Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The US Poet Laureate, Floricantos On-line and In-person, GF cooking.

Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate: A Photographic Celebration
Michael Sedano

Lynne Romero, Juan Felipe Herrera
Fall 1973. English major Mary Ann Pacheco and poet Alurista have invited every Chicana and Chicano poet and writer who could be lured to the University of Southern California—for free—to read at un festival de flor y canto. Outside the artist entrance, charlando and making eyes at the gorgeous poet Lynne Romero, saludando gente like the brown buffalo Oscar Zeta Acosta, Alurista, rrsalínas, the crazy gypsy Omar Salinas, Ricardo Sánchez, the young poet Juan Felipe Herrera greets arriving artists. An Army Veteran attending USC on the GI Bill, waits with them, camera in hand, capturing images for the campus newspaper, and posterity.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Ricardo Sánchez

Posterity keeps arriving, but almost didn’t. The floricanto disappeared from USC’s cultural memory. When the photographer, Michael Sedano, went looking for the videos recorded in 1973, only two collections in the world owned sets, one in Texas the other in California.

At UCR, librarian Barbara Robinson had purchased a complete set of the 1973 floricanto as a way of honoring Tomás Rivera, UCR’s Chancellor, who read at the USC festival.

When Sedano retired from a career in private industry, he sought out Herrera, who had become the Tomás Rivera Chair in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of California Riverside, and Robinson, who had become the Librarian for USC’s Boeckmann Center for Iberian & Latin American Studies. Herrera located the only U-Matic video player on campus. Absent that device, the digitizing project was dead from the start.

Together the three recovered the 1973 floricanto and celebrated its return to USC’s Digital Library with a reunion floricanto. 2010’s Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow was funded by a Visions & Voices Grant awarded to Barbara Robinson.

Juan Felipe Herrera announces the honorees for the 2010 Tomás Rivera Pioneer Award for Performance

Cuca Aguirre García receives recognition as a pioneer of raza flor y canto.

Juan Felipe does things, not just poetry, with a lot of corazón. At the Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow, he honors two members of "Las Tres Chatitas," a frontera song dance declamando act that toured the Juarez area.

Herrera writes about the rich history of Las Tres Chatitas in La Bloga. Awarding the 2010 Tomás Rivera Flor y Canto Pioneer Award for Performance not only profoundly moves the awardees, Cuca Aguirre García and Eva Aguirre Amezcua, the honor comes with a $5000.00 award that, for senior citizens, is like a million dollars. Puro heart, Juan Felipe Herrera. Te aventastes.

Herrera the photographer captures 2010's floricanto memories

Juan Felipe Herrera performs at 2010's Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow

You can view the full videos of Juan Felipe Herrera’s performances at USC’s Digital Library at this link and this.  Here is a sampling of those performances.


The full set of 1973 videos and Sedano’s photographic collection are online; videos of all the 2010 reunion floricanto, documented by Jesus Treviño, will be available later in 2015.

Herrera's history with festivales de flor y canto is a wonderful story and a grand experience that continues to ever happier celebrations for that young poet by the door, Juan Felipe Herrera.

In 2012, California names Herrera its Poet Laureate. The Laureate takes to his responsibilities in uniquely nurturing ways. Aside from numerous public appearances, the Laureate launches a project to create The Most Incredible and Biggest Poem on Unity in the World. Click the link to share a selection of work making part of the biggest Unity poem in the world.

In 2011, Herrera is named to a six-year term as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and participates in annual Chancellors’ Readings and discussions in New York City.

"'Hey Michael!' someone shouts as Sedano and his wife return from lunch, ready for the next session
of the Chancellors' meetings. The photographer spots a familiar watch cap and a waving hand as
the future Laureate heads to the airport and his flight back to California.

In 2014, Juan Felipe Herrera sets down his California laurels in a day of fun, sunshine, and celebratory voices at UCR. Herrera leads a chorus of children’s voices in one part of the program, a chorus of local artists in another. Sedano joins the chorus of locals.

Posterity will remember the second Fresno poet, and the first Chicano to become "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry," otherwise known as the United States Poet Laureate. His name joins a stellar array of U.S. poets dating to the 1937 establishment of the honor.

Poet Laureate Consultants in Poetry to the Library of Congress
• Juan Felipe Herrera
• Charles Wright (2014-2015)
• Natasha Trethewey (2012-2014)
• Philip Levine (2011-2012)
• W.S. Merwin (2010-2011)
• Kay Ryan (2008-2010)
• Charles Simic (2007-2008)
• Donald Hall (2006-2007)
• Ted Kooser (2004-2006)
• Louise Glück (2003-2004)
• Billy Collins (2001-2003)
• Stanley Kunitz (2000-2001)
• Special Bicentennial Consultants (1999-2000)
◦ Rita Dove
◦ Louise Glück
◦ W.S. Merwin
• Robert Pinsky (1997-2000)
• Robert Hass (1995-1997)
• Rita Dove (1993-1995)
• Mona Van Duyn (1992-1993)
• Joseph Brodsky (1991-1992)
• Mark Strand (1990-1991)
• Howard Nemerov (1988-1990)
• Richard Wilbur (1987-1988)
• Robert Penn Warren (1986-1987)

By Act of Congress in 1985, the present title of “Poet Laureate” replaces the earlier nomination,
“Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.” These include:

• Gwendolyn Brooks (1985-1986)
• Reed Whittemore (Interim Consultant in Poetry, 1984-1985)
• Robert Fitzgerald (1984-1985)
• Anthony Hecht (1982-1984)
• Maxine Kumin (1980-1982)
• William Meredith (1978-1980)
• Robert Hayden (1976-1978)
• Stanley Kunitz (1974-1976)
• Daniel Hoffman (1973-1974)
• Josephine Jacobsen (1971-1973)
• William Stafford (1970-1971)
• William Jay Smith (1968-1970)
• James Dickey (1966-1968)
• Stephen Spender (1965-1966)
• Reed Whittemore (1964-1965)
• Howard Nemerov (1963-1964)
• Louis Untermeyer (1961-1963)
• Richard Eberhart (1959-1961)
• Robert Frost (1958-1959)
• Randall Jarrell (1956-1958)
• William Carlos Williams (appointed in 1952 but did not serve)
• Conrad Aiken (1950-1952)
• Elizabeth Bishop (1949-1950)
• Leonie Adams (1948-1949)
• Robert Lowell (1947-1948)
• Karl Shapiro (1946-1947)
• Louise Bogan (1945-1946)
• Robert Penn Warren (1944-1945)
• Allen Tate (1943-1944)
• Joseph Auslander (1937-1941)

According the Library of Congress, the Laureate’s specific duties remain ambiguously defined, “to afford incumbents maximum freedom to work on their own projects while at the Library. The poet laureate gives an annual lecture and reading of his or her poetry and usually introduces poets in the Library's annual poetry series, the oldest in the Washington area, and among the oldest in the United States.”

If posterity can make it happen, Sedano will be in the gallery for that big lecture at the Library of Congress, camera at the ready. A ver.

Juan Felipe Herrera’s appointment as Poet Laureate of the United States inspires Abel Salas to compose the following. This month's On-line Floricanto includes a similarly inspired poem by Francisco X. Alarcón.

Abel Salas reads "I Am the Open Veins"

By Abel Salas

in honor of Eduardo Galeano and w/ respect to Juan Felipe Herrera
on his being named Poet Laureate of the U.S.

I am the open veins of América Latina
Soy las venas abiertas and through them
courses the history of pain laced with
the stench of genocide. I am the open
arteries wrapped like disembodied tripas
around all of our necks like the shackles
of slavery in service of colonial and now
neo-liberal profit. I am the scream let fly
at the moon or the pale invaders from
dripping, blood-soaked coyote or eagle
or jaguar throats because I am also the
cutlass blade and the machine gun fire
and the incendiary chemical bomb at
least half of my lineage delivers each
day at the footstep of an earth that
moans with grief over the needless
crimson rivulets draining downward
over her flesh and staining the land
with sadness. I am the open veins
and the twisted cry of agony in the
gaping maw of displacement and a
dislocation in the wake of a scourge
called gentrification which some of
you don’t really believe is a bad thing
at all. Yes, I am the open veins that echo
with anger and pulse with the beat of
all our ancestors, those who could not
stem the tide of they who salivate at the
kind of wealth and youth and beauty on
the infinite parade of touch-screen luster
in high definition coming soon to a virtual
triple x playground near you while black
lives and brown lives matter less and less
each day when raging renegade officers
point guns at teenagers and handcuff
bikini-clad girls who did nothing wrong,
broke no laws and provoked no one.
I am the open veins and you will ignore
my dying gasps and the unchecked tears
because you are unwilling to accept your
responsibility for any of this as you toast
your Napa Cabernet in your renovated
Craftsman home, believing it’s enough
to feed your 2.3 children tamales made
by the vendor near their grade school or
that you hired her sister to walk them to
and from the kindergarten where her own
child is surrounded by the privilege and joy
his small broken heart will never truly know.

On-line Floricanto for June 2015
Graciela B. Ramírez, Javier Pacheco, Francisco X. Alarcón, Israel Francisco Haros López.

By Graciela B. Ramírez


Hablando de tu libro
Mariposas sin fronteras,
parece que…

un cuarzo

Lo requebrajaste
con mágico
y filoso cincel

por doquiera

Cada átomo/
chispazo fue
un verso

En cada verso
todo lo físico

y spiritual
que habita
en la creación

la fragilidad =
de la mariposa

Para capturar
lo bello y trágico
del universo

con tu mente

Tus manos,
tu papel
y tu pluma

El cuarzo
cristalino que es
tu libro

Con cariño,
Graciela B. Ramírez
2 de abril de 2015

By Graciela B. Ramírez


Speaking of your book
Borderless Butterflies,
it seems that..

You took
a crystalline

You splintered
with a sharp and
magic chisel


Each atom/
spark was
a verse

On each verse
you collected
everything physical

and spiritual
that dwells
in the creation

You chose
the fragility
of the butterfly

To capture
the beauty and tragedy
of the universe

you reconstructed
with your mind

Your hands,
your paper,
and you pen

The crystalline
quartz that is
your book

With love,
Graciela B. Ramírez
April 2, 2015

Graciela B. Ramírez taught Spanish and Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento. As a poet, she is the author of Educación una Epica Chicana and Poemas Buenos, Malos y Regulares, and has been part of poetry readings since the 1970s. Graciela has also written her memoirs, to be published as Mi Sombra y Yo. Since the 1970s, Graciela has organized many poetry readings in the Sacramento area. She was coordinator for 11 years of the group of writers: Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol, and helped edit the group’s anthology: Voces del Nuevo Sol, Cantos y Cuentos.

Javier B. Pacheco

(He died December 3, 2014, six months ago or, as if it were yesterday)

On Sunday he lost his balance
and fell off the chair
I rushed to his side,
and while lifting him up
assured him in a low, gentle voice
“Everything is alright, Dad,
I have you now, everything is alright.”

He gazed at me, almost startled
He knew he no longer had
control of his body
his limbs were free
of any attachment to the brain
he knew there was no longer a connection
but he stared at me
listening very attentively
perhaps because my soothing voice
was like a caressing whisper
without recrimination or blame
without judgment or attitude;

it was a soft breath
a gentle encouragement
from a voice he’d heard few times
coming from a place almost unknown:
it was my heart and soul
talking to him,
cradling him.
What a shame that I had waited
so long just to let him know
how much I adored him.
Tuesday he slipped into a coma
On Wednesday I felt his cold hands
and knew the cold would soon envelope
the entire house.

Javier B. Pacheco

(Murió el 3 de Diciembre, 2014, hace seis meses, ó, como si fuera ayer)

El domingo perdió su equilibrio
y se cayó de la silla
me apure a su lado,
y al levantarlo
le aseguré en una voz baja, apacible
“Todo esta bien, Papá,
ya te tengo, todo esta bien.”

Me miró, casi asustado
Sabía que él ya no tenía
el control de su cuerpo
sus extremidades estaban desconectadas
de cualquier atadura al cerebro
sabía que ya no había conexión
pero me miraba fijamente
escuchando atentamente
tal vez porque mi voz tranquila
era como un susurro acariciando
sin recriminaciones ni culpas
sin juicio ni actitud;

fue un aliento suave
un estímulo gentil
de una voz que pocas veces había oído
proveniente de un lugar casi desconocido:
fue mi corazón y alma
que le hablaron,
que lo acunaron.
Que lástima que yo había esperado
tanto tiempo para dejarle saber
lo mucho que lo adoraba.
El martes entró en una coma
El miércoles sentí sus manos frías
y sabía que el frio pronto cubriría
a la casa entera.

Javier B. Pacheco, poetry / poesia. Born in Palo Alto, CA, Pacheco is currently a homeless poet, pianist, composer, arranger, and unemployed ethnomusicologist. Masters in Music (UCLA 1986), & PhD in Ethnomusicology (UCLA 1994).

to Juan Felipe Herrera new Poet Laureate
By Francisco X. Alarcón

to Juan Felipe Herrera new US Poet Laureate

may the cilantro magic of your poetry always bring lots of joy to us all!
que el cilantro mágico de tu poesía nos traiga siempre mucha alegría!

© Francisco X. Alarcón June 11, 2015

excerpt from Borderless frontera haikus
By Israel Francisco Haros López

borderless frontera haikus
we have forgotten the names of each other
underneath the shedding skin
those names written in our blood
that have danced to tonatiuh tonantzin...
before they knew they were lovers

Israel Haros is currently working on 1000 border sketch poems as part of an artist residency. He has been accepted into the Immigration/Migration themed residency at Santa Fe Art Institute. He is a published author and has 6 published Adult Chicano Coloring Books. He is also currently working on 1000 sketches in a month as part of an inner artistic movement. He can be found using facebook as his office and also on his wordpress "waterhummingbirdhouse" Chicano from Boyle Heights with an B.A. in English From UC Berkeley and an MFA from California College of The Arts.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Fast Gluten-free Tortilla Española

A genuine tortilla española may require almost an hour to cook and turn, maybe even a second plate to flip the partially cooked dish onto, then slide that back into the frying pan to cook the other side. Good eating need not be that much work.

This fast and easy version uses microwaved half-cooked papa and doesn’t concern itself with a lovely presentation molded into frying pan shape and cut into pie-like wedges. This is chow to start the day with a flourish. ¡Adelante!

2 ir 3 pink papas
4 blanquillos
coarse-ground black pepper
salt (optional)
heavy cream or milk (optional)
6+ mini-smokies (optional)
diced or sliced onion (optional)
diced bell pepper (optional)
diced Serrano or other chile (optional)

Whip eggs with a healthy splash of cream.
Microwave the washed papas on High for three minutes.
While the papas cool, make the egg mixture.

Slice the papas thinly.
Non-stick spray a frying pan.
Add a splash—to coat the bottom--corn or olive oil to the frying pan
Heat oil under medium flame.
Add the papas and let them brown on one side.
Add the optional veggies.
Turn the papas and let them begin to brown.

Add the lil smokies. Cook until the smokies are softened.

Pour in the blanquillo mix. Whirl the pan to distribute the eggs. The cream or milk thins and lends a velvety texture.

Cook until a spatula can lift the eggs and they’re brown underneath. Don't concern yourself with still-liquid egg mix here and there.

Flip the mixture by drawing a line with a spatula across the middle and flip each half.

Cook until the eggs are hard enough to your liking.

Serve with sliced tomatoes and tortillas de maíz.


Foto Ese. Floricanto in Person
Bluebird Reading Honors Eduardo Galeano

Los Angeles' leading art venue, Avenue 50 Studio, hosts two monthly Sunday poetry readings, La Palabra hosted by Karineh Mahdessian, and the Bluebird Reading Series hosted by Jessica Ceballos.

Sunday, June 14, Ceballos organized a tribute to legendary journalist, writer, novelist, poet, historian, philosopher, Eduardo Germán María Hughes Galeano (September 3, 1940 - April 13, 2015).

The reading celebrated the third year anniversary of the Bluebird Reading Series, as well as the recently conferred MFA for Vicky Vertiz. Advancing the celebratory mood was the acknowledgment of Juan Felipe Herrera's honor as the United States Poet Laureate.

Featured poets shared Galeano's work, or read their own inspired work included Abel Salas, Gloria Enedina Alvarez, Karen Anzoategui, Kenji Liu, Roberto Leni, and Yago S. Cura.

In addition, the popular Open Mic welcomed a number of poets for a two-minute opportunity to read.

No one knows if a future Poet Laureate was in the house for this honor of literary hero Eduardo Galeano.

Jessica Ceballos is one of the hardest-working poetry promoters in Los Angeles. She both Emceed the event and read her own work. As busy as she finds herself, Ceballos reading her own stuff is a rarely enjoyed event.

Artist Rafas contributes his Galeano portrait featuring key quotations from the literary hero.

Featured Poets

Jessica Ceballos draws a big hand for her rarely-seen performance of her own work.

Abel Salas, editor of Brooklyn & Boyle and promoter of Huizache reads the poem printed earlier in honor of Galeano and Juan Felipe Herrera.

Gloria Enedina Alvarez reads to musical accompaniment of Greg Hernandez.

Karen Anzoategui, a consummate performer, recently joined the cast of the run-away hit series on Hulu television, East Los High.

Kenji Liu opens veins to honor Galeano.

Roberto Leni waits in the SRO audience for his feature spot.

Roberto Leni's serio-comic presentation brings down the house.

Vickie Vertiz, who studied with Juan Felipe Herrera at UCR, recently earned her MFA.

Yago S. Cura, who enjoys writiing fútbol poetry, shares a Galeano masterpiece that weaves fútbol allusions with keenly satiric wit.  

Open Mic

Open Mic'ers inlcuded Christine Jordan, Graham Smith, Terri Martin Lujan, Seven, Zachary Jensen, Art Currim, Maestro Gamin, James Goyte, Francisco Letelier, Rossana Perez, Joe Parker and Dig Wayne. Not all are included in today's foto ese, mostly owing to lack of eye contact! One poet illustrates the disadvantage of the lectern/music stand. She is short and is barely visible behind the apparatus. 

Gente--poets--take advice from a two-time Poet Laureate! Juan Felipe Herrera observes the audience is half the poem. Make eye contact, move the lectern and commit yourself to the audience using all the technology of the body. Make words and phrases mean what you want them to mean, rather than be mere black spots on a page.

Christine Jordan

Dig Wayne

Francisco Letelier. His 14-year-old son watched dad wow the house.

Graham Smith


Terri Martin Lujan

Maestro Gamin

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