[text from the University of Arizona Press Fall/Winter 2010 Catalog]
Each and Her
In 2004 twenty-eight women and young girls were murdered in Ciudad Juárez and the surrounding areas. The tragedy escalated to fifty-eight murders in 2006, then again to eighty-six in 2008, and current estimates top four hundred deaths. Now poet Valerie Martínez offers a poetic exploration of these events, pushing boundaries—stylistically and artistically—with vivid poems that contextualize femicide.
Martínez departs from traditional narrative to reveal the hidden effects and outcomes of the horrific and heart-wrenching cases of femicide. These poems—lyric fragments and prose passages that form a collage—have an intricate relation to one another, creating a complex literary quilt that feels like it can be read from the beginning, the end, or anywhere in between. Martínez is personally invested in the topic, evoking the loss of her sister, and Each and Her emerges as a biography of sorts and a compelling homage to all those who have suffered. Other authors may elaborate on or investigate this topic, but Martínez humanizes it by including names, quotations, realistic details, and stark imagery.
The women of Juárez, like other women around the world, are ravaged by inequality, discontinuity, politics, and economic plagues that contribute to gender violence. Martínez offers us a poignant and alarming glance into another world with these never-before-told stories. Her refreshing and explosive voice will keep readers transfixed and intrigued about these events and emotions—removed from us and yet so close to the heart.
Valerie Martínez is the author of several books, including World to World, published by the University of Arizona Press. Her poems, essays, and translations have also appeared in The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, and The Latino Poetry Review. Martínez is the Poet Laureate for the city of Santa Fe for 2008–2010.
The Good Rainbow Road
Simon J. Ortiz, Illustrations by Michael Lacapa
October (first time in paperback)
This is the story of two courageous boys and of how they saved their village.
Their village is called Haapaahnitse, Oak Place, and it lies at the foot of a mountain. Once there was a lake and a stream nearby, but they have dried up. Once rain and snow came, but no more. Not only did the crops wither and die, even the hardy oak trees have become brittle sticks. The land has become barren and dry.
Two brothers, Tsaiyah-dzehshi, whose name means First One, and Hamahshu-dzehshi, Next One, are chosen for an important mission. They are sent on a westward trek to the home of the Shiwana, the Rain and Snow Spirits, to ask them to bring the gift of water to the village again. The brothers cross deserts and mountains on an arduous journey until they are finally stopped short by a treacherous canyon filled with molten lava.
The Good Rainbow Road tells how the brothers overcome this last challenge and continue on to their destination. Written in the tradition of Native American oral storytelling and accompanied by colorful illustrations from celebrated Native artist Michael Lacapa, it brings the powers of language, memory, and imagery to a tale that will captivate children ages seven and up.
As Simon Ortiz writes, "The Good Rainbow Road is located in the Native American world, but it is not limited to that world. Even considering humankind's many ethnic and racial differences, we are all part of each other as people and the rest of all Creation, and our stories join us together." This is the foundation of The Good Rainbow Road, and on that road young readers will broaden their understanding of humanity's common bonds.The Good Rainbow Road is presented in Keres, the language of Acoma Pueblo and six other Pueblo communities in New Mexico, and in English, with an additional Spanish translation in the back of the book.
The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940
Robert Chao Romero
An estimated 60,000 Chinese entered Mexico during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, constituting Mexico’s second-largest foreign ethnic community at the time. The Chinese in Mexico provides a social history of Chinese immigration to and settlement in Mexico in the context of the global Chinese diaspora of the era.
Robert Romero argues that Chinese immigrants turned to Mexico as a new land of economic opportunity after the passage of the U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. As a consequence of this legislation, Romero claims, Chinese immigrants journeyed to Mexico in order to gain illicit entry into the United States and in search of employment opportunities within Mexico’s developing economy. Romero details the development, after 1882, of the “Chinese transnational commercial orbit,” a network encompassing China, Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean, shaped and traveled by entrepreneurial Chinese pursuing commercial opportunities in human smuggling, labor contracting, wholesale merchandising, and small-scale trade.
Romero’s study is based on a wide array of Mexican and U.S. archival sources. It draws from such quantitative and qualitative sources as oral histories, census records, consular reports, INS interviews, and legal documents. Two sources, used for the first time in this kind of study, provide a comprehensive sociological and historical window into the lives of Chinese immigrants in Mexico during these years: the Chinese Exclusion Act case files of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the 1930 Mexican municipal census manuscripts. From these documents, Romero crafts a vividly personal and compelling story of individual lives caught in an extensive network of early transnationalism.
Robert Chao Romero is an assistant professor in the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else
Carmen Giménez Smith
How does a contemporary woman with a career as a poet, professor, and editor experience motherhood with one small child, another soon to be born, and her own mother suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and Alzheimer’s? The dichotomy between life as a mother and life as an artist and professional is a major theme in modern literature because often the two seem irreconcilable. In Bring Down the Little Birds, Carmen Giménez Smith faces this seeming irreconcilability head-on, offering a powerful and necessary lyric memoir to shed light on the difficulties—and joys—of being a mother juggling work, art, raising children, pregnancy, and being a daughter to an ailing mother, and, perhaps most important, offering a rigorous and intensely imaginative contemplation on the concept of motherhood as such.
Writing in fragmented yet coherent sections, the author shares with us her interior monologue, affording the reader a uniquely honest, insightful, and deeply personal glimpse into a woman’s first and second journeys into motherhood. Giménez Smith begins Bring Down the Little Birds by detailing the relationship with her own mother, from whom her own concept of motherhood originated, a conception the author continually reevaluates and questions over the course of the book.
Combining fragments of thought, daydreams, entries from notebooks both real and imaginary, and real-life experiences, Giménez Smith interrogates everything involved in becoming and being a mother for both the first and second time, from wondering what her children will one day know about her own “secret life” to meditations on the physical effects of pregnancy as well as the myths, the nostalgia, and the glorification of motherhood.
While Giménez Smith incorporates universal experiences of motherhood that other authors have detailed throughout literature, what separates her book from these many others is that her reflections are captured in a style that establishes an intimacy and immediacy between author and reader through which we come to know the secret life of a mother and are made to question our own conception of what motherhood really means.
Carmen Giménez Smith is an assistant professor in the English department at New Mexico State University, editor-in-chief of the literary journal Puerto del Sol, and publisher of Noemi Press.
So go out and buy a book made in Arizona.
Next week - a review of Tim Z. Hernandez's Breathing, In Dust, one of the best novels I've read this year, as well as an interview with Tim, who explains, " I wanted the reader to feel as if they were taking a tour through the valley and the town of Catela, guided by the narration of a young boy who has his thumb on the hard pulse."