Saturday, April 20, 2013

Latina Poet Laureate. Bloguista in Aridzona 1

First Latina Texas State Poet Laureate

“The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is pleased to announce the Texas State Legislature’s appointment to the position of state poet laureate: Rosemary Catacalos.” (Texas Commission on the Arts press release). Catacalos is the first Latina to hold that post. You can learn more information on her author page.

In September, Wings Press will publish the 30th anniversary edition of Rosemary's first book, Again for the First Time, and a limited edition (1,000 copies) of a chapbook of newer poems, to be entitled Begin Here. The signed and numbered chapbook will feature a cover of handmade paper printed by letterpress. (Wings Press has published books by poets laureate of Virginia, Delaware, Louisiana, Utah, Kansas, and Texas -- and the U.S. For more info, contact Bryce Milligan, Publisher, Wings Press)

Catacalos was awarded the Dobie Paisano Fellowship by the Texas Institute of Letters and the University of Texas in 1985, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship. She directed the literature program at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (1986-1989). Catacalos spent 1989 to 2003 in California, where she was a Stegner Creative Writing Fellow at Stanford University, then executive director of The Poetry Center/American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University (1991-1996). She was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford until she returned to San Antonio in 2003 to become the executive director of Gemini Ink, a literary arts center. She retired from Gemini Ink in 2012. In 2008 Catacalos received the Macondo Foundation's 2008 Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award.

A Bloguista in Aridzona 1
Not getting away from it all

This week, my wife and I  wanted to do three things: take a short cheap vacation (Tucson), experience a Sixto Rodriguez concert (Denver tickets, sold out) and, as they say, “get away from it all.” We got tickets for the first two and headed for the airport.

So, what is the “all” that a marginalized Chicano wants to get away from on a vacay? A list of that could fill a paragraph, but let’s just call it: the political, economic and social pressures of U.S. society, the kinds of things bolded below.

Snow-ice granules fall as we head to the DIA terminal. They increase. I’m thinking Global Heating’s going to interfere with our getaway, but forecasts assure us it’s “just a spring storm.”

As we work through airport security, for the first time I notice how few Blacks and Latino-lookers are in line. I count those queued, and come up with an estimate that only about every 30th person looks like they’re not Anglo. I’m privileged, I’m reminded, one of few able to enjoy “freedoms” of air travel.

I don’t make it past the scanners. Two jars of homemade jelly that apparently look like nitroglycerine are confiscated. Okay, fine. But then, “You’ve got a knife in your bag.” “But I thought the rules were changed.” “They don’t change until tomorrow.” They confiscate my second Swiss Army knife in a year. It’s my fault for not reading closely Homeland’s motto: “Give us your billions of dollars and we’ll make you safe by taking away your jelly and precious little knife.”

I’m more pissed at myself than them because I forgot cardinal rule #1 about living under Big Homeland Brother’s repression: The rules can change; you were safe yesterday, but keep up on how you might transgress, today.

We get on the plane and for over an hour the pilot will strategically reassure us with varying explanations how it won’t be that much longer before we take off. He never mentions Global Heating is responsible. We sit on the tarmac for over an hour, waiting our turn for deicing. I’m wondering about the poor souls who took later planes and how long before they’ll get out.

Landing in Tucson is good; rental car; motel (America’s Best Value Inn – exit 262 on I-10 is $50 cheap, clean and recommended by Visitor’s Bureau. Now we’ve gotten away from it all?

Except the motel TV, car radio and Arizona newspaper are filled with the Marathon bombings. Conjectures, misreporting, photos of pain and suffering, again. And strange pieces, like, of all people, Putin assures the U.S. Russia is ready to assist however they can. Why’s the Russian Prez entering the picture?

We hit the Biosphere 2 facility, full of the sciences of arcane worries like self-sustainability, recycling wastes and vibrant ecosystems. Not once during the hour lecture do I hear the words Global Anything, no connections made to how the mostly retired, Anglo visitors contribute more than anyone else to planetary degradation.

Next to Arizona State University, we have beers and good eats one night, an area filled with college people, yeah, very few are black and brown. In the bathroom standing up to do my business, I hear a couple of Anglo kids share and laugh over some nigger-jokes that I thought were dead history. I forget Aridzona is a hothouse of anti-bilingual/Chicano studies/immigration sentiments. At least the guitar player tells me about R&B performed at a few good bar/eateries.

Like at home, I’m up at 6, reading the newspaper, going online for Denver and national news:
1. A cop shot at MIT, but “it has nothing to do with the Bombing.”
2. The layer of dust on motel swimming pool furniture is from Asarco copper mines in the area and more severe, recent desert dust storms that violate Clean Air Act levels. Will they get their jelly and knives taken away for that?
2. U.S. children rank 26th internationally in quality of life, only a little better than Latvia and Estonia; kids like I once taught.
3. The storm that escorted us out of Denver hit the Midwest. Tornados, snow, rain, flooding, car-eating sinkholes, a few deaths, stretching from Mexico to Canada. I don’t hear mentions of Global Anything.
4. Snow pack in Colo. Mountains will melt too fast because of dust from NM and AZ. Likely cause flooding and the drought to continue. No mention of Global Anything.
5. Homeland Empress Napolitano is on the news asking we give her more of our money that should go to kids’ welfare, instead, so she can install more surveillance, even though the billions we already gave her accomplished nada to stop the Bombing. Sounds like Putin deserves the money more than her.
6. Arizona pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline in the news. Here it threatens Native American sacred grounds. XL threatens the continent.
7. Boston shut down for a day. MIT cops killed by Marathon bombers. One suspect dead, the other captured, bloody. Chechnyans, maybe. So, somehow Putin knew? Which means Obama knew, though maybe too late. Americans, of course, were the last to learn.

They’re cheering, clapping, tweeting and celebrating in Boston. After the residents of an American metropolitan area was on lockdown--no transportation, no schools, businesses open, people walking the streets, shut into their homes, self-incarcerated for the All-Clear.

It’s good the ALLEGED perpetrators were caught, stopped, taken off the streets. But millions of supposedly free Americans on Lock Down for hours and hours scares me more than the terrorists, whoever they were, whatever they were armed with. They were no nuclear threat. To our knowledge, there were only two of them, on the run and in hiding. To willing give up my right to travel, conduct my life and pursue my endeavors and hand it over to Homeland threatens me in a way that’s too 1984. But that’s just me, unable to get away from it all and unable to forget that I’m supposed to be living in the Land of the Free, not the Home of the Shut-In.

Great Mexican food in Tucson

For lunch on Friday. we head to Mi Nidito, the so-popular place to eat in Tucson, for lunch with Tom Miller--and wife Regla--who’s leading a Cuba trip of alternative-media journalists this July that I’d give my next Swiss Army knife to be on.

Tom is as tall as the restaurant’s famous visitor Bill Clinton, when he was still Prez and after he’d recovered from Monica. According to our host, Jimmy Lopez, Clinton came in and ordered almost one of everything on the extensive menu. He ate all but one tamal.

The walls of the waiting area of this appropriately named, Little Nest, are covered with photos of the famous and the notorious, including Cheney. Tom Miller’s photo’s there, but mine won’t be until my next book, apparently, because Jimmy didn’t rush for his camera.

We’re treated like, not kings, but gente. Moderately priced, the food is extravagantly served, with my wife and I unable to finish one order between us, even though we’d had no breakfast. Attentive staff, crammed Mexican décor, a busy place that was worth waiting for. Go here for more info about a place not to miss.

Friday night we head to the Pascua Yaqui tribe’s Casino del Sol Amphitheater for the Sixto Rodriguez concert. I need to digest Sixto—not Rodriguez—before I tell you about the experience. Next time, more about that, and about heading to Phoenix to meet, for the first time, Bloguista Ernest Hogan. And the saguaro cactus. And Phoenix. Y más. But very little about getting away from it all.

Es todo, hoy,

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