Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Women Writers At Work. Global Modernities Conference. Poetry Reader Contest. On-line Floricanto

Women Writers At Work Panel Discussion Fills  Eastside Café

Michael Sedano

El Sereno's Eastside Café is one of those spots whose four walls define a space but more importantly, contains a spirit and energy that fills one's heart and makes one long for silly things like winning the lotto and lugging in a wheelbarrow of cash, dumping it on the floor, and seeing what the gente can do with unlimited funding that matches their unlimited ganas.

Saturday, April 6, brought me to Eastside Café for a thoroughly engaging afternoon with a panel of accomplished writers and a full house of eager ears. Most listened through their fingers, taking notes on  consejos and anecdotes shared from the writers up front.

Organized in collaboration with Mujeres de Maíz, whose 2013 theme is "Identity Blinging," by Alejandra Sánchez for her Graduate Field Study at Antioch University Los Angeles, the discussion provided one of the capstones for a series of four workshops, platicas and readings curated by Sánchez and poets Olga García Echeverría and Iris de Anda.

Produced under the banner of "Weaving Words, Creating Worlds: Healing and Empowerment as Women Storytellers," the series clearly serves a strong writing community in this area of El Lay.

Sánchez prepared an extensive set of prompts that, initially, caught the panelists biting their tongues. Perhaps communication apprehension, or maybe the moderator did not provide advance copies to the panelists, but after a few moments of discomfited silence--who'll go first?--Fe Montes jumped in and got the panel moving in the right direction. 

Subjects covered the usual for a writers panel: how do you: promote yourself as a writer; promote your  your art; find publishing opportunity; find money; decide to self-publish; enter contests? 

Alejandra Sánchez moderated the discussion.
The prompts and questions worked. Saturday's audience sizzled with inspiration and the imperative to pursue the dream. 

Sensing and sensitive to a generation gap, I asked Alejandra Sánchez about that "identity blinging" phrase. She replies, "my take on Identity Blinging is this: 'blinging' is like showing your shine. Bling is a word for jewels, diamonds, sparkle. When one "blings" their identity they show their identity, shine themselves brightly, stand strong in their power and beauty.

Felicia "Fe" Montes 
Strength. Power. Beauty. Indeed, the women shone brilliantly, stood tall, and exhibited the strength that comes of determination to pursue the writing dream.

Here are women. Here are writers. Here is the ongoing fulfillment of Mujeres de Maíz' mission statement: Our mission is to unite and empower women of all ages, colors, and sexualities by creating safe community spaces that provide art education, mentorship, art exhibition, and publishing opportunities.

Bloguera Olga García Echeverría
The powerful message that no one makes a living from writing but that is no reason not to engage a passion for literary expression, energized the panelists. García, for example, told how she quit her job in California, pulled up stakes and headed to El Paso to join the University of Texas campus' frontera writing program. 

García related the importance of asking about honoraria when organizations ask her to read or conduct writing workshops. She and the others often work for free, but must use their time judiciously and not hesitate to ask if there's compensation.

An alternative to a cash payout is getting a table. When doing a free reading, that table can pull in a couple hundred dollars.

Jenny Factor
Jenny Factor offered the afternoon's most practical advice. While employed full-time in the dot com industry, Factor told the assembly she'd save a few dollars out of every paycheck, knowing that one day she would use the savings to support herself as she pursued her writing.

On the subject of entering contests--pay to play--Factor advocates prioritizing contests. Her "A" list included only her career-making opportunities: win one of these and the prize is a publication and notice from the big houses. 

The "B" list is contests whose winning would bring acclaim, perhaps a few dollars, but to advance one's career requires winning a handful of "B" levels.

"C" list contests are the attractive-sounding, obscure, small prize--or none--offerings that one could use to practice entering contests.

Factor observed she budgets a certain amount of cash each year for contests (and magazine subscriptions) and when she reaches her limit, ceases her participation.

center, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
Similarly superbly-organized, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo talked about a reading series she organizes out of Venice's Beyond Baroque Literary | Arts Center in Venice, California, and how she manages a career teaching high school and her artistic career.

Serendipity comes into play. Bermejo recounted how she was semi-coerced into producing her first chapbook. She'd been invited to read at an important festival--by mistake. When Bermejo pointed that out, the organizers invited her anyway. Bermejo produced the chapbook in order to have something to show at the reading, giving her writing career an immediate boost.

Bermejo is not the only teacher on the panel. García, Montes, and Andrea García Mauk also work as school teachers, while Factor is on the Antioch faculty.

Andrea García Mauk
Andrea García Mauk offered the entrepreneuse side of writing. A graduate of film school, Mauk knows the challenges of getting projects funded. To resolve the issue, Mauk launched her own company, Dancing Horse Media Group.

Mauk and Dancing Horse Media are nearing completion of their initial print output, a multimedia cookbook featuring healthy, gluten-free recipes. 

Dancing Horse had a call for submissions in 2012. In a small world coincidence, Mauk told how an entry that arrived late was just the missing piece she wanted and accepted it for publication. Its writer is Sánchez.

Wrapping up the afternoon, Sánchez asked the panel to share a book title and encouraging anecdotes about serendipitous results and other inspirations learned from hard knocks that every published writer can recount. Sánchez observes, "it's important to end a platica with creative writers in a way that can be a springboard for more creativity and inspiration."

Alejandra Sánchez will round out the event with a summary article and the book titles the panelists recommended. In addition, a Mujeres de Maíz videographer documented the full session. La Bloga will provide a follow-up when Sánchez' website goes live.

Cal State LA Hosts Conference on Global Modernities

Must bust in early May / Orders from the DA / Look out kid, you've done it again.

La Bloga friend Roberto Cantú isn't singing Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," but in early May, Cantú and his colleagues in the Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conference Series, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the Department of Chicano Studies, the Department of English, the Barry Munitz Fund, and the Emeriti Association, again sponsor their annual Spring event on May 3-4, 2013, Conference on Global Modernities.

Except for CSULA's hefty parking fees and dining, the Conference is public and free.

The event continues a conversation started at the 2011 edition of the Modernity, Critique, and Humanism conference. This year's focus falls on global demography, biodiversity, political and social movements in different parts of the world.

True to Cantú's dedication to scholarship, Conference on Global Modernities invites scholarly inspection of (a) practices of interaction in civic, communitarian, national, and global communication; (b) pedagogical forms of instruction that are emergent and innovative in the research and study of globalization; (c) challenges to our consumption habits by new research on endangered ecosystems and on the planet’s failing biodiversity; (d) theoretical innovations in the fields of literature and the arts, criticism, social theory, demographics, and philosophical and critical thought.

CSULA is not in Westwood but on the Eastside of town, where CSULA is the default election for students who cannot afford to go away to college. Home to a large population of "non-traditional" students like re-entry women, returning war Veterans, working full-time and going to school part-time gente, CSULA overlooks East Los from its hillside in El Sereno.

Find details on the Conference on Global Modernities website.

Mail Bag. 
Musical Evening Fundraiser for Tarahumara

The musical program by harpist extraordinaire Xavier Montes and Trio de Colores is a darn good reason to attend this worthwhile event. The guest list already confirming their attendance--a montón of notable artists and writers--will be another highlight of what promises to be a delightful evening of chatter, chow, and cancíones.

I'll see you there.

Mail Bag, from Tim Z. Hernandez
Tell Us Their Names - The "Deportees"

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

I don't know if their names were Juan, Rosaltia, Jésus and Maria, the deportees, but Tim Z. Hernandez' next novel will tell their stories and their names.

Indebted to the dead farmworkers for the novel, Hernandez has launched a project to erect a headstone bearing the names of the anonymous victims Unitedstatesian musical genius Woody Guthrie sings about in his song "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos."

The fundraiser for the headstone goes down in Fresno Califas. Click here for the venue's webpage.

Guthrie's son, Arlo, sings the song in this YouTube:

La Voz de San Antonio 

In the belief that poetry comes alive when spoken out loud, Carmen Tafolla invites members of the community to participate in La Voz de San Antonio...

Are you between ­ five and ninety-­five? Do you have a favorite poem of your own or a poem by a poet you love? It could be a poem your grandmother taught you in Spanish when you were five, something you recited in school 30 years ago, or something you wrote just last year. Come out and show the world your VOZ -- La Voz de San Antonio.
Carment Tafolla
San Antonio Poet Laureate

To find out more, and to register online, click here for Gemini Ink's website.

On-line Floricanto: Second of Five for April Twenty-thirteen
Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Tom Sheldon, Barrio Poet, Anne Karpiak, Elizabeth Cazessús

"We Stopped Talking" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Storytelling" by Tom Sheldon
"Oda para mi Madre" by Barrio Poet
"Shake the Web" by Anne Karpiak
“Caligrafía del milagro" por Elizabeth Cazessús

We Stopped Talking
by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2013

She commandeered our group,
White woman on a mission
Shooting questions at us
About our projects.

We, a Pueblo Indian
A Chicana, and a Yaqui answered
Politely, kept our cool,
Dismissed her rudeness.

Just before time to report,
I asked about her project,
A movie about Tucson's
All Soul's Procession

She told us about people
Carrying giant puppets,
Painting their faces as skeletons,
Wearing costumes.

“More people are painting
Their faces the past few years.
It’s become
a new thing.”

I shook my head, "It's centuries
Old, came from Mexico."
"No,” she said, it's recent
Only in Tucson."

The others agreed with me.
I told her the procession
Was modeled after El Dia
De Los Muertos.

“No, it’s not,
Definitely not!”
“It’s a Tucson thing,
only in Tucson.”

She wouldn’t listen
So we stopped talking.

She reported for us
“Our group fell apart,” she said.
“These people
Refused to talk.”

The facilitator asked why.
“She wouldn’t listen to us,” I said.
“She was disrespectful,
So we stopped talking.”

Silence hung over the room
Like a heavy curtain,
A room full of Chicanos,
Native Americans, Asians.

No one talked
But we all knew.

When Folklore Field School
Was over, the facilitator asked
Our group to stay.
Only she stayed.

Next morning, she went
To each of us, apologized,
Said, “I don’t know what got in me,
Must have been my pain meds.”

by Tom Sheldon

The story circles
Searching for a center
A verbal shield
a mask a nimbus
Disclosing beyond appearances
Telling of a sacred mystery
Animals and warring twins
Sweeping Bajadass
And starry skies
con ursa major
Of shared beginnings
and told stories
Cool and delicate as snow melt
Legacies in a fragile web
Carried on voices
So that our children’s children
Become who they are intended to be

Oda para mi Madre
by Barrio Poet

I learned Spanish
reading your brown and white
paperback novels
with plump breasted
and square jawed romanticos

chaparrita con ojos verdes,
santaneca, güanaca,
madre eterna

your songs trailed through
the screen door
with the smell of roasted
chiles, disappearing
with the flight of pigeons
to rooftops with tiny rocks

Your voice, booming
still echoes
when I close my eyes
at mid afternoon as I try
to capture your sonnets
through memories of my juventud

your voice
a lullaby
a sigh
a jolt to the heart

for it stops at times

until you pray for me
clutching your rosario
y rezando un Padre Nuestro

by Anne Karpiak

She opened the book..
they said it was medicine...
lines pulled from the earth...
each one patterning tomorrows yesterday..
I am acceptance...she felt...I am love...
another line whispered....
she left her offerings...
thank yous in the winds....
making medicine with medicine..the stickman said..
watching the spider weave it's web...
hatched weblings....scattering in every direction...
absorbed into the earth.....shaking the web...

por Elizabeth Cazessús

La ciudad se abre por la ventana y son tus gestos
Un corolario al sentimiento que desaparece en la lejania
El bullicio instrumentado: zumbido de autos y pregones
imitan garabatos que quedan en los márgenes de la odre.

Destila tu voz la revelación del sueño gota por gota
A la luz del poema que partió tu cuerpo con su rayo
Ese milagro nacido del río contenido de la pasión
Para cantarle al mes de abril su desesperada elegía.


"We Stopped Talking" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Storytelling" by Tom Sheldon
"Oda para mi Madre" by Barrio Poet
"Shake the Web" by Anne Karpiak
“Caligrafía del milagro" por Elizabeth Cazessús

Elena Díaz Björkquist. “I have enjoyed being a moderator on Poets Responding to SB 1070 since it’s creation by Francisco and Odilia. It’s a pleasure opening poems and reading so many wonderful works, but always difficult to select the ones for La Boga’s Floricanto. I like being a friend and mentor to many great poets on Facebook. Reading poetry is an inspiration for writing my own poetry.”

A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.

As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena has performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci, Arizona for twelve years. She received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities. She was nominated for Tucson Poet Laureate in 2012.

Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.

Tom Sheldon. I was born and raised in New Mexico and come from a large Hispanic family. Since a very young I have always loved and appreciated the gift of creating in various forms. I am inspired by all mediums and particularly love nature, animals, and organic based topics. Southwestern themes and landscapes are among my favorites and the wonder and beauty of the Southwest continually inspires my artwork.
I am a self taught artist and have enjoyed a modicum of success, primarily in drawing and drafting. I have always utilized photography as a tool for composition and as an aid in drawing and painting, though recently I have begun to use photography as a medium in itself as well as a tool.
My work has been shown in local galleries, as well as the Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque. I have illustrated for Hawk Watch International (HWI) and have won art competitions at the State Fair level. I teach students on occasion as well.
In addition to drawing and painting, I write poetry, some of which has been featured in La Bloga,
Monique’s Passions e-magazine, Poets Supporting SB1070, Writers in the Storm, and Dreams and Divinities.

Born in East L.A., CA in 1973, Edward Vidaurre writes poetry about his upbringing and experiences of living in the barrio. Raised in Boyle Heights in the projects of Aliso Village, his poetry takes you through his memory of La Lucha. Known to his friends as Barrio Poet, Vidaurre says:” Sometimes the barrio claims us, holds us by our feet like roots in its field of chalk outlines closed off by the screaming yellow tape being pulled from its soul.”

Vidaurre is the founder of Pasta, Poetry & Vino and Barrio Poet Productions. He has been nominated for a pushcart prize for his poem, "Lorca in the Barrio" and also is co-editing an anthology called "Twenty" for Newtown, CT through El Zarape Press with Daniel Garcia Ordaz and Katie Hoerth.

Anne Karpiak is a Poet and Native Flute Player who lives in Buffalo, New York. Her photography, poetry and story have been featured in Yellow Medicine Review.  One of her poems can be found in Kim Shucks, Rabbit and Rose. Look for her poetry to be posted in April's poetry section of Indian Country Today for poetry month.


Amelia ML Montes said...

Wow-- gracias Em for your rich and jam-packed posting. Great to see Olga, info about the las mujeres writers, the conference, y poesia. Fabulous!

Daniel A. Olivas said...

Amazing post! Mil gracias for sharing all of this wonderful news.

Olga said...

Thanks for coming out to the Weaving Words panel discussion and for blogging about it here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the information and insights. La Bloga is a life-line to this "re-entry" woman. Your dedication and time is appreciated.