Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AWP Panels and Readings With Macondo Members

The Macondo Foundation works with dedicated and compassionate writers who view their work and talents as part of a larger task of community-building and non-violent social change. We are poets, novelists, journalists, performance artists, and creative writers of all genres whose work is socially-engaged. What unites us is a commitment to serve our under-served communities through our writing.


Thursday- March 1, 2012

12:00 Noon- 1:15 P.M. Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Taking Up Residence: Writers in Unexpected Places
(Wendy Call, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Henry Reese, Ellen Placey Wadey)

Five writers will share their experiences as writers in residence at K-12 schools, visual arts centers, libraries, county hospitals, battered women’s shelters, national parks, and urban community centers nationwide. Each will reflect on what it means to be a writer in a community of nonprofessional writers—and how that community changes both what is written and the writer. Panelists will discuss the practicalities of finding, creating, and making the most of writer-in-residence opportunities.

1:30 P.M.-2:45 P.M.
Wabash Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Modernist Nonfiction: Virginia Woolf and Her Contemporaries
(Tracy Seeley, Joy Castro, Marcia Aldrich, Jocelyn Bartkevicius)

Did Virginia Woolf create the lyric essay? What else did modernists write that we might think of as creative nonfiction? And what can they teach us about this varied and plastic genre? Join this panel of nonfiction writers as we explore Woolf’s essays, Louise Bogan’s fragmented memoir, Alice Meynell’s personal essays, Margery Latimer’s manifesto/ars poetica, and Meridel LeSueur’s labor movement reportage.

3:00 P.M.-4:15 P.M.
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Indigenous Editing/Publishing: Journals, Anthologies, and Presses
(Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Janet McAdams, Brandy Nālani McDougall)

Indigenous publishing plays a vital role in sovereignty and decolonization movements. Queer and womanist editors of Indigenous Pacific, Native North American, and Indigenous Latin American descent will discuss the production and maintenance of Native journals, anthologies, and presses. Collaboratively producing Native texts, the panel will discuss how they negotiate economic, logistical, and institutional challenges, while keeping center issues of culture, politics, aesthetics, and diversity.

"Ancestors: A Queer Writers of Color Reading"
sponsored by the Lambda Literary Foundation

Center on Halsted
3rd Floor
Irving Harris Family Foundation Reception Hall
3656 N. Halsted St. (at Waveland Ave.)
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 472-6469

7pm Doors Open
7:30pm Reading

Organized by Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán
& Tony Valenzuela

OluSeyi OluToyin Adebanjo, Nancy Agabian, Ryka Aoki, Tamiko Beyer, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Ching-In Chen, Matthew R. K. Haynes-Kekahuna, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, David Keali'i, Emil Keliane, Janet McAdams, Deborah A. Miranda, Claudia Narváez-Meza, vaimoana litia makakaufaki niumeitolu, Emma Pérez, Jai Arun Ravine, Charles Rice-González, James Thomas Stevens, D. Antwan Stewart, Max Wolf Valerio, & Jennifer Lisa Vest.

"Ancestors: A Queer Writers of Color Reading" is a literary reading featuring same-gender-loving, multiple-gender-loving, and transgender poets, non/fiction writers, filmmakers, and performance artists of Indigenous Pacific, Native North American, Arab/Middle Eastern, Asian, Latina/o, and African descent.

This event is sponsored by the Lambda Literary Foundation, which nurtures, celebrates, and preserves lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility, and encourage development of emerging writers.

Friday- March 2, 2012

3:00 P.M.-4:15 P.M.
Joliet, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Bridging the Gaps of Race, Gender, and Culture in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
(Kekla Magoon, René Colato Laínez, Debby Dahl Edwardson, Bridget Birdsall)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Caucasians will be a minority in the U.S. by the year 2020. The new multiracial face of America is bridging cultural divides on many levels and embracing a brave new world where geeks, freaks, and queers can likewise no longer be hidden in literary closets. As reading rates decline, children’s writers are uniquely poised to promote a literature that better acknowledges who we are becoming. This panel will help writers give voice to the other in a meaningful way.

3:00 P.M.-4:15 P.M.
Grand Ballroom, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
A Reading and Conversation with Luis J. Rodriguez and Dagoberto Gilb, Sponsored by Macondo Writers’ Workshop
(John Phillip Santos, Luis J. Rodriguez, Dagoberto Gilb)

The event will be a reading of selected and new works by two of the most important American writers reflecting on the experiences and story tradition of the Latino community. Both Luis J. Rodriguez and Dagoberto Glib are also involved in innovative initiatives in creative writing education and community efforts committed to positive social change. Question and answer with discussion will follow.

Saturday- March 3, 2012

9:00 A.M.-10:15 A.M.
Crystal Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Building and Surviving an Innovative Writing Program
(K. Lorraine Graham, John Pluecker, Anna Joy Springer, Jen Hofer, Mark Wallace)

Participating in an interdisciplinary writing program committed to innovative pedagogies is exhilarating and confusing, especially if it’s a new program and you are a professor building the curriculum or a student in the inaugural class. A recent graduate, a current student, two tenured faculty members, and an adjunct professor discuss their experiences with innovative writing programs: the three-year old MFA at UCSD, the established MFA at Cal Arts, and the growing undergraduate BA at CSU San Marcos.

9:00 A.M.-10:15 A.M.
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
Queer Poets of Color on Craft: The Art of Decolonization
(Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Samiya Bashir, Deborah A. Miranda, Ching-In Chen, Tamiko Beyer)

There is power in craft. Poets use craft to create possibility, ways of seeing, hearing, and moving the world, re-envisioning it. Queer poets of color use multiple techniques to shape language on the page and stage, the way words flicker across glowing screens and beat against the drums of our ears. From the generation and arrangement of text, to shifts in narrativity and delivery, to the use of multiple registers and media, this panel explores the decolonial power of skillful wor(l)d-weaving.

3:00 P.M.-4:15 P.M.

Lake Huron, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Migrant Voices in the Latino Heartland: The Latino Writers Collective’s Migrant Youth Writers Workshop
(Miguel M. Morales, Jose Faus, Gabriela N. Lemmons, Jason Sierra, Linda Rodriguez)

Latino Writers Collective members, including former migrant youth, youth advocates, and students, lead a learning circle on their groundbreaking Migrant Youth Writers workshop, now in its fourth year. Learn how the Latino Writers Collective collaborates with local agencies, colleges and universities in the Midwest. Discover how the workshop helps youth identify and nurture their long silenced voices as migrant youth in the Heartland. Recognize simple ways you can help.

3:00 P.M.-4:15 P.M.

Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
An MFA, huh? What Are You Gonna Do with That?
(Beth Snyder, Sara Hess, Gerald Richards, Bridget Boland Foley, Shin Yu Pai)

What career options exist for a newly minted MFA—besides the obvious paths of more graduate school, adjunct limbo, or literary superstardom? Twelve years later, five alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s MFA in Writing talk about alternative career paths in education, nonprofit, TV, and other spheres—and how their MFA helped them get there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Indigenous quotient. Veterans. Librotraficantes. NLWC. On-Line Floricanto.

Review: Juan Gomez-Quiñones. Indigenous Quotient/Stalking Words: American Indian Heritage as Future. San Antonio: Aztlán Libre Press, 2012.

Michael Sedano
In 1980 I attended the black caucus meeting at an academic conference in Manhattan. As I walked into the packed room, a friend advised me that he would handle it when a hothead would rise to challenge my presence in the room. What a crock of caca then, and now. 

That long-ago moment illustrates a fatal flaw plaguing cultural revolutions. Some adherents cling to a “we them” dichotomy that results in isolating homophilous groups from each other. In the particular instance, in that group of professors, “black caucus” implied other-than-old-guard academics, but the objecting member wanted “only black gente allowed, screw you others.”

Being who I am--or was then--I wanted to invite the fellow to kick my ass out, if he could. But I had not come for a fistfight but to drink in the topic of the day, thus readily accepted my friend’s taking lead when the brother stood dramatically and pointed across the room to me.

The assembly by consensus put down the objection and affirmed solidarity with the association’s sole Chicano. Then followed a worthwhile discussion of Molefi Asante’s newly published book, Afrocentricity.

Given stupendous excitement among the caucus with their predictions of the book’s impact on conventional thought, when my friend handed me a copy signed by his friend Molefi, I noted the modest page count. A good theory of cultural identity doesn’t need a lot of words when the author’s chosen the right ones.

All that comes to mind holding a copy of Juan Gomez-Quiñones’ Indigenous quotient / stalking words, from San Antonio’s dynamic Aztlán Libre Press. Two small essays bolstered by a montón of references and bibliography offer solidly academic work. Although conformance to the milieu of the academy obligates the writer to dense, unadorned prose, readers who can penetrate it will say “It’s about time.”

Indigenous quotient / stalking words can become as exciting a book for raza as Afrocentricty was when it arrived. Indigenous quotient / stalking words is a professional historian’s tool. However, since the subject of Identity belongs to all readers, anyone who manages to find the book will enjoy it. Seek it out. Gomez-Quiñones’ exposition will foster endless hours of discussion, which is the whole point of the book. Publisher Aztlán Libre Press makes the title available on its website

Gomez-Quiñones’ two essays call for “full integration of Native American histories and cultures into academic curriculums”.  We matter, the pissed-off professor argues. His anger seethes between lines, oozes from paragraphs, soaks pages in self-restraint at the old guard. The book is meant to engage them. The Profession declares que lástima, that history and those people are all gone now. Anyone can claim to be indio and hold ceremonies and stuff. Bottom line, indigenous American cultures don’t really matter, end of discussion.

The first essay, “Indigenous quotient”, seeks to revive that discussion, rejecting its a priori view reflected in a painting titled If Only described in an email by Daniel Cano. I remember when I was at Fort Bragg after I'd returned from Vietnam. I was walking down the hall, and I stopped to see a large painting of the embattled George Custer, surrounded by thousands of marauding Indians. In the background, high above the fray, the painter had inserted a line of airplanes and hundreds of parachutes dropping into the battle.

 “Indigeneity,” JGQ observes, “is a response to the genocide that is at the core of colonialism”.

When  colonialists aren't killing us, the scholar-advocate illustrates, colonialism’s concept of indios as aborigines results in keeping indian people from autonomous self-accountability on grounds natives are deficient.

This kind of restrictive historiography cannot conceal the persistence of indigenous history, nor obscure continuous archaeological discoveries enriching awareness of indigenous history, nor ignore popular sentiment reaffirming indigenous identity. We matter because we exist, it's time we insist on that.

The second essay, “Stalking Words,” is JGQ’s version of Afrocentricity, which Gomez-Quiñones terms “Indigenitude.” The abstraction welcomes the old guard’s trivializing condemnation of indigenismo that anyone can claim to be indigenous. That’s the point of the new paradigm, “a politics of truth” that changes the production of truth from a colonialized mind’s to a self-affirming indigenous stance: “Among some Indigenous, ethnicity, group membership, and cultural practices are all taken into account, encoded in a true heart whose sign is integrity. Among many Indigenous themselves, the defining truth is a historical and multifaceted ethos that can be identified, described, and valued (auto-valorizado), whose outlines can be imagined as an ethical paradigm.” (78)

Self-declaration is the first but not the entire process here. Gomez-Quiñones offers observations on ways to achieve effective historiography through academic tools and a paradigm shift.

The academic approach requires research into indio and simpatico sources liberated from colonialist bias.   Extensive endnotes provide a starting point for the scholar’s task of tracking back references, identifying valid resources, forming one's own conclusion.

Analysis freed from European colonialism-derived paradigms will more effectively construct indigenous historiography and impel it into its future. Specifically, JGQ talks about three strategies: keep geography in one’s foreground—Europeans stole our land forever nunca olvidaremos; engage, focus analysis and ideology on policies and practices, not people who oppose and disparage; be alert to those infected by  aboriginism and others who define the Problem as merely ethnicity. 

The author lays out a highly structured case befitting its academic genus. The table of contents helpfully outlines the argument and exposition.

Poets have been ahead of the curve on these elements of Professor Gomez-Quiñones’ prescription. Poets feature lost and ruined homeland themes in poems about the barrio, Aztlán as separate eden, the land itself and a host of farmworker poems. “La tierra is la raza’s kissing cousin” Abelardo writes. Geography and land occupy central roles in raza poetic consciousness.

Don’t scare the xenophobes is something poets ignore with relish. “love thy master of the blue-eyed hatred” Ricardo Sánchez screams in one of the movimiento's numerous anglo-as-devil poems. More often, poets turn within, looking at soft-focus illustrations of jefitas, pachuco ironies, mythic indios. “We don’t have to kill Sam or sacrifice his blood / Sam is suicidal” Alurista counsels in his edenic “Dawn Eye Cosmos.”

Clearly, the first two strategies have long occupied the cultural memory of chicanismo. Indigenism plays a crucial role in affirming identity in murals as in movimiento poetry. Talk about a rhetoric ideally suited to its audience. Poets and painters assert a separate Eden in Aztlán through allusions to razared, gente de bronce. A mythic pre-Columbian America is compelling because it is true.
Estrada Courts, Boyle Heights L.A., ~1980
In short, a crucial element in JGQ's rationale--shifted paradigms--has long existed. Gente comprehend an ethos of indigeneity.

Gomez-Quiñones’ third consejo can be a trap. For all who thirst for more and better history, some intently fashion alternative fantasy histories, others mindlessly dismissive of any but their way.  These are that fellow in the black caucus meeting, true believers whose nativism drives them into a Manichean frenzy separating “we” from “them.” 

On the precept that the limits of one’s language are the limits of one’s world, the “battle of the name” illustrates one trap. Hispanic. Don’t call me Hispanic. Latino. I’m female. Latina. Be inclusive, nonsexist. Latino Latina. Awkward. I’m a Chicano, ese. Chicana Chicano. Latinos are Europeans, I don’t see any Italians around here. I’m Cubano. You’re a gusano. I’m from El Salvador. So, you’re a Mexican from El Salvador. I’m Mexican American. I’m Mexican-American. I’m an American.

With identity all over the place, finding a central heart continues to elude community cohesion. A theory like that presented here can provide a fulcrum. Fortunately, identification needs permission from only one other person to form bonds of mutuality. Mejor, indigenous gente don’t need permission from academia to develop and promulgate proper history into their classrooms. Except in Arizona. The only requirement for mutuality is communication.

The first step in any movimiento or paradigm shift is getting gente talking about ideas like these so each person can find at least one other like-minded voice. Indigenous Quotient/Stalking Words: American Indian Heritage as Future will get readers talking. Juan Gomez-Quiñones wants readers to do the math: divide European colonialism into indigenous history and the quotient is You.

Estrada Courts, 2012
A structural feature I appreciate of Gomez-Quiñones' book is his inclusion of a self-critique segment. In that spirit, I would expect someone to demand more evidence that poets already speak with indigeneity. This evidence, by La Bloga alumna Olga Garcia, blinds you with brilliance, an ostensive definition of Indigenitude:

A Poor People’s Poem 
This poem 
has got 
a bad attitude 
un genio from hell 

and you 
you’re afraid 
of my poem 

afraid of this 
deep dark red poem 
that bleeds 
woman words 

you’re afraid 
cuz even though 
this poem 
about survival 
it isn’t about 
endangered whales 
or dying forests 

this is a poor woman’s poem 
a Mexicana 
Este de Los Angeles 

this poem’s 
got roaches crawling 
all over it 
and tiny pink mice 
nibbling at the edges 
and corners of 
simple-everyday words 

Listen this poem rides the bus 
works 12 hours a day 
7 days a week 
with no medical benefits 
and no paid vacations 

this poem 
has crossed rivers 
and mountains 
jumped over 
and crawled under 
barb-wired fences 

this poem 
has slaved 
in hot-sun pesticide fields 
your lettuce 
the vegetables 
and fruits 
that make your meals 
nice and balanced 

And this poem 
has worked all kinds of shifts 
in inner-city factories 
the clothes you wear 
the jeans 
the shirts 
the jackets 
that keep you 
in style 

this is a poor woman’s poem 
a brown people’s poem 
so you see 
right now 
we don’t want to talk about 
the ozone layer 

the people in this poem 
we wanna talk about where we live 
about affordable housing 
about how the hot water doesn’t work 
and the windows don’t close 
about the Never-no-heat-in-the-winter 

we wanna talk about drugs 
about the alcohol cocaine crack heroin 
impregnating our communities 
making modern colonized brown black slaves of us 

we wanna talk about food stamps 
about jobs and fair wages 
about 12 hour shifts 
and working conditions 

we wanna talk about the police 
about choke-hold 
and billy clubs 
about busted heads 
and handcuffed minds 
about sharp-teeth dogs 
and shackled freedom 
about racist cops 
who hate 

we wanna talk about dying 
about the river of blood 
flowing where we live 
about the heads of 2 year old babies 
scattered on concrete floors 
about the mountain of bodies here 
outlined in white chalk 

So you see 
right now 
we don’t wanna hear you preach 
about recycling 
cuz poor people like us 
we’ve always recycled 
we invented the damn word 
and out of necessity 
recycled our papers, cans, bottles 
recycled our socially constructed poverty 
recycled even our dreams 

So you see 
we do wanna talk 
but talk about lies 
about Am er i KKK a 
about treaties broken 
and lands and people stolen 

we wanna talk about 
S L A V E R Y 
U.S. colonization 
Third World penetration 

And you 
you’re afraid 
of my poem 

afraid of the East side poem 
holding hands 
with El Salvador 
holding hands 
South Africa 
South Central L.A. 

I know 
you’re afraid 
of this 
brown black 
poor people’s poem 

©1998 Olga Angelina García 
copied from here

Librotraficante News
Where Are They Now?

Back on January 31, On-Line Floricanto enjoyed the pleasure of sharing a collective poem written by 
Pueblo American Government, formerly Social Justice Education Program.

Subsequently to that On-Line Floricanto, the Librotraficante Caravan began forming to journey through Aztlán from Houston to Tucson smuggling books banned in Arizona and leaving libraries of banned books in their wake.

The caravan leaves Monday, March 12, arrives in Tucson Friday, March 16 enjoying portable floricanto stops in Mesilla and Alburquerque and points along the way. The lineup of writers showing up for these Book Bashes y Mas and Literary Showcases updates regularly at the website.

La Bloga's Michael Sedano will join the trip with Latinopia's Jesus Treviño. A key goal along the route is to interview poets like these students in Tucson, to share their responses to the book ban, and to hear them read their stuff.

Visit the Librotraficante website for the schedule in your city, to donate books, money, warm wishes. Tony Mares contributes the following:

Ode to los librotraficantes

You carry books as you roll along
in your caravan through Texas, New Mexico,
and on to Arizona.  You are
the most dangerous caravan in America.

Once your ancestors crossed the Río Grande,
their bodies wet from the swirling water,
the sweat running down their backs.
Now you carry wet books in your caravan,
books dripping with wisdom.  You are

the most dangerous caravan in America.
You scatter books in underground libraries
along the highways of the Southwest.  You are
lighting the fires of imagination in young minds
of all cultures along your route.  You are
the most dangerous caravan in America.

Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Las Cruces,
‘Burque, and on to Tucson where the San Patricios
await you!  Irishmen who fought for Mexicanos
in the Mexican American War now hover
like a ghost army over your caravan
to remind all people to learn, to share,
to love books like members of your own family.

Beware, Inquisitors of Arizona.  Beware.
You are not welcome anywhere.
A caravan of librotraficantes is rolling
intellectual thunder your way.  It is
the most dangerous caravan in America
on a mission to bring illegal wet books
to your students so they may see the world
through eyes clear, intelligent, and free.

Inquisitors of Arizona, you lock up books.
Inquisitors of Arizona, you invade the classroom.
Inquisitors of Arizona, you bully young students.
Inquisitors of Arizona, you missed the news:
Inquisitors went out of style centuries ago.

Books have been, are, always will be
illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented
ideas to light up the visions that make us human.

Inquisitors of Arizona and elsewhere:
First you ban cultures.  Then you ban books.
Then you stoke the ovens to burn the books.
Then you stoke the ovens to burn the people
who love those books.  But not this time.

Librotraficantes you are

the most dangerous caravan in America
the most dangerous caravan in America
the most dangerous caravan in America

Tony Mares

VietnamVeterans Organize Welcome Home  Annual Observation in Whittier Califas

Via email:

Sunday March 25, 2012 from 11 AM to 4:30 PM at California High School in Whittier, CA.
Please be there and pass the word.  We are on, we are determined and we will have the best Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event yet!!

The persistence of history is exceedingly well understood by Veterans of US military service. Some stuff just never goes away, the good and the bad and the unbelievable. Keeping some memories alive, putting others to rest, remains an ongoing process for Veterans. They aren't looking for thankyous. Maybe a little sense: when that draft noticed arrived everything about a person changed and would never be the same again.

In Southern California a group of Veterans, many of them combat veterans, dedicate themselves to recognizing what happened a long time ago and for a moment rekindling the camaraderie born from wearing the uniform, answering a call to duty. Less than 5% of the nation, and fewer every year, know how these women and men feel. It's fitting the rescue money for this year's event comes from several Veterans service organizations.

National Latino Writers Conference in 10th Edition

Applications to participate in this May’s tenth annual National Latino Writers Conference, organized by the History and Literary Arts division of Alburquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center are available via the center’s website,

Conference faculty conduct workshops on each writer’s métier. This year’s May 16-19 includes Christina García, Tim Z. Hernández, and Jimmy Santiago Baca workshopping writing novels, poetry, short fiction, anthologies.  Rigoberto Gonzáles workshops writing book reviews and criticism. Kathryn Córdova works with Biography/News Writers. Vincent Gutierrez covers screenwriting. Demetria Martínez engages Writing for Social Justice. Iñigo Moré features nonfiction. YA fiction is novelist Alisa Valdés-Rodriguez' workshop. Among Publishers, Gary Keller will answer queries, Nicolás Kanellos keynotes the conference.

La Bloga-Tuesday’s intermittent feature, “Reading Your Stuff Aloud” stems from Michael Sedano’s role on several past NLWC faculty rosters as well as this May.

Individual meetings with agents and publishers highlight the experience for many a writer, especially when the feedback is “send me the first chapter.”

Writers with well-advanced projects will jump on this year’s innovation, "advanced consultations". A meeting with selected faculty to go through a manuscript—no more than 45 pages. The opportunity comes with a hundred dollar add-on to NLWC’s already affordable $300 registration.

On-Line Floricanto Leap Week 2012

The next Leap Week On-Line Floricanto is scheduled for Tuesday, February 29, 2028. Be there or be square. Levi's and capris O.K.

Today, Francisco Alarcón and the moderators of Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070, recommend work by José Hernández Díaz, Rossy Lima-Padilla, Danielle Jimenez, Juana Hernández, Sean Penna.

"I Am Still Joaquin" by José Hernández Díaz
"Las dos lenguas" por Rossy Lima-Padilla
"Ordering Charro Beans at the Food Court" by Danielle Jimenez
"Spiritual Ritual" by Juana Hernández
"Las Muertas de Juárez" by Sean Penna

I Am Still Joaquin
By José Hernández Díaz

We inherit pain
And pass it down.
-Homero Aridjis.

I am still Joaquin,
I wake
And see it
In the street;

I am still Joaquin,
I fall
And feel it
In my dreams.

The ground was always mine,
My roots
Reside in rain;

The sky will soon be mine,
Success rises
From pain.

The wall of infamy
Is now a
Reason to divide/

They set up unjust laws
And then they
Tell us to

Once again,
They have overlooked
The cleansing

Once again,
I stand,
An Aztec man
Against a mountain.

I am still Joaquin,
Mi raza
Is my core;

I am still Joaquin,
I know
I will endure.

Las dos lenguas
Por Rossy Lima-Padilla

Mi idioma es una pared pintada
de obsesiones blancas y negras,
 es una pared alzada en un desierto,
aquí también hace mucho frío por las noches,
por el día se detienen a descansar
algunos tristes pájaros.
Mi idioma es una pared
alzada sin fin,
cuya sombra cae sobre mi sombra.
Es una pared de huesos,
con coyunturas profundas
 por donde pueden verse las extensiones
de mi realidad, buscando verte desarmado.
Pero no ves tú ni la pared,
ni los huesos, ni el desierto,
ajenos a ti son los pájaros tristes,
mismos que son origen de mi idioma.
Para ti no existe nada más que tu lengua,
esa criatura fría
que se adueña  de todo territorio.
Una lengua agria que no conoce otro comienzo
que su propia descendencia.
Para ti sólo existe tu lengua viperina,
lengua de serpiente que ha buscado
acorralarme desde el día que llegó a mi tierra
y comenzó a construir sobre mí
ésta pared que me ahoga.
Tu lengua es la serpiente
que busca por las calles,
en las leyes y en las escuelas,
encontrar mi lengua
para cercenarla,
para arrancar de tajo
el único pedazo de mí
que germina con el dulce canto
de mi madre.
Busca serpentina, mi lengua errante,
mi lengua de necesidades básicas,
mi lengua sumisa que simplemente busca
una humilde tregua por las tardes,
esas tardes que tu lengua siente
que también son suyas.
Buscas mi lengua
para arrancarla, para colocarla
junto a todas las otras lenguas que has arrancado.
Mis hermanos ya no entienden mis canciones,
no reconocen mi mano
que sujetó su mano por siglos enteros,
y no puedo gritarles
porque mostraría mi lengua desnuda
y vulnerable, y seguirías su olor
de flores y tierra fresca.
Mi idioma es una pared
con la que has impuesto tu idioma,
cada piedra la colocaste con saña.
Nuestras lenguas luchan
en una superficie no visible.
Mi lengua es la vida
que siembra cuidadosa por túneles secretos.
Tu lengua me persigue carnívora,
mi lengua sobrevive.
Mi lengua es la vida
arrullando a hijos y hermanos.
Mi lengua es la vida
agua limpia que busca redimir tu opresión.
Mi lengua es la vida
hay un mar de paz
al otro lado de esta pared.
No tengas miedo.
Mi lengua es la vida.

Ordering Charro Beans at the Food Court
By Danielle Jimenez

The food court diffuses with different kinds
of shoppers, and for thirty minutes I am one
of the rushed. The girl with Juana on her nametag
passes me my order over the silver counter: a bowl
of pinto beans, cilantro and bacon seasoning
the broth, brown and creamy. She wafts

the steam towards my nose, even though
five patrons wait in line, and urges me
to smell the freshness, but I smell my mother
and grandmother, the one from Reynosa,
the one who made charro beans in a jarro,
the one who could flip tortillas with her hands
and never burn her fingers with the black pillows.

I open my eyes because somewhere along
the memories I’ve closed them. The girl, smiling,
thanks me, when I should thank her for the scent,
that scent that was almost dark, now opened up
like flour-covered palms reaching for a jarro.

Spiritual Ritual
By Juana Hernández

Mama who rubs hand cream on at midnight,
who dresses in sheer silks and bright satin,
who smooths sheets and fluffs pillows
with arthritic hands
weary of waiting
for you to come home,
mama who rises at first light,
who wakes up alone,
no rooster crow even,
that old home–once known,
she long left behind,
mama who dresses in half-light,
sets off for yet another

Mama who finds warmth in the kitchen,
finds solace in the linoleum floors
sturdy under bare feet,
brews a pot of tea,
sips it slow since it might
as well be the closest thing
to love, to girlhood dreams,
so sweet and soothing,
this hot bit
of spiritual ritual
still left on earth.

And so she steeps
leaves and crushed cloves
chopped guava, whole sugar cane
and fragrant sticks of cinnamon.
pours herself another
piping hot steaming
sticky spilling
cup of more.

Las Muertas de Juarez
By Sean Penna

There are those who say
The Devil does not exist

Juarez will tell you
The Devil walks her streets
And owns her soul

She had always been
half crazy…
Until NAFTA became the blade
That severed the remaining strands
Of her tenuous sanity

Now, she of rotted teeth,
And tattered skin
Crumbling bones,
And lunatic mind
Plays host to the Devil

Coursing through her veins,
Pulling her strings,
The malevolent puppet master
Whose show never ends

The Devil’s hunger is insatiable
Craving destruction of faith,
And soul

A vile lachryphagous moth…
Drinking tears of sorrow,
and misery
From those he has taken…
And those he will yet take

Las Muertas de Juarez
In life, you did everything
In your power to survive…

Swimming against life’s
Turbulent currents
Fighting to stay above water
Struggling to reach prosperity’s shore

To the Devil, you are not the
Strong women of Mexico…

You are his quarry,
His sport,
A tool to ply his trade
Of despair,
And death

The cataract eyes of Juarez
Are blind to your suffering…
The sands of her outskirts
The only comfort she can provide

In Juarez
The Devil does exist…
Coursing through her veins,
Pulling her strings,
Drinking her tears

"I Am Still Joaquin" by José Hernández Díaz
"Las dos lenguas" por Rossy Lima-Padilla
"Ordering Charro Beans at the Food Court" by Danielle Jimenez
"Spiritual Ritual" by Juana Hernández
"Las Muertas de Juárez" by Sean Penna

José Hernández Díaz
José Hernández Díaz is a first-generation Chicano poet with a BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley. José has been published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading Anthology 2011, La Gente Newsmagazine of UCLA, Bombay Gin Literary Journal, In Xochitl In Kuikatl Literary Journal, The Packinghouse Review, among others. He has forthcoming publications in Blood Lotus Journal, The Progressive Magazine, and in the anthologies, El Norte que Viene, and Tan cerca de EE.UU. (poesía mexicana en la frontera norte). He is currently fulfilling an internship with Floricanto Press as an Editor. In addition, he is an active moderator of the online group, ‘Poets Responding to SB1070,’ where he has contributed more than 30 of his own poems. In his spare time, José enjoys collaborating with the poet, Claudia D. Hernández, in the English/Spanish translation of their poetry.

Rossy Evelin Lima
Rossy Evelin Lima ha participado en dos antologías poéticas: La Ruta de los Juglares, McAllen, y Letras en el Estuario, Matamoros. Además de haber publicado en revistas locales como Tierra Firme, Gallery, Interstice, Nuevo Santanderino y Panorama. También ha publicado en México en la sección cultural Ojo de Ciclope del periódico Expreso de Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas. En la revista La Pluma del Ganso, Mexico D.F. en la sección Aquí está Usted; en Lenguaraz, revista de la facultad de filosofía y letras de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, quienes dictaminaron a favor de los textos El Río Bravo y Caminante. En España en la revista 3D3 Revista de Creación en Andalucía, en la antología Caminos Inciertos del Centro de Estudios poéticos en Madrid y en la revista internacional Negritud de Atlanta, Georgia.  Recibió el tercer lugar en el Certamen Literario José Arrese en el 2008, mención honoraria por la revista Gallery en el 2009; en su participación en el Segundo Coloquio Estudiantil Sobre la Lengua en la University of Texas Pan-American, su obra poética fue premiada por ser considerada como “La mejor entre las de su área académica.” En el 2010 recibió el Premio Gabriela Mistral por la Sociedad Nacional Honorifica Hispánica. Rossy ha organizado más de 10 eventos poeticos en la Universidad de Texas Pan-American, y organizó el Festival de la Mujer 2011.  En la actualidad es fundadora de la asociación Colectivo Huatsamara, la cual promueve las artes en el Valle del Río Grande y ha impartido tres talleres literarios en Mission, McAllen y San Juan Texas. Sus labores comunitarias incluyen el haber fundado y dirigido el programa Un mar de cultura, en el cual se motivaba a los jóvenes a seguir sus estudios académicos; con este proyecto se les dio información a un aproximado de 250 jóvenes y padres en iglesias, escuelas y centros comunitarios.

Danielle Jimenez
What you'll find on Dani Raschel Jimenez's bookshelf: Kafka and Murakami, as well as Espada, Lorna Dee Cervantes, and the complete Fullmetal Alchemist manga series. If you ever meet her, tell her you read her poem on La Bloga, and she'll treat you to a Corona.

Juana Hernandez
Juana Hernandez is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in American Literature and Culture, with minors in Chicana/o Studies, Education Studies, and Political Science. Juana writes at the Wordpress blog I Am the Woman of Myth and Bullshit, and has contributed opinion essays on race and gender to Campus Progress, Feministing, and Fem 2.0. She has also published several poems via City Writes Literary Journal, Viva La Feminista, and Poets Responding to SB 1070. Born and raised in Southern California, Juana presently resides in Washington, DC where she works in higher education administration and covers education news and policy for Kitchen Table Politics (@TheKitchenTbl).

Sean Penna
Sean lives in Lodi, CA with the acclaimed Chicana poet Nancy Aide Gonzalez.  He enjoys cooking, wine tasting, and spending time with his children.