Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quince for the Parade. Calavera Contest. Time Binding On-line Floricanto.

First Time and Last Time At Pasadena's 15th Latina Latino Heritage Celebration

Michael Sedano

Over 1000 children marched and danced in Pasadena's northwest ethnic corridor as elements of the city's fifteenth annual Latino Heritage Parade and Jamaica.

The event attracts families and adolescents for a day in the sun, plus taking advantage of a host of public service information booths, and, for the first time, a literary cavalcade of local and regional authors and writers.

Organizations from Planned Parenthood to Public Health to the Tournament of Roses lined the walkway leading to shady spots near tennis courts and the portable stage.

The public health booth knows how to attract lines of kids to spin a roulette to win a pamphlet and a goody. The majority of presenters need to be reminded to stand and reach out to passersby, call attention to themselves.

The heritage day event attracts jazz and belly dancing schools in addition to a rich line-up of folkloricos and danzantes for the afternoon's stage attractions. Assigning an Emcee to the dance stage would add a ton of fun for the parents and dancers, as well as the scattered onlookers. Next year, I look for the Mayor or the local City Councilperson to work the crowd and give the kids a thrill.

Next year's organizers would do well to remind organizations who staff tables to bring attentive, motivated table-sitters. Only the staff at the library booth said hello to me. The man in the TofR wonderful ice cream suit ignored passers-by, engrossed in a conversation with a pal. Both of The Ambassadors were at lunch so buying an Hecho En Pasadena playera didn't happen.

For veterana organizer Roberta Martínez, there won't be a sixteenth Latino Heritage Parade and Jamaica. Martínez this year retires from her volunteer role organizing and ramrodding the event. 

Future Parade and Jamaica events will fall under leadership from the city's departments. Martínez could offer no direct information on who's planning next year's event.

Roberta Martínez, author of several Pasadena histories, worked with co-chairs of year's innovative author event, Thelma Reyna and La Bloga's Michael Sedano. Martínez invited entertainer-author Rick Najera to kick off the afternoon's talks.

Najera, whose work as a stand-up comedian, producer, and empresario has placed him among the industry's elite tier of Latino opinion leaders, has written a book, Almost White, recounting his life moving from a pura raza ambiente into an increasingly anglo world.

Almost White sounds like an interesting up-by-the-bootstraps account of one man's mobility. The title plays with a number of notions. For Najera, huero his familia would have called him, he would pass for white only to find himself the hapless butt of racism. It's a lifetime experience he confronts; "oh, but you're not one of those Mexicans".

In Najera's profession, selling Latina Latino themes and characters in Hollywood has challenges because raza characters and stories are not as salient as black counterparts, nor so different that whites can't play "our" roles. Najera laments that Chicana Chicano roles become irrelevant if scripts are written by non-raza writers. We don't need actors, Najera concludes, we need writers.

The author events are the first in the fifteen-year history of Pasadena's raza heritage events. It is Martínez' parting gift to future organizers.

Pasadena's gem of a facility, La Pintoresca Branch Library, enjoys a dedicated and hospitable staff in Pat Smith, Maria Barajas, and Rosa Cesaretti, whose efforts created an ideal environment for a pair of panels and readings.

In the first panel, La Bloga's Michael Sedano interviewed Andrea Mauk and Ricardo Acuña on their present work and direction. Mauk, who is publishing a largely gluten-free cookbook under her 
Dancing Horse Media Group/Corazón en un Platillo label, brought fabulous gluten-free chocolate chip cookies that delighted the audience.

Ricardo Acuña, who writes as "Ricky Luv" is a poet and graphic novelist. Acuña describes his The Realm / El reino as science-fiction, Twilight Zone level interest. Visit Acuña's website for videos of his highly engaging poetry performance and Friday poetry series.

The second panel, chaired by Thelma T. Reyna, featured historian Alex Moreno Areyan, biographer Luis Torres, and the poet-illustrator team of Gerda Govine Ituarte and Luis Ituarte.

Alex Moreno Areyan authored two histories with history-like titles. His newest book comes with a catchy title, Beach Mexican and a personal touch. Beach Mexican is Areyan's memoir of assimilation, losing, finding identity along California's Pacific edge.

Luis Torres, retired broadcast journalist, author and Latinopia critic, has devoted several years to working to capture the story of community and movimiento leader Vahac Mardirosian. Doña Julia's Children culminates the effort of capturing a giant in Torres' characteristic succinctness.

Gerda Govine Ituarte and Luis Ituarte make a husband-wife team of poet and illustrator. Govine speaks of uncompromising dedication to publishing poetry her way, no editors no outsiders up to the point of printing. Husband Luis Ituarte, who introduces himself as a formerly famous painter, offers loquacious observations on the couple's partnership. He translates his wife's work into Spanish, reading after her.

They publish limited edition, handmade books that sell for hundreds of dollars. They are beautiful things and temptations to a libros cartoneros collector. A similarly limited but not as handmade edition sells for $15.00 at a reading.

Moderator-Panelist Thelma T. Reyna shared her three books as well as led the discussion and Q&A that elicited excellent audience participation. Reyna's a tireless proponent and promoter of local and regional authors like today's fascinating assemblage of voices and those spotlighted in a recent Pasadena Weekly cover story.

As the second author panel closed, Ituarte asked Luis Torres for Torres' copy of Doña Julia's Children. Brandishing the borrowed copy, Ituarte endorsed the biography, telling the audience in no uncertain terms that the book's subject, Vahac Mardirosian, is a genuine hero who deserves their attention.

Ituarte, who envisions a frontera floricanto centered around Tijuana's La Casa del Tunel: Art Center, promises to keep La Bloga readers informed and involved as the idea begins to take shape.

Calaveritas Literarias Contest for DDLM
Mural, Boyle Heights, circa 1978.©msedano

Día de los Muertos celebrations in the United States parallel those of Mexico in many dimensions. One missing element from US-based DDLM observations is the poetic tradition of light verse calaveritas literarias. There's no formal requirement so long as the calavera expresses an idea, usually taking a satiric poke at some personage, or simply expressing actitud about death, dying, and burial. Death be not a big deal.
La Bloga's Contest: Send up to three calavera poems in English, Spanish, or mezcla to win inclusion in the October 29, On-line Floricanto, and perhaps a museum-quality print of the image here.

Place your calaveras literarias in the body of an email (no files, please) and be sure to include your name and mail address in event your work wins a photograph, or another prize TBA. Click here for the address, which is calaveras@readraza.com.

On-line Floricanto: Chicanos Unplugged
 Francisco X. Alarcon, Javier O. Huerta, Joseph Rios, JoAnn Anglin, and Paul Aponte

What if they gave a floricanto and only the gente who showed up got to enjoy the poetry? Except for the rare event that's broadcast, or fully videotaped, that's the way of floricantos. You gotta be at that place and that time, or you're plumb left out.

Today's La Bloga On-line Floricanto: Chicanos Unplugged, is La Bloga's equivalent of print DVR. We've asked La Bloga friend and Chicanos Unplugged organizer Nancy Aidé Gonzales to share selections from that recent floricanto held in Sacramento, California.

Joseph Rios

Bikini Island
For Paul Sanchez

The lieutenant says to us, he says, “Alright boys, about face. We don't want you staring directly into the blast.” My boat was out on Bikini Island for a while, see. You know why I say, my boat, right? Huh? Do yah? On account a me being the Chief, that's why. You didn't know that about this old man, did you? You're damn right I had my own boat. Betcha never met a Mexican with his own boat, have you? Not only does he know yah, but he's your own flesh and blood -- wiped your behind when you was younger too. Don't get sour, it's the truth.

Alright, alright. Where was I? The bomb. Right, so the brass told me to line the boys up topside. We had parked the boat seven miles away from the drop point. The lieutenant says to us, he says, “Alright boys, about face. We don't want you staring directly into the blast.” You see that bomb of their's was gonna unload the wrath of god, the devil, the clap, santee clause, and every ex-wife in the history of mankind---and these scientists thought that would be too much for our eyes to see. So I give the fellas the nod and we snap around real quick like, crisp. And we hold it there, waiting. For what? Not one of us could be sure.

A few seconds later, we all heard a sound so loud and so unlike anything any of us had ever heard and haven't heard since. The only word for it is: boom. Loud, though, loud as loud can get. So loud it sucks in every other cotton pickin sound, even the sound of your own voice in your own head. Loud. Loud! And at the same time: nothing. Naturally, we all turned around to take a look-see. Light ---light, I tell you---light like you wouldn't believe, unbelievable light.

Now, what I forgot to mention was: In the days leading up to the exercise we towed these decommissioned boats out there. You know what I mean by “decommissioned boats,” don't you? These are boats the brass said was no good anymore so we stopped using 'em. Not small ones neither, big sonsabitches, right near the drop point. They wanted to see what this bomb could do to a whole fleet. Well, let me tell you, I looked out there and that humungous cloud was rising out of the sea like one of these redwoods here and she was tossing those boats into the air like leaves in the wind. Leaves in the wind, I tell you: a dozen or more behemoths of welded iron and steel tossed about like they were nothin. And us guys, seven miles away-- were getting blown off onto our heels. Jeez-us Christ,  I can't believe I lived through that mess. Now, we didn't have it so bad, but those poor bastards who had to inspect those ships the next day, now they had the shit end of the stick, boy. My god, all those sonsabitches were dead within a month.

Joseph Rios was born and raised in the Central San Joaquin Valley. His chapbook Shadowboxing is forthcoming from Achiote Press.  His poems have been published in New Border, Poets Responding to SB1070, and elsewhere. Recently, he was a finalist for a Willow Books Literature Award. He studied literature at UC Berkeley and Fresno City College.

Javier O Huerta, left and below; Joseph Rios, right and above

Javier Huerta

from American Copia

In the 60s Jose Montoya will accompany Gertrude Stein to the
supermarket. As they pass the florist shop at the front of the store,
Stein will famously proclaim, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” Later
when he picks up a bag of rice and places it in his basket, Montoya
responds, “Arroz is arroz is arroz.” This is a defining moment in
Chicano poetry. We are to work within the American tradition, but
we shall write arroz poeticas on our own terms. On our own terms,

Una vez a mi tía Rocío
la atropellarron en Reynosa
cuando fue al súper y unos señores
la subieron a la pesera y mi tía iba
con mi prima irma y cuando llegó
a su casa su esposo le preguntó
              ¿qué te pasó?
y ella dijo
              me atropellaron.

Javier O. Huerta is the author of American Copia: An Immigrant Epic (Arte Publico 2012). Currently he is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at UC Berkeley.

Paul Aponte

Los Cabrones ©

We are one.
We are one.
We are tied into one.
A bunch of cool cabrones y cabronas. 
Chingones sin calzones.

Exposing ourselves for all to see 
our unabashed, uncensored words.
Our creativity flows in us, 
through us,
 between us, 
massaging our hearts and minds
 Our souls binds us.
 Shared muse, shared minds.

The stream we drink of 
is the future we think of. 
No bullshit.
 We're the cabrones,
chingones sin calzones.
 No stained covering for us.
 No strained loving for us.
 It's real, or it isn't.
 No bullshit.
 Words flowing
like the first tears we saw mamá crying, 
like dew rolling down una hoja de maguey, 
like tequila down a virgin throat. 
Our words flow for us, 
for you, 
from us. 
Popocatépetl never flowed like this. 
The quetzal was never as colorful
los cabrones, 
chingones sin calzones.

A poet, singer, engineer, lover of life and giver of words, Paul Aponte expresses his life, love, and passion within his bilingual compositions.  Touching on cultural upbringings, his words take the reader on a voyage of love, deep feeling, real life, and historical reflection. 

Paul has lived most of his life in Northern California. 

In the 80's, nine years were spent in Tucson, Arizona  where he connected with the truth and honesty of the Sonoran desert and grew fonder of the indigenous people of the land.  

Paul considers himself a Chicano poet and writes poetry in Spanish, English, and Spanglish, and enjoys breaking writing rules to communicate a truth in expression that can be seen in his writings.  

Paul can be seen reading his poetry at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento, where he now resides.

Nancy Aidé González

Rose Ranfla

Riding in the ’63 Impala
cruis’n  el corazon del barrio
passing by
carnalitos y carnalitas running through sprinklers
abuelas y abuelos on the porch talk’n about the old days
cholos playing handball at the high school
women in the beauty shop getting their hair did
rollin’ past
                          taquerias                       panaderias                     heladerias
I’m Your Puppet
La La Means I love You
Thin Line Between Love and Hate
Sabor  A Mi
                                                               through the streets of Califaztlan

Chrome spoke wheels spin
low and slow
variations of pink paint layers glisten
hard top covered in a garden of  hand painted gypsy roses
lean back upon velvet pink interior
flip the switch
hit the hydraulics
dip and raise
dip and raise
hop hop hop
off the ground in the intersection
the journey has just begun
let’s chase the immensity
 of the moment
 in estilo.
 (Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul Anthology)

Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet and educator. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. 

She attended Las Dos Brujas Writer’s Workshop in 2012. Her work has appeared in Calaveras Station Literary Journal, La Bloga, Everyday Other Things, Mujeres De Maiz Zine, La Peregrina, Huizache The magazine of Latino literature, DoveTales, Tule Review, and Seeds of Resistance Flor y Canto:Tortilla Warrior. 

Her work is featured in the Sacramento Voices: Foam at the Mouth Anthology (2013).   

She is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol. 

JoAnn Anglin


He doesn’t quite get the
mystery of it yet. I explain
how the cherry pit can hold
a tree, and therefore hold
an orchard and also

shelves of pies and preserves
and a world that feeds the
Chekhov play and Mary
Englebreit and a girl’s
virginity and firecrackers.
Shiny dark eyes still worry

with fears I won’t be saved.
I reassure of cherries’
sufficiency: Sweetie, I say,
cherries are as much God
as I can handle.

JoAnn Anglin is the current coordinator of Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol/ Writers of the New Sun, a Sacramento group formed in 1993 to nourish and promote writers and their works that honor a Chicano, Latino, and Native American consciousness. 

She is an often-published poet, most recently working with Poetry Out Loud and teaching poetry writing in Folsom Prison.

Francisco X. Alarcón

Francisco X. Alarcón, Chicano poet and educator, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002).

His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He teaches at the University of California, Davis.

He created a new Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poets-Responding-to-SB-1070/117494558268757?ref=ts

Los Poetas de Chicanos Unplugged, a reading organized by Nancy Aidé González
Los Chicanos Unplugged

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