Friday, September 14, 2012

AAAAhhhhhJaiiii, hua hua hua!

Melinda Palacio

One of the first Latinos in Lotusland readings at Cal State L.A. 2008
with Reyna Grande, Daniel Olivas, Danny Romero, Helena Maria Viramontes, Lisa Alvarez, and Melinda Palacio

Consider yourself lucky for not being able to hear my grito; it's loud. If you are really curious, come by the Autry tomorrow for a pre-grito and celebration of Latino Heritage month with a reprise of your favorite anthology and mine, Latinosin Lotusland: an Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature, Saturday, September 15 at 2pm at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

September snuck up on me. It's cool breeze taunted the shortened hours of sunshine. This month can't seem to make up its mind. Here in Santa Barbara, we've had beautiful, beach-weather days and cold, foggy, outright down pouring rain. September rolled around and I even forgot to update my website. I know there's at least one La Bloga reader who missed the small announcement I had in my post two weeks ago, in August, when I announced my upcoming memoir writing workshop at Sowing of the Seeds in Tucson last Saturday. women knew what to do and were very receptive to the memoir writing workshop I gave. It was a pleasure working with them.
Reading from Latinos in Lotusland in 2008

However, all of the success I've enjoyed with my writing, including posting for La Bloga, would not be possible without the support of our Lotusland editor, Daniel Olivas. Before he joined La Bloga, Daniel accepted my first published short story. I was determined to be in the anthology. I didn't know much about the publishing world, but somehow I knew that being including in an anthology of Latino writing would help me achieve my goals. I sent Daniel three short stories until he replied and said he loved, "The Last Time," the short fiction that launched my career. In 2006, I had one poem published and one short story accepted for publication. I used these credits to apply to the PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellowship in 2007. By the time the anthology was finally published in 2008, I had dozens of short stories and poems published. But I always remained in awe of our editor, Daniel Olivas, who had published several books. Gracias, Daniel. He didn't know it at the time, but he helped launch my novel Ocotillo Dreams and my new poetry book, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting.

I've asked some of the contributors, many who will be part of tomorrow's celebration to offer some words about their Lotusland experience and how they first met La Bloga's Daniel Olivas.
Latinos in Lotusland, Bilingual Review Press 2008
Editor of Latinos in Lotusland, Daniel Olivas

First, some words from La Bloga's Rudy Ch. Garcia:

Gente! Please give your attention to these few words, no le hace que no pueden ver mi cara chida.

On the occasion of another Calif. Lotusland event I so wish I could attend, in my absence, please consider giving Daniel Olivas one chingaso round of applause [perdóname]. I don't ask that you do this simply because he is the Lotusland editor. Or for doing the great editing that might make it a classic. Nor do I ask you only recognize him for his own fine literary work. To mix my metaphors, please give him a hand because of his role como un sembrador de una onda nueva en la literature chicana, y las obras latinas.

In a period when the concept of Chicano literature was already struggling to break into genres that had been the province of non-Latinos, Daniel had created his own, and, through this anthology, he editorially embraced others' speculative cuentos that were not usually thought of as "our" literature. By doing so, he imparted appreciation and respectability to escritores nuevos who risked exclusion because they were judged to be: "not literary enough." I am but one contributor whose writing career was boosted by my few pages in the anthology. And now I understand que uno de los días mejores fue cuándo encontré a nerdy looking, prieto attorney de Califas who wanted to join La Bloga. My life, and those of others, will never be the same. Que viva Daniel Olivas!
signed by Rudy Ch. Garcia, un-shamefully self-promoting his first novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams

Lisa Alvarez

The call I saw for Latinos in Lotusland motivated me to take a look at what I had - part of a novel set in and around Los Angeles that had been languishing.  I chose a chapter, "Sweet Time," that seemed to stand alone and sent it off to Daniel who accepted it almost immediately.  I was surprised. I had not submitted work in quite awhile and was drifting a bit.  Inclusion in the anthology encouraged me to look once again at my work and, while I eventually abandoned the novel my Lotusland contribution is taken from, I embarked on a project that I feel much more strongly about: a series of connected short stories set in 1980s Los Angeles that profile a circle of female friends, all political activists trying to do the right thing.  The stories start in the 80s and end in the here and now, with my once punk rock artist activists growing older and try to reconcile their past idealism with their present.

The collection is tentatively titled "Ocean Park" after the painting series by Richard Diebenkorn.  I am interested to see if a writer can do a bit of what Diebenkorn does so well on canvas - capture a time, a light, a mood, a community.  Two of the stories have been published so far, one in the Santa Monica Review and the other in Faultline

From Sandra Ramos O'Briant

Sandra Ramos O'Briant at the Patricia Correa Gallery
Latinos in Lotusland Book Party with Bilingual Press

I met Daniel on Zoetrope; we'd reviewed short stories for each other.  He put out the call for his anthology in 2006, I think.  Being part of it enriched my life. Not only did I have the opportunity to participate in readings, but I met interesting writers and became part of a community.  The book is used in university classes and students have written to me about "Lana Turner Slept Here."  At the time of publication, I'd had a few stories published, but I was working on The Sandoval Sisters, and wrote short stories to challenge myself.  I've had over 20 short stories published since then, and that novel is now a reality.  My main concern in submitting to his anthology was whether my story would be "Latino" enough.  Believe me, that's a legitimate concern for a kid growing up in Santa Fe with a Mexican mother, but O'Briant for a last name.  "Prove it!" was the chant I heard on the playground and in school hallways.  There's not enough space here, nor would my description pass censorship laws, to explain how I tried to prove myself back then.  But, in the here and now, I do it with my writing.  My characters evolve, as does Joe Salazar in "Lana Turner Slept Here," as do the The Sandoval Sisters, as do I.  

Sandra Ramos O'Briant
The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood (La Gente Press, September 2012)

From El Professor, Michael Jaime-Becerra

Michael Jaime-Becerra

For me, Latinos in Lotusland continues as a wonderful mosaic, a validation of the richness and diversity in our stories and in our storytellers.  Gratitude always to Daniel Olivas, the editor with both the vision and the energy to bring it all together.

I had met Daniel a few years prior to Lotusland and had also invited him to read at UCR as part of our Writers Week conference.  This was 2004 or 2005.  

As I recall it, when he put out the call for submissions, I was in the middle of writing my second book and I didn't have anything ready for public viewing yet.  Daniel graciously agreed to include a reprint from Ladies' Night, my first book.

--Michael Jaime-Becerra  

Join Daniel Olivas, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Lisa Alvarez, Sandra Ramos O'Briant, Estella Gonzalez, and Melinda Palacio at the Latinos in Lotusland panel at the Autry, Saturday, September 15 at 2pm. 

Countdown to Publication...

Two months until the release of How Fire Is a Story,Waiting

New York Days Ahead...

If you find yourself in New York at the Brooklyn Book Festival, September 23, I will be at the Las Comadres Booth from noon to 2pm, along with Reyna Grande, Lucrecia Guerrero, and Toni Margarita Plummer. Join the Party. The next hour includes a reading by Luis Alberto Urrea.
Las Comadres y Compadres Writers Conference, October 6, 2012 New York

On October 6, aspiring writers can purse and polish their own dreams of publishing their novel, collection of stories, memoir, or book of poetry at the Las Comadres y Compadres Writers Conference in New York, held at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, Brooklyn. Registration for writers and vendors is now open for the conference. I will be on a poetry panel.


msedano said...

looking forward to an autry cerebration of lotusland. think about joining the crowd.

Manuel Ramos said...

I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow afternoon - I remember the Lotusland reading at Martinez Books in Santa Ana - we had a great time, a true celebration, and Daniel was very much the glue that held it together. I'm sure the Autry event will be just as memorable. Each time I pick up Lotusland I discover something new, even in stories I've already read. It's a great collection. Thank you, Daniel

Daniel A. Olivas said...

I am so moved by all of these warm, kind words! I have been enriched by "Latinos in Lotusland" in ways I can't express. I wish I could have all the contributors there tomorrow (including the ones who have left this mortal world)...but it will be fun and a great celebration of literature. I hope many of La Bloga's readers can make it to the Autry.