Friday, January 03, 2014

Remembering 2013 on Day Three of 2014

2014 Is Year Ten of La Bloga. Happy New Year!

Towards the end of 2013, my one goal was don't get sick. I packed so many events in my schedule that I wanted to finish the year by following through every single book signing, radio appearance, author talk, poetry reading, panel and class visit that I promised to do. Yes, the year was stellar and jam packed with events, events, and more events.

Last January alone, I had five events spanning from Ventura to San Francisco and Sonoma, to a talk at UC Merced to a standing room only crowd where there were students (and professors) seated on the carpet. The next month was even busier with Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day being two days apart. February sent me to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, another well attended event organized by the state's 2011-2013 Poet Laureate, Julie Kane.

The whole year was so full of events, I checked my website to remember all the places I had visited in my unofficial book tour for How Fire Is a Story, Waiting. I didn't always blog about my events for La Bloga. I also tried to feature and promote my fellow writers, rather than blog about myself every month. Last year, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting garnered a couple accolades, including finalist in both the Milt Kessler Award and the Patterson Prize, and Best Poetry Book Winner of the 2013 International Latino Book Awards. I've very grateful to Tia Chucha Press and Luis J. Rodriguez for publishing my first full-length poetry collection. This year Luis will run for California Governor.  

As opposed to the five events, including a great reading with Francisco X. Alarcón, in Berkeley, I only had one reading scheduled for January 2014 at McKeown's Books and Difficult Music on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans. News of the cancelled event weighed on my heart because Maggie McKeown is closing her doors to the independent bookshop at the end of the month. New Orleans begins 2014 with another closed independent book shop. When I visited Maggie yesterday, she seemed hopeful for the future and ready to begin a new chapter in her life. She opened the bookstore in 2005. Last year, the squeeze out began; she lost the lease to half of the bookstore, now she is moving on.
McKeown's Books and Difficult Music

Maggie McKeown and Melinda Palacio
Next month, I visit a bookstore that has had many iterations, Librería Martinez de Chapman University. I remember visiting the bookstore in Santa Ana twenty years ago and hearing Michele Serros read from her first book. I'm happy to be an invited author to this bookstore, Saturday, February 1st from 4pm to 6pm, 216 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-973-7900.

I am grateful for all the invitations to speak and talk about my writing. I've had the humbling experience of students telling me how much they appreciate my poems and stories.  However, my New Year's Resolution is to dial back on the speaking engagements and write more. Happy New Year!

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