Saturday, March 31, 2012

Poet laureate. SF story. Museo summer camp. Obama.

by Rudy Garcia

Last week, Juan Felipe Herrera was appointed California poet laureate by Gov. Jerry Brown. If this is confirmed by the California Senate, Herrera will become the first Chicano to ever receive this recognition.

You can go here to read about it, here to read more about him, and you can send him felicidades via E-mail to

La Bloga can only say: Era tiempo!

Last Call for Ice Cream?

Not as significant as Herrrera's achivement, this zany story of mine was accepted by Rudy Rucker (of cyberpunk fame) for his Ezine Flurb #13. You can access a copy for FREE to see what at least one Chicano is doing to widen our presence in the spec fiction world. You can get Flurb #13 as an ebook that can be read on any e-reading device---Kindles, iPhones, Androids, NOOKs, Windows laptops, iPads, whatever. Mobi (for Kindle) and Epub (for the others) available for download at
Please leave comments there.

Chicano summer arts camp

Denver's Museo de las Americas is proud to present the 2012 summer camp program, "Animales." Students will have the opportunity to discover the wild world of animals through this multidisciplinary summer arts camp.

For three consecutive weeks, participants will immerse themselves in visual arts, dance, music, and theater classes to better understand the bond between animals, humans, and the environment. Each class is conducted by a trained teacher who is committed to advancing the students' understanding of animals through arts integration techniques and cultural competencies.

Dates: June 25th -July 13, 2012
July 4th: No Camp
July 13th: Final Performance

Hours: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, snack provided
Ages: K through 6th grade
Cost: Scholarships available to DPS students on a first-come, first serve basis

If interested, contact Christina Gese, our Education Director at, (303) 571-4401, ext. 28, or in person at 861 Santa Fe Dr., Denver.

Space limited; request registration form today. Deadline May 1st, 2012.

Obama gave us . . .

"There are more African American adults under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

"As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

"A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.

If you're still reluctant to let loose of your belief that minorities have never had it so good as under Obama, go here.

[This in no way implies we've had it much better, nor will from the next election, under anyone else, of whatever color.]

Es todo, hoy, RudyG

Friday, March 30, 2012

When Your Book Is Banned...Comunidad.

Melinda Palacio

Melinda Palacio and Banned Book Author Elena Díaz Bjorkquist

Last week, I spoke on immigration and Ocotillo Dreams at CSU Fresno. The generous students and faculty filled the room to capacity and later asked thoughtful questions and lined up to have their books signed. At the invitation of Dr. Cristina Herrera, I met MeCha students and saw Alex Espinoza again. Yesterday, I had the honor of being the visiting author for the Spring Arts Literary Festival at EPCC. Thanks to Rich Yañez for the warm welcome and to Pat Minjarez for her hospitality. On the road to El Paso, I stopped in Tucson to meet with Elena Díaz Bjorkquist and Rosi Andrade of Sowing the Seeds, a collective of women writers. We had chorizo, pan dulce, coffee, and discussed the banning of books in Tucson, specially Suffer Smoke.

Elena Díaz Bjorkquist was taken aback at the idea of having her book, Suffer Smoke, banned. The book is an important part of Chicano history. The stories record what life was like in Morenci, a copper mining town. Among her many hats, Elena was once a history teacher. "There was nothing in the book, just sharing the reality of the people who lived in the mining town in Arizona, and were taken advantage of," she said. "I wrote for myself, then for my kids. When I read at the university where I attended college, the kids related to my stories; my book needed a wider audience."

Ernest Hogan's post from on La Bloga yesterday outlines the absurdity of banning books and banning songs, all in fear that we will take back Aztlán if we know our history. Elena Díaz Bjorkquist says she feels a sense of loss for the banning of Chicano books in Tucson Unified School District in Arizona, her home town. "These kids are are being robbed of their right to know of their heritage," she said. "Once you learn your history, you're proud."

Elena Díaz Bjorkquist wants to see a dialogue open up. Her solution to this shameful problem is communication. Part of her work with Sowing the Seeds is to empower women through written communication. Her stories and books celebrate history. Bjorkquist would like to see TUSD free the banned books and engage in a dialogue with its community.

Here's to promoting dialogue, communication, and freedom.

Last week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed on KPFA by Darren de Leon, Aztec Parrot DJ on Radio 2050, before my lecture on immigration and Ocotillo Dreams at CSU Fresno. Thank you poet Marisol Baca for hosting me in Fresno. Yesterday, I visited students at EPCC and was the visiting author for the Spring Literary Arts Festival in El Paso.

Next Stops: East L. A. Library and CSU Channel Islands

April 10, East L.A. Library, Tuesday 6pm to 7pm, at 4837 E. 3rd street, Los Angeles, CA 90022.

April 12 CSU Channel Islands, Broome Library 1360 4pm.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chicanonautica: Narcocorridos, Librotraficantes, and Contraband Culture

by Ernest Hogan

A specter is haunting the Borderlandia -- the specter of contraband culture. In Arizona they’re banning books. In the Mexican state of Chihuahua they’re banning songs.

It’s like the hysteria in the Fifties that comic books caused juvenile delinquency, resulting in the creation of the Comics Code. There are Arizonians who believe that if young Mexican Americans read about their own history and cultural roots, or Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, they will rise up in a bloody struggle to take back Aztlán. In Chihuahua they believe that the war on drugs can be won by stopping people from singing about it.

Or maybe it’s just that harassing musicians is easier than arresting real criminals.

Latino culture has come a long way. Once Norteamerica considered it so marginal that itcould be dismissed and ignored. Now it is seen as a threat to civilization. This is progress.

The world changed as the Librotraficantes chanted, “What do we want? Books! When do want them? Now!”

This was about the same time as the popular band, Los Tigres del Norte made news that broke the language barrier when they were fined for singing a song that glorified narcos, which is illegal in Chihuahua. The song that caused the trouble was La Reina Del Sur:

A typical narcocorrido, with an oomp-pah polka beat, it doesn’t sound at all like the heavy metal and gangster rap that it is often compared to. You have to listen to the lyrics to understand it chronicles the career of the legendary narcotraficante Sandra Avila Beltran.

I often hear such songs in my neighborhood. They can be pleasant on a sunny afternoon.

If the Chihuahuan government is concerned with narcocorridos inspiring drug use or trafficking, they have been slow at the draw. Los Tigres recorded Contraband y Traición, considered to be the first of the genre back in 1972.

Another song with a strong female protagonist. Hm . . . I wonder what they are really afraid of?

It’s not surprising that these songs inspired movies, like La Banda del Carro Rojo.

Los Tigres perform the title song and others in the film, acting as a Greek chorus to the tragedy of men who illegally cross the border, end up running drugs, and find their doom. It’s the mojado genre (yes, there is a Mexican film genre about how bad it is to come to America) that becomes a new archetype: the gangster western, with cowboy hats, horses, cars, and machine guns.

Oddly, drugs are never shown onscreen in La Banda del Carro Rojo. They could be smuggling anything: alcohol, guns, pirated movies, illegal software, genetically-engineered viruses, weapon-grade plutonium . . . or even books.

But that’s life when your culture becomes contraband: a mash-up of Fahrenheit 451 and Revolt of the Cockroach People.

Meanwhile, I recommend Elijah Wald’s Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas for historical perspective. Track it down, before it gets banned.

Ernest Hogan’s Novaheads, a lucha libre/narcotraficante/dystopian tale has been accepted for the anthology Border Noir: Hard-Boiled Fiction from the Southwest.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Bilingual Books from Arte Publico Press/ Piñata Books

Alicia's Fruity Drinks / Las aguas frescas de Alicia
By Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrated by Laura Lacámara   
Translated by Gabriela Ventura

  • ISBN 9781558857056             
  • Published 31 May 2012    
  • Bind Hardcover    
  • Pages 32        
  • Age Group 5-8

A girl teaches her teammates about a delicious Mexican drink

Seven-year-old Alicia and her parents are enjoying the annual festival celebrating Mexico’s independence. There are mariachis strolling across the festival grounds, folkloric dancers twirling in their colorful costumes and brightly colored booths lining the plaza.

But the hot day has made Alicia thirsty. Her mother suggests aguas frescas and points to a booth lined with jars of brightly colored fruit juice: there’s watermelon, strawberry, mango and even papaya. The watermelon juice is so delicious that Alicia drinks it all. “Mami, this tastes better than that red soda I drink after soccer practice. Can we make some of these at home?” Soon, Alicia is perfecting her own recipe and sharing it with her teammates after soccer practices and games.

In this bilingual picture book for children ages 5-8, a young girl discovers a treat from her mother’s Mexican-American childhood and becomes her friends’ favorite player with her healthy, frothy fruit drinks.

Sofía and the Purple Dress / Sofía y el vestido morado
   By Diane Gonzales Bertrand 
Illustrated by Lisa Fields
Translated by Gabriela Ventura 
  • SBN 9781558857018    
  • Published 31 May 2012   
  • Bind Hardcover     
  • Pages 32    
  • Age Group 6-9

This bilingual picture book for children portrays
one family's goal to adopt healthy habits

Sofía loves her older cousin, Rosario, and she’s always excited to receive her hand-me-down clothes. This time, the box of clothes comes with a pink envelope: an invitation to Rosario’s quinceañera. And as she digs through the box of clothes, a beautiful purple dress catches her eye. It will be perfect for the quince! But when Sofía tries on the dress, her younger sister Mari giggles and tells her she looks like a purple sausage.

Sofía and her mom make a pact to change their habits; they agree to help each other eat healthier and get more exercise. The next morning, the girls are surprised when their mother says they’re going to walk to school instead of driving. And after walking home in the hot afternoon sun, they drink water instead of soft drinks. At the grocery store, they fill their cart with healthy snacks like bananas, oranges, papayas and guavas.

At the quinceañera, Sofía has never seen Rosario look more beautiful . . . and Sofía looks fabulous in her cousin’s purple dress! In this bilingual picture book for children ages 6 – 9, kids will cheer as Sofía and her family meet their goals after adopting healthy eating and exercise habits.
A Day without Sugar / Un día sin azúcar
By Diane Anda  
 Illustrated by Janet Montecalvo
Translated by Gabriela Ventura   

  • ISBN 9781558857025    
  • Published 31 May 2012    
  • Bind Hardcover    
  • Pages 32    
  • Age Group 7-10

Cousins enjoy spending time with family
and learning how to eat healther food

Tía Sofía’s nieces and nephews love to spend the weekend at her house. She lets them camp out on mattresses and in sleeping bags in the living room, where they play games and watch TV in their pajamas. But best of all, they love eating at their aunt’s house, because she’s the best cook in the family.

So the kids are sad to hear that this weekend is going to be sugar free. It turns out that cousin Tito is at risk of developing diabetes like his abuela and Tío Pedro.  Tía Sofía tells them that on Saturday “we’re going on a sugar hunt.” The kids are confused, but she explains that they are going to find all of the sugar—especially hidden sugar—in their food.

The next morning, their oatmeal doesn’t have any added sugar, but each bowl has plump raisins and a naturally sweet surprise:  strawberries, banana, peaches, peanut butter or cinnamon and vanilla. One taste and they scoop their bowls clean.  At lunch, the sugar hunt continues. The kids learn that much of the food they eat without thinking contains sugar, like the catsup, mayonnaise and relish they usually put on their burgers.  So, instead, they paint their hamburger buns yellow with mustard, pile on slices of fresh tomatoes from their aunt’s garden, and bite into crunchy dill pickles.

When their parents pick them up at the end of the day, they’re all thrilled to see Tía Sofía holding a plate with a delicious surprise to take home: apple empanadas … cooked without sugar, of course!  In this bilingual picture book for children ages 7 – 10, cousins share time with family and learn fun and delicious ways to eat less sugar.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On-Line Floricanto Wrapping March

Librotraficante Phase II – the FU

Michael Sedano

“Something is wrong in this country,” the waiter said, then the headlines screamed Trayvon Martin was gunned down then someone died to give Dick Cheney a heart and gente like that waiter stopped thinking about the banned books that remain banned.

So it goes. Book banning enters the churn.

Now los Librotraficantes and those likewise outraged by Tucson AZ racists banning books face the key stage in any endeavor: FU.

Either Follow Up or Foul Up. Follow Up and keep alive the message. Foul up and become flavor-of-the-month, last month’s causa.

“When Arizona decided to erase our history,” Tony Diaz says, “we decided to make more history.”

Beneath the insouciance glares a serious mission, to make history. Of course, one cannot not make history. The wetbooks imperative holds there be one continuous voice out of the future through the present and into the past to time immemorial. It’s why the current literary movimiento should have staying power.

Moral imperative alone isn't enough. Staying power means a message finds its audience. The audience forms an attitude. For Tony Diaz and the Librotraficante busriders, the opportunity opens to stoke intensity among like-minded listeners.

Los Librotraficantes continue a P.R. program, announcing Phase II of their plan on their website. Houston is home base for los wetbooks right now, with media hubs coming out of Alburquerque and Los Angeles, helping find audiences.

Independently, two video sources enrich the outlook for ongoing expressions from the caravan, the host of the Alburquerque fundraiser, the Alburquerque Cultural Conference, and Latinopia.

Latinopia is the video host of both the ACC-produced fundraiser video and an upcoming series of Latinopia-produced videos covering the caravan and floricantos enroute.

Updated Sundays, Latinopia this week features its first Librotraficante Caravan documentary.

I accompanied Latinopia videographer Jesus Treviño on the caravan so there’s special pleasure for me to get to view the full poetry performances I evoke photographically in a few momentary expressions. I'm listening with my eyes and finger when I'm taking fotos. Video lets a reader sit with the text--if available--and listen as a consummate performer like Mary Oishi embodies her expressions.

Read-Aloud Bless Me, Ultima

The good gente of the University of New Mexico Department of English and the Zimmerman Library announce a brilliant idea replicable in every library in the country except Tucson schools, where Bless Me, Ultima is banned.

A public read-a-thon, cover-to-cover, of Bless Me, Ultima celebrating the 40th anniversary of the novel's publication.
The event begins Monday April 23 at 8 a.m. when a selected academic community reader starts on page one. Sometime that afternoon—organizers estimate 5 p.m., Don Rudy will be at the lectern to read the last page. I hope there're funds to videotape that reading.

An “A” list appetizers reception follows. The Gluten-Free Chicano wonders if the host serves gluten-free snacks? Ni modo if the wine is good.

The opportunity to ascend the podium is a fund-raising element so locals wishing to read from the stage need to contact the English Depto for details.  Other inquiries can go via correo electronico to

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • March Times Out

For the final Tuesday of March, Francisco Alarcón and the moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 recommend five poets for the month's final on-line floricanto, including
Deborah Miranda, Ramón Piñero, Marion Gomez, Edward Vidaurre, Odilia Galván Rodríguez

"Alphabet" by Deborah Miranda
"They Have Names" by Ramón Piñero
"Movements" by Marion Gomez
"Lorca in the Barrio (Ode to Fable And Round Of The Three Friends)" by Edward Vidaurre
"Dance of the Feathered Serpent Rising" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

- or the Librotraficantes y todas todos indias indios;
Nimasianexelpasaleki to Leslie Marmon Silko

By Deborah Miranda

Literacy starts with flesh
ripped from the backs of my ancestors,
inscriptions by whips of soldiers,
a priest who doesn’t care to delegate;
scars scrawled at Indian Boarding Schools,
whips and clubs across knuckles, buttocks, shoulders, knees:
learn this holy language, it will make you

Scars written in wide lines laid out by leather straps.
Scars sketched thin but deep,
cowhide tipped with sharp iron barbs.
Scars, thick as rope, fattened on infection and fever:
alphabet of blood and bruises.

A, broken pieces of our lives they call artifacts. B, iron bound around our wrists. C, the cupped hand that takes. D, demonic grin at our cries of pain. E, the rake to excise weeds from the earth; F, the key to padlocked fences. G, the open maw of genocide. H, the locked gate of our hearts; I, government-issued identification required. J, the shovel that jabs at our graves; K, a boot kicking us into the next relocation; L, the club that lashes us into submission. M, the path of our migration off your maps; N, for nits (they make lice). O: we have no word for ownership. P, a salute between soldiers at the prison; Q, the quick breath of hope slipping out. R, the rifle to hold back the ravenous savages; S, slick blood sliding down a cheek. T, the oak tree where they hang us. U, go back where you came from, only it’s not there anymore; V, the plow that validates the land, vindicates murder. W, barbed wire winning the west, or white fangs of a witch. X for the crucifix that could not save us from itself; Y, yes from a forked tongue. Z, the place they aim to drive us: Zero.

Spain and Mexico, France, England. The many-headed Roman alphabets of syphilis: miscarriage, sterility, madness. Alphabets of terror, of adobe, our own prison made from the mud of our own land, mixed with our own feet. The alphabets of walls: this alphabet we never asked for. They ‘gave’ it like a parasite in our guts, shackles around our wrists, gags in our mouths. This alphabet a tattoo or a cattle brand: ownership, possession. This alphabet never meant to let us speak! Meant to strangle us like the umbilical cord of a mother who hates her bastard child.

Uppercase, lowercase, block letter, cursive, all clattering chattering like teeth, nipping at our flesh, tasting us, gnawing at us with scythed edges and wide grinding surfaces. They strip us of our names, one tiny peck at a time. Eat through skin, muscle, fat, bone; head for the marrow, spreads through our skeleton. Poison that erases memory, replaces it with obedience.

This alphabet that some of us endure. Learn to bear. Our skin grows more callused. Our scars become our art. This alphabet we chew on as starving children chew on grass or suck on pebbles to push back hunger. This alphabet of conquest that was never meant to serve us, speak for us, fight for us. This alphabet of razor wire we take into our hands, twist to our own bloody testimonies. This alphabet that gnawed its way inside of us, and with which we now carve our way back out from silence.

You ripped out our tongues:
language, prayer, song, medicine, history,
teachings, connection, home.
You shoved this alphabet down our throats
so we could write the names you gave us
on treaties, add the names of our children
and our dead to the back of a Bible,
keep track of our numbers, remember our place.
A special kind of literacy that grants us the right
to read your grocery lists, sweat in your factories,
drive your trucks, pay taxes, but never
tell our own stories.

You never thought we could learn
to wield these letters for ourselves,
write our humanity, make new songs,
become poets or lawyers – redefine words
like warrior or strategy.

This alphabet. This charm.
This code of conquest made into codex
of creation. You never thought
we could appropriate your weapon,
re-shape it into a tool with our torn hands, carry it
on our scarred backs all this distance,
all these years.

You never imagined this:
your alphabet betraying its duty,
defecting to our cause, going Native,
becoming indigenous to this land because
we give birth to it with our blood. No wonder
our books are banned, our children told
don’t read that, don’t write that. Don’t read,
don’t write. Don’t. No wonder you want us
illiterate again. We’ve learned too much.

You want your alphabet back;
all 26 letters, unharmed, unchanged,
well-behaved letters that don’t curse
or tell ugly truths.

Our Storyteller, she tried to warn you.
Like rape, like small pox,
like massacre: that alphabet
is already turned loose.
It’s already coming.

And we won’t give it back.

They Have Names
By Ramón Piñero

“No one asked
their names!”
So screams
the headlines
throughout the
Arab world,
We know just
that nineteen
were killed
this time;

We did
not count the
last time;
the last
we said this
would be the
last time

No one asked their names;
they almost never do
they are expendable
fodder for the cannons

One side
point’s fingers
we excuse it
‘cause after all
it had to
be rough
going back
one time
two times
three times
who could have?
would have thought
that war and violence
has no reset button

when you’re dead
you stay dead
no health bars
no extra lives,
in this video
game version
of mans’ oldest
folly; yes
the oldest
on steroids

No one asked
their names!
so screams
the headlines
through the
Arab world
as it should
scream out
this world.

The dead were:
Mohamed Daewood
Nazar Mohamed

the other dead

Yesenia Briseño
Trayvon Martin

all children
or women
all inocentes

The dead were:

the other dead

those travelers
on the
Trail of Tears
those in the
cargo holds
of slave ships
thrown overboard
worked to death
without a name
to their name.

The dead were:

The dead also
those babies
in Appalachia
the Sonoran desert
those killed
by the Zeta and
Sinaloa Cartels.

The dead were:
Essa Mohamed
Aktar Mohamed

in this
make believe
war where only
the other

where only we
and all
else is
“unfortunate and

how many times
can you
ask a
man to kill
without killing
the man in him

no one asked
their names,
forgotten into
a dustbin
forgotten massacres
My Lai
footnotes in

and the
all names
etched forever
in my memory
etched forever
in my heart.

© Ramón Piñero

By Marion Gomez

I hear my father’s Spanish
as the Dunkin Donuts' cashier calls
back my order to the kitchen staff—
her skin the color of the fried cake donuts on display,
her hair and eyes the chocolate glaze.
Having my mother’s complexion
lets me go unrecognized.
How can I prove to this woman
that I am a sister, a Latina?
I could speak Spanish,
but like her English,
it is broken.
And really, what is sisterhood
when ice to me are cold cubes
I put in my coffee on hot days,
not men with guns
pounding on the door…

that is my father’s anxiety.
In the twenty six years before
Reagan granted him amnesty for the crime
of wanting to be in the U.S.,
his prior attempt at citizenship denied,
he held on to his green card
for dear life.
Can I blame him then for marrying a white woman,
not passing on Spanish
in the hopes I would flourish,
speak the language,
be accepted? But I did.
In college I learned about el vendido,
the sellout, an anglo-fied Latino,
saw my father as a traitor,
not realizing I myself have moved towards whiteness
by trying to pass as middle class,
refusing to date the trailer park boys
I grew up with:
they would only keep me
where I didn’t want to be.

My father speaks so rarely of Colombia.
A witness to war, he has seen the unspeakable,
but like a repressed tree, its seedling lodged in the lung,
light calls everything to the surface:
once he told me of the only protest
he attended. He was seventeen
and a friend invited him to a march
in downtown Barranquilla
to support the work of Fidel y Che.
The year was 1958.
My father confessed he went
because he thought it would be cool
to walk down the middle of a street
usually filled with buses and cars.
Suddenly, soldiers jumped down from their convoys
and started firing on the crowd.
His friend, walking beside him,
fell to the ground
and died in that street

Lorca in the Barrio (Ode to Fable And Round Of The Three Friends)
By Edward Vidaurre


the three of them frozen:
Travieso by the world of bullets;
Chepe by the world of syringes and acid trips;
Lalo by the marching of monks through his barrio.


the three of them burned:
Travieso by the world of pigeon shit and chalk outlines;
Chepe by the world of drive by shootings and rucas with feathered hair;
Lalo by the world of banned literature and dead lecturers.


the three of them buried:
Travieso in Lupitas tattoo;
Chepe in the carga going through his bloodstream:
Lalo in the roosters crow, the dog's howl, and the glossy eyes
of his tecato father.


the three in my hands were
three Zoot Suit scholars,
three crooked cops,
three birds of different races and a Autumn spirits
that flew around landing in blood stained sidewalks being outlined by death.


y uno
y uno,
los tres enterrados,
con la ternura del Invierno,
con la tinta negra de palabras escritas antes del suicido de la Primavera,
con las lagrimas de Sofia que espera ser realidad en el útero del Verano,
por la miel que llora la Luna hace el triste
mar en Otoño.


y dos
y uno,
I saw them run, hide and die
on the streets of Los Angeles
into a dark alley,
into the night of anxiety filled smog,
into the voiceless screams and anguish of their mother's
open mouths.
into my sadness of domestic abuse and alcoholism,
into the bar with the velvet curtain,
into my own death unannounced last year.

I killed the last of the Chicano writers
and a few people in Arizona held their champagne flutes in the air.
While Menchita tucked in their little wonderful children to the tune of
La llorona, breathing over them.

Chicanas are hard,
but sometimes if you lay your head,
between their soft breasts you can hear the cries of a new generation
of raza with the knowledge and power to make a man shit in fear,
y eso me conforma

Cuando ya no pude ver las luzes de la ambulancia
pasando la loma sobre la calle Cesar Chavez
entendi que me asesinaron tambien a mi.
Esa noche en el barrio destaparon todas las sabanas blancas
buscandome entre las caras fallecidas, en las iglesias, los panteones,
callejones, y las aguas del rio frio.
Still they couldn't find me.
No pudieron?
No they couldn't.

Sin balas en mi cuete,
pero con un libro y lapiz en mi mano,
empeze a escribir poemas...

Dance of the Feathered Serpent Rising

for the Spring solstice, World Poetry Day and
the coming of the new sun

By Odilia Galván Rodríguez

. . . .

She sashays the steps
Her emerald feathered dress ~

The singing stairs, sound ~
Lord of the Cloud Forest
Returned in light / shadow

"Tak-teek, tak-teek"
El quetzal leaping to flight ~
Tail feathers streaming

Spring's viridescence
Wraps in jade-green the kingdom ~
O mouth of the well

Chi'ch'èen Ìitsha'
El encanto del agua ~
Water comes to light

Eagles and Jaguars
Guards of the ball court ~
Perdiendo se gana


"Alphabet" by Deborah Miranda
"They Have Names" by Ramón Piñero
"Movements" by Marion Gomez
"Lorca in the Barrio (Ode to Fable And Round Of The Three Friends)" by Edward Vidaurre
"Dance of the Feathered Serpent Rising" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

Deborah A. Miranda is the author of two poetry collections, Indian Cartography [Greenfield Review Press, 1999] which won the Diane Decorah Award for First Book from the Native Writer's Circle of the Americas, and The Zen of La Llorona, nominated for the Lambda Literary Award [Salt Publishing, 2004].  Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California, and is of Chumash and Jewish ancestry as well.  Her mixed-genre manuscript Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir, will be published by HeyDay Press in 2013, and her collection of essays, The Hidden Stories of Isabel Meadows and Other California Indian Lacunae is under contract with U of Nebraska Press.  Linda Hogan writes that Bad Indians, “moves from the ancient to the familial. This book from one of our most significant writers and thinkers has an importance that cannot be overstated.  From the voice of the silenced, the written about and not written ‘by,’ this is a ground-breaking book in the field of literature.”  Miranda’s poetry manuscript, Raised By Humans, is under submission.   As Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, Deborah teaches Creative Writing (poetry and memoir), composition, and literature.

"Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to five of the coolest kids ever., soon to be six,
Niuff said...

Marion Gomez is a poet and native Minnesotan along with her mother, whose heritage hails from Scandinavia. Her father is an immigrant from Colombia and came to the U.S. in 1960. She currently lives in Minneapolis, MN.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Papa Wrote

A poem by Daniel Olivas

The crowd at Tía Chucha’s
was sparse but smiling,
encouraging, waiting for
me to read a story or two.

I asked them to wait a few
minutes longer because my
father was late, and he had
promised to attend. And so
we waited in awkward
silence, the espresso
hissing offering the lone

And we waited,
and waited.

So we had to start. I opened
my book and read slowly,
assuredly, my words filling
these strangers’ minds.

Halfway through, the front
door creaked open and my
Papa nodded, found a chair
in back. I smiled and everyone
knew who this man was.

I finished the story,
a gentle clapping
the final punctuation.
Time for Q&A I said.
A young man raised
his hand, asked a kind
question, a softball,
easy to answer.

My father then stood,
hands behind his back,
as I noted to the audience
that this is the man I had
been waiting for.

And then Papa said:
“I used to write, too.”

The audience nodded,
smiled, not knowing
where this was going.
Beads of perspiration
covered my upper lip,
my face frozen with

“But it was trite,”
he continued.
“Nothing important.”
He waved his hand,
palm out, as if to
wipe away the past,
to make certain we

Papa paused, cleared
his throat. “Nothing
like what you write.”

“I wish I could read
your stories,” I said.

Softly, he answered:
“I burned them all.”
He smiled, without
sadness, and sat.

My Papa wrote, once,
long ago. He wrote
stories. Stories I will
never read. Stories I
will never know.

["Papa Wrote" appears in the unpublished collection, Crossing the Border.]

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Se habla español en Casa de Mi Padre

tatiana de la tierra

Overdramatic and cheesy, Casa de Mi Padre is a Spanish-language Hollywood creation that uses Mexican cowboys and narcos as props for a multi-layered parody. The movie stars Will Ferrell as Armando Alvarez, the useless meathead son of a Mexican rancher who vows to save his father’s land from Onza, a flashy drug lord who reigns in the area. Co-starring are Mexican actors Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Miami native Génesis Rodríguez.

While it’s not to be taken seriously, this movie makes fleeting statements about cocaine consumption in the U.S., self-aggrandizing drug dealers, Mexican stereotypes, the DEA, bumbling peasants, conniving women and salt-of-the-earth men. Yet it’s not about any of this at all. More than anything, it’s a film thrown together to stretch out that surreal feeling you get from a telenovela with hyped up characters and overdone close-ups.

Meaningless as it is, I thoroughly enjoyed a few scenes. My favorite took place at night around a campfire, with three cowboys (who are unto themselves a spoof of The Three Stooges) singing their hearts out. With lines like “I am friends with the cows” and “Why is the turtle slow? I don’t know,” “Yo no se” is a quirky and campy moment that works. Another scene that stood out was a slow-motion massacre at a wedding. A romantic ballad from the 70s plays as wedding guests meet their grotesque end. Dressed in white and splattered with blood, the bride is tragically framed as reference to la Virgen de Guadalupe. The scene ends with the close-up of a white rose dripping with blood.

Played by Génesis Rodríguez, Sonia is the feminine central character with a charming knack for floating on the screen. I was able to appreciate her exaggerated femininity and seductive ways as she cruised atop a horse, waded into water, and sang a silly “La la la” song. Will Ferrell pulled off his dimwitted yet hopeful character well as a Spanish-speaking cowboy. Incredibly, his diction is about as good as everyone else in the movie. That’s because Casa de Mi Padre is a slow flick, way too slow. All the characters are wooden stereotypes to the point that a gringo fits right in with them. Which was probably the point of the movie to begin with.

But for me, the biggest thing about Casa de Mi Padre is how it ended up becoming a film in Spanish with English subtitles. Written by Andrew Steele from Saturday Night Live, this is a gringo creation for a Latino and gringo crossover audience. Reminiscent of 1970s exploitation films, the movie was made in 24 days for six million dollars. Génesis Rodríguez and Diego Luna’s backgrounds as true telenovela veterans add authenticity to the film. They are, in essence, parodying themselves.

While slow and terribly thin, Casa de Mi Padre makes me wonder how far the Spanish language will go in Hollywood. Bring it on, I say. Estamos listos.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Curing niños' writer's block on standardized tests

by Rudy Garcia

Writer's Block! You think you've got troubles because your deadline's only days away, or your second installment on that trilogy is fast approaching and you already got an advance on it? At least your writer's block won't go on your permanent public-school record, maybe lead to your school being put on the dummies list and shut down, or land your favorite teacher in the unemployment line!

Here's something most teachers dread hearing: "I can't think of anything to write about," says the little girl who weighs less than half my dog. "No tengo ideas, Maestro," says another six-year-old who looks like the couch slept on him, instead of the other way around.

Writer's block, you see, doesn't just afflict the published and the renowned; it even infiltrates our public schools. [Of course this excludes charter school kids because they're the strongest writers who are creamed out of the public schools.]

Anyway, this isn't a how-to for adults to cure their writer's block; see your literary physician for that. But here I'll share how I inoculated a class of 3rd graders from this affliction so they could face the annual cruel and unusual standardized CSAP test in 2011 in Colo.

I'd heard that an entire class of 4th graders had turned in mostly blank sheets on the standardized writing test the previous year. Why? Because it asked about something they'd never experienced. They could only imagine answering truthfully, which meant they had no prior knowledge to work from, nor anything to write about. For that, they should have received high marks in honesty, or something else that standardized tests don't measure.

So, at their teacher's invitation, I taught them some of my "author's secrets" to help avoid making the same mistake as the 4th graders. One "secret" I shared was that the standardized test nazis don't care about the truth, honesty or any other ethical concerns, other than the obvious non-charter school cheating. All they care about is the writing.

My instructions to the students were: Invent. Lie. Borrow. Filch. Fabricate anything to answer the prompt and write it as well as possible.

The "secrets" involved several lessons that I might reveal another time, but the end result was that these 3rd graders scored high marks on the CSAP. According to their regular teacher, it worked.

Later, some kids bragged about how much they'd invented, how many lies they'd told, and how far from reality their compositions were. Of course, I felt half-traitorous for "teaching to the test," in asking them to subvert their character for the sake of scoring high, and for telling a BIG LIE. But my soul is safe because I wasn't their regular teacher who feels guilty enough for both of us.
At the start of this year, I shared some of my "secrets" with my 1st graders. Then I had them write a narrative of "When I went to China." Almost every one of them qualifies for free lunch and the most they'll experience anything of China anytime soon is one of those $1 scoops at an Asian-sounding restaurant. But that didn't stop my 1st graders.

What did they write? "I went to China and saw my teacher Maestro Garcia."--Invention. "Me and my three friends went to China and had a good time using chopsticks and eating sushi."--Lies. "I went to China and met a friend who taught me Chinese and I taught her Spanish."--Total Fabrication.

Luckily, my 1st graders have two more years before they'll have to suffer the new Colo. standardized test. And unless their present teacher has some I-should-prepare-them paranoia for breakfast, they won't have to undergo this rigmarole very often.

Is there a lesson here for curing adult writer's block? I doubt it. But the next time your non-charter school kids tells you, "I can't think of anything to write for homework," toss your moral baggage in the trash can and repeat to him/her/it ten times: Invent. Lie. Borrow. Filch. Fabricate.

And then, the next time you visit the classroom, stand back for his/her /its teacher to toss roses in your path.

Es todo, hoy,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oscar's Story

I met Oscar a few months ago when Christmas lights broke up the monotony of the winter night and the bell ringers were out in force. One slushy morning he came through intake at the legal aid office where I work (whatever I tell you about Oscar is with his permission) because he couldn’t maneuver the torturous bureaucratic machinery required to get an ID card from the State of Colorado. Everything he owned (“not much when you think about it,” Oscar said) was stolen during a long night “of high drama" in a homeless shelter, and he couldn’t prove his identity. Without such proof, Oscar faced a very difficult, if not insurmountable, obstacle to obtaining health care, employment, or food stamps. He thought the lawyers at Colorado Legal Services could help, and he was right.

I didn’t represent Oscar but I met with him because the lawyer who did help him told me that the guy had a colorful history and, of special interest, he was a writer. For a few minutes Oscar and I talked about his life and his ambition to write. Eventually, in another meeting over early coffee, he showed me several pages of handwritten material that he said were portions of his “works in progress.”

Oscar is a vet with some serious health problems – mental and physical. He said he didn’t want to dwell on his situation in his writing; it’s obvious he’s not looking for pity, probably not even sympathy. He is more concerned with observing and reporting the “contradictions and convolutions of the human condition in general.” I took him at his word. His stories, poetry, and essays don’t say much about his specific troubles, but they do say a lot about people. Oscar can’t be pigeonholed as a writer. His stuff ranges from laconic humor to darkest noir to syrupy sentimental. I see Bukowski, Hemingway, and Fuentes in some of his work; other times it’s so off the wall that I get nervous reading it. I’ve decided to periodically share a few pages of Oscar’s work here on La Bloga, and Oscar is more than happy to see his name (a pseudonym) highlighted on the Internet. On the other hand, he may want people to read what he writes but he also is super protective, so he gives me only a small batch at a time. Somewhere, deep in his backpack, the manuscript for a novel waits to be read by someone other than Oscar.

“I know I’m paranoid,” he said. “Not much I can do about that but eventually I come around.”

I asked why not use his real name for his stories. “Not sure I know my real name.” He flexed his fingers to make quotation marks. “The name I go by, the one on my new I.D., can’t be dragged into this other business. Anyways, Oscar is my moniker of choice, it’s cool. Like the boxer, and the Chicano writer, or the jazz musician, and that grouchy puppet.” I cut him off – he could have gone on about other Oscars for hours.

A little of his history (note – this is Oscar’s story and I don’t have any way of vouching for its veracity. I expect that the basic facts are true and the embellishments are just that, added extras) -

Oscar grew up in a small New Mexican town (Dexter), raised by a woman he always called his abuelita, although he can’t swear that he’s related to her. Angelita took in several kids at various times, without any help from social services, other relatives, or the kids’ parents. How the children ended up at her house was sometimes a mystery, and sometimes expected. Didn’t matter because Angelita accepted them all. Different men stayed in the house, too, over the years that Oscar lived with her, but none of them lasted more than six months. According to Oscar, Angelita didn’t put up with any “macho bullshit.” Oscar never knew his parents but Angelita told him that his mother was “some kind of Indian” and his father was a drug smuggler back in the days when driving a trunk load of marijuana into the United States didn’t seem like such a big deal. Oscar got the impression that his father, Enrique, was a cousin or nephew of Angelita’s, but again that’s more guesswork on his part than anything solidly established. Oscar mentioned that his mother was named María Luisa, but the way he said it made me think that he came up with the name because he liked the way the two words flowed together.

Oscar finished high school and hit the road. “By the time I was eighteen I’d crashed in every major city between Albuquerque and San Francisco, by way of Tijuana and Los Angeles.” He worked in the fields, drove a fork lift in a warehouse, and tried roofing for a few weeks. Between hitchhiking odysseys and bus trip traumas he turned into an alcoholic. “I would have died like that Indian hero, Ira Hayes, in my vomit, passed out in an alley somewhere, except that I signed up for the Marines when I came of age, just like old Ira. Then I had bigger worries than wonderin’ where my next drink was comin’ from.” He did his time in Fallujah when that ill-fated city was the hottest spot on earth. “Fucked me up, man. But I made it out and back. A lot of guys didn’t. The Marines got no more use for me, but that’s all right. I did what I could and I stood my ground with my buddies.”

Since then, it’s been a hard, relentless journey for Oscar. He looks healthy, in a crusty, street-wandering way. I like to say he’s serene except for the occasional spontaneous profane outburst, and he looks good except for a slight scar over his left eyebrow (he wouldn’t tell me what that was about) and a pronounced limp in his left leg (“Iraq,” he said in explanation.) He sports the homeless beard and a faded army jacket, but he’s always clean when we meet. His memory can be tricky and more than once I’ve had to help him make his point or return to the subject at hand. He pops various prescriptions when he can score them, and I’ve never seen him without a bottle of water.

I asked him to describe himself. “I got a shine in my pants and creases in my shoes.” That was it for description.

If I loosen more out of him, I’ll be sure to pass it on to our readers.

Here’s Oscar’s debut on La Bloga – first, a short, short story…

Honesty is the Best Policy
By Oscar

I didn’t love her. I made that clear from the jump. For me it was all about the sex. For her too, when she was honest. That first night, after we left the bar and she asked me to walk her home, we clawed and bit at each other like hungry tigers. We liked it so much I stayed in her apartment for a week. We humped, bumped, and jumped in those three rooms without caring what we broke or where we landed. We ordered pizza or noodle bowls when our energy lagged. I lost my job, my room at the motel, and the junk I kept there, but we didn’t care. We were sexed up and high on lovemaking fumes.

The morning she told me not to come back I shrugged. “Yeah, sure, whatever.” It was all about the sex.

I punched the fence around the corner from her place and broke a finger. When the doc asked me what happened, I said, “Rough sex.”


Now here are the lyrics to a country song that Oscar’s been working on “for a decade or two.” (Oscar plays excellent guitar. He told me that his guitar is the one material object he would probably fight for “these days.” He accepted it in lieu of pay for a painting job he did for one of the volunteers at the shelter. He sang this song for me while he played, and I admit that his mournful styling wormed into my heart – his voice doesn’t have the greatest range but it’s perfect for country or the blues.)

Too Lonely

Well, it’s not that I’m greedy
I can make do with not much,
But my heart can be needy
Lookin’ for a soft touch.

Too much to ask for
Kindness or love
Too much to ask for
Some grace from above?

It’s not that I’m special
Not more than the next guy,
But late nights I’m wishful
And I’m too lonely to cry.

Too lonely to cry
Too lonely to cry
Too lonely to cry
Too lonely to cry.

Thanks, Oscar, for sharing.

That’s it for this week.

And remember, I’m a fiction writer. This has been a work of fiction.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nueva novela de Leila Cobo

Leila Cobo regresa al mercado literario con una segunda novela en la que explora el reencuentro entre una madre y el hijo que dio en adopción veintiún años atrás.

Ambientada en EE.UU. y en Colombia, país natal de Cobo, la novela expone el rol de la violencia tanto doméstica como nacional en las vidas de los personajes.

Es 1989 y el país está en crisis, sobretodo en áreas rurales donde la violencia es tan "impredecible y sorprendente como minas terrestres".

Rita Ortiz, la protagonista, es una joven de 16 años que en la quietud nocturna de su modesto hogar, se encuentra una noche frente a frente con la guerrilla.

Sus padres le han prohibido que les dirija la mirada a esos hombres armados, pero cuando uno de ellos es un joven no mucho mayor que ella de tierna sonrisa, la situación no parece tan peligrosa como se la han pintado.

Poco a poco vamos conociendo la historia del joven Lucas, atraído hacia la guerrilla como refugio de la violencia que lo victimiza en su propio hogar.

Pronto le siguen encuentros a escondidas en la sacristía de la iglesia, lo cual carga el ambiente de tensión y emotividad.

La historia de Rita y Lucas es solo el preámbulo a la historia central, la del hijo de ambos que Rita se ve forzada a dar en adopción.

El joven Asher Stone se ha criado en California con una familia de bien que le ha podido brindar todos los privilegios de su clase.

Deportista destacado y popular en su entorno, Asher aspira a jugar fútbol profesionalmente, sueño que parece estar al alcance de la mano.

Un día, sin embargo, el joven de veintiún años sufre un traumático accidente automovilístico que lo deja en coma por una semana pero, milagrosamente, sin consecuencias físicas permanentes.

La terrible experiencia, sin embargo, despierta en él la curiosidad de explorar su pasado y de conocer a la mujer que lo dio en adopción tantos años atrás.

Los jóvenes se identificarán con la búsqueda de Asher que comienza virtualmente y poco a poco lo lleva hasta Colombia.

Cobo esboza un ambiente contemporáneo con referencias tecnológicas, lingüísticas y musicales que marcan la diferencia radical entre ambos ámbitos y tiempos.

El viaje de Asher le permite a la autora describir los paisajes de su país como si fueran vistos por primera vez, con una frescura y un lirismo excepcionales.

La trama también se presta para explorar paisajes religiosos, sobretodo el entorno católico que ha Asher, criado judío, le habría de parecer exótico o desconcertante.

La novela transcurre a distintos tiempos, lo cual ayuda a mantener la tensión dramática y hace que se desarrolle con mayor rapidez, para el beneficio de sus lectores jóvenes.

Además, Cobo posee un gran sentido del ritmo para el diálogo, lo cual quizás se deba a su entrenamiento musical.

La autora se licenció no sólo en periodismo, pero también en música con un grado de pianista concertista. Cobo es directora Ejecutiva de Contenido Latino y Programación de Billboard, además de ser productora ejecutiva y conductora del programa televisivo "Estudio Billboard", para el cual ha entrevistado a grandes artistas de la música latina.

Con esta segunda novela, Cobo solidifica su puesto en el ámbito literario como ya lo ha hecho en el de las comunicaciones y la música.

(THE SECOND TIME WE MET. Leila Cobo. Grand Central. 361 páginas).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lectura Books Launches Five New Bilingual Titles in Spring 2012

Nation’s only bilingual children’s book publisher dedicated to Parent Involvement works to improve educational opportunities for Latino families.

Lectura Books, the nation’s only bilingual children’s book publisher dedicated to Parent Involvement, today announced that it will be releasing five new titles in May 2012. The books focus on building vocabulary, English-language proficiency, and increased home reading routines for preschool and early elementary children and their parents.

According to the US Census, Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States. One in four children under the age of five is Hispanic. But Hispanics have the lowest education attainment in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In a recent report released by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama stated “There is no doubt that the future of the United States is inextricably tied to the future of the Hispanic community.”

“It makes sense to publish books and parent involvement curricula for the fastest growing population of the ELL segment,” says Katherine Del Monte, Publisher of Lectura Books.

Del Monte explains, “Parents who speak Spanish are very interested in being involved in their child’s education, but often do not know how to help their children because the homework is in English. Bilingual books allow parents to participate. They can read the story in Spanish and learn new English vocabulary with their children at the same time. It’s a win-win situation for children, parents, schools and for our society.”

Birdie Flies Away / Pajarillo se va volando
Story by Kat Aragon | Illustrations by Andrea Yomtob
ISBN: 978-1-60448-022-1 | Paperback | $8.95
8” x 10” | Ages 2 to 4 | 24 pages
Bilingual in English & Spanish
Pub Date: MAY 2012

Young preschoolers will find comfort in this delightful story about a little bird that slowly gains the courage to leave his nest and explore the world. Includes an illustrated bilingual glossary of vocabulary found in the book.

I See the World / Yo veo el mundo
Story by Tom Luna | Illustrations by Christina Song
ISBN: 978-1-60448-020-7 | Paperback | $8.95
8” x 10” | Ages 2 to 4 | 24 pages
Bilingual in English & Spanish
Pub Date: MAY 2012

"The parallel texts in English and Spanish introduce animals under the sea, in the forest and on the farm. Children learn names of familiar items in the backyard, at the playground, and in the garage. Christina Song's collage illustrations use simple shapes and clear colors to make finding the named objects easy."  Minnesota State University, Center for Children's /Young Adult Books.

This charming vocabulary-building book for the preschool set will help children improve and expand their knowledge of English and Spanish words. Includes a bilingual glossary of vocabulary found in the book.

The Many Faces of Max / Las muchas caras de Max
Story by Katherine Del Monte | Illustrations by Susan Arena
ISBN: 978-1-60448-025-2 | Paperback | $8.95
10” x 8” | Ages 2 to 4 | 24 pages
Bilingual in English & Spanish
Pub Date: MAY 2012

This simple concept book about facial expressions will teach young children how to recognize and describe feelings while learning empathy and new vocabulary.

Letters Forever / Cartas para siempre
Story by Tom Luna | Illustrations by Laura Alvarez
ISBN: 978-1-60448-024-5 | Paperback | $8.95
8” x 10” | Ages 5 to 8 | 24 pages
Bilingual in English & Spanish
Pub Date: MAY 2012

"The intergenerational intimacy comes through clearly and should leave readers
thinking about faraway relatives of their own."  Kirkus Reviews

This heartwarming story explores a girl’s relationship with her grandfather in Mexico through letters they send to each other over many years. Includes a bilingual glossary of vocabulary found in the book and corresponds to state standards on letter writing.

The Oldest House in the USA / La casa más antigua de los Estados Unidos
Story by Kat Aragon | Illustrations by Mary Jo Madrid
ISBN: 978-1-60448-016-0 | Paperback | $8.95
8” x 10” | Ages 5 to 8 | 24 pages
Bilingual in English & Spanish
Pub Date: MAY 2012

"A quick and charming glimpse of our history, with a whiff of the supernatural for extra gusto."  Kirkus Reviews

This fascinating book tells the little-known history of the so-called “Oldest House in the USA,” a Pueblo-style home in Santa Fe, NM that is thought to be 700 years old. Includes a bilingual glossary of vocabulary found in the book.

Founded in 2001, Lectura Books is the nation’s only bilingual children’s book publisher dedicated to Parent Involvement. Together with its partner program, The Latino Family Literacy Project, Lectura Books is committed to enhancing literacy skills by helping parents and children learn strong language and establish family reading routines. Lectura Books has received numerous awards for its beautifully illustrated titles, including the Moonbeam Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award and the International Latino Book Award.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What does he do with the 90 percent?

Albuquerque Journal,  Letters,  March 3, 2012, page A7.
Southwest Studies Better Than Honors
    UNIVERSITY of New Mexico Provost Chaouki Abdallah wants to establish an Honors College. I propose UNM establish a Southwest Studies College.

    The honors program at UNM has greatly benefited the university, but the university will never be recognized in the region as an "honors center."  We could become a center for Southwest studies from California to Texas, from Wyoming to northern Mexico.

    Abdallah goes on to say the honors college would attract the top 10 percent of high school graduates. What does he do with the 90 percent?

    We need to educate all UNM students in the humanities of the Southwest. An education in all facets of Southwest studies would enrich our students and UNM's graduation rate.

    Students who know their history and their role in the region can play important roles in the world. Students grounded in the humanities can pursue any professional career they desire.

    Come on, UNM, let's be a center for this big region we love. Yes, recruit bright students, but don't forget the 90 percent.