Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview of DaMaris B. Hill

Interview of DaMaris B. Hill by Xánath Caraza

DaMaris B. Hill, Ph.D.

Xánath Caraza (XC): Who is DaMaris B. Hill?

DaMaris B. Hill (DBH): The short answer is that I’m sugar&spice, scribbler&scholar, feminist in flow & digital by design. An accurate answer is more like I’m figuring it out everyday. I know who I am. I know what is important to me, but who I am as a writer changes.  I don’t rule of the work.  The work, the subjects, the characters, they tell me who they are.  They tell me what to write, sometimes they tell what I cannot say.  They correct me when I write them wrong. I define myself as a poet and prose writer. One that knows the rules of writing, but enjoys negotiating and breaking them – primarily because I don’t know of rule or a law that was designed to aid black women in my lifetime – so the time I take to analyze, negotiate and evade constraints may stem from that civic centered embodied knowledge –

XC: As a child, who first introduced you to reading?  Who guided you through your first readings? 

DBH: My parents were probably the first to introduce me to writing.  Books were everywhere in my childhood.  My parents didn’t play much music in the house.  I heard music at church or in the cars. Many people in my family, including my parents, are clergy people.  My baby food was flavored with religious metaphor.

XC: How did you first become a poet/writer? 

DBH: I became a writer, because I loved language. I think I also became a poet because it was an art form that could be jotted down on single pieces of paper and easily hidden. I didn’t tell anyone that I was a writer for a long time. My family found out when I won the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers in 2003. That is when I finally told them. My first poems were written on church bulletins and programs – all in the margins. I also wrote them in school notebooks like most people do when they don’t have a formal journal. I never did trust diaries. I had a few, but I felt they garnered attention. Surely, someone would read a pretty ornamental diary that belongs to a curious young girl.

I think I first published my poems in a college literary journal at Morgan State University. My friend, a poet and photographer, named Anna Stone-I think she was the first to publish my work. I’m not sure what impact those publications had on me. I still get nervous when I see my work in print. I was most likely very anxious when I saw my work in print.

XC: Do you have any favorite poems by other authors?  Or stanzas?  Could you share some verses along with your reflection of what drew you toward that poem/these stanzas?

DBH: I have a few favorite poets. My love for Lucille Clifton’s work is at the top of the list. The Book of Light is the poetry book that love most. “Climbing” comes to mind as one of my favorite poems. My favorite line in the poem “her dangling braids the color of rain”. That image continues to dance in my mind.
I rise toward it, struggling,
hand over hungry hand.
I love how the image of the hair resonates with symbolism of hair in a spiritual context and a long poetic legacy.

XC: What is a day of creative writing like for you?

DBH: The best writing days begin in bed. I like it when I can write four pages on a yellow legal pad with a black extra fine point pen, before getting out. I like to sit for a minimum of four hours and write.  I never write more than two weeks in the same place; it slows my productivity. I write in several spaces.  I write at home in my study, at various coffee houses, at my office in the library at the University of Kentucky, sometimes in the car – I record my thoughts using a recorder on the phone… I try to write everyday, but I cannot write well on days I teach.  I am too distracted by time and appointments to concentrate like I like to. If I don’t write every few days, I can become a bit of a grouch.

XC: Could you describe your activities as poet?

DBH: Observing. Listening. Respecting.

XC: Could you comment on your life as a cultural activist? 

DBH: I am not good at commenting on my life as a cultural activist. I have a list of causes that are important to me. I have a list of things that I have done. Keeping these records are necessary to for my position at the University of Kentucky.  What I value is love, love as an action, love that asserted in a world that has been gorging on hate.

XC: What projects are you working on at the moment?

DBH: Currently, I am revising a manuscript for publication, A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing.   The book was recently acquired and is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Publishing.  I am very excited about this book.  The poems in A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing, honor African American women that have had experiences with incarceration, some of whom have organized resistance movements over the last two centuries.  The poems question what are the ripple effects and losses of the immediate inequalities and killings associated with this time in our collective history. I have really enjoyed creating remixes to some of the poems in this manuscript. A sample creative writing in digital spaces project that was born out of this manuscript can be found here, “Shut Up In My Bones”.  Others will follow.

XC: What advice do you have for other poets?

DBH: Read everything.  Know your tribe.  Apply to and attend writers retreats, like The Watering Hole or residencies like The MacDowell Colony, in order to get more specific training and advice – also to be in community with other poets/writers.  Try to get a bit of new art (of any medium and genre) in everyday.

XC: What else would you like to share?

DBH: Be kind to one another.

Friday, October 13, 2017

New Books

Intriguing new books from around the literary world. One novel, one novella, one poetry collection and two short story anthologies. And check out the dynamic cover art.

Proud to say that my latest short story (Night in Tunisia) debuts in the last book on this list -- Blood Business: Crime Stories From This World And Beyond.  Join several of the contributors at the Blood Business launch, November 10, 7:00 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, Denver Colfax store.

As Chuy the Cholo says, "Oye, read to succeed."

Street People: A Novella
Michael Nava
Kórima Press - October

[from the publisher]
Ben Manso drifts through life, working as a rent boy, until a casual encounter with an eight-year-old street kid named Bobby at a convenience store changes everything. When Ben sees Bobby again, the boy is with a man who claims to be Bobby’s father, but Ben suspects the man is a pedophile and the boy his captive. A third encounter draws Ben deeper into Bobby’s drama and forces him to face his own haunted past. After Ben’s well-intentioned plan to rescue Bobby puts the boy in even greater danger, Ben is forced to make a life-changing choice.

Street People is the story of lives at the margin, about the throw-away people we see without seeing, and the real meaning of family.

Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of seven novels featuring gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios which won six Lambda Literary Awards.  In 2000, he was awarded the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBT literature.  The New York Times review of the last Rios novel called him “one of our best.”  The City of Palaces was a finalist for the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for best gay novel and was awarded the 2014 International Latino Literary Award for best novel. Lay Your Sleeping Head, a reimagining of the first Henry Rios novel published 30 years ago, was published in 2016 by Kórima Press.

University of Arizona Press

 [from the publisher]
Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut uses both humor and sincerity to capture moments in time with a sense of compassion for the hard choices we must make to survive. Vértiz's poetry shows how history, oppression, and resistance don't just refer to big events or movements; they play out in our everyday lives, in the intimate spaces of family, sex, and neighborhood. Vértiz's poems ask us to see Los Angeles—and all cities like it—as they have always been: an America of code-switching and reinvention, of lyric and fight.

Vickie Vértiz earned her MFA from the University of California, Riverside. A Macondo and VONA fellow, she is a Los Angeles–based poet writer and social justice advocate who teaches creative writing to adults and young people across the country.

Havana Libre
Robert Arellano
Akashic Books - December

[from the publisher]
In this explosive follow-up to Havana Lunar, Dr. Mano Rodriguez takes an undercover assignment to the most dangerous city in Latin America: Miami.

During the summer of 1997, a series of bombings terrorize Havana hotels. The targets are tourists, and the terrorists are exiles seeking to cripple Cuban tourism and kill the Revolution. After Mano finds himself helpless to save one of the victims, his nemesis Colonel Emilio Pérez of the National Revolutionary Police recruits him into Havana’s top-secret Wasp Network of spies for a job that only he can perform—but for reasons he never would have believed or expected.

Robert Arellano is the award-winning author of six novels including Curse the Names, Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, and Don Dimaio of La Plata. His nonfiction title Friki: Rock and Rebellion in the Cuban Revolution, will be released in 2018. He lives in Oregon. His latest novel, Havana Libre, is the standalone sequel to his Edgar-nominated Havana Lunar.

Short Story Collections

Gary Phillips, editor
Three Rooms Press - October

[from the publisher]
Noir meets diverse voices and transforms the genre into an over-the-top, transcendental psychedelic thriller ride of pulpy goodness in The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir The collection is curated by editor and award-winning crime novelist and activist Gary Phillips, and includes stories by Walter Mosley, Robert Silverberg, Nisi Shawl, Kate Flora, Christopher ChambersDésirée Zamorano and more!

In the tradition of satirical works of Swift and Twain, with nods to the likes of William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, these tales contain vigilante First Ladies, Supreme Court judges who can clone themselves, gear-popping robots of doom, and races of ancient lizard people revealing their true master plan–all mashed up in the blender of fake news bots, climate change hoaxes, and outlandish spins of bizarro conspiracy theories. 

In an era where the outlandish and fantastic has permeated our media 24/7, where mind-bending conspiracy theories shape our views, The Obama Inheritance writers riff on the numerous fictions spun about the 44th president of the U.S. Contributors spin deliberately outlandish and fantastic twists on many of the dozens of screwball, bizarro conspiracy theories floated about the president during his years in office and turn them on their heads. 

South Central native Gary Phillips (editor) draws on his experiences from anti-police abuse community organizing, activism in the anti-apartheid movement, union rep, state director of a political action committee, to delivering dog cages in writing his tales of chicanery and malfeasance. He has written various novels, novellas, comics, short stories, radio plays and a script now and then. He has edited or co-edited several anthologies, and must keep writing to forestall his appointment at the crossroads. Phillips is president of the Private Eye Writers of America.

Désirée Zamorano (contributor and La Bloga friend) delights in the exploration of contemporary issues of injustice and inequity in her writing. A Pushcart prize nominee and award-winning short story writer, her novel Human Cargo, featuring private investigator Inez Leon, was Latinidad’s mystery pick of the year. She is also the author of the acclaimed literary novel The Amado Women.

Blood Business: Crime Stories From This World And Beyond
Edited by Mario Acevedo and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishing - November

[from the publisher]

Two books, one anthology.
The grift. The scam. The double-cross. Blackmail and burglary; murder and larceny. Blood Business tracks the underbelly of human nature through the muck of our lesser angels in twenty-seven crime stories set in this world...and beyond.

Mario Acevedo is the author of the bestselling Felix Gomez detective-vampire series, which includes Rescue From Planet Pleasure from WordFire Press. His debut novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, was chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of the best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Decade and was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award. He contributed two stories for the award-winning horror anthology, Nightmares Unhinged, by Hex Publishers. His novel, Good Money Gone, co-authored with Richard Kilborn, won a best novel 2014 International Latino Book Award. Mario lives and writes in Denver, Colorado
Joshua Viola is an author, artist, and former video game developer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Smurfs, TARGET: Terror). In addition to creating a transmedia franchise around The Bane of Yoto, honored with more than a dozen awards, he is the author of Blackstar, a tie-in novel based on the discography of Celldweller. His debut horror anthology, Nightmares Unhinged, was a Denver Post and Amazon bestseller and named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. His second anthology, Cyber World (co-edited by Jason Heller), was an Independent Publisher Book Awards winner and Colorado Book Award finalist and named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Barnes & Noble. His short fiction has appeared in The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Found anthology (RMFW Press), D.O.A. III – Extreme Horror Collection (Blood Bound Books), and The Literary Hatchet (PearTree Press). He lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is chief editor and owner of Hex Publishers   



Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in 2016 and was a finalist for the Shamus Award in the Original Paperback category sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Chicanonautica: A Spanish New Wave

My wife and I gave up on cable years ago. We dip into it in motels when we travel, where it has become apparent that most television is background noise with commercials. I do have a morbid curiosity about what they’re selling these days, but it gets old fast.

Most evenings we amuse ourselves with Hulu and some of the network websites, which I can enjoy now that I’ve learned not to take them seriously (or maybe I’m just getting old). Often the pickings get slim and we search for movies on Amazon Prime and Netflicks.

Recently, we’ve noticed a lot of interesting movies coming from Spain.

Some of you will sneer at this. You view Spain as the enemy as you construct your native identity in English. But I’ve found that I have a lot more in common with Spanish culture than with a lot of what the Anglo-dominated entertainment industry serves up.

Spanish movies have always been different, going back to the silent special effects wizardry of Segundo de Chomón. Their horror movies are a twisted universe of their own. And when it comes to art films, there’s plenty of blood, guts, tits, and ass.

But we should expect that from the homeland of bullfighting, the mother of all art forms.

And don’t confuse these movies with the ancient French New Wave. They have arty styles and looks, but these are fast-moving. Sure, you have to read subtitles and hear a Spanish that’s different from what’s spoken in your barrio, but you will be entertained. And excited.

The Invisible Guardian takes place in the northern, Basque region, which is gloomy and spooky unlike the sun-blasted landscapes used in countless spaghetti westerns. Based on the international bestseller by Dolores Redondo, it’s a crime drama with a strong female lead--and it also has a supernatural theme. There’s a duende central the story, reminding us a lot of our folklore hitched its way to las Americas on the Spanish Armada. Film noir in foresty mountains with a magical kind of realism. 

The Invisible Guest (yup, two movies with “invisible” in the title, what are the odds?) is a locked room mystery that comes on like nitro-charged Hitchcock with rapid-fire suspense, and twists that get time trippy (the original title is Contratiempo), right up to one of the most amazing endings ever, that leaves you surprised and thinking back to all the clues they kept showing you, making you think, but of course! I should have known!

The Bar (originally, El Bar) is an apocalyptic thriller that teeters on the jagged edge of science fiction. The title sequence with its close ups of microorganisms and wild jazz is a masterpiece on its own. The rest of the film manages to live up to it. It starts off like Fellini directing an out of control Twilight Zone--seeming like chaos, with everyone talking at once, as it sets up the story. The apocalypse becomes intimate with some feisty characters trapped in a messy, claustrophobic situation.
And not a zombie in sight!

These movies are so good, Hollywood is probably negotiating to remake them in English right now. I still recommend seeing the originals. The corporate entertainment industry will probably lose something in translation.

And we need to stay in touch with the global barrio!

Ernest Hogan is proud to announce that Strange Particle Press is working on a new edition of his novel Smoking Mirror Blues.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Latino Authors Are Writing For Coco

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist Monsters University), and produced by Darla K. Anderson (Toy Story 3), Disney/Pixar’s Coco opens in U.S. theaters on November 22, 2017.

Coco: The Junior Novelization
Coco: The Deluxe Junior Novelization

By Angela Cervantes
Illustrated by RH Disney

Coco: The Junior Novelization retells the whole exciting movie and features eight pages of full-color scenes in this paperback novel. 

I Love My Family! A Book of Memories

By Edlin Ortiz
Illustrated by The Disney Storybook Art Team

This full-color hardcover book based on the film is the essential guide to the family tree of Disney/Pixar’s Coco. It’s perfect for readers ages 9 to 12.

Coco Big Golden Book

By Malin Alegria
Illustrated by The Disney Storybook Art Team

This Big Golden Book retells the whole story of Disney/Pixar’s Coco. 

Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony

By Matt de la Peña
Illustrated by Ana Ramírez

This jacketed picture book pairs Newbery Winner Matt de la Peña and Pixar artist Ana Ramírez with the highly anticipated Pixar Studios film, Coco. Featuring a beautiful original story based on the characters of the film, as well as vibrant stylized artwork, this title is sure to appeal to readers of all ages.

Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes

By Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
Illustrated by The Disney Storybook Art Team

Children ages 3 to 7 will love this full-color storybook with a shiny cover, game cards, and over 50 stickers based on the film.