Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Traqueros: The Real Railroad Builders. Classic Slam in LA. May On-line Floricanto

Guest Reviewer: Hugo Cesar Garcia, Traqueros: The Real Railroad Builders

Jeffrey Marcos Garcílazo, Traqueros Mexican Railroad Workers in the United States 1870-1930. Denton TX: University of North Texas Press. ISBN-13: 9781574416275

By Hugo Cesar Garcia

Railroads are in my blood: my maternal grandfather Amado was a freight conductor; great uncle Leon a passenger conductor; great uncle Vicente a stationmaster and uncle Jesus formed trains in the Chihuahua yards. All worked for Ferrocarriles Nacionales. My childhood friends Chilo lived in a boxcar in Chihuahua and the Metrolink whistle wakes me up every 5 AM a short block away from my house. This is why I read with great interest “Traqueros, Mexican Railroad Workers in the United States 1870-1930” by Jeffrey Marcos Garcilazo based on his exhaustively researched 1993 doctoral thesis about the Mexicans and their families who for 50 years laid and maintained tracks allowing the railroads to propitiate economic development in the U.S. by facilitating mineral extraction, agricultural and territorial expansion.

History classes briefly mention the role railroads played in the expansion of the U.S. economy and leaving the impression Chinese workers built them. According to Traqueros, after the whites no longer wanted the poorly paid job of laying and maintaining track and the Chinese were legislatively excluded from such work in 1882, The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad built the Ferrocarril Central de Mexico and the Ferrocarril de Sonora to transport thousands of Mexicans to El Paso Texas to work throughout the West, the Central Plains and the Midwest propelling the growth of the U.S. economy. Several inter urban rails including the Southern California’s Pacific Electric Red Car System also profited from this Mexican cheap labor.

Traqueros vividly depicts not only the exploitation and sub human living conditions in cramped railroad boxcars these casual common laborers and their families endured for half a century but also how they coped with abusive foremen and resisted forced Americanization preserving their traditions, songs and celebrations in their vibrant communities.

After reading Traqueros it becomes obvious, without these Mexican workers, the railroads would have never expanded and this country grown so prosperous. Unfortunately, the myth that the Chinese built the railroads still persists. “It is never in the books or papers that the Mexicans built the railroads. And we had no machines, only our hands,” complained former Traquero Jesus Ramirez. Traqueros constitutes an important first step in the recognition of Ramirez and the thousands of until now invisible workers.

Traqueros not only should be included in any Chicano and Labor Studies programs but also in high school and college history classes. The subject is ideally suited for one of those definitive PBS documentaries.

Hugo Cesar Garcia covered Southern California fro Eastern Group Publications, whose circulation area served the eastern and central parts of the Los Angeles basin.

Garcia is currently working on his first novel Hueso, about Spanish language media, immigration, and police abuse. The novel''s action moves from Cd. Juarez to Los Angeles at the height of the narco wars.

GetLit Classic Grand Slam

High school weekends for 1960s-era students like me saw the speech and debate team loading up a big school bus for a day trip to one of the schools in the Citrus Belt Speech League. The National Forensic League Redlands High School chapter, produced champions. It did wonders for me, which is why I heartily recommend kids get into Speech / Debate to develop confidence and poise, as well as solid study habits.

It’s not mere nostalgia but memory that those NFL contests were as incredibly exhausting as they were fun. I don’t know what’s become of the NFL these days, no one asks me to judge speech contests any more. But that’s all right because I discovered an activity that offers more satisfaction, to my mind: Classic Slam.

It’s great seeing La Bloga supporting slam contests. Amelia Montes wrote in her Sunday La Bloga about judging the Nebraska finals. Last Thursday and Friday, my wife and I volunteered to staff the registration table for the final weekend of GetLit’s Classic Slam.

The Los Angeles Theater Center rocked with energy and high spirits as coaches, and a few principals, made their way to our station. They got a canvas bag stuffed with tee shirts and wrist bands, met with a videographer to record their team yell, then waiting outside to be ushered in for the contest.

Large entourages filed in, too, dozens to support the six or seven contestants.The Classic Slam format not only generates team and school spirit, it’s a fabulous method to interest students in poetry.

A student works with an English teacher as well as researches poetry to find a classic poem. The “favorite poet” board illustrates the breadth of their research. The kid studies the classic piece then develops an oral interpretation to present from memory. At the same time, the student writes an original poem, a response to the classic piece. During the contest, the student performs both poems, wrapping the pieces with an introduction and transition.

Contest theatres are SRO and floor only. I remained at my table and listened for the tumult that erupted after each contestant’s final word. All I could was smile at the racket, and remember back to the polite desultory applause of an NFL speech round.

On-line Floricanto Five For May
Alfonso Martinez Pretel, Lia Eliades, Paul Aponte, Jolaoso PrettyThunder, Jabez W. Churchill

Tankas by Alfonso Martinez Pretel
The Last Night Lia Eliades
SAUDADE by Paul Aponte
We speak of mighty things by Jolaoso PrettyThunder
Indefensos/Defenseless by Jabez W. Churchill

By Alfonso Martinez Pretel

Silence is a bridge
to join the two shores of soul,
the mute one which prays
and the quiet road that leads
to merciful purposes.

And the stream of life,
flows calmly below the stones
placed to connect stages
of the same trajectory
towards a pure humanism.

(El silencio es un puente
para unir las dos orillas del alma,
la muda que reza
y el camino tranquilo que conduce
a propósitos misericordiosos.

Y el arroyo de la vida,
fluye con calma bajo las piedras
colocadas para enlazar etapas
de la misma trayectoria
hacia un humanismo puro.)

(Llenando Cuencos)

Alfonso Martínez Pretel, born in Cartagena, Province of Murcia, Southeastern Spain, in July 1968. He studied Law at the University in Murcia. He is married and father of two male kids. Unpublished poet. Up to the date, he hasn’t had the opportunity to see his poems collected in a printed book, though he shares, almost daily, his Poetry in Facebook and also in his literary blog (http://miralfondo.blogspot.com). He writes in his mother tongue, Spanish, and, with the purpose of reaching to more readers in the world, in English, French and Italian. His inspiration and poetical topics come from Love, Religion, Spirituality, Eroticism and Pilgrimages (Saint James Way). The author intends with his Poetry to exalt all the beauty which we can see in nature, in people and inside the soul. He truly thinks that Poetry, if not could change the world, at least can transform it into a better place.

- Simas y Cumbres (Chasms and Summits). In Spanish. Poetry.
- Melodías de Azahar (Tunes of Orange Blosson). In Spanish. Poetry.
- Amor Culpabilísimo (Love Very Guilty). In Spanish with some poems in English. Poetry.
- Crisantemos Amarillos (Yellow Chrysanthemums). In Spanish. Poetry. Haiku and Tercets
- El Tatami Sembrado (The Sown Tatami). In Spanish and English. Poetry. Haiku and Tanka.
- Llenando Cuencos (Filling Bowls). In English. Poetry. Tanka.
- Brother Verse, Sister Prayer. In English. Franciscan Poetry. Haiku
- Versos Corrientes (Ordinary Verses). In Spanish. Poetry.
- Aroma de Arrayán. (Scent of Myrtle). In Spanish. Poetry.
- Foglie Appena Cadute (Leaves Hardly Fallen). In Italian. Poetry. Haiku and Tanka.
- Bateau Vers L’Orient (Vessels Eastbound). In French. Poetry. Haiku and Tanka.
- Verses For True Tales. In English. Poetry. (Not finished yet. In process of writing)

The Last Night
By Lia Eliades

tonight is the last night
that i will sleep in my bed
in my house
on the farm
it will be the last time
that i wake
to regard the sunrise dancing
on the tall white gums
tinkling in the breeze
This king bed
now dethroned and usurped
we leave weary and peasant like
serfs with no where to call home
no one to pay taxes to
no one to fear
just life itself
owing nothing
to no one
but ourselves
a different beast indeed

Lia Eliades - A creative heart from the lower east side of New York City, left to explore the world and has lived in Thailand, Indonesia and now Western Australia. The past 20 years have been spent working the land and writing on a broad acre farm on the edge of the Outback.

By Paul Aponte

You're only a poet once
On the long lonesome highway
In the dark dreary corners of the room
On café table tops
In wordsmith arenas & circles
Searching for the unsearchable
In noisy, crowded, restaurants
In a river's bank under a tree
In lost friends
In summer winds
In rainy Novembers
In lonely nights
Saudade do espírito
For only one lifetime

Paul Aponte is a Chicano poet from Sacramento, California. Paul, is a prolific writer and member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, and Círculo (a group of poets and writers bringing workshops & performances to the west coast), and can be seen performing at various venues throughout the SF Bay and Sacramento areas. He is the author of the book of poetry "Expression Obsession", and has been published in "WTF" a publication from Rattlesnake Press, "La Bloga" - an L.A. based online publication & review, "El Tecolote Press" - from San Francisco, "Poetry Now" - Sacramento Poetry Center's quarterly, and "Un Canto De Amor A Gabriel Garcia Márquez" a publication from the country of Chile containing poems from around the world with 31 countries represented.

We speak of mighty things
By Jolaoso PrettyThunder

here on Mount Vision I trace your face
a crescent moon above the Monterey cypress
and long to speak to you
of the phosphorescence in the hidden cove
i want to ask you do you remember?
if not I will tell you this
late, well after midnight the eucalyptus
bent down so deeply she reached into the sea, touched it
this was the season of fury
a time when artists tear their studios apart
cuss God and break their most precious possessions in one night
season of secrets and making pacts
we eat stale bread, drink rum
and walk through the opium after midnight
driftwood smoke
here i will always know you
we are out at Laird’s Landing
and slipped out of our clothes and into the sea
swimming under the full moon We are Illuminated
and became a school of perch then 7000 swallows
i try to retrace the steps and spy a glance of the she-cat
she must have left when you did

Jolaoso Pretty Thunder is common woman.She lives in the woods of Northern California with her two dogs Rosie Farstar and Ilumina Holydog. She is a certified practitioner and student of herbal medicine and is an ordained minister of First Nations Church. She is a well traveled poet and loves southern rock, porch swings, pickup trucks, cooking, camp fires, lightning, steak, long drives, hot cups of coffee, gathering and making medicine and singing with her friends and family.

By Jabez W. Churchill

Indefensos nacemos,
sin excepción,
sostenidos a mamar,
a caminar omisos de nada,
a compartir, consumir
solo lo que nos haga falta,
dejar suficiente, lena y agua,
para los que vendran.
?Cuanta gula?
para multilar una isla,
envenenar la mar entera.
?Cuantas especies,
generaciones lisiadas,
hasta la extincion?
cascaras vacias por la orilla sin tocar.
Afortunados los ricos cuyos hijos
no tuvieran hijos, de breve vida
sus cascaras deformadas por las orillas.
?Quien sano les amamantaria,
ensenaria como caminar,
no tocar lo que sus padres envenenaron,
compartir lo poco que nos quedaria,
dejar a otros si otros habria?

Defenseless we are born,
without exception,
held to suckle from the same breasts,
to walk not missing anything,
share, take only what we need,
leave wood and water,
enough for those who have yet to come.
How much greed to maim an island,
poison an entire sea?
How many species,
crippled generations,
to extinction?
Empty shells untouched along the shore.
The wealthy would be fortunate
if their children did not bear,
shells short lived,
deformed along the shore.
Who, healthy, would suckle them,
teach them how to walk,
not touch what their parents poisoned,
share what little there is left,
leave for others,
should others ever come?

 Jabez W. Churchill. Nacido en California del Norte, educado en la Argentina, California, y tambien Cuba.  Papa soltero. Corrientemente maestro de idiomas modernos a Santa Rosa Junior College y Mendocino College en California. Poeta californiano en las escuelas publicas desde 1998, por lo tanto con estudiantes bilingues y con jovenes encarcelados. Desobediente civil desde 1970.

SONG OF SEASONS, Small Poetry Press, 1996
CONTROLLED BURN, Small Poetry Press, 1996
EL VELO/THE VEIL, Kulupi Press, 2000
SANTA CLARA REVIEW, Spring/Summer 2002
americas review, 2003
languageandculture.net, chapbook series, 2005
FIRST LEAVES, Literary and Art Journal, 2009
Primer Festival de Poesia Latinoamericana, San Francisco, Ca. 2011
laBloga, Poets Responding to SB1070, 2011-2013
THE ARTS UNITED SAN ANTONIO, May, 2012, and August, 2012.

Espana, verano, 1999.
Cuba, becado por la Casa de las Americas, verano, 2000.
Invitado al Summer Dream Poetry Festival, Vancouver, B.C. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,and 2012.

No comments: