Friday, June 02, 2006

Chicano Jet Set: Aspen to Hollywood to Harlingen to East Colfax

Manuel Ramos

Writing Retreat & Literary Festival June 25 to 29, 2006.
This world-renown conference celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with a diverse and highly recognizable faculty. Aspen Summer Words is a five-day celebration of words and ideas. The official announcement says: "Led by some of the nation's most gifted and engaging writers, Aspen Summer Words brings readers and writers together for author readings and talks, interviews and Q&As, writing workshops and literature appreciation classes, publishing industry panel discussions, private consulations, and social gatherings all in one writers conference." Two of the main speakers are authors who might appeal to La Bloga readers (taken from the program agenda):

"Denise Chávez - A true child of La Frontera, Denise Chávez has her roots in New Mexico, Texas and México. She is the author of the novels Loving Pedro Infante and Face of An Angel, which won the American Book Award; the short story collection, The Last of the Menu Girls; and the forthcoming memoir, A Taco Testimony. The author of over 45 plays, she considers herself a performance writer. Denise Chávez continues to explore the universal in the regional landscape and support her community through education, empowerment and transformation through the arts. She is the founder of the Cultural Center of Mesilla and the executive director of the Border Book Festival. She lives between Mesilla and Las Cruces, New Mexico."

"Luis Alberto Urrea - Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, to an American mother and Mexican father, he has published extensively in all of the major genres and is the author of 11 books including The Devil’s Highway, a Lannan Literary Award winner, and Across the Wire, winner of the Christopher Award. He is also the recipient of an American Book Award, a Western States Book Award, and a Colorado Book Award. He lives with his family in Naperville, Illinois, where he is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago."

Other speakers and presenters include N. Scott Momaday, Tony Hillerman, Ted Conover, and Pam Houston.

The festival offers a wide variety of activities such as two day symposiums on Literature Appreciation. One of these sessions has as its topic Literature of the West and will be taught by Patricia Limerick, University of Colorado History Professor and Faculty Director of the Center of the American West.

The second session - on Chicana/o Literature - will be led by Luis Torres, a professor of Chicana/o Studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver where he also served as Chair. "A passionate and politically savvy professor known for leading dynamic discussions, he has taught for over 30 years, published on the subjects of Chicana/o Literature and education, and has developed Multicultural Studies curricula for K-12." His course "introduces a variety of literary texts by and about Mexican-origin people and other Latinos throughout the United States such as Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Central and South Americans. Selections, from works written in the present-day U.S. over the past 450 years, will enhance our discussions of the way these cultures collide, strengthen and reaffirm one another."

These two, Limerick and Torres, know their stuff and, in very different ways, they are engaging and enlightening teachers and speakers. You could not go wrong by attending either or both of these sessions.

For much more information including registration and ticket fees, visit the Aspen Writers' Foundation website.

Severo Perez has a nifty new website where you can learn more about this filmmaker and his many accomplishments and ongoing projects. His films include ...and the earth did not swallow him, an adaptation of Tomás Rivera's classic . . . y no se lo trago la tierra, and his most recent feature, Countdown: Reflections on a Life in Dance, the story of choreographer Rudy Perez. This latest movie will be showing on PBS stations in the fall. It screens June 3 at 5:00 P.M. during the Dance Camera West Dance Film Festival at the Roy and Edna Disney/CALARTS Theater in Los Angeles.

Perez is a writer, director and producer - a visit to his website quickly reveals the wide range and appeal of his many projects.

Speaking of movie related things, a good way to enjoy a warm spring afternoon with your favorite beverage and snack food and without using up too much brain power - maybe chillin' on the porch or under the gazeebo - is to peruse the collection of movie posters in Cine Mexicano: Poster Art from the Golden Age, 1936 - 1956, by Rogelio Agrasánchez, Jr. (Chronicle Books, 2001). This book has more than 150 full color reproductions of classic Mexican movie posters, a visual and cultural treat in any language. Agrasánchez is the director and curator of the Agrasánchez Film Archive in Harlingen, Texas. This place spans the years 1931 - 1991, and has on hand 1,400 Mexican films, 12,000 lobby cards, 60,000 photographs, and 2,000 posters. A weekend's worth of browsing, no?

One of our favorite bookstores is moving and has put out a call for help. The Tattered Cover relocates from its well known Cherry Creek store to renovated digs in East Denver. Here's part of the announcement:

"We are looking for volunteers to help us move to our new location on Colfax Avenue at the end of June. We need folks to help out on the evening of Saturday, June 24, and all (or part) of the day on Sunday, June 25. Moving our bookstore means packing and moving a lot of relatively heavy boxes of books. We will be using trucks and dollies to help us; still, it will involve people lifting, carrying, pushing, packing, and unpacking those boxes.

While it is sad to leave our longtime home in Cherry Creek, it is fun to be opening our new store in the historic Lowenstein Theater, and we want our friends and customers to share in the excitement with us.

Since we can only use so many volunteers, we will need to organize and schedule all those who help out that weekend. If you are interested in being a part of the big day, please contact Suzanne Strandberg at Please respond by Friday, June 16, and give your email address, phone number, and Saturday or Sunday preference.

Volunteers will receive a free limited edition commemorative T-shirt (the result of our T-shirt design contest). We'd love to have your help!"


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