Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Review: Reyna Grande Memoir. Tids & Bits. On-Line Floricanto.

Memoir Puts Spotlight on the Immigrants, Not Immigration

Review: Reyna Grande. The Distance Between Us. NY: Atria Books, 2012.
ISBN-10: 1451661770  ISBN-13: 9781451661774

Michael Sedano

Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us offers an intimate portrait of one family’s intolerably cruel circumstances marked by immigration, abandonment, abuse, divorce, rising expectations, dreams, personal failure. In the end, The Distance Between Us demonstrates the futility of asking, “is this who I would have become if I’d not gone to el otro lado?” Immigration is the monkey wrench in already mucked up lives. Here is an unremitting account of survival, failure, and forgiveness and the success of a single member of that familia. People looking for a political point will find it's the people, not immigration, where stories live.

While immigration lies at the heart of Mago, Carlos, and Reyna’s horrible existence, leaving and separating was mandated by choice. Grande illustrates this in a brief allusion to a family desperately poor in Iguala, but together, there. Those choosing to go north do it in stages that maximize the pain. First the men, leaving the kids with the women, then the mothers disappear, leaving the children with  someone in whatever circumstance. The  distance between them is what holds people together at the same time it separates.

Stepladdered, Mago is old enough at eight to become the little mother to her seven year old brother and four year old baby sister. Father, absent two years, has summoned the ebullient mother and off she flits like a butterfly, leaving the kids behind in a cloud of taxi dust.

That dream, like every other this woman has, goes bad. Mami returns home from LA, kicked out, replaced, and resentful, with a new daughter in arms. But mami was already broken before the divorce. Abuela voices her contempt for her daughter-in-law’s morals, wondering loudly if the children are her son’s.

Events establish reason behind such ugly suspicions. Juana’s ongoing actions prove her wanderlust and neediness. Tragically for her children, the woman’s need for a man outweighs any love she might hold for her kids.

Thus abandoned, the kids grow resentful of piteous scorn from neighbors. But there’s cause: they become intestinal worm-infested urchins with chronic headlice. This in part is owing to their father’s born-angry mother. Abuela keeps for herself the money the parents send from el otro lado. And she’s mean. When there’s meat, there’s a chuleta for each for the adult guests and a consentida prima. For the kids, tortillas, beans and cheese, with a few branches of epazote for flavor.

Finally, the kids get their chance to cross the border. They land in Highland Park, Los Angeles. Reyna’s dream father reveals himself a dispirited alcoholic brute. Immigration doesn’t change that, only makes the beer more expensive. After a particularly severe pummeling, he explains to Reyna. At nine, his father put him to work driving a team of horses. If they don’t do what you want, he learned to beat them until they comply.

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree, goes an English expression for Papi’s excuse. Mercurial and quick with his belt, there’s no escape in the tiny Highland Park apartment for the three huerfanitos. The stepmother watches empathetically, but stands by, offering comfort to her beaten stepkids. Still, they’re here, el otro lado, where the schools are free. All it takes is ganas.

Papi thinks a belt helps, too. He expects straight “A” and perfect attendance or he’ll send them back to Mexico. The kids believe him, as well they should, knowing him the small-minded twisted soul who dutifully brought them to be with him here. He keeps them on edge with indirectas about that.

Reyna Grande doesn’t pull many punches on her familia but comes at them head-on. There’s a simmering anger just below the surface of the pages. The author measures her personal emotion with keen understanding of a fiction writer for her characters. Mami’s profound dissatisfaction has firm basis in a lifetime of setting goals, nears attainment, but finds her accomplishments never enough. Papi’s emotional poverty, social ineptness, and disease inevitably lead to disaster until he finally emerges broken. And better for it, that’s how low the familia sunk.

The Distance Between Us shows off Grande’s exceptional writing skill. The omniscient first-person narrator seamlessly insinuates herself into the story that whatever she says comes off credibly, even stuff there’s no way a four year old remembers, or ideas and motives of other people. The writer’s economy of detail enriches the reading—she wastes nothing and skips across inessential details to keep matters juxtaposed in irony or angst.

Some details add authenticity to texture the prose. For example, wetting dirt floors prior to sweeping manages the dust and smooths the work. I remember my own grandmother doing this inside and outside. Then there’s water distribution by truck, or free down at the village pump.

Look for Grande’s repetition of the schema “my fathers hands the same shape as mine” as a skilled way to soften the blows, physical and emotional, with which he batters the girl’s spirit. They’re one, inextricably linked, that’s why she doesn’t burn with hatred.

Another sterling example comes at Christmastime. Surrounded by presumptive holiday cheer, the kids clean up the house. A mentally ill uncle paints a stick the kids decorate. Through the narrator’s child eyes, she sees joy, beauty, art. A few pages later, mami drags a stranger--her current lover 14 years younger--to Christmas dinner. The violent confrontation between abandoner and abandoned erases the charade off that ugly decorated stick and rips the guts out of the hapless reader still glowing from that earlier feel-good moment. ¿Ves? That’s what you get for wanting something good.

Escape is good and hard. Grande’s sisters devolve to victims of shattered upbringing. Only Reyna Grande manages to fulfill the promise that lurked behind the family’s migration. She gets a taste of big time marching band life and wins a $100 writing contest.  Grande's career-changing move emerges as she discovers Chicana Literature. Reyna reads The Moths and other stories and gasps in the mirror of Helena Viramontes' writing. Grande reads Sandra Cisneros' House on Mango Street and cries, “how did you know?”

Reyna Grande, Writer, emerges out of this story. The child point of view sounds like a precocious kid but kidesque and innocently hopeful. Adolescent Reyna comes to remember both bad times and good. Writer Reyna learns to forgive her characters and accept them for who they became.

Readers are left with a tale of one family’s passage into a United States identity and the miracle of its one survivor. The others go in the routes normal gente everywhere follow, from childhood possibilities to whatever comes next.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of The Distance Between Us is the likelihood a book banning immigrant hater will ever read it. Despite phobias and hatred anyone who reads The Distance Between Uswill find the distance between their insularity and the humanity of immigrants is the two inches occupied in the memoir’s 322 pages.

Tids & Bits
In your neighborhood if you live in...

Ese Teatro Nuevo y Solo: Original Works Showcase

A sampling from Gerald Alejandro Ford's hilariously colorful El Ultimo Coconut, fresh from an August run at Annex. A new version of the haunting Pandora and the Box by Carolynne Wilcox, using classical myth and modern sound technology, previously performed at Freehold and Stone Soup Theatres. The complications of finding love in The Date by Lonnie Tristan Renteria. Playwright & performance artist Danielle Villegas' new short play, Pago Pago and Nilki Benitez's  Are You There Frida? It's Me, Xochi. These and other short performance pieces highlight eSe Teatro's showcase of new and solo work, designed to provide local Latino theatre artists a space to experiment, develop and hone their unique and individual voices.
Info here.

Arte Publico New Digs, Open House

Describing Houston, Texas' Arte Publico Press as a "hidden gem"is a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the new building's site in the crook of a huge freeway interchange, portending miss your exit and you'll drive half an hour out of your way to get back to where you went wrong.

If you're in Houstontown on Friday, September 7, Arte Publico Press holds open house starting at 530. If you can't be there, you can send money in lieu of a housewarming pothos.

C/S Announces Fall Colloquium Series

UCSB's Dolores Huerta Room hosts a number of the C/S Dpto's colloquia. Hector Tobar will deliver his speech upon being conferred the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano Literature, elsewhere.

The lineup of October through November exchanges includes talks on community garden politics, John Rechy's audience, Mexican journalism through 1950, gender transitioning, samurai, racial violence. The series wraps up with a pre-holidays pachanga. Then probably dead week. Whatever the coursework for units, attending this colloquium series will bristle with challenge for curious minds because access to meetings like these is why you're on a university campus. View PDF'd poster.

(Old home week. I looked at a map for South Hall. It's now a speck on the grid, in the shadow of Girvetz Hall. I took Philosophy 1A from Harry Girvetz in South Hall Lecture Room, when Campbell Hall and South Hall were separated by a weed-trimmed field and I lived in Sequoia Hall, the "casitas" dorms. Go Gauchas! Gauchos!)

Pasadena • Tonight!
Vroman's Books Welcomes Reyna Grande 

Among the last brick and mortar booksellers left in Southern California, Vroman's opens its doors to Chicana writer and La Bloga friend Reyna Grande.

Vroman's generously dedicates a spacious area for its signings. The store keeps a short list of Chicana Chicano writers in its history of graciously hosting authors and readers. When an author brings in a good house and the gente buy books, the store opens its doors a lot wider. Aristotle would say there's an enthymeme in there so readers need to make a point of attending readings and buying books.

Grande's presentation of her memoir The Distance Between Us visits Vroman's tonight! Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 7 p.m.

Banned Books Update • Changing status quo one deposition at a time

...the dawn's early light
The books are still banned. Gallant streaming is about all Old Glory has on its side right now. That's status quo.

Three weeks away. In Tucson, federal court looks to the school district's compliance with desegregation rulings. The last time the court checked in on TUSD, the court found the district out of compliance. A judge sent in a Special Master to look into matters and come up with a plan of corrective action. The Special Master has the authority to order the district to teach ethnic studies.

Status quo possibility: the books are unbanned, the ideas are unbanned, the center holds, things don't fall apart, passionate intensity dissolves in appeals and spite.

The spite's well advanced in Tucson. That city's schools are festering messes. The most egregious case, a former high school teacher sues two Chicano educators for defamation. The case is plowing through fields of debt and turning new ones. That's not unexpected. Nor is the need for funding.

Depositions begin this past week in the case against HB 2281. You can donate by clicking on to http://saveethnicstudies.org/ . We are run entirely by volunteers; however, depositions are expensive. Please donate at least $5 a month.

Depositions have started in the case against Sean Arce and José González. Four hours of depositions were taken of both Arce and Gonzalez. Our side deposed Ward this past week. Please donate: https://www.wepay.com/donations/144408

What's unexpected is the source of that update, the closing paragraphs of a report on La Bloga friend Raquel Delgado, La Pocha Catalana's, performance poem, Kuenpocayotl Moztlitta
Florecer para ver el mañana.

Delgado glows in the spotlight of the August 31 issue of Devon G. Peña's mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration blog. Peña's report on this film adaptation of Delgado's performance merits a full reading; link to Peña's full piece here.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • "Pink Sentinels," and other poems. An Encuentro de Escritores por Ciudad Juárez
Nancy Aidé González, Andrea Mauk, Abel Martinez, Iris De Anda, Odilia Galván Rodríguez , John Martinez, Pedro L. Ramirez , Claudia D. Hernández, José Hernández Díaz, Alma Luz Villanueva

The moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 Poetry of Resistance focus a  poet's lens upon Juárez. This presentation comes in contribution to the second annual worldwide Encuentro de Escritores por Ciudad Juárez, which took place on September 1, 2012.

The simultaneous poetry recital in various cities, and this La Bloga On-Line Floricanto, call attention to femicide and atrocities taking place in Ciudad Juárez. Encuentro de Escritores por Ciudad Juárez scheduled readings in 132 cities from 25 countries across 4 continents.

Pink Sentinels
by Nancy Aidé González

What the Shadows Won't Bring to Light
by Andrea Mauk

by Abel Martinez

by Iris De Anda

Painted Face
by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

by John Martinez

Loma Bonita
by Pedro L. Ramirez

Deadline: Desperation Cry
by Claudia D. Hernández

Línea prohibida: Llanto Desesperado
Por by Claudia D. Hernández

by José Hernández Díaz

by Alma Luz Villanueva

Pink Sentinels
by Nancy Aidé González

Smoke stack emissions rise contaminating the atmosphere
jackals roam looking for las hijas de México
one more female homicide increased body count
no one knows exactly how many  500   1,000  5,000

silent screams
                                fill the night in a fallow
                                                                                cotton field from catacombs
cries of women that have disappeared
                                                                     into the twilight
                                                                                                    give testimony to the smoldering moon
in low tones they beseech that we not forget the transgressions of those that took their lives
they request tangible justice while mocking rebuke
for crimes overlooked for a price
dust-covered case files piled on disarrayed desk
the spider web binding them together

mothers hold signs take to asphalt
march, weep, light candles that illuminate twinge wounds
pink splintered crosses stand as sentinels
for the abomination mire entwines.

What the Shadows Won't Bring to Light
by Andrea Mauk

Inside the shadows,
the secrets live.
The truth is palpable
in every breath taken by the desert floor
but it remains unspoken.

In a town where the mountain
with eyes glued shut
begs you to read the bible
to understand the word
to live the truth
there is no salvation for those
living with dead souls;
Where the people and the traffic
snake across the border from side to side
because one hand cannot survive without the other,
the secrets pile up
thick as a bone yard
in the dry ravines
that pray for blessed rain
to wash away the sins.

It doesn't make sense
that a secret so immense,
so profound
would not come to light
with the dawn's first rays,
but fear is more effective
than the silencer of the pistol,
and power is the gag that binds.

In a town where proud parents
watch daughters in pink dresses
play Barbies, play house and play cooking
and practice for their first communions,
they watch with periferal vision
and sleep with eyes open
and light candles on the altars
and raise their hands to the heavens
and beg El Santo Niño de Atocha
that there will never be a pink cross
erected in the name of their girl.

And they cry tears enough
to fill the Rio Grande
when their daughters grow up
thin and lean
and beautiful
and go out to get jobs
but don't return home after their  shift...

Their tears cannot help
 the timid shadows
reveal the nasty secrets
that they hold with taped tongues.
I have never been to this city
but I am a woman
and I feel the pain and outrage.
I chant with the shadows,
No more lives wasted,
no more pink crosses.
No more feminicide in Juarez.
No more.

by Abel Martinez

A cloudless morning
Hides everything
From her clay face
As the hills fall silently
Into the Juarez Valley.
Grey and speechless
A tired breeze.
A chime pursed by an ear
hollows out the kitchen,
And Irma Monreal’s daughter
Will not answer the call.

Levantones don’t keep score
Of the deaths
That pock the landscape
Like liver spots.
The police park
In abandoned farms
And twist wheat stalks
Between their teeth,
Fat with the business
Of cooking and rendering
Versions of the truth.
The land thirsts
For a time
Before the maquiladoras
Grinded into the dirt,
Promising a pulse
For its families,
But instead dried out the cotton fields
And scarred the landscape
Outside Loma de Poleo
And Irma Monreal’s daughter
Will not answer the call.

Her gold flecked brown eyes
Once dotted out
The fields and streets
Of her town
Looking for a map
To a solution.
Years ago,
When her daughter was born,
The factory in her hands
Began to manufacture fear
By folding one over the other.
Today she fumbles her hair,
Molds her lips to a smile
And prepares for the industry
Of hope.

This morning in April
Brought a chitter in the grass,
A pipit bounced happily
As her heart flew
And raced to the door.
A mile down the road,
Any road
Choking with dust,
In a brown cotton field
A different seed
Was planted.

A melody drifts
Lazily through the dirt,
A seedling thirsts
To connect.
Muted beneath
The soil’s vow of silence,
A light pulses
Three times,
Maybe four,
Then goes to voicemail
And Irma Monreal’s daughter
Will never answer the call.

© Abel Martinez 2012

by Iris De Anda

daughters of the desert
drowning in despair
dozens disappear
daydreams dissolve
desolate world in denial
dawn breaks to dusk
denouncing death
demanding life
dream on daughters...

Painted Face
by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

She no longer paints her face
no foundation
no new love blush
she's even stopped tweezing her eyebrows
lipstick is an occasional smear
of lip-gloss she wears for protection
on those devil desert nights
when the cold wind kicks up
the fecal speckled dust
that turns her eyes angry-red and teary
as she walks home from her work
at the maquila in the FTZ
tumbleweed and trash pass
her on the streets
while the bitter winds
seem to slash up the town

She no longer paints her face
because he always wanted her that way
never wanted her
to leave the house with him
without being bien arreglada
he’d admire her and say,
            so feminine ~ so beautiful
this mask he loved so much and
wanted only for himself

The first time he slapped her
they were in the street outside
the restaurant where he’d taken her
for some drinks and a good dinner
Manuel, the owner had come over
to their table to say hello and make small talk
he’d addressed his words to her man
gazed over at her and asked, como esta?
she had not responded only smiled
then, after he left, he asked
How do you know him?
Why do you think he came over to our table?
Did you motion him over?
Are you sure you don’t know him?
You did pick the restaurant ...
Is that why?

She had been too shocked to respond
all through the interrogation all she wanted
was for him to stop
to eat their meal in peace
to converse about their day
who was that man anyway?

when Manuel brought over the check
instead of the waiter
he looked at her, the devil in his eyes
then said, go and wait for me
she couldn’t hear what was being said
the owner’s face got very red, his hands
desperate fists at his side, then gesturing
for this crazed man to leave
his place of business
while other patron’s eyes
followed him as he stalked off
through the door
he kept shouting, This isn’t over yet
when he got out to the sidewalk
where she was waiting
he slapped her so hard
that she not only saw stars
but his hand
left an ugly tattoo
on her beautifully
made up face.

by John Martinez

She takes his eyes,
Peels them
Off of her skin,
A scab she wore,
A bracelet she found
And her hair
Was dark,
Like her black olive eyes,
She never gave
Her love
To a man,
Like the story told
By her grandmother
When the crickets
Sang sad cumbias
Near the wash tub

Cynthia said “no” to her Tio,
Who chased her
Into the tall grass
In her 14th Autumn,
No to the nasty dollar,
To lipstick promises,
To a world away
From her father,
Plucking chickens,
Her Mother
The baby Jesus

Cynthia is a sister,
Could have been a mother,
The little girl smiling
With grasshopper legs
Folded under
A blue dress,
She never knew
The name of sadness,
Only, that she had to tuck
Away her breasts,
Two brown
Birds napping
Under her blouse
And before night
Dragged in,
Like a sack of nothing,
After the Maquiladoras,
She walked down
The broken
Cement and rock
To the river to dream

Night is a black cape
El Chamuko likes to wear, likes
To kick it into the air
But Cynthia knew
So it was natural
For her to blurr the memory,
The steam of his teeth,
His cigarette butt eyes.
He sleeps now,
Loosing Grip
Of a warm Carta Blanca,
Losing his life
Like a man
Who is already dead

Cynthia was formed
By an Indigenous God,
Patterned after
The wind
That circled the pyramids,
Her brown hands
Were meant
To touch
Sacred things,
Offerings to the clouds,
To feed the fortune cookie
Mouth of a newborn,
But her time
Was trampled
By the weak and wicked,
Who lost love
A long time ago,
Down dusty trails
Of twisted takes
Of little girls
Like her,
Like Cynthia,
Lips of a Mazahua girl,
To the river,
She is the Suns
Greatest love,
But now the sun
Shines over the Mountain,
Over the white promise
Painted for everyone to see
And the calm creek
That was her heart,
Will empty
Into the river,
And into the fading dusk
Her spirit will rise,
A voice, her voice
Reminding us all
That Cynthia was here

© John Martinez 2012

Loma Bonita
by Pedro L. Ramirez


At nightfall
the elixirs of chemicals
ionize the flesh
And the Pozole like a concoction of
Cocido boiling chunks of flesh.
Tasty to the copper palate.
An astute culinary function
Decomposing Pozole into
Plasma to liquify
The cellular and molecular
bonds of flesh and
Biodegrade the DNA into
A helixed soul sending it
Adrift thru aurora borealis.
All this for pozole.


He was an intelligent Pozolero
With escapes from jail,
And criminals in governance lauded him
With a key,
Or charming Euro/Ibero
Attributes of self centeredness,
Manically egotistical, and selfish,
And fraught in a quagmire of disease and greed
Like a pauper prince charming,
with charisma to persuade God
to eat pozole with the devil.


In the basement of a house in Colonia Loma Bonita
On a mesa
Where padres
search for desaparecidos,
Amados hijos e hijas, jovencitos
de colonia 3 de Octubre.
Maclovio Reyes who
dogs sniffed from a yellow house
with coastal pines lining the driveway.
Barrels of unknown found like spent casings.
Eating with God
On the Pozolero's
"Stand" de tiro,
And their loved ones
Pleading to heaven,
"no puede ser, no puede ser."
They turn to us with
llantos that rip temple veils,
And tears flow into the
Horizontal Rio Grande swells
to U.S.
And the exumination
Of bodies repeats over and again,
And the barrio criminales dance
With duckets tucked in pockets.

© Pedro L. Ramirez 2012

Deadline: Desperation Cry
by Claudia D. Hernández

Our Mothers / Our Sisters
Women in Ciudad Juárez

Have been found
Beaten / Raped / Burned
Stabbed / Shot / Strangled

“Left nipple bitten off...”
“Right breast severed...”

Found dead
Shoelaces tied together
Found unidentified

It began in 1993,
every year Women in their
teens / twenties / thirties
are found dead in the
desert of Ciudad Juárez.

Could it be:
The maquilladoras instead
of the maquiladoras?

What about the machismo
and the marianismo
and the drug cartels?

What about Abdel Sharif
Los Rebeldes / Los Chóferes?

Can the copycats afford
to pay otra mordida?

Will the wooden cross
erected near the border
bring our sisters back
or attract more tourists
like flies drawn to blood?

When will the conspiracy end?
When will these atrocities end?
Less questions / More answers

Línea prohibida: Llanto Desesperado
por Claudia D. Hernández

Nuestras Madres / Nuestras Hermanas
Mujeres  en Ciudad Juárez

Han sido encontradas
Golpeadas / Violadas / Quemadas
Apuñaladas / Baleadas / Estranguladas

“Pezón izquierdo arrancado a mordidas...”
“Seno derecho mutilado...”

Han sido encontradas muertas
irreconocibles con sus
cintas de zapatos enredadas

Todo empezó en 1993,
desde entonces, cada año,
Niñas adolescentes, Mujeres
en sus veintes y treintas
se hallan muertas en el desierto
de Ciudad Juárez.

Será que son:
¿Las maquilladoras en vez
de las maquiladoras?

¿Qué tal el machismo y el Marianismo
y los carteles de droga?

¿No sería Abdel Sharif
Los Rebeldes / Los Chóferes?

¿Podrán los copiones
pagar otra mordida mas?

¿Podrá la cruz de madera
erigida junto a la frontera
regresarnos a nuestras hermanas
o servirá para atraer mas turistas
como moscas a la sangre?

¿Cuándo se acabarán estas conspiraciones?
¿Cuándo se acabaran estas monstruosidades?
Menos preguntas / Mas respuestas

by José Hernández Díaz

The maquiladoras stand atop      
                           a        desert        grave

The  vultures       The  worms       That  swarm       our
Sister's       footprints   on       The   sand       no

Will she   work    The night  
                                           has won          her  bloody    handprints
                                           on       The wall         her  shawl

The maquiladoras stand atop    
                             a        desert        grave.

by Alma Luz Villanueva

LISTEN. My skull
rattle skirt as I
pass by. The rattle
in my hand, life, death,

life, death, rain.
Listen. Where I walk,
where I dance, the
dead spring to life,

each girl, young
woman, a tender
flower, a spiky
flesh tearing cactus.

Listen. As I pass
how their spirits
sing, "Madre Coatlique,
I am born again,

I am not here,
do not mourn me
here, I am flesh
made new, Madre

Coatlique." Listen.
My skull rattle skirt,
the rattle in my hand,
brings life, death, rain,

and to the men who took
precious life, a curse
on their line for seven
generations. Listen. A

blessing to those
with courage
to heal it. Listen.
Thunder, lightning, skull rattle


Listen. I want my
daughters, granddaughters,
to know how to (ancient
martial arts) break the

trachea, push bone
into brain, their life
giving, death giving
hands. I want them

to know they hold
life/death in their hands,
to fight for the Self
is sacred. To fight

for their children is
always sacred. To wield
a sword, a knife (carry it),
sacred. Listen.

You were born from the
sweet darkness of
my womb, the journey
of my pain, vagina.

I do not ask for
respect, I claim
it. I am your warrior
ancestor, Madre Coatlique.

skull rattle,


Alma Luz Villanueva
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2012

Nancy Aidé González, Andrea Mauk, Abel Martinez, Iris De Anda, Odilia Galván Rodríguez , John Martinez, Pedro L. Ramirez , Claudia D. Hernández, José Hernández Díaz, Alma Luz Villanueva

Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet who lives in Lodi, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 2000. Her work has appeared in Calaveras Station Literary Journal, La Bloga, Everyday Other Things, Mujeres De Maiz Zine, and La Peregrina. She is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group based in Sacramento, California which honors the literary traditions of Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She currently calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and writes extensively aboutmusic, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry.

Abel Martinez was the 12th born child of migrant farmworkers in project housing in Fresno, California.  At 16 years old, Abel joined the multicultural poetry and music ensemble, Troka, led by now poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.  Troka performed around the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and throughout the East Coast.  This experience left an indelible impression on Abel, and from that time, music, art, and poetry would always play a key role in his life.  Throughout the years, Abel has played in various music groups, written poetry for publications, created specialty cakes professionally, designed phone applications for parents and children, and is working on a script for a horror movie.
Abel earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is working as a Clinician serving low income children and families in Santa Clara County.  Although he has left the barrio he grew up in years ago, Abel’s dedication to the community returns him every day in his work as a Clinician and in his writings; which deal with poverty, racism, and the duality associated with being Latino in the United States.  He is completing hours toward licensure and plans to open a practice helping people deal with traumatic events.

Iris De Anda is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. A native of Los Angeles she believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams.  Follow her story http://irisdeanda.typepad.com/la_writer_underground/

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades.  Odilia is one of the founding members and a moderator of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on Facebook.  She teaches creative writing workshops nationally, currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/ or contact her at Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.

Pedro L. Ramirez is a Nopalero.  With the Nopaleros, he received the 2008 Rigoberta Menchu World Peace Award. He attended Fresno State University as an EOPS student and holds both a B.A. and M.A. in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

Since 1991, Pedro has been teaching at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA. where he has taught in the Migrant Transition Program working with Migrant farm- workers and urban youth. Pedro has taught in the Puente Project. He now teaches basic composition, critical thinking, Chicano Literature, and Creative Writing. 

He is the founder of Raza Advocacy for Education, Chicano Writer's Artist's Association (CWAA) at Fresno State, and a founding member of Cultural Awareness Programs (CAP) at Delta College, where he hosted noted speakers and poets including Rigoberta Menchu, Victor Martinez, Francisco X.  Alarcon, Gary Soto, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Margarita Luna Robles.

Pedro is dedicated to promoting poetry, diversity and cultural competency on the Delta Campus. Pedro has published his poetry in La Bloga, Poets Espresso- Stockton, Iowa Review, Blue Unicorn, La Opinion of Los Angeles, Sentimientos del Valle, Artifact, El Tecolote SF, La Voz de Atzlan.

A native of Fresno, Pedro began his teaching career at San Francisco and Fresno State Universities, and Fresno City College. He credits Fresno's rich creative writing community for inspiring him to write and teach. Pedro publishes a  student generated semester poetry magazine.

He has worked as a farm worker, janitor, and a gas station attendant. He loves working with students, as does his Wife of 31 years math teacher Betty N. Ramirez of East L.A. You can contact Pedro here.

Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory...

Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, 'Soft Chaos' (2009). A few poetry anthologies: 'The Best American Poetry, 1996,' 'Unsettling America,' 'A Century of Women's Poetry,' 'Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World.' Three novels: 'The Ultraviolet Sky,' 'Naked Ladies,' 'Luna's California Poppies,' and the short story collection, 'Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories.' Some fiction anthologies: '500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century,' 'Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America,' 'Coming of Age in The 21st Century,' 'Sudden Fiction Latino.' The poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past fourteen years. And is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings.

Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past eight years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory.


Manuel Ramos said...

Arte Público's Open House is September 7, not June 7. Congratulations on the new digs.

msedano said...

Is it September already? You can see what happens to retired minds when they're having so much fun.