Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mariano Azuela Conference. Mothers On-line Floricanto.

Reading Your Own Stuff
Foto Essay: Scholars and a Novelist Read Papers

Michael Sedano

Georgina García Gutiérrez Vélez, Maarten Van Delden, Emily Acevedo, Rubén Quintero

It was 1973, the historic El Festival de Flor y Canto at University of Southern California. A young scholar was extemporizing about literary historiography, without notes, in rapid Spanish as I took a few fotos. I said to myself, "Self, that vato really knows his stuff, and mejor, he's doing academics without reading a paper at me!"

That was Roberto Cantu at the lectern. It was the beginning of his career at the Chicano Studies lectern.

Roberto Cantu, 1973
La Bloga congratulates Dr. Cantu on his recent retirement from the C/S and English Dptos at CSULA. Felicidades, Roberto Cantu. 

The annual Gigi Gaucher-Morales conference Cantu organizes at California State University Los Angeles make capstone accomplishments to Cantu's notably productive career. 2015's focus upon Mariano Azuela and the Novel of the Mexican Revolution has been a superb way for Cantu to launch his emeritus status: informative, entertaining, interesting, fun.

Roberto Cantu, 2015

The 2015 Conference on Mariano Azuela And the Novel of the Mexican Revolution brought two information-filled days to the El Sereno campus. I attended only most of the first day, enjoying several fulfilling events that blended conventional academic panels with a dramatized scene from Los De Abajo, and a lecture from novelist Michael Nava, whose acclaimed recent novel, The City of Palaces, takes place during the Porfiriato and the lead-up to the revolución.

Fernando Curiel Defosse, Maria de Lourdes Franco Bagnouls, Georgina García Gutiérrez Vélez, 
Yanna Hadatty Mora, Aurora Diez-Canedo

"Mariano Azuela: Su Narrativa y Recepcion en la Historia Literaria de México"

Top L-R: Yunsook Kim, Jacqueline Zimmer, Julio Puente García,
Bottom L-R: Aurora Diez-Canedo, Maria de Lourdes Franco Bagnouls, Fernando Curiel Defosse

Conventional academic panels suffer from tradition and the nature of research in humanities. There's a pressing need to become adaptive to the audience. A tradition of reading a paper, page by page, to the audience makes the traditional panel a test of strength for panelists and audience. I imagine the scholar gets little communication satisfaction from the ritual. 

Academic reports destined to be published aren't written for oral performance. Reading the thing is folly. But the reading of papers is a rite of initiation for young scholars debuting before their peers, and a career-long occupational dues-paying. It's tradition. But not one that best showcases the individual talent.

I'd like to see some young scholars buck tradition. One goes to an academic meeting expecting people read to you. Or you sit at the front table waiting your turn to read, looking out at the audience looking back, glancing over at the reader, looking discreetly at your notes (or as one panelist did, blatantly practice her reading off her Mac), or your watch, worried that time is running out. 

Moderators tend to abdicate their role and let readers exceed their time. Overages add up and invariably cost the final speakers time, and cause anxiety. In one panel, as the reader flipped the pages of the manuscript, the next speaker looked anxiously at the document counting pages.The reader felt the moderator's eyes doing likewise, but carried on.

Fernando Curiel Defosse, Maria de Lourdes Franco Bagnouls, Georgina García Gutiérrez Vélez

I heard one moderator make a fatal error, telling a speaker she had twenty minutes. In an 80-minutes program with four panelists, opening remarks and introductions reduce theoretical time to more like fifteen minutes. When speakers then read for twenty-five or -six minutes the already over-subscribed schedule goes awry. That's not all bad.

The last reader in one panel abandoned the effort to read the manuscript and skipped around, scanning the page, reading salient passages, summarized and explained what he says in the paper. This professor alluded to the published proceedings where the audience will read for themselves all the detail and long quotations skipped owing to time constraints.

The professor adapted effectively, employing a satisfying style that earned his audience's appreciation while serving his paper far better than a straight reading. Thanks to fleeting time, the presentation offers a model for academic panels, the professor told about the paper instead of reading it out loud.

Georgina García Gutiérrez Vélez, Yanna Hadatty Mora

Visual aids, along with telling instead of reading, add to the vitality and informativeness of a presentation. Arizona State's Nemi Jain used to begin conference presentations on nonverbal communication by removing his clothes. Underneath his suit and tie, Jain wore a kurta and homespun cotton trousers. It's a gimmick, but Jain made it work.

Yanna Hadatty Mora and Cheyla Samuelson designed their readings to employ projections. Mora illustrated her paper, “Experimentalismo y representación urbana en La Luciérnaga de Mariano Azuela” with photographs by Tina Modotti and Edward Weston. Samuelson's “Relearning the Revolution: The Contemporary Relevance of the Novela de la Revolución in the Classroom at San José State University” came rich with visuals and generated hoped-for amusement and interest at Azuela's use of chingar and its effect on college readers.

To be sure, Mora and Samuelson read their manuscripts. Slide projections helped the time pass usefully by adding visual variety and validating elements of the research. Audiences of this sort easily multitask, read the slide and listen. Interestingly, Mora's slides became somewhat distracting. Running a slide cycle of repeating images with little coordination to the reading, she changed text-heavy photos too quickly to allow a reading.

Cheyla Samuelson and her chingar slide. Jacqueline Zimmer looks on.

Niamh Thornton's "A Question of Taste: the Cinematic Adaptations of Los de Abajo," experienced a media problem, too. Many of her screen grabs projected poorly. Thornton's task has the added frustration for audiences who'd like to see what the professor means by her descriptions of actors and incidents. 

Showing movies, or excerpts, adds an imposing technological hurdle. One measure of Thornton's effectiveness is the number of people now vowing to see those films with an assist from the University of Liverpool professor's informed eye.

Niamh Thornton

Alejandra Flores, Founder and Director of Los Angeles Theatre Academy, adapted the scene from Los de Abajo when la Pintada stabs Camila. Casting many CSULA alumni, the teatro break continues a tradition of having drama, song, and dance in the Gigi Gaucher-Morales conference. 

The cast includes Martina Alemán, Humberto Amor, Rafael Calderόn, Selina De Leόn, Mary Carmen Hurtado, Henry Madrid, Ted Owens, Cristόbal Palma, Juan Carlos Parrilla, Leily Sánchez.

Michael Nava worked his nalgas off researching Mexican history and cultura for his Mexico City-set novel, The City of Palaces. The novel is first of a tetralogy that, Nava says, explores how Ramon Novarro achieved Hollywood stardom. Novarro as a child makes a cameo appearance in the first novel. Click here for La Bloga's review of City of Palaces.

Nava worked as hard, it seemed to me, on his lecture, pulling material from all that research and weaving a professorial lecture linking Mexican history and society with scenes from his novel. 

So understated is the author, he neglects to tell the audience copies of the novel are on sale in the lobby. Nonetheless, numerous people found the table and line up to ask Nava to sign their copies.

Michael Nava

Drawing upon his decade's research, the novelist strung together important passages from his plot,  fleshing out history and filling in background citing historical and cultural materials he'd discovered. 

Michael Nava's effort--definitely not the standard novelist's reading--made an ideal fit in the heady academic environment defined by the panel experience.

Yunsook Kim, Julio Puente García, Rubén Quintero, Jacqueline Zimmer, Cheyla Samuelson
“Los Léperos: Attempting to Fictionally Reconstruct Racial Relationships in the Twilight of the Porfiriato”

There may be a special place in Mictlán reserved for academics who read a paper word-for-word page-for-page, and an even more special one for those who go over their allotted minutes. It’ll be a really large place because anyone who’s ever attended a University conference has witnessed the ritual and its ambiente. It goes with the territory.

Professionally, academic conferences build brag sheets. Important conferences like Roberto Cantu's  annual CSULA Gigi Gaucher-Morales event, more so. Attending a conference is a scholar's rite of passage, going among the professors and finding out if they all like your looks.

The scholar has devoted months to tracking down sources, reading, making notes, discovering a thesis, organizing ideas and materials, writing and editing, creating a document conforming to a professional style for references and margins and related minutiae. In a few months, proceedings of the conference will have the full text of that research paper. 

The book is raison d'être of things academic, a permanent record of the event. The conference brings each writer a moment of personal achievement. I would have them do it with pizzazz to get the most out of all that work. Instead, today's academic worker arrives, reads the words start to finish, reaches the final period, looks up and says "thank you" and that's it.

Julio Puente García looked up asked if anyone had questions, and he got an objection to his paper, “El último lector (2005) de David Toscana y la vigencia de Juan Rulfo en la creación de una narrativa regional mexicana en el Siglo XXI." 

Actually, there was a disturbance in the hall when García asked if there is a question? 

"An objection!" was the response. I don't remember if she said "una denuncia" or "una protesta" but the questioner spoke pointedly.

La profesora objected that Toscano's obscure! His next book isn't even Mexican, it's coming out in French. And the vato lives in Poland!

I'm sure García enjoyed the colloquy about Mexican regionalism. It's this kind of informed discussion that comes out only in the rarefied atmosphere of academia, whether graduate seminar or public conference. And in this instance, just maybe it was payback for reading that paper almost without pausing for breath.

Mothers, Mother's, Mothers' Day On-line Floricanto

Nominated by the Moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070: Poetry of Resistance, coordinated by Odilia Galván Rodríguez.

A Mother's Day Poem By Savannah Trevino-Casias
Mother’s Day Lament By Odilia Galván Rodríguez
Mother Earth is Crying By Frank de Jesus Acosta

Yerba Buena Home por Paul Aponte
Mother’s Sunset By Jose Hector Cadena
Si No Hablamos / If We Do Not Speak Por Rafael Jesús González
Grandmother By Tom Sheldon

A Mother's Day Poem
By Savannah Trevino-Casias

For my mom Vanessa A. Treviño

Oh its that day isn't it?
As I awaken to the warm spring morning
The sun shines through my drawn blinds
The soft and silent dust in the air
I look to the sky and wonder
As I get up and look around I think about how different everything is
I see the world in a unique way
Those rows of cards embellished with heartfull sayings and printed daisies
The boxes of chocolates that melt in the sun
The bundles of flowers that will dry
The never ending lists of reservations for Sunday brunch
I see it everywhere
And I am reminded of what I miss so deeply
Oh how I think about it so much
My mind wanders and tries to remember past days
How those days were different
As time continues to go on I realize that my wound is healing
Even though it will always hurt
My daisy cards will be crinkled
My chocolates will be melted
My flowers dried
But I will always have those memories
The ones of you and me, of us, and what that means
It's another day, one that comes every single year
Oh yes, it's that day,
Oh Happy Mother's Day

Savannah Treviño-Casias is a resident of Phoenix, Arizona and she will be graduating high school May 20th, 2015. Savannah as been accepted to Arizona State University Barrett Honors College and she will begin her studies in the fall.

Savannah enjoys reading and writing. She is diligent in her academic pursuits and enjoys school and learning. Savannah has received numerous scholarships to help finance her college education. Savannah was yearbook copy editor for three years at her high school. Savannah’s poetry is published in her high school yearbook. Savannah’s poetry has been published previously in La Bloga. She has written a book which has not been published. Savannah started an anti-bullying campaign at her school and is involved in numerous clubs and activities.

Savannah plans to pursue a career in psychology her goals are to work with children and families. Savannah is looking forward to graduating from high school next week and is excited to begin pursuing her degree at ASU in the fall of 2015.

Mother’s Day Lament
By Odilia Galván Rodríguez

Mother lakes
rivers oceans
Mother mountains
Mother high ground
reflected in sky
the depths
of Kivas
in Mines
in secret places
of all souls
Mother of wild winds
of tsunami tides
Walking pneumonia
a sign

Wakíŋyaŋ cough
holy sound
Electric prickle
rise of baby-fine hair
on back arms or neck
The difficulty of birthing rain
that once was sacred and now
while at the same time being raped
is acid pain

Thunderheads build in time-space
no longer here
Her children no longer refreshed

This outpouring of tainted regurgitation
Of chemicals pumped into her veins
To generate billions
green frog backs that don’t sing

Anything but death songs

Prophesied long before this
When we still had a chance
to save our pitiful selves
From twisted mutant storms
caused by what we’ve allowed
to be done

To you mother of creation

Mother of lakes rivers oceans
of rain in our blood

foto: Claudia D. Hernandez
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.

Mother Earth is Crying
By Frank de Jesus Acosta

Mother Earth is crying
A wounded and ailing corpus
Raped, polluted, poisoned
Commodified in avarice
As if she has no soul
Our wounded mother
Convulses and bleeds
Her healing rests with us
Restoring balance to creation
In contempt for humanity
Corpus wealth seeks to mimic
The power of the sun
In culpable immunity
Toxic greed pours
Into the oceans, rivers, lakes, streams
Of the east, west, north, and south
Children of the earth hear her wails
Of pain and cries of calamity
All directions rise up
In a sentient protective circle
Or sit idle in complicity
It is arrogance to proclaim
We live in dominion over earth
We are but kindred spirits
In mutual stewardship
Beholden of her blessings
There is ample harvest
To feed a global village in relation
Once we live in covenant by love
Respecting children, future generations

Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-centered institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. In 2007, Acosta published "The History of Barrios Unidos," and is presently authoring and editing a book series focused on issues related to boys and young men of color for Arte Publico Press.

Yerba Buena Home
Por Paul Aponte

Mi corazón corre
junto al jardín de mi niñez.

Con mis rodillas empapadas
y manos enlodadas,
plantando esta plantita.

Salvación de la noche.
Aroma de recuerdos.
Aroma de madre preocupada.
Aroma de descanso y dormir
de almohada por sentir.

Plantita verde:
Cuando te deseaba,
te daba gracias
por la hoja que te arrancaba,
que por agua fresca hacía pasar.
"Los dos lados, y tállalo bien,
no vaya a ver algún animal".
Y te miraba.
Solo gotitas,
agarrados de tí.
...Y un poco de sal
...Y pa' dentro!!!

Mi corazón corre
junto al jardín de mi niñez. 

Paul Aponte is a Chicano poet born in San Jose, California USA, and now resides in Sacramento.   Paul, was a member of the performance poetry group "Poetas Of The Obsidian Tongue" in the 90's, and currently is a member of "Escritores del Nuevo Sol".  He will co-feature at The Ave, in San Francisco on Tuesday June 2nd and will be presenting at "Plantando Semillas" on Saturday June 6th in Santa Rosa.

Mother’s Sunset
By Jose Hector Cadena

I love mother
and how we talk
about stars,
precious stones,
random things,
her co-workers,
the beauty shop,
and how she
wants to be
on sunsets
that gift us
with pink-

I love mother
and I cannot
imagine how
it will be
to see such
a sunset and
feel so alone
without her.

Jose Hector Cadena is a writer, poet, and collage artist.He grew up along the San Ysidro/Tijuana border. He currently teaches in the Department of Chicana Chicano Studies at San Diego State University and at Southwestern College.

Si No Hablamos
Por Rafael Jesús González

Si no hablamos para alabar a la Tierra,
es mejor que guardemos silencio.

Loa al aire
que llena el fuelle del pulmón
y alimenta la sangre del corazón;
que lleva la luz,
el olor de las flores y los mares,
los cantos de las aves y el aullido del viento;
que conspira con la distancia
para hacer azul el monte

Loa al fuego
que alumbra el día y calienta la noche,
cuece nuestro alimento y da ímpetu a nuestra voluntad;
que es el corazón de la Tierra, este fragmento de lucero;
que quema y purifica por bien o por mal.

Loa al agua
que hace a los ríos y a los mares;
que da sustancia a la nube y a nosotros;
que hace verde a los bosques y los campos;
que hincha al fruto y envientra nuestro nacer.

Loa a la tierra
que es el suelo, la montaña, y las piedras;
que lleva los bosques y es la arena del desierto;
que nos forma los huesos y sala los mares, la sangre;
que es nuestro hogar y sitio.

Si no hablamos en alabanza a la Tierra,
si no cantamos en festejo a la vida,
es mejor que guardemos silencio.
© Rafael Jesús González 2015
Escrito especialmente para el Congreso Mundial de Poetas, Tai’an, Provincia de Shandong, China, otoño 2005 

If We Do Not Speak
By Rafael Jesús González

If we do not speak to praise the Earth,
it is best we keep silent.

Praise air
that fills the bellow of the lung
& feeds our heart’s blood;
that carries light,
the smell of flowers & the seas,
the songs of birds & the wind’s howl;
that conspires with distance
to make the mountains blue.

Praise fire
that lights the day & warms the night,
cooks our food & gives motion to our wills;
that is the heart of Earth, this fragment of a star;
that burns & purifies for good or ill.

Praise water
that makes the rivers & the seas;
that gives substance to the clouds and us;
that makes green the forests & the fields;
that swells the fruit & wombs our birth.

Praise earth
that is the ground, the mountain, & the stones;
that holds the forests & is the desert sand;
that builds our bones & salts the seas, the blood;
that is our home & place.

If we do not speak in praise of the Earth,
if we do not sing in celebration of life,
it is best we keep silence.
© Rafael Jesús González 2015
Written especially for the World Congress of Poets, Tai’an, Shandong Province, China, Autumn 2005 

foto: Peter St. John
Rafael Jesús González, Prof. Emeritus of literature and creative writing, was born (10/10/35) and raised biculturally/bilingually in El Paso, Texas/Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, and taught at University of Oregon, Western State Collage of Colorado, Central Washington State University, University of Texas El Paso (Visiting Professor of Philosophy), and Laney College, Oakland, California where he founded the Dept. of Mexican & Latin-American Studies, Nominated thrice for a Pushcart price, he was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English and Annenberg CPB for his writing in 2003 and received the 2012 Dragonfly Press Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement. He was honored by the City of Berkeley with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 13th Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival, May 16. 2015. His latest book is La Musa lunática/The Lunatic Muse and his work may be read at http://rjgonzalez.blogspot.com/

By Tom Sheldon

help me in the web
grandmother spider
weaver of  mystery
of place and time
a generational saga
a cross family tissue
wedded to the water forest
plains and desert
whose tounge originated
with the animals
and the stones
show me the suspended shadows
interlaced with mystery
turn my ear
where images blaze
to the glow

from within the rocks

My name is Tom Sheldon and I come from a large Hispanic family with roots in Spain, Mexico and New Mexico. I enjoy writing poetry which allows me connection and a voice.Thank you for reading my work.


Odilia Galván Rodríguez said...

As always I love reading La Bloga, especially on Tuesdays, when the Floricanto is included. Thanks for all you do Em to promote literature and reading in our world. Saludos!

Unknown said...

Another wonderful issue. Thank you Em Sedano. Great poems!