Friday, August 23, 2019

Summer Movies at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Tonight

Melinda Palacio

Outdoor Movies at the Courthouse

This year, Arts and Lectures has chosen the theme of Those Fabulous Fifties to feature three movies for folks to view on the lawn of the Santa Barbara Courthouse. This is one of my favorite activities. In the afternoon, you can claim a spot by leaving your blanket and chair and then make your way to the spot once it gets dark and closer to the 8:30 pm showtime. Santa Barbara is the kind of town where such an arrangement is possible. 

Last week's feature was High Noon, a Western with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Gary Cooper plays a Marshall who marries a young quaker who inspires the Marshall to leave his badge behind and become a store owner with his bride. However, after the ceremony, while waiting for his replacement, the Marshall learns that the bad guys he previously put away are out of jail. His new bride wants him to flee as fast as possible, but he is set on facing them down. As far as Westerns go, this is one of the better ones. There are no stressed out horses or gratuitous  killings of Indians. And the real star of the movie, the actor that steals the show, is Mexican actress, Katy Jurado. 

Katy Jurado 
A star of Mexico's Golden Age and a decorated Hollywood actress, Golden Globe award winner and lifetime achievement award winner. She was discovered at age 16 and made her debut in 1943. She acted with all the greats Pedro Infante, Anthony Quinn, John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando. Her big breakthrough role was in last week's courthouse movie, High Noon, with Gary Cooper. She teaches the naive Grace Kelly about both standing by your man and being an independent woman. I was impressed with her acting and plan to watch some of her other films, Nosotros Los Pobres with Pedro Infante, Broken Lance with Spencer Tracy, and the Man from Del Rio with Anthony Quinn are on my watch list.

Tonight's movie is Sunset Boulevard with William Holden and Gloria Swanson. The film is about a struggling screenwriter and his relationship to a former film star who wants to make a comeback. In three short weeks summer movies on the courthouse lawn are here and gone. Next week marks Labor Day weekend and the end of summer, although for Santa Barbara, the warm weather is just beginning.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hippos, Zoos, Education, and Art

     Have the hippos taken over the zoo?
     I read his book or essay or something by him in my early years of teaching composition and literature, maybe it was even as far back as graduate school.
     I needed to learn more about literary criticism since I’d landed a job teaching literature and essay writing at a local community college. I’d received degrees in Spanish and English and, though we read much literature, my focus was composition, which I figured I’d need if I wanted to write fiction.
     Friends who had studied English at UC told me they learned more about literary criticism but less about writing. I never really wanted to be a teacher but a writer. Learning to teach composition may not have been the best choice for a budding fiction writer, but, hey, I was limited in those days.
     I don’t remember his name, maybe it was one of the Blooms, either literary critic Harold or cultural philosopher Allan, not sure, but he was renowned and influential in his field. He rejected the notion that creative writers should teach in the academy, even if they'd won literary prizes or made bestseller’s lists. When pushed, he responded with something like, “You don’t turn the zoo over to the hippopotamus.”
     I suppose he figured creative writers' passion was to write prose or poetry but not to teach, especially if they lacked the appropriate university degrees, which would tarnish the academy's integrity. Teachers teach and writers write, two completely different crafts.
     Maybe he also surmised if writers taught writing or literature, they’d be prejudiced, since many artists adhere to their favorite styles and dismiss those they don’t like, as if professor don’t. Debatable, right?
     For an artist, it is a dilemma. At the time, I wanted to write fiction, but I was also studying inside the Ivy Walls, though few west coast universities actually had ivy. At Beyond Baroque in Venice, I met Chicano writers Manuel “Manazar” Gamboa and Luis Rodriguez, who were also struggling writers. Manazar, a published poet, learned to write poetry in prison, where he’d spent a significant amount of his life, behind gangs and drugs, a real sweetheart of a man.
     Luis had been writing for various small newspapers and was contemplating accepting an offer from Cal to study journalism. Luis wasn’t a product of academia. He’d been working various jobs to survive, as he described in his bestseller, “Always Running.”
     Of course, more than anything, the three of us wanted to be published and earn a living writing, but, the way we were going, we also didn’t want to starve. From what I recall, both Manazar and Luis believed the only way to really learn to write was to—well, write. To study about writing was a whole different thing.
     In the late 1960s and early 70s, few universities offered few creative writing classes, and even fewer offered degrees in creative writing, except maybe a class of poetry. The ubiquitous MA in creative writing hadn’t yet been launched.
     Pulitzer Prize winning writer Wallace Stegner founded Stanford’s writing program in 1946, an answer to the Iowa Writers Workshop, which came together in 1936, the only institution to offer an advanced degree in creative writing. Actually, Iowa started its program “Verse-Making” in 1897, but it took 40 years to re-tool it and make it a modern fiction writing program.
     In my early days of education, what did I know? I was a working-class kid, first-generation college, a few years out of the military (a different type of institution but an institution nevertheless), spending what remained of his GI Bill, but I did know one thing, writers, fiction or otherwise, needed to know how to string together words, sentences, and paragraphs, which I did not, even with my Catholic school education. Where better to learn than in a college classroom, the basics—right?
     As I studied, I learned that from the Middle Ages through the early 1900s, the greatest fiction writers, in all languages and cultures, weren’t trained in universities. Traveling minstrels and court jesters composed verse to carry stories from one kingdom to another. I’m sure neither Shakespeare nor Cervantes took a creative writing class.
     From Mexico’s Juan Rulfo to Russia’s Tolstoy, from the French to the English, Germans, Spanish, and into the U.S., most fiction writers didn’t come from the ranks of academia. Like our illuminous critic argued, even back then, the academy wasn’t about to turn the zoo over to the hippos.
     If anybody brooked the gap between writing and scholarship, it was probably the early clerics, like monks, priests, ministers, nuns, and rabbis, a purely didactic endeavor, though, filled with elements of postmodernism and magical realism, probably unknown even to them.
     If early creative writers had been independently wealthy, like Tolstoy, or lived frugally, like the Bronte sisters, or had benefactors, as did Joseph Conrad and Langston Hughes, so much the better. But most writers had to work to survive and took to farming, business, clerking, government, and newspaper work, as did Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Elena Poniatowska, Pablo Neruda, John dos Passos, Hemingway, Garcia Marquez, and Steinbeck, who, luckily for him, made his name early with “Tortilla Flat.”
     Steinbeck had enrolled in Stanford but dropped out fearing academia would stifle not only his writing but his life experiences. Why play around in college when one can be writing? Anyway, whether one lives in dorms or in barracks, one must still follow the institution’s rules.
     Like Steinbeck, many writers who eschewed college were determined to write and not to study writing. After all, institutions create standards, and one, usually, cannot move to the next level unless he or she has met the standards.
     Academia can’t claim to be the training ground for the most influential writers of any time period, including today. I mean, there are always exceptions, but I’ll just throw out a wild guess. Fiction writers who usually fill the top spots on bestsellers lists probably come from the ranks of newspaper reporters first, then other sorts of writing, like theater, film, PR, or business, even lawyers, doctors, and cops (they write a lot of briefs and reports), and they have a lot of material. And, yes, I know, academics, even those who write fiction, snub their noses at things like bestseller's lists and popular fiction.
     On the other hand, professors commit at least 10 to 12 years of their lives to studying and the remainder to working in a classroom. That becomes the bulk of their life’s experiences. Ironically, many English teachers hardly need to write. Though many of my English department colleagues entered the profession with the intention of writing novels and short stories, most fell by the wayside, failing to sprout literary weeds.
     Even at the university level where publish or perish is the mantra, it’s well known that once teachers earn professor status, are lucky enough to have a dissertation published, and/or write a few articles for academic journals, now and again, their jobs are secure. Could it be that this security hinders creativity?
     Something about academia does kill the spirit, as Page Smith noted in his informative, thought-provoking book on academia, “Killing the Spirit,” in which he explored the impact of higher education not only on students but on faculty.
     Even in college, I remember how professors confessed their desire to write, but teaching so exhausted them, by the time summer came around, many, as they thought writers should, rented homes in the woods, but instead of writing ended up spending their vacation eating, drinking, and being merry--mainly drinking. Has much changed?
     Some claim M.A.’s and MFA’s in creative writing programs have become the “fast food” industry of fiction. So many creative writers and teachers and so few places to publish, hence the creation of the university publishing industry, to publish professors’ work in all the various disciplines.
     Oh, it isn’t that I don’t think academics can write. They can, beautifully, once they drop the academese, like the writing teacher tells his/her students, “Write what you know.” I try to buy each new publication of “The American Scholar.” In their element, academics shine, especially when they are writing about academia or topics related to their research. Who better to write about borderlands than Gloria Anzaldua? Though, one might argue, her career was more about activism, writing, and early childhood education than about formal scholarship.
     One of my favorite writers was Loren Eisley, a scientist, whose description of nature mesmerized me. A favorite poet was William Carlos Williams, an MD. Poet Omar Salinas, more troubadour than academic and Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, a fallen away lawyer, both courageously exposed deep insecurities about masculinity and ethnicity in their books.
     I would much rather read psych teachers who publish in “Psychology Today “than those obscure psychology journals; though, I agree, they do have their place.
     However, the best fiction writing about academia (by best, I mean what I like most) is Philip Roth’s “The Human Stain,” Herman Hesse’s, “The Glass Bead Game,” and the depressing but jolting “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” by Goethe.
     Still, it was a lowly, 1950s Mexican government administrator, Juan Rulfo, who, for me, stands a giant among the rest, who in but two books of less than 150 pages each, “Pedro Paramo” and “Los Llanos in Llamas," solidified his place in world literature.”
     There was a time when novelists and short story writers, and artists in general, reveled in their raggedy existence, not unlike the main character in Kafka’s short story, “The Hunger Artist.” They prided themselves in their despair and suffered in their, often, dire circumstances. Even through monetary and personal turmoil, they wrote.
     They wrote about dangerous whaling expeditions or traveling down the Mississippi on a raft with an escaped slave, even about facing a firing squad and thinking of finding ice in the wilds of a Latin American jungle, or looking for a lost crazed European logger up the Congo River, as well as a Native American WWII veteran returning home after the war, involved in a murder, and fleeing to a Los Angeles slum to try and find survival, while salvation awaited him back on his New Mexico reservation.
     So, as many composition teachers still teach their students, the thesis sentence MUST be placed as the final sentence of the introductory paragraph, I have broken the rule and buried it some place inside the body, where the director of the zoo is still fighting to keep the hippos from overtaking the zoo.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Each Tiny Spark

By Pablo Cartaya

  •             Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  •             Grade Level: 5 - 6
  •             Hardcover: 336 pages
  •             Publisher: Kokila (August 6, 2019)
  •             Language: English
  •             ISBN-10: 0451479726
  •             ISBN-13: 978-0451479723

From award-winning author Pablo Cartaya comes a deeply moving middle grade novel about a daughter and father finding their way back to each other in the face of their changing family and community.

Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It's hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.

Dad shuts himself in the back stall of their family's auto shop to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear.

But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict.

Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya is a tender story about asking big questions and being brave enough to reckon with the answers.


*"A pitch-perfect middle-grade novel that insightfully explores timely topics with authenticity and warmth." 
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"[A] layered, culturally rich novel." 
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Hand to tween fans of realistic fiction."
School Library Journal

"Plenty of kids will relate to [Emilia's] passion and perseverance."

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pasqua in Sonora. Maria's Picture. Update on Mural Conservation. Poetry Saturday in Lamanda Library

Guest WriterVibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin
My Yaqui Pilgrimage, A Manda Fulfilled
Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

Yaqui rhythmic hand drums and the mourning of flutes lifted my spirit as I carried a yellow-robed statue of Mary, Mother of Jesus, at the Easter Sunday Pascua procession on the reservation’s plaza in Tucson. I took the Amtrak Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to Tucson to visit my Mother’s birthplace. I wanted to understand my mother, Isabel Luna Aparicio’s Yaqui roots.

Isabel Luna Aparicio holds Vibiana
There, at the New Pascua reservation I felt closer to her spirit on this first anniversary of her passing, since the previous April, when my family held her Requiem Mass at St. Joseph’s Carmelite Church, in Duarte, California.

I felt transported to a place where my soul joined with my deceased one-hundred-year-old Mexican Yaqui mother at the Pascua Easter ceremonies. The Pascua looked fervent and medieval in its stoic theatricality, and now forever imprinted in my psyche.

I read that the Yaqui, or Yoemem, practice these ceremonies with complex rituals and bring them to life by crowned masked dancers in prayerful meditation, accompanied by music and songs.

At this April’s Pascua, the ritualized reenactment of the suffering and resurrection of Jesus also told their own Yaqui story of suffering due to enslavement, the slaughter of thousands and the loss of their lands in Sonora and Arizona. This history is found in the book by David Delgado Shorter, We Will Dance Our Truth.

‘Hiaki’ Yaqui people live in the verdant agricultural state of Sinaloa on the Gulf of California, as well as throughout Sonora and along the Yaqui and Mayo rivers in southern Sonora. More communities of Yaqui settled in parts of Chihuahua, Durango and in southern Arizona.

The Yaqui wars also scattered them to Texas and California. For over 300 years, their religious ceremonies are prepared and practiced throughout the Catholic calendar year. The preparations are offered as a joyful penance and are considered ‘dutiful work’. The amazing Easter Pascua story is shown entirely through special dances.

The participants use anthropomorphic regalia for some of the characters, expressing the stories of the Yaqui Easter rituals in a dynamic compelling manner. As a theater director, costume designer, and Chicana familiar with Mexican and indigenous costume I appreciated the designs and construction of the homemade costumes. Ensembles appeared hand-made and rough looking but stunning. They looked powerful because of the obvious lovingly trochi humble nature of the recycled materials.

I was literally floored with the beauty of the colorful Matachine and altar Society crowns with their mirrors, satin fly away baby pink, mint green, and pale yellow ribbons, and delicate multi-hued paper flowers. The mirrors on the crowns reflected all around the plaza and added to the mystery of the area. Masks showed painted symbols of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as exaggerated animal features, on fabric, wood, and cardboard. They were embellished with metallic trim, fur, leather, and horsehair. Haunting music came from musical instruments lovingly crafted of bone, gourds, and moth cocoon shells.

Ceremonies begin and end with the deer dance. The maaso deer dancer transported Yaqui observers to all levels of his multi-dimensional world––past, present, and the physical and spiritual. Readings on the Yaqui religious beliefs tell that all this is revealed in the enchanted dream-like presence of Sea Aniya, the desert flowering world.

On this Easter Sunday, the deer dancer, a middle aged thick built Yaqui was crowned with a deer head. Its antlers were festooned with a jaunty red scarf. The deer head was tied on the dancer’s head with a white cotton scarf that nearly covered his eyes. I was forced to focus on the deer’s proud face as the dancer mesmerized me with his transformation into a graceful and lithe deer. The man became a deer with his every step, glance, and twitch of the head. I was moved even more with this metamorphosis when the music of gourd water drums, flutes, and bone rasps, guiros, and gourd rattles played for the deer dancer.

Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin at Tucson Museum of Art. Note Yaqui motifs.
Later, I sat waiting for mass when an altar lady invited me to be one of the twelve carriers of the three Marias. This fulfilled my manda pilgrimage to the place of my mother’s birthplace. The lady instructed me on my duties and placed a white linen square over my head. It was stitched with yellow flowers and embroidered at each point with a cross. Another lady crowned me with a four-pointed red fabric headdress edged with green ribbon, cascading pastel ribbons, and tiny satin flowers.

On that Easter Sunday at my mother’s birth place––where her umbilical cord is buried as is the custom, I rejoiced to the songs of the flute, the tam-tam of the drum and the wild spectacle of hundreds of bits of confetti raining on us peregrinos. Confetti, symbolizing blessings was tossed at us while we carried the three feet high yellow robed Mary statue around the plaza. The two other groups of women carrying a second and a third Mary statue followed us. Then, little girl angels trailed us. Their presence added to the sanctity of our pilgrimage.

From my crown, ribbons flew about and teased my eyes open to a new world. I saw new life––like the Yaqui of Fuchsia flowers that my mother sang to and cajoled to life long ago in our East L.A. front porch, whenever the flowers showed hints of withering.

Collectors won’t find Yaqui ceremonial masks, headdresses, and musical instruments to purchase at this modest pueblo, because the Yaqui consider these holy. All the masks and red and white striped swords and daggers of the evil Fariseos are burned on the Judas pyre on Easter Saturday.

No cameras, cell phones, drawing pads, paints, and no touching of the sacred headdresses.

And there is absolutely no stepping on the blessed central plaza. Only dancers of the Pascuas could step on this soccer length well-raked sacred dirt area. Cottonwood twigs, placed by the Chapayekas soldiers of the Fariseos, border the no-step zone.

My friend tried to sneak a picture and nearly had her cell phone confiscated. I didn’t dare break the rules. I wanted to learn, to be with my people. I sat by ladies who viewed the ceremonies and explained details to me.

You can see the Yaqui Pascua illustrated in books and online. I’m disappointed that I don’t have a photo of myself dressed in Yaqui regalia and colorful crown while I served as a carrier of the yellow-cloaked Maria, but I will always hold that memory in my heart.

Children and their families, teenagers and guests were invited to take a sewa, a hand made yellow, pink, and turquoise tissue paper flower as a gift blessing from the Yaqui congregation.

These flowers were taped to the entry of the garage-like church. I brought home as cherished mementos gifted to me– several paper flowers, a baggie of confetti, a children’s toy hand drum, and two yarn-tasseled rosaries made of cottonwood.

The end of solemn Easter week rituals culminates with crazy hilarity. The Matachines and the women of the altar society beat up the Fariseos with twigs, and tug at their shirts and trousers. I laughed to the point of tears. I cheered when the child angels smacked the wicked Fariseos with their holy weapons of confetti and paper flowers. To the beat of drums, good triumphs over evil.

For more investigation:
Thayer Painter, Muriel. 1976. A Yaqui Easter. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.
Delgado Shorter, David. 2009. We Will Dance Our Truth. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

The Yaqui community of New Pascua meets in the month of August to prepare tissue and crepe paper sewa flowers for the following year’s ceremonies. The community meets at the Yoemem Tekia Cultural Center and Museum, 4721 W. Calle Vicam, Tucson.

On-line Floricanto: Mary Torregrossa
Today's La Bloga covers Yaqui gente, a re-emerging Indian People mural, work by local poets: Americans all, equally with refugees from the South. Immigration isn't a complex problem--these people are fleeing for their lives. Hear their voices.

La Bloga is honored sharing the following ekphrastic by Mary Torregrossa, accompanied with the drawing by one American who's escaped to safety from the horror she's carried with her. The poet gives voice to the refugee so that others hear, and feel, and welcome the endangered to safety. How could one not?

Pueblo San Raphael
Mary Torregrossa

"These are not windows..."            
Pueblo San Raphael

            A witness narrative out of Guatemala
Epiphany is permission to know for sure.” 

Maria Francisco y Francisco has
no reverence for paper.

She rubs a black crayon over the page.
A purple man appears in the doorway of a building.

In her drawing there are many trees 
standing randomly in her Mayan village.

What are these sticks on the ground?I ask.

Maria has no nostalgia of runes or letters 
that slant and curve; hers is a living God.  
The ‘named thing’ displaces written words 
except for tally marks of how much or how many.

What are these rows of windows here?

What is for certain is the Aztec marigold – 
el pericon– a dye that turns the weaver’s woolen 
thread to yellow. She plaits together the inseparable 
myth of resurrection with Ah Xoc Kin. 

She scrapes lichen off rock which
turns the yarn a lilac hue - water from a stone. 
Fire leaves charcoal in its wake - for rendering 
the blackened history of Pueblo San Rafael

in a picture made with crayons 
on a desk in a classroom in Los Angeles.

Maria says, The church is black with ash, 
burned with everyone inside.These sticks 
are scattered arms and legs. And these 
are not windows – these are graves. 

Picture by Maria M. (Maraquin) also known as Maria Francisco y Francisco.

"...these are graves."
Maria was my student last year at the adult school where I work. Maria had no schooling in her country having lived in the interior of Guatemala in a town called Pueblo San Raphael. It is likely that the start of her education was interrupted by the circumstances described in the poem, as she related to me through our Whole Language drawing lesson. The Whole Language Approach is when an illiterate student learns to read by reading their own words back to them. In other words, the student tells the story and the teacher writes it using the student's own words. The student then recognizes the words that they already have access to.

I could not speak or translate much in Spanish because the student did not learn Spanish until she came to Los Angeles and lived among Spanish-speaking neighbors. So we were both very limited in our basic use Spanish. Therefore Maria and I spoke English with each other.

Maria's final story and the more completed picture for the project were returned to her to keep as part of a class portfolio to show process and achievement.

The poem is based on that final picture of the project which very closely resembles the above. I asked Maria if I could keep the picture and someday write a poem about it. I explained that someday I hoped to publish it and that I, being only a regional poet, was unlikely to receive any money for either the picture or the poem. If ever I did I would donate the funds to a charity that services immigrants (House of Hope in Nogales).

Update: Pola Lopez Restoring Daniel Cervantes Mural in Highland Park Los Angeles
Michael Sedano

At a distance shade concealed what my eyes thought were two figures laboring at the wall. The short walk from the Gold Line Southwest Museum stop hugged the curb preventing a clear view until hailing distance when "Hey!" and "Hey!" confirmed the presence of two people at the mural restoration site.

As I reported in La Bloga last Tuesday (link), artist Pola Lopez had started the painting stage of the immense restoration project working alone under the open sun.Spotting a second silhouette in the distance, I rejoiced to see the muralist has assistance.

As it developed, my first site visit was with Angel and Mario Guerrero. That had been Angel's interview with the artist. One hundred fifty feet of prepped surface curved around that eight to twelve foot high cement expanse. Angel wasn't fazed by the scale of the work, so there she worked.

Two artists now share the shady side of the work.
The object near the mural figure is Lopez' ergonomic adaptation to rugged working conditions. 

If I'd returned a second day last week, I could have met a third artist who's volunteered to lend a skilled hand on the project. Seeing a foto of the new painter, a Facebook commenter observes, "It's got to be very hot out there glad you are getting help awesome job on the painting keep up the great work."

One by one, the community responds to the need for skilled labor on the job. Lopez wonders what the work would be like if she could employ original artist Daniel Cervantes to join the restoration effort.

The restoration effort is only the visible evidence of a massive effort by unseen committee people liaising with the city councilperson, the arts commission, the state arts council, and the artist working the job. These hard-working volunteers wrote the grant, got it funded, and now face the task of ongoing site development like unexpected crises.

A Facebook commenter to last week's La Bloga column expressed dismay that their efforts remained in the background because Pola Lopez is the only person working on the mural itself in the hot sun. La Bloga is pleased to share the committee's own efforts as it develops strategies to protect the work site and fund raise. The effort remains in its nascency and finds itself dealing with budget-busting vandalism. Pendejos raise a serious long-term security issue that was probably in the committee's "worst-case contingencies" unsolved problems list. As it develops, the worksite's needless hardship should be urgent.

You don't have to wait for the committee to ask for help, the committee has a web presence here (link) to contribute money.

You do have to wait for Pola to ask, you can't just show up and paint. If you want to rake and level up the worksite a seven some morning, that'd probably be OK. If Lopez shows up Saturday after 130 and finds the ground safe to walk and work on, I'm almost certain she would be happy.

Watching the skilled hands of the two artists painting straight clean lines along the old ones, not covering any space but the intended, is impressive. These hands work hundreds of times, laying down those yellow and black sawteeth, every one the same as the next one and the one before. In the never-ending sun.

Right now there's an immediate need for people with rakes and trash bags to clean up the ground at the base of the mural to the street.

Trash and uneven footing not only make for treacherous ground, the hazards add fatigue to working there. With no shade canopy and bad footing, the place is an unmitigated industrial hazard. Back when I was a corporate safety officer, I would have raked a plant manager over the coals for allowing employees to endure these conditions.

Lopez and crew work out of love for the arte, for their community, for this particular mural of indigenous faces and tableaux. The artist is incredibly patient and tolerant of interruption. She's informative and giving in explaining her process to some metiche, as in the video.

Using the existing design and a photograph, Pola explains she starts by black-outlining the contours of thematic elements. Cervantes utilized the black outline technique when he first laid down the story, so the restoration duplicates the process.

After outlining contours, Lopez matches colors and repaints what has faded and re-creates what's been power washed away. This wall weeps, causing constant stress in surface areas covering the weep channels.

La Bloga will be following the process of restoring this mural through completion, then the big dedication. On my next visit, I've promised to drive instead of train, so I can bring some supplies. I'm thinking cold birongas and tacos de nopales con blanquillos.

Poetry Saturday At Pasadena's Lamanda Park Branch Library

In a Pasadena, California poetry tradition, Don Campbell and J.T. Foster host a Saturday poetry reading. Regularly scheduled for the Santa Catalina branch, the event moves to Lamanda Park branch Saturday afternoon. Today's iteration brought joyous laughter to the stressed-out gente--aren't we all?--and indelibly thoughtful moments.

Maria Elena Fernandez shared a work-in-progress she wrote for Enter the Goddess Portal an exhibition at East L.A.'s Tonalli Studio. The' narrative poem, "So How Was Your Week Last Week?" combines raucous humor with sobering thoughts about surviving what Fernandez calls "the roller coaster ride that was the week after the El Paso shooting." 

Lalo Kikiriki revives the spirit of the sixties, she avers, offering living proof the sixties are still with us, hasta playing a keyboard according in one presentation.

Jerry Garcia and Tanya Hyonhye Ko Hong are masterful readers of their own masterfully crafted lyrical work. Hong reads bilingually in Korean and English. In their own manners, Garcia and Hong command their place in that spotlight with the kind of confidence a poet displays when they know their stuff is really good. Readings like this are a constant reminder that you have to be in the right time and place to experience brilliance. It was there, then it was over. Had to give over the room.

The Features
Maria Elena Fernandez, Jerry Garcia, Tanya Hyonhye Ko Hong, Lalo Kikiriki

Maria Elena Fernandez

Jerry Garcia

Tanya Hyonhye Ko Hong

 Lalo Kikiriki

Open Reading

Some Open Mics turn chaotic. This "Open Reading" period follows its rules. One title per reader or N minutes. Only once do the co-hosts need to remind the readers to honor their allotted time today. The entire event is well-managed and well-mannered.

Calokie opens with a 3-voice reading, enlisting "cold" reading from Mary Torregrossa and co-host J.T. Foster as New Testament Jesus.

When her spot arrives, Mary Torregrossa stuns the audience reading the poem shared in today's On-line Floricanto.

Some readers signed up first-name only, hence their foto ID.
Lori, John Gilbert, Norman, Sylvia Malesko
Joshua, Bill Cushing, Co-host Don "Kingfisher" Campbell, Co-host J. T. Foster

Monday, August 19, 2019

Festival de Poesía de la Ciudad de Nueva York

Festival de Poesía de la Ciudad de Nueva York
por Lea Díaz, bloguera invitada

Como cada año, el último fin de semana de julio, la pintoresca `Isla de los Gobernadores´ se ilumina con artes, música y poesía. Los ladrillos en tonos rojizos y grises de sus fortificaciones históricas, Fort Jay y Castle Williams, parecen brillar esos días con el esplendor del sol estival y el espíritu alborozado que le infunden poetas, artistas y visitantes.

El Festival de Poesía de la Ciudad de Nueva York ha celebrado este año 2019 su novena edición, que ha acogido a más de 250 poetas y de 60 organizaciones literarias. A la sombra de los árboles alargados y poblados del promontorio, se despliegan puestecillos de libros, donde las editoriales y organizaciones participantes dan a conocer su trabajo. Aparecen también, salpicados, escenarios rústicos, sencillos que, desde primeras horas de la mañana hasta algo antes del atardecer, se convierten en la voz viva de los poetas de hoy, que se encuentran en Nueva York, y tienen la oportunidad de comunicar un mensaje, una emoción, de abrir su alma al mundo y compartir sueños y visiones. Caminar por los vericuetos de la Isla entre recitaciones poéticas, actuaciones artísticas y musicales, y el gentío singular, divisando Manhattan perdida en la distancia, es sin duda un espectáculo conmovedor. Durante dos días la `Isla de los Gobernadores´ es una auténtica fiesta.

Alice Osborn afirmó convencida que la poesía ayuda a comprender y a apreciar el mundo que nos rodea, y hace visible el lado vulnerable del ser humano, de modo que nos resulta más sencillo entendernos los unos a los otros. Esta experiencia poética y vital se ha hecho realidad, otro año más, gracias a todos los que acudieron a la cita literaria. Quiero transmitir mi sentido agradecimiento a Margarita Drago, Juana M. Ramos, Mónica Sarmiento, Marcos de la Fuente, Linda Morales Caballero y Xánath Caraza, quienes con sus versos elevaron nuestros corazones haciéndonos vislumbrar que la existencia puede ser bella, justa, solidaria y esperanzada.

Nueva York, 15 de julio de 2019

Los poetas

Margarita Drago (Argentina). Poeta, narradora, doctora y catedrática de Literatura Hispanoamericana en la Universidad de Nueva York. Autora, entre otros, de Fragmentos de la memoria: Recuerdos de una experiencia carcelaria (1975-1980) (2007).

Guardián de la memoria 
por Margarita Drago
Amo este cuerpo que largamente
habitó las sombras
que supo de rigores 
abandono soledad olvido
amo este cuerpo 
tantas veces codiciado por la muerte
tantas veces azotado 
por vientos de lejanas latitudes 
amo este cuerpo    
tesoro oculto
guardián de la memoria de los tiempos.

Juana M. Ramos (El Salvador) reside en la ciudad de Nueva York donde es profesora de español y literatura en York College, CUNY. Ha publicado, entre otros, Multiplicada en mí (2010, 2014). Es coautora del libro de testimonios Tomamos la palabra: mujeres en la guerra civil de El Salvador (1980-1992) (2016).

Una tarde de mayo
por Juana M. Ramos

La jeringa supura
la culpa, el alivio, el miedo. 
En casos como este,
apunta el verdugo,
suele ceder el esfínter. 
Hago como si no escuchara
y mis labios iscariotes
pronuncian un beso. 
Es la mejor decisión
(un eco a lo lejos).
Se instalan de nuevo
el alivio y la culpa. 
Me precipito en lágrimas 
es la hora del naufragio.  

Mónica Sarmiento Castillo (Ecuador/España) es narradora, pintora, escultora y gestora cultural. Tienen un doctorado en Bellas Artes por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, tiene un Máster en español en St. John’s University.

Juegos dimensionalistas
por Mónica Sarmiento Castillo

Dos líneas paralelas, sufren separación
divididas por el tiempo
multiplicadas en el espacio
sufren desolación.

Sumas de paralelismos
restan comunicación
fieras dominantes
se ajustan a la ecuación.

Fragmentados corazones, resisten a la tentación
resultado del vacío espacio, que invocan a la exploración
sumas sueños de ambiciones
restas humanidad a tus emociones
divides a los pocos, con tus maquinaciones
multiplicas tus ambiciones.

Perfilas, conspiras, ajustas exploraciones
sobre ingenuos, mudos, débiles
superfluos humanoides
llenos de vacilaciones.

Tú, como el pez, fluyes libre a la boca de tu adversario
el hombre hipnotizado se encamina hacia el despiadado.

Marcos de la Fuente (España) es poeta, fisioterapeuta y activista cultural. Practica la acción poética, la performance y el spoken Word.

La espalda morada
por Marcos de la Fuente

Cuanta sangre derramó el miedo,
cuanta tristeza se tragó el océano,
años de distancia, tierra de por medio,
el recuerdo, enquistado, se quedó seco.

Vinieron las iguanas
a llevarse a los enfermos
que, despojados de aguijón y sin ceniza,
doblegaron sus credos.

Pudo más el hambre
que el mejor de los maestros,
fantasmas comiendo en el bosque
para no tener la soga al cuello.

Memoria sin carne ni huesos,
ni caras ni nombres, todo un misterio,
rebaños de hormigas con la espalda morada
cayendo, una tras otra, al oscuro hueco.

Injusticia … Inexplicable … Dolor.
Malditos los que plantaron el fuego.
Malditos los que dieron la orden.
Malditos los que lo permitieron.

Linda Morales Caballero (Perú) es licenciada Cum Laude en Literatura Hispánica, Medios de la Comunicación y Máster en Literatura Hispánica por Hunter College. Algunos de sus poemarios son Desde el umbral, Poemas Vivos, Encantamiento, Collage y Poemas del amor cruel.

por Linda Morales Caballero

Amor mío,
se quema la carne,
y la envidia
que ha pasado años
husmeando ventanas,
siente derecho a irrumpir
en este juego de aquelarres.

Esta tarde es río contaminado,
pócima de laderas circunspectas,
tímido escándalo
salpicando el presente.

Entre nosotros,
se electrizan jeroglíficos
con cortocircuitos,
y cristalina, ante las luces,
soy efigie esperando abrazar
tus retrasos,
mientras que la carne…
se sigue quemando.

Xánath Caraza es autora de quince libros.  Escribe para La Bloga, Seattle Escribe, Smithsonian Latino Center y Revista Literaria Monolito.  En 2018 fue doblemente galardonada por los International Latino Book Awards, por Lágrima roja y Sin preámbulos/Without Preamble como “Mejor libro de poesía en español” y “Mejor libro de poesía bilingüe”. 

por Xánath Caraza

Medita en este navegar mecánico.

No queda nada,
solo el angustiante ulular
del viento antes
de llegar al agua. 

Tiemblan las suaves manos
al escribir, son las dueñas de
los pensamientos salvajes,
de la ira de los oprimidos.

Agua del Hudson:
despierta y desenraiza
el dolor: las pesadillas
de niñez que se hacen realidad.

Lea Díaz es poeta, artista y académica. Ha publicado dos libros de poesía, y sus poemas han sido recogidos en revistas literarias como “And Then”, “The Independent Literary Review, “Contemporary Literary Horizon”, entre otras. Ha participado en recitales y eventos en los Estados Unidos y el extranjero.

por Lea Díaz

Duermes ya en el jardín de flores blancas,
suaves, cuajadas de rocío,
donde las mariposas esparcen su polvo dorado de luz eterna
Cierro los ojos cegados de lágrimas
y recuerdo tu delicada figura felina
recostada junto al círculo mágico de las hadas
En el porche, Saboreando La Paz y la quietud de la mañana
como una estampa perfecta, imborrable
Hoy te has marchado, pero habitas en mí:
en los sueños y visiones, cosmogonías de otrora,
en la memoria del corazón tan dulce y profunda,
ahora desgarrada.
Acompáñame en este mi camino solitario y
Aguárdame en el jardín de flores blancas
donde la existencia se llena de luz eterna.