Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taco Shop Poets. Musician Brings Asco to Fowler. Foto:msedano. On-Line Floricanto

Review: Taco shop poets Sugar Skull Sueños

The Taco Shop Poets: Sugar Skull Sueños. Adrian Arancibia, Adolfo Guzman Lopez, Tomás Riley, Miguel-Angel Soria (Editors). Tinta Vox, 2011.  
ISBN-10: 0615326897 & ISBN-13: 978-0615326894

Michael Sedano

Arroyo Books in Highland Park announced a performance by a new group called the Taco Shop Poets. Excited at the concept of live a la brava poetry readings, I arrived early. And waited alone. Would anyone else arrive to hear this new group?

After a while, some people came and we waited together. Patience turned im- and when I left three restless people remained behind. I don’t know if Taco Shop Poets ever showed up that evening, and for a while, I didn’t care. This wasn’t even CPT, such treatment was standard seven-letter gay repartee.

Then Calaca Press released Raza Spoken Here, a spoken word CD featuring the youth and power I’d gone in search of that evening to Arroyo Books. The Taco Shop Poets were an important part of that CD. TSP established itself as a community phenomenon and found a delighted audience. Then, a few years after, the group began branching out. TSP member Tomás Riley published his outstanding solo work, Mahcic. As time and the literary movimiento developed, TSP moved out of the limelight.

They’re back.

Four “core member” Taco Shop Poets have published a chapbook showcasing current work, Sugar Skull Sueños. This comes in ebook and hard copy from Tintavox. Sugar Skull Sueños joins the list of 2011 titles that you might have missed last year. Ni modo. You can order your copy publisher-direct today.

Any artist with longevity takes on an important role in a community’s literature. Affording a synoptic view, a reader can pick up a current volume and assess the destination and trajectory of that literature. As shown by the four poets in Sugar Skull Sueños, like good tacos there’s ample variety for any palate and it’s all mostly tasty.

Adrian Arancibia writes a conventional line, code-switching and bilingual poems. He evokes the pang of longing, of absence. In “poem for willie perdomo” the poet is today’s family man with a brief pang of longing for missed opportunities, but sensibly ends firmly closing the door on the single vato’s lifestyle.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez’ trio of works illustrates a style-in-discord. From the raucous and typographically unconventional eulogy to Shifra Goldman, “Primero de Mayo del 2010,” to the wildly antiformal alliteration of “Para Poetas Pulqueros,” a 113-word mixture of “n” words, Guzman-Lopez’ style refuses to settle down. While this may seem admirable in a Taco Shop Poet from the 1980s, Guzman-Lopez’ middle piece, the quietly thoughtful and worthwhile “Piedras,” reflects refined sensibilities and expressive restraint that bursts with strength.

Of the four TSP veteranos in the chapbook, Tomás Riley is the only one who apparently doesn’t develop the short form poem. Riley shares three excerpts from longer work, including the best title in the chapbook, “post chicano stress disorder.” Riley would have served a reader better by running the provocative title whole. The two other “from…” pieces offer little stylistic variety—Riley’s style is well-honed. Riley conveys a sense of hopelessness that “post-chicano” involves an existence of endurance, ritualized identity more symbolic than fleshed, and  homeless winos under a bridge somewhere. Chicanas Chicanos are entitled to redemption, que no?

Closing out the chapbook comes Miguel-Angel Soria. “Untitled” and, in Spanish, “Meditación,” feature line length language games that produce visually challenging lines that give up their meaning as part of the play. He goes too far in the third instance, “poemasinabox.” Soria’s laid out a 5x5 grid, typed a word or more in each cell. Surrounding every other cell with a black line encourages reading left-to-right then top-to-bottom, then diagonally like a word find puzzle, down, then up and eventually nothing needs to make sense any more.

I found myself wondering how Soria would read his boxes poem aloud, or how the other poets would convey the visual look of the page to a listening audience. In some pieces the ear would not hear the different look on the page, such as Tomás Riley’s

now talking to whatever’s in a paper bag
you leave behind
                                       3 oranges
                                       1 bottle water y
a scripture of whatever signs
the bottom line on what amounts to
45 minutes of life here,
tops. in the pushcart of whatever
left behind
                                       2 hijos
                                       1 mujer y
                                       la quietud
and how does it go? a song-a-night
bargain? echoes into day
                                       their town
                                       their corners
                                       just your eyes and hands
                                       that never soften

On the other hand, much of Soria’s impact grows from ambiguities that spring from abrupt line endings and typographic trickery:

o ate
yo cre

Trusting that this time the Taco Shop Poets will make a point to be on time, I look forward to an opportunity to attend any local readings by these Taco Shop Poets of Sugar Skull Sueños. In the meantime, the collection is available via download or hard copy at the publisher’s website.

At UCLA's Fowler - A Musical Conversation with La Santa Cecilia + Paper Fashion with Patssi Valdez

Saturday, February 4, 2012, 7–10 pm, Fowler Museum on the UCLA campus. From the Fowler:

GRAMMY-nominated La Santa Cecilia—fronted by belter La Marisoul—draws inspiration from a hybrid of Latin culture, rock and world music in passionate performances that mesmerize audiences. After an interview moderated by Josh Kun, curator of the PST/GRAMMY Museum exhibition Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-75 and director of The Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg’s The Norman Lear Center, La Santa Cecilia will take audience questions and perform a selection of songs.

During the post-concert reception, Asco icon Patssi Valdez leads a crunch-and-fold workshop inspired by Asco’s 1970’s-era public appearances as self-made fashionistas in paper gowns and hats. See Valdez’s work in Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement, which will be open. Reception includes dessert and a cash bar.

$10 for Fowler/GRAMMY Museum members and students; $15 general.

Tickets now on sale via The GRAMMY Museum box office: 213-765-6803.
Box office hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 am-7:30 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10:00 am-7:30 pm

Co-presented by The GRAMMY Museum.

Birds and Mammals Foto:msedano

Almost every year my wife and I enjoy a weeked in Morro Bay at the annual bird festival. This year's fest was a bird bust. Not a whole lot of action on the birding scene.

Drought may have killed off a lot of the population, or I may have looked the wrong way. At any rate, I did manage a handful of fun images that you can see at Read! Raza. By the way, these are filed under "Chicano photography".

On-Line Floricanto Mid-January 2012

"Lady Gaga New Year" by Sandra María Esteves
"Arizona Lament" by Sean Penna
"Rompiendo el silencio /Shattered Silence" by Claudia D. Hernández
"It Has Always Been the Way" by Andrea Mauk
“Catedral / Cathedral” by Jorge Argueta

Lady Gaga New Year
by Sandra María Esteves

Betty boop parade in häagen-dazs flavas,
cleopatra pop diva cousin to
beyonce, jennifer, christina, shakira,
sister to mariah, granddaughter of marilyn,
student of josephine, neighbor to frida,
madonna’s babygirl, amy’s twin, nina’s hang out buddy,
may west witch warrior,
wild wandering wolf woman,

I could never look like you. Not because
I’m not that hungry for attention
or too sensitive to noise
or that my thoughts need to breathe
as far as they can see, as deep as they can reach;

but because I prefer props that are mine:
seven day candles, agua florida, well-rolled cigars,
cantos to Elegba, the machete under my bed;
conquistadora stories of Anacaona, Betances, Lolita,
Don Pedro, Julia and Schomburg,
scribes to inner voices sailing thru my head.

“Write, write, write!” they articulate.
Life is in need of me, and I,
desperately, am in need of life,
here to tip the balance before
we all disappear overnight.

The idea of spending
gazillion pennies on a dress—
not necessarily what I call success,
not the song I’d rather sing,
not the woman I teach daughters to become.

But go on girl, do your thing!
If that’s your best, I will not deny
your right to dress, your choice
and form of protest, to think
outside the box. Who says you can’t
when you say you can?

On another note, that
carbon afterglow you ride—
you can’t fly in your four-wheel bunk
then say you care to save the land
for folks you love. It doesn’t work that way.

I say find life inside the river well and in
still breaths between trees and bricks where
the queen of hearts commands none other
than herself. More than a well-paid photo op
or good cop in ghettofabulandia,

there is this drum divine, a bomba quinto bata
to honor God and Spirit, the living Earth inside us,
a cha-cha gagá in rumba bembé that calls
our name, insists we pay attention
in lyrics like rain to wash the sins and pains
of queen and kingdoms that we claim.

I’ll tell you what:
you do you and I’ll do me.
That way we can both be free.
No need to compete, we are complete,
replete from head to feet.

While you be prancing fancy over there,
I’ll be bringing down dancing over here
where rain falls hard and loud
inside our magic coat, our quilt of dreams.

While you be spinning sparkles
into hypnotic crowds,
I’ll be channeling firebolts
sent by Madrina Oya, to remind us
that there is still much work to be done.

Happy New Year everyone!
2012 arrives with a bang!
Year of Madre Oya and Baba Ogun,
spirit mother and father for today
come to instruct, prepare the way;
goddess of lightning at the cemetery gate,
blacksmith crafting tools, knives for
bloodletting and purging decay,
hammer axes, Ochosi’s bow to aim strong
and pure of heart for what’s coming
down the road in this theater of life
where politicians are bought, land is sold
and people are enslaved for the sake of gold.

Let it rain. Let there be water to fill the wells
for thirsty children and angry souls.
Bring forth stories we need to tell
to awaken and focus celestial bells.
There is a journey to unfold
to save each other and save our souls,
make peace with Earth in the ways we live,
love, laugh and learn to forgive.

Happy New Year everyone!
2012, here with a bang!

© 2012 Sandra María Esteves

Arizona Lament
by Sean Penna

Brothers and sisters…
Have you seen Esteban?

Esteban has been taken…
Locked away in the furnace heat
Of a Maricopa deportation cell.

But who will tend my yard now?
Esteban made our neighborhood a grand oasis
Its beauty born from the sweat of his brow

Put on your gloves people!
For now you will see what real work is.
Esteban has been taken…
And his history erased from our land.

Brothers and sisters…
Have you seen Luisa and Ramon?

Their work visas expired…
And there was no one to help them
With paperwork for The Man.

But who will make my lunch now?
Their truck was a culinary Mecca
A cornerstone of our community

Get in your cars people!
Convenience store nachos are now your lunch.
Luisa and Ramon have been taken…
And their children left behind.

Brothers and sisters…
Have you seen Carmen?

Carmen is gone…
She was pulled over, a headlight was out
ICE sent her to Matamoros

But who will scrub my floors now?
Carmen made my house shine like diamonds
My children adored her so…

Get on your knees people!
The floors are your penance now.
Carmen has been taken…
Her lifeless body lies in Matamoros.

Brothers and sisters…
What have you done?

Rompiendo el silencio
por Claudia D. Hernández

Mientras el sol
penetra cada nube,

se esclarece el cielo,

su cadáver

ha sido abandonada
en pleno desierto:

—no se encuentra
no regresa­—

Su alma entera
ha sido mutilada.

Se la llevan viva;
La regresan muerta.

todos rezan:

—no se encuentra
no regresa­—

Todos lloran,

Elevando sus miradas
a ese cielo despejado—

se dan cuenta
que nadie escucha…

Shattered Silence
by Claudia D. Henández

As the sun
Pierces the clouds,

The sky clears,

Revealing her
Decomposing corpse—

She has been abandoned
In the desert plain:

—She cannot be found
She has not returned—

Her soul
Has been mutilated.

They took her whole;
They return her dead.

Her family prays:

—She cannot be found
She has not returned—

Everyone cries,

Elevating their eyes
To the clear sky—

They notice that
No one listens…

English translation by José Hernández Díaz

It Has Always Been the Way
by Andrea Mauk

It has been
since the beginning of time
the way,
that lines were meant to be crossed
and obstacles overcome,
that there was no challenge too
complex, no canyon too deep or peek toweringly high,
no problem that couldn't be solved.
This world was meant
to be used for the bounty of resources
it provided,
and explored until
no pebble had been left
no paradise left uncharted,
and all things taken,
because that's how they are,
they take,
and they want,
and they desire
and they own
until their bellies are round
and their minds fall asleep
while lethargy surrounds.

The mountains have been scaled,
the oceans crossed,
the Earths four corners wound neatly into a ball
in order to make sure they wouldn't fall away
into the terrifying unknown,
the moon speared and harnessed and lassoed
by jovial men bouncing about,
the ice caps melted
and the deserts air-conditioned and
watered until green,
the sacred corn kernel
genetically altered
because science always
improves upon nature.

They have turned their backs
on the mesages held in the whispers of the wind,
taken for granted the warmth of the sun,
the cycle of water and the cycle of life.
They have lived life in a linear fashion,
start to finish as if in a race to the end,
never looking back to see what they've left behind
except what can be counted in terms of power
or monetary wealth.

They have squashed those in their path,
hemmed them up, fenced them in,
sent them back, um, er, repatriated,
killed them with homicides and
genocides and holocausts.
They have extolled the virtues of the great soldiers
and conquerors,
told themselves that God was an architect of
Western Expansion.
They have edited and revised the mythologies,
and taken a pink pearl eraser to the less
flattering pages of history.

But a pink pearl eraser always leaves
shavings and smudges and black marks,
and the children's eyes turned glazed-over
as we gaze upon the one-dimensional accounts,
the stories that say, "We" though we
recognize that "we" are the ones that are
missing from the pages,
marginal if at all,
or set aside in a box with a pretty border
in tokenized glory.

It has always been the way,
and they have yet to learn
that legislating the instruction of history
doesn't work.
We know the line is really a circle, a cycle,
we hear the ancestor's voices chanting,
the mythology pulses through our veins
as wisdom and truth.
We understand that when we take, we must
also give back,
and that more does not necessarily translate
to happy.

We are not included,
but we are not invisible.
Our history is ancient,
and glorious.
It will not disappear.

Yes, it has always been the way,
but we who live between the borderlands
know better than anyone
that borders are fake,
lines drawn in the sand,
blown away by the wind,
while our stories ruminate throughout
the great forever.
It has always been the way.

Poema en protesta al mural destruido de Fernando Llort
por Jorge Tetl Argueta

Le arrancan la hermosa piel
de colores a nuestra Catedral
y nos dejan ver
sus huesos blancos

Le arrancaron la piel de colores a nuestra Catedral
y todos escuchamos
cómo vuelve
a llorar El Salvador

Todos recordamos a más de ochenta mil muertos

Fosas comunes

Esperanza que fue hecha pedazos
Nos quieren tirar a la basura
La esperanza, señor Arzobispo, no muere
es de colores, nace cada día con el sol

Le arracan la piel de colores a nuestra Catedral
y todos recordamos
una guerra que aún después de tantos años
no termina todavía

Madre Catedral que has escuchado
el dolor de los salvadoreños
que aún lloran a sus desaparecidos
aquí te doy un hupil* de palabras

Para que ya no tengas frío, ni calor
ni pena
y no te duela tanto recordar tanta injusticia
y tanto muerto

Madre llena de gritos
Madre que estás en el cielo y en la tierra
Madre de los oprimidos
Madre de los recuerdos

Madre de los niños y las niñas
Madre de las vendedoras
y los vendedores del mercado

Madre de las prostitutas
y de los ladrones
Madre de todas las pobrezas

Madre que estás en los cielos
y en la tierra
Madre indígena
Madre de colores

Madre Catedral
ahora que estás chulona
yo sé que a tus paredes
también les duelen los recuerdos

Déjame que te cubra con este rezo
y que le pida a Monseñor Romero
una Homilia
de colores para ti

Para tus paredes
Para nuestro pueblo
Para de una vez
cubrir y sanarnos las heridas todos

© Jorge Tetl Argueta,
San Francisco, CA

by Jorge Tetl Argueta

They ripped off the colorful
Skin of our Cathedral
And let us see
Her white bones

They ripped off the
Colorful skin of our Cathedral
And we all hear how El Salvador
Cries again

We all remember more than eighty thousand dead

Common graves

Hope torn to pieces
And thrown away like garbage
Hope, Archbishop, doesn’t die
It is colorful and is born each day with the sun

They ripped off the colorful skin of our Cathedral
And we all remember a war
That even after all these years
Still goes on

Cathedral, mother, you who have heard
The sorrow of all Salvadorans
You who are still crying for the disappeared
I offer you a huipil* of words

So you won’t be cold or hot
Or feel ashamed
So you won’t be in pain
Remembering so much injustice
And so many dead people

Mother filled with screams
In heaven as in earth
Mother of the oppressed
Mother of memories

Mother of boys and girls
Mother of all the street vendors
of the markets

Mother of all prostitutes and thieves
Mother who is in heaven and on earth

Mother Cathedral
Now that you are naked
I know your walls
Have painful memories

Allow me to cover you
With this prayer
And allow me to ask Monsignor Romero
For a colorful homily for you

So your walls
Your people
Our people
Will cover their wounds and heal once and for all

Jorge Argueta,
San Francisco, CA

*Indian skirt


"Lady Gaga New Year" by Sandra María Esteves
"Arizona Lament" by Sean Penna
"Rompiendo el silencio /Shattered Silence" by Claudia D. Hernández
"It Has Always Been the Way" by Andrea Mauk
“Catedral / Cathedral” by Jorge Argueta

SandraMariaEsteves byGerogeMalave 2006
Poet and visual artist, Sandra María Esteves, known as The Godmother of Nuyorican Poetry, has published several collections of poetry which include: DivaNations (self-published, a cappella, audio cd, 2010); Wildflowers (self-published, a cappella, audio cd, 2009); Portal (self-published, Limited Editions Press, 2007); Poems In Concert (self-published, Air Loom Publications, 2006); Portfolio (self-published, 2003); Finding Your Way, Poems for Young Folks (self-published, No Frills Publications, 1999); Contrapunto In the Open Field (self-published, No Frills Publications, 1998); Undelivered Love Poems (self-published, No Frills Publications, 1997); Bluestown Mockingbird Mambo (Arte Público Press, 1990); Tropical Rain: A Bilingual Downpour (self-published, African Caribbean Poetry Theater, 1984); and Yerba Buena (Greenfield Review Press, 1980; selected Best Small Press 1981 by the Library Journal).
One of the first Dominican Boricua Nuyorican women to publish a recognized volume of poetry in the United States, she is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including: a Pregones Theater/NEA Master Artist Award, 2010; the Con Tinta Award from the Acentos Poetry Collective, 2007; Poet Honoree from Universes Poetic Theater Ensemble Company, 2006; The Owen Vincent Dodson Memorial Award For Poetry from Blind Beggar Press, 2002; Arts Review Honoree from the Bronx Council on the Arts, 2001; The Edgar Allan Poe Literary Award from the Bronx Historical Society, 1992; and a Poetry Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1985, among others.
Sandra was formerly the Executive Director/Producer of the African Caribbean Poetry Theater, where she produced several seasons of full-length, staged, equity showcase, off-Broadway plays, touring productions, multimedia spoken word performances, poetry series, theater workshops and publications.
Her poems have appeared in: The Afro-Latin@ Reader, History and Culture In the United States, Ed. by Miriam Jiménez and Juan Flores, Duke University Press, 2010 • Let Loose On the World: Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75, The Amiri Baraka Commemoration Committee, 2009 • African Voices, Fall/Winter 2007, Vol. 12, Issue 23 • Understanding the Latina/o Experience in the United States: Readings in Ethnic Studies; John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Pearson Education Company; 2007 • Latino Boom, An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc., www.ablongman.com, 2006 • The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol E, Contemporary Period 1945 to the Present, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006 • Red Hot Salsa, Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States, Henry Holt and Company, 2005 • U.S. Latino Literature Today, Pearson Education, Inc., 2005 • Approaching Literature in the 21st Century, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005 • Puerto Rican Music and Dance: RicanStructing Roots/Routes, Part II, Centro Journal Vol. XVI, No. 2, Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Hunter College/CUNY, 2004 • Latino Studies Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Ed. by Suzanne Oboler, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago, www.palgrave-journals.com, 2004 • Riding Low on the Streets of Gold, Latino Literature for Young Adults, Ed. by Judith Ortiz Cofer, Piñata Books/Arte Publico Press/University of Houston, 2003 • Almost a Woman web site for Exxon-Mobil Masterpiece Theater American Collection, WGBH/Boston, 2002 • Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States, Ed. by Nicolás Kanellos, Oxford University Press, 2002 • The Prentice Hall Anthology of Latino Literature, Prentice Hall/Pearson Education Inc., 2002 • Bum Rush the Page, Three Rivers Press/Crown Publishing Group, 2001 • Glencoe Literature, The Reader’s Choice: American Literature, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2000 • Hispanic American Literature, NTC Publishing Group, 1998 • El Coro, A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry, University of Massachusetts Press, 1997 • In Other Words, Literature by Latinas of the United States, Arte Publico Press, 1994 • Unsettling America, An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, Penguin Books, 1994 • Aloud, Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Henry Holt and Co., 1994, and others.
Ms. Esteves has presented her work at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Kennedy Center, the Public Theater, and at major universities and educational institutions across the country. A teaching artist for over thirty years, she has conducted literary programs for the New York City Board of Education, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Caribbean Cultural Center and El Museo del Barrio, among others. Today, she continues creating art, presenting poetry readings, producing/directing spoken-word collaborations and teaching creative writing workshops.
Sandra believes that creativity is the antithesis to violence. Her writings focus on transformation and empowerment through reflection and analysis of real life issues. She draws on her wealth of literary form, wordplay, structure and history.
For more info and to view her visual artwork go to: http://www.SandraEsteves.com.

Sean lives in Lodi, California with Chicana poet Nancy Aide Gonzalez. Besides writing, he enjoys cooking, playing the drums and spending time with his 2 daughters Andie and Sophia. "I am so honored to be featured in La Bloga for the second time. There are so many amazing talented poets, and it is humbling to be included among them. Their poems inspire me, and I hope I can inspire others to bring about change in the world. Thank you so much for this great honor!"

Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She is a bilingual teacher in Los Angeles area currently working on a Masters in Multicultural Education. She writes, illustrates, and manually binds children’s books. Her photography, poetry, and prose have been published in The Indigenous Sovereignty Issue of The Peak, Hinchas de Poesía, Poets Responding to SB1070, La Bloga’s on-line Floricanto, and in the first anthology of Poetica del Colectivo Verso Activo for Poesía Latinoamericana en Español. She enjoys collaborating with the Chicano poet, José Hernández Díaz. He often translates her work into English, and she, in turn, translates his into Spanish.

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She currently calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction,
poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won
awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality. She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written
online extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry.

Jorge Tetl Argueta, is a native Salvadoran and Pipil Nahua Indian who spent much of his childhood in rural El Salvador. His bilingual children's books have received numerous awards. His poetry and short stories have appeared in acclaimed literary text books. Jorge Tetl's book for children's, Arroz con Leche/Un Poema Para Cocinar, Rice Pudding/A Cooking Poem, was selected one of 2010' s Best Children's Book by Kirkus Review. His latest bilingual children's book Guacamole, A Cooking Poem/Guacamole, Un Poema Para Cocinar would be out in spring. Jorge Tetl is currently the director of Talleres de Poesia, a literary organization that promotes children's literature in the United States and El Salvador.

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