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. stanfordbookclub@readraza.com

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: www.Avotcja.org

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.

1 comment:

Antonio SolisGomez said...

glad to see this wonderful tribute