Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Guest Columnist: Alma Luz Villanueva Interviews Anita Endrezze

Alma Luz Villanueva

In the late 90s I traveled to Sonora, Mexico, to research my family landscape. I wanted to get a feel for the desert and the ocean near Guaymas, San Carlos, and Cuidad Obregon. I took a bus and noticed how the drivers personalized their vehicles, including taxis. The deer is a symbol you’ll find all over Sonora because it is a Yaqui symbol. The Yaqui Deer Dancers are famous. In this painting I hid a deer head...see if you can find it...and added a pelican because they flew over the beach of Bacochibampo, or the Bay of Sea Snakes, in Yaqui. I also added a dog because I saw many stray dogs as I traveled the area. The Virgin de Guadalupe was another recurring symbol. I painted myself to the left: the brown haired woman with sunglasses. - Anita Endrezze

© Anita Endrezze. Acrylic on paper.

I first got to know Anita Endrezze’s multi-genre creative talents via her book, Throwing Fire at the Sun, Water at the Moon, 2000. In this book she weaves together poetry, short stories, essays and her marvelous paintings, creating a universe of her own, with roots firmly within her Yaqui, European heritage.

With the focus, in this book, on the Yaqui ancestors, people, I was drawn to this book as I was raised by my grandmother, Jesus Villanueva, a full blood Yaqui curandera from Sonora. She taught me dreaming, poetry and stories in the Mission, San Francisco.

I was right at home in Anita’s universe- the curiosity that drives her journey throughout this book, and the beauty she always reveals. Side by side with hard truths, always the beauty. Anita’s paintings as her witness.

"Butterfly Moon" © Anita Endrezze

And then, recently I read Butterfly Moon, 2012, a collection of short stories that include Yaqui and European myth/truth, that beauty. Anita’s painting graces the cover, the butterfly moon. When I finished reading these magical stories, where myth/reality dance, I realized she had merged/married the Yaqui/European into a mysterious, coherent whole. Each story bleeding into the next one, and finally creating an alive, breathing, singing, weeping wholeness.

On page 89, ‘Choices,’ I came upon a wise, Yaqui grandmother named Alma Luz- I laughed with delight. “Jessica’s grandma, Alma Luz, once told her that Yaquis knew how to face life’s hardships. It was part of their creation story. Those ancient people who couldn’t face the future were allowed to leave the human race. Some ran into the desert and became ants. Others waded into the waves and became dolphins or sea mammals. Only her ancestors decided to face life. They did it with wisdom and courage.”

My grandmother, Jesus, used to tell me, in Spanish, “If you have one drop of Yaqui, you are all Yaqui.” Anita evokes this dreaming wisdom in this wondrous, alive, magical book of stories- spanning, including, all of her ancestors. Into wholeness. And so, here’s the interview- from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (where I now live), to Everett, Washington (where Anita lives). This sacred Turtle Island.

Alma Luz Villanueva: WHERE are you from? Tell a childhood story.

Anita Endrezze: I was born by the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, CA. My mother was second generation American: she’s north Italian, German, and Slovenian. My father was Yaqui Indian, a tribe/Nation from Sonora Mexico. His parents came from Mexico. I was born with a displaced hip and wore a cast for a year. My leg never healed right and it was an omen of future ill health.
We lived in Merlin Oregon for a couple of years. My parents logged their acreage to make money. My little sister and I would nap in a tent, play with twigs and moss to make little houses, and watch out for snakes. I have never forgotten the sweet strawberry smell of dried pine needles.

ALV: WHAT were you born to write about- your driving themes.

AE: When I was too young to read, I told stories about the Great Pacific Northwest. It was important that that phrase start every story. And yet, in spite of that early idea of location, I’ve written more about the spirit and especially, the female spirit, passion, and ….oh, whoa! here it is: a woman’s relationship to the earth. So, I guess, I do write about place. Now that I’ve gotten older and sicker, though, I write more about the temporal body, my body, that is a failing location of my soul.
I have MS and I’m in Stage Two which means I can barely walk and my legs hurt. I am weak all over. House bound and basically, chair bound, my location is in one spot 24 hours a day.

ALV: YOUR first memory of writing. And since you’re also a gifted painter, your first memory of drawing.

AE: I don’t remember my first written work. I do remember drawing. I drew rainbows over hills that resembled sleeping women: all broad hips and round shoulders. I drew teepees and horses. I drew with lots of color, using crayons. I loved reading the names of the crayon colors on their slips of paper: Spring Green, Blue Violet, Brilliant Rose. In 1958, when I was 6, new colors were added making the box total of 64. My mother worked as a draftsman on Terminal Island. She brought old office papers and blue print sheets for us to draw on.

ALV: TELL a vivid dream.

AE: One of the recurring dreams I’ve had for 40 years is of a house. The house represents my body, with the attic being the Light, the Spirit. The basement is either my genitals or my subconscious. About 20 years ago, I started dreaming of a greenhouse attached to the house. The greenhouse was full of dying plants. It was always on the left of the dream house and I now know that it was my body weakening from MS, since my left side is weaker.
I loved the dreams, though, where I’d wander through an infinity of rooms. I liked the houses where there was no end to discovering another room.

ALV: WHAT subjects do you consider to be taboo- who are your ‘critics’... as in parents, children, spouse, minister etc.

AE: I generally don’t censor myself although I would think twice about writing something involving my family. I seldom swear in my writing, even though I do swear otherwise! I don’t have any taboos.

ALV: YOUR favorite novel, character in fiction- why?

AE: I enjoyed reading Octavia Butler’s books, especially Kindred, and the trilogy of Lilith’s Brood. The characters of the alien third gender, the ooloi, were mind-bending when I read them back in the 90s. I also like reading the Jack Reacher novels, a loner ex-military cop. I read all of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books, all of Harry Potter books, and the Twilight series when my daughter was young. One of my favorite authors is Luis Alberto Urrea.

I just finished reading Wild and now am starting A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn...a dog detective!

I loved the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Terribly Loud and Incredibly Close was another book I liked.

ALV: YOUR favorite poet(s), why?

AE:I have always loved Neruda. His passion and seductive words enthrall me. I also like Leonard Cohen. I didn’t know he was also a musician until I was in my 40s!

ALV: MAKE three wishes.

AE: I wish for health. I’m very sick. With health I could be a part of my life instead of just existing. I could visit my family. I could touch the earth with my bare feet. I could see a sunrise. I could walk under the stars and moon at night. I could be ME instead of being weak and hurting. And I could let my family free of worrying about me.

I only have one more wish and that is that my children have happiness in their lives and can do things to make the world a better place.

ALV: ONE more… List the ‘top twenty’ most transformative moments of la vida, more if you want, of course. Maybe write it via una poema…

AE: My life in twenty versions
I was born a chamber of the sea. I was a particle of salt and tar, motion and shore.
I was a little girl with a crooked leg, skipping in puddles that cradled clouds.
My mother lay on the ground, a tree across her back, while my father ran for help, and she screamed he tried to kill her.
We drove through the snowy night, leaving him, carrying bundles of clothes and fears.
An “uncle” touched my small breasts while I was swimming, swimming, or in bed while I was sleeping, sleeping, and I drowned in my skin.
I was married, one two three. And each time, I thought it would be the last, he’s the One, although their faces blurred.
I have two children, a boy I was terrified of since I knew nothing of men and love. And a girl I was terrified for, knowing men and love.
The third marriage is good, better than good, and my children grew up to be stronger than I am, and beautiful. My fears were for nothing.
Except they were fears more terrible than monsters in the bed or under it. The fear was real: I was diagnosed with MS.
Broken bones from falls, crooked arm, fractured cheek and wrist. Bent spine, weak legs, weak torso. Blindness, paralysis, voice broken.
I am like a shell that washes up on shore, battered against the foamy rocks, the roiling surf, and the pearly sheen of my skin is a bruise.
I’m an artist and a writer, but I’d give it all up to be healthy.

No, sorry: my life doesn’t have twenty versions. Now all my selves
sit in a chair all day and watch TV or read, talking to the Other Fears in my head. I’m house-bound, in a chamber of skin and bones, far from the stars or beach.

My dreams are twenty windows,
all shut and sealed.

ALV: Anita, I’ve loved all of your answers, especially your final one, although it contains much pain, this is your truth, your courage, gracias.

I have one more question after reading your wondrous book of stories, Butterfly Moon, which seems to contain all of your ancestors, Yaqui to European. I especially love the ones where the ancient myths (truths) come into play. The final story in the collection, ‘The Dragonfly’s Daughter,’ features Desetnica GoLightly. At the end of the story she learns she was born with the tenth child’s blessing, to become a roaming storyteller as her mother was. Desetnica meets three magical women who tell her the destiny of the tenth child, as they call her magical name, Dragonfly’s Daughter. They give her a “carved with runic symbols and other wondrous images” walking stick. “This is a storyteller’s walking stick. All will recognize you by this,” they tell her.

They give her an amber necklace with a tiny dragonfly inside: “You will take your father’s spirit with you, for his ashes drifted into the creek. The dragonfly formed its larvae from your father’s bones.”

“‘And here.’ They circled me, placing their hands on top of my head. ‘We give you our blessings, Desetnica GoLightly.’

“Their hands felt like a wreath of shining stars on my head. ‘Thank you, ladies.’

“‘We will meet again one day, child….Remember that you do sacred work. Death can be its own blessing.’

“I took a deep breath. ‘I do not understand my fate, but I accept it.’

“‘And that’s as it should be...Now, go forth and tell stories.’”

As I read this wonderful story, I recognized myself as the tenth child of my lineage. And I recognize you as the tenth child of your lineage, Anita GoLightly. I think I just answered my final question, via the excerpt from the story, above.

You went forth and told/wrote the stories, Anita. You’ve gifted us with your marvelous poems, magical stories, and powerful paintings. GRACIAS for your very necessary voice and vision.

© Anita Endrezze

Anita Endrezze’s web site with a full listing of all her books, artwork and a biography. www.anitaendrezze.weebly.com

Alma Luz Villanueva is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Gracias 2015, and four novels, most recently, Song of the Golden Scorpion, 2013.

She’s taught in the MFA in Creative Writing program, Antioch University Los Angeles the past sixteen years.

Mother of four grown children, and Mamacita to five grandchildren, two Greatgrandhijitos. Has lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past ten years, returning to teach, visit la familia. www.almaluzvillanueva.com

New Theatre For Now at LATC
Michael Sedano

Over a recent weekend, Los Angeles theatre-goers exulted in the grand spectacle of a world-class raza ensemble bringing a twenty-two hundred year-old play to life, Plautus' La Olla - The Pot of Gold. Plautus is so old, he's brand new--in the hands of the incredibly talented players of the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Energized by a brilliant adaptation, sparkling improvisations, code-switching hilarity, actors comfortable in roles including a miser, some bad guys, colorful samberos, and denizens of nightclub society, kept the heavily subscribed house laughing. All in all, LATC's La Olla at the Malibu Getty offered a wonderfully absurdist noir.

 Now this same theatre company presents its 2015 season that features local work and local talent,  along with visiting companies who, like the locals, work at the leading edge of world theatre. Years ago, the phrase "New Theatre For Now" signaled an exciting season that lived up to its name, bringing brand new plays to off-the-beaten-path locations.

Season after season, the Los Angeles Theatre Company evokes that long-ago feast for theatre-goers, with the plus of the LATC's deluxe auditoria, convenient parking, and a lively street scene.

"East of Broadway" is both a geographical and a cultural referent. The gorgeously refurbished theatre complex, located at 514 South Spring Street, a block east of Broadway, is a showcase of glass and shiny metal and architectural appointments. 

Culturally, the LATC theatre site is not far from LA's historic Bunker Hill, the quondam cultural center where the Mark Taper Forum once supported local talent and new work not just via the NTFN series. Today, LATC stands as one of the jewels of a surging arts district coming to life east of Broadway.

Visit LATC's website for subscriptions and opportunities to support the teatro.

Getty Malibu ceramic

Tejano Conjunto Festival Coming in May

The thirty-fourth annual musical extravaganza returns to San Antonio Texas with free and fee events for all ages.

According to organizers, "Cucuy accordionists will be invading San Antonio this May when the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents the 34th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio 2015 from May 13-17 at the historic Guadalupe Theater and Rosedale Park."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Manuel Luis Martinez’s novel “Los Duros” selected as finalist for Texas Institute of Letters Best Book of 2014

We here at La Bloga take special pleasure when a writer we cover receives an honor for her or his literary achievements. So, when I found out that Manuel Luis Martinez’s novel Los Duros was selected as a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Best Book of 2014, I smiled. Last year, I ran an interview with Martinez about his wonderful book. In honor of this news, I’ve decided to “reprint” that interview for today’s post. Here it is:

Three questions for Manuel Luis Martinez regarding his novel, Los Duros

Manuel Luis Martinez is a writer and Professor of American and Chicano literature at The Ohio State University in Columbus.  He is the author of the novels Crossing (1998), Drift (2003), and Day of the Dead (2010). His most recent novel is Los Duros published by Floricanto Press. Martinez offers a tough, succinct, and honest depiction of the people who struggle through poverty and bigotry in this California desert community. This is an important book, one that required the talents of a writer such as Martinez to succeed as a work of literature. The author agreed to answer a few questions about his latest literary endeavor.

DANIEL OLIVAS: Could you talk a little about the community of Los Duros in the Mojave Desert and the reasons you set this novel there.

MANUEL LUIS MARTINEZ: A friend of mine from San Antonio, Felipe Vargas, a graduate student in education, began a program in Thermal, California about ten years ago. He asked me to come out and teach creative writing to a group of kids living in dire poverty in the colonias of the Mojave Desert. He told me that it would change the way I saw the world. I had worked with migrant populations before in Indiana and California. I grew up an impoverished kid in San Antonio. My grandparents were migrant workers. So I didn’t expect to see anything earth-shattering.

But my friend was right. Perhaps because Thermal, California is surrounded by such concentrated wealth, the juxtaposition of dire poverty and conspicuous affluence absolutely clarifies the effects of inequality in this country. Working with these kids in these communities humanizes the abstract debates about how this nation treats immigrants and its poor. It’s not just about material poverty. I witnessed the death of hope and aspiration.

The students I worked with lived in terrible conditions, in colonias without running water, electricity, without police protection, medical care, in the midst of toxins and pollution and sewage. Add to this, the reality of having to live in the shadows because of the fear of deportation. These are anxieties of which the vast majority of Americans have no experience. When you see the squalor and contempt with which these children have to live side by side with the immense luxury and entitlement of the area, there is no other conclusion to be drawn: this nation is guilty of human rights violations. We are exploiting the most vulnerable for their labor while throwing their children to the dogs. Politically, we hide behind terms like “illegal” and “border security” and “amnesty,” while ignoring the plight of the children caught up in a system predicated on the assault of hope. The system doesn’t just use these people, it crushes them. It’s designed to do this.

I wanted to write a book in which I depicted these conditions by foregrounding the Mojave and the Coachella area. It’s an unforgiving place. Water is scarce and the environment is brutal. To survive you have to be tough or rich. I wanted to depict the breaking point. By that I mean, the combination of poverty, ignorance, exclusion, racism, and invisibility that bring even the toughest of these kids to the brutal realization that there is no future for them. I saw it firsthand. Kids who were extremely bright and hard working, full of hope and determination, who came to the end of the road because there was no place for them left to go. College closed off, legitimate jobs closed off, citizenship closed off. The Salton Sea became the symbol for the plight of these children: a beautiful fresh water lake surrounded by desert being polluted by the runoff of toxins and pesticides until nothing can live in the water and the birds and fish die.

Los Duros, the colonia which is itself a kind of main character in this novel, is the equivalent of the Salton Sea. A fragile space of life and potential surrounded by hostile elements that ultimately choke off the life force. It’s tragic.

DO: Juan, the long-absent father, and Guillermo, the idealist teacher, create a taut wire of tension toward Juan’s son who is known as Banger. Why did you decide to create this triangle in the already difficult terrain of a community staggered by poverty and bigotry?

MLM: I wanted to present Banger with the illusion of alternatives. The father and the teacher are both trying to give Banger the benefit of their experience. They are both of them idealistic and world-worn, but they’ve learned different lessons. Each hopes that Banger will use their guidance to navigate the near-impossible terrain. Metaphorically speaking, they understand that the desert is the desert. It is dangerous and unforgiving. You aren’t going to change that environment. So there is only one way out and that is to cross it, to get through. The pessimistic side of me sees the political and social realities as near-impossible to change. So what’s left to do? This is Banger’s dilemma. I wanted to suggest that both of the men in Banger’s life have something to give him, something vital to his survival. But I also needed to show that neither man has any more of an idea as to what to do in the face of so much misery than do the kids caught up in the grinding system. If Banger is at the apex of a triangle of relationships and possible outcomes, we find that the triangle ultimately collapses. There is no triangle. There is only a line.

DO: The suffering of your characters is extreme. Was it difficult to use their lives as the core of your narrative?

MLM: Yes, it was very difficult. I didn’t know what to do when I came back from my first trip to Los Duros. I felt depressed about the overwhelming futility of their situation. But Molly, my wife, told me that I had to write about them. It was perhaps the only bit of influence that I might have. I thought about this for a long while before I began the project. I recognized that I was in a privileged position. I knew these kids and they trusted me with their stories. Our workshops were set up to give them a voice, to let them know that someone out there was listening. I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to write about them so much as that I was going to write through them. And if nothing else, they’d know that I heard them. The suffering is real. It’s out there right now, being experienced right now. Pain is never abstract. People should know the kind of real pain that their political decisions cause. This is the most unflinching work I’ve written. It’s not an easy thing to confront. I wrote Los Duros because I don’t want to give myself or any of my readers an easy way out. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Unwoven: Poems by Erika Garza-Johnson

Guest Blog by Veronica Sandoval

Erika Garza-Johnson

Cross-eyed chachalacas in the haze of a Texas morning, pushing past toothless abuelas, shadow puppets, and dead butterflies--this is the place where La Llorona and Allen Ginsberg converse next to piñatas and saints, this is the borderland of Anzaldúa, this place of in-between and ambiguity, this place called home. Unwoven, a collection of poems by Erika Garza-Johnson, is published by FlowerSong Books, an imprint of VAO Publishing, and contains 84 poems by one of the most original Rio Grande Valley voices. With prose, free verse, list, litany and language poems, Garza’s collection is an organic composition of subjects, moods, and styles that strategically code switches from English to Spanish, Tex-Mex, and Pocha. Garza’s work feels Beat, feels like excavating las historias de la gente we must not talk about, to whom Unwoven replies:
how do you steal your own memory
mimic your own voice…
so I’ve sealed
my own heart away
and sent it to silencio
ripped my hands off
erased my face and
drowned my past in the
Rio Grande (3)

Within this collection you will find heridas beating tenderly and feverishly, una pinche princess, Jesucristo blessing prostitutes and humming alabanzas, paleteros con beersicles, electric tight rope walking tlacuaches, Madonna by tinacos, cantina noches and jazz-less barrios. Using subjects like Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg in juxtaposition to Mesoamerican deities like Coatlicue and Mayahuel, Garza is a nepantlera negotiating her positionality as a daughter, mother, wife, sister, and academic. Her most heartfelt poems are those like “Urraca Song” and “Cross Roads” where her images grapple with the decolonization of spirituality subverting as Laura Medina stated the “dominant cultural norms which traditionally places spiritual authority in hands of male mediators who can easily orchestrate a monopoly of the sacred” (Facio 67). With prayer, Garza challenges the patriarchy of the church that in “Urraca Song” condemns her marriage as nonexistent in the eyes of God:
                           I prayed to the moon, to the sun, to the butterfly that was lost
                           in the weeds. I prayed to the cat that sleeps all day and plays
                           with bottle caps at night…I prayed to Facebook. I tweeted a message
                           to a goddess I met at metropolis on Goth Night. She wore Doc Martens.
                           She was my ghost. There is a God and…she lives, somewhere all of
                           my ancestors feast on peace. (83)

With Unwoven, Garza weaves a new heart, a huipil that suits her (15), tackling the difficulty of subjects like rape, immigration, homesickness, love, and loss. With poems like “Labeled” and “Llorona RIP”, Garza’s work could be misconstrued as Post-Chicana; however with references in her work to cultural historical elements, environmental injustices, and criticism of cultural appropriation, Garza’s work utilizes a Chicana Feminist praxis making Unwoven a great addition to any Chicana Literature or Creative Writing Course.
Works Cited
Facio, Elisa. "Spirit Journey: "Home" as a Site for Healing and Transformation." Fleshing the Spirit: Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina and Indigenous Women's Lives. 1st ed. Tuson: U of Arizona, 2014. 67. Print.
Veronica Sandoval is Lady Mariposa, a poeta from the Rio Grande Valley Tejas. She is currently a graduate student in the Critical Cultural Gender and Race Studies Department at Washington State University. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies and publications like: Revista Literaria de El Tecolote, BorderSenses, Boundless, The Savant Poetry Anthology, El Mundo Zurdo III, New Border, Along the River, Gallery & Lung Poetry. She has a Spoken Word Poetry Album called Hecha en El Valle, Spoken Word and Borderland Beats which is available on ITunes. When she is not running around doing super Chicana power stuff, she is at home with the Chubby Vato of her heart, and their cat named Boots.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

From Taos, with almost no battery left

I'm in Taos, NM, somewhat overwhelmed, a little sapped and on a computer that's nearly out of battery.

By the acequia, across the river from property once owned by Donald Rumsfeld, the birds seem to know the tyrant has left. A couple of wrens play some sexual game, a hawk searches for breakfast, maybe; the beavers are somewhere else doing whatever.

Yesterday I read to a few classes of elementary kids--Hispanos, as they call themselves, and to Pueblo tribe kids. The topic was ending racism, the atmosphere was warm and the faces were brightly brown.

I'm resting. It's Friday, but there's no cerveza around. This week, Saturday will have to be my Friday.

The battery's almost out. Entonces, es todo, hoy,

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reyna Grande Receives the Caravana 43 at LAX

Guest Post by Reyna Grande

This past weekend, Los Angeles was honored to have been one of the stops of the Caravana 43, a USA Tour of students, teachers, and families from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who are touring the country to raise awareness about the 43 students who were forcibly disappeared by local police in my hometown of Iguala, Guerrero on September 26, 2014. When I heard of this tour I knew it was going to be a historical event.  The 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa have united the people of Mexico with U.S.-Mexicans (and many other ethnic groups) in a joint cause: to fight for justice and end government corruption, to raise awareness of the thousands who have gone missing and who’d been killed since the “war on drugs” began in Mexico, a war funded by the U.S.  

The Caravana 43 is composed of three groups, each traveling to the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic regions of the U.S.  The caravan visiting us in Los Angeles included Angel Neri de la Cruz, a student survivor of the September 26, 2014 attack in Iguala; Josimar de la Cruz, student of the Ayotzinapa rural college and brother of Angel, Blanca Luz Nava Velez, mother of Jorge Alvarez Nava, disappeared on September 26; Estanislao Mendoza Chocolate, father of Miguel Angel Mendoza Zacarias, disappeared on September 26, and Cruz Bautista Salvador, bilingual teacher at the rural college. Los Angeles was one of the 40 stops. The three groups will meet up in New York next month, after six weeks of traveling and speaking to students, teachers, and the general public.
Reyna Grande and Cruz Bautista Salvador
The weekend events in Los Angeles started on Thursday, March 19th, with the arrival of Angel de la Cruz and Cruz Bautista Salvador. The two spoke at CSUN to a room full of people, young and old, who were there to offer their support in their fight for justice. On Friday, Josimar, Estanislao and Blanca Luz arrived, where they were escorted to Animo Leadership High School to speak to students, parents, and staff, and then to La Feria Restaurant in Inglewood to speak to the general public and the media.

Though I didn’t attend the CSUN event due to a book presentation at LBCC, I did attend the Friday events, beginning at LAX to welcome our visitors. It really warmed my heart to see all those young high school students eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Ayotzinapa visitors, and upon spotting them, rushing to encircle them and welcome them to the city.

Since the high school event was closed to the public, I went to La Feria Restaurant to wait for the afternoon presentation. There, I had a chance to speak to some of the organizers of the Caravana 43 and offered my assistance with anything our visitors needed. I’ve already done some things, such as fundraising and spreading the word about the Caravana, but I wanted to do more. Once our visitors arrived, the presentation began with statements from each visitor, followed by a question and answer session. I must say that I for one was deeply impressed by the two students from the rural college, brothers Angel and Josimar. It was clear to me, at hearing them speak with passion, eloquence, logic and reasoning, that the rural school in Ayotzinapa knows what it's doing. It made me think about the 43 missing students, and I felt the loss of their potential. Mexico needs young people like these students. Smart, passionate, optimistic but realistic, perceptive, and above all, grounded in who they are and what they want: justice, reform, an end to impunity and government corruption. They want a Mexico that belongs to the people, not to politicians who are simply the puppets of those who are more powerful.  
Reyna Grande and Blanca Luz Nava Velez
 I was also deeply moved by Blanca Luz, mother of Jorge Alvarez Nava, one of the disappeared students. I was expecting a quiet spoken woman, somewhat like my mother, simple (sensilla), humble (humilde), and shy, and maybe even prone to tears, like my mother can often be. But Blanca Luz was none of that. Though I was expecting her to cry, it was me who almost started crying at witnessing the fierce love that she has for her son, and her unrelenting determination to find him. She spoke loud and clear: she was going to find her son and get justice for him and the other disappeared, “caiga quien caiga”, even the president of Mexico himself. If all the other Ayotzinapa mothers are like her, well, Peña-Nieto—and everyone else who stands in their way—better watch out!

I was sorry that the Caravana 43 tour stop unfortunately coincided with my seven day trip to the east coast, where I had to do several presentations in the DC-Maryland area. I was not able to attend the Saturday and Sunday’s events at Placita Olvera, where the Ayotzinapa visitors spoke to huge crowds and led the people on a march from the Plaza to the Mexican Consulate. I have participated in a Mega March in Iguala, Guerrero, and I was looking forward to participating in the one here in Los Angeles.

I was lucky that at least for that one day, on Friday, where I got to spend a few hours with our inspiring guests, I was able to witness with my own eyes history in the making. 

For more information view the Caravana43.com website

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Novedades- publicaciones de Puerto Rico, Guatemala y España

Julia de Burgos, Cartas a Consuelo. Folium. 232 páginas.

Más que acumular imprecisiones en un anecdotario, procuro apuntar a la desproporción entre lo poco que se sabe de la vida y obra de Burgos, y el lugar fijo que ocupa en el imaginario popular puertorriqueño. Las conversaciones con Consuelo sin duda desestabilizarán un poco esas coordenadas invariables que marcan todo lo tocante a la poeta. -Lena Burgos-Lafuente
"Las cartas de Julia de Burgos a su Hermana Consuelo abren surcos, siembran vacios que invitan al lector a agregar, especular e investigar aquello que sin decirse se dice".

Julia de Burgos. Julia Constancia Burgos García nació en el barrio Santa Cruz, de Carolina, Puerto Rico, en 1914, y murió en Harlem, Nueva York, en 1953. Poeta, periodista, maestra de escuela y dramaturga, Julia es, probablemente, la mejor poeta puertorriqueña del siglo XX.

Jorge Carrol. Los pájaros perdidos. Malas memorias en 2 x 4 (Los primeros 82 años de la infancia son los más difíciles) Guatemala: F&G Editores. 386 págs. 

«Pronto a cumplir mis primeros 82 años asumo que, definitivamente, estos primeros años de mi infancia han sido o son, los más difíciles y que, por lo tanto, es muy posible que nada de estas malas memorias sea incierto.»

Parafraseando a Jean Cocteau, soy un mentiroso que siempre dice la verdad.

Quizá toda mi vida sea una mentira. En 1992 Leo Carrob Editor editó la primera versión de Los pájaros perdidos que hoy un cuarto de siglo después, intento actualizar mis pasos por sueños y realidades, asumiendo que no soy el mismo que una mañana a las 5:10 AM en La Antigua Guatemala mientras se preparaba un jugo de naranja, buscaba las medialunas de su vida.

Tengo 81 años, pronto 82 (espero) y confieso que estos pájaros que nacieron, crecieron y habitaron en mis cuadernos nunca más volverán, seguramente porque jamás tuve más que esos días que se me escaparon velozmente.

Soy y me repito una y otra vez, por partes iguales, un cobarde y un soñador de tiempo completo.

También un cascarrabias, no mal tipo, a medio camino entre un olvido y otro olvido.

Nadie puede liberarme de mis recuerdos; soy presa de mi memoria.

Jorge Carrol. Nació como Jorge Carro L., en Buenos Aires en 1933. Es autor de una prolífica obra literaria que incluye poesía, ensayo y narrativa. En narrativa ha publicado: Cuaderno sin fronteras. RefleXiones sobre la soledad, las ausencias y otras intoxicaciones (F&G Editores, Guatemala, 2012); Tenía razón Vicente Huidobro: hay que plantar miradas como árboles o cuando tenía todas las respuestas me cambiaron las preguntas (Historiabierta, Artemis Edinter, Guatemala, 2002); Bernal (Ayesha Libros, Buenos Aires, 2004; Artemis Edinter, Guatemala, 2006; Google Books 2008); El gliptodonte (Artemis Edinter, Guatemala, 2007; Google Books, 2008).

Antonio Muñoz Molina. Como la sombra que se va. Seix Barral. 536 páginas.

El 4 de abril de 1968 Martin Luther King fue asesinado. Durante el tiempo que permaneció en fuga, su asesino, James Earl Ray. Obsesio­nado por este hombre fascinante y gracias a la apertura reciente de los archivos del FBI sobre el caso, Antonio Muñoz Molina reconstruye su crimen, su huida y su captura, pero sobre todo sus pasos por la ciudad.

Original, apasionante y honesta, como la sombra que se va aborda desde la madurez temas relevantes en la obra de Antonio Muñoz Molina: la dificultad de recrear fielmente el pasado, la fragilidad del instante, la construcción de la identidad, lo fortuito como motor de la realidad o la vulnerabilidad de los derechos humanos, pero cobran aquí forma a través de una primera persona completamente libre que indaga de manera esencial en el proceso mismo de la escritura.

Antonio Muñoz Molina (Úbeda, Jaen, 1956) Cursó estudios de periodismo en Madrid y se licenció en historia del arte en la Universidad de Granada. Ha reunido sus artículos, reconocidos en 2003 con los premios González-Ruano de Periodismo y Mariano de Cavia, en volúmenes como El Robinson urbano (1984; Seix Barral, 1993 y 2003). Su obra narrativa comprende Beatus Ille (Seix Barral, 1986 y 1999), El invierno en Lisboa (Seix Barral, 1987 y 1999), que recibió el Premio de la Crítica y el Premio Nacional de Literatura, ambos en 1988, Beltenebros (Seix Barral, 1989 y 1999), El jinete polaco (1991; Seix Barral, 2002), que ganó el Premio Planeta en 1991 y nuevamente el Premio Nacional de Literatura en 1992, Los misterios de Madrid

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Books by Kathleen Contreras


Sweet Memories /Dulces recuerdos

by Kathleen Contreras 
Illustrated by Margaret Lindmark

  •             Hardcover: 32 pages
  •             Publisher: Lectorum Publications, September 1, 2014
  •             Language: Bilingual- English/Spanish
  •             ISBN-10: 193303291X
  •             ISBN-13: 978-1933032917

Kathleen Contreras follows up her debut picture book Braids/Trencitas with a loving portrait of family and Mexican culture. In Sweet Memories/Dulces recuerdos, a young boy and his grandfather share memories and their love of paletas, the delicious popsicles that originated in Michoacan.


by Kathleen Contreras 
Illustrated by Margaret Lindmark 

This bilingual story shows the importance of family and of reading, while also emphasizing the rewards of passing along cultural traditions. Beautiful illustrations portray the moving story of Bela and her grandma, who love to tell stories, braid hair, and play lotería with the family: 'Our stories, like our braids, bind us forever.'

Este cuento bilingüe muestra la importancia de la familia y de la lectura, a la misma vez que enfatiza el valor de la herencia cultural. Con sus ilustraciones simpáticas y accesibles, retrata la historia conmovedora de Bela y su abuela. Juntas se cuentan historias la una a la otra, se trenzan el pelo y juegan a la lotería con los otros miembros de la familia: 'Nuestras historias, como nuestras trenzas, nos unen para siempre'.

Pan Dulce

Por Kathleen Contreras
Illustrado por Blanca Dorantes

Siempre compramos nuestro pan dulce en la Panaderia Herrera. Don Pancho aprendió el arte de ser panadero en México. Después se lo enseño a sus hijos. ¡A mi, me encantan las conchas dulces!

Kathleen Contreras lives in Ventura, California. She is a bilingual professor at California State University, Channel Islands where she teaches graduate students who are studying to be teachers. She also taught children in grades 4, 5, and 6 in bilingual classrooms. Visit her at  http://www.kathleencontreras.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

QEPD Tony Mares. Medal of Honor Day. LéaLA. On-line Floricanto

Michael Sedano

QEPD Tony Mares

Margaret Randall writes:
Please join us on Saturday, March 28th at 2 p.m. at the Journal Theater, National Hispanic Cultural Center, for a tribute of poetry and music honoring our beloved fellow poet Tony Mares who left us much too soon.

Click here to view Tony Mares reading at the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto held at the University of Southern California. Here below is Tony's reading at the 2010 reunion floricanto, Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow.

Medal of Honor Day in L.A. (Tomorrow) March 25

Readers of La Bloga know that I am a Veteran of the United States Army, 1969-1970. Few know that my great uncle, Joseph Rodriguez, earned a Congressional Medal of Honor during the Korean conflict.

My mother's Uncle Joe is one of forty Chicano and other raza soldiers to go "above and beyond the call of duty," and one of only a handful who lived to wear the Medal and die of natural causes. Below, find a video interview with Joseph Rodriguez, qepd.

Interview with Joseph Rodriguez, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

I met Joseph Rodriguez only once, during elementary school. Naturally, I asked him about the Medal. He told me having lost his boots he'd wrapped his bloody blistered feet in rags. After walking for days like that, getting pinned down was the last straw for him. He got mad as hell, so he rushed up that hill and killed all those men. That was his story to a 5th grader. He also laughed that the Medal earned him a $25.00 a month pension. It's over $1200 now.

Here's what his Citation reads, in part:
Fully aware of the odds against him, Sgt. Rodriguez leaped to his feet, dashed 60 yards up the fire-swept slope, and, after lobbing grenades into the first foxhole with deadly accuracy, ran around the left flank, silenced an automatic weapon with 2 grenades and continued his whirlwind assault to the top of the peak, wiping out 2 more foxholes and then, reaching the right flank, he tossed grenades into the remaining emplacement, destroying the gun and annihilating its crew.

QEPD, my mom's Uncle Joe.

For additional details on Joseph Rodriguez and all the raza Congressional Medal of Honor holders, visit the Eugene Obregon CMH Foundation website. I am an advisory member of the Obregon committee.

LéaLA Returns to L.A. Convention Center

Great news from Los Angeles. Plans to demolish the center to replace it with a professional football stadium have fallen through. Who needs pro football, or an expensive gift to an NFL team owner, when you can have a Spanish Language book fair and other genuinely valuable events?

Special Invitation to Library and Other School Professionals From the event organizers:
For the first time, LéaLA will open its doors to librarians and representatives of educational institutions who are eager to renew and expand their book catalogues. Friday, May 15 will be a special day for individuals from these sectors to establish business contacts with publishers attending the fair.

This will be a great opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of new developments in the publishing industry and create networks that will help expand the distribution of Spanish-language books in the state of California and throughout the rest of the US and also enrich the collections of libraries, schools, universities and other institutions. 

All librarians, teachers, students and others interested in acquiring books for their institutions are cordially invited. We look forward to seeing you there!
 Friday, May 15, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

More information: Carolina Gutiérrez Perini / Exhibitor and Professionals Coordinator

Spring's First On-line Floricanto 
Roberto D. Hernández, Liz Durand Goytia, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Sonia Gutiérrez, 
Pedro Enriquez, Paul Portugés, Mario Angel Escobar

The Moderators of the Facebook community Poetry of Resistance:Poets Responding to SB 1070, led this month by Iris de Anda and Sonia Gutíerrez, nominate seven poets who bring nine poems for today's La Bloga On-line Floricanto.

Every World Must First Be Dreamed
By Roberto D. Hernández

I met an old friend today
That Inner child
I had long last seen...
So long I met a new me
At once child
And twinkling eye
I smiled
I cried

To be a kid again
Carefree innocence
Singing soul
Dancing feet
Drumming heart
Endless games
Cartoon fame

Imagination without bounds
Magic incarnate
Love lived with every breath
For such is the how
And of what we are made
Confirmed in every parent's
Protective gaze
Each warm embrace
Creator's way

Roberto D. Hernández was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico but raised in San Ysidro, California, just a short ten blocks from the U-S///Mexico border, which has figured prominently in his political, poetic and professional development and commitments.  He is now an assistant professor in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University but is grounded first and foremost in Chicana/o-Indigenous anti-border movements and traditions.

Pesa tanto la noche
Por Liz Durand Goytia 

en medio de la primera noche fría
con este corazón picado por avispas
me miro arder las manos y los ojos
me desconozco la voz este aullido
me desconozco en el dolor más negro.

en donde ya no encuentro nada
busco el otro sonido
el de sus pasos que no suenan aquí
donde cada rincón me desconoce
y no guarda los mínimos recuerdos
para velar los diminutos restos
de esta memoria cercenada.

No se tiene respeto
en este claustro sitiado
por las heridas viejas ni las nuevas.
No hay voces que prometan
que nunca más habrá dolor en vez de pan.

Liz Durand Goytia, Orizaba, Ver., 1955. Poeta y artista plástica, promotora cultural independiente. Ha publicado Caja de Colores, Cincelar el tiempo, Alrededores del Perdón, Poemas en un Cuaderno y la compilación de relatos Mujeres que Cuentan. Ha sido antologada en varias publicaciones en México, Cuba, Uruguay, Costa Rica y Berlín. Ha formado parte del Comité Organizador del Encuentro Internacional de Mujeres Poetas en el País de las Nubes y es organizadora del Festival Internacional Palabra en el Mundo en Ensenada, B.C., donde reside. Imparte talleres de escritura creativa.

Tiger Wasp
By Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

My mother wakes up
in the morning
before my father
to make his lunch for work.
He leaves two large plums
where her eyes used to be.

I know I am supposed
to look
away from them,
and I do.

Their nectar must
have the sweetness
of plum skin
after wasps
bury their young

She smiles at me
and though I know
I am supposed to look
away, I don't—
her eyelids
open long enough
for me to see
the purple
and ripeness
my father’s hands
are capable of
tying in a knot.

I unbutton her eyes
and tuck them in my pocket
and put her to sleep
and I bury them
somewhere far,
so she will never find them,
so they will never turn into plums,
so that the young will have no choice
but to eat their way out of their mother

until all that is left
of the wasp is a brittle piece
of string with legs.

I think of how
I too wasn’t pulled out
of her body
too soon,
too angular—
and demanding food
from her wringed and
limp body flapping with air.

Originally appeared in Huizache 

By Sonia Gutiérrez

Hay puertas
que solitas se abren.
Pero hay otras
que aunque
estén desmoronándose
están atrancadas
con tres chapas
invisibles; sus llaves
están oxidándose
en el fondo del océano
de tiburones blancos.
Esas puertas
no intentes abrirlas
a caprichos o a golpes.
Mejor arremángate
la camisa
y ponte a construir
puertas con brochas
y pinturas,
clavos y un martillo, o
con la barita mágica
de tu imaginación.
Y verás que de pronto
aparecerán fundamentos
con puertas
amables a saludarte
porque te habían estado
esperando. Entrarás,
te darás vuelta, y verás
a lo lejos que las puertas
antiguas sólo tienen
los siglos contados.

By Sonia Gutiérrez

There are doors
that open on their own.
But there are others
that even though
they are crumbling
they are locked
under invisible
triple locks; their keys
are at the bottom
of the ocean floor
by white sharks.
Those doors
do not attempt
to open
on whims or with blows.
Instead, role up
your sleeves; build
doors with paints
and brushes,
nails and a hammer, or
with the magic wand
of your imagination.
And one day
you will suddenly see
foundations with friendly
doors greet you.
You will enter,
turn back, and see
from afar those ancient
doors only have a few
borrowed centuries left.

Sonia Gutiérrez’s work promotes social and human dignity.  She teaches English Composition and Critical Thinking and Writing at Palomar College and Chicana and Chicano Prose: Creative Writing at San Diego State University.

Her poems have appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, La Jornada Semanal, Tres en Suma: Espacio de Arte, and Tijuana Poética, among other publications. La Bloga’s “On-line Floricanto” is home to her Poets Responding to SB 1070 bilingual poems, including “Best Poems 2011” and “Best Poems 2012.” Her vignettes have appeared in AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, Mujeres de Maíz, Huizache, and forthcoming in Sunshine Noir II fall 2015.

Sonia’s bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña (2013), is her debut publication.  Kissing Dreams from a Distance, a novel, is under editorial review. She is completing her second poetry collection, Legacy / Herencia. Sonia is a moderator for Facebook’s Poets Responding to SB 1070. To learn more about Sonia, visit SoniaGutierrez.com.

La palabra
Por Pedro Enríquez

Cuando la luz de la distancia no tiene voces para el olvido,
cuando se acribillan los sueños de los símbolos huecos,
cuando se duerme con un fulgor de espera en letrina de
nubes oscuras.
Soledad de sables en el humo de los labios, dulzura amarga
de palabra escondida, escalera de sonrisas cuando no
hay salida y el mundo gira sobre la sal de una lágrima centinela.
Cuando la piel es alma y duele una espina de ternura,
cuando la noche es silencio que devora los segundos de un
misterio irresoluble, cuando en el alba duele ser hombre y
mirarse es atravesar la distancia del miedo.
Cuando el espacio se engrandece con el impulso del yo libre,
cuando se mira el horizonte manchado con la miseria
urbana de las bocas pequeñas, cuando se inunda el espíritu
con un viento hermano y se convive con el impulso de
la alegría.
Cuando naufraga la frente en los besos, cuando se quiebra
la distancia de las manos en una batalla de lenguas enlazadas,
cuando se hunde la vida entera en los suburbios
donde sueñan los no nacidos.
                 Entonces la poesía.

(De Sueños en el laberinto)

Pedro Enríquez. Poeta, narrador y editor español, académico con la letra Z de la Academia de Buenas Letras de Granada. De su obra se han publicado 15 títulos y poemas suyos han sido traducidos al francés, hebreo, árabe, inglés, italiano, portugués, turco, ruso, quechua, catalán y japonés. Director y organizador de múltiples actos culturales como Festival de “Poesía en el Laurel”. Codirector del Festival de Otoño de Poesía y del Libro de Granada. Director del programa de radio emitido por Internet: La voz a ti debida. Tardes de radio y literatura. Asesor Cultural del Centro UNESCO de Andalucía (España). Presidente de la Filial España del Consejo Americano de Todas las Sangres (Lima, Perú). Presidente de la Asociación Cultural “Granada13artes”. Propuesto para el Premio “María Zambrano” a la mejor contribución a la cultura andaluza. Condecoración con la Orden José María Arguedas en el Grado de Maestro, por el Consejo Nacional e Internacional Todas las Sangres, en Cusco, Perú. Gran Premio Internacional en la decimocuarta edición de la Feria Internacional del Libro de Puerto Rico, por su importante aportación al mundo literario a través de su obra poética. Escritor perteneciente a los intelectuales miembros fundadores de la Maison de la Sagesse de Grenade. Miembro del Consejo de Consulta de la Fundación Club del Libro en Marruecos. Parte de su obra ha sido musicada por cantautores de Argentina, España y Marruecos. Ha impartido conferencias y talleres de poesía en Universidades y Festivales de Panamá, Colombia, Puerto Rico, México, Estados Unidos, Marruecos, Argentina y Uruguay. Como antólogo ha publicado: Desde la otra orilla. Poetas de Rosario, y Antología poética de las dos Granadas (edición en España y Nicaragua).

César Vallejo 
By Paul Portuges

César Vallejo my mystic velvet poet
whoring confessions from an ethereal gutter
you trace with word shadow an immense mime of Western guilt
you still winged lean Christ my beat compadre dance me naked
beyond revolutionary dark oh sublunar genius
skirting emotional hopes of boyish scholar priests

César I am your cowboy of death
a hateshod fugitive driven by headline destruction
where humans are eating the rivers and trees
César I sing them your political songs of pure white narcissus
mouth barbaric yawp and unbury your man-eyes
blazing a trail through pandemonium with your hairy brain

César my dove-tame fugitive teacher I am breathing
your future as you take me like Dante through night flowers
festered in barrio dreams masturbating the absurd
what is the militant secret behind your exiled eyes
can we help uncover the media's lips
glide beyond the wave of a wave-driving wind

César my desolate angel let’s wing past eons
of backbreaking words shoving the no longer take it
into badges of dignified work and border crossing poems
César my Amazon bird we’ll fly fire-blooded
singing thigh deep in the phantasmagoric self
working sounds woven on the sweat loom of la raza’s cry

César buried in sister-brotherhood we'll catch myths
from a net of stars inebriate of night born in our mouths
loving the bluest planet we'll wring her stolen air
and arise with words of freedom arise with prisoners of the soul
in a better world birthing ourselves green and more than we are
not the wretched they have made us but one for all and all for one

Paul Lobo Portugés is a contemporary American poet, film maker, and essayist who teaches film and creative writing in the Department of Film and Media Studies and in the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Indocumentada confesión
Por Mario Escobar

Y uno aprende
a volar sin alas,
a dar el paso preciso...
ante la sed y el hambre
y a descuidar el ego.

Entre largas horas de jornada
uno aprende
a quitarle el polvo a la pasión
a planchar los suspiros
aunque el día tenga cara de noche.

Y también uno aprende
la diferencia
entre un camino
de asfalto
y un camino de desprecios
y que vale más sonreír
aunque más tarde
el llanto te cobre
el doble.

Undocumented Confession 
By Mario Escobar

And you learn
to fly without wings
to take the necessary step
to neglect the ego
amidst thirst and hunger

And you learn
during long working hours
to dust off the passion
even when the day
has a face of night

And you learn
the difference between
an asphalt road
and a road of disdains
and you learn
to smile
to suppress
the salty pearls
of your eyes

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.