Thursday, June 19, 2008

Palabra Pura's June Gems y Mucho Mas

Your humble writer this week was blessed had the task of trying to fill the shoes of Johanny Vazquez, at this month's Palabra Pura. La Divina is in Puerto Rico where I'm sure she's enjoying family and holding court. In a bedrock venue of Chicago's Mexican community, Decima Musa, Palabra Pura offered  two dynamic poets, and the pre-show conversation was a lively, full-bodied discussion on female aesthetics and female presence on stage. The evening resonated with work that puts flesh on the bone, that breathes a sense of everyday spirituality and working-class nobility into their work. 

Naomi Ayala is the author of This Side of Early (Curbstone Press, 2008) and Wild Animals on the Moon (Curbstone Press, 1997). Her third collection of poems is forthcoming from Bilingual Review Press in 2009. Ayala’s work has appeared in numerous journals and has been anthologized in Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poems from the Other USA (Smokestack Books/U.K., 2008), Boriquén to Diasporican: Puerto Rican Poetry from Aboriginal Times to the New Millennium (University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007), and Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature (Longman, 2005). Ayala works as an education consultant (with a specialty in curriculum design and development), a translator, and teacher, and is currently serving as the Director of Development for Fiesta DC.

From Consortium, about This Side of Early...These poems straddle two landscapes—contrasting the imprints of gentrification with the supernal, come by way of the woods. Ayala’s poems deconstruct the political world of man, offer hope through a compelling, lyrical spiritual intimacy, and bridge the gap between the two with words full of ecological intensity. Her deep connections with the working class combine with a love of the land to offer us lilt and dream, revelation and foretelling. Many of the "seeings" she brings us walk the edge of cultural resilience, where the illusion we see of the outside world speaks to us most when we turn within.

Diana Pando is a megaphone for Latinos in the arts. She has been Managing Director of Teatro Vista, Interim Managing Director for Teatro Luna, and worked with Luna Negra Dance Theatre and DeLaTorre Fine Arts. Through Teatro Vista she has been able to initiate dialogue between communities and arts groups resulting in youth outreach programs in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and increased Latino theatre in Little Village. She is one of the founding members of Proyecto Latina, a collaborative between Teatro Luna and Tianguis Bookstore and former contributing writer for Dinero Magazine. She has contributed writing to Teatro Luna's critically acclaimed show MACHOS, Lunaticas, collaborated with artist Luis DeLaTorre and maintains a blog called Art Botanas for Latinos in the arts.

She is a member of the Latina Leadership Council for the Chicago Foundation for Women. This October she will be the featured reader at Proyecto Latina hosted at RadioArte. Currently, she works with the Community Media Workshop helping nonprofits tell their stories. She is a lifelong resident of the Bridgeport neighborhood where she resides with artist Luis DeLaTorre and their dog Cometa


Focus on Your Community

Support the fledgling Chicago Public Schools Literacy Program, Padres a Padres, which in turn supports the Latino community. The program serves 3 and 4 year old children who do not have other available preschool options. The program is unique in that the parents are in the classroom learning how to read books to their children to instill a love for reading and learning in their children. Twice a week, along with other activities, the teacher reads a book to the class and the children get to take a new hardcover copy of the same book home with them. The class is taught in Spanish and all books are Spanish language. 

The program also includes an outing to the local library and home visits by CPS staff. This program has a wonderful parenting component and focuses on closing the book gap ('well-off' kids have hundred of children's books in their homes; 'poor' kids have only a handful). Your book donations have helped to support this program. Luz Maria Solis, the program administrator at CPS, (CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS) just reported to that nearly 25% of this year's Padres a Padres class have been accepted to the Orozco Regional Gifted Center for English-Language Learners.

If you would like to continue to support this Chicago Public Schools collaborative initiative (CPS partners with the Chicago Park District and Chicago 's museums for Padres a Padres), please consider purchasing one or more new Spanish language hardcover books.

Book Donations:

Oso Pardo and Oso Panda books - available at

Buenas Noches Luna - available at

If you are ordering the books online, please have them shipped directly to:

Luz Maria Solis

Chicago Public Schools

125 S. Clark St., 9th floor

Chicago, IL 60603

Phone: (773) 553-2019

... and put "Donation for the Padres a Padres Program from [your name]" in the gift message.

Feel free to call Luz Maria Solis if you prefer to make a cash donation or are interested in selecting a different book title from the Padres a Padres curriculum.


Greetings all.

Acentos is pleased to announce the inaugural issue of the ACENTOS REVIEW, a new journal of writing by Latino and Latina authors. It is online right now at

Seven poets and one visual artist grace the June 2008 issue:

Ray Gonzalez
Rachel McKibbens
Sheila Maldonado
Christina Olivares
Jose Olivarez
Mundo Rivera
Griselda Suarez

Visual: "Man With A Guitar," by Alexandra Cespedes

The poets represented here comprise a remarkable mosaic of emerging and established Latino and Latina writers from different areas of the country. The work sprawls, breathes, bites, and turns. It demands. It is not easy. These are the poems we love, and these poets make beautiful conversation. They honor us with their presence and set a high bar for subsequent projects. Acentos sends its sincerest gratitude to each of them. Deepest thanks also to our co-editors Raina Leon and Eliel Lucero, who insisted that this project was doable and then willed it into reality.

Now then, a word about subsequent projects.

We are right now accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, reviews, interviews, and translation for the Latino Heritage Month issue (September 2008). See the submission guidelines for further details. We look forward to reading your work!

Log onto and check out the fuss. We are extremely excited about this project, and we welcome your comments and queries: See you soon!

Rich Villar
for the Acentos crew. 


Teatro Luna receives two Non-Equity Jeff Awards! 

Teatro Luna wins two Jeffs for Machos: Best New Work and Outstanding Ensemble! These awards are extra exciting for us because they recognize what we value most about our work: creating original ensemble based shows. Machos was a huge community effort and so this award goes out to a lot of people: the 100 men who contributed stories for the show, the 20 women who collaborated on writing the show, the 45 people who transcribed hours of interviews, and of course... to the uber-talented cast of Machos, a bunch of ladies who worked hard to learn how to be men. Felicidades to our big Luna Family!   

Lisa Alvarado


norma landa flores said...

Lisa, I enjoyed your review of Naomi Ayala's work. I too was a curriculum developer for all of my bicultural speech communication courses, for over 30 years. Now I'm writing a novel and some poetry.

I hadn't analyzed what my writing process entailed, until you phrased it in your description of Naomi's strong points. You said she (deconstructs (2) offers hope and (3 )bridges the gap, poetically. Also that her writings "walk the edge of cultural resilience when the illusion we see of the outside world speaks to us most when we turn within."

I wrote your words down on a pad of paper that I keep next to my computer. I'll use it to remind myself of how to write like a genuine mujer. Gracias to Naomi and to you.


norma landa flores said...

Ooops, I left out... (1) before she deconstructs.....
If any editors read this comment, sabes what I mean, no?