Friday, August 12, 2022

Arte Público Celebrates 40 Years

 From our friends at Arte Público Press -  news of a literary and performing arts celebration.  Party on.


Arte Público Press, the country’s oldest and largest publisher dedicated to amplifying US Hispanic voices, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a performing-arts showcase September 15, 2022, from 6:30-9:30 pm at the University of Houston’s Moores Opera House (3333 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77004).

Bringing together outstanding artists from a variety of genres, the event will highlight the vibrant influence of Latin American and Latino cultures. The University of Houston’s Mariachi Puma will welcome attendees; other performers include the Brazilian dance and drum group, Samba Bom; the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, presenting its piece based on Sandra CisnerosThe House on Mango Street, which was originally published by Arte Público; Solero Flamenco; and the Houston Grand Opera, doing its children’s production based on Jorge Argueta’s trilingual picture book, Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water (Arte Público Press, 2017). A post-performance party in the lobby—with food, drink, author signings and entertainment—will wrap up the event.

We invite you to play a crucial role in the celebration by participating as an anniversary event sponsor. Sponsorships are available for $25,000; $10,000; $5,000; and $2,500. Individual tickets are available for $250.

Click here to become a sponsor or purchase tickets.

For more information, contact:


Manuel Ramos lives in Denver. His latest novel is Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Chicanonautica: Gold, Greasers, Yaquis, and Zane Grey

by Ernest Hogan

Recently, I ran across an old western on Tubi that had me smiling and shaking my head. It was called Desert Gold, from 1936. Buster Crabbe, who also played Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Tarzan, Billy the Kid and other heroes was listed as the star. Here he was cast as an Indian, with a wig and full body makeup (after all, it took a dye job to make him Flash Gordon). 

As I watched it, the surprises just kept coming.

It was based on a novel by Zane Grey, who laid the foundations of the Wild West genre. Old white men still buy his books, and when they die, their families donate their collections to libraries. This is a case of a writer having an influence on society. 

Turns out Crabbe is not the star of the movie. There’s the usual white cowboy with a white silly sidekick who wisecrack through foiling bad guys (also white) who are plotting to steal land and gold from the Indians. It’s not clear if the line, “You know how these things are—it belongs to the first white man who finds it” is intended to be ironic.


Crabbe plays Moya, “Chief of an Indian Tribe” that is never named. They look kind of Navajo or Apache depending on how friendly or hostile the script required. And despite his heroic looks, he plays the victim. He’s stoic, noble, gets beat up, tied to a post and whipped, and is grateful when the hero saves him.

There’s also a mention of how the Indians are mysteriously dying out due something more like a natural blight rather than government policies.

In the end, Moya and his nameless tribe ride in and save the day like the cavalry. He even gets to shoot the villain, while the white hero gets the girl and the gold.

I got curious about the novel, so downloaded it from Gutenberg, and well, it was mind blowing. Turns out, the movie is like a toned-down, liberal makeover of the book.

Zane Grey’s original Desert Gold was published in 1913, and like many westerns of the period was set in “modern times.” The West was a place, rather than a historical period. The Mexican revolution is going on. The dashing young hero takes a job as a “border ranger” who’s job is mostly to keep “Chinese and Japs” from crossing over and trying to take over. (This was a thing back then: In the 1932 movie Border Devils, also on Tubi, and co-written by science fiction writer Murray Leinster, the villain is a Fu Manchu clone called The General.) 


The story begins in Casita, a “Greaser town” –yes, Greaser is capitalized, like Chicano–where lots of bad hombre “rebels” are causing trouble. It's explained that the reason Greasers are a problem is because their Spanish blood makes them sadistic killers. No mention is made of Native blood, or any ill effects.

We are also told that Casita has some nice Mexicans who make great food . . .


The hero falls in love with the beautiful Mercedes Castaneda, a “Spanish” girl. She is never referred to as Mexican, or Greaser. More than once, she’s described as having lovely white skin. She also shows no sign of the tendencies toward cruelty and murder said to be carried in her Spanish blood.

A Greaser gang leader also falls for Mercedes, and kidnaps her, and takes her to Moya’s village, where he’s taken over. 

Moya is identified as a Yaqui, but this time he isn’t given a name. They call him Yaqui, even after he learns a few words of English. The bandits torture him, but he doesn’t reveal the location of the gold mine. 

The hero and his sidekick rescue Mercedes and Yaqui, but in trying to escape the Greasers—who are said  to be worse than Indians—they get lost among the lava and cactus where Yaqui’s knowledge of wild herbs comes in handy, and there’s even some desert mysticism that foreshadows Edward Abbey. “Color, race, blood, breeding–what are these in the wilderness?” slips into the narrative, but then they have to go back to so-called civilization.

And Yaqui’s skill with “Aztec knifework” comes in handy.

In the end, even though he worships Mercedes as if she were a goddess,  he rides off without saying goodbye, being an inscrutable Indian.

The book is a primer for border racism. It is also the sort of thing generations of white patriarchs read for comfort and relaxation. And the attitudes and beliefs in it are alive and well in the 21st century.

Happy trails, amigos!

Ernest Hogan’s mother’s stepfather was Yaqui. She called him Daddy. He called him Grandpa.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Annual Círculo Conference



Annual Círculo Conference, Saturday, August 13th, 2022

Register at

What to Expect

The Círculo summer conference is our major annual event. Join us on Saturday, August 13th, 2022 from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm on Zoom. It will be a full day of getting to know each other, workshops, and more, concluding with an open mic for all participants.  

Conference Schedule:

10:30 to 11:00: Welcome, Chat, and Questions

11:00 to 12:00: Break-Out Session #1 (three workshops/choose one)

12:00 to 12:30: Lunch (Take a break! Stretch? Go for a walk?)

12:30 to 1:15: Tribute to Gloria Anzaldúa

1:15 to 1:30: Intermission

1:30 to 2:30: Break-Out Session #2 (three workshops/choose one)

2:45 to 3:30: Reading and Open Mic

3:30 to 4:00: Closing, Chat, and Bendiciones

The 2022 Círculo de poetas and Writers conference includes two break-out sessions where participants write poetry and prose with our workshop leaders. As always, each workshop is open to all writers, from those just starting their writing journey to published authors.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Floricanto In GOPlague-time: Doing It Right

Renascimiento Floricanto: Floricanto Renaissance
Michael Sedano

We did it and it worked for years. Then it couldn't, doing it was dangerous. Still might be, but with considerations, so we've done it again. And we'll be doing it again later this month 

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?"
 Let us go and make our visit. 
In the room the women come and go 
Talking of Michelangelo. 

Floricanto, that's what it, is. It is the United States National LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Movement, and it's your turn to host them at your chante. Join the Movement! 

A few years ago, my wife and I frequented galleries and poetry readings like it was going out of style. We were the ones going out of style. Early signs of dementia began slowing us down and then, eventually, inevitably, we could no longer do the arte circuit. So it goes.

CasaSedano, already the scene of Barbara's magnificent seasonal parties, and where many a Mental Menudo with Magu went down, saw few hurdles to launching the LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Movement. 

Join the LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Movement! The easiest element, the Plan, makes hosting Floricanto events a breeze.

The LivingRoom/BackYard Floricanto Plan: invite good people, have a reading and discussion, and have fun. You don't even have to feed people, but come on. Clean up the yard and house. Make sure you have seating. Invite to your seating capacity.

We had a good run of readings. Authors making LA stops on book tours accepted CasaSedano's invitation to the informal gathering. At times, the Stanford Chicana Chicano Book Club met with the author, other times, the junta was a just for itself. 

Then the GOPlague hit and our living room shut down. 

Two years ago, Sergio Troncoso closed our unbroken string of annual+ LivingRoom/BackYard Floricantos. Sergio will the second guest at the 2022 resumption of CasaSedano floricantos.

Daunted, but not done, we waited out the GOPlague's worst years, isolating ourselves and looking at the world pass by the front window. No more of that. The world has begun opening up and we opened up CasaSedano to Richard Vargas's touring How A Civilization Begins (link, click please).

Richard has a special place in my memories and not-memories. 

In 2012, Jesus Treviño and I joined the book smuggling Librotraficantes on a journey (link) from El Paso to Alburque to Tucson. When we arrived at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, local artists had filled the main auditorium and Richard Vargas emceed a fabulous floricanto! I photographed the readings from the back of the house with a long lens.

Richard Vargas at the Librotraficante reading NHCC Alburquerque March 2012

Comes 2014, I'd put Jessica Ceballos in contact with Richard Vargas, and Jessica scheduled a Sunday Palabra reading, or was it a Blue Bird?, at Avenue50 Studio, featuring Richard. I planned to get some portraits up close.

I got myself hospitalized just in time for the reading. I hear Richard dedicated a reading to me. Having enjoyed an NDE (science calls dying and coming back a "near death experience") so recently, hearing some poet dedicated one to me made a big difference to my attitude.

Launching the CasaSedano LivingRoom/BackYard 2022 Edition with Richard Vargas is perfection. All those connections coming together gave the event a special feeling for me. 

Latinopia Word Richard Vargas How a Civilization Begins.mp4 from on Vimeo.

Scenes from a BackYard Floricanto: Round Robin featuring Richard Vargas and John Martinez

Richard Vargas
John Martinez

Monday, August 08, 2022

Radical Empathy and Writing Nobody’s Pilgrims: A Discussion with Sergio Troncoso on the Writing Craft

Enjoy an evening with seasoned writer and former president of the Texas Institute of Letters, Sergio Troncoso, to delve into the craft of writing. Sergio will read from and discuss his latest novel, Nobody’s Pilgrims, and will be in conversation with author Kathleen Alcalá. Kirkus Reviews: "Troncoso delivers a surprisingly fast-paced, character-driven story…. A sublime, diverse cast drives this tale of looking for a safe, welcoming home." After his talk, Troncoso will answer questions from the audience on the craft of writing.

Date: August 11, 2022

Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Location: Lapis Theater, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122


Sergio Troncoso is the author of Nobody’s Pilgrims, an adventure story about three teenagers, Turi, Molly, and Arnulfo, on the run from evil and unwittingly carrying even a greater menace in their stolen truck. Troncoso also wrote A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son and edited Nepantla Familias: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature on Families in Between Worlds, which received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. A Fulbright scholar and past president of the Texas Institute of Letters, Troncoso teaches at the Yale Writers’ Workshop.

Kathleen Alcalá is the author of six books of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, the Governor’s Writers Award, and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award. She received her second Artist Trust Fellowship in 2008, and in 2014 was honored by the national Latino writers group, Con Tinta. She has been designated an Island Treasure in the Arts on Bainbridge Island. Her work will be included with other Latinx writers in an audio archive at the Library of Congress called PALABRA.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Covid-19: I Let My Guard Down

 Melinda Palacio

So nice to have a friend you can quarantine with.

A home test confirms that I have Covid, a first for me. I had gone since the beginning of the pandemic without catching the awful Rona. Plus, I am double vaccinated and twice boosted. A telephone doctor visit and I am now taking the same medication prescribed to President Biden. Paxlovid is an antiviral made by Pfzizer, three horse pills taken twice a day for 5 days. The interesting thing about the medicine is that it is free, no copay or monies needed. I sure hope I am better after the five days. Both the doctor and the pharmacist confirmed that my mouth would taste like tin. Tin can mouth, check. All the other aches and pains, check. I hope to return when I am recovered. In the meantime, enjoy a poem I had published yesterday in SWWIM Everyday

A Little Bit of Everything

by Daniel Cano                                                         
Natural symmetry of river, forests, and mountains
     There was crisp chill in the morning mountain air. The sun had cleared the thousand-foot cliffs across the river. Bright rays shot through the Sequoia redwoods. Smoke rose from the campgrounds, people finishing their breakfasts. The Canyon was crowded, a lot of families, more Spanish than English hung in the air, unusual, I thought. I first came here in 1970, after surviving Uncle Sam's madness in Southeast Asia, to find answers, peace, and inspiration in nature, my neighbors, hikers, hippies, bikers, and outdoors people seeking their way, as well. 
      After breakfast, I sat in a chair, sipping one more cup of coffee before heading out on my daily hike. I had decided to come up alone, and leave behind the rush of the city, which is mostly suburbs in my part of Los Angeles. The family was busy. Besides, they don’t enjoy the long drive into the Canyon, and that’s what I like about it, the scenery during the drive, Buffalo Springfield on the CD player. Then there's the steep descent to the Canyon floor, which means only the heartiest campers make the trip. 
     Behind me I heard a metal rustling on the footpath leading to the bathrooms and wash basin. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw four women, short, dark skin, speaking Spanish, in low voices, and carrying pots and pans. I’d run into them the night before as I waited at the washbasin to cleanup my own plates after dinner. I had smiled, not sure what to say. They had returned the smile, shyly, probably careful not to stand out among the English speakers. 
     As I took a sip of my coffee, I could hear one of them say something about a brother-in-law. I looked over at them. We were aware of each other. They had to pass my campsite each time they made the trek to the bathrooms and wash basin. They slowed, their eyes straight ahead, like they wanted to speak, but unsure if they should even look my way. Who wants to look at somebody and get a cold stare, or a blank look, as if the person is saying, “I belong here and you don't”? 
     I’ve found on my trips to Mexico and Latin America’s rural towns, it’s impolite to ignore strangers, even if it’s only to say “hello”, smile, or nod. I heard an American sociologist say that among African and Mesoamerican cultures it’s important to acknowledge one’s presence; though, not so much among “Whites,” who don’t take it personally. 
     It isn’t just a matter of saying “hi,” like in other cultures, but for Africans and Indigenous Mesoamericans, acknowledging another person’s presence is like saying, “I see you. I recognize your humanity. You are somebody.” Maybe, that’s why, for as far back as I can remember, upon encountering another Chicano or Latino, or a Black, if there were no Latinos, we’d give the “nod,” you know, the quick lift of the chin, as if to say, “Orale,” or as today’s kids say, “Wassup.” That was enough. When I was in the Army, even the Cubans and Puerto Ricans understood the nod. 
     So, I turned, and I said, in Spanish, to the women, “Good morning.” Immediately, their faces brightened. They returned the greeting, smiling. I pointed to a campsite down the hill and asked if that was their spot. One of them said it was, and that they have three campsites next to each other. 
     “You must be having a party,” I said, making sure my tone was friendly. “You all seem to be enjoying yourselves.” 
     They told me they’d been coming up each year in August, for the past ten years, same date, the second week, celebrating two family members’ birthdays. Most came up from San Gabriel area, and they pick up relatives along Highway 99, those who live in the San Joaquin Valley. They asked about me, and I told them my story, the short version. 
     As they spoke, I was able to distinguish a slight difference in their Spanish accents. I told them I’d done quite a bit of traveling in Mexico and Latin America. I wanted to ask where they were from, but I didn’t want to insult them, as if saying, “I know you aren’t American.”  
     Like my own Mexican grandparents -- now passed -- who had come North a lifetime ago from Jalisco's highland, they never learned English fluently, just like the early Irish, Italians, and Poles. I had no idea how long the women might have been here, or if they were Americans. When I finally got around to asking about “their country,” they looked at each other and broke out into serious chuckling. Finally, one answered that she was Mexican and had come from Oaxaca. She pointed to the woman next to her and said, this was her sister-in-law, who was from El Salvador. The last two women said they’d married into the family, but they were from Guatemala. They laughed, clearly enjoying themselves. “Well, our children, are a little bit of everything.” 
     The four women had been in the U.S. more than twenty years, and their children had graduated from American high schools and were now in college or working. So, like many immigrants arriving in the U.S. after 1980, their kids, were the new wave of immigrants, sons and daughters, who didn’t have just one identity. Culturally, they were a blend of various nationalities, Mixtec, Zapotec, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan, but they were, typically, American kids, skateboards, long hair, cowboy hats and boots, Nikes, jeans and t-shirts, heavy metal, banda, baseball, football, and soccer. 
     At the time, I had been teaching English and Chicano Literature at an upper crust community college near the shores of the Pacific. Where for years, it had been a predominantly upper-class “White” J.C., by the year 2010, the student population was pushing 40% Latino. (Today, it’s well about 50%.) 
     The majority of my students were the children of Mexican immigrants, with the numbers of Central Americans increasing, fast, each year. What surprised me was that many of the Mexican students who had been born in the states didn’t identify as Chicano, and not for any political reason. The name just didn’t fit them, or it made no difference to them. Those who did identify as Chicano were usually activists in high school and mentored by a teacher. Overall, it seemed this new harvest of students was listening to Chalino Sanchez and Rockabilly, as well as Iron Maiden and Metallica. 
     There was still a MEChA on campus but dwindling in numbers. There were also two other “Latino” clubs, students who said they had goals different than MEChA’s. One club said their goal was to provide more academic support for members, while the other group said its goals were more social, parties to make students feel welcome. 
     Among Chicano/Latino faculty, there had been discussions about changing the name of the Chicano courses to Mexican American or Latino Studies, History, Sociology, Art, and Literature, etc., to be more inclusive. “Latino” students from Central America said they didn’t see themselves represented in the Chicano curriculum. It got to the point where the campus stopped offering some “Chicano” oriented classes because of low enrollment. Me? I started teaching Ethnic Literature, which opened my eyes to a different view of the United States cultural landscape, and a different professor took over Chicano Literature class. 
     As I walked along the banks of the King’s River where bathers had staked their claim, I couldn’t help but notice raza, in large numbers, had discovered the Canyon. English and Spanish mixed together. White and brown kids jumped from a large boulder into the frigid river, everyone sitting side by side, eating and enjoying nature. I’d hear Toby’s Keith’s country twang on one side, and Los Tigres coming from another direction, neither competing but respecting boundaries, and sharing space. 
     Later that evening, the women returned, pots and pans in hand. One carried a carton of eggs. She said they were leaving early the next morning. As if we were friends, she offered me the eggs. Usually, this would be awkward for me, but since we had been talking, I took the offering, not wanting them to be embarrassed. I’m sure it took courage for them to even ask. Two days ago, we were complete strangers. Now, here we were sharing food, even better than a simple nod.