Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't You Love Good News!

Melinda Palacio

Patricia Spears Jones and Melinda Palacio at AWP 2016
Earlier this week, Poets & Writers announced the winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize of $50, 000. It went to Patricia Spears Jones. If you don't know her work, consult some past La Bloga issues. Linda Rodriguez did a thorough review of her most recent book A Lucent Fire: New & Selected Poems. I've also featured her poetry as she is a fellow Tia Chucha Poet and someone whose work I admire. I'm super pleased to hear the news of her award. Patricia Spears Jones is the 11th winner of this award, Elizabeth Alexander was the first. The panel of judges describe her poetry as 'made of fever, bone, and breath' and as a poet who 'has steadily and quietly enriched the American poetic tradition with sophisticated and moving poems. More of us should know who she is, and even more should read her.' The full citation is on the Poets&Writers website. This announcement comes on the heels of La Bloga's Amelia Montes receiving a Fulbright for next year in Serbia. Read the interview with La Bloga's Amelia and Xanath on Monday.
A Lucent Fire by Patricia Spears Jones

The next day, Dr. Cristina Herrera, professor of Chicano and Latin American Studies at CSU Fresno and author of (Re)Mapping the Latina/o Literary Landscape New Works and New Directions, (Re)Writing the Maternal Script, and Reading/Speaking/Writing The Mother Text, received the Provost Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Accomplishment. Her reward consists of a stipend, a reception, honors during the next graduation, and she will be invited to participate in the following year's Provost's Lecture Series. Dr. Cristina says: "It's a huge deal for me because I'm the first Chicana to win in this category, an award usually given to faculty members in math, science, or engineering. It's such an honor."

Dr. Cristina Herrera

That famous Honda Element with CA Plates NOLA.
There's more good news for me and Steve. Our stolen car was recovered and this means more ease to travel to the next literary event. April may be National Poetry Month, but the poetry continues into the rest of the year. Next month, I will be reading at Core Family Winery in Santa Maria May 13 and as part of Tia Chucha's new Anthology: Wandering Song at Beyond Baroque May 27.

My Wonder Woman Button 

Although the thieves cleaned out the car and took everything inside that could be hawked or given away, including my yoga mat and eye pillow, there was one small item they missed, a Wonder Woman button that I made when the All Wonder Woman Walking Krewe welcomed me into the group last Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The thieves missed this button. They did some damage to the car, slashing the ceiling fabric and steering wheel, leaving a bullet hole scuff on the hood and leaving a bullet shell in the car, along with food trash, random keys, and a strong ashtray stench. Steve and I are glad to be reunited with the green Honda Element. The car was taken to a tow yard by Midas Touch Towing. According the NOPD reports, it is unclear whether the thieves abandoned the car or simply parked it in a spot that allowed the towing company to identify it as stolen and thus haul it away. The Wonder Woman pin and a voodoo doll, made by my friend Karen Kersting, proved to be powerful car charms.

Karen Voodoo Doll
Since much news happens on Facebook, Karen wrote an open post to the thieves back in February when we didn't think we'd see the car again:

"To those heartless thieves: my voodoo dolls have a good track record in recovering stolen cars. This doll is made from a scrap of fabric that was used as part of a prison work program. The Mardi Gras beads are specifically positioned to give you the greatest discomfort and the feathers are from a bird that was attacked by a cat. Save yourself, and return that car -- or at least call-in an anonymous tip. Bad Karma is floating your way."
New Orleans Poetry Festival 2017

Good news about the Honda's recovery in April meant that I am in New Orleans this week and able to attend the 2nd Annual New Orleans Poetry Festival, something I hadn't planned on earlier in the year. It turns out many friends from California are in town for the festival, including Xochitl-Julissa Bermejo, Michelle Detorie, and Lee Herrick. Thanks to having the trusty, ten year old Honda Element back, I was able to pick up Xochitl-Julissa Bermejo and Soraya Membreno at the airport. Xochitl-Julissa and Soraya are presenting a panel, SGV Food Club, on building community, Saturday at 10 am at the 2nd annual New Orleans Poetry Festival, hosted by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns. Festivities began yesterday with an opening party and event featuring poets who play in bands. The readings and panels continue throughout the weekend and culminate in a reading at the Maple Leaf Bar on Sunday at 3pm. For a complete list of events see the NOLA Poetry Festival Website.

Poets Xochitl-Julissa Bermejo, Melinda Palacio, and Soraya Membreno in New Orleans

And more good news comes from poet Jenn Givhan whose third poetry collection, Girl with Death Mask won the Blue Light Book Prize from Indiana Review. Indiana University Press will publish her book next year. 

What's your good news?

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