Monday, July 30, 2012

Danny Romero is the featured guest author at the World Stage, Wednesday, August 1st

Danny Romero was born and raised in Los Angeles. He has degrees from University of California, Berkeley, and Temple University in Philadelphia, where he taught writing for many years. He currently teaches at Sacramento City College.

Romero’s poetry and short fiction have been published in literary journals throughout the country, such as Bilingual Review, Colorado Review, Drumvoices Revue, Paterson Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, Permafrost and Solo. His work can also be found in a number of anthologies, including West of the West: Imagining California (1989), Pieces of the Heart: New Chicano Fiction (1993), Under the Fifth Sun: Latino Literature from California (2003), Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (2008), and Pow Wow: Charting the Faultlines in the American Experience – Short Fiction from Then to Now (2009).

He is also the author of the novel, Calle 10 (1996) and two chapbooks of poetry. A poetry collection, Traces, was published this year by Bilingual Press. He lives with his son in Sacramento, California.

Danny Romero will be a guest author this Wednesday, August 1, at the World Stage, as part of the Anansi Writers Workshop program. The World Stage strives to make Los Angeles a more vibrant arts entity by creating an engaging grassroots environment for community members to share their wholly unique stories in spoken word, music and literature to enliven the spirit that was the dream of co-founders Billy Higgins and Kamau Daáood: “A spirit of love, cooperation, respect and artistic excellence.”


What: Anansi Writer’s Workshop - Open to the public

When: Wednesday, Aug 1st, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (see specific program segments below)

Where: The World Stage Performance Gallery, 4344 Degnan Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008 

The World Stage Anansi Writers Workshop was founded in 1990 by Kamau Daáood, Akilah Oliver, Nafis Nabawi and Anthony Lyons. The Workshop is conveyed in three sections:

Formal Workshop: 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Featured Guest (Danny Romero): 8:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Open Mic: 9:05 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Jawanza Dumasani is the workshop coordinator.  The workshop is open to the public but a $5.00 donation is suggested.


◙ Over at the San Antonio Current, Gregg Barrios offers an appreciation of the actress Lupe Ontiveros upon her passing.  Barrios says, in part:

“My favorite performance is her role as La Nacha in Gregory Nava’s El Norte. In the film, she shows the young Guatemalan immigrant how to wash and dry clothes in a Beverly Hills household. It is both heartbreaking and hilarious how the young woman finds it impossible to use a washing machine and dryer and ultimately resorts to the old fashion way of washing and drying clothes. She worked with Nava again in Mi Familia/My Family and the aforementioned Selena.”

Lupe Ontiveros

You may read the entire essay here.

◙ Amiga of La Bloga, award winning author Susan Straight, with the assistance of Michele Nielsen, Curator of History and Archives at the San Bernardino County Museum, takes us “on a tour of some North Redlands houses. Redlands was a favorite location for Easterners suffering from tuberculosis -- in fact, from 1890-1910, some people lived in tent houses on wooden platforms that later became permanent homes.”  One of the homes (pictured below), demonstrates how the builders used everything including local stones and rocks. If you have a taste for California history, you will love this piece.

A rock house in Redlands, CA - Photo: Douglas McCulloh

◙ Daniel Alarcón is pleased to announce the release of NAMES, a brand new episode from Radio Ambulante. He continues: “We’ve got amazing stories from Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay, stories about the dead being adopted by the living, about doppelgängers whose lives intersect in the strangest ways, and a startling inside account of one of Latin America's most famous prison breaks. We’re incredibly proud of this work, of our producers Camila Segura, Nadja Drost and Leonel Martínez, and we hope you'll enjoy it.” I strongly recommend that you visit Radio Ambulante’s official website.

Daniel Alarcón

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Calling for Respect & Dignity: a poem from María Meléndez

by Amelia María de la Luz Montes (

Almost a year ago, fellow La Bloga writer, Melinda Palacio wrote a lovely piece on the award winning poet María Meléndez.  María Meléndez is a poet whose work is brilliant in the way that it weaves human struggles, pain with landscapes, with our damaged environment. Poetry and story are gifts that may take us to worlds far away from our small sphere of understanding and to truths about the world, about ourselves.  Meléndez’s poems open up familiar terrains in ways one may never have considered before—in poignant and searing language. 

Poet, María Meléndez
I want to bring Meléndez’s poetry to you today, dear La Bloga readers and here’s why: 

This past week, Meléndez’s poetry has been near my reach because of so many recent and ongoing horrific and sad events.  Regarding ongoing events, reading her poetry helps me not forget the thousands of mujeres in Juarez who continue to be assaulted, brutally murdered without investigation or with faulty or fake investigations.  People may think—oh well, that’s Mexico for you—corrupt and unable to uncover the truth.  Crime and corruption are global problems:  in big cities and small towns. 

Take my town of Lincoln, Nebraska, for example. A friend of mine, Charlie Rogers, who lives just a few blocks from me, was assaulted in her own home one week ago because she is an “out” lesbian (click here for story).  Because police do not have suspects as of yet, the town’s reporter (Jonathan Edwards) from The Lincoln Journal Star slanted the story to emphasize that the entire event may have been a hoax. When FBI and police detectives are investigating a case, all possibilities are taken into consideration—all possibilities are given equal weight—one possibility is not privileged over the other.  So for a reporter to take one of those aspects of the case (that it might not have happened) and emphasize it as his lead in order to sensationalize the case (because it’s “news,” he says), it dangerously slants the story, compromises the case, and readers begin to doubt the victim.

It is like what has happened over and over again in Juarez, Mexico.  A good example is the case of one Juarez victim’s parents and sister who frantically distributed flyers asking for help in the case of their missing family member.  They went door to door with the flyers, asking people to help them look for their family member.  Then the town’s newspaper reporter published a picture of a woman and man with a lead story saying the victim had actually eloped with the man in the picture.  When the parents saw the article, they were shocked because the woman in the picture was not their daughter.  Yet, as soon as that article was out, people stopped looking.  The public suddenly saw their daughter as a run-away who had taken off with some guy and the critical days immediately after her disappearance were spent trying to deal with the newspaper’s erroneous story.  A few weeks later, their daughter was found dead—another statistic among the more than 3,000 dead women in Juarez whose perpetrators have not been captured.  Here is a recent New York Times article on the Juarez Murders (click here).  

This week in Lincoln, Nebraska—the aforementioned reporter (Jonathan Edwards) chose to sensationalize one aspect of the Charlie Rogers' case, impacting public opinion with the headline:  
“Police:  Was Hate Crime Real?” The first sentence begins: "Police continue to investigate Sunday's reported hate crime but say they haven't ruled out the possibility that the 33-year-old woman staged the attack."

The day before the Lincoln Journal Star headline and story appeared, CNN’s reporter Melissa Abbey wrote a thorough story about the assault with the headline:  
This is a very different headline in comparison to: “Was Hate Crime Real?” 
The first sentence is also much different.  It reads:  "Three masked me allegedly bound a woman and carved words into her skin, police in Lincoln, Nebraska, said Monday."

Jonathan Edwards and The Lincoln Journal Star’s local reporting disrespects this case, this woman.  Because of their unprofessional reporting, Charlie decided to come out of hiding and speak.  How brave for Charlie (who I’ve known for many years—a shy, dignified, brilliant, and respectful individual) to have the strength (while she is trying to recover and heal) to speak up (click here) in a very public way, to speak her truth and say, “Yes, it does happen.  And it happened here.”  This is what she said:

“Being a victim in a situation like this, or a survivor, and having your integrity questioned . . . it feels victimizing again . . . It makes an already difficult situation more difficult because my world has been changed forever by these events.  And so the idea that people think it’s a lie is so hurtful.  It’s understandable—I mean intellectually I understand that people . . . have a hard time wrapping their heads around the events that have happened.  As do I . . . But I’m a person, with feelings, with concerns . . .  It feels like a punch in the stomach, like a betrayal.  Instead of the focus being on safety and healing and the investigation, the whole thing turns into a defense essentially.  It doesn’t become about the situation.  It becomes about something altogether different.  And then I start to feel like a pawn in a game that isn’t my game, you know? . . . I didn’t ask for this.  I don’t want this.  Whatever people’s intentions are or are not, it’s important to me that they understand --  for future victims -- hopefully there will be none.  People are people and agendas are agendas and I hope that we distinguish between those two things.  I was hurt and what matters is the story . . . This is an investigation.  This is a crime . . . It deserves a level of respect.  I know—when these sorts of things happen, it ignites fires and that’s a good thing in some ways.  It can also be a very bad thing.  I’m not a pawn in a game.  I’m a person and it very much feels like I’m being used as a pawn.  I want people to know I’m not afraid.  I want other victims to know that it’s important to come forward.  I also wanted some control over what was happening in the media and I thought that the best way to do it was to do it myself. Maybe you don’t know me, but you probably know someone that this has happened to.  So for people to think that this doesn’t happen here:  it does.  It did.  Everyone is worthy of justice, of safety, of fairness.  I’m not hiding from this anymore.  There is fear, but there is resilience.  There is forward.”  --Charlie Rogers

When I read Charlie's transcript from her television interview, I feel I am also hearing what las mujeres de Juarez-- the thousands in Juarez would have wanted to say; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer individuals who have been assaulted and ignored or their stories sensationalized as well-- would have wanted to say; the Black, the Indigenous, anyone who has been deemed "different" and assaulted and has never had a chance to speak would have wanted to say . . . 
What does all of this have to do with the poetry of  María Meléndez?  Everything.  Plato wrote:  “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.”  Melendéz’s poem below speaks to injustice, speaks to the pain that women experience, speaks to all of us. 

To the over 3,000 victims and families in Juarez, Mexico; to victims/survivors and families in the U.S. and all over the world who are presently in untold pain; and to Charlie Rogers in Lincoln, Nebraska who eloquently and strongly spoke this week despite experiencing such a horrific hate crime so recently; to you, Queridos y Queridas La Bloga readers—I lovingly send you María Meléndez' poem:

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? 

Think of pink pickup trucks.

And picture dead Americans
Doing their Vietnam-era combat dying
In neat ethnic proportion

All hail, the proportional dead!

Visualize nonperishable respect
Handed out in paper bags to neighbors.

A Dignity Pantry open 24 hours.

Then, I suppose, we could each
Have a friendly lick
Off the other’s cone.

But this is your real Mother
On Public Assistance talking:

Is the salt in all those crackers
And canned goods
Not supposed to kill me? 

Why can’t I use these vouchers  
For organic cheese and milk? 
Why are the wealthy allowed to be healthier than me?

Deep cleansing breath everyone. 
Oppression isn’t rocket science. 
It’s easy enough
To ignore the torso
Of Evelyn Hernandez,
Afloat on the shore of the Bay
A year before Laci.
Her maternity shirt a billowing
Jelly-fish crown animated by waves,
Her case rejected from the rolls
Of America’s Most Wanted.

SF Homicide tried spreading the word . . .

I’m sorry to say, Evi, that without any
Lacey-white wedding photos to show,
Newsmakers thought no one would care much.

You were only 24, and being Salvadoran,
Maybe no one had shown you yet
How the gods of public opinion
Get fed around here.

The days of Good News are behind us;
Now a group of elites claiming expertise
On the whole Christ thing
Assures us He was way more uptight
About two men trying for wedded bliss
Than the brutal dismemberment of women
With names like “Hernandez.”
            Sorry, señorita,
            The Bible’s pretty clear on this one.

You don’t need a PhD to see
This is a slap in the dead face
Of an entire chain of mothers,
Knotted and tangled together,
Circling down through history,
And coming to rest on the knifepoint
Of the present, as rosary beads circle down
To Christ’s nailed feet.

While we’re on the subject
Of murdered muchachas,
Could someone please
Ask the slaughtered
Daughters of Juárez
Not to shriek so loudly
At night?  They’re bothering
Some nice people in Texas.
Would they mind not being so political
All the time? 
            (say the p-word as though invoking the name
            of a hated vegetable, e.g.,
                        “Could you not be so lima bean all the time!”)

Everyone knows that only a few Texans,
Only a few Americans,
Get to be political.
And then, only on TV.

I’m not an angry person, really.
I’ve never yelled at the snow for
Or cursed a grasshopper
For disappearing into the weeds
When I wanted to catch it.

A river killed a man I loved,
And I love that river still.

Rough treatment from the Great Beyond?
I’ve come to expect it. 

But someone—who?
The Son of Man?—
Told me I could expect better
From the hands
Of humans.

In all fondness for the grasshoppers, I say
My neighbors and I
Are no better than insects

May the peace of legally recognized newlyweds
Be with us all.

And may Evelyn’s broken breath,
As recorded in the Bay waves,
Fill our ears until we’re deaf
To the Call for Complacency. 

---María Meléndez
from How Long She’ll Last in This World


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mexican stories of the fantastic, a review

by Rudy Ch. Garcia

In our July series, Spic vs spec Chicanos/latinos & sci-fi lit, discussion centered on the U.S. latino participation in speculative literature. Del otro lado de la frontera, our Mexican-national compatriots have been creating this literature as if nothing needed discussion. Thirty-three stories and a poem have been collected and translated into English as Three Messages and A Warning – Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic. Edited by Eduardo Jiménez & Chris N. Brown, published 1/2012 by Small Beer Press, $16, 238 pp.

From the introduction by Bruce Sterling: “When one talks to Mexican science fiction writers, the subject of ‘Mexican national content’ commonly comes up. Mexican science fiction writers all know what that is, or they claim to know, anyway. They commonly proclaim that their work needs more national flavor.
.. This book has got that. Plenty. The interesting part is that this ‘Mexican national content’ bears so little resemblance to content that most Americans would consider ‘Mexican.’ ”

From the back cover: "This huge anthology of more than thirty all-original Mexican science fiction and fantasy features ghost stories, supernatural folktales, alien incursions, and apocalyptic narratives, as well as science-based chronicles of highly unusual mental states in which the borders of fantasy and reality reach unprecedented levels of ambiguity. Stereotypes of Mexican identity are explored and transcended by the thoroughly cosmopolitan consciousnesses underlying these works. It is a landmark of contemporary North American fiction that deserves a wide readership."

From this reviewer: If you don't like U.S. sci-fi, you could love this collection. If you've tired of Chicano repetitive la Llorana tales, this one's for you. If you're a monlingual tired of sterotyped takes, pick this one up.

The most significant sensation--I have to call it--I got from this collection was its universality. In reading specific stories--and at the end, my overall impression--was the lack of obvious mexicanidad of the tales. Whereas in U.S. latino literature I would be constantly put into contexts of U.S. oppression of its Spanish-speaking minorities, these stories embedded their latino qualities in the characters' psyches, circumstances and the storytelling of the authors. It was refreshing, something that will appeal to monolinguals, a literature that provides a redefinition of how a gente can write their tales, seemingly at one with their Otherness. Not surprising, since, despite their politically and socially repressive society, these Mexicans are indeed at home in their Mexico and with their mexicandidad, or "mexicanness."

As the introduction explains: "Mexican SF is intensely fantastic, but it's not very sci-fi. It's a New World science fiction without the stabilizing presence of American engineers and American gadget magazines. The structure of publishing in Mexico has always been Mexican; it lacks any middle-class. So there's a popular street level of wild-eyed fanzines, tabloids, and comic books, and an empyrean of Mexican fantastic literateurs who show an impressive awareness of Borges and Kafka. There's no middlebrow. Mexican SF is a science fiction with no popular mechanics, no problem-solving stories, and very little ideational extrapolation. 'Hard SF' never took root in that soil." [my emphases]

Whereas in U.S. women writers are plentiful only in what we call fantasy, and barely evident in what we call sci-fi, HALF of these stories are by women. Given their quality, I have no reason to think the editors or publisher sought some gender equity in the contents. Another very refreshing aspect to the collection. The almost consistent length of 5 to 6 pages is also notable, something that will appeal to E-readers, since there is an E-book version.

Gabriel García Márquez
What's below are only some of my favorites:
1965 by Edmée Pardo, about as deep into what we call sci-fi as the collection gets. No spoiler here, but it recounts a boy's tale of his mamá and flying saucers. Just great.

The apocalyptic zombie-ish tale Photophobia--one of the longer ones--by Mauricio Montiel Figuieras fits more our definition of magic realism and, to me, shows great influence from colombiano Gabriel García Márquez.

Another sci-fi-sh story, Future Perfect by Gerardo Sifuentes, emphasizes what the book's introduction said above about hard sci-fi not taking root in Mexico. Check this passage where an illustrator enters the lab of a university professor:
"In Mr. Dobrunas' project, the plants with altered genes appear to be more the product of a delusional whimsy than the experimental fruit of scientific erudition. At the beginning his annotations described in extravagant detail sprouts of webbed leaves emerging timidly from thousands of test tubes in a greenhouse laboratory. But a few pages later, the flowers, and then vegetables, evolved to form part of a dark, unearthly garden, composed mostly of gigantic carnivorous plants with extravagant bulbs in every color. . . his digressions looked far from being scientific experiments worthy of being taken seriously. The findings focused more on a sort of metaphysics than genetic engineering." [p. 92-93] I won't tell you how it ends.

In fact, I can't tell you how many of the stories end, because, unlike U.S. lit where it is abhorred, Mexican lit still allows for the surprise ending, like Donají Olmedo's The Stone, which I read three times but still can't decide who's the narrator.

Mónica Lavín's Trompe-l'oeil is a magic realist tale about a mother-daughter experience. Bernardo Fernández Lions is a meta-tale of parody on spec lit itself.

Amélie Olaiz's Amalgam begins: "It was said she was a mermaid exiled by Neptune. She appeared on the island on a Sunday, barefoot, wearing a thin dress, with a  plastic bag in one hand and a soda can in the other." Then Olaiz takes you on a short romp of delight.

Others that stay with me: Carmen Rioja's The Nahual Offering, Lucía Abdó's Pachuca Second Street, Guillermo Samperio's Mr. Strogoff embodies a one-sentence story that makes me as envious as I can be about another author's writing. Check it out.

Óscar de la Borbolla's Wittgenstein's Umbrella is definitely a favorite. Nearly every paragraph begins with "Suppose," involves God, heaven, the afterlife, and a girl, and takes the Groundhog Day déjà-experience in a wonderful direction.

René Roquet's The Return of Night is cross-genre, entwining sci-fi with magic realism, and the latter emerging dominant. It begins: "The world was conceived far away from the sun and the stars, inside a black cloak, where it received energy from a warm and generous ancestral womb. It had neither movement nor universe; it had no time because time was useless. It was an unblemished sphere, still in a single night without a morning to count the days. That is how darkness founded its kingdom, and it kept at bay a shadow that was never upset by the light. Everything belonged to it." Ah, to be a mexicano author!

In case you couldn't guess, I could talk with you for hours about these and others, like Pepe Rojo's whimsical The President without Organs, Claudia Guillen's The Drop--vintage The Twilight Zone without the dated staleness; Lilianna V. Blum's Pink Lemonade, a novel eco-terrorist guy-gal tale;
or Bruno Estañol's The Infamous Juan Manuel that gives a unique take on the Devil compact story, again, with a surprise ending.

For any latino/chicano looking to enter the world of spec writing in norteamerica, I'd suggest you first enjoy this collection, study and think about it; then go for it. Our mexicano vecinos have much to teach us, whatever our specific ethnicity. Again, from the introduction:
"The USA is Mexicanizing much faster than Mexico is Americanizing. Ultra-weekly moguls, class divisions, obsessions with weird religious cults, powerful factions who shun scientific fact, an abject reliance on fossil fuels and narcotics--these formerly Mexican characteristics have become USA all the way."

However, better that we should let the 34 authors of Three Messages and A Warning bequeath us something more meaningful: how to write like the gente we inherently are, not the Other that U.S. society wants us to be.

Es todo, hoy,

Rudy Ch. Garcia's debut novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams, will be published 9/1/12. You can go to the new book website for info on how to win an autographed copy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

La Bloga Exclusive -Rudolfo Anaya Talks About Bless Me, Ultima: The Movie

Recently, I exchanged a few messages with Rudolfo Anaya concerning the upcoming movie of Bless Me, Ultima. I was curious about the role of a writer when one of his or her books is given the ultimate visual treatment. Had he seen the movie, and, if so, what was his opinion? What role did he play in the production and what did he think of the finished product? Is he wary about the reception his readers might give to the movie? How did he relate to the re-fashioning of his beloved story by someone else?

Mr. Anaya kindly responded and I have the privilege of repeating his comments here on La Bloga. In case you didn't see the trailer of the movie that I posted two weeks ago, click here for your own private preview.

Now, here's Rudy:

The producers brought the Bless Me, Ultima movie to Alburquerque for a private screening for my family and friends. The movie is excellent, it captures the story and characters. Every single person attending the screening gave it fantastic, positive reviews.

I am positive la gente is going to love the movie. Like my friend John Nichols said, a novel becomes a short story when turned into a movie. Don't expect to see the full novel on screen. Everyone knows that.

Carl Franklin did a great job with the story and bringing characters together as familia. Except for Miriam Colón, the cast are actors that don't have big celebrity names.  I hope they do after their roles in the movie.  Everyone did excellent work.

Carl Franklin, the director, did talk to me and asked me questions, but the screenplay is his work. I approved his work.  Some themes in the novel are left out, but the story works.
Carl Franklin

I met the director several times here at our home. I was invited to play a role in the movie and attend all shooting events, but I stayed home. My feeling was to let them do their work. I don't make movies.

I met all the actors at the cast party. They had only positive things to say of the process. Miriam Colón visited me here at our home. She is lovely, a perfect Ultima. Her face shines in the movie, so does Luke (Ganalon) who plays Antonio.

Get it to Denver, the people will love it. Will there be critics? Of course.  All art is criticized if only by responding to it. Let the people enjoy and judge. I feel confident the movie will be around in 50 years.

tu amigo  Rudolfo Anaya


I hope we all support this movie in the way that I am sure it deserves. We often complain about how our stories are not told - in books, television, or the movies. Here's our chance to put our money where our mouths are, as well as our butts in the theater seats. Don't let it slip away.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

“¡Habana, Habana!”

“Habana, Habana!” abre las puertas al escenario musical internacional
Cuatro músicos cubanos regresan a La Habana después de años en el extranjero

Usted puede regresar a casa otra vez, como hicieron los cuatro cantantes / compositores—Raúl Paz, Descemer Bueno, Kelvis Ochoa, y David Torrens—que aparecen en Habana, Habana!. El documental de David Grubin se estrenará en los EE.UU. en el canal de televisión PBS, el próximo viernes 27 de julio como parte del Festival de las Artes de Verano de PBS.

Los cuatro músicos salieron de Cuba en la década de 1990 para ampliar horizontes y construir sus carreras musicales. Ahora han regresado a Cuba para seguir haciendo música en su tierra natal, mezclando los sonidos cubanos con los sonidos y ritmos de otras culturas. Los une el deseo de abrir las puertas a una nueva generación de músicos cubanos.

Raúl Paz ( Pinar del Río 1969) es el principal portavoz en el documental. Se crió en un pequeño pueblo de campo, y siendo un adolescente fue a La Habana para estudiar teatro y música en el ISA (Instituto Superior de Artes). Su formación en el ISA fue en torno a la música clásica y la ópera. Él y sus compañeros encontraron cómo captar las señales de transmisión de las estaciones de radio de la Florida y escuchar la música rock, prohibida en Cuba en ese momento. Según Raúl, en Cuba abrió su imaginación, pero no pudo cumplir sus sueños. Así que en 1996 abandonó el país, viajó a América del Sur, y luego se trasladó a París para estudiar en la Scola Cantorum. Su carrera musical realmente comenzó allí: mientras continuaba sus estudios clásicos durante el día, comenzó a componer sus propias canciones cubanas y a actuar en clubes, lo que resultó en un contrato discográfico. Fue en Francia, dice, que se hizo realmente cubano. Durante muchos años no se le permitió volver, pero cuando las restricciones del gobierno fueron eliminadas, se trasladó a La Habana en el 2008 y continúa grabando y actuando aquí.

Descemer Bueno ( Habana Vieja 1971) fue entrevistado recientemente por Noticias de Arte Cubano. Estudió y enseñó en La Habana. A principios de 1990 formó un grupo de jazz, Estado de Ánimo, que recorrió Europa y América del Sur. Luego, en 1998 realizó una gira por los EE.UU. con otro conjunto de jazz, Columna B. El año siguiente, se estableció en Nueva York y fue el co-fundador del grupo de hip-hop Yerba Buena. Descemer dice que su composición "Guajira (I Love U 2 Much)" fue la primera en hacerle entender que él podía hacer algo. Se comenzaron a escuchar las canciones de Yerba Buena en películas y comerciales; mientras tanto Descemer regresó a Cuba, donde tiene gran demanda como productor, arreglista o compositor. Su partitura para la película Habana Blues (Benito Zambrano, España, 2005) le valió un premio Goya a la Mejor Música Original.

Kelvis Ochoa (Las Tunas 1970) creció en la Isla de la Juventud y proviene de una familia de músicos. Siempre supo que quería ser músico, pero evitó recibir una formación musical formal y todavía no sabe leer música. Creció escuchando a la Nueva Trova, y también rock and roll en casetes pirateados grabados tantas veces que el ruido casi oscurecía la música. Sus canciones fueron incluidas en el disco recopilatorio Habana Oculta, publicado en España. Más tarde, pasó a formar parte del grupo Habana Abierta, que dió conciertos con entradas agotadas en España durante la década de 1990. Regresó a Cuba en 2003 y ha seguido trabajando por su cuenta, con Descemer Bueno y otros.

David Torrens (Guanabacoa, La Habana 1968) obtuvo una licenciatura en ingeniería mecánica, pero continuó tocando la guitarra a lo largo de sus años escolares. Siendo todavía un adolescente, debutó con el grupo Canto Libre y comenzó a componer. Su carrera despegó cuando firmó con un sello discográfico mexicano en la década de 1990, y se trasladó a la Ciudad de México. Su música fusiona el pop latino, rap, rock, son, el bolero, la balada, y otros ritmos, y sus álbumes han sido muy populares en Cuba. La canción "Sentimientos Ajenos" de su primer álbum, Mi poquita fe, ganó el premio ERES como la canción más solicitada del año. Sus videos musicales han contribuido a su popularidad.

A pesar de que construyó una carrera exitosa en el extranjero, los cuatro hombres anhelaban regresar a Cuba. Este sentido de desplazamiento se refleja en muchas de sus canciones. Raúl Paz ofreció un concierto de bienvenida en el Teatro Milanés de La Habana en el 2007 y abrió con su canción "En casa" que comienza así: "Nada Mejor Que volver a casa". Torrens escribió "Ni de aqui ni de allá ": "Yo no soy de aqui / y ya no soy de Allá / no aprendo a Vivir." 

Habana, Habana! muestra a estos "hijos pródigos", que miran hacia sus raíces musicales y trabajan juntos para preparar conciertos. El documental culmina con “Habanization" de diciembre de 2011. En este evento al aire libre, la multitud fervorosa baila al compás de la música mientras los músicos cantan y tocan bajo una tormenta torrencial. Ni siquiera los elementos podían apaciguar sus espíritus.

Los cuatro músicos creen que participan en un momento histórico para Cuba, y desean abrir las puertas para que una nueva generación sepa que las influencias externas pueden ser enriquecedoras. Raúl Paz termina con el siguiente comentario: "Es maravilloso ver [cómo] esta mezcla de lo que éramos cuando nos fuimos y lo que ahora somos nos ha dado una nueva forma de ser cubanos.“ 

La versión de PBS de Habana, Habana! dura 50 minutos y deja a los espectadores con ganas de ver más. Se trabaja para completar un largometraje para salas de cine. Estén atentos--y, mientras tanto, véanla en televisión si es posible.

Nadine Covert es una especialista en artes visuales con un enfoque en los documentales. Ha sido durante muchos años Directora Ejecutiva de la Educational Film Library Association (EFLA) y directora de su American Film Festival, la competencia más importante de documentales de los EE.UU. Más tarde, directora del Program for Art on Film, proyecto conjunto del J. Paul Getty Trust y el Metropolitan Museum of Art. Covert ha sido miembro de la junta directiva del Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, y actualmente es consultora del Festival Internacional de Filmes sobre Arte de Montreal (FIFA).

(Cuban Art News)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pura Belpré Ganadores- Third Part

All photos courtesy of REFORMA
The National Association to Promote Library and Information 
Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking. 

Pura Belpré ganadores had shared with La Bloga  what the Pura Belpré Award means to them. These are the links.

Illustrator Sara Palacios was not able to attend the celebración. But she does not want to miss the fun here on La Bloga. Sara Palacios has some palabras for  REFORMA and  all the blogueros. 

Sara Palacios

Being able to illustrate the colorful world of Marisol McDonald has been an exciting trip for me. When I first read Monica Brown’s story I was intrigued by Marisol’s personality and I wondered how would I be able to capture how unique and vibrant she was in just lines and colors.

There is always this exciting instant as illustrators right when you are in front of the blank page and you start doing the first doodles, that’s the moment when you fully realize the universe they’re living in and you become part of it.

Receiving a Pura Belpré honor award was truly unexpected to me and I am grateful for that. This award means to me that I was able to share my journey in Marisol´s world with the children and people who read the book and that they were able to enter her world and enjoy it as much as I did. 

I’m honored to receive an award named after Pura Belpré. This strong woman from Puerto Rico was able to share her culture and heritage throughout her work with children in the US, same as Monica and I with Marisol Macdonald. Now, Marisol will be part of many children’s memories. 

My hope is that learning from each other’s differences and embracing them will help future adults to be more tolerant and loving with each other. My journey with miss Marisol MacDonald is not over yet; Monica and I are now working on her second adventure, so hop on because the ride is not over.

Thank you!

Sara Palacios

Illustration by Sara Palacios

Visit Sara at


The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gluten-Free Chicano Cooks; Banned Books Update; On-Line Floricanto.

Gluten-Free Chicano Quiche

Michael Sedano
A friend of mine disputes my claim that any food a chicano cooks is by definition "chicano food." But then, my friend's a scientist, hence his low tolerance for ambiguity.

He does, however, have a healthy appetite and I'm sure he, and any wheat-eater, will enjoy the Gluten-Free Chicano's Garden-fresh Quiche. Read all ingredients carefully, but in all likelihood, none of the fixings have wheat, barley, or rye products, especially when you use your own eggs and garden produce.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, use the middle shelf.
Coat an 8” pie pan or shallow casserole dish with oil.

4-6 eggs
1 cup milk
(¼ stick melted butter)
¾ cup assorted grated cheeses
(¼ cooked arroz)
(chopped salame)
chopped and sliced onions
a chopped chile huero, serrano, or jalapeño
a few leaves of fresh oregano and mint chopped
large fresh tomato
chile arbol powder
coarsely ground black peppercorns

In a large mixing bowl, whip the eggs until foamy. The more you whip, the puffier the dish.
Add milk, beat well.

Season; heavy on the pepper, light on the salt.

Stir in grated cheeses –sharp cheddar, queso oaxaca or mozzarella, parmesan.

Stir in cooked arroz, sausage, other ingredients. Break up solid ingredients completely, no chunks.

Stir in the chile and herbs.

Pour into pie dish.

Arrange tomato slices on top. Tomato will sink. Sprinkle grated cheddar or thinly sliced cheese across the top.

Arrange onion rings as many as you want.

Dust generously with chile de arbol.


The longer you bake the darker and tastier the cheesy topping grows. In the first foto, baking time was 35 minutes. In this foto, baking time was 45 minutes.

When time's up, remove and set to cool. Let cool five or ten minutes.

Once you’ve perfected your crustless quiche, start experimenting with various ingredients like fresh chopped chile, rajas of roasted chile, lean ground meat, corn kernels, chopped or sliced zucchini, radishes. As you experiment, keeping the ratio of at least two eggs to a slight cup of liquid ensures an always-right dish.

Gluten-free quiche is wonderful with a gluten-free beer or naturally gluten-free champagne.

¡Provecho! courtesy of the Gluten-Free Chicano.

Banned Books Update

On this Tuesday, July 24, 2012, the month of the birth of our Democracy, books and ideas remain banned in Arizona by the government. United we stand, just so long as Tom Horne gets to decide what "united" means.

Horne, Jan Brewer's Attorney General, resents ethnic studies and projects his hatred onto anything he touches. He voices conviction that all ethnic studies breeds resentment against Anglos like him. He filed a premature motion he be allowed to stick his nose into pending Federal desegregation findings in Tucson. Horne wants to ensure no ethnic studies materials sneak past his law. "Show me your pages," Horne demands. The Judge tells Horne no, you wait until you read the report on September 21, like anybody else.

Today’s La Bloga On-line Floricanto welcomes past La Bloga Guest Columnist Sonia Gutiérrez. I was pleased reading the poet's name on the list submitted by the moderators. Gutierrez’ poetry astounds in its mujerismo, humor, eroticism, outrage, insight. Readers will smile in wide-eyed wonderment at the poet’s bilingual artistry.

"Show me your pages" “Tú. Enséñame tus páginas” is Sonia's line, not Horne's, in Gutiérrez' The Books. The piece is in Gutiérrez upcoming collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña.  This version of The Books is reprinted from La Bloga On-Line Floricanto for March 12, 2012.

By Sonia Gutiérrez

After hearing the ruling,
some people say
they went hiding behind trees.

They scattered

Some escaped the classrooms
and ran across fields, deserts, cities, borders
looking for the place of books.

While others once caught
were stamped with green Bs
on their chests. (Those books
are lost—and nowhere
to be found.) They were taken
by officials to places unbeknownst
to readers—places where their words
were dissected
and formed into secret algorithms
and placed into memory chips
and carefully encrypted 

Others wore scarlet 
Cs across their breasts. These
books always walked in fear
of being booknapped. 

Others, veiled and wrapped
 in brown paper bags,
were singled out during routine patrols
with a, “You. Show me your pages,”
as their private parts
were publically leafed
through, and their words
were poked with accusatory 
index fingers. 

Startled by the news,
others tripped as their letters
fell from the pages
and lay transfixed collecting memories—
of hands grasping their scuffed edges,
of hundreds of identical books being burned, 
of being trampled and kicked
on the spine and then urinated on 
and stuffed in plastic bags.

And yet, these books
banned together—
found their words,
organized, and stood up
in unison shoulder to shoulder
to celebrate
the contents of their pages
as they exchanged smiles
with their ineradicable 
trailing ghosts always always always
looking for the place of books.

Traducción por Sonia Gutiérrez

Después de oír la sentencia,
algunas personas dijeron
que se fueron a esconder detrás de los árboles.

Se dispersaron 
por todas partes. 

Algunos se escaparon de los salones
y corrieron atravesando campos, desiertos, ciudades, fronteras
buscando el lugar de los libros.

Mientras otros una vez atrapados
los estamparon con la letra P de color verde
sobre sus pechos. (Esos libros
están perdidos—y no se han
encontrado). Fueron llevados
por oficiales a lugares desconocidos
por los lectores—a lugares donde sus palabras
fueron diseccionadas
y formadas en algoritmos secretos
y metidas a chips de memoria
y cuidadosamente codificadas
en bases de datos.

Otros llevaban puestas la C
escarlata sobre sus pechos. Estos
libros siempre caminaban con miedo
de ser librocuestrados.

Otros, cubiertos con velos y envueltos
en bolsas de papel café,
fueron señalados durante el recorrido de rutina
con un, “Tú. Enséñame tus páginas”,
mientras sus partes privadas
fueron hojeadas públicamente
y sus palabras picadas
con dedos índices acusantes.

Asustados por las noticias,
otros tropezaron mientras sus letras
caían de las páginas
y yacían paralizados coleccionando memorias—
de manos sujetando las rozaduras de sus bordes,
de cientos de libros idénticos quemados,
de ser pisoteados y pateados en sus lomos
y después orinados
y metidos en bolsas de plástico.

Y aún así, estos libros
se acuadrillaron— 
encontraron sus palabras,
se organizaron, y se levantaron
al unísono hombro a hombro 
para celebrar
los contenidos de sus páginas,
y ellos intercambiaron sonrisas
con sus imborrables
fantasmas siempre siempre siempre rastreando
buscando el lugar de los libros.

In Tucson, students and a librotraficante celebrate banned books.

On-Line Floricanto Penultimate July Tuesday 2012

Francisco Alarcón and the moderators of the Facebook group Poetry of Resistance, Poets Responding to SB 1070, today nominate five poets, two with bilingual poems, to make seven pieces for the antepenultimate Tuesday of the seventh month: Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Federico Gomez, Harold Tzn, Jorge A. Acosta, Sonia Gutiérrez.

"¡Ban This!" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"No, You Can't" by Federico Gomez
"Anchor Baby" by Harold Tzn
"El llanto del guerrero / A Warrior’s Tears" by Jorge A. Acosta
"Cuidado con el río / Careful with the River" by Sonia Gutiérrez

by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

lurks in corners
of your mouths when you look
at our children who you don’t want
to grow
to grow
into people
strong in their soul’s searching ~
for those truths you twist into lies
our strength
our strength
is in knowing
that we were not born yours
to do with us as you will, no
we’re free
we’re free
we, descendants
of Teotihuacán ~
of Toltecs, of Chichén Itzá,
the place you fear
we might want to reclaim ~
our ancestral home, occupied
by you
by you
who erase truths
that can not be silenced
by boxing up or burning books ~
words live
words live
we remember
them, our love, our stories ~
history, cannot be erased
not banned
not banned
because their life,
their truths and beauty beat
brightly in our yoyolo, hearts
always ~
we a people
of hope and of struggle
we never give up, being us
So ban our books
put out a gag order ~
yes, they charred our codices in
burned our tongues mute
but never our minds ~ to
envision the future, your fall
from grace

© Odilia Galván Rodríguez

This poem appears in ¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature (Broken Sword Publication LLC 2012) edited by Santino Rivera.

"No, you can´t"   
By Federico Gomez Uroz

I know you are not used to be told that you can’t.
Saying so, it feels almost un-American.
But you can’t have it both ways.

You can’t have the profit of our labor
-(The houses built with our sweat,
The meals cooked with our hands,
The gardens cared with our skills,
The crops picked with our blood)-
And not treat us like equals.

No, you can’t.

You can’t ignore and despise our heritage
-(The languages we speak,
The histories, oh so different, we have,
The customs we preserve)-
and expect our allegiance.

No, you can’t.

You can’t be a good Christian,
and not welcome the stranger.

You can’t be a nation of laws,
and not treat people with justice.

You can’t have need of my work
And try to treat me like a slave.

No, you can’t.

Anchor Baby
Harold Tzn

I'm the anchor baby who taught & tutored some of your kids,
liked & loved some of your kids,
advised & counseled some of your kids,
coached baseball, football, & soccer to some of your kids,

& without me,

your carrots, oranges would not have been plucked & packed,
the screws of your planes, refrigerators, televisions, & other major appliances would not have been designed, molded, or installed,
your potato chips, soft drinks & french fries would not have been delivered to your local convenience store & your favorite fast food locale,
your & your kids' meals would not have been unpacked, sliced, diced, cooked & served,
your cars would not have been washed, waxed, vacuumed, repaired & painted,
your elderly would not have been cared for, bathed, & fed,
your professors & lawyers would not have been counseled,
& the shirts you wear to serve us to court
would not have been ironed, sewn, or tucked in.

por Jorge A. Acosta

Virgen Morena del color de la tierra
Madre de mis hermanos
Yo te busco y no te encuentro
y me parece todo en vano.
estoy confuso; guíame de tu mano
El gobierno nos pide la sangre de nuestros hijos
y los convierten soldados
para proteger al mundo de terroristas tiranos y villanos
Nos prometen y reiteran de sus buenas intenciones
Pero se que sus promesas son en vano
Porque dan vuelta atrás y hostigan en la frontera a mis hermanos
Y nos convierten en terrorista y villanos
quiero ser un buen ciudadano
Pero primero que nada deben verme como humano
Pero por ser del color de la tierra
Como tu Virgen Morena
Mis intentos parecen en vano
No soy un ilegal
No soy un terrorista
ni un villano…
Mucho menos un marciano
El pan de cada día me lo gano
con el sudor de mi frente, mi espalda, brazos y manos
Tú Tonantzin del mundo me has hecho ciudadano
Guíame Tonantzin..
Que la ira y la discordia no sea amos de mi alma
Para no errar y afectar el futuro a mis hijos y mis hermanos
Dame tu sabiduría para buscar la guía que tanto necesitamos
Estoy confuso; Tonantzin guíame de tu mano
Piden la sangre de mis hijos para proteger al mundo
para proteger los derechos humanos
Para que el mundo se democratice
Qué ironía que lo pidan con el fusil en la mano
Debes estar orgullosa de tus hijos
que derrochan el alma en campo de batalla
como sus antepasados en las guerras floridas
se convierten en víctimas y héroes de campaña
y lo hacen con el alma y l corazón en la mano
Cuida del soldado en la batalla.
Haz que llegue pronto el día cuando los enemigos se den la mano
Hazles saber que todos somos hermanos.
Que sea una gran llegada a casa del soldado.
Que le den gracias a sus dioses por haberles guiado de la mano
Pues todas las religiones nos enseñan que todos somos hermanos.
Hasta que este día llegue; cuida de mi hermano.
Tonantzin, llévalo de la mano.
Escucha Tonantzin… Escucha
El llanto del soldado
Por estar lejos de sus hijos reponiendo a su llamado de soldado
Los deja desamparados
Escucha Tonantzin… Escucha
El llanto del soldado
Que se ahoga en sus entrañas
Pues por ser hombre y muy macho no pude demostrarlo
Escucha Tonantzin Escucha
el llanto del soldado
el clamor del llanto de tus hijos
Soldados en batalla en desiertos muy lejanos
Lágrimas que lloran hacia dentro
Preciadas lágrimas que se pierden para siempre
en las arenas del desierto
Lágrimas que se lloran en silencio
Lágrimas que vierten tus guerreros
En el frente de campaña
Lejos de ahí los corazones de esposas, madres
Padres e hijos se destrozan y desgarran
por las penas que esta guerra hoy les causan
desde lejos llorando a los soldados acompañan
Lágrimas que Guerreros, Madres Padres Esposas e Hijos
vierten por la incertidumbre de un mañana
Cuida del soldado en la batalla.
Haz que llegue pronto el día cuando los enemigos se den la mano
Hazles saber que todos somos hermanos.
Que sea una gran llegada a casa del soldado.
Que le den gracias a sus dioses por haberles amparado
Pues todas las religiones nos enseñan que todos somos hermanos.
Hasta que este día llegue; cuida de mi hermano.
Tonantzin, llévalo de la mano.
Gracias Tonantzin
Por proteger a mí hermano.

Jorge A. Acosta Abril-2008

by Jorge A. Acosta

Holly Virgin of Earth color skin
Mother of my brothers
I seek you and can not find you
And my efforts seams in vain
I am confused, guide me by the hand
The government ask for my children’s blood (lives)
And they turn them into soldiers
To protect the world from terrorists villains and tyrants
They reiterate their promises of good will and good intention
But I know their promises are vain and hollowed
For they denigrate and turn my brothers into criminal at the border
And they label us terrorist and villain
I want to be a good citizen
But first they must see me as a human being
But for having been born dark skin like the earth
And you Holly Virgin
All of my attempts seams in vain
I am not an Illegal
I am not a terrorist
Nor a villain
Much less an alien
Our daily bread I earn and take home each day
With the sweat of my brow back, hands and arms
You Holly Virgin granted me World citizenship
Guide me Tonantzin
Don’t allow hate and discord ruled my soul
For I do not want to err and jeopardize the future of my children and bothers
Give me your wisdom to seek the guidance we (I) so much need
I am confused Tonantzin; Guide me by the hand
They (government) ask for my children’s blood (lives)
To protect human rights
To bring democracy to the world…
How ironic to ask for it with a gun in their hand
You should be proud of your children!
As they eave their souls in the battle fields
Like their forefather did in the flower wars
They become victims and heroes in the battle fields
And they do it from the sould wholeheartedly
Look after the soldiers in the battlefields
Let the day come soon when the enemies shake hands
Let them know and understand that we all are brothers
Make the solder’s coming home be a joyous occasion
Let them thank their Gods for having guided them by the hand
For all religions teaches us that we all are brothers
Until this day come; look after my brother
Tonantzin, guide him by the hand
Listen, Tonantzin … Listen
The to Sorrow of the soldier
being far away from his children having to answer his country call of duty
He has left his children unattended
Listen, Tonantzin… Listen
the sorrow of the soldier
As it drowns inwards into his heart s
nevertheless he can not demonstrate it because of his manliness
Listen, Tonantzin… Listen
To the sorrow of the soldier
Your children’s cry and sorrow
Soldiers in battle in far away deserts
Tears that are swallowed to the core
Precious tears fore ever lost
In the desert’s sands
Lonely tears cried in silence
Warriors tears Pouring
In he battle fields
Far away wives, mothers, fathers,
and children are heavyhearted and brokenhearted
For the sorrow that this war brings them
In their tear do, far way they accompany the soldiers in their sorrows
Tears that warriors, wives, mother, fathers and children cry
for not know what tomorrow will bring
Look after the soldier in the battle field
Let the day come soon when the enemies will shake hands
Teach them that we are all brothers
Let the soldier’ home coming be grand s
Have them praise theirs gods for having look after them
For all religions teach us that we’re all Brothers
Until that they comes look alter my brother
Tonantzin take him by the hand
Thank you Tonantzin
For looking after my brother

Jorge A. Acosta April 2008

Cuidado con el río
por Sonia Gutiérrez

         Para Luisa Correa y Paulino Azúcar Mendoza

No se meta con el río muchacho
porque el río crecido y pesado,
enlodado de tanta basura puerquísima—
de televisiones, mentiras y espejismos
va bramando por las calles.

Le digo muchacho que no se meta
con la furia del río porque sus brazos
hinchados van empujando, arrastrando
trajes y corbatas rojas
de rayas blancas.

¿Qué no entiende
lo que le digo muchachito
hecho de nata y promesas huecas?
No se meta con el río.

Pues éste, de tanto esperar
el agua, dejó de pedir permiso,
y ahora se desborda de impaciencia.

Va arrastrando
escaparates de telenovelas
y hasta desenraizando los pinos.

Y ahora el río, de porte valiente
y seguro, de tanto esperar—
le crecieron pies y manos.
Va con su tercer ojo
bien abierto, hambriento,
reclamando con los puños en alto,
defendiendo por lo que un día fue
y por lo que le pertenece
al río.

Careful with the River
by Sonia Gutiérrez

   To Luisa Correa and Paulino Azúcar Mendoza

Don’t mess with the river young man
because the river, flooded and heavy,
muddied with much filth—
televisions, lies, and illusions,
bellows through the streets.

I tell you young man mess not
with the river’s fury because her swollen
arms push, drag
suits and white striped
red ties.

Don’t you understand
what I am telling you little man
made of cream and hollow promises?
Don’t mess with the river.

Because she, having waited
for water for too long,
stopped asking for permission,
and now floods with impatience.

soap opera showcases
and even uprooting pines.

And now the river, of brave
and secure demeanor, from so much waiting—
grew legs and arms. With her third eye
wide open, she ravishes,
reclaims with fists held high,
defending what the river once was
and for what belongs
to her.


"¡Ban This!" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"No, You Can't" by Federico Gomez
"Anchor Baby" by Harold Tzn
"El llanto del guerrero / A Warrior’s Tears" by Jorge A. Acosta
"Cuidado con el río / Careful with the River" by Sonia Gutiérrez

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, is a poet/activist, writer and healer.  She has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades.  Odilia teaches creative writing workshops nationally, and is a moderator and one of the founding members of Poets Responding to SB 1070.  She also co-hosts "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets in Berkeley, CA.

Federico Gomez was born in Spain, grew up between Girona (Catalunya, North Spain) and Melilla (North Africa), studied Psychology in Granada, and Spanish and Spanish-American Literature in Memphis, TN, where he currently lives as a temporary resident-alien, after been a visitor, a non-immigrant student, and a non-resident worker for the past eleven years. During this time he has been blessed with many friends and the privilege to work with the Latinos of the Mid-South and learn from them, from their experiences, from their stories. A member of the Centro Cultural Latino de Memphis and an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Christian Brothers University, Federico is a writer that does not write enough, a teacher that teaches what he can, and a believer in the power of Art to save the world that is coming and to build a better, more human one.

harold terezón was born in East LA and raised in Pacoima, CA. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University. He was awarded the PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship in 2006. His work has appeared in Blue Print Review, Amistad, Borderlands, Puerto del Sol, & PALABRA. harold is a Teaching Artist for WritersCorps teaching poetry to middle school students in San Francisco. He often visits his favorite students in the Salvadoran Corridor in Los Angeles, CA to remind them about the importance of poetry & higher education. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry, 13816 Judd St.

Sonia Gutiérrez joined Francisco X. Alarcón’s Poets Responding to SB 1070, a promoter of social justice and human dignity, when Jan Brewer introduced Arizona Senate Bill 1070 into 2010. Since then, her poems including “Fishing Bait,” “Memografía”/“Memography,” “Mi bandera”/“My Flag,” “My Heart Is a Strawberry Field,” “The Passing,” “La maza y cantera de una poeta”/“A Poet’s Mallet and Quarry,” and “The Books”/“Los libros” have been selected by the Moderatos of Poets Responding to SB 1070 for Michael Sedano’s La Bloga’s On-line Floricanto. She teaches English composition and Critical Thinking and Writing at Palomar College, where she co-advises the Palomar Poets and Encuentros United. She also teaches creative writing for Upward Bound (CSUSM), where she works with future leaders and young scholars.  Sonia’s first book, Spider Woman/La Mujer Araña, where her poems responding to SB 1070 appear, is forthcoming in 2012. She’s at work on a Banned Bookshelf for the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego, California.