
About this field,
Was felt by others,
We were going to fight,
Because we could
Feel the poison
From the Crop Dusters
In our lungs,
Blurring our eyes,
Tightning our jaws

Because we knew
It was wrong
To work children,
With the sun,
Like a knife
On our backs,
To pay near nothing
For scorched knees
And burned faces

But this man,
He came to save us,
Yes, this man,
Dressed In School
Teachers clothes,
Brown face like ours,
Black hair like ours,
He had the smile
Of a healer.

© John Martinez 2012

Sweet Pocho Pie
by David Romero

I’m as American as sweet pocho pie
Light flaky crust
Identity crisis inside
Like apples to oranges
We are pochos
Children of these lands claimed
Ambassadors of a great American immigration
That often doesn’t want us
Our ancestors were criminalized for speaking Spanish
Yet, we’re expected to speak it without an accent
Expected to fit a stereotypical appearance
While Spanish stations display the opposite
Ask a career professional on a Latino panel
How to succeed in America and they will answer
“Remember: you’re a professional first
Latino second”
As if the two were mutually exclusive
Pochos pronounce their last names wrong
Argue this has become right
My name is Romero becomes ROW-MARROW
Rolling rs seem as silly as caricatures of twirling mustaches
Saying my own name properly makes me feel like Zorro
Pochos can know more about African American history
Than their own
It can politicize them
Relating to the status of outsider
Like Detroit Red becoming Malcolm X
Or like a boy named Sue with something to prove
Pochos can make for the best of activists
Carrying chips on their shoulders
The size of boulders
Emblazoned scrolls upon these read
“Insecurity” “shame” and “guilt”
Enough for long marches and late nights
To connect with the people
They are ambassadors to America
For a great immigration
That often doesn’t want them
Teases them bare and naked
Points out how tenuous their relationship
To being a Latino is
How it so easily crumbles
Like a soft crust
More apple than orange
Sweet pocho pie
“Sold out” here
Finger pointing
They laugh
“Gringo! Gringa! Gringo!” They cry
Some pochos are sliced into a permanent state of denial
Cut themselves white or “other” for charts
Others go on a journey of discovery of their Latin roots
With all of the subtlety and discretion of Christopher Colombus
Leaving division and destruction in their wake
Crushed hopes
Broken dreams
Promises of a piece of the pie with nothing inside
That’s why some in our communities fear us
Who are we?
Ambassadors to a great immigration
In an America that’s constantly changing
The children you wanted to have a better life
Then got mad at for having
The pochos you didn’t want
The pochos you taunt
For trying to be everything to everyone
We laugh, dance, scream, sing, argue and smile
We taste sweet as pocho pie
Smell the air
Look at the crowd
Feast upon their eyes
America loves sweet pocho pie

© David Romero 2012

I Resign Myself
by Abyss Borboa-Olivera

I resign myself
to be blind to the all truth
I resign to false humility
I resign to lists of demands
I resign to good intentions
if there is no action to prevail
if there is no work to understand
if there is no country to take care of.

I resign to call you brother
if you don’t walk next to me
if you don’t fight for your freedom
to stand wholeheartedly beside me.

I resign to the fake liberty we have
or the censorship that censors our minds
I resign to keep dreaming
if tomorrow never comes.

I resign to be awake early
if I’m a wealthy gentleman
even when I read the newspaper
knowing that my government
has killed an innocent man.

I resign to be invited to your table
wishing for all the women to be alive
I resign to discuss prices
if you don’t know the price of life.

I resign to be a patriot
if I don’t raise my voice with yours
asking for tolerance for our women
that have no freedom or another choice.

I resign to be a poet
if I don’t stand for what I believe
I believe that a cause has get started
and you have been in complicity
because you don’t want to fight
in what we have called reality.

I resign myself
If I have the words to fight for thee
I resign myself
If you haven’t noticed our autonomy.

Our and our women’s freedom
depends upon a dream
showing to the world we can fight together
raising our voices to reality;
we fight together
and together we should be
to show that our hope starts
when people start to believe.

© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012


Renuncio a Mi
por Abyss Borboa-Olivera

Renuncio a mí mismo
a ser ciego ante toda verdad
reuncio a la falsa humildad
renuncio a los pliegos petitorios
renuncio a las buenas intenciones
si no hay acción que prevalezca
si no hay trabajo que se entienda
si no hay un país que cuidar.

Reuncio a llamarte mi hermano
si tú no caminas a mi lado
si tú no luchas por tu libertad
de seguir completamente conmigo.

Renuncio a la falsa libertad que tenemos
a la censura que amaña nuestra mente
renuncio a seguir soñando
si el mañana no es para siempre.

Reuncio a despertar temprano
si soy un hombre acaudalado
aún cuando lea las noticias
sabiendo que el gobierno
a un hombre inocente ha encarcelado.

Renuncio ser invitado a tu mesa
deseando que todas las muejeres no estén muertas
renuncio a discutir los precios
si no conoces el precio de la libertad

Renuncio a ser un patriota
si no levanto mi voz con la tuya
exigiendo tolerancia para nuestras mujeres
que no tienen libertad ni esperanza.

Renuncio a ser poeta
si no tengo las palabras para luchar por ellas
renuncio a mí mismo
si aún no te das cuenta de nuestra autonomía.

La libertad nuestra y de nuestras mujeres
depende de un sueño inalcanzable
para mostrarle al mundo que luchamos juntos
alzando nuestras voices a las realidades
juntos luchamos
y juntos debemos estar
para mostrar que nuestra esperenza comienza
cuando la gente comience a pensar.

© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012


"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-Olivera

Francisco X. Alarcón (was born in Los Angeles, in 1954) is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions. He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He recently created a new Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that is getting lots of poetry submissions and comments. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poets-Responding-to-SB-1070/117494558268757?ref=ts

John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and The LA Weekly. Recently, he has posted poems on Poets Responding to SB1070 and this will be his 12th poem published in La Bloga. He has performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble (lead by poet Juan Felipe Herrera) and he has toured with several cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles. For the last 17 years, he has worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm. He makes home in Upland, California with his wife, Rosa America y Familia.

David A. Romero is an artist, activist and male model.

Romero is the author of Diamond Bars: The Street Version and Fuzhou, two collections of poems released by Dimlights Publishing. His work has been praised by writers and poets such as the Tony Award winner Poetri, the author of Up the Street Around the Corner Besskepp, and the West Coast Editor of Rock & Rap Confidential Lee Ballinger.

Romero has opened for Latin Grammy winning artists Ozomatli and Latin Grammy nominated artists La Santa Cecilia. He has featured alongside Taalam Acey as well as with a number of HBO Def Poets, including: Beau Sia, Paul Mabon and Thea Monyee.

Romero is the host of Between the Bars Open Mic at the dba256 Gallery Wine Bar in Pomona, CA.

Romero teaches writing and performance workshops on spoken word poetry. His many themes and prompts include: Poetry - The Language of Protest and Mementos & Metaphors - Poems of Family and Identity. Romero has led workshops for the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library, high school activists at the Santa Monica Mountains Peace Camp and students at the Juvenile Detention and Assessment Centers in San Bernardino, CA.

In April 2012, Romero collaborated with the Nogales High School Poetry Club to produce their first book, F-5. Later that year, he collaborated with the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library to produce a book of poems written by Angeleno middle and high school students.

Romero is an artist affiliate of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade (RPB).

"I enjoy performing funny poems, but I hope that after the laughs, people can stay and listen to the messages that I am spreading with my poetry against racism, against prejudice, against imperialism, against labor exploitation and against economic injustice. I believe in a world free from hunger or any other kind of scarcity."

Romero is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a double major in Film and Philosophy.

Check out his blog, "The Mexi-Asian Perspective: A Mexican's Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both," on www.projektnewspeak.com . Visit his website, http://www.davidaromero.com/ for more.

Abyss Borboa Olivera, Poet, writer, actor and director for ENTRETELONES Theater Group, was born in February 1977 in Tijuana, Mexico. He studied Lengua y Literatura de Hispanoamérica at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. He is a Professor at Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana, and teaches literature at Preparatoria Federal Lázaro Cárdenas.

ACABALLOMÓNTAME by Proyecto Existir 2004.
MUERTES ESCRITAS by Lulu Editorial. 2012.
Short Story
POST-MORTEM by Lulu Editorial. 2011
BENIGNA; DETRÁS DE TI by Lulu Editorial. 2012

Most of his work is based on Women and Gender as an ideological paradigm.

0 Comments on Final frontier. The final On-Line Floricanto for Sept as of 9/25/2012 4:13:00 AM
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15. Video Sunday: “Guys, smell 11 Birthdays”

I think it fitting that I follow up the last Video Sunday bit of teacher enthusiasm with this subsequent sneaky teacher taping.  “We’re just smelling books, Mr. Lewis.”  That would be Mike Lewis and though they acknowledge him at the start, it’s pretty clear they don’t know he’s taping until much later on.  This should give heart to anyone worried about the fate of the paper book.  Big big thanks to Mike Lewis for this video.

So happy Sunday to you, one and all.  It’s not Banned Books Week, or Banned Books Month, or even the Year of the Banned Book, but even still this video was so nicely put together that I figured it deserved to be shown at a time of year that wasn’t designated “banned”. And naturally I liked that so many of the books read here were children’s as well as adult.

Well written too, come to think of it.  It was created by Bookmans, a kind of used bookstore/everything else in Tucson, Mesa, Phoenix, and Flagstaff.  Thanks to Ben Collinsworth for the link.

Now for fun personal stuff.  As you may know I’m writing a book with Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  Certainly finding videos of me on the web is easy enough but finding videos of Jules can be a bit tricky.  Fortunately as part of their We Believe in Picture Books campaign, Candlewick has been soliciting and posting videos from folks of all stripes.  I’m sure you’ve been following the various videos they’ve posted.  Here we find my co-writer in the flesh talking about all things picture bookish:

Then the book trailers cometh.  And this next one for Chronicle Books just sort of cements them as my favorite book trailer publisher.  It’s for this year’s Project Jackalope from the Senior Producer of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Emily Ecton.

Not that Candlewick does a bad job.  This one showed during SLJ’s Day of Dialog with slightly different music.  It’s Jon Klassen sequel to I Want My Hat Back called (appropriately enough) This is Not My Hat.  Gorgeous trailer.

And heck, Penguin too.  I mean, tell me this trailer doesn’t make you want to go out and rip the book from the arms of young people so that you can read it yourself.

Not sure if this one counts as a book trailer.  Is it a trailer if they read the whole thing?  Basically, I figure that if you read anything in that magnificent accent you are allowed to read as much of it as you like.  This book’s a pip but I can’t imagine it would be half as interesting to hear from an American mouth.  We just don’t pronounce the word “kennel” correctly, do we?

Thanks to Lisa Abid for the link!

And finally, when the tough can’t find any off-topic videos, the tough go to BB-Blog and plunder what they find there.  It’s a Caketrope (a zoetrope cake) in a Burton style.  Yum!

6 Comments on Video Sunday: “Guys, smell 11 Birthdays”, last added: 9/19/2012
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16. Review: Red. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto.

Taper Gets One Right: Red Fills Seats 

Michael Sedano

A few months after I got home from the Army (42 years ago last week), my wife bought a season of Thursday opening nights at the Mark Taper Forum. I've been a season seat holder ever since, albeit now a Saturday matinee tipo. One of the productions that first dazzling year for me stands out, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. I was one of the audience members selected to sit as a juror in this world premiere performance of Daniel Berrigan's play, Directed by the Taper's Gordon Davidson.

A few years later, I'd see the Taper's dynamic New Theatre For Now series' opening night Zoot Suit, with Daniel Valdez as el pachuco, firing up a joint to spark the opening monologue.

It's experiences like those that keep me buying seats at the Taper, even after they remodeled the place and moved me from an aisle to center of a long row. It's definitely not the output from impresario Michael Ritchie that keeps me buying seats, because Ritchie starves L.A. audiences for quality fare.

A Mark Taper Forum season used to assure ticket holders would have immediate, important, home-grown productions, with road shows of highest quality to spice up a season, like Siobhan McKenna's Irish ladies. Nowadays, the free program offers up bios of east coast and out-of-town actors, directors, and tech people.

Sometimes Ritchie's preference for immigrant art hits the Mark, and saves a season. That's Red. The play's an exhausting fabulous ninety minute no-intermission hyper Socratic dialog between painter Mark Rothko and his assistant. The combination of actors Alfred Molina as Rothko and John Logan as the factotum works with drilling intensity. Theatre sleepers like me stayed alert for every moment of dialog. Silence works, too, like a frenzied scene when the pair drench themselves and a canvas in a red.

Red comes to Music Center Hill via Broadway. Not the Million Dollar on LA's Broadway down the hill, but New York City where the production, Molina, and playwright John Logan, won big awards and grand reviews. Rightfully so. Logan writes some of the best dialog to treat your ears, ever. He stands out as an artist whose work should win him other prizes and enormous satisfaction.

A visit to the Center Theatre Group's promo site for the play is useful. Here Logan offers this précis of what Molina does to the written Mark Rothko. "Fred" the playwright calls the star, embodies "titanic anger, pomposity, seriousness, and rage, yet incredible sensitivity."

Logan's interview at the Music Center's website merits a couple of views for the writer's insights and the snippets of the characters measuring one another's understanding of things that come in red. There's another names-for-red scene that's even better. Wittgenstein would dig it.

It will be interesting to see where Logan takes his art from here. A big artist as subject, lofty romantic questions like "what is art?"make for high drama, deep tragedy. I'd like to see Logan make me laugh.

Red won't force tears so you'll exit the auditorium smiling that you've lived as part of an all-time great performance of a superb play. Red runs at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum through September 9, directed by Michael Grandage.

Banned Books Update: One Month Until...

Countdown to Special Master Report: One month until September 21, 2012.

Status Quo:  The People of the State of Arizona, complicity with Tucson Unified School District, persist in exercising the State's and Board's Constitutional power to ban books.

In northern Los Angeles environs, Tia Chucha's Bookstore and Centro Cultural have become Librotraficantes. The centro hosts a fund raiser and book drive in conjunction with the release of the Special Master Report.

Here's how Tia Chucha's Facebook page describes the 9/21 event:

Tia Chucha's, now a Los Angeles LibroTraficante, invites you to join us as we host a discussion of the anti-migrant hysteria gripping Arizona and celebrate culture and palabra!

This will also be a fundraiser for the Raza Defense Fund and a banned book drive! Your book donations will be used to set up community libraries in the local area and beyond!
for a list of banned books go here: http://librotraficante.com/images/BannedListAnnotatedBibliography.pdf

Visit Tia Chucha's website for details and scheduling. Events include a discussion featuring banned authors Rudy Acuna and Luis Rodriguez, and an Open Mic.

Mexican Cultural Institute Gallery Show of Movimiento History

Tourists strolling El Lay's Olvera Street looking for Pancho Lopez--if they know Lalo Guerrero's old song--will count themselves informed and fortunate to find the increasingly popular gallery of the Mexican Cultural Institute. Here's how the MCI describes its current effort:

Organized by the Chicano Resource Center of Los Angeles, this mixed media exhibit features more than 100 photographs, videos, paintings and archival documents relation of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. 

Includes a special tribute to "Women of the Movement Then and Now".

Exhibit open Thursdays through Sundays, 1 to 6 pm. 
Through September 9.

Galería MCI is located in the basement of the Biscailuz Building at El Pueblo/Olvera Street.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • Penultimate Tuesday of August 2012

Frank de Jesus Acosta, Francisco X Alarcón, Seeyouma Nahash'Chid, John Martinez, Nancy Aidé González

"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón
"Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid
"Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez
"Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González

Warrior Poets Rise!
by Frank De Jesus Acosta

The stories flowing thru you are worthy to be told
Set them free to strum a dormant heart-chord searching for its song
Your words are an ancestor’s spirit voice returning in wisdom
Your verse is soulful flor y canto ascending in sacred smoke
The unfinished stanza of a departed relative’s poem
The stories, requiems, & prayers of the warrior poet
Are a confluence of hearts, minds, & souls
Weaving the distal corners of creation, history, & prophesy
Forming one great hoop of nations and relatives upon earth
Flesh & spirit, 7 generations merging past, present, & future
Let your words rise and flow in transformative love
Lifting up the highest virtues of our collective humanity
Rise Warrior Poets; Rise!

by Francisco X. Alarcón

a los participantes de Poetas en el Puente: Manuel Luna, Ana Chig,
           Elizabeth Cazessús, Sonia Gutiérrez, Luis Gastélum,
               Sugar Born, Ricky Zamudio y Ensamble Wamba
                           12 de agosto de 2012 en Galería
                                   Mariposa/ Papillon

Dzil Yijiin – Black Mountain
Seeyouma Nahash'chid

Why has it come to be for Dine’
Why has it come to be for Kiis’aanii
While we argue over this Holy Land
Corporate AmeriKa rapes our Earth Mother of her seeds
They have turned Kiis’aanii against Dine’
Dzil Yijiin extended so high
Visualized high above where it touches Father Sky
This is our existence
The ancestors home
The Clan people of the Dine’ and Kiss’aanii
Our home of our sacred Indigenous tradition
Our sacred Indigenous heritage
This place where our ancestors spirits roam
Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations
Yet Corporate AmeriKa does not care
They only want to ravage the sacredness of Dzil Yijiin
Committing devastation and great sacrileges
This most sacred of holy places
Binds the Dine’ and Kiis’aanii to this land of their birth
Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations
The four sacred mountains
They represent the holy ways of Dine' and Kiis'aanii
In our tongue
There is no word for relocation
How can you stop our sacred ceremonies
Our daily obligations
On the top of Dzil Yijiin
We make our appropriate offerings, songs, and prayers
In this sacred way
Our offerings and prayers will keep us strong
How can we leave our sacred place of offerings
We are tied to this Holy Land
With out this Holy Land
Dine’ and Kiis’aanii would not be able to survive
We cannot just walk away from Creator’s gift
We would be disgraced
This Corporate AmeriKa is always devising some evil way
To steal and take what is not theirs
They are willing to tear our Earth Mother's belly apart
They strip our Mother's flesh and kill the air
To nourish their greed
Clan people we must stand together as one
In order to survive as part of our Mother's very heart
Clan people we are connected to this Holy Land
We will not be moved like the sheep we herd
Here we are known by the Holy Spirit beings
In this sacred way we will sing our blessingway song
Clan people stand in unity
This is our country
Our Dine'taa’
Our beauty way

Our Silence Is That We Don't Know Their Names
by John Martinez

She is locked in a hope chest
In the back of a Van
Crunched, in a fetal position,
She listens to her own breathing,
Thinking of her Mother mending
Her Quinceañera dress,
Of her father hammering
On a tin roof

In the desert the cactus hum
A separate melody, One of sun, sky
And small drops of water,
But without water, without air,
She will blend into the dark square,
Her name never comes through

His feet burned into tongues
That lapped the floor of the desert,
Feeling around for his place,
His lips cracked into crushed glass,
His throat, a tunnel of misplaced echoes,
His name never comes through,
But I know them both.

I also know the child with flower petal hands,
Sleeping on his starving Mother
She remembers when
He was born on a winter night,
Steam rose from her vagina,
His life warmed her that day, but today,
He is a small tremor, sandpaper hair,
Eyes, half open like a broken doll,
His name never comes through

We know of these tragedies, all of us,
As we tuck into our fortunate lives,
We know their howling,
When the clouds bunch over
Our perfect dens, they reach for us,
Their tears fall like rain
Onto our stucco houses,
Our silence is that
We don’t know their names

by Nancy Aidé González

By Nancy Aidé González
Healing undulating wisdom
astral metamorphosis
illusions shed scales
spitting strength in desert sand
sibilant forked tongue flicking
reptilian transubstantiation
through blurring abstractions
shed old habits
serpentine escort
guide me
through spiral paths of modification
changing static rivers of time
opaque blue eyes stare
snake medicine, I drink.

"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón
"Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid
"Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez
"Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González

A graduate of UCLA, Frank de Jesus Acosta is the principal at Acosta & Associates, a California-based consultant group specializing in professional services targeting philanthropic, non-profit, and government institutions. A&A specializes in public and private social change ventures in the areas of violence prevention, community development, cultural fluency initiatives, and policy development. Recent clients include Walking Shield, Local Initiatives Support Council (LISC), The California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, California Endowment, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Policy Link, The City Project, Institute for Community Peace, and Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos. Acosta’s professional experience includes leadership tenures with: The California Wellness Foundation; the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); the Center for Community Change; and the UCLA Community Programs Office. In 2007, Acosta authored, “The History of the Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos Community Peace Movement,” Arte Publico Press, University of Houston.

Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet who lives in Lodi, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 2000. Her work has appeared in Calaveras Station Literary Journal, La Bloga, Everyday Other Things, Mujeres De Maiz Zine, and La Peregrina. She is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group based in Sacramento, California which honors the literary traditions of Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.

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17. Book banning - the evil is often in the eye of the beholder

Family Circle has a well-balanced article on people who try to get books pulled from library shelves.

Suzanne Collins was the third most challenged work in the U.S. in 2011, criticized for being "anti-family" and "anti-ethnic," and for its offensive language and violence. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter was the most frequently banned series from 2000 to 2009 for being too focused on the occult and Satanism.

Read more here.

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18. Guest Columnist: Sarah Rafael Garcia. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto.

Guest Columnist: Sarah Rafael Garcia. "Memorias de Mis Besos Nobel"

As I entered the bookstore, I felt a literary spirit penetrate my skin.  My body had an ever so tingling sensation that left my hair electrifying and my toes curled in the most sensual position. I was a bit overpowered and a little uncomfortable with the public experience but I went along with it. It felt so good.

I took each step with pure indulgence. I skimmed the tables for something that caught my eye but all I could think of was how excited I felt and took pleasure in the warmth that was spreading from my feminine spot to my inner thighs.

I slowly made my way through the isles, carefully placing my hands on leather-bound books and vibrant illustrations. I ran my fingers through Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. As something called for me to return to the front of the store, I took in a deep breath, attempting to hide my internal moans of pleasure. Then I remembered that Laura Esquivel's Malinche was sitting on the front table and I needed two copies for her autograph that I was there to get.

At that very minute, I saw him enter through the magical doors.  A young, handsome man gallantly walked besides him, but my focus was on his distinguished presence and gray hair. He was the one that seemed extremely familiar and whose enlightening works ran through my head: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and the most notable to me, Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes.

I timidly kept my distance but forced my way to the cashier’s desk where he stood signing a book for the owner. My curiosity led me to study the young sales attendant’s reaction. While blushing, she nodded at me as if yelling out loud "Yes! Oh God, it is him!”

I leaned over to see his face. I needed confirmation.  I was there to meet one of my top inspirations to become of writer, but I never in my wildest dreams expected to run into him. ¡Mi numero uno!

El que me hace soñar entre sus manos. El que me toca sensualmente con cada palabra. El único que siempre esta allí cuando lo busco. The one who has touched many lives around the world, with just a stroke of a pen.

There he was with his back turned towards me. He was taking a step farther away from my urges. He had one foot out the door, headed back to the fantasy world that he was in prior to this moment.  A place that was so remote to me. Could I actually let him slip out of reach just like that?

As calm as I could possibly be while walking towards him, I stated loudly, "¿Con permiso, lo puedo saludar?"

As charming as he is known to be & before he could turn to see my face, he responded, “Solo si lo hace con un beso." With a mischievous smile, I replied, "¡Si gusta le doy dos!"

Then we casually intertwined into a normal conversation about me living in China, writing a book and reading two of his in the last year and a half. I stated how happy I was to be with him. He told me that our worlds could have crossed at many places, since he too spent time getting lost in the walls of the Forbidden City and his own stories. He was so charming and intriguing.  His eyes were mesmerizing. I had no choice but to give myself to him. He had full control of the encounter. He inquired about my life and how I survived through such tough times. He made me laugh like a schoolgirl. He made me feel like I was the only woman and writer in the world, “No te preocupes, ya se que vas a hacer una escritora famosa. ¡Por que siempre comenzamos pobres y con hambre!”

I continued to succumb to his every gesture and hung on to each syllable his lips enunciated. He held my hands tightly and played with words as if he knew he was courting my literary whims to reach their climax. Then just like that; he wished me Buena Suerte and expressed his sincerity with a gentle embrace.

The same instant he walked out the door, he disappeared from my vision and returned to my world of passionate dreams.  I was left flushed and wanting more.  Immediately afterwards I did what every impressionable young woman would do. I shared my intimate moment with a good girlfriend.  While describing each minute detail of my rendezvous with the Nobel Prize winner, I realized I had never even told him my name.

About Sarah Rafael Garcia
Sarah Rafael García was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Orange County, California. She started writing after her father's passing in 1988. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Sociology at Texas State University, is bilingual in Spanish and knows enough Mandarin to speak to pre-k students and taxi drivers in China. She has lived in Beijing and traveled to various countries including a three-month backpacking adventure in Australia. She is an active writer, community educator and published author who strives to advocate for human rights.

Since the publication of Las Niñas, A Collection of Childhood Memories in 2008, García has continued to share her writings and community outreach by founding Barrio Writers in 2009, a reading and writing program aimed to empower youth through creative writing, higher education and the cultural arts and hosting Wild Womyn Writers in 2010, workshops that create neutral spaces which empower womyn to explore their creative spirits, free themselves from societal restrictions and learn to embrace their natural instincts.
García’s essay “Crossing Borders” was published in Connotation Press in April 2011 and her spoken word piece "Without a Name" was aired on the 2012 EXSE Spoken Word Showcase and published in Label Me Latina/o in June 2012. Most recently, she is attending Texas State University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing while working on her next book. García’s writings, workshops and lifestyle promote community empowerment, cultural awareness and global sharing.

Listen to Sarah Rafael Garcia read a story at Latinopia.

Banned Books Update

On this first Tuesday in the eighth month of the year 2012, Arizona continues to ban books in your name.

After reading last week's La Bloga Banned Books Update, a University of Nebraska researcher wrote  Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone. Pedicone insists he has not banned The Tempest, nor any other book. Pedicone alludes kids can get the not-banned books by filing approved interlibrary loan paperwork.

The researcher asked if kids would be expelled for bringing in a non-banned banned book. Pedicone wrote back with his claim that nothing has been banned and if a teacher wants to use a book, Shakespeare's The Tempest, for example, the teacher has that liberty, provided the title is approved for use in that class.

Pedicone refused to answer the question about the kid's liberty. His silence is tacit admission that any kid bringing a non-banned banned book into the classroom will be banned from the classroom, along with that non-banned banned book.

On-Line Floricanto First Tuesday in August 2012

Arnoldo Garcia, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Alma Luz Villanueva, Alejandro E. Barajas, Iris de Anda

“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia:
"Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda

My Land 
by Arnoldo Garcia

my country
is the smallest country
in the world.
my country fits
inside one-hundredth
of one molecule
in a touch between one strand of DNA
my country
has room
for everyone
every European
every Chinese
every Mexican
every African
every Indian
every Asian Pacific Islander
every queer
every nomad
of the earth
every two-legged, four-legged,
crawling, burrowing, winged-
fit in my country.
Everyone is welcome, everyone
I'll happily give you
my country
as long as you promise
not just to take care of her
to let everyone
live in her in peace
in garbled flags
in borders without pigment
borders with human pores
to breath freely
to live breathing
My country is everyone, is everywhere
my country is small
bothers no one
invades no one
drones no one
doesn't stamp your passport
doesn't ask for identity documents
my country lets you be
lets you exist as yourself
lets you determine who you are
my country has no borders
other than those of humanity to humanity
my country has no armies
no prisons no police
no homeless no one suffers
at the hands of other humans
my country is all the colors
the clash of colors, the contrast
the muddy blends, the stark yellows
the pink sunrises, the red of your tongue
mu country fits in your veins
fits in the bat of an eye
welcomes you to our bodily paradise
you can have my country, if you want
it's already yours
walk slowly take your time
my country is in no rush
peace and freedom take their time
rest a bit get up work hard, party
in my country
even the dead
get a turn to dance
every now and then
there are no regrets
there is only life
and its mortal pleasures
in my country
oh! in my country
you would be ideal
you would fit right in
like you always lived there
like your ancestors had been buried there
as a matter of fact
I would encourage you
to bury your ancestors here...
to bring your ancestors here
to my country
to bury them here
take care of them here
take care of our country
where everyone
where every living being
my country is so small
that everyone fits.
And in one of her pores
fit all the suns and moon,
my country, you and me...

Ode to Teresita
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012

Teresita Urrea, Santa de Cabora,
Mexican Joan of Arc,
You, the spiritual curandera
Who dedicated her life to serve others.

You, the illegitimate daughter
Born of an unlikely union between
A fourteen-year-old india, Cayetana Chavez
And wealthy haciendado, Tomas Urrea.

Abandoned by your mother at twelve,
Accepted by your father at fifteen —
You went from poverty to riches
To become a pampered daughter.

You lived with him, his mistress Gabriela,
Your half bothers and sisters, at Cabora—
Learning from Huila, the rancho’s healer
To become a curandera.

One day, you fell into a trance so deep
Your father thought you’d died,
But you survived with a mission from God
To cure, comfort, and console the sick.

Thousands flocked to Cabora,
To receive your touch,
To seek your counsel,
To be healed.

Afraid you’d lead the indios to rebellion,
Presidente Díaz had you arrested,
Offered you prison or exile.
Prison meant death—you chose exile.

With your father also exiled,
You came to Nogales in Arizona Territory
Became a living saint
Adored by los indios of Mexico.

Your heart broke over Tomóchic.
The slaughter of Tomoticheco villagers
The death of 700 soldiers, the destruction
Of a town—all blamed on you.

Santa Teresita, curandera, spiritual healer,
You moved to El Paso with your family,
Continued your healing work,
Wrote about Tomóchic.

You refused to lead a Yaqui rebellion
That led to the death of seven warriors.
Branded “La Bruja de Nogales,”
Three attempts were made on your life.

You settled in Clifton, found peace
Until you married the wrong man,
A spy sent by Presidente Díaz
To take you to Mexico or kill you.

Disowned by your beloved father,
You joined a medical company to tour
The United States starting in San Francisco—
Ending in New York with a new love.

Another heartbreak—tempered
By the birth of your daughter Laura,
The death of your father whom you
Never saw or spoke to again.

Back to California, to Los Angeles
Where you worked with unions
Until your house burned down
And you returned to Arizona.

Another daughter born in Solomon,
Reminded you of family in Clifton.
So you went back, built a house there,
Died at thirty-three years of age.

Your faithful friends and servants
Mariana and her husband Fortunato
Raised your daughters in Mexico
Until they returned to Arizona.

You, dear Santa Teresa, forgotten
By time, your bones moved twice,
So now you rest in an unmarked grave
People claim is yours.

Cabora crumbled into the dirt
That gave birth to its adobes—
Scarcely an outline of its walls remain,
Broken tiles festoon the ground.

Your only monument, a plaque
On a boarding house in El Paso,
Earmarked for destruction
In the name of progress.

Yet the spirit of La Santa de Cabora,
The spirit of Teresita, your holy spirit—
Lives on in the hearts and minds
Of those of us that love you.

by Alma Luz Villanueva

I live in Mexico
because festivals wake
me up pre-dawn,
Quetzalcoatl shimmering through

sky window, these
fireworks loud like
gunfire, someone's
died, left the body,

someone beloved, they
explode, they weep
for two hours, through
the day, and no

one calls the police, every
one understands some
one's left their body, some
one beloved is gone. I

dream through explosions,
wake to loud joyous
mariachis in the distance,
a marriage, family gathering,

I live in Mexico
because death and
life hold hands
dancing, singing, exploding

with grief and joy-
I live in Mexico
because every car stops
for the funeral procession,

a singer/guitarist sings
the beloved's favorite
songs on the way to
the cemetery, where the

famiies will gather, Dia
de Los Muertos, to
welcome their tender Spirits
home, from babies to

elders, a feast on the
graves, they decorate,
joy/sorrow equally,
beauty, song, candles,

tiny stars flicker all
night long as Spirits
come to taste tamales,
tacitos, tequila, cerveza,

fresh limes, oranges,
sweet cakes, where
the father of his Spirit
teen, grave decorated with

little cars, dancing
muertos, bottles of
empty Victorias (his
favorite), some full,

proudly shows me his
handsome boy, I can't
weep, his smile of
pure joy-

I drove to Mexico
in spring 2005, the
fear color codes of
my country, endless

wars on some enemy,
my dreams filled with
mourning women, holding
Spirit sons and daughters,

only sorrow, only grief,
no graves of marigolds,
feasts, sorrow/joy,
death holding hands

with life, dancing, singing,
weeping, exploding
pre-dawn journey of
the beloved, all day

into the night, mariachis
leading a wedding party to
more joy, holding hands
with life death life-

I live in Mexico
to remember,
to witness
simple human

joy sorrow joy,
those without my
country's great entitlements,
the leaders, the shameless

1% who would haul
off the mourner with
explosive weeping, singing,
who allow one in five

children in my country to
be hungry, who prefer
the poor to die (very)
quickly, while mouthing

how much they love their
country, care for its people,
send the neediest young to
kill/die for their oil wars,

want to control the
sacred wombs of women,
the constant enemy,
the constant fear,

unhinging our young, our
unbonded to our Mother
Earth young, bring
automatic weapons to

schools, universities,
playgrounds, now
theatres where the masses
go to dream, the manufactured

dream of Holly Wood,
dream, all humans need to
dream, many have forgotten
how to dream, vision-

I live in Mexico
because a Huichol family
in full brilliant rainbow
dress motioned me in front

of them, the market, I
thanked them but no, their
rainbow smiles insisted,
and the woman helped

me unload my full
cart, their few carefully
selected items waited, she
smiled her rainbows, I

smiled mine, "Gracias,
gracias, gracias,"
I kept saying, why
I live in Mexico.

I live in Mexico to feel
full sun on my face,
full moon light/shadow,
Quetzalcoatl's radiance.

San Miguel de Allende, July 2012

El Jefe de la pobreza
por Alejandro E. Barajas

mi gente llegó 
a un estado mojado
listos para trabajar
llenos de alegría y paz
listos para hacer 
la diferencia y más
de tanto dolor y poca educación  
ellos fueron la ternura
de la lumbre en este pecho
por dentro del corazón 
vive el hombre
vive la hembra 
viven aquellos
que fueron maltratados
en el programa de Los Braceros
uno por uno
por la virtud 
de trabajar y amar
cantando con el cielo
soñando con la tierra
un canto lleno de amor 
soy un hombre 
lleno de amor y ternura
soy más que lo que soy ahora
la pobreza hierve 
dentro mi sangre
dentro mi corazón 
lleno de menos dolor
lleno de más educación 
Pan-America Unida es mi ilusión

The Boss of Poverty
by Alejandro E. Barajas

my people arrived
in a wet state
ready to work
filled with joy and peace
ready to be
the difference and more
from much pain and little education
they were the tenderness
of the fire in my chest
within the heart
lives the man
lives the woman
there lives those
whom were mistreated
in the program of Los Braceros 
one by one
for the virtue
to work and love
singing with the sky
ringing with the earth
one song filled with love 
I am a man
filled with love and tenderness
I am more than I am now
the poverty boils
inside my blood
inside my heart
filled with less pain
filled with more education
Pan-America United is my illusion

© 2012 Alejandro E. Barajas

Read the fine print...
by Iris De Anda

Handshake sells the contract
Loosing contact
Masterminded at ease
You say thank you & please
As "They" give it to us
Commercialized freedoms
Individualized monotone design
We are to feed on consumer disintegration
With a dis-eased population
Become subdued under sugarcoated ties
Fall asleep under lulluby of lies
Corporate head
Mind Control
Sell your soul
What is the price to brainwash ideals?


“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia:
"Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda

Elena has been doing a Chautauqua living history presentation of Teresita Urrea, la santa de Cabora, since 2001. The Arizona Humanities Council pays her honorarium and she travels all over Arizona introducing people to Teresita. She recently performed as Teresita at the National Hispanic Museum in Albuquerque and the Chamizal National Monument in El Paso. She's also performed at UC Davis, Border Book Festival in Las Cruces, Segundo Barrio in El Paso, and UT in San Antonio.

A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; celebrating our stories, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.
As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena also does presentations about Morenci, Arizona. She received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Recently, Elena was nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. She is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems that were published not only on that page but also on La Bloga. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.

Alejandro Esiquiel Barajas was born in Sunnyside, Wa. He was born into a hard working farm-working family. Along with 6 siblngs in the family, everyone knew what one dollor's worth meant at an early age. It was in the year of 2007 that Alejandro began to write about this intricate life, but it wasn't until 2009 that he began to create courage to save his thoughts on a piece of paper. This has now evolved into a self-manifestation of several poems that transcend into different realms inside the mind. Alejandro's personal interest include, but are not limited to: strumming the guitar, waking with the sun, neighboring the shores, and skipping rocks endlessly until the arm gives out. Alejandro will be attending Western Washington University's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies for the next two years, where he intends to dive into Ethnic Studies/Critical Pedagogy. He also intends to further his studies until he recieves a PhD.  

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19. Guest Columnists: Lucha Corpi and Nuria Brufau Alvira From Eulogy to Loa. : News&Notes : On-Line Floricanto

Guest Columnists: Lucha Corpi and Nuria Brufau Alvira. Translation and Voice: A poet’s and writer’s views.

Michael Sedano

La Bloga is honored and excited to present this two-part series by Lucha Corpi and Nuria Brufau Alvira, Translation and Voice: A poet’s and writer’s views. The pair examines the process of Nuria's translating Lucha's Eulogy for a Brown Angel into the 2011 Spanish novel, Loa a un ángel de piel morena

In Eulogy, Corpi writes one of the best opening scenes in chicana chicano literature, a woman fleeing the police riot at Laguna Park, stumbles upon grisly infanticide. Corpi grabs the reader's attention and hurls the reader into a moral morass. The publisher notes:

Loa a un ángel de piel morena es una novela trepidante, de gran suspense, y llena de personajes diversos e interesantes. En el apogeo del movimiento chicano a favor de los derechos civiles en 1970, el cuerpo profanado de un niño pequeño yace inerte en una calle del Este de Los Ángeles, durante una de las manifestaciones socio-políticas más violentas en la historia de California. La activista política Gloria Damasco descubre el cuerpo del pequeño y, en ese instante, se enfrenta también el hecho de que su modo de percibir la realidad es un «don obscuro» que va más allá de la lógica «normal». En el transcurso de las siguientes cuarenta y ocho horas, dos personas más mueren asesinadas. Gloria no se permite sino el seguirle la pista a los asesinos hasta verlos entre rejas, así le lleve toda la vida. Cada paso en su investigación la conduce de Los Ángeles a la Bahía de San Francisco. Así mismo, la introduce en el camino de una conspiración internacional, una sangrienta venganza, y la violenta y trágica conclusión del caso en la pintoresca región vinícola de Napa, California.

In today's guest column, Lucha Corpi relates the writer’s experience in seeing her creation transformed in the hands of another, in understanding the uniquely creative writing process of translating chicanidad along with the words.

Next Tuesday, April 10, Nuria Brufau Alvira relates the translator’s experience negotiating the confluences of language, speech, cultural content, plot, and character, to fashion for Spanish language readers the same novel United States readers recognize as a classic of la literatura chicana.

La Bloga readers can order both novels via their local independent bookseller.

Lucha Corpi. Nuria Brufau Alvira. Loa a un ángel de piel morena : una novela de misterio. Madrid: Alcala de Henares Universidad de Alcalá, Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Estudios Norteamericanos "Benjamin Franklin", 2011.

ISBN 9788481389432 8481389439

Lucha Corpi. Eulogy for a brown angel: a mystery novel. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1992.


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20. Lauren Myracle on Banned Books…and Scars is mentioned!

Lauren Myracle, author of SHINE, ttfn, and many more popular YA books, talks beautifully and honestly in this article about her books being banned and challenged, the horrible criticisms she’s received, the blizzard of fan mail she gets (a hundred emails a day!!), the awful mix-up with Shine and Chime with the National Book Awards…and SCARS is mentioned! The interviewer says at one point:

“Wall Street Journal writer Meghan Cox Gurdon said last year that teen literature has become too dark and depraved—too much rape, incest, violence. One of the books she cited, Scars, is about a girl who cuts herself. What’s your take?”

and Lauren Myracle says:

“I think she looked at a very small sampling of books. I think she herself was sensationalizing. For a girl who is cutting herself, to be able to read something like that and think, “I’m not alone,” what bigger gift can you give someone?”

Thank you so much, Lauren! (beaming)

I love how honest Lauren is in her interview, and how down-to-earth. Check it out.

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21. Fusenews: At the sign of the big yellow fuse

  • Ain’t he just the sweetest thing?  Author/illustrator Aaron Zenz recently wrote just the loveliest ode to his four top favorite children’s literary blogs, and then went and created original art for each.  In my case he created this little Fuse guy (or possibly Fuse gal) based on the bright yellow Fuse you see at the beginnings of each of my posts (I put it there in lieu of my face because I can only look at myself so often before going stark raving mad).  This, I should point out, is not the first time a little Fuse person has been created for this blog.  Katherine Tillotson, an artist of outstanding ability (I’m biased but it also happens to be true) created not one but TWO little Fusemen in the past, both for separate birthdays.

I’m a fan.  So thank you Aaron and, once again, thank you Katherine.  Fusemen of the world unite!

  • *sniff sniff*  Smell that?  That’s the distinctive odor of a brouhaha brewing.  Sort of a combination of burnt hair, dead goldfish and patchouli.  And you wonder why I don’t cover YA books.  Sheesh!  One word: drama.  Seems that a YA blog called Story Siren plagiarized the work of others for her own blog posts.  Folks noticed and suddenly the internet was was heaping helpful of flames, burns, accusations, and other forms of tomfoolery.  For a sane and rational recap we turn to our own Liz Burns who gives us the run down in Today’s Blog Blow Up.  Ugly stuff.
  • And while we’re on the subject of YA (which I just said I don’t cover, and yet here we are), I thought we were done with whitewashing, folks.  So what’s up with this?  Harlequin Teen, you got some explaining to do.
  • In other news, book banning: It’s what’s for dinner.  Take a trip with me to The Annville-Cleona School District where a picture book fondly nicknamed by some as Where’s the Penis? is getting some heat.  If you’ve ever seen The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Adam Rex, then you know that calling it “pornographic” works only if you are unaware of what the word “pornography” actually means.  I would like to offer a shout-out to librarian Anita Mentzer who has handled the whole situation with class and dignity.  You, madam, are the kind of children’s librarian others should aspire to be.  Well done.  And thanks to Erica Sevetson for the link.
  • We may not yet have an ALA accredited poetry award for a work of children’s literature but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a Poet Laureate or two instead.  Rich Michelson, gallery owner and

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22. Teacher banned from displaying Dr Seuss quote, professor Cheryl Cowdy interviewed

Professor Cheryl Cowdy from York University was interviewed on CTV: “is Dr. Seuss Too Political?” because a grade-one teacher was actually banned from displaying a quote from Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle! (I LOVE that book.) The quote was: “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights.”

What a great quote, eh? I love how Dr Seuss often put positive-action thinking into his books, encouraging readers to treat each other equally (think The Sneetches with their stars on bellies and stars not on bellies). And I don’t understand people who try to stop kids from reading about things that can help! Or just reading, period. Book banning makes no sense to me.

But something Professor Cheryl Cowdy said in her interview resonated with me. She said she thinks children’s books are often banned because people think kids aren’t capable of thinking for themselves. That makes sense to me. People are afraid, and want their children to think the same way they do. But children have the right to make their own minds up.

Check out the video interview for more!

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23. Chicano Renaissance. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto.

Chicano renaissance

Michael Sedano

I rode shotgun up from Deming to Silver City, New Mexico. We were heading up to meet with the vato who first published the phrase “the Chicano Renaissance,” Felipe Ortego. ¡Saludos Don Felipe!

Felipe Ortego
The first time I read the phrase “the Chicano Renaissance” I understood Ortego’s enthusiasm. Anyone surveying the United States literary landscape between the late 1960s through the 1980s would share Don Felipe’s comprehension that el movimiento was producing a new cultural current, and his metaphorical “renaissance” echoed historic emergences like in Florence or London or Harlem.

A new renaissance is stalking America, the Chicano Renaissance, and this time, it really is. The “Chicano Renaissance” grew from regional small press and newsmedia publication. Taken up by big publishing, Chicana Chicano literary production joined the institutional rat race.

Early literatura chicana mirrored and helped create the community ethos that, in multiple languages, featured images of la tierra and farmworkers, noble outcasts or hagiographic antepasados, a separate eden, a battle against a blue-eyed devil, a lost and ruined homeland.

A catalog of such dominant themes fails to capture the elegance, wit, and capacity of Chicana Chicano writers of that time and now. Then, it was chest-thumping time.

Today, a writer is likely to see the label “Chicana Chicano Writer” as a boundary against work being considered simply “American Literature.” That’s an irony that an apex of success for a Chicana Chicano writer would portend the end of “Chicano Literature.”

Fortunately, there’s likely a new Chicano Renaissance on the horizon, one that portends global penetration of raza writing into every market where readers who have a computer or an e-book reader can choose to read all manner of Chicana Chicano literature.

How does it look from your horizon? Leave a comment below, how does it?

Banned Books Update

Arizona’s laws remain on the books. The day after Veterans Day, it’s a good time to acknowledge my 19 months in uniform defended their hateful power. But we draftees were not going to roll over and play dead, we would actually die, if it came to that, so Arizona could elect people like those. Oh well.

Carmen Tafolla’s landmark collection, Curandera, is banned in Arizona. That doesn’t prevent people in Arizona or any place in the world, from buying the 30th Anniv

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24. Review: The Barbarian Nurseries. Banned Books Update. On-Line Floricanto

Review: The Barbarian Nurseries.

Hector Tobar. The Barbarian Nurseries. NY: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2011.
ISBN: 9780374108991 0374108994

Michael Sedano

Héctor Tobar has taken the possible and made it impossible.

Is it possible to add another title to the wondrous list of Los Angeles novels?

Absolutely. In fact, name your favorite LA novel, from Chandler to De Lillo to Yxta Maya Murray, and add Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries to the top of the list.

Is it possible to find a better Los Angeles novel?

No. The Barbarian Nurseries stands alone as the quintessential cultural portrait of early twenty-first century Los Angeles.

In the novel’s three chapters—three books in one—Tobar begins with an ethnically mixed upwardly mobile family, a Mexican-American software engineer and a down East Anglo mother, caught in their own acquisitional excess and benign neglect of the hired help. The family implodes, stranding the Mexicana maid with two sheltered boys and a hazy notion of where to find the boys’ grandfather.

The final chapter jails the maid for fanciful Anglo-perceived crimes and sends her through the dual processes of a criminal trial and impending deportation.

Tobar takes pains to keep his characters at arm’s length so a reader doesn’t like anyone too much nor despise anyone irrationally.

Araceli, the maid, he paints as a crusty tipa, a Bellas Artes student who bottles her creativity behind pursed lips and curtness. Up until now, life’s greatest slap in the face was getting a scholarship to the instituto but getting no money for brushes and paints. She lives as an example of a character who may die with one thousand masterpieces hanging only from her mind.

Speaking of allusions, stay alert for that Chinese chalk. In preparation, read Olga Garcia’s poem “Sonia on Hope Street.” The poem echoes in one’s memory as Maureen diligently mops away the invisible knowledge locked away in jail with Araceli.

The Torres-Thompson family takes the cake. Actually, several, and all designer-made concoctions. He’s at a career dead-end and she’s stuck at home with two boys and a new-born daughter. We meet Scott sweating and cussing up a storm because his darned lawnmower refuses to cut the lawn as well as it performed for Pepe. Both Pepe, and Maureen’s nanny Guadalupe, had to go, to get expenses under control.

Although Tobar focuses the novel on the pendejadas of Scott, Maureen, and Araceli, he manages to draw the social milieu with broad strokes, as needed using a fine tip to draw out some fine detail from the jumbled landscape that stretches from the Anglo bastions of Orange County to the bus stops of H.P.

There’s the racist ideologue who takes up the cudgel in Tobar’s portrait of thought-absent obsession that sees only “ill” in “immigrant” then stands dumbfounded when her preferred “Just Us” shapes itself to reflect Justice, because bittersweet endings are better than sad ones, and because that’s how The System works. Tobar’s making up only some of this.

There’s the L.A. mayor who talks himself into being undecided whether to choose wishy or washy when it comes to taking a strong pro-comunidad position. In contrast, there’s the Mexican Consul in Santa Ana who is as bumbling a fool as the mayor is a cipher. Much as Tobar dislikes that character, the author gives a final glimpse of the empty man desolate

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25. Review: Devil’s Tango. Cultural Tourism. Foto del month. Banned Books Update: Librotraficante film. On-Line Floricanto for the Middle of June.

Review: Devil's Tango shakes readers to the core.

Michael Sedano

Cecile Pineda. Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step. San Antonio: Wings Press for Cecile Pineda, 2012.
ISBN 9780916727994

Last month as I was enjoying Robert Arellano’s Curse the Names, his doomsday novel informed by outlandishly consequential U.S. nuclear policies, I had simultaneously begun reading Nicole Pineda’s creative nonfiction thriller, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step.

Pineda’s doomsday take on global nuclear policies, the deception leading up to and growing out of the failure of GE’s nuclear design at Fukushima, Japan, cast a harsh emotional glare on what should have been a bright, fun read about nuclear disaster.

I had to stop. Not because I can’t dance, but I was terrified to step outside and breathe the air. It’s everywhere.

Pineda scared the living caca out of me. To get around that, I adopt a critical perspective derived from Chapter 104’s title, A Little Bit Goes a Long Way… Fear, like radiation, spreads. The main thing is, don't panic. That's a reading stance to adopt as one reads fact after fact Pineda’s massive research cobbles together to terrify you.

Just as Arellano’s character goes crazy thinking about a nightmare scenario, Pineda’s fact-driven scenarios spur a reader’s imagination to nightmarish personal fears involving one’s grandchildren and loved ones. A little bit of fear goes a long way toward coloring one’s reading. For Devil’s Tango, fear plays continuo behind the driving disharmonies of Pineda’s composition.

There’s the photographer’s story from Chernobyl. From the air, photos showed vast junkyards of radiation contaminated vehicles and other machinery. He couldn’t take a photo at ground level because all that junk, and more, had been swallowed up into the flea market economy. Don’t buy a desk or office chair within the million square miles of Belarus or Ukraine.

There are the soldiers whom Russian leaders sacrificed. Sent them to pick up nuclear waste with their hands, wearing their Army green fatigues and comfortable leather boots. Pineda doesn’t say if they spit-shined those boots.

Three hundred forty thousand soldiers--all of them--died. No record remains of their names, who they were, where they were born or died, or of their cause of death. Pineda denies the unspoken premise, if we don’t know their names, do they matter? QEPD, brothers and sisters. You did your duty. Russian army, U.S. Army, if you see a mushroom cloud on the horizon, you say “yes, sir!” put on your raincoat and march toward the smoke.

If Chernobyl is the boogeyman of nuclear safety, what shall the world consider Fukushima? In the first week after the earthquake, Fukushima has released more radioactive cesium than Chernobyl and all the bombs detonated during the years of atmospheric testing. One hundred tons of fuel…have melted through containment and fallen into the basement of the reactor buildings—something TEPCO admitted only much later. Thousands of tons of radioactive water have been released…contaminating the water and sea life for all eternity or 4.5 billion years, whichever comes first. (84) Scary stuff.

The scariest words Pineda writes are her allusions to all of us being wiped off the face of the earth. Relating a Siberian nuclear accident where years later, the ground still moves, the author observes,

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