Friday, April 16, 2010

Latino Awards - Rasquachis - AWP One More Time


This news is special for me. Flo, the light that shines on my road, receives an honor this weekend. Flo is unique, many of you know that. She's received awards in the past - this latest one is notable because it's named in honor of a woman Flo and I have admired for years. Flo deserves the award because she is an activist, a cultural warrior, a humorist, successful businesswoman, and a pretty good grandmother. The event this weekend highlights her long-running involvement (25 years!) with Cancion Mexicana, one of the most popular radio programs anywhere, regularly broadcast on Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on KUVO radio (

Flo will be given the Lena L. Archuleta Community Service Award. The notice of the award explains that the recipient must be a Colorado resident of Latino descent who has taken an active role in the community, above and beyond paid employment. The recipient will have made an impact on the cultural life of the community through his or her involvement with the Denver Public Library or another civic institution.

Here's the official announcement from the DPL:

Denver Public Library Latino Award Winners -- April 17

DENVER -- On Saturday, April 17, the Denver Public Library Commission and Latino Leadership Committee will present the ninth annual Lena L. Archuleta Community Service Award and induct new members to the César E. Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame. 2010 winners include: Florence “Flo” Hernández-Ramos, winner of the Lena L. Archuleta Community Service Award and the 2010 César E. Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame inductees Denise Maes and Bernard “Bernie” Valdez.

The community event begins at 10 a.m., and will be held at Denver’s newly renovated Woodbury Branch Library located at 3265 Federal Blvd. This event is free and open to the public.

Florence “Flo” Hernández-Ramos
A Colorado native, Florence “Flo” Hernández-Ramos is active in the community and host of jazz89 KUVO’s “Cancion Mexicana.” Recently dubbed “the spiciest show on radio” she expertly blends her knowledge of Colorado with New Mexico and Tejano music to present a well-balanced radio program that is accessible to a dynamic audience of listeners.

Past winners include: Lena L. Archuleta, Olibama Lopez Tushar, Beverly Martinez, Carlos Fresquez, Anthony J. Garcia, Magdalena Aguayo, Rosa Linda Aguirre and Clara Ricciardi.

César E. Chávez Hall of Fame Latino Leadership Hall of Fame Award: The Award will celebrate the induction of two individuals (one male and one female) into the César E. Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame annually. The recipients will be Coloradans of Latino descent who have made a major contribution in a particular field that has positively impacted Denver’s Latino community.

Denise Maes
Denise Maes has surrounded herself with excellence and built a career marked with achievements. She now serves as Director of Operations for the Vice President of the United States, making her the highest ranking Hispanic in the Vice President's Office. An attorney, professionally, she specializes in environmental and natural resources law. She has worked for Denver firms including Kamelt, Shepherd and Maes (2001 – 2003) and later joined Berenbaum, Weinshienk & Eason.

Bernard “Bernie” Valdez
Recognized posthumously, Bernard “Bernie” Valdez was a long-time educator and renowned community activist and civil rights advocate. In 1964, Valdez launched the Latin American Research and Service Agency (LARASA), a nonprofit organization working to improve the health, education and self-sufficiency of Colorado's Latino community. Additionally, Denver Public Library named its Valdez-Perry Branch, which serves Northeast Denver, in his honor.

Past César E. Chávez Hall of Fame inductees include: Ruben Valdez, Lena L. Archuleta, Manuel “Sam” Sandos, Polly Baca, Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Mary Baca, The Honorable Roger Cisneros, Rosemary Rodriguez, Senator Ken Salazar, Reverend Lucia Gúzman, Secretary Federico Peña, Flora Rodriquez Russel, Patricia Barela Rivera, Salvadore (Sal) Carpio Jr., Katherine Archuleta and Jim Garcia.

Su  Teatro logo
Su Teatro @ The Denver Civic Theater


A Masterpiece of Chicano Theatre


3 MORE Nights Only!!!!!!

Thursday(2 FOR 1), Friday, and Saturday
- 7:30 p.m. -
- Su Teatro at the Denver Civic Theater - Tickets $18 general; $15 students and seniors

Join Our Mailing List!

Help Su Teatro with this landmark event. We are on the verge of purchasing the Denver Civic Theater but we need you!
PURCHASE YOUR SEAT TODAY! $1,000 gets you a seat with your name on it and the satisfaction of knowing that you helped SU TEATRO to purchase THE DENVER CIVIC THEATER
Payment plans available


This year's AWP conference in Denver was my first experience with this event. It was much-anticipated and expectations were high. It lived up to its billing.

I've attended several writers conferences in the past - Semana Negra stands out as the most fantastic and memorable. If you want a taste of that adventure, La Bloga featured reports from Semana Negra back in 2008 by our reporter on-the-scene, Thania Muñoz. You can access her reports here. And I also have enjoyed several Bouchercons, the annual mystery conference that "provides a place for fans and practitioners in the field of mystery fiction to gather." The Monterey Bouchercon (1997) was special because I was a panel member along with Lucha Corpi and Rudolfo Anaya in a session we called Guns and Salsa: Latino Mystery and Crime Fiction (you can still order a tape of this panel, here at this link.)

One thing I've learned from these meetings: writer conferences are fun, tiring, invigorating, and the people are always the highlight.

AWP was all that and more. First, of course, there's no denying the academic nature of the event - this is a conference of writers and writer programs, remember. As I strolled through the bookfair, trying to promote my book, doing my best to book pimp, I was, in turn, provided with several introductions to various MFA programs, university literary magazines, university presses, and ongoing literary projects situated on campus. All good - I was overwhelmed with the intensity, ambition, and burning creativity of what was, for the most part, an animated gathering of young people; people who promised much in terms of writing, and who, I have no doubt, will deliver on that promise. And that was just from the book fair.

The sessions I managed to attend were first class - informative, thought-provoking, and high-caliber. At times I felt out of place (the Chicano thing kicks in, of course) because I was a first-timer to this conference, and it was obvious that many in attendance had a history with one another; and, for sure I wondered how my writing fit in with such a crowd. I can't escape that old searching for a place where I belong (Aztlan?) At the mystery con, sometimes I imagined that the audience thought my books were "too political" or "written with an agenda" and so did I really have a place with mystery writers? At the AWP, I sometimes felt that my "genre" work just didn't gibe with the tenor of the conference. But that's just me and my neurosis. No one said anything like that, no one made me feel unwelcome or even uncomfortable. In fact, the Con Tinta reception was nothing but a huge family pachanga; everyone was welcome, everyone had a good time -- at least it looked that way from where I sat with the other blogueros and blogueras in the corner of Laguna's restaurant.

The off-site events were something else - Con Tinta honored Abelardo Lalo Delgado and Alicia Gaspar de Alba (look back this week to RudyG's report for more about the off-site events); the One Poem festival probably did more for my creative juices than anything since I talked with Alfredo Véa about writing a book - the poets were in great shape that night.

The Latino panels and presenters were exceptional. I only managed to attend a few but those few stuck in my head and made me think - what more could I ask for? The Sudden Fiction Latino panel, for example, moderated by Daniel Olivas, presented masterful examples of short fiction and the authors (Lisa Alvarez, Stephen D. Gutierrez, Pedro Ponce, Alicita Rodriguez, Edmundo Paz Soldán) explained how difficult such fiction is to get right, and how less really is more. I thoroughly enjoyed the Hit List panel (Sarah Cortez, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Sergio Troncoso, Mario Acevedo) where we talked about Raymond Chandler's "mean streets" hero; where we countered one another on the apparent contradiction between telling a good story and still dealing with social issues; and where we tried to explain why we would want to write about murder, crime, and the dark side of human nature. The Re-Mapping Aztlán panel was a highlight, and it came on the last day, almost the last hour of the conference. Stella Pope Duarte, Alex Espinosa, Michelle Otero, and Rich Yañez reshaped and re-birthed the concept of Aztlán and explained to all of us how we are still searching for the missing homeland, how we need a place to quell our restless spirit, where memory and family are sacred, and how as writers we are the new seekers and revelers. It was an excellent way to end the conference.

And I got to see the Latino Writers Collective do their thing as they read from Primera Pagina: Poetry from the Latino Heartland.

All in all, not a bad way to spend three days.



Daniel A. Olivas said...

Congratulations to Flo! A much deserved recognition of her work. And nice thoughts on AWP. What a joy to be around such talented gente.

Rebel Girl said...

Yes, congratulations to Flo. Great achievement and recognition. I so like how these blog posts often showcase the power of community (and the contributions of so many) in other regions of the country.

I certainly felt that community in Denver - thanks so much to all for making feel so welcome. I am still sorting through it all...

Rebel Girl said...

by the way - that line "Flo, the light that shines on my road" - so SWEET, so loving.

May we all find a light like that.

msedano said...

as one grows older the stories seem to repeat themselves, but it's never too much nor too many to extend a big abrazo and a warm felicidades to la flo on her well-earned honor. ¡felicidades, flo, ajúa!


Francisco Aragón said...

Thank you for you comments on your first AWP conference, Manuel. I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to visit. Reading your impressions seems to suggest that the AWP Conference is definitely making headway in distancing itself from the description given once by an American Nobel Laureate a few years ago--that AWP stood for All White People. Those days seem long gone.

Lydia Gil said...

That's right, Francisco. Let's get ready for next year!

Melinda Palacio said...

Orale, Flo!

Xánath Caraza said...

Congratulations to Flo!! I learnt so much from AWP. Definitely many Latino/a, Chicano/a inspiring sessions.