Friday, April 26, 2013

From La to L.A.

Melinda Palacio

I've spent most of National Poetry Month in Louisiana. The Spring here has been unusually cool, almost cold with skies darkening at noon and crazy rain dumping sideways and falling at angles that flip umbrellas upside down.

Last weekend, California ordered up sunshine and warmth for the Los Angeles Times Book Festival
I was one of the lucky authors to be invited to sit on a panel with David Treuer, Luis J. Rodriguez, Reyna Grande, and our moderator Hector Tobar.

If you tuned into La Bloga on Tuesday, you'll be able to read Michael Sedano's excellent account of the Festival. We had a great crowd. I'm glad a full house attended the panel because it was one of the best (Sure, I always say that, but last Saturday's panel was up there).
Reyna Grande and Melinda Palacio riding the metro to the festival.

I am grateful to Hector Tobar and the organizers of the festival for including me on this panel. Of course, I always think of great things to say after the panel is over; this is probably why I am a writer and not a news pundit. In hindsight, I wish I had talked more about the memoir qualities of How Fire Is a Story, Waiting.

Every author interviewed on our panel had a new memoir, except for me. Originally, the panel was going to be called: Memoir: American Identity. Although I was the only one without a memoir, I could see how my poetry book disguises itself as a memoir and reveals several themes that memoirist lean on. However, as Frank Mundo points out in his review for the Examiner, the narrator of the poems in How Fire, is not always Melinda Palacio, but, rather, a made up narrator, especially in "Water Mark," where I make up an entire childhood in New Orleans, a town I first visited ten years ago.

"If you only read one new book of poetry for National Poetry Month this year, make it this one." --Frank Mundo

A few weeks before the Los Angeles Times Festival, the organizers decided to leave me on the panel with three memoir authors and simply changed the name of the panel to Writing American Identity. This allowed for a lively discussion on identity, stereotypes, and I, along with the audience, had a chance to hear from David Treuer, author of Rez Life, who was very funny; I'm looking forward to reading his book.
Melinda Palacio, Reyna Grande and Hector Tobar before the Writing American Identity Panel (not shown are David Truer and Luis J. Rodriguez).

I'm glad I was able to dash to the festival last weekend. Many thanks to my super hostess, Reyna Grande, for picking me up, asking her five-year-old daughter to give up her princess bed for me, and having her 11-year-old son make us sweet potato pancakes, bacon and eggs. Our metro to  adventure to USC, the festival's site, will be the subject of a future blog post.

Happy National Poetry Month

Here's a video of me reading Martin Espada's Isabel's Corrido from his award-winning book, The Trouble Ball. Among Espada's many awards, he received the Milt Kessler Award for the Trouble Ball. I was lucky enough to be a finalist for the 2013 award, which went to Marilyn Nelson.

Recently, Daniel Olivas interviewed me for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Read the entire interview here

Congratulations to all the finalists for the 2013 InternationalLatino Book Awards, especially fellow Bloguero and La Bloga Founder, Rudy Ch. Garcia. How Fire is a Story, Waiting is also a finalist. Winners will be announced next month after the awards ceremony at the Instituto Cervantes in NYC. Last year, Ocotillo Dreams, won the Mariposa Award for Best First Book and an honorable mention for Historical Fiction. 

Last night, April 25, the events coordinator at the Jefferson Parish Library was impressed by the turnout (I think my name in lights helped).

Upcoming Events:

April 26, Tonight in Baton Rouge at Louisiana State University
& the beat goes on, featuring Tony Medina, with My Nguyen, Martha Reed, and Melinda Palacio.

Starting: 2:00PM to 3:00PM

PANEL: Omnipresent: The Vibrancy of Latino Literature (2:00pm-3:00pm)
Omnipresent: the Vibrancy of Latino Literature offers something for everyone. From memoir to noir mystery, poetry to historical fiction, and magical realism to L.A. fiction. The showcase of literature by Latino authors includes Reyna Grande (The Distance Between Us: A Memoir), Manuel Ramos (Desperado: A Mile High Noir), Alex Espinoza (The Five Acts of Diego León), Melinda Palacio (How Fire Is a Story, Waiting), and moderator Daniel Olivas (The Book of Want). (Julia Child Stage)

May 18, Tia Chucha's Words and Music Festival,

The Banned Books panel is slated to begin at 1:30 and will end at 2:15 on Saturday May 18, 2013 at Los Angeles Mission College, 13356 Eldridge Avenue, Sylmar, CA. 91342.

May 19, Bat Cave Reading Series at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park at 4pm.
The readers are Chiwan Choi, Melinda Palacio, Diana Wagman and Amanda Yates, with our special musical guest, Bloody Death Skull

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