Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 NLWC; Chimmaya Gallery Exhibit; On-Line Floricanto

2011 National Latino Writers Conference: Preservation of a Precious National Cultural Treasure

Michael Sedano

Over a recent nine year span, Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center has hosted New Mexico’s most significant contribution to American writing and literature, the National Latino Writers Conference. This year’s faculty and students concluded their pilgrimage to the NHCC May 21.

The NLWC brings a community of experienced writers as faculty to work closely with young and emerging writers. Faculty comprise poets, novelists, script and screenwriters, playwrights, cultural journalists, memoirists, writers of detective fiction, young adult, children’s picture books. Students include post- and in-MFA trained writers, novice explorers, retired careerists with a story to tell, poets poets wondrously diverse poets. Food services staff take exceptional pride in delighting presentation and bold flavor.

Publishers and literary agents join the community, making the NHCC’s final day an early career highlight of many a writer who gets “discovered” in the process of rounding out the three-day National Latino Writers Conference. No happier words come to an artist’s ears than “send me a chapter” or “send me your manuscript.”

I had the distinct pleasure to present a two-hour session on “reading your stuff aloud.” Here is a link to a segment captured by Armando Cepeda on a Flip. In June, you'll be able to see a version of the speaker’s notes with video clips at readraza.com. This La Bloga column is my presenter’s evaluation, continuing from the scribbled evaluation form I handed Greta Pullen.

Any report on the National Latino Writers Conference and of the NHCC must recognize the ability of Pullen, Katie Trujillo and NHCC’s Director, History & Literary Arts, Carlos Vásquez, as the center’s most important resource for program development and institutional image-making. Not that budget isn’t crucial, but without good gente performing the work like a well-oiled machine, no organization can prosper. Via the NLWC, Vásquez & Team open a cultural wellspring feeding into the literary and publishing mainstream, and that’s only a small element of their opportunities.

The fotos below, as well as La Bloga’s daily summaries show how effectively Carlos & Team create the energy and excitement that make each day pass quickly and the event to conclude too soon. Feelings of familia magnify one’s pleasure and satisfaction, so greatly in fact, that several worrisome signs might fail to attract notice, some obvious others more elusive.

Obvious trouble at the top of the NHCC itself comes in a painful almost annual change-over of the institution’s directorship. The NHCC has gone through nine directors in the years since it launched in 2000.

I thanked interim-Director Gary Romero for hosting the Conference, asking after his hyphenated chair. Romero, or any young executive, could put a career on a rocket’s path by leading the National Hispanic Cultural Center to merited leadership among North American world-class cultural institutions.

If “Without vision a people perish” the same must be said of institutions. Absent a singular vision directing the growth and development of the resources at NHCC, programming could easily devolve to an evil mishmash of packaged museum tours, garage band rock shows, grafitti on el torréon, and no National Latino Writers Conference.

Less obviously problematic, but a crucial factor, is the centro’s reliance upon a dedicated community of volunteers, including the indefatigable NHCC Foundation. The Foundation presently provides the financial support for the NLWC. The concern is reliance upon a single source can reduce organizational effectiveness and productivity. For now, income comes to the NHCC via the Foundation’s effort to win grants and cajole givers, like the State, to give. The NHCC operates as one of nineteen museums or monuments under the aegis of New Mexico's Department of Cultural Affairs.

TheDepartment relates, The NHCC is unique in that it is currently the largest Hispanic arts center in the United States, receiving diverse funding from the local, state, national and private sectors. Indeed, the Foundation’s 2009 report does not list the State of New Mexico as its largest donor, but as in second place, in keeping with the DCA’s report.

An encouraging note sounds in the Foundation’s broad-based support. Major donors in 2009’s Annual Report included Patty & Roy Disney and the State of New Mexico, followed by corporate givers and a healthy list of private individuals giving between $1000 and sky’s the limit.

Gente vote with their pocketbooks, something abundantly clear when looking where a community gives away its money. The Foundation’s report fills four and a half three-column pages with names of families who gave between $45 and $499. Organizationally, that’s a massive amount of work to produce such prodigious giving. The Foundation, led by CEO Clara Apodaca, deserves several chifles and a couple of gritos for keeping the National Hispanic Cultural Center alive in the pocketbooks and expectations of community gente.

Not being too much of a metichi, I didn’t want to get into corporate governance and state politics. Still, it strikes me odd the State does not appear to support the institution other than through the Foundation. Ms. Apodaca clearly understands the wisdom of not relying upon a single class of donor. It’s odd the State doesn’t diversify the Center’s funding through direct support.

A cultural treasure, the NHCC could become the State’s entry into a global destination travel market that now sends credit cards traipsing to the Getty, Disney Hall, the Smithsonian. The National Hispanic Cultural Center needs to join those itineraries. Travel already brings a $3.3 billion dollar paycheck to the State. Those decimal points mean something. Increasing travel spending a fraction of a percent calculates to substantial numbers. Over time, with effective budget investment by the State and a generation of dynamic leadership supporting the NHCC's ongoing excellence in programming, that travel public will come to Albuquerque.

The reliably fabulous success of this year’s National Latino Writers Conference offers a solid and lasting tribute to the foundation board members’ professional skills and commitment to Latina Latino art and literature. I would love to learn I’m plain ignorant and the State of New Mexico already does, or plans to, lavish cash upon the NHCC. At least before the next election.

I do have one sore point with the otherwise perfection of this iteration of the National Latino Writers Conference. Those name badges. Every time I wanted to know someone’s name, their name tag had swiveled around. Why not print two-sided name tags?

Back home in Pasadena, I was hit by a first-dawn-back-home nightmare. Carlos was selling his shirts from the wrought iron fence on Bridge street and Greta and Katie were holding bake sales to keep the centro operating.

I have no doubt Carlos Vásquez, Greta Pullen, and Katie Trujillo would not hesitate to such actions to keep the NLWC operating, such is their obvious dedication to nurturing writing and writers. That’s not in the offing just yet. Consider this report a pre-emptive alert against the prospect.

Poem Says It All

Compañero Francisco X. Alarcón, whose two workshops produced a number of good poems, creates this personal final report on the 9th National Latino Writers Conference.


to Carlos Vásquez, Greta Pullen, Katie Trujillo,
and all the people who made possible the 9th National Latino
Writers Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 18-21, 2011

by Francisco X. Alarcón

these vigas were once
big pine trees of the forest
holding the blue sky

of New Mexico;
now they are standing columns
around a patio

of the National
Hispanic Cultural Center
in Albuquerque

holding strong like you
the ceiling beams and tablas
of corredores

and big salones
of nuestra gran cultura

and literatura

these big wood vigas
weathered, stained, some even cracked
keep holding the fort

the gathering house
for writers coming from all
the four directions

Casa de las Palabras
House of True Magic
como El Torreón

Tom visits the National Hispanic Cultural Center to celebrate its 10th anniversary and the unveiling of the Center's Torreón Fresco by Frederico Vigil.

the sacred spiral
of spiritual frescos by
Federico Vigil

just like you have done
so graciously, so giving
for the past nine years

and the world didn’t end
on this sunny Saturday
May 21, 2011

the rupture predicted
by Oakland preacher
Harold Camping

world redeemed anew
by Tim Hernández, winner
of Premio Aztlán

and by all readers
participants, attendees
of this conference

these big wood vigas
will also stand tall with their
beam arms wide open

on the Winter Solstice
December 21, 2012
welcoming the era

of the Flower Sun
illuminating our dreams
of ayer, hoy y siempre

© 2011 Francisco X. Alarcón
May 22, 2012

National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Foto Report: NLWC

The journey of a thousand poems begins with a single foto and here it is:

Monica Brown's iPhone captures the moment Premio Aztlán honoree, Tim Z. Hernández takes a celebratory foto and a bite of the rose. Click images for larger view. Below, Monica makes an emphatic point.

Students take close notes, work to understand and incorporate the noted children's picture book author's keen insight into the students' desired path to publication.

Throughout the event, Agents and Publishers have interviewed writers as time, urgency, and circumstance demand. Quiet meetings in out-of-the-way tables, earnest moments in a hallway between workshops.

When Saturday comes, the sign-up sheets for fifteen minutes to present yourself and pitch your book become places in the sun instead of lines on a clipboard. The only distracting element is the waiting.

Duo Open Show at East LA's Chimmaya Boutique & Galleries

Margaret Garcia and Kikki Eder bring their gorgeously colored canvases in "Born in the Heart" to East Los Angeles' premiere showcase for chicanarte, Chimmaya Boutique. Opening simultaneously is a group show featuring mostly small, strikingly strong pieces by a luminary assemblage of noted artists. After a hiatus owing to injury, Chimmaya has reopened with ambitious plans for exhibitions and growth.

Margaret Garcia taking a break. Openings require long hours standing and walking about. Most gallery goers by now bask in Chimmaya's garden. The late hour offers a welcome quiet moment for Kikki, too, at Margaret's right.

The exhibit places Garcia's landscape canvases to advantage, among her explorations of portraiture. Eder's work grows more stunning in every show. Her identity has begun forcing itself to the forefront of her bold landscapes, the teacher-student link having served its use.

Abel Alejandre enjoys questions and expands at length as Ricardo Ortega, left, listens in. Alejandre's website, Atelier Visit, documents conversations with artists from diverse schools and approaches.

For a click-through slide show of personalities met at Chimmaya, visit this link. Los Angeles area gente can visit the gallery through mid-June when a new exhibition comes to Chimmaya's walls.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto May 24

This week's La Bloga On-Line Floricanto is personally recommend by Francisco X. Alarcón.

1. "for a friend who objects to comparing the events leading up to the Holocaust with what is happening today in Arizona" Richard Vargas

2. “Sonnet for Police Officers Charged with Enforcing SB 1070" by Karen S. Cordova

3. "USA Border—This Way" by Lourdes Vazquez

4. "Poema 22 ~ Being Mexican" by Tara Evonne Trudell

5. "I Have Never Left" by José Hernández Díaz

for a friend who objects to comparing the events leading up to the Holocaust with what is happening today in Arizona

by Richard Vargas

“I’m marked by the color of my skin. / The bullets are discrete and designed to kill slowly. /
They are aiming at my children. / These are the facts.” From Poem for the Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, an Intelligent, Well-Read Person Could Believe in the War Between Races by Lorna Dee Cervantes

for you “never again”
is personal and sacred
never again to being reduced
to less than human
never again to madmen
who spit their words
at you like careless
but calculated grenades
never again to being
scapegoat while a
government dulls
the minds and hearts
of its citizens to accept
the atrocities it will do
in their names

but even as i read this
we both know
it is
happening again
all over the world
and now
within our own borders
the tribes are different
yet they are the same
the raging wall of flame
that almost consumed
your people still burns
aided by strong winds
flapping the flags of old
and new hatreds

it’s a modern day
pogrom in the making
fingers pointing at “illegal
aliens” and “anchor babies”
words devised to strip
away humanity from
the powerless

but you and i know
what’s really going on
the names of brown people
are being redacted
from our children’s
history books
right now

we both know this beginning
this beginning with an end
no one wants to think about
but dwells deep inside our
fear gnawing nonstop like
a shiny slick maggot

so let us use your words
your gift to the world
language to name
the unspeakable
the unimaginable
the horrible

we will stand together
shout them out with
your same passion
and defiance in the
face of this heartless

never again
never again
nunca más

Sonnet for Police Officers Charged with Enforcing SB 1070

by Karen S. Cordova

I ask each Arizona officer,
respectfully, When you identify
illegal immigrants, please remember:
more than 100,000 Irish eyes
are lawlessly smiling on US soil;
racist code for “without papers” is WOP;
your ancestors were strangers here—their toil
seeded your freedom. Bullies kick kids. Stop
striking la gente, who only see hope,
when they risk their lives to clean stained toilets,
maybe yours. Arrest thieves, terrorists, dope
dealers of all shades. Protect us from threats
to Señora Liberty: Pendejos
and their white bigot fence ‘round Chicanos.

Karen S. Córdova

From: Samandar: libro de viajes=Book of Travels. Translator Enriqueta Carrington.

USA Border—This Way

El sueño se me dificultó anoche,
es posible que sea el calor,
o los músculos y mis pies adoloridos
por tanto ejercicio
o por no poder comprar un buen par de zapatos,
o la cuenta de la American Express que recibí esta semana
o la pesadilla de haber cruzado la frontera borracha y bajo un sol caliente:
—Where exactly are you from?
—Where in P.R. were you born?
Where? Where? Todavía no lo recuerdo loca,
desde que me tomé esa última Margarita
y comencé a seguir letreros multiplicados:

USA Border—This Way

en un laberinto de bares, tiendas de cueros, cerámicas
y niños hambrientos cantando rancheras.

Un par de chicos esperanzados inspeccionan
la altura de la verja,
la profundidad del canal,
el espesor de la maleza
y del otro lado grandes letreros de neón anunciando


porque puede haber gentes cruzando la autopista,
pequeños indígenas que como ventanas volcánicas
saltan en mitad del Pacífico.

Tal vez esa fue la razón de mi insomnio.
Pensé en la madre cargando sus criaturas,
intentando cruzar el río, la verja o la autopista.

Después de una semana sin dormir,
me inventé que era feliz.
Compré este lápiz de labios
que disfraza los temores,
máscara en rojo que a todo el mundo le place,
una sombra que brilla en el medio
del tráfico de las estrellas,
un concurso de popularidad de poetas.

Soy, Aracne tejiendo la tela de no me olvides
en el medio de este espectáculo de circo
Soy, un par de elefantes a la mar,
una musa en un escenario francés.

Esta tristeza que hace días cargo
como una diosa reencarnada en un espejo viejo soy.
Un niño feo y mal alimentado soy,
basurita muerta en el ciberespacio.
You all convertida en zafacón de residuos nucleares.
Dime ahora, ¿cómo se concilia el sueño?

USA Border—This Way

I had trouble falling asleep last night,
maybe it’s the heat,
or my muscles and feet aching
from so much exercise
or from my not being able to buy a good pair of shoes
or the American Express statement I received this week
or the nightmare of crossing the border drunk and under a hot sun:
—Where exactly are you from?
—Where in P.R. were you born?
Where? Where? I still don’t remember, crazy girl,
ever since I drank that last Margarita
and began following multiple signs:

USA Border— This Way

in a labyrinth of bars, leather and ceramic stores,
and hungry children singing rancheras.

A couple of hopeful kids inspect,
at the height of the fence,
the depth of the canal,
the density of the underbrush,
and on the other side big neon signs proclaim


because there may be people crossing the highway,
little Indians who spring up like volcanic
vents in the middle of the Pacific.

Perhaps that was the reason for my insomnia.
I thought of the mother carrying her infants,
attempting to cross the river, the fence or the highway.

After one sleepless week,
I pretended to myself that I was happy.
I bought this lipstick
that disguises fears,
red masquerade that everybody likes,
a shadow shining in the middle
of the traffic of the stars,
a popularity contest for poets.

I am, Arachne weaving her forget-me-not web
in the middle of this circus spectacle.
I am, a couple of elephants adrift on the sea,
a Muse on a French stage set.

This sadness I’ve been carrying for days
like a goddess reincarnated in an old mirror am I.
An ugly and malnourished child am I,
a little piece of dead rubbish in cyberspace.
Toda tú become a garbage can for nuclear waste.
Tell me now, how does one fall asleep?

Poema 22 ~ Being Mexican

by Tara Evonne Trudell

What part
of being Mexican
threatens them so?

A forever of generations
we can't help but recognize
our place
in a society that hates
and creates lies
insisting on b.s. bills
to categorize us
like common criminals

Show them papers
to prove we exist
bow down
to do their labor
their dirty work
ridiculed by their
warped sense
of racist humor

they scream.

Angry at us
for standing our ground
the very ground
that breathes of Mexico
under another name
their name
their rules

I want it back
what was stolen from me
generations of me
it's more than the land
it's my dignity
my ancestors
my blood
my connection
with all memories
keeping me stronger
than they want
them always trying to deny
my soul
my heart
of Mexico

I feel them
screaming their anger
like heat blasts

and I know
as I stand
that being Mexican
is the pride
I feel
a place
I claim
the love in my anger
the land of my people
I am Mexican.

I Have Never Left

by José Hernández Díaz

Every time
I walk
Upon this
I see my
From when
She would
To the well
To get
Water for
And sisters

Every time
I walk
Upon this
I feel my
En el campo
And cursing

Every time
I walk
Upon this
I hear my
Singing to
Her and
Laughing at

Every time
I walk
Upon this
I smell my
Without him
Without his
To the

Every time
I walk
Upon this
I find myself
Broken into
Pieces of
Haunted by
Centuries of

Every time
I walk
Upon this
I soar
And float
On wide wings
Of nostalgia
And vow
I will

I have never left.

Richard Vargas, Karen S. Cordova, Lourdes Vazquez, Tara Evonne Trudell, José Hernández Díaz

1. "for a friend who objects to comparing the events leading up to the Holocaust with what is happening today in Arizona" by Richard Vargas

2. “Sonnet for Police Officers Charged with Enforcing SB 1070" by Karen S. Cordova

3. "USA Border—This Way" by Lourdes Vazquez

4. "Poema 22 ~ Being Mexican" by Tara Evonne Trudell

5. "I Have Never Left" by José Hernández Díaz

Richard Vargas Richard Vargas was born and raised in L.A., graduated from CSULB with B.A. in English (emphasis Creative Writing.) Published the Tequila Review, 1977-80. Graduated with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of New Mexico, 2010. Now editing/publishing
The Más Tequila Review. Books published; McLife, Main Street Rag Press, 2005, and American Jesus, Tia Chucha Press, 2007. Presented with Editor's Choice Award from the anthology, New Poets of the American West, Many Voices Press, and the 2011 Hispanic Writer Scholarship for the Taos Summer Writer's Conference.

Lourdes VazquezLourdes Vazquez is from Puerto Rico. Has been living in the USA for a thousand years. She is a poet and fiction writer. Among her latest works are: La mujer, el pan y el pordiosero (México: Eón, 2010), Cuando narradoras latinoamericanas narran en Estados Unidos (Argentina: Fundación A. Ross, 2009), Tres relatos y un infortunio (Argentina: Fundación A. Ross, 2009), A Porcelain Doll with Violet Eyes Staring into Space…published as an e-book (Wheelhouse Magazine, 2009); Samandar: libro de viajes/ Book of Travels (Buenos Aires: Tsé Tsé, 2007). There are also two artists books: Cibeles que sueña=Cybeles, As She Dreams (2009) by artist Yarisa Colón and Salmos del cuerpo ardiente (2007) by artist Consuelo Gotay. Her work had appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, and besides English had been translated to Italian, Swedish, Rumanian, Galician and Portuguese. Among her awards are the Juan Rulfo de Cuentos (France) and an Honorary Mention from Foreword Book of the Year Award for her book Bestiary: Selected Poems (Bilingual Press, 2004). Forthcoming: Not Myself Without You (Bilingual Review Press).

Tara Trudell Tara Trudell lives in Northern New Mexico. She is raising her four children, rebuilding her life as a single mother and has returned to college to seek her BFA in Media Arts with an emphasis in Film/Audio combined with Visual Communications. She feels she can learn the tools necessary to document life and capture the stories and awareness that is vital in creating art on a social awareness level.

She has replenished her well after a long pause and in writing poetry she has allowed the courage of self-expression to flow and heal the inner parts of pain, that many times exist forgotten, in a world that cares only to divide and conquer. Tara is proud of her Mexican roots and the more society dictates it’s wrong to be here, the louder her voice shall rise and that of her children. No longer will there be shame to claim the Mexican part of her /our history. It is of vital importance that Tara passes this on to her own children and future generations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thx for your great reporting, Sedano.

Conference sounds like one I still regret missing.

Next time,