Monday, September 30, 2019

2019 International Latino Book Awards: Poesía y Cuento

2019 International Latino Book Awards: Poesía y Cuento
por Xánath Caraza

Cada año los International Latino Book Awards celebran la literatura en sus diferentes categorías escrita por Chicanos, Latinos en los Estados Unidos y más allá.  El sábado, 21 de septiembre, fue la ceremonia de premiación para la edición de 2019 de los International Latino Book Awards.

Hoy celebramos los premios de poesía y de cuento.  

Para Poesía hubo tres categorías:

Best Poetry Book—One Author—English
Best Poetry Book—One Author—Spanish
Best Poetry Book—Multi-Author 

Para Cuento hubo dos categorías:

Best Short Story Collection—Spanish
Best Short Story Collection—English

Este 2019 tuve el gran honor de recibir Segundo lugar para dos de mis libros en dos categorías diferentes:

Hudson (Editorial Nazarí, 2018), traducido por Sandra Kingery: Segundo lugar como mejor libro de poesía en español por un autor.


Metztli (Editorial Capítulo Siete, 2018), traducido por Sandra Kingery y Kaitlyn Hipple: Segundo lugar como mejor colección de cuento

Aquí pueden hacer click para ver una lista completa de todos los ganadores en todas las categorías para los ILBA de 2019.

¡Felicidades a todos los ganadores de los 2019 International Latino Book Awards!

Friday, September 27, 2019


Each one of these pics is supposed to be worth several words.  A thousand?  If so, I need not say more.  All photographs copyright (C) Manuel Ramos.



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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Chicanonautica: Weird Scenes From CDMX

One of the perks of working in a library as a day job is I keep finding books that I might have otherwise missed. I’m always on the lookout while shelving the Spanish language section. Sure enough, a title caught my eye:  

Escenarios Para el Fin del Mundo. (This being La Bloga, I’m assuming I don’t have to translate it.) It was by Bernardo Fernández, who also goes by “Bef.” It had a cover that suggested steampunk and a sense of humor. I grabbed it, checked it out, and read it.

I was impressed, and tore through it faster and with more enthusiasm than I usually do with my Spanish practice reading.

I even wrote a quick Goodreads review in my fonqui, pocho Spanish:

Cuentos de ciencia ficción/lo fantastico desde CDMX de un escritor e ilustrador se llama “uno de los narradores más originales de su generación.” Con extraterrestriales, un demonio, cyberpunk, steampunk, escenarios apocalypticos, y un ángel. ¡Guao!

And of course, I needed to to a proper Chicanonautica write-up here at La Bloga . . .

Bernardo Fernádez, Bef, is an illustrator/writer who has published graphic as well as text novels. His writing centers around CDMX, which for those of you aren’t plugged into the Spanish language media is short for Cuidad Mexico, Mexico City, La Capital Azteca Aztec, originally Tenochtitlán. His work shows a sense of humor, and a style coming out of the comics/graphic novel experience that I find very appealing, not to mention fun. He lists Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, and his “amigo” Bruce Sterling, as influences. He also quotes Tom Waits.

The stories in Escenarios Para el Fin del Mundo deal with aliens infiltrating the Mexican government, cyberpunk, steampunk, demons, angels, and of course apocalyptic scenes.

Two of them have been translated and published in English. “Las Últimas Horas de los Útimos Días/ The  Last Hours of the Last Days” originally appeared in both languages in Rudy Rucker’s webzine Flurb, and also in The Apex Book of World SF 4; “Leones,” in which lions invade Mexico City, was in Three Messages and A Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic.

My favorites were “La Bestia Ha Muerto,” in which the premature introduction of steampunk technology changes the history of Mexico and the world, and “La Sangre Derramada Por Nuestros Héroes” speculates on Nazis fleeing to Brazil with similar results. No escaping those alternate universes. Especially in the Latinoid continuum.

Somebody really needs to translate this book. All those poor monolinguals need it.

Ernest Hogan will have a story in the upcoming American Monsters: Part Two, and will pick the winners of the Somos en escrito 2nd Annual Extra-Fiction Contest--the deadline is September 30, 2019.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Written by Mitali Perkins
Illustrated by Sara Palacios

*Age Range: 3 - 6 years
*Grade Level: 1 - 2
*Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
*ISBN-10: 0374303738
*ISBN-13: 978-0374303730

It's almost time for Christmas, and Maria is traveling with her mother and younger brother, Juan, to visit their grandmother on the border of California and Mexico.

For the few minutes they can share together along the fence, Maria and her brother plan to exchange stories and Christmas gifts with the grandmother they haven't seen in years. But when Juan's gift is too big to fit through the slats in the fence, Maria has a brilliant idea. 

Here is a heartwarming tale of families and the miracle of love.


A Junior Library Guild Selection!

"A powerful picture book debut . . . Cartoon drawings emphasize the resilience of Abuela and her family as they navigate the border landscape, the impenetrable wall, and a situation that feels unfathomablebut is, unfortunately, all too based in reality." Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This touching contemporary story sensitively focuses on the U.S.–Mexican border and Mexico's cultural traditions in a heartwarming, informative, and hopeful way. Perkins gently voices some of the challenges families can experience when they are separated by a border . . . Maria’s inventive solution to that distance will make readers cheer, and Palacios’ warm illustrations in saturated colors make the scenes vibrant with feeling and quietly fold in informative visual details about the border and the family’s cultural traditions." Booklist

"An excellent prompt for discussion . . . a cliché-busting holiday book that could deepen a unit on celebration." BCCB

Mitali Perkins has written twelve novels for young readers including BAMBOO PEOPLE, TIGER BOY, RICKSHAW GIRL (film in 2019), and YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR (nominated for the National Book Award.) She lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sara Palacios is the recipient of a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match and the illustrator of several other picture books, including Henry Holton Takes the Ice. Sara graduated with a degree in graphic design and went on to earn BFA and MFA degrees in illustration from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. A native of Mexico, Sara now lives in San Francisco.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Mural Update. Happy happening in sad setting.

Update On Cervantes Mural Restoration Work by Pola Lopez
Michael Sedano

Fred C. Dobbs pulled rye grass stickers out of his socks. There were a lot of them. He’d just walked the entire 169-foot length of the mural on Marmion Way, searching the weeds across the street next to the Gold Line, not finding an answer there to the question he’d been asking since that time in Mexico, and that the artist, Pola Lopez, faces right now, which is about more money, and how to get some?

Like millions of area residents, La Bloga’s Michael Sedano regularly drives along Los Angeles' Marmion Way at the foot of Autry Museum's Historic Southwest Museum of the American Indian (link). For years, the long straight-away exiting the Avenues barrio skirted a long curvy retaining wall. Gallons of spray painted crap accumulated across what had been a mural of indian people. Work crews sprayed over the surface.

Fabulous news arrived with the Feb 20 2019 Laist (link) about the mural's restoration courtesy of "Highland Park's Chamber of Commerce and neighborhood council, the Autry Museum, L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo's office and Avenue 50 Studio." Writers  Philip Iglauer and Chris Greenspon tracked down the original muralist, Daniel Cervantes, to get his insight.

"Cervantes said he wanted to show Latinos living in L.A. and caught up in gang rivalry that they had another identity that predated colonialism. That's why he painted the Southwest Museum mural in 2004 and, for a few years, the painting stayed clean. Over time, however, the wall became a canvas for taggers and graffiti artists."

The earliest mention in community media of the mural comes in a Boulevard Sentinel article in 2004 that I cannot find on the web. An early post you can read is by chimatli in his post in LA EASTSIDE Life Beyond the River (link )

chimatli's post, illustrated with top notch fotos, notes, “There are many reasons to appreciate this mural on Marmion Way, under the Southwest Museum: the colors that seem to glow in the sun, the attractive graphic style and most importantly, the subject, Native people of the Americas. Northeast LA is home to many American Indians and they deserve a lot more recognition than this mural but this gorgeous piece is a good start.”

That was a high point in the life of the mural. In May 2015, the Eastsider newsletter headlined, “Fundraiser Launched To Rescue A Mount Washington Mural.” (link)

The Eastsider observes, “This January, community groups led by the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council began fundraising to restore the work and develop a plan of preservation, monitoring and maintenance, according to neighborhood council member Martha Benedict. Other contributors are the Highland Park Heritage Trust, Friends of the Southwest Museum, Avenue 50 Studio and long-time local activist Ann Walnum.”

Kathy Gallegos, director of Avenue 50 Studios and the fiscal agent for the restoration effort set a preliminary goal of $20,000. That twenty grand was just to start. Fred C. Dobbs’ problem loomed greater than start-up funding. The Eastsider and Gallegos continue, “We also have to think about continuing maintenance, and who will be responsible for that,” she said via email. “So our first monetary goal is about $20,000, but we will continue our fundraising for upkeep.”

In that 2015 article, the Eastsider publishes excellent news for the Fred C. Dobbses of the world. “Councilmember Gil Cedillo and The Autry National Center of the American West, which owns the Southwest Museum that towers above the mural, have both pledged to match all contributions, said Benedict.”

“Those who gots, gets” goes an old Irish sales dictum that applies to getting money for the mural on Marmion Way. Raise more money and the Autry and Gil Cedillo will match you. If you can get, you get more. This is like the public radio pledge drive, instead of a mug you get a mural. Ajua!

IF, the middle word in life, if the matching funds offer stands. Does the matching funds offer stand?

In May 2019, Avenue 50 Studio shared news that world-leading restoration experts Willy Herron & Leah Moscozo found a method to lift off layers of “buff,” heavy latex compound sprayed to white-out years of tags. Herron and Moscozo did the job, got paid, chalk up another resounding success in the life of the contract.

A few weeks ago, La Bloga’s Michael Sedano rode the Gold Line to the Autry (Link) and photographed the job site. Pola wasn’t working that day. This was shortly after thieves needed two nights to carry off the blue tarps protecting the buff-peeled surface. As a consequence, now the mural stands exposed to view and several taggers desperate for a canvas and notoriety among a peerage of pendejas and pendejos have marked up the surface.

Later I made a second trip with friends with a date to meet the artist. I got to observe an interview with another artist to help do color matching and prep tasks on the work surface. The work seemed onerous but Angel Guerrero leaps at the opportunity to restore the treasure of la sierra Mt. Washington.

Read the story behind the foto here

Lopez loves her work and good-naturedly explained that she paints where the sun puts some shade, so she’s not progressing from left to right but jumping around. The title of that La Bloga column is “Muralist Single-handedly Restoring Landmark.” Now there are two women working in available shade. Reportedly, a third artist joins the crew from time to time.

I asked Lopez about getting in some portable shade, one of those tents soccer moms carry around from game to game, fifty bucks. That’d be nice, Pola said, but raking the ground at the base of the mural would really help. The artist is New Mexico Strong, but no one’s ankles are twist-resistant. I hope the Autry will send a crew down to protect those workers on their grounds.

In the world of tagging, the Autry Museum Southwest site is no challenge to tag. There’s a clear view for a mile in either direction, the LAPD cruises Figueroa, not here. Even better for amateur taggers, Marmion Way is often untrafficked, removing any danger from getting shot spraying the wall. There’s no thrill, just mindless amateurism. Sadly, there are several mindless amateurs who’ve left their mark on the naked wall already.

It would take a chain-link cage to keep that surface far from spray can nozzles. That would take $5500.00 at internet fencing rates of $225 for 72 inches of cage. Autry Museum staff could install that with on-hand maintenance staff. Two workers, three days. Punch holes, cement the poles, cure. Stretch the wire, take pride in a job well done.

Here’s another goal for the dedicated members of the committee working with Avenue 50 on that long-range protection plan that never got defined. Security for long-range protection is a Day 01 goal, and it’s been months since the tarps disappeared and the tagging began.

It’s public knowledge the signatories had $26,000, the sum a condition of the Autry's to sign the restoration contract, the Boulevard Sentinel reports (link). Presumably there's been more money raised and banked. Kathy Gallegos and the Avenue 50 Studio are high-functioning arts professionals, so I defer to her and the Committee’s budgeting expertise. I’m no beancounter.

The fiscal agent is Avenue 50. I suspect any money raised for the mural qualifies as a “pass-through grant.” Per the news coverage linked herein, there’s a Committee who wrote and got a grant from the State Arts Commission, the Los Angeles Arts Commission, or Gil Cedillo’s Council District 1 office, maybe all three.

Ongoing revenue efforts produce random victories. There was a 2017 art sale at the Autry that promised proceeds would support the mural. Pola gets a free beer or taco from happy passersby who stop to chat and learn about the restoration and who are those women working in that hottest part of the day, unprotected?

All the money (and none of the tacos) goes to the fiscal agent, not into the hands of the people who “get” the grant award. It’s a business.

There’s an agency overhead attached to pass-through funds. Money shrinks as it moves from the source to the wall. At the same time, fiscal management wants to keep the kitty filled, so releasing funds to the wall depends on institutional practices and probably IRS rules. For all La Bloga knows, there’s already a check been cut for a soccer tent, but Accounts Payable doesn’t mail out until the end of the month, or there’s some IRS complexity the fiscal agent knows about that's making them look bad.

Lopez is doing the job for that twenty grand Gallegos talked about raising. $20,000 is something gente don’t need to know, but there it is, on Facebook. I know Pola Lopez. Pola Lopez is a friend. I would never ask her, nor any friend whose name was Pola, “Hey Pola, how much money do you make?”

Disclosing the artist’s fee raises another question, one it’s appropriate and permitted to ask. How much money beyond the initial $26,000 have fund-raising efforts amassed? Lopez has twenty of the twenty six. Can the fiscal agent spring 5K from the overhead to buy that fence? Or $50 for a soccer mom canopy?

One reason I raise the money spectre is news from Facebook. The artist hired by grant money to restore Daniel Cervantes’ 169-foot buffed-over mural, Pola Lopez, recently launched a Gofundme site in her effort to hire competent help to enhance completion of the work. Lopez holds herself and any helper to the highest professional standards, so she’s not looking for cualquier tipo.

Daniel Cervantes could join the work crew. Lopez intends to fund-raise enough to offer a professional wage to a professional artist. Gente will pitch in and respond to Lopez’ plea. She’s raised several hundred of the ten thousand dollar goal. Fundraising on the site is transparent. The pass-through cost is spelled out in Gofundme's terms of service.

Avenue 50’s Board of Directors and the fundraising committee work tirelessly and without compensation to produce superb work. Add “despite…” list myriad obstacles that magnify the scale of their cultural importance in Los Angeles, and one gets a measure of appreciation for what's going down on Marmion Way. It's part of the genuine Chicano Renaissance in Mural City, U.S.A.

This is greatness at work. That is what they are supposed to do. It’s their job to be great. It's also a goal to be greater.

The Committee recognized from the beginning that the ongoing care issue was more substantial than laying the first brushstrokes. A big old ugly fence is just what the doctor ordered.

Unexpected hurdles always crop up, like the thieves who got new tents thanks to the Committee’s incomplete planning. There’s no method to secure vinyl tarps that prevents their removal. Replacing them is bootless; there’s high demand along the arroyo for free tarps. They coulda cemented the holdfasts to the ground, but shoulda woulda coulda.

Lopez is lending a hand with her personal fundraising effort, because that’s what resourceful gente do when ongoing efforts have been heroic but expectation surpasses reason. 

Will Cedillo match the money Lopez raises? 

Will the Autry? 

Did they?

This is a good place to observe that the signatories to the restoration contract include Autry Museum of the American West, Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park, and Pola Lopez. The Autry owns the mural, it’s on Autry property. The Autry’s is the most urgent need to see the space protected and the mural completed. They are one and the same, yet two budget line items.

The mural depicts indigenous gente in cultural settings--Indian people. The Autry Museum of the American West owns this property, it's named Southwest Museum of the American Indian. The mural speaks their name; one would think the Autry could express its ownership with energetic pride.

As a divagation from looking for media on the mural, I found proud press releases from the Autry, proclaiming it's spending millions of  dollars up in the tower, moving, restoring, and storing artifacts made by indians. The Autry received 10.5 million dollars in grant money from the Federal Government, according to a 2013 LATimes piece (link may be paywall blocked by the newspaper.) Although it's money-losing operation, the Autry holds over 34 million dollars in assets. This is called prioritization.

The Committee—The Autry and Avenue 50-- faces what business consultants call “mid-course corrections.” It’s an assessment process built into an enterprise's important plans. What works and how can we enhance it? What can we change to produce results we want? Are there errors we can fix? Looming over everything of course, is the goal of more money and how to get it.

That’s where the grant-raising gente are right now. Mid-course correction, and tracking down Fred C. Dobbs to see how that worked out. The good people on the Committee are working out the kinks, eventually they'll come through with something. Need is immediate. This cultural treasure wants to come alive now, it's a spirit restrained only by material bounds.

Click here to visit Pola Lopez’ self-funding page where you can pledge a few dollars to assist the restoration artist in recovering the Daniel Cervantes mural. Lopez is looking for ten thousand dollars above what the contract negotiated. It's a cost-overrun normal to all construction endeavors. Normally, gente simply adjust conditions to meet a reasonable finish date. Absent change, the worker herself seizes the means of fundraising.

Lopez narrates the fund-raiser raison d'etre

Supporters of the mural restoration project include:
Autry Museum of the American West
Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo, CD1
Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council
Collector’s Club of the Southwest Museum
Friends of the Southwest Museum
Glassell Park Neighborhood Council
Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council
Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council
Mark Zarem
Ann Walnum for FOSWMC
Mt. Washington Homeowners Alliance
Mt. Washington Association

Happy Birthday Margaret Garcia
Ave atque Vale, She's a Jolly Good Artist and Farewell to a Golden Gallery

The Roman poet Catullus recorded the thought that permeated Margaret Garcia's birthday party at East LA's ChimMaya art gallery. Ave atque Vale Hail and also farewell. The poet addressed his brother. ChimMaya was familia, too. They're closing their doors and going to enjoy their lives to their fullest. Ave atque vale Steven and Dan.

There wasn't a somber eye in the house.

A host of artists began showing up just as a fatigued photographer was putting away his iPhone.

José Lozano passed through the salon dropping off a package before disappearing.

Happy Birthday Margaret! Lozano's distinctive style shines from the small canvas. José works large, too; his style now adorns a Los Angeles high-rise(link). 

How fabulous a show it would be if each artist attending hung a canvas just to show and share. That would be a Master Class of Chicanarte! 

Garcia's One-Woman show fills ChimMaya vibrantly with color, subjects ranging from water to fire, size and scale, some stylistic experimentation that sold right away. The exhibition runs through October 5. Gallery Website Link click here.

Güiro note: Numerous people asked me if I was running another güiro workshop. No. Great news, it's happening again.

Salvador Correa informs me that he's going to pick up the Güiro Workshop project and take it to a wider audience. That was the original proposito of the workshop. I love it when a plan comes together.