Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Two bits and our third place writer

Michael Sedano


Los Angelinos still have time to make the easy journey to Highland Park, where Avenue 50 Studio presents

Miccailhuitontli — Spirit of the Children”

a Mejica traditional celebration of Día de los Angelitos. We have asked our artists to produce work that will commemorate, celebrate or mourn children and youth who have died an untimely death due to preventable disease, gang violence, abuse, and/or war.

One wall has a series of beautifully painted portraits. But get close and get uncomfortable. The artist, John Paul Thornton, attaches a photograph of a missing child to each portrait, which depicts what the child would look like today, years after the young soul's disappearance emptied the lives of parents, leaving only memories. The abduction of a child--puro horror. Worse, not knowing what has become of him, her. Worst, seeing those portraits hanging on the wall. But irresistible--I kept turning away, walking to the other wall, but inevitably the portraits drew me back to them. Can a painting really have a soul?
Avenue 50 Studio
131 N. Avenue 50
Highland Park
323 258 1435

Being a refugee from academia, I enjoy seeing the kinds of passions researchers engage themselves with, constantly reminded by an old scientist’s chestnut, “nothing is as practical as a good theory”. Recently, I got this call for papers from MELUS, Society for the Study of the
Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. I'm especially intrigued by the lead sentence, aren't you?

Sheherazade after 9/11

From the first letters of the imprisoned African Muslims brought as slaves to America, through the Black Arts Movement in the 60’s and 70’s, to the contemporary writing of both immigrant and “native” Muslims living in USA, the existence of Muslim American literature has been questioned, discussed, supported, and opposed. We would like to examine its status in the post-9/11 world, and its importance in regards to human rights, status of woman, terrorism, unjust war(s) or other related subjects of interest.

Thus, we invite 20-minute papers for a panel on Muslim American writers, such as Mohja Kahf, Malcolm X, Elmaz Abinader, Abraham Rihbany, Diana Abu Jabar, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joseph Geha, Shaw J. Dallal, Shanaz Khan or any other American Muslim author, or papers that deal with the following topics:
* Relationship between Muslim art and literature
* Muslims as a new face of USA
* Muslim diaspora: transitional, transnational or multi-national
* Californian identity and public rhetoric in regards to Muslims
* Censorship within/without Muslim communities
* Relationship between American and Muslim American literature
or any of the related topics as presented in the MELUS call for papers, especially:
* Work and (im)migration, dislocation, diaspora, home
* Gender, age, generational differentials and work
* Interrogating and negotiating conflicts, inter-ethnic coalitions.
* Paradigms of colonialism/internal colonialism/post-colonialism.
* Orality, personal narratives, counter narratives . . .
* Technology, globalism, and the literature of work
* Assimilationist, oppositional, exclusionist approaches to the "American Dream" . . .

Send 100-250 word proposals to Lejla Tricic at ltricic@csufresno.edu or to C. Lok Chua at chengc@csufresno.edu by 6 November 2006 (extensions might be negotiated).

MELUS' 2007 conference will come to Fresno in March.

Third Place Winner
A month ago we invited readers to submit their works to our first La Bloga Día de los Muertos Amoxcalli-Descansos Contest. Thank you to all you writers who contributed your work to the contest.

Let our third place writer introduce himself:
Greetings from Raul Sanchez from (Aztlan north), Seattle.

El Dia y la Noche de los Muertos
Raul Sanchez

Under the blanket of the dark cold November night.
surrounded by the smoke of Copal
graves covered with Cempoalxochitl,
fragrance of the night
the cemetery comes alive
in communion with the departed.

Burning ocote, lights up my father’s grave
sweet black smoke
votives and candles, dripping wax
like tears cubren las tumbas

Photos and personal articles de los difuntos,
surrounded by cantares tipicos like:
"Puño de Tierra" "La Muerte”
"Mexico Lindo" "La vida no vale nada”

Guitars, voices, sentiment
of the Mexican people
expressed in a joyful mood
no lament, remorse or regret

We talk to our difuntos as if they were sitting beside us
we share the food
mole, tortillas, sopes, made with nixtamal de metate
salsa de molcajete, dulce de calabaza, tamales
pulque y Tequila pa’ brindar!

Remembrance of times past
adorned with laughter and joy
as sweet as Calaveras de Azucar,
free flowing like Papel Picado,

Procession with the souls of the departed.
a young boy wears a Calavera mask
forehead marked with the sign of the cross
reminder that the end is certain.

We live to remember those
who passed before us,
their life gave us life
we honor their memory


Viva la vida! Viva la Muerte!

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