Monday, December 26, 2005


Monday’s post from Daniel Olivas

María Helena Viramontes is the author of the acclaimed and widely studied The Moths and Other Stories (Arte Público Press), as well as Under the Feet of Jesus (Plume Books). Viramontes was born in East Los Angeles in 1954. Her parents met while working the fields as farm workers. Later, her father became a construction worker and her mother was a housewife. Viramontes was one of nine children, she had five sisters and three brothers. Viramontes graduated from Garfield High School and then worked part-time while attending Immaculate Heart College. She earned her B.A. as one of only five Chicanas in her class in 1975. Viramontes attended the graduate program in creative writing at the University of California, Irvine, but she left in 1981. She later completed the program and was awarded an MFA in 1994. Viramontes is an associate professor of English at Cornell University. [Many thanks to Wikipedia for much of the background information.]

NUEVO LIBRO: Rigoberto González reviews Judith Ortiz Cofer’s latest collection, A Love Story Beginning in Spanish (University of Georgia Press). González says that “Judith Ortiz Cofer is a rarity among writers, consistently accomplished in both prose and poetry." González is an award-winning writer and associate professor of English and Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

COMPRAS: Tu Ciudad Magazine makes this holiday book suggestion:

Heaven, Earth, Tequila: Un Viaje al Corazon de Mexico (Waterside) by Douglas Menuez. Says Tu Ciudad: “The perfect coffee-table book for the sophisticated lush in your life, Tequila is the photographic journal of author Menuez’s trip through Mexico’s tequila-making regions. The eye-opening book (Did you know workers strip naked in order to prime the tequila?) also features an introduction by Burro Genius author Victor Villaseñor."

REMINDER: Letras Latinas, the literary component of the Institute for Latino Studies atthe University of Notre Dame, would like to remind you that the deadline for the second edition of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize is just around the corner: January 6, 2006. Named after the late Chicano poet, the prize carries a $1000 cash award, a book contract with University of Notre Dame Press for a first book of poetry, and an invitation to read, with the final judge, at the University of Notre Dame. There is no entrance fee. For complete guidelines, please visit:

Any further questions can be addressed to:

Francisco Aragon
Director, Letras Latinas
Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 631-2882

LATINA IMPRINT: We might have mentioned this at one time or another, but it bears repeating. Warner Books has launched a new imprint: Solana. From Warner Books: “Solana will publish six English-language trade paperback novels a year that celebrate Latino life and feature characters of various Hispanic origins. Latinas are reading a broad range of commercial fiction, from romances to chick lit to more serious, edgier women's fiction, but there's little available that speaks to them directly as Hispanic women. Solana is committed to providing this large and growing audience with a unique reading experience: the opportunity to identify with characters and stories that reflect their own backgrounds and traditions.”

A LITTLE POETRY: I beat you folks up with my poetry last week. Well, just when you thought it was safe to go back on the's a little piece that first appeared on PULSE last year. As with my previous poem, inspiration for this one came from the headlines, literally:

Woman Gets Probation in Child Neglect Case

They found you,
alive, yes, but
nude, caked with
dried ketchup
and jelly, lying
in a baby’s tub
watching TV.

What did your
mind think of as
you wandered
the house alone
for almost three
weeks? As you
peed on the floor,
scavenged for
food, drank water
from the toilet,
did you know that
your mother was
in jail, that she
didn’t want to tell
the judge that she
had a daughter
who would need
care while she
served her time?

Did your mind
wander from
Sesame Street
to the dark
stillness of the
night to the
thirst you needed
to quench?

Will you remember
this time alone or
will your life be
filled with other

Your mother is
home now,
receiving only
probation instead
of the maximum
ten years. Your
mother is home
now, to fill
your life with
new memories.

Will I read about
you again as I
drink my morning
coffee? Will your
mother make
another headline
as my son sits
across from me
enjoying his
Pop-Tarts and
laughing at the
funnies? Will
I have to explain
again to him
why my eyes
have filled with

All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadre at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!

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