Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Multi (bits) cultural (and pieces)

Michael Sedano

Over thirty years ago when I was doing some academic research in Chicano literature, I happened across a journal called MELUS. A beautiful journal, indeed. Over the years, I've been happy to see the MELUS--Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States--organization sustain itself. As with any academic endeavor, however, access remained closed to all but a few members and subscribers.

I was happy recently learning that MELUS democratized itself and has now taken on a web presence at http://melus-newsnotes.blogspot.com/. Here's something of note about the organization's upcoming conference.

Theme: Towards a Confluence of Multi-Ethnic Arts and the University

Confirmed Speakers: Luis Rodriguez, Jr., will give a reading and workshop on Thursday, March 27, 2008. Rodriguez is the author of Music of the Mill: A Novel, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A., and The Republic of East L.A.: Stories, among other works of poetry and prose. The plenary address will be given jointly by Monica Brown and Guisela Latorre. Brown, Associate Professor of English at Northern Arizona University, is the author of Gang Nation: Delinquent Citizens in Puerto Rican, Chicano, and Chicana Narratives (U of Minnesota P, 2002) and the award-winning author of numerous multicultural children’s books. To learn more about Brown, visit http://www.monicabrown.net/. Latorre, Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at The Ohio State University, is the author of Walls of Empowerment: Chicana/o Indigenist Murals of California (forthcoming, U of Texas P).

Speaking of conferences, la literatura Chicana is the annual focus of the National Latino Writers Conference. The upcoming edition will be held in Albuquerque, May 21-24, 2008. La Bloga will keep you posted on this event. Here is the intial Press Release on this year's conference.

Nationally recognized and successfully published poets, writers, playwrights, journalists and scriptwriters will offer workshops on writing in their respective genres. Every two years the NHCC also awards a literary prize. Past winners include Rodolfo Anaya, Denise Chávez and Pat Mora. This year’s winner is poet and university professor, Martín Espada. Called, “ the Latino poet of his generation,” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” Espada has published 16 books in his career as a poet, editor and translator. His eighth book of poetry, The Republic of Poetry was published by Norton in 2006, received the 2007 Paterson Award for sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 . Among the faculty for the 2008 conference are: poet, Martín Espada; novelist, Helena María Viramontes; screenwriters, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Frank Zuñiga; novelist and poet, Benjamin Alire Saenz; journalist, Alfredo Corchado; fiction writer, Kathleen de Azevedo; and mystery writer Rolando Hinjosa-Smith. Attendees can have samples of their work reviewed by these noted writers and commentary given that will help them develop their writing style. Workshops also include hands-on exercises. The conference will be held on the NHCC campus and registration includes meals and social events as well as the instructional workshops. In addition to workshops there will be panels featuring editors, publishers and literary agents. Registration is $300. For more information, contact Katie Trujillo at the NHCC 246-2261, ext. 148, or Danny Lopez, Marketing Director at extension 120.

Sculpture Big Hit in LA Show

I'm rarely tempted to touch a painting, but sculpture is an
entirely different matter. Sculpture must be handled to develop its patina. I am fortunate to own a few small bronzes by master sculptor Armando Baeza, that I can touch all I want. I hold my year-old granddaughter up to the work and let her handle the small pieces, too. Click the link above to see the artist's work in context of its initial showing in 2004.

My favorite is "Emerging Power," at right, a totally wonderful piece. My version is only 6" high. I say "only" because Mr. Baeza has recently completed an edition of this figure 21" high. Twenty-one inches! It's absolutely marvelous and on view at Los Angeles' Municipal Art Gallery housed in lovely Barnsdall Park as part of a show, "Spirits of LA" curated by painter Raoul de la Sota.

Armando made a few alterations in the sized-up edition--most obviously the simplified coif--which you can see in the detail in the composite. You can see another view of the piece, and other Baeza work, here.

Spirits of LA runs through April 19. Barnsdall Park is located in east Hollywood west of Vermont on Hollywood Boulevard. Admission and parking are free.

All Things Come to S/He Who Waits, Eventually.

Last year, La Bloga shared news of Aaron Michael Morales' upcoming chapbook out of Notre Dame's Momotombo Press, From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert. Planned for release in 2007, I recently received word that the work, with an introduction by Luis Urrea, now is available directly from Momotombo, from Tianguis, and at a Chicago afternoon reading on February 23. Sadly, I don't have details yet on that reading, nor Tianguis. I hope Aaron or someone from Momotombo will comment con los datos.

Retirement Project Update

Last January, I was planning my retirement from the world of work, and shared one of my plans to be an illustrated book collecting excerpts from Los Angeles-set Chicana Chicano novels. That column generated some enthusiastic comments and a host of suggestions. The time has come, the walrus said. My last day in the warehouse was January 28. Today I began the project at the Pasadena Public Library, checking out several of the titles in my plan. Adelante! Here I go.

And that's the word from Tuesday, February 5, 2008, a day like any other day, except we were here. And we all went out and voted if we lived in a Super Tuesday state. Speaking of which, Chon Noriega from UCLA reportedly* notes Mitt Romney could be the last Mexican American candidate in the prexy race!

So what about Mitt Romney? It turns out his great-grandfather was a polygamous Mormon who evaded prosecution by crossing the border into Mexico with his family, including his son Gaskell, Mitt’s grandfather (see reference). George Wilcken Romney, Mitt’s father, was born in 1907. The Romneys re-entered the United States in 1912, during the Mexican Revolution (although some relatives still live there). In other words, the Romneys violated federal law, and rather than face the music they fled the United States, crossing illegally into another country, where their Mexico-born descendants acquired the rights of citizenship in the host country. Sound familiar? Since the Mexican constitution now allows the children of Mexican citizens to petition for Mexican citizenship, Mitt Romney could become not only the first U.S. president of Mexican descent but also the first U.S. president to be a citizen of another country! I raise this possibility not as a constitutional question, but rather as one about the need for some perspective on immigration. The gander expects something that it denies the goose; but on this issue, they’re both cooked. (CSRC Newsletter, *reportedly because the current issue is not up yet for review.)

Chon, give me a break! See you next week.



Anonymous said...


The reading/signing is at Tianguis Bookstore, located in Chicago, IL at 2003 S. Damen, in Pilsen (the Pink Line Damen CTA stop). It will be Saturday, February 23rd at 2:00 pm. Thank you for the shout out.

Aaron Michael Morales

Francisco Aragón said...

Indeed. And Momotombo Press is part of Letras Latinas, which is the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Momotombo Press is very proud to have as its exclusive bookseller and distributor, TIANGUIS bookstore in Pilsen. Irasema González is doing wonderful work there. So, if you go to Momotombo Press' website in search of how to get a copy of Aaron's terrific title, the site will direct you to Pilsen in Chicago: Viva TIANGUIS.

For more information on all the things going on under the auspices of Letras Latinas, please visit:



El Literati for Tianguis said...

Ditto to Aaron's message. The book is already available at Tianguis and for folks outside of Chicago you can definitely order it online (there is a paypal link on our webpage) or by phone, call us at 312.492.8350--we accept credit cards.

Words can't express how much I enjoyed reading this book. Aaron's work is AMAZING! We are excited to have him reading at our store and we encourage folks in our area to come and check him out on Feb. 23rd at 2 p.m.

Anonymous said...

Though you'd like to see a bit on different art books including one on Murals in California.

Follow the link.