Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Countdown to Festival de Flory y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow. On-Line Floricanto August 24

Michael Sedano

September 15,16,17 approach, and with them the arrival of Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow.

1973 saw history’s first floricanto, El Festival de Flor y Canto held at the University of Southern California. Chicano Literature captured attention among academicians, curriculum developers, and readers generally. Some readers hyperbolized, given the flourishing number of writers and publishers, a “Chicano Renaissance” had come. In actuality, the movimiento period marked the emergence of a young literary tradition that has come fully to fruition in this first decade of the 21st Century.

Even during its emergent life, Chicana Chicano writing went well beyond stereotypic identity and cultural nationalism. 1973’s Festival de Flor y Canto contained ample servings of the former mixed with oft stunning reminders of the sublime. A torrid declamation, a lover’s soft confession, humor ranging from gentle mirth to knee-slapping hilarity, the readings proved a listener’s delight and a critic’s dream with so much happening in so short a span of days.

2010 marks a genuine “renaissance” in the floricanto movimiento with the return to USC of Los Trece, thirteen writers who read at that original festival de flor y canto whose work was videotaped. They include: Alurista, Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin, Estevan Arellano, Ron Arias, Juan A Contreras, Veronica Cunningham, Juan Felipe Herrera, R Rolando Hinojosa, Enrique Lamadrid, Ernest Mares, Jose Montoya, Alejandro Murguía, Roberto Vargas.

Also returning to USC and floricanto are Sy Abrego and Mary Ann Pacheco. Sy headed El Centro Chicano in 1973. He was the institutional host of that first floricanto. Mary Ann Pacheco, along with Alurista, first proposed the idea of a large-scale literary festival.

Pacheco was the emcee for almost every event on the busy three-day schedule. Mary Ann has agreed to deliver the Welcome statement on Wednesday. Frank "Pancho del Rancho" Sifuentes recently RSVP'd for the opening day, too. Frank served as backstage host, festival mero mero, and all-night tour guide to a carful of vatos who cruised the streets of Aztlán.

Almost 50 poets and fiction writers across three days will take center stage for fifteen minute recitals. Unlike the male-centric line up in 1973, Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow’s artist list features a powerful array of women writers, including Thursday evening’s Celebrando Chicana Poetry: Diana Garcia, Maria Melendez, Emmy Pérez sponsored by Letras Latinas and the Poetry Society of America.

Two father-son artist pairs appear. Wednesday evening, Jose Montoya and son Richard Montoya, and members of Culture Clash, climax the day of 1973 veteranas veteranos. In addition to hearing the Montoyas read together, Richard will screen a preview of his documentary-in-process “One More Canto". Montoya narrates the story of a legendary 1979 Chicano Poetry reading from Sacramento featuring Ricardo Sanchez, Lucha Corpi and Jose Montoya. The second father-son duo has Marco Antonio Dominguez and his son, Marco Dominguez. They read on separate days, dad with the veterans, Marco fils on Friday afternoon.

Videographer Jesus Treviño, who produced the who’s-who documentary of Chicano artists, VISIONS OF AZTLAN, is videographing Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today •Tomorrow. Unlike the 1973 videos that were nearly lost, 2010’s material will be preserved via Mr. Treviño’s filmmaking, and the USC digital library.

The festival closes Friday afternoon with the opening reception for “Sueños by the Sea: Celebrating Los Festivales de Flor y Canto at USC,” curated by Tyson Gaskill. The show features Michael Sedano’s photographs from 1973.

With the show’s focus on the writer as reader and performer, some of my favorite frames, like this triptych of Oscar Zeta Acosta,will be in the show.

Not included on the walls, but capturing the sense and spirit of the event, are a number of candid moments. For example, interesting action was to be seen near the artist entrance and public entrance. Two women de moda.

A darkened auditorium lets listeners relax into the performance, allow the words to permeate the space around them.

Mary Ann Pacheco did a marvelous job keeping readers on time and moving the festival along. Here are my favorite Mary Ann fotos, the first showing the toll of being Ms Emcee with the Mostest, the second has Mary Ann framed by a television tripod as she reacts to something said on stage.
Candid backstage moments bring warm significance. Here Omar Salinas talks about Alurista's work and influence, addressing an unseen interviewer. It is the same acknowledgement Salinas will deliver on camera a few minutes later.

I like the look of deliberation on Omar Salinas' face as he makes his way through a crowd milling about the public entrance. Salinas can be anonymous in the crowd who do not recognize the famous poet in their midst.

Always the unsung heroes, volunteer workers from El Centro Chicano. I enjoy thinking these are the mothers and fathers of a second generation of USC Chicana Chicano alums or profes.

All fotos ©Michael Sedano.

Michael Sedano's photographic goal is taking the perfect public speaker photo. The speaker will be making eye contact, mouth open, animated expression and gesture. Posture and position will proclaim the speaker's dynamic presence and value to the audience.

A second specialty is botanical close-ups, especially epiphyllum and other cacti.

Sedano displays a variety of photographic work at readraza. A black and white gallery features circa 1973-1974 photos at USC, including Anaïs Nin, Bucky Fuller, and the 1974 football comeback versus Notre Dame.

On-Line Floricanto: Six poets responding to Arizona pendejismo and hate legislation.

Selected for La Bloga by the Moderators of Poets Responding to SB1070 at Facebook, led by poet Francisco Alarcón. His most recent book, Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010) can be be purchased at www.swanscythe.com

1. "Illegals" by Matt Sedillo
2. "We Will Not Comply" by Devreaux Baker
3. “Aquí No Tenemos Tamales” by Avotcja
4. "Bitter Earth/Tierrra Amargada" by Guadalupe Rodriguez Jr.
5. "Fishing Bait" by Sonia Gutiérrez
6. “Bloody Desert” by Amy Ballard Rich

1. "Illegals" by Matt Sedillo

They say
This woman is illegal
Her womb
Her ovaries
Her pregnancy
Enemies of the state
Her due date
A criminal conspiracy
A population explosion
An invasion
By birth canal
They say these things
Listening to the radio
NPR no less
I heard a woman
A postnatal nurse
Complaining about
Having to save
The children of
They are overrunning
Our hospitals
She claims
They are eating away
At our economy
In incubators
They are breathing
In our money
When born
With complications
She does not consider
That maternity leave
Is a phrase quite unfamiliar
To the employers
Of migrant women
And their children
In her eyes
Are not hers
Nor ours
They are anchors
They are aliens
They are un-American
They are something less
Than human
This is what seems
To pass for debate
These days
This is the tone of a
So called national conversation
This is the country you live in
Where the voices of
A vicious white nationalism
The same behind the tea party
The same behind the minutemen
The same behind Arizona law
Are now targeting unborn children
Senators and congressmen
Attempting to create
And ride
A wave a tide
Of racial hatred
Into the coming elections
Are now talking about
Repealing the 14th amendment
The one that guaranteed
Full citizenship
To the children
Of freed slaves
The one passed
In response
To the Dred Scott case
This is the country
You have always lived in
One of lies compromises
Reformist movements
Which promised little
And delivered next to nothing
After all it was
The fourteenth amendment
That paved the way
For the modern day
Corporate world dominance
And besides that
What followed
Was Jim Crow
And the share cropping system
So spare me
Any talk of progress
Or protecting the constitution
Or these professional politicians
Now trying their hand
At amateur historians
Asking what were the framers
True intentions
The framers owned slaves
And stole land
Spoke openly
About their adherence
To the doctrines of white supremacy
American exceptionalism
And Manifest Destiny
American history
Is a horror story
Replete with land grabs
Captive nations
Mass incarceration
Genocide massacres
Child labor
Racial scapegoating
Political railroadings
And now
The targeting
Of unborn children
This is the country
You have always lived in
It is the devil
You have always known
And there is nothing
Synonymous between
Justice and its history
Or the constitution
Because the laws of a land
That once created master and slave
Robber barons and child worker
And today
Beggars and Billionaires
Are not worth the paper
They are printed on
So to put it bluntly
Quite frankly
I don’t give a damn
Who this monstrosity
Considers criminal
And who it consider citizen
Its laws
Its amendments
Or the God damn constitution
Personally I wouldn’t wipe my ass
With its documents
They might stain my bowels

2. "We Will Not Comply" by Devreaux Baker

We Will Not Comply

What is the language
that braids our bodies together,

syllables that grow larger
than borders marked on a map?

What is the dream that dances
the dance of birth and death

And reaches out her hands
to pull us into that circle?

We will not comply with laws
that teach children to hate

based on color or race
Woven together

from a dream time that
is with us still

We become the throat and tongue,
arms and legs of nature

Together we form the wise heart
that beats out a red pulse

into the mind of the universe
Ancient seeds of earth, air,

fire, and water, drifting through the
slow speech of time.

Braided together we form a bond
much greater than

man-made borders,
much wiser than the dust

of heartless laws.

© Devreaux Baker

3. “Aquí No Tenemos Tamales” by Avotcja

The Road Kill Café
Is alive & well & open for business
In just about any city U.S.A.
A whole new menu
Complete with
Lifeless, spice-less unrefined brainlessness
And FDA approved organic GMO’s
Guaranteed to be completely devoid
Of any recognizable semblance
Of natural ingredients
Scientifically approved foods
Absolutely untouched by human hands
And assembled mechanically
In quietly converted “astro-crop” fields
Fields cleansed of undocumented Farm-workers
The Road Kill Café
Offers the ideal meaningless meal
For those whose intelligence
Has been devoured by greed
And no longer have time
To deal with the trivia of anything real
The Road Kill Café
Is now serving the newest in Fast Food
For the racially untainted pure at heart
Speaking “English only” to Classrooms
In Centers of Higher Learning reserved for
The few remaining unmixed pure bloods
Who will swallow any thing
As long as their financial stomachs stay full
Intellectually bankrupt intellectuals
Who could care less about what’s in their food
As long as no “unwanted Aliens are picking & packing it
There’s a new entrée or two on the menu
Ignorance al la Carte
SB1070 & HB2281
Estupideces saboreadas de bobería
Two more tasteless items for those who’ve lost their taste
Yours on the Luncheon Special
Of The Roadkill Café
No Tamales, no Enchiladas, not even a Taco
Ni un olorcillo de Salsa picante
The doors are open at
The Road Kill Café
Today en Arizona
Mañana in any city U.S.A.

Copyright © Avotcja

4. "Bitter Earth/Tierrra Amargada" by Guadalupe Rodriguez Jr.

cuando un hombre abre su corazón
when a man opens his heart
there is potential of a threat
hay posibilidad de una amenaza
tanto como el de un país
so much as that of a country

we are equal
somos igual
semos humanos
we are humans

I am simple
soy sencillo
tengo interés de conocer tu alma
I have interest to know your soul
tu tierra
your land

cuando abro mis ojos
when I open my eyes
I see you in my path
te veo en mi ruta

llorando dentro mi corazón
crying within my heart
the beauty of a new life
la belleza de una nueva vida

trabajando juntos
working together
una nueva familia a new family
los hijos llegan
the children arrive
en nuestra vida
in our lives
y de/repente
and suddenly
we are told to leave
salir de aquí

eres ilegal
you are illegal
fuera de mi tierra
out of my land
this is my land
ésta es mi tierra

y viendo a mi familia
and watching my family
I close my eyes
cierro mis ojos
never wishing to open them again
y nunca deseo abrir mis ojos jamás

para que
for what
para ver mi familia sufrir
to see my family suffer
in this land
en esta tierra

no quiero abrir mis ojos
I do not want to open my eyes
para que
for what
para ver
to see

en tu tierra de corrupto
in your land of corruption
I will not open my eyes
y no abra mis ojos
para verte sufrir
to see you suffer


me voy
I'm leaving now
as I came with an open heart
como vine con un corazón abrieto
me voy
I'm leaving now

tierra amarga
bitter land
mis ojos todavía cerrados
my eyes still closed

tierra amarga
bitter earth

(c) Guadalupe Rodriguez Jr....8/8/2010

5. "Fishing Bait" by Sonia Gutiérrez

I hear the thump thump
of wood underneath our feet.

And I hold my Zonia Quetzalli close
to me; she inhales the smell
of raw fish and salt,
healing her lungs.

Close to my breast,
she remembers echoing lullawaves
as she sleeps to the sound
of the ocean’s belly—
pregnant with amniotic

In their mirror—the sea,
stars flicker their evening hello,
casting endless chiaroscuro ripples.

Behind me, a deranged man, holding
his head with his grimy hands,
crisscrosses the pier rapidly
as he bewails his vision: a mermaid
underneath the bridge
rings into his ears.

The fishing pole tugs, and we’ve
crossed lines—caught . . . a rock
entangled in a man-made plastic web.

And the mermaid
is a hungry brown seal,
looking for an easy catch
as manta rays, sea stars, garibaldi
huddle around squid-heavy hooks,
contorting bloodworms, and
blue neon sticks.

Bright white lights flash and
footsteps approach,
and I say, “I heard a thump. Is everything okay?”
“Someone called in. Suicide,” answers the
police officer. Suicide.

The word suicide
triggers flashbacks of my walrus dream:
inside a glass-walled tank,
a tremendous pink walrus
grunts and bellows, pleading for an escape
to ice cold sea waters.
(The dream that answered why Sharon
left without saying goodbye.)

I ask for a break from my koala life and stroll
off with my hands digging into warm
pockets. As I half smile, my eyes
meet with the eyes of visiting lovers,
crack heads, teens, couples
with strollers—the night is all mine—
for twelve minutes.

In the distance under
the orange-yellow soft lights,
a crowd huddles like the fish
underneath the bridge.
The greens are here.

In the bathroom, a woman—the color of
my skin—and I exchange words
about the men. Outside,
tight jawed, I breathe deeply;
I walk, stop and say,
“I hope you’re asking white
people too.”

And someone yells, “Did they already
ask you‽” as I walk away.

I now understand the suicide code:
The long brown hair possibly hiding
from men who want to take her away
—for swimming towards the wrong water
current. These pacific waters could bring
The Julyflower.

I return to my place feeling very dark—
like the dark skinned man, the fishing bait
from Zacatecas who’s being detained
because his resident alien card
has expired. Staring at his tennis shoes, his son
stands alone exposed
to the cold air. I want to run
and embrace this child with my shawl—
tell him that everything
will be okay.

I return to two men in my family:
one, a long-haired indigenous
man with dark skin, a man whose
ancestry can only be found on
this continent and the other,
with a roar of a jaguar, I say,
“La migra’s here.”

They mastermind
riddles that don’t
work on programmed humans:
The famous Yolanda López
one: “Who’s the illegal
alien PILGRIM?”
I interrupt with a “Please—
she’s sleeping.”

We go home early this time
with Goliath’s rock and
a sea star that resurfaced
the ocean floor.
Immigration officers
go home to a detention center
with a walrus, feeling hunted
and trapped, in the back
of what looks like a dog-pound vehicle.

6. “Bloody Desert” by Amy Ballard Rich

Slice open the barbed wire
slip through the arroyo
ride across Canyon de Chelly
find the Kiva,

Dineh, Apache, Hopi, Ute,
Tiwa, Yaqui, Tewa,
Azteca, Maya, Inca, Anazasi,
the land asks you,

Spread Geronimo's ashes in stripes
across your face
let mountain lions teach you
eat cactus and rattlesnake meat
in-between rusted cavalry badges
and shiny flashlights
cliff-dwellers race backwards
cave tunnels must lead somewhere
safer than this


1. "Illegals" by Matt Sedillo
Matt is one-third of Venice Mozaic arts, music and poetry project, serving as its host 1411 Lincoln Blvd Venice CA every third Friday. He was also member of the historic first ever Inland Empire Slam Team. Matt has brought his poetry to a number of colleges including Pitzer, Cal State Fullerton, Azusa Pacific University, Crafton Hills College - Redlands, Cal State San Bernardino, El Camino college and Southwest college. He has been twice featured on KPFK, once on the Pocho hour of power and again on Freedom Now.

In addition to poetry, Matt is a member of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America (LRNA) and an artist affiliate of the Poor Peoples' Economic Human Rights Campaign.

2. "We Will Not Comply" by Devreaux Baker
Devreaux Baker's poetry has been published in over fifty journals and magazines including; The Bloomsbury Review, The American Voice, The Pacific Review, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review,and The High Plains Review. Her work has appeared in the anthologies; Inheritance of Light, and The Guadalupe Review, edited by Ray Gonzalez. She was an editor of Wood, Water, Air and Fire:The Anthology of Mendocino Women Poets and produced the Public Radio Program; "The Voyagers Series; Original Student Writing For Public Radio". She is the recipient of a MacDowell Poetry Fellowship, a Hawthornden Castle International Poetry Fellowship, three California Arts Council Awards and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her published books of poetry include; Light at the Edge, Beyond the Circumstance of Sight, and Red Willow People. She has taught Poetry in the Schools with the California Poets In Schools Program.

3. “Aquí No Tenemos Tamales” by Avotcja (pronounced Avacha)
"Avotcja is a unique voice among our poets, musicians, playwrights and other creative folk today. She combines a fierce, persistent and consistent passion for justice with a beauty of words, sounds and image that can take your breath away. To put it simply, Avotcja is a national and international treasure."
Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez, activist, author, educator

4. "Bitter Earth/Tierrra Amargada" by Guadalupe Rodriguez Jr.
Guadalupe G. Rodriguez was born to a large family April 7, 1961. Growing up, home life could be complicated with with a large extended family, and eventually 4 step brothers and 6 step sisters. Known to his friends as “Lupe,” even at age 10, he showed an early interest in gardening and arranging things to be visually pleasing, a talent that he would carry with him in his professional design career. Like many Latinos, he was very close to his mother and as a dutiful son, would assist her with daily chores such as preparing meals, house cleaning, and working in the garden. His assistance was invaluable to her, and provided life skill sets preparing him for living on his own later in his life. His mother was always supportive of his artistic ventures and she would count on him to help in observing family traditions, such as assembling "Dia de Los Muertos" family altars. He was always a hard worker and worked in the fields of Texas side by side migrant farm workers witnessing first hand the toil and pain of this lifestyle. In his twenties, he returned to life in the City of San Antonio to work as a horticulturist at the Alamo, following a brief attendance at St. Edward's University. Throughout his professional life in addition to his work in horticulture and landscape design, Lupe has been gainfully employed as a visual arts designer, floral designer, and costume designer. He worked with a team of artists to put together costumes for the San Antonio Fiesta dance troupe, Urban 15.

Over the last 13 years, Lupe has been honing his interest in writing poetry since moving to Washington, DC. Though he is not a formally trained poet, he does speak from the heart and would quickly get down his thoughts of rhyme or not, sometimes on the back of a paper napkin when an inspiration came to him. He would often pass these poetic passages to his friends as a gift of his thought. His early poetry was more introspective about his personal relationships. However, since the death of his mother in 2009, his interest has been broader to encompass racial and immigrant current events and family and self experiences. He is proud of his Spanish, Mexican, and Comanche heritage and enjoys incorporating his background, and bilingualism in his work. Over the last 5 years Lupe has been working as a horticulturist with the Architect of the Capital.

5. "Fishing Bait" by Sonia Gutiérrez
Sonia Gutiérrez’s poetry and fiction have appeared in City Works Journal, La Revista Literaria de El Tecoloto, Fringe Magazine, Mujeres de Maíz, among others and forthcoming in Turtle Island to Abya Yala. She teaches English at Palomar College and is currently working on her manuscript, Spider Woman/La Mujer Araña, a bilingual poetry collection. To see more of Sonia’s work, visit her bloguita, Chicana in the Midst: Poetry, Prose, and Fotografía by Sonia Gutiérrez, Guest Poetas y Fotographers.

6. “Bloody Desert” by Amy Ballard Rich
Amy Ballard Rich's first writing coach was her mother, and she went on to write short stories while getting her B.A. in English Literature. After a 26 year hiatus full of adventures, she began writing again in 2007; this time poetry.

Part of those adventures were when Amy attended her first traditional Lakota sweatlodge ceremony in 1994. Although she did not find out until 2005 that she was about an eighth Native (through a DNA test), she quickly knew that path was one she had to follow. When not writing, one of her other passions is enabling traditional Native ceremonies to continue, through learning and singing traditional Lakota songs in the sweatlodge circle she is involved in.

When thinking of the bizarre nature of SB 1070, Amy had vivid pictures of how it was just a continuation of Custer's atrocities in the southwest. She tries to capture that in "Bloody Desert".

1 comment:

Thania said...

Cant wait. I'll be at USC. Cant wait. Cant wait.