Tuesday, July 10, 2012

International Latino Writers Conference. Banned Books Update. San Anto Teatro News. On-Line Floricanto Ten Days in July

International Latino Writers Conference Status Report

Michael Sedano

The first city nominated to host the International Latino Writers Conference is Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in conjunction with UDG's Feria Del Libro. European, US and other American publishers, attend in droves. What an ideal way to multitask for writers and industry types, do the regular book fair stuff, then meet and confer with emerging writers.

President-elect Peña-Nieto's arts and cultural affairs staff has yet to get organized effectively. They need to put some urgency into the effort. Although Mexico has six years to get their cultural program together, la republica needs to act fast and be first in line.

Across America, writers struggle to improve their work, be it memoir, telenovela, screenplay, mystery novel, poetry. The United States has a highly developed arts infrastructure; writers attend workshops, MFA programs, participate in peer groups, engage all manner of support and guidance. In Mexico, Honduras, Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, dondequiera, writers don't have these structures. Too few get the assistance an artist requires to develop their art.

Imagine the rich variety of literary arts that could emerge from América if writing support like that offered in the EUA could be cloned to support soliary, struggling writers of all America! The ILWC provides the structure for seasoned writers to work with emerging authors. Those writers, imbued with confidence after the workshops and meeting with a publisher or agent, will be well prepared to find their way into the marketplace. With such a conference launching a movimiento for writers conferences across América, American literature will thrive to new heights as readers across both continents discover one another.

The nominations for host city remain open. With presidential campaigns in the offing in major nations, the victors in those elections will want to appoint staff early to seize the host city opportunity for their national pride.

Banned Books Update - Avoidable Pedo

Banning books is such an ugly power that the Tucson Unified School District denies it has banned any books. Officials of the schools protest the books are not banned, merely confiscated. The District does not deny it censors teachers, enjoining them from discussing any ideas once included in the Mexican American Studies Program, which is banned and proudly so by the school board’s majority.

The entire pedo would never have gone this far if the Superintendents of the state and TUSD had read, understood, and accepted--albeit grudgingly—what the consultants told them, despite the Supes' personal fixed beliefs.

When the fan started to spray unpleasantness, Huppenthal and cronies in the school system eschewed Arizona scholars in favor of creating jobs for Texans. The politicians' goal was finding a friendly educational consultant to assess the fitness of TUSD’s acclaimed Mexican American Studies curriculum in light of Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A).

Arizona has top notch universities and scholars, but they might also be too fair. One look at this year’s Texas Republican Party Platform illustrates what would give even the most obtuse administrator a gut feeling that a Texas company's favorable report is as sure a bet as Justice Roberts supporting SB 1070. The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform proudly proclaims:

“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
 (p. 12, 2012 Texas Republican Party platform) 

The nays of Texas are upon you, Tucson. Superintendent Huppenthal got a rude awakening. Here are excerpts from the Cambium Learning Inc. report that broke Huppenthal’s heart and unmasked him when he opted to ignore the report and exercise his elected authority.

La Bloga urges readers, in Arizona and Tucson especially, to read the full report and use it to ask questions and inform voting. Don’t be a Huppenthal or any of those TUSD wingnuts who don’t bother to read the materials, knowing in their fixed beliefs that nothing can change their mind, especially Texas scholars.

The report, titled, Curriculum Audit – Mexican American Studies Department – Tucson Unified School District, comes from Cambium Learning, Inc. National Academic Educational Partners. You can read the PDF by downloading it from this link

Cambium’s scholars introduce their assigned task with a précis of the Arizona hate law:

The purpose of the Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies Department Curriculum Audit is to determine: (1) how or if the Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies Department programs are designed to improve student achievement; (2) if statistically valid measures indicated student achievement occurred; and (3) whether the Mexican American Studies Department’s curriculum is in compliance with A.R.S 15-112(A).

Arizona Revised Statute 15-112(A) prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program any courses or classes that includes any of the following:
1.   Promote the overthrow of the United States Government.
2.   Promote resentment towards a race or class of people.
3.   Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
4.   Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals.

Cambium’s report is crammed with tables and notes and explanations. Written in a slightly technical language that shouldn’t challenge a person with Huppenthal’s assumed reading comprehension (he is an MBA from ASU), maybe the Superintendent did not believe his eyes when he turned to page 68 and read:

Outcome Measure 3 demonstrated that during the curriculum audit period, no observable evidence was present to suggest that Arizona Revised Statues 15-112(A) is in violation of the law within any observed classroom in the Tucson Unified School District.       

That sentence reads a bit confusingly but I understand, “no observable evidence”. The report declares the auditors observed no violation of the white power law in any classroom. And it's not as if the scholars missed something. The scholarly methodology reviewed texts, classroom observation, included teacher discussions, curriculum review, independent research.

Sadly, Huppenthal’s and the district's standard is based on fixed beliefs rather than professional responsibility to put children first. On pages 105-106, the Cambium Learning Inc. report characterizes how the Mexican American / ethnic studies curriculum affects the district’s most important constituency:

Elementary school students who participate overwhelmingly enjoy the instruction provided by their MASD teachers. Students spoke of the Tezcatlipocas, and how that instruction teaches them to love themselves and respect other people. They also have special memories of learning music, particularly through a guest speaker who brought drums into their classroom and taught them to play. Students not involved in the project said that they like learning about people from different cultures and would like to have more of that type of instruction in their classroom.
. . . .
None of the high school students spoke negatively of their MASD courses or teachers. Many spoke of the increased motivation to do well in school since being enrolled in the program.

Students said that their MASD teachers taught the topics that their peers were learning in non- MASD classes, in addition to adding cultural depth, involvement in community, and a sense of pride in accomplishments to the curriculum.

Every group of high school students interviewed spoke of their interest and involvement in community that they attribute to the MASD program. Several students spoke of En Lak’Ech, saying they have learned to respect people of all cultures by seeing them as an extension of themselves.

Huppenthal must have interpreted that last idea as promoting resentment. In the face of the report, nonetheless Huppenthal declared the program in violation.

In the United States of America, it is Constitutional to be both stupid and wrong. And if you’re keeping a campaign promise to end ethnic studies, as Huppenthal campaigned—it is Constitutional to be voted into office by equally wrong and stupid people.

I’m reminded of both Yates and Villanueva:

The best lack all conviction while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

The way they look at us…
Is it something we did
Or something we are?

San Antonio Finds Teatro Angel in Gregg Barrios

Rick Sanchez (from left) and Dominique Tijerina appear in the Overtime Theater's premiere of "I-DJ," Gregg Barrios. Foto: Matthew Byron Cassi / SA 

On July 3, San Antonio Current published a lovely spread by B.V. Olguin, on La Bloga friend Gregg Barrios and his fabulous involvement in local teatro. Barrios, playwright of national sensation Rancho Pancho, has a new production of his nine years-old, I-DJ. 

Barrios' donation of time, love, and substantial money to San Anto teatro results in having a large  auditorium in an entertainment complex named in his honor: Gregg Barrios Theatre at the OvertimeI-DJ premieres the author's eponymous space.

I-DJ, Olguin writes, offers enough unexpurgated recollections about holdups, hang-ups, and hook ups that someone's sure to get arrested before the night's over. I don't know who's running this teatro but I advise them to send a resumé to Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group, apply for a job here because the Mark Taper Forum's programming is dying on the vine.

Love for teatro and one's art is an easy phrase to toss about. Reading about Gregg Barrios' writing career and involvement in this latest staging of his imaginative and to some, outlandishly hot production  I-DJ, illustrates the labor that results from that tossed-about phrase. Olguin quotes Barrios saying, No one at the Overtime gets paid, we all do it for the love of theater. We all have day jobs but are drawn to a community of kindred spirits that have reinvigorated the local theater scene by featuring homegrown talent and works. I don't get royalties for my play, the actors get applause, but we all feel so much better after a hard-earned performance.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto the Tenth of July, Twelve

This week, Francisco Alarcón and the moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 advance the work of five poets.
Raúl Sánchez, Abel Martinez, Karina Oliva, Kris Barney, Velia I Calderon

"Show Me Your Papers" by Raúl Sánchez
"Anthem of the Childen of the Sun" by Abel Martinez
"A People All People" by Karina Oliva
"a song without sound and the tears that rain down - whiteman's independence day and just another day to us" by Kris Barney
"SB 1070" by Velia I Calderon

by Raúl Sánchez 

I will show you my yellow papers
which ones first?
old yellow papers from 1944

my father’s papers Atchinson Railway man
bracero hard work con pride
he worked here during the war

my abuelo’s yellow pay stubs
from the Yuma farm scorching heat
tio Manuel’s pay stub too small

Imperial valley lettuce land
what papers you want to see
first and last

my ID driver license legal
document to move around
my wedding certificate

testimony to my wife
my kids birth certificates
born on this land

and all my bows
social security card
my pay check stub

taxes taxes taxes
take home pay too low
who wants to know

you want to see my papers
my notebook my poems
telling my story

on these papers
the law denies my existence
because some papers

don’t tell it all
why do you want to see my papers
my dignity and pride

is not on papers for papers will burn
only letters and numbers
my love for this land says it all

© Raúl Sánchez

© Abel Martinez, 2012

We will never sell
The brown that paints us.
Xochipilli will bless
The call and
Anchor our roots
 To the blossom of earth.
Our voices sit high in our chests
Operating our collectives
With gritos of
Joy and pain,
Filling the desert land
Above the mother
With the fruit of love and anger
And always with pride.

You will defend
Your profit hospitals
And libraries of lies.
Your music’s soulless thumps
Will scatter to the wind.
Your schools pregnant
With a God chained
To the whims of your destiny
Will fall in wordless shame.
Your line, your wire of pain
Is a fence propped up
With blood and bone.

But still you will fill your coffers
And greed machines,
Dry the factories
Kill the farms,
Bleach the cities
And clink the glasses
Of profit.

You will rip our backs
Steal our labor cheap
And still a song will leech
From our pours, our souls
Will rise above the line
Above the sea,
The cries for justice
Will be a song, sad
And hopeful.
The mountains will hear
The voices,
The anthem of the Children
Of The Sun.

A People, All People 
by Karina Oliva  

We are made of water so if someone asks, what race are you?
say blue
like the clearest sky and the purest river
shaped by crystals of family and our relations

So if someone calls you by a name
that’s supposed to proclaim you as a simple fact of skin
remind them we are made of air
and that our breath carries the same molecules that others breathe
from trees to sea through centuries and borders

Because yes, we are made of fire
so if a law-abiding citizen wants to gage the density of your melatonin
to restrict your humanity and legitimacy to seek your well-being
explain our color is flame
carried for millennia to share the light of knowledge and compassion
like any other person to try and shape our happiness

When some people want to divide by creating laws to ban some other people
for their tonalities of brown
exclaim our own humble beginnings
that we are made from the seed of life, a harvest, and are the earth of matter

Remove from these haters
the cloak that shames their guilt for their use and take
that blinds their ability to see all of us
of equal importance to breathe and be freely in any land
fully entitled to our mutual existence

Because we are not made of steel, nails,
not made of barb wire, guns, bullets, pellets, handcuffs--our race is not grey or uniformed
We are not oil and plastic made of death itself
We are not paper
and documents that could burn and turn as easily to mud with water

While white is not even a race because “white” is actually an instituted idea
sold to capitalize on the labor of people
because people from every region of the world
birth the ones pale like the moon and the ones bronzed of the sun
and the ones that hold both in the night
and here we return to the ones who reflect the shades of the earth
because this is what humanity entails, a reflection shared among us
and the truth is that white is actually the reflection of all color like black is the containment of all color
and this yin and yang, this ollin, is a lesson for balance
and not for the superiority of one over the other
that in their mirroring we may someday forgive the historical abuses executed on people of color
and that those who privileged from these abuses change the institutions of dominance
for higher consciousness
for then we will be people of earth

because we are made of blood which makes us all red
in our blood sharing in water, earth, air, fire
with every other being of the sky, earth, water
in the juice and therefore blood of fruits and vegetables
and as green as the bleeding of all plants
for we are made of dreams on the petals of flowers
not races to erase and destroy
for we are all people
and our true name is beauty
here it resonates
calling us All.

a song without sound and the tears that rain down -
whiteman's independence day and just another day to us
by Kris Barney 

rain water
to’ toadzaan*
niltsa dine’e’*
mountain wind
eagle plumes and
redtailed hawk tail feathers
lightning to the east
lightning above power-lines
that run electricity to Nevada and California
lightning on a black night
over mountains
lightning flashing 
flickering on molten
naked skin brown skin and
heavy breath and the release of
rainclouds and morning fog
two bodies silhouetted
against a night 
without stars and moonlight
where you touched my skin and
i  never wanted to let go 
the taste lingering for days
like lightning struck earth
as i walked
as i sang
as i talked to the clouds
as i laid niltiz/turquoise down for all life 
even as i walked 
with the tears of each step                        
with the weight of all indigenous peoples 
hopes and struggles
on my back
the weight of
lifetimes past and
our horrific history hammering petroglyphs onto                      
days and nights that led up to 
these moments
the arrows i make in solitude
away from my home
the songs i delve into
the dreams that carry me between worlds
the fire and the water that i use to 
bend the wood of my bow
the hawk fletchings
i cut and put to the shafts of my arrows
the paint 
the colours
that go into each design
the war hat i fashioned on a night full of
storm and snowdrifts hitting the house
the wind that blows with no remorse
for human hands
human comforts and
i dress myself with my prayers
with arrowheads
as i stand before white attorneys and 
Navajo Nation Council Delegates        who
play with our future  
our water    our earth           
the glorious roads paved with blood and gold
blood money exchanged and
paid for in the lifeblood of their citizens               
their constituents blood
their peoples blood
how does one sell his grandmother?  
how does one sell his mother?       
how does one sell her father?          
how do these ones sell and trade 
their     our children?
where is the soul of humanity       
when casino reels tug and pull at the aortas of their hearts?      
how is someone like me suppose to feel
when i see the pathetic being(s) we have become?    
i was taught not to look at snakes                       
to never trust their words     their promises 
i was taught to feel and think     
what is the truth to seek out the spirit and its heart
to deal with the arrows from
those who do not live by the nature of truth
i was shown how to dodge bullets or porcupine quills or
bone shards of the dead          or cactus needles
or  whatever is shot my way     
whatever bad medicine is set in my path
i was taught to help others to overcome
these fears
these obstacles
i was raised by the rain and the lightning to
not respect cowards or their fears   &
in this early morning 
i awake to the smell of rain
to the wind nudging me out of bed
the overcast covering
the face of the sun and
i walk  my feet still sore from          
walking and running       
Tuba City to Window Rock
my body still aching from restless sleep 
my hands try to steady  balance    
my way
moment by moment
breath by breath
hands that have loved and 
have taken life
hands that have planted
hands that hold the weight of all that i am
compelled to address    
in this moment of my life
this curse
this blessing
this song filled in a clay drum and the water resonates                      
old songs drum
from my heart up my throat and
the flux of emotions that
well  swell and
churn and i am
one step from the edge
from turning loose and cutting
through the webs
i am just a step away
from roads that have no beautiful end  and
this feeling of great sadness
shame from each Indigenous Nation
that has given up or
has sold out
each community who refuses to fight back
to defend themselves        
against corporations and euroamerican greed
this day i stand ashamed
this day in this morning
among the rustle of corn leaves
at my knees     in this holy place
i feel ashamed and i point blame to our history 
i point blame to all our         
men and women who did not Unify
that they still will not Unify
that we are allowing ourselves
to be raped
robbed and molested by those
who love the warmth and taste of
virgin skin and virgin flesh
whether it be
a mountain
an aquifer
a river
a sacred place
a graveyard
an ocean
a body
a child
an elder
an adult
fresh flesh to keep the furnaces burning
just a little more coal
just a little more uranium ore
to keep the power plants burning
just a little more blood to feed
biblical demons who come to life
with insidious eyes and 
wide smiles and the camera lights that 
flicker with the sounds of gunshots and
my mind runs wild like the imprisoned Coyote
at the Navajo Nation Zoo and how i feel like
there is no way out
no honorable way for someone like me
to find peace and beauty in this life
so i plant
so i sing
so i walk
so i will look you into the soul
so i will defend what i love
so i will rain down my anger 
like i had a thousand or two warriors
behind or with me
so too will i continue
to walk with chaos and beauty and
sadness and grief and the
small moments of happiness that
rain upon me this morning as i turn
to face the wind 
as i say no prayer
as i stand in the holy glow
amber rays of sun
breaking through the overcast and
i am not at peace
but i am in harmony.....
*water woman
*rain people

SB 1070
by Velia I Calderon

Before you drew your blood soaked lines,
My family sowed its roots

Before your hateful callous crimes
Of killing off our fruits

We've dug and tilled this land by hand
We've muddied up our boots

We will surely take a stand
You will not keep us mute!

Our crops have grown to many
With their foundation strong

Our numbers poised and plenty
To withstand the long,

Cold and dreary mournings
Of bold and brazen knights

Our spirits raptured, roaring
And ready for the fight!

Consider it a warning
Consider it our plight

A generation growing
Beautiful and bright!

© Velia I Calderon


"Show Me Your Papers" by Raúl Sánchez
"Anthem of the Childen of the Sun" by Abel Martinez 
"A People All People" by Karina Oliva 
"a song without sound and the tears that rain down - whiteman's independence day and just another day to us" by Kris Barney
"SB 1070" by Velia I Calderon

Raúl Sánchez, conducts workshops on The Day of the Dead. His most recent work is the translation of John Burgess’ Punk Poems in his book Graffito. His work appeared on-line in The Sylvan Echo, Flurry, Gazoobitales, Pirene’s Fountain and several times in La Bloga. He has been a board member of the Washington Poets Association and is a moderator for the Poets Responding to SB 1070 Facebook page.His inaugural collection "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels" is filled with poems of identity—cultural, familial and personal, a civil protest, personal celebration, completely impassioned. http://beyondaztlan.com

Abel Martinez remembers the days in art filled cafés in La Mission in the early 80’s, playing congas for Juan Felipe Herrera’s group “Troka”. Listening to the amazing works of Francisco Alarcon, Alejandro Murgia, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Victor Martinez, and a long list of other equally enigmatic poets allowed a seed to be planted in Abel’s mind. The smoky rooms, filled with drink and conversations struck like lightning inside Abel’s veins, and to this day, continues to strike the nerve that guides his writings. Humbly, Abel continues to access these memories, and in some small way, contribute to the collective voices of the artists that helped him find his voice.

Karina Oliva is a Salvadoran immigrant raised in Los Angeles. She holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, and teaches at Cal State L.A. Most recently, her poems are included in ¡Ban This! An Anthology of Xican@ Literature.

Kristopher Barney is a traditional farmer from the community of Rough Rock in the Navajo Nation. He writes, plants his own food, travels throughout North, South, East and West, planting seeds and working to protect his homeland.

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