Tuesday, April 10, 2018

NLWC Year Eleven. Bless Me, Ultima Opera Debut. April On-line FLoricanto,

A National Latino Writers Conference Again? 
Michael Sedano

For a decade, the History and Literary Arts division of the National Hispanic Cultural Center gave the New Mexico institution a dominant role in developing the nation’s raza literary heritage through HLA’s annual National Latino Writing Conference, and the literary prizes awarded at the NLWC.

With a staff of three key employees, the state of New Mexico got a lot of bang for its buck from HLA. What they accomplished was really something!

Then upheaval. Retirements. Dismissals. Lawsuits. Transition. The unknown.

Facing the latter is Valerie Martinez, the NHCC’s new Director of History & Literary Arts. Martinez is Poet Laureate emerita of her home town, Santa Fe, and comes to the state-supported institution with cognate experience in higher education and public service organizations.

With twenty hands, HLA looks to be staffed for achievement and productivity. The division’s archivist, Anna Uremovich is in process of digitizing the foto archives, magnificent treasure to debut the HLA's new service as digital library. Martinez and Uremovich will supervise three interns, whose work will be enhanced with a team of sixteen volunteers.

The National Latino Writers Conference teamed experienced author teachers with small workshops of emerging writers. Enrollment was an ideal 70 to 75 writers. Agents and Publishers attended for 1-on-1 interviews. Teachers shared approaches to writing novels, short fiction, poetry, childrens picture books, screenplays, drama, and for its final years, my seminar on reading your stuff aloud.

Two years ago, maybe more, NHCC then-leadership invited input from friends of the center. I was a donor to the foundation, sponsored (anon) an NLWC scholarship, and liked what I saw up there (except la cocina put wheat in the red and the green) and got some friends together to propose a genre  NLWC. I hope Valerie and her gente are considering the idea.

What’s hot in literature, movies, teevee, video games? Science fiction, fantasy, adventure, horror is what’s hot. Breaking into paying work is the result of preparation and craft. Writers workshops led by seasoned speclit and sci-fi hands can be a boost to any writer’s genre career. Why not raza writers and raza mentors? Why shouldn't the L in NHCC get the jobs?

Money’s all it takes. Back in 2010 I lucked into working with USC librarian Barbara Robinson who won a generous arts program grant and we organized el Festival de Flor y Canto: Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow that reunited writers from 1973 with contemporary peers. With generous library support, the three-day floricanto left a digital record at USC's digital library.

The idea emerged, enthusiasm grew, then we found money and ahi vamos. Is there money in New Mexico for literary culture? A ver.

Now HLA NHCC is NLWC name-dropping. In an email, HLA observes:

In the past, HLA hosted an annual writers conference. LATINX WRITERS: please STAY TUNED for plans to hold a national conference here at the NHCC where all can gather, share, learn, socialize, and strategize. We will spend the next year brainstorming with Latinx writers locally, regionally and nationally. Join the conversation!

Click here to  “join the conversation.” The link opens your email to share your views with Valerie Martinez. If you favor a genre NLWC, add your view. If you have some other model in mind, share your view.

None of this is idle speculation. 
The NHCC has a way of making things happen. An amazing interactive mural exhibit is proof. The first time I visited the Barelas campus, an empty Torreón greeted visitors, and staff speculated about a prospective commission. Over subsequent visits leadership’s vision of an epic mural took shape. I saw the half-finished mural one time. Now at a mouse click I can see the mural in detail and without getting all dizzy and falling to the ground.

No Laureate rests on her laurels and clearly Valerie Martinez isn't one to turn from challenging opportunities. Risk-Payoff analysis says Go. Contact vendors. Develop donors. Get free airline rides. Squeeze the operating budget. Train in-house staff. Have fun. So much opportunity to renew and advance what was.

Bless Me, Ultima The Opera Curtains Up in April

Bianca Galicia, Suzanna Guzmán 2011
foto msedano
La Bloga has been following the opera edition of Rudolfo Anaya's immortal Bless Me, Ultima (banned in Arizona) since Teresa Marquez first gave me the heads up.

I interviewed Héctor Armienta, the composer in January 2017, when the opera's debut seemed far away.

No leads had stepped into their roles but there was tantalizing news Armienta wouldn't disclose as nothing was set. I mentioned a name.

The opera opened on the road at the NHCC then returned to San Jose for final tuning.

Singing Ultima is Suzanna Guzman, a stellar role for a brilliant singer and the only mezzo right for Ultima.

Order tickets to the San Jose premiere via this link.

Rudolfo Anaya, Héctor Armienta

La Bloga On-line Floricanto In April
Sister Lou Ella Hickman, Frances Kakugawa, Aideed Medina, Kim McMillon, Arnoldo García

La Bloga-Tuesday for April 27, 2010 published a call for poets to send response to Arizona's racist hubris to think they could get away with banning an entire cultura from their schools. The first La Bloga On-line Floricanto came to light on May 4.

Although La Bloga itself is banned from Facebook, our collaboration with the Facebook group Poets Responding, a community begun by Francisco X. Alarcon as Poets Responding to SB 1070, sustains our shared commitment to poetry as a form of discourse on critical cultural exigencies.

Courts in this land were prepared to erase us from their sight but for the massive wave of energy that rose from the massive outrage

Courts were prepared to go along with Arizona but for the outrage that rose like a Haboob to wipe the shine off their façade of legitimacy. It's a fitful win for rationality in Arizona, no victory installed. Lawyers, poets, voters have to keep to their briefs and strophes and GOTV.

Marking this commemorative month, the Moderators of Poets Responding nominate five voices of resistance for April 10th's La Bloga On-line Floricanto.

the migrants By Sister Lou Ella Hickman
Voice from your Child By Frances Kakugawa
Liberación Por Aideed Medina
May You Fly with Eagles By Kim McMillon
Soy del otro lado | I am from the other side By Arnoldo García

the migrants
By Sister Lou Ella Hickman

snippet of memory:
a truck wobbles ahead of us on the highway
wooden sides hold up brown men
in old t-shirts
this is the season of the fruit and vegetable pickers
more trucks have already come and gone
this single slide projects on my mind’s eye . . .
then another slide appears:
i, too, was a fruit picker once as a child
for a dollar entrance
my family gathered the remnants of peaches
as many as our baskets and paper sacks could hold . . .
so the childhood question still haunts
where were those men going

Voice from your Child
By Frances Kakugawa

You promised me
A world, free of battlefields, soldiers, children
Abandoned in fear— hunger—
Children, trembling in closets, amidst gunshot fire.

You offered Hope, again and again.
A world, you said, where we will stand
Hand in hand, safe, beyond color, religion, gender, age,
Agenda—politics free.

You promised me a world
Free of poison in oceans, earth and air.
“You are the future,” you told me,
“Come and be born in this world I will
Create for you. Trust me.”

My brothers and sisters who believed you
Are now old men and women, and they wait.
They wait.

Stop using me, your invisible child
For promises and meaningless rhetoric.

Candles and flowers now fill spaces
Where my friends once lived and played.

Hear me.
See me.
The future is now. Today.
Today. Save me.
To honor all the students who are doing what we adults have failed to do.

Por Aideed Medina

Fue lo primero que liberé,
el nudo de mi mente sumisa.
Fue lo primero que escapó,
de esta prisión, mi vida, esta prisión,
mi cuerpo
Fuiste la primera ventana
hacia el vasto cielo, y de allí,
me escape al mar,
sin fin de horizontes,
y capaz de acurrucar
todas mis intenciones
y las canciones que canto
para ti.
Solo esa inmensidad
puede con mi deseo
de encontrar paz y libertad.
Si me entrego,
no lo hago por necesidad,
aunque es verdad
que te necesito, lo hago,
sin que me lo pidas,
y por eso sabes que si es amor
lo que te ofrezco.
No estoy contigo,
pero siempre estoy contigo,
lo mío no tiene forma, ni capsula, ni tiempo.
Lo mío, lo respiras, lo tomas, y lo comes.
Aquí estoy.
Constante, como la luna, llena o oscura.
Te llama a mi, la tierra, cuando nacen girasoles y
los cultivas hasta el punto de semilla.
Y así, vuelvo a sembrarme en tu corazón.

Te amo, Liberación.

May You Fly with Eagles
By Kim McMillon

May you fly with eagles
And dance upon mountains
Gathering tribes
For you are the heart
Oh yes!
But, many will say,
How can one woman be the heart?
Because, that heart is connected
In an endless stream of love
It beats
Its feels
Pure Love
Pure Light
Pure Joy
Opening a doorway to the universe
A Light
Hearts and minds
That have fallen through the cracks
You pick them up
And heal them with words
Saying their names
As no one has ever done
Now it is our time
Our place
To say
your name
In Grace
In Love
Through eternity.

Soy del otro lado | I am from the other side
By Arnoldo García

Soy del otro lado
del lado bravo
del lado tuyo
del lado izquierdo
donde tengo el nido
para tus abrazos
Soy del otro lado
donde los muros
son las sombras
que persiguen
a los policías
que defienden
a los tiranos del mercado
Y el sol está
a nuestro lado
el lado de la tierra
el lado de las lágrimas con sus sonrisas
el lado de la luna llena y vacía
el lado que es combustible para las estrellas
el lado donde somos íntegros
el lado que divide a las bestias
adomándolas con nuestra luz
el lado que nos abriga
contra la rabia del dinero
Soy de ese lado
con sus seis direcciones y sus siete espacios
donde los abrazos abren cielos y puertas
donde los llantos espantan a las fronteras
y las mujeres nos dan su espalda
para cargarnos y sobrevivir
Del lado donde nuestros desaparecidos
Soy del otro lado
del lado tuyo . . .
I am from the other side
from the wild side
from your side
from the left side
where I have a nest
to hold your embraces
I am from the other side
where the walls
are shadows
that persecute
the police
that defend
the tyrants of the market
And the sun is
on our side
on the side of the earth
on the side of all tears with their smiles
on the side of the full and empty moon
on the side that is fuel for the stars
on the side where we are whole
on the side that divides the beasts
taming them with our light
on the side that holds us
against the rage of money
I am from that side
with its six directions and seven spaces
where our hugs open skies and doors
where our cries scare off borders
and the women give us their backs
to carry us and survive
From the side where our disappeared reappear
I am from the other side
from being at your side . . .

the migrants By Sister Lou Ella Hickman
Voice from your Child By Frances Kakugawa
Liberación Por Aideed Medina
May You Fly with Eagles By Kim McMillon
Soy del otro lado | I am from the other side By Arnoldo García

Frances H Kakugawa grew up speaking Pidgin in Hawaii. At age six, she discovered that Dick, Jane and Sally from her Readers didn’t speak as she did. Fascinated, she decided then to become a writer. She protected this dream, avoided writing courses in college, afraid a professor would tell her she couldn’t write. Her collection of childhood poems were lost when her village was destroyed by lava flows.

Her first of 14 books, Sand Grains, a book of poems, was published when she was in her 30’s. When she became a caregiver for her mother who had Alzheimer’s, it was poetry writing that transformed her experiences into an art form. She published three books for adults and one for children on caregiving. Her four award-winning illustrated children’s book about a little mouse poet give children the power for change through poetry. She recently published Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless

Today, Frances , internationally published, goes nationwide to give lectures and workshops on using poetry to humanize caregiving, patients, and the care of our elders. She visits classrooms as a writer. She writes a Dear Frances monthly advice column for caregivers in the Hawai’i Herald. Frances resides in Sacramento where she conducts a poetry writing support group for caregivers. In her previous life, she was an educator in Kindergarten to the college level. She has taught in Hawaii, Micronesia, and in Michigan. Meet her at: www.francesk.org  http://franceskakugawa.wordpress.com

Aideed Medina, poet and spoken word artist, creates and performs poetry in English, or Spanish, as dictated by the inspiration of each individual piece.

She enjoys mentoring high school students under the direction of the Fresno Poet Laureate, Bryan Medina, with the Poetry Out Loud Program, and for youth slam competitions throughout the California central valley.

She was honored to be the 2017 Representative for the Loud Mouth Poetry Slam of Visalia, CA at the Women of the World Poetry Slam DTX, and recently received the 2017 Fresno Arts Council Horizon Award for her contributions to the city’s artistic and cultural scene in the category of individual artist.
She is currently working on her first two manuscripts, “A California Dime” and “Mis Papelitos”.
Her work has appeared in Fresno State's Club Austral Literary Magazine, Chicano Writers and Artists Association Journal. Online on La Bloga, Poets Responding, Art of the Commune, and as part of a collection of original art songs composed for The Opera Remix, Fresno Grand Opera.

Kim McMillon is currently completing a Ph.D. in World Cultures, at the University of California, Merced. Ms. McMillon's research focuses on the marginalization and emancipation of the women of the Black Arts Movement. In the spring of 2014, Ms. McMillon in collaboration with UC Merced’s Office of Student Life and Center for the Humanities produced the UC Merced Black Arts Movement Conference: 50 Years On. In September 2016, Ms. McMillon produced Black Arts Movement: Southern Style, a conference at Dillard University in New Orleans with the support of Harvard's Hutchins Center, Tulane University, and UC Merced. Ms. McMillon is guest editor for the April 2018 Journal of PAN African Studies special edition on the Black Arts Movement and has been asked to contribute to Black Power Encyclopedia (1965-1975), a two-volume reference work that explores the emergence and evolution of the Black Power Movement in the United States.

Arnoldo García is a poet who lives in East Oakland and does restorative justice work in the public schools. Arnoldo recently edited “Poets against War & Racism | Poetas contra la guerra y el racismo,” a mini-anthology poems by African, Mexican and other community-rooted poets and writers, available at https://artofthecommune.wordpress.com/

No comments: