Max Benavidez is an award-winning author of six books including Gronk (UCLA CSRC and University of Minnesota Press) and Maria de Flor (Lectura Books). A former university professor and administrator, Benavidez is currently completing a novel, a book for young adults and a screenplay. He lectures widely and has presented his work at universities, libraries and conferences around the world.
Benavidez has finally made it to the virtual world with a new website. He is a writer of and for the City of Los Angeles. Benavidez says:
“The city of lilac sunsets at the beach and fiery riots in the inner city. It is my city, my home. A fragmented beautiful scar on the West Coast, sitting on the Pacific Rim gazing toward Asia—the classic decentralized 21st city of extremes and grotesque juxtaposition. It’s in my DNA. My mother was born here. She lived up in Chavez Ravine before it was buried under Dodger Stadium and told me how she loved seeing the city at night with its lights aglow. L.A. is an alluring mix of the utterly familiar with the pure potential of the apocalyptic unknown; it's transcendent and trivial all at once as if you were living in your own hyper-detective story. We call it the City of Angels but it’s really a true hybrid of saint and sinner and all the in between trespassers and bystanders. It is my muse, a great swirling maze of energy and madness that invites me to be the co-author of its destiny. Welcome to L.A., my L.A.”
◙ Speaking of websites, Melinda Palacio has also launched one. Palacio holds two degrees in Comparative Literature, a B.A. from Berkeley and an M.A. from UC Santa Cruz. In 2003, she won first prize in poetry at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Melinda is a 2007 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellow. Her work has been published in a wide variety of journals and anthologies, including the forthcoming Latinos in Lotusland: an Anthology of Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press).
◙ As I noted recently, the February issue of Tu Ciudad magazine is now out. As I turned to page 48, a shock ran through my body. The article on the clergy sexual abuse scandal entitled “Betrayed by Faith” by Dennis Romero was illustrated by photographs of three victims who agreed to be interviewed for the piece. And there I saw the smiling face of a good friend of mine (in younger days), Jaime Romo, shaking hands with Monsignor Leland Boyer, his abuser. I’ve known Jaime since high school and then we both attended Stanford University where we helped each other make it through (at least he helped keep me sane). We kept in touch throughout the years. I was his best man when he married, and he was mine when I married. Romero’s article is well-written and avoids sensationalizing what is already a sensationalized topic. Jaime and the other two victims are very brave to share their suffering with the world in this way. I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of the magazine which is sold at newsstands and stores throughout Southern California including Ralphs, Vons, Rite-Aid, Barnes & Noble, and Borders throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Visit the magazine's website for more information.
◙ Writing for the El Paso Times yesterday, Rigoberto González offered a moving and necessary tribute to poet and Chicano activist, Raúl Salinas (1934-2008), a.k.a. raúlrsalinas, who died recently. He noted, in part: “Salinas leaves us an important legacy. He was a citizen poet who led by example, and who did not succumb to the disappointing times we live in -- he confronted them, he overcame them, and he removed their many disguises to disclose for his readers, his listeners and his pupils, the difficult truths to be reckoned with.”
◙ In December, Daniel Alarcón (author most recently of Lost City Radio (HarperCollins)) recorded a radio documentary in Ancash, Peru, for the BBC3 Sunday Feature. They had 14 hours of tape, and it was edited down to a 45 minute narrative, now available online for the next week or so. Find the audio here. Here is a description of the program:
The Padlocked Town
Exploring the theme of disappearance, Peruvian-American author Daniel Alarcón journeys deep into the Andes, to Corongo. Now known as the 'Padlocked Town', Corongo is a semi-deserted place which residents left as they searched for a more stable and prosperous future in the capital city.
Daniel follows their journey to Lima, finding out how Andean culture has transformed the identity of the sprawling city over the past 30 years. He also discovers how a major earthquake in 1970 followed by years of political violence has forced the disappearance of many similar Andean towns and villages.
◙ Pablo Jaime Sáinz, a bilingual writer and journalist in the San Diego-Tijuana region, has some great news: Calaca Press, in San Diego, just published his first fiction chapbook in Spanish and Sinaloense, Conjunto norteño / Relatos para la plebada. It's a collection of stories on narcocultura in Los Angeles, growing up sinaloense in L.A., and narcocorridos and Los Tigres del Norte. ¡Bravo!
◙ All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadres at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro! And happy birthday, Rudy!