Thursday, April 29, 2021

Springtime in New Orleans and the New Normal 2021

Melinda Palacio 

Springtime in the second year of Covid and things are starting to look up. Although the world remains on edge what with anti-vaxxers, new strains of the Corona virus, and general selfishness of people who refuse to help curb the global pandemic. In the corner of the world where I live, things are thankfully better and in Santa Barbara and most of California, vaccines are readily available to anyone who wants one, a big difference from a few months ago when people were standing in long lines hoping to score a vaccine appointment. I’m happy that both places that I spend time in, Santa Barbara and New Orleans, are leading in the number of people vaccinated, a good sign for returning to life that isn’t so isolated. 

Another sign that we are inching back to real life was our drive back to New Orleans. The introvert in me has had enough solitude, even though I cherish my alone time. It also helps that President Biden gave the okay to gather outdoors with fellow vaccinated loved ones. He even gave the ok to walk outdoors without a mask, although there is still a mask mandate to be mindful of in New Orleans. I was pleasantly surprised by all the people walking around the city with masks on. You can still enjoy the scent of sweet olive and jasmine through a mask. The spring breeze and wind on your skin is something everyone tries to savor. It sure feels good to view life from outside a zoom screen. 

Earlier this week, I participated in my first in person yoga class in over a year. I’ve kept up my practice through online classes, but nothing can beat communing in person and sharing the discipline of yoga. Oddly enough, since the class took place in New Orleans, it was outdoors at a brewery. I was skeptical when I heard the classes were at the Port Orleans Brewery, but it was a private, outdoor, area. Now, I’m convinced all yoga classes should take place outdoors, especially when the weather is so nice. 

Yesterday, I ran into a friend at Starbucks and I’ve stopped counting the series of first post pandemic events; there have been so many in past two weeks: the first time sitting inside a coffee shop, the first time seeing a friend’s face, the first time eating inside a restaurant, the first time having a face-to-face conversation with a friend. I can get used to this real life business real fast. 

I spent poetry month missing all the in person events. After all, this is year two of virtual poetry month. Next month, I will take part in UC Irvine’s Radiante. The Inspiration and Travels of Transformative Latinx Dance and Poetry. May 20th. This is an event that I wish were in person because I love dance as an art form. However, I’m honored to share the virtual stage with Joel Valenti-Martinez. Join us at this special zoom event. 

Radiante: The Inspiration and Travels of Transformative Latinx Dance and Poetry

My Father's Song

Father and son, circa 1947


     There were no barrios in the westside of Los Angeles, not in the traditional sense, like the ones in East L.A., San Fernando, San Bernardino, Colton, Tucson, Denver, Albuquerque, San Antonio, or El Paso, places where everyone in the neighborhood was Mexican and spoke Spanish. The closest was probably Santa Monica, where many Mexicans made the long trek from Jalisco to work in three brickyards in town. My mother, born in Santa Monica in 1925, once told me, her neighbors were mostly Mexican, but there were Anglos, Japanese, and a few African-American families, just like the two other Westside towns, Venice and Sawtelle (mispronounced Sotel by the old-timers). 
     My uncle, Rufino Hernandez, married to my dad's sister, told me his family lived in a small Santa Monica Mexican neighborhood in 1920s, a few blocks from the ocean. It burned down about 1930, and the new City Hall replaced it. None of this can be found in history books. It was passed down to the next generation by those who lived it.
     I hear my Culver City friends calling out, "Hey, how about us?" 
     Up until the 1950s, Culver City was mostly movie lots, farms, ranches, and subdivisions spread throughout the city. When the 405 freeway destroyed the heart of the Sawtelle, about '64, many Chicanos bought homes in Culver City, or moved to the Projects for cheaper rent. That’s why, back in the gang days, Culver City and Sawtelle didn’t fight much. A lot of the kids were related, and didn’t even know it.
     The thing about working-class neighborhoods, whether barrios or not, history denies them a place in the country' story. I can't go to the library and check-out a book on any of these neighborhoods. Maybe an ethnic studies professor at a local college or university might mention them, but even then, most professors, wary of tenure committees, tend to research the larger, more important cities, like San Francisco, L.A., maybe even San Diego, but Sotel? Santa Monica? Venice? Or even Culver City? 
     If one is lucky enough to find a book on the neighborhoods, it's usually a book of photos with stories about the founders, the business people, the chambers of commerce, but rarely about the neighborhood families, those who built the towns. 
     So, what happens to the stories of neighborhoods? If the stories are not passed down from one generation to the next, along with a lot of old photos, they simply die. I think it was Native American novelist and scholar Scott N. Momaday’s who said about the indigenous oral tradition, it is “…one generation away from extinction.” 

     I didn’t want to be the generation that let the stories go extinct. So, when my father and his friends were still living, I’d get them together to hear about their early years and hope to keep their stories alive. I'd make it a point of plundering my dad's memory regularly. Born in 1923, in his late eighties he  still had an incredible memory. 
     Me: "How did the Anglos and Mexicans get along in West L.A. when you were a kid?" 
     Him: "When we hung around with the Anglos, it was mostly those on our same [social] class. The ones who lived over in Westwood were a little 'uppity', but they were nice. They may have had a chip on their shoulders, but I never heard any racial slurs." 
     "Westwood was a couple of miles from Sawtelle, where you lived. Were there many homes in Westwood back then?" 
On Sawtelle Boulevard, demolishing the barrio

     "Oh, yeah. Those homes go back to the early 1900s and the twenties, those Mediterranean and Spanish-style homes. The ones who lived up there [in Westwood], they were the ones who had steady jobs, like bankers, CPAs, teachers, a few worked for UCLA. Well, UCLA was pretty new then, but they had a few professors, and professional people who lived there. A lot of the doctors and lawyers who lived in Westwood worked in downtown L.A. That was the center of business. It was like Century City is now. They weren't rich, but they lived comfortable lives." 
     "Did you consider anyone really rich back then?" 
     "Well, yeah. One man owned half of West L.A., Mr. Barnard. You know where that market is over there on Pico, near Bundy. He owned that…a gas station, a rest home, a flower shop…he owned all that. He owned half of La Gara [my dad’s westside neighborhood], and he owned a big orange orchard north of Bundy, near Sunset. He lived right there on the ranch. We knew the Barnard boys, Chuck and Jack. Nice guys. They were my brother's Nick's age. They used to let us go up there and pick oranges. Sometimes we'd go for hikes up on Tiger Tail. That's way before there were any homes up there." 
     "Was Santa Monica Boulevard busy back then, where you lived?" 
     "Well, Santa Monica Boulevard changed names from Oregon Avenue somewhere in the 1930s. Most of the big stores were in downtown Santa Monica. Then later on, along Santa Monica Boulevard, in W.L.A., we got the Boulevard Store, and Bear’s department store, close to Sawtelle boulevard. They had clothing and shoes. There were restaurants, and a couple of hotels on top of the businesses. They're closed now. The library was there, the Tivoli Theater (the Royal Theater today) at Colby Avenue. It was built in '29 and the Nu-Art was built in '31. And we went to the movies a lot, if we could scrape up a dime. A dime was hard to come by in those days. That's what started the gangs, all the gangster movies. The guys couldn't afford suits, so they would get their dad's old suits or get them from the secondhand store." 
     “What kind of work did my grandfather do?” 
     “…Mostly he worked in nurseries and gardening. He had a Greek boss, Paul. He worked with Paul from about 1934 to--oh, let's see, about '39. They used to grow flowers at the north end of where the Veterans Cemetery is today, before they extended it. They would sell the flowers to people going to downtown L.A. or to people visiting the veterans' cemetery. My dad just went up to him one day and asked him for a job, and Paul said, 'Yeah, I can use you,' and he liked my dad…. Then Paul moved the business to El Segundo. In those days, it was too far to take a bus, back and forth, so my dad stayed out there all week and came home on weekends. Sometimes he walked, what, ten miles? We missed him quite a bit, and it got to be too hard on my mom, so my dad had to quit and come back." 
     “How did he get into massaging people? 
     "I don't know how my dad learned to massage people. I guess in Mexico. And he never charged anybody. People always paid him whatever they could. We had people over our house all the time. He set broken bones and took care of cuts and scrapes. People gave him whatever money they could. You know, quite a few single men lived and worked on the Westside in those days. They came alone from Mexico and Japan, some left behind wives and families. They couldn’t afford to pay a doctor, so my dad took care of them when he could.” 
     “Where did these single men live?” 
     "In La Gara—Cotner Avenue, near Pico Boulevard, there was a boarding house where Japanese men stayed, single men, mostly gardeners, close to Nino Villa's dad’s store. I think the store was like a co-op, a partnership between four Chicano families. It was the first store in the neighborhood. Anyway, as kids, on Thursday nights, we used to sneak out of the house at night and go sit on the curb and watch the prostitutes come and go into the boarding house. I think a Japanese man owned the place." 
     "Why Thursday nights?" 
     "Because from Friday to Sunday, the Japanese men gambled, some of them all weekend. They were real gamblers. So, Sundays were always busy days for my dad. On Saturday nights, you know workers would go to bars and drink too much, get into brawls or accidents and return home with all sorts of injuries. Or during the week, they'd get hurt on the job." 
Raymond Cano, the neighborhood raconteur

     When my cousins and I were kids, my grandfather, Maximiano Cano, who migrated to the States when he was 17 from San Diego Alejandria, Jalisco, would massage our sore arms after we played baseball or a pulled something horsing around. He was an expert at healing different types of injuries. 
     My dad said, "Sometimes, my dad earned $6.00 a week, more money from massaging people than he did at his regular job. In those days $6.00 was a lot of money. Most men made $2.00 a day." 
     In his older years, my grandfather moved in with us for a spell. People would come to our house asking for Don Maximiano to look at a child's injured arm or leg. My grandfather would take out this little brown bottle with an orange label (name and directions in Spanish), a fearful smelling potion. He’d rub and rub, feeling for knotted muscles, broken bones, or just tension. It always hurt, at first, something awful, but the more he rubbed and kneaded the muscles, warming the injured limb, the pain would begin to ease. The smell of the ointment sweetened. He'd wrap the limb in a white cloth, slap on a splint or sling if needed, make the sign of the cross over the forehead, and tell the patient to come back the next day. Usually, in a few days all was as good as new. 
     Ironically, my dad, somehow, picked up the skill. He used the familiar ointment to massage family and friends who would come to the house for treatment. When I asked him how he learned, he shrugged, as if he wasn't sure. Some of his friends told me that he knows what he is doing. "He can feel the lumps in the muscles and massages until they're gone," one man told me. 
     In 1939, my dad recalled, many people on the Westside still had chickens and ducks, though few owned horses or cows. "But Grandpa had two cows," my dad said. "He kept them in a vacant lot close to our house on Sawtelle Blvd., right near the Nu-Art [theater]. Me and kids from the neighborhood would try to ride the cows for fun." 
     “Wasn’t my grandfather afraid someone would steal the cows?” I asked. 
     My dad said, smiling, "There weren't too many cattle rustlers left in Sawtelle in those days…nobody really worried about the cows disappearing. I guess my dad was the last cattle baron in West L.A." 
     “Do you remember much about the Depression or how it affected families in town?” 
     "I was too young to realize what the Depression was. I know we went barefoot a lot, and we didn't have great food, but we ate, you know…everybody was poor then, but you didn't know you were poor." He thought a moment. "Here there were ranches, and you could go pick verdolagas and lima beans, or bring string beans home to cook." 
     He was lost in thought, then said, "A lot of the Mexican women didn't like some of the modern appliances, like the washing machine, sinks, or bathtubs. They didn't like that after washing clothes or dishes, or showering, the water disappeared into pipes. When they washed by hand, they could throw the water into the gardens or wash off the porches, or throw it on the dirt to keep the dust down." 
     He smiled and said, "Families couldn't afford electricity, so ice was really important. There was a large ice company on Barrington Avenue, right off of Olympic Boulevard. People respected the iceman, as much as the doctor. Ice was a big business in those days. My mom had a calendar on kitchen wall, right next to the icebox. When the iceman came to deliver ice, he would check off the delivery date, and come back right on schedule." 
     As he spoke, he remembered, "Iceboxes didn't keep the food cold for very long, so my mom had to plan meals carefully, so we wouldn't have too many leftovers or spoiled food. That's why they sent us to the grocery store, sometimes, every day. Spoiled food caused bacteria, and you could get sick. With the three boys in the house, we didn't have many leftovers."
     The way he explained it, no one wasted food or water. In 1914, when Mulholland's brought water from the Owens Valley into the Los Angeles, few families had showers or bathtubs. When families bathed, it was in metal tubs, tinas, in Spanish. The first kid in got the cleanest water. If you had the bad luck to bathe last, and you had a big family, to find clear water, you had to kick aside the muck floating on the surface. 
     My grandfather was one of the first in La Gara to rent a house with running water and a bathtub. 
     My dad said, "Everybody, all our relatives, came over to take baths. Our house was crowded all the time." 
     If families needed gas for cooking, they had to go outside to the meter and put in a coin. Before the meters, people used too much gas. He laughed, "The Villas were still using a wood burning stove in the 1950s." 
      "They liked it, I guess. You know, people just get used to doing things a certain way." 
     His westside neighborhood was racially mixed, Mexicans and Japanese, old families and new, but in the 30s Anglos from Oklahoma and Arkansas started arriving, migrants from the Dustbowl, and African-Americans from Texas and Louisiana, like the Wilsons and the Chases, the only two black families in the neighborhood, but the most educated and sophisticated. 
     Mrs. Wilson belonged to NAACP. She was strict and would not let her son go out to play until her son finished his homework. He played piano, earned A grades in school, and was one of the few kids in the neighborhood would attend college. He was track star, the same with the Chase boy. When they weren’t studying, the two boys would hang out with the Mexicans. 
     When I asked him about racial tension, he grew a little pensive, and answered, "What was there to be racial about? We were all poor. Oh, we had our little fights, but it was never racial. We made up the next day." He cracked a smile, "You know the first words out of an Okie baby's mouth?" 
     I shook my head. 
     "Mama, Papa, and Bakersfield!" he said and then chuckled. "Heavy told me that one." 
     Heavy came to La Gara from Oklahoma with his family in the 30s and became a hometown mainstay, hanging out mostly with Mexican. It seems, to Oklahomans, getting to Bakersfield was making it to the promise land, where many Oklahoma families settled, including Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
     "How did people from Oklahoma end up in Sotel?" 
The original theater on SM boulevard, where kids learned about gangs

     "I asked Heavy about that one time," my dad answered. "Heavy said, 'Hell, Ray, Route 66 came right up Santa Monica Boulevard. We drove any farther we'd end up in the damn ocean. So, we just put 'er in reverse, backed up a few miles and here we are.' "A lot of Okies and Arkies lived in Sawtelle. We all grew up together. I remember, one morning, maybe in the early '30s, my brother Nick walked from the house to the front yard. He came back inside and told my dad there was an old jalopy parked out front. My dad went outside and saw a family sitting around a wood fire, trying to heat water. They were poor. My dad told my mom to make some food for them. She scrambled eggs and potatoes and made them burritos. My dad took the food outside. They just kept staring at the burritos. They'd never seen them before. But they ate them." 
     Unlike the families in Santa Monica who had a long history in the area, going back to the 1790s, the West L.A. Mexican families came to Sherman (West Hollywood) from Mexico, by way of El Paso and San Bernardino, experienced railroad workers. Sherman was a railroad town, with a true barrio, and home to an important switching station where Huntington sent his trains across the Southland.
     When they finished their work in Sherman, the Mexican families looked west and heard about work in the brickyards, nurseries, gardens, and construction sites. Looking for the cheapest housing, they moved to La Gara, Cotner Avenue, near the railroad tracks on Sepulveda boulevard, between Santa Monica and Pico boulevards, the cheapest housing in town. 
     "It was really those families who brought Mexicans to Sawtelle," my dad said, "like the Villas, Escobars (owners of the Casa Escobar restaurants), Escamillas, Sapiens, Saenz, the families who came from Sherman." 
     The Mexican families who first settled in Cotner, even before the Japanese, in the 1920's, and before, were related, like the Redondos, the Arujos, and the Pinos, or his own family, the Canos and the Escarcegas. Many of the families who settled in Sawtelle came from the same towns in Mexico, mostly from Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, and Chihuhua. 
Out of La Gara and into the suburbs

     When one family found work, their Anglo bosses encouraged them to send for their relatives, which they did. They sent word to Mexico, and in no time others followed. Employers quickly understood that men worked better when they worked with relatives because if one didn't work hard enough, the others would make sure he did. 
     Like my father, many of the men who told me their family stories, said employers were always asking for more workers.  At the Port of Entry in El Paso, most Mexicans paid a small fee and crossed into the U.S., often coming to jobs already promised them. My dad said sometimes houses were packed with relatives because so many were arriving from Mexico, and there wasn't enough housing. 
     As he talked, my father said, as if suddenly remembering, his father and his friends' fathers always demanded that their children respect people in positions of authority, "…especially their elders, teachers and the police." 
     In rural Mexico, the church and parents represented the authority. They demanded their children's respect, and they expected their children to extend the same respect to adults outside the home. Men, like my grandfather, saw themselves as coming to a new country, and since they themselves could not speak English and communicate their gratitude, they expected their children, by their behavior, to do it for them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Día del Niño- Bilingual Book Fest


The first bilingual children literature virtual, celebrating Día del Niño. Featuring  bookstores, local authors, and creators from around the world who focus is the wellness, bilingual literacy and education for children.


"Día del niño, or children's day, is an annual celebration held on April 30 throughout


Mexico. ... Usually in Mexico and other Latin countries will host festivals, music shows, magicians, special events with clowns and more for children on this day."


Our mission is to provide a safe space were kids learn and play while they are encouraged to thrive with the assistance of reading, workshops, activities and more.



El primer evento de enfoque a la literatura infantil virtual celebrando el Día del Niño. Presentando  librerías, autores locales y creadores de alrededor del mundo que se enfocan en el bienestar, la literatura bilingüe y la educación para niños.


"Día del niño, o día de los niños, es una celebración anual que se celebra el 30 de abril durante


México ... Por lo general, en México y otros países latinos se realizarán festivales, espectáculos musicales, magos, eventos especiales con payasos y más para niños en este día ".


Nuestra misión es proporcionar un espacio seguro donde los niños aprendan y jueguen mientras se les anima a prosperar con la asistencia de lectura, talleres, actividades y más.






Friday, April 30th


10:00 - 10:15 AM PST- WELCOME

10:20-10:35 am PST  Illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal

10:40-10:55 am PST  Illustrator Juliet Menendez

11:00-11:15 am PST Author Andrea Olatunji

11:20-11:35 am PST Author Kelvin Jimenes

11:40-11:55 am PST Author Natalia Ramirez

12:00-12:15 pm PST Author Lola Dweck

12:20 -12:35 pm PST Illustrator Bef

12:40-12:55 pm PST Author Patty Rodriguez

1:00-1:15 pm PST Author Bea Zamora



Saturday, May 1st


10:00 - 10:15 AM PST- WELCOME

10:20-10:35 am PST  Author Naibe Reynoso

10:40-10:55 am PST  Illustrator Luis San Vicente

11:00-11:15 am PST Mexicanas Chidas 
11:20-11:35 am PST Authors Jackie Azua  & Magdalena Mora

11:40-11:55 pm PST Author René Colato Laínez

12:00 -12:15 pm PST Author Maxie Villavicencio

12:20-12:35 pm PST Author Araseli Rodriguez

12:40-12:55 pm PST Author Veronica Salgado

1:00-1:15 pm PST Illustrator Robert Liu-Trujillo

1:20-1:35 pm PST Author Pat Mora

1:40-1:55 pm PST Author Julissa Arce

2:00-2:15 pm PST Author Ariana Stein




Sunday, May 2nd


10:00 - 10:15 AM PST- WELCOME

10:20-10:35 am PST  Author Susi Jaramillo

10:40-10:55 am PST  Author Maria Gomez

11:00-11:15 am PST Scientists/Authors Alejandra Medrano & Leonora Milan

11:20-11:35 am PST Author Olga Franco

11:40-11:55 am PST Author Mariana Llanos

12:00-12:15 pm PST Illustrator/Author John Parra

12:20 -12:35 pm PST Authors  Elizabeth Ruiz  & Linda Garcia

12:40-12:55 pm PST  Hola Amigo Subscription Box

1:00-1:15 pm PST Illustrator Joe Cepeda

1:20-1:35 pm PST  Jugando N Play

1:40-1:55 pm PST  Author Teresa Morales

2:00 - 2:15 pm PST Musician Veronique Medrano


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Now Slouching Toward June to be Published

Review: Rudy Ch. Garcia. Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub. Somos en escrito Literary Foundation Press, 2021. (Coming June 2021)

Michael Sedano

June lurks just around the corner, not near enough you can feel its breath on your neck nor see how it butchers its victims leaving behind the parts it doesn’t eat. But close enough to start looking behind your back.

Sorry, that’s not June. That’s the beast, the dragón, animating Rudy Ch. Garcia’s monster thriller and tongue-twister, Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub. June is when publisher Somos en escrito Literary Foundation Press (link) unleashes the horror thriller for eager readers.

There’s lots of reasons to be eager, I’ll focus on three: Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub is a rare Chicanocentric fantasy novel. Death Song does some teaching. Chickxulub brings lots of fun.

Rosaura Sánchez, Beatrice Pito, Ernest Hogan, Mario Acevedo, Rudy Ch. Garcia

Chicana Chicano fantasy novels are uncommon enough it’s still possible for someone to have read every work of the genre, and for its writers to know one another. Garcia, for example, once sat on a sci-fi/fantasy literary panel with Rosaura Sánchez, Beatrice Pito, Mario Acevedo, Ernest Hogan, and Jesus Salvador Treviño. Had some monster devoured that table, 90% of the writers of Chicana Chicano fantasy would have been swallowed up in Riverside.

Garcia sets Dragón in New Mexico and Mexico City, with narrative visits to ancient Aztlán along with an origin story that’s plausible enough younger readers should be careful not to take speculation as fact. According to Garcia, the Mexica got booted out of Tenochtitlan and wandered in a great northwestern circle until landing back in Mexico City, pursued at every turn by El Muerte Blanco.

It’s far too easy to suggest the name of the critter is a clumsy metaphor about assimilation into anglo cultura, but with an anglo protagonist named Miguel Reilly doing some cultural slumming on his way to freshman year at some fancy university, the metaphor’s easily accused. Having Reilly bouncing against raza caricatures in New Mexico and a hot indigenous woman in old Mexico is grist for Garcia’s mill. To the author’s great credit, he lets the trope speak for itself and doesn’t try to milk it with author’s messages in bright lights.

Chicana Chicano readers will appreciate the publisher’s stylistic convention of not translating Spanish, nor does the author take pains to offer some appositional translation into English. Chicana Chicano readers live in code-switching comfort. Those italics are their own muerte blanco on Chicana Chicano Literature.

Miguel is an interesting protagonist. Garcia positions him as a well-informed amateur anthropologist using his money and social standing to conduct participant-observer research.  Reilly is troubled by becoming too much a participant, a classic researcher’s conflict. Garcia has his kid abandon that scientist’s value. Magic, a brujo, Miguel’s fate and ancestry, the allure of that woman, send the boy in unplanned directions. 

The reader gets an heroic quest and a 300 pages of fun. There’s a people-eating monster. Magical people do magical things to and for the kid. You know that movie where hunters track a monster with technology? That’s here. Writers, Garcia’s descriptions of light, visibility, and sensation, are few but gems of synaesthesia.

When the old brujo wants to assess Miguel’s worthiness for discipleship, he asks if Miguel’s ever written a poem? Miguel later uses the query to melt the heart of the unmeltable Maritza. Kismet. That Maritza’s a formidable woman, the men in her circle fear her even as they lust after her. 

That dragon might occupy the title and the heart of the plot, but this novel’s about relationships and self-discovery, about theory, belief, and action. Toss in some history, a lot of local color, too much alcohol, and readers will have a blast while learning a few cultural insights. 

Kick back until June, then let Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub do what speculative fiction does best, keep you entertained and turning pages.

Monday, April 26, 2021

El mes de la poesía por Xánath Caraza


El mes de la poesía por Xánath Caraza


La poesía, compañera incondicional, la celebramos en abril de cada año y este 2021 con más energía que nunca. Cientos de eventos virtuales se han organizado para compartir la palabra y conectar a través del ciberespacio.


No niego que en los primeros eventos en los que participé en Zoom fueron con las instrucciones en la mano. Afortunadamente, hoy en día, me puedo relajar y sentarme a escuchar y disfrutar a mis colegas poetas mientras llega mi turno.


Hay dos eventos en especial que quiero mencionar hoy.  Uno de ellos fue la revelación de la Antología Paws Healing the Earth (River Paw Press, 2021) el pasado martes 20 de abril. 


Esta antología fue editada y compilada por Kalpna Singh-Chitnis, poeta, directora de cine y promotora cultural. Es una colección de poemas enfocados en animales y los derechos para estos.


La noche del 20 de abril tuve la fortuna de ser una de los invitados de honor. Cada uno de los invitados habló sobre su perspectiva sobre los animales y la poesía. En una segunda parte leímos nuestros poemas publicados.


Un segundo evento al que tuve el honor de haber sido invitada fue a la Feria Anual de Poesía de Lawrence, Kansas que originalmente se ha llevado a cabo en el Lawrence Arts Center. 


Este evento fue creado por la Doctora Elizabeth Schultz hace ocho años.  En la Feria Anual de Poesía participan y se promueven poetas locales. 


Este año el poeta de honor fue Huascar Medina quien es el Poeta Laureado del estado de Kansas.


Sin más que compartir el día de hoy, me despido.


¡Que la poesía nos salve!


Friday, April 23, 2021

New and Recent Books

Catching up on recent and new literature, this lineup features revolutionary women, two novels about art and artists, and the ongoing saga of Selena.  Something for everybody.


Revolutionary Women of Texas and Mexico:
Portraits of Soldaderas, Saints, and Subversives

Edited by Kathy Sosa, Ellen Riojas Clark and Jennifer Speed
Foreword by Dolores Huerta
Afterword by Norma Elia Cantú
Illustrated by Kathy Sosa and Lionel Sosa
Trinity University Press - December, 2020

[from the publisher's website]
Much ink has been spilled over the men of the Mexican Revolution, but far less has been written about its women. Kathy Sosa, Ellen Riojas Clark, and Jennifer Speed set out to right this wrong in Revolutionary Women of Texas and Mexico, which celebrates the women of early Texas and Mexico who refused to walk a traditional path. The anthology embraces an expansive definition of the word revolutionary by looking at female role models and subversives from the last century and who stood up for their visions and ideals and continue to stand for them today.

Eighteen portraits provide readers with a glimpse into each figure's life and place in history. At the heart of the portraits are the women of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920)⁠—like the soldaderas who shadowed the Mexican armies, tasked with caring for and treating the wounded troops. Filling in the gaps are iconic godmothers⁠ like the Virgin of Guadalupe and La Malinche, whose stories are seamlessly woven into the collective history of Texas and Mexico. Portraits of artists Frida Kahlo and Nahui Olin and activists Emma Tenayuca and Genoveva Morales take readers from post revolutionary Mexico into the present. Each portrait includes a biography, an original pen-and-ink illustration, and a historical or literary piece by a contemporary writer who was inspired by their subject’s legacy. Sandra Cisneros, Laura Esquivel, Elena Poniatowska, Carmen Tafolla, and others bring their experience to bear in their pieces, and Jennifer Speed’s introduction contextualizes each woman in her cultural-historical moment. A foreword by civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and an afterword by scholar Norma Elia Cantú bookend this powerful celebration of women who revolutionized their worlds.


Yxta Maya Murray
TriQuarterly Books - January 15

[from the publisher's website]
In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda’s grumpy father is living peacefully in Koreatown; Amanda is about to enjoy a residency at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and, once she gets her NEA, she’s going to film a groundbreaking autocritical documentary in Mexico.

But then everything starts to fall apart when Xochitl’s biological clock begins beeping, Amanda’s father dies, and she endures a sexual assault. What happens to an artist when her emotional support vanishes along with her feelings of safety and her finances? Written as a series of web posts, Instagram essays, Snapchat freakouts, rejected Yelp reviews, Facebook screeds, and SmugMug streams-of-consciousness that merge volcanic confession with eagle-eyed art criticism, Art Is Everything shows us the painful but joyous development of a mid-career artist whose world implodes just as she has a breakthrough.

Yxta Maya Murray is a writer and law professor living in Los Angeles. Her novels include The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Kidnapped, The King’s Gold: An Old World Novel of Adventure, and The Queen Jade: A Novel. Her fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, the Georgia Review, the Southern Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She has won a Whiting Writer's Award and an Art Writer's Grant, and she has been a finalist for the ASME Award in Fiction. Her art criticism can be found in Artforum, ARTnews, Artillery, and other periodicals.


Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces:  A Novel
Maceo Montoya

University of Nevada Press - April 27

[from the publisher's website]
From critically acclaimed author Maceo Montoya comes an inventive and adventurous satirical novel about a Mexican-American artist’s efforts to fulfill his vision: to paint masterful works of art. His plans include a move to Paris to join the ranks of his artistic hero, Gustave Courbet—except it’s 1943, and he’s stuck in the backwoods of New Mexico. Penniless and prone to epileptic fits, even his mother thinks he’s crazy.

Ernie Lobato has just inherited his deceased uncle’s manuscript and drawings. At the urging of his colleague, an activist and history buff (Lorraine Rios), Ernie sends the materials to a professor of Chicanx literature (Dr. Samuel Pizarro). Throughout the novel, Dr. Pizarro shares his insights and comments on the uncle’s legacy in a series of annotations to his text and illustrations.

As Ernie’s uncle battles a world that is unkind to “starving artists,” he runs into other tormented twentieth-century artists, writers, and activists with ambitions to match his own: a young itinerant preacher (Reies López Tijerina); the “greatest insane artist” (Martín Ramirez); and Oscar Zeta Acosta who is hellbent on self-destruction. Will the fortuitous encounters with these prophetic figures result in his own genius being recognized? Or will his uncompromising nature consign him to what he fears most?

Told through a combination of words and images in the tradition of classic works such as Don Quixote and Alice in Wonderland, Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces features fifty-one vivid black-and-white pen drawings. This complex and engaging story also doubles as literary criticism, commenting on how outsiders’ stories fit into the larger context of the Chicanx literary canon. A unique and multilayered story that embraces both contradiction and possibility, it also sheds new light on the current state of Chicanx literature while, at the same time, contributing to it.

Propulsive, humorous, and full of life, this candid novel will be loved not only by Beat fiction fans but by contemporary fiction lovers as well.

Maceo Montoya is an award-winning author, artist, and educator who has published books in a variety of genres. His books include The Scoundrel and the Optimist (awarded the 2011 International Latino Book Award for "Best First Book" and Latino Stories named him one of its "Top Ten New Latino Writers to Watch), The Deportation of Wopper Barraza, Letters to the Poet from His Brother, You Must Fight Them: A Novella and Stories (finalist for Foreword Review's INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award) among others. Montoya's paintings, drawings, and prints have been featured in exhibitions and publications throughout the country as well as internationally. He is currently an associate professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at the University of California, Davis where he teaches courses on Chicanx culture and literature.


Sing with Me:  The Story of Selena Quintanilla
Diana López
Illustrated by Teresa Martínez
Spanish edition translated by Carmen Tafolla
Dial Books - July 6

[from the publisher's website]
An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music.

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.


Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. His latest novel, Angels in the Wind, will be published by Arte Público Press April 30.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Chicanonautica: Arizona Does It Again

by Ernest Hogan



My home state was doing so well, going for Biden early in the 2020 election, then going blue, and no comeback for Joe Arpaio and his fascist performance art disguised as law enforcement.

Could it be that Arizona would no longer be the U.S.A.’s laboratory for bad political ideas? Remember that Trump’s presidency was the old elect a businessman instead of a politician scam that crashed with two Arizona governors. Maybe we’ll be laugh at Georgia and its resurrection of Jim Crow instead.

Nope, looks like we’re going the way of Georgia.

Some of our Republican lawmakers, disgusted with the high turnout in 2020 that resulted in losses for their party have come up with three new proposed laws to make it harder for people to vote in the state.

As Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond said, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

What about more than three? What if it’s been going on for decades?

My wife and I have been voting by mail for years because of shenanigans like polling place locations being shifted around and the number of them being lowered. Combine this with a long drive from our home, we applied for mail ballots and they have been working fine.

It’s as if they’re afraid of a little good, honest democracy.

And what repugnant trio of proposed laws these are:

SB 1485 would purge voters who haven’t cast a ballot in both primary and general elections for two consecutive primary and general elections. My advice is vote in every election, and make sure you’re registered.

SB 1593 will narrow the window for us mail voters to get out ballots and require that they be postmarked on or prior to the Thursday before an election, which could make it difficult on the Native American reservations—some of them have no home mail service. My wife and I fill out and mail our ballots as soon as we get them.

If that wasn’t all, SB 1713 requires mail voters to add more identification, voters without driver’s licenses would have to make copes of ID documents. Right now, we just have to sign an affidavit attesting our identities under penalty of perjury, and all signatures are scanned, recorded, and verified by court officials. Wouldn’t that be enough?

My wife and I recently got our Real ID driver’s licenses. I showed them my birth certificate, and two bills with my name and address on them. They didn’t even ask to see my current license. How does this make me any more identified than before?

So, what next? Any Jim Crow laws in the works?

Ernest Hogan is the Father of Chicano Science Fiction, the author of High Aztech, and a voter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

15th Annual Family Learning Conference



Many Voices, Many Stories—One Community


Welcome to the 15th Annual Family Learning Conference at the University of La Verne.




For Zoom links click


Saturday, April 14, 2021

From 9:00- 12:30 PM ( Pacific Time)




To register, click this link






8:45 am  - 9:00 am  -- Main Zoom Room Opens


9:00 am - 9:10 am  -- Welcome


9:20 am - 9:50 am  -- Session 1


Workshop 1: Building Self-Esteem and Competence

Workshop 2: Incluyendo español en la casa (presentación en Español)

Workshop 3: Celebrations Around the World

Workshop 4: ¡Celebraciones culturales! (presentación en Español)

Workshop 5: Welcoming Literacy into Your Home

Workshop 6: Author- Ron DeGenova

Workshop 7: Authors- Suzanne Lang and Max Lang

Workshop 8: Author-Greg McGoon

Workshop 9: Author-Sanjay Nambiar

Workshop 10: Author-Tyrah Majors


10:00 am  - 10:30 am  -- Session 2


Workshop 1: Building Self-Esteem and Competence

Workshop 2: Incluyendo español en la casa (presentación en Español)

Workshop 3: Celebrations Around the World

Workshop 4: ¡Celebraciones culturales! (presentación en Español)

Workshop 5: Welcoming Literacy into Your Home

Workshop 6: Author- Ron DeGenova

Workshop 7: Authors- Suzanne Lang and Max Lang

Workshop 8: Author-Greg McGoon

Workshop 9: Author-Sanjay Nambiar

Workshop 10: Author-Tyrah Majors



10:40 am  - 11:10 am  -- Session 3


Workshop 1: El origen de mi nombre (presentación en Español)

Workshop 2: Prompt Your Child to be the Storyteller! | (Join via this URL)

Workshop 3: Backpacking Through Literacy

Workshop 4: Print Hunting!

Workshop 5: Share Your Light, Keep Us Bright

Workshop 6: Puppeteer- Xavier Brown

Workshop 7: Author- Sissy Varela

Workshop 8: Author- John Archambault

Workshop 9: Author- Kim Dickson

Workshop 10: Author-Jo Ann Boyce

Workshop 11: Author- Rene Colato (Presentación bilingüe)


11:20am  - 11:50 am  -- Session 4


Workshop 1: El origen de mi nombre (presentación en Español)

Workshop 2: Prompt Your Child to be the Storyteller!

Workshop 3: Backpacking Through Literacy

Workshop 4: Print Hunting!

Workshop 5: Share Your Light, Keep Us Bright

Workshop 6: Puppeteer- Xavier Brown

Workshop 7: Author- Sissy Varela

Workshop 8: Author- John Archambault

Workshop 9: Author- Kim Dickson

Workshop 10: Author-Jo Ann Boyce

Workshop 11: Author- Rene Colato (Presentación bilingüe)



12:00pm - 12:30 pm  -- Jackson Grant, Author of The Donut that Roared