Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Poetry Road Trip. Guest Reviewer. Honoree Nominations.

30 Poets, Four Cities, This Week
Michael Sedano

Billing themselves as Las Lunas Locas, thirty women from Los Angeles begin a caravan Thursday, driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco to launch a four-city poetry tour with readings also in Sacramento, Oakland, and Fresno.

Save the date! If you're in the neighborhood, the readings will offer memorable work in a unique peripatetic ambiente.

Six of the women held a fund raiser in El Sereno's popular Holy Grounds Coffee and Tea shop. What a genuine delight to see old friends and enjoy sparkling conversation with gente I've heard read at Avenue 50 Studio, and meeting others for the first time. The conversation and amistad were free. For a donation, a poet would create a poem on a now-ancient manual typewriter.

Organizer Karineh Mahdessian had asked if I wanted a formalist work. I'd raised the formalist issue at a free verse-dominated La Palabra reading the previous week. I answered not exactly; I wanted something "in the style of Jesus" in as much as we were standing on Holy Grounds.

Indefatigable Karineh Mahdessian, poet, emcee, and poetry activist.

Melanie González was at the machine and took my offhand remark as a prompt. She rolled a sheet into the platen and began composing on-the-fly. Using mostly two fingers and striking the keys hard  like a percussion instrument until the fingers began to bleed a bit, almost, Melanie worked swiftly and confidently.

Iris de Anda's typing machine misbehaved and didn't move the inked ribbon. Melanie pulled the poem off the machine and read it aloud before presenting it to me. I complained I couldn't read the wondrous work. Iris checked it out then rendered the machine first aid. 

Iris and Melanie doing CPR on the portable typewriter.

Melanie rolled the paper back into the machine and re-typed the poem on the original document. I got two gems for the small donation. The palimpsest contains the faint impressions of the original running vertically, with the final edition reading top-to-bottom.

in the style of jesus
down on beaudry
the glue sniffers
and the rucas meet
at loreto high
with the eloteros and
tamaleros walk by
while the cholas
and freaks
wait to be crucified
in the style of jesus
spread out 
like wings
on the concrete
there is no heaven
here there is hell
and everyone is living
in the style of jesus 
with their tijuana bibles

Melanie Gonzáles reading "in the style of jesus"

I am saving this wonderful piece in my collection of libros cartoneros. Next time Las Lunas Locas hold another fund-raiser, I'm taking more money. These poets are founts of creativity and energy and are certain to create masterpiece after masterpiece, sparkling gems like the poets themselves.

Gente in Northern California and the central valley metropolis of Fresno can look forward to hearing Melanie at selected venues, or Karineh, or Iris, or one of the six spirits working the fundraiser. For sure, audiences will totally dig some combination of the thirty making the week-long caravan in the service of poetry and the Muse.

Emily Fernandez, Melanie González, Laura Sermeño,
Karineh Mahdessian, 
Carolina Gamero, Iris de Anda.

Guest Reviewer: Hugo Cesar Garcia 

Gene Aguilera. Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781467130899

In 125 pages, 155 photos, 15 posters and souvenir programs, and one map, author Gene Aguilera captures the colorful, flamboyant and wonderful world of Mexican American boxing in Los Angeles starting with hard drinking, hard hitting Aurelio Herrera in 1895 and ending with 10-time champion Oscar De La Hoya in the nineteen nineties.

Photos capture epic ring battles but also offer candid snap shots of boxers, some very well known, others a revelation to the casual boxing fan, as well as interesting tidbits about their personal lives.

Unexpected treats: El Chicano band's singer Ersi Arvizu of Sabor a Mi fame as a professional boxer at age 18; singer/actor Frank Sinatra in Cisco Andrade’s corner;  icon Marylyn Monroe with the original Golden Boy, Art Aragon, who bobs and weaves throughout the book.

Captions, some of them quite deep, not only indicate the records of renowned champions Mando Ramos, Danny Little Red  Lopez, Carlos Palomino, Oscar De La Hoya, Raul Rojas, Genaro Chicanito Hernandez, and Bobby Chacon, but also provide interesting details about their careers and lives, as well as those of celebrated contenders Enrique Bolaños, Art Aragon, Armando Muñiz, Ernie Indian Red Lopez and Ignacio Keeny Teran, revealing the demons and circumstances that denied them the titles their skills in the ring merited.

Action-packed bouts featuring fierce light weight Mexican and Mexican American fighters attracted not only ordinary Latinos but Hollywood celebrities, because of promoters Aileen Eaton, Hap Navarro and Don Fraser; managers Howie Steindler and Benny Georgino; Joe and Dan Goossen; matchmakers George Parnassus and Don Chargin.

Beginning at Jack Doyle’s Vernon Arena at 38th and Santa Fe in the 30s, Cal Working’s Hollywood Legion Stadium and Wrigley Field in the 40s, the neighborhood rivalries and international duels of these light weight warriors moved on to the fabled Olympic Auditorium at 18th and Grand, the LA Sports Arena, The Fabulous Forum, plus Las Vegas and to other continents with brilliant smaller weight champions and contenders.

The retirement of Olympic Gold Medalist and 10 time world champ in six weight divisions Oscar De La Hoya marks the end of this informative book.

Author Aguilera modestly admits he never meant to pen the definitive pictorial history of Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles, but Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles is a pretty good one for long-time boxing fans, and new ones as well.

About the reviewer
Hugo Cesar Garcia, a long-time boxing fan, covered boxing at the Olympic Auditorium for Eastern Group Publications, whose circulation area served the eastern and central parts of the Los Angeles basin.

Garcia is currently working on his first novel Hueso, about Spanish language media, immigration, and police abuse. The novel''s action moves from Cd. Juarez to Los Angeles at the height of the narco wars.

2016 Award of Excellence Nominations Wide Open

Who has not read a list of notable raza and wondered who picked them, or why so-and-so was omitted? Austin, Texas' The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center invites everyone to get into the process of naming 2016 outstanding raza creators of the cultural arts for the Austin region of the country.

The centro announces six categories are open for nomination, including self-nomination"

THE ARTS: Those working in any medium including visual arts, dance, music, literature, theatre, film, performing arts and history.

PATRONAGE: Those who have made significant contributions or donations in support of the Latino cultural arts, and who have provided in-kind and non-financial support in the Latino cultural arts.

SERVICE: Those who have exhibited outstanding service as a volunteer and/or employee in the Latino cultural arts.

EMERGING ARTIST: Those who have shown innovative and exceptional accomplishments in the Latino cultural arts.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT or POSTHUMOUS: Those who have demonstrated years of passion and dedication in the Latino cultural arts.

ARTS EDUCATOR: Those that educate our community about Latino cultural arts.

Nominations close Wednesday, March 21st at 11:59 p.m. (CST).

Read the award descriptions, criteria and eligibility requirements, and download the nomination form, at the ESB-MACC website.

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