Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018-2019 Tejas Star Reading List

The Tejas Star Reading List Task Force annually selects a recommended reading list of bilingual English/Spanish books or books written in Spanish from books published in the three years prior to the list being published. The list is prepared for use by children ages 5-12.

The Tejas Star Reading List is intended for recreational reading, not to support a specific curriculum. Due to the diversity of this age range, Texas librarians should purchase titles on this list according to their individual collection policies.

Acosta, Alicia. (2017). El pequeño pirata Serafín (Little Captain Jack). Illustrated by Mónica Carretero. Madrid: NubeOcho. ISBN: 9788494541513. (Ages 4-8).

Amavisca, Luis. (2017). El espejo en la casa de mamá / El espejo en la casa de papá (The Mirror in Mommy’s House / The Mirror in Daddy’s House). Illustrated by Betania Zacarias. Madrid: NubeOcho. ISBN: 9788494541568. (Ages 4-8).

Biddulph, Rob. (2017). No como todos (Odd Dog Out). Translator Anna Llisterri. Lyndhurst, NJ: Lectorum Publications. ISBN: 978-84-16394-49-4. (Ages 4-8).

Buckley, James Jr. (2016). ¿Quién fue Roberto Clemente? (Who Was Roberto Clemente?). Illustrated by Ted Hammond. Translator Eduardo Noriega. Miami, FL: Editorial Santillana S.A. ISBN:978-1631134296. (Ages 8-11).

Colato Laínez, René. (2016). Mamá la extraterrestre=Mamá the Alien. Illustrated by Laura Lacámara. Translator René Colato Laínez. New York: Lee & Low. ISBN: 9780892392988. (Ages 6-9).

De la Peña, Matt. (2016). Última parada de la calle Market (Last Stop on Market Street). Illustrated by Christian Robinson. Translator Teresa Mlawer. Lyndhurst, NJ: Lectorum Publications. ISBN: 978-8484705499. (Ages 3-6).  

De los Ángeles Boada, Maria. (2016). No seas goloso, señor Oso (Don’t be Greedy Mr. Bear). Illustrated by Santiago González. Ecuador: Editorial Santillana S.A. ISBN: 978-9942191908. (Ages 4-8).

Diaz, Alexandra. (2016). El único destino (The Only Road). Translated by Alexandra Diaz and Lillian Corvison. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 978-1-4814-8441-1. (Ages 8-12).

Engle, Margarita. (2017). ¡Bravo! Poemas sobre hispanos extraordinarios. (Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics.) Illustrated by Rafael López. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN: 978-1-250-11366-5. (Ages 7-11).

Engle, Margarita. (2017). Aire encantado: Dos culturas, dos alas: Una memoria (Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir). Translator Alexis Romay.   New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 9781534404786. (Ages 10-12).

Hood, Susan. (2016). El violin de Ada: la historia de la Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados del Paraguay. (Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay). Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. Translator Shelley McConnell. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 9781481466578. (Ages 4-8).

Jaramillo, Susie. (2017). Esqueletitos = Little Skeletons: Countdown to Midnight.  San Francisco: Encantos. ISBN: 978-1945635069. (Ages 5-8).

Lacasa, Blanca. (2017). Ni guau ni miau (Bow Wow Meow). Illustrated by Gómez. Madrid: NubeOcho. ISBN: 978-8494541520. (Ages 4-8).

Liniers, Ricardo. (2017). Buenas noches, Planeta (Good Night, Planet). New York: Toon Books. ISBN: 978-1-943145-21-8. (Ages 4-8).

Medina, Meg. (2017). Mango, Abuela y yo (Mango, Abuela, and Me). Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Translator Teresa Mlawer. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN: 978-0-7636-8453-2. (Ages 5-8).

Mena, Pato. (2017). La siesta perfecta (The Perfect Siesta). Madrid: NubeOcho. ISBN: 978-84-945415-4-4. (Ages 4-8).

Otheguy, Emma. (2017). Martí's Song for Freedom = Martí y sus versos por la libertad. Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. Translator Adriana Dominguez. New York: Lee & Low. ISBN: 978-0892393756. (Ages 7-12).

Spiegelman, Nadja. (2015). Perdidos en NYC: una aventura en el metro: A TOON Graphic (Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure: A TOON Graphic). Illustrated by Sergio García Sánchez. New York: Toon Books. ISBN: 978-1935179856. (Ages 8-12).

Telgemeier, Raina. (2017). Fantasmas (Ghosts). Translators Juan Pablo Lombana and María Domínguez. New York: Scholastic. ISBN: 978-1-338-13368-4. (Ages 8-12).
Tullet, Herve. (2017). ¡Mézclalo bien! (Mix it Up!). Translator Peter L. Perez. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN: 978-1452159331. (Ages 3-8).

Vicente, Alidis. (2016). El caso de los Reyes Magos = The Case of the Three Kings. Illustrated by Mora Des!gn Group. Translator Gabriela Baeza Ventura. Houston: Arte Publico Press. ISBN: 978-1-55885-822-0. (Ages 8-11).

Wood, Susan. (2016). ¡Esquivel! Un artista de sonido de la era espacial. (Esquivel! Space Age Sound Artist). Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.Translator Carlos E. Calvo. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN: 9781580897334. (Ages 6-9)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Chicana Epideictic. Final February On-line Floricanto

Review: Rita Sanchez and Sonia Lopez, eds.Chicana Tributes: Activist Women of the Civil Rights Movement: Stories for the New Generation. San Diego: Montezuma Publishers, 2017.

Michael Sedano

Note: On Sunday, March 4, 2018, the quarterly gathering of The Book Club of the Chicano/Latino Stanford University Alumni Association of Southern California, welcomes Rita Sanchez to discuss Chicana Tributes. The meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. in Monrovia, CA. Click here for details.

It seems only yesterday that it was the 1970s and newly-degreed Ph.D.s were entry-level professors offering the first Chicana studies classes, in the first C/S and Women’s Studies programs. Students
learned from loose-leaf binders of photocopied articles, reserve book room readings, lots of observation and conversation. There was no key textbook that foregrounded personal stories of notable Chicanas.

Chicana studies courses without books about Chicanas frustrated the heck out of the editors of Chicana Tributes. In the process of teaching with a paucity of resources, they designed a technology that creates a textbook for Chicana studies, publishing opportunity for Chicanas, and the spark for cloning Chicana Tributes locally. Every community deserves its own Chicana Tributes.

Sixty-one formal essays report on Chicanas who emerged out of the civil rights movement as it manifested in San Diego communities. Chicana Tributes brings a lot to its readership: an interesting collection of achievers, an emergence, but most of all, Chicana Tributes is a textbook, and a must-have for libraries.

Textbooks are costly. Economy of scale doesn’t seem to matter much. Production costs are inherently high, distribution logistics problematic. Chicana Tributes has a price ranging between $39 and $28, per the Google. The publisher, Montezuma Publishing, recently expanded operations from a dissertation / course materials publisher serving San Diego State University. The publisher may offer classroom sets at discount and other breaks. Ni modo, Chicana Tributes is worth having.

With that high price, every word is valuable, so read every word. But unless it is an assignment, you don’t want to read from cover to cover in order. Chicana Tributes offers excellent browsing material. The editors lead each thematic chapter with teasers, thumbnail portraits of the 5 or 6 women in the chapter, offering guided serendipity.

The sixty-one narratives begin with two chapters singling out matriarchs who have completed their journey and crossed over. The succeeding chapters keep to a thematic approach introducing women at career peaks as movimiento activists, artists and writers, educators, business leaders, public officials. The closing chapters celebrate women early in notable careers, illustrating the avenues and opportunities opened by those 1970s women.

Emergence is the raison d’etre of Chicano Tributes. These 61 achievers otherwise go unacknowledged, in memory, in history, in their pueblo. Q.E.D. Where there was anonymity now there are 61 names. Where there was stereotype now here are 61 diverse Chicanas. Where once there were no books about Mexican American women, now there is Chicana Tributes. And now 61 writers and 1 translator can add “published” to their brag sheet.

Sanchez and Lopez created classes on raza women, one at Stanford, the other at San Diego State. They didn’t have a textbook. In courses about Mexican American women, there were no books about Mexican American women. Rita Sanchez and Sonia Lopez responded to publication exigencies by creating a classroom technology for finding and acknowledging women within the student’s own community--then they made their own content.

Our goals also seemed similar in that we both hoped to see Chicana/Latina writings in print. We wanted to see ourselves in the required readings. Eager to capture Mexican American women’s experiences and bring them to our students, we encouraged our classes to write. We knew that the lack of publications about women like us represented solid neglect. Our students, nearly our age, submitted work that we prepared for publication. We researched and wrote along with our students, sharing our once unwritten histories and contributions. Xii

Their students conducted research within constraints of a syllabus. The seminars and workshops fit into a long-range project that eventuated in this book. It should not stand alone. Every C/S department, or writing department, can get a course approved, then launch the process of doing women’s studies by focusing on local gente and publishing local grad students and academics.

Some readers might be distracted by the relentless formalism of the sixty-one essays, and won’t have patience for long sittings with the book. It’s the nature of Tributes, and the epideictic genre they belong to, and the challenge for editors to sequence and edit. A plurality of 61 authors and one translator are graduate-level women at the beginnings of academic careers. The authors are friends of the subjects, or colleagues, some daughters, at least one is an invited author.

The epideictic--rhetoric of praise and blame--offers valuable resources to communicators. The ancients thought of epideictic oratory as counterpart to judicial and deliberative speech, one of three fundamental skills that marked a competent member of the polis. The formal Tribute is training ground for obituaries, after-dinner remarks, wedding toasts and the like. One mark of highly competent communicators is how they perform in epideictic settings.

61 Tributes produce over 400 pages. Clearly, three-thousand word essays won’t fully comprehend a subject’s achievements, much information has to be left out. The editors add ten pages of notes and bibliography at the end of the book so the essays needn’t stand alone. They're most useful; a note for Chapter 2, for example, links to a book on San Diego Chicana teatro where Delia Ravelo’s work is detailed.

Chapter 2 describes Lin Romero as a poet, alluding to her work especially with Taco Shop Poets. USC’s Digital Library archived Lynne Romero’s 1973 reading at the first Festival de Flor y Canto.

Hearing Romero’s voice and the intent behind her verse discloses a gentle spirit audiences instantly love in return. QEPD.

I was disappointed the essay on Rosaura Sánchez in Chapter 8 fails to credit Sánchez, with Beatrice Pita, as the first Chicana science-fiction writers (link). In a book replete with firsts and onlys, Sánchez claiming space in the sci-fi universe is an unfortunate occulting.

Chapter 9 connected me with a long-sought poet. There’s a poem I found in grad school, back in the early 70s. I love the insouciance and aptitude of the persona, the poem’s wonderfully succinct declaration of personhood and Chicanidad. All I had as a researcher was the piece, “I’ve Heard,” and a name, Olivia de San Diego. I thought I found her once, in 2010 for the reunion Floricanto, but I found a different Olivia, and that Oliva couldn’t join us.

I am happy to meet Olivia Puentes-Reynolds, Olivia de San Diego, who emerges from anonymity in chapter nine. The poem has never been anthologized, to my knowledge. I close this review with that memorable poem, together with a link to a haunting recording.

Well beyond the above, readers may find diverse personal and regional connections with Chicana Tributes. Maybe a reader with a love of the southern border of the U.S. and the wonders of San Diego now that the Navy’s gone, relishes the texture met in these San Diegans. Maybe a scholarly interest in successful women recognizes the absence of Mexicanas from the bibliography and scoops up this for local adoption. Maybe it’s a student’s curiosity, and an assignment or two in C/S 101. Maybe it’s an old-time rhetorician getting a kick out of the much-neglected epideictic and encomiums.

Who are these 61 women? Common threads link the achievements and the life events of the 61 women: higher education, upward mobility, senior management jobs, marriage, divorce, single parenthood. These women were the first in the familia to get a degree, first Chicana in her field, only Chicana in her department or institution.

1941, Cucamonga, 3 Chicanas who couldn't fill a
classroom. They have stories.
Many of the 61 writers likewise are firsts, but they’re not the only. Women fill classrooms nowadays, from job training to Grad School. Every one will be a story.

Doors have been opened by these 61 women. Today, after hardscrabble beginnings, these 61 Elders of Chicana Tributes are the name on the letterhead, the Crone, a community's living treasure.

Undoubtedly most of these women enjoy rich fruits of laboring at the highest ranks and salaries in their fields. They own fancy cars—one earned Dad’s admiration not for her Ph.D. but for driving her Mustang cross-country three times. They know which fork to use when entertaining the blue ribbon 500 social set, and their homes equally welcome community and familia pachangas. Some now are out of the world of work and taking on new occupations.

In 400 pages there are lots of lines to read between and for 61 women, each wrote volumes between the lines. Much is omitted from every tribute’s resumé exposition.

Diego Rivera, Mexico D.F.
Secretaría de Educación Pública
There are indications of “chingona” in the jobs the women held--head of ACLU, senior executive at multimillion dollar institutions, tenured professors, entrepreneuses. No one gets there from where they started without special tools.

The writers would do well to address unspoken equipment each person brings to professional and personal change. There’s a provocative allusion to a certain something in Patricia Sandoval’s Tribute to Maria Zuñiga, the second Chicana Ph.D. in social work. Sandoval writes,

Maria believes that, because she had already built academic skills as her foundation, that allowed her to do well; for that reason, she was able to counter racism at the core and was successful doing so

The core. There’s a core. Did Zuñiga become a chameleon, able to slip in and out of character as she moved back and forth into her worlds, because she is smart and paid attention in school? As a Berkeley student she led departmental change leading to greater raza enrollment. Did she do that by being nice? She met with the Provost of the University, crossing a picket line to make the appointment on time. Did she kidnap the Deans of five Southwestern schools, or forcefully negotiate?

An encomium isn’t a how-to, but should point toward enduring values, those tools, that commend Zuñiga, the life, to her readers. Most tributes wrap with statements of personal indebtedness without suggesting what makes her tick.

A reader will make do with what is at hand and will await a second edition to flesh out Maria Zuñiga’s method. Maybe that’s available already to a more perceptive reader of Patricia Sandoval’s tribute.

In a make-your-own-irony, Chicana Tributes is a book about firsts. You can be first among your compañeras compañeros to order Rita Sanchez and Sonia Lopez’ Chicana Tributes through a brick and mortar bookseller, or via the internet, and the first to ask the library to order a couple of copies. You can go to Montezuma Publishing to place an order.

“I’ve Heard”
by Olivia de San Diego

(click here to hear)

I’ve heard
Black is beautiful
I want
Brown is Beautiful

To feel is to be
To live
My feelings are beautiful
Because they’re real
Because they're me

And I'm being brave enough
Loving enough
To aIlow myself to feel.
To be myself. . . to grow
But shit
Who can / will understand
My frustration
My pain
Who can I turn to
Who will help me untwist my stomach
My body is screwed with this
pain. . . mi grito
es loud and long
Can't you hear it?
that I feel ugly. . .
to discover after all these years. . .
That I don't love myself
That all these years I've been look-
ing at myself through gavacho eyes
Judging. condemning.

Damn! I was a racist
against myself
I hated myself because I'm me???
No more, white man, no more
Gavacho, gavacha

I'm Brown
I'm beautiful
I'm a Chicana
Y sabes que white man. pig educator.
No chingas conmigo mas!!!
Published in La Raza (Los Angeles) II no. 6, April 30, 1969.

February 2018 Ends, Final On-line Floricanto Of the Month
Selected by the Moderators of Poets Responding, a Facebook poetry community

"III" Por Roberto Castillo Udiarte
"I KNOW WE CAN!!!" By Avotcja
“Condemned” By Jeffrey L. Taylor
"Choke Hold Sonnet" By Robin Carstensen
"I hope there will be smudgers there" By Michael Sedano

Por Roberto Castillo Udiarte

Para cuando llegues y puedas meter el carro sin contratiempos, las puertas del cerco estarán abiertas de par en par;
para cuando llegues, dejaré la puerta de la casa sin llave ni cerradura para que puedas entrar a la hora que tú desees llegar;
para cuando llegues, abandones tu trabajo atrasito de la puerta y te olvides del laberinto que recorriste por la ciudad;
para cuando llegues, estará lista la cafetera con el café recién hervido, cargado, con doble azúcar, tal como te gusta tomar;
para cuando llegues, yo estaré entre cobijas y sábanas bien calientitas, tal como te gustan, para que empieces a soñar.

By Avotcja

We have been here before
We’ve sang in the face of the Klan
And danced with feet all bloody
On the decks of Slave Ships
On the “Longest Walk”
On Freedom Marches, in Jail cells
And Concentration Camps
Oooops Ghettos
That we we’re supposed to call our home
We know this place
The Concrete Jungles, the Reservations
A curse of & by the uncivilized
Who have forgotten
The healing beauty of Grass & Trees
And the gift of clean Water to drink
And have lost their ability to love
We are familiar with
The senseless mayhem of perpetual War
The addictive lust for power
The intoxication of bloodlust
And those who prefer
The inhumane sacrifice of their Souls
As they try to steal ours
We have been here before
We know the Hanging Tree, the rope
The rape of our bodies, our Cultures
The theft of our Songs & our Children
We have swam through the slime of misogyny
We’ve been here… we know
Racism, greed & stupidity have no conscious
And it is only a matter of time
Before the insatiable self-destruct
Before they devour each other
We’ve been through it all before
And we can get through it all again
We just have to be careful
Very careful…
The madness of this Narcotic is contagious
We must not get drunk on the stench of this poison
We have too much work to do
We must turn this suicidal Drug
Into fertilizer & let our tears
Fall down on deserts, glaciers & jungles
And run down the faces of
Good hearted people everywhere
I cry & I cry & I cry &
My tears come down like a
Waterfall An unending
Waterfall for all the victims of
We have been here before & together we can heal!
I know we can!!!

By Jeffrey L. Taylor
He has been in this country
for nearly twenty years. He
walked here as a kid, sent by his parents
to escape conscription by
a local gang. He is now
beyond their reach, though
on the way he passed within reach,
momentarily, of other gangs
in other locales. In this locale,
he has also evaded the reach
of other gangs. Until now.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
has reached out, grabbed him
while paying a parking ticket. Without
trial, with barely a hearing, he
is on his way back
to his birthplace, an unknown place,
condemned to execution
at unknown hands.

Choke Hold Sonnet
By Robin Carstensen

"Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O."
Senator Chuck Schumer, Jan. 19, 2018

Some brutish bull is holding us hostage
with 800,000 of our Dreamers
a government prepares to shut us down
on the big auction block: “You give me
the Wall. You get to keep your children.
Some bull has bumbled into the Whitehouse,
unleashed through the good-old-boy rodeo
gates hanging on their rusted farcical
feudalist hinges screwed into rotting
frames by an electoral fiefdom still
swinging and pinch hitting from their dumb sacks’
panicked impotent swarming progeny
who cannot choke one another's old white
supremacist sperm to death fast enough.

I hope there will be smudgers there
Michael Sedano

Cold nights my family sat near the radio as the broadcaster read out the prediction. A low of 20º or below meant smudging in the groves in advance of the danger point that would hit around 2 a.m.
This morning my nose reached into the air for the scent of burning diesel oil. In a few hours, my dad would be home, covered in soot and smelling of the citrus economy.

Meet the Poets
"III" Por Roberto Castillo Udiarte
"I KNOW WE CAN!!!" By Avotcja
“Condemned” By Jeffrey L. Taylor
"Choke Hold Sonnet" By Robin Carstensen
"I hope there will be smudgers there" By Michael Sedano

Roberto Castillo Udiarte. Tecate, Territorio Independiente de la Baja California,1951. Estudió Letras Inglesas e Hispanoamericanas en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), y la licenciatura en Comunicación en la Universidad Iberoamericana Tijuana.

Ha sido profesor, corresponsal, traductor, periodista cultural, editor, tallerista, promotor cultural y realizador de radio.

Tiene 16 libros publicados de poemas, narrativa y crónica: ‘Feisbuquianas y otras giralunas’, ‘Blues Cola de Lagarto’, ‘Cuervo de Luz’, ‘La Esquina del Johnny Tecate, ‘Canciones que no son’, etc.

Ha publicado varias antologías.: ‘Palabras Mayores de las Seis Menores’, ‘Ballena de Lunas’, ‘Nuestra Cama es de Flores’, Aquella Noche el Mar’, ‘Cómplices de Sueños’y otras.
Sus poemas han sido traducidos al inglés, alemán, francés, italiano y portugués.
Desde hace más de 15 años ha impartido talleres de Historias de Vida, Lectura y Creación Literaria para promotoras comunitarias en colonias marginadas en Mexicali y Tijuana, así como para estudiantes de primaria y secundaria, por parte de Casa de las Ideas, y para las alumnas internas e internos en el Centro de Tratamiento para Adolescentes de Tijuana desde septiembre de 2015.

Avotcja Jiltonilro has been published in English & Spanish in the USA, Mexico & Europe. She’s an award winning Poet & multi-instrumentalist. She’s a popular Bay Area DJ & Radio Personality & leader of the group “Avotcja & Modúpue” (The Bay Area Blues Society’s Jazz Group Of The Year in 2005 & 2010), facilitates the longest running Bilingual Poetry Series in Oakland, CA. Avotcja teaches Creative Writing & Drama & is a proud member of DAMO (Disability Advocates Of Minorities Org.), PEN Oakland, California Poets In The Schools & an ASCAP recording artist. Her latest Book is “With Every Step I Take” (Taurean Horn Press 2013 available @ Small Press Distribution &/or Amazon)

AVOTCJA Website:

Robin Carstensen's chapbook, In the Temple of Shining Mercy, was awarded first place and published by Iron Horse Literary Press in 2017.  Poems are also published in the Atlanta Review, BorderSenses, Connotations Press, Southern Humanities Review, Demeter Press’s Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland, and many more. She teaches and coordinates the creative writing program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she advises The Windward Review, literary journal of South Texas Coastal Bend, and is co-founding, senior editor of the Switchgrass Review, a literary journal of women's health and empowerment.

Jeffrey L. Taylor's first submitted poems won 1st place and runner-up in Riff
Magazine's 1994 Jazz and Blues Poetry Contest. Encouraged, he continues to
write and has been published in The Montserrat Review, REED Magazine,
Mediphors, Buffalo Bones, di-vêrsé-city Anthology, Red River Review, Illya's
Honey, Gathering Storm and Yale's The Perch. Serving as sensei (instructor)
to small children and professor to graduate students has taught him a certain

Michael Sedano is a grandfather, Veteran of the United States Army 69-70, photographer, gardener, guardian of La Chickenada, and a co-founder of La Bloga.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Celebrate literature at the Tucson Festival of Books, March 10 – 11, on the beautiful University of Arizona campus!

The Tucson Festival of Books is a community-wide celebration of literature. Offered free-of-charge, the Festival exists to improve literacy rates among children and adults. Now in its tenth year, the festival will be held at the beautiful University of Arizona campus on the weekend of March 10 and 11.

I am honored to be a guest this year along with many other Latinx authors including Luis Alberto Urrea, Zoraida Córdova, Erika Sánchez, Daniel José Older, Frederick Luis Aldama, Xelena González, Bill Esparza, Vickie Vértiz, and more! You may check out the list of all guest authors here.



 riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature

Since 1977, riverSedge has published the very best art and literature from the South Texas region and beyond. Past artists and authors include Barry Deutsch, Eleanor L. Bennett, Larry McMurtry, Rolando Hinojosa, Angela de Hoyos, Alurista, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lee Blessing, and Sandra Cisneros.

For our 2018 Submissions Period, all submissions (except reviews and interviews) are eligible for contest prizes in three categories: Poetry, Prose, and Art. Here are the full guidelines:

·         Deadline: March 1, 2018.

·         $5 submission fee for all genres (except reviews and interviews)

·         Three prizes of $200 will be awarded in poetry, prose, and art. All entries are eligible for contest prizes. Dramatic scripts and graphic literature will be judged as prose.

·         Multiple submissions are welcome in all genres However, each submission should be uploaded as a separate entry. In other words, one story/essay/art piece/comic/script per $5 entry fee. For poetry, three poems per entry. For specific guidelines, visit the link to our Submittable page below.

·         Previously unpublished work only. Self-published work (in print and/or on the web) is not eligible.

·         Simultaneous submissions are welcome. If your work is accepted elsewhere, please withdraw your submission as soon as possible.

·         Submissions in, between, and/or beyond English and Spanish are welcome.

·         Current staff, faculty, and students affiliated with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley or South Texas College are not eligible to submit original work to riverSedge.

For complete guidelines and to submit your work, visit:

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Reminiscence and A Trip with Moe by Antonio SolisGomez, Part I

The librarians at the old Carnegie Library had seen their share of characters walk through the double front doors during the time that Tucson had grown from a small pueblo to a good size city. But my librarian co-workers weren’t prepared for the entrance of Moe and Fernando. Frankly neither was I. Moe looked menacing even when he was trying to look pleasant. He had a crooked nose and several deep scars acquired in countless prison and barrio brawls. The rest of his face was etched with lines of troubles and adversities. His posture honed from years of needing to be tough, and needing to hold his own regardless of the odds against him, was tilted back ever so slightly. His head was also thrown back so that the back of his hair touched the collar of his shirt. He stood a couple of inches over six feet and he was muscularly built. Fernando was as tall as Moe but much thicker in the arms and chest. Whereas Moe was turning heads because his Indian features and battle scarred face gave him the look of a never defeated warrior, Fernando was turning heads because of his handsome looks. Fernando was my compadre and homeboy, and we had known each other since we were youngsters.

 “Who’s that?” I was asked by the librarian next to me, when I waved to Moe and Fernando from behind the reference desk.

The question was asked both with apprehension and fascination. “Just a couple of ghosts from my past,” I answered.  
Eduardo Zapata Aguirre aka Moe, Lalo

I had to admit they were quite a pair to look at. They had a presence that was captivating and a little scary. Fernando and I stayed in touch by telephone and every so often his furniture accounts brought him to Arizona. But he hadn’t informed me that he was stopping in. “Orale carnal,” I greeted him and went around the desk to where he stood to give him a big hug and to shake Moe’s hand. Guys like Mo are funny about hugs. Their machismo, learned inside prison walls doesn’t allow for much touching between men.  Moe’s handshake was purposely limp, similar to the handshake of humble Mexicans or Native Americans, but which in his case was done so as not to imitate that John Wayne ‘grip em til they fall to their knees’ that is cultivated in the United States.

Right away Fernando said, “hey man, Mo and I came to get you so that we can go down to Mexico to see Arturo. Wanna go?”

This was classic Fernando spontaneity. It was difficult to get Fernando to keep appointments because he was up for anything that sprang up and in a moment’s notice he was gone. Too bad for you if you were planning to see him later that day.

“Slow down vato,” I answered, more to catch my own breath at the surprise of seeing both of them in this setting.

The context of my friendship with them was East Los Angeles. And East Los Angeles of the late sixties and early seventies when we were all battling the ‘establishment’ during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, that we simply called ‘El Movimiento’.

“Let me see if I can get someone to replace me on this desk and we can go get some lunch and talk,”I said. “Hang out here and I’ll be right back,” I added as I turned and quickly went to the back office to find someone to cover for me.

L to R Fernando Morales, author, Arturo Carranza Arocha, 1992

As I made my way to the office, I couldn’t believe Moe was standing out there. The last time I had seen him was at a large party that Con Safos Magazine hosted in the early 1970's.

The day of the party was warm and the sky was a clear blue, providing outstanding views of the entire city. The hill, where the magazine had its workshop, was one of several that lie east of downtown Los Angeles. In other parts of the city, hillside properties had become chic and prices had skyrocketed.  In the barrios hillsides homes were modest and one could still detect the conditions of poverty that had relegated the dwellers to hillsides in the first place. The hill where we were partying was known locally as Rose Hill, named after the two land developers, Hill and Rose. It was a large hill, covering several square miles, and most of its slopes were well dotted with homes that clung precariously. The roads were often steep, far exceeding conventional grading requirements and naturally potholes abounded. The very top of the hill and the west facing slope that stopped at the Lincoln High School athletic field that fronted Broadway Street, remained virgin. The homes of Rudy and Rafas two of our Con Safos editors, were situated on the eastern slope close enough to the top to have million dollar views of the city and beyond.

On this west facing slope, that changed vesture with the seasons, now golden, now green, we drew the name Con Safos in fifty foot letters in white chalk. It would last but a season, we knew, but during the time that it was visible, it could be seen from the downtown city hall; and it was there the day of the party.

People started arriving just after midday. It was an outdoor gathering and most of the people were in the front portion of the yard or out front at the edge of the hill conversing with each other. We were wearing our Con Safos T-shirts, greeting people and offering them something to drink. We already had several ice filled metal tubs cooling bottles of wine and beer and more was being brought by guests. It didn’t take any effort to introduce people as most of the few hundred people that arrived knew each other. I was making the rounds and listening to bits and pieces of conversation. When I spotted Al Zapata, my co-worker I went over to welcome him. He was with Moe, his cousin and a few others.

Moe had come with his usual entourage of 'pintos' but they were off to the side and he was hanging out with his sister Armida and her friend Francisca Flores, the editor of the feminist and left leaning magazine La Regeneracion, the same title of the publication of the Flores Magon brothers. Since his attack in south central a couple of years ago, Moe was rarely in public without his soldiers to guard him. Back in the late 1960’s, he had been attacked in south central outside a hamburger stand when he had gone to see some friends who had been robbed. A group of Afro-Americans attacked him and he was struck on the head with a 2x4. He spent three weeks in the hospital and the anticipation of a race war between Chicanos and Afro-Americans rippled throughout the barrios and ghettos.

The Black Panthers stepped into the fray as did Opal Jones and a meeting was arranged to discuss and if possible resolve the situation. The meeting was a negotiated point and finally a place in East Los Angeles was selected. Fortunately, political awareness was well developed on both sides. They knew that nothing could be worse for their individual efforts than to fight among themselves and lessen their collective strength when they went up against ‘the man.’  Rudy Salinas, a Con Safos member who was present at that meeting reports, “Almost everyone was packing that evening and each person placed his weapon on the table in front of where he was sitting. I thought 'what the hell am I doing here?'  No one knew if they would walk out alive, including me. Fortunately, the key players seemed to know each other from prison and there was some trust established. The message from the Chicano contingent was that we could not have one of our leaders attacked in that manner. The response of the Afro-Americans was that they would take care of the perpetrators.” I think everyone gave a sigh of relieve as it could have been very ugly. 

Moe however was never the same after the blow to the head. His friends could not pinpoint exactly what it was that was different other than he was even less trusting of people, and he suffered painful headaches.

Joe Duarte from the East Los Angeles Task Force had joined Moe and Armida as had Al’s wife, Jerri. Moe and Francisca tolerated each other but generally found themselves on opposites sides of an issue. They were talking about the growing presence in East Los Angeles and elsewhere in California of immigrants from Mexico.  Moe, because he saw the southwest as occupied Mexico, was greatly in favor of Mexicans coming to help reclaim what was theirs and ours.  Francisca was the founder and CEO of the Chicana Service Action Center and the leading voice of feminist thought in Los Angeles. But she was involved in all the issues and she was grounded in community organizing since her early work with the CSO, that helped elect Roybal to the US Congress. It was her belief that large numbers of undocumented workers stressed the social infrastructure and diluted the efforts of Chicanos to better their social and economic conditions.

“Moe I know all that history,” Francisca was saying, “but Chicanos cannot tackle the problems of the Mexicans. They come here to work period. End of story. They look to a time when they can return home and have no desire to become citizens. You can’t organize people who can’t vote. Mexico needs to fix their own economy".

Joe Duarte responded. “I think all Chicanos feel a bit guilty about this issue. It’s a very emotional subject. But I have to agree with Francisca, we never…

Moe interrupted Joe mid sentence, “They will keep coming and nothing we do will keep them out… unless you start shooting them.”

I was called away as Francisca was explaining that Mexico needed to create economic parity with the Unites States.  She was well versed in economics and years before was a member of the Communist Party.  Moe had strong feelings against communists because of the dictatorships that were associated with the party and because he had some pedo with a group of Marxists who operated in East Los Angeles.  It was rumored that the Marxists had once shot up Moe’s LUCHA offices.  I hated to leave at this juicy juncture.
L-R Nati Cisneros, Frank Sifuentes, George 'Chapo' Meneses - photo by Oscar Castillo

I walked in amazement at seeing all the people that had showed up.  It seemed as if anybody who was somebody in East Los Angeles had come. Over there was the Reverend Madirosian, who was the Chair of the Chicano educational committee; Mel Sherman, the Director of the International Institute and his protege the ex-pinto addict Robert Bully Hernandez.  Bully headed One Stop Immigration, one of many new agencies that had sprouted in East Los Angeles with Federal money.  Grace Davis was there.  She was a longtime Chicana activist who now worked for Mayor Bradley.  Francisca had come with Armida and Gloria Molina of the Commision Femini; David Lopez Lee, a city council candidate; Professor Rudy Acuna; Roberto De la Rocha, the artist; Sal Castro, the school teacher at Lincoln High School who was the first Chicano teacher to advocate for  students; Sister Corita, the famous Catholic Nun Painter; Moctezuma Esparaza and Jesus Trevino the film makers and producers.     

When I returned, I spotted Magu, our radical Con Safos artist, at the center of another group that was talking about barrio aesthetics.  Within Con Safos, Magu often had to argue and convince us of his point of view, which was not so much that it was radical as much as that we were stodgy about what contemporary art entailed.  Magu had grown up as one of the vatos in old El Monte and he was  quiet and thoughtful, with a nice smile and a friendly personality that verged on shyness. He was also a very intellectual person and was already working on extending barrio motifs, such as the low rider car, into new realms and causing us, his fellow Con Safos members, anguish. His rendition of Oscar Acosta, as a brown buffalo for our Con Safos issue that carried the first chapters, was shocking to us and to Oscar, offensive because it depicted him with a diminutive penis.  Oscar and his sidekick Benny Luna were there, as was the woman who ran the Mechicano Art Center, Diane Arias an Anglo woman married to a Chicano doctor, our good friend Maxine Junge, and Tudi’s wife Adalberta.  Diane Arias, an intelligent but spacey kind of person had asked Magu to give her a short definition of barrio art for the book that she had been writing for the past few years. Magu looked at her with his kind eyes and said,

Brown Buffalo rendering by Magu

“I doubt that anyone could define barrio art in a short sentence….to reduce all the dynamics and essence of so many people and events is a daunting task and if someone can do it, I would pay my respects. I could give you platitudes or hyperbole of what it is…."

“Well if it captures the essence," Diane interjected before Magu could add to what he was saying, "that would do. I just need something short.”

Magu smiled and looked at Oscar and Benny who were already snickering at Diane’s naivete and toking-up on a joint which they passed to Magu.  Magu took a good deep drag and with held breath uttered

“Artwork based on Chicanada culture including the notion of place, with eclectic motifs.” 

“Yes that’s very good,” Diane said as she busily wrote in the notebook that was her constant companion.

Benny was pacing and bouncing energetically as was his custom, seldom ever being able to stand still.  He was making comments to Oscar, who was enjoying his high and looking around at the people.  Benny could no longer contain himself and said to Magu
“Bullshit! You just want to rip off the lowrider lifestyle and all the homies.  Don’t hide behind all that intellectual garbage.” This was classic Benny Luna, who in the very near future would attack Oscar Acosta for writing about Chicanos in his novel “The Brown Buffalo,” claiming that Oscar was just an opportunist who came to East Los Angeles to exploit Raza.
Adalberta, always poised to strike men whenever the opportunity arose, also jumped in
“Yes Magu that’s all fine and good but people in the barrio can’t afford fine art. There’s a lot of people out there who all they know is work or taking care of children. I know that for a fact, my husband just takes off and expects me to tend house.  You macho guys think that women don’t have a brain and you expect us to be your mothers.”

“Poor Magu,” I thought to myself as I left to mingle with another group.  It was early and already it looked like a party.  There were groups everywhere on the hill.  Some were just staring at the city and trying to spot landmarks such as the brewery on main street in the Clover barrio, or the Los Angeles river that long ago separated downtown from the Chicano barrios of the East Side.  Other groups were leaning against cars that were parked on the illegal dirt road that ran along the crest of the hill. Cumbia music was blaring from Rafas’ stereo and here and there some bodies were wiggling to the rhythms.    

I saw that the meat was being brought out and I headed over to the long tables that we had borrowed from Father Luce’s Church of the Epiphany. Chapo had marinated the meat before wrapping it in the burlap and he was incharge of unearthing it from the pit where it had cooking the entire night and carving it for the guests. Even though it was buffet style, still there was a lot of work to feed that many people and we missed many of the great conversations that were taking place. It was only until the early evening after all but a few close friends had left that we were able to relax completely. Tudi was already drunk. He had been serving the wine and toasting with everyone that he encountered on his rounds.  Rafas too was out of his gourd, having met up with Benny and Oscar and their seemingly inexhaustible supply of mota. They were now supplying the small group that was left.  We had set up some chairs at the edge of the hill. Rafas was sitting atop the hood of someone car, playing his guitar and singing his original song about a barrio boy.

Rafas on the guitar photo by Oscar Castillo

     “hey little vato let me sing you a song”

Several joints were being passed around, the smell of the herb wafting deliciously around all of us. Moe sat next to me bolgarding a joint that Oscar had rolled especially for him. They had never met before but their mutual experience in law, Moe as a jail house lawyer, and Oscar, of course, as the defender of Chicanos indicted on all sorts of scams.  Moe was particularly interested in Oscar’s strategy of attacking the composition of the Grand Jury.

“How in the hell are you going to get away with that?,” Moe asked incredulously.

“It’s simple shit, Moe, I’ll subpoena all the judges to testify.  I’ll cross examine their asses and ask them why there are no Chicanos on the Grand Jury”.

Tienes muchos huevos Oscar, Moe complimented him.

"Somebody got to show them son’s of bitches," Oscar answered back, obviously enjoying the admiration that he was receiving.

Meantime Rafas was still singing and his brother Bear was beating the rhythm on a beer can with a fork. Tudi went to his car and brought back his clarinet and saxophone and offered them to Oscar.

“Choose your weapon God damn it,” Tudi told Oscar playfully.

Oscar looked at Art as if saying “you gotta be shitting me” but he took the clarinet anyway and after inspecting the mouth piece critically he made everyone laugh when he poured some wine on it as if to sterilize it.  Art laughed too and said in reference to Oscar propensity for drugs and women.

“Hell Oscar you put more garbage in your mouth than you’ll ever get from me”

It wasn’t long before they were both jamming along with Rafas’ guitar. Bear the percussionist had been joined by Maxine on an old watering can, Father Luce on a garbage can lid and John Figueroa, our Puerto Rican member, on maracas.  It must have sounded dreadful but we were having a great time.

Rafas and two unidentified men- Photo by Oscar Castillo