The following is an open letter from the writer and Con Tinta board member, Richard Yañez, which I want to share with La Bloga’s readers:
Friends of Con Tinta:
On behalf of my fellow Advisory Circle members, I send you warm greetings at the close of another year. We hope it has been a fruitful one and that your work—on & off the page—is thriving. As we achieved on two previous occasions, Con Tinta is hosting a celebration at the upcoming AWP conference in New York City, which is scheduled for January 30 - February 2, 2008.
Con Tinta’s annual event will feature an award presentation, poetry readings, and a buffet/cash bar. Mojitos' Bar/Restaurant (227 East 116 Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue) will host our event on Thursday, January 31st from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
This year’s recipients of the Con Tinta award will be Sandra María Esteves and Tato Laviera. These two unheralded heroes of the northeast are being recognized for their years of work and history of publication. Their contributions to Latino literature are numerous and have left their mark on our community. They reflect our mission of affirming a pro-active presence in American literature. Our previous recipients were Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, raúlrsalinas, and Judith Ortiz Cofer.
We are also excited about the evening’s program including a reading hosted by Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase. Rich Villar is our ally in NYC who is coordinating with local artists and helping spread the word about the evening’s line-up.
At this time, Con Tinta is soliciting donations from organizations and individuals to help offset costs ($1500.00) for this event. In return, we will be sure to publicly thank all donors and supporters during the course of the evening’s events and also in the event’s program. I am the Con Tinta member collecting funds and all donations can be sent to me at the address at the top. Checks should be made out to "Richard Yañez."
Please consider yourself and your guest(s) invited to our Con Tinta celebration. If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org / 915-831-2630.
We look forward to having you share this special evening with us.
◙ From many sources, we’ve learned the sad news that Alexander “Sandy” Taylor, co-founder of Curbstone Press, died at age 76 on December 21, 2007. As noted on the press's home page, Curbstone Press is “non-profit publishing house dedicated to literature that reflects a commitment to social change, with some emphasis on writing from Latin America and Latino communities in the United States.” Many of La Bloga’s favorite writers have had their books published by Curbstone. A very moving tribute to Sandy appears on Luis Rodríguez’s blog. After recounting Sandy’s accomplishments including publishing Luis’s work, Luis notes:
“So I will say with all candor--I would not be here as writer, lecturer and editor if it were not for Sandy Taylor. Such debt can never, ever be repaid. Yet Sandy lives on in the people he's touched, cajoled, rallied for, and celebrated. He lives on in his own poetry and translations. He lives on in the wondrous but economically unstable small publishing world that he helped create--where the best of this country still values what matters, and against all odds and economic advise continue to make books that will out live all of us.”
Francisco Aragón also offers his thoughts on the passing of Sandy. And as Richard Yañez put it in an e-mail to friends and colleagues: “In Memory for a warrior of words!”
◙ Rigoberto González reviews Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s new novel, Calligraphy of the Witch (St. Martin’s Press). Of the protagonist, he notes, in part:
“Concepción Benavídez is an unfortunate soul who makes a lengthy journey from the convents of Mexico to the shores of New England. A trained scribe and a devoutly Catholic mestiza who mumbles her prayers in Latin, she's too strange for a ship's crew and too unruly for the captain, who kidnaps her…. As a symbol of displacement and survival, Concepción Benavídez is an extraordinary character. As a book about the troubled present as represented by the anxiety of the past, Alicia Gaspar de Alba's Calligraphy of the Witch is truly exceptional.”
◙ Speaking of Rigoberto González, he dropped an e-mail to his friends that his recent focus has been on his column at the Poetry Foundation. He'll be blogging for another two months, and then back to a regular reviewing schedule at the El Paso Times. He also shared wonderful news: Rigo officially accepted a position, Associate Professor with tenure, at Rutgers University in Newark. He will begin his appointment in September. ¡Bravo, Rigo!
◙ I have a little (and I do mean little) story in a new anthology, You Have Time for This : Contemporary American Short-Short Stories (Ooligan Press), edited by Mark Budman and Tom Hazuka. I’m in some wonderful company…the anthology includes flash fiction by Aimee Bender, Steve Almond, and many others.
◙ Many fine authors ended up on best-of-the-year book lists. Over at The New York Daily News (Latino), Latino/a writers chose their favorite books of 2007. For example, Luis Alberto Urrea picked The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue by Manuel Muñoz, calling him "[a]n extraordinary writer with immense promise." Francisco Goldman's picks were The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, and Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcón. Read all the picks here.
Newsweek included The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on its top ten list for 2007 stating: "A quantum leap beyond the short stories that made Díaz’s reputation a decade ago. And one hell of a ride.”
And Helena María Viramontes ended up on Michael Silverblatt’s 2007 favorites for her novel, Their Dogs Came With Them (Simon & Schuster). If you haven’t heard Silverblatt’s author interviews yet, they’re available online including his chat with Viramontes (Silverblatt also lists Steve Erickson's brilliant novel, Zeroville (Europa Editions), as one of his favorites; I reviewed Erickson's exquisitely strange and powerful novel in yesterday's El Paso Times). If you know of any other Chicano/a or Latino/a writers who have ended up on best of 2007 lists, or if you want to mention some of your favorites, please post a comment and a link, if available.
◙ Michele Martinez’s suspense novel, Cover-up : A Novel of Suspense (HarperCollins), is now in paperback. Check it out!
◙ The El Paso Times reports on El Paso native Raymundo "Ray" Eli Rojas’s return to his hometown after completing his degree from the University of Kansas Law School but “he wasn't looking for a cushy corporate law job or a comfortable civil-service lawyer position.” Rojas said: “All my life, I wanted to help people. And I needed to find the best way to do that.” So, Rojas is the new executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. "I wanted to be an advocate for immigrants and poor people,” says Rojas. The EPT notes that the center “assists refugees with asylum petitions and other legal matters to protect the human rights of unaccompanied immigrant children and assist battered women and children.” Of course, as the EPT reports, “[o]ne of the things [Rojas] is best known for is his Pluma Fronteriza literary newsletter, which began as a print publication and grew into an online production.” Way to go Ray!
◙ All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadres at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro! --Daniel Olivas