Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gratitude, Martín Espada and Acentos

1. Give what you want to receive. The flow of Abundance is already all around you. To step into this flow is easy. Give to someone else the very thing you would like to receive. And give it freely without expectations of receiving, as if you already had more than enough. If you want more kindness in your life, be kind to someone, if you want more happiness in your life, make someone else happy, if you want more money in your life, share a little of what you have. Give it away easily, like you already had all that you need and there is plenty more from where that came from. 

2. Trust and know. The next step is to trust and know you have just stepped into the flow of abundance and are now aligned with what you want. Know there is more than enough to go around. 

3. Take Action. Participation is an important part of Abundance. While you are knowing you are now aligned with the flow of the abundance you want, it is also important to participate and help make things happen. Follow your inner knowing and your intuition and do your part to help create the abundance you would like to have. Continue to participate until you are receiving what you want.

4. Be Grateful. Gratitude is a vital step in the flow of abundance. It is a powerful magnet which keeps us in the flow and aligned with receiving all the wonderful things we desire. Fill yourself with gratitude all the time, even about the small and seemingly simple things in your life. There is always something to be grateful about. When you notice a little of what you want flowing to you, take a moment and be grateful for what you have received, regardless of how big or small it may be. Be grateful and say thank you. 

5. Pass it on. When you receive a little abundance take a moment and pass some of it on and assist someone else in feeling a little more abundant. When you pass on some of what you receive, do it easily as if you already have more than you need, expecting nothing in return. When you pass it on in this way you are now starting the process all over again and have once again taken the first step to "give what you want to receive." In this way the flow of abundance continues and becomes more and more each time.

From Our Friends at Acentos:

Acentos Writers Workshop welcomes Martín Espada 
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College 
Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 7pm.

Acentos Writers Workshop welcomes Martín Espada to Eugenio María de Hostos Community College on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 7pm sharp. FREE!

We are extremely excited to announce that Martín Espada will facilitate a workshop for Acentos.
Called “the Latino poet of his generation” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published sixteen books in all as a poet, editor, essayist and translator, including two collections of poems last year: Crucifixion in the Plaza de Armas (Smokestack, 2008), released in England, and La Tumba de Buenaventura Roig (Terranova, 2008), a bilingual edition published in Puerto Rico.

The Republic of Poetry, a collection of poems published by Norton in 2006, received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Another collection, Imagine the Angels of Bread (Norton, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Other books of poetry include Alabanza: New and Selected Poems (Norton, 2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (Norton, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (Norton, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990). He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Robert Creeley Award, the Antonia Pantoja Award, the Charity Randall Citation, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, the Premio Fronterizo, two NEA Fellowships, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

His poems have appeared in the The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, The Nation and The Best American Poetry.
He has also published a collection of essays, Zapata’s Disciple (South End, 1998); edited two anthologies, Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination from Curbstone Press (Curbstone, 1994) and El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry (University of Massachusetts, 1997); and released an audiobook of poetry called Now the Dead will Dance the Mambo (Leapfrog, 2004). His work has been translated into ten languages. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is now a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he teaches creative writing and the work of Pablo Neruda.

Espada will facilitate a 2 hour poetry workshop for free. Yes, I said free. We are welcoming the community at large. Yet, there will not be massive chaos. There will be a registration process. If you have not e-mailed to register, you will not be able to take the workshop. Notice, this workshop is on a Friday evening at 7pm.
Bring your pens, bring your paper, bring your hearts. Palante papi, Siempre palante.

Eugenio María de Hostos Community College
Savoy Building, 120 East 149th Street, corner of Walton Ave, Multipurpose Room, Second Floor New York 10451 • Phone 917-209-4211 7pm sharp! Directions to Hostos Community College

Hostos Community College is located at a safe and busy intersection just steps from the subway station and bus stop.
By subway: take the 2,4,5 IRT trains to 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard) and the Grand Concourse.By bus: take the Bx1 or cross-town Bx19 to 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard) and the Grand Concourse. By car:From Manhattan, take the FDR Drive north to the Willis Avenue Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway (87N). Proceed north to Exit 3. Take the right fork in the exit ramp to the Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard) From Queens, take the Triborough Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway. Continue north to Exit 3. Take the right fork in the exit ramp to the Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard).From Westchester, take the Major Deegan Expressway south (87S) to Exit 3.

Turn left at the light. Turn left again at Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard)
.From New Jersey, take the George Washington Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway south to Exit 3. Turn left at the light. Turn left again at Grand Concourse and proceed north to East 149th Street (Eugenio María de Hostos Boulevard)

Fish Vargas

Lisa Alvarado

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dia de los niños-Dia de los libros

Dia de los niños- Dia de los libros/ Children's Day- Book day is tomorrow April 3o. Visit your local library and find out about their celebrations for Dia. While you are there, check out books and read them with your children. Have a wonderful reading!

April 30 is Children’s Book Day
at Inglewood Public Library

Children’s Book Day, or Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, will be celebrated with special programs at the Main Library on Thursday, April 30 in Inglewood. Children’s book authors Amada Irma Pérez and René Colato Laínez will present at this event which will also include crafts, refreshments, raffles, and book prizes.

Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros / Children’s Book Day is known throughout the country as a celebration of children and families. With its origins in the first World Conference for the Well-Being of Children held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros / Children’s Book Day is celebrated throughout the world. Mexico has a tradition of celebrating Día on April 30; in many cities of the United States, it is celebrated on a day during the month of April.

This year’s program features children’s book authors Amada Irma Pérez and René Colato Laínez. Amada Irma Pérez is an award-winning author and speaker, and a leading advocate of programs that encourage multicultural understanding. Her books My Very Own Room/ Mi propio cuartito; My Diary from Here to There/ Mi diario de aquí hasta allá; and Nana’s Big Surprise/ Nana, ¡Qué Sorpresa! are critically acclaimed and have been honored by several major Latino awards in children’s literature, including the American Library Association’s Pura Belpré Award, the Tómas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, and the América’s Award. Born in Mexicali, Mexico, and raised mostly in California, Amada Irma finds joy in sharing her books with readers of all ages during her visits to schools, libraries and conferences across the country.

Known by his students as “the teacher full of stories,” René Colato Laínez is the Salvadorean author of several bilingual picture books including I am René, the Boy/ Soy René, el niño (Piñata Books); Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a papá (Piñata Books), and Playing Lotería/ El juego de la lotería (Luna Rising). He is the recipient of the Latino Book Award’s Best Bilingual Children’s Book and the New Mexico Book Award for Best Children’s Book.

He writes for the Spanish-language magazine Revista Iguana and is a weekly children’s literature columnist for LA BLOGA ( René is a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School in Los Angeles. For additional information on the authors, please see and

Inglewood Public Library’s events will take place on Thursday, April 30, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Gladys Waddingham Lecture Hall, Inglewood Public Library, 101 W. Manchester Blvd. Inglewood, CA 90301. For more information contact Tatiana de la Tierra (310) 412-8734 or email

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Frisco Noir 2 / Inauguration of UCR's Tomás Rivera Archives

Review: San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics. Edited by Peter Maravelis. NY: Akashic Books, 2009.
ISBN-13: 978-1-933354-65-1

Michael Sedano

The City, as its devotees object, should never be called ‘Frisco. The term offends the sensibility of loyal San Franciscans, or something classic Chronicle columnist Ralph J. Gleason must have written long ago. Similarly, stuff that isn’t classic shouldn’t be called “classic,” as does the subtitle of Akashic’s San Francisco Noir 2, The Classics.

To me, “classic” suggest a pair of standards. First, age. Second unusually distinctive quality. It’s not enough that a piece have age, nor even mere quality. Memorability, distinctiveness, adaptation to a particular readership, any combination marks the boundary between merely good old stuff and something Classic with a capital “C”.

These values might not be readily apparent, as in Mark Twain’s “The Black Hole of San Francisco,” from 1865. It’s an uninteresting satire of a courthouse so devoid of justice it emits horrible smells. Editor Peter Maravelis wisely hides this third, following two other old pieces, Ambrose Bierce’s “A Watcher by the Dead,” from 1889’s North Beach, and Frank Norris’ “The Third Circle,” set in 1897 Chinatown. They are entertaining work, not necessarily each writer’s most notable, and charitably allowing a huge stretch to comprehend including the Twain piece at all.

These are, however, old. Hence, the oxymorons “unappreciated classic” or “classic-in-waiting” come readily to mind to account for such editorial decisions as skipping ahead from Dashiell Hammett’s 1925, “The Scorched Face” to 1953’s “The Collector Comes After Payday,” by Fletcher Flora.

Two thirds of the collection comes from a roster of noted late 20th century writers. After the mid-century stop, Maravelis skips ahead 11 years to 1966’ “The Second Coming” from Joe Gores, then to Marcia Muller’s 1987 “Deceptions.”

Akashic and Maravelis have put together a worthwhile anthology, despite the less than felicitous subtitle. Two stories frame the quality well.

In his ’53 piece, Fletcher Flora reflects the machismo and incipient violence of his era. The male criminal enjoys slapping around his trophy wife. Frankie lives the 1950’s fantasy life. A 120-pound weakling and born loser, Frankie’s luck turns around completely. He gets rich, gets the girl, enjoys wealth on the seamy side until he falls for a younger woman. Frankie’s last gasp exits a .38 hole in his chest, his irony the abused wife finally finding her backbone.

By 1987, Marcia Muller has a woman investigator tracking down a missing woman, a possible suicide. But it appears a plan by a clever woman looking to continue her life someplace else. A park ranger is the victim, lured and abandoned by the missing woman. Her irony is being found hacked to pieces in an old cistern, the betrayed paramour’s revenge. The murderer himself plunges to his last gasp after pursuing the female dick to a dead end, where her lucky desperation produces the killer’s fatal stumble.

One story merits special notice, Janet Dawson’s 1998 story of children in peril, “Invisible Time.” A tense nightmare of two homeless children surviving on the streets around Union Square. Greta, a ten-year old girl takes care of her 5-year old brother Hank. Homeless after their alcoholic mother abandons them after one hard knock after another, the children steal or eat leftovers from lunchtime trash barrels. It’s a no happy endings story, truly frightening. Dawson has one of the best lines in the book, when, after expressing Greta’s growing desperation, “She was doing the best she could, but she didn’t know how long she could keep it up.” Avoiding the skid row of the Tenderloin and South of Market region, remaining in Union Square, the nicer area north of Market. Then comes a gem of pure beauty:

"Greta couldn’t remember when Mom left. A few weeks, a month, two months, it didn’t matter. After a few days, the hours all ran together, like a stream of dirty water chasing debris down the sewer grate. She only remembered that it didn’t used to be like this.”

A classic metaphor line like that more than enough compels reading more Dawson. And  piques interest in revisiting the other writers, too. The familiar ones. For instance, the Hammett. Although not noir per se, I would like more readers to laugh at Hammett’s hilarious bronco buster short story from The Continental Op II.

There is one jarring note that still bugs me. There’s a story with a Chicano character, John Shirley’s 1991 “Ash.” But the Chicano’s weird. Not just a street weird-o, a Santero, or a Santeria apparition of some strange sort.  I’ll be embarrassed to learn Shirley’s a nom de plume of a Mexicano a todo dar, but from the looks of this character, either I haven’t been to Frisco for too long, or Shirley needs to learn more about Chicanos before dropping one into the middle a story. Ash, a middle-class guy has been laid off due to the current recession. He meticulously plans to stick up an armored car. When the heist goes south, the Chicano appears, the crook gets tangled up with the street person, the crook plugs the guard. The murder sends the robber into a psychedelic episode that ends only when Ash, the character, ends, at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Strange ending to an odd story and a fitting final page in an excellent collection.

If only they hadn’t stretched matters and called it “Classic.”

Foto Platica at UCR – Inauguration of UCR’s Tomás Rivera Flor Y Canto Archives.

The elevator ride to Special Collections leads to Tomás Rivera Library’s top floor, but opens onto an anonymous dark hallway. A few turns and I’m at the twin glass doors. The entry corridor is lined on both sides with matted photographs mounted on the wall. (Click images to enlarge.)

The dramatic Oscar Acosta images greet me on my left. The shot of Tomás Rivera with Ybarra-Frausto and Hinojosa-Smith holds the initial space of the right wall. The photos are hung with ample wall space between them so each can hold its own focus of attention. At 19” by 13”,  viewers can stand back and take in the full frame with easy comfort. Research Librarian Gwido Zlatkes has labeled each image. He smiles pointing to the photo of rrsalinas. Gwido, a research librarian to the bone, wanted to know more about these Chicana and Chicano writers. Somehow, the ex-Tecato poet has joined the family of a recent Mexican president, Salinas-Gortari. Gwido makes a quick trip to the word processor and in a moment rr rejoins his own clan.

Dr. Melissa Conway, Head of Special Collections & Archives does the introduction. I’m preceded to the lectern by Elihud Martinez, a wonderfully informative talk on Miguel Leon-Portillo’s work in Nahuatl philosophy, the term, “flor y canto” and its place in understanding chicano literature and the brief moment of the floricanto movimiento that began with the 1973 USC gathering.

After my time on the platform—the performance was videotaped—the audience adjourned to a side room for chocolate, café, pan and conversation. Doña Rivera was elegantly charming. Meeting her today, after photographing her late husband in a candid moment thirty-five years ago brought me an unexpected sense of completion.

Dr. Melissa Conway’s staff and the efforts of Professor Juan Felipe Herrera, putting on the entire conference, made the afternoon a rewarding experience for me. Sitting in on a few moments of the screenwriting workshop brought home the value of this 22d Annual Tomás Rivera Conference to the community. Ligiah Villalobos, as successful a Hollywood screenwriter as you’ll find among la Chicanada, bringing her time and knowledge to all who chose to attend, at no charge. 

There's the ultimate Tuesday of April 2009, a Tuesday like any other Tuesday, except you are here. Thanks for visiting La Bloga. 

La Bloga welcomes your comments. Simply click the Comments counter below to share your thoughts. La Bloga welcomes guest columnists. To be our guest, click here and describe your column.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Arroyo Literary Review

Despite the crashing economy, people who love and appreciate literature continue to bring fiction, poetry, essays and interviews to hungry readers. What’s my evidence? Just open any issue of Poets & Writers and turn to its classifieds. There you’ll find the many calls for submissions from print and online literary journals, all wanting your best work. Well, our reading life is a little brighter with the introduction of a handsome new publication, the Arroyo Literary Review.

Arroyo is a print-based publication produced annually by the Department of English at California State University, East Bay. The editorial staff of Arroyo is dedicated to showcasing both new and established writers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. In addition to quality contemporary fiction and poetry, each issue of Arroyo features an interview with a distinguished writer.

The premier issue, which just hit the shelves, includes an interview with novelist and critic Eric Miles Williamson, author of East Bay Grease, Two-Up, and Oakland, Jack London, and Me. The issue also includes the work of Marvin Bell, Dan Bellm, Lucille Lang Day, Stephen D. Gutierrez, Jeremy Halinen, Trebor Healey, Nellie Hill, Ilyse Kusnetz, Jan Heller Levi, Sara McAulay, Richard Peabody, Patrick Ryan, Patty Seyburn, Lisa Solomon and Mark Svenvold. The cover art is by James Jean.

Arroyo Literary Review is funded through the university and the generous contributions of individual donors. It is edited, designed, and managed by students in the English program, and advised by faculty members.

For more information, or to purchase a sample copy of Arroyo, contact the Editors by e-mailing them. You may also visit Arroyo’s website.

Submissions, read until May 31, 2009, should be mailed to:

Arroyo Literary Review
Department of English - MB 2579
California State University, East Bay
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94542

◙ Well, Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Público Press), edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martinez, continues to receive rave notices. This time, Lydia Gil writing for the Latin American Herald Tribune, opines that Hit List, “a collection that is ideal for reading on the metro or at the beach or cafe, delivers some of the best stories in that genre to have been published in English in recent years.” Read the entire review here.

◙ And now a message from Abelardo de la Peña, Jr., editor of LatinoLA:

I serve as acting director of the Mexican Cultural Institute at El Pueblo AKA Olvera Street. Just a few hours a week, thanks to the active work of other board members who are also volunteering their time and energy. Yesterday, I presented our annual report for 2008 to the El Pueblo commissioners. A simple power point presentation detailed the diverse programming of the Institute -- art shows, movie screenings, book reading, and more -- to an attentive audience. I wore a jacket, which must have been impressive, because they applauded at the end. I'm glad they appreciate the value of our mission, which we undertake under the various challenges that come with being a non-profit in these times.

We're working at making 2009 even better. Check out our MySpace page (needs updating ... sorry!).

If you have a few hours to give, think about getting involved with organizations / agencies / schools/etc. that meet your personal mission. You'll be applauded, too.



◙ Speaking of LatinoLA, here are a few links to recent posts you might enjoy:

Situational Awareness by Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor

When the Diaper Hits the Fan... by Susie Albin-Najera

I Thought You Were My Penguin by mia soto

TOP Ten Ways Prominent Latinos Celebrate Earth Day by Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor

A Perfect LatinoLA Play: $20 Special! by Abelardo de la Peña Jr.

Review: Flamenco at the Gypsy Den in Santa Ana by O. Ian Ávalos

News from the Brown Side of Town, April 21 by Frankie Firme ~ Contributing Editor

A Little Pampering by Lisa Zion, Contributing Editor

◙ Award-winning author and man-of-a-big-corazón, Luis Alberto Urrea, has a new poem up on his website. Powerful, thought-provoking, something you should read. It's called, "Valley of the Palms" and is dated April 20. While you're there, note that Urrea also has a piece on "This I Believe." Check it all out. And don't forget that his new novel, Into the Beautiful North, comes out next month. I've read it...I loved it. So will you. More on this book soon.

◙ Chon Noriega, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, will be on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) next month.

Professor Noriega and Robert Osborne will co-host a series of 40 films demonstrating the progression of how Latino characters and culture are depicted in cinema. “Race And Hollywood: Latino Images in Film,” airing on Turner Classic Movies television on Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 5-28, is the fourth in a series of film festivals exploring Hollywood's portrayal of racial groups. TCM has a site up dedicated to the month-long event. For more information, click here. It looks like a really interesting slate of films as well as some old favorites.

◙ That’s all for now. So, in the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Been thrown outa better bars

I've got a soft spot in my heart for the Irish, not only for what they suffered under the English, but more, for the camaraderie they shared with mexicanos during the 1840s war against the U.S. That culminated in U.S. troops illegally hanging Mexican citizens of Irish descent, a chapter of American history that seems intentionally buried, so that few Irish Americans are familiar with the legacy. The historical moment was (almost accurately) depicted in the 1999 Tom Berenger movie One Man's Hero.

Each St. Patrick's Day I ask Anglo/Irish celebrants what they know about the San Patricio Brigade and am met with the kind of silence one gets from asking the best way to pit-roast a goat. Despite ignorance about their heritage, my soft spot normally remains intact.

However, on a recent trek to the Irish Rover pub in Denver with a group of fellow teachers--mostly Anglos--I found that soft spot threatened. What started out as the weekly FAC to blunt the edge of a torturous week of the standardized testing of children, threatened to end like a scene in an old Bruce Willis movie.

Now that I'm rapidly slipping down the over-60 hill, I've lost my youthful tendency to act in any way that might get me thrown out of bars. Once upon a time I might have shattered a mirror in what passes for a Mafioso bar in Denver, although I tossed down enough cash as I left to insure I didn't get leveled like the old ice cream shop across the street that became their unwilling parking lot.

There were other bars, here and elsewhere, that I've been asked not to return to, but I usually knew when it was my fault or the fault of too much alcohol in the bloodstream. This time was different.

As the FAC drew to a close, purely by accident our Anglo friends left, and only a South American teacher and I stayed to finish our last drink. She was hungry and wanted something to eat. When the waiter who'd just started his shift came by, she told him she wanted to order some "crap." He said they didn't serve any "crap", and in less than a minute the situation promised to escalate into a different kind of afternoon.

In her defense, the Latina is still learning how and when to use minor profanity. For a foreigner, it's not easy getting accustomed to how loose Americans are with foul language. Forget about rap or hip-hop or the cinema; network television would have you believe the useage of lots of bad words is the way we communicate. She's just been trying to fit in and was showing off her acquired English proficiency.

In the waiter's defense, the Latina is quite well-off and accustomed to being waited on by the staff of pricey restaurants I can't even afford to enter. The fact that she's not very underweight may also have contributed to her demeanor coming across as less than uncondescending.

Growing up in the Southwest, like some Chicanos I'm hypersensitive to racist displays, but in this instance I couldn't detect any obvious signs behind why the waiter went from intimidating to outright physically blocking most of my view with his over-six-foot frame. He loomed, he threatened, as I tried to catch the eye of the bartenders who'd courteously waited on us the previous hour or so. I thought they might yet call him off of us, at least so we could finish our drink. To no avail.

In a matter of seconds my colleague and I were pelted with a firm "Get out!", a firmer "Now!" and the appearance of another male employee, who I assume showed up in case his burly, muscular colleague couldn't handle an out-of-shape, 5'7, 2nd-grade teacher. Or maybe he was there to help lift the Latina if she'd had to been decked.

What I do understand were the sensations passing through me in the time it took to get from the table to the door. My imagination left no doubt I might be only inches or seconds away from a hand to my face or onto my body. I could have survived the first, but wouldn't have made it past the second. A macho, even an aging one, has his limits, which stupidly include not allowing a male's hand on the body. Luckily, the moment passed with at least no physical harm, or this post would have been created over the sheets of a hospital bed.

I don't know if the waiter's subprime had just kicked into some obscene interest rate or if he didn't relish serving the combination of an uncorpulent Latina and not-so-well-dressed senior Chicano or if he'd just been listening to too many Rush Limbaugh episodes and assumed we were the undocumented thieves of good-paying American jobs. (He wouldn't have known how little Denver teachers get paid.) I have no idea.

But it did turn out that the waiter was quite deft at using bulk and voice to herd us out the door and onto the street, figuratively. The Latina and I hadn't gotten over our shock when we parted ways, never to come to agreement as to what had transpired.

In the pub's defense, perhaps something in my behavior warranted being thrown out of their establishment. That's not impossible. Perhaps a customer whose reputation there still allows their entry can uncover that.

I'm tempted to dispute the last credit card charge for the drinks we never got to finish; the hassle might not be worth the cost of a Crown Rocks and a Patron. But maybe I can itemize it next year as research for a comedic screenplay about a male-female Laurel and Hardy take-off in modern-day Denver. Of course, I'd have to inject much humor, since the reality contained little of that.

This post may seem irrelevant to La Bloga's mission nor be comparable to my fellow contributors' quality articles that readers normally expect here. In that respect, I beg forgiveness for resorting to blogging in its lowest forms and promise not to frequent such practice.

And to fellow teachers who sometimes FAC on South Broadway, I won't suggest you boycott the pub. There's not definite evidence warranting such. However, you might consider not leaving the non-Anglos to fend for themselves. Especially if they act, look, or sound much like the characters described herein.

Lastly, don't take your next FAC for granted, and ¡que viva la Brigada de San Patricio!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Books on the way, each potentially a great read.

Dance With Snakes
Horacio Castellanos Moya
, first English translation by Lee Paula Springer
Biblioasis, September, 2009

As El Salvador returns to peace after more than a decade of civil war, Eduardo Sosa, an unemployed sociologist, becomes fascinated by a homeless man who lives in a beat-up yellow Chevrolet parked across the street from his sister's apartment. An unexpected turn of events causes Sosa to assume the other man's identity. When he becomes the driver of the mysterious yellow Chevrolet, Sosa discovers that it is home to four poisonous snakes. With the snakes as accomplices, Sosa unleashes a reign of terror on the city of San Salvador. Dance With Snakes is a macabre high-speed romp in which violence and comedy become almost indistinguishable. The non-stop action raises provocative questions about social exclusion and the role of the media, but this novel by the author of the acclaimed Senselessness also evokes the tenderness of relations among those on society's margins.

Horacio Castellanos Moya has published eight novels and is now living in exile as part of the City of Asylum project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Honor Comes Hard: Writings From California Prison System's Honor Yard
Edited by Lucinda Thomas and Luis J. Rodriguez
Tia Chucha Press, October, 2009

Prison writing has a long and illustrious history in the United States -- home of the modern correctional system. In the first decade of the 21st century, this country also garnered the distinction of having more prisoners per capita than any other nation in the world. From poems, to stories, to novel excerpts, to reportage, to personal essays -- and a few drawings -- Honor Comes Hard depicts what can happen to people who are given, as Clarence Darrow expressed many years ago, "a chance to live." The work is drawn from writing classes that Lucinda Thomas helped organize in the Honor Yard of the California State Prison over several years, and from workshops conducted by Luis J. Rodriguez on most Sundays, for eight hours a day, through eight months in 2007 - 2008.

Lucinda Thomas is the Arts Education Director at the California State Prison, Los Angeles County.

Luis J. Rodriguez is a acclaimed essayist, poet, memoirist, children's book writer, novelist, and short story writer. He's founder/editor of Tia Chucha Press.

Andean Express
Juan de Recacoechea, translated by Adrian Althoff
Akashic, April, 2009

Set in 1952, this is the story of a tragic overnight train journey that unfolds in an environment at once carnivalesque and sinister. Beginning near La Paz, Bolivia, the austere Andean plateau serves as a surreal backdrop for most of the trip before giving way to a winding descent to the Chilean coast. Ricardo Beintigoitia, a recent high school graduate from a prosperous La Paz family, unwittingly becomes ensnared in the personal drama of one of his peers, a captivating girl named Gulietta Carletti who has been forced into an arranged marriage with a man she despises.

On the Andean Express, everybody wants something and no one is exactly who he seems. Recacoechea's lean, elegant prose crackles with sharp dialogue and entertaining exchanges among a disparate cast of characters, each with his own ax to grind. The train is a microcosm of Bolivia itself, with people from all walks of life, from peasants to politicians, forming a circus of personalities and intrigue in which tragedy seems inevitable, and improbable liaisons become reality.

Juan de Recacoechea was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and worked as a journalist in Europe for almost twenty years. After returning to his native country, he helped found Bolivia's first state-run television network and dedicated himself to fiction writing. His novel American Visa won Bolivia's National Book Prize, was adapted into an award-winning film, and was translated into English and published by Akashic Books to great critical acclaim.

written by Josefina López

Explore the connection and the responsibility of women to nature and the potential change they can create in a volatile world.

Directed by Elsa Martinez Phillips
Assistant Directed by Diana Alvarez
Produced by Sara Guerrero, Elsa Martinez Phillips, and Diana Alvarez
Artwork by Josefina López

Cast Includes:
Amy Shu, Angela Imperial, Diana Alvarez, Melita Sagar, Brenda Banda, Analy Garcia, Melita Sagar, and Dominique DeAlba Caporrimo

Friday, April 17 thru Saturday May 2
Friday and Saturday @ 8 PM
(April 17, 18, 24, 25, May 1 & 2)
Sunday @ 3pm (April 26 only)
General Admission: $15
Seniors / Students (w/ valid ID): $10 Group Rates Available

Breath of Fire Theater
310 W 5th Street (2nd Floor)
Santa Ana, Ca 92701
Near the corner of 5th & Broadway.

For directions:

For reservations click:
Or Email:
Or Call:
(714) 600-0129

Homeboy Industries traces its roots to Jobs For A Future (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Father Gregory Boyle while he was serving as pastor of Dolores Mission parish in Boyle Heights. Begun as a jobs program in 1988, offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city, the program soon grew beyond the parish. Homeboy became an independent nonprofit in August of 2001, and has since grown into a national model. This year, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary as an organization in our new headquarters located in downtown Los Angeles, just two blocks from Union Station.

The Homeboy fundraiser is called Lo Maximo 2009 and will be held on Saturday, April 25, beginning with a Mass at 5:30 p.m., cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 7:30 p.m. at beautiful Union Station, Los Angeles. For reservations and ticket information, call Homeboy at 323-526-1254 ext. 312 or 313.

For more information, go to

Sunday, April 26, 12:00 pm

From noon to 4 pm, enjoy free admission and family-friendly programming that celebrates children from around the world. At the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library, the Colorado History Museum, and the Byers-Evans House Museum.

International dance and music performances
Art activities, storytelling, costumes, tours
Bilingual volunteers at all four locations

Free. For more information, call 720-913-0169 or e-mail

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Martín Espada, A Writer's Life

Martín Espada

Dear Readers:

I was teaching an Intro to Lit class the other day and afterward one of my students approached me, wanting some one-to-one discussion time. This particular student is 6'4", about 225 lbs -- a working class guy who'd had a variety of jobs before ending up in my class. With some digging in of his heels, he'd grudgingly begun reading the assigned work for the poetry section of the class.

With a laser beam smile, he told me that reading Federico's Ghost altered his whole view of poetry. He said he previously thought it was irrelevant to everyday people, hard-to-understand, fussy and precious. (Which frankly, I told him, was a fairly accurate assessment of a good deal of it.)

However, Martín Espada changed what he thought and what he was going to read in the future. He went on and on about the use of images that got under his skin, images that made the labor and the suffering a visceral, unforgettable experience.

(Ah, we poets, we teachers, live for that!)

Please take a look at that life-changing work and a repeat look at my review of his Pulitzer Prize nominated book, The Republic of Poetry.


Federico's Ghost

The story is
that whole families of fruitpickers
still crept between the furrows
of the field at dusk,
when for reasons of whiskey or whatever
the cropduster plane sprayed anyway,
floating a pesticide drizzle
over the pickers
who thrashed like dark birds
in a glistening white net,
except for Federico,
a skinny boy who stood apart
in his own green row,
and, knowing the pilot
would not understand in Spanish
that he was the son of a whore,
instead jerked his arm
and thrust an obscene finger.

The pilot understood.
He circled the plane and sprayed again,
watching a fine gauze of poison
drift over the brown bodies
that cowered and scurried on the ground,
and aiming for Federico,
leaving the skin beneath his shirt
wet and blistered,
but still pumping his finger at the sky.

After Federico died,
rumors at the labor camp
told of tomatoes picked and smashed at night,
growers muttering of vandal children
or communists in camp,
first threatening to call Immigration,
then promising every Sunday off
if only the smashing of tomatoes would stop.

Still tomatoes were picked and squashed
in the dark,
and the old women in camp
said it was Federico,
laboring after sundown
to cool the burns on his arms,
flinging tomatoes
at the cropduster
that hummed like a mosquito
lost in his ear,
and kept his soul awake.

from Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hands


Martín Espada's The Republic of Poetry reminds me of Oscar de la Hoya's boxing. Beautiful to behold, it's unerring in its aim. Pared down to the essential--it's body blows to the chest, to the gut, head blows that annihilate the opponent and leave the viewer stunned, reeling, gasping for air.
Democracy subverted in Chile and by implication, everywhere, reverberates on every page.

The Republic of Poetry is not an elegy, it's an upper cut to complacency, a left hook to amnesia. Wake up, remember what was, see what's happening right in front of you.
The comparison of Espada to Neruda, to Whitman are many, but to me, what comes to mind is poet warrior, able to fight and raise an army with the power of his words.

But in case you're not convinced, here is some additional praise for this remarkable book.

“What a tender, marvelous collection. First, that broken, glorious journey into the redemptive heart of my Chile, and then, as if that had not been enough, the many gates of epiphanies and sorrows being opened again and again, over and over.”
—Ariel Dorfman

“Martín Espada is a poet of annunciation and denunciation, a bridge between Whitman and Neruda, a conscientious objector in the war of silence.”
—Ilan Stavans

“Martín Espada’s big-hearted poems reconfirm ‘The Republic of Poetry’ that (dares) to insist upon its dreams of justice and mercy even during the age of perpetual war.”
—Sam Hamill

“Martín Espada is indeed a worthy prophet for a better world.”
—Rigoberto González

This is tight, muscular writing. Espada make his point with an economy of language, concealing a dense terrain of imagery and meaning. In this universe, the dead are not ghosts, but fully fleshed--staving off the soldiers, marching in the battlefield, struggling in the streets, and inspiring new generations. Read these and you'll see what I mean.


The Soldiers in the Garden
Isla Negra, Chile, September 1973

After the coup,
the soldiers appeared
in Neruda’s garden one night,
raising lanterns to interrogate the trees,
cursing at the rocks that tripped them.
From the bedroom window
they could have been
the conquistadores of drowned galleons,
back from the sea to finish
plundering the coast.

The poet was dying:
cancer flashed through his body
and left him rolling in the bed to kill the flames.
Still, when the lieutenant stormed upstairs,
Neruda faced him and said:
There is only one danger for you here: poetry.
The lieutenant brought his helmet to his chest,
apologized to señor Neruda
and squeezed himself back down the stairs.
The lanterns dissolved one by one from the trees.

For thirty years
we have been searching
for another incantation
to make the soldiers
vanish from the garden.
The soldier leaves, not because the poet is super human, but because he's supremely human. Poetry taps into a power that no bullet can halt nor cancer eat away. Armies of everyday people have been set loose with words like Neruda's. Then and now, the men in power with bloody hands know it's dangerous, know it's subversive. But in the end, it remains unstoppable.

Black Islands
for Darío

At Isla Negra,
between Neruda’s tomb
and the anchor in the garden,
a man with stonecutter’s hands
lifted up his boy of five
so the boy’s eyes could search mine.
The boy’s eyes were black olives.
Son, the father said, this is a poet,
like Pablo Neruda.
The boy’s eyes were black glass.
My son is called Darío,
for the poet of Nicaragua,
the father said.
The boy’s eyes were black stones.
The boy said nothing,
searching my face for poetry,
searching my eyes for his own eyes.
The boy’s eyes were black islands.
What possibility dwells in those black eyes? What page of history will be written for him to read, and what page will he write himself? Knowing that Espada is a father, I can only imagine how many times he's asked himself those questions in the still hours of the night, watching his own child sleep. Toward the end of The Republic of Poetry, Espada meditates on the "smaller" world of family and relationships, personal joy and private grief. Every fighter has his scars, and every poet, his pleasures.

Now, stop reading this, it won't get the job done. Go. Get the book. Read that instead.
It's time to wake up.

The Republic of Poetry W. W. Norton
  • ISBN-10: 0393062562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062564
Lisa Alvarado

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

P is for Piñata

By Tony Johnston
Illustrated by John Parra

*Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
* ISBN 13: 9781585361441
* ISBN 10: 1585361445

From the publisher:

The country of Mexico has long been a popular travel destination. But there's much more to enjoy and appreciate than just sunshine and warm temperatures when exploring this region with its ancient history and proud traditions. Enjoy an A-Z tour of our neighbor to the south in P is for Piñata: A Mexico Alphabet.

Young readers can visit the tomb of a Mayan king, experience the life of the vaquero (Mexican cowboy), attend the world-famous Ballet Folklórico de Mèxico, and sample the everyday treat that was once known as the "food of the gods."

From folk art to famous people to the original "hot dog," the treasures of Mexico are revealed in P is for Piñata. Vibrant artwork perfectly captures the flavor, texture, and spirit of its landscape and culture.

Tony Johnston's love for Mexico started when her husband's job took them to Mexico City; they then lived there for fifteen years. While in Mexico, Tony wrote in Spanish and had several stories commissioned by the Mexican government. She has published more than 70 books for children and lives in San Marino, California.

Award-winning illustrator and designer John (Juanito) Parra studied at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His clients include United Airlines, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, PBS, and the L.A. Weekly. John's first children's book was My Name is Gabriela, about the life of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Gabriela Mistral. He lives in New York City.

For a complete teacher's guide visit


Trinidad Sanchez Jr. Poetry Fiesta
Northwest Vista College, San Antonio, Texas

College Campus Center Building Room 122

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 11 a.m. and 12:30


Terry Ibañez, Levi Romero, Norma Cantu, Regina Sanchez y Chavez

Golondrina, why did you leave me?
Book Tour

Sunday, May 3rd, Bookwoman Bookstore, Austin, Texas, 3pm

Friday, May 15th, Salute! Bar (warm-up for Esteban Jordan) 9:00 pm
$10.00 admission -- includes Esteban Jordan, Joan Frederick's twenty-years of photographs of the venerable Salute! Bar, comida, and dancing while I read and of course, when Esteban plays

Sunday, May 31st, Retro-Mex Vintage on Hildebrand, 4pm
Pilar is hosting - she's la reina of Mexican vintage
Art Exhibit by Terry Ybanez

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Review: Lydia on the Mark Taper Forum Main Stage

Written by Octavio Solis. Directed by Juliette Carillo.
Mark Taper Forum, April 2 - May 17, 2009.

Michael Sedano

Octavio Solis' Lydia, directed by Juliette Carillo, joins a club so exclusive I count the inspirations on one hand: Zoot Suit, although a 1978 New Theatre For Now entry, it debuted on the main stage, not some remote stagelike setting. Zoot Suit swiftly suited up as part of the regular season. A daring piece was Oliver Mayer's 1996 Blade to the Heat. Two Culture Clash entertainments, the dark Water & Power in 2006 and the 2003 romp, Chavez Ravine. Failing to make the main season but given a short-run on the main stage in 2002 was the superb "Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Piñata Woman and Other Superhero Girls, Like Me."

Given that history of few-and-far-between plays on the Mark Taper Forum playbill, any Chicana / Latina themed vehicle would be a must-see on the basis of rarity alone. Forget all that. Lydia is a must-see dramatic masterpiece, one of the finest productions to step upon the main stage at the Taper.

Make a list of theatrical gems presented over the years, first by Gordon Davidson, lately by Michael Ritchie. Catonsville Nine. Mahagonny Songplay. McKenna / MacGowran. Zoot Suit. Burn This--all of Lanford Wilson's work. Dorfman. Luminous theatrical stuff there. Obviously, it's no small thing to list Lydia as equalling such compelling moments. But ths production of Lydia easily makes the list. Hence, the must-see category.

La Bloga's Daniel Olivas ran an interview with the playright, Octavio Solis recently that offers this summary: Set in El Paso in the 1970s, "Lydia" portrays the saga of the Flores family, whose teenage daughter, Ceci, has been disabled in a horrific accident. Into this household of troubled souls and buried secrets enters an undocumented caretaker who shares a mysterious connection with Ceci.

Complex direction by Juliette Carillo delivers a visual feast enhanced with staging techniques ranging from comic acto to surrealist drama. Sparkling moments come and go seamlessly and to think of one just passed is to miss one in the present.

This is one of those productions that almost everything works. The parachute didn't. That aside, the characters and events create rich layers of looming tension. Everything looks almost OK but something definitely is waiting to happen tension. It winds the audience up so tightly that I hear some exit complaining that Saturday afternoon is no time to be stunned so ferociously. So go at night. But go.

The work debuted in Denver, with many of the same actors. Who knows the refinements worked into the piece, but the Los Angeles production shows a writer's ear for dialog and and a director's eye for movement. Like the language, the stage action is always in motion.

The actors play against one another beautifully. The opening surprise of the evanescent narrator who sinks into contorted paralysis finds an off-kilter mirror in the cackle cute voice of la criada, Lydia. Hired to cook clean and care for the teenager who communicates in her own whistles and grunts, at $60 a week in 1970, Lydia becomes Ceci's prosthetic voice and emotional proxy. The two lead women, Onahoua Rodriguez and Stephanie Beatriz, play with discipline to remain in character.

The ensemble plays together with such power that moments of comic relief come incredibly, well, relieving. When the maid has undressed the incapacitated teenage Ceci in front of her wide-eyed brother, Lydia remarks, "Your sister has nice tits." The explosion of laughter quickly stifles itself as the audience hushes to hear the ensuing dialogue. Talk about edge of your seat excitement.

Solis, the writer, Carrillo the director, and all the actors make only half the production, of course. Having a superlative supporting staff is the undisguised secret that makes the Taper's main stage an artificial world, for two plus hours: Christopher Acebo's Costume Design, Christal Weatherly's Lighting Design, Christopher Akerlind's Sound Design, Original Compositions by the late Chris Webb with Additional Music and Arrangements, by David Molina.

Natsuko Ohama, listed as Vocal and Dialog Coach, deserves special note for her work with Daniel Zacapa's Claudio. Or, perhaps Zacapa himself understands the pain Claudio experiences in a key monologue when the brutal father turns to the house to express himself beaten down. One hears also Claudio's enduring steadfastness. Even a despicable asshole like Claudio offers something worth hearing, given the audience.

Long-time Taper sitters like me, with fond memories of Gordon Davidson's highlights--when he hit it, Gordie hit it good--can look upon Michael Ritchie's efforts with new eyes, now that he's brought Lydia to the main stage. And upcoming, another Culture Clash evening. Maybe Ritchie's finding an El Lay conecta after all?

Inland Empire / Southland Reminder

Manuel Ramos highlights events taking place at University of California, Riverside this week, the Tomás Rivera Conference. Click here for a reminder of this annual event.

That's the penultimate Tuesday of month four of twelve comprising the year two thousand nine, a day like any other day, except you are here. If you'd like to comment on the above, click the Comments counter below. La Bloga welcomes guest columnists. Click here to let us know what you're thinking.


Monday, April 20, 2009

¡Inaugural issue of The Homeboy Review is now available!

Homeboy Press and its literary magazine, The Homeboy Review, serve as a voice for the poets and writers of Homeboy Industries, as well as a forum to publish both under-represented and established writers from around the globe. Begun as a writing program in Homeboy’s curriculum classes, the Homeboy Press was created to teach contemporary computer skills, including typesetting, desk-top publishing, web design and computer graphics to its clients, as well as to create an open, creative forum for global literary and art publishing by new and established writers and artists.

Acclaimed novelist Leslie Schwartz (pictured below) is the editor-in-chief and managing editor of The Homeboy Review. In honor of the inaugural issue of the literary journal, Schwartz has kindly agreed to allow La Bloga to publish her introduction to the first issue:

Before we begin…

In the fall of 2006, I taught a writing class at Homeboy Industries. The story of that class and the powerful voices of the young writers that emerged from it has had a lasting impact on my work as a writer and as an advocate for young people whose voices are formed and colored by living and writing from the margins. The class, made possible by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities and PEN USA, culminated several months later with a public reading and an anthology of the students’ work.

That particular ending, much to my surprise, became a beginning for me. I found in the voices of the students a kind of power and courage that was lacking in my own life as a writer. And in Homeboy Industries, I found a place that I could call home. I have been there ever since.

Homeboy Industries is a gang intervention program created in 1988 by Jesuit Priest, Gregory Boyle, while he was pastor of Dolores Mission parish in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Fr. Greg started Homeboy as a response to the proliferation of gang violence and the monumental loss of life he saw in his parish. Since then, Homeboy Industries, a non-profit organization, has grown into the largest gang intervention agency in the nation, demonstrating two decades of success helping at-risk youth and young adults make the transition from gang life to becoming contributing members of the community. The distinctive feature of Homeboy Industries is its small businesses. These businesses have employed hundreds of the most difficult-to-hire people into transitional jobs in a safe, supportive environment. At Homeboy Industries these young men and women learn both concrete and soft job skills while building their resumes with actual work experience. Most of them go on to find meaningful employment.

These are the facts of Homeboy.

The miracle is this: Young people in gangs who might have once considered each other enemies on the streets, come into Homeboy and work side-by-side as friends, in kinship. To me, one of the most beautiful and poetic examples of this is our bakery, where ex-gang members from all over the city of Los Angeles bake and break bread together.

Poetry is another expression of this solidarity. While Father Greg might say that nothing stops a bullet like a job, I would add, nothing stops a bullet like a poem.

At the end of the grant period, my students had the chance to see their work in print. Seeing their work in print, as well as having an opportunity to publicly share their stories, was such a revelation to them that it became immediately clear to me that writing, publishing and reading poetry was a powerful tool to inspire continued transformation. As a result, the Homeboy Press was born.

In keeping with the mission of Homeboy Industries, those who work on the press simultaneously hone their passion for poetry, creative writing and public performance, while developing a variety of widely marketable contemporary job skills like web design, graphic design, desktop publishing, typing, editing and advanced computer skills. At the same time, this magazine that you now hold in your hands serves as an important outlet for both our homegrown writers and writers of national repute. The Homeboy Review is its own neighborhood, if you will. It is a space to be shared by both our own poets and an extended community of established artists and writers.

Each issue will follow the same basic format. Because we felt that it was important to invite the global literary community into ours, the first section – which we are calling simply “The First Section” – includes work from poets and writers who will likely be familiar to you. We are honored to feature the nationally known poet, Luis Rodriguez, who is something of a hero to us at Homeboy Industries. Like few other poets, Luis has created a literary life that extends outward, to those who most need the kind of inspiration and generous help he so freely gives. That his poetry is fresh and rewarding to read made him the obvious choice for our featured artist.

You will also find beautiful works by established writers like Naomi Shihab Nye, Chris Abani and Kerry Madden. Emerging, though previously published writers, include Reyna Grande and Alvaro Huerta, and we are delighted to present a very special piece by award-winning journalist, Erika Hayasaki. Our first-timers include poems by Rocio Carlos-Gonzales and a short story by Sheela Sukumaran, both of whom were recent PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellows. And finally, don’t pass up Fr. Greg Boyle’s remarkable excerpt from his forthcoming book, Tattoos on the Heart. (Bring a hankie for that one!)

The second section, “Art and Justice,” will be a distinctive feature of the Homeboy Review. It is designed to examine the relationship between art and community and how, together, they are integral to fostering creativity and transformation. We firmly believe that the expression of our creative lives is a community action. To that end, this section will typically include original art or photos from or by the community members who contribute their poetry.

For the first issue, we are proud to present essays by Homeboy writers Agustin Lizama and Trayvon Jeffers. The essays they wrote and the accompanying photos speak to the necessity of exporting practical solutions for peace, prosperity and justice. I was fortunate to tag along on this trip and teach a creative writing class to the students of the small school in this poverty-stricken neighborhood.

The poems that emerged are stirring and complicated. They speak to the ordeal of neglect and poverty on young hearts and minds. Some of the poems, published here, will surely give you a moment’s pause.

The final section, “130 West Bruno Street” contains the poetry that has come out of my creative writing classes at Homeboy Industries. The poems here are perhaps the most dear to me. They illustrate the courage, faith and hope of the young people at Homeboy Industries, people whose lives have been marked by tragedy, pain and suffering. Yet over the years of teaching creative writing at Homeboy, I have come to see that in the process of excavating their stories, the Homeboy poets have learned the value of writing and its tonic of empowerment. Not a single poet has left the class without the knowledge that real transformation requires the ability to imagine and tell new stories about oneself. Though the poems are raw and sometimes painful to read, the poetry of “130 West Bruno Street” is above all else, a demonstration of hope and courage. I know you’ll enjoy their work as much as I have enjoyed helping these poets find their voices.

There is no way this magazine could have happened without the help of many. First of all, thanks to Fr. Greg who just gets it. Not many people appreciate the value of the written word and its power to impact so many lives the way he does. Thanks also to Kaile Shilling, Mona Hobson and Veronica Vargas whose unwavering faith in this project helped us through the moments when we wondered if we would ever be able to pull it off.

This project was and will continue to be a community effort. In addition to the homeboys who helped make it happen – Maynor Aguirre, Agustin Lizama and Hector Verdugo – thank you to our intern Kaitlin Lynch. And special thanks to our computer whiz extraordinaire, Tina Turbeville, without whose generous time and tremendous desktop publishing skills this magazine would not have been completed.

Finally, I want to dedicate this first issue of the Homeboy Review to the memory of Abel “Mousey” Garcia whose poems live on in all of us, and whose passion as a poet kept me inspired even in those moments when I was filled with doubt.


Subscriptions: The Homeboy Review is published annually. For an issue of the magazine, please send $16.50 (includes $4.50 S&H) and your address to The Homeboy Press, Attn: Norma Gillette, 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Submissions: Please send manuscripts to The Homeboy Press, Attn: Norma Gillette, 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 or to For guidelines and more information on future contests please log on to, then under “Free Services” click on to “Homeboy Press” or type:

Donations: Please send your donations to Homeboy Press, 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, Attn: Mona Hobson. Please be sure to make out the check to Homeboy Industries and write “Press” on the memo line.

◙ My review of the groundbreaking antholgy, Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Público Press), edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martinez, appeared in yesterday’s El Paso Times. Also in the EPT, you may read Rigoberto González’s review of Julia Alvarez’s new book for young readers, Return to Sender (Knopf). Kudos to EPT for its coverage of Chicano/Latino literature!

◙ Next Saturday and Sunday is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Many friends of La Bloga will be on panels including Luis Alberto Urrea, Gustavo Arellano, Concepcion Valdez, Hector Tobar, Lalo Alcaraz, Steve Lopez, Lucia de Garcia, Gregorio Luke, Lysa Flores, Ruben Martinez, and more. For a complete list of authors, go here.

◙ Soon, very soon, Luis Alberto Urrea’s wonderfull new novel, Into the Beautiful North (Little, Brown), will be released. If you want to get a little preview on Youtube, go to this link:

◙ That’s all for now. So, in the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!