Monday, February 28, 2011

Writing workshop with award-winning author, Reyna Grande

six-week critique workshop
6:30 - 9:00
east whittier
begins march 9

space is limited
register today:


Award-winning author, Rigoberto González, reviews Xochiquetzal Candelaria's new poetry collection, Empire (University of Arizona Press, $15.95 paperback), for the El Paso Times. He calls this debut “[f]ierce and finely crafted” and “dazzling.” Read the entire review here.

Los Angeles Magazine’s latest edition of its online column “Reading List” compiles titles of local interest that are hitting the bookshelves the month of March. One of those titles is the much anticipated first novel from Manuel Muñoz, What You See in the Dark (Algonquin, hardcover, $24). In this fictionalized version of the making of Psycho, a famous Hollywood director and actress arrive in Bakersfield and a local love affair ends in murder. Read the entire list here.

And this just in: Robert Moreira, fiction editor of Dark Sky Magazine, interviews me about my forthcoming novel, The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press)…thank you, Robert! Note: At the end of the interview, there's a little contest to win a free copy of my novel. What could be better than free?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Visioning Beneath the Almond Trees

by tatiana de la tierra

The shamans shuttled us to a grove of almond trees for a 4-day, 4-night silent vision quest. They placed us each beneath an almond tree, far apart from each other. Here, we would commune with nature, sleep upon the earth, pray and meditate. We were instructed to put an altar at the eastern entrance of our space and to hang our tobacco prayer ties around the four corners. A tiny ceramic replica of Venus del Valdivia accompanied us, along with a cornhusk-rolled tobacco, which we had swept four times through the fire at the base camp. The fire, which would be tended to at all hours, would reflect our states of being and would alert the fire keepers if anything came up.

We were to live off of two apples, one pear, one avocado, one corn on the cob, a miniature chocolate bar, a handful of almonds and a gallon of water. We would pee on the ground and, with the little plastic shovel provided, we would dig a hole in the earth for bowel movements. Two in the group of ten women were menstruating; they were to bequeath their bloods upon Mother Earth. We were told to wear skirts for ceremony and not to read any books.

I wondered how many rules I’d break, and if I could make it through even one night.

As the sun set behind the mountain, I scrambled to get my space in order. A bright pink piece of plastic was the “floor” of my “house”, which consisted of a twin air mattress, a sleeping bag and travel pillow, a duffle bag for nightclothes and another for day clothes. I also had two mochilas, one for health and beauty aids/writing tools and the other for my altar. Though we had only minutes to prepare, I skillfully crammed quite a lot of stuff to bring with me, leaving nothing to chance.

It was around 8 pm after I’d finished setting up and changing into flannel pajamas. With just a bit of daylight left, I set out to make the hole for going to the bathroom. It was to be deep enough to last all four days. I walked all over, crunching dry leaves and twigs in my path, searching for just the right place to squat. A place with a view, yet out of sight, and without spiky bushes and vines in the vicinity. There were many options, but all my attempts were futile. Dry, hard and rocky, the earth was impenetrable with a little plastic shovel. If only I had a pick and a sledgehammer, maybe I could swing it. Instead of one deep hole, I made several shallow ones. Yet I wondered if the other women were able to dig deep into the earth, and if I was just a lazy, inefficient, shit-hole digger.

Vision Quest Realization #1: I don’t know how to dig holes and am pretty clueless about appropriate tools for this or other means.

When I got back “home” it was too dark to set up the altar, which was next on my to-do list. That’s when it hit me that there was Nothing to Do. Except lie down and look up at the sky, through the lattice of treetops. Which is what I did. A lot. For hours and hours, wide awake. And there I discovered an entirely fascinating, seductive, magical, unending world. The world of night, of mysterious creaking sounds, fireflies, twinkling stars, planets, and that thing called the moon, which was plumping up dramatically and journeying across the sky. I believe it’s called enchantment. I was under the spell of the Night.

Vision Quest Realization #2: Nothing to Do leads to Everything Else.

Disoriented at daybreak, I had no idea where I was, or what I was doing with all those leaves in the landscape of the sky, until I remembered that I was in an almond grove somewhere in Chile on a silent vision quest. I had to get up to go to the bathroom.

Getting up—exactly how was I going to do that? This was the deep and recurring philosophical question of every day and night. Would I roll off the air mattress to one side and spring up from my knees? Not a chance. Pull myself up entirely using my core stomach muscles? Yeah, right. Hold on to the tree for support while I inched up? Impossible. Roll flat on my face and hustle on upward? Good luck with that. Getting up off the ground—that was an event, every time. I thought about it a lot, attempted it a few times, and after a while, just did it Somehow.

Vision Quest Realization #3: You better do some serious Pilates, girl.

I went looking for my bathroom holes but never found them, and had to dig new ones.

It’s a good thing I had all the time in the world to set up my altar, because it took a ton of time. Compass in hand, I was committed to putting the altar exactly at the eastern corner. Yet it also had to go with the setup of the tree, the rocks, and the “house”. It took three tries until I finally settled on the right spot. Not being able to “feed” the altar with candles and sage (we were asked not to light any fires since the area was so dry), I offered rocks, flowers, water, and a played a little harmonica, rang bells, and rattled. But were my sacred musical sounds violating the code of Silence?

Vision Quest Realization #4: Silence is a state of being, not an act.

Throughout the day, I sought shelter from the sun and the heat. Hoping to make my supply of food last, I sought fruit from the trees. Restless and unable to sit on the floor for long periods of time, I wanted to stretch my back and move around. And so it was that I would be the only one to walk freely up and down and around, eating blackberries, plums and grapes, resting on the tops of huge boulders, and chilling out in a tiny patch of jungle that I found on a path off to the side.

Vision Quest Realization #5: In nature, all things are possible.

My surroundings came to life the more I walked around. At first, I saw blobs of brown earth, mustard yellow leaves, dry and blackened tree branches. Everything seemed about the same. Later on, I could distinguish between one tree and the next. I found berries where, before, there were none. I noted the red plums that I had passed by every day without realizing it. I could see almonds, rocks, plants, spiders, lizards, ants, and, at times, little bits of trash on the floor. Rocks began to speak to me. Then, walking around went from being an act of fleeing from something (the heat, etc.) to an exercise in observation and discovery.

Vision Quest Realization #6: The more I consciously open my eyes, the more I see.

The heat, my lifelong nemesis, invited me to be in my natural skin, practically in the nude. Which was perfect except for one thing: carnivorous yellowjacket wasps.

Vision Quest Realization #7: When in nature, nature rules.

In the heat, and in silence, I was delighted to discover the Wind, which speaks lightly with rustling leaves or loudly like the roaring ocean. The wind that blows through my hair and shakes everything up, that scatters pollen and seeds and knocks yellowjackets about. The wind that refreshes and enlivens.

Vision Quest Realization #8: The Wind!

Nights with my altar, smoking a cigar for my ancestors, I connect with my personal path. This is where I keep things to myself, where my past comes to me as my visions for the future unfold. It gets so cold late at night that I put on the pure wool and cashmere layers to safeguard me while I dream.

Vision Quest Realization #9: Sacred tobacco clears the path and lures the images of my dreams.

Out in the almond grove, I wrote little songs to the earth, moon, sun, birds, to silence and to ayahuasca. The cycle of each day and night, natural as eternity, became magical as hell. I became a sky gazer, a moon worshipper, a sun watcher. A child of the stars.

Vision Quest Realization #10: Me loves being alive on earth.

************ ************* *****************

Texas writer, performance artist and urban bicyclist Tammy Gomez is fundraising for the production of her bicycle theater play, SHE: BIKE/SPOKE/LOVE in Austin, Texas in 2012. A story about young people in an ethnic community who care about the future of the planet and the greening of the barrios, the play features spoken word with choreographed bicycling, a turntablist, and video projections. For more information about her project, or to make a donation, see

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicanonautica: Arizona vs. America

“Once we’ve sealed off all the borders and check IDs of everybody in Arizona, everything will be alright.”

That’s not a recent statement by an Arizona elected official. It’s a quote from my story Doctora Xilbalba’s Datura Enema. Unfortunately, lately it’s hard to tell the reality of my home state from twisted, sci-fi satire.

Gabrielle Giffords is recovering. Jared Loughner is in jail. The governor and a pack of hack politicians are on the warpath. They got elected because a lot people who immigrated to Arizona from the Midwest and Backeast have anxiety attacks when they see brown skin and hear or see Spanish. Instead of providing medical treatment for this mental health problem, they’re suing the Federal Government over SB1070, so they can import tax dollars from other states to spend on their border insecurity. And they're proposing a wad of bills that do everything from taking away the United States of America’s power to claim all those that are born within her borders as citizens, to making it hard to get a driver’s license or to register for school, putting all citizens on the lookout for illegals . . . I haven’t been able to keep up with them all.

And don’t dare call them racists. The consider the r-word to be the new n-word. It upsets them so. They really need to do something about their anxiety problems.

This is when the number of illegal aliens, and the crime rate in Arizona have been declining for years. The drug war is not spilling over the border. There have been incidents that have inspired local interests to scream for federal money, other people’s taxes -- but no invasion. Who are the “aliens” that are scaring these faint-hearted Arizonans? And is it even possible to have closed borders with a police state, or at least Big Government, to enforce it?

There’s even been talk of secession.

It’s come a long way from when I heard a teenage girl say:

“I’m not prejudiced, but speaking Spanish should be illegal, except for maybe in Mexican restaurants.”

Or the little old lady who screamed:

“We don’t want downtown smelling like tacos!”

And I’m not sure where it’s going in these times of global political turmoil. How’s a Chicano science fiction writer supposed to come up with wilder stuff than the local Arizona news? A datura enema is out -- I might have to take a drug test for my new job.

My big hope is that it’s all going to get so bizarre that people won’t be able to accept it -- they’ll get the news, but their brains will reject it as a defense mechanism. Then, all I’ll have to do is go around taking notes at the grotesque Hieronymus Bosch/Diego Rivera composition that Arizona is becoming. When I assemble it into stories, people will says, “Guao! Que imagination you got, ese! Where do you get those loco ideas?”

Yes, Chicano really is a science fiction state of being.

Ernest Hogan used to work for Borders, and was recently fingerprinted, swore that he is a citizen of the United States of America, is not a communist, and is not trying to overthrow the government by violence.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes Getting Melinda Palacio

Lost for a day in Achutupu, San Blas, Panama

Losing my sister in Panama for a day was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Mary Rose told me I should not have gotten on the plane. There were so many could’ve, would’ve, should’ve moments. My sister and I are lucky this story contains a sweet ending. When I saw my cousin at the airport with her son and no Emily, I feared the worse. My sister Emily showed up ten minutes later and saved me a few gray hairs.

Our moon guidebook specifically said, “Do not confuse the great snorkeling spot of Achutupu in El Porvenir with the island Achutupu three hours away.” How I managed to buy one airplane ticket only, leave my sister behind in Panama City, land on a small airstrip for Achutupu where the “airport” consisted of a shelter and a few wooden benches is the story I’ve told repeatedly. The story also went viral via the phone tree. By the time the next and last plane landed two hours later and it was obvious there was no Emily Palacio on board, I broke down in tears and soon everyone on Achutupu (Dog Island) knew the story of how I became stranded on an island with no running water, let alone internet service, or hotels.

Piña Coladas can make a ridiculous plan sound sane. At an internet café, were only able to buy one ticket on Aeroperlas before our time on the computer was up. I went first and then the flight was sold out. Our plan was to go to the airport early and buy another ticket on Air Panama. Had we been going to an island with hotels and a larger airport, El Porvenir, we would have both been able to get there. Later, my sister said there were flights to El Porvenir. I actually thought I was going to El Porvenir in San Blas. Instead, I found myself on an island with Kuna Yala inhabitants who didn’t speak English or Spanish, near the Columbian border.

With our usual Panamanian timing, Emily and I arrived ten minutes before my flight to Achutupu. I had to make a split decision and Emily urged me to get on the plane, saying she will meet me there in two hours or she would be fine in Panama City for a day. As I waited a butterfly fluttered over me. There were two people who spoke Spanish (the rest spoke the dialect of the Kuna Yalas who live on Achutupu). They told me the butterfly would bring me good luck in finding my sister. My sister and I made a plan to be in touch by email. When my phone read No Service, I panicked and started to cry. The women felt sorry for me. I thought I would be staying at Hotel Kuna Niskua. They explained that this hotel was in Wichub Huala three hours away and that if I went there, I might miss my 6 am flight back to Panama City in the morning. They convinced me to spend the day with them.

I made the best of being lost on a faraway island. The daughter of the lady I stayed with took me swimming at a nearby island by canoe. My host killed a chicken for me and grilled it over a fire and made rice and patacones (green plantains). It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The Kuna people treated me extremely well and, although I was worried about my sister, I had a feeling everything would work out well. I did my best to enjoy myself. I know my sister would have had an equally grand time. Emily spends her days laughing. She never worries and is an expert at going with the flow. These past two weeks in Panama, my sister taught me to enjoy the moment and treasure laughter.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

on Daniel Olivas's latest book

Some nice news: the March issue of Los Angeles Magazine offers a nice review of Daniel Olivas's forthcoming novel (out March 24) The Book of Want:

“The first novel from L.A. writer (and California deputy attorney general) Daniel A. Olivas focuses on Belén, the deceased, cigarette-puffing matriarch of a Latino family who continues to meddle in her daughters’ affairs through their dreams. Olivas, who also edited the anthology Latinos in Lotusland, grew up in Koreatown and Pico-Union, and sets much of the fanciful story near his old haunts. His brand of magical realism has a sense of humor about itself, and he succeeds in harnessing the genre’s unique ability to expose what’s beneath the surface.” — Wendy Witherspoon, Los Angeles Magazine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Colors, My World/ Mis colores, mi mundo - Board Book

San Francisco, CA—Maya loves the orange marigolds in her garden, swaying on her red swing, and the velvety blue of the night sky. As she explores her world, Maya introduces the littlest readers-to-be to a rainbow of different colors. Based on the award-winning book of the same name, this board book version of My Colors, My World / Mis colores, mi mundo celebrates the colors that fill one child’s daily life with wonder.

Children will recognize themselves in little Maya, and their own worlds in the colors she points out on each page. Squishy brown mud is cool to the touch, a pink sunset lights up the sky over Maya’s street. Little readers need only to open their eyes and look around to find the colors in their own world.

In My Colors, My World, Maya Christina Gonzalez offers a simple, reassuring story about finding color and beauty everywhere we look. Her paintings glow with vivid hues and lush detail. The text was developed in consultation with a group of early literacy specialists to match the social, cognitive, and emotional development levels of children ages 1–4 years old.

  • The original picture book format of My Colors, My World has sold over 22,000 copies since it was published in 2007.
  • Books illustrated by Gonzalez have been honored with the Pura Belpré, Tomás Rivera, and Parents’ Choice awards.
  • Nearly 25% of children younger than 5 are Latino. Despite this fact, very few board books about colors are bilingual in English and Spanish.
  • The board book edition of My Colors, My World will be the first of many board books to be published by Children’s Book Press as part of its Early Literacy Initiative, a multi-year plan to fill the ever increasing need for quality bilingual books for children ages 0 to 5.

Maya Christina Gonzalez is a widely exhibited fine artist renowned for her vivid imagery of strong women and girls. She has illustrated children’s books since the late 1990s and her artwork has also appeared on the cover of Contemporary Chicano/a Art. She lives and plays in San Francisco, California. My Colors, My World was the first book she both wrote and illustrated.


Founded in 1975, Children’s Book Press is a nonprofit publishing house with a mission to promote cooperation and understanding through multicultural and bilingual literature, offering children a sense of their culture, history, and importance.

Visit our Press Room to download a PDF of this press release.

Contact: Janet del Mundo, (866) 935-2665, ext. 12,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In memoriam review: Parrot in the Oven. On-Line Floricanto 22Feb

QEPD, Victor Martinez

Another writer falls. La Bloga learned last week that Victor Martinez, poet and novelist, not yet 60 years old, has died. Que en paz descanse.

Victor Martinez and his family have many friends. Their eulogies mention the popularity of his novel, Parrot in the Oven, among high school teachers. I am happy to learn this, as I’m sure Victor derived satisfaction that his words found their audience.

I will never get the privilege of shaking Victor’s hand—he’s my tocayo in the middle name and we could have talked about that—or telling him how much I enjoyed his novel. Carpe diem.

I read Parrot in the Oven back in July 1998. Here is my review from that day. A version of this appeared—I’m pretty sure—on the Usenet board, Soc.culture.mexican.american. Or maybe CHICLE. Quién sabe.


Martinez, Victor. Parrot in the Oven, Mi Vida. NY: Joanna Cotler Books (Harper Collins), 1996.

Michael Sedano

“Mi Vida”, subtitle of Victor Martinez’ novel, Parrot in the Oven, tells a story high school kids could enjoyably read and teachers could teach from. Martinez writes an easy reading storyteller's style that emphasizes visual elements that focus on the landscape as an easy reference point. Parrot's characters take much of their identify from this background, e.g. the project's empty lots mirror the kids' apparently bleak futures, or their identities are held in sharp contrast to their space's ambience, e.g. the storm during the mugging episode echoes the emotional storm inside the kid.

Parrot tells stories about country-bound chicanos that urban kids comprehend in their entirety despite the setting: no jobs; pregnant sister; neighborhood bullies; long-suffering mother; tyrannical father; worthless siblings. Among them all, only the main character possesses the fortitude to make good on the dreams and potential that lie tantalizingly just out of the character's reach--the school across town; his $20 gift; the anglo social scene; a hassle-free walk out his own front door.

A capable high school teacher will want to ask students about a world with only a few positive images. There is the grown sister. She gets pregnant by a lowlife. We meet only two other chicanas. They are sluts or teases. There is a father--an abusive drunk. The long-suffering mother remains a helpless victim of her own indecision. There are several other chicanos, the brother and the kid's friend and neighbors, and each of these is a loser. The young anglos we meet are universally jerks, especially the putative girl friend.

There’s always one hitch in a dramatic coming of age story subtitled “Mi Vida:” the foreknowledge that fictive events will somehow work out. Hence, the reader knows without being told that the kid never fully commits to gang membership, that the strong arm robbery near the end will turn out right for the kid. Knowing in advance, the reader misses the page-turning stress growing from unresolved passions and traumas.

Parrot in the Oven is a book high school readers will enjoy because they will want to see their own world in Parrot's exaggerated view of the world. But these readers most likely lack the critical facility that a conscientious teacher must provide to guide the reader to understand the hyperbole of the Parrot's world: surrounded by danger, enemies, and plain mean spiritedness, a boy or girl has to take strength from wherever strength comes: the news hawker, one's own empathy for strangers, the good that resides however deeply in one's flawed parents.

La Bloga Facebook FYI

There's a place for everything and everything in its place. That's now become a social media truism,
what with the pan-Arab movimiento mobilized by, an eponymous big motion picture with award nominations, hasta La Bloga is socially mediaed. Socially mediated. Social media'd. Looks as if we need yet another new verb to go with "friend," "follow," and Watson-knows what other verbs owing existence to the mero mero of social media, Facebook.

La Bloga at FB consists in a reminder service to gente already friending La Bloga, or in networks with La Bloga friends. You can Follow La Bloga via Blogger's notification system, or FB. Here at La Bloga, in the upper left corner of the screen note the white Search box field. To its right is the link "Follow." Click and elect public or otherwise following. Most elegant and simple.

Just as effective is Blogger's Comments notification system. When you leave a Comment, click the option to receive notification when someone engages your Comment. We've enjoyed numerous excellent interchanges, but as often have noted a follow-on Comment sit there unresponded. Evidently the first Commenter did not check that "notify me" option.

To Follow La Bloga at FB--to receive reminders of a writer's topic--click and continue the FB follow process.

On-Line Floricanto, Penultimate Domingo of February

Owing to recent changes in Facebook software, finding the Index of poems submitted to Poets Responding to SB 1070 has become anything but intuitive. Used to be you saw the workd "Index" and mouseclicked. Now one has to go a-hunting, a bit like seeking a decent person at an Arizona GOP confab. Ni modo; here is the link:

1. "Capitol Poetry" Nephtalí de León

2. "Invocation / Invocación" by Francisco X. Alarcón

3. “Of the Land” by Patrick Fontes

4. "Tú" by Melissa Castillo-Garsow

5. “In My Barrio (An Improvised Tune)” by Jose Hernandez

6. “Filling in the Circles” by Ricardo Villalobos

(on the cold winter steps of the U.S. Capitol,
Washington, D.C., Saturday, Feb. 05, 2011 )

by Nephtalí de León

it was bitter cold
old snow was on the ground
from many places poets came
each with a brave bold heart

Tláloc’s tempered rain
came down to bless
each poet on the list
from time to time
Ehecátl the wind
softened his winter blast
millions of relatives
joined them there
the many back home
and spirits of the past

ghosts danced
each word gave truth
to their power voice
word-arrows hit their mark
on the steps of the capitol stones

unequivocal voices rose
a native hymn to the parent sky
and there before the world
amerindian verses spoke
stop the genocide stop the raids

truthfully they but no bitter heart
spoke for the folks back home
we won´t be silent by the side
we´ll talk about your illegal claim
and keep u warm in the cold cold rain!

© Nephtalí de León


to the poets and all the people
who in person or in spirit stood
with “Poets Responding to SB 1070”
on the steps of the US Capitol
on Saturday, February 5, 2011

by Francisco X. Alarcón

we first form a circle
hands holding hands
warming each other

under a cold drizzle
wanting to turn Winter
into a Spring of Solidarity

a human Stonehenge
standing in front of
the US Capitol in DC

we then call the North
the Land of our Ancestors
so we can have the Wisdom

with the deep roots
and the heights of Grandpa
and Grandma sequoia trees

we call forth the East
the Direction of Fire
where the Sun daily rises

so we can turn into living
torches giving out light
throughout the night

we also call the South
for the might of Water
to empower us here

and now to become rivers
carving canyons all the way
to the Sea of Freedom

we face and call the West
taking in this cold Wind
exhaling this warm Breath
we‘ll fight and resist as we always have
as long as Tláloc has rain and mist
as long as the wind blows we´ll insist
we´re home, you can remain

forming a single cloud
that rises up as an offering
as a true Prayer of Unity

we come from the four
Directions of this Land
from plains, rain forests

from mountains, valleys
from deserts, towns
cities and nowhere

we are a dozen bards
rhyming in a single beat
springing from the heart

weaving with our voices
a tapestry, a posting banner
seeking Peace over War

we might be few but
our Spirit is boundless
unbroken, and free

we are Moses speaking
to Pharaoh: “let our people
already here live in peace”

“stop the deportation
of veterans and bring
the deported home”

“for a humane comprehensive
immigration reform now
& civil rights for all”

may the deaf hear our plea
may the blind see our banners
may the classic columns dance

to the tune of tropical drums
of our new emancipation:
“aquí estamos y no nos vamos”

we are also sons and daughters
of this Land of the Brave and Free—
running buffaloes coming home

© Francisco X. Alarcón
February 7, 2011

Valente and Manuel Valenzuela holding their banner in front of the US Capitol (Feb. 5, 2011). Photo by Javier Pinzón.


a los poetas y a toda la gente que
en persona o en espíritu estuvieron
con los “Poets Responding to SB 1070”
en las escalinatas del Capitolio de EE.UU.
el sábado 5 de febrero 2011

por Francisco X. Alarcón

primero formamos un círculo
con manos estrechando manos
dándonos mutuamente calor

bajo una lluvizna pertinaz fría
deseando convertir el Invierno
en una Primavera de Solidaridad

un Stonehenge humano
erguido en frente del
Capitolio de EE.UU. en DC

luego invocamos al Norte
la Tierra de los Ancestros
para tener la sabiduría

con las hondas raíces
y las alturas de los árboles
abuelos y abuelas secoyas

invocamos al Este
la Dirección del Fuego
de donde diario sale el Sol

para que podamos ser
antorchas vivas que dan luz
a través de toda la noche

llamamos también al Sur
al Poderío del Agua
para aquí y ahora poder

convertirnos en ríos
que tallan cañones hasta
llegar al Mar de la Libertad

de frente llamamos al Oese
inhalando el Viento frío
exhalando este Aliento tibio

formando una sola nube
que se eleva como ofrenda
como Plegaria de Unidad

venimos de las cuatro
Direcciones de esta Tierra
de llanos, forestas

de montañas, valles
de desiertos, pueblos
ciudades y de ningún lugar

somos una docena de poetas
que hacen rimas con un ritmo
que nos sale del corazón

tejiendo con nuestras voces
un tapiz, una manta cartel
por la Paz sobre la Guerra

seremos unos cuantos pero
nuestro Espíritu es inmenso
sin ninguna atadura y libre

somos Moisés pidiéndole
al Faraón: “a nuestro pueblo
que ya vive aquí deja en paz”

“alto a la deportación
de veteranos y regreso
de deportados a casa”

“por una reforma general
de inmigración humanitaria
y derecho civiles para todos”

que los sordos oigan nuestro clamor
que los ciegos vean nuestras mantas
que las columnas clásicas bailen

al compás del tambor tropical
de nuestra nueva emancipación:
“aquí estamos y no nos vamos”

somos tambien hijos e hijas por igual
de esta Tierra de seres valientes y libres—
búfalos corriendo a éste nuestro hogar

© Francisco X. Alarcón
7 de febrero de 2011

Of the Land

by Patrick Fontes

Wrinkled hands gliding atop small beans
Las noticias blare on a blinking screen
next to an altar Maria glows with sun rays
on her face
as a rooster crows in the moist fields
Nana sorts pintos
with hands painted like raw frijoles
darker brown with beige spots
one by one with love
cleaning beans
sorting dirt balls
at sunlight

As weathered hands divide dirt from food
Tata arises to the early morning fragrance
of dew on oleander
that line Fresno’s southern border
sinewed body with hands like leather
bleeding cracks reopen daily
as earth, pesticides, sun and sweat
vie for brutality on his aged flesh
nails thick as tortoise shells
yellowed from decades in the mud
come home packed with dirt
at sunset

As Tata’s old Chevy truck rumbles
enters the unpaved driveway sending dust
into the air like an explosion
his tires and fenders frosted with earth
like a giant chocolate birthday cake
Tio Bobby’s construction boots
sit on the back porch
covered in plastered tumors like cancer
cement and dirt bake

As Tio Bobby scrapes plaster and dirt from his body
Tata chisels stubborn earth beneath his nails
Nana begins to scrub the day’s soil
from workmen’s clothes
Tia Annie rolling tortillas in la cocina
next to a pot of simmering chile verde
tells her own story of tierra
of living as a little girl
in Camulu, Mexico
in the 1960’s
of her home, a small shack
no windows, no doors,
no screens, no plumbing
but coyotes and dirt floors


Dedicado a mi prima Edna, 19, who I never met, porque fue asesinada el 19 de Julio de 2010 en Ciudad Juarez, México.

by Melissa Castillo-Garsow

Tú eres diferente
From me.
You had to:
cross the border everyday
take out your passport and
sit in traffic, staring.
the barbed wire
to remind you of tu Mexicanidad.


Thousands of miles away
I never knew your border
Mine was different:
piñatas and enchiladas
Mariachis and flan
La virgen above my bed
bright pink cheeks when my friends said
“I can’t understand your dad.”


We used to wear matching bracelets
“best friends forever.”
We promised we would never become
“just primos” –
separados por un pais that makes
“nosotras” sound wrong.


is a word we never use;
don't know how to use.
You lived in Tijuana
I lived in translation.
Vosotros is a word we don’t want to use.


She has a border too –
In a state where I tell her to carry ID everwhere she goes.
Revise: Mexican Colombian-American.
Chimichangas, cactus, cumbia.
Half sister. Three passports.
answering only en Inglés.


can’t tell the difference.

© Melissa Castillo-Garsow

In My Barrio (An Improvised Tune)

by José Hernández Díaz

In my Barrio
An abuelita
Sits on a
Breezy porch
An elaborate sweater
For a weekend
Baby shower

In my Barrio
A mural of
The Virgen de Guadalupe
Adorns a
Liquor store’s
Outside wall
Where even
Gang graffiti
Doesn’t dare

In my Barrio
A Chevy lowrider
Cruises through
The aves
Equipped with
Shiny rims
And a blasting
Stereo system
That rattles
Every window
It slowly passes

In my Barrio
Primos play
A game of
Futbol in the park
Pausing only
To buy an
Ice cream
From the local

In my Barrio
A mother pushes
A loaded
Shopping cart
As her
Hums an
Improvised tune
And tightly holds
Onto a balloon string

In my Barrio
You do not
Need to know
A single word
Of English
To survive
But it helps
To roll your
R's with style.

Filling in the Circles
By Ricardo Villalobos

First grade
Please fill out this form:
What’s that?


Aren’t those Crayolas?
Papi, can I mix them
to get brown?

What race are they
talking about?
Running or skipping?
Where’s the finish line?

Who’s that?
Not even sure if
I’m “us”

That funny language you speak
Do you mean
how I talk en mi casa?
Warmer, rounder,
with more emotion

“You’re one of those!”
Confused head
clenched chest
shallow breath
glued tongue

Illegal alien
Alien child
My knee cuts and bleeds,
and I pick the scab like you.
My blood flows like yours
Or does it?

Born here
Born there
Political lines
Different rules
determine who gets what
and where I live
But where’s the finish line?

"Capitol Poetry" Nephtalí de León
"Invocation / Invocación" by Francisco X. Alarcón
“Of the Land” by Patrick Fontes
"Tú" by Melissa Castillo-Garsow
“In My Barrio (An Improvised Tune)” by Jose Hernandez
“Filling in the Circles” by Ricardo Villalobos

Patrick FontesCurrently I am a PhD candidate in history at Stanford University. My research involves border issues, Mexican religion, the Virgin Mary, Mexican immigration into the Southwest, and the criminalization of Chicano culture.

I grew up in Fresno, in a working class Chicano home. My father was a construction worker, my mom, a waitress. My father grew up in makeshift tent communities, picking crops up and down California in the 1950s and 1960s.

During the Mexican revolution my great grandfather, Jesus Luna, crossed the border from Chihuahua into El Paso, then on to Fresno. In 1920 Jesus built a Mexican style adobe house on the outskirts of the city, it is still our family’s home and the center of our Mexican identity today. Nine decades of memories adorn the plastered walls inside. In one corner, a photo of Bobby Kennedy hangs next to an image of La Virgen de Zapopan; in another, an imposing altar to Guadalupe. My poetry is living with the sounds, smells, dreams and souls of family who have gone before me.

Melissa Castillo-GarsowMelissa Castillo-Garsow is a Mexican-American writer, journalist, and scholar. She completed her Bachelor of Arts at New York University in Journalism and Latin American Studies in 2007 and is finishing a Master’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at Fordham University where she is a graduate assistant for the American Studies Program. Melissa was awarded the Sonoran Prize for Creative Writing at Arizona State University and was a finalist for Crab Orchard Review’s 2009 Charles Johnson Student Fiction Award. She has had short stories and poems published in Shaking Like a Mountain, the anthology A Daughter’s Story, The Acentos Review, The Minetta Review, The 2River View and has a forthcoming novel with Augustus Publishing. She also has forthcoming articles in The Bilingual Review, Women's Studies, and Words.Beats.Life: The Global Journal of Hip Hop Culture. For more information visit

José Hernández This spring José Hernández Díaz will graduate from UC Berkeley with a BA in English Literature. He plans on applying to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics’ MFA Program at Naropa, along with other creative writing schools. Jose’s favorite poets are those of the Chicano Renaissance and the poets of the Beat Generation. This summer José will take his annual trip to Gunajuato, Mexico,--his parents’ hometown.

Ricardo VillalobosRicardo Villalobos is a psychotherapist in Washington, DC who works with mentally ill Spanish-speaking clients. His poetry has been published in Poems Against War: A Journal of Poetry and Action and blueink. Villalobos is a Chicano from Chicago and spent many years as a civil rights activist organizing against the death penalty and police brutality, developing leadership for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and as an organizational development consultant for many nonprofit organizations.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Víctor Martínez, A Remembrance

By Rigoberto González

This is all I can offer through the sadness of our community’s terrible loss:

Parrot in the Oven. I have taught the book to my college students a few times, and I’m still floored that it has become a required text at many high schools across the country. In the opening chapters, Manny’s father, drunk and out of control, attempts to shoot his family with a rifle. Life for the fourteen-year-old doesn’t get any easier as each chapter delves into the troubles that lurk at every turn, from gang violence to teenage pregnancy. There is a shocking scene at the end that I’ll let readers discover on their own, but this image continues to haunt me this many years later.

There were two things about Parrot in the Oven that I particularly appreciated: one was the subtitle on the cover--“Mi Vida”--splayed out in loud Spanish; the second was the portrayal--finally--of a dysfunctional Mexican family, certainly a reality I could relate to. I was a college student myself when the book was released and received, a year later, the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 1996. Not long after, when Gary Soto was helping me put together my chapbook for his Chicano Chapbook Series, he kept recommending the book and I tired of reminding him that I had already read it. But this told me plenty about Gary’s support for and pride in Víctor.

I always wondered why Víctor never published another book. I posed this question to Gary once when I ran into him in Arizona because he was my only connection to the reclusive writer. Gary’s tone had changed by then, expressing disappointment over that fact. “But at least he wrote one damn good book,” he added.

A few years ago, I found myself in San Francisco again. One of the two people I made sure to visit was my Salvadoreño friend, fellow children’s book author, Jorge Argueta, who had translated my children’s book Soledad Sigh-Sighs into Spanish. Jorge is an eccentric, lively man who is even shorter than me and who drives through the streets of San Francisco like a maniac. On this particular joyride he decided to show me the San Francisco that few people saw--this included the free clinic for Native Peoples (where Jorge got his dental work done), and the home of the mysterious Víctor Martínez.

We parked across the street from Víctor’s apartment and Jorge called him down on his cell, telling him that I had flown all the way from New York City just to meet him. We elbowed each other and laughed when we noticed that it was almost noon and Víctor looked like he had just woken up.

“What were you doing?” Jorge asked.

“Writing,” Víctor responded. We didn’t believe him and he laughed with us some more.

We spent the next few hours driving around. Víctor took us to see the famous Grotto, a writers room where he was in charge of distributing the mail. His room looked more like a bedroom with an old couch that had been used more often than the small squeaky chair behind the desk.

“You must do plenty of writing here too,” Jorge quipped as we left.

Víctor took our teasing in stride. He seemed like a person who was an easy target as evidenced by the woman at the coffee shop who poked fun of his cowlick while he ordered a Diet Coke. But for the next hour or so we simply exchanged stories about the writers we all knew, filling ourselves in on who had published what and where they lived now.

“And what about your next book?” Jorge suddenly asked, winking at me from across the table.

Unfazed, Víctor simply responded, “It’s coming. Believe me, it’s almost here.”

As we dropped Víctor off at his apartment, Jorge suggested we call up another loco writer who lived just up the street, Guillermo Gómez Peña, but he wasn’t at home to my dismay because I had never met him either. Instead we said our goodbyes, but not before Víctor ran up to his place to give me a book of poetry he had written--so Parrot in the Oven was not his only book!

That afternoon, Jorge and I sat down to lunch at a local dive in the Mission and compared notes, both of us still suspicious about Víctor’s productivity. Jorge echoed Gary’s sentiment: “But at least he wrote one damn good book!”

I thought about what I could offer in terms of a positive comment since it had really been a treat to meet him finally, so I said, “And another thing: Víctor’s much better looking in person. Who the fuck took that horrible picture on the book jacket?”

Our bowls of pozole arrived and I blew into the stew. The steam vanished into the untenanted air.

February 19, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Manuel A. Acevedo: New Icons and Queer Besos

Olga García Echeverría

The first time I ever saw Manuel Acevedo’s work was last year at ChimMaya Gallery in East Los Angeles. Evocative and beautiful, Acevedo's large portrait of a naked man holding a bouquet of roses stood out and pulled me in like a magnet. I was drawn to the emotions the piece evoked and the combination of colors, rich blue and red, popping out against what I originally thought was black and white charcoal. Once up close, I realized that the drawing was made of endless small ink strokes, or as Manuel calls them “scratches and scribbles.” While staring at the thin, fleeting lines in Acevedo's piece, I couldn't help but think of Carl Jung and his theory on the primal need we all have to unleash our subconscious through wild doodling. How many ink scratches must have gone into the 36 X 50 portrait at ChimMaya? Thousands, perhaps even millions. Not even Acevedo knows, but the piece took him over two years to complete.

Born and raised in Pico Rivera, Manuel A. Acevedo started doodling in junior high school at the age of 13. Back then, he mainly drew celebrities, people in magazines, and cartoon characters. At the age of 17, however, after graduating from high school, Acevedo started to explore the gay community in West Hollywood. “For the first time I started to meet a lot of gay people who were out. This had a big influence on me and it was also during this time that I more openly explored my own sexuality.”

Coming out at such a young age wasn’t easy, especially in a Latino, catcholic family. Like many queer youth, Manuel was initially alienated and disowned by his parents because of his sexual orientation. Forced to leave home, he wandered from friend’s house to friend’s house, until he eventually moved to San Diego. It wasn’t until a few years later that he returned to Los Angeles, where his family came to terms with accepting him and he was able to reunite with them.

It was at the Academy of Arts at the University of San Francisco that Acevedo began to draw the male body and in particular gay portraits. “I wanted more of a personal connection to my art work, something that was a part of me. I wanted to draw people who were like me and who weren’t ashamed to show their sexuality. It’s something that can and should be shown in art. Growing up I always had to repress that.”

Since completing the Academy of Arts, Acevedo has been steadily developing his portfolio. His ink-scratching masterpieces are distinctive, bringing into the limelight images of hard-looking homeboys locked in passionate kisses, gay eroticism, and the male body as sexual-political-visual poetry. Acevedo, however, sees his work differently. “My work, I don’t necessarily see it as sexual or sensual. I see it as proud portraiture. Iconography—creating icons of portraits. It’s kind of like when you go to church and see the Virgin Mary. She’s an icon. My work isn’t religious though. It’s representative of my friends and the people in my life. But I guess there’s a type of worshipping, an appreciation of them.”

Responses to Acevedo’s work have varied. "Many times I’m asked things like--Why gay men? Why sex? Why can’t it be still life or landscapes or fantasy? Why can’t it be anything else than what I’m doing—which is gay men. These comments come from a variety of people, sometimes family, sometimes strangers. Even within the gay community, I get different comments about my work. Some praise it, others point out that being gay isn’t just about sex, ‘the sexual revolution is over’ they tell me.” Despite the occassional criticism that may come his way, Acevedo has a great amount of support, especially within the queer community. His greatest supporter during the past 5 years has been his boyfriend Sal, who appears repeatedly in his drawings. "He's my greatest support and muse."

When asked what his parents now say about his work, Manuel smiled and let out a deep breath, “Oh man! At first they were very skeptical about what I was doing and about who I am. Yet, they’re actually the ones who encouraged me to go to art school. When I came back from art school, they saw the shift in my work and they were like What happened?!" Despite this, Acevedo shares that when his parents visited ChimMaya, they were very proud to see his work displayed. They were also surprised to see the works of other gay latino artists. "It's like they realized I'm not the only one doing this."

About his process, Manuel shared that he never starts a project and just finishes it. "I start one this week and another the next. It’s like a wheel. Depending on what day it is, I may work on one piece or three pieces. As long as I’m working and the wheel is moving, I’m flourishing.” Currently, he has about twenty pieces on the walls. He's working on all of them at the same time. Kind of. “I just keep rotating, depending on the day.”

But it isn't easy for Acevedo to always know instinctly when a piece is finally done. He jokes about his boyfriend Sal often asking him the same question over and over again: Are you done yet? Are you done? The truth is that when Acevedo draws, he never really wants to be done with the piece nor does he want to let it go. "It’s a labor of love, especially the large pieces that have taken such a long time. It’s awful because once I get a piece framed, I know I can’t open it up and work on it some more. But yeah, I have to eventually let it go and I do.”

Well, lucky for us that he does let his creations go, for Acevedo's work clearly fills a void in the Chicano-Latino art world. Like Acevedo says, "We need more gay latino artists out there. I was so closeted when I was young. As an artist, I had to do something that brought together the different parts of me—my love for art, my sexual orientation, and my community—and this is what I've created.”

If you'd like to check out more of Manuel Acevedo's work, you can visit his website.

Manuel Acevedo will also be displaying some of his work at the 16th Annual West Hollywood Exotic Art Fair. March 25th-27th, 2011. Check out the following link for more information:

Bueno, that's all for today's Sunday blog folks. Until next time, peace and queer besos!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Announcements: Latino poetry & Latina poetry

New poetry anthology

An upcoming anthology of Latino poety includes Bloguera Lisa Alvarado and others, making this a fine collection. A review or reviews soon to come on La Bloga.

Me No Habla With Acento:
Contemporary Latino Poetry

Edited by Emanuel Xavier

From the publisher:

This anthology of contemporary Latino poetry celebrates the rich mosaic of a major arts movement within the United States featuring poets and spoken word artists from across the country. Pages are filled with English, Spanglish, and even Spanish, but the unifying theme throughout this uncompromising book is the great oral tradition and diversity of a community that has significantly contributed to American culture beyond bookstores and cafes.

The inspiring and powerful voices captured in this collection include: Edwin Torres, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Maria Rodriguez-Morales, Erik "Advocate of Wordz" Maldonado, Bonafide Rojas, Luzma Umpierre, Paul S. Flores, Roberto "Simply Rob" Vassilarakis, Caridad de la Luz "La Bruja", Nancy Mercado, Urayoan Noel, Chris "Chilo" Cajigas, Latasha N. Nevada Diggs, Roberto F. Santiago, Frank Perez, Sheila Maldonado, John "Chance" Acevedo, Machete Movement, Lisa Alvarado, A. B. Lugo, Jason "Majestik Originality" Hernandez, Myrna Nieves, Tito Luna, and Carlos Andres Gomez. Also includes B&W artwork by Juan Betancurth and a foreword by Gonzalo Casals, Director of Education and Public Programs for El Museo del Barrio. Published in association with El Museo del Barrio.

For interview requests or promotional photography of the editor or any of the featured contributors, please email emanuelATemanuelxavierDOTcom.

For more info, click here.
_ _ _ _ __ _

Letras Latinas Blog

Check out the Weblog of the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies, at the University of Notre Dame. Today there's a posted article called "Victor Martinez, Chicano Poet/Author Passed Today," written by amigo Francisco X. Alarcón.

And here's what they say about the website:

Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies, seeks to enhance the visibility, appreciation and study of Latino literature both on and off the campus of the University of Notre Dame. We are particularly interested in projects that identify and support emerging Latino/a writers. Letras Latinas actively seeks collaboration with individuals and organizations in order to more effectively carry out its mission. Letras Latinas is under the direction of Francisco Aragón.

To go to the website, click here.

Es todo, hoy

Friday, February 18, 2011

News and New Books

First up, a press release from Las Comadres about the list of books for the 2011 National Latino Book Club.

This is a very impressive list and I am happy to say that King of the Chicanos is part of the the July reading schedule.

Then, two new books markedly different from one another but that, in their own way, signify important milestones in the ever-expanding Chicana/Chicano and Latina/Latino literary canon.


Contact: Tina Jordan, AAP

AAP, Las Comadres Announce 2011 Titles for National Latino Book Club

New York, NY, February 8, 2011Las Comadres, the national Latina organization, in cooperation with the Association of American Publishers (AAP), has announced the 2011 titles for the Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Officially launched in June 2008, the book club meets monthly nationwide to discuss English-language works written by Latino authors. The book club also has monthly teleconferences, scheduled conversations with authors of the selected works and other special guests. Sixteen comadre book club facilitators participated in the selection of the titles. The 2011 reading list below includes fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature.

  • January – Stay With Me, A Novel by Sandra Rodriguez Barron (HarperCollins Publishers). Special teleconference for The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Ilan Stavans, General Editor (Norton)
  • February – The Lady Matador’s Hotel, A Novel by Cristina García (Scribner)
  • March – The Next Big Story: My Journey Through the Land of Possibilities by Soledad O’Brien (Celebra)
  • April – The Frog Was Singing by Rita Rosa Ruesga (Scholastic Children’s), with additional discussion on The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante (Penguin Children’s)
  • May – The Island of Eternal Loves/La Isla de Los Amores Infinitos by Daína Chayiano (Random House/Vintage Español)
  • June – Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), with additional discussion on I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña (Delacorte Press) and The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • July – The Farthest Home is an Empire of Fire: A Tejano Elegy by John Phillip Santos (Penguin USA/Viking), with additional discussion on King of the Chicanos by Manuel Ramos (Wings Press), and Strawberry Fields: A Book of Short Stories by Chuy Ramírez (First Texas Publishers)
  • August – Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago (Random House)
  • September – The Realm of Hungry Spirits by Lorraine López (Grand Central) with additional discussion on The Traitor’s Emblem by Juan Gómez-Jurado (Atria Books)
  • October – If I Bring You Roses by Marisel Vera (Grand Central)
  • November – Tamales, Comadres, and the Meaning of Civilization by Carmen Tafolla and Ellen Riojas Clark (Wings Press) with additional discussion on Puerto Rican Goldilocks: A Lyrical Journey Through El Barrio by Marisel Anderson-Herrera (Author House)
  • December – The Couturiere, A Novel by María Dueñas (Atria Books)

Las Comadres President and CEO, Nora de Hoyos Comstock, continues to receive enthusiastic feedback from participants who credit the book club with introducing them to the work of Latino authors whose books they might not otherwise have read. “We are very happy with the response and are trying to find ways to continue to support as many authors as possible and to start book clubs in more cities,” Comstock said.

Best-selling author Esmeralda Santiago, the official spokesperson for the book club, expressed her pleasure at being a part of this experience. “The book club is providing an opportunity for Latinos nationwide as well as for book lovers across the country to share the pleasures of books and reading.” Currently, book clubs are held in 15 cities across Arizona, California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and Texas, with plans to expand in 2011 into many of the one hundred U.S. cities with Las Comadres members. The book club is open to the public. Readers can visit for details on locations for participating in the Las Comadres book club in their neighborhoods.

About Las Comadres
Las Comadres is a nationwide grassroots-based group of Latinas that was launched informally in April 2000 in Austin, Texas. The national networks were created in 2003 and have now grown to over 100 U.S. cities. Its 15,000 strong membership keeps Latinas connected via email networks, teleconferences, and monthly potluck events in individual cities. More information on Las Comadres can be found at For more information on about how to submit titles for the Las Comadres National Latino Book Club, please contact Tina Jordan at or (212) 255-0275.

About AAP
AAP is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. The association’s members include most of the major commercial publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies. AAP members publish hardcover and paperback books in every field, educational materials for the elementary, secondary, post secondary, and professional markets, scholarly journals, computer software, and electronic products and services. The protection of intellectual property rights in all media, the defense of the freedom to read and the freedom to publish at home and abroad, and the promotion of reading and literacy are among the association’s highest priorities.


These two new titles from Arte Público Press are exciting news. The first because a collection of Lalo Delgado's works is long overdue, but it looks like he finally is getting the publication treatment he deserved while he was still alive. The second because Latino crime fiction for young adults almost does not exist. The fact that a collection of this type of writing will soon be published, with a varied and excellent array of writers, is nothing but great. Text taken from the Spring, 2011, Arte Público marketing brochure.

Here Lies Lalo: Th
e Collected Poems of Abelardo Delgado
Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado, edited by Janica Linn Watts
Arte Público Press, April, 2011

Known as the “poet laureate de Aztlán” and called “the grandfather of Chicano literature” in his 2004 obituary in The New York Times, Delgado used his words to fight for justice and equal opportunity for people of Mexican descent living in the United States. A twelve-year-old when he emigrated from northern Mexico to El Paso, Texas, Delgado’s development as a poet and writer coincided with the Chicano Civil Rights movement, and so his poems both reflect the suffering of the oppressed and are a call to action. “We want to let america know that she / belongs to us as much as we belong in turn to her / by now we have learned to talk / and want to be in good speaking terms / with all that is america.”

Available for the first time to mainstream audiences, Delgado’s poems included in this landmark volume were written between 1969 and 2001, and are in Spanish, English, and a combination of both languages. While many of his poems protest mistreatment and discrimination, especially as experienced by farm workers, many others focus on love of family and for the land and traditions of his people.

Delgado wrote and self-published 14 books of poetry—none of which are available today—and five of them are included in this long-awaited volume. These poems by a pioneering Chicano poet and revolutionary are a must-read for anyone interested in the Chicano Civil Rights movement and the origins of Chicano literature.

Abelardo Lalo Delgado (1930-2004) was a poet, activist and educator. He is the author of 14 books of poetry, and his poems have been anthologized in numerous textbooks and anthologies, including Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature (University of New Mexico Press, 2008). He graduated from the University of Texas-El Paso in 1962, and helped create the Chicano Studies departments at universities throughout the western U.S. including the University of Denver. He taught Chicano Studies at Metropolitan State University in Denver for 17 years.

You Don't Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens
Edited by Sarah Cortez
Arte Público, April, 2011

The teens featured in these stories deal with situations typical to all young adults, including attraction to the opposite sex—or to the same sex, in one story—and first sexual encounters, problems with family and friends, academic and personal aspirations.

But they also deal with every kind of thrilling situation imaginable, from missing girls to kidnappings and dismembered bodies. A young girl finds herself living with her “family,” though she has no memory of them or who they claim she is. A geek at a prestigious public high school finds himself working with his very attractive arch-rival to solve the mystery of a severed, bloody arm that appears inexplicably in his locker. And Mike’s life sucks when his parents split up, but it gets worse when his best friend is abducted by a thug shot by Mike’s dad, a police officer. There’s something for everyone here, with aliens, ghosts and even an Aztec god making appearances in these stories.

Set in schools and communities from New York City to Venice Beach, California, the protagonists reflect the breadth and diversity of the Latino authors included in this innovative collection. Published authors such as Mario Acevedo, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Diana López, Manuel Ramos and Sergio Troncoso appear alongside less well-known authors who deserve more recognition. With an introduction by young adult literature expert Dr. James Blasingame of Arizona State University, this collection is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the last page is turned.

Sarah Cortez is a poet, educator, and law enforcement officer. She is the author of a poetry collection, How to Undress a Cop (Arte Público Press, 2000), which won the PEN Texas Literary Award in Poetry, and the editor of Windows into My World: Latino Youth Write Their Lives (Piñata Books, 2007), winner of a 2008 Skipping Stones Honor Award; Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Público Press, 2009) and Indian Country Noir (Akashic Books, 2010). She lives in Houston, Texas.


My story, Back Up, is in You Don't Have a Clue. I don't have a complete list of all the authors, so if you are also in this anthology let us know who you are and the name of your story.

Melinda Palacio should be back next Friday with tales of her travels and adventures. Check her out.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Untranslatable Snow

Noche y nieve (by José Emilio Pacheco)

Me asomé a la ventana y en lugar de jardín hallé la noche
enteramente constelada de nieve

La nieve hace tangible el silencio y es el desplome de la
luz y se apaga

La nieve no quiere decir nada: Es sólo una pregunta que
deja caer millones de signos de interrogación sobre el

Night and Snow

I looked out the window and instead of a garden I found the night

completely constellated by snow

Snow makes silence tangible, it's the collapse of light

and it extinguishes itself

Snow doesn't mean anything: It's nothing but a question

that drops millions of questions marks on the