Friday, March 06, 2015

Guest Reviews From Sheryl Luna. New Books. Calls and Events.

Guest Reviews by Sheryl Luna
Otras Voces - 2013

In the Prelude of I Have Always Been Here Christopher Carmona announces, “My Chican@ story is your Native story. We have the same roots.” He explores the Chican@ Indian past and shows us its importance to the present.

Carmona utilized Native words and mythology and ties them to the present day Chican@ experience. For example in Café Tsisdu he writes,

Aye Café Tsisdu where are you going?
Are you late for a date that just can’t wait?
no blonde British bobbins here
just raven-haired trenzas and kawi-skinned dreamers
whose ears are trying to hear your sweet sweet song
for suffering and survival.

“Tsisdu” means rabbit in Cherokee and “kawi” means coffee in Tsalagi. Later in “trickster got tricked blues,” he writes,

                In my dream I heard tsalagi songs sung
                by Latin@s on karakawan beaches after
                ships dropped iron anchors
                breaking rhythm like a guillotine
                severing head from neck and song from
                singer because trickster in his haste to
                have a world for his own did not think
                to make himself known to the men on ships
                so they wouldn’t kill him along with the hummingbirds
                dragonflies, snakes, and peoples of the land.

Later he pens,

                But West is the land of the dead
                where the wave broke
                and rolled off of the backs
                of the original peoples

Poverty and the lost hopes and dreams of the poor are both explored in poems like “the emperor changes his clothes.” The art of poetry is explored in poems such as “the poem will outlive us all” where Carmona writes,

                It is there. . .that poem. It is there waiting, waiting to be heard
                and that poem will outlive us all.

Family and place, particularly the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas are portrayed.

Colonization of Indigenous peoples is a central theme which emerges in many of the poems in the collection. In “i ain’t no immigrant” he writes,

                i ain’t no mojado, gringa
                i didn’t come here from across the sea
                i have always been here
                before the Americanos
                before the Mexicanos
                before the Spanish

Later in the same poem, “I ain’t no immigrant, ese.”

One poem deals with the speaker going through a Border Patrol checkpoint. In  “mexicans without means,” he pens,

                or maybe August is the cruelest month
                when 26 migrants were found locked in a railroad car
                broiled to death in a desert land where even the air burns

Many poems explore what it means to the speaker to be a writer and performer. For instance in, “I can feel it in my bones” where Carmona  states,

                Teach me how to be a warrior with pen and mic

The poems in this book are inherently political. They explore the indigenous past of peoples who have been colonized. Carmona shares the pride he feels in his culture and what it means for him to write poems that reflect that pride.

The Possibilities of Mud: Poems
Joe Jiménez
Korima Press - 2014

The Possibilities of Mud: Poems is a collection with a taut lyricism. Words are always well chosen, and the poems are enamored with the natural world, particularly along the beach. The gulf coast figures prominently in the poems and the language is melodious and at times meditative.

Joe Jiménez’s speakers ask many questions about living. For example, in “”Light” sensuality is explored and nature is examined in terms of what it means to be human.


What is the world telling you tonight?
                                I won’t fathom I could pry you open with spit,
                                                or compel you with my eyes to take it.

                But of light, I can say this:
                                I carry it, as do you, and the man
                                                sitting beside you on his way to deposit

                his Love inside another man, he also inside
                                of himself holds light.

Many of the poems look outward towards humanity, and they are far from self-involved. In “Redfish” he writes,

                I reassure you there are redfish
                                Beneath the thrown shadows of clouds
                                                recasting their shapely sparks. Underneath
                such a heavy and lucid sun—is zeal not ever-present?

Another beautiful poem titled “A Firelight Some Place in the Marshland” addresses human frailty with concrete descriptions of the gulf coast.

Jiménez’s language is detailed and packed with words depicting the coast. Most of the poems are extremely descriptive with evocative language, yet the poems are often about the coast and this can seem a bit repetitive. Yet the coastal descriptions do compel awe on the part of this reader. It is the coast and beach that is this collection’s glue. Therefore, the poems hold together very well thematically.

Sheryl Luna earned a PhD in contemporary literature from the University of North Texas and an MFA from University of Texas, El Paso. Her first collection, Pity the Drowned Horses, received the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Notre Dame Press. It was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Colorado Book Award. Her second collection, Seven, was published by 3: A Taos Press in 2013.

Poems have appeared in Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest, Feminist Studies and elsewhere.

Luna was awarded fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo, the Anderson Center, the Ragdale Foundation, and CantoMundo. She received the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award from Sandra Cisneros in 2008.
Christopher Carmona

Christopher Carmona was a nominee for the Alfredo Cisneros de Miral Foundation Award for Writers in 2011 and a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2013. He has been published in numerous journals and magazines including Trickster Literary Journal, Interstice, vandal., Bordersenses, the Sagebrush Review, and tecolote. His first collection of poetry called beat was published by Slough Press and his second book, I Have Always Been Here is published by Otras Voces Press. He is also editing a Beat Texas anthology called The Beatest State In The Union: An Anthology of Beat Texas Writings with Chuck Taylor and Rob Johnson and is working on a book called Nuev@s Voces Poeticas: A Dialogue about New Chican@ Poetics with Isaac Chavarria, Gabriel Sanchez, & Rossy Lima Padilla to be published by University of New Mexico Press in 2015. Currently he is the organizer of the Annual Beat Poetry and Arts Festival and the Artistic Director of the Coalition of New Chican@ Artists.

Joe Jiménez

For another La Bloga review of The Possibilities of Mud and an in-depth interview with Mr. Jiménez, visit the post published by Olga García Echeverría at this link.


New Books

My Life As A Pencil
Ron Arias
Red Bird Chapbooks - March, 2015

[from the publisher]
A former English teacher and newspaper and magazine journalist, most recently for 22 years at People, Ron Arias has published the following books: The Road To Tamazunchale, a novel nominated for a National Book Award; Five Against the Sea, a true survival saga; Healing from the Heart, with Dr. Mehmet Oz; Moving Target: A Memoir of Pursuit, and White’s Rules:Saving Our Youth, One Kid At A Time, with Paul D. White. An amateur potter, he lives with his wife Joan in Hermosa Beach, CA, while their filmmaker son Michael resides in Japan, which increasingly has become a second home for them.

Pencils to the left, shooters to the right.

In this collections of short essays Ron Arias relates the ups and downs, ins and outs, and memorable people he met in his years as a magazine journalist. While traveling with a notebook and pen, a photographer, and not much else, Arias managed to capture the people as well as the places with honesty and understanding. Following the advice of his mentor Toby, Arias tells it personal, and makes it real.

Mexico on Main Street:  Transnational Film Culture in Los Angeles before World War II
Colin Gunckel
Rutgers University Press - April, 2015

[from the publisher]

In the early decades of the twentieth-century, Main Street was the heart of Los Angeles’s Mexican immigrant community. It was also the hub for an extensive, largely forgotten film culture that thrived in L.A. during the early days of Hollywood. Drawing from rare archives, including the city’s Spanish-language newspapers, Colin Gunckel vividly demonstrates how this immigrant community pioneered a practice of transnational media convergence, consuming films from Hollywood and Mexico, while also producing fan publications, fiction, criticism, music, and live theatrical events.

Mexico on Main Street locates this film culture at the center of a series of key debates concerning national identity, ethnicity, class, and the role of Mexicans within Hollywood before World War II. As Gunckel shows, the immigrant community’s cultural elite tried to rally the working-class population toward the cause of Mexican nationalism, while Hollywood sought to position them as part of a lucrative transnational Latin American market. Yet ironically, both Hollywood studios and Mexican American cultural elites used the media to present negative depictions of working-class Mexicans, portraying their behaviors as a threat to middle-class respectability. Rather than simply depicting working-class immigrants as pawns of these power players, however, Gunckel reveals their active participation in the era’s film culture.

Gunckel’s innovative approach combines media studies, urban history, and ethnic studies to reconstruct a distinctive, richly layered immigrant film culture. Mexico on Main Street demonstrates how a site-specific study of cultural and ethnic issues challenges our existing conceptions of U.S. film history, Mexican cinema, and the history of Los Angeles.

COLIN GUNCKEL is an assistant professor of screen arts and cultures, American culture, and Latina/o Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He serves as associate editor of the A Ver: Revisioning Art History series.



Viva La Chicana

Join Museo de las Americas for an evening during the Chicano exhibit celebrating the women of the Movimiento. Speeches, Stories, & Celebration of all things Chicana.

March 12, 2015
861 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO

Victor Villaseñor at Librería Martínez

Calls for Submissions

Regeneración Tlacuilolli: UCLA Raza Studies Journal invites submissions for its second issue, to be published in Summer 2015. The journal is committed to exploring intellectual, cultural, and historic issues pertinent to Chicanas, Chicanos, Latinas, Latinos, indigenous peoples, and Latin Americans. The journal’s interdisciplinary perspective enables a critical examination of the history and culture of these intrinsically related groups and the historic and social implications of colonialism, racism, capitalism, sexism, and homophobia for these communities. For information on submitting to the journal, see or contact Deadline for submissions: Sunday, March 15, 2015. Regeneración Tlacuilolli is sponsored by the Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA. 

Rebeldes Anthology

We seek new literary work that breaks from the confines of mainstream realism to surprise, delight, educate and challenge readers. The anthology should be composed by pieces that cross boundaries of form, content, and style either subtly or radically. We want nonfiction that’s too blunt, politically incorrect, surrealist, or experimental for traditional publishers.

The anthology should be as diverse as possible, covering a broad array of subject matter impacting the Latino community. We want voices that say what they have to say with a special, unique pitch.

Check out more at Editorial Trance (a royalty paying e-publisher) or email Marlena Fitzpatrick.

Other details you need to know :
Not more than 20 pages: APA and references
12pt Word or PDF
English, Spanish or bilingual
Email the complete essay, along with a cover letter with complete contact information as well as the title of the piece and word count to Marlena Fitzpatrick.
Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.

Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine welcomes the opportunity to read your fiction. We want to publish the best new stories we can find, giving writers an opportunity to publish their best work and inspiring writers to create great works of fiction. We currently publish two stories per week online and end each month with our Story Of The Month contest. The winner receives $25 and publication in our semi-annual print magazine. We respond to all submissions within 5 days and provide personal feedback. Our online magazine had over 30,000 readers last year. Please send us your best fiction up to 3,000 words by visiting us at


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Ramos for the sharing the submission information and a great heads-up to new books. Appreciate the blog.