Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Spoken Word Fiction. On-Line Floricanto

Diga Me! Spoken Word Performances Bring Lively Chicana Chicano Stories to Fowler Museum

Michael Sedano

If you've ever sat near a vocalist unleashing an aria or some lieder, you've enjoyed not only the music but likely sat amazed at the capacity of the body as an instrument rivaling an orchestra for aural force and power. If you've sat in a hushed auditorium while a cello maestra maestro sits on stage alone playing  Bach suites, you've grown entranced at the virtuoso's control of that instrument as well as captivated by that composer's notes on paper.

Most author readings are not virtuoso performances, but any writer's performance would change in that direction after experiencing the kind of virtuosic readings shared by gente in the intimate setting of the open-air central courtyard of UCLA's Fowler Museum on Saturday afternoon, October 29. It was un bel di for Diga Me! The program featured readings written by Alejandro Murguía, Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin, and Ron Arias. The three are veterans of the first floricanto in 1973 and the historic reunion floricanto last year, at USC.

Three mic'd actors reading chicana chicano literature, sitting on a stool behind a lectern that held the words. The elegant simplicity not only was absorbing, such a presentation is a way of honoring the words honoring the story honoring the audience. Those values live at the heart of the oldest spoken word series in Los Angeles, The New Short Fiction Series, in its 15th year in Los Angeles.

Click an image to magnify
Sally Shore produces the events in Santa Monica as well as taking it on the road today. Shore joins forces with Bonnie Poon at UCLA's Fowler Museum, in producing Diga Me! in association with the regional arts initiative, Pacific Standard Time. Visit The New Short Fiction Series' website for upcoming events. You will find the site linked in La Bloga's Otras sidebar.

Holger Moncada, Jr. adopts a low-key narrator's voice to pull audiences in to Alejandro Murguía's movimiento story, "A Long Walk." 

Set at Los Angeles City College during heavy student unrest, "A Long Walk" tells the story of a protest leader facing his young life's most crucial decision. Moncada reads with restraint, keeping the tension roiling just beneath the surface, ready to explode. The ambience reflects the character's own conflict between fulfilling expectations by ordering demonstrators to trash the campus, or be a sensible leader and order protestors to abandon the trashing, admit defeat. Here's a flavor of Holger's reading:

Sally Shore works with rotating casts of professionals to mount these wonderful readings. The actors are busy with film and television careers, albeit talented gente not yet "big names." That's apt casting as it reflects Shore's commitment to emerging writers. Below, Sally introduces Marina Gonzalez Palmier for her reading of Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin's folktale, "El Diablo Bailarín."

Aparicio-Chamberlin's story tells how some families raise their daughters--with threats of eternal damnation if they slip out the window to go to the dance all gussied up in store-bought clothes. Pride, disobedience, talking to strangers, a one-way walk into Evergreen Cemetery. It's a wondrous character piece that Gonzalez reads near perfectly.

Ron Arias' funny piece, "The Interview," gets a dialect reading from Matt Ferucci. It's the only reading that misses its mark, straying into stereotyped wino speech hybridized with an undercurrent of menace. That one of Ferucci's winos has the distinct sound of Tony Montana is understandable, given Ferucci's upcoming role in an Al Pacino movie. The reading works for Ferucci, producing laughter in most of the right places.

Following the readings, La Bloga's Michael Sedano joins the writers and actors on stage for a conversation in three parts: Today's performances; el movimiento and chicanarte; speculations on a Chicano Renaissance. 

The Q&A period thereafter adds measures of enjoyment, especially for audience members anxious to expand on one discussion topic, "(chicana chicano) books everyone should read to be culturally literate." Even after adjournment, two people want to add a pair of authors and titles. Such passion for literature deserves a reading like today's.

foto & below: manuel urrutia

You'll find longer excerpts of past years' readings at The New Short Fiction Series website in the Otras  sidebar. (Photographer's note. The videos were taken on a Canon T2i camera. This device limits the duration of video to a few seconds. Under different conditions, it is possible to expose longer scenes. The 18-55mm lens has image stabilization, contributing to excellent sharpness in these hand-held exposures.)

Click here for a larger collection of images from Diga Me!

On-Line Floricanto On One 1/11

Giving November a provocative launch, Francisco Alarcón and his co-moderators of Facebook Group Poets Responding to SB 1070 include five poets and one translator in today's La Bloga On-Line Floricanto. 

From Joe Navarro, an interesting assonance-rhymed apostrophe mirroring what gente across the globe wonder, too. Alberto Ledesma's offering will have you smiling at the cherubim wanting to smash your face in. 

Bilingual poems from Claudia Hernandez (with translator José Hernández Díaz) and Jabez W. Churchill illustrate expressive resources available to the respective idiomas. Note the fuller meaning derived from inflected nouns in Churchill's correlatives, "answer! ¡contesten!" In "Kim ayu" by Claudia Hernandez, the verb "vení" is present active indicative whereas "come" is ambiguouly either first person or imperative.

Rhetoric and grammar aside, enjoy this week's La Bloga On-Line Floricanto for what it is: A collection of poems submitted for your thoughtful enjoyment by Joe Navarro, Claudia Hernandez, Jabez W. Churchill, Alberto Ledesma, Ire'ne Lara Silva; translator José Hernández Díaz:

"Occupy" by Joe Navarro
"Kim ayu (come over here)" by Claudia Hernandez 
“What's Up? / ¿Qué hay?" by Jabez W. Churchill
"Ode To Undocumented Urchin" by Alberto Ledesma
"the geo-physics of de-tribalization" by Ire'ne Lara Silva

by Joe Navarro
america, wonder why they occupy
your wealthy greedy lie?
the american dream pie
high in the sky
where no one can fly
a big rich lie
that only money can buy
an economic lie
trickle down; wall street sly
a wealthy greedy lie
forced into the open sky
for the world to see up high
police batons make people cry
chemicals and gas, will people die?
wall street kind of lie
government purchase, a great buy
that’s why people occupy
same old business just won’t fly
“share the wealth” is their cry
greed and corruption should die
wall street and washington can no longer deny
suppressing dissent, they will try
but people are tired of the lie
on main street the people’s cry
is heard as “occupy”
wake up, america, ask why

--joe navarro
This poem can also be found at

Kim ayu (vení pa’ ca)

por Claudia Hernandez

Mis entrañas
se contraen

Es mi aliento
que se escapa
va en busca
de mi gente

Oigo un eco
que retumba
voces dulces
lengua tierna:

Kim ayu
—vení pa’ ca

Me roza
un aire
con olor
a incienso

La marimba
se oye lejos

Son los moros,
han llegado
con sus danzas
de venados

Los repiques
de campanas
en los templos
siempre estallan

Ese acorde
no se olvida

Oigo un eco
que retumba
voces dulces
lengua tierna:

Kim ayu
—vení pa’ ca

En mi piel
siento la cera

Esta quema,
hace llagas
que me adiestran
a apreciar mi
nueva existencia

Mi alma ruge
ya no tiembla,
he encontrado
el nuevo Edén.

Kim ayu (Come over here)

My insides contract
It is my breath
That escapes
It goes in search
Of my people

I hear an echo
That resonates
Sweet voices
Tender tongue:

Kim ayu
—Come over here

A wind of incense
Grazes my core
The marimba’s keys
Chime in the distance

It is the moors
They have come
With their ancient
Deer dances

The clamor
Of the bells
From the temple
Always resound

That melody
Can never fade

I hear an echo
That resonates
Sweet voices
Tender tongue:

 Kim ayu
—Come over here

On my flesh
I feel a wax
That burns

It leaves scars
That teach me
To appreciate my
New existence

My fierce soul
No longer trembles

I have found
My new Eden.

Translation by: José Hernández Díaz

What’s Up?

by Jabez W. Churchill

Of the 396,906 deportees,
uprooted last year,
55%, or 218,298, had criminal records.
What about the other 178,608?
Don’t they count?
What about their children, spouses and parents,
grandparents and grandbabies
left without means, without voice
on this side of the trench,
wound that won’t stop bleeding,
warm blood, blood given freely, 
the same used for your plastic surgery?
It doesn’t count, either? 
There is no cosmetic that removes the wrinkles
from having shriveled up from your own values,
the same professed
in your white-washed churches,
now temples of greed and hypocrisy.
What about the other 
178,608 sisters and brothers,
gaping holes of injustice?
What’s up?

¿Qué hay?

por Jabez W. Churchill

De los 396.906 deportados,
desterrados este ano cuentan 55%,
o sea 218.298, con antecedentes.
¿Qué hay de los otros 178.608?
¿No cuentan?
¿Qué hay de sus hijos, parejas y padres,
abuelos y nietos naufragados sin recurso,
sin voz a este lado de la zanca,
herida que no deja de sangrar,
sangre tibia, sangre donada,
la misma aprovechada para su cirugía plastica?
¿Tampoco cuenta?
No hay cosmética que se quita las arrugas
por haberse achicado de sus propios valores
los mismos que profesan
en sus iglesias blanqueadas,
ya templos de guía e hipocresía
¿Qué hay de los otros 178.608
amigos hermanos,huecos de injusticia?
¿Qué hay?

Ode To Undocumented Urchin

by Alberto Ledesma

Someday, it will be sooner than you think,
you will raise your head at dawn and smile,
the night already dissolved in ten-thousand puffs of your placid breath
and your first thought will be,
"I will not be caught today!"
That day, you will stop blaming your parents
for dozens of tussles you have had at school,
for the second-hand sneakers with which you dart
from the mob of cherubim who want to rearrange your face.
The windows to your house will all be open.
Your neighbors will finally know your name.
And you will cease casting a suspicious gaze
on officers that stroll past you on the street.
Someday, it will happen sooner than you think,
the fear you have always felt will dissipate
and you will wonder just who it is that has remained behind.
It will be you, foreign anew,
enjoying what has always been your American fate.
Someday, I know that it will happen soon,
cumbias will waft in the same air as fried tortillas and pizza,
enriched by the sacrifices of a phantom past
and your words will slide with acrobatic zeal from your tongue.

the geo-physics of de-tribalization

by Ire'ne Lara Silva

table of contents

Chapter 1. Hurricanes: counter-clockwise winds of disruption, more than
five hundred years of category 5 storms, all of them named Massacre
named Betrayal  named Stolen
named Genocide

Chapter 2. Drought: only our ancestors’ blood poured onto the cracked
earth, everything green dying, violence and screaming,
and the smashed skulls of infants
laying bleached under the sun

Chapter 3. Wildfires: disease, the land stolen as the fires of smallpox and
influenza, bubonic and pneumonic plagues, raged in every direction,
leaping wildly, as they added blankets to fuel the roaring,
leaving charred bodies in a ravaged landscape

Chapter 4. Tornadoes: piercing cyclones between their thighs, the rape
of their dark-skinned flesh, blood and weeping, invading seeds,
wombs straining in the wake of a war without name

Chapter 5. Volcanoes: molten earth rising, orange and red lightning
splitting the dark skies, the ash of colonization smothering histories
and libraries and human bodies

Chapter 6. Earthquakes: vehement earth, injured earth, ruptured earth, 
lands come undone, millions disappeared,
nations forced from their lands, nations scattered 
even the clouds wept

Chapter 7. Floods: raging waters of amnesia which ripped away
all of our stories, leaving families, communities, nations
like broken-limbed debris

Chapter 8. Sinkholes: erosion of our names and our languages, cataclysms
of forgetting, shadowed caves of shame, collapses which
rendered us unrecognizable

Chapter 9: Magnetic fields: we are the children, electric in our waiting,
inexorably pulling us to each other, recognizing no distinctions in time

Chapter 10. Deep ocean currents: under the surface of the ocean, hidden
and immense, returning, rising, writing our names on the sand
we may be de-tribalized but we are still indigenous to this land
we still belong


"Occupy" by Joe Navarro
"Kim ayu (come over here)" by Claudia Hernandez 
“What's Up? / ¿Qué hay?" by Jabez W. Churchill
"Ode To Undocumented Urchin" by Alberto Ledesma
"the geo-physics of de-tribalization" by Ire'ne Lara Silva

Joe Navarro is a Literary Vato Loco, poet, creative writer, teacher and activist in Hollister, CA.

Jabez W. Churchill, born in Northern Ca., educated in Argentina, as well as the U.S. Currently, teaching Spanish at both Santa Rosa Junior College and Mendocino Colleges as well as poetry, predominently to youth at risk and Spanish-speakers, with California Poets in the Public Schools. My perspective is forged of having been readily embraced, not only in Argentina, but in Spain, Cuba, and Mexico, and subsequently being rejected by this moreover elitist and homophoebic society. Having lived and worked abroad, often without documentation, I´m also very familiar with the taste of discrimination. No me gusta que nadie lo tome.

Jose Marti said: "Soy de todas partes."(I am from everywhere.) Yo soy ya forastero de todas partes (I´m now an outsider wherever I go.) but more welcome in some than in Arizona and Alabama. Tantas gracias a Don EM y Don Francisco por su valor y dedicacion. Un abrazote! Jabez

Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She writes, illustrates, and manually binds children’s books. Her photography, poetry, and short stories have been published in The Indigenous Sovereignty Issue of The Peak, Poets Responding to SB 1070, La Bloga, the first anthology of Colectivo Verso Activo and in Hinchas de Poesía.  

Alberto Ledesma holds a PhD in ethnic literature from U.C. Berkeley and is a past winner of U.C. Irvine’s Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for Poetry. His works have appeared in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Con/Safos, Colorlines, and Gary Soto’s Chicano Chapbook Series. He now works as a writing program coordinator at U.C. Berkeley’s Student Learning Center and can often be found at one of the local restaurants sketching or working on one of his latest stories. To check out Diary of a Dreamer: Essays, Drawings, Short Stories and Poems of an Undocumented Immigrant, check out his public Facebook gallery.

ire’ne lara silva lives in Austin , TX. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, most recently in Acentos Review, Pilgrimage, and Yellow Medicine Review. She is the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldua Milagro Award, a Macondista, and an inaugural CantoMundo Fellow. ire'ne is the author of two chapbooks: ani’mal and INDíGENA. Her first collection of poetry, furia, was published in October 2010 by Mouthfeel Press and received an Honorable Mention for the 2011 International Latino Book Award in Poetry. She is also Co-Coordinator for the Flor de Nopal Literary Festival.

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