Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review: Boundaries. Shop Local: Holiday Sales. On-Line Floricanto Mid-December

Review: Elizabeth Nunez. Boundaries. NY: Akashic Books, 2011.
ISBN-13: 978-1-61775-033-5

Michael Sedano

In her novel, Boundaries, Elizabeth Nunez continues Anna’s story after Anna In-Between. The author sets Boundaries in New York City in a neatly packaged mirror image of the earlier novel. There, Anna visits her family on a Caribbean island where Anna’s emigrant culture shock charges the novel and informs a view of colonial minds. Now, Anna’s parents travel to New York for mother’s surgery. Anna’s new homeland indeed is a brave new world that has such creatures in it as her rotten ex.

Everything has boundaries Nunez points out. Political types would remind a critic of the dialectic, things defined in terms of the other, often producing chiasmus. For Anna, it’s the black run nation persistently exercising colonial values; tea at 4, class awareness, people emotionally isolated from one another yet occupying the same space. This is her family. Did her mother never hug and kiss Anna because the Queen never hugged or kissed Charles and Anne, not even in private? Anna believes a daughter has to learn to love her mother, motherly love an oxymoron, or at least a rare mystery.

The bewildered, dutiful child has problems at work. Anna’s a publisher. The head of a large house’s writers of color imprint. For Anna, her job is her opportunity to bring literary fiction to her readers, break the boundary between black literature and good literature. Publishers and booksellers, however, force writers into an internal colony. A white critic writes a tome on John Milton, the bookstores sell it under General Literature. A noted black scholar writes a book on John Milton, the bookstore sells it under Black Literature.

Anna’s a crusader for crossing boundaries. Her conviction that literature shapes a world’s view of other people is her driving principle. Her supervisor has no concern for Anna’s principled view. Sales is what counts and Anna finds herself surrounded by mercenaries who want personal advancement above all, especially lurid covers that sell books, even if the writer feels betrayed by bodice-ripper art. How does one adapt when the world of work erects a looming boundary between one’s principles and values or keeping a cushy dream job?

Some boundaries appear to have only one side. Love and no longer love, for example. Anna’s divorce haunts her. This is what makes Boundaries a book men must read. In Anna’s marriage, a boundary erupted between a man who does not grow and a woman who does. Must.

The dating woman is “fun.” The married woman takes on responsibilities: for household, building a future, becoming the woman marriage obliges she become. Him, he tells the woman he married it’s her fault he cheated and got caught. Growth for the woman is inevitable. This man--as if he has a choice with no consequences—fails to cross the boundary from passionate swain to responsible husband.

Anna’s ex becomes a total jerk and Anna’s expensively poor selection of attorneys leaves her bitterly contemplating yet another daunting boundary. She’s in her late thirties, childless, no man, facing parental expectations: the spinster or the grandmother. She’s not too old and fat.

But then… Anna crosses a boundary and finds the other side of that Love / Absence dialectic. Mother’s surgeon is the son of a long-time family friend. Moreover, he’s chief of surgery at the hospital, not some loser who goes on unemployment and rips-off the wife in the settlement. The doctor kisses Anna’s cheek, then her lips. The kiss lingers. They cross a boundary together. Can these two divorced childless good people adapt, make it last?

Nunez obviously let her writerly juices flow in crafting the novel. She plays with tense and sentence structure. A great fan of the To Be verb, this encourages her to write long sentences and paragraphs that she fills with cultural details and personal revelations. It’s fun to see the writer get a pattern going then break it up with a tense shift or syntactic acrobatics. Here, for example, an arresting clause breaks up the monotony of narrative made from straightforward declarative sentences:

She places her hand on her husband’s arm and walks toward them. But she does not need her husband to support her; her gait is strong, steady.

For a woman inside whose left breast and under whose arm malignant tumors throb, she appears to be in remarkably good health. Her skin is silky smooth, unlike the skin of so many women her age who live in temperate climates where heat flowing out of ducts beneath the floor sucks moisture from everything, leaving faces pinched and parched, wrinkled like prunes. (84)

In the end, Anna discovers the biggest boundary is within oneself. Larger than the boundary between white cultures and black cultures. More invisible than the boundaries hidden in concentricity of skin. Home—Caribbean culture--pulls hard, but for Anna, that means decay or mere survival. Anna elects change, to adapt, suck it up. Leaping this ultimate boundary, on the other side lies her own personhood.

Predators Stealing Xmas

If you haven't heard about Amazon's predatory shopping tactic, fasten your seat belts:  Amazon wants to kill local businesses by paying shoppers to browse local stores then buy on the internet.

The deal is, gente with camera-phones use the device to scan prices at a local brick & mortar store. The device spits back a lower on-line price plus a discount for not buying locally. That is dirty dealing of the worst kind. Shoppers who want to mercilessly stab their neighbors in the back enthusiastically scan away.

It is not an upside to this sad practice that UPS is brown. It is an upside that your local bookseller can order any book you see on Amazon and have it in your hands lickety-split. Your order may convince the store to stock more titles like the one you had to special order.

Shop Local, Support Local Art

Join the buy-local movement by hunting down one of those ubiquitous holiday crafts and arts sales. La Bloga is happy to give a little ink to local arts entrepreneuses and entrepreneurs. Leave a Comment below to announce your own city's events. Here are sales in metropolitan East LA and environs.

Frogtown • Canta Ranas • Elysian Valley
1625 Blake Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90031 

Saturday, December 10: 7pm-midnight
Sunday, December 11: noon-6pm

This is a warm, family and friends event. Frank and Sharon Romero invite dozens of friends to set up shop for this two weekend event. Giclée, serigraphs, clay scuplture, small paintings, and major work as well fill the studio. Prices range between a few bucks to a few hundred.

It's a sale of "finds" and grand surprises. For example, a few years back I had been hassling  Margaret Garcia that she sold all the stuff I really liked to Cheech. So I walk into Romeros' main room where I see Margaret seated comfortably. She greets me by pointing up. I look at the wall above her to see Garcia's new iteration of my wife's Christmas present that year. Made me a lifelong fan of the Romero Studio Christmas Show & Sale.

The Romero Studio is not an easy place to find, so make sure to visit the studio's site for driving directions.

Highland Park • The Avenues • Northeastside

Avenue 50 Studio, She Rides the Lion, and Two Tracks Studio extend an open invitation to Northeast Los Angeles' leading arts destination's 7th Annual Holiday Sale & Party.
Saturday, December 17 from 7:00 pm to 11 pm, and
Sunday, December 18 from 12 noon to 4:00 pm

131 N. Avenue 50
Highland Park
323 258 1435

Original and affordable prints, paintings, photographs, jewelry, etc by the following artists:
Alfonso Aceves, Nico Avina, Botello Family, Patricia Boyd, Rafael Cardenas, Margaret Garcia, Rosie Getz, Yolanda Gonzalez, HiTree, Gracie Miller, Sonia Romero, Nancy Romero, Jaime Sabatte, Marianne Sadowski, Ernesto Yerena, Lalo Alcaraz, Botello Family, Emilia Garcia, Mavis Leahy, Ronald Llanos, Los De Abajo Printmaking Collective, Jose Lozano, Stephanie Mercado, Robert Palacios, Jose Ramirez, Raquel Soto-Escobar, Beth Peterson, Fabian Debora, Lilia Ramirez, Pola Lopez, Heriberto Luna, Roderick Smith, Jose Castillo, Raul Gonzalez, Stormie, Ofelia Esparza "Aunt Feddy's Closet"

Delectable finger foods, Spiced Cider, Tamales, and Good Cheer!

Festive Attire encouraged!

Avenue 50 needs a Gold Line stop so gente can come to Avenue 50's fabulous openings and kick back and have a good time. The friendly crowds and reliably challenging art, craft, and jewelry offerings make this holiday sale the sine qua non of holiday sales. Not only that, they're incomparably fun with affordable pricing and personable vendors.

South Pasadena • This is Not Pasadena
Fremont Gallery
812 Fremont Avenue
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Folk Art Is Fine Art: The Art Of Oaxaca And Northern Mexico combines the marketing efforts of DeSilva Imports, Modern Mata Ortiz, and Fremont Gallery in an exhibition and sale of Oaxacan wood carvings, Mata Ortiz pottery, Taxco silver shard jewelry, and the paintings and prints of Adalberto Perez Meillon of Ensenada.

DeSilva Imports writes: The opening exhibit and sale will be held on Saturday December 17, 2011 and Sunday December 18, 2011 from 1:00pm until 6:00pm. A portion of the weekend sales will go to support the Dispensas Program, a Holiday food basket distribution program in Mata Ortiz, Mexico. Dispensas provides basic necessities to sixty at risk families who have been identified by the local clinic as being in the most need of assistance. Many of the recipients are the elderly members of the community, as well as single mothers and the handicapped. Join us for holiday snacks and beverages, while shopping for a cause.

When I saw the quality of the wood carvings and ceramics in the press materials from DeSilva Imports, my heart sank. Museum quality art normally sells with high three- and 4-figure price tags. Per the importer's Steve Thompson, wood carving prices range from $8 to $1200. Predominately in the $25 to $350 range. The Mata Ortiz prices range widely, $15 to a high end of $6000. Most in the $45 to $300 range. The high end one is by Juan Quezada who is credited with starting the pottery movement in Mata Ortiz.

Antepenultimate On-Line Floricanto of 2011

Jesus Cortez, Manuel Lozano, Alma Luz Villanueva, Abel Salas, Hedy Garcia Treviño

1. "Song for Joaquin" by Jesus Cortez
2. "Red, White and Blue" by Manuel Lozano
3. "Copal Clouds, Burning Memory" by Alma Luz Villanueva
4. "Fin del Año, Fin del Ciclo" por Abel Salas
5. "Until Liberty Liberates" by Hedy Garcia Treviño

Song For Joaquin
by Jesus Cortez

A dream died...
someone told him,
he couldn't dream,
... he couldn't breathe this
"sacred" American air,
he couldn't BE...
how could he BE
in a country where it's
easier to give death
than it is to give hope...
those owners of rules
who break them as they see fit,
but condemn children
for existing without a
paper that gives their
humanity legitimacy...
what need for legitimacy
do the dreams of youth who die
INSIDE everyday as pockets
are filled with the pain
of those behind bars,
Why were his hopes not
legitimate, those hopes
of a better future—
they forced him to kill
himself! You see,
YOU AMERICA did this,
you pulled the trigger
with your hatred,
with your constant
condemnation of his existence,
with your hypocritical call to
obey laws that mean nothing
to the laws of hunger,
a hunger you have not felt,
but condemn those you've
made so hungry they
have to risk their life to take a
little of what you've taken from them...
and the “homeland”,
you whose owners fill their
pockets with the money
of their ghost citizens,
those forced refugees of
hunger—You have blood
on your hands too...
you did not want to protect
your child, YOU made him hungry…

WE are all Joaquin, we are all in pain,
but we have hope that his life,
his soul will revive our hopes
when they continue to try to kill them...

By: Jesus Cortez

Red, White and Blue
by  Manuel Lozano

Your homeland is in danger,
Just like your dreams,
The sky and the mountains,
The rivers and streams,
And everything in them,
They’re coming for you,
Broken treaties and promises
In red, white and blue.

The menace advances,
The fencing sprouts thorns,
It all gets divided,
No old flower adorns.
Every garden is trampled,
No more sweet morning dew,
Lines will be drawn
In red, white and blue.

The old ways are threatened,
All customs now fade
he nightmare that’s roaring
Is American made.
Like a midnight conductor,
It’s rumbling through,
The oppressors are coming
In red, white and blue.

They aim for your children,
To make them forget,
They fill them with poison
And no self respect.
Their names will be taken,
The old dies with the new,
History will be re-told
In red, white and blue.

It’s all repetition,
A progress that kills,
Trades bad-medicine bags
For crisp dollar bills.
The new tradition erupts,
See the volcano spew,
Death and destruction
In red, white and blue.

© Manuel Lozano 2011

Copal Clouds, Burning Memory
by Alma Luz Villanueva

"Those who have a memory are able to live in
the fragile present. Those with no memory
don't live anywhere."
-From the Chilean film,
'Longing For The Light.'

By chance, Sunday, the
plaza, dancers with rattles
on their ankles, rattles
in their hands, from

five to eighty years, dancing
in the wind, dancing
in the wind, the wind
loves them, the Sun

loves them, the Earth
loves them, the stones
beneath their praying feet
loves them, they stand in

a circle, two young men
climb the Christian cross,
making it their own,
making it beautiful,

making it ancient, these
Turtle Islands remember
them, these Turtle Islands
love them, sing to them,

to us, of Beauty,
of Beauty that never
ever dies, She will
survive us, the rattles

sing this, pray this,
sing, this ancient song
to Beauty- two young
women burn sweet copal,

circle the altar, the ancient
cross of Beauty, dancing,
swirling copal, dancing, swirling
the Sacred, and the Sacred

loves them, the Sacred
loves us, the Sacred
will survive us, the copal
burns, creating clouds of

memory, the two young women
dance this for us, to
remember, for us, to
remember- they stop,

still, conch shells to
their lips, call the
Spirit to the center of
the altar, to the center of

Beauty, to the center of
the Sacred, to the center of
our selves, to the center of
each other- I see they've

left a place for me
in the circle, a small
space, I fit, we
turn North, rattles,

the East, rattles,
the South, rattles,
the West, rattles,
singing praying singing,

and the wind loves us,
the Sun loves us,
the Earth loves us,
the Sacred loves us,

Beauty loves us,
conch shells to their
lips, Spirit loves us,
Spirit lives in us, oh

memory, this will survive
us, this will survive
us, this will survive
us, the rattles sing

to us, today, sudden
rainbows we are, oh
rattles, by chance.
And memory.

Fin del Año, Fin del Ciclo
by Abel Salas

                                  mitakuye oyasin

Tanto río y nuez y
lágrima ante híbridos
tanto pincel y pena y
muro grafitiado por
las inquietudes de
un lagarto de mosaico
tanto aire escapado
de plomería oxidada
calvario del inocente
tanta nube con
la noche incrustada
como lagaña en el
porvenir de mármol
despierto entre un
futuro revelado
en tus ojos negros
y mi cadera bajo
esos besos medios
vampirescos, es
tomar agua de la flor
y comer granadas
entre los dedos del
ejército espumado,
el gatear del amor
prognosticado por
terremotos y la santa
ceremonia, es silbar
Chalma, Rosebud,
Tlatelolco, La Villa y
San Cristóbal de la Casas
después del espejo y
la desnudez porque
el viento acaricia a
mi nariz romano
y no pude envolver
harta memoria con
hilos extendidos
sobre continentes y
mis tobillos blancos
pronunciar el nombre
de la puerta colimense
sería convertir a
las penumbras del
sueño en petalos
marchitantes, es
decir que volverán
cortinas aterciopeladas
detrás de los balazos
invertidos y las
eperanzas renacientes
tanto deseo y tanto
deshacer para entender
que soy sólo uno mas
de tus tejidos con
el brillo de cada piedra
o filamento plateado,
como los códices
quemados por
los invasores, reducido
ya a ceniza voladora
y el baile de chispas

Boyle Heights, Bar Lopez
December 2011

Until Liberty Liberates
by Hedy Garcia Treviño

Until liberty liberates
Until we wage war against hunger instead of against our brother
Until Holidays celebrate justice and equality and freedom for all
Until the torch of freedom casts out the forces of greed and racism
Until the bells of freedom ring for immigrants in prison
Until all deported veterans are returned home
Until places of worship become shelters for the needy
Until the wall of hate is torn downI will not sing praises to the empire nor place flowers on the altar of shame

Citizen Poet Hedy

1. "Song for Joaquin" by Jesus Cortez
2. "Red, White and Blue" by Manuel Lozano
3. "Copal Clouds, Burning Memory" by Alma Luz Villanueva
4. "Fin del Año, Fin del Ciclo" por Abel Salas
5. "Until Liberty Liberates" by Hedy Garcia Treviño

Jesus Cortez is a 31 year old undocumented immigrant student from West Anaheim, California. This poem is a call to reflection on the passing away of a young man who died for the sins of this country. He hopes to reflect the frustration, the dehumanization that takes place when a certain group of people are marginalized for not having a piece of paper that validates their existence. Jesus hopes to encourage other young people to not give up on their dreams and their hopes.

Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...

Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009). A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Three novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks.         Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past eleven years. And is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings.
Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past five years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory.

Hedy Garcia Treviño (nickname Jaritta Little willow) because i spent my childhood in the river by the willows. Born in Northern New Mexico to a native family who has been here forever and hispanic family who was in New Mexico before the area was a territory of the U.S and. Mother of 2 wonderful children and one precious granddaughter. I started writing poetry as a young child when i was hit with a ruler for speaking Spanish in school. So poetry has always been my 'healer' my medicine, and poets responding is my temple. Professionally I'm a substance abuse and mental health therapist. I was raised by my Spanish speaking grandparents in rural new mexico surrounded by corn fields which sang to me. It was a blessed and fortunate event that my parents abandoned me to the care of my grandparents because i experienced the ancient histories of my familia due to that circumstance. I practice herbal healing and come from a long family history of 'healers' and gardeners and those who work the land. I feel best when my hands are connected to the blessed earth.


Anonymous said...


Devreaux Baker said...

I love the way these poems all flow together...beautiful and powerful river of words...