Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What Does That mean, Fight Like A Man? Route 66 Detour. Water On-line Floricanto

Review: Christine Granados. Fight Like A Man & Other Stories We Tell Our Children. Alburquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-8263-5792-2

Michael Sedano

What does that mean, “like a man”? The question runs through a reader’s head throughout the eleven chapter title novella that Christine Granados opens with. It’s an arresting story about a pregnant woman caught in a pair of love and sex triangles, mother issues, other-woman troubles, and trouble in general.

Moni’s husband seems a decent tipo who doesn’t deserve to be cheated on—does anyone? Her Sancho turns a drug deal that gets him murdered and dumped in a trash bin. The affair is common knowledge, though no one calls her a brazen hussy.

People from both sides of the El Paso border will be coming to the funeral, politely looking the other way. Así somos, I guess, maybe a case of women will be women. Or is it Moni is acting like a man and turnabout is what it is? Again, that provocative issue.

Members of the second triangle will be crossing over for the funeral. The mourners will be Moni’s half-sister's mother. Half because Moni’s father had two familias. One on that side, the other on this side. There’s a lot of tension in this plot that readers will have to keep sorting out. Will Moni drink the curandera’s tea and abort? Will her father’s other wife like the daughter of her part-time husband? After all, Moni and her sister from another mother are compañeras. Can Moni defeat the anger that roils in her?

Is being tough and taking it—the pain, the angst, the guilt—‘fighting like a man”? Is having a husband and a lover “fighting like a man”? Is brazen treatment of a loving partner “fighting like a man”? Granados doesn’t spell it out and it’s up to her readers to figure it out. Or just sit there, read the words, and let stuff happen. Take it like a man, que no?

Much as that opening novella holds one’s perplexed interest, the short fiction comprising the book’s second half will enchant, delight, perplex, furrow brows. The rich variety of character and story in the  novella and the book’s seven short stories make Fight Like A Man & Other Stories a rewarding addition to the corpus of chicana literature. Indeed, here is a gem of Chicana literature.

The woman voice of the writer rings with the timbre of silver bells, clean, distinctive, and memorable. My favorite is “stupids.” The story is not the strongest in the collection—Granados and her editor bury “stupids” in the middle of the seven story lineup. But “stupids” takes one's heart and thrashes it good.

Springing from Abelardo’s timeless masterpiece, “Stupid America,” the story introduces three special education students and a first-year teacher, a local product but of the westside, not the brown and poor part of town where the three “stupids” live.

Meet Turi, a hyperactive kid perpetually distracted by whatever grabs his momentary attention. Jimmy, who never talks and whom the first-person narrator, Jennifer, believes probably doesn’t speak English. He does. And Turi is curious and bright. Mr. Hernandez pulls that out of them.

Jennifer is six-foot-something, most gente would say, a big girl. The other kids call her manflora, dyke, Lurch. As a result—and a lot of other factors—Jennifer has a chip on her shoulder and no expectations of benefit from the classroom. She says she hates school. Then Mr. Hernandez asks her to get out of her uncomfortably confining schooldesk. Based on past experience Jennifer figures she’s being sent to the Principal.

Hernandez pulls the desk away and replaces it with a table and his teacher’s chair. For the first time in a long time, Jennifer has a comfortable seat that she’s not banging her shins on all scrunched up. Her attitude begins looking positive.

Go to college. Tactile learning. White people on teevee talking down to the brown gente of the city. White teachers in other classes talking down to the dumb kids. They learn the word “patronizing.” They learn about Oñate and the invaders from the south, that the first Thanksgiving was in El Paso, not back East. They learn. They have possibilities. These kids, if Mr. Hernandez can keep them moving in this direction, aren’t going “to die with one thousand masterpieces hanging only from his mind.”

Christine Granados has taken a line from another wondrous poem and made it heartfelt. I sure wish that abomination De Vos would read and understand “stupids” because she would see how beautiful they are, and be ashamed. Hernandez teaches the kids, the foreign reader, they--we--too, are America.

Order your copies of Fight Like A Man & Other Stories We Tell Our Children publisher-direct or have your local independent bookseller get your copies. For sure, get it into your local libraries. Fight Like A Man & Other Stories We Tell Our Children is a beautifully written work owing to its setting, characters, and interesting literary style, puro bicultural without half trying, and completely gratifying.

Route 66 Detour to Literary Fun in Historic Site

It was the kind of invitation to pique a person’s interest. Poet Karen Cordova, author of Farolito, and Andrea Watson, publisher of 3: A Taos Press, had organized access to a pair of historic properties, the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, and the John A. Rowland House.

Cordova and Watson, under the aegis of The Taos Arts Council and the site, engaged poets from across the U.S. and historical chroniclers to "take a detour in time or space and create original work inspired by Route 66." Take A Detour From Route 66: Taos To L.A. engaged the poets and audience in just that.

On the first day of the festival, 22 presenters included poets, musicians, essayists, storytellers, and a chef. The second day, at the rarely open to the public Rowland house, nine performers filled the bill.

The readers take a tour of the grounds and house before their reading.
Guests moved from reading to reading and got to enjoy a view of the entire property.
A visit to the Workman and Temple museum makes a fine weekend destination for students of local history and adobe architecture. This weekend, one hundred people made reservations. That only about half of them attended is an ironic comment on the idea of that open road. Throughout the early a.m. preparations, curators Cordova and Watson got phone call after phone call that traffic was jammed and all the surrounding freeways were elaborate parking lots.

The reading process was interesting and engaging. The guests gathered into small groups and docents led them to the rooms and lawns where panels of readers performed five times. Totally cool, doing five presentations, adapting to the audiences, assessing each performance and installing subtle changes in delivery.

Docent shares her excitement at the upcoming reading in the Center Room of the Workman House
My panel was in the Workman House Center Room. I wrote a one-act play titled “The Feral Child of Temple City: A Horror Narrative in One Act.” Madelyn Garner read a warm tribute to her late sister, “Route 66: A Love Story.” Andrea Watson shared a wondrous Frida dream poem, “The Poem In Which Frida Kahlo Commandeers My Car And We Drive Like Bandits to L.A.” Dom Zuccone wrapped our session with a post cards from the road piece, “Get Hip To This…”

Madelyn Garner shares her work to an appreciative audience.
Our readings were effective, although our delivery was constrained by the tight space allowed by the small space typical of old houses. We all stayed at home base behind the music stand lectern. The tight geography of the room obviated the need, and ability, for a lot of movement. Instead the speakers put energy into their vocalics to keep the listeners engaged. Projection was not an issue. Normal conversational volume was adequate for all to hear, but we each added a bit more energy.

After the two hours of peripatetic audience experience, guests and readers congregated in the shady walkway outside the security-fenced structures for tasting of diner chili by Cordon Blue instructor Chef Ernest Miller. I displayed a set of flora and nature portraits printed archivally--they will stay color-true for one hundred years. I was delighted that Melinda Palacio took home a memorable foto of flying Great Egrets. A sudden windstorm played havoc with the 13" x 19" prints.

I hope this can become a Springtime annual event. If the freeways cooperate, and Karen S. Córdova and Andrea L. Watson have the energy and ganas, gente across the region and nation will want to motor west and get hip to a place that’s oh so pretty.

On-line Floricanto: Writing On Water

On March 11 2011, the Tohoku earthquake devastated northern Japan and less than an hour after it hit, tsunami waves crashed Japan’s coastline. The tsunami waves reached run-up heights, which is how far the wave surges inland above sea level, of up to 128 feet and traveled inland as far as 6 miles. The tsunami flooded an estimated area of approximately 217 square miles. The number of confirmed dead surpassed 18,000. In addition to other very serious damage, the tsunami caused a cooling system failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in a level 7 nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials. About 300 tons of radioactive water continued to leak from the plant every day into the Pacific Ocean, affecting fish and other marine life.

With pipelines, fracking, and other forms of dirty energy dependency, the fresh and salt waters all over this planet are threatened.  Tlazocamati.

“Fukushima Extinction” By Odilia Galván Rodríguez
“Clear Gold” By Dee Allen
“Water” By Jeff Cannon
“Trouble... the Water” By Edward Vidaurre
“Rupture” By Sharon Elliott
“Untitled” By Jasmin Garcia
“Water” By Lana Maree Haas
“In Solidarity with the Water Protectors” By Leah Wiegel
“Bless our Water” By JoyAnne O’Donnell
“Water Crossing” By Maurisa Thompson

Fukushima Extinction
By Odilia Galván Rodríguez

“Japan Declares Crisis As Fukushima
Reactor 2 Begins Falling Into Ocean”
March, 2017

earthquake triggered
tsunami struck
700 miles of coastline
disaster at Fukushima
nuclear power plant
core damage
daily 300 tons
of radioactive water
flows into the ocean

Tepco, Fukushimi Daiichi’s
owners refused to build
sea walls to protect
the plant in the event
of such a disaster
walls to keep out death
too expensive

then their disaster
dealing with the disaster
while radiation
steadily continues
leaking into our seas
as pacific ocean slowly dies
mutant flowers and
plant life on the rise

massive die-offs
of marine life
spikes in cancer
along the Pacific Coasts
radioactive isotopes
cesium-131, 134, and 137
soluble in seawater
so radiation easily spreads

death continues
it leaks and drifts
crippled Fukushima
not contained
its melted bones
continue to slip
into our sea
poisoned the Pacific

radiation levels up
from 73 Sieverts in 2011
lethal radiation
levels unimaginable
melted core damages
fission unprecedented

now 530 Sieverts
per hour
An 8 Sieverts dose
incurable and fatal
gaping hole two square yards wide
caused by melted nuclear fuel
and no body knows where the fuel is

Clear Gold
By Dee Allen

Seventy-one percent of Earth.
Sixty percent of us.
Gathering grey clouds
Streaks of lightning
Followed by thunder-roll-----
Gaia takes another shower
Cleansed each time, refreshed by this-----
Absorbing into leaves from rain
Deer lapping it up from woodland streams
Pathway to the safety of the river bottom
for swimming fish
Cities’ steel veins flow it through our faucets
Matrix of life, sated by this-----
Keep private
What was formerly free-----
Sold back to us, plastic bottles of this-----

Fear lingers in hearts
In some who care
That in future wars,
Soldiers or drones will fight
To the death, final prize: this-----
Clear gold.
Seventy-one percent of Earth.
Sixty percent of us.

By Jeff Cannon

water, I run you, splash you, drink you, wash with you
swim in you, pee in you, brush my teeth with you
flush you, sprinkle you,
know you, forget you, abuse you
leave you turned on, use more of you than i need to
hear about what people dump into you that sickens you, kills you
makes me an accessory to your murder
the pillage that destroys your liveliness for my children and theirs

I‘ll try to save you
sometimes i forget
i'll respect you more, though, since so many don't, just take advantage of you
i'll tell others to remember you, take care of you
recognize how dear you are for us to live, and never take myself or my kind so seriously
as to forget you, your life and the life you afford other creatures not
just those of my kind that take themselves as supreme beings
entitled to do whatever they want to each other, other creatures, you
our water

Trouble… the Water
By Edward Vidaurre

When a poor kid sees clean clear water
he envisions a treasure, a hope
have you ever seen a murky
opaque wishing well?

When a woman kneels
along rivers edge to wash her sheets,
she thinks, a new beginning, a cleansing,
when was the last time you washed your clothes in oil?

When a thirsty stray dog walks for miles
along the gutters of this nation
wishing to quench his thirst
where does he find relief?

When have you seen
dogs or cats, blood dripping
from their jaw hair
laying on your front porch content?

It happens, blood and oil mix with mother earth’s tears, and
we watch as it happens. Soon we'll be drenched in oil
or blood, and water will be what we search for
at the bottom of our wishing wells.

By Sharon Elliott

can fracture stone
a slow drip drip drip
incessant grief
marked by tears
and offerings

no longer pure
she has not been cared for
by abuse and neglect

is prepared to receive
the rupture
bears water on its back
filters her through
impenetrable membranes
of memory
and longing

to go on as two

By Jasmin Garcia

If you love me, do not love me.
I am not somebody to love.
I am undeserving of kisses and warm hugs.
I am undeserving of dinner and a movie.

My mother is a Hurricane,
She birthed a Tornado.
I know what I am capable of doing.
I am a strong person
Because I have to be.
Nobody will be my strength.
Nobody could give me strength.

I am winds.
Powerful winds that drown men
Every so often
With a glare and if that doesn't work
Then I smile.

I am youthful but toxic.
My soul is old but wise.
I am the rain.
Do not overdose on antidepressants,
I told you not to love me in the first place.
I will drown you
And everything that matters most.

I have a tendency
Of filling lungs with smoke and dust.
Do not breathe me
Thinking I am a cigarette to pleasure you
For 10 minutes.
I am not the smoke you crave.
I am a tornado.

If you love me, do not love me.
I am not somebody to love.
My spirit shows no mercy to your bones.

By Lana Maree Haas

I saw you in the river,
when ripples of green
were humming and singing,
they moved like glass,
unencumbered and laughing!
I knew it was you,
because when I knelt to touch you,
my fingers were blessed
and my face was caressed.

In Solidarity with the Water Protectors
By Leah Wiegel

After you put the mace and hose down
After you followed orders
After you did your job,
and did it well
After you raise the taser to the face
After the shock leaves your grip
After the dogs are unleashed
and the flesh pierced,
and and the skin burnt, and the eyes red
After they fell down, hard, and you leave, proud
After your trucks roll away
and you take off the holster,
and hang up the vest, and lay down the gun
Do you go home to a wife?
Does she ask how your day was?
How do you answer her?
What do you say?

Bless Our Water
By JoyAnne O’Donnell

Holy is our water
sparkling life
flowing with waves of truth
cleansing our swim
on the joy of a wave
bringing angels of blue light
shining so tender and bright.

Water Crossing 
By Maurisa Thompson

where would you go if you had to run?
through the canebrake, machete leaves
that draw less blood than the lash—
run from those that steal children
run, would you wade in the water
wade in the water children
god’s gonna trouble el agua, las fábricas
pockmarking the land like plantations
the two shirts on your back worth
10 cents per day—
run, on the snake-back of a train
burnish your footprints
from the earth with leaves
from the sand with wool
because they are always behind you
smelling for your blood your body
they would pick from their teeth, run
where would you go to find your mother?
because they think you hold a different god
on your tongue—run from the vice grips
from the armies who twist bayonets in your womb
who forge hells of fire falling from the sky
from bullets that blistered the walls
like tracks of heroin needles on arms
where would you run to?
what possible death
would you choose?
would you dare to ask whatever angels
for safe passage and water to cross
would you set your compass, your eyes
on a star tilting in your vision
and run, run, run, run, run—

and if you could finally stop running
if your heart for a day a week a century
pulled back from throttling your lungs
and rested, and rested, and rested
would you still shroud your own face
would you boil the seas to lethe
clutch guns at the doorway

or would you leave the door open
offer sweet water and maize
to strangers
at your hearth?
--first published in Poetry in Flight | Poesía en vuelo: Anthology in Celebration of El Tecolote.

Meet the Poets of Water On-line Floricanto

“Fukushima Extinction” By Odilia Galván Rodríguez
“Clear Gold” By Dee Allen
“Water” By Jeff Cannon
“Trouble... the Water” By Edward Vidaurre
“Rupture” By Sharon Elliott
“Untitled” By Jasmin Garcia
“Water” By Lana Maree Haas
“In Solidarity with the Water Protectors” By Leah Wiegel
“Bless our Water” By JoyAnne O’Donnell
“Water Crossing” By Maurisa Thompson

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet, writer, editor, educator, and activist, is the author of six volumes of poetry, her latest, The Nature of Things, a collaboration with Texas photographer, Richard Loya, by Merced College Press 2016. Also, along with the late Francisco X. Alarcón, she edited the award-winning anthology, Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, University of Arizona Press, 2016. This poetry of witness anthology, the first of its kind, because it came about because of the on-line organizing work of Alarcón, Galván Rodriguez, and other poet-activists which began as a response to the proposal of SB 1070, the racial profiling law which was eventually passed by the Arizona State Legislature in 2010, and later that year, HB 2281which bans ethnic studies. With the advent of the Facebook page Poets Responding (to SB 1070) thousands of poems were submitted witnessing racism, xenophobia, and other social justice issues which culminated in the anthology.

Galván Rodríguez has worked as an editor for various print media such as Matrix Women's News Magazine, Community Mural's Magazine, and Tricontinental Magazine in Havana, Cuba. She is currently, the editor of Cloud Women’s Quarterly Journal online; facilitates creative writing workshops nationally, and is director 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 and encouraging people to take action. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, and literary journals on and offline.

As an activist, she worked for the United Farm Workers of America AFL-CIO, The East Bay Institute for Urban Arts, has served on numerous boards and commissions, and is currently active in Women’s organizations whose mission it is to educate around environmental justice issues and disseminate an indigenous world view regarding the earth and people’s custodial relationship to it. Odilia Galván Rodríguez has a long and rich history of working for social justice in solidarity with activists from all ethnic groups.

Dee Allen. African-Italian performance poet currently based in Oakland, California.
Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word tips since the early 1990s.
Author of 3 books [ Boneyard, Unwritten Law & Stormwater ] and 12 anthology appearances [ Poets 11: 2014, Feather Floating On The Water, the first 4 Revolutionary Poets Brigade, Rise ] under my figurative belt so far. Currently writing a potential 4th book & seeking a publisher.
E-Mail: deeallen415@gmail.com
Webpage: http://www.poormag.info/static/dee/index.html

Jeff Cannon is the author of three books of poetry: Finding the Father at Table and Eros: Faces of Love (2010, published by Xlibris Corporation), Intimate Witness: The Carol Poems by Goose River Press, 2008, a testament to his wife’s courageous journey with cancer. He first appeared in the anthology celebrating parenthood, My Hearts First Steps in 2004. He has been a featured poet at Manchester Community College, CT and at local Worcester poetry venues as well as in New Hampshire. From 2007-2008, he was the spoken word component with singer song writers John Small and Lydia Fortune as part of Small, Fortune and Cannon.  He was published in Goose River Anthology: 2009 and started at that time to write monthly essays and poetry for the “Sturbridge Times” of Sturbridge MA. He is the father of two daughters, retired and “can’t stop writing” although he does not read out as much as he would prefer.

Edward Vidaurre is the author of Chicano Blood Transfusion (FlowerSong Books), Insomnia (El Zarape Press), Beautiful Scars: Elegiac Beat Poems (El Zarape Press), and I Took My Barrio on a Road Trip (Slough Press). His new collection, Jazzhouse, is forthcoming from Prickly Pear Press. His work appears in Bordersenses, RiverSedge, Brooklyn & Boyle, La Bloga, Voices de la Luna, and Poets Responding to SB1070, among many other venues. He is the founder of Pasta, Poetry, and Vino, an ongoing poetry reading series in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Sharon Elliott has been a writer and poet activist over several decades beginning in the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s and 70s, and four years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Ecuador, especially in multicultural women’s issues. She is a Moderator of Poets Responding to SB1070, and has featured in poetry readings in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in several anthologies and her poem “Border Crossing” appears in the anthology entitled Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, Francisco X. Alarcón and Odilia Galván Rodriguez, eds. She has read it in Los Angeles at AWP and La Pachanga 2016 book launch, in San Francisco and at the Féis Seattle Céiliedh in Port Townsend, WA. Her book, Jaguar Unfinished, was published by Prickly Pear Press, 2012.

Jasmin Garcia, born and raised in Mercedes, TX, is an upcoming poetry writer in local areas of the Rio Grande Valley. She began her first step by performing at Poetry Nights hosted by The Prelude in Harlingen, TX. Being awarded with praise from her perfomance, Garcia decided to take the next step into writing a book which is currently under development. More of her work can be found on Facebook by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/jgarciapoetry

Lana Maree Haas started writing poetry and singing as a child. She also practices energy and body work and is a Yoga Instructor. She earned a B.F.A. at The University of Kansas where she studied Textile Design and Psychology. She has produced 2 albums of songs, “Stardust and Moonbeams” and “Riotous Singing!” with her band, The Sonic Mystics. She has also published a handful of poems. She is looking forward to publishing her first book of poetry, Unsung Surrender, and finishing her third album of songs Holy Feet on Holy Ground.

Leah Wiegel.

JoyAnne O’Donnell. I'm a poet have poems in hundreds of places. Published two chapbooks of poetry titled "Tea Time" in 2015, "Angels" in 2016. I'm a two time Pushcart nominee and Best of The Net nominated.

Maurisa Thompson was born and raised in San Francisco, and is a proud alum of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People and VONA/Voices of Our Nation.  “Water Crossing” is part of the new anthology Poesía en Vuelo: Poetry in Flight—Anthology In Celebration of El Tecolote, released March 2017.  More of Maurisa’s poetry can be found in La Bloga, The Pedestal Magazine, The Black Scholar, Cosmonauts Avenue, the anthology A Feather Floating on the Water: Poems for Our Children, and The Haight-Ashbury Journal, which nominated her for a Pushcart Prize.  Maurisa is proud to have a home in the arts in the Bay Area, where she has worked with various organizations and actions, including Librotraficante Bay Area Califas and Richmond’s RAW Talent.  When she is not teaching high school in San Francisco or reading her students’ own poems, she is working on her first poetry manuscript that combines history and folklore with her grandparents’ stories from Louisiana and San Francisco, and a middle-grade novel exploring police brutality, for which she was honored to receive a Walter Grant from We Need Diverse Books.

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