Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In Memoriam, Oscar Hijuelos. On-line Floricanto With Luivette Resto

Michael Sedano

This week's La Bloga-Tuesday stops to honor the memory of Oscar Hijuelos. As La Bloga recognizes the loss of an established literary voice--Hijuelos is a Pulitzer Prize winner--we are incredibly happy to present one of our brightest emerging literary voices, Luivette Resto. Luivette selects five poems from her 2013 collection, Ascension, which we feature in this week's On-line Floricanto.

Late-breaking News
In Memoriam: Oscar Hijuelos

La Bloga friend Tom Miller shares his sorrow at news of Oscar Hijuelos' death at age 62 on Saturday the twelfth of October. QEPD.

Miller thought back to an exchange with Hijuelos regarding Miller's book about Cuba, Trading with the Enemy, in which Miller tries to find locals who knew the Castillo brothers in Santiago de Cuba. Los Castillo were fictional, like Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning Mambo Kings title characters.

Oscar Hijuelos wrote Miller when Hijuelos' Beautiful Maria of My Soul came out and Miller had  shared some notes after reading an advanced readers copy. Hijuelos' email reply gives a sense of the late author's literary personality. [Miller adds clarifying notes in square brackets.]

Subject: RE: BMOMS
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2010 14:26:22 -0400

Hey Tom --

Thank you so much -- yeah, it's a crazy little librito [refers to Beautiful Maria of My Soul] -- but you should read the finished version -- which by the way has the correction about Obispo [a Havana street whose location he misplaced] in it -- I did catch it-- but then that ARC was really just a first draft that I'd done my best to get into shape because of a schedule thing -- put in about another six weeks of work into it -- reflected in various changes and expansions, like the ending, though with a few little things taken out that I now regret-- like dropping the names of certain plants -- like yarez-- which I'd come across in some old Cuban tome-- which the copy editors threw a fit over because they couldn't find it on the internet ( as if anyone would have cared) -- and I regret that, pressured for time, I went along with them.

By the way, I did this reading at Union Square B&N the other night, with a friend of mine providing music-- it kind of worked pretty well -- but it so happens that I mentioned your book, Trading with the Enemy-- in the context of how charmed I was by the fact that you were carrying MKs with you while traveling through Cuba and that you had met a few folks somewhere (in Santiago?) who claimed to have once heard the MKs -- it happens that I've had similar experiences along the lines of "And whatever happened to those guys?" as if they really existed (perhaps they did.)
In any event, the fact that some folks really believe that the MKs had been around, sort of led me, in a very roundabout way, to the notion that a real Maria has existed all along-- and so there it is.

Again, I thank you for your kind words-- and, by the way, I'd love to get back down to Cuba sometime --

Take care
Con un abrazo--

Qepd, Oscar Hijuelos

Pasadena's 15th annual Latino Heritage March and Jamaica will be the area's largest celebration, after the annual Rose Parade and a football game. Not even the silly "Doo-Dah" parade comes close. But read the newspapers or watch teevee news, people would think the doo-doo and the desfile de las rosas were the city's only major parades.

For a decade and a half, La Pintoresca Park and branch library in the city's northwest has filled with the excitement of drill teams, marching bands, gritos and games. For the 15th year now, the event returns, free and open to everyone who loves a parade. And a jamaica.

And this year, a literary event.

Kicking off at 12:30 is Rick Najera, who signs his new book until 1:25. Thereafter, two panels of raza writers entertain and inform inside the charming La Pintoresca Library.

Michael Sedano (moderator and panelist) introduces panelists Andrea Mauk, Randy Ertll, Ricardo Acuña.

Thelma T. Reyna (moderator and panelist) introduces panelists Alex Moreno Areyan, Luis Torres, Gerda Govine Ituarte.


On the 210 Freeway that passes through Pasadena, take the Fair Oaks exit, North.
North, or toward the mountains, drive up 1.5 miles to Washington Blvd.
You'll see the park and La Pintoresca Library on the northeast corner.
Street parking provides the only challenge to attenders.

Calaveritas Literarias Contest for DDLM

Día de los Muertos celebrations in the United States parallel those of Mexico in many dimensions. One missing element from US-based DDLM observations is the poetic tradition of light verse calaveritas literarias. Often quatrains--but no formal requirement--the calavera takes a satiric poke at the living in the context of eulogy, or simply expresses actitud about death, dying, and burial.

Mural, Boyle Heights, circa 1978.©msedano

La Bloga's Contest: Send up to three calavera poems in English, Spanish, or mezcla to win inclusion in the October 29, On-line Floricanto, and perhaps one of the prizes TBA.

Place your calaveras literarias in the body of an email (no files, please) and be sure to include your name and mail address in event your work wins one of the fabulous TBA prizes. Click here for the address, which is calaveras@readraza.com.

On-line Floricanto for Mid-October: Luivette Resto

Luivette Resto's 2013 collection, Ascension, from Tia Chucha Press, is distributed by Northwestern University Press. Order publisher direct by clicking here. At $15.00, Ascension makes a fabulous gift.

Luivette Resto was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico but proudly raised in the Bronx.

Her first book of poetry Unfinished Portrait was published in 2008 by Tia Chucha Press and later named a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize.

She is also a contributing poetry editor for Kweli Journal, a CantoMundo fellow, and the hostess of a monthly poetry reading series called La Palabra located at Avenue 50 Studio in Los Angeles.

Her new book Ascension was published in April 2013 courtesy of Tia Chucha Press.

Leave It To the Weathermen
to make predictions of tomorrow
with talks of jet streams and
minus ten wind chill factors
bringing me back to our first nor’easter
stranded on the right shoulder of I95,
your index finger calmly swirling her initials
on the passenger’s side window.

Leave me with the memory of
an aurora borealis sending yellow
and green ribbons across the Manitoba sky
when I recognized who I needed to be
and who you never were.

You were sexier than
a trumpet solo
in a salsa song.
Why would anyone
say no.

Pink Balloons
With only a bounty of pink and purple,
existing against his collage of darkness,
she plucked from her helium bouquet
a solitary soft pink balloon,
as the Atlantic Ocean applauded
the random act of kindness
witnessed on its boardwalk,
once saturated with $5 women,
peddlers, and morally questionable
business men.

Sea gulls wondered
if the boy will remember the lace
at the bottom of the girl’s dress or
the black bow buckle of her patent leather shoes,
will she remember the coldness of his fingertips or
the silhouette of his sullen face
as the sun set on both of them.

Adding dizzying color
like a kaleidoscope
to his inertia,
he gravitated towards her.
As she asked to be part
of his constellation of paramours
and unfinished paintings.

Liberating one another
like a Cardenal poem.

Is it true that my womb
will never feel the soft pushes of an infant’s feet?

Is it true my femininity has been severed
for population control?

Is it true the pill my comadre took this morning
will cause cysts to grow in her ovaries like magnolias in May?

Is it true that Atabey weeps in a petroglyph
like la Virgen
like a mother on wedding days
like a child’s first seconds in this world.


Viva Liz Vega! said...

Luivette, I love your poetry because it takes us there to the moment. Thank you!

Daniel Olivas said...

We mourn one great writer's passing, and we celebrate another writer's ascension.

Anonymous said...

Luivette Resto is a writer who is one of the rare ones. "In-tune" with her soul, the heart of mother nature and the social networks of life and love. With precise expression her blood flows through her pen: heartbreak, culture, womanhood, sexuality, poetic justice and injustices. She faces harsh realities, but there are also echoes of hope in her astute voice, ascension in light of the darkness.

Anonymous said...

It was nice to hear Oscar's non-literary voice again.