Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sor Juana Conference; Barrio Writers TV; On-Line Floricanto

Major Sor Juana Conference Due at CSULA

mural detail, r.anguiano'93, mexico df.
La Bloga friend Roberto Cantú alerts readers thirsting for academic knowledge and analysis surrounding Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; prepare to slake that thirst with deep draughts sprung from un manantial of notable scholars at CSULA--not the westside’s LA but the eastside’s LA.

Cantú and staff have filled the conference to the brim with effervescent topics and speakers. For the details, click this link.


Barrio Writers on OC TV

La Bloga friend and youth mentor, Sara Rafael Garcia, alerts La Bloga readers in Orange County that Barrio Writers is the focus of a television show via local cable, through March 16, 2011.

To download the City of Garden Grove’s press release, containing the full broadcast schedule of the program (Word doc), click here.

On-Line Floricanto Marching into Spring

Selections for the March 2 issue of La Bloga:

1. "Always Here, a poem in response to SB 1070," by Rich Villar

2. "Los Santos Gitanos" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

3. "Many Walls" by Sarah Browning

4. "Stalking the Divine Under a Desert Full Moon" by Pam Uschuk

5. "Hip-hópera de dos inmigrantes" por Carlos Parada Ayala


for Arizona and everywhere else

by Rich Villar

lacking a proper entrance
into a poem
about Arizona Senate Bill 1070
prompts me instead
to tell you

about the flamboyanes blooming
in Doña Yeya's mouth
every time she speaks
about her children,
or the pasteles that do not
wrap themselves
until blood is offered to the masa
or the boys she sent to Germany
who came back headless
and quoting Bible verses
or the girls
with twenty years of bruises
at the hands of those same boys
who were told asi es la vida
without the slightest sense of irony
who shouldered Nuyorican babies
dutifully to Bayamón
dreaming about a nation
under which they cannot
legally claim citizenship
or parrandas of gold stomping
flat the Jersey snow
forgetting that coquito
never meant cold weather
or the act of forgetting
beneath every aguinaldo

because civil cafesito
and politics cannot coexist
and we do not question
our birth certificates
unless we are agents of Homeland Security
because we were born American citizens
and as such are eligible to die
at a higher rate
in exchange for houses in Jersey
that we do not own

There are Puerto Ricans
in Arizona and New York and Nebraska and
I promise you good gente
it makes no difference
if your grandmother conjures
Michoacan or Mayaguez
in her flowered breath
it makes no difference
if you bless the four winds
or pray to San Juan Bautista

to those who only see papers
and brown flesh
who cannot locate your cities
on the maps
of conquerors or conquered

you are a threat

and if this is the case
I say
Be a threat. Unquieted,
bloom where you are not permitted
to bloom. Disjointed,
walk anywhere you please, stumble
if you must, but be present.
And when they ask you
where you keep your company,
tell them here, here,
always here.

-Rich Villar, 2011

(This is the poem I read at the Floricanto in DC Saturday, February 5 2011 in front of the US Capitol)

Los Santos Gitanos*

For workers everywhere, to all farm workers, factory workers, restaurant and hotel workers, and yes our soldiers ~ especially all those who believe that their only alternative to working for drug dealers or drug cartels is signing up for military service …

by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

metal tongues
caught and
in two hands
gypsy woman
catches the wind
rushing through
valleys across this nation

hot earth gasping we inhale
sighing our deep breaths
escape in your sweet bellows
gypsy man play our songs
bleed out our tears shout
about torn hands ripped

by their crowns of thorns
stuck in the white
cash crop

we’ve picked the pieces
endless miles that never stop
pounds carried on our stooped
backs held in the downy soft
canvas bags snaking long
behind us in rows we chop chop
chop an eternity like picking
lice from children’s heads

we cry the shame all our pain
is screamed out in your songs
gypsy woman play it say
it’s okay to wail roar out
the bad winds that catch
in our throats los yantos
want to escape and they leap free
from our newly parted chests

we are reflected in the songs of these saints
who follow us like guardian angels
from camp to camp singing and
playing out our inner most
hopes our dreams offered up
sheer sound shouted long
loud enough to reach heaven
blow open the gates and there
are no harps just the caterwauls
these gypsies always played
on their live breathing squeeze boxes

©Odilia Galván Rodríguez, 2002 from Migratory Birds: New and Noted Poems

*The Gypsy Saints
~ refers to those musicians who followed the migrant stream from labor camp to labor camp across the US.

Many Walls

by Sarah Browning

On the border with Mexico
we call it a fence, as if
to lean on its top, chat
with those neighbors
to the south, trade rakes,
trade gossip. Call it a fence,
call it a gate, call it good –
still, Nogales, Arizona,
Nogales, Sonora: trench,
ground sensors, infrared
night-vision scopes.

In Palestine, the land’s already
been taken – families on one side,
orange groves on the other.
Ours is a culture of many walls
the Saudi poet writes
in her email. Translated
into Japanese, her poems
vault the high barriers
of this world. Young people
sat on the Berlin Wall
and waved the flags
of their future.

I want a flag that waves
like that, for bricks
that go home in tourist
luggage, for the Saudi poet
and her sisters, for touch.
I want the flag of touch,
the flag of men waiting
for work in the morning
chill of the 7-11 parking lot,
the flag of nannies
pushing strollers to the park
for fellowship and swings,
flag of the women
who spend each day
changing the soiled sheets
of their new country.

I want the flag of talking,
of sitting on the disintegrating
wall and gabbing, gossiping,
negotiating, waving that flag
of no walls. That flag.

© Sarah Browning
This poem first appeared in The Tidal Basin Review.


by Pam Uschuk


Bleached as the bones of migatory birds, broken
stones powder the foothills above Phoenix’s million lights.
What shadows mark the true currency
of freedom's long journey into the divine?

The arms of Saguaros rise like so many immigrants
pinned to night sky, twisted and begging
stars from the deaf hands of Gods
whose language of NO clicks like bullets shoved
into the chambers of ignorance and disdain.


We are not afraid of rattlers,
refugees whisper to crushed granite
that doesn’t believe them,
not afraid of the sidelong skitter
of the fanged tarantula looking for a mate
or the Gila Monster, its hide beaded
as a bag slung over the bare shoulder of a night queen.

We are not afraid of javelinas who materialize
to stampede, clattering through creosote bushes
on either side of our legs, they say,
knowing their skin is vulnerable
as tears smearing la migra’s indifferent fists.


How did they finally arrive in this place
from the slums of Nogales,
Guerrero’s empty stomach
or a busted maiz farm in Chiapas?
Stars shatter like the headlights of Border Patrol trucks
on impact with their starving shoulders
at the edge of infrared sights.

Desert wind scours this emptiness,
a lock-jawed wind disguised as law
emptying hatred like molten tar
into callouses pocking poor hands
offered to this country’s needs.


We do not fear the owl, heavy horned
and menacing a mesquite, owl landing
like a small boulder thrown into lacey limbs, owl
whose eyes are chiseled from yellow ice,
asking who,
who, who is next?


Blue dwarfs spin near Scorpio poised
to sting the Southern horizon
where moon lifts her saffron robes
into acetylene white, blind
as the scald of searchlights on a child’s terrified face,
blind as the metal bite of handcuffs
on a father’s wrists, blind as
a mother’s belief in a better life for her kids.


Walking the desert, we learn
our places, learn the strict edicts
of talons and venom, of wild pigs
who materialize to surround us, popping
scimitar teeth, slitting thighs
and torsos to bare ribs, learn
finally that borders
are merciless as the promise of safe haven,
and the avenging angels of governors
that snuff out the small songs of our lives.

We do not fear any of them.
Moon, oh Moon, we do not shrink
from your luminous heart
transforming desert dust to silver.
As you ascend the nexus of dark, teach us
to flex our free
which can never be legislated
even when our tongues offend the unjust
who would extinguish our common human fire.

@ Pamela Uschuk

Hip-hópera de dos inmigrantes

por Carlos Parada Ayala

I. Chirilagua Blues

Yo soy de Chirilagua,
mi mujer de Intipucá.
Trabajo día y noche,
vivo en una cruel ciudad.

A mi me deportaron,
pero me volví a colar.
Yo era indocumentado,
y ahora tengo la “green card”.

Yo me metí sin nada,
tenía solo una ilusión:
pasar de jornalero
y llegar a ser patrón.

Me traje a mis dos hijos
a una escuela refinada.
Uno de ellos me dijo,
“Padre, tú no estás en nada”.

Mi mujer no me aguanta,
dice que ya no la quiero;
pero es que en los United,
el trabajo está primero.

Un hijo fue a la guerra,
lo mataron en Iraq.
El otro está en la cárcel
de donde nunca saldrá.

¿Qué ondas con esas armas
masivas de destrucción?
Los gobernantes mienten
hasta por televisión.

Con toda esta experiencia
puedo ver la luz del día:
el sueño americano
es una horrible pesadilla.

Yo soy de Chirilagua,
mi mujer de Intipucá.
Trabajo día y noche,
vivo en una cruel ciudad.

II. Peregrino

Yo crucé la frontera porque no tenía otra opción.
En mi patria el gobierno ha perdido la razón.
No se encuentra trabajo ni hay libertad de expresión.
La gente espera y lucha pero no ve solución.
Este es el resultado de la globalización.
Por eso vine al Norte a buscar la salvación.

Trabajo día y noche para salir adelante.
“Ladrillo por ladrillo te conviertes en gigante”.
Así dicen la prensa y hasta algunos gobernantes.
Ese es como un castigo en extremo sofocante.
Pero así seguiré hasta que la migra me levante,
y volveré a colarme aunque esta gente no me aguante.

Yo soy el peregrino que construye el porvenir.
Yo no vine en barco pero a pié me vi salir.
Mi barco fue el mercado que se encarga en dividir
a ricos y a pobres que nadie va a consentir.
Así cruce fronteras a pesar de mi sufrir.
Nací indocumentado y así me voy a morir.

Pidiendo los papeles he pasado muchos años.
Me piden evidencia, archivos de este tamaño.
Quieren asegurarse que no les causaré daño.
Yo no soy terrorista, ni soy bestia de rebaño.
Y aunque pase la vida sometido a sus engaños:
Sin visa llegaron los peregrinos de antaño.

© Carlos Parada Ayala


1. "Always Here, a poem in response to SB 1070," by Rich Villar

2. "Los Santos Gitanos" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

3. "Many Walls" by Sarah Browning

4. "Stalking the Divine Under a Desert Full Moon" by Pam Uschuk

5. "Hip-hópera de dos inmigrantes" por Carlos Parada Ayala

Rich Villar

Odilia Galván RodríguezOdilia Galván Rodríguez, is a poet/activist and healer. She has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades through facilitating creative writing workshops. Odilia is a moderator and one of the founding members of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on facebook.

Sarah BrowningSarah Browning is director of Split This Rock, a national organization dedicated to integrating the poetry of provocation and witness into public life and supporting the poets who write this vital work. She is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, Poetry Co-Editor of On The Issues Magazine, author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007), and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004). The recipient of an artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, she has also received a Creative Communities Initiative grant and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. She co-hosts the Sunday Kind of Love reading series at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC, where she lives with her husband and son.

Pam UschukCalled by BLOOMSBURY REVIEW, “one of the most insightful and spirited poets today,” Pamela Uschuk’s five books of poems including her latest, CRAZY LOVE (2009, Wings Press), winner of the 2010 American Book Award.

Translated into a dozen languages, Uschuk’s work has appeared in nearly 300 publications, including POETRY, AGNI, and PLOUGHSHARES. Among her awards are the 2010 NEW MILLENIUM POETRY PRIZE, 2010 Best of the Web, and prize from the Struga Poetry Festival,National League of American PEN Women, Chester H. Jones Foundation, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL and others.

Uschuk teaches at Fort Lewis College, directs the Southwest Writers Institute and is Editor-In-Chief of CUTTHROAT, A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS. She is the Hodges Visiting Writer at Univesity of Tennessee, Knoxville during spring semester 2011. She makes her home with the poet William Pitt Root, a white wolf, a rescue dog and a cat in Bayfield, CO.

Carlos Parada AyalaCarlos Parada Ayala (San Juan Opico, El Salvador, 1956). Ganador del premio de poesía Larry Neal de la Comisión de las Artes de Washington, DC, Carlos Parada Ayala es co-editor de la antología Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC publicada por la Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española (Nueva York, julio de 2010). Esta obra, co-editada con el poeta argentino Luis Alberto Ambroggio, fue seleccionada en septiembre de 2010 por la Biblioteca del Congreso de Estados Unidos para celebrar 400 años de poesía hispana en Estados Unidos. Parada Ayala tiene una licenciatura en literatura española, latinoamericana, y brasileña de Amherst College, Massachusetts. Es miembro del grupo de poetas salvadoreños Alta hora de la noche y es uno de los fundadores de ParaEsoLaPalabra, un colectivo de escritores, artistas y activistas cuyo objetivo es promover las artes, la música y la literatura en las comunidades de habla hispana de la zona metropolitana de Washington, DC.

A recipient of Washington, DC’s, Commission on the Arts Larry Neal Poetry Award in 2005, Carlos Parada Ayala co-edited the anthology Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC published by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language in New York in July 2010. Co-edited with Argentinean poet Luis Alberto Ambroggio, the US Library of Congress selected this anthology to celebrate 400 years of Hispanic poetry in the United States in September of 2010. Parada Ayala graduated from Amherst College, Massachusetts, with a degree in Spanish, Latin American and Brazilian literature. He is a member of the Salvadoran poetry collective Late Night Hour, and is a founding member of ParaEsoLaPalabra, a collective of writers, artists and activists whose goal is to promote the arts, music and literature in the Spanish speaking communities of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

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