Friday, September 30, 2022

Announcement: Alta California Chapbook Contest


Pelicans in Santa Barbara. Don't let the opportunity pass you by.

The 2nd annual Alta California Chapbook Contest comes to a close October 3, 2022. This year's final judge is Francisco Aragón. Poems may be submitted in English or Spanish. Winning manuscripts will be published as bilingual editions. The winning poet receives $250, ten copies of their published chapbook and and invitation to read at the Mission Poetry Series in Santa Barbara 2023.  This contest is currently open to current California residents only. An opportunity created by Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, Emma Trelles, special attention will be given to poets who have yet to publish a full-length collection.  Please read guidelines on the Gunpowder Press website. Good luck. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Space Between Mexican American

     by Daniel Cano                                                                            
My grandfather meeting his sister after forty years, San Luis Potosi, circa 1960

    There is a scene in the movie Selena where the Tejana singer and her father are driving down the road and the two discuss the cultural difference between Mexicans and Americans. The father said something like (I’m paraphrasing), “You mean when you’re in Mexico you don’t feel like you are Mexican and when you’re in the U.S., you don’t feel like you’re American, that neither side accepts you?” Selena admitted that, yes, that’s exactly how she felt. 
     In 1997, Gregory Nava’s movie was one of the more successful Latino-based films of the period. It put Jennifer Lopez on Hollywood’s map and introduced the world to Selena, the Tejana singer. 
     I was teaching English at Santa Monica Community College, at the time, and, surprisingly, many of my Mexican and Latino students wanted to talk about the movie, and so did other Chicano kids in the community where I lived, hell, including my own adult children. 
     That scene in the movie seemed to be the scene they most wanted to discuss, telling me, as if struck by an epiphany, “That’s exactly how we feel.” 
     Of course, many students in the general Los Angeles area hadn't heard of Selena or Jennifer Lopez, but after the movie, the two became household names. My response to the younger generation was, “Not just you, but many of us, of Mexican descent, bred in the U.S., had felt that way, neither Mexican nor American. 
     When I told my father (RIP), born in Fontana in 1923 about it, he looked at me like that was something all Chicanos and Chicanas understood, the middle ground, neither one nor the other. His generation, Chicanos and Chicanas of the WWII generation, saw themselves as Americans, but they always knew, down deep, America saw them as Mexicans and Mexico saw them as Americans. If they travelled in Mexico, they knew right away, “they were no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.” To Mexicans, they were pochos. 
     I’m a third generation American, my kids fourth, and my grandkids fifth. Since my grandfather arrived in the U.S. from Jalisco in 1918, when he was 17 years-old, and spent some sixty years of his life working here, raising his family, and contributing to this country, I consider him first generation American, even though he never learned to speak English, hung out with friends from Mexico, and lived like a Mexican in the U.S. 
     Still, he was a product of the U.S., in a strange way, a vegetable in the melting pot, the transition, maybe even the point of transubstantiation, as Catholics might say, changing from water to wine and wine to blood, of which he spilled much during a lifetime here. You might say he was reborn into the Matrix, eventually breaking free of his Mexican past and accepting life in the north, more Californio than Mejicano. 
     He only returned to Mexico once, for a quick four-day trip to visit his sister in San Luis Potosi. He cut his trip short, saying, ironically, he felt out of place and wanted return home to Los Angeles, specifically, his little settlement in Sotel, on L.A.'s westside. 
     My father told me my grandfather was always bitter with Mexico, mainly the family dynamics that drove him north during the Mexican Revolution, his story inspiring my first novel Pepe Rios. When I asked my father and my dad's friends about their relationships with their fathers, many said they rarely spoke to their fathers, you know real "heart-to-hearts." Language was a barrier, for some, but, it appeared, culture was the widest chasm. It was right up in their faces, Mexican fathers, American sons. My dad's friends weren't the children of Lydia Mendoza, Las Hermanas Padilla, or Antonio Aguilar but the children of Benny Goodman, Lalo Guerrero, and the Andrew Sisters. So much of this I’ll call a “dichotomy,” no, maybe “dilemma” is better, a problem to be solved. 
     I feel more today than ever before, with the influx of migration into all sides of California, and Los Angeles, not only Mexico and Latin America, but from the Anglo-American East, Midwest, South, outsiders who flood our neighborhoods, their cultural baggage in tow. I am more entrenched now than ever, locked into my neighborhood, with so many outsiders buying up property and homes at extravagant prices, demolishing them, and building enormous monstrosities in their place. Then they want to recreate their new neighborhoods into the neighborhoods they left behind. Go figure!
     Is this how the Californio’s felt in the 1840's as more of the Crown's Mexicans travelled up the Camino Real into Alta California, and from the east, renegade Yankees, with an eye on gold, Mexican women, and land? The Tongva people had to have felt it in 1769 as they watched mestizos in leather jackets take and settle the lands they had roamed for generations? 
     Is this what they call gentrification, or is it, simply put -- progress? 
     Some people like to think Charles Darwin had it right when they quote him as coining the concept “survival of the fittest.” The thing is, he never said it, nor did he believe it. What he wrote about was something more akin to, “those who adapt survive,” and adaptation doesn't always mean the "strongest." 
     Now, that’s an entirely different concept. In his classic novel The Revolt of the Cockroach People, Oscar Acosta had no qualms equating mestizos and Chicanos with that dastardly insect, the cockroach, maybe because of its ability to adapt and live. After all, cockroaches don’t go back to prehistoric times, as some people think, but barely 150 million years back. That ain’t about survival and adapting. So, is that us, mestizos, survivors, cockroaches? Or, as the Mexican song goes, "marijuana pa' fumar."
     I remember I was in Zacatecas, in a rural town Juchipila, sitting in the main zocalo talking to a local, an older man. Of course, no way could I pass for a Mexican, not in 1975, at the height of hippiedom, my hair long and Fu Manchu filling in nicely. Even though I wore a sarape to ward off the cool mountain air, everything about me gave away my pochismo. 
     As we spoke, a cockroach emerged from under the stone bench where we sat. My instinct was to lift my boot to crush it, but the man took hold of my arm. He made that sound with the tongue, the kind grandmothers make when a kid does something wrong, like, “Tsch, tsch, tsch.” 
     “What is it?” I asked. 
      “We don’t kill cockroaches.” 
     I asked, with all the squeamish, cultural stereotypes my gabachado mind carried about cockroaches in the U.S., “Why not?” 
      He told me cockroaches kill scorpions, a plentiful breed in the homes in and around Juchipila. A scorpion’s sting can kill an infant and make adults sick. So, I followed up with the question asking him how a cockroach can kill a scorpion. He described it, a cockroach confronted by a scorpion, something of a face-off, mano a mano. He's got my attention.
     As the scorpion waits to attack, the cockroach touches the scorpion’s back, finding a vulnerable spot, with his antennae. The scorpion reacts, stinging itself, and, eventually, dying. Two kids stepped up to us as the man was talking. The boys both nodded. They said, for fun, they catch scorpions and cockroaches and place them on the ground inside the metal strap from an old wooden barrel. The cockroach always wins, outsmarting the scorpion, just like the man said. 
     Now, I suppose this isn’t scientific proof of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but it’s a good story. Most people would see the scorpion not only as the stronger and the more dangerous but more lethal. Then I wonder, how many cockroaches have died, down through the ages, until they figured out how to adapt their fighting strategy to survive, kind of like Achilles in the Odyssey, using his sword to kill Hector the same way a cockroach uses its antennae to slay a scorpion. 
     Were the Mexicans pulling this pocho’s leg with the tall tale, or as the say in Spanish tomando el pelo? I have no idea. I never saw a scorpion fight a cockroach, but I do know that the Tongva, and the mestizos in my community have been here since the beginning of history, and no matter how many foreigners enter, or from where, like the cockroach we, and our descendants, continue to adapt. Sometimes, when I leave the house each morning and walk down the street to the boulevard, I hear just as much Spanish as English, sometimes a mix of the two, and, yes, I figure, we are changing with the environment, the space between Mexican American closing a little more with each generation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Still Dreaming / Seguimos Soñando


Written by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez

Illustrated by Magdalena Mora



Publisher: ‎Lee & Low Books; Bilingual edition (October 9, 2022)

Language: ‎English, Spanish

Hardcover: ‎40 pages

ISBN-10: ‎089239434X

ISBN-13: 978-0892394340




In the first children's book to describe the long-forgotten chapter of US history known as Mexican Repatriation, a boy and his family leave their beloved home to avoid being separated by the government.


Faced with the prospect of being separated from each other, a young boy and his family make the difficult decision to leave their home and begin a journey filled with uncertainty. On the road, they meet other people like them. Families with deep roots tied to the land. Others that helped build the railroads. Some were shop owners and factory workers. Each with similar hopes and dreams.


Historians estimate that between 1930 and 1940, two million people living in the United States were forcibly removed and sent to live in Mexico. Telling this story from a child's perspective, award-winning author Claudia Guadalupe Martínez lyrically recounts this often-overlooked period of United States history--Mexican Repatriation. Emotive illustrations by Magdalena Mora convey this poignant tale of longing for home and permanence, which reflects many of the dreams and hopes of people today.


En el primer libro infantil que describe el capítulo olvidado de la historia de los Estados Unidos conocido como la Repatriación Mexicana, un niño y su familia dejan su amado hogar para evitar ser separados por el gobierno.


Ante la perspectiva de ser separados, un niño y su familia toman la difícil decisión de dejar su hogar y emprender un viaje lleno de incertidumbre. En el camino, se encuentran con otras personas como ellos. Familias con raíces profundas atadas a la tierra. Otros que ayudaron a construir los ferrocarriles. Algunos eran dueños de tiendas y trabajadores de fábricas. Cada uno con esperanzas y sueños similares.


Los historiadores estiman que entre 1930 y 1940, dos millones de personas que vivían en los Estados Unidos fueron sacadas a la fuerza y enviadas a vivir aMéxico. Contando esta historia desde la perspectiva de un niño, la galardonada autora Claudia Guadalupe Martínez relata líricamente este período de la historia de los Estados Unidos a menudo pasado por alto: La Repatriación Mexicana. Las emotivas ilustraciones de Magdalena Mora transmiten esta conmovedora historia de añoranza por el hogar y la permanencia, que refleja muchos de los sueños y esperanzas de la gente de hoy.



Claudia Guadalupe Martínez has called Mexico and the US home. Her core childhood memories are set in El Paso, Texas. This dynamic of growing up between borders inspires her writing. She is the recipient of two Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Book Awards, a Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, an Américas Award Commendation, a Junior Library Guild Award, and multiple starred reviews. She lives with her family in Illinois. You can find her online at


Magdalena Mora is an illustrator and graphic designer with a special interest in children's books and visual storytelling. She illustrated Equality's Call and I Wish You Knew. When not drawing, she spends her free time reading, people-gawking, and trying to find the best tacos in the Twin Cities--mostly the latter. She lives in Minneapolis. You can see more of her work at

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Analogous to Quantuum Mechanics

Art Collecting or Art Appreciating?
Michael Sedano

This year especially, Chicanarte makes an ideal "big gift" to yourself, to one's spouse, lover, or other deserving recipient. Y sabes que? Everyone's a deserving recipient, especially this year, and especially you.

Especially 2022? 

It's the only year we have. And 2022's been a doozy as we enter the 40th week of a year when The GOPlague didn't end, Russia invaded Ukraine, wildfire swept across the land, drought screams global disaster, Congress and the DOJ are still looking into the insurrection, what year was that? Dang, gente, what feeds your Soul when time does what it's going to do to us these next 12 weeks of 2022?

Arte does it every time, feeds your Soul when times are sour. You give art, most likely, as stocking stuffer novels, poetry collections, Frida refrigerator magnets, stuff like this of immense value but small price. Make a plan to go all-out this year. Buy to your limit; have a limit, use it.

The day arrives when a couple no longer hangs posters and museum prints; they want original art. They visit museums, galleries, browse the internet enjoying the rich variety of styles and materials artists employ. Galleries and holiday sales abound this time of year, offering surprisingly affordable price tags. Affordability exists only when you have a limit to compare prices.

This is the year to put your first red dot on an exhibition wall. Other visitors will love the piece, too. They'll admire it, then look at the artist's name, the affordable price, then spot the red dot. That's your red dot.

This is a time of year when raza art grows plentiful. DDLM kicks off arte sale season that goes until year's end.  For example, in Los Angeles, seminal arte incubator Self Help Graphics (link), holds its 49th Día de los Muertos exhibition. And SHG isn't the only one, not in Califas nor across the nation.

(Órale, planners. Send La Bloga datos on your holiday sales and events. Link.)

I've enjoyed many a "garage sale" at Self Help Graphics. These are events with dozens of folding tables arrayed with stacks of serigraphs, some in plastic sleeves, others white glove inspection. Forty-nine years ago, I bought a Gronk serigraph for $150. Over the years, I acquired numerous silkscreens monoprints or series, for under $300. 

These sales are wondrous avenues to covering your walls with original work and not break the bank. If mercenary thoughts just flashed through your mind, cochino! Arte is not an investment. I don't want to hear about money.

Some people consider art to be investments. There was a couple flipping through a stack of silkscreens at SHG one visit. I heard them discussing not the graphic but the signature. One fellow knew names, pullled out a couple of prints, coaching his friend. I turned away when the knowledgeable guy started talking about buying out a series to enhance the "value" of one.

Barbara and I applied a single standard: we had to fall immediately in love with something, so long as it was priced under $3500. That was our limit when I was working an executive jale and she was a high school English Department head. We had money in the bank, you could do that in the 80s.

We learned a hard lesson: Love it and don't leave it.

Barbara fell in love with a realist painter exhibiting at Avenue 50 Studios (link)in Highland Park. The gallery wanted more than our limit so we went home and Barbara yearned. And yearned. And we decided to spring for the extra cash.

The piece sold already. Worse, the artist changed representation, moved to a gallery way the hell down in Laguna Beach. Lesson learned. If you love it, and it's close to your top limit, up the limit.

Artists have mixed experiences with collector behavior. It's really nice to shake a hand, pat a back, pocket the check at asking price. I hope for artists they don't run into collectors who want to hondle. At any rate, a collector holds the work, "best 1200 bucks I ever spent" they tell people, adding how it's worth at least 2000 today. That's not money the artist sees.

Guests in my home like my Chicanarte. Some, innocently, wonder idly about the value. I tell them my collection has Zero Value. 

In order for my walls to be "worth" something, I'd have to sell them. Then, the arte wouldn't be mine anymore. That's no way to treat something you said you loved, dump them when someone waves a dollar under your nose.

It's time, gente. Time to pull down those twenty dollar prints of Johnny Depp and give your child a $150 serigraph by someone you never heard of, but when you saw that print, it screamed your kid! And the kid loves it, already a collector at 15. 16. 17. 31. 41. How old are you?

How to Appreciate Arte & Collect It:
Set a limit, $150, $200, $1000.
Fall in love.
Buy it.

Subatomic Particle Behavior Is A Paper Ball, & Other Instinctive Insights

I admit, when Jesus Salvador Treviño showed me a documentary delving deeply into a challenging theory that weaves art and hard science into a metaphor, I was intrigued because I was dumbfounded. 

Instantly I understood the theory but as soon as everything started falling into ordered meaning, to my thinking, I turned blank. My brain couldn't hold onto the flood of connections between what I know instinctively as human, and what becomes, to me, an enigma wrapped in a polyhedron. Maybe you'll see what else is here.

It's intriguing to have a conclusion at the tip of your synapse only to have it stay just out of comprehension, like a hazy memory a face without a name that your mind's eye sees sharply. But that's my response to the videos Treviño and his associates share on this site (link). I tell myself, just because I can't explain what I know doesn't make that man's theory useless to others. It's fun just to get perplexed at connections between quantuum mechanics, particle wave theory, and balls made of paper strips.

Here's the first of three videos dissecting the inexplainable. A few will find the material sensible, but like Linus Pauling, Isaac Asimov, or Richard Feynmann, they see the metaphor don't know what to make of it.

Artists, órale. Check out the polyhedron bells and their shape-shifting properties. Imagine a toy made from recylable, reused materials. First it's a ball, push the sides, it's a star and all the colors changed.

The video says when you put these strips of paper together in a certain way, then alter "the amplitude and phase" of the places the strips of paper cross, you get the different shape, like from a five-sided bell to a seven-sided from the same object.  Some artists have quantuum mechanics in their fingers, instinctively folding plaiting forming. Not that such an artist lacks for ideas, but mira nomás at the ideas.



Monday, September 26, 2022

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center

Xanath Caraza


El miércoles 12 de octubre de 6 a 8 p.m.
Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center
8788 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, KS 66212


¡Únase al Centro de Arte y Herencia del Condado de Johnson para disfrutar de una agradable velada en celebración del Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana! Desde trabajadores mexicanos e inmigrantes recientes de Centro y Sudamérica, la región de Kansas City tiene una profunda historia Latina. Hoy en día, la comunidad Latina es la población de más rápido crecimiento del condado de Johnson. El Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana es un momento para honrar las culturas y contribuciones de los Latinoamericanos en los Estados Unidos. 


El evento es organizado por Johnson County Arts & Heritage CenterJohnson County MuseumJohnson County Park & Recreation DistrictHispanic Leadership Lowrider Bike Club y El Centro.


Este evento es gratis y abierto al público. No es necesario registrarse. ¡Hay algo para todos!


Wednesday, October 12 from 6 - 8 PM
Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center
8788 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, KS 66212

Join Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center for a lovely evening in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month!
From Mexican traders and laborers, to recent Central and South American immigrants, the Kansas City region has deep Latino history. Today, the Latino community is Johnson County’s fastest growing population. National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor the cultures and contributions of Latino Americans across the United States.


This event is hosted by Johnson County Arts & Heritage CenterJohnson County MuseumJohnson County Park & Recreation DistrictHispanic Leadership Lowrider Bike Club, and El Centro.


This event is FREE and open to the public. No registration required. There is something for everyone!


Friday, September 23, 2022

So Many New Books

It's been a minute since I did a roundup of recent and upcoming books.  Here's my latest list, and it's loaded with new titles that cover the literary spectrum from memoir to biography, romance to mystery, fiction to fantasy, and everything in between.  Without further ado, let's go.


Releases scheduled for September 6

Ernesto Mestre-Reed

Soho Press

[from the publisher]
Rafa, an Afro-Cuban orphan, moves to Havana with nothing to his name and falls into a job at a café. He is soon drawn into a web of bizarre, ever-shifting entanglements with his boss’s son, the charismatic Renato, leader of the counterrevolutionary group “Los Injected Ones,” which is planning a violent overthrow of the Castro government during Pope John Paul II’s upcoming visit.

When Renato goes missing, Rafa’s search for his friend takes him through various haunts in Havana: from an AIDS sanatorium, to the guest rooms of tourist hotels, to the outskirts of the capital, where he enters a phantasmagorical slum cobbled together from the city’s detritus by Los Injected Ones.

A novel of cascading prose that captures a nation in slow collapse, Sacrificio is a visionary work, capturing the fury, passion, fatalism, and grim humor of young lives lived at the margins of a society they desperately wish to change.


Solito: A Memoir
Javier Zamora

[from The Clegg Agency]
A young poet tells the unforgettable story of his harrowing migration from El Salvador to the United States at the age of nine in this moving, page-turning memoir hailed as “the mythic journey of our era” (Sandra Cisneros)

Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—“one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.”

Javier’s adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone except for a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier’s trip is supposed to last two short weeks.

At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents’ arms, snuggling in bed between them, living under the same roof again. He does not see the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside a group of strangers who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.

A memoir by an acclaimed poet that reads like a novel, Solito not only provides an immediate and intimate account of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home.


Rubén Degollado
W.W. Norton

[from the publisher]
A masterful debut that weaves together the lives of three generations of a Mexican American family bound by love, and a curse.

The tight-knit Izquierdo family is grappling with misfortunes none of them can explain. Their beloved patriarch has suffered from an emotional collapse and is dying; eldest son Gonzalo’s marriage is falling apart; daughter Dina, beleaguered by the fear that her nightmares are real, is a shut-in. When Gonzalo digs up a strange object in the backyard of the family home, the Izquierdos take it as proof that a jealous neighbor has cursed them—could this be the reason for all their troubles? As the Izquierdos face a distressing present and an uncertain future, they are sustained by the blood that binds them, a divine presence, and an abiding love for one another. Told in a series of soulful voices brimming with warmth and humor, The Family Izquierdo is a tender narrative of a family at a turning point.


Release scheduled for September 13

Angie Cruz
Flatiron Books

[from the publisher]
Cara Romero thought she would work at the factory of little lamps for the rest of her life. But when, in her mid-50s, she loses her job in the Great Recession, she is forced back into the job market for the first time in decades. Set up with a job counselor, Cara instead begins to narrate the story of her life. Over the course of twelve sessions, Cara recounts her tempestuous love affairs, her alternately biting and loving relationships with her neighbor Lulu and her sister Angela, her struggles with debt, gentrification and loss, and, eventually, what really happened between her and her estranged son, Fernando. As Cara confronts her darkest secrets and regrets, we see a woman buffeted by life but still full of fight.

Structurally inventive and emotionally kaleidoscopic, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is Angie Cruz’s most ambitious and moving novel yet, and Cara is a heroine for the ages.


Releases scheduled for October 4

Nicolás Ferraro
, translated by Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn
Soho Crime

[from the publisher]
Tomás Cruz swore he would never be like his father, an abusive cocaine junkie whose gangland exploits are notorious throughout the underbelly of northern Argentina. When Samuel Cruz is sentenced to thirteen years in prison, he leaves a laundry list of unfinished cartel business. Seba, Tomás’s revered older brother, has no choice but to abandon his straight life and take over his father’s underworld debt.

Now fifteen years has passed, Seba has been arrested, and the ruthless cartel boss is holding his wife and daughter as collateral—just in time for the holidays. Tomás is forced to choose between protecting his family and his soul as he assumes the to-do list where Seba left off, plunging into the shocking depravity of the cartel to track a drug deal gone wrong. On a bloody quest for underworld justice that will take him from a nightmarish bar staffed by teenage sex slaves to the murky depths of the Paran River, Tomás discovers himself capable of violence he never thought possible. He must ask himself if he really is his father’s son . . . and he may not like the answer.

Argentinian noir wunderkind Nicolás Ferraro’s first novel to be translated into English, Cruz was a finalist for the prestigious Dashiell Hammett Award for Best Crime Novel.


Bárbara Mujica
Graydon House

[from the publisher]
1910, Mexico. As the country’s revolution spreads, Dolores, the daughter of a wealthy banker, must flee her comfortable life in Durango or risk death. Her family settles in Mexico City, where, at sixteen, she marries the worldly Jaime del Río. But in a twist of fate, at a party she meets an influential American director who recognizes in her a natural performer. He invites her to Hollywood, and practically overnight, the famous Miss del Río is born.

Dolores’s star quickly rises, and her days become a whirlwind of moviemaking and glamorous events. Swept up in L.A.'s glitzy inner circle, she takes her place among film royalty such as Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles. But as her career soars, her personal life becomes increasingly complicated, with family tragedy, divorce, and real heartache. And when she’s labeled box office poison amid growing prejudice before WWII, Dolores must decide what price she’s willing to pay to achieve her dreams and if her heart and future instead lie where it all began…in Mexico.

Spanning half a century and narrated by Dolores’s fictional hairdresser and longtime friend, Miss del Río traces the life of a trailblazing woman whose legacy in Hollywood and in Mexico still shines bright today.


Ann Dávila Cardinal
Sourcebooks Landmark

[from the publisher]
From International Latino Book Award-winning author Ann Dávila Cardinal comes a gorgeously written family saga about a Puerto Rican teenager who finds herself gifted (or cursed?) with a strange ability.

There was always an old woman dying in the back room of her family's house when Isla was a child...

Isla Larsen Sanchez's life begins to unravel when her father passes away. Instead of being comforted at home in New Jersey, her mother starts leaving her in Puerto Rico with her grandmother and great-aunt each summer like a piece of forgotten luggage.

When Isla turns eighteen, her grandmother, a great storyteller, dies. It is then that Isla discovers she has a gift passed down through her family's cuentistas. The tales of dead family storytellers are brought back to life, replaying themselves over and over in front of her.

At first, Isla is enchanted by this connection to the Sanchez cuentistas. But when Isla has a vision of an old murder mystery, she realizes that if she can't solve it to make the loop end, these seemingly harmless stories could cost Isla her life.



Manuel Ramos lives in Denver. His latest novel is Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Chicanonautica: A Mad Scientist’s Mexican Daughter

by Ernest Hogan

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has expressed frustration with the science/speculative fiction genre, even announcing that she has left it, proving that she was capable of writing just about anything in the process. But lately she’s returned to it with a vengeance.  

Mexican Gothic not only expanded into the gothic romance genre but gave us world class horrors. And in her latest, she takes a classic novel—H. G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau--and does her own daring take on it. Look out world, brace yourself for The Daughter of Doctor Moreau.

No, it’s not an Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein-type franchise sequel, or prequel, but a bold new take on Wells’ original, that has been done and redone to the point of becoming a horror movie cliché, rethinking the entire concept from a modern viewpoint. Pretty gutsy.

Primarily, the traditional mad scientist (that she wrote about in an interesting article) and daughter are completely reconstructed. 

Instead of the beautiful but sheltered maiden who exists so a dashing hero can rescue her, we have a complex central character who becomes the core of a story richer than Wells’ original. Carlota Moreau is a breakthrough creation that readers will not forget, a mestiza of a different kind.

Moreno-Garcia sets the story in the jungles of the Yucatán peninsula rather than an island. This opens up a new world that readers of pop fiction are unfamiliar with. Mayan rebels show up, history that hasn’t yet been integrated into pop culture. My visit there decades ago rearranged my mind, streets and towns had Mayan names, naked children played with broken toys on dark dirt that the women somehow kept off their dazzling white huipils, all before the bizarre 21st century developments. Writers, gente, you really need to research tropical Mexico, you’ll be glad you looked beyond the deserts of Aztlán. 

This is a new take on the antiquated term “scientific romance” and brings it up to date for the modern reader, decolonialism and feminism with a damn good story. An excellent read that will satisfy the modern audience, and would make an excellent movie, if there’s any visionary filmmakers out there up to the job.

It’s also firmly in the Wellsian tradition of social commentary, Wells being a Victorian Social Justice Warrior—he wrote War of the Worlds to show the British what it would be like if someone else did to them what they were doing to the rest of the world. Here we see humanity’s relationship to nature and fellow humans–and question the very definition of what is human–through alien eyes, and a mind you fall in love with. Those in the Latinoid continuum will find things to identify with. 

Once again, I can promise that anything by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

is worth your time and money.

Ernest Hogan is judging Somos en escrito’s Extra Fiction Contest 2022.  The contest submission is free and is open for any Native or Latina/o/x person from or residing in the USA (of American Indian, Chicano/Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Cuban American, Dominican American, Central American, or South American origin). The deadline is October 31, 2022. Can you blow the mind of the Father of Chicano Sci-Fi?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Tiny Tales from Pampers


From Tiny Tales from Pampers



Experience story time brought to life for your tiny ones with Tiny Tales - a new audiobook series from Pampers. Tiny Tales shares classic stories remade for 2022 like Jackie & The Beanstalk and Goldilocs. 


The show features never heard adventures like Tiny Owl and stories from Latin America, told in Spanish, like ABC Mariachi. We celebrate characters from all walks of life inclusive of gender, background, and ability. And each episode is voiced by some of your tiny one’s favourite characters. 


Told using interactive moments throughout, Tiny Tales will support your tiny ones’ development in those crucial early years. Each story is 10 minutes, meaning you have a fun activity to do with your tiny one, or even just a spare 10 minutes to yourself! Don’t forget to follow us to ensure you get all the latest updates. A Pampers & Sony Music Entertainment production. 


Find more great podcasts from Sony Music Entertainment at



El Abecedario de la Música de Mariachi

By René Colato Laínez


Can you hear the swell of the guitarrones and the cheer of the choir? Join us with your little one as we learn to recite our ABC’s in Spanish!


We’ll go on a journey to explore everything from Amigos to Zapatos, set during a family fiesta in Mexico to the sound of the traditional music of the Mariachi.


Tiny Tales is a Spanish adventure story, celebrating diversity, sound and dance (or bailar!).


El Abecedario De La Música De Mariachi or The ABCs Of Mariachi Music was written by René Colato Laínez and narrated by Sophia Cruz.

Original music composed by Andres Parodi

A Pampers & Sony Music Entertainment production.

Find more great podcasts from Sony Music Entertainment at And go to for all your parenting products and tools.


Play/ Escucha: El Abecedario de la Música de Mariachi


Qoritika And The Three Alpacas 

By Mariana Llanos



Little Peruvian Qoritika, whose name means Golden Flower, goes to the market to find her mamita the fanciest gift money can buy.


Yet, it turns out that Qoritika simply doesn’t have enough coins in her pocket. However, in come three snazzy showbiz alpacas with a little strum and cha cha in their step to help save the day!


Cozy up and listen to this most heart-warming tale of friendship, giving and beautiful serenatas. We’ll come to find that as long as we work together, anything is possible.


Qoritika And The Three Alpacas was written by Mariana Llanos and narrated by Ynairaly Simo.

Original music composed by Andres Parodi

Tiny Tales is brought to you from Pampers, with love.

A Pampers & Sony Music Entertainment production.

Find more great podcasts from Sony Music Entertainment at And go to for all your parenting products and tools.



Escucha/ Play:  Qoritika And The Three Alpacas




Play all the episodes

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"A" Is For Raza Arte: Afro-Latinx Poetry

 La Bloga-Tuesday happily shares this announcement from La Bloga's friends in South Bend. Not that anyone needs to be back home again, in Indiana, to celebrate with the gente seated in McKenna Hall this coming September 27-28, 2022. Cultural changes forced upon us by the GOPlague mean in-person meetings usually offer a way to enjoy and participate from your computer workstation or telephone

A renowned group of poets and scholars from across the country will convene at the University of Notre Dame from Sept. 27–28 for a dynamic cultural event featuring talks, conversations, and performances showcasing the vitality and diversity of contemporary poetry.

Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at University of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, has invited John Murillo, Roberto Carlos Garcia, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Yesenia Montilla, Jasminne Mendez, and Raina J. León to take part in this momentous gathering.

The two-day gathering — co-presented by Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Initiative on Race and Resilience (IRR) — will offer four panel sessions that delve into the work of Afro-Latinx poets. Two evening sessions will feature readings by the visiting poets. All of the events are open to the public, and will also be livestreamed, recorded, and archived. 

For details and to confirm your personal involvement in the celebration, visit the performance website:

Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet & a daughter of immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, as well as the literary journals The Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Best of American Poets (2021, 2022) & others. She received her MFA from Drew University in Poetry and Poetry in Translation & is a 2014 CantoMundo Fellow & a 2020 NYFA Fellow. Her first collection The Pink Box is published by Willow Books & was Longlisted for a PEN award in 2016. Her second collection Muse Found in a Colonized Body is published by Four Way Books. She lives in Harlem NY.

Darrel Alejandro Holnes is the author of Stepmotherland (Notre Dame Press, 2022) & Migrant Psalms (Northwestern Press, 2021). Holnes is an Afro-Panamanian American writer, performer, and educator. His writing has been published in English, Spanish, and French in literary journals, anthologies, and other books worldwide and online. He also writes for the stage. Most of his writing centers on love, family, race, immigration, and joy. He works as a college professor in New York City, NY.

Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, playwright, translator and award winning author of several books for children and adults. She is the author of two hybrid memoirs, Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press) and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público Press). Her second YA memoir, Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Arte Público Press) is forthcoming in Summer 2022 and her debut poetry collection, City Without Altar, was a finalist for the Noemi Press Book Award for Poetry and will be released in August 2022. As a translator she has translated Amanda Gorman’s best-selling Change Sings into the Spanish edition La canción del cambio and has translated librettos for The Houston Grand Opera. Her debut middle grade book Anina del Mar Jumps In (Dial) is a novel in verse about a young girl diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and is set to release in 2023. Her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas (Arte Público Press), was released last year.

John Murillo is the author of the poetry collections Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way Books 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way 2020), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Poetry Society of Virginia’s North American Book Award, and finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, Believer Poetry Award, Maya Angelou Book Award, Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award and the NAACP Image Award.  His other honors include the Four Quartets Prize from the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America, two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, an NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.  Murillo’s poems have appeared in such publications as American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020.  Currently, he is an associate professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Wesleyan University.

Poet, storyteller, and essayist Roberto Carlos Garcia is a self-described “sancocho […] of provisions from the Harlem Renaissance, the Spanish Poets of 1929, the Black Arts Movement, the Nuyorican School, and the Modernists.” Garcia is rigorously interrogative of himself and the world around him, conveying “nakedness of emotion, intent, and experience,” and he writes extensively about the Afro-Latinx and Afro-diasporic experience. Roberto's third collection, [Elegies], is published by Flower Song Press and his second poetry collection, black / Maybe: An Afro Lyric, is available from Willow Books.  Roberto’s first collection, Melancolía, is available from Červená Barva Press. His poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, The BreakBeat Poets Vol 4: LatiNEXT, Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3, The Root, Those People, Rigorous, Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Gawker, Barrelhouse, The Acentos Review, Lunch Ticket, and many others. He is founder of the cooperative press Get Fresh Books Publishing, A NonProfit Corp. A native New Yorker, Roberto holds an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia (Lenni Lenape ancestral lands). She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. She is the author of Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, sombra : (dis)locate, and the chapbooks, , profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She publishes across forms in visual art, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work. She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. She is additionally a digital archivist, emerging visual artist, writing coach, and curriculum developer.