Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guest Column from Switzerland. Reading in the Park. On-line Floricanto for Mothers

Guest Columnist
Editor's Note: Sarah R. García is studying in Europe this summer. This is the first in a series of dispatches from the European front. mvs
Xicana Travelogue: Xocolate en Suiza

Sarah Rafael García

I cannot remember the last time this Xicana purchased chocolate for herself. I recall sipping on a Mayan Mocha a few years back in San Diego, but that was merely to taste the Mayan. There was also that time in 2008 that my chef friend made a chocolate mold of the Aztec calendar and Mexican chocolate truffles for my book signing, pero that was part of the event décor and to guilt la gente into purchasing my book.

Prior to my recent travels, I was not a chocolate person. I may have snacked on a Snickers bite or chipped off a piece from Abuelita’s chocolate in nostalgia, but really I was not a chocolate aficionado. Nevertheless, upon arriving to Spiez, Switzerland, I was greeted with a pound of the local, fancy chocolate. I smiled to show my appreciation but my taste buds nearly dried up at the sight. I must admit I was a bit disappointed, I was hoping to be gifted some of the local cheese instead.

The chocolate was nestled in an expensive gift bag embossed with the letters “Läderach.” I gently postponed the consumption by expressing that I was not hungry. The chocolate bearer frowned at my disinterest. And at what I perceived as a loss for the correct English words, he sat back in his chair, grabbed a meeker piece of chocolate from a mound sitting on his coffee table and scratched his head.

Later that evening, after watching him consume a third of the chocolate squares on the coffee table, I peeked into the “Läderach” bag. I pulled out a transparent bag tied with a pretty brown ribbon. The bundle contained twelve layers of chocolate; each cocoa sheet was quite different in color and texture. I compared each piece to the next and decided to break off a corner of the pink one with red specks, which sat at the top of the stack.

Now let me remind you, I was not a chocolate person, esta Xicana antes prefería enchiladas de mole o tacos al pastor. I would rather devour savory plates than nibble on processed cocoa beans. I figure if I’m gonna wear the calories on my Xicana hips, they better be spicy and robust like me.

So, with some hesitation I placed the piece of pink cocoa on my tongue. Immediately, my eyelashes batted with excitement and my mouth began to water. My host was in the kitchen, without thinking I shouted, “Oh my god, this is so good!” The silky substance melted on my tongue, introducing me to the mixed flavors of white chocolate and raspberries. I had never tasted a chocolate so rich and silky. I continued to break off a piece from each assortment, tasting all twelve blends, ending with the white chocolate and pistachios.

When asked, I could not choose one that I preferred more than the other.

After visiting the Läderach store to explore all that they have to offer, I walked out with another pound of xocolate, which I sent to mis hermanas for Mother’s Day. I also bought six different truffles balls, one made with champagne, which I savored after visiting a Swiss cheese factory. The original twelve layers are now broken squares and triangles that reflect the Xicana that I am, a mixture of diverse flavors with a memorable past. Todos los sabores mesclados en una bolsa: pieces of pistachios, peanuts with dark, white and milk chocolate. Ironically, I still hesitate to eat the Swiss xocolate but only to make sure I have moments of pleasure at my fingertips throughout the rest of my trip. To my surprise, Suiza has turned this Xicana into a xocolate aficionado…

Reading in the Park, Floricanto in the Yard

Michael Sedano

Mothers Day weekend seems as good a weekend as any to schedule a local book fair, and that's what organizers of Pasadena LitFest decided, holding the second annual LitFest on Saturday before Mothers Day.

Daniel Olivas
The hundred-degree weather would have magnified the unpleasantness of navigating through shoulder-to-shoulder teeming crowds like those at the LA Times bookfair. Crowding wasn't a problem Saturday afternoon.

The exhibitor list included numerous small publishers, and book entrepreneurs like indie booksellers and Des Zamorano, who engagingly marketed her novel, Human Cargo. Organizers promised a smorgasbord of locally-flavored writing and writers, including the high-powered panel, Omnipresent: The Vibrancy of Latino Literature, where bloguera Melinda Palacio and blogueros Daniel Olivas and Manuel Ramos were sharing the Julia Child Stage with La Bloga friends Reyna Grande and Alex Espinoza.
Manuel Ramos
Melinda Palacio
Reyna Grande
Panel moderator Daniel Olivas put together a highly effective authors panel. The key idea was to keep it moving. Olivas allowed each writer a minimum of minutes to showcase their work.

Alex Espinoza
Olivas avoided the "any questions" approach to Q&A by offering his own set of well-considered prompts that turned the set of sequential remarks into a running conversation among the writers.

For a writer who's just given their all in a public reading, the book signing offers a measure of satisfaction that the oral presentation worked and gente lined up to have their copy signed.

Front: Manuel Ramos, Melinda Palacio, Reyna Grande, Alex Espinoza
Standing: Daniel Olivas, Manuel Urrutia, Concepción Valadez, Marrio Guerrero, Angel Guerrero

With this host of writers in town, we decided to have an open-air floricanto after feasting on chicano hot dogs and chicano hamburgers. That is, I cooked them.

The difference between a reading in the park on stage, and a reading for the camera while surrounded by relaxed listeners, makes for enjoyable readings. Latinopia's Jesus Treviño videographed the La Bloga Backyard Floricanto and will release the segments in upcoming updates at Latinopia.

Alex Espinoza
Xochitl-Julissa Bermejo was on an earlier poetry panel at LitFest and she was ready for an impromptu presentation of two poems. Treviño didn't need an applause sign to generate the enthusiastic response that erupted after Bermejo's reading.

Julissa-Xochitl Bermejo

Melinda Palacio
Manuel Ramos' Desperado, A Mile High Noir has enjoyed several weeks on the best-seller list in Denver. I'm sure Pasadena and all of LA will turn on to the chicano detective novel after enjoying the couple's engaging reading of a fictive tete-a-tete, as well as their spontaneous repartée after one of them got lost in the fun on the page.

Flo and Manuel Ramos
Flo and Manuel Ramos

La Bloga On-line Floricanto Celebrating Mother's Day

"Strong Women" By Rosalie Robles Crowe
"Madre árbol / Mother Tree" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"To My Working Mom, thank you (Mother's Day 2013)" by Patrick Fontes
“My Castle” by Ramon Pinero
"mama" by Iris De Anda

Strong Women
By Rosalie Robles Crowe

I stand on the shoulders of a long line of strong women
Who refused to accept artificial limitations
Imposed by "superior" men and restrictive society.

Great grandmother Ladislada adjusted to life
On the Texas frontier but insisted her daughters needed
To know more than cooking, cleaning and sewing fine seams.

She sent them to be educated in a convent school in El Paso.

Isabel assumed her mother's mantle of independence,
Becoming a teacher and ignoring strictures
From her husband's family when she was widowed.

She refused to cede responsibility to her father-in-law
And took in washing to support her children.

Amparo, my mother, wanted to join the tennis team in school
But the other girls wouldn't play with "the Mexican"
So she practiced with the boys.

She won a state mixed doubles championship.

Cecilia, my aunt and a teacher, was told her first-graders
Couldn't speak Spanish in school. On Friday afternoons
She locked the classroom door, turned the radio to Mexican music
And gave each child penny candy to eat during art class.

The legacy they passed on was this:

Live your life on your terms.
Don't let the whims or prejudices of others govern your actions.
Seek your own truth, your own beliefs and act with compassion.

This, then, is the legacy I pass on to my daughters,
My granddaughters and yes, to my son and grandsons.

Stand tall.
Believe in yourself.
Set strong personal standards
And hold to them — regardless of what anyone else says.

Madre Árbol / Mother Three
Francisco X Alarcón

To My Working Mom, thank you (Mother's Day 2013)
by Patrick Fontes

No gold medal prize awarded to you
by cheering crowds at the end of those years
burdened by three jobs one for each child
waiting tables served a million grand slams
to strangers while your own yearned hungry
for you alone at home during sunset

Sacrifice is a word tribulations
teach us looking back at life’s worn tracks
by your feet years of waitressing hardened
but not your undying spirit flying above
greasy plates piled high to the Lord’s throne
you cried to each night I heard you weep
for strength as you rubbed your wearied heels

This morning a cool summer breeze blew
through your kitchen as you rolled tortillas
at dawn I sat in awe at your soul’s sinew
indomitable through long decades worked
back and forth your forearms created perfect
white circles then bubbled to perfection
moved my reverent heart to ovation
cheered your undying love's constant toil

My Castle
by Ramón Piñero

I live
in a
by an
estrogen moat
surrounded by
and sisters
daughters and

by medicine
dancers and

I live in a castle
by an estrogen

santeras protect me
La Caridad del Cobre
me lleva en
la mano
Santa Barbara
me canta
a dormir

in times
of worry
my grand
come running
full of
sunshine and

My boys
and I
live in
a castle

by an estrogen
moat and
by love

© Ramón Piñero

by Iris De Anda

querida madre
gracias infinitas
por darme la vida

you who wake early
to help me RISE
you who sleep late
to watch me DREAM

you who are my everything
from first breath to last
you hope for my future
& stood by my past

querida madre
sin ti no soy yo
te amo

"Strong Women" By Rosalie Robles Crowe
"Madre árbol / Mother Tree" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"To My Working Mom, thank you (Mother's Day 2013)" by Patrick Fontes
“My Castle” by Ramon Pinero
"mama" by Iris De Anda

Rosalie Robles Crowe, a third generation Arizonan, is a former newspaper reporter who has continued writing well after her retirement. She graduated in journalism from the University of Arizona and over her career has worked on Arizona’s major newspapers, including the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen, Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette. In addition, she also has written numerous articles based on Arizona history, co-authored a monograph (“Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame”) with Diane Tod, and compiled and edited “Early Yuma: A Graphic History of Life on the American Nile.” Currently, she is a member of Sowing the Seeds, a collective of women writers in Tucson, and is experimenting with other writing styles, including poetry. As an STS member, she has written one of three monologues for Sowing the Seeds’ dramatic presentation “Celebrating Women’s Voices Past & Present,” developed originally in 2012 for Arizona’s Centennial Year. Its focus is on unsung women heroes in the state’s history. She and her late husband, Tommy Keith Crowe, have three children and five grandchildren.

Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, born in Los Angeles, in 1954, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992), Sonetos a la locura y otras penas / Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company 2001), De amor oscuro / Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press 1991, and 2001).
His latest books are Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun/Poemas para el Nuevo Sol (Swan Scythe Press 2010), and for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008) which was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association, and as an Américas Awards Commended Title by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together/Poiemas para sonar juntos (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award.
He teaches at the University of California, Davis, where he diurects the Spanish for Native Speakers Porgram. He is the creator of the Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that you can visit at:

Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to six of the coolest kids ever.
Nuff said...

Iris De Anda is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. A native of Los Angeles she believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams. She has been published in Mujeres de Maiz Zine, Loudmouth Zine: Cal State LA, OCCUPY SF poems from the movement, & online @ La Bloga. She is an active contributor to Poets Responding to SB 1070. She performs at community venues & events throughout the Los Angeles area. She hosted The Writers Underground Open Mic 2012 @ Mazatlan Theatre & 100,000 Poets for Change 2012 @ the Eastside Cafe. Follow her story @ http://irisdeanda.typepad.com/la_writer_underground/

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What beautiful poetry in honor of all mothers!! Brought tears to my eyes the words, images and emotions were so strong and full! I applaud all the poetry with a grateful heart. Rose Sanchez