Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Review: Chicago Noir The Classics. News. On-line Floricanto.

Michael Sedano

Publisher Akashic Press continues to showcase one of the best book series to come down the pike, the Noir city series.

Choose a metropolis; writers have found its gritty underside, from Baltimore, Barcelona, Beirut, Belfast, Boston, Bronx, and Brooklyn—and that’s just the “B”s.

Noir is alive and healthy, clearly, so a series like the Noir and Noir Classics from Akashic is a productive way to keep abreast of the genre.

A Noir anthology collects a handful or more of storytellers. Some may be “name” writers while other writers rise from the ephemera of pulp and ewaste that is today’s literary churn.

It’s a delight to find a familiar author in a noir context. If a reader’s lucky, the anthology will introduce a new writer, compel investigation of more by that author.

It’s the classic win-win of literary collections. Compelling stories lead a reader to more stories, in turn supporting a market for more reading and more writing.

Publishers hope this is not trickle-up economics. They put their money into printing and distributing books, and they wait for the cash register to ring. Publishers want a flood.

Based on the quality of the numerous Noir collections I’ve enjoyed--especially three, Indian Country Noir, Mexico City Noir, and Trinidad Noir--Akashic’s cash registers should be playing the Ode to Joy. Reliably interesting stories is the main part. But also, Akashic prices economically under sixteen bucks, prints in type generously sized that feeble eyes might not require anteojos, these sturdy paperbacks hold up under even rugged vacation and holiday conditions. A couple of Noir cities make perfect companions under the sun of those brief days December November October. Find a warm spot and get noir.

The latest in the Noir series is a second visit to Chicago. Chicago Noir The Classics does everything anthologies and noir are supposed to, but this title achieves an unheralded goal that deserves notice.

The publisher's publicity rightfully touts the Classic angle. The collection has age, names, and good stuff. The latter is almost all the reason to buy Chicago Noir The Classics. The line-up includes Richard Wright, Sherwood Anderson, Patricia Highsmith, Sandra Cisneros, Sara Paretsky. Editor Joe Meno collects work published from 1916 to 2009.

When I first read the list of fifteen authors, Cisneros’ jumped out at me. Chicago is richly multi-ethnic including a substantial raza population, so it was satisfying to note Cisneros’ inclusion.

Diversity is this collection’s unsung quality. Ethnicity infuses the heart of a story like Max Allan Collins’ “Kaddish for the Kid” and false ethnicity beguiles the virgin chamaca into a predator's bed in Sandra Cisnero's "One Holy Night." Pitch Noles, son of a Jewish father and beautiful black singer, gambles and ‘wins’ in Stuart M. Kaminsky’s “Blue Note.” Big Bull Benson avenges a murdered black sports columnist in Percy Spurlock Parker’s “Death and the Point Spread.”  Therese yearns for Carol's bed, it's mutual, in Patricia Highsmith's "The Price of Salt" (excerpt). Closeted gay men are the pair of thieves in Harry Stephen Keeler’s “30 Seconds of Darkness,” that opens the collection.

This is wonderful diversity, coming both unexpected and unhearalded. Anthologies are supposed to convey a sense of having covered the territory, Joe Meno has. Ethnically diverse city, ethnically diverse plots. Better, Chicago Noir The Classics showcases diversity as normal, everyday. This adds inescapable satisfaction to a sense of the editor's having covered the territory. Mostly.

In counterpoint, readers will note that, with Libby Fischer Hellmann, Meno includes just four women writers among the quince, Patricia Highsmith, Sandra Cisneros, Sara Paretsky. Meno’s introduction doesn’t mention any women he had to leave out, though he lists several male writers who didn’t make the cut.

In a time of turmoil in the North American writing community, with card-carrying writers in near riot over their Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ myopic blunders undercutting diversity in the writing marketplace, it’s encouraging to see a publisher like Akashic quietly working to fulfill the objective so many seek for anything called “American.”

Chicago Noir The Classics has fifteen ok-to-fabulous stories. The good stuff people buy noir to read: crime, murder, irony, humor, detectives, puzzles, colorful writing. Even if the stories did not add to the possibilities of noir writing, diversity could be the collection’s raison d’être, it’s that good to see here. With daughters, raza, Jews and blacks, diversity reflects and adds to a reader’s experience and makes Chicago Noir The Classics a genuine classic.

For the trouble my fingers had typing Chicago Noir The Classics, they kept pushing "n" for "g" in the city, Akashic should consider commissioning a Chicano Noir.

Palo Alto College American Indian/Heritage Month Features Three Poets Laureate.

La Bloga friend Juan Tejeda sends news of this year's Palo Alto College American Indian/Heritage Month Celebration  in San Antonio, Tejas.

The month-long celebration invites students and the community for programs featuring dance, music, film, lectures. Details of the dozens of community celebrations here.

In an historic event, three sitting  Poets Laureate share a dais on Wednesday November 4th. U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress Juan Felipe Herrera will be introduced by San Antonio Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero, and Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla.

A reception and signing begin at 6, the reading discussion starts at 7.

California could hold a similar floricanto, a dream floricanto hosting San Francisco Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, and the former California Laureate and present U.S. Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

Porter BioPlay to be Read
La Bloga friend Gregg Barrios sends word that his new play A Ship of Fools: An Alibiography directed by Marisela Barrera will have a staged reading premiere at the Overtime Theater in San Antonio, TX on November 14-15.

The play centers on Texas writer Katherine Anne Porter and her Mexican American biographer.
The twofer has been cast with actors Gloria Sanchez, Katherine, and Joel Settles, Cristóbal.

Gregg shares the advance poster for the theatrical event and promises to send along details as they iron out.

On-line Floricanto for October 2015
Juliana Aragón Fatula, Sonia Gutiérrez Doroteo García, José Hector Cadena, Oralia Rodríguez

The Wall, By Juliana Aragón Fatula
The Garden of Dreams, By Sonia Gutiérrez
El Jardín de Los Sueños, Por Sonia Gutiérrez
Los dueños de todo y los que no tienen nada, Por Doroteo García
Medio, Por José Hector Cadena
Nada se perdió, Por Oralia Rodríguez

The Wall
By Juliana Aragón Fatula

El otro lado
of the wall, el jefe
builds a pyramid
of stones. También, like
Babylon it will
tumble down, las madres
scatter unable
to speak the same tongue.
No hacen voz. You've
crossed the barrier,
no hay turning back.
The wall es almost
impossible to
scale in a single
bound; you must run, dig,
swim, and crawl to
el otro side. No one
returns. Nunca. Why
would they? Los Estados
Unidos is the
land de leche y azúcar.

Juliana Aragón Fatula’s, three books of poetry are Crazy Chicana in Catholic City, 2nd edition, Red Canyon Falling On Churches, Conundrum Press; and her chapbook, The Road I Ride Bleeds, Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. She is a Southern Colorado Native, a member of the Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Foundation, and a writer-in-residence for Colorado Humanities’ Writers-in-the-Schools Program. She teaches cultural diversity and believes in the power of education to change lives. She is a performance artist who likes to stir the political melting pot and shake things up.

The Garden of Dreams
By Sonia Gutiérrez

In The Garden of Dreams,
when the heaviness
weighs pavement low,
only the winds can lift
these fingers
to touch the green
guava leaves.

The Earth's skin
calls these dormant
green hands to uproot crabgrass,
to pluck dry leaves,
and to water earthen pots.
Because here, there is no place
for folk to mope around
with a screaming
emoji face. Oh no!

Fifty feet away,
Ms. Rake, leaning against
the wall, hollers,
"These trees' branches
need shaking; let it rain
desert brown and yellow
all around you! Rake!"
And she's right!
Because if bodies dawdle
around aimlessly
in The Garden of Dreams,
weed vines will overtake
the dancing dwarf orange tree
and the guava trees'
white blossoms.
And the cawing crows
will most certainly
peck and eat
this year's purple
and green delights,
hanging from the
large-leafed fig trees.

In the dream garden,
birds are singing
from a far,
where Mrs. Ruby Red
dry petals peer through
the fleshy purple rose succulents;
her chapped lips
await the blue watering pot's
heavy drizzle that will make her roots
dance with delight.

But before these hands
tend the dream garden,
I reach for Tata Sun
who keeps us warm
and Nana Moon
who grows light
in her womb.
There is a brightness
in all the flowers
where I am intertwined;
this I know for certain
when my eyes
meet Mr. Fern
in need of a trim,
and before I can get
my hands through his fronds,
I make sure I smother
myself with rosemary
and am reminded
will be just fine
because The Garden
of Dreams
did not begin with me;
their seeds were passed
down to me,
keeper of the Earth.

El Jardín de Los Sueños
Por Sonia Gutiérrez

En el Jardín de los Sueños,
cuando la pesadez
anda por los suelos como el cemento,
sólo los vientos pueden levantar
estos dedos
para que toquen las verdes
hojas de guayaba.

La piel de la tierra
llama a estas manos dormidas
a arrancar garranchuelos,
jalar hojas secas,
y regar macetas de barro.
Porque aquí, no hay lugar
para gente abatida
con cara de emoji
¡Oh, no!

A cincuenta pies de distancia,
la Señorita Rastrillo,
recargada contra
la pared grita,
"¡A estas ramas de los árboles
necesitan un sacudón;
que llueva un café desierto
y amarillo a todo tu alrededor!
¡Y ella está en lo correcto!
Porque si los cuerpos
sin rumbo pierden el tiempo
en el Jardín de los Sueños,
las malas hierbas invadirán
el pequeño naranjo danzante
y las flores blancas
de los guayabos.
Y los cuervos crascitando
picotearán y comerán
las delicias verdes
y moradas colgando
de las higueras de hojas
grandes de este año.

En el jardín de sueños,
los pájaros están cantando.
A lo lejos, a través de los suculentos morados,
los pétalos secos
de la Señora Geranio Rojo Rubí
se asoman;
sus labios partidos
esperan la llovizna pesada
del crisol azul de riego
que harán sus raíces y hojas bailar
con deleite.

Pero antes de que estas manos
atiendan el jardín,
alcanzo a Tata Sol
que nos mantiene calientes
y hacia Nana Luna
que crece luz
por dentro.
Hay un brillo
en todas las flores,
donde yo estoy entretejida;
ésto lo aserto
cuando mis ojos
ven al Señor Helecho
con necesidad de un corte
de cabello y antes de meter
mis manos entre sus frondas;
me aseguro untarme romero,
y recuerdo que todo
va a estar bien porque el Jardín
de Los Sueños
no empezó conmigo;
me pasaron las semillas a mí,
guardadora de la tierra.

Sonia Gutiérrez’s work promotes social and human dignity. She is an Interim Assistant Professor of English at the San Jancito Campus in San Jacinto, California.

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, Huizache, and Sunshine Noir II.

Sonia’s bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña (Olmeca Press, 2013), is her debut publication. She is a contributing editor of the The Writer’s Response (Cengage Learning, 2016). 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 since 2014. To learn more about Sonia, visit SoniaGutierrez.com.

Los dueños de todo y los que no tienen nada
Por Doroteo García

Unos cuantos
Son dueños del dinero.
Dueños del trabajo,
Dueños del poder...
Unos cuantos son dueños de las leyes
Dueños de la verdad.

Y muchos son los otros:
Los que mendigan,
Los que buscan
Los que emigran.
Y muchos son los otros
Los que no tienen nombre,
Los que no tienen voz.
Los que no tienen patria
Los que rezan sin un Dios.
Para ellos
Los que no tienen nada
Es enorme la necesidad
Es tenue la esperanza
Es endeble la justicia.
Amplia y deplorable la soledad.

Para ellos;
Los que no son de aquí.
Los que venimos solo por trabajar
Se nos ha negado el cielo
Y se nos niega el lugar.
Mientras tanto, los ricos
Circulan como el dólar
Se reparten el mundo
En cualquier lugar.

Mi nombre es Doroteo Garcia, vine del sur del estado, de Oaxaca trabajo, como janitor en la Universidad de Stanford. Y todos los dias escucho, percibo, siento, vivo las injusticias de este mundo. Y por eso escribo para denunciar. Hablo por mis compañeros de trabajo, por mis vecinos por aquellos que no tienen voz. Escribo poesias e historias de nuestra gente. (He escrito y publicado un libro "cuentos de inmigrantes") En donde relato de una forma simple el sacrficio y esfuerzo que cuesta vivir en EU.

En East. Palo Alto, la ciudad donde vivo formamosun comite de vecinos que lucha por viviendas accesibles y control de rentas para que las familias de bajos recursos no seamos desplazados. No tengo mas que decir de mi mismo. Que los otros hablen por mi.

Por José Hector Cadena

Mucho antes de haber aprendido oraciones
y antes de saber lo que era la muerte
no sabía que todas los días me deslizaba
fácilmente entre dos mundos que eran dos
distintas ciudades; dos países

al crecer quise ser parte de un país
más que del otro y no entendía que
en mi frente llevaba el águila sobre
el verde suculento y en mi voz una pizca de
azul-rojo y estrellas blancas

hubo lágrimas aprendiendo a mover la lengua
y no poder decir que duele en la garganta tragar
confusiones al escuchar tantas versiones
de mi nombre, de mi pasado, de mi familia que
nadie quería comprender

el racismo en esta ciudad es cuchillito
que te entierran cuando te pelan los dientes
y se niegan explicar paꞌ donde darle
sin importar que tan bien pronuncies
palabras que borren a otras palabras

el resentimiento lo siento en esta ciudad
cada vez que me explican que soy solo mitad
de lo que pude ser por haber nacido dividido
y con la cara de no sé de dónde pero de aquí
no te regresamos el cambio que te corresponde

pero sé que aquí el movimiento sigue y
que soy en cuerpo la frontera con un ojo aquí
y otro allá mientras el cielo observa las diferencias
que nos unen más de lo que creemos.

José Héctor Cadena is a writer, poet, and collage artist. He grew up along the San Ysidro/Tijuana border, received his B.A. from San Diego State, and his MFA from San Francisco State. VONA fellow 2014. He currently teaches in the Department of Chicana Chicano Studies at SDSU, San Diego City College, and at Southwestern College.

Nada Se Perdió
Por Oralia Rodríguez

El agua entró en cada rincón de la casa,
los insectos se mudaron
a lo alto del techo,
nada se perdió.

Momentos gastados en quereres ausentes.
Tiempo atrás
las cenas familiares se volvieron flores secas,
la vajilla
flotó en el lodo,
borbotones de agua
y noticias en periódicos viejos.

La lluvia trajo
un calor maltrecho,
el cariño flotó por instantes,
por la puerta entre tanta agua,
ese día quedaron charcos en el alma,
un caos,
los recuerdos,
el lodo, el agua
mi infancia.

Pero nada se perdió.
© Oralia Rodriguez

Maria Oralia Rodriguez Gonzalez. Originaria de Jerez Zacatecas, radica en Tijuana B.C.
Estudió la Licenciatura en Informática en el Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana, y la Licenciatura en Educación Primaria en la Normal Fronteriza Tijuana. Trabaja como docente de educación básica.
A participado en antologías de poesía en Mexico y Argentina, y en diversos encuentros literarios. Ha publicado dos cuentos infantiles ¨Lobo, Lobito¨ y ¨Murmullos en el bosque¨ con la editorial mini libros de Sonora. El poemario ¨Habitada de nostalgia.

Estudia la maestría en Cultura Escrita en el Centro de Posgrado y Estudios Sor Juana, cursó un Diplomado de Creación Literaria en CPESJ. Y un Diplomado en Estándares y Herramientas Lectoras para un Aprendizaje Efectivo y Transversa  del TEC de Monterrey.

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