Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Columnist: Sonia Gutiérrez. Getting Published. On-Line Floricanto

Editor’s Note: La Bloga happily invites writers to share our space as a Guest Columnist. "Write what you think other writers find interesting," we beckon. Sonia accepted, proposing a novel idea: have the guest interview the host. Today’s column is the product of this guest’s inquisitiveness.  Ms. Gutiérrez' biography follows her column. mvs.
“Face to Face with La Bloga”
By Sonia Gutiérrez

In 2010, I encountered Francisco X. Alarcón’s Poets Responding to SB 1070 , and thereafter, I stumbled upon La Bloga, which religiously presented the work of poets, the voice against anti-immigration hatemongers in Michael Sedano’s “On-line Floricanto,” combating hatred through poetic resistance.

At first sight, I contemplated La Bloga’s banner—ten columnists neatly arranged on a brown tapiz and tan background (With a nostalgic journalist touch, two black and white profile photographs, a painting, a rooster, and fuchsia earrings stood out to a poet’s gaze). Surprised to find this encyclopedic delight, documenting Hispanic American, Chicano, Latino literature and the arts, I devoured its contents, ranging from memoir to sci-fi. And what a feast it was and still is.

Clearly, La Bloga is an invaluable tool as an online journal, informing and educating its readers and wished I had been introduced to La Bloga in my early teenage years and longed for it to have been available when I started reading leisurely.


Never before had I been exposed to so many genres in one source—written or online—reflecting my existence as a Chicana living in the United States. La Bloga reaffirmed that sense of identity for a starving reader by welcoming, feeding and uplifting the spirit.

After seven years of existence, to this day La Bloga still encourages Latinos to become part of a growing literary canon by presenting tips for poets and writers. On July 21, 2005, bloguero Manuel Ramos presented “Publishers to Poets” listing publishers specialized in promoting the work of Latinos. Since then, La Calaca Press has said goodbye to publishing. Arte Público Press and Charley Trujillo’s Chusma House are still running, and Wings Press “has books contracted well into 2013.”  Recently, for those up and coming authors, on November 19, 2011, Rudy Garcia shared with readers “Why Can’t a Latino Get Published?” receiving blogger Mona Alvarado Frazier’s accolades: “Great opportunity, mil gracias, La Bloga.”

I think of La Bloga as the KPBS of Blogs: You can trust that you are in good columns. No wonder it won “Best Blog 2006” Award from the Los Angeles’s Tu Ciudad magazine and mentioned in Majorie Perloff’s Presidential Address at the 2006 MLA Annual Convention.

Over the years, bloguero and author Daniel Olivas has had numerous author interviews, including Helena María Viramontes, Gustavo Arellano, Carmen Giménez Smith, Rigoberto González, Ilan Stavans, Margo Candela, Myriam Gurba, Manuel Muñoz, Sam Quinones, and Sergio Troncoso. As a promoter of education, La Bloga has impacted “the academic study of Latino/a literature by becoming an important source material for educators and students alike,” shares Olivas, whose Helena María Viramontes interview has been cited in three academic sources.

Because I imagine some readers may be asking themselves the same metiche questions I have about La Bloga, I prepared five questions I imagine a new generation of readers are eager to learn about La Bloga. ¡Aquí les van!

Sonia Gutiérrez’s PREGUNTITA #1: Who founded La Bloga?

Michael Sedano: Rudy Garcia, Manuel Ramos and I are the original three members of La Bloga. I am the titular “blogmeister,” but we all share access to the content. Rudy, Manuel and I met on the CHICLE listserve, originated by Teresa Márquez, former curator of the Chicano, Hispano, and Latino Library Program (CHIPOTLE) at the University of New Mexico.

Sonia Gutiérrez’s PREGUNTITA #2: From the seven years of existence, name ten pieces that have had a profound effect on La Bloga’s readership.

Michael Sedano: My measures for effect, profound or so, are comments and discovering through “the grapevine” that someone reads or follows La Bloga. I did a review of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and learned a couple of California appellate judges were reading La Bloga. The columns I do on Veterans Day get good remarks.

I got a great feedback to a column on Samuel Beckett. I called Beckett a Chicano, and this got picked up (and misquoted) in the keynote address of the MLA. Then, some vato wrote an article based on that speech, and I see it may be in a book now. I did not understand the article that lumped my remark/column as “anti-humanism.” Should I be insulted?

I am hoping my two new monthly series “The Gluten-free Chicano” and “Read Your Stuff Aloud!” will have a good reception. The read your stuff oracy column is my lifelong passion and has enjoyed favorable feedback.

La Bloga List

Book Review:
March 21, 2006

Daniel Olivas’s “Interview with Helena María Viramontes.” April 2, 2007

Academic References to Helena María Viramontes’s La Bloga Interview:

Michael Sedano’s “Because I Do Hope to Turn Aged Eagle’s Honor…” February 20, 2007
 “Veterans Day Salute to a Kid from Basic”November 13, 2007 (Michael Sedano’s favorite personal army story.)

Chicano Beckett:
Michael Sedano’s “Reading Waiting for Godot in Translation” November 7, 2011

Academic References to La Bloga’s Chicano Beckett:

Amelia M.L. Montes’s short story “Frayed Edges, Loose Thread”December 11, 2011

Sonia Gutiérrez’s PREGUNTITA #3: Name all the bloguer@s past and present that have left a mark at La Bloga?

Michael Sedano: Because most La Bloga blogueras blogueros live in California, Colorado, Arizona, and Nebraska, we’ve never all been in the same room at the same time.  I’ve not yet met Rudy Garcia and Amelia M.L. Montes.

I met Manuel Ramos once at a reading of his highly recommended novel, Moony’s Road to Hell. Rudy's posts often share wonderful experiences with his elementary school English learners.

After CHICLE, the rest of La Bloga comes from guest columnist spots. Daniel Olivas, whose anthology, Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature, is capturing lots of attention, started as a guest after Rudy Garcia reviewed Daniel’s collection of eerie tales, Devil Talk. Daniel joined us so early, we consider him a founding member too.  Then, Lisa Alvarado came aboard after a number of guest episodes. I’d reviewed Lisa’s Sister Chicas long before Lisa’s first guest shot. René Colato Laínez came aboard as a guest and now takes the Wednesday column with children’s literature and picture books. Ann Hagman Cardinal posted on Sundays. She’s one of Lisa’s co-authors of Sister Chicas and did three guest posts before joining us as a regular.

Garcia, Ramos, and I were looking for women to blog. Gina Mary Sol Ruiz joined us early. Lisa Alvarado and Ann Hagman Cardinal joined us for varying stints. One day I ran into Olga García at ChimMaya and asked if she wanted to join us. Olga brought Tatiana de la Tierra and Liz Vega to be the Sunday blogueras. Tatiana brought in Amelia M.L. Montes recently as La Bloga’s Sunday writers. Lydia Gil is on the team, sharing Thursday with Chicano sci-fi writer Ernest Hogan. Ernest became Lydia's co-Thursday writer after Jesse Tijerina—who was with us a short time. Lydia Gil, a profe and an EFE reporter, usually writes her column in Spanish.

René Colato Laínez met poet Melinda Palacio at the 2006 Border Book Festival in Mesilla, New Mexico. Later, Daniel Olivas met Melinda Palacio when she contributed her short story, “The Last Time,” to Latinos in Lotusland, a 2008 Bilingual Review Press publication. René Colato Laínez and Melinda Palacio were both featured authors at Cal State L.A.’s 2008 Latino Book and Family Festival. Then, Manuel Ramos met Melinda Palacio, as author of the novel Ocotillo Dreams in Denver, Colorado, at AWP, where a La Bloga reunion took place. Shortly thereafter, Melinda Palacio joined Manuel Ramos sharing the Friday space. Olga García, Tatiana de la Tierra, Daniel Olivas, and Manuel Ramos read at the 2010 Flor y Canto at the University of Southern California.

La Bloga’s Ten Bloguer@s:

Sunday: Tatiana de la Tierra & Amelia M.L. Montes
Monday: Daniel Olivas
Tuesday: Michael Sedano
Wednesday: René Colato Laínez
Thursday: Lydia Gil & Ernest Hogan
Friday: Manuel Ramos & Melinda Palacio
Saturday: Rudy Garcia

La Bloga’s Former Bloguer@s:

Lisa Alvarado
Olga García
Ann Hagman Cardinal
Gina Mary Sol Ruiz
Jesse Tijerina
Liz Vega
Sonia Gutiérrez’s PREGUNTITA #4: How does someone become a bloguero (a columnist)?

Michael Sedano: We’re always happy to invite guest columnists, especially as guests have a way of sticking with it. Seven of the ten started as guest columnists. We recognize blogging is fun but becomes a time issue for some, a weekly deadline adds to some folks’ burdens; for others, it’s simply one more item to check off the to-do list.

To become a La Bloga regular, a writer demonstrates continuity by doing two or three columns in a row. If the writer wants to keep on the regular schedule after the two or three posts, they get a password and their mug shot in the header. All the regulars are happy to share their day with anyone.

Sonia Gutiérrez’s PREGUNTITA #5: What would La Bloga like to tell its readers?

Michael Sedano: My own underlying message is for everyone and especially raza: Read, Write, Listen, Speak! Literacy, numeracy, oracy are the keys to a successful competition in an organized society.

Sonia Gutiérrez: Many thanks to Michael Sedano and the blogueras and blogueras of La Bloga.  Your work reaches and enriches the lives of many readers and writers in the United States and beyond. Without a doubt, La Bloga teaches us that cyber space and cultura bring our humanity together. ¡Gracias y salucita!

And many cheers to La Bloga—for a fructiferous 2012!
Follow La Bloga on facebook too!

Meet La Bloga’s Guest Columnist:
Sonia Gutiérrez is divided by her many passions—teaching English and advising for the Palomar Poets and Encuentros United at Palomar College and for the Upward Bound Program (CSUSM), promoting education and social justice through poetry including translation, enjoying her family and friends, and sharing the work of artists and poetas at her bloguita, Chicana in the Midst. Recently, Sonia joined the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego, California, where she plans to promote literacy and the arts con muchas ganas. Her manuscript, Spider Woman/La Mujer Araña is seeking publication. Sonia will dedicate 2012 to finalizing her novel, Kissing Dreams from a Distance and continue to add translations to her third manuscript (that was born about two months ago), Translating from Obsession: From a Witch’s Caldron/Traduciendo por obsesión: De la caldera de una bruja. La Bloga’s On-line Floricanto is home to Sonia’s Poets Responding to SB 1070 poems, including “Fishing Bait,” “Memografía”/“Memography,” “Mi bandera”/“My Flag,” “My Heart Is a Strawberry Field,” “The Passing,” and “La maza y cantera de una poeta”/“A Poet’s Mallet and Quarry.” 

Getting Yourself Published

Rudy Garcia launched an interesting discussion with his January 7, 2012 column with publishing industry professional Marcela Landres, who earns accolades from growing numbers of writers she has helped guide through the business.

Ms. Landres' straightforward answers fulfill a writer's need for practical insight and consejos. The discussion in Comments, including bloguero Ernest Hogan's provocative observation, "I'm not sure how relevant agents are going to be", remains open. Click here to read Rudy's column and join the discussion.

On-Line Floricanto one ten twelve

January's third of five Tuesdays brings familiar poets to La Bloga's On-Line Floricanto stage, including Nancy Aidé González, Francisco X. Alarcón, Hedy Treviño, Flora Grateron Gómez, and José Hernández Díaz. Artist bios follow the readings.

Ordinarily, I like to let the poem speak for itself. Unless a poet requests an illustration, I prefer a text-only space on the page. But, in Facebook where "Mujeres del Maíz” initially appears, Nancy Aidé González includes a striking illustration that compels me to include it along with Ms. González poem.

"Mujeres de Maíz' by Nancy Aidé González
"Truth Speaking in Tongues / La verdad hablando en lenguas" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Forbidden" by Hedy Trevino
"Where I'm From" by Flora Grateron Gómez
"These Native Scars" by José Hernández Díaz

Mujeres Del Maíz
by Nancy Aidé González

Somos las mujeres del maíz,
we are the women that
walk among
the mazes
of corn rows,
crisp green
leaves moving,
like arms

Somos las mujeres del maíz,
we watch the pollen swirl
as the whispers of the ancients
echo in our ears.

We were shaped from maíz,
the staff of life
breathed into our lungs.

Somos las mujeres del maíz,
we touch the verdant stalks
with our brown fingers,
kiss the apex of the
stem that ends in
a silky tassel,
our feet leave footprints
on the fertile soil.

We harvest
the mother grain,
utilize its medicine
to heal,
we grind the kernels
in our molcajetes,
kneading masa
to make tortillas,
that nourish,
sustain our families.

Somos las mujeres del maíz,
we are the women that
return the corn
to the earth
at sunrise,
cycle of life
 Selecting the Maize - Mariano Gonzalez Chavajay

by Francisco X. Alarcón

 against Arizona law HB 2281

 no one can erase
by the mere stroke of a pen
the true history

of this arid land,
all the tears, all the blood shed
all the sufferings

all the memories
accomplishments, glories, joys
and sorrows as well

of all the peoples
who are at the roots, and form
the core of this social tree

no more ranch raids
no new Trail of Tears
no trains to death camps

no outlawing of classes
no burning of books
no hanging trees

no one can exclude
exile us from our own dreams
–this is our nation too–

and no law can ban
historical facts and truths
from any classroom

silence may be imposed
but only temporarily
because at the end

truth will win out
even speaking in tongues
against big state lies

© Francisco X. Alarcón
December 29, 2011

por Francisco X. Alarcón
contra la ley HB 2281 de Arizona

nadie puede borrar
con un mero plumazo
la historia real

de esta tierra árida,
las lágrimas, la sangre
derramada, los sufrimientos

todas las memorias
los logros, las glorias, los gozos
y las penas también

de todos los pueblos
que son las raíces y forman
el meollo de este árbol social

no más redadas a ranchos
ningún nuevo Sendero de Lágrimas
ningún tren a campos de muerte

ninguna prohibición de clases
ninguna quema de libros
ningún árbol para linchar

nadie puede excluir
exiliarnos de nuestros sueños
–ésta es nuestra nación también–

y ninguna ley puede abolir
verdades y hechos históricos
de ninguna aula escolar

el silencio se puede imponer
pero sólo temporalmente
porque al final

la verdad vencerá
aun hablando en lenguas
a las grandes mentiras del estado

© Francisco X. Alarcón
29 de diciembre de 2011

 by hedy garcia treviño
Under windswept skies the angels danced
in adoration of the moon

There underneath the shadow of the oak tree
that gave comfort and respite to the weary
I left the chants inscribed in stone

Tangled mangled branches of the oak tree
unfurling always upward
in anticipation of the sun

In spring time it is told that blossoms will return
and in the folds of rosa de castillo
we place our prayers and dreams afloat

I lingered long between the shadows
listening to the chants
the chants that were forbidden, were never to be told

The mysteries and the cantos preserved within massive adobe walls
upon the walls of the Morada
I left the chants inscribed in stone.

Where I'm From
 by Flora Gamez Grateron ©2011
I am from cenas de frijoles de la ólla, arroz, and homemade tortillas de harina made daily while a cinnamon baby sat astride Mama’s hip while she prepared the evening meals,

I am from Mama’s Clairol permed hair wrapped in tissue paper and peroxide so strong it drifted onto the red porch where we played Jax, from dippity-doo hair gel, Prell shampoo, deep red Avon lipstick, powdered milk, bricks of government cheese, Fizzies tablets, and our first black rotary telephone,

I am from sawdust, nails, and hammers, of Papa’s two bedroom house with bare floorboards and no insulation, gas heaters that flickered blue and orange at night, and a shiny black 1942 Ford Sedan,

I am from palm trees and cacti growing side by side in the front yard, Mama’s roses, oleanders, and morning glories, the ditch that filled with rainwater, the blackberry tree that upheld the tree house filled with comic books,

I am from tamales on Christmas Eve, buñuelos and champurrado, nueve noches de Las Posadas con El Padre Jose, brown bags filled with nuts, oranges, and hard candy, gifts from the $1 store, and new dolls with eyes that opened and closed and smelled of new plastic,

I am from Catholicism practiced from the first week of birth, cold water on the forehead, pierced ears with a sterilized needle as we suckled warm breast milk, Clorox clean cloth diapers and safety pins, and washing machines with rollers,

I am from family traditions that come from el Corazón, like piñatas, cáscarones, cantando Las Mananitas, musica de mariachis, y la Misa del Gallo, el altar para el Dia de los Muertos, or simply family dinner at the table tearing a tortilla de harina in half to share with a sibling,

From “cuida a tu hermanito” while we rocked the youngest in a hammock and fanned the flies away like a prince, to “vas a llegar tarde a la escuela,” rushing off to the Catholic school on our dilapidated side of the tracks, a brick building icy cold in the winter and stifling hot in the summer,

I am from persínate, so we crossed ourselves with holy water when we paraded into church, in front of La Virgen de Guadalupe, el crucifijo, under the nuns’ perpetual glare, at cemeteries, and as we drove in front of unfamiliar churches,

I am from Texas a land of prejudice and discrimination, and San Luis Potosi, Mexico, with its corner panaderia of hot bolillos ready for breakfast, Nescafe, and cajéta, of el ranchito Peotillos with its corrales of mesquite and cows on the loose during the day, its hen houses producing warm eggs for us to gather, and birthday póllo con mole made by abuelita,

I am from stories de brujas y brujerías, of el tío Beto who succumbed to una embrujáda por una bruja celosa, painfully shriveling away to nothingness with no cure in sight, abuelitos who spoke of strange lights en el monte in the dark of night, frightening La Llorona stories invading our dreams, and strange noises in the night as the family slept,

I am from nine graduation pictures in Mama’s living room, school pictures in the hallway of children with crooked teeth and lopsided bangs, 7th child of a 90 year old carpenter with a hammer and an 86 year old homemaker with a rolling pin, and countless patterns of kitchen linoleum that have turned like pages in a book, each one revealing a fraction of our lives at 426 E. Verbina St. in Taft, Texas. 

   (based on George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From)

These Native Scars
 by José Hernández Díaz

I hope that
When I walk
The Arizona 

They see my
Native face
And think 
That I’m 

Because I 
Would consider
It an insult
If they said
I looked 

I am not a corporate dream
I am not a movie screen

I hope they 
Ask me for 
My green card

And force me
To the wall

I hope they 
Mock my 
Silent tears

And spit on
My worn feet

I will show them native scars
I will claim the sky as pain

I am not an alien
I know all my history:

It is now.

"Mujeres de Maíz' by Nancy Aidé González
"Truth Speaking in Tongues / La verdad hablando en lenguas" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Forbidden" by Hedy Treviño
"Where I'm From" by Flora Grateron Gómez
"These Native Scars" by José Hernández Díaz

Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet, writer, and educator.  She currently lives and works in Lodi, California. Nancy graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in May of 2000.  She has contributed many poems to Poets Responding to SB 1070. Several of her poems have been published on La Bloga.  Miss González is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group which honors the literary traditions of the Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.
She teaches first-generation, Mexican –American migrant elementary students. She enjoys teaching her students and giving back to her community.  She holds a Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in School Administration from California State University, Stanislaus. Nancy Aidé González is involved in Chicano Organizing & Research in Education (C.O.R.E.) a non-partisan, research and advocacy organization that aims to improve the educational environment of all Chicano/Latino students. She has participated in several poetry readings including Poesía Revuelta/ Mixed Poetry Series in San Francisco.   She is currently working on a novel about Chicana women.

Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, is author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992)  His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His book of bilingual poetry for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008), was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award. He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions.  He teaches at the University of California, Davis.  He is the creator of the Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that you can visit at:

Hedy Garcia Treviño (nickname Jaritta Little willow because i spent my childhood in the river by the willows). Born in Northern New Mexico to an Hispanic family who was in New Mexico before this area was a territory of the U.S,. and a native family who has been here forever. Mother of 2 wonderful children and 1 precious granddaughter they all live in Phoenix.

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.

Flora Grateron has been writing most of her life. She was born in a south Texas town and many of her stories and poems reflect the challenges and rewards within a complex Mexican –American family of eleven. Her work focuses on the facets of culture, tradition, and family.  She completed her degree after the arrival of her fourth child and teaches Literature and Language Arts in the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona. She enjoys guiding her students in creating digital stories about community and family. Her work has been published in The Blue Guitar Magazine, an arts and literary magazine of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts, the 2010 Oasis Journal, and La Bloga. Her corrido was one of the winners at the Tucson Meet Yourself Corrido Contest .  She belongs to Sowing the Seeds, a collective of women writers who have published an anthology titled, “Our Spirit, Our Reality” – a collection of short stories and poetry.  She is currently working on publishing her own collection of short stories and poems. 

José Hernández Díaz is a first-generation, Chicano poet with a BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley. José has been published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading Anthology 2011, La Gente Newsmagazine of UCLA, Bombay Gin Literary Journal, Contratiempo, Hinchas de Poesia, In Xochitl In Kuikatl Literary Journal, Indigenous Writers and Artists Collective, The Packinghouse Review, among others. José has had poetry readings at The Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco, at The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, and at El Centro Cultural de Tijuana. José is currently fulfilling an internship with Floricanto Press as a Poetry Editor. In addition, he is an active moderator of the online group, ‘Poets Responding to SB1070,’ where he has contributed more than 30 of his own poems.


fjalarcon said...

Dear Em and Sonia, Great column by Sonia Gutiérrez and insightful interview to Em Sedano. La Bloga is digital home/chante/casa for many of us. Gracias, Francisco Alarcón

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