Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Giving Tuesday: Make A List, Check It Twice

Michael Sedano 

Master Spy Nicholas T. Saint shakes his head at the silliness of UnitedStatesian rituals. Imagine that, a "Giving Tuesday," when people in need have that need every day. 

The Head Elf cocks her head and says, "December 25th?" 

Santa says, "Three Kings Day!" 

The Assistant Head Elf declares it a draw. "Everyone has special giving days. Giving Tuesday is what it is, and that's it. Who we gonna give to this year?" 

Santa checks the Naughty and Nice list, twice. 

Who Got Something Last Year, but...Naughty. 
Solicitors know the best prospect for a gift this year is last year's Donor. Don't count on it. I sent a check to a literary magazine that took the money and ran. They did not acknowledge receipt other than cash the check. Worse, I never got the promised print copy of the journal. Shame on me, giving with an expectation of return. Shame on me, too, if I give to them again. They are asking again this year. Because of their negligent neediness, they are X'd off my list. 

Who Doesn't Need This Year? The GOP Plague shut us down, bad, gente. Everyone's suffering, including the giving pie, que no?

Help Local, help Regional. In my Los Angeles region, two organizations among so many, stand out: a bookstore and an art museum. 


Margaret Garcia conversing with the Executive Director of Ventura museum, Elena Brokaw, relates Joseph Campbell's taxonomy of arte, while Garcia paints the director's portrait. Surrounded by paintings and fused glass work, the visual luxuriousness of this video reminds eye and soul that few institutions extend open-armed welcome to Chicanarte, and Brokaw's Museum of Ventura County is among the few.

There's Always One More

Monday, November 29, 2021

On #GivingTuesday, consider supporting Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore

Tomorrow is GivingTuesday. What is GivingTuesday? It is a global generosity movement that unleashes the power of radical generosity around the world. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past nine years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. GivingTuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity, and equity around the globe. GivingTuesday’s global network collaborates year-round to inspire generosity around the world, with a common mission to build a world where generosity is part of everyday life.

On GivingTuesday, consider giving to Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore through donations, purchasing books and other items, or in any other form of support. 

Why Tía Chucha’s?

The Northeast San Fernando Valley has a population of about 500,000 – the size of the city of Oakland – yet it had no bookstores, art galleries, or full-fledged cultural spaces until Tía Chucha's opened its doors in 2001. Thankfully, various local organizations have for decades provided services to address the many survival needs of a large number of economically insecure families and individuals in this area. Believing that it is also everyone’s right to explore and develop their innate creative gifts, Tia Chucha’s founders set out to correct the historic absence of life-enhancing artistic and literary options for this sector of the population. Melding vision with conviction, Tia Chucha’s was created as a space to embrace the equally important artistic development of our lives as human beings.

Tia Chucha’s began as a café, bookstore and cultural space owned and run by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, his wife Trini, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez. In 2003 Luis, along with singer/musicologist Angelica Loa Perez and Xicano Rap artist Victor Mendoza established a next-door sister nonprofit to incorporate a full range of arts workshops. When in 2007 the cultural café and bookstore disbanded as an LLC, it donated its assets, including inventory, shelves, equipment, and more to the nonprofit to carry its mission forward. 

Tia Chucha’s cultural center now provides year-round on-site and off-site free or low-cost arts and literacy bilingual intergenerational programming in mural painting, music, dance, writing, visual arts, healing arts sessions (such as reiki healing) and healing/talking circles. Workshops and activities also include Mexica ("Aztec") dance, indigenous cosmology/philosophy, and two weekly open mic nights (one in Spanish, the other in English). It also hosts author readings, film screenings, and art exhibits as well.

So, if you want to “do good” on GivingTuesday, consider Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore as the recipient of your good acts.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

What's in a Name, an Enigma?

"En esta casa nacio Tomas Alva Edison, el 18 de Febrero, 1848"
    What is the definition of a Latino or Latina, anyway? I know a direct translation of Latino from Spanish to English is Latin, which to me indicates a descendent of the Romans, as in Italians. That doesn’t really fit the Spanish-speaking people of Latin America. So, is the concept fact or fiction? If it’s fact, I suppose the definition can be found in a dictionary or a history book. If it’s fiction, you can say it’s a “state of being,” open to interpretation. 
      Dictionary: “Latin—Of or relating to Latium, its people or its culture, or relating to ancient Rome, or relating to places and peoples using Romance languages.” 
     Hmm, French is a romance language. I don’t recall anyone calling a French person a Latin or Latino. Most Italians don't even see themselves a Latin or Latino. 
     Let’s look at “Latino” in the dictionary-- “A person of Latin American origin, male.” 
     That’s different from, say, “Hispanic”: “of or relating to the language, culture, and people of Spain, or Spanish speaking countries, especially Latin America.” 
     Now, that sounds a bit rhetorical. 
     Some in-the-know, like ethnic studies professors, might argue a Latino is a person of Spanish descent, including Latin American mestizos, but Hispanic, means of Spanish descent, as in Iberian Spanish, no hint of Indian blood, which can get confusing because I’m sure you can come across non-indigenous Latinos in Latin America, or as some Chicano New Mexicans claim, “puro hispanico.” 
     So, is Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, who has spent much of his career in the U.S. among Mexican-American actors and playing Mexican roles, like in Zorro and Desperado, Latino or Hispanic? Except in the Disney creation, Zorro was a Spaniard living in 1800s Los Angeles before the arrival of the Anglos. But by 1800, Spain had been in Mexico 280 years, a long time, and probably few pure-blooded Spaniards remained, so Zorro could have been Mexican. 
     What about Julio Iglesias or his American-bred son Enrique? And Rocio Durcal, Fidel Castro, Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, Selma Hayek, Javier Bardem, or his wife Penelope Cruz, Latinos or Hispanics, or, let’s play it safe, maybe they are all both? 
     My guess is if you probably asked, they’d identify with their country of origin, like Fuentes and Hayek proud of their Mexican-ness, but Fuentes didn’t like being pigeon-holed and saw himself as a citizen of the world. So, then, is ethnic labeling limiting? 
     If Latinos are descendants of Latin America wouldn’t that exclude anyone from Spain? They’d be straight-up Hispanics. What about Brazil, Belize, and Guyana? Are their folks Latinos, or do they get nixed because Spanish isn’t their country’s official language? Take Guyana, which started off Spanish but became Dutch in the 1700s. Their language is English. In Belize, which shares Mexico’s southern border, people speak English, Spanish, Creole, and different dialects of Maya? Are they Latinos? Their official language is English, going back to when it was British Honduras. See what I mean? 
     Do they all qualify as Latinos, or token Hispanics, less Roman and more Spanish? After all, Spain does owe them something for all the precious metals it extracted as well as the cost of human labor. Then, what about the vast numbers of indigenous people throughout north, central, and south America-- Latino or Hispanic? 
     I met some Chicano activists back in the 1980s, enthusiastic to bring famous Latinos into the fold. They viewed anyone with a Spanish surname "Chicana” or “Chicano.” 
     Take George Lopez, in one of his routines, he claims that thousands of Anglos run around the country following the Grateful Dead. “Jerry Garcia? Duh, Garcia!” Lopez stresses, suggesting Deadheads are crossing the country in caravans following a Mexican Mariachi?” 
     Lopez was just trying to show, humorously, how ubiquitous Mexicans are in the U.S. like Garcia’s fanatics who don’t make the connection that Garcia is Latino; except, is Jerry Garcia Latino or Hispanic? Like Joan Baez, Garcia (RIP) always claimed Spanish heritage not Mexican or Latino, and Spain, as everybody knows, is a completely different continent. 
     So, Garcia’s adoring fans were never following a “mariachi” but more like a flamenco musician, at the very least a leader of a Tuna, college student musicians, dating back to the 1700s, who traveled through university towns, followed by adoring students singing along, botas of vino raised high and not bottles of tequila, mezcal, or pulque. Do Garcia and Baez qualify as Latinos. My guess is both never considered it. They probably saw themselves as Americans. 
Tomas Alva Edison or Thomas Alva Edison?

 I recall, years ago, listening to a Chicano artist try convincing a group of students that Thomas Edison was Chicano--because of his middle name, Alva. I laughed at that one. Preposterous. I don’t remember the good professor’s evidence, but he did lay down some facts, which, later, got me to thinking, how did Edison get the name Alva, a name none of his siblings carried?
      American historians have Edison’s kin hailing from Amsterdam to Nova Scotia to Canada and into the U.S., first New Jersey, where Edison was born in 1847, and finally Ohio, where he started his career as the great American inventor we came to love as children. Interestingly, though, there isn’t a lot of U.S. documentation related to Edison’s middle name, Alva, but in Mexico, it’s a different story. 
     Mexican historian Luis Rocha, in his book, 100 Years of Light in Fresnillo, based on surveys, interviews, letters, and other documents, claimed Thomas Alva Edison was born in Sombrete, Zacatecas in 1848, his father a mining engineer, Samuel Alva Ixtlixochitl, from Pachuca. You still with me and haven’t fallen out of your chair, laughing? 
     Rocha is a serious historian. According to his version, John Edison, Thomas’s grandfather did, in fact, migrate from Amsterdam to Canada then to Mexico, not New Jersey. John Edison married Margarita de Alva Ixtlixochitl who sired Samuel Alva Ixtlixochitl Edison, Tomas Alva’s father, hence the name. 
Fact or Fiction?
     Rocha’s sources identify two other Alva families in Sombrete, Zacatecas, back in the day, who verified their relationship to Alva Edison. And, so it goes, Tomas migrated to the U.S. at an early age and became the great American inventor. The problem, I guess, is that nobody can find a birth certificate, not the American Thomas Alva Edison of Ohio and not the Mexican Tomas Edison of Zacatecas, who wouldn’t have had a birth certificate, anyway, but a baptismal certificate, and during the revolution of 1910, when revolutionaries swept through Sombrete, they destroyed all personal church records, a common rebel practice. 
      Still, today, in Sombrete, on the house at 19 Hidalgo Street, is a plaque that reads, “En esta casa nacio Tomas Alva Edison, el 18 de Febrero, 1848.” 
     Rocha has done his homework. He has produced documentation, both written and oral, for his book, based on another text by Fray de los Dolores Tiscareno, who published, Nuestra Senora del Refugio, and documents Tomas Alva Edison's roots in Mexico. 
     Of course, the American version is disdainful of anything Mexican, kind of like the battle of Alamo, which doesn’t merit but a blip in Mexican history, mainly because it was a rout, and the Mexican military viewed it with little importance at the time. 
     Mexican officers did write in their journals and made no mention of a "last stand.” The battle, in the early morning darkness, lasted all of thirty-minutes. Mexican casualties came mostly from friendly fire. Most American casualties occurred outside the Alamo’s walls, as the fleeing frontiersmen ran into the lances of the Mexican caballeros. The heroic defense of the old mission was a story fictionalized by American newspapermen writing thousands of miles away from San Antonio, in the safety of the offices in Chicago, Pittsburg, and New York. 
     Of course, U.S. historians never read Mexican accounts of the Alamo, distrusting anything Mexican, even if the Mexicans were the only witnesses. 
      So, what of Thomas, or Tomas? One website says of his birth, “It remains an enigma.” 
     True, much of the narrative surrounding Edison’s early life in the U.S. is inconclusive. Some historians even suggesting he came to the U.S. from Mexico alone, as Tomas Alva Ixtlixochilt, and was adopted by the Edison clan. 
     Now, a lot of people huff and puff--so what? How much does any of this matter. You think Joan Baez, Antonio Banderas, or the late Jerry Garcia gave it a second thought? Well, I suppose, they don’t need to, so well entrenched are they in their personal stories, their successful lives. But, what about ethnic American kids who are told to go back to from where “you” came, and “you aren’t American, or they go to where they came from, only to hear, “You aren’t Mexican”? 
      When I was a kid, I identified as American, until someone, usually a parent of an Anglo friend, asked, “What are you?” 
     The question always shook me. If I said Mexican, an image of my Spanish-speaking, Mexican-born grandparents, uncles, and aunts emerged. I wasn’t like them. I could barely speak Spanish, and I’d never been to Mexico. If I said American, an image of my Anglo or Italian friends appeared. I wasn’t like them either. Their families had migrated west from Oklahoma, Texas, some from New York and Chicago. So, I’d just say, “Mexican,” which, in my twelve-year-old bicultural mind, meant, I identified with the land south of the border, a land of, “I don’t need to show you no stinking badges.” 
     I guess it’s a person’s choice how he or she chooses to identify, and it can get complicated in 2021, especially as issues of White Supremacy arise. An American, with Latino-American roots, can possibly carry Mexican, Spanish, French, Indian, German, and Arabic blood. All of those cultures, and more, passed through the land Bolivar tried to unite as one Latin America. That’s a lot of identities. 
     Then there are the many indigenous people who never mixed, like Oaxacans, Mixtecas and Zopotecas, who walk the streets of Los Angeles, Queens, and Lansing Are they Latino or Hispanic? Then, does it really have nothing to do with bloodlines or geography. Is it a state of mind? 
     Luis Valdez thought so. In his classic play Zoot Suit, a blonde Anglo kid locked up in jail with his Chicano partners was confronted by a guard who asked him, “What’s a nice Anglo kid like you doing hanging out with guys like these?” His response, “I’m Chicano too, see,” and he meant it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

For All/ Para Todos


By Alejandra Domenzain 

Illustrated by Katherine Loh 

Translated by Irene Prieto de Coogan



Publisher  :  Hard Ball Press 

Language  :  English/ Spanish

Paperback  :  53 pages

ISBN-10  :  1734493879

ISBN-13  :  978-1734493870




A young girl named Flor and her father are driven to leave their beloved country for the promise of a land called For All. As Dad works long hours for little pay, Flor struggles to find her place and her voice in a new school. With time, she realizes that despite their best efforts, not having the proper immigration papers means her father has to put up with unfairness, and doors will be closed for her. Flor picks up her green pen and writes from the heart about her journey and hopes, then tells the story of other immigrants who have been excluded from "justice for all." She inspires others to speak up and take action out of love for those that have built the country with their labor and dreams, and out of hope that their country can live up to its ideals.



Alejandra Domenzain grew up in Mexico and the United States. She has been an advocate for immigrant workers for over 25 years, and also worked as an elementary school teacher. Currently, she is dedicated to improving workplace health and safety for low wage workers. Alejandra is using her green pen to write books that invite kids to question, dream, and stand up for justice. 


Alejandra Domenzain se crió en México y los Estados Unidos. Ha abogado por los trabajadores inmigrantes por más de 20 años y también fue maestra de primaria. Actualmente, se dedica a mejorar la salud y seguridad laboral para los trabajadores de bajos ingresos. Alejandra está usando su pluma verde para escribir libros que invitan a los niños a cuestionar, soñar y defender la justicia.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

After I Saw That Wall, I Read the Book

Review: Carolina Rivera Escamilla ...after... Los Angeles: World Stage Press, 2015.  

Michael Sedano



I’ve found many a delightful book through what I called “guided serendipity.” In the library, for example, you can discover a new author by pulling something off the New Books shelves if the spine or dustjacket catches your eye. That’s how I came across Carolina Rivera Escamilla’s 2015 short story collection, …After…, through guided serendipity.


I was getting a guided tour of Rhett Beavers’ Echo Park hillsides when a bright mural on a wall that is built to the cobbled street makes me think we’re strolling some exotic hillside hamlet in Tuscany. That transcendent moment gets magnified by the mural’s undulating curtain running parallel to street grade, seemingly floating figures, occupied in their own world, stand with their backs to the strolling photographer. I post the foto on Facebook and that’s the serendipity part.


Alfredo de Batuc knows exactly where Rhett and I were walking. On Facebook, de Batuc posts, “This beautiful mural is by my friend Rafael Escamilla on his sister the writer Carolina Rivera's casa.”


A writer. That wall. Clearly, there could be more than meets the eye on that corner, I thought. Facebook put us in contact and shortly after posting the foto, the writer mails me a copy of her book.


Twenty stories and a glossary give the writer the opportunity to cover a lot of territory and time, fogging boundaries between story collection and coming of age novel. But …After… is not a novel but a well-connected set of stories that can be seen as one woman’s life, and ultimately, it’s not a valuable question. The book is subtitled “Short Stories” and that settles that.


Unsettling is what you get. Disarming, too. These emotions happen per individual story, and through concatenation of the stories as a whole. This is a good thing, by the way. For me, the book started with wariness and curiosity. Near the middle of the table of contents, Rivera has a story named “Macario.” 


It’s the first I read, curious to see if this is a takeoff on the B. Traven story/movie of the indio who wants to eat a turkey all by himself. “Macario” is one of those what the heck? Experiences. A man spins out a Bocaccioesque story of his life learning a trade, whoring with his employer, meeting his wife. Risqué to dirty, it’s a story told by a father to his girls. Life pulls no punches for the people of …After…


The lead story offers a masterful example of disarming and unsettling. “Alma About Four-Thirty In the Afternoon” feels suspenseful, like a spy story told in the first person. A friend takes a package in hand “Be careful. They need it.” Across town the character goes, by bus, fearing soldiers and searches and getting disappeared.


Rivera explores the relationships between the two friends, across time and in a variety of urban and rural settings, city, university, and home. The two students enjoy performance art on public buses, distributing flyers under the noses of repression. They are revolucionary-lite.


Prepare to be disarmed in a big understated way, and in a writerly masterful way mixing passive and active voice for a lethal laugh from surprise. 


“It began at a meeting where some compañeros informed us about the new American buses arriving in the country.... The next day when the buses are put into service, almost all of them are firebombed. They are “very nice” but they do not really have radios and televisions inside.”


The reader is set up for the surprise and a sudden change in how we perceive the prankster, 


“After Alma and I empty all the passengers out of one bus, Alma postures herself like an eagle ready to fly, and, facing north with a grenade in hand, she yells angrily, “Reagan, American imperialists, we shit on your brains and stick your dreams of technological superiority up your ass! Don't you remember Vietnam?”


The scene concludes with Alma pulling the pin and the two revolutionary students disappearing into the crowd. Rivera’s moving pretty fast now, this character will end the story armed and walking the street a marked woman.


People who read Chicana Chicano Literature are going to enjoy reading these stories. After that opening war story, there’s a story about a girl’s first period, stories about pregnancy, sex, abuse, abortion, death and burial. Common experiences set against Salvadorean chaos are anything but quotidian events, and that fact keeps a reader unsettled. It’s the same only really different!


And this is not Chicano Literature, where war and revolution are twentieth century events, las Adelitas, romantic corridos, ahai! In El Salvador, war waits around every corner where some rapist or soldier can grab a woman and disappear her. Don’t walk there alone.


Carolina Rivera Escamilla isn’t hitting readers over the head with the danger, nor making cultural differences idiosyncratic. There’s a host of valuable political and cultural information in these stories, as well as what’s been called “literature as equipment for living.” Put yourself in this character’s world. She grows up adapting to whatever is thrown in her path, except the consequences  include torture and death. Do what you need and don’t get caught, or leave the country. That makes voting look all the more attractive. GOTV.

World Stage Press link.

Monday, November 22, 2021

_Labios de piedra, Lips of Stone_ poemario por Xánath Caraza


_Labios de piedra, Lips of Stone_ poemario por Xánath Caraza


Labios de piedra, Lips of Stone verá la luz próximamente y será publicado por The Raving Press. Este poemario bilingüe fue traducido por la Doctora Sandra Kingery y está prologado por el Dr. Alain Lawo-Sukam.  En marzo de este año publiqué en la Bloga algunos poemas que nuestros lectores pueden ver aquí y son parte de este poemario dedicado a la cultura olmeca.  Para hacer un pedido por adelantado pueden visitar la casa editorial que lo publica. ¡Que la poesía nos salve!


In Lips of Stone, Xánath Caraza gives voice to the otherwise “silent sagacity” (“silenciosa sagacidad”) of ancient Mexican civilizations. In this highly visual collection, Caraza draws inspiration from the famous Olmec stone sculptures and the surrounding natural environment. The poet sits on damp earth with the sculptures, reads to them, speaks with them. One of the stone heads invites “a conversation about history” and another functions as an “ancestral mirror.” Readers will simultaneously feel as if they are standing before a ruin and in conversation with a living being. These sculptures may have lips made of stone, but through Caraza they continue to speak to us.


—Victoria Livingstone, PhD

     Translator of Pablo Garcia’s Song from the Underworld


To read Xanath Caraza’s latest poetic collection entitled Labios de Piedra (Lips of Stone), is to go on a guided archeological expedition through the jungles of the Olmec “city of stone”. In Caraza’s treatment of the “mother culture”, we find an Olmec civilization that is not just the first, or the oldest, but still perhaps the most potent and alive; the one that will outlast all civilizations and render humanity merely a passing fad as its ceiba trees and jaguar gods continue to infuse the Olmec world with its silent power and omnipresence. Accompanied by Sandra Kingery’s English translations, most poems act as crucial pieces of mortar holding up the oldest Olmec structures of memories lost in the void of forgotten human history, but with the capacity to whisper to us of its existence once upon a time and always. Some of those poetic pieces of mortar artifacts manage to transcend a modest functionality in the construction to form decorations that project themselves like three-dimensional alto-reliefs depicting Olmec gods and sacred creatures. Poems like “Of Wind and Stone,” and “Olmec Pyramid” establish the tone of the language in this collection which harkens back to an ancient past. But as a counterweight which provides balance, (a common theme in all things Mesoamerican), “Green Maize,” and “Bloody Twilight” serve to orient the reader to the fact that the Olmec world still pulsates with life evidenced by how both end with similar phrasing: “…mother earth gives birth to another cycle,” (Green Maize), and “…Wake, jaguar gods, now is the time of bloody twilight,” (Bloody Twilight). Caraza manages to do what few if any archeologists do when exploring ancient sites: she pierces the veil which stands between the past and present to offers us a full-textured taste of Olmec civilization and legacy.


—Gabriel Hugo, author of Tenochtitlan Must Fall


Friday, November 19, 2021

Arte Público Press News and a Dragon Book Event

Here's some news from Houston-based Arte Público Press, which just happens to be the publisher of my Gus Corral books.  The first piece is an announcement of the winning of an award for Latino Children's Literature by Josefina's Habichuelas/Las habichuelas de Josefina, written by Jasminne Mendez.  The announcement also includes some alarming statistics about Latino children's books, and a brief bio of Hermila Lidia Salinas de Alba, for whom the award is named.

The next piece is a notice of Arte Público's end-of-year sale with descriptions of several books in the sale, including Angels in the Wind.

Finally, the info you need to click on a virtual celebration of R. Ch. Garcia's (one of the founders of La Bloga) Death Song of the Dragón Chicxulub.  



Bilingual Picture Book Is a Real Sweet Treat! 
HOUSTON, TX—A bilingual picture book introducing children to Hispanic cultural traditions, Josefina’s Habichuelas / Las habichuelas de Josefina (ISBN 978-1-55885-923-4, hardcover, $18.95), is the winner of the 2021 Salinas de Alba Award for Latino Children’s Literature. This charming story by Jasminne Mendez, published October 31, 2021, tells the story of a young girl whose mother challenges her to give up sweets during Lent. As a reward, Josefina’s mom promises to teach her how to cook habichuelas con dulce, or sweet cream beans, a traditional Dominican dessert eaten at Easter. Enlivened by Flor de Vita’s warm illustrations depicting an Afro-Latino, multigenerational family spending time together, the book will appeal to kids ages 4 to 8 who will enjoy testing the recipe—and eating the dessert—that appears in both English and Spanish!

In 2019, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only 225 of the 4,029 children’s books published were written by Latinos; only 235 were about Latinos. The SALINAS DE ALBA AWARD seeks to stimulate the work begun by Arte Público Press and its imprint, Piñata Books, which is dedicated to the publication of children’s and young adult literature that authentically and realistically portrays themes, characters and customs unique to US Hispanic culture. In addition to the publication of the book and royalties from sales, the winning author will receive a $5,000 prize. Submissions for the award are accepted year round.

This award is named after Hermila Lidia Salinas de Alba (1921-2017), a mother, grandmother and primary schoolteacher who loved children and reading. Born and raised in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Hermila was educated at the Escuela Normal in Saltillo, Coahuila, and taught at a primary school in Piedras Negras. She married Samuel Alba in 1943 and together they raised ten children. In addition to various business ventures in Piedras Negras, they pursued migrant farm work in Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho before settling in Salt Lake City, Utah. She stressed the importance of education and left a legacy of love and lifelong learning for her nine surviving children, 33 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, playwright and award-winning writer. She is the author of a memoir, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público, 2018), and a multi-genre memoir, Island of Dreams (2013), winner of an International Latino Book Award. Josefina’s Habichuelas / Las habichuelas de Josefina is her first picture book for children. Mendez’s memoir for young adults, Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American is forthcoming from Piñata Books (May 31, 2022). She lives and works in Houston, Texas.
Flor de Vita, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, has illustrated two picture books: When Julia Danced Bomba / Cuando Julia bailaba bomba (Piñata Books, 2019) and Just One Itsy Bitsy Little Bite / Sólo una mordidita chiquitita (Piñata Books, 2018). A graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey with a B.A. in Animation and Digital Art, she currently resides in Jalisco, Mexico.
Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint serve as a bridge from home to school to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity. For more information, please visit www.artepublicopress.com.

For more information,
contact Verónica Romero (bromero2@uh.edu).

Wrap Up Leading Latino Lit

Angels in the Wind.jpg

“The work of a storyteller at the peak of his form, the return of private investigator Gus Corral reminds me of nothing less than The Long Goodbye set in Colorado. Thrilling, heartbreaking and engrossing, Angels in the Wind is the best yet from one of the masters of the genre.”

—David Heska

Wanbli Weiden,

author of Winter Counts

Chola Salvation.jpg

“Smoldering stories that center the lives of Mexican Americans by complicating common tropes and conceptions. This debut collection of interlocking short stories turns an unflinching eye on the small tragedies, gut-wrenching betrayals and enduring courage of working-class Latinx folks in East LA and the borderlands."

Kirkus Reviews

No Enemies.jpg

“What makes [Baca’s poetry] a success is its honesty, a brutal honesty, as well as his original imagery and the passion of his writing.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Baca’s "voice, brutal and tender, is unique in America.”

The Nation

Give Kids the Gift of Reading

Josefinas Habichuelas_Las habichuelas de Josefina.jpg

“In her first picture book, Mendez wonderfully showcases the numerous ways that food brings Latinx—in this case, Dominican—families and communities together. A stirring author’s note and a recipe for habichuelas con dulce wrap up a pretty sweet tale.”

Kirkus Reviews

Maxy Survives the Hurricane.jpg

“This simple, straightforward tale will serve the dual purpose of providing a window for kids who haven't experienced a hurricane before and providing a mirror for kids who have. Cartoon-style illustrations reinforce the familiar, calming tone of the story.”

—School Library Journal

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“Full-bleed color artwork populates all the recto pages, while the running refrain, “You can’t scare me….Not even a little bit / No me asusta….Ni un poquito,” concludes most text on verso and will likely have young audiences chiming in. Yelling, “You can’t scare me!” never gets old.” Kirkus Reviews

Treat Teens to Thrilling & Historical Tales

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“In this tale of resilience and recovery, Bernal keeps the pacing tight and brisk, mapping out Lucy’s arc from scared adolescent to triumphant yet cautious chef-in-progress. A well-rounded feast for the heart."

School Library Journal

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“Governor Castro’s story is inspiring and powerful and will resonate with all young people who dream of making a difference.”

—Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona

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This informative bilingual biography for intermediate readers documents the life of a Mexican general and the infamous Battle of Puebla, which led to the Cinco de Mayo holiday in celebration of people of Hispanic origin.

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Take 35% off your entire purchase by calling 800-633-ARTE from now until December 20, 2021.

Remember to mention coupon code DEC21

when placing your order.

Feel free to share this discount with family and friends!

Discount may not be combined with other

specials or discounts.

Offer expires:

December 20, 2021, 5:00 pm CST


R. Ch. Garcia cancelled his in-person reading and Q&A with this announcement:

Sorry, but the in-person Reading, Signing and Q&A set for this Friday, Nov. 19 has been cancelled due to COVID surge. Instead, join me on Zoom, same time, 4:00pm MST:




Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction.  His short story, Northside Nocturne, will be published in May, 2022.