Tuesday, January 06, 2015

QEPD Michele Serros. Floricantos Rock Rose and On-line.

My intent was to hook the preponderantly raza employees on reading, so I stocked lunchrooms with sci-fi, detective novels, a classic or two, and Michele Serros' Chicana Falsa. The most disappeared title was Michele Serros' Chicana Falsa.

One day while walking through an office I heard loud guffaws and poked my head in. One of the executives had picked up Chicana Falsa and couldn't put it down. He was reading instead of working. Michele's chicharrón story had him in tears. Better still, the vato had been one of the company's English-only crowd, and the book softened his heart. Orale, Michele.

Michele Serros had that effect on everyone whom she touched with her rapier wit, cultural insight, and elegant prose. Ave atque vale, Michele.

Que en paz descanses.

In lieu of flowers/gifts, Michele humbly requests you please contribute to her Give Forward campaign. Donations can be made online or sent via mail to:
Michele Serros
c/o Flacos
3031 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703

Art and Floricanto at Rock Rose
Michael Sedano

The phone caller told me she was looking at new-to-her lyrics to Quirino Mendoza y Cortés' Cielito Lindo and had I heard these? Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin planned to sing the song, along with Las Mañanitas, at the artists' reception for Images of La Virgen de Guadalupe through the eyes of Aparicio de Guatemala, Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin, Pola Lopez, Julie Soto, and Antonio Rael at Highland Park's Rock Rose Gallery.

Coincidence? That is my grandmother's and mother's favorite song. I'd been playing Cielito Lindo daily during the holidays, remembering my gramma and my mom. Vibiana invited me to be the accompanist on Rock Rose's baby grand.

I arrived tempranito so Vibi and I could rehearse. Gallerist Rosamaria Marquez had the piano in tune. We sounded good, though we needed a bit of work. As with many highly popular songs, gente tend to alter the tempo and shift the tied notes to different measures from the score. "De la sie..rra" becomes "De la sierra..." A lifetime of singing it that way is tough to unlearn.

Few experiences match a pianist's joy at hearing voices singing along with one's fingers. Cielito Lindo is a waltz, so I emphasized the 1-2-3 bass and endeavored to keep the melody consistent with the singers' habitual styling. The singing was totally beautiful and together we found our rhythm. Everyone knew the words and the entire audience joined in with broad smiles and sentimental warmth. We did three choruses and I know my gramma and mom enjoyed it. For me, it was puro magic.

Chamberlin--one of the veteranas from the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto, emceed with excellent improvisation. We skipped Las Mañanitas, a good thing because my plan to segue into Happy Birthday to You depended on my fingers remembering a chord change I invariably mess up.

Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin reads and performs "La Llorona." Aparicio-Chamberlin opened her reading honoring her mother Isabel Luna Aparicio (b. 1917).

Luna De Leche
by Vibiana Aparicio-Chamberlin

Dedicated to my mother, Isabel Carrasco Luna Aparicio

Sacrificial scent of a bursting moon.
Violet and taut are the veins
on your forehead.
Abundant and clear is the liquid
released down your thighs.

From you,
I am expelled
in spasms of heat and ice,
a bruised slippery body.

I am alone.
Torn from your velvet womb.
My desperate mouth,
my tongue, my throat cry out.
Searching for you.
Mamá. Madre.
Luna de leche.

You give me comfort,
you give me courage.
Your gift is your milk.
Warm healing honey.

Each breast, a promise of a
brown wooden bowl of flour,
 shortening, un poquito de agua
and a pinch of salt,
for an endless meal
of warm round tortillas.

Mi luz.
Source of endless leche,
de su ser
Your blood
Mi sangre
Cada gota
Cada pulso

Pleasure sweeps between us.
Stomach satiated.
Soul sanctified.

Miriam Quesada follows with a Spanish language piece as sculptor Aparicio de Guatemala looks on.

Abel Salas, publisher of Boyle Heights' community newspaper, Brooklyn & Boyle, shares a reading from his telephone screen.

John Martinez stepped out of his comfort zone and read his work in Spanish translation. His is a beautiful effort to expand the role of language in poetry for monolingual Chicanos like him. Ajua! John--Juan--for a magnificent strategy.

Poets with sculptor Aparicio de Guatemala stand in front of Aparicio's Guadalupe sculpture, one of two. The second, a standing piece not pictured, he fashioned from red heart wood, acquired locally from a tree-trimmer.

Images of La Virgen de Guadalupe through the eyes of... runs through January at Rock Rose Gallery, 4108 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, California, (323) 635-9125.

Spanish Novels in English Translation

Hispabooks seeks deeper penetration into the United States' Spanish-Literature-in-Translation movimiento. Editorial Director Gregorio Doval writes, "Ya distribuimos desde hace más de un año a través de Ingram / Lightning Source (en librerías y online, paperback & ebook). Pero el próximo 1 de junio de 2015, nos comenzará a distribuir "on a larger scale" Consortium. Desde entonces nuestros libros estarán ya en todas las librerías que los deseen."

If you're Spanish-challenged, or faltando el Castellano, but enjoy excellent writing from an Iberian imagination, you'll be pleased learning Hispabooks has been distributed in the US by Ingram / Lightning Source. In June, distribution steps up to una escala más grande via Consortium.

From Hispabooks' Facebook About:
"Hispabooks is a publishing house focusing on contemporary Spanish fiction in English-language translation, both in eBook and trade paperback format, targeting readers around the world who want to explore the best of today’s Spanish literature."

Already released titles include:
"THE HAPPY CITY", by Elvira Navarro
"UPPSALA WOODS", by Álvaro Colomer
"THE HOTEL LIFE", by Javier Montes
"THE BIRTHDAY BUYER", by Adolfo García Ortega
"THE STEIN REPORT", by José Carlos Llop
"PARIS", by Marcos Giralt Torrente
"RAIN OVER MADRID", by Andrés Barba
"A MAN ON HIS WORD", by Imma Monsó
"WOMAN IN DARKNESS", by Luisgé Martín
"THE HISTORY OF SILENCE", by Pedro Zarraluki

Forthcoming titles:
"THE PLIMSOL LINE", by Juan Gracia Armendáriz
"UNPAID DEBTS", by Antonio Jiménez Barca
"THE SAME CITY" by Luisgé Martín
"LA MALA MUERTE", by Fernando Royuela
"OJOS QUE NO VEN", by José Ángel González Sainz
"VENÍAN A BUSCARLO A ÉL", by Berta Vías Mahou
"LA HORA VIOLETA", by Sergio del Molino
"LA MALA LUZ", by Carlos Castán
"LANDEN", by Laia Fàbregas
"INTENTO DE ESCAPADA", by Miguel Ángel Hernández

La Bloga happily shares this news, and hopes the editorial will open its presses to more women writers.

On-line Floricanto: First in 2015
Kai Coggin, upfromsumdirt, Mario Angel Escobar, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Xico González

La Bloga On-line Floricanto is a monthly feature at La Bloga-Tuesday. On-line Floricanto, now in its sixth year, features poetry nominated by the Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070: Poetry of ResistanceFounded by Francisco X. Alarcón as a poet's response to the hate legislation spewed by Arizona's legislators in 2010, Poets Responding to SB1070 is a living resource for contemporary poetry from a diverse community of like-minded gente.

A second On-line Floricanto in January will feature the Best Poems of 2014.

February's On-line Floricanto celebrates St. Valentine's / Love and Friendship Day. Visit Poetry of Resistance on Facebook for guidelines on submitting for February.

“⌘ Planting An Acorn After A Massacre” by Kai Coggin
“An Open Letter To My Daddy Anem” by upfromsumdirt
"I can't breathe"by Mario Angel Escobar
“We Can't Breathe” by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"Free Birds" by Xico González

⌘ Planting An Acorn After A Massacre
by Kai Coggin

When I heard the news
of the 132 school children massacred,
the taliban suicide bombers in
explosive-lined vests
blowing up the lights of brightened futures,
emptying thousands
of shell casings into the heads of innocents,
I went outside with my grief,
couldn’t hold it indoors,
I walked in circles
and wondered
how the sun
could continue this charade,
how the breeze could decorate
the almost barren trees
with dancing dried skirts,
quivering leaves.
I held the hands of the sky
and whispered unknown names
into the afternoon silence,
as two turkey vultures
cut the blue by
flying infinities overhead.

I walked.
Each step accompanied
by the sound of dried leaves
crunching underfoot,
and fallen acorns shone slick
in the light of the sun,
some dusted with grains of sand
that reflected prismatically
into the tiniest rainbows,
almost invisible.

I picked one up.
It had cracked open,
its red root arm reaching out for earth,
seed sprout seeing possibility,
the process of growth
inherent in its nature.

Without question and without fail
scores of acorns around me
had split open
in these cold months,
split open and started the process of
digging themselves down into the dirt,
the brilliant design that unlocks
wooden hinges and breaks free.

I thought of the children,
their arms reaching toward futures
that they could not see
but could feel,
their brilliant design,
their chubby reddened cheeks,
their laughter,
their learning becoming
scattered schoolbooks
and bomb-blasted classrooms,

they will not become trees,

they will not get past the point
of just barely breaking through,
red blood arms shielding faces
that wonder how this could be the end,
then it is,

The innocents should not die
for a God that does not live by the moral code
that innocents should not die.

I get lost in all this,
the soft breeze,
the blood,
the peaceful valley of my home,
the massacre that touches the same earth floor
dirt on which I stand and gather bursting-open acorns,
juxtaposition of death and life,
my red root fingers dig for the meaning,
for the karmic and cosmic balance,
and all I can do is find a patch of softened moist soil,
a spot that gets good sunlight,
and I shovel a small hole with a jagged flat rock
and lay the
the hole
with the red root
pointing toward the planet’s core.

“Something small must have a chance,”

I say to myself,
and I cover the acorn with the supple

I encircle the life burial plot
with a mandala of 11 acorn caps,
(you know the little hats that acorns wear)
I make a circle,
because circles are unbroken,
because life should be unbroken,
because something small must have a chance.

I close my eyes,
and let the sun kiss me
until I am warmed inside
with the red of late afternoon,
until I see the mightiest oak tree in my mind,
132 sprawling green limbs
reaching up, up, up,

An Open Letter To My Daddy Anem
(a non-poem)
by upfromsumdirt

maaaan, i really wish yall'da made
a world for yall then and not one
for us today, because
all of our tomorrows are borrowed.
i really wish yall'da fought for land
(mississippi, georgia, florida, 'bama)
places to farm and fort and export...
placing Black America on an actual map,
an african american Writ Of Existence.
maaaaan, with a land your own
yall coulda built a car company,
"university" universities
without the need for culturally
enabling signifiers. coulda built
museums and rockets
and slums as low-end shelter
and not slums as black-face-hiders.
yall coulda built a wall
to stall the racists. a gall divider.
green parks and industrial dumps
all ours... maaaaan, but naawww...
oppression turnt us into pacifists
and dream-merchants with new
access to pension plans... but
no places for us to go in a pinch
when those with the most rights
are unruly.
point blank:
i wanna die a surprise
and not die the price
for equality
insufficiently funded.
maaaan, i recognize yall did yall's best
teaching us to trust a system
not built to embrace us. but
that was wrong.
and i dont want my own son
singing this samosong
in his letters to me.

I can't breathe
by Mario Angel Escobar

In memory of Eric Garner

Officer, officer,
My family is waiting for me.
Please listen to me.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
I don't want to be another anonymous death
in the holocaust of indifference.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
Don't let me fall on the sidewalk.
Dirty pavement where I've been since the days of slave patrol.
Ancestral language
stripped naked
in chains.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
people will missed me at the dinner table.
I am lifeworthy.
Please listen to me.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
The soul bleeds.
Please don't let darkness open its jaw.
Earthquake in my lungs.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
Don't deny me of that precious oxygen.
This drum still beats strong.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
don't dismiss my plight.
Don't erase my name.
You and I travel together
in this floating asteroid.
Please let me be.

I can't breathe!

Officer, officer,
Every time you see me,
you try to mess with me.
Please listen to me!

I can't breathe!

We Can't Breathe
(no justice, no peace)
by Odilia Galván Rodríguez

we witness

that without justice

there can be no peace

without justice

there can be no peace

no justice     no peace

when we must raise our children

to be murdered at anytime

on these mean streets

by those whom we pay to protect us --

there is no justice

no justice      no


Free Birds
by Xico González C/S

Black birds
Brown birds
White birds
Yellow birds
Red birds
Multi colored birds
Rainbow colored birds
Fly together in rhythm
Yearning to be free

Pajaritos y pajaritas
Preparan nidos
Para protegerse de los elementos
Y de los golpes duros de la vida

Little birds
prepare nests
to protect themselves from the elements
and the hard knocks of life

hace fuertes las plumas débiles
de nuestras alas y de nuestras almas
Volar es nuestro destino
Duro es el camino
pero se tiene que atravesar

transforms feathers of wings and souls
from weak to strong
Flying is our destiny
The trail is rough,
but it must be crossed

Pájaros de todos colores
No reconocen fronteras
Se mueven de aquí pa’allá y de allá pa’ aca

Birds of all colors
Do not recognize celestial borders
and move freely in the immense sky

Pájaros de todos colores
Piden libertad, respeto,
Igualdad y justicia social

Birds of all colors
Demand freedom, respect,
social justice, and equality.

Black birds
Brown birds
White birds
Yellow birds
Red birds
Multi colored birds
Rainbow colored birds
Fly together in rhythm
United and free.

• Meet the Poets • 
Kai Coggin, upfromsumdirt, Mario Angel Escobar, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Xico González

Kai Coggin is a full-time poet and author born in Bangkok, Thailand, raised in Southwest Houston, and currently a blip in the three million acre Ouachita National Forest in Hot Springs, AR. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Poetry and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University. She writes poems of feminism, love, spirituality, injustice, metaphysics, and beauty. Kai has been published in Elephant Journal, Cliterature, The Manila Envelope, [empath], Catching Calliope and an anthology released summer 2014 called Journey of the Heart.

She released her first chapbook, In Other Words, in August 2013. Her first full-length book of poetry PERISCOPE HEART was published by Swimming with Elephants Publications in September 2014. She is also a Teaching Artist with the Arkansas Arts Council, specializing in bringing poetry and creative writing to classrooms around the state.

Kai knows that words hold the potential to create monumental and global change, and she uses her words like a sword of Beauty. She can be found most Wednesdays at Maxine’s, reading her poems into an open mic, hoping the wind carries her words out to the world. Find more about her at her website.

upfromsumdirt is a visual artist and poet who operates under the grand delusion that he is the spiritual lovechild of singer Nina Simone and artist Pedro Bell. he shares his work and life with author and professor, Crystal Wilkinson. he lives in Lexington, Ky where he is currently running their bookstore, The Wild Fig, into the ground.
Eshu help him!

Mario A. Escobar (January 19, 1978-) is a US-Salvadoran writer and poet born in 1978. Although he considers himself first and foremost a poet, he is known as the founder and editor of Izote Press. Escobar is a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages at LA Mission College. Some of Escobar’s works include Al correr de la horas (Editorial Patria Perdida, 1999) Gritos Interiores (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), La Nueva Tendencia (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), Paciente 1980 (Orbis Press, 2012). His bilingual poetry appears in Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry by Kalina Press.

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, eco-poet, writer, editor, and activist, is the author of four volumes of poetry, her latest, Red Earth Calling: ~cantos for the 21st Century~. She’s worked as an editor for Matrix Women's News Magazine, Community Mural's Magazine, and most recently at Tricontinental Magazine in Havana, Cuba. She facilitates creative writing workshops nationally and is a moderator of Poets Responding to SB 1070, and Love and Prayers for Fukushima, both Facebook pages dedicated to bringing attention to social justice issues that affect the lives and wellbeing of many people. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, and literary journals on and offline.

Xico González is an educator, artist, poet, and a political and cultural activista based in Sacramento, California. He received a MA in Spanish from Sacramento State, and a MFA in Art Studio from the University of California at Davis.  González currently teaches Spanish and Art Studio at the Met Sacramento High School.

The work of Xico González seeks to empower people uniting in common cause against a common oppressor disguised in different máscaras.  Gonzalez’s silkscreen posters address and support numerous political causes, such as the struggle for immigrants’ rights, the Palestinian and Zapatista struggles, and the right for Chicana/o self determination.  González is not only an artist, but is also an activist/organizer that puts his artistic skills to the benefit of his community.  Xico’s work contributes to the long dialogue of art, activism and the legacy of the Chicano Art Movement.  González has been influenced primarily by his mentors, Chicano artists Ricardo Favela (RIP), and Malaquías Montoya, and by early Chicano art collectives like the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F), and the Rebel Chicano Art Front also known as the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF).


Unknown said...

Dear Michael Sedano: Another wonderful issue of La Bloga. Sorry to know about the passing of Michele Serros. All the poems including on this issue are wonderful. Happy New Year to you and all the contributors and readers of La Bloga. Best wishes--Francisco X. Alarcón

msedano said...

Francisco, this is our sixth year of La Bloga On-line Floricantos. ¡Adelante vamos! Many thanks to you and the team of Moderators for making possible so many voices on La Bloga's pages.