Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: Tree of Sighs. Banned Books Update. Jale by the Sea. On-Line Floricanto.

Premio Aztlán Winner Dazzles

Review: Lucrecia Guerrero. Tree of Sighs. Tempe, Ariz. : Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, ©2011. ISBN 9781931010733 1931010730 9781931010740 1931010749.

Michael Sedano

Lucrecia Guerrero’s Tree of Sighs tells a bleak story of a girl’s abject poverty and soul-wrenching misery, all the while refusing to allow Grace, or Altagracia, to give in to self pity at how hard life treats her.

One result of Guerrero’s remarkably unyielding stance is a deeply emotional story told by a nearly emotionless woman looking back on the events. Tree of Sighs is also a dazzling debut novel offering a uniquely unconventional approach to stories of lost identity, a novel that posits a warning to readers of the toll immigration and assimilation can exact on one’s soul.

A grandmother sells her fourteen year old orphaned granddaughter into slavery. “Adapt,” Abuela’s final consejo comes as a lifesaver as the child heads off in search of an identity, in the hands of a crude woman whose strange English warns Altagracia not to get smart with me, missy.

Grace Sloan—a counterfeit identity, but all hers--learns right away the importance of adapting. Learning to behave keeps your face unbruised. But for Grace, avoiding punishment entails losing one’s own personality. In favor of adaptating to the ever-changing landscape, she remains wary, observant. With the world in constant flux there is no Self there. It sees, it reports, it is named Grace.

When the child escapes from rural Indiana to the streets of Dayton, Ohio, she falls in with kind people, other children living squalid damaged lives who protect the fast-adapting newcomer. Teenaged Grace keeps emotion at bay—adapt. When her descriptions of street kid sex trade get into sticky details, her voice fails to disclose even an echo of the horror she feels. Her eyes see the horror but that’s as far as she lets it in.

In a perilous transition from the street, Grace escapes into waitressing. Time flies when you’re barely surviving, and soon Grace grows into a twentysomething single woman with a job, clubbing, scoring men, playing risky and living dissatisfied. She adapts to the whim of the moment, waking up next to strange men and wondering who does crap like this?

The second-biggest adaptation of Grace’s life comes when she elects to settle down and feign romance. Grace and Teddy become a good team, building her husband’s Dream business. Back home again in Indiana, they’re a good team. Grace, denied schooling when she was enslaved, then on the streets, is smart and determined to adapt and bite into the Dream. Business thrives and he wants kids. Grace understands “kids” far differently than Teddy.

Grace carries heavy baggage from Altagracia’s former life. The fourteen year old girl blames herself for her parents’ gruesome death and welcomes the flight from Mexico, but that issue remains unresolved, along with her actual identity in this country. Then immigration amnesty arrives in 1986.

No amount of adaptation cures the husband’s shock when his Grace divulges Altagracia’s past. In the middle of the turmoil comes a message from Mexico: abuela is not dead.

Now the novel picks up lightning speed, keeping suspense at an incredibly high level. Will Grace grant Teddy the divorce or will she fight to keep her life? What will happen when Grace Thornberry confronts Altagracia’s past? Can false identitied Grace cross la frontera back into the US, especially as she’s been immersed in her childhood language and culture again?

Then a stunning realization with the novel racing to a close. Altagracia’s lifetime of misery and anomie, sleeping as a slave in a black dungeon, a street kid on discarded sex-stained mattresses in abandoned factories, a lifetime scrabbling for a roof and a job, driven to adapt, thinking herself an orphan, comes out of abuela’s cruelty, a mother’s revenge on the fourteen year old girl whom grandmother blames for the death of el precioso.

Lucrecia Guerrero and Tree of Sighs
There’s no screaming hate-eyed confrontation. Grace Altragracia has forgotten how to show emotion, or her perpetual state of shock keeps her feet moving through scenes as her mind processes information at synapse speed. Can Grace, or is she again Altragracia, forgive? 

“Don’t be like me,” grandmother chastens Altagracia Grace. Does grandmother mean don’t be a Mexicana? Don’t be an unforgiving conniver who exacted revenge on a hapless child? Don’t be unadapting? Be forgiving.

It’s not a trick question. The answer is Grace Thornberry’s life. Grace adapted via assimilating herself to the people and events that slapped her in the face from the moment she became a United States American. The ultimate chameleon, the child Altagracia disappears across the space of the novel and becomes the emotionless woman Grace. It’s the novel’s decisive moment when Grace passes the border guard’s trick question. At the border of her two histories, the character steps over the line with finality, shedding the past and, in convincing dialect, declares herself a Hoosier.

Whatever identity child had in Mexico, Grace throws it away. From the first page, it is not Altagracia recounting the memoir, it’s the voice of Grace Thornberry. A reader can imagine this practical Hoosier woman returning to Teddy and the lab and the identity. Altragracia has finally been adapted out. Grace is one of them.

Banned Books Update

In Tucson schools, these books and these students' culture, are banned.
United States politicians go over to England and proclaim political validation based upon Anglo-Saxon heritage, blindly unaware how offensive the claim sounds, and the resentment it breeds among other ethnic groups, in both the UK and US.

If Mitt Romney's foreign policy portavoz were to speak those words in an Arizona classroom, he would be censored and banned from the schools under existing Arizona law. I doubt Arizona officials would respect the law in this instance of violation. That selfsame Anglocentric worldview propels the State of Arizona's education laws. The pogram follows single-minded dedication to erasing American and ascendencia mexicana history, culture, literature, and ideas from the classrooms and thus minds of future generations of Arizona  students.

The books remain banned. I say again, the books are banned. 

Tucson supe John Pedicone calls me a liar, however. He says the books are pulsating inside some boxes next to the Ark, somewhere out in the Sonora desierto. Not banned, it's just that some classes are banned under state law ARS 15-112, therefore all those classes' curricular materials have to go, along with those ideas. Pedicone's website says,

You may have seen news reports or Internet blogs about a book ban at TUSD. Those reports are completely false. There are no books being banned in the district. Seven books that were used as supporting materials for curriculum in Mexican American Studies classes have been moved to the district storage facility...

The supe alludes to process, that after a student files approved paperwork, a book will zip its way via interlibrary loan. Pedicone's letter refuses details on the freedom students enjoy using a requested book from storage in the classroom. Its use is banned under State law, he admits. You can get it but you can't use it. It's banned.

Pedicone claims Shakespeare is still approved, with a caveat. There's always a catch. Teachers may continue to use materials in their classrooms as appropriate for the course curriculum. Otherwise, it's banned. He says The Tempest and other books approved for curriculum has not been banned. Show me your papers and I'll let you read the book.

September 21 looms on the horizon. The Federal Courts and the Special Master will have a say in the ongoing desegregation order for Tucson Unified Schools, including what can be banned. Courts have a tendency to restore dignity to the Flag. a ver.

Mission Infinitely Never Accomplished

A small press' work is never done. That's because owning a publishing house is a labor of love, constantly seeking new audiences for authors and new authors for audiences. There's lots of both out there, so all it takes is sales to keep the enterprise on its upward trajectory.

Case in point: Aztlán Libre Press. The San Antonio publisher's newest release is Barbara Jane Reyes' poetry chapbook, For the City That Nearly Broke Me.

La Bloga friend Juan Tejeda, co-publisher with Anisa Onofre,  of Aztlán Libre Press, bases his investment Barbara Jane Reyes on her being "an outstanding writer at her urban political and poetic best".

There's more here than meets the eye, in that Barbara Jane Reyes is the first woman Aztlán Libre is publishing. The publisher's Alurista and Juan Gomez-Quiñones titles had been the company's all-male lineup.

For the City That Nearly Broke Me marks another pair of firsts. Aztlán Libre launches its Indigenous Voices Series with the title.

For the City That Nearly Broke Me is the first chapbook from this publisher. Tejeda sets forth on an important mission, "to dispel the myth that chapbooks are inferior to perfect bound books."

Chapbook mechanics allow a publisher to set affordable prices on chapbooks. These often become collector's items, rare early collections from important voices.

That's no reason to buy your chapbook and store it in a plastic bag. That small price tag is reason to buy several, one for a friend, one for that hope chest, one to read and dog-ear, and share, lend out and never come back.

Poets and collectors alike can order For the City That Nearly Broke Me, plus the publisher's reliably engaging catalog, at Aztlán Libre's website. 

Help Wanted: C/S UCSB

The worst work-related phone call of my life rang the day I sent off a signed contract for a one-year gig at Cal State LA. I don't remember who called--Glen Mills or Florence Sears, maybe Rollin Quimby my MA adviser, maybe Tony Mulac, the quantitative guy. Did I want to come back to the Speech Department at UCSB on a one-year contract, no guarantees beyond that in this growing department? I'd been drafted into the Army out of that department a few years earlier. Did I ever.

Now comes an opportunity to join the part-time float at the campus by the sea. The opportunity looks too hot to wait. but wait. Get your materials into top notch, competitive shape, suitable to attract a screener's eye. A sizzling cover letter helps make applicants stand out. Nonverbal stuff like paper a muted shade of militant brown and a clean legible font. A solid reputation isn't enough, it's ethos as spoken through that application packet. Adelante, scholars.

Here's the announcement I received from Aida Hurtado, the Department Chair. You can get the actual details at the department's website.

LA County Art Museum Has Free Entry 

Via email from an artist:
We just got back from LACMA--I had been wanting to see Levitating Mass. Anyways, a deterrent for us going to LACMA more frequently is the cost of admission and the reluctance to get another membership. The GREAT news is that they have a program called NexGen where kids under 17 get a membership for free (along with their very own membership cards that they can write their names on!!) and one accompanying adult gets in free with the child each and every time! Genius. Maybe you already knew about this, but we didn't so I thought I'd share.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto On Fifth Tuesday of the Only July in 2012

Kristopher Barney, Tara Evonne Trudell, Francisco X. Alarcón, Raúl Sánchez, Tom Sheldon

"That purple and blue before the rain" by Kristopher Barney
"In Lies" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Ultimate Migrants: Monarch Butterfiles' Life Mantra / Migrantes por excelencia: Bio-mantra de las mariposas monarca" by Francisco X. Alarcón
 "I wish my book was banned" by Raúl Sánchez
"Border Town Blues" by Tom Sheldon

that purple and blue before the storm
Kristopher Barney

monsoon 2012

the music of rain and i am here in
this silent building   and i hear your voice
echo through the quiet as lightning flashes and
thunder booms down
the mountain and i am here
thinking of you and
if you are who you say you are and
what that might mean to me and
i’ve seen your eyes before
a million or thousand times
that look
that deep piercing smile and I watch you
as if i were some poet  or gentleman of leisure
at a café in Paris or Milan or
downtown Flagstaff
and i had a book of songs in my
hand and a cigar in the other and
a glass of la vin rouge or bordeaux
to wash all this down with and
i hear Mozart somewhere
in the sundown 
sunrise light and drums that
don’t fit in with the rhythms of America
and i want to touch your face and caress
i want to touch your skin but
i quickly withdraw my gaze
as if i have touched flame and couldn’t feel it
i want to take you into the dark
i want to hold you up into the light
but i am cautious
i study your architecture
your image fixed in a time past
your old time beauty    reflecting into
rain clouds and rainbows and that amber sunlight
drizzling in harmony with the relaxation of an
evening full of journey and i sing this song
again and i look around me and there is
thunder   there is blood and water
mixed with oil
mixed with smiles broken and
i feel something stronger than anger
possess me and you look at me with disbelief
as if i have shape-shifted before your eyes and
point my fingers in all directions
i stand on hillsides and make a prayer
i fashion thoughts kept and dyed
for these moments
i am making a song
not for love
not for beauty
not for life
but one
to those who rape
those who murder
those who seek virgin blood
those who drill
those who bleed out carcasses
those who  stand outside the doorway of
reason  respect   beauty  truth
those who stripmine
those who pollute
those who’ve spread death and terror and
disease since 1492
yes   i sing for all of you
i make etches into my arrows
i count your names like pennies in my pocket
and i want to be free of this feeling
for i feel death and torture
is even   too good for you
no and yes you need to suffer
like the way i suffer each day i am alive
each moment i know there is a  mountain
being torn and raped
a river dammed and poisoned
a rainforest cut and bled
an endangered species of man  or animal or
plant  suffering 
every relative who pushes love away
but readily welcomes dysfunction
i stand here in the rain
thinking of all this
lightning crisscrosses the wires in my head
i am touched by the melody of this rain
it wets my heart
it brings tears up that flow down
to underground gutters and
i look to this Holy Mountain
Dooko’o’sliid, the San Francisco Peaks
i look toward the mountain behind my house
Dzilijiin, Black Mesa
i look to every landform permanently
etched into my psyche
every beautiful scene
blooming and blossoming and
the faces of lovers lost to these scenes
lovers whose faces fade in and out
loved ones whose faces stand
back somewhere in the heavy mist of
a new dawn sprouting with golden tassels
through dark blue clouds and
i sing a mountain song
i sing a sunrise prayer
i sprinkle corn pollen
i drum up calm and courage
to walk this day
i pedal the streets of this city
looking for you
looking for an escape
looking for the road home
i look and i laugh and my tears
slide down my face and
i think of my mother and my grandmother and
all my relatives who’ve touched my heart
i think of all of you and i feel alone
i stand on this hillside
another grey blue silhouetted figure
against this portrait of lightning
purple blue clouds and
mountain   forest and rain and
the mist from an older world
a world without colonial dreams and
nightmares that make the child in me scream
the blood on my hands
the blood on your hands and
a song is needed
a ceremony without show
a dance with ghosts and all those
like myself who travel
this road…….

by Tara Evonne Trudell

in lies
into minds
not thinking
being brown
the weight
in a white world
bearing down
the walk

in lies
across america
over borders
arresting our lands
attacking our people
waking almond eyes
taking in perceptions
women and children
wailing into night
taunting the people
keeping the peace
rubber bullets
sticks and stones
bad cop attitude
protecting the police
made up stories
in lies
to get away
with murder

in lies
america giving
their stronghold
their certainty
our truths

in lies
that govern
our society
in whispers
to not affect
the masses

in whispers
to get away
of any color


c/s july 23, 2012

by Francisco X. Alarcón
we defeat time, the cold
and all borders  –we are
the ultimate migrants
thousands of miles
we fly North–South and East–West–
beauty is our might
the Sun guides our flight–
nothing can really stops us,
no even our short lives
to return to the land
where our great-great–grandparents
once emerge from

four generations
we undergo in a year  —from eggs
to caterpillars
and then to pupa
to emerge from cocoons
as beautiful butterflies–
we are fearless
in our commitment to life
beyond our own lives–
we defeat time, the cold
and all borders  –we are
the ultimate migrants

© Francisco X. Alarcón
July 15, 2012

por Francisco X. Alarcón

vencemos el tiempo
y toda frontera –somos migrantes
por excelencia
miles de millas volamos
del Norte al Sur y del Este al Oeste–
la belleza es nuestro poder
el Sol no guía–
nada puede pararnos,
ni nuestra corta vida
para volver a la tierra
de donde nuestros tatarabuelos
cuatro generaciones
pasamos en un año  —de huevos
a orugas
luego a pupas
para del capullo emerger
como bellas mariposas—
no tenemos miedo
al compromiso a la vida
más allá de la propia–
vencemos el tiempo
y toda frontera  —somos migrantes
por excelencia

© Francisco X. Alarcón
15 de julio 2012

I Wish My Book Was Banned!              
by Raúl Sánchez 

I wish my book was banned
I wish you couldn’t get my book
anywhere but only through me
when I read from it at
clandestine readings
at homeless shelters
in empty warehouses
under bridges private houses
immigration detention centers
on city hall steps

I wish my book was banned
so that it will be added
to that prestigious list
I wish my book was banned
because it will create
a focus of discussion
on politics race ethnicity
identity cultural definition

if my book was banned
it will be illegal to display it
to show it
to sell it
to read it
but since it is not banned yet—
why don’t you get a copy now
before it makes the list
buy a copy before it ends
on discriminatory hands.

©Raúl Sánchez 7-18-12

by Tom Sheldon

Tonight the stars are out
and birds are nesting on rooftops
in a town of imaginary maps
where people live on the edge of night
within the walls of rooms
sustaining pale coats of paint
dust and mold
where history means nothing
and broken instincts are framed in fragments
pinned down like insects dreaming
just as the stars are dreaming
but.... the stars are laughing
for these delirious lines foretell
the sovereignty of law and language
and the border town blues

"That purple and blue before the rain" by Kristopher Barney
"In Lies" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Ultimate Migrants: Monarch Butterfiles' Life Mantra / Migrantes por excelencia: Bio-mantra de las mariposas monarca" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"I wish my book was banned" by Raúl Sánchez
"Border Town Blues" by Tom Sheldon

Tara Evonne Trudell, a mother of four, is working on her BFA in Media
Arts with an emphasis in film and audio. It is through that art, combined
with her passion for poetry that she is able to express fearlessness of spirit
for her family, people, community, social awareness, and most importantly
her love of earth.

Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, is author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His book of bilingual poetry for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008), was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award. He created a new Facebook page,  “Poets Responding to SB 1070.” The University of Arizona Press is presently preparing an anthology co-edited by Francisco X. Alarcón that will include more than 100 poets that have posted poems on this Facebook page. He teaches at the University of California, Davis

Raúl Sánchez, conducts workshops on The Day of the Dead. His most recent work is the translation of John Burgess’ Punk Poems in his book Graffito. His work appeared on-line in The Sylvan Echo, Flurry, Gazoobitales, Pirene’s Fountain and several times in La Bloga. He has been a board member of the Washington Poets Association and is a moderator for the Poets Responding to SB 1070 Facebook page. His inaugural collection "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels" is filled with poems of cultural identity, familial, a civil protest, personal celebration, completely impassioned and personal. http://beyondaztlan.com

My name Tom Sheldon, I was born in New Mexico , and come from a large Hispanic family. As far as my own personal history in Art goes, it is brief. I have always appreciated the gift of creating since I was young. I like all mediums and love (Southwestern) nature and organic based topics. While I have had little in the way of formal training and education, I've enjoyed a modicum of success, mostly in drawing/drafting. I teach students on occasion, and have also illustrated for (HWI) Hawk Watch International. I enjoy photography as a tool for composition and as an aid in drawing and painting, though now I'm beginning to see photography as a medium rather than just a tool. My work has shown in local galleries, as well as the Museum of Natural History here. I have won art competitions at the State Fair level. I also love to write poetry; my poetry was featured in La Bloga, Monique's Passions e-magazine, Poets Supporting SB1070 on Facebook, and also, Writers in the Storm (October,1992)..

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 (ameliamontes.com)

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 www.sarapalacios.com.


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.