Tuesday, September 12, 2017

LBFF Disappearing Before Our Eyes. Early September On-line Floricanto

Michael Sedano

It’s hard, thinking about the two hours I’ll never get back and how I left them at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, where the Latino Book and Family Festival occupied space for the second consecutive year. I departed two hours after stepping off the Gold Line surface rail, thankful travel to and from makes it cheap and easy to attend what could be my last LBFF, if there is another.

The LBFF is a project of a not for profit organization calling itself Latino Literacy Now. A 501(c)(3) organization. Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler co-founded Latino Literacy Now to promote literacy in the community in all forms. The 501C3 claims “over a million people have been impacted by our organization’s five program areas”. Attendance at this event topped twenty-five, by my rough estimate and seen in the vast spaces of the shady part of the LBFF.

Only a few people realize how dismal this year’s LBFF proved for exhibitors and at least one entertainer. A plurality of bookselling authors attended fresh from the prior evening’s International Latino Book Awards, their book covers now bearing the gold seal of award winners. The awards are Latino Literacy Now's most singular achievement. LBFF looks to be an afterthought and is killing itself through poor marketing. Used to be, LBFF brought in hundreds of people an hour. This iteration will be lucky if it brought 100 people to LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes.

I hope I'm wrong and that right after I left all those people at Union Station wearing football and baseball gear were headed to la feria with  feria for some books. While I was there, authors had ample time to carry on extended conversations about their stories, like Donna Miscolta holding her award-winning Hola and Goodbye Una Familia In Stories.

Donna Miscolta spoke with La Bloga's Xánath Caraza about Miscolta's writing process, and bringing Hola and Goodbye to light. 

The show must go on. This is the edict practiced by Georgette Baker. Baker's I Matter Yo Importo won a medal for Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book. Baker is costumed for a solo performance on the stage where the figure stands in the remote background. She projected via microphone to the sea of empty chairs.

Catherine López Kurland has the dual pleasure of writing a well-received book and discovering family history,  Hotel Mariachi: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage in Los Angeles, the story of a street corner and a hotel. Kurland's great grandfather built the structure in 1889.

Pasadena author Randy Jurado Ertll has three titles now, in English and Spanish. His life of an activist memoir has sold out and gone out of print. His tee shirt is the cover of his latest Cipitío story.

Artist Ignacio Gomez had a prime location, two tables adjacent to the entry gate. The event advertised a ten a.m. opening, Gomez’ table was not quite laid out at noon but he was prepared with posters and prints of his distinctively stylized figures, like El Pachuco from the play Zoot Suit.

Kirk Whisler, the organizer from Latino Literacy Now, appears to be running a one-man operation. In the foto of Gomez' puesto, Whisler has brought Gomez a tripod. Whisler was videotaping the workshop I attended up on the third floor. Perhaps he's setting up the camera here?

The workshop I attended had nearly fifteen people. Ni modo a bunch were relatives of the two speakers. One read bilingual children’s poetry, the other recounted his determined march to seeing his book in print.

left, Dra Ma. Alma González Pérez, right Marcia Rodriguez
Only one publisher took a space, Del Alma Publications, LLC. Two representatives came from Texas, presumably to attend last night’s prize affair, and show two titles. Dra Ma. Alma González Pérez poetry collection, Cantos del alma y el corazón, Poesía Original, and a food-based abecedarian for Spanish English learners, ¡Todos a comer! A Mexican Alphabet Book. Del Alma Publications marketing director, Marcia Rodriguez, tells me the press has five titles in its catalog.

Latino Book and Family Festival used to be worthy of its name. Last year was no aberration. Marketing failed the Los Angeles audience. What could have been a family event, a book festival, was none of those. People talk. Word of mouth is critical to marketing success. I can't imagine anyone who spent a couple hundred dollars for a table will have much good to say. LBFF organizers are going through the motions to protect a brand name at any cost.

Early September On-line Floricanto
Rebecca Bowman, Jacob Moreno, José Chapa, Edward Vidaurre, Kai Coggin

“Tú Orelia” by Rebecca Bowman
“The Cacophony of Marching Monarchs Butterfly wings flutter” By Jacob Moreno
“Anchor” By José Chapa
“Through the Fence” By Edward Vidaurre
“hoUSton” By Kai Coggin

“Tú Orelia”
by Rebecca Bowman

Tú Orelia
Tú que caminas entre el barbecho
Que andas por los caminos olvidados
Que buscas la sombra, el anonimato
Que sólo esperas lo que tantos tienen
Tú Orelia
Fortaleza incarnada
Voluntad completa

Que no te pisquen
Que no te hallen
Que puedas seguir tu camino
Que puedas lograr lo que mereces
Que Dios te cubra
Que la Virgen te cuide
Que halles un lugar seguro
En donde estar

Rebecca Bowman nació en Los Ángeles; radicó durante muchos años en Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas. Fue becaria del CONACULTA y del Consejo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes de Tamaulipas. Obtuvo el Premio Estatal Juan B. Tijerina en cuento, el Premio Estatal de Cuento del ISSSTE, y el Premio Internacional de Dramaturgia Manuel Acuña. Ha publicado varios libros incluyendo Los ciclos íntimos, La vida paralela, Horas de visita, Ink Reactions/Reacciones en tinta y Portentos de otros años. Sus cuentos se han incluido en antologías y sus obras de teatro se han puesto en escena varias veces. También escribe poesía y literatura infantil. Actualmente vive en San Marcos, Tejas.

“The Cacophony of Marching Monarchs Butterfly wings flutter”
By Jacob Moreno

Mariposas sin papeles
Without sin, sin vergüenza
I can hear them coming
In droves, sin miedo
They migrate to the sun
Sippin’ on nectared honey
In the land of milkweeds
In patterned flight
Of generational movement
Returning amidst bordered nets
There is strength in aggregation
As a swarming rabble moves
In the natural beauty of migration
From the shade of frightened shadows
They arise in majestic fortitude
I can hear them coming
As a mass of beating wings
They march upon sacred streets
Singing stories sin derechos
Chanting "¡Si, Se Puede!"
In synchronized solidarity
Grasping fire tinged flags
That flap in cold blooded winds
And dance on the breeze
Of hopes and dreams
In the open sky of opportunity
With fist held high
They scream in boisterous tone
Not voiceless, they roam
On the air streams of liberty
Holding hands and homemade signs
Designed to carry them to freedom
And I, can hear them coming

Jacob Moreno perceives poetry as a voice for the oppressed, the impoverished and the broken spirited of the world. He believes poetry to be an instrument of awareness, resistance, rebellion and civil disorder. As a young man growing up in Chino, California, he used poetry as a catalyst to find peace, love, hope and healing. His Chicano ideals motivate much of his work and are often reflected in his poems. Moreno received both his Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and his Master of Education degree, from the University of La Verne. He currently teaches English at a Southern California High School. His motto is, “I mold minds and write rhymes!”

By José Chapa

The truly solitary
don’t know what to say to their mothers
in the sky´s cold rooms.
Secretly they tire of their own kids:
laughing water birds
that crash into walls and keep laughing.
They sacrifice everything to move away,
to the beaches and peaks and the quarries.
The solitary have lovers who ruin themselves
of reasons they should be together,
of nude selfies
sent nervously.
They don’t promise anything, but they feel a certain
warm emptiness.
The lone wolves show respect:
nod to police,
curse with coworkers,
look away from the beautiful.
they only wish
to be truly alone.
Their hair starts to fade
and their family,
they are afraid
to be truly alone.
Perhaps their eyes move rapidly
in that dark electricity magenta and green,
towering visions.
Or perhaps they don’t sleep.
But the swollen hours of night
are their only freedom.
White noise
reverberates in their bones.
Wine or true mescal
defuse them.
Daybreak catches them biting
a hard coin.
They are the ones who think about crying
at funerals. Who become teachers, firefighters,
keepers of open land, dieticians and bankers.
Who only wish they were smart enough
for space exploration.
They’d strand themselves out there
but no further than the moon;
what would be life without view of the ocean?

Jose Chapa (Mission, TX, 1990) is an American poet raised in Mexico. His work has appeared in publications such as The Acentos Review, Central American Literary Review and Tierra Adentro. He authored "Pájaros de Pólvora" and "Sospecha de un Viaje Astral"; poetry collections published in 2009 and 2015.

“Through the Fence”
By Edward Vidaurre

I offer these medicine poems
I gather this sage for you poems
Teach me to pray the rosary poems
Let’s face the four directions together poems
In lak’ech- tu eres mi otro yo poems
Sweat together poems
Eres mi Yemaya poems
Floricanto poems
Don’t drown in the river poems
Altar for our ancestor poems
Sobadora curandera poems
Sana sana colita de rana poems
Drum beat poems
Conch shell poems
Cumbia poems y salsa poems
Hold my hand through the fence poems
Here’s some food for your journey poems
La Bestia at high speeds poems
You are my kindred poems
Bring me your Dreamer poems
Your fuck this border wall poems
Don’t worry about the orange guy poems
Don’t speak his name poems
Your existence is medicine poems
Help me uncelebrated Cinco de Mayo poems
ya basta! Poems
Grito poems
Indigenous wisdom poems
Palo Santo poems
You were here first poems
Decolonize your soul poems
Codeswitch poems
You belong poems
No more war poems
Son Jarocho poems de Resistencia
Corrido poems
Con safos poems
Flying chancla poems
Share this meal with me poems
Here! Drink some water poems
Let me die your death poems
One day at a time poems
Café con leche poems
Pan dulce poems
Pupusa poems
Guayaba poems
Mangüitos con alguashte poems
Raspa poems
Spiropapa poems
Platanitos poems
La Pulga poems
Molcajete poems

Pocho poems
Salvi poems
East L.A. poems
Valle poems
Gather in this embrace poems...
Crying poems
We’re waiting for you on this side poems
We have hot coffee and tamales poems
Recipe poems
Share my rebozo poems
Come, fall in love poems
You are worth more than any labor you do poems
You are him, her, they, them poems
Welcome home poems
Get some rest poems
Tomorrow we’ll plan the future poems
I love you poems.
Take with you these love poems...
You are not illegal poems
We’ll protect your women and children poems
You are not an alien poems
This is actually your land poems
You deserve so much more poems
Hide behind me poems
You are not merchandise to be locked up in container poems
Stay speaking Spanish, it is poetry
Warsan Shire home poems
Como la flor poems
Tanto amor poems
La Llorona poems
Elotero poems
Be my chola poems
Pan de polvo poems
Orale vato poems
Slow dance poems
Padrino de DJ poems
Kiss me when I’m asleep poems
Starsong poems
Deeptongue poems
Wildflower poems
Riversedge poems
Chicharra poems

*poem for “Resistencia En La Frontera: Poets Against Border Walls

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.

By Kai Coggin

In the middle of Houston, there is US.
My city became an ocean overnight,
floodwaters drowned thousands of homes,
swallowed whole neighborhoods with one rising gulp,
brackish brown bayous
and rain,
so much rain,
a trillion gallons
pouring from the broken open sky,
this is what unfathomable looks like,
6.5 million people wondering if they can float,
people swept out of their lives
in the currents of swirling water,
where do you go when your whole world sinks
to the bottom of a hurricane’s slow dance of doom?
In the middle of Houston, there is US.
I watched for days
from too far away
to do anything but pray
as the water rose over the places of my youth,
I put a golden dome of light around my mother’s home,
texted her through tornadoes overhead
as she hid in the closet,
visualized her safe and dry,
safe and dry,
safe and dry,
and she is...
but how do I not cry
for the 32,000 Houstonians sleeping in shelters tonight?
In the middle of Houston, there is US.
This indiscriminate life breaker of a storm
ravaged the poor, the rich, the middle class
with no thought of separation,
hispanics, asians, whites, and blacks,
christians, muslims, republicans, democrats,
these false lines we use to divide ourselves break down
until all we can see is human.
How can I help another human being survive?
Where can I take my boat, my canoe, my kayak and float
to a family with water rising to their necks,
arms flailing from water level rooftops,
street rivers, trapped cars,
and the mental emotional scars
that have not yet come our from under the rubble
of this unprecedented disaster.
In the middle of Houston, there is US.
A friend of mine lost 99% of her possessions
in a house she moved into two days before the storm.
She posts her gratitude on facebook for
the man she loves saving her and her three dogs.
Another friend’s little boy is always a little chatterbox,
she worries because he is so quiet since they were evacuated,
his eyes looking at the passing water.
Another friend walks five miles with her little girl in a floaty,
hitchhikes on the back of a truck,
jumps on a boat to get to a shelter accepting survivors, she praises dry socks.
Another friend, former student, is now a police officer,
teenage boy turned gladiator diving into harm to truly protect and serve.
Another friend and another friend and another friend
millions of stories because Houston
is a city of stories,
Houstonians helping Houstonians
now more than ever before,
a Navy of Neighbors knocking on every flooded door,
finding their own humanity on the other side.
In the middle of Houston, there is US.
There is a reflection of all of US in this tragedy,
it unfolds on this national scale
in the fourth largest city in the country
to remind us that we are stronger in our togetherness,
we are better when we care for our neighbors,
we are greater when we open up our hearts instead of build walls,
when we are stripped down of everything
but the rain-soaked shirts on our backs
drowning in overtaking oceans,
we reach out our hands from under the water
just wishing someone…
another human being…
would grab hold and say
“I’ve got you.”
“You’re safe now.”
“You’re going to be alright.”
Our hands are out to you Houston.
In the middle of Houston, there is US.
Kai Coggin, 2017
#HurricaneHarvey #HoustonHarvey


Odilia Galván Rodríguez said...

Sad to hear about the disappearing LBFF, a shame really, because we do need folks to read and I won't go into the whys because that'd be preaching to the choir to all who produce and read La Bloga. But something has to change folks, or LBFF will go all the way down. Hopefully they will figure it out and do better outreach next time?

The Floricanto is amazing. As always, I give thanks to Em and to the poetas.

Saludos, Odilia

Andrea Mauk said...

The poetry is wonderful. I remember attending the LBFF when it was at Cal State LA, and it was amazing. I am sorry to hear that its success has dwindled. As Odilia said, something must be done.

poetapower said...
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poetapower said...

Jose Chapa's poem is breathtaking. So glad to read it here.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.