Friday, January 18, 2008

New Books, Award Winners, Opportunities

New books for Spring, 2008, from UA Press
Blurbs from the UA Press Catalog

If I Die in Juárez
Stella Pope Duarte
"From the red-light districts in Ciudad Juárez to remote villages hidden away in the mountains of Chihuahua comes a tale of one of the darkest crimes to be recorded in the history of humankind. If I Die in Juárez traces the lives of three young women -- Evita, a street child; Petra, a maquiladora worker; and Mayela, a Tarahumara Indian girl -- who together uncover Juárez's forbidden secret: the abduction and murder of young women. Bound together by blood, honor, an ancient chant, and a mysterious photo, the girls bring the murderous streets of Juárez to life. Based on the author's interviews with relatives of murdered women, If I Die in Juárez is brilliantly crafted to give readers the experience of walking in the shoes of women who daily risk being abducted and murdered in the capital city of murdered women, joining thousands of others who for more than a decade have disappeared from Juárez, las desaparecidas, brutally murdered by assassins who have gone unpunished. The agony of one of the darkest tales in human history brings to light a strange hope, illusive yet constant, resisting lies, betrayal, and the desert's silent sentence of death."

The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes: Selected Works of José Antonio Burciaga
Edited by Mimi R. Gladstein and Daniel Chacón
"Widely considered one of the most important voices in the Chicano literary canon, José Antonio Burciaga was a pioneer who exposed inequities and cultural difficulties through humor, art, and prose. In this anthology and tribute, Mimi Gladstein and Daniel Chacón bring together dozens of remarkable examples of Burciaga's work. His work never demonstrates machismo or sexism, as he believed strongly that all Chicano voices are equally valuable. Best known for his books Weedee Peepo, Drink Cultura, and Undocumented Love, Burciaga was also a poet, cartoonist, founding member of the comedy troupe Cultura Clash, and a talented muralist whose well-known work became almost more famous than the man. This first and only collection of Burciaga's work features thirty-eight illustrations and incorporates previously unpublished essays and drawings, including selections from his manuscript The Temple Gang, a memoir he was writing at the time of his death. In addition, Gladstein and Chacón address Burciaga's importance to Chicano letters. A joy to read, this rich compendium is an important contribution not only to Chicano literature but also to the preservation of the creative, spiritual, and political voice of a talented and passionate man."

Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems
Juan Felipe Herrera
Foreword by Francisco A. Lomelí
"For nearly nearly four decades, Juan Felipe Herrera has documented his experience as a Chicano in the United States and Latin America through stunning, memorable poetry that is both personal and universal in its impact, themes, and approach. Often political, never fainthearted, his career has been marked by tremendous virtuosity and a unique sensibility for uncovering the unknown and the unexpected. Through a variety of stages and transformations, Herrera has evolved more than almost any other Chicano poet, always re-inventing himself into a more mature and seasoned voice. Now, in this unprecedented collection, we encounter the trajectory of this highly innovative and original writer, bringing the full scope of his singular vision into view. Beginning with early material from A Certain Man and moving through thirteen of his collections into new, previously unpublished work, this assemblage also includes an audio CD of the author reading twenty-four selected poems aloud. Serious scholars and readers alike will now have available to them a representative set of glimpses into his production as well as his origins and personal development. The ultimate value of bringing together such a collection, however, is that it will allow us to better understand and appreciate the complexity of what this major American poet is all about."

Lisa Alvarado did a recent Bloga column on Juan Felipe Herrera, which you can find here. That post includes Herrera's classic piece, 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border.

The Region of Lost Names
Fred Arroyo
"Remember that the dream of one is the dream of everyone. Ernest is searching for a place where he can live beyond his past. His family has returned to Puerto Rico, and Ernest remains in the States, desiring only distance from his memories of childhood displacement and work, his parents' tumultuous relationship, and his own love for Magdalene. Magdalene, too, looks to move beyond her memories as she follows Ernest's family home, seeking resolution to her mother's hurtful secrets, her father's unknown identity, and her love for Ernest. As Ernest moves through the fields of Michigan, as Magdalene traverses the jungles of Puerto Rico and the shores of the Caribbean, they discover that their dreams and identities are linked within the framework of their families and their pasts. Together, Ernest and Magdalene must come to terms with the secrets and mistakes made by the previous generation, the histories of disloyalty and abandonment, of secrecy and sorrow. Their struggles take place in a region of lost names, where loves and memories are banished and found. Fred Arroyo writes a story in two voices, following Ernest and Magdalene by turns in prose that is elegant and lyrical. His words evoke another world lush with the scent of salt spray, the taste of mangoes, and the rush of leaves, alive with characters whose ardors and pathos are achingly real. Arroyo explores the ebb and flow between past and present and themes that are enduring. Ultimately, Ernest and Magdalene must live with more than their memories; they must rediscover the intimacies of the region of lost names.'

New World/New Words: Recent Writing from the Americas, A Bilingual Anthology
Edited by Thomas Christensen
Foreword by Gregory Rabassa
(University of Washington Press, 2007)
From the publisher: "This fully bilingual (Spanish/English) anthology of Latin American literature showcases the region's enormous vitality and variety of writing. New World / New Words includes selections by widely celebrated writers such as Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Senel Paz, as well as work by emerging authors just beginning to make their mark in the English-speaking world. The collection features many of today's leading translators, several of whom are also distinguished poets and writers.

"New World / New Words makes the literature of Latin America available to those who want to sample its scope and depth, and includes works published for the first time in English. With original introductions by the translators that focus on voice, tone, rhythm, context, and the role of the translator, New World / New Words offers a unique window on the translator's art while presenting an exciting cross-section of the latest Latin American writing. "

How I Learned English
Edited by Tom Miller
Foreword by Ray Suarezt
Afterword by Frank McCourt
(National Geographic Society, 2007)
From the publisher: "All over the world there are people struggling to master the quirks and challenges of English. In today's America, many millions of them are Latino—and in this eloquent collection, nearly 60 of the best known contribute fascinating, revealing, often touching essays on the very personal process each went through to achieve this common end. Their successes are inspiring. Their pieces, engaging and entertaining all, express the whole range of emotions that learning any new language entails.

"Congressman José Serrano, for example, describes learning English from Frank Sinatra records. Cuban-American author Oscar Hijuelos picked it up as a sick little boy in an American hospital bed. Many find it a daunting ordeal; for others English came easily. But from TV personality Cristina Saralegui to Hall of Fame baseball player Orlando Cepeda, every last one remembers what it felt like to do battle with bizarre idioms, irregular verbs, and all the other incomprehensible intricacies that tangle the tongue.

"And of course, every new English-speaker has a tale to tell: an immigrant yearning to assimilate and achieve, or a political exile suddenly far from home and alone, or a child who just wants to fit in. Their fears and triumphs will resonate with everyone who has shared this exasperating, exhilarating experience, whether last year or a lifetime ago. This wonderful, eclectic, inviting collection speaks to—and for—all of them, and goes directly to the heart of the national debate on language and immigration."

The following is from the ALA website:

The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA Affiliate.

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children's librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.

Beginning with the 2009 award, it will be given annually.

The 2008 Award winners, announced on January 14, are:

Poet Slave book cover image The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano
written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Holt)

The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, a collection of haunting poems, uses multiple voices to illuminate the daily terror and hypocrisy of the slave system. Celebrating Manzano's irrepressible spirit and creativity, this book is based on Manzano's autobiographical notes and poems. After witnessing young Manzano's harsh punishments for reading and writing, readers will marvel at his enduring strength and persistence to attain freedom.

The Poet Slave of Cuba is a heartbreaking, memorable story of love, determination and hope. The stark language and vivid imagery provide a sensory experience that allows the reader to enter another time and place,” said Award Committee Chair Jean Hatfield.

For illustration:

Los Gatos book cover imageLos Gatos Black on Halloween, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Marisa Montes (Holt)

“A rhyming text describes spooky monsters of many types gathering for a ball in Los Gatos Black on Halloween. However, the rollicking fun is interrupted by the scariest creatures of all in a surprise ending that will delight readers of all ages. Morales' eerily glowing illustrations capture the blend of traditional Halloween and Día de los Muertos symbols, matching the humorous interplay of Spanish and English in the text. Historical allusions and whimsical figures delight the eye in this timeless story,” said Hatfield.

Salina Bookshelf announced that its 2007 children’s book, The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons, is featured in the National Education Association’s Read Across America’s 2008 Resource Calendar. The Navajo Year, written by award-winning author Nancy Bo Flood and illustrated by Billy Whitethorne, is the featured book for the month of November, which is National Indian Heritage Month.

The 2008 Resource Calendar is part of NEA’s year-long promotion of its Read Across America campaign, which is dedicated to building a nation of avid readers. The 2008 calendar is filled with art by well-known children’s illustrators, and each month highlights fun books along with book tips, links, activities, and events. Although Read Across America Day officially takes place March 3, 2008, the celebration extends throughout the entire year.


To celebrate Poetry Month, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, UC-Denver's Copper Nickel, and the Colorado Center for the Book at Colorado Humanities are compiling and printing a community calendar of April poetry events for all ages in the Denver metro area. Send news of your April 2008 poetry events to Josephine Jones,, by mid-February. If you have distribution lists or locations for the Poetry Month calendars after they are printed, let her know that, too.

Josephine Jones
Director of Programs
Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book
1490 Lafayette Street Suite 101
Denver CO 80218
303 894 7951 x15

Fourth Annual Writers Studio Literary Contest
The Writers Studio will award cash prizes for the best unpublished work
by Colorado writers in Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction.
Submissions are accepted from January 1 through March 1, 2008. Winners
will be honored at the Writers Studio Annual Literary Festival
April 2008. For submission guidelines, go to the Writers Studio Web site.

Denver Women's Press Club Unknown Writer's Contest
Both men and women are eligible to enter in the categories of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Cash prizes for winners! Deadline is February 23. Download contest rules and entry form here.

Indian Country Anthology
A call for submissions has been issued for an Indian Country Anthology to be released next year. I don't know much about this anthology except that the editors seek stories that take place in Indian Country, including Canadian reserves, U.S. reservations, Alaska, Hawaii and Mexican Indian land, and/or stories that revolve around Native characters. Stories may be historical, literary, or crime fiction, as long as they are previously unpublished. Writers of First Nation ancestry are especially invited to submit. Stories should be 3,000 - 6,000 words; deadline is May 15, 2008. Direct questions or send stories to As I said, I don't know much about this, so please investigate thoroughly before submitting any work.

A word of congratulations to old pal Gary Phillips, who has started an online, serialized political thriller on The Nation's website. The series is entitled Citizen Kang, and Episode 1 is A Wide Stance. Just in time for the 2008 politics. Yeah. Those of you who are familiar with Gary's work will rush over to read the series, I'm sure. Those who have yet to catch up with the man, should get to it.


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