Monday, March 18, 2019

Interview of Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros by Xánath Caraza

Interview of Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros by Xánath Caraza

Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros

Who is Carolina?

I am a Tejana poeta, Chicana, and Mujerista. I hope that my work gives light as it wrestles between the tension and hope of our time.

As a child, who guided you through your first readings? 

My grandfather. He would go to the bathroom for hours and it would drive my grandmother crazy, but she’s the one who made a small shelf in there for him. The shelf always had the Holy Bible in Spanish and religious pamphlets or thin books. It was not something overtly introduced to me, yet I found such joy in knowing that my grandfather would retreat to read and it was something he enjoyed very much. My grandmother created a space for him to read and enjoy that. While she did that for him, I think she simultaneously did that for me. It made me want to be a reader.

How did you first become a poet?

This is a blurry answer for me. I have so many memories of poetry and I don’t know which one was the first. I don’t know if I was in Mrs. Kazekwa’s first grade class describing clowns who rode unicycles or if I was at my grandmother’s kitchen table, elbows plastered to the plastic as I wrote out lines on a birthday card especially for her. I wrote those lines in light blue ink with one of those pens that had four colors: green, red, blue, and black. Those were my grandmother’s favorite pens. I don’t know if I was in Mrs. Davis’s class in high school writing about the macabre or if I was in our trailor off 281 South dealing with the horror of teenage life. Maybe it was in our trailor off Addison Road or in our home off East Bates or the Bellaire Apartments off South Flores. It was somewhere there that I became a poet and all those places contributed to that moment.

What projects are you working on at the moment that you would like to share?

I am currently working on a book of fiction that I started to write in Professor Nan Cuba’s class in my current graduate program at Our Lady of the Lake University. She unearthed stories that I didn’t know I had inside of me. It was a real pleasure to work on fiction with her. I find that when I write fiction there is a recurring theme of journey that seems to pierce through. I want to acknowledge it. I want to honor it.

I am also researching Chicanx theopoetics. I’ll leave that there for the moment. I believe in speaking things out into the universe.

What advice do you have for other poets?

Take risks. Have a poet’s prayer. Give thanks to your ancestors. There is no one in competition with you. We are all in this together. Never be afraid to learn from someone else. Learning is an opportunity to re-remember what we know in our bones to be the truth.

What else would you like to share?

The work of poetry is the work of faith. Sometimes we sit down to do the work and don’t know what is going to will itself to the forefront. It is an act of great faith to sit down and do the work. Keep the faith.

Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros is a Tejana poeta, Chicana, Mujerista from San Antonio, Texas. She is a current MA/MFA student at Our Lady of the Lake University. Her work has appeared in On Being, Sojourners, The Acentos Review, Rock & Sling, and more. She is the 2019 recipient of the Alves Award in Theopoetics. Her chapbook, Becoming Coztototl was recently published by Flowersong Books.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival

First -- writing advice from the back of a pencil.


The following is a press release from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Chicana/Chicano Studies (with some edits and additions from me.)

Metropolitan State University of Denver, Chicana/o Studies Department invites the community to the 12th Annual Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival -- Thursday April 4, 2019 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. at the St. Cajetans Center, on the Auraria Campus, Denver. 

This year’s theme: Raices Y Alas: Looking Back and Moving Forward ~ Roots and Wings: Looking Back and Moving Forward will center on social action through poetry.

Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado

Lalo Delgado is remembered as Colorado’s social justice poet and considered the National Grandfather of Chicano Poetry.  Among many other awards and recognition, Delgado received a Civil Rights Award from Rosa Parks, Scholar/Elder of the Civil Rights Movement who worked with Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez to support thousands of migrant farm workers in the Unites States.  Lalo was originally from El Paso Texas, but he eventually made Denver his family's home.  His numerous publications include the seminal poem Stupid America, regarded as a masterpiece of Chicano thought and a powerful example of resistance poetry.

Ariana Brown
The 2019 Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival will feature nationally recognized poet: Ariana Brown.  Brown is a poet from San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies. She is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets Prizes and a 2014 collegiate national poetry slam champion. Ariana, who has been dubbed a “part-time curandera,” is primarily interested in using poetry to validate Black girl rage, in all its miraculous forms. Follow her work online at or on Twitter & Instagram @arianathepoet.  

Eden Nicole
Lalo’s Poetry Festival also welcomes Denver’s own Eden Nicole.  Eden merges her inspirations from her three sons with her indigenous roots and environmental activism to create her spoken word. Eden has various works published through Café Cultura, Red Rising Magazine in Canada and she has been showcased in the Cuatro: A Series of Artist Interactions with the Denver Art Museum (2017), amongst many other events throughout the Denver Metro area. Through Groupo Tlaloc Danza Azteca, Medicine Heart Dancers, and the Indigenous Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities, she is teaching her sons the traditions of their people; while also pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering and Hydrology. 

Ana Duran, Lalo’s eldest daughter, welcomes the poetry recited by Lalo’s great grandchildren.  

The festival opening at 9 a.m. begins with a blessing ceremony by Aztec Troupe Huitzilopochtli, followed by a free continental breakfast and lunch.  The event is free and open to the public. Sponsors include MSU Presidents Office of Institutional Diversity: Chicana/o Studies, GITA, Student Activities and CU Denver Latinx Services.

For more information, please contact Christina M. Sigala at 


Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction.  His latest is The Golden Havana Night (Arte Público Press.)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Chicanonautica: Here Comes Kaiju Mexicana

by Ernest Hogan
Monsters are global, even universal. All human beings make their fears into something tangible, visible. No wonder they are a staple part of entertainment.

At first I was horrified of monsters, but it wasn’t far into my childhood that I became obsessed with and even identified with them, and became a big fan of monsters movies, that back then were shown on Saturday afternoon programs like L.A.’s KHJ-TV 9’s Strange Tales of Science Fiction.

Though these shows mainly showed low-budget Hollywood productions, they included movies from other countries. Monsters and other strangeness from England (which I’ve always considered strange and exotic), Italy, Russia, Mexico, and especially Japan. Godzilla and the other kaiju we a driving force in monster kid culture.

Years later, I grew up into a speculative fiction sophisticate, but deep down I’ve always been that kid who loved monster movies.

Which brings us to David Bowles’ novel Lords of the Earth.

This one hit me with both barrels, totally satisfying my inner monster movie fan, and the venerable Father of Chicano Science Fiction.

In Lords of the Earth, author, translator, scholar and translator of pre-Columbian languages, David Bowles brings kaiju-style giant monsters to Mexico. He doesn’t just throw some arbitrary guys in rubber suits into miniature, stereotypical sets studded with adobe buildings and cactus, Bowels digs into pre-Columbian mythology, and geology, makes connections to Mexican cultures, dovetailing the myth with science.

There are also heroic, educated, successful Mexican/Latinx characters, (when I was kid, the heroes were always white, except in the Japanese and Mexican movies) and contemporary situations, drug gangs, the border, and bring a feeling of reality of the latest news broadcasts to the fantastic vision.

It brings back the fun of old monster movies, but brings the genre up to date, making it suitable reading for adults, though this would also be a great book to give young guys who aren’t interested in reading.

Not only a fabulous tribute to the art of the monster movie, Lords of the Earth, would make a great movie. With Mexico dominating the film industry, it would be a natural. Especially since the taboo that kept the Academy from recognizing the work of Mexican directors if they put anything Mexican in their films has just been broken.

I have a feeling that this is beginning of a monster renaissance. Which wound also satisfy the Father of Chicano Science Fiction and his monster kid inner child.

Ernest Hogan is currently working on a story about the monsters of Aztlán starring a female masked wrestler.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

2019-2020 Tejas Star Reading List

The Tejas Star Reading List (TSRL) provides a recommended reading list to encourage children ages 5-12 to explore multicultural books and to discover the cognitive and economic benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism. The Tejas Star Reading List is intended for recreational reading, not to support a specific curriculum.

2019-2020 List

Alma y cómo obtuvo su nombre (Alma and How She Got Her Name) by Juana Martinez-Neal (Candlewick Press, 2018)

Amor (Love) by Matt De La Peña, illustrated by Loren Long, translated by Teresa Mlawer (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2018)

Los deseos de Carmela (Carmela Full of Wishes) by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, translated by Teresa Mlawer (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018)

El día en que descubres quién eres (The Day You Begin) by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López, translated by Teresa Mlawer (Nancy Paulson Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018)

Ella persistió alrededor del mundo: 13 mujeres que cambiaron la historia (She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History) by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, translated by Teresa Mlawer (Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018)

Frida, el misterio del anillo del pavo real y yo (Me, Frida and the Secret of the Peacock Ring) by Angela Cervantes, translated by Jorge Ignacio Domínguez (Scholastic Inc., 2018)

Frida Kahlo y sus animalitos (Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos) by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra, translated by F. Isabel Campoy (NorthSouth Books, Inc., an imprint of NordSüd Verlag AG, 2017)

La Frontera: el viaje con papá/ My Journey With Papa by Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva, illustrated by Claudia Navarro, translated by María E. Pérez (Barefoot Books, 2018)

Lola (Islandborn) by Junot Díaz, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, translated by Teresa Mlawer (Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018)

La Matadragones: cuentos de Latinoamérica (The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America) by Jaime Hernandez, translated by María E. Santana (TOON Graphics, an imprint of RAW Junior LLC, 2018)

Miguel y su valiente caballero: el joven Cervantes sueña a don Quijote (Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quijote) by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Raúl Colón, translated by Teresa Mlawer y Georgina Lázaro (Peachtree Publishers, 2018)

Las orejas de los animales (Animal Ears) by Mary Holland, translated by Rosalyna Toth, Federico Kaiser, and Eida Del Risco (Arbordale Publishing, 2018)

Pasando páginas: la historia de mi vida (Turning Pages: My Life Story) by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, translated by Teresa Mlawer (Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018)

Querido Dragón de Komodo (Dear Komodo Dragon) by Nancy Kelly Allen, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, translated by Rosalyna Toth, Federico Kaiser, and Eida Del Risco (Arbordale Publishing, 2018)

Quizás algo hermoso: cómo el arte transformó un barrio (Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood) by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018)

Soñadores (Dreamers) by Yuyi Morales, translated by Teresa Mlawer (Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Holiday House, 2018)

Los tipos malos (The Bad Guys) by Aaron Blabey, translated by Juan Pablo Lombana (Scholastic, Inc., 2017)

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands/ Tenemos el Mundo Entero en las Manos by Rafael López, translated by Juan Pablo Lombana (Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., 2018)