Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Guest Comadres. Golden Age of Bookstores. First Floricanto in December.

Guest Columnist: Las Comadres Para Las Americas Interviews Lorraine López

Editor's Note: La Bloga receives this interview from Condor Book Tours, an entrepreneurial public relations firm specializing in virtual book tours and Latina Latino authors. Condor's currently representing Las Comadres Para Las Americas' book, Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships. Las Comadres Para Las Americas, a 501(c)(3) organization is an informal internet-based group that meets monthly in many US cities to build connections and community with other Latinas.

I'm happy to join Condor and Las Comadres' virtual book tour widening the readership for a book about nurturing.
--Michael Sedano

Las Comadres Interviews Count On Me Author Lorraine López

Las Comadres: How you were first introduced to Las Comadres?

Lorraine: Well – my book, The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters, came out about, I want to say 4 to 5 years ago I’m not sure. And at the time it was selected as a Las Comadres/Borders pick. That’s how I first became aware of Las Comadres. The same thing happened when my second novel came out – The Realm of Hungry Spirits – so I was interviewed on the air by Las Comadres. They publicized the book and it was just a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for me. Since then, I’ve learned about the organization and have been wholly impressed. I especially admire how after Borders® went under, the organization found a way to continue without that support.

Las Comadres: Do you have any favorites in Count on Me?

Lorraine: oh, I love Carolina de Roberti’s piece, which I read again this morning – very moving piece, just… very powerful. Also, Esmeralda Santiago’s piece I admire and Stephanie Elizondo-Greist, who is a contributor for one collection of ours, another anthology. I know her work and I’ve read her books and I loved her piece. I love the humor in it, the wit.

Las Comadres: Is there a character in the book that you most identify with?

Lorraine: That’s hard to say. I think there’re bits and pieces. I think because Carolina’s piece is so fresh in my mind – I would have to say that impetus to finish a book for someone. That resonates with me. I’ve never done that but I can see the feeling behind that, I can really empathize strongly with that; that desire, that motivation.

Las Comadres: Your story is the only story in the collection that addresses the bond, the Comadre connection between the mentor and the mentee. What do you hope readers get out of your expression?

Lorraine: I hope that they realize as the late Dr. Juan Bruce Novoa has said that this a great time to be a writer when we do have mentors, we do have people like Judith Ortiz Cofer, who are in a position to share their wisdom, share their resources, share pragmatic tips with this generation. This second generation and now even a third generation is emerging and so I hope that there is that recognition that yes, I need to avail myself of this resource of the wise women and men who have come before me and take advantage of this and to reach my potential through this help. There is nothing wrong or bad about it. It’s a great tradition, if fact. I hope that there’s that recognition that we are not alone. We are not alone as a Latina writer. You’re not alone. You have people who have found their way, established a path and you can rely on them. Whether it’s just by being in their physical presence- I was lucky enough to be in the physical presence of Judith Ortiz Cofer but you can also do this with books, by reading the works of pre-established writers who forged the way for us.

I hope that there is something that comes of this.

Las Comadres: Do you feel that there is a strong distinction and difference between saying that someone is a friend or saying someone is Comadre? And if so, how do you describe that distinction?

Lorraine: Comadre… The idea of Comadre, to me, suggests layers of mutual benefit; that symbiosis. Friendship is less layered. For me, friendship is… ‘yes, this is my friend. I enjoy this persons company’ but we are not beholden to one another in the way that comadrazgo does make one beholden to the other person. A friend might, for example- just a pragmatic example – a friend might send me an email. I am under no compunction to answer that for 24 hours. But, if my Comadre sends me an email, I need to answer it right away. If my Comadre calls, I always need to take that call. And it works the other way, too. We need to be…know that we can, as the book says, count on one another. There is that element of ‘yes, I depend on you and you depend on me’. We can be reliable to one another- we MUST be.

Las Comadres: What do you see as the reasons that a woman needs a Comadre in her life?

Lorraine: Wow! Well, first I would start with: Just for the purpose of having someone you trust and rely on. I think that is just the basic building block of human relationship that has depth and substance, knowing there is someone there you can trust and someone you can rely on.

Secondly – and I don’t want to say that men don’t need this as well but – I think relationships between men have been really firmly entrenched in professional systems and academic systems and we even have a name for it in the South, ‘The Good Ol’ Boys Club” and I think women have been locked out of that for a very long time. In fact, there is this big bru-ha-ha because the CEO of Yahoo! ® is now pregnant. The first pregnant woman to ever be a CEO of a major corporation and this is so exciting.
Okay, this is 2012 but we’re talking it’s taken so long. So it’s evidence that we are not where we should be; we are not represented as we should be. So, I think, for women this kind of relationship is even more important. In my life it has been integral to my success and to my professional advancement, for sure. That is stated plainly in my essay. I think we need help and we need to help each other because we have been disenfranchised, and we have been marginalized so this is critical, ‘critical’ as such a relationship is.

And third, I would say… it’s just plain fun to have Judith in my life. She’s smart, she’s funny and that goes with the element of trust. You can’t relax and joke with someone you cannot trust.

She’s coming to visit in February to give a reading at Vanderbilt and that is getting me through the semester already, which hasn’t started. Just the idea that she will be here soon, and I can laugh and I can relax and I can be with someone that I trust and love and admire.

Those are three reasons. I’m sure I could continue but… It’s a source – almost like refueling. You meet this person who has become an integral part of your life and when you see her you feel invigorated, re-energized – so I guess that’s number four, (laugh).

Las Comadres: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Lorraine: Well, probably a negative thing. You know, I love my books. I always love my books and I love my writing. My ‘Homicide Survivors Picnic’ was a pen popular finalist and I got to go to D.C. That was a really wonderful day. I feel like that might be the zenith of my writing career and I'm glad to have had that and that’s great. It was also liberating, now I can feel ‘okay, I did that and now I can just write for me.’

So, that was pretty great but I think really, the best accomplishment, the thing I feel proudest about, apart from my children, I'm very proud of my children, is that when I was in a really bad situation, I didn’t do something terrible. I could have done something really, really terrible. I thought about doing something unspeakably terrible that would have changed me forever and I decided not to do it. I'm proud of that. I'm really, really proud at not doing the terrible thing.

Las Comadres: My last question is more like a fill in the blank… I am proud to be a Latina because: ______(fill in the blank).

Lorraine: Because this is the great time to be a Latina, and especially a great time to be a Latina writer. The world is just opening up for us in big and beautiful ways and I feel very lucky to be part of that.

About Lorraine López
Lorraine Lopez’ first book, Soy la Avon Lady, won the inaugural Miguel Marmól Prize. Her novel, Call Me Henri, was awarded the Paterson Prize, and her novel, The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, was a 2008 Borders/Las Comadres Selection. Lorraine’s short story collection, Homicide Survivors Picnic, was reviewed in La Bloga and was a 2010 Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize. She edited a collection of essays titled, An Angle of Vision. Her novel, The Realm of Hungry Spirits, was released in 2011. She has co-edited, with Blas Falconer, The Other Latin@. She teaches fiction writing at Vanderbilt University. Learn more about Lorraine at www.lorrainelopez.net

Arte Publico Announces Secret Discount 

It’s a shame brick and mortar booksellers now fade into memory. In ten years, readers are going to recall warmly the golden age of books when most books came printed on paper people shopped for them off physical shelves and if the store didn't have a title you had to order off the internet anyhow. Long before implants, when readers schlepped around iPads.

Until my eyes give out, I'll be one of those tipos insisting on holding the books I read, although I admit to enjoying the swift enlargement of words with the pinch of a finger or a Command + keyboard shortcut, and the space-saving convenience of PDF review copies.

In his column last Friday, Manuel Ramos discerns the existence of a Golden Age for raza writing. Gente are producing increasing numbers of books and related media, there's a universe of literary ephemera like blogs and message board manifestoes. Spoken word art takes on a life of its own in cities across the continent. Writers expand the literary purview into personal essays, travel writing, mystery, speclit, YA, children's picture books.

Who knows what today’s gatekeeping system of east coast publishing houses will look like then, under the competitive onslaught of self-publication and academic and small press?

Gone are the days of driving or walking from bookstore to bookstore, of lingering through the shelves of a friendly bookseller, or leafing through Books in Print for the right edition.

With convenience comes access. Those local bookstores were another gatekeeper. Readers traded immediacy for the bookseller’s inventory policy. With mail-order buying via computer, buyers select from limitless catalogs of new and used books, and see their purchases arrive within a few days of ordering.

Better still, readers can order publisher-direct to gain access to the widest selection of related titles. A recent email from the industry’s premier publisher of latina latino writing, Arte Publico Press, sweetens the prospect. Use the code HOLIDAY12 when checking out and receive 35% discount on titles in Arte Publico’s catalogs.

December 2012 Floricanto to Begin Twelfthmonth
Arnoldo Garcia, Jabez W. Churchill, Tom Sheldon, Victor Avila, Elizabeth Cazessús

Launching the year's final month is December's first floricanto. This week, the moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance, nominate seven poems from five poets:
"La comuna de la lengua / The commune of the tongue" by Arnoldo Garcia
“Credo Particular / My Creed” by Jabez W. Churchill
“Petroglyphs” by Tom Sheldon
"Grail" by Victor Avila
“Desierto en fuga” por Elizabeth Cazessús

La comuna de la lengua | The commune of our tongue [extracts]
Arnoldo Garcia

a communion
of commotion
a commovement
of movements
who will revolutionize
the skin
of our languages
our tongues
as invisible
as transparent
as the most illegal of illegals
as the most undocumented of undocumented
as the most minority of minorities
as the most queer of the queer
as the most visible of the invisible
as the most remembered of the forgotten
as the lowest of the lowliest
as the most homeless among the homelandless
as the most human of humanityness
so when you put your words in the vibrating air
anyone can step into them
feel at home
transliterating freedoms
obliterating the muteness
making the world
into jagged pieces
that fit together in their crags and ragged tendernesses
disperses in orderly chaos
organizes in spontaneous spring-times, whatever the season
who dares make the commotion together
who dares make the movement different
who cares about tomorrow, the natural world
who cares about the land, the community
who cares about our bones, the wind
who dares the sun to return for the sixth time, the continents
who dares to stop time
and return to the starting place?
I am a human out of place
I am a human in a country no longer human
I am a human in every road, path, trail, a movement
Congealing, coalescing, germinating
on the magnetic waves of tenderness
on the gravitational fields of freedom
on the bare arms of a campesina
a commotion
a communition
a cosmomovement of neighbors.


I do not want a revolution of empleados
I want a revolution of emplumados.


No quiero una revolución de empleados
Quiero una revolución de emplumados.

Credo Particular
por Jabez W. Curchill

Creo en ambos dioses,
el Padre y la Santa Madre,
sin nombre
en el traqueteo de los otros
y en sus hijos danzarines
engendrados como hojas,
como luz,
de la misma substancia
discernible e inimaginable
a que todo tiene que sacudir.

Creo que somos encarnados
del mismo espiritu fotosintetico
sin jucio,
sin excepcion,
destinados todos a la salvación.

Pero no creo
que ninguna religión
o propio evangelio
se aproxime o se acerque
suficiente a la Creación
para que justifique criticar
menos condenar
o aliviarnos
de la responsibilidad particular
de florecer
y en el viento deleitar.

My Creed
by Jabez W. Curchill

I believe in both Gods,
the Father and the Holy Mother,
in the rattle of the rest,
and in their sons
and twirling daughters
begotten as leaves,
as light,
being of the same substance,
seen and unimagined,
to which all things must flutter.

I believe we are incarnate
with the same Spirit,
without judgement,
without exception.
All, destined for salvation.

But I don’t believe
that any church,
any religious doctrine,
approximates Creation,
comes close enough to justify opinion, less condemnation,
or relieve us
from our individual responsibility
to fully blossom,
revel in the wind.

©Tom Sheldon

Clues to the iconic ambiguity

appear like old vines

resting upon eroded hills

dug along the skirt of mesa

the poetic lore.....

tall tales and handed down songs

planted inside children

a shared realm

that live in stone still

faintly etched pictograms

so transparent one can look through

and see the world

Natural luminous things

like tracks in the snow

homecoming myths migrations

of stars ancient origins

of ragged mountains

in deer whose limbs

lie in latent flight

and the suns light

cast and reflected back

for Palestine
Victor Avila

A great weight rests on all our tongues
and the barbs around our hearts
makes us barricades of silence.

Tell me then, how can I speak to you
if it's not by shouting?

I shout at the hard sky,
I shout into the ear of a low hanging star.

I shout when my heart is withering like black fruit-
Or when other hearts become brutal hammers
of hate and venom.

A bitter knife carves obscenties into my tender stomach
and I want to shout to stones,
"Please, I am bleeding and my wound is great"-
but the stones are pitiless tonight.

So I scream until my voice is filled with hoarse sobs.

And I wait for the wound to heal-
I wait for the lost blood to become a great tree
which is heavy with fruit.
I wait for lost emeralds to be reset
in my God's sick crown.

I become a romantic with ten hands
but am not allowed to use one.

Ultimately, the barricades are not dismantled
and the barbs are not pulled free,
the weight is not suspended.

Tell me then, how can I speak to you
if it's not by shouting?
How can my Grail of Hope once again be filled?

Elizabeth Cazessús

Salir al camino sin saber a donde ir
-porque el saber no está en el mapa
si no más adentro de la aventura-
descubrir lo semejante,
la naturaleza salvaje, lo sagrado
desatender la ciudad que vas dejando atrás,
sorprenderte como un niño
ver los campos sembrados, palizadas,
osamentas de ballenas, anuncios extemporáneos,
largos terrenos de chamizos, palo verde y serpientes
extensiones que las nubes bañan de más allá
dunas en contraste con el mar y ese sentimiento al fondo
de arenas ensimismadas bajo la luz de sol.
hasta que la mirada abarca sabes que son tuyos.
Un solitario cactus a contraluz es todo lo que tienes
después de que has pasado por las ruinas
de otro cementerio de piedras
y edificios escarpados por el fracaso.
Tú, sigues ahí, con tu brazada extendida en el valle de los cirios
con su montaje improvisado y caminos espinosos
Todo lo que no verán más tus ojos porque en este instante
ya no estamos, ni somos lo que dijimos ser.
Seremos otros a contra canto de este aroma
del desierto en fuga.


"La comuna de la lengua | The commune of the tongue" by Arnoldo Garcia
“Credo Particular / My Creed” by Jabez W. Churchill
“Petroglyphs” by Tom Sheldon
"Grail" by Victor Avila
“Desierto en fuga” por Elizabeth Cazessús

Arnoldo García lives and writes in Oakland, CA. "La comuna de nuestra lengua" is part of a collection of poems and writings called La revolución emplumada (forthcoming). Arnoldo posts poetics, commentary, news & analysis on http://lacarpadelfeo.blogspot.com and
http://www.twitter.com/arnoldogarcia C/S

Jabez W. Churchill. Born in Northern California, educated in Argentina and California. Single dad, currently teaching Spanish at Santa Rosa Junior College and Mendocino College. (S.R.J.C., since 1986), and California Poet in the Public Schools since 1998. Civilly disobedient since 1969. Submitting poetry for publication since 1979.

SONG OF SEASONS, Small Poetry Press, 1996
CONTROLLED BURN, Small Poetry Press, 1996
SLEEPING WITH GHOSTS, Kulupi Press, 1999
THE VEIL, Kulupi Press, 2000
SANTA CLARA REVIEW, Spring/Summer 2002
americas review, 2003
languageandculture.net, chapbook series, 2005
FIRST LEAVES, Literary and Art Journal, 2009
Most currently, in laBloga, Poets Responding to SB1070
and THE ARTS UNITED SAN ANTONIO, May and August, 2012
Featured at the Summer Dream Poetry Festival in Vancouver, B.C. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Cuba, 2000. Spain, Summer 1999.

My name is Tom Sheldon and I come from a large Hispanic family with roots in Spain, Mexico and New Mexico. I enjoy writing poetry which allows me connection and a voice and I write daily. I've had a few small successes in having my poems published. Thank you for reading my work.

Victor Avila is an award-winning poet. Two of his poems were recently included in the anthology Occupy SF-Poems from the Movement. Victor is also a graphic artist whose work has been featured in Ghoula Comix.

Elizabeth Cazessús, Tijuana B. C. México, 1960.
BLOG: El palpitar de las letras, letronomo.blogspot.com

Es maestra de nivel primaria, egresada de Esc. Normal Benito Juárez.1978/1982.
Realizó Periodismo Cultural, 1983 a 1992 en Tijuana. Dirigió el sumplemento cultural Arrecife, de Sol de Tijuana.

Poeta performancera. Es autora de ocho libros de poesía: Ritual y canto,1994, Veinte “Apuntes antes de Dormir, 1995; Mujer de Sal, 2000; Huella en el agua, IMAC 2001; Casa del sueño, Gíglico ediciones, 2006; Razones de la dama infiel, Gíglico ediciones 2008; No es mentira este paraíso, Colección ed,.Cecut/Conaculta.2009.
Enediana, Ed. Giglico, 2010.

Ha participado en varios encuentros internacionales de poesía:
Los Angeles California, 1991; Phoenix, Arizona, 2003; Mujeres poetas en el país dela Nubes, Oaxaca, Oax.; 2000 y 2001; La Habana, Cuba, 2003, Chile Poesía Santiago de Chile, 2005; Poetas del Mundo Latino Morelia, Mich, México 2010; Puerto Rico, Ferias del Libros 2004 y 2007; Festival de Poesia, Puerto Rico,. 2011, Festival Latinoamericano de Poesía Cd. de Nueva York, Oct. 2012.

Ha participado presentando su obra. FIL de Guadalajara, No es mentira este paraíso y Feria del Libro del Zócalo,Cd. de México D.F. 2010.

Obtuvo la beca del FONCA, 1998.
Ha obtenido los premios: Municipal de Poesía, en los Juegos Florales de Tijuana, 1992;
Premio de Poesía, Anita Pompa de Trujillo en Hermosillo, Sonora, 1995;

Su obra ha sido traducida a los idiomas inglés y al polaco.

Esta incluida en las siguientes antologías: “Across the Line”, Junction Press, San Diego Ca. 2003; “Trilogía de Poetas de Hispanoamérica: Pícaras, Místicas y Rebeldes”, México D.F. 2004; Memoria del Encuentro Chile- Poesía, 2005; Antología de Poesía Hispanoamericana, “El Rastro de las Mariposas”, Lima, Perú, 2006; Antología de “Voces Sin Fronteras”, Montreal, Canadá, 2006; “Mujeres Poetas de México” (1945-1965), Atemporia, 2008; Revista, La Nueva Región de los poetas (Nowa Okolica Poetow), Varsovia, Polonia, 2008; San Diego Poetry Annual, Ca. E.U.A. 2008; Nectáfora, Antología del Beso en la Poesía Mexicana, México, D.F. 2009, Antologia del Festival Latinoamericano de Poesía, CD. de Nueva York, 2012.

Ha realizado recitales poético/musicales haciendo montajes con su propia obra y de autores hispanoamericanos, titulados:
Ritual y Canto, 1995, “Veinte apuntes antes de dormir”, 1998, “Rosario Castellanos, mujer de muchas palabras”; “Voces Irreverentes, ” (Homenaje a Susana Chávez, poeta asesinada en CD. Juárez, 2010). “ Diosas de la Poesía Hispanoamericana”, Centro Cultural y Feria del Libro ,de Tijuana, 2011.

Acompañó alternadamente a Carlos Monsivaís, interpretando voces de la poesía de la popularidad, en la conferencia: Mamá Soy Paquito, Universidad de San Diego, 2009.


Hair Thingies said...

"This is the great time to be a Latina, and especially a great time to be a Latina writer," says Lorraine Lopez. I whole-heartedly agree! Growing up, I always somehow felt ashamed of my heritage, even though my parents always wanted me to be proud. I'd felt that growing up in a working class Mexican-American neighborhood had somehow been a hindrance.

Now even though I don't necessarily walk around waving a Latina flag, I completely embrace that it is part of who I am, and I let it come out in my writing, my music playing, my mannerisms... no one ever leaves my house without being well-fed and a big abrazo.

Elba Iris Pérez, Ph.D. said...

It's important to be optimistic; but let's keep in mind that writers need to do more than writing. We need to buy & read each others books, participate in and be supportive of groups like Las Comadres Para Las Americas who pave the way for many of us to become visible. (I'm giving "Count on Me" as Xmas gifts this year.) We need to step out to create and nurture an audience; and most important, our writing must excel. It is up to each individual writer to be prepared to take advantage of this wonderful moment.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

I love Lorraine Lopez' work, so I was excited to read her interview. I definitely enjoyed reading about what her greatest achievement was and also what the word 'comadre' means to her. I've always thought that it referred to someone who was a godparent - as I was taught that within my own Chicano household. I had no idea it moved beyond that single relationship and included female friendships in general. I love knowing this now and will most definitely be employing that term when I refer to my friends and family. Count on Me sounds like a great book that I need to read ASAP!